I am responsible!


After a trip to Rwanda to visit her sponsor child, Brooke Fraser, a Christian musician wrote a song that included the lyric “Now that I have seen I am responsible.” 


This became something of the theme for the “Thai Team 2017” – a group of people from my local church who signed up for a Short Term Mission trip to Thailand.  They considered it as they were exposed to experiences that were heartbreaking and confronting. Dark places that most need the shining Light of Hope and Truth.

As a team, one of our greatest fears is that the impact of the confrontation and inspiration of this trip might fade as time and distance increases. It happens a lot. People are confronted or deeply moved, but then life settles back to its normal rhythm and nothing much has changed. 

So we repeat that phrase – now that I have seen, I am responsible! I can’t unknow what I know or un-see what I’ve seen. I can’t walk away from the need without asking God to show me the part He’d have me play in meeting it. I can’t enjoy the privilege of wealth and circumstance without considering how I might leverage it for those without.

We are responsible. 

It is just as true for us here in our day-to-day as it is for the Thai Team. We believe that God brings people and circumstances across our path for a reason. When He leads HIS people into the spaces where there is need it’s because something of His activity in those people is the answer. We can trust that He will supply what we require to respond as He asks.

How about you?

Who has God led you to? To what need has He opened your eyes? What’s the passion of your heart? What hurt do you feel or injustice do you find intolerable?

Now that we have seen – we are responsible.

Listen TO THIS PODCAST to hear more reflections from the Thai Team 2017 trip. 

 

5 ways to build up your kids min team


Kids Ministry is an exciting and exhausting place to serve. Those who do it well will absolutely love it and give their all to it – but that doesn’t mean they are immune to feelings of doubt or fatigue.

Here are 5 very simple yet super effective ways you can make your Kids Min Team better – building them up in their sense of purpose and energy to continue to invest in our kids and community.

1. Thank them

Give them a high five at sign in. Tell them you appreciate their commitment to your children. Help them understand the impact their serving has on you and your family. Remind them of the important part they play in your church community. Drop them a note, give them a FaceBook shout out, or speak it out loud.

 

2. Know their names

Make the effort to learn and remember their names. Get to know them. Find out what year they’re doing at school, what they’re studying at Uni or where they work. Try and discover what they do for fun, what their favourite chocolate is, what music they listen to or what sport they follow. Your effort will communicate such high value to them.

 

3. Bring them coffee

Because Sunday mornings are hard y’all!! Surprise them with coffee or breakfast donuts and fruit. Buy the night team a pizza for supper or bring slurpees on a hot day.

 

4. Give them feedback

When your kids remember something they learned at Kids Min or when they tell a story about something their leader did – pass it on. Help them understand how their influence reaches beyond the scheduled ministry times. Encourage them to know the impact they are having in your kids’ lives.

 

5. Serve with them

Join the team – Kids Min teams ALWAYS need more members – and multiply their ministry effectiveness by adding your own gifts and skills. If you can’t be part of the scheduled ministry times, find ways to serve from home or during the week.

PICK ONE (or more) – and do it NOW!

never out of reach


TRex

This has long been one of my favourite memes. Poor little T-Rex, limited in his love expression by his super short arms! 🙂

But even with the longest of arms, we often fall short of expressing the depth or degree of our love for others. The phrase “to the moon and back” gets well used because we’re so desperate to find a measurement sufficient to communicate all that we would hope to.

In Isaiah 59:1 is written …

Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call.

When I recently came across this verse in my reading I immediately thought of T-Rex and his restricted love! I imagined God – who is quite large in my vision of Him – with teeny tiny arms. Exaggeratedly miming His attempts to reach us. “I can’t, my arms are too short!” It’s a comical thought, but this is essentially the message of the text. Why would we doubt the reach of God’s love and His capacity (and desire) to save us and help us? Do we really think His arms are that short and His hearing is that bad?

In our more intellectual or theological selves we might answer “no!” Of course we know His arms are long and His ear is inclined to us. But in our hearts? In our difficult times, in our pain, our loss, our grief and our burdens we can sometimes not feel this truth to be real. We can feel far from God. We can feel unworthy of His love. We can feel alone or abandoned. We can feel we are beyond redemption.

