My girls love watching this kids film called ‘Tangled’. It’s basically the story of Rapunzel told in a cool disneyesque manner with a girl in need of saving, a reckless guy who turns out to be the saviour, a king, a queen, a bunch of other folk and an old old lady called Mother Gothel. The basis of the story is that the old woman hides the girl away in a tower because every time the girl sings her hair glows and whoever is touching it becomes young again. Right at the end of the story her hair gets cut, she loses the power and the old woman who has been relying on the hair to stay young falls out of the window and her true state becomes a reality – an old old old woman who should have perished centuries ago – she becomes dust.
Nice Story huh? Not really, but here’s why i summarized it for you.
It’s August. In August most people take a break, kick back a little and relax. Even if we don’t have a holiday booked, for some reason the month of August is Britain’s chill out month. I love it. It’s the time of year we all get a little bit refreshed ready to face the cold of winter.
But something else happens in August. For a lot of people routine goes out the window, good ways of doing things that happen all year round seem to slow down or stop, morning patterns change, late nights and cold beer or pimms enthused headaches mean some of what is normal life gets put on hold. We seem to start September refreshed in every area of life except one vital one – our walk with God.
AUGUST IS WHEN THE TRUE REALITY OF OUR WALK WITH GOD BECOMES VISIBLE!
It can feel like we become distanced from the life giving source and end our chilled month haggered and dead spiritually speaking.
But it doesn’t have to be like that.
I have some friends at Revelation Church in London who are committed to change this and I am right on their tales.
30daymarinade.co.uk is an attempt to say “look, i love Jesus, and whilst i relax in August i want to relax with Him so here’s what i’m gonna do about it”.
What does August look like for you? Super chilled followed by a distant relationship with Jesus? or super chilled followed by the continuation of a summer relaxing in Him?
Your call. I know what i want.
Last Sunday I spoke from Luke 14 where Jesus, in discussion with His dinner guests over whether you can heal someone on the Sabbath, tells the parable of the wedding feast.
The parable challenges the whole social hierarchy and honour of mealtimes and therefore what is important in the Kingdom of God when it comes to sharing what is probably the most regular and intimate social gathering we partake in. As part of our discussion, we reflected that the society we live in often views mealtimes around themselves – this is a time for me to eat, to have people i want round for dinner, to show off a little, eat well etc.
Jesus, in painting a picture of an eternal mealtime where everyone is equal before a glorious host, suggests you place yourself at the bottom and allow others to raise you up, to give you honour and status. Much bigger than mealtimes, Jesus is challenging the whole religious mindset and purpose of the law. The people around Jesus’ table as he’s telling this parable would have been excellent law keepers and yet perhaps they had missed the point of a law that was meant to display to the world the glory of God and a people that know how to care for one another in the light of God’s mercy and grace to them. Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?
We challenged each other to think about who we share the table with. Who we have round for meals. What is our heart motivation for it?
As a follow up to this talk, I’d like to suggest a book for further reading. ‘A meal with Jesus’ by Tim Chester goes much much further into this parable and others rediscovering the true meaning of the meal and the transforming power it can have in bringing the gospel to our city, nation and world. It really is worth a read – it may even transform your eating habits!
I’ve got to tell you, I’ve been quite stirred by this passage. So often my meals are about a fuel stop or a social occasion where i get to be the centre of attention (slight confession of my heart there – sorry about that). I’ve been moved, however, to consider how my mealtimes really display to the world and to God the grace He has given me and the way it has transformed me. Like many other areas of my life, I’m asking God to help the reality of my actions reflect the reality of my new life in Him.
It’s been a few weeks since i blogged and for good reason. You see, a little over three weeks ago my son, Elijah William Jean, was born. Today i thought i’d write a few of my thoughts on becoming a dad for the third time.
1. Daughters are amazing
Ever since i can remember, being Dad was joined in my head to having a son. It was as if that is what i expected to happen and so when Lisa was pregnant with Anya (our first child) i had to do some soul searching to check my heart on the matter. Having a daughter (in my case two) has been an absolute privilege and pleasure. Seeing the creative uniqueness of God’s handiwork in our girls has shown me so much about God’s passion for creation and his ability to create so differently and so brilliantly. I love my girls and, to be honest, was not expecting a son until the scan said so. Then i had to go back and check my heart again. He is great. I am sure God will show me more about His character through Eli and i’m looking forward to getting to know him over the years ahead.
2. Being a dad is not everything
I am deeply aware of the heartache some of my friends are going through as they seek to conceive a child only to have found out there are difficulties. It is difficult to fully understand the pain of this season without, as in many situations in life, walking through it. Lisa and I walked a similar path before conceiving Anya and learnt many lessons in the process. The greatest of these was that being a parent isn’t everything. This sounds harsh. But it’s true. It’s a tough lesson to learn in the midst of the suffering but one that gives hope for the future. Let me explain why…
You see if my whole world is wrapped up in either having kids or being a dad (to that matter, is wrapped up in anything that will end – in getting married, getting a bigger a house, the perfect job, etc) then my whole world falls apart when they get taken away either in the struggle to conceive or natural consequences of life. But if my world is hinged on Christ, well he doesn’t go away – he is there at the beginning and he’ll be there at the end. I think part of Jesus’ motivation behind asking the children to come to him in Matthew 19 is a passion to entrust them into the care of Christ. There’s a story in the Old testament that talks of a persons focus being on God and their ability to give to God their dreams and the blessings God gives them. Eli was a priest who cared for Samuel after his mother, who was barren for many years, gave birth to him. She then gave him over to Eli, into the service of God because she’d promised God that she would – 1 Samuel. Hannah desperately wanted children, but she wanted God more. She committed the dream and the blessing to God, before conception and after birth. And in some ways we had to do this before Lisa fell pregnant with our first because in doing so we were saying “we give you our dreams and trust you to do whats best. If we can’t have children then we’ll still praise you even through the tears”.
