I Am The Way: Vision & Calling

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During Lent my church is posting a weekly reflection on Facebook around our ‘I am the Way’ Easter theme. Here is a repost of the one I was asked to write this week on the topic of ‘Vision & Calling’. It was originally posted here.

VISION & CALLING.

There’s a lot of song and dance about vision and calling. There’s a lot of fuss; a lot of noise. You hear it all the time: I don’t know what I’m called to do. I can’t see where I’m heading. God hasn’t told me what to do. I don’t know what my vision or direction is.

I hear it in my own life. It’s endemic in church culture. I hear it in the attitude of the 18-30s I work with. I’ve heard it from older people and I’m hearing it from some teenagers. A modern entitlement to a personal and specific ‘call’ or ‘vision’.

In some ways, it is quite right to focus on vision. Without vision the people are unrestrained (Proverbs 29:18). They wander aimlessly in many directions. If the church is a body, it won’t get very far if its limbs are pulling in different directions. We become sheep who have forgotten they have a shepherd. We don’t get very far.

I am a sheep in that crowd. Time wasted pondering my life’s calling, formulating the perfect, grand vision and missing the point. It becomes all about me. My vision. My calling. Me, me, me. I am a sheep who has forgotten the shepherd. An aimless wanderer, never truly committed, waiting for something specific, something clear, something shiny, something for me. In the song and dance, in the fuss and the noise, perhaps we dismiss the visionary words of Jesus: love God, love everyone, make disciples. Maybe he was pointing us to a vision and calling that isn’t just about me, me, me.

The writer of Hebrews tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus as He is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). That’s the way to live. We spend a lot of time obsessing about vision but forget what this truly means. Vision is what our eyes see. Am I looking at myself? Or will I look to Jesus? Not just a casual glance, but a fixed stare. Fix your eyes on Jesus. The Good Shepherd. The head of the body. The one who is the author of all life. The one who perfected it all. The pioneer of our faith. The completer, the finisher. The beginning, the end.

What is He saying? What is He doing? Let’s get involved with that.

Our vision is Jesus. Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Nothing more, nothing less. Our calling is towards Him. Fix your eyes on Him. He is the way.

Embracing the Journey: My Story of Worship

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I have a story to share. It is a story that began 16 years ago. It is a story that began when I was 10 years old.

It’s funny which moments you remember from childhood but I remember two moments of a certain week in the summer holidays. The first was this: I was at New Wine in one of the children’s groups when Holy Spirit showed up in my life for the first time. It was quite an overwhelming experience – the only other clear memory of that day was my sister who was two years younger came to meet me so we could walk back to our tents together and I basically shouted at her and ran off because I was overwhelmed by what had happened! A hilarious first move for a 10 year old who had just become a Christian. Thankfully my parents explained to me what had happened and encouraged me in the early days of my walk with God.

A few days later the team had invited Scott Underwood, a worship leader, to speak to the children. That, in itself, it turns out was pretty generous as this man was a well known worship leader and author in the Vineyard movement. Anyway, I don’t remember any of the session but I do remember at the end there was an invitation to anyone who felt God might be calling them to lead worship. I was only 10 years old but for whatever reason, I felt compelled to respond. We went forward to the right hand side of the stage and I remember Scott Underwood praying for us.

After the session I recounted to my parents what had happened. Now, my mum has since said that when I told them the story they laughed to themselves – this was a small boy stating he was going to lead worship… a small boy who had never shown any interest in music, had practically failed playing the recorder and couldn’t really sing. They didn’t really think it could happen. I don’t blame them!

The good news is my parents are fantastic and have always invested in us. This time they bought us an electric guitar. The only problem? I didn’t play it. It collected dust in our downstairs hallway. I had a go here and there but never really got into it. To this day, I’ve never really played that guitar.

A few years into secondary school I got significantly stuck into the music scene. I loved music. All my money was spent on CDs. Music spoke to me in a way nothing else did. I was inspired by it and challenged by it. I met God through the lyrics and the sound. It expressed what I felt on the inside but couldn’t find the words to describe. When I was 15 I borrowed an old acoustic classical guitar and taught myself some chords. It was a ridiculously hard guitar to learn on with a really wide neck. I still couldn’t sing but with a small bit of input from an older guy from church I taught myself the basics.

