100 WORDS

I have started this little exercise a few years ago but haven’t done it recently. Browsing over past ‘100 words’ I found it pretty amazing.

Maybe it will inspire you to do the same. The 100 words are personal really, yet not a secret. Don’t try to deconstruct or interpret me by them. They really only make sense to me, and some of them are quite ‘random’.

I wrote them, ‘shooting from the hip’, in the last week of this year – no editing, filtering and image manipulation.

Here they are – they year remembered in 100 words:

Japan Earthquake
Steve Jobs
Trust vs Faith
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Ipad
‘Arab Springs’
Sons, Disciples & Witnesses
God is Faithful
Student Fees
Radical by David Platt
Kindle
A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller
The Riots
Fear vs. Faith
God is Patient
Frozen Planet
Holy Spirit & Mission
Twitter
Reclaiming the Trinity
Autism
The Gospel
Rumer – Seasons of My Soul
Love Wins
Blogging
Sunderland Point
God is Gracious
Victory Church
❤ attack
Silence
Pulse
Judging vs. Discerning
Discipleship
Birdy – Skinny Love
Church Planting
Strokes
Younger Brother vs Older Brother
The Social Network
Francis Chan
Classic FM
YRR

END OF YEAR PICK & MIX

Read this and ponder on your own regrets:

Erma Bombeck once wrote about what she would do differently If I Had My Life to Live Over:
“I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded. I would have eaten the popcorn in the “GOOD” living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace. I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth. I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed. I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains. “I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life. I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I wasn’t there for the day. I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime. Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment realizing that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle. When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.” There would have been more “I love you’s” and more “I’m sorry’s” but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute . . . look at it and really see it . . . live it! And never give it back.”

I love this two prayers from some of the 24-7 prayer walls:

CRACIUNUL DE ALTA DATA

E usor sa fi nostalgic. Si oarecum e un semn de ‘lenevie motivationala’. Pentru prea multi dintre noi, prezentul parca e pe locul trei in top. Trecutul parca era mai frumos iar viitorul desi un mare semn de intrebare, totusi e plin de posibilitati. Pe cand prezentul e asa cum e… In cel mai fericit caz, nu e rau dar parca e loc si de mai bine.

Si totusi, Craciunul de alta data era mai frumos… Poate ca era privit prin prisma unei inocente copilaresti sau poate ca intr-adevar era mai frumos. Era zapada mare, afanata si pufoasa. Erau colindatori si mici si mari.

Erau brazii care dupa sarbatori deveneau arme improvizate in mainile unor spadasini indemanatici si pitici. Erau escapadele pe sanie coborand pe ‘muntii’ de pamant din zonele inca in constructie din cartier. Erau cozile la banane si portocale.

Erau cadourile exotice de jucarii chinezesti, luciose si atragatoare pentruy care parintii se straduiau cu chiu cu vai sa le obtina. Erau miresmele care ne ‘imbatau’ simturile in timp ce treceai pe langa blocuri: sarmale, fripturi si dulciuri din cuptor. La Biserica erau programe speciale, iar in loc de a fi o povara in plus, era o delectare si o binevenita improspatare a sufletului.

Si oamenii erau mai altfel. Mai politicosi, mai putin grabiti, mai atenti, mai zambareti, mai plini de pace launtrica. Era parca o sfidare ‘sub acoperire’ a sentimentului de depresie care ar fi trebuit sa umbreasca sarbatorile in contextul unui sistem politic advers.

Ce nu aveam? Supermarketuri, Canale TV multiple, X factor si alte cele. Si parca era mai frumos si noi eram mai frumosi (in suflet).

Desi anii au trecut si multe s-au schimbat – totusi exista sansa de a experimenta cel mai minunat Craciun. Secretul? Sa-L descoperi pe Acela care este Darul cel mai minunat. Cum scrie Sf. Evanghelist Ioan: ‘

Lumina aceasta era adevarata Lumina, care lumineaza pe orice om, venind in lume. El era in lume, si lumea a fost facuta prin El, dar lumea nu L-a cunoscut.. A venit la ai Sai, si ai Sai nu L-au primit.. Dar tuturor celor ce L-au primit, adica celor ce cred in Numele Lui, le-a dat dreptul sa se faca copii ai lui Dumnezeu;

Fie ca Domnul Isus Mantuitorul nascut in ieslea Betleemului sa-Si gaseasca loc si in sufletele si casele noastre in acest an!

THE GIFT 3

 

Here is my latest Sunday sermon, the third in the series The Gift. Isaiah the Old Testament prophet writes nearly 700 years before Jesus birth – creating a trailer/preview of the one to come as the Messiah:

This message describes Jesus as the  Prince of Peace and how that affects us in our great need for peace: 

To help you understand the reference to the John Lewis ad – you can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSLOnR1s74o

Here are my previous messages in The Gift series:

  • Everlasting Father –  
  • Mighty God –  

THE JOURNEY

Those who know me well enough, know that I love stories. Especially true ones. They manage to have an almost magical way to convey deep truths dressed-up in a more memorable and accessible way.

Here is one about the coolest Catholic Father I know, Gregory Boyle from Homeboy ministries.

He retells the story of a 15-year-old gang member named Rigo. Rigo was getting ready for a special worship service for incarcerated youth when Boyle casually asked if Rigo’s father would be coming. The following is a summary of their conversation: “No,” he said, “He’s a heroin addict and never been in my life. Used to always beat me. Then something snapped inside Rigo as he recalled an image from his childhood.”

