MONDAY BLUES RE-MIXED 2

MONDAY, EH?

Back to work, can always be seen as either a chore or a chance. I think most Christians divide their lives in the Sunday ‘stuff’/small group stuff’ (the sacred) and ‘the rest of my life’, including work (the secular).

God never intended us to live like that. That’s why we are uniquely gifted and passionately pursuing different interests and vocations. I know, that there are exceptions – not everyone gets to do what they really like. But I hope that it’s only a season, a matter of time before you get the opportunity to use your gifts and personality for blessing humanity and honoring God therefore.

I remember Irenaeus, the Early Church Father saying that: “The Glory of God is a human being who is fully alive.”

Here is something worth investing that can make your work-place and you presence there something noticeable: humility.

Philippians 2:3-4: New Century Version When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.

That probably means:

  • Not ambition at any price… just so you can climb the ladder
  • being ready to serve and not expecting to be served
  • being ready to shut-up and not justify or explain yourself or accuse others
  • being ready to forgive
  • being ready to go unnoticed and unrecognised

Jesus, I thank you that YOU see that we struggle with our pride. We want to be seen, We want to be heard. We want to be in control. We want our own star on Hollywood Stars Alley. We want our I-throne. Teach us to live like you did. Teach us to see ourselves not through the lens of insecurity or superiority – but through your eyes.

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FRIDAY FAST-FORWARD

SLEEP WELL
Some good advice on having a suitable bed might do miracles for your sleep life. I remember talking to a chiropractor friend of mine who pointed out that we spend a serious % of our life sleeping – so you might want to invest wisely.
http://lifehacker.com/5862152/how-to-choose-the-right-mattress-so-you-sleep-peacefully-every-night

CHRISTMAS PREP
Why not read a passage from the Bible to prepare your soul for the coming holidays. The peeps from YouVersion have put together a great plan – you can use it even if you have a android/ipad/ipod/iphone:
http://www.youversion.com/reading-plans/rediscovering-the-christmas-season

FUTURE VISION
What your desk could look like in the next few years. Don’t laugh.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dlUi3DnrzA

Is it a dream? Is it reality? Could it be possible in just 8 years? What would we have said about a tablet 8 in 2003?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp-_oUwdSeY&feature=related

REDEFINING RISK
You thought that your job was dangerous. Your life uncomfortable? Think again?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0qGvC3vqaA

WHAT ARE YOU LIVING FOR?
Francis Chan at his very best, laying out a challenge to us all.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86dsfBbZfWs

NEW 10 COMMANDMENTS FOR SMALL GROUPS CARE

Years ago I used an image to express how I see the complementarity of Sunday celebrations and Small Group ministry in the life of a local church. I saw them as the two wings that made healthy ministry ‘fly’. You take one of them away and will probably end up with an unbalanced and unhealthy life.

This is one of the many reasons why I champion our LIFE groups here at CFMC, where I have the privilege to serve and encourage Gods people. I see this as equally important to the teaching ministry I am so passionate about.

Here are my 10 suggestions for brilliant ways to encourage and equip both members and leaders to serve in an atmosphere of authentic support and accountability.

To me, it is simple. Leading a small group is about loving God and loving people. the rest should flow out of that. You care by:

Inviting or calling people to join your group so that hey don’t stand alone.

Welcoming them, as if you had Jesus over, being warm and attentive, always.

Listening to them, knowing who they are and what makes them tick or worries them.

Communicating with them, asking questions, making comments, engaging in small talk.

Noticing them, appreciating their presence, missing their presence.

Encouraging them, taking time to stress their progress and contributions.

Correcting them, just he other side of encouragement, always redemptive and constructive.

Equipping them, giving them a break to use their gifts and serve in a safe place.

Teaching them by using your words (from the Word) and life as an example to follow.

Praying for them, to grow, to be bold, to be strong, to be effective, to be faithful.

 

MONDAY BLUES RE-MIXED

Most people I know get that Monday morning blues. It’s back to work after a few days of enjoying rest and family times. However great your job might be – it often feels like an unpleasant interruption and most people just don’t look forward to it. Add to that the fact that some really have a hard time at work (colleagues, bosses, tasks) or those for whom ‘work’ is just a financial means of getting bills paid.

As a pastor – it’s similar yet very different. The weekend is the pinnacle of business in my week. Monday, very often, means an assault of introspective and self-critical army of thoughts and feelings (some from me, some from others). If it was a fantastic weekend and you felt ‘spiritually high’ – it is very likely that you will ‘come down’. That’s why for me, it is possibly the time of the week when I feel most vulnerable.