Be reminded again today of the truth. God is not like a T-Rex! His arms are long and His reach is sure. His love knows no boundaries or limitations. He has done through Jesus all that is needed to make us lovable and reachable. His ears are open to our call.

 

nobody likes small talk (it’s not just the introverts)


“Introverts don’t like small talk.”

Introverts (those who gain or recharge energy by being alone – as opposed to extroverts who draw energy from others) are often assumed to be shy, socially awkward or even rude because of the way they engage or don’t in social environments. However, those attributes are more to do with personality or emotional intelligence than the number one marker of introverts – they find people-heavy environments physically and emotionally exhausting. 

Introverts often express a deep dissatisfaction and even frustration with “small talk”. But I have an increasingly strong belief that NO ONE likes small talk. Not even extroverts. 

Extrovert readers, please feel free to correct me if you disagree, but no one likes small talk. It’s repetitive, it’s shallow and it’s only really a means to the end – a more rich and stimulating conversation or connection. 

The difference is that extroverts have the social stamina to endure more of it. Because they gain energy from being with people, they are not as drained by the small talk and don’t fear an exhaustion of their social energy before getting to a deeper conversation. They are also happy just to be talking – to people! – and so will more readily settle for surface level chit chat. 

For introverts, there is a very real chance that all of their social energy will be spent before they get to a point in conversations where they find meaningful connection or intellectual enrichment. 

Nobody likes small talk. Some are better at it. Some can participate in more of it before fatiguing their social energy. But no one actually likes it. No one comes away from a party and says “that was so good I spoke to a whole lot of people about absolutely nothing”. People of all temperaments are stimulated and satisfied by intellectually or emotionally meaningful connections with others.  People want to laugh heartily, be challenged mentally or connect personally – regardless of temperament. 

My hot tip for an introvert to thrive in social gatherings is this – find yourself an extrovert! Stand near them and ride the wave of their small talk into an actual conversation. Save your energy for the good stuff! 

Further reading 

six truths about extroverts
extroverts and quiet times

‘oh no!’ or ‘oh yay!’


I have a little friend who is 4 and adorable. I love going into spaces where she’s playing or interacting with others and just watching and waiting for the moment she becomes aware of my presence. As she happens to look up and around, she will eventually notice me and it’s the best moment to watch her face completely change. From her pensive ‘looking’ face or her blank ‘wondering’ face to her ‘KimmE is here!’ face. Her eyes go wide, the eyebrows go up, a massive smile breaks across her face and she yells “Kinnay!” Then follows the enthusiastic run from wherever she is to launch herself into my arms for excited squeezes and kisses.

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was that happy to see us!? Maybe not with the run and leap, but definitely the joy and the enthusiasm and the positivity that fuels it. “KimmE’s here, oh yay!” Good things will happen now. This will be an enjoyable place to be. I want to be where KimmE is. I’m so glad she’s here.

In scripture there’s a guy named Joseph who people called Barnabas. Barnabas means ‘son of encouragement’. It was a nickname they gave him because he was so stinking encouraging in every way and in every sense and at all times that they just had to call him that. He was generous and engaged. He was a champion-er of other people. He was a speaker of truth and potential into the lives of others. He was encouraging and supportive. OH YAY! Barnabas is here!!

On the other hand, we all know some ‘oh no!’ people. You know the type. The ones you see coming and think ‘oh no, what have I done this time?’ or ‘oh no, what’s gone wrong now?’ because they are so critical and so free with sharing their negativity. They can suck the life out of any environment with their pessimism and cynicism and their disapproval. These are the people you’d sooner avoid – particularly if you’re already feeling a little tired or deflated – because you know they’ll be hard work.

I really want to be an ‘oh yay!’ person – don’t you?

I want everyone (not just 4 year olds) to see me coming and be expectant of good things. That my encouraging spirit and joyfulness might announce itself in such a way that people know they can trust this encounter to be life-giving not life-draining. I want people to be assured of my support and championing! I want them to know I am for them – even in their weakness or failings. I want my tone, my body language, my facial expressions, my interest and my responses to all be expressing hope and help. To be speaking truth and life. To be reminding others of their gifts and capacity to do great things and influence others in meaningful ways. To speak courage and boldness to the fearful.

