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You may have noticed the sound of crickets around here lately….   The photo kind of gives it away.  About 5 weeks ago I broke my finger.  Playing dodge ball at youth group.  I’m the youth pastor and I think the first official break for the year.  But it means that for a few weeks its been painful to type.   After 4 weeks of pain and no longer being able to really bend my finger I decided that it wasnt getting better by itself so saw the dr, who sent me off for xrays.  I chipped a bone in my joint and then fractured the bone between the joint and my hand.  No wonder it hurt.  I’ve had it in a buddy strap splint since then.  Which actually has made all the difference.  Mobility is returning and it is less painful to do normal things like indicating in the car or brushing my hair and cutting my food.  Though, when the splint is on I’m a bit hopeless.  I cant bend my finger or type properly.  Or cut my food.  Or carry things.

You know, sometimes in life we’re broken.  A bit cracked.  In pain.

Sometimes we need to strap ourselves to a friend and let them support us and strengthen us through the healing process.   Yes seriously.  Life lesson from a broken finger.  Who are you strapping yourself to today?

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I’ve been rewatching LOST again.  Yes, again.

I am slightly still very much obsessed with this show.   It is my happy place.

I think one of the reasons that I adore it is that there are certain moments in the show that springboard thoughts for me that stir my heart’s affection towards God.

The Moth is one of those moments.

Live together, Die alone is another that resonates.

Charlie sings it as You All Everybody.

Togetherness.  This is how we do this thing called life.

All, everybody, together.

To live our dreams, to serve and thrive in our purpose, to be who we are called and created to be, we must be in community.  Surrounded in the together.   Read the rest of this entry »

We have to stop striving for what we want and just be IN LOVE with Him. His love language is LOVE. His expectation is LOVE. His gift to us is LOVE in the form of favor, power, authority, and grace. So, if you’re feeling a little withered and dry inside, if you’re feeling the need to be revitalized, if you’re feeling the need to revitalize the community around you, here’s your one step program. Your one-bullet-point sermon, your one trendy plan in two words: JUST LOVE. Talk to Him like you’d talk to a good friend. Listen like you would listen to a good friend. Worship Him with gratefulness. Spend time just being with Him and see what happens. Lindsay McPhail – The Fearless Experiment

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Kittens

How Jimmy Fallon Catapulted To Hosting ‘The Tonight Show’ Through Exceptional Networking

In the span of about five years, Jimmy Fallon went from a “Saturday Night Live” alum unsuccessfully navigating Hollywood to a late night star to the host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” one of the most respected franchises in entertainment. It’s not by accident.

Fallon’s meteoric rise is partly due to his intense focus on developing relationships with people who could advance his career, according to Shane Snow’s book “Smartcuts” and a recent interview with the comedian.

And he proves that this type of networking doesn’t have to be some kind of Machiavellian manipulation, but rather can be based on a genuine interest in personally connecting with influencers.

 

 

 

Leader Heart

Leadership is a complicated thing.

I often get chances to speak at conferences for student ministers. I love to do them. I love to share ideas and learn from everybody. And, because I run a large ministry with many volunteers I often get questions about leading volunteers. In fact, I can’t remember a conference where I wasn’t asked about them. Furthermore, I can’t remember a conference where I wasn’t asked this specific question that gets to my point.

Here it is.

“What are some good ways I, as a leader, can value my volunteers?”

Now, this can be a great question!

But . . . this can also be a terrible question!

And there is a fine line between this being a good and bad question—that line lies at the heart of the person asking it.

 

 

MARRIAGE IN LIGHT OF FOREVER

FRANCIS AND LISA CHAN ON THE SECRET TO RELATIONAL SUCCESS

The way to have a great marriage is by not focusing on marriage.

Not the sort of advice you’ll find on a bestseller rack near you.

In their new book, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity, Francis and Lisa Chan set out to reframe the entire way we think about relationships, marriage, and parenting. The marriage union is great, they observe, but it’s not forever. Therefore, we must approach this sacred relationship from the zoomed-out vantage point of eternity. And when we do, it changes everything.

 

 

7 Steps To Becoming A Professional Speaker

  1. You need to start thinking of yourself as a speaker.  You must grasp the fact that you have something to say. This is a mindset shift you must go through in order to become a professional speaker.
  2. You must find your niche.  Business coach, speaker, and author, Jane Atkinson refers to this as “picking a lane.” She recommends choosing “a topic area to focus on, based on your expertise.” Don’t waffle around from one thing to the next. Finding your passion or area of interest is essential to building your speaking career. As a speaker in this area, you will be known as a subject matter expert, so it’s important you do your research and know your stuff.

 

 

1 surprising lesson about dream chasing from a Heisman Trophy winner  – Jon Acuff

The world’s ability to understand your dream is not a reflection of whether you should chase it.

The world’s ability to support your dream is not a reflection of whether you should chase it.

Throw the passes when no one is watching. Write the pages no one sees. Work through the business plans people don’t believe in yet. Hustle long before the spotlight finds you.

