Like many followers of Jesus I often do battle and wrestle with the ungodly aspects of my life. Usually these matchups are little old me trying to get a giant pinned to the floor and submit. This used to be a huge focus for me as I sought to be more like Christ. Often I would momentarily glace at the smaller issues and quickly return my sights to the bigger battles. The smaller annoying things seemed to not offer enough win for the contest that was needed. So all my energies went to the grudge matches with the giants.

I recently read an article online about Sir Dave Brailsford, which made me readjust my sights somewhat. Sir Dave (love that title and name combo btw) is the former Director of British Cycling and current manager of Team Sky. Sir Dave has been instrumental in the rise of British cycling’s world domination over the past 5 years.

He oversaw team GB as they bagged 8 Gold medals at the Bejing 2008 games. He continued in his role at London 2012 where Team GB took 12 medals in the London Velopark and on the roads of the capital. This was an impressive doubling of the number of medals secured by the second placed Team Germany.

Sir Dave in 2010 stepped into the management role of the newly formed British based professional cycling team Sky. He oversaw the new team in its quick rise to the top of professional cycling. The pinnacle of this so far has seen Team Sky secure back-to-back Tour de France victories in the last two years with Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.

My errant assumption was that his success was down to huge leaps in sport science, psychology and technology. I was truly mistaken. Of course they seek developments in these key big areas along with all their rivals. They started by optimizing the things you might expect: the nutrition of riders, their weekly training program, the ergonomics of the bike seat, and the weight of the tires.

However, Sir Dave has taken on a different strategy of trying to accrue as many small improvements of 1% as possible, which inevitably add up to more significant overall gains. He says,

 “The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.”

But Brailsford and his team didn’t stop there with the obvious areas of development. They searched for 1 percent improvements in tiny areas that were overlooked by almost everyone else: discovering the pillow that offered the best sleep and taking it with them to hotels, testing for the most effective type of massage gel, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection. They searched for 1 percent improvements everywhere.

Brailsford believed that if they could successfully execute this strategy, then Team Sky would be in a position to win the Tour de France in five years time. He was wrong. They won it in three years.

Everything I choose, even the small little things, can create the possibility to bring gains in the Kingdom of Heaven. Just because they are small does not mean they are insignificant or irrelevant. If you do not believe me ask Sir Dave! 

Come & pop into our new home for a cuppa and a nose around!

We want to invite you to pop in and see our new home ‘Revelation Central’ in the city centre. Over the last two months we have been moving home and are now at a stage were we are in and settled. We would love to give you all the opportunity to pop in and see the new place. So many of you invested so generously to help us with all the moving for which we are immensely grateful. 

Saturday 10th May, 9am until 10.30am
Revelation Central, 1 & 2 St Pancras, Chichester, PO19 7SJ.

It is on the 1st floor above Guitar Sounds shop (door to the left) sandwiched between St Pancras Church and The Nags Head pub.
Nearest car parks are Market Avenue and New Park Road. Both are Pay & Display.

We will be serving coffee and refreshments

Now is the time!

The busyness and bustle of relocating so much of the Churches activities has prompted me to do some reflecting over the last couple of weeks. It also provoked me to think about the future too as we step into a new season. 

There is something very attractive about reminiscing about the past wearing rose tinted spectacles. I recalled the days of playing 5-a-side without needing to warm up for 20mins and not hurting so bad the next day you end up walking like an extra out of the Thriller video. 

I know for others the past can be a snare. We can get entangled and wounded which stop us walking fully out of those days into our present and onto our future. 

We get stuck living someplace we never planned or wanted to. The past no matter how good or bad was never intended to be our home. The past is meant to be a platform for our present and future. For me and my faith the past reminds me of his rescue. He has done it before…. Light always disperses the darkness… etc.

