onethessthree8

'For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord….'

Archive for September, 2009

Straight arrows…

A former pastor/elder of mine once told me ‘You never wanna be outside the will of God mate…’ (aussie accent required!), and as time marches on those words ring louder and louder in my ears.  Not through a sense of condemnation, but motivated purely from grace extended in my direction.

The truth is, I totally wasted my twenties by being rebelliously outside the will of God for my life.  But, in straightening out my theology, I can now see how despite my path, God did and will still use my own poor choices for His purposes.  Quite a relief!

But where am I going with this?  What have straight arrows gotta do with anything?

In our church (CCK) we have learnt to ‘send’ people to other parts of the UK and to the nations.  I say ‘learnt’ because it doesn’t come naturally to us (to give away our best people), but it is in line with Gods will for us as a church.  He said ‘send’, so we do.  And in doing so, we obey God rather than chasing down our own agendas.  It’s one massive adventure with eternal significance!

My dear friends Jon & Sal Lyndon come from a brood of other fab Lyndons who have made such an impact on the strength of CCK, leaving a great legacy of folk who have been changed by the gospel through their gifts.  And what a gifted couple!  For his young years, Jon is a quality pastor already.  Sally has a complimentary knack of creating order out of chaos……. together a formidable team!

With the Lyndons Senior (Pete & Sue) having left Brighton for Manchester, this family are now ‘scattered’ for the sake of the gospel.  They have been truly ‘sent’.

One memorable and highly significant prophetic word about us as a church suggested that as leaders  ‘…grew straight with genuine integrity, God would cause young shoots to grow between them that would ultimately be cut and sent as arrows to the ends of the earth’.

Jon and Sally have grown straight, under great leadership, and have now been cut, shaped and fired like arrows into Fredericton, Canada.  We miss them, and they leave a gap.  But they are in the will of God and I’m especially proud of them for that.  Let’s face it, they are not that far away to visit (sounds like a holiday destination for sure!) and regular Skyping is a technological blessing.

They have gone to help a Newfrontiers church The Meeting Place  grow and influence Fredericton with the gospel, and they will be a tremendous blessing to the leadership in that place.

So the deal is this.  Do as God asks, and walk in His will.  The leaders at CCK have sent them well…….. and straight arrows always hit the target!

Jon & Sally Lyndon

Jon & Sally Lyndon

For more about this fab couple, click here………

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Fight for it…

Fighting for your ‘men’ is something we chaps are absolutely wired for. (Do read on ladies….you need to know what we are like!).  Just take a brief moment to read this chaps short story.

What can we draw from his experience?  He got awarded the Military Cross for going in to save his mates when all looked lost.  He risked life and limb (and got injured) for his men……..the guys that he’d toiled with, trained with, laughed with, served with.

Let’s not pretend that all situations will measure up to the gravity of this guys experience, but don’t think we can’t draw any parallels.  At CCK we have just launched a third Sunday service.  If you are reading this and consider CCK as your home church, then be like this guy.  (In fact, if you are in any church that is working hard to build an ‘Alternative City’ within a city for Jesus, then apply this to your situation too).

Throw yourself into serving it, get right behind the leadership (and let them know it!), contributing to the ‘life’ of the church.  That means taking responsibility for every aspect (welcome, kids work, admin/tech, meeting participation, pastoral stuff), the whole lot!

Reminds me of ‘David’s Mighty Men’.  Awesome chaps who were right in the scrum for their man David.  Are you right in the scrum for the guys that lead you?

It will cost you something, and you’re bound to take a knock or two.  You certainly won’t get awarded a Military Cross!  But there is immense joy to be had in all this.  There is nothing sweeter than tasting real oneness with folk who are as passionate as you about the same thing.  It was like that for David and his mighty men, and the disciples must have experienced the phenomenal buzz of being on mission with Jesus.

Speaking of which……..Jesus went into the ultimate fight for us, extracting us from certain death, getting a cross of his own in the process from which we all benefit.

Being on mission means you must fight….so fight.

All good?

Hilariously, but also with great poignancy, I need to recount to you a recent exchange between a guest and one of our pastoral team on a Sunday at CCK.  Pastor: ‘Hello there, all good?’  Guest: ‘What, since the day of my birth? No, not really!’

Having had this repeated to me by the pastor in question, I began to appreciate it in a number of ways :

Firstly, for its comedic value…. which was priceless, and made even funnier because of who the pastor is (a chap of the finest quality!).  The quick-witted retort of the guest, the twinkle in the eye, and the flash of needle in the use of words, putting most TV sitcom writers to shame.