I kept going, never really investing in learning in any meaningful way, but trying to pick up a few songs here and there. I started trying to write some of my own (most are awful). Along the way I found that I could actually sing.

I kept playing in my room. Since I was 10 I always had an intense passion to be in the presence of God. I worshipped my heart out in my room whilst I was at college and then at university. I went through some hard times but I felt close to God when I sang. I poured my heart out before him, strumming and singing to myself. Me and the creator of the universe. Looking back it was like King David in a lonely field. I give Him my all. I learnt to lay down my life before Him with a sacrifice of praise.

I never played in front of people but people who didn’t know me very well kept giving me prophetic words about having a worshipping heart and leading others. I rationalised that this wouldn’t be in a music way as I wasn’t good enough for that kind of thing. I couldn’t sing properly, I couldn’t play guitar properly. It’s a heart thing, I thought.

I did Form (discipleship / leadership year) and ended up involved in our ministries for 18-30s at my church in Sheffield. Somewhere along the way, leaders who I trusted started saying I should lead worship. They were gentle but forceful. They were patient as I was very opposed to any thought of me being at the front of church, let alone playing guitar. I was nowhere near good enough to play the guitar in a church!

My leaders encouraged me and started giving me opportunities. My parents bought me an electro-acoustic guitar. I started leading in small groups with students and young adults. I was asked to sing at a friend’s wedding and played a song I had written. More importantly I kept pouring my heart out before God in my bedroom. I worshipped Him in a quiet and secret place. I wasn’t great at the guitar, I didn’t have the perfect voice but I knew He loved to spend time with me.

The first big opportunity I had to lead was at a worship event called His Presence. The organisers rang me a day before saying the person they had to lead couldn’t make it and could I play. Erm…?! I led with another guitarist (also called Tim) and my sister on keys. It was the first time I had played plugged in. It actually seemed to go well. I still didn’t think I was good enough. I kept putting off joining the worship team at church. Nicole Brown asked me a number of times. I avoided the opportunities. I wasn’t good enough.

Throughout this time I would speak to my mum on the phone and she would always remind me of this prophetic promise that a little boy received at New Wine when he was 10 years old. Every time she spoke of this it sounded as though she was convinced God has spoken. I did not believe in myself but my mum believed in me. More importantly, she had come to believe in the word from a loving Father over my life.

Over the last two years I have had more and more opportunities to lead worship. I finally joined the worship team and Nicole has always been generous in helping me to learn. As everything I’ve learnt was self-taught it has been a steep learning curve! Since September 2015 we have been having Worship Nights at our church and Andy Stone (church leader) has basically forced me to play with him! He saw something in my heart, encouraged me and believed in me.

Since the beginning of this year I’ve had the beautiful opportunity to lead worship with my lovely wife-to-be. Honestly, this is a dream come true. She has a stunning heart and an equally gorgeous voice. Her desire to pour out her praise to Jesus is contagious and inspiring. I have been very fortunate to meet a girl who I get to sing with. I have been very fortunate to meet a girl who believes in me – who sees things written on my heart by God and stands with me to say them come to pass. All praise to Him!

Finally, last Sunday morning – Sunday 28th February 2016 – I led worship at church during our Sunday gathering. 16 years since a boy heard an impossible word. 16 years of getting to know the heart of the Father in an empty bedroom.

Am I an amazing guitarist? NO! I still struggle to play in time! In fact, last Sunday was the first time I had led with a drummer and it was a new challenge. I am still learning. But this is what I have realised: God has given me the heart. I may not have the skills that others do, I may prefer to revert back to the same four chords, I may struggle with tempo, I may not have the best singing range… but I have the heart that God put in me a long time ago. 16 years ago in fact. It’s a heart that grew in a similar way to David, in the quiet places, alone in a bedroom. It’s a heart that has been encouraged by the generosity of my parents and amazing leaders. It’s a heart that was invested in year after year by New Wine. And it’s with that heart that I am able to lead worship.

Let it be a sweet, sweet sound.

I’ve often written about the process of discipleship and I hope that this story encourages you to hold on to the promises God gives you. In this instant culture we expect quick fixes, immediate answers and instant breakthrough. This is not the way of the kingdom: “Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.” (Mark 4:27) Sometimes (and I’m going to argue more often that not) it is a slow burning journey to the promised land. Patience is a valuable gift. Little seeds take a long time to grow. We can do things to nurture them but it is a mystery how they grow. Some seeds take many years to become tall trees. Make the little decisions along the way that invest in your heart. Get to know His heart. There is no logical reason for me to have ever led worship in a church service. It is all through the grace of God, combined with the little decisions to get to know Him in the secret place.