You don’t need the whole world on your side to create something that changes the world.

– See more at: http://acuff.me/2014/12/1-surprising-lesson-dream-chasing-heisman-trophy-winner/#more-1561

advance river

On Sunday night we did something radically different for church.  We went down the road to an another church, Advance Church, and had church together.  The River, and Advance.  Together worshiping, together loving, together building the kingdom of God.  The service blended River people and Advance people on stage together, with a River person doing the Advance notices, and an Advance person doing our notices.  I was priv’d to speak on the offering (a rather impromptu message!) which we took up to bless our hosts.  Both pastors shared and also we had short messages from two youth leaders, one theirs, and one ours.  It was a phenomenal night, blending together to worship Jesus and encourage one another.  There was a moment after all the messages where we prayed in groups for one another and then had a space of some free worship.  It was a distinct holy moment as two became one, we were loving One Lord, we were One Body, in One Spirit, in One song with One purpose.  One God.  One Church – many expressions.

It’s beautiful and important to love your church.   Love your church, get connected, get serving.  Become a Son of the house.

It’s also beautiful and important to love the Church.

A win for another church is a win for our own church.  A win for Advance Church is a win for The River.  There are so many lost, hurting, hungry people in East Auckland that it will take 4000+ strong local churches to reach them all.  We all have a part to play and an expression from God that will reach out and touch the world around us.

We are One Body, but with different roles and purposes.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in youall. Ephesians 4:4-6 NKJV

Love God and Love People - These are the two greatest commandments. (Does not mean that you condone bad actions, you are to just love as Christ Jesus has loved us, and God loves Jesus)

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35

By THIS people will know that you belong to me.

By LOVE.

Not by works.

Not by impressive leadership.

Not by a great show.

Not by excellence.

Not by anything else.

But our love.

Our love for one another shows that God is real and that we belong to Him.

Love means we have to let the walls down and let people in.

We need to be intentional about connections and meaningful in our conversations.

Vulnerability, trust, grace, hope, service are hallmarks of love.

Love.

Our lives and our churches should be places where people see and feel love.  People need love.  The world is starved for love and people look in all the wrong places.   The church is where they should see it demonstrated and lived.

By this all the world will know that we are His.

God never makes you suffer unnecessarily. He intends for your suffering to heal and purify you. The hand of God hurts as little as it can.

Do not waste your suffering. Let suffering accomplish what God wants it to in your life. Never get so hard that you suffer for no reason and for no purpose. Paul says, “God loves a cheerful giver.” How much He must love those who cheerfully give themselves to His dealings.

Francis Fenelon from 100 days in the secret place

 

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My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into different kinds of temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have its perfect work, so that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

 

 

Fenelon in this passage from 100 Days In The Secret Place goes on to talk about how anxiety can sometimes be a resistance of the work of God in our lives. “The yoke that God gives is easy to bear if you accept it without struggling to escape.” He encourages us to count it all joy – and not just to give verbal assertion to that but to really count it as JOY – real joy – not a response filled with fear and anxiety – but an authentic joy and peace that we are in the hand of God.

How do we do this?

In real life suffering and the outworking of the refinement by God is not mostly pleasant.

It is painful and emotional. It may be physical illnesses or hardship.  It involves change and loss. 

What the joy can be defined as is I think is the constant trust and constant mental choice to keep our eyes fixed on our God – a mindfulness -  remembering (remember = stirring our hearts to faith) WHO He is and how wonderful and how He is near and good and great and merciful and faithful and the good things He has done and is doing and will do in our lives.

The joy is stirred when we remind ourselves of the promises of God – we feel less alone and less anxious because we know God is at work and that is a good thing.

It is as David does in 1 Samuel 30 – he STRENGTHENS himself in the Lord and that powers him up to continue to press on.

We count what we experience as BENEFITIAL perhaps is a better way of looking at it, and so we try to keep our attitude full of faith, full of hope and full of “God is great” instead of the negativity of looking down at our feet, at the circumstance and the emotions that arise. 

We stand tall despite the storm raging around us, confident that Jesus is with us.

I’m not talking about “faking it to you make it” but about monitoring our thoughts to respond in the right heart… (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, pulling down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ;)

God is at work in us transforming us and shaping us.

Surrendering to God rather than fighting makes the process somewhat easier… we’re not trying to swim against the current then. Emotions are fine. It is fine to be emotional – as people that is “the way we work.” Manage the emotions – not at the expense of being real, but manage them so that instead of spiralling into despair we continue to press on with confidence and faith, instead of isolating ourselves we continue to comfort others as God comforts us.

Remember – God is good. His mercy endures forever. His love is everlasting. His grace covers all. He knows us. He loves us. He has plans and purposes for us. He is creative. He likes us. He is near. He hears us. He speaks to us. He nurtures us. He guides us. God is good…

C HOUSEGRUOP the best housegroup in the world – my community

 

**** i read this great conversation “somewhere”… yes, i cant remember where, and i grabbed these quotes because they made sense to my own definition of what i think community is and how it grows…  so whoever hosted this chat discussion about it… thanks, and sorry i cant credit you! poor form!