 However there is equal danger in living too far ahead of ourselves. If we long for the future not rooted in our past and alive in our present we will achieve little other than some great daydreams. If we live awaiting for the perfect moment in the future to really launch into our dreams and calling we will wait an entire lifetime. As someone who has walked in the faith for 20 years let me tell you that the perfect moment does not exist. You could wait forever to see that all the ducks will never line up as you hoped. Thinking and dreaming of the future is no bad thing in fact I recommend a regular prescription of daydreaming. However we have to be a people that are present and active now not just dreaming of what might be.

We are to be fully present and alive in the moment. I love the way Jim McNeish puts it. 

“Today is all you really have. Yesterday is a story and tomorrow might never come. What will you do today to take ground with your dreams?”

Why do we need to be focused on today? Simply because that is where you are this second. Now brings God into this never repeating moment of your life.

We can live a life yearning for the old days or snared by the pain/trauma of them and we miss the now. Equally we can live so fixated on the Future we also miss the present.

Whilst thankful for the past and looking to the future I need to grab hold of the destiny and what he has for me today

Using Mordecai transforming words to Queen Esther let us remember “you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4: 14)

Religion relegates God to yesterday and God becomes a trapped in history.

We must remain thankful for what God has done for us but it is not where he wants us to live.

We are hope filled for the future he has in store for us but people of faith reside in the NOW.

 

 

 

 

I was reading the Bible the other day using a year long programme taking you through the whole book in a year when most unexpectedly I had one of those God hijacking moments. I’ll be honest in that I was reading fast to get through the large section of text set aside for the day when the story leaped off the page and took me hostage. God speaks even when we are not fully with the right motivation!

It is the moment where God starts commissioning Abraham to be the leader of the nation of Israel as recorded in Genesis 17 & 18. There were four things that I got from the story and the notes that helped explain.

1) Walk with me

Gods plan has always been to walk and journey with humanity. We see it from the very dawn of creation in the early days of the Garden of Eden as God walks in the Garden of Eden looking for Adam and Eve (Gen 3: 8). He can’t find them so calls to them (Gen 3: 9). There is a desire to be with his people and journey with them. In Genesis 17: 1 we see God offer to walk and journey through life with Abraham. So in all that you are facing today know that God calls you too as he wishes to walk with you throughout the day.

 

2) The Big Plan

God had big plans for Abraham and Sarah which he starts to share with them through Genesis 17 & 18. The plans God unveils are for a whole nation. The scale of this literally floors Abraham three time in the two chapters (17: 3 & 17, 18: 2). When God speaks his BIG Plan over your life (because whether or not you know it he has big plans for you) the best response if you find it a bit much is to follow Abrahams suit. Fall to your knees in prayer and submission to God.

 

3) God will always do more

Abraham heard the plan which was immense and beyond anything that he could have dreamed. God was creating a nation through him and his bloodline to come. The promise was of this nation of God to flow through his unborn son Isaac. Abraham dares to ask for more (17:18). Please also bless Ishmael and his descendants too. God agreed (17: 20). Never be scared to ask for God’s blessing in all areas of what you are doing in life. God will always do more

 

4) Is anything too hard for God?

Finally in the midst of this exciting news that Sarah was finding impossible to get her head around the Trinity speaking with one voice (18:5) asks the greatest rhetorical question of all time “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” No matter what you are facing today look the issue right in the eyes and ask “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

loud hailer

I was in a forum recently with a Member of Parliament from the UK and a room full of Church Leaders. A skilled interviewer drew out of the politician the need for the Church to play its part in shaping society.  The interviewer then got really nitty gritty and asked how we do that? Build bridges and work with your local statutory bodies seemed to be the gist of the reply. We were then asked to raise our hands if we had ever written to our MP about an issue? A lot of hands rose which was encouraging. The interviewer then turned the question back to the MP asking if they received a lot of correspondence from Church leaders. Yes, was the reply but often about certain seemingly important issues to the church. The proposed changes to legislation around ‘Gay Marriage’ for example had caused their mail box to swell in recent times as Christians wrote in. The MP then paused and reflected saying these soul piercing words “I am yet to receive a letter from a church leader about the growing challenges of Child Poverty in the UK.” It hit me like an arrow through my soul!

