Tag Archives: love

Just open the door, by Robin Peake

21 Apr

This week’s God52 challenge is all about loving your community. But if you’re finding it too hard, charity worker Robin Peake has discovered a way to cheat…

Robin PeakeDo you want to know how to cheat on this challenge?

Nicky and Nancy are a unique couple with whom my wife and I struck up a friendship through our local church. Now in their 50s, they met on a Monday and got married on the Friday almost 24 years ago.

We love them, and their lives are absolute chaos sometimes.

They knocked on our door one time to ask to borrow some money as they’d run out and were waiting for another payment to come through.

We asked how much they needed and gave them £90 or whatever it was.

When they got money at the start of the next month, they paid us back without prompting. But by the end of the month they’d run out again and asked to borrow some more.

This went on for five or six months. They were happy to need to borrow less and less without being at the mercy of payday lenders; we were happy to be presented with a need that we could meet that was costing us nothing.

It was a way to show God’s love in our local area.

But we didn’t find it.

It knocked on our door.

Here’s what I think.

Build relationships with people in your community.

Then you’ll find out what their needs are.

Then you’ll know the ways to show God’s love in ways that will meet their needs.

No more finding, just opening the door or answering the phone.

And who said cheating wasn’t fun.

Robin Peake loves seeing lives change through local mission. He volunteers with Thrive (www.thriveteam.wordpress.com) and tweets as @robin_peake

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Loving by listening, by Dave Pickett

19 Apr

Student Dave responds to this week’s love-your-community challenge with a simple but innovative idea…

davepickettShowing the love of God in our local area is something that’s been on my ‘to-do’ list for a while. If I’m honest it’s probably been something that’s quite low down on that list to, with the extensive list of emails to write, people to see, things to do…

But, little did I know that this week God would put it back up the agenda in a big way. I was sat in my office on Monday afternoon planning our next youth event and decided to poke my head out the door as I had heard Chris Duffet (Baptist President) was running some kind of evangelism workshop in the Church hall and, having met him at a conference a few weeks back, thought it would be good to say hello again. Accompanied by another team member we decided to sit in, observe and grab a coffee after a day’s planning.

An hour later I find myself sat on a bench we had moved from Church outside McDonalds equipped with only a blackboard inscribed with ‘I Will Listen’. Once my team member and I had settled into our seats, (a bench is only so comfortable!) the flow of people began. An hour later we had spoken with over 30 people, mainly young people, about life, the universe and everything in it and about it. Wow. People asked why anyone would give up their time just to listen to people on the streets and we replied that we just wanted to show people that their was someone out there who cared and loved them.

I’ve been thinking up new ideas, adapting old thoughts on showing the love of God to my local area for a while but nothing has clicked like this did – this was it.

I had got caught up in trying to over think showing God’s love when all it took was a bit of chalk and a blackboard; planned in under 10 minutes. Simplicity, showing the love of God doesn’t need to start with a lengthy strategic plan.

Back to the office to plan for our week of prayer, I’m filled with a new passion to show the love of God in my local area and am thankful for having experienced how simple it can be.

Dave Pickett is the Youth Director of Change Youth (@changeyouthuk) & a Geography student with a heart for seeing young people grow deeper and being equipped and a Church engaged in local mission. He enjoys playing music, designing stuff and running. You can follow his twitter: @dspickett

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.

God 52 – Week Ten (5/3/13)

5 Mar

knocking on doorWell, here we are in March. Seriously, who thought we’d see it through this long? So far we’ve seen God do some quite extraordinary things through God52 – from healing relationships to seeing miracles reported. We’re quite sure He’s nowhere near finished yet. This is a journey of inner transformation – of seeing Christ ‘formed’ in us as Paul suggests in Galatians 4 v 19. That takes time, so we’re in for the long haul – we hope you are too.

This week, we’re going to be attempting to live out an aspect of Christ’s character – his presence among people. Contrary to some Christmas cards, Jesus wasn’t born into poverty. His father had a trade and an income, and that trade was passed on to him. He didn’t have to mix with the people in his society who most obviously needed help; he made a decision to do so. He chose to be present among people in need. Not only that – the presence of Jesus invariably meant action. He answered searching questions; he healed sickness; he fed the hungry. Jesus’ presence was active, not passive.

This week then, we’re going to practice ‘active presence’. Or to put it into language that doesn’t sound like management jargon, we’re going to put love into action:

10: Find someone who has a need, and meet that need.

As always, you can interpret this challenge however you like. You could choose to help out a friend or family member in some way. You might study the words of your work colleagues or school friends, to see if there’s something in their lives that you could clearly help with. Maybe you know a couple who could really do with a free babysitter, allowing them to have a much-needed evening out; perhaps someone you know is struggling financially, and you have the resources to help them out.