Therefore, I suggest that we need to push back either the sense of drudgery, frustration or unhealthy introspection. I often need a Monday Morning Restoration – a time to reflect and refocus both my feelings and attitudes.

I am reminded of Daniel’s great endeavor to work in such a way as to please and represent God in and through his workplace:

‘Daniel showed that he could do the work better than the other supervisors and governors, so the king planned to put Daniel in charge of the whole kingdom.’  Daniel 6:3

He worked in exile as a POW who was ineffectively brainwashed and used. He faced a very hostile and unfamiliar context, yet he maintained his identity. I know it doesn’t always work like that but I still desire to have an attitude like that, regardless of the outcome (success).

I believe that God is always looking for people with whom He can partner in bringing out His purposes in this world. Are you willing, in your context, with your talents – willing to say ‘yes’ to His invitation?

In the next few Mondays, as God helps me, I will attempt to bring some encouraging reflections on how to make most of our workplaces.

Spirit of God, I thank you for the gift of life today. As I face a week that is ahead of me , I know that is filled with both dreams and fears. Please give me the inspiration and strength to make my work an act of worshiping you and encouraging those around me.

 

FRIDAY FAST-FORWARD

FROM RELEVANT DUDE TO SPIRITUAL FATHER
Kevin A Miller writes a very intriguing and inspiring piece on pastoring and mentoring a new generation. I would suggest this is a ‘must read’ for anyone involved in leadership & working with a younger generation.
http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2011/summer/spiritualfather.html


FAB AD
Forget the infamous Coca Cola yearly advert preceding Christmas (the commercialism and having to hear Jingle Bells in early November – grrrrr)… This is a ‘cracker’. Actually watched a documentary on the advertising agency that handles JL’s account and they are really cool. Enjoy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSLOnR1s74o


A POVERTY PARABLE

Open to misunderstanding and miss-applying, Mark Driscoll’s parable is offering a new perspective on God’s generosity in earthly things. Curious on the reaction it would have on you reading it…
http://pastormark.tv/2011/09/21/a-poverty-theology-parable

WINTER CYCLING
with the rising cost of fuel and some other unknown set of reasons, it seems that most of my friends are (becoming) cycling enthusiasts with varying degrees of obsession. Here is something helpful for the winter months:
http://lifehacker.com/5860021/prepare-your-bicycle-and-your-body-for-winter-riding

DREAMERS
I have been listening a lot lately to Jack. See if you enjoy this too.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCG9tnXxT_A&feature=related

STILL LOVING HER

Many people in the Western world seem to be interested in some sort of ‘spiritual’ experience. Patsy Palmer, the actress playing Bianca in ‘Eastenders’, once said in an interview:

‘I’ve really got into reading books on spirituality. I feel that I’ve got a hole inside me, you know? You try to fill it up with all these things but there’s nothing that can make you happy.’

As they are searching for spiritual answers, the last place they expect to find them is the Christian church. In fact many churches appear to be closing down.

Many are very suspicious and sceptical about anything related to the Establishment – and sadly the Church is often identified as part of it. Often the church had ceased to be either prophetic or relevant to the culture surrounding it and therefore came across as either compromised or negative.

Sadly too many people could identify with the words of a Faithless’  well-known song of the dance scene of the 90’s:

‘ This is my church. This is where I heal my hurts. For tonight God is a DJ.’

All this talking about a nightclub, not a church…

The great news is that the Church is still alive today, having survived centuries of history, unlike any other institution. And that is exactly because the Church is not meant to be a human institution but the body of Christ.

As Jesus Himself said: ‘I will build my church; and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.’  (John 16:18)

I love the Church because…it is the place where we celebrate, encourage and champion the great forgiveness and hope that Jesus brings to a needy and hurting world.

I love the Church because… it is a place where I can speak and hear the truth.

I love the Church because … there I am together with people who otherwise I would have never known and appreciated.

I love the Church because…it is the place where I am known, accepted, accountable and encouraged to grow In Christ-likeness.

I love the Church because… it is paradoxically very fallible and yet Jesus calls her His bride.

What about you? Still in love? Broken-up a while ago? Time for getting back together? Give her a second chance? Come and visit us at CFM – would love to see you there!

BELATED FAST-FORWARD

DECISION MAKING
John Piper makes some very helpful suggestions for anyone involved in leadership. Even if you are experienced as a leader – I am sure that something might still ‘jump out’ and inspire you.