I think I was in fourth grade,” he began, “I came home. Sent home in the middle of the day … . [When I got home] my dad says, ‘Why did they send you home?’ And cuz my dad always beat me, I said, ‘If I tell you, promise you won’t hit me?’ He just said, ‘I’m your father. Course I’m not gonna hit you.’ So I told him.” Rigo began to cry, and in a moment he started wailing and rocking back and forth.

Boyle put his arm around him until he slowly calmed down. When Rigo could finally speak again, he spoke quietly, still in a state of shock: “He beat me with a pipe … with … a pipe.” After Rigo composed himself, Boyle asked about his mom. Rigo pointed to a small woman and said, “That’s her over there … . There’s no one like her.”

Then Rigo paused and said, “I’ve been locked up for a year and half. She comes to see me every Sunday. You know how many buses she takes every Sunday [to see me]?” Rigo started sobbing with the same ferocity as before. After catching his breath, he gasped through the sobs, “Seven buses. She takes … seven … buses. Imagine.”

This is such a powerful story that captures a great image of gracious love and affection in the face of hatred and unkindness. Yet this is miles away from the Greatest Story ever told. In Christ, God travelled the length of eternity to come as a gift to us. We were, lost, sinful, unlovable and undeserving. Yet He came. Humble. With a surprise factor.

As John puts it in his Gospel: Jesus came to His own, but His own did not receive him, but to all those who received Him and believed in His name, He gave them the right to become the children of God.

Jesus makes that journey for ma and you. Far more than 7 buses. Receive Him and rejoice because of Him this Christmas!

 

 

CHRISTMAS CHOICES

Facebook and Twitter are awash with comments and pictures regarding the decorated Christmas tree that is already up, carols via Youtube and comments about cards and shopping for presents.

Even as I write these lines, we are all already swamped by the Christmas season annual frenzy (read insanity, if that’s how you feel…). I am sure that you know what I mean. The shopping, the meal arrangements, the Christmas play, the decorations, the holiday plans…and the list goes on and on… One thing that most of us struggle with – even those of you who have started your planning and shopping in January – is choosing the right present for the right person. So tough and frustrating! But I want to encourage you about another area where we must make the right choice.

 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better,
and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42

Every Christmas we battle with the Martha syndrome. We are so busy that often we neglect our own spiritual health at the expense of excelling and laborious preparations. We get to Christmas day and we are so worn out that a nervous breakdown could easily be just around the corner. We wake up on Boxing Day and wonder ‘was that it?

You know, in spite of the bad press she gets, I love Martha, She loves Jesus deeply. And the way Martha expresses her love for Him is though her hospitality. I get wound up (mildly) with those who ‘have a go’ at her. I bet they are not ‘happy bunnies’ if the house looks like a garbage refill site and if the dinner table is empty…

But let’s face it. Somehow Martha gets it wrong. Jesus is encouraging her to review her attitude and invites her to refocus. Mary chose the better way. She chose to serve the Master by spending time and listening to Him – and He commended her for it. I guess we could call it devotion.

As the Christmas season is in full swing I encourage and pray that you would take time out from the many voices that call on you – and spend time with the Master:

Make prayer a priority – giving thanks for His gracious arrival and pray for those who do not know Him yet!

Read Scripture – make yourself familiar with the Nativity passages. Discover new gems and let them impact your lifestyle!

Look out for others – the best ‘thank you’ that Jesus can get, is you becoming incarnational in your loving service to others!

‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’   

Isaiah 9:6

 

 

 

 

SPREAD – How your Church or Small Group can make the most of Christmas

I have prepared these few suggestions for our LIFE Groups. Maybe you can find them helpful too.

SERVE together. This is about being hands-on. Towel and basin, just like the Master, our very own version of ‘incarnational’. You can help with car parking, card distribution and a myriad of ‘behind the scenes’ essential ways to make the Christmas outreaches a great blessing for many.

PRAY together. This is probably the best way you can bless one another and also affect great change, in your lives, church and community. Pray in triplets for one another. Pray as a group for your friends and family, as well as the church Christmas outreaches.

READ the story together. Take time to read one or more passages from the gospels that remind you of the coming of Christ. Read slowly. Read worshipfully. Read in different versions. Stop from time to time to take it in.

ENCOURAGE one another. Christmas presents are nice but they seem to be easily forgotten. Maybe you can gift people in your group something that is of eternal value (Bible verse, a written prayer for them, some home-made stuff that is personal). Maybe you as a LG feel the desire to bless someone who was/is outside of you LG – think creatively and spiritually.

ADMIT struggles to one another. Be transparently honest with one another. This can be a difficult time of the year. Families are not always picture perfect. There is financial stress, relational stress and sometimes even bereavement and loneliness. You can only pray and encourage one another if you know one-another – and that means being vulnerable.

DECLARE the Good News together. After all, this is what the season is all about. Tell your neighbours about our church services, get involved in carol singing in pubs/residential homes/town and let those around you see and hear about the Good news of the Saviour’s birth. Hope is so desperately needed this Christmas!

IF YOU WANT TO PRINT THIS FOR YOUR GROUP – HERE IS THE PDF: SPREAD – Equipped for Christmas 1