If you’re struggling to conceive – God bless you. My prayer for you is that you’ll know how to pray with desperation but live with assured hope in Christ, and Christ alone. That he’d be your strength and shield in the midst of the valley and that whether or not you conceive, you’d know God’s blessings on your life.
Over the past year it feels like The Oak has begun to get it’s roots down into God and into the communities where we live. We’re beginning to figure out how to bless those around us and serve our city together. There are a million ideas bubbling up from Life Groups and Missional Communities and I, for one, am excited about what might happen in this part of Leeds and Bradford.
With that in mind, Lisa and I wanted to share with you in written word what we’ve begun to communicate through conversation.
We think this autumn will be significant for us as individuals and as a church. The autumn term is often one where we’re refocused, re-energised and ready to dig deep and work hard. We’ve had some prophetic words of late that have likened this next season for us at The Oak to ‘soaring’ (like birds in the air) and we’d certainly like to do that. But to soar means to commit to the journey and commit to the climb.
There are three things we’re doing to respond to where God might be leading us:
1. Having talked with the leaders at Mosaic Church and other Churches supporting us, we are beginning to meet informally (BBQ’s and the like) with a few men and women from The Oak who seem to have character, competency and a chemistry with Lisa and I that could work in eventually forming a Leadership Team. This is a growing process that will hopefully lead to us appointing some form of leadership Team around Christmas Time.
2. We are in conversation with the incredible Dan Hockley, who has been giving The Oak a day a week on top of his normal service to work and serve the church, about coming on staff for one additional day. This will mean he will work one day as a volunteer and one day on paid staff with a specific remit of increasing our missional impact in the city.
3. We are offering a one year part-time internship at The Oak beginning September 2012. Interns will work on 1-2 projects, take part in leadership and staff training and serve at our Family Gatherings (if you’re interested please speak to me). We already have two people interested in serving us!
As you might have guessed, we’re very excited about what September holds – please pray for us.
If you have any comments on the above steps that would be helpful in our decision making over the next few months, please email us.
Chris & Lisa
Team Leaders at The Oak
So, i just read a really interesting post about what sermon prep really looks like (see here) and, whilst i laughed out loud, quivered inside and would like to deny it, my prep often looks just like that.
I’ve got a bit of routine thing going, as some of you might expect from my slightly weird nature, which helps me get my study done earlier on in the week but sometimes it all goes belly up and i’m left scrabbling for time toward the end of the week. What is that all about? It’s as if everything is just more important, aren’t they?
Well, if i am honest with myself no, they’re not. They are more pressing but they are not more important. They are more in my face but they are not more important. If you’ve emailed me, it is unlikely that the content of your email was as important as communicating faithfully God’s word to His people – but in my mind i probably responded as if it was!
With that in mind i find myself asking [myself] the question “why then, do you wait till the end of the week you numpty?”. And i’ve come up with a couple of comments, far from complete but nevertheless some comments (please feel free to throw in yours).
In each comment: A is why i do it like that, and B is my solution
A. Because i people please – i like you, the emailer / caller to think i like you and am efficient, so i reply immediately.
B. Only check my emails at certain times and turn them off during study periods, re-schedule meetings outside of prep times.
A. Because it’s not pressing and “i work better under pressure”
B. It is pressing therefore it cannot wait and i don’t work better under pressure i just work faster and narrower in thought.
If i want to be ‘better’ i have to start earlier. I have to re-prioritise what is important and start with the highest.
A. Because i live under the in-complete, ‘part-of-the-answer’ expectation that if i don’t do it God will
B. And He will. But he also wants me to engage with Him, seek Him, find Him and communicate Him – faithfully!
My strategy is now: Pray, put in the study, pray, write, pray, preach.
A. Because sometimes it just happens that way
B. It does and sometimes there’s nothing i can do about it. Thank God He is in control and loves His church more than me.
Some of this sounds a bit harsh doesn’t it? Well, if we’re to do the things that are important to us, we have to prioritise our time and energy in order to do them. It really is that simple.
It’s been a while since i blogged. To be honest i just kinda stopped and didn’t start again, so here i am starting again.
I like thinking:
Thinking is a good thing that can become a pain in the rear end. You start thinking about things and then you get carried away and you end up somewhere completely different. Sometimes that’s good. Sometimes that’s bad. I’d like to some of my thinking here – is that ok with you?
I like writing:
Every week i write thousands of words in emails and texts and tweets but the words i like writing the most are the ones that i hope change peoples lives. I write a preach for sunday at the oak out in almost word for word fashion (depends how much time i have and how detailed i want to be) and i so enjoy it because i feel like i am writing to people about stuff that matters – our lives, our God, and the mess of our minds! I’d like to do some of my writing here, that ok?
And i like talking:
Talking is fun, it really is. You can be serious or funny, sound cool, sound bad – a whole bunch of stuff! People can come away from a conversation with you and have smiled and participated all the way through and yet still have no-idea what you just said. I’d like to do some talking that makes sense, and if you’d like, i’d like to have a bit of a conversation, you up for that?
With TheOak being planted at the moment, fresh in mind everyday is thought: who is God going to add to this body, how is this community of God going to grow? I know there are tonnes of answers, most obvious, but it doesn’t stop me daily asking the question.
I read a church planting blog by some friends in Manchester, UK, who’ve been posting some really great stuff recently. One of these caught my eye. I purchased the book it references a while ago but haven’t got round to reading it yet – i think maybe now it will be the next book i read.
The video below is the promo and it raises some interesting points that are well worth pondering – very well worth indeed!