 

There is so much for us to speak up about as believers and those of us who represent the people of God in the Church but do sometimes we miss some of the desperate areas of injustice. Please hear me I am not condemning those of us opposing the fundamental changes to the constitution of marriage. It is indeed an area I have spoke up for which is probably why the words cut so deep. I need to work a lot harder at taking my MP by surprise.

Google

I was both saddened yet not surprised to see an article in the Telegraph online yesterday stating the ‘Google is as trusted as the Church by Britons’. The survey of 2000 people asked people to rank institutions in order of ‘trust’. With less than one in five saying they believe the search giant and faith leaders have their best interests at heart.The Britishe based public survey revealed a joint ranking of low regard between the search engine giants, Google and the Church/Faith Leaders.

The NHS scored best with 40% followed in second place by The Police scoring 25% Even supermarkets slightly out scored the religious institutions. All the above institutions and businesses have had their integrity over years called into question with front page splashes of the national and international press they could have done without. It proved damaging to all but the Religious institutions seem to have suffered the most in the trust ratings.

Now of course the survey placed all religious institutions in together. Even within some denominations of the same faiths there have been a variety challenging trust issues in recent years. However we must also remember that the Church is the largest and most prominent of religious institutions in the UK.

So how do we start to restore and rebuild the eroded bridges of trust into our communities and society as a whole? Well here are a few of my thoughts and this is certainly not exhaustive!

Being visible & active

This does not mean your building but the people of God, his Church. the Bible reminds us in the Gospels to ‘Never hide a light under a bowl’. I feel it is difficult to be a follower of Christ and not an activist. The poverty and injustice are just two of many areas in which we need to be visible and active. We need to be on the ball and there is no longer any excuses in the instant news feeds that surround us to be uniformed. James reminds us that Faith without works is dead. Lets roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty.

Being humble

Christ Humbled himself (Philippians 2:8) and so should we. We are in our own little way a part of the solution. I have realized in an increasing way over the past few years that genuine partnership is the way forward. When the church with all its passion and commitment is harnessed working with statutory bodies can bring long term transformation. You only have to look at Street Pastors, ROC, CAP and Trussell Trust Foodbacnk to see this proven.

Being consistent

In an instant society that moves so fast consistency, reliability and long term commitment are fading trends. Yet these are vital for society to function and grow. It is the best way to bring long term change. As other things come and go the Church remains.

Being local

The Church in the UK is such a huge beast that spans many hundreds of traditions and streams. How can I possibly effect it? I love the story of Nehemiah rebuilding the city walls. There is one bit in particular that always leaps at me. It was within the giant sized task of rebuilding the entire city wall the work of Benjamin and Hasshub. They simply faithfully rebuilt the bit in front of their homes as we see in Nehemiah 3. Lets repair the wall in front of us where we live.

Being tangible

Find out the unique needs of your community and review what you can do to start to fill the voids and gaps in provision. Meeting the felt need of a community is a powerful statement of intent. If you don’t know what it is go and ask the Police, Council or schools in your area.  Our greatest success have come from asking the questions to the right people because your contribution becomes targeted and tangible.

 

 

make a new history

I had the pleasure of meeting someone new last week through a work connection. As we finished the meeting and then progressed to talk over lunch she told a story of her family that really spoke to me. It was almost like I was being told a parable.

She talked of her father and his brother who were both born and raised in Northern India. They lived in a small village and only knew subsistence farming as a way of life.  This had been the case for many generations.

As young men they decided to take a risk in search of something better. This meant leaving behind the only way of life they had ever known. They said goodbye to their families and India to departed to Kenya in search of new opportunities.