Last Sunday felt like a culmination of a long journey. It is a time to give thanks for all God has done. But it is a journey that is only just beginning.

 

#allin resurrection: embracing the journey from Friday to Sunday

The life of a Jesus follower is one of crucifixion and resurrection. It’s death and life. Friday and Sunday. In the early hours of 2014 I wrote in my journal:

“Lay down.
Let go.
Stand up.
Take hold.”

If you know me (or have read my blogs), you will know that laying down and letting go have become an intrinsic part of my life. Just read my last blog about surrender. This is an essential part of discipleship: willing to die, willing to pick up that cross and let go of the things that hold you back from encountering the fullness of His love. God has definitely taken me further on this journey of #allin surrender over the last few months. However, I have come to realise that I am not so good at standing up and taking hold of all the promises that God has spoken over my life.

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Jesus set the standard of what a life of #allin surrender looks like but if He had stayed in the grave then we would still be there too. He laid Himself down, let go of divinity and united Himself with us. But if He stayed in the grave then death would not be beaten, it would still have a pretty painful sting and we would still be subject to all of the burdens of death and darkness. Jesus did not stay there! And we cannot either! Good Friday is not at all ‘good’ without the resurrection life that Jesus embraced on the Sunday. When you lay everything down and surrender your life to God, He meets you there and brings you to new life. He does not leave us on the floor. He meets us there. He puts good things in front of us. Psalm 23, after a voyage of death through the shadow valley and a meal in front of enemies, says “surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.” Surely! Surely there are good things to come! John 10:10 states that Jesus “came to bring [us] life, and far more life than before.” (JB Phillips). What a promise!

The nature of resurrection can be nothing but #allin. You cannot stay half dead. Lazarus came out of the grave and people had to remove his grave clothes (John 11:44). You don’t need to remain in the stench of the grave and you’re no longer required to wear the rotting grave clothes of the past. You’re either a new creation or you’re not. So many people walk around in the grave clothes of past regrets, carrying around the stench of the burden of unfulfilled dreams. Jesus’ grave clothes were folded up and left in the grave (John 20:7)! It wasn’t a partial resurrection, it was #allin. He left all signs of death in His tomb. If we’re going to embrace Jesus’ #allin resurrection we must cling to that journey from Friday to Sunday. We have to lay everything down but still allow Holy Spirit to resurrect and call forth from within us the beautiful and significant God-given and God-ordained gifts that flow naturally and gracefully from the place of our oneness with Jesus. In Him we have been raised to new life. There’s an abundance of glorious freedom and joy that rests on that truth. The journey from Friday to Sunday is embracing and allowing our mind to be renewed by Holy Spirit. The old has gone and the new has come. You and I are new creations! Come on!

It is time to stand up and take hold of all that God has called us to be. Here’s the truth: you are amazing and you are made for amazing things! Jesus picked you out and chose you before the foundation of the world. Just read Ephesians 1:4-5! It’s time to embrace resurrection life, the complete fullness of life, and step into all that we are called to be. Many people reading this will have promises and dreams that have been cast aside or stolen but I feel as though it is a time to take hold of these promises and dreams and become all that we are called to be.

This has been my heart in August. There’s still an element of surrender as all the good things come from Jesus – I always want to have that in mind and only take hold of what He puts in front of me. I want to be willing to lay it all down as He guides at a moment’s notice. But it is time to take hold of who God has called me to be. I don’t want to miss out on the things right in front of me that God has placed there. For too many years the thief has stolen and distracted us away from the things that God has placed in front of us. It is time to take hold of them! What does that look like for you? For me, it’s remembering who I was created to be and letting that reality partner with His prophetic promises. It’s deliberately and intentionally taking hold of the opportunities to walk that destiny and reality out in the every day moments of real life.

