1. The Song below: - which has long been a favourite and reminds me of the power of music. Tracks like this can catapault us from a list of "to do's" and pressure to perform/be seen to be doing ...into the presence of God. The best place to be when seeking future direction. Check out 2 Kings 3:15 - now bring me a harpist. While the harpist was playing, the hand of the Lord came upon Elisha and he said....(prophetic direction was received in the next verses in the passage)
So this acoustic Brian Johnson song has been on repeat play this week for me. I love it.
2. The Sun (not the paper, the big light in the sky)
I've been able to sit outside reading. Marvellous. Day after day, in a wee sheltered spot in my garden.
3. Coffee with a pal
who I have known for a long time - since the early 90s! - but not that well. Ironically since we moved away from our previous place of abode we have met in more and more circles and this week we had lots of time to talk of dreams and visions and ways we might believe God is leading us to see the fulfillment of promises of a fresh awakening in our land! Please Lord, in our lifetime - we both knew of such longing and yearning all over the place in the Body of Christ for revival. How wonderful it is to talk of the things of the Lord that you long to see with a passion in this nation! That conversation turned the whole week round for me as it was utterly life-giving.
4. A very special card from the most unexpected folks in the church I have just left, one I'll treasure.
5. My beautiful family - it's been a hard, hard week with lots of tears but we have seen incredible breakthrough in our children's lives. My 8 year old son saw an angel who spoke to him on Good Friday as he broke down in tears as he saw afresh how much Jesus had sacrificed for him , and my daughter has shown incredible maturity as we have thrown ourselves onto God.
6. A blog post - this is simply phenomenal - (dated Wed April 27th if the blog has been updated since I first posted the link). I have been thinking a lot about preaching and teaching as I "sabbatical" it for now (for ever??). I sense God's saying: reflect, listen and learn - so I just "happened" to read this yesterday. Like me, Alyn was a secondary teacher and I love visual stimuli because I struggle with solely relying on the auditory mode of learning. (and I couldn't have got away with it for the past eight years. I'd have been beaten to a pulp by over 300 kids!!)
Awesome stuff and they are an awesome couple, used by God. Just because someone is a teacher, must they always teach?...
May this week mark the start of something new....
Friday, April 29, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
So what am I going to be doing next?
This makes quite a story, and if you want to know more about the overt supernatural confirmation following extreme instances of God speaking, then email me (address elsewhere on this blog). I can't promise any quick fix for stressful situations you as hundreds of page viewers might be going through. It's borne out of laying everything down - hopes, dreams, disappointments, successes, fruitfulness - pure letting go. Everything we as a family know is shaking just now....our new(ish) life in this city, our house, our friends, our church and our job titles and roles. For Mr HIWWC might have to leave his job too if we move house/city. Over the next three months we are holding it all so lightly. The following verses from John 12 are in my head constantly:
Jesus replied: Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.
I'm thinking about the kinds of things I have been doing in my current church/role which I have SO loved doing; some of it was new for me and lots of it was building on things from the past. I've got lots to take with me, and as I said to my ex-SP last week, I have learned so much from him and from being part of a senior staff team. But I can't look back and hang onto that as a stationary (safe) place in the past. There is always more for those who let go.
But because I am OUT of the situation (for that read: unemployed!!) - I'm thinking about the challenges and solutions to the missional community dilemma (see previous posts). I had several ideas in my head around Chistmas to February but they weren't received for many reasons....that's made me more determined to think about the building blocks that need to be in place for someone else to move it all on or for me to take on to somewhere else. But MORE THAN THAT, we, as a family have turned to prayer. Prayer for those we have left behind, prayer for the leaders who have decisions to make. Prayer for ourselves and especially for our own children.
In the last week I have done some further research that has led me to reflect on the intergenerational family cells I set up in my last church - you can read more in these posts here from 2008 . (labelled intergenerational). Skip past the "Pray Any Way" post to the older posts at the bottom.
We love the Word, the Spirit and the mission that was clearly evident in the church that we have just left. And yet....some stuff moved on and developed that meant I was on the outside looking in. That which I was called to do had changed. It's only now that a number of people (well-meaningly) have said they saw that happening to the area of work that I do. I feel a bit naive that I kind thought it would all work out OK, that the family/kids stuff in our missional communities would just naturally work, when the opposite was being experienced and fed back to me. I was, at that time, powerless to solve the situation I found myself in.
I have to lay it down for the love of the body of people I tried to serve. I tried my best but it was too hard and things were hurting me. I left with blessing on both sides and a continued love for those we have invested hugely in. Parting, as Romeo or Juliet said, is such sweet sorrow. But I pray blessing on the fellowship as we begin to seek out a new safe place to be.
