Group cycling, aka spinning is a reflection of the fall…..but it’s working for me in a love-hate kind of way.

The opposite of transformation is probably transaction. And we’re made for so much more than this……
A church that tries to recruit, offering the details of 69 planned management mtgs per year, will understandably struggle to attract Acts 2 ministry.
And the church that can’t detail in a few sentences what it’s looking for, won’t help in producing a 36-page profile.
Devil’s Knot is a haunting movie, Simplify is classic Bill Hybel’s wisdom, I want to have the gravel of the *new Leonard Cohen sounds when I grow older & The New Parish is a really important book exploring place, mission & discipleship.
I’m just praying and believing that a grace awakening will bring lasting change.
The north provided rain, strong tea, and labelled sandwiches made up in a brown paper bag. Top class.
Did I say I really miss snacking on Cadburys *treats!?
And my favourite over-hear exiting the afore-mentioned exercise class: “Now I can go eat a big slice of cake!” Not the finest moment of free-will ever, but……. go on enjoy that piece of cake, it’s the weekend!

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“The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain. This is all God asks us to give our attention to and it is the one thing that is continually under attack.” Oswald Chambers

1 I’m sure you’ve seen it: the 5-isms of insecure leadership. Indeed. 
2 Five characteristics of incredibly resilient people. Yes indeed.
3 Guilt or joy,….it’s a no-brainer right? Don Miller’s take on this.
4 Five prayers that changed the world. Shakers….
5 Start…..go on,….. be one of the rare 1%!

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I’ve been challenged to ‘pursue joy’ ever since 2012….. some weekend reading, has been calling me back to the book of joy, again.

”Christianity has been named, sometimes patronizingly, sometimes sentimentally, sometimes honestly enough, the religion of sorrow; but there never was a more complete misnomer.  It is not the religion of sorrow, but the religion which, because it is inspired by One who lives and was dead, gives the victory over every sorrow, even the crowning sorrows of death and sin. There is not in the New Testament from beginning to end, in the record of the original and genuine Christian life, a single word of despondency or gloom. It is the most buoyant, exhilarating, and joyful book in the world.”

James Denney. Studies in Theology, 1895.

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I continue to be asked about what constitutes my discipleship and ongoing formation. One invaluable part of my routine for almost sixteen years has been a spiritual director. The accountability, depth, insight and fellowship of these times remains….Sister Theresa played a precious part of this in my life for a clutch of those years…..here pictured with my son Noah some time ago. Our times were fuelled by questionable instant-coffee, ginger nut biscuits and sincere prayerfulness of heart.
Here are some of the scribbles from the journals of that time…..
  1. Bone-china mugs make any hot drink taste better.
  2. Times that are free of suffering are opportunities to reach out to those in times of suffering.
  3. Times of suffering are opportunities to glorify God and grow the most. You’re never meant to enjoy them, and sometimes they last a long time!
  4. Wisdom chooses silence over speech more often than not.
  5. Anger unaddressed, poisons every area of life.
  6. Funny birthday cards are silly. Just say what you mean!
  7. If you ever start to believe that people cannot change, it’s time to get out of ministry.
  8. See more in people than they see in themselves. Trust your intuition, even if all around is doubt.
  9. Use simple words to express yourself. Speak plainly. It helps to think for awhile before you speak.
  10. Linger near death, for out of it will flow resurrection life and undefeatable hope.
  11. It is wiser to be an asker of questions than a teller of answers.
  12. We are all God’s favourites, right!?

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“You said, how much?!” is what I called my talk from Matthew 20 today. I was cornered again by the impact that grace makes. Heres the audio file.

The parable of the vineyard workers is a deeply unlikeable & profound gospel challenge! The kingdom of God, is not founded on the quality of the people in it, but on the unrestrained and lavish mercy of the God who came and got us. Maybe you & I will only get this story if we embrace grace.

It’s about perceived justice, earning & mostly grace.
Attitudes are key.…..for the Rewarder should be enough to fill our hearts, not the reward. For Jesus is enough.
Grace-inspired gratitude & service matter.

