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God 52 – Week Thirty Six (3/9/13)

5 Sep

Yep, we’re late again. But there’s a really good reason for that – both halves of the God 52 machine have started new jobs this week. (For more details, search around the interwebs.) And I think I can speak on behalf of both of us when I say that we’re both really excited about what we’re stepping in to. 

There’s something brilliant about starting something new…

36: Start something new

It could be a hobby, an activity, a diet, an area of ministry, a discipline, maybe even a new job (please don’t quit your job and blame u), but use the start of September (I’m a youth worker and a football fan, this is the real new year) to dive into something new, something that feeds you, something that energizes you, something that gets you out of bed in the morning.

We’d love some guest blogs this week on the subject of praying for friends to know and experience the love of God; if you’d like to write one, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us an email.

God 52 – Week Thirty Four (20/8/2013)

20 Aug

I just moved house and, whenever I move or pack I discover one thing – I’m a hoarder. (Martin has already covered some of this in week fifteen). Me and my girlfriend went through mountains of clothes, many of which I haven’t worn or even remembered for years, and yet whenever she went to chuck anything away my response was the same – ‘Yeah, but what if…’

‘What if?’ I think this might be one of the more damaging statements we can define ourselves by.  When Jesus sent off the disciples to go and do stuff (technical theological term) he said, ‘Do not take a purse or bag or sandals.’

I imagine the response went something like -‘Woah, but Jesus…’ ‘Did you misunderstand that? DID I STUTTER?’ ‘No, but what if…?’

BOOM. There it is. What if…?

I’m beginning to realise that following Jesus is about letting go of our ‘what  ifs’ and embracing the risk-taking, terrifying, uncertain, world-changing life to the full that he offers. So here’s this week’s challenge…

34: Get rid of a safety net

Right, key youth work point – some safety nets are good. Others are not. Get rid of the ones that are holding you back. This is pretty vague but hopefully as you read this something is popping into your head. That will (hopefullly) be God. Job’s-a-good’un.

We’re always on the look out for guest bloggers. If you’d like to write a guest post this week on getting rid of safety nets or risk taking, please read our writing guidelines, then drop Martin an email.

God 52 – Week Thirty Two (6/8/2013)

6 Aug

laughter1(Warning, this first thought  sounds far more self-important and pompous than it actually is.) Sometimes the most spiritual acts are the most natural ones. Example – I spent a lot of time in the last week visiting friends I hadn’t seen in a while, laughing with friends I hadn’t seen in a while, driving between friends I hadn’t seen in a while.

If we don’t acknowledge these relationships as being spiritual then we lose so much of what these relationships have to offer. We’re created as inherently relational beings, ones who crave love. Ones who want to be known, to be secure and, perhaps most crucially, to enjoy. And God is in the midst of that.

So this week’s challenge might be the most fun one yet.

32: Carve out some intentional time with good friends.

Sound easy? Good. Enjoy it.

We’d love some guest blogs this week on the subject of friendship – if you’d like to write one, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us an email.

God 52 – Week Thirty (23/7/2013)

25 Jul

2000px-Flag_of_South_Africa_SADCWebsiteI was in South Africa last week. I wrote a bit about it here, and that was the inspiration for this week’s challenge. I’ll copy and paste a bit of it, but take two minutes and read the whole thing. There’s a hilarious anecdote and some confusing imagery.

Here’s the crux of it  –

It wasn’t the poverty that struck me in South Africa.  What struck me was just how divided the nation still is. Apartheid is over, black people are, legally, equal with their white counterparts, but it remains a divided country. In the township we worked in we didn’t see another white face for the six days we were there. In the white town, Delmas, where we went to church on the day before work began, we barely saw anyone who wasn’t white. These two communities are a few miles apart. During the Sunday service the pastor alluded to the fact that many of the congregation would have never entered the township before, and would have no plans to ever do so. Throughout our week there white people were telling us of the challenge and provocation that our trip was providing while black people thanked us for showing them that white people do care.

To be honest, going to South Africa to tell kids about Jesus and build houses was, dare I say it, easy. Had I been asked to go and do the same on the local council estate, or with those people down the road, or that family I don’t get on with, I’d have found it a lot more difficult. Our segregation might not be as obvious as it was in Delmas but it still exists. 

 

I write a bit more about it on the Youthwork website, check it out. But here’s the challenge –

30: Cross a boundary (social, economic, whatever) that you wouldn’t normally cross to engage in the mission of God.

It could be as easy as buying a homeless person a cup of tea or talking to your local conservative party representative. Whatever you feel your mission is currently restricted by – ignore that restriction.

Got it? Good. Off you go.

We’d love some guest blogs this week on this subject – if you’d like to write one, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us an email.

God 52 – Week Twenty-eight (9/7/2013)

10 Jul

????????????????????????????????So, after a week’s amnesty and a week spent reflecting – God 52 is back with a new challenge, and it’s only (?!) one day late. Sorry about that. Anyway, a lot of the challenges to date have involved doing things, often spiritual disciplines, on our own. And this is all well and good, but wouldn’t it be nice to do something with someone else? Well, as we’re feeling generous…

28: Spend an hour praying with someone else.

Pretty simple this one, but valuable. If you’re anything like me you get far less distracted when praying in a group. You could use the time to pray for an issue or person that you’re both concerned about, praying for each other, or just spending time listening to God. It could be someone doing God 52 already, someone who’s never heard of it, or someone who’d like to get involved. It could be in person, down the phone, on skype. Basically, however you want to do it – do that.

Simple enough. Off you go.

We’d love some guest blogs this week on the subject of prayer – if you’d like to write one, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us an email.

God 52 – Week Twenty-five (18/6/2013)

19 Jun

BullhornAs many of you will know, the two of us behind the site spend a decent chunk of our time working on Youthwork magazine. (On a side note you can get a free copy here – you really should.)

