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 […]
As we just said goodbye to the old year and welcomed a new baby called 2016 I’m reminded of the saying that the difference between most of us and babies is that babies (especially in nappies) like changes! Someone said to me recently they think 2016 will be a bad year. Most of what we could worry about you can either pray about or do nothing about, so in the meantime rather than worry about what you can’t change, or change what you can – you! Like that baby who just entered the world, a new year presents another chance to grow, to develop, to learn. How do you feel as you look toward 2016? Will next year be better? (You can’t control that) Will you be a better version of you? (You have a lot of control there) If you’re a Christ follower you don’t have to become ‘a new you’ like all the papers promise in the fashion or diet features. You are already a new creation! You just have to become more like you have already been […]
(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 […]
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 […]
Last night we went down to the seashore with some old friends to set off fireworks for bonfire night. One of the rockets somehow lost its fuse, then the fuse must have got damp because it wouldn’t light. All its brothers went flying off to do their glorious thing, while ‘Mighty Max’ could only watch from a safe distance like the rest of us. It was going to miss its purpose and party. What do you do when the fire goes out? Personally? What does a church that’s losing or lost its fire do? There’s no point complaining about it or willing it to go again. The potential may be there but it’s still going nowhere. Enter BIG BEN. We put no longer very mighty Max right next to Big Ben. When Big Ben went off, 36 glorious shots in all, well, there were 37. And number 5, most wonderful of them all, loudest and brightest, was Mighty Max. He didn’t need a fuse. He needed great company! This is a little parable for me as I think about New […]
This video was played at our Ivy services last Sunday morning as part of our Finding Your Way Back To God series. I highly commend the book written by my friends Dave and Jon Ferguson for anyone wondering about God, or trying to help point someone home. Following the message in two of our congregations more than 20 people publicly stood to say they knew they were lost, but now they’re going to make the journey back to the Father’s house. Watch the video, and if you’re ready to come home, the door’s wide open, the party banner has your name on it, and a fat calf looks nervous…. Please let me know if the video’s helped you.
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!
Despite what many people in our culture may think, anyone who reads the Bible will soon discover that Christianity is NOT a system for Good people trying to live good lives. When people say, ‘I don’t believe in God or Jesus – but I’m just as much a good Christian as you..’ You can be sure that probably through no fault of their own they either missed the point or were given a description of Christianity that was about religion and rules and quite rightly rejected it. But the REAL gospel – the good news, starts with the bad news that you’re not good. You’re more sinful than you ever dared believe; and more loved than you ever dared hope. Because of the cross of Christ, if we exchange our own messed up record, we get his spotless one. That’s how we end up being ‘counted or reckoned as good.’ Justified, the Bible says. Because of Jesus taking the punishment for my sins, I’m justified – it’s ‘justasifI’d’ never sinned. If that’s all news to you, please get hold of […]
Incredible talk by my friend and partner Oscar Muriu of NewThingAfrica and NewThingGlobal just now at Exponential. As I watch now many are responding, and I’m here praying ‘Me too, Lord! Make me brave!’ If you are resonating and responding to this and interested in planting reproducing churches and starting movements in Europe with NewThingEurope get in touch with me here. There is sustaining faith, enough to get by today… and then there is mustard seed faith What is it? If your faith is small, you can say to a mountain – move, and it will be done for you. It’s the faith that moves mountains. It does not depend on my networks but on God alone. It begins where my abilities and resources end This is the faith that puts me in the place where nothing will happen until God moves. Mustard seed prays prayers so big there is no hope they would ever come to be without God. The sad thing is, 95% of Christians pray with that prayer. We ask for too little We are too easily […]
…than wearing a shamrock or even drinking a Guinness Pray his prayer ‘St Patrick’s Breastplate’! On the day we remember a powerful missionary pioneer. I’m reminded of what a revolution this man of God wrought by reading Steve Addison’s Movements That Change The World, required reading for New Thing Europe! Pray this with me, pray it for me, pray it for you and yours, for your spheres of influence, pray it out loud ( unless it’ll get you thrown off the bus)! I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the Threeness, through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation. I arise today through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism, through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial, through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension, through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom. I arise today through the strength of the love of cherubim, In the obedience of angels, in the service of archangels, in the hope of resurrection to meet with reward, […]