Learning through Life

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Hampshire, United Kingdom
I love how our day-to-day life can teach us lessons to help us understand our past, challenge our today, and inspire our future. We can learn through experiences, situations, conversations, songs, books, nature ... the list is endless! Live with eyes ready to see, ears ready to hear and a heart ready to be touched.

Monday, 16 February 2015

The Death of Joy

We had our sixth meeting as LifePoint yesterday and for the first time it felt like 'church' to me. This isn't to say that the other meetings hadn't actually been church - far from it - church has happened through our 'normal' services, through Messy Church, and through our Costa gatherings; Church has happened whenever we have met together. But yesterday felt different.

Why?  Well, I have been trying to figure it out all day today. Because the truth is nothing different really happened. We met together, prayed, worshiped in song, gave notices (it can't be church without notices!!), got kids involved, shared communion, gave a sermon, and had tea and coffee afterwards. You know, the usual church kind of things!

But something had changed. It felt right. It felt purposeful. It felt like church.

So what changed? It wasn't the structure, the place, the people, and it certainly wasn't God. Therefore, it must have been me.

I have come to the conclusion that it felt right for the first time yesterday because of a change in my expectation, attitude and focus on the vision that God has given for LifePoint.

You see, I have found it very difficult to let go of my previous experience of church and this has impacted the way I encounter church now. Holding onto history has held me back and gnawed away at my passion to see the love of God impact and transform those God has called us to work with. I have hesitated when I should have obeyed and doubted when I should have trusted.

God has a new purpose and plan for my life, and a new community for me to love and serve, and this should have been at the forefront of my mind. Instead I have spent too much time looking back and comparing.

God said: 'See, I'm doing a new thing!'
Jo subconsciously replied: 'Great, as long as it is the same as before!!'

Mark Twain stated - 'Comparison is the death of joy'. How true! I have been doing far too much comparing, and this really has robbed me of the joy that comes with being in the will of God, especially when it comes to my experience of being church.

I love my previous church, and I always will, but continually measuring LifePoint up against it will only cloud my vision and dampen my passion to see the vision fulfilled.

How do we stop comparing? We look forward not back. We guard our thoughts. We stop dwelling in arenas that tie us up in history. We change our language from 'when we were' to 'now we are'. We thank God for the past, walk in the present, and celebrate the future.

Yesterday felt like church. A new church. A new way of doing things. A new purpose. A new community. A community of wonderful people meeting together in the presence of God to worship, encourage, inspire and to love.



My new family and my new home.

If God is doing a new thing in your life - embrace it - he knows what he is doing! New wine needs to go in new wineskins! 

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Beautiful Imperfections!

 After months (actually, years) of planning, prayer and perspiration we launched LifePoint on the 11th January 2015.

We rushed around setting things up (wow - I never realised how easy we had it before - owning our own building!!), ran sound checks, put plenty of chairs out, laid the communion table, put on our 'Welcome' lanyards, and made sure the foyer came alive with the sound of music (ah-ah-ah-ah!)

Now, if you know me, you will know that I love to plan and have a very clear idea of how things should look, sound, and feel in my mind. I had it all sorted. The team had it all sorted. And I trusted that above all God had it all sorted!

And I waited with excitement and nerves energetically dancing around with each other.

Slowly, people came (phew!!) - and I am truly thankful to those that turned up to support us for our first service.

With absolute wonder at the faithfulness of God, who dropped this church in our hearts and minds years ago, the sound of the first 'Welcome to LifePoint' filled the hall. Wow. Awesome. It has happened! Thank you Jesus!

And so, onwards and upwards from here, right? We had been faithful to God's call to plant this church, facing many struggles and hurts and difficulties along the way, surely this would now be a blessed adventure?! A reward for our battle!

But ... as the service went on, the sense of excitement lessened as disappointment gathered momentum. I checked the 'LifePoint' area of my mind - but this looked different. This sounded different. This felt different. What was going on? Why was it all going wrong?

The high hopes, the expectations, the adrenalin ... crashed. I felt a failure. I felt I had let people down. Most importantly, I felt I had let God down. It hadn't been the perfect service I had wanted to give him for his glory.

With such a heavy heart, I drove home.

And then, one by one, in different forms, the messages came.

The messages of excitement. The messages of belonging. The messages of hope. The messages of enjoyment. The messages of wonder. The messages of thankfulness. The messages of God speaking into broken lives.

And there I learnt, despite how I felt it went, God was still there, God still spoke, and God still touched lives. God worked through the imperfect. 

Wow. My disappointment evaporated and my heart began to rejoice.

My perfect God doesn't need perfection.

People don't need perfection.

This is real life, a life that encompasses mess, confusion, hurt, anger, pain ... sin.

And this is real life, life that God loves to speak into, with ALL it's imperfections, to love, to forgive, to bless, and to transform. The imperfect that will one day become perfect in Him.

God, take the imperfect, that's all we have, and use it to show your perfect love to others.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Goodbye, Hello, and Help!

Goodbye comfort. Goodbye security. Goodbye friends. Goodbye church building and polished services.

This month I left all I have ever known as church after becoming a Christian 27 years ago. This church was my spiritual home, place of development, where I felt called into the ministry, my friends, my family, my life. I gave all I had to it and I gave all I was to it. I loved it (and I still do).

But, when God calls - we have to go right? It's Simple.

Although, in all honesty, it never was that simple. I questioned, I fought, I struggled; I was stubborn and scared. I never doubted God's voice, but doubted his plan! Did he really know what he was doing? Did he really think I was up to it? Did he really want me ripped away from all I knew and loved to start something totally new?! But I knew ... it was time to practice what I preach and put my trust in him.

And so:

Hello discomfort, Hello unknown. Hello loneliness. Hello a whole new way of being church!


                        Hello church planting.

                        Hello LifePoint Church. 

                        Hello to a new adventure.

And Hello to a new blog series (well, that's the intention) as I try and work out, walk out and live out all it means to be church in a new community, with a new team, and a new leadership responsibility.

I haven't got it all together - in fact - I'm secretly (well, not so secretly now!) freaking, but I will continue to put my feet down where I believe God is leading and trust he will equip me to serve him as he reveals his plan in all this crazyness!! Prayers always appreciated!

What have I learnt so far?

* That it is possible to love a community of people whilst they are pretty much still strangers.

* That God often reveals the big picture, but waits for us to step out before revealing the details.

* That not all Christians will be behind you.

* That God sends support and encouragement in the most obscure ways!

* That God loves to speak to imperfect people through imperfect people.

The journey has started ... come along with me, it would be great to have companions!


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