Or you could push it further. You could knock on an elderly neighbour who can no longer tend their over-run garden, or go along to a local homeless project and offer to volunteer. The possibilities are limitless – the rules are painfully simple. Find a need, meet a need. It’s what Jesus did; it’s one practical way to see the Kingdom extended both in and through you this week.

So get ready to put your faith and your love for people into action. Be an unexpected present to someone, simply by being present. Who knows what God might choose to do through us when we step out for Him in this way? The world is full of needs. Let’s go.

We’re always on the look out for guest bloggers. If you’d like to write a guest post this week on putting faith into action or practicing ‘active presence’, please read our writing guidelines, then drop me an email.

Lessons in love from a black lab, by Ruth Tong

18 Feb

One more guest blog inspired by this week’s love challenge – in it writer and dog lover Ruth writes about how living with a furry friend has helped her to better appreciate the abundant love of God, and how we should reciprocate.

ruthtongOur dog Max is a surrogate child really. He often gets called names of affection like Maxi Maxamus or Maxi Moo Moo depending on how bereft of little children I feel (now being the mother of teenagers!) He was an abandoned dog so he extra grateful for how his life is now. Max has an enormous appetite; he doesn’t eat till he’s full he’ll eat till he’s too tired to eat any more – actually that’s a bit like my teenage son…

Max’s love for me is exuberant and unconditional. If I get up, he follows; if I sit down, he lies at my feet. If I tell him to do something, he gets on and does it. Max trusts that he is safe in my care and allows me to inspect an injured paw even when it hurts. If he’s sick Max knows I’ll look after him because he belongs to me. When our kids dress him up in their clothes or wrestle with him, Max knows he’s part of our family and joins in this daftness with gusto!

I wonder can we learn something from Max. How’s our appetite for the things of God? I find I usually lose my appetite because I’ve been filling up on rubbish, so it’s good to consider what we’ve been filling up on. When we take time to feed on the word of God, when we talk about it, pull it apart and find meaning in it, we develop a God-hunger. Our appetite increases and we find ourselves wanting more. Not only that, but God will show a new relevance and a sharper focus for all the God-stuff in application to our lives. There are so many ways to connect, through music, sermons, pod casts, fabulous blogs! However you seek to develop in your relationship with God doesn’t matter what matters is that you find some way of connecting which works for you.

MaxAre we obedient? I meet folks all the time who want all the privileges of family membership without any of the responsibility. If I tell Max not to go near something which might sting him, it is because I don’t want him to get hurt. I love my dog. You are loved by your Heavenly Father who in the same way wants us to follow His methodology for life because He wants us to grow, have fullness and be spiritually safe. When life hurts did you know God will look after you? He is gentle and treats our pain with reverence and understanding. He’ll patiently bathe the hurt and bring healing and He’ll NEVER say ‘I told you so…’ He will never abandon you or forsake you (Duet 31:6). Even though your father and mother forsake you, Jesus never will (psalm 27:10).He will always be up for a heavenly hug no matter how mucky you may feel you are.

Beloved you never have to feel abandoned or alone – you are part of a huge wonderfully wacky family, the family of believers? Can I encourage you to join in with gusto into their antics don’t play it safe – Max doesn’t.

Ruth Tong was brought up in Northern Ireland during the troubles but left to study in London where she found relationship with Jesus through a crisis pregnancy. Ruth is an author, blogger, conference speaker and cancer survivor. Her background in psychology gives insight into the dynamics of the heart and mind she runs a self-esteem course called ‘Shine’ for teenage girls and women. Ruth is passionate for Christians to communicate the gospel in a relevant way to a hurting world and simply enjoying life which is reflected by her infectious sense of fun. Read her blog, lovedropsfromheaven.blogspot.co.uk and follow her on twitter @RuthTong

Love extreme, by Sean Skinner

16 Feb
This will probably be the final guest blog in response to this week’s challenge to ‘love abundantly’. Today, heartbreak victim Sean talks about how taking the challenge – and being a beneficiary of it – helped both to rehabilitate him, and bring him closer to God.

seanThis week I was the proud recipient of a large bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. This was extra special because it was from an anonymous giver, was received the day before Valentine’s Day (but wasn’t a valentine) and came with a little #God52 slip. This unprecedented love made me cry (skip to the end to find out why) and so I rose to the challenge of writing a blog.

Abundantly. That’s a strange word isn’t it? A quick Google gives two definitions of this adverb. Number 1; ‘in large quantities, plentifully’. Well that makes sense, we should love with all that we have and we should love lots of things without holding back. Number 2 however is interesting:

‘Extremely’.

Love extremely.

Love in extremes.