Kirkegaard, Eckhart, Luther and Yancey were some of my inspiration in this preach on possibly the most difficult parable. I battered out almost 9,000 words in earlier prep, but only preached for a brief 27 minutes today.

So go on, here’s to loving with a daring generosity and unrelenting grace.
And yes,…… thank you Lord Jesus for your all-time, undeserved, all-sufficient grace.

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“We must remember that the key to Christian obedience is not non-conformity but conformity…Paul elsewhere and in Romans 12 is more interested in helping us faithfully discern what it means not to be different from the world, but to be like Christ.” John Howard Yoder.

1 Managing the charismatic-missional tension. Brilliantly painted here.
2 Assurance is vital, but arrogance is a really ugly trait. Here’s a great read on holding wisely in ministry.
3 What effective pastors do with their time. And yes it involves real people outside of the ‘bubble!’
4 Alain Emerson’s powerful testimony of suffering and loss. And God being in and through it all…..
5 Ten mistakes novice preachers make. Its a great reminder however young or old in this we are. 

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from this week, that made me smile…..

Fleshy motivation giving way to sight & Jesus showing the way through.
How much God’s word blesses, nags & provokes my own soul.
How learning godly trust is more satisfying than my best striving.
The outrage about U2’s latest offering. It’s really not like a thief broke into your house and put the album in your computer. Receive the gift of their genius…… receive it, if you wish!
How rich Colossians 3 is. You could dwell in this for a very long time….
Elementary is a decent series, Common Prayer is really helpful, and Desiring the Kingdom is a book well worth re-reading, slowly.
How good a humble breakfast muesli can be when pimped with decent sultanas and other bits!
My children’s instagram genius. That’s funny.
And grace will keep on being the theme of my life. And I am (forever) grateful.

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Henri Nouwen writes potently…..Perhaps like me you’ve never heard or seen him speak, then let me forward the invite of a dear friend, to watch & listen here. It’s an eight-parter: but utterly worth it.  Here are some of the most striking bits for me!

The voice that calls you ‘beloved’ us the voice that loves first.
Love and wounds are never separate.
Our ‘chosen-ness’ is for the sake of others!
Dare to put your brokenness under the blessing of God.
Suffer and so enter the blessing of God. It’s not easy, but this is the call.
‘Where in my day was I ….chosen/blessed/broken & given? ‘
My little life does not end on the day I die.
There is no fruitfulness without my dying.
Live to be food and drink for others.
The call of the beloved, is what prayer is all about.
Discover your own poverty & know that the voice of the beloved says, ‘Don’t be afraid!’
Be amongst the fellowship of the weak……
An obedient person is someone who can listen to the voice of the beloved!

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I came across this proverb a while back:- “let go or be dragged!”

It is so appropriate in more ways than one. I need the reminder, so I share it…. As a partner, a parent, as a leader, as a friend, as someone healing from woundedness, one of the greatest gifts we can learn is the art of “letting go”.

Letting go doesn’t mean giving up.  It doesn’t mean not caring.  It doesn’t mean not being engaged or connected……but it does mean taking our grip off of things so tightly.

It means learning how to be less co-dependent. It invites us to trust God is at work in ways we can’t see. It means knowing and responding to our limitations. It necessitates us to be more fully human.  It means being very aware of how much power we give to things in the past or the present that we have absolutely no control of.

When I reflect on places of wounding past, “let go or be dragged” comes to mind.  When I was hanging on so tightly to the past, I was the one suffering. I was the one experiencing self-increased misery.  We take things more personally than we should.  We can’t stand it when people disapprove or disagree. We’re truly not as strong as we think we are. In the back part of last year God keep on squeezing this truth into my heart – to just let go……  A white-knuckle grip of life is not effective and is the very antithesis of the life God wants for us.

Don’t get dragged all around the place…….  Just as Corrie Ten Boom said, ‎”Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”

What about you? What do you need to let go of this year? What will you let-go of today?

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