July 2010

Come Dine With Me-and Alison!

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.
Dale Carnegie

Come Dine With Me came and went on Sunday 4th July. I felt an ecclectic mix of relief and delight once the show was over. Relieved that I hadn’t made any huge bloomers and delighted to have had a moment of stardom.
Feedback was extremely positive from friends, family and business associates. Yet one woman was highly critical of a line I had said. This person had seen my appearance on Big Questions earlier in the year where I shared my ‘unfaithful’ story and lessons learned as a result. She heard me talk about my ‘toyboy’ experience and felt it ‘disgraceful’ that I seemed to be behaving in a different manner to that on the BBC1 programme.
At first I felt hurt by her comments. What she didn’t know was that I always share the lessons learned and never glorify my actions. However being a TV show which looks for the biggest entertainment factor, everything that followed my initial ‘affair’ statement was cut out. For those watching the show it did indeed look as if I was proud of what I had done in the past.
It made me think about how we handle negative feedback. How many of us choose to focus on negative criticism rather than the positive? How should we respond to feedback? Here’s what I did with mine:
I weighed it against all the other feedback I had received and on balance the positive feedback far outweighed that one negative comment.
If there had been other criticisms I would have examined them to see if there was some truth there. If there was I could use it to improve my character and/or performance.
As there was no truth to be learned (except say nothing!) and it was a solitary remark I chose to ditch it!
Focusing instead on the positive comments and the fun I’d had whilst filming caused my self esteem to rise.
Whilst I’m not suggesting the woman who made the criticiism is a fool as Dale Carnegie implies, I will bear his quote, and the example Jesus set, in mind and endeaver to develop my own character so I can be forgiving and understanding before I critise others. Are you up for the same challenge?

Visit the website to view the show:

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Woman on a Mission

Q: What do you get if you have a seven year old who loves playing “dance lessons” on the playground?
A: Too many repetitions of listening to “Telephone” by Lady Gaga

Yes, my daughter has hit the stage of shutting herself in her bedroom and playing her music loudly, rather earlier than I had anticipated!

When I’m driving, if I’m choosing, it’s Becky Higg/Magic FM/Leona Lewis. If she’s choosing it’s Lady Gaga or Dance Party 2010 – if you see me driving erratically it’s because I’ve just realised I need to skip one of the dodgier tracks because I don’t want her growing up any quicker than she already is!

But listening to her music (which I actually like more than I’m letting on!) has brought a song by Gabriella Cilmi to my attention.


Well right now, I’m not out on some mission to make some guy mine but I am on a mission for God…a withreach mission!

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Outreach is dead, long live Withreach?

At Activate-Your-Life we were challenged to rethink our terminology and our strategy by the ‘Withreach’ organisation. Have a look at their website or read the contrasting lists below. It certainly prompted some deep thinking amongst us. We’d love to hear what you think of it all, maybe you could use this to prompt discussion or a training session amongst your other Activate friends.
Unchurched are nameless faces and numbers
We do good things for people
Transformation imposed from the outside
Church speak
Religious jargon
Paternalistic overtones
Impatiently look for quick results
Seek conversion within narrow set of goals
Love shown with an agenda behind it
Great Commission priority
We have what you need / you have nothing to give
You cannot contribute until post-conversion
Fearful of differences
Clergy – laity split
Sunday AM priority
Church is domain of the sacred
Target segmented group
Image of community
What would Jesus do?

People are unique and vital treasures
We do good things for people by doing things with them
Transformation created from within
Human voice
Language of dreams (aspiration / spiritual purpose)
Honor and respect
Patiently take the long view
Seek relationship for multifaceted vision
Love without strings attached
Great Commandment is the engine of Mission
We both have much to give / we both have much to learn
You can experience God in giving and serving
Honoring of and dependent on diversity
Priesthood of every believer
24 / 7 community and holistic life
Church is catalyst for God’s rule in every sphere of life
Create holistic community
Authentic community
What is Jesus doing?

Connecting Far Beyond
The Limitations of Outreach
Withreach is an incarnational paradigm of mission that begins with honor of all people made in the image of God, and humbly seeks a place of commonality to reach together for the purposes of God, and is willing to nurture faith in contextual community, wherever faith is found. These comparisons are meant to communicate the contrast between traditional outreach and withreach.

Withreach is a protected service mark of Breakthrough Media. This chart Copyright © 2004 by Breakthrough Media Group. Permission is freely granted to local churches and all church ministries to copy the chart and/or to use the term “withreach.” Use for commercial purpose, or any use in any context by a for-profit company, is prohibited without express written permission.

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The God of All Comfort

We can look into 2 Corinthians as if we’re looking at a day to day journal of Paul’s missionary journeys and the things he experienced. Of all his letters, this possibly is his most personal and outlines more than any of his writings, his personal life and indeed his personal individual sufferings.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-11)

Day 1 – I was pressed out of all measure. ‘I was weighed down exceedingly. Like the beast of burden, like the donkey that takes all the cargo, I felt as if I was about to buckle under the heavy load of pressure that God laid upon me’.

Day 2 – He might have felt ‘above strength’. ‘The trial that God gave me today was above strength, it was far above my ability to endure. I couldn’t take it’.

Day 3 – ‘I was despairing today of my life, I felt there was no way out, no passage, no exit – at the end of my tether’.

Paul’s life looked at times like a confusing array of crossroads and junctions with flashing red, green and amber lights – he didn’t know whether he should go, wait or stop.

Day 4 – ‘In our hearts we felt the very sentence of death’.

We have talked here in days but sometimes our trials build up over longer periods.

Something happened to the great apostle and he felt he couldn’t go on. It was beyond bearing, he couldn’t take it any more. These struggles can leave huge doubts about our faith and who God is. Can we identify with Paul? Do we feel solidarity with his suffering?

For God sent Christ to earth to live a life of righteousness, to go through temptation, to go through testing, to go through trials and tribulations and to come through so that we might look to Him and have the power to go through it too.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 reads ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God’.

Jesus knew the loss of a loved one as He wept at the grave of Lazarus. He knew what the emptiness of desertion was. In the home His family mocked Him thinking He was mad. However, He went through life taking the blows of abuse and ridicule from neighbours, countrymen, family members and friends.

We can experience bereavement, relationship breakdown, job loss, financial hardship or long term illness knowing that Jesus came through and said ‘I am the one who comforts you in all your tribulation’. Tribulation means ‘crushing pressure’. Like Jesus, Paul experienced crushing pressure in his life and ministry, but in all of his life he had the God of all comfort. God comforts us in all our tribulation, so that we can comfort others in their tribulation and, as a result of our suffering, we can be comforted.

We can trust God to take the fragments of our lives and remake them carefully building one precious stone at a time. He will not make them into what had been before, but into something even better. Isaiah 66:13 ‘As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem’.

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