This is Jesus in a nutshell, and it’s what separates those who follow Jesus from the rest of the world. Jesus loved those in extreme situations; people who were outcast by the rest of society, people carrying infectious diseases, people that no-one else would even look at, never mind love. On the Mount of Olives, Jesus loved those who had come to arrest him. When he was dying on the cross, Jesus loved those who had put him there; ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’

We are also called to love in extremes, but what does that even mean in 2013? It’s loving the person who doesn’t show any love for you. It’s loving the person who hurts you when all you want to do is shout about how angry you are. It’s loving that person so much that you unconditionally forgive them for hurting you. It’s loving the people in happy relationships when you’re heartbroken. It’s loving without a time limit even when time appears to be standing still. It’s loving things that are good when the world is screaming at you to love the things that aren’t.

It’s loving when it seems like there is no answer, because often love can resolve your unresolvable situation. It’s doing all this loving with God in mind, not yourself. It might not have the result you want, but when you love plentifully in extremes people will see Jesus in you. That’s definitely a sacrifice worth making.

So back to the Dairy Milk. In the last four months I’ve been heartbroken, been hurt, and been ‘unloved’. And it’s through this that I encountered loving abundantly in a situation where I could have been angry and hurt someone in return. Try it. It’ll eventually lead to tears of joy because it’ll be a beautiful reminder that there are people around you who will love unconditionally and abundantly, and it’ll be a beautiful reminder that Jesus is always with you.

Sean Skinner is a volunteer worship leader and youth worker at St Mary’s Reigate, and in his spare time works full time at Premier Christian Radio. (He’s also now happily single as a result of loving extremely, and is seeking an outdoorsy Christian girl aged 18-25 with a strange sense of humour. RSVP.) Follow him on twitter @SeanUSX

Free Cone Day! A God52 post by Steve Case

15 Feb

Inspired by this week’s God 52 challenge, American writer and youth ministry specialist Steve Case writes about the abundant love of God.

SteveCaseHere in the United States, one of the high holy days for those of us who love sweets is Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day. One special day in the spring when anyone can walk into a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Shop and ask for a free cone and it shall be handed unto them. What a wonderful thing.

What if every day was free cone day? 365 days a year. We would go every day. After a short time we would probably being taking cones home and storing them in the freezer.  How long before we start taking friends? “Let’s go to Ben & Jerry’s and get a free ice cream cone!”  When your freezer was full and your friends’ were too… wouldn’t you want to take a bus load of kids from the homeless shelter?

You’d gather your friends together, load up a convoy of buses, and collect all those people who have no place go and nothing to eat and take them for an ice cream.

It’s Free Cone Day forever. 

When Moses asks God to send water in the desert because his followers are griping,God does not sent a drinking fountain.  What God sends is something akin to Niagara Falls in reverse. God says, “Oh, you’re thirsty huh?  Here!” And the waterfalls come shooting up out of the sand. Isaiah uses language that refers to “overflowing” and “breaking the banks”.

I believe this is how God’s love works. Jesus said, “I come so you may have life more abundantly.” The key word there, I believe, is MORE.  It assumes we are having an abundant life to begin with. We are given so much that we will have no other choice but to share with our friends and then get our friends to share with the world until everyone experiences God’s abundant love. Happy Free Cone Day!

God’s love is limitless. There are no conditions on the unconditional. Too often we hear God loves everyone…except for….as long as….only if…

None of this is true. God’s love is abundant. We can no more put a limit on God’s love than we can empty the ocean with a teaspoon.  Beautiful wonderful abundance. It’s for everyone. God does not turn anyone away from the counter. He’s got the little hat and the apron and the scoop in his hand. God is waiting.  “What flavour will you have?”

Steve Case has been in youth ministry for a quarter of a century.  He is the author of more than 20 books.  Most recently a new Stations of the Cross curriculum and the Unauthorized Dictionary of Youth Ministry (both available from theyouthcartel.com.)  Steve is also a noted speaker and workshop leader – visit www.stevecasespeaks.net.  His first novel, ‘Father Dark’ will be released later this year.

Some alternative thoughts for Valentine’s Day, by Steven Harper

14 Feb

Here’s the first guest post inspired by this week’s abundant love challenge. We still need some more – please email me if you’d like to write one. Before you do though, sit back and enjoy YesHEis.com‘s Steven Harper’s alternative Valentine’s day reflections.

stevenharperIts that time of year again…

Flowers, chocolates, every time you here music it seems to be Sinatra… you seem to find yourself singing along with the strangest smile on your face; an unusual feeling of happiness inside… yes, it’s Valentines Day.

Enough of that, let’s talk about something much more meaningful to Valentines Day: relationships…

Personally, I’m in one of the longest distance relationships you could ask for, with thousands of miles between me and my girlfriend. So Valentines Day for me, will consist of a candle lit dinner, over Skype!