 

— we then define community as this:
When crisis hits, who would you call?
Who would you die for?
Who would die for you?
Who is asking you the hard questions?
Who is encouraging you in life?
Steve Cuss

 

I think it also important to think about what you are expecting community to look like. If you expect community to be about connecting with your best friends for life, then we probably will end up being disappointed or left expecting something more. Community is just messy at times. Sometimes we do make friends for life, other times we struggle even wanting to see that person another week.

In a small group, you are going to typically spend time with people that are very different than you and often people that are challenging to love and connect with. Yet, this is part of community – learning how to relate, interact, and most importantly love others that we might not typically "hang out" with or spend time with. Loving others is the mark of discipleship according to Christ, and I think a major part of group life and community. The point is that we need to connect with people to grow. Sometimes the more difficult relationships we encounter in groups are the ones that help us grow the most.
Rodney

 

Earlier in 09 Starbucks used the slogan "Life happens over coffee". I loved that concept because it captured the spontaneity of community. If a small group system creates opportunities for people to potentially share life through common passions and side by side service, it is great thing. The catch is how we measure the success of the system . . . Is success the number of people who attend? Is success the depth of the bible study? Is success the quality of the relationships between every group member? Does every church member even need to be in a group? Or is success in small groups simply the conversations that happen outside of them, over the phone, over breakfast or over coffee between two or more people that spur us to deeper love for God and each other? You can’t plan it or predict it, but it is a noble cause to create environments with the potential to lead to such connections. Aaron

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But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbour?" Luke 10:29

i think the part that stood out the most for me today reading this familiar passage was that the lawyer wanted to justify himself.  he saw himself as righteous enough, fulfilling the requirements of the law, above reproach.  He knew the heart of the law, but wasn’t living it.  He knew the right words, but it had not penetrated into real life and into his spirit and soul. 

i pray that the words of God would be planted in my life, more than mere words or ideology, but part of the fabric of my life and living.  i pray that obedience would flow from the overflow of my relationship with God, that i would live to know Him and make Him known

"And who is my neighbour?" Luke 10:29

and who is our neighbour? is it the person in the house next to me?  someone who goes to my church?  someone nice and friendly?

yes and no.

it is everyone.  not matter how nice they look.  how nice they act. 

it is the marginalised, the orphan and the mean.  it is the single mum and the divorcee.  it is the blended family.  it is the widow and the elderly.  it is the kid with ADHD.  it is the rebellious teen.  it is the working dad and SAHM mum.  it is the teacher and the doctor and the check out operator and the banker and the shop assistant.  it is the undeserving and the deserving.  those we click with and those we dont.   its the person that sits beside us in church and the person that sits on the opposite side of church and the person that goes fishing on a sunday morning.  its our workmates, school mates.

and we are meant to show them love and mercy, kindness and grace.

to demonstrate the love and grace and reality of God.

its in the kind words, and the forgiveness and the smiles and the encouragement.  its in the letting go of our rights and our offenses.  its in the going out of our way and out of our comfort zone.  its a life in a way without boundaries.  our only boundary is love and the will of God.

heart 2

i so love our housegroup… have i mentioned that before?

“Small groups are the place for people to get on the scale and reveal how intentional they have been to pursue transformation into the image of Christ. William Paulson writes, “It is unlikely that we will deepen our relationship with God in a casual or haphazard manner.” I think he understates it. People do not drift into full devotion to Christ. People do not drift into becoming loving, joy-filled, patient, winsome, world changers. It requires intention and effort.  Today small groups have the privilege of loving and accepting human beings for whom Christ gave his life. In these groups we can supply the love, encouragement, and embrace people need to continue their journey of transformation.”  John Ortberg

last night i did a mini share about how we’re called to walk together and care for each other and stir each other to know God and make Him known and follow Him.  i shared about the feelings of disappointment i’ve been having lately about my 20s and how i didn’t want them to go through things like that, how when we obey and follow Jesus we have nothing to regret. but the real purpose of the night was to break into pairs or small groups of 3 to talk and pray for each other.  the big question of the night was “WHAT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT STIRRING IN YOUR HEART?” and from there the instruction was to talk about their life, be open, be real and talk about their struggles, needs, dreams etc and then pray for each other. 

i’m always impressed with how these nights go.  we did it a few times last year with a different group of people and it worked really well.  again it was a good night, a productive night.  bonds formed.  hearts shared.  prayers prayed.  walls let down a little bit.  the fantastic thing about small groups (and smaller groups within small groups) are that we can be real, we can unmask, we can encourage and be encouraged, we can ask for help and give wisdom, we can walk with each other.  these moments of sharing, talking and laughing and praying are moments of transformation.  we are opening the door into our lives for someone else to see and speak into.  and letting God in more.  its just so good!

 

 

for the heart behind this type of night check out this post on UNMASKING

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