Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Praying for Zimbabwe

The great thing about coming together in missions is that there is strength in community. I’ve been invited to come and share about communications at a leadership gathering in South Central Africa. We’re meeting in Livingstone (just near Victoria falls) and I’ve had the privilege of joining in all the sessions. The group has been exploring what God is doing in the region. We had a focus this morning on Zimbabwe. Historically many ministries and bases across southern and south-central Africa have been launched by YWAM volunteers coming out of Zimbabwe. However, in recent years this has suffered, and staff numbers have dwindled. The group came together to pray and intercede for the nation and ask for God’s heart for this nation. God spoke in wonderful ways: in words, in pictures, in Bible verses. And they all focused in on a love for this country. The first session this morning was concluded by a spontaneous worship session where we all sang together ‘akuna wakaita sa jesu’ – there’s no one like Jesus. What a wonderful experience.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Preparing for my next trip

You know that feeling when you're about to embark on a trip. Finances are (just about) there to buy the plane ticket and the last days are approaching before you leave.

I'm about to head off to Livingstone in Zambia to meet with leaders working across South Central Africa. I have met some of them before, but I've never been in a position to teach them...until now!

I'm nervous and keep staring at blank pieces of paper entitled: key messages that I want to give. Aaaargh. A few days to go and I'm really not ready. Please, Lord, help me now!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Learning to be more deliberate

Just watched a movie with my wife and a couple of friends, called About Timelate on a Friday night. I wasn't really in the mood for a movie, but I thought, oh well, let's give it a go. 

This film had me laughing and crying and - what's best about a good movie - it challenged me to think long and hard about my life. 

I love films that spark a discussion afterwards, where we really have to think about what we've just seen and provokes us into thinking about something deeper. The film, without giving away the plot, gets the audience to think seriously about what we value the most and how we live our everyday lives. It gave an insight into the beauty and depth of the mundane daily existence. It forces you to think: what if I lived my life in a more deliberate way!?

So, I am accepting the challenge. I'm asking God today, Saturday, to begin a new work in me that causes me to have my eyes open to the reality around me; to be aware of His presence in the small 'insignificant' things that usually pass us by. And, more importantly, to be present and purposeful in my family life and not squander what precious time this is, with the people whom I love and who love me the most. 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Missing the true leaders in our midst

Watching children is a very interesting activity. You see a crude reflection of adulthood. The kids are much more obvious with their selfishness, greed, anger and thoughtlessness. Yet when we look around us what do we see? Which leaders of nations do we elect? Which leaders of churches? Certainly not the most humble, selfless characters in our midst.

I'm currently processing how I teach my three year old son about the world. It is especially pronounced as he is such a gentle character. He loves sharing and giving. He is really out going and extroverted. However, to other kids who don't understand these virtues, he looks like a pushover. Rather than being admired by his peers, they push him around somewhat.

Then I look at the Christian communities around me and see that we admire the loud, extroverted, bold leaders who are confident and self assured. Meanwhile the humble, servant hearted people are overlooked and sometimes even mocked.

We want the 'go getters', the self-made fighters.

Yet what does the Bible say?

A friend wrote this on her Facebook wall today:

Jesus didn't choose scholars to be his first ambassadors. He chose social outcasts and despised criminals who were merely willing to abandon all they had to receive all he had to give.

The Bible doesn't promise us fame or fortune in this world. In fact the promises are so much greater, but they're not offered to the bold and braizen.

Blessed are you who are poor,
For yours will be the Kingdom of God
Blessed are you who hunger now for you will be satisfied
Blessed are you who weep now for you will laugh
Blessed are you when men hate you
When they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man.
Luke 6:20-22

Reading this list of beatitudes, I realise that I need not look at or lament what I see around me. The value that others put on my son and what people hold as valuable in a worldly sense is irrelevant compared to the value that God puts in those that just lay it all down for him, whatever our social standing.

Though it may be tough, Lord help me walk the right path to righteousness.

And help me to teach my son to do the same.

Amen.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Love feasts

When I first came into Youth With A Mission, just four years ago, there was this term Love Feast banded about. I wasn't sure what it meant and it certainly sounded a bit dodgy to me!

As I have travelled to different regions and operating locations, I find that the term exists widely but is used in a variety of contexts. It was odd to me that such a name exists but nobody really had a pure definition of what it meant. Some places it was a reward - a meal as a gift to a team returning from outreach. Other places it was used an excuse for a party. Yet I'd never been to one where the focus was on a sober, but intentional meal in preparation for the Sabbath.

It filled me with joy, therefore, today to receive the latest edition of the International YWAMer with an article from Tom Bloomer, entitled How Did YWAM Love Feasts Begin? explaining the history behind the concept. It appears that the name has travelled well, but the purpose and value behind why they're important hasn't.

This touched my heart, especially, as God has really been challenging me this year to step up as a man, husband and father (taking more responsibility) and taking the Sabbath more seriously. This is a year for really exploring what it means to rest in His presence. It's a year for developing, deepening and maturing. It's a year of preparation what God has instore for me.

I love this soaking in His presence. As charismatic as that may sound, for me that is manifest in reading my Bible and taking walks along the sea front, allowing him to speak to me in the quietness of the moment. It's also in group fellowship - meeting with friends, sharing coffee and asking them how God has impacted their lives and what we need to give thanks for.

I don't have my ministry all figured out. I don't even know how it's going to look in six months time. All I know is that He is true, trustworthy and someone I want to follow and spend time with.

What a joy it is to be serving Him in this way.