The long distance got me thinking about more than just my relationship with my girlfriend, but more about relationships in general, and more importantly, my relationship with God.

My relationship with God has some similarities to the relationship I share with my girlfriend:

Distance. Do you ever just feel like He isn’t there when you need Him most? I have. Sometimes I need God because something really bad is happening in my life, and all I want is for God to come and sort it all out for me. With my girlfriend it’s the same; there are times when we both get so frustrated because we just can’t be there for one another, or because the time-zone difference creates barriers in our communication and relationship.

Time. Have you ever just wanted to sit and play on your PS3 or Xbox instead of talk to your girlfriend? Or just watch a film? Or spend time doing something you like to do by yourself, like reading? I haven’t, OBVIOUSLY 😉 But sometimes our lack of time creates a frustration that affects our relationship. And it is the same with God. God asks us to give Him time and dedicate our lives to growing and understanding Him more, but for whatever reason, we just get frustrated and take it out on Him, or those around us.

Dating. OK bear with me… Can you remember the first few dates in a relationship? They are so much fun, and you put in (especially the girls) so much preparation and care to how you dress, how you look, and even how you act. Because you want to impress right? We do exactly the same as Christians, when we first find God, we treat Him like our new partner, we worship Him more, we sing and clap that little bit louder, we tell everyone we know how happy He has made us, we make sure that we are always doing something that involves Him… But then it just gets, well normal. It becomes the everyday, and we feel like we have done it so much that it’s not worth bothering with because we are secure in our relationship and we know that He loves us, so that’s enough, right? Wrong.

For the distance, God gives us patience, and with that, strength. So that we can deal with the times when we feel He isn’t acting quick enough. So that we are prepared to wait on Him and His timing rather than our own.

For time, God gives us grace. To make sure that we are slow to anger and peaceful in all that we do. To show compassion to those around us and the situations that they are going through in their lives. Now for the hard one guys… To put down the controller when your partner wants to talk to you, and to joyfully spend intimate time together in relationship, and for God? Read your Bible more, pray more, spend more time in worship.

For er, dating, God gives us faith. It is faith that feeds the imagination, allowing God into the areas of your soul that no-one else can touch, bringing fresh ideas and new challenges to your life, so that in relationship with God, every day becomes more exciting and open to how He wants to use you. Having faith in your relationship and making the most of your time together, thinking of new ways to keep each other surprised and happy.

For all these things, we come back to the main emotion that should be at the front of any relationship… Love.

Love encompasses all of the good and defeats all of the bad. Any relationship without it will not last, but any relationship with love, will never end.

Be filled with love, and make sure that all of your relationships, whether they are with a partner, a friend, family or God, are invested into and surrounded by the love that you were created to share.

Steven Harper is a business expert who has recently completed his Masters Degree in International Business and Management. He turned down a professional career in soccer at the age of 17 to pursue God’s call on his life elsewhere. He is the Community Developer for YesHEis in the UK and has a heart for serving the homeless. Follow him on Twitter @steveharper12

God 52 – Week Seven (12/2/13)

12 Feb

loveWeek six is behind us, week seven lies ahead. (On that point, week six was ace. I spent a week listening to Joel Osteen. I now have a new car and wife. This may not be true. But seriously, a fun week, especially watching people wrestle with stuff that I like and they don’t. As for Osteen though, and this is in lieu of a full blog, I want his level of faith (and wealth?!?!?!) but REALLY struggle with his views. Really, really struggle.)

Right, less of that, week seven. This week, not only is it the start of Lent, but it’s also Valentines Day. So you are probably assuming that here at God 52 Towers we found some way of cleverly combining the two.

We didn’t. In fact, the combination of Lent and God 52 sounded far too confusing. So feel free to do both, but don’t mix them. Like driving and drinking alcohol. (Stay in school kids.)

So this week’s theme, jumping on the back of the Valentine’s Day bandwagon is love, love, love. (It’s all you need.)

And the challenge, it’s a simple, but powerful one.

7: Extravagantly, lavishly, outrageously love one person this week.

This may be the kind of thing you do anyway, but make a special effort for the next seven days. It could be your partner, it could be a parent, a family member, a friend, or that person at work who needs a bit of cheering up, but whoever it is, make an effort.

And by make an effort we mean these three things

1) Pray about it

2) Think about it

3) Show it

Don’t unthinkingly love someone. Don’t do it in word but not deed. Go all out with love and pray that God would give you the opportunities to do so.

And if you can’t think of anyone to love for the week, my address is available on request and I really like chocolate.

I think this week could be the most fun. Let’s do it.

If you’d like to write a guest blog on this week’s subject – engaging with ‘other’ voices – please read the guidelines here, then drop Martin an email.