Secondly, the reality of life hits hard….  The humour of the moment (for me anyway) was only a thin veil over hard truth. You’re born, you live, you die.  ‘We are like grass that withers and dies…’  Here one moment, gone the next.  And the bit in between is tough going.  This guest had realised this the hard way.  ‘All good?  You must be kidding!’

Thirdly, the brutal honesty of the guest….  I love it when folk speak truth out loud!  We are always thinking it, but often speaking it through filters that utterly disguise it.  That’s why it’s so refreshing when people tell it how it is.  Brutal.  ‘All good?  No, actually my life has been rubbish for as long as I can remember.’ 

Fourthly, it gave me a sharp poke in the ribs about how we live in a seriously post-christian (or should I say ‘pagan’) culture with 90% of folk out there with no clue about Jesus, let alone the gospel!  If we (CCK) are to reach our prophetic promise of a church of thousands in this City, we cant afford to sell the gospel short by pretending that a response on a Sunday will result in a life of health and wealth.  Nope, it aint true.  Jesus said it himself.  ‘In this world you will have trouble…’ 

The more I get my teeth into pastoral work, the more understanding I get of the great weights folk are carrying through life.  Are these situations just, or unjust?  A good question to ask yourself.  Much of the ‘weight’ we carry is directly or indirectly as a result of our own poor choices.  But some of it is seemingly unjust, inflicted on us for reasons we cannot explain.  Sometimes we will never know why we suffered, but how we handle it hangs on our perspective of the character of God.  Who do we know Him to be?  Do we correctly understand our own ill-deserving nature? Are we fully aware of the far reaching mercy of God to rescue us?  Can we say we have fully lived within His design for life?  Are we clear in our understanding of the kingdom coming but not yet in fulness?  Do we see the cross of Christ as central to our wholeness?

So.  All good?  Only God is good.  Tough lives or otherwise, we are so quick to put ourselves where God deserves to be, yet He has put Himself where we deserve to be.  Amazing, humbling truth helps us to acknowledge that it is indeed (despite tough circumstances)……….ultimately all good.

Blogging pastors…

Not everyone on the interweb (that’s what olds call it) would have spotted Mr John Piper’s succinct bunch of reasons for blogging.  So here they are (paraphased a bit by me) for your delectation :

1. …to write

If you’re a pastor, you probably already know the value writing has for thinking.  Through writing, you delve into new ideas and new insights. If you strive to write well, you will at the same time be striving to think well.

There is no better way to simply and quickly share your writing than by maintaining a blog.  And if you’re serious about your blog, it will help you not only in your thinking, but in your discipline as well, as people begin to regularly expect quality insight from you.

2. …to teach

Most pastors I’ve run into love to talk.  Many of them laugh at themselves about how long-winded they’re sometimes tempted to be.

Your blog is where you can pass on that perfect analogy you only just thought of;  a blog is a perfect place for those 30-second nuggets of truth that come in your devotions or while you’re reading the newspaper.  You may never write a full-fledged article about these brief insights, but via your blog, people can still learn from them just like you did.

3. …to recommend

With every counselling session or conversation, a pastor is recommending something.  Sometimes it’s a book or another web link. Maybe it’s a bed-and-breakfast for couple that really needs to get away. And sometimes it’s simply Jesus.

With a blog, you can recommend something to hundreds of people instead of just a few. Some recommendations may be specific to certain people, but that seems like it would be rare. It’s more likely to be the case that if one man asks you whether you know of any good help for a pornography addiction, then dozens of other men out there also need to know, but aren’t asking.

People want to know that you are an ordinary, imperfect human being.  They want to know that you’re recommending things that have helped you in your own weakness.  If you use your blog to encourage people through suggesting and commending everything from local restaurants to Jesus, it will complement the biblical authority that you rightly assume as a pastor.

4. …to interact

There are a lot of ways for a pastor to keep his finger on the pulse of his people. A blog is by no means necessary in this regard. However, it does add a helpful new way to stay abreast of people’s opinions and questions.

5. …to develop an eye for what is meaningful

For good or ill, most committed bloggers live with the constant question in their mind: Is this bloggable?  This could become a neurosis, but I’ll put a positive spin on it: It nurtures a habit of looking for insight and wisdom and value in every situation, no matter how mundane.

6. …to be known

This is where I see the greatest advantage for blogging pastors.  The blog is a window into your personality. Sometimes people need to look in—not allthe way in, and not into every room—but people need some access to you as a person.  A blog is one way to help them.  You can’t be everybody’s friend, and keeping a blog is not a way of pretending that you can. It’s simply a way for people to know you as a human being, even if you can’t know them back.  This is valuable, not because you’re so extraordinary, but because leadership is more than the words you say.