Kenya was at the time under the control of the Commonwealth and money was being poured into it to develop it and in particular its infrastructure. Both men sort and found jobs building the railways. This was hard work and along way from all they had both previously experienced and known. Family was missed and the culture clashed. After a while her uncle found the going too much and decided to return to his family and former way of life in Northern India but her father as tough as he found it chose to stick it out and stayed. After many years he became a Kenyan citizen. In the 1970’s they took the opportunity on offer through the Commonwealth to relocate to the UK.  This was another huge upheaval as he moved continent again this time with a young family. They set up home in the midlands. It was still tough as they adjusted to the culture again and the inherent racism that was still ingrained in our society at that time.

He found work and his children were well educated with in our school system growing up as first generation British children. The children were successful and ended up with good jobs. His children then got married and started their own families.

I enquired of what had become of her fathers brother. My new friend informed me that he had returned fully to his way of life that he left in Northern India. He too had children and subsequently grand children. His whole family still lived in the same village substance farming the same bit of land. His children had not received the benefit of education and lived in very different living conditions and economic backdrop. Her uncles children were now substance farmers working that very same bit of land raising their own children.

She had taken her children to the village in rural India to connect them with some of their heritage. The could not believe the place their second cousins lived. All this was due to one decision. The valid decision to throw the towel in when the going get tough.

What land is it that we need to dig our heels into and claim for the benefit of our future generations. It may be that we don’t get to live in the fullness of the path we create but it transforms things for future generations. Even when it means relocating, dealing with a foreign culture, suffering pain in order to start a new history.

Gods face

 

 

 

 

I like all followers of Christ want to know God more and serve him fully with my life. I know I get one shot at this and want to give to my body as a ‘living sacrifice’ as the New testament writer of the letter to the Romans encourages us to do as an act of worship. I had a bit of an epiphany as I read the psalms recently. Psalm 105 and in particular one verse leapt out and hit me straight between the eyes. It resulted in an instant realisation that I was all too often distracted.

 

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.

Psalm 105: 4

 

So often I am caught out looking for the hands of God. What is it that he is up to in my friendships, church, city or nation? At other times it’s his feet that I am looking at. Where is it that God is on the move? Where is his spirit powerfully at work? I all too easily get distracted by these thoughts and stirrings. Don’t get me wrong these things are not bad. However the psalmist reminds us that it’s his face we should be looking towards to know the Father more. The work of his hands is awesome and where he goes I want to follow. However first and foremost we must look to his face and seek to catch the gaze of God.

 crowned

The crown has been worn through the ages by monarchs or deity for whom it symbolises power and legitimacy amongst many other things. A coronation crowns is worn at a coronation by the monarch being enthroned. Crowns are also worn by consorts as a sign of their rank held.

The bible talks in New Testament of Jesus being crowned. We know that he was crowned with thorns as the soldiers mocked him. In the book of Hebrews we see that Jesus is crowned with Glory and honour due to the price he paid for us.

The most incredible transaction happens between God and man. Through Christ death and resurrection we too are crowned even though we have no right to it. Our consort relationship with King Jesus means we are crowned too.

As a crowned consort of the King what is it that your work colleagues or friends see in you. What does your crown speak of other than you are a child of God. We are crowned through Christ. The Psalmist puts it beautifully but carrying an incredible challenge.

 

‘who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion’

Psalm 103: 4

So what is it that people see as they look at us. Do they see the crown of ‘love and compassion’ as the psalmist says they should? Why not take a moment to reflect on what people see when they look on at us today. It should be love and compassion.

Ponder

 

 

I found myself well out of sync once again this week. I ended up reading the story of the birth of Christ in mid February! As usual when I open the Bible with a bit of peace and space the Lord speaks to me as something leaped out and smacked me around the face like a wet kipper. So here is what I read……

 

“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

Luke 2: 17 – 20

 

The line and phrase that leap was the ‘treasuring up’ and ‘pondering’ that Mary did. She was in awe and shock at the news that accompanied the birth of her child Jesus. The story the shepherds shared that reiterated the angelic message received a few months before. The child was not just special he was the saviour of Israel. Gods one and only son Jesus Christ had come to earth.  It just inspired me to reflect on who Jesus is and what he has done for me. I would encourage you before the sun sets today to ponder what this birth means to you.