What Season Are You In?

From the window where I’m sitting the season is one of my favourites – autumn, but the people I was with last week would call it fall, and by virtue of the fact that people read the blog from all over the world, I’m not going to assume anything. We often think in terms of what time it is, and plan our lives by the clock or the calendar. I live day to day, plan month to month, and have an awareness of what season I am in, whatever the weather. Ecclesiastes 3:1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. What season of life are you in right now? You have to discern what season you are in, because you can’t be the same in each of them. I heard a talk years back by Jim Rohn who described these four seasons and though I have forgotten the detail of what he said, I’ve tried to apply the wisdom from it. WINTER – Hang in There! Job 37:6 “He directs the snow to fall […]


IF God is so good, why is the world so bad?

Every day for weeks we have been bombarded with horror stories. Orlando and then various cities in the USA, Baghdad, Syria (of course), then Nice – a place where Ivy has mission partners that I have visited so it feels a lot closer to home. It really wasn’t that long since Zoe and I sat on the Promenade des Anglais, looking out at the sea and praying together. A beautiful place – and then irrational, unfathomable evil is unleashed and the innocent suffer again. How are we supposed to deal with it? And whether you believe in God or hate the idea of God, you have to deal with it. Sociologist Peter Berger said we all have to come up with a solution to this for ourselves in some way, or we’ll find the world unbearable. We’ll crack up. That’s one reason the world is so hopeless and fearful right now. People are still trying to figure it all out, and they can’t… Last night at Ivy I addressed the issues in a talk entitled How can God be good, when […]


How Can Your Church Connect With Generation Z?

  A pre-figure of Generation Z appears in Acts 20 where we read how a young man called Eutychus was hearing a sermon that sent him to sleep and he ended up ‘pushing up Zs’. He fell out of the window and would have stayed pushing up daisies, until the apostle Paul did something dramatic that raised him back to life. There are presently six living generations. How many can you name? I had heard of Boomers and Busters, got my head around Generation X (I’m in that bracket) and Generation Y (millennials b. 1980-95) but unlike marketeers and media people I was way behind the curve when it came to Generation Z, the tweens and teens of today (1995-2010). As someone who wants to reach the world for Jesus, that’s pretty much inexcusable- because this hugely populous group are the influencers of tomorrow, living in a world that has radically changed from when I was a teen. I first heard someone tackle the importance of reaching this burgeoning group of potential world changers (or self obsessed narcissists depending who you […]


A Different Way To Get Leaders

How did Peter get to follow Jesus and become a leader? Jesus selected him. How did Matthew get to follow Jesus and become a leader? Jesus selected him. Luke 5: One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore… After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. Jesus called some fishermen and said “Follow me.” He went out and saw the tax collector who was by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. Why did he do that? Because Jesus picked him. […]


I Just Had An Epiphany

Tonight at Ivy Didsbury Andy Smith blew us away with an incredible talk about the Magi, those outsiders from the East who found themselves in Bethlehem shortly after Christ was born, and on bended knee gave the best of who they were and had to him. There was so much great stuff there I encourage you to subscribe to the Ivy podcast and listen to the talk in full when it’s up later in the week. But something Andy said almost in passing at the end really grabbed me. It was an epiphany at Epiphany! Here it is, as I recall what he said: “The wise men got there, and saw… a baby, an infant, a little child. But God says in Zechariah 4:10 despise not the day of small beginnings,’ and this child grew into the Saviour of the world.” As I sat there I thought about those VIPs. They came looking for the King of the Jews, right? What would that look like? They’d know what Kings look like. And they are somehow looking for God there, the […]


My Christmas Eve Talk From A Few Years Back – “What’s His Name?”

WHAT’S HIS NAME?  Any Josephs in the place tonight? Mary? Carol!? Anyone called Jesus? No, it used to be common – but he’s pretty unique… he kind of cornered the market on that name. It means ‘God to the rescue.’ Does your name mean something? Do you know what it means? Years ago I asked a bunch of school kids who Christmas was really all about. Someone said Father Christmas of course. Then, a little boy put his hand up…’Oh, It’s… it’s wassisname!’ I want to start by telling you about a vision a man called Isaiah had, we heard something of the words he wrote earlier. By the way the Jewish people made sure their names meant something. Isaiah means, ‘God is salvation.’ He was a prophet, he spoke & wrote around the C8th years BC – what does BC mean? Before Christmas! Every time you write a date it’s saying something about that event that spilt time in two halves forever; the birth of Jesus Christ. But centuries before he was born…. the nation of Israel was living through […]


So What If Everyone Just Did Without God?

(My Talk Delivered at Ivy Kingsway This Morning) I sometimes wonder, what would my life have been like if I hadn’t become a Christ follower nearly 30 years ago.It’s a long story and you have already heard it but it started when I opened my mind and opened my Bible, then Jesus Christ showed how real he is, so I opened my life to him and he changed everything. I don’t know whether you’d say you are near to God or far away, but the Bible says ‘Draw near to God and he will draw near to you’ and that’s a promise and that’s what I did. And that’s what He did. And He will do it for anyone here today, so today I want to invite you – like we do all the time round here at Ivy and over 50 people have done it since September – to pray with me to fully give control of your life and come back to God. To receive his love, believe his promises, turn from everything you know to be wrong […]


Work Life Balance? Impossible! Do This Instead

I spoke today to the ‘Ivy Professionals’ Group – a bunch of people who meet to discuss how to get the best out of working for God, whatever they do. They asked me to speak on ‘Work/Life Balance’. Numbers were down, probably effected by the terrible news of terrorist attacks in Paris which leaves us all with a sense of numbness and the need to just reflect, pray and perhaps be with people we love.  The people who were there asked me to share my notes on here and I hope they help you too.  I have benefitted from a lot of training over the years from the fantastic Franklin Covey organisation and much of what I do has been shaped by their materials. I recommend them 100%. Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has probably been my number one ‘Go back and read again’ leadership book over the last fifteen years. Once of the central concepts is of course the story of the teacher who fills up a glass storm jar, first with 7 Big Rocks, then with […]


Church & Buildings – The Wrong Question?

This week I ended up embroiled in discussion with some CofE friends via Facebook after I retweeted a Guardian article by Giles Fraser on how the best thing to do with dying rural churches is shut them down and sell them off (that’s my summary, follow the link to read it if you like). His idea can hardly be described as original, but it’s put the cat among the bats in the belfry. And here I risk offending even more than he has by commenting that talking about rural churches only is a hostage to fortune. Would your community weep if the church was no longer there? I know some ministers who wouldn’t even weep if it wasn’t there! Places where the local dry cleaners would be missed if it closed more than the local church because at least that’s providing some tangible benefit. Urban or rural, churches that are only relevant to those still attending but irrelevant to connect meaningfully with their local community will die, they can just take a very long time to do so.  Meanwhile a […]


Ugly Duckling – Get Ready To Fly

I used to always sing this to the kids at bath time. I loved it whether or not they did! As I write the talk now for this coming Sunday at Ivy Church I finish up thinking about our living out our potential. But if we think about our potential as only being for this life, we miss out so much of what God has prepared for us. The Bible says about Jesus, ‘When we see Him, we will know Him,’ (How?) ‘Because we’ll be like Him.’  We live as citizens of heaven. This world is not our home, we don’t always fit in. Some days more than others we feel that don’t we? But our Christian hope is that one day soon, we’ll stand before Him. We would be ashamed of our ‘grubbiness’ as we focus on ourselves, until he says, ‘Look at who I have you!’ The perishable will be clothed with the imperishable. We’ll never waddle again, but soar!