Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Learning to Pace

There is enought time in any one day to do what God wants you to do.  At least, that's the theory, and also the gist of many a bible text.  We are supposed to be people who are led not driven.  Our busy lives need to be ordered in such a way that we can 'catch the ear of God' or hear heaven's whispers, as Diane pointed out last Sunday at our church (www.eldadchurch.org.gg if you want to hear her talk). 

Yet I am not finding it easy to pace myself in these early months of being back in full-time work after some years of pain and ill-health.  I know I need to learn to learn this lesson and learn it well.  Maybe you do too?

Technology was supposed to give us so much more time.  Time to think, to walk around God's beautiful creation, and time to pray.  Instead it has added a host of demanding dings buzzes vibrations and ringtones that cannot go unanswered.  Email is great, but so immediate!  Letters used to take an age to get there and for a reply to be received.  Now we feel obligated to check our emails regularly, even on holiday, just in case someone is expecting an urgent response.

I am determined not to lose ground healthwise by not learning how to pace myself correctly.  I plan in to my day regular breaks and stretches.  I limit my time in front of a screen. I choose carefully before I respond to thoughts of obligation or urgency. But I have a long way to go before I match the standard of Jesus - or even of men like Eugene Peterson in his wonderful classic The Contemplative Pastor.  Still, 'sufficient unto the day' etc... At least tomorrow I can have another go.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Train one: save many

Photo: RNLI
In Guernsey the Lifeboat is more than a maritime institution, it is a prominent local charity dedicated to saving lives at sea.  We who depend upon the sea for  so much are grateful that the RNLI is there when we need them.  Recently the charity ran a campaign called 'Train one: save many' trying to raise awareness of the need to train people for safety at sea and thereby save lives.  When I saw the slogan I thought of another lifeboat I know, only this one is in a land-locked country - Zimbabwe!

When Diane and I lived and worked in that land in the early 1990's we realised the great need for training in the African churches.  There are over a million churches in Africa without trained leadership!  Church growth has outstripped leadership training on a massive scale.  We worked with the Elim Pentecostal Church of Zimbabwe and set up a training programme for young Christian men called 'Project Timothy'.  Today, the EPCZ has just opened a new Bible School in Mutare, the third largest city.  I visited the capital Harare just a month ago and met with the Bible School Board.  The key to the future of this ministry is training.  'Train one: save many'.

Elim Bible School in Mutare
My involvement with the Bible School now is to try and raise the finance over the next 12 months to equip the lecturers with laptops and the College with computer and VOIP facilities.  This will enable the lecturers to teach groups of students in more than one centre at the same time and save long journeys for them.  It will also give them and the students access to rich resources on the Web and enable overseas teachers to have some input.  The medium for teaching is English.  The day of the pith-helmet wearing missionary may be over, but our support and equipping role in the African church context is more vital now than ever. 'Train one: save many'.

Get in touch if you want to know more!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Merry Hearts and Medicine

There must be something a bit odd about us British people - we love to celebrate special occasions in public!  Here I am standing next to Guernsey's Lieutenant Governor (he is the Queen's representative in Guernsey) Air Marshall Peter Walker on my right and church member and friend Trevor Mahy on my left.  It was all part of a tremendous weekend of fun and joy which for us involved a great street party outside the church building in St Peter Port and much hilarity.  The fun continued on Sunday morning as we all tucked into hot bacon rolls and coffee as part of our Jubilee Family Service and welcomed new faces into the building who had been with us at the Street Party.  All this was in aid of Her Majesty the Queen's 60 years on the throne - quite an achievement and worth the celebrating.

It is great when Christians get noticed because of their laughter and joy instead of being against something, isn't it? That was certainly the case last weekend and the more so as we refused to let a little bit of rain get in the way.  It must be quite a while since the Pastor and his wife at Eldad Elim Church were seen dancing in the street outside the building!  Let's hope it won't be quite as many years till it happens again.  There is a Bible verse that says 'the joy of the Lord shall be your strength'.  Even in times of terrible trouble we have found laughter to be such good medicine. In fact the book of Proverbs says that a 'merry heart does good like a medicine'. I know there may not be much to laugh about in your life just at the moment, but thank God for the promise that 'though weeping may endure for the night, joy cometh in the morning!'

Friday, June 01, 2012

Reign Over Us!

Preparations are now well in hand for this weekend’s special celebrations of Her Majesty the Queen’s 60th Jubilee.  I am part of the organising team for a Street Party in Union Street, St Peter Port, the capital of Guernsey which will take place tomorrow afternoon and we are really hoping that it won’t rain!  60 years on the throne is a tremendous milestone and one worth celebrating.  The reign of Elizabeth the Second has seen so many changes but very early on, when the Queen was still in her twenties, she took a remarkable step of preparation.  Speaking in a live broadcast the young Elizabeth pledged herself to the service of her realm and peoples for the rest of her natural life.  In other words, the Queen made a commitment, public and clear, forthright and forceful, that would affect the direction of her whole life and that of the British peoples.

That kind of self-less commitment may be rare in our day, but it is a powerful illustration of what it means to begin a life of dedication to God and to others.  Commitment is still the foundation stone of Christian discipleship.  Those who respond to the call of Christ must make a clear commitment of their lives to His service.  Whether done in youth or in old age, there is no other way to prepare to both serve and then one day meet – our God.  May He help us to make or to remake that commitment this weekend.  Have a wonderful Jubilee.