Conclusion

For most of you, anything you post online will only be a small piece in the grand scheme of your pastoral leadership. But if you can maintain a blog that is both compelling and personal, it can be an important small piece.  Letting people catch an honest glimpse of your life will add authenticity to your pastoral role.

Thanks John.  You can check out his own blog here, and/or follow him on Twitter here.

By all means….

The hook for my post today is to placard the newly refurbed website at CCK. It’s cutting edge in my view, and launches this coming term where we are expecting to draw hundreds on a Sunday to introduce them to Jesus.

In the words of lead elder Joel Virgo…

The church of Jesus Christ in Brighton is to be a redeemed version of Brighton – a showcase of what the city would be with the reign of Jesus brought to bear.

We are building an alternative city within the city for the sake of the city.  We are in Brighton, for Brighton…

At CCK we are on a mission in the City.  When the apostle Paul went into Athens, he went with a missional poise.  He saw the City, and he was provoked within him.  Ever feel provoked?  In Athens at that time it was said that it was easier to meet an idol than a man.  Our City is just like that!  People all around us, giving themselves in worship to different things.

Having been rightly provoked, what did Paul do?  He went straight into the Agora (or marketplace) to meet the influential people of the day to preach Jesus and the resurrection.

If we look closely at Acts 17, Paul cleverly finds some truth in what sees, and then he connects with them, and weaves in the gospel truth.  We can learn this missional behaviour for ourselves, and we are…

Here are some brief observations from Acts 17 of a missional nature :

  1. Mission is birthed by gospel first taking root in us.  Paul was provoked, deeply stirred.  Has the same heart as God.  A complex love (deep concern with great hatred for sin, yet still pursuing).  The gospel says ‘I love you, but lost you, but will chase you down to bring you home.’  When the gospel grips you, it becomes your motivation.  You find grace for mission, and have a pure motivation.
  2. Deal with Jesus and the resurrection before dinosaurs!  God has given us assurance by raising Jesus from the dead.  Paul is highly Jesus-focussed.  What’s your focus?  Everything rises and falls on the resurrection of Jesus.
  3. Don’t ignore the city, engage it!  Paul could have just taken a little bed and breakfast whilst waiting for his mates turn up but no, he went to the places of influence.  Where are those places for us?  School gate, neighbourhood groups?  He was strategic.  So must we be.
  4. Find gospel bridges in to others lives.  Sin has marred what God originally made good.  So not all around us is bad; there are aspects of truth at every turn.  Take these truths and weave in the gospel, the real truth.  What aspects of the gospel do folk need to hear?  Think that through.  ie. interlect (books), affirmation (helping with self-esteem), grace (unconditional love).  What do those in your life need to see, hear, experience?
  5. Talk to people and build relationships.  Just be natural.  Surprisingly, people are more willing to talk about Jesus than we realise.  They really respond when they truly know your motivation. In the park, the office, coffee shop; how can you be better engaging?  Remember, the gospel changes you and empowers you to engage!
  6. Be prepared for opportunities.  It’s the blessing of the gospel, co-labouring, and being used.  Opportunities that we grasp will also change us, leading to character transformation.
  7. Paint a big picture of our big God.  Our view of God is too small. In Athens Paul found folk  worshipping an unknown god!  Let’s paint a different picture!  People don’t often reject faith on intellectual grounds, but more often because they just think it’s trivial.  People want to believe in some thing that makes sense of all their worldly experience.  We can all too easily put forward a view of God that is too small, so paint him big!
  8. Leave the results to God.  Be faithful.  Paul was.  That’s all you are called to do and to be.  Some mocked, some rejected, some wanted to hear more.  Its not about us.  It’s about the sovereign work of God in folks lives.

It’s all about Jesus…  check out the site   www.cck.org.uk

15 years…

Ali and I celebrate (yes, that’s right…celebrate!) 15 years of marriage today.  Easy ride?  Nope.  Hard work?  Yep.  Worth it?  Absolutely!  Why?  Because stuff God designs and ordains is always worth it.

Even in circumstances that result from sin and a fallen world (and our own daft choices), God’s framework for life is awesome and fulfilling.  Check out Isaiah 1:1-20  to get a feel for God’s invitation to you.  It’s not a threat, it’s a promise!

On a day like today I remind myself of the profound mystery of marriage (sometimes very mysterious!) and how Jesus laid his life down for the church as an example to us.  What a model!  Oh dear!  Messed that up a few times…  Thank you Jesus for showing me ‘how’ with your perfect performance, for being patient and forgiving in my mistakes, and for giving me a great wife! 

And this one is for you married (and aspiring) chaps…….things Ali and I attempt to do (at least try to..) in order to keep the fire stoked, courtesy of Word for Today (50 tips for marriage)