CONFESSION: I almost didn’t post this article because as the title suggests I use the word ‘crap’ quite a lot in it. I am fully aware that this might be offensive to some and I may well lose followers and subscribers because of it. But after praying about it I am settled in my mind that I am not just using it to be flippant or unnecessarily shocking. Rather, I believe that it’s a strong word that is wholly appropriate for the thoughts I wish to convey. I hope as you read on you’ll get what I mean. If, however, you are likely to be offended then I suggest you don’t continue. OK, here goes…
Last night I learned that one of my childhood heroines had just passed away. It’s not an over-exaggeration to say that alongside Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia fired my imagination and shaped my childhood playtimes like no one else! (I LOVED her later role in the Blues Brothers too!) Tragically, her death is one of a long, long list of celebrities who have died this year: David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Terry Wogan, Paul Daniels, Victoria Wood, Prince, Carla Lane, Muhammad Ali, Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Gene Wilder, Leonard Cohen, Andrew Sachs, Rick Parfitt and George Michael have all passed away in the last 12 months. I mean, famous people die every year, but 2016 does seem to have been a particularly painful year.
Like millions of others I have found this year especially hard to navigate. Social media has provided an outlet for an outpouring of grief, disbelief, and even fear, that has been quite staggering. But how should we respond when the rich, gifted and famous die? Perhaps more importantly how should I, as a follower of Jesus, respond?
Here are 4 ways I think are appropriate: (more…)
I am loving Christmas time right now.
Seriously, LOVING it!
In fact, I can’t remember enjoying the lead-up to Christmas this much in years and years! So why am I so BUZZIN about Christmas? To be honest, I think it’s because I’ve had the time and head-space to really take it all in.
- To study Scripture.
- To meditate on the mystery.
- To ponder God’s perfect salvation plan.
- To revel and rest and rejoice in the Redeemer.
- To wander into wonder and wondrous worship.
- To thankfully think and thoughtfully thank my Saviour.
But why does this year feel so different to so many of my recent Christmases? Here’s why – I’ve got TIME! What I mean by that is that for the last 17 years I have been involved in full-time Christian ministry (I still am, you’ll be pleased to know!) But this is the first time in almost a decade that I haven’t had a CRAZY amount of Christmassy stuff to sort out – church events, outreach concerts, carol singing etc. on top of all the usual stuff like attending my kids’ school productions, visiting family, buying gifts etc. This year the only thing we’re involved in organising is an international carols event in our new community (more about that in a future post). And I’m doing a few preaches here and there. But I’m probably only doing about 25-50% of the amount of stuff that I am used to doing at this time of year.
And the result is that I have had time to actually enjoy Christmas. To study, meditate, ponder, revel, wonder and worship. But mingled with my enjoyment have been 2 strong thoughts that I want to share:
- SINCERE GRATITUDE for all those brothers and sisters who serve their socks off to make Christmas such a blessing – both for believers and the hordes of unbelievers who often attend church at this time of year. Christmas undoubtedly provides one of the best opportunities to impact our communities in the whole year and it is right to take that opportunity. So in all sincerity THANK YOU to all who are working and will work so hard this Christmas time. I pray that you will know great joy as you serve. But I also have another emotion rising up…
- LOVING CONCERN for all those who, like myself over recent years, might miss the beauty of the incarnation because they are just so busy. So rushed. So wrapped up in what they are doing for Christ that they neglect to focus on what Christ has done for them. And that’s where the true wonder of Christmas is to be found. After a marathon trek to Bethlehem Mary birthed the Saviour of the world in a cattle shed. And after a rabble of scruffy shepherds had gatecrashed the scene to worship her newborn baby, the Bible tells us that “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2 v 19) In the midst of the glorious, mysterious mayhem of it all – Mary took time to treasure the true joy of Christmas – the birth of Jesus and the dawn of redeeming grace.
This Christmas, can I implore you to make the most of the opportunities that the season will provide to gather and to give, to sing and to serve, to praise and proclaim the good news. And of course spend time with family and friends wearing dodgy paper hats and watching the Great Escape (again!) But please, Please, PLEASE take time to remember what…or should I say who…it’s really all about! I know it’s a cheesy old cliche but Jesus IS the reason for the season!
Be sure to make space and take time to treasure Him this Christmas!
Dear friends, hope you are all doing well and starting to get in the mood for Christmas. We certainly are! Anyway, this is just a very simple email with a super simple request.
A few days ago I was chatting with an older, wiser Christian brother who has preached more sermons, planted more churches and learned way more lessons about life and ministry than I have! As I was sharing with him about the new gospel adventure that we have recently embarked on here in Cardiff, he laid down a challenge. It went something like this:
“Dai, what God has called you to do is going to be HARD! You need to get some serious prayer behind you. Why don’t you try to find 100 faithful saints who will commit to praying for you, Michelle, the kids and the mission every day?”
Well, as he was speaking I felt (a) compelled to respond to this wise and compassionate challenge; and (b) that I needed more than 100. In fact, as I thought and prayed about it further I have concluded that I should look for 300 brothers and sisters to commit to stand with us in prayer as we embark on this new mission.
Could you be one of them?
If so, we will commit to sending you regular news and prayer updates by email, as well as a simple prayer guide to help you to pray for different aspects of our ministry on a daily basis. We will also gladly commit to praying for you!
If you would be willing to stand with us as one of our 300 we would be so honoured, humbled and grateful. To ‘sign-up’ all you need to do is email “Count me in!” to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll hook you up from there!
Thanks so much for you love and support. There are some crazy exciting adventures ahead and we can’t wait to share them with you.
Dai and Michelle and family.