Month: July 2012

Olympic events and celebrations- get Activated now…

The 2012 London Olympics are here! As the media is constantly reminding us – this is the sporting event of a lifetime! Hosting the Olympics in our country is a very special occasion and one to be treasured. In July 2005 I was attending one of my first Activate trustees committee meetings in a hotel in central London when loud cheering crowds and a display by the Red Arrows above the city alerted us to the fact the London had won the race to host the Olympics. And now the games are upon us!! Does it feel like you have run out of time? Did you miss out on buying tickets through the confusing and expensive lottery system? Or is it just too complicated to organise something in the middle of the school holidays with very unpredictable weather?

It is never too late to activate!!

If you have a TV then you can invite your immediate neighbours to watch the opening ceremony with you as you serve up cupcakes and coffee. Or borrow a projector from your local church and invite the street to watch it on a white sheet tacked up on your wall – serve up small helpings of fish and chips to make it a no-cook British event!
Go for something spontaneous- no committee planning, no tickets, no money in advance- just a gathering of friends with something to celebrate. Sometimes we make our evangelism too contrived and unnatural. Be natural!
Choose your favourite event and start following it through, sending texts to your friends so that you can get excited together, then meet at the local pub to watch the qualifying, the semis, the final and the medal ceremony. Or pick a British star to watch and check their schedule to follow them through. Send them an encouraging email or read their preparations on Twitter.
Perhaps you could host an Olympic celebration for the kids in your neighbourhood. Making medals out of tin foil and creating a ‘Praying for you’ card together would be easy to organise and great fun, remember to post it! Face-painting is always a great attraction, and you don’t have to be very good at it!! Most children love the quiet attention of someone taking time to sit with them and paint on whatever ideas they come up with- just get some low allergy face paints and a mirror. There are lots of red, white and blue snacks to buy cheaply in bulk at the local supermarkets.
More Than Gold has some last minute inspiration and downloadable resources – look out for their follow up leaflets-

Celebrating with people you are already connected with, building relationships and being a focal point to draw neighbours and work colleagues together is valuable and rewarding.

If you can add in a few moments with a ‘wrap-up talk’ that is jargon and cringe free then all the better.
Perhaps you could talk about God valuing everyone – those who actually win and those who look to be in last place. Or Jesus being there to bridge the gap when life feels like a race that we can’t win and can’t complete. Hebrews 12 encourages us to run the race marked out for us.
What do you have planned? Share your ideas and thoughts below…

What does God say about YOU?

About two years ago I came across a verse that I treasure and it’s found in Deuteronomy, not perhaps the first book you’d think of turning to for uplifting messages!
It comes in chapter 33, Moses is blessing all the twelve tribes. Moses is an old man, he has given his last warnings and instructions to this rebellious stiff-necked bunch of people and in chapter 33 he addresses each tribe personally. Although the whole chapter is entitled ‘Blessings’ some of them are only just blessings – poor old Reuben is told that ‘he will live and not die, but just barely, in diminishing numbers’ others are more descriptive ‘Dan is a lion’s cub, leaping out of Bashan’ and some are unqualified blessings ‘Asher – may he be the favourite of his brothers, his feet massaged in oil’!
Knowing that the 12 tribes came from 12 siblings, my eye was drawn to what was said about the youngest one. I am the youngest of my siblings and that dynamic has had a formative effect in my life. Being the youngest, ‘the baby’, the ‘nuisance’ hasn’t always been a positive experience for me.
So when I read the four fold blessing for Benjamin the youngest of his brothers, it really spoke to me. The four blessings come out most clearly in The Message version
‘God’s beloved;
God’s permanent residence.
Encircled by God all day long,
within whom God is pleased to dwell’
This blessing makes audacious claims about who I am in the eyes of God. I have committed them to memory and mulled them over and over. What difference does it make today to go into every situation saying or thinking: ‘I’m God’s beloved, I’m encircled by God all day long, I am one in whom God himself is pleased to dwell, God has taken up permanent residence in my life’.
Some days it empowers me, some days it overwhelms me, some days I find it hard to believe but every day I try to claim it, this is my blessing, the Benjamin blessing on the youngest sibling. It stands above anyone else’s verdict on me: I am beloved.


I have just enjoyed the latest Disney/Pixar animated film entitled Brave. Set in the Highlands of Scotland, with evocative bagpipe music and beautiful rolling rugged scenery, this is a tale with a feisty red-headed heroine. I loved the Scottish voices; I seemed to be the only one in the cinema who understood the Aberdonian prince! Visit Scotland loves the positive portrayal of Scotland. The heroine, Merida, charms us with her mop of unruly curls and her attempts to live wild, ride fast, shoot straight and not be confined to the ‘princess role’ set ahead for her. We revel in her attempts to set her own destiny, and in this she takes the usual Disney princess concept a long way. Snow-white and Cinderella she is not – as she sets her own agenda and causes her father, brothers and most of the men in her life to notice and listen to her. She is a throughly modern thirteenth century heroine! She is thwarted by two women – her mother, Queen Elinor, and a witch in the forest. Yes, there is the usual magical nonsense and the twisting of the story to resolve, but the conflict arises because her mother cannot accept that she has her own ideas and wants to make her own choices in life. She doesn’t want to marry the chief’s son who wins a competition for her hand. She wants to create her own fate and be the master of her own destiny. And it is not the men in her life who get in the way, but the women who want her to conform to the expected role, and to follow the traditional path that they took.