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/how-to-lead-in-making-major-decisions

5 DANGEROUS SIGNS OF HEALTH DECLINE IN THE CHURCH
Dr. Thom Rainer brings some personal reflections  based on his professional expertise that are worth pondering for anyone who is either a pastor or a church leader.

http://www.thomrainer.com/2011/10/five-warning-signs-of-declining-church-health-1.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+thomrainer/rss+(thomrainer.com)

JAVA TIPS
Here you can find some good inspiration or education (depending on your level of caffeine geekery) on how to brew some good Java. Beware of addiction though.
http://gearpatrol.com/blog/2011/11/03/gp-primer-skip-the-drip-how-to-manually-brew-better-coffee/

THE LOST ART OF SHOE SHINING
This has become somehow a bit of a ‘lost art’. Compulsory education for any manly man.
http://artofmanliness.com/2011/11/08/shoe-shining-guide/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheArtOfManliness+%28The+Art+of+Manliness%29/

JUST WATCH AND ENJOY 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=IbLz9-riRGM

(Possibly) THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION

Life is full of questions. Some trivial, others really bothersome in their importance. One of he most important questions I like to pose people is ‘why Jesus’ . It is important to me because I have devoted all my passion and energy in sharing with the world the treasure I have found. If I didn’t do it wouldn’t really be that precious or I would simply be selfish and stupid.

Some years ago now, we had done a religious survey in our local community we have asked people what they thought about Jesus. Not surprisingly most people used very positive words to describe Jesus. Yet they would not consider themselves Christians or even religious. It struck me that the world is full of ‘admirers of Christ’ but only few followers….

Being a Christian means far more than simply having admiration for Jesus. If we see Jesus only as a great moral teacher, revolutionary or philosopher – we have missed the point of his life and teaching. Jesus self-description is unequivocal and unambiguous:

‘ I am the light of the world’   John 8:12

‘ I am the resurrection and the life’    John 11:25-26

‘ I am the way the truth and the life’   John 14:6

Ever since the garden of Eden – due to Adam and Eve’s rebellion – sin entered into our world and an un-bridgeable spiritual gulf was formed between mankind and God.

Jesus, the Son of God came into our world and became a 100% human being. His mission was to bring reconciliation between us and God. Our sins needed to be paid for but we weren’t qualified to do it:

‘For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16).

When Jesus died on the Cross He paid for our sins and gave us the chance to receive freedom from sin and eternal life:

‘if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’ (John 8:36).

That offer demands a response. That love invites a decision. CS Lewis was right:

” A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn’t be wouldn’t be a great moral teacher, he’d either be a lunatic – on a level with a man who says  he’s a poached egg – or else he’d be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse….But don’t let us come up with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He hasn’t left that open to us. He didn’t intend to.”

What are we do then? The death of Jesus is the gift of life and forgiveness offered to us freely. All we are called to do is accept that gift through faith, repent of our sins and invite God’s Spirit to come and live within us. And that deals with our past and all its mess. It fills us with a renewed purpose and gives us an assured hope regarding the future.

‘Repent and be baptized each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’  Acts 2:38

I am God’s ambassador, ‘dealing’ forgiveness and hope – through Jesus’ great sacrifice. Today is the day that I want to herald this Good News afresh, praying that you too would say ‘yes’ to His invitation to receive His love and start afresh!

TO SAY OR NOT TO SAY

‘Lord, help me to control my tongue; help me be careful about what I say. Take away my desire to do evil or to join others in doing wrong.’   Psalm 141:3-4 NCV

It’s amazing to see how many people’s lives have been damaged by negative, critical and ungracious words that have been spoken to them. Often the victims of verbal abuse turn into tormentors themselves, and the epidemic spreads continually. The psalmist is very honest about his need of help. Many people seem to choose to ignore the problem with fatal consequences:

‘ When we avoid dealing with mistakes and pretend they don’t exist, they usually express themselves in ways that we would not anticipate: anger at someone else, frustration at something else, lack of control.’   Max Lucado

This is not a battle that we are supposed to fight on our own, with our own weapons and resources. We need God’s strength and protection. We need to be humble and vulnerable enough to ask Him in prayer.

We need to stop and wait and weigh-up what we are about to ‘let go’ from out mouths. It involves self-control and a calculated attempt to evaluate the consequences our words could bring on someone else’s life. And it involves love, of the expensive sacrificial variety…The one that forgives and does not stoop in dirt… Paul gave some great advice to the believers in Efes:

‘Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.’

My God, I want to use my words in a wise way. I need your help in avoiding to say wrong things to those around me, when facing pressures. I ask You to give me the ability to show everyone graciousness, love and encouragement today.