I want to be like Barnabas.

Don’t you?

the light is IN the tunnel


You’ve no doubt heard the saying before – ‘there’s light at the end of the tunnel’. Say it around the right (or wrong) kind of person and your attempts at positivity might be squashed by the response “hopefully it’s not a train coming to run you down!” (Hilarious!)

It’s a well used sentiment. When times are tough, when we’re in seasons of difficulty or despair, when we are swamped with busyness or challenging circumstances – we feel like we’re in the darkness of a tunnel. The idea that there is light at the end of it can be our best attempt at a more hopeful outlook. The notion that at some point, this time will be over and on the other side of it there will be a time of brightness or lightness – where this heaviness will be lifted and there is a new day to be experienced and enjoyed.

I’ve used it myself. I’ve heard it myself. It seemed to make sense enough.

Until one particularly difficult ‘tunnel’ season about 15 years ago. I was recently separated from a difficult and damaging marriage. I was completely messed up in terms of how I saw myself and what I was expecting from life and relationships and my future. It was so dark. Trying to process my way through it all was intensely overwhelming. There wasn’t hope IN my relationship and outside of it there was so much fear, uncertainty and self-doubt. Of course, it came in waves. Sometimes I was ‘ok’ but then others times it just felt like ALL despair and hopelessness. The grief and pain seemed all consuming.

In one of those more harrowing times I was talking to a good friend and ministry pal, Jeff. He remembers the conversation as well because it became quite significant for him too. He was trying to speak something positive or life-filled into my circumstances. Wanting to tell me it would ‘be ok’ – to paint a picture of something more hopeful for my future than what I was able to see for myself. And he went to use that phrase “the light is at the end of the tunnel” – but he felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to a greater truth and instead, what he said out loud to me was. “Mate, the light is IN the tunnel!”

Despite my grief and my despair, God was present and active – right ‘here’ and right ‘now’. He wasn’t out there waiting for me at the end of the tunnel. He was with me IN the tunnel. The light of His truth was not just a thing off in the distance or somewhere in the future or on the other side of the hurt and hardship. Here and now. His hope, His peace, His joy, His grace and His love, were all present here IN the tunnel. It was so powerful.

It’s 15 years ago now and I remember it with clarity. Because not only did it start to immediately change my focus, attitude and expectation; to shift what I was looking at and looking for. But it also became a picture that has stuck with me and that God used to shape my attitude and posture during the intensity of that time but also – from that – to be something of my life message.

God’s presence IN our tunnels and IN our hardships means that they aren’t wasted times, or times of abandonment and rejection. He is present and active.

The message of my book and that I get to preach all across the country on the topic of Singleness is birthed in this concept. These seasons are never wasted. They’re not just the dark tunnel on the way to the light. They’re not just waiting times. God is present and active in every moment. He is working all things for our good and His glory. He is turning even what was intended for evil into something good and purposeful.

The light is IN the tunnel.

How might that encourage you or someone around you today? How might that truth shift the way we experience our dark tunnel times?

 

lessons from driving | do you beep your horn?

The last time I beeped my car horn (other than the friendly little beeps to stop someone from reversing into you) was about 3 months after I got my licence. 

I was 18 years old and driving with my Dad to the local shops. A car was doing dumb things in the carpark – who knows what – they were in my way and not indicating any plans to get out of it. So I beeped. 

My dad told me off. I tried to defend myself with the usual stuff about the other driver being irresponsible or inconsiderate or incompetent. But he pushed back by asking, “but what will it do for them?”

Well, of course my hope was that it would reveal to them the error of their ways and lead them to be a more diligent, thoughtful driver in future. But even as I said it, the unlikelihood of that happening became clear. 

He said I would just make them angry, defensive, frustrated or stressed. And what is that going to mean for them? For the way they’ll drive out of here? For the attitude they’ll take into the rest of their day? For how they’ll drive or speak to their kids or act on the sporting field or speak to the sales assistant? 