Does this ring true to us today? When you try to step outside of the norm, the comfortable and the accepted, is it not often other women who are threatened and challenged by you? Just when we should be supporting each other in our efforts in life to move forward, we sometimes hold each other back with critical attitudes, snide comments and a lack of support.
What does it mean to be brave as a woman today? Perhaps being brave is being the first woman to lead a service in a male dominated church. Or it may be continuing an international preaching role with a new baby at your side and very little sleep to sustain you.

Often being truly brave means supporting others around us, whilst putting our own hopes and ambitions aside. Being brave might mean sticking in at a job you do not like so that your kids can be provided for whilst your husband struggles to build a career. Or being the only stay-at-home mum in your street because you actually want to be with your own pre-school children. Sometimes being brave means staying for years in a marriage with an unfaithful husband so that your children have some stability, then realising that the really brave thing is to finally leave.
Being a brave woman today is a complex role, but we should be there to support each other in whatever path God has called us to follow that uses the gifts, passions and talents that He has given us.

This is a great film to go to with your daughters, your neighbours, and your friends and discuss issues that arise. When the dvd comes out be the first to buy it and have an event watching it at your house. Be brave this summer…

What’s Your Answer?

If someone asks you why you go to Church or why you are a Christian do you know what your answer is? Or do you mumble something about having always gone because you have been caught off-guard? 1 Peter 3 v 15 tells us to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” What is your answer? Is your answer full of gentleness and respect. Bill Hybels, is his fantastic book ‘Just Walk Across the Room’, tells us that he has a story. A story which he has carefully thought-out, it is this pre-considered story that he tells people when they ask about his faith. He suggested that we should all do the same, and he gives guidelines regarding our story. Firstly it should not be longwinded, no more than 100 words! Secondly no fuzziness, keep your story simple. Thirdly no Christian jargon, words like redemption and blood of the Lamb, mean nothing to those outside the church. Fourthly no superiority, the story should be told with gentleness. Here is an example of someone’s story:

“I used to struggle under the burdens of a challenging career, marriage, and growing family. I tried to meet these obligations with my own efforts and sufficiency. As a result, I was stressed-out, overworked, frustrated, angry, fearful, insecure, anxious, competitive and exhausted…all the time! The challenges still exist, but Jesus eases my burdens and is sufficient where I am deficient. Now I focus on what matters to God, and he takes care of what matters to me. I face life calmly and confidently while enjoying God’s wisdom and his undeserved blessing.”

Wow, who would not want to know more after being told a story like that. I challenge you to take some time to write your story then you will always be prepared to give an answer.

Being the Aroma of Christ

2 Corinthians 2:14-15 “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”

Smell is a powerful thing. A familiar smell holds the power to connect us to particular time and place in our past. The smell of The Body Shop’s Dewberry perfume sends me back to my teens, and a summer of Christian festivals. This smell leaves me feeling happy, as it is associated with fun times. Similarly the smell of coconut reminds me of sun cream and holidays, happy, carefree days spent on the beach. Likewise the clinical smell of a hospital, and I’m sent whizzing back 13 years to a hospital waiting room, the sadness and anxiety of waiting for my father to come out of a very serious operation. Smells possess the power to please us or make us nauseous. We can be delighted by sweet smells. A foul stench disgusts us. There is a potent power to smell when it is extremely good or extremely bad.

Verse 15 says that we are the aroma of Christ. What spiritual smell do we exude? Do our actions and everyday encounters leave people wanting to know more? Is our smell sweet and pleasant, or do our words and actions resemble a foul stench? Bobby Houston wrote a book called ‘I’ll Have What She’s Having’ the title is taken from the famous scene in the film When Harry Met Sally, where Billy Crystal doesn’t believe women could fake an orgasm. Right there in the restaurant Meg Ryan, very convincingly, fakes an orgasm, after this a waitress goes up to an adjoining table to take the order, the lady at that table replies ‘I’ll have what she’s having’. Everyone we encounter, be it the person on the checkout at the supermarket, the refuge collectors, work colleagues, neighbours, should look out our lives and want what we have because of the aroma of Christ that we exude. How do we come to possess this aroma? By spending time with and becoming like Christ. Through this, we pick up Christ’s scent and carry it to others. But we can only carry it to others if we actively build relationships with those outside the church, and take the time to invest in the lives of those God has placed in our path.

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