Anyway, we’re currently working on a special issue focused on evangelism. Not mission,  not social action, not doing nice things for people – we’re talking about evangelism – telling people about Jesus. In the course of reading other people’s work, interviewing people and reflecting on the issue I’ve realised that so often we surround ourselves with excuses not to tell people about Jesus. So this week’s challenge is scary.

25: Tell someone about Jesus

The who, the how and the why are up to you. But if we believe what Jesus says then our friends’ and families’ need for Jesus in both this life and the next is pressing. So let’s do something about it.
We’d love some guest blogs this week on the subject – if you’d like to write one, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us an email.

God 52 – Week Twenty-three (4/6/2013)

5 Jun

?????????????I’m writing this from the midst of sermon prep. What this tends to involve, is a lot of silence, some browsing the internet, a myriad of unconnected ideas and a significant number of prayers that basically go ‘God, can you tie this all together somehow. Amen.’ Anyway, I’m constructing this preach on faithfulness, and it’s a bit all over the place, but the one bit that really sticks out is this, from Mother Teresa, ‘God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful.’

And that’s our challenge for this week.

23: Keep going with or re-start something that’s been really difficult.

We’re surrounded with the pressure to be successful, to only do things that produce tangible results. I believe fruit is important, but sometimes I think God is just calling us to develop ‘stickability.’ So the challenge for this week is to keep going, even when it hurts, even when it’s difficult – because if God’s called you to it, that’s what you need to be doing.

We’d love some guest blogs this week on the subject of Bible study – if you’d like to write one, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us an email.

God 52 – Week Twenty (14/5/2013)

14 May

It’s a busy week here at God52 towers. If you’re unsure why, go here and book tickets. Right, that’s the advert over. Anyway, as it’s busy we figured we’d set a challenge that was easy, and wouldn’t take up too much time.

NAAAAAAAAAAAAT. (I’m bringing back that classic 90s gag of saying something, and then shouting NOT afterwards. I’ve no idea why that stopped being popular.)

So this week’s challenge, some of you will find this super easy, others, and especially if you’re like me, will find it more of a stretch. I’m rubbish at reading my Bible, I need both a daily app and an alarm on my phone telling me to do it, and over time they become easy to ignore, but I push myself. I have to, because I know it’s important, I know it’s life changing. And I know that once I get into the rhythm of reading it regularly, the easier and more life affirming it becomes. So…

20: Read an entire book of the Bible during this week.

You could read Psalms or Philemon, John or 3 John, it’s up to you. Just take a chunk of time this week to let God’s word speak to you.

We’re always on the look out for guest bloggers. If you’d like to write a guest post this week on friendliness, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us
an email.

 

God 52 – Week Eighteen (30/4/13)

2 May

Stop_signYou may remember Martin’s apology from last week’s challenge. Well I’ve managed to outdo him on the tardiness front and I can only offer massively apologies, aside from everything else we’ve been trying to finish a magazine this week. (On a side note it’s easily the most spectacular issue of Youthwork that I’ve been involved with.)

But anyway, I was thinking about this week’s challenge/beating myself up for doing it late/trying to get it done quickly enough so that Mart wouldn’t remove me from being an admin when I just felt that I needed to stop. Not for long, not quit, not give up on the stuff God has given me to do, but just to stop for a bit.

So that’s this week’s challenge.

18: Stop and take some time to yourself.

I could bang on about this for a bit, it’s a Biblical principle, the Sabbath was so important that it was one of the Ten Commandments. But more than anything, it’s practical. You’re all busy. We’re all busy. You can tell by the times we’ve been posting these. And it seems like a decent chunk of the people on board the God52 gravy train are youth workers. People who spend their whole time giving, giving, giving. WELL STOP IT. This week carve some time out to do something that feeds you. I’m going to watch the final of Masterchef and go to Norwich to watch Aston Villa play. I’ll sing, I’ll (hopefully) celebrate, I’ll relax and be with friends, all in the knowledge that God has created me to live this life.

Glorious right?

AND NO. We don’t want your guest blogs this week. Less writing, more stopping.

God 52 – Week Sixteen (16/4/13)

16 Apr

notes2Welcome to week 16, a new week so lets jump right in.  This week’s challenge was actually inspired by something Laura Haddow did during a previous God 52 challenge, which you can read about here.

There’s something special that happens when the church commits to blessing a local community. As a teenager the things I saw God do at Festival Manchester through a bunch of teenagers stay with me to this day and remain a formative experience. The church is called to be an embodiment of God’s love in the world around us. This isn’t some nice, 21st century idea, but something we see in the life of Jesus. The people that Jesus healed eventually died got sick and died, that’s the nature of life, but the love that Jesus showed, the way he was interested in the earthly experience, I imagine that is what stayed with those who met Jesus.

Now, this week’s challenge is not ‘copy what Laura Haddow did’ but it is all about showing the love of God to the community in which you live.

16: Find a way to show the love of God in your local area.

You can interpret this in whatever way you like. You may like to find some creative way to communicate the Gospel to as many people as possible, you may, in a similar way to Laura, leave things for ‘God-anointed’ people to find, or you may choose to express God’s love in action and bless your local community in some way, be it cakes, songs, street performance, however you feel God can best use you.

A key point to finish. The work of The Message has radically altered the shape of Manchester. This was because they realised that God’s love has to impact people. The joy of Festival Manchester is that for the people behind it, this wasn’t a one-off event, this commitment to loving the community around it was a way of life. So remember kids, ‘This God52 challenge isn’t for a week in April, it’s for life.’

We’re always on the look out for guest bloggers. If you’d like to write a guest post this week on practicing simplicity, please read our writing guidelines, then drop Martin an email.