Good questions right?

So, I have never beeped in aggression or frustration since.

That resolve was added to by the fact that when people beep at me in traffic I have been known to cry – like actually. I would never drive to be intentionally annoying and so I feel like they’ve misunderstood what I was doing – I want to pull over and explain myself to them. Or I have made an honest mistake and I am traumatised to have made someone mad. I need a lighted sign that says “sorry” so I can switch it on as they drive past.  

My resolve has been further added to as I’ve observed the high level of stress and aggression on the road (manifested in unbelievable and terrifying stories of road rage related violence) and the speed at which people can be prompted to frustration or anger. There appears to be a lot of people who live very near the edge of ignition and only need the smallest spark to erupt in flames. 

Ultimately, beeping at someone is unlikely to do anything positive. While it might satisfy my self-righteousness temporarily it hasn’t really contributed anything good to others or brought any real positive change to the world. 

How about you? Are you a beeper? To quote Dr Phil – “How’s that working for you?” 

the resurrection changes everything!


When Jesus walked the earth He made some pretty outlandish claims and statements. He upset the religious and political leaders of the day – confusing them with His parables and stories, inciting them by confronting their fastidious laws and self-righteousness; defying them by prioritising the love and care of others over strict observance of the Sabbath. He said He was the Way, Truth & Life, the Bread of Life; the Living Water. He ate with sinners, healed untouchables; offered forgiveness to law breakers. 

This Resurrection Sunday we celebrate the time when all these statements and actions find their fulfilment. Just two days before, He had been brutally tortured and murdered and laid to rest in a sealed tomb. All of His teachings and declarations had a great big question mark over them. Could He really be “the Life” if He was dead? 

What dark days they must have been. 

And then He rose from the dead!!! Putting a massive exclamation mark on everything. He said He was the resurrection …and then He resurrected! 

The resurrection changes everything. The truth it reveals beckons us to respond by receiving its power and surrendering our lives to all Jesus would seek to do for us, in us and through us. 

talking to your KIDS about PORN before you’ve talked about SEX

11 years old. 

That’s the average age of a person’s first exposure to pornography. (In fact, some researchers are suggesting that age to be as young as 9.) 

For many it’s accidental – a misspelled URL, innocently inappropriate search term or a click on a banner ad. For some, it’s a friend at school or someone on the train. Because of the ease of accessibility it is almost impossible to predict or even prevent a child having an initial encounter with pornography. And so conversations to prepare them are important to have …early and repeatedly. 

Pornography is widely considered to be the number one sexual educator of our young people because children are engaging with porn before attending official “Sex Ed” classes and even before their personal curiosity has been aroused. Before their first kiss or their first crush they are being exposed to graphic sexual images and a type of sexuality that is so distorted as to bear little resemblance to healthy sexual intimacy (read 5 lies porn tells). 

So, what should we tell our kids?

At its most simply defined, pornography is videos or pictures of things that are intended to be private. The same understanding your children have of sexuality, reproduction and intimacy is the language you would use to help them know what the images or movies would be likely to depict. We teach our children about nudity, appropriate touching, understanding privacy and honouring ourselves and one another – these are the same principles we might use to speak of the inappropriate nature of pornography. 

TIPS :- 

Attempt to speak without embarrassment or awkwardness. 
Remember : language is power. Read blogs, books or articles by parenting, cyber safety or family experts to help develop your vocabulary and increase your confidence. 

Ask lots of questions to check their understanding and to ensure they’re confident with what they’ve heard. Curiosity only exists in a void. 

Express and demonstrate an openness to responding to further questions as your child might have them. (Which they will! Particularly as they grow in their own awareness and understanding they’ll want or need to know more as it relates to their growing knowledge and experience. Establishing yourself as someone who knows about this topic will increase the likelihood that they’ll come to you with further queries.)

Remember it’s not “the” talk but a continuing conversation. Don’t try and download everything you know or want them to know in one dump.

Fight for your kids. Let the strength of your desire to see your kids protected from the insidious and addictive influence of pornography and its consequences fuel you to push past any fear or embarrassment to do and say what is required to set your child up to win.