I love the local church so much that I lie awake at night sometimes, dreaming of what is to come. I have even painted what I saw!! And I don't paint. (except for early morning on this one retreat). I know that children, wee ones and teenagers, and their parents (not just kids, not just parents) are part of an amazing harvest that is to come and that once again the church will be listened to in the realm of parenting, fathering especially, and in providing a stable and secure base for the young and their families to grow. And we will be poised to disciple the young who in turn will reach out to the adults who care for them, and vice versa. This will be part of missional discipleship. I found Mike Breen's latest thoughts on this very helpful.
I suppose in my heart I know have a much clearer idea of "my ideal job" in the future but because God has said "rest, read, write and don't plan, be obedient in these 3 months then I will reveal what comes next", I'm having to let that go too. I might never see that dream role. I've GOT to lay it down or the frustration of it will be counter-productive. I may never speak at a conference, preach, train teams, lead kids teams and inspire volunteers ever again. But I feel I need to be in that place for a season, without knowing what comes next. If you pray, please pray for me, I won't necessarily find that easy but I long to be obedient. That is the better place.......
The one thing God did engineer amazingly, is now coming to life out of thoughts and dreams from 2008, 2009 and Feb 2011. To write the book on the kinds of topics I've covered in little posts here and in talks/sermons delivered and training packs I have written.
In summary, I am going to take three months out to read, write and reflect. After that - unknown.
I have a interested publisher and a strong vision of what I want to write which I shan't go into in great detail here - no doubt some of this will come out in the blog posts ahead - but read through the labels on the right hand side of the blog (excluding the "personal" ones - and you'll get some of it there!) but the emphasis will be on how our churches can have a missional focus on kids, teens and their families. More to follow (but the intergenerational posts are a good start).
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
This is a quick post to update readers on something pretty major in my life, in our lives as a family.
I have resigned from my current employment.
The job I was called to do is no longer the same. By the leadership's own admission, the role has changed, the requirements of the job were not the same and while it was lovingly said to me that I was the one who could lead it forward, I personally came up against too many things that led me to believe otherwise.
Our church moved into a missional community model some 18 months ago and it has become clear to me and many families that deep thought is needed with regard to missional communities and children, teenagers and families. Coming "out" from the centre to meet as missional communities once a month, has not been adopted wholescale by families, far from it in fact. This meant that I have felt torn in two:-
1. I was envisioning and overseeing a vibrant, committed team and a bunch of 100 + children who were "getting it" big time - loving God passionately, stepping out boldly, praying for their friends intentionally and beginning to worship intently, and seeing midweek/community/pastoral stuff kick on too.
2. At the same time, I was to resource missional communities - but NOT to take control - they are to take ownership of their own Sunday meetings, be it teaching/worship or social/outreach. So some of the stuff at the end of point 1. above was to stop being done at the centre and be done by the missional communities.
Hmmm, so was I a control freak at the centre? I hope not. Anyone who knows me knows that I release and empower teams to do things, I am not a children's worker who runs around doing all the stuff. I set a clear vision and train into this, then I model how we'll get there, then I let folks get on with it, whilst loving my volunteers, praying with them and for them, training them and supporting them on specifics. I also spearhead missional initiatives (parenting courses, daytime/teatime alpha/holiday club) and provide pastoral care to individuals and families. I try to tune in and listen to the Father for what was to come next and in particular, who was I to watch out for next, encourage or pray for or meet with.
Over the coming months and in further writing I will hopefully be able to think of strategies to overcome some of these challenges. It is not appropriate for me to tease this out further out on a public blog but I did try my best and I did make a number of suggestions. But it clearly isn't to be to me who takes this forward so I have bowed out graciously and gracefully. I think I have managed to leave well, with blessing on both sides.
The last six months has been painful and heartbreaking at times as I tussled with the difficulties and also witnessed God's hand on the children and family ministry. We travelled far in quite a short time and I trust I have left something of a legacy for the future.
I am not going onto another job at this moment in time as I am to reflect and write some stuff for a period of 3 months, an informal sabbatical time and hugely welcomed after 8 years as a children and family pastor. I'll maybe write something more about that as time progresses. Suffice to say, I have been ASTOUNDED by my loving Father's provision - he knows my heart and he knows what I need.
My resignation has been met with sadness and dismay and I am at the moment processing that as I am grieving deeply. I really love those I pastored and led, very deeply. It hurts.