Here are some of the truths I am taking hold of:

  • I am a son. I have the best Dad who knows my needs.
  • I am a leader. Holy Spirit guides me and I can guide those around me. I can release what I have learnt to people as they follow me.
  • I am a prophet and I can speak life, truth and destiny into people’s lives. My life points to a loving and incredible Father.
  • I am a worshiper, a singer, a writer, a musician. I am creative and whatever I create can change lives, atmospheres and situations.
  • I am a teacher. I have the mind of Christ and I have Holy Spirit revelation that I can unlock in other people.
  • I am a man, a father, a husband. I love with compassion, sacrifice and purpose. I release destiny to others. I live in community not in isolation. I encourage and build up those around me. I am extravagantly generous with every resource I am blessed with.
  • I am a fire starter. I live in His presence and therefore where I go people will be healed, delivered and set free. I will go to different parts of this world and bring life and love.
  • I am an intercessor. I see what is on the horizon and I call it into being. I stand in the gap for people, especially those overlooked and ignored.
  • My life is marked by passionate pursuit of His presence, adventure and fun, laughter and joy. I am a man who has resolved to fix His eyes solely on Jesus. I will not look to the right or the left.
  • I am who He made me to be. I will be a person who embraces the cross with #allin surrender and I will be a person who embraces everything God has placed in front of me and experience resurrection life.

This is who I am.
Who are you?

This is who I am. Who I’m called to be. I don’t mind that I’m not walking out these values every minute of every day yet. No, instead I resolve to not miss any God-given opportunity to step into my purpose and destiny! I refuse to let fear steal anything that God has called me to be. I will not dwell on past mistakes and regrets. I will continue to grow and recognise that we’re called to a process, but I will take hold of every little thing that God has given to me. I will not beat myself up when I miss an opportunity*, I will not give the enemy a foothold. I will gladly take the next opportunity and I will live in the fullness of life that Jesus bought for me through His death and resurrection. I will not live solely from the surrender of Friday but I will hold it in tension with and will make the journey to Sunday.

This is who I am.
Who are you?

You have been raised to new life. It’s time to take hold of it and all the adventure and possibilities that come with it!

Who is with me? Who will embrace the life to stand up and take hold of all that they have been called to be?

  1. Do you find it easier to lay things down or take hold of what He has put in front of you?
  2. What is God calling you to take hold of at this time?

*I wrote most of this blog on the 14th. The following day I had a terrible time in a particular situation. I was stressed. My decision making process was more influenced by the thoughts of other people than what God thought of me. Yes, I was caring about what people would think of me. I wasn’t being the Tim I was made to be. I definitely was not taking hold of everything God was calling me to be. It is a process. There’s something freeing in that reality. When we’re caught up in the brambles of life He searches us out, picks us up, brushes the dust off our clothes and takes us home (Luke 15:1-7). It’s always a new day in the Kingdom of God. Stand up. Start again. That’s part of the journey. That’s the path to #allin resurrection.


If you’re wondering where the #allin hashtag came from you’ll need to read this blog I wrote. I’ve also written a blog about #allin compassion here and #allin surrender here.

2014: #allin or nothing

People often tell me I need to write more blogs. I really appreciate this. Thanks. I can be a good writer and I probably have some good things to say. But at the end of the day, if I don’t live out the words that I type then it’s just empty and hollow. In the last ten years, I’ve written a lot of empty and hollow blogs. This is the reason that I don’t write as often as I did when I was at school, college and even university. I think I’ve realised that at some point you actually have to do something. You can’t just talk about it. Words are empty without action.

I have the ability to inspire and convict with words in equal measure. However, the fact is that we still all are glued to the computer screen and we’ll just check Facebook and Twitter one more time before doing anything remotely worthwhile. At some point we’ve got to do something about it. In this case, the same thing that has the ability to inspire or instill change actually neutralises it – let’s be honest, we’ve all spent time reading about change rather than instigating change in the situations around us or, indeed (and perhaps more importantly), the change needed in our own lives. In the blink of an eye, I can both inspire the depths of your heart and distract you from doing something about it.

So with a new year, I pose the following question: what would the world look like if we actually did something about it?

No, scrap that, here’s a better question. There is too much wonderful irony laced in the first question when it comes directly after that opening paragraph. (“Everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy) The question is this: what on earth would my life look like if it wasn’t just words and I actually did something about it?

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A few days ago at a football match I noticed an Adidas advertisement campaign and the words that I saw have resulted in this blog. The slogan was as follows:

“Game on or game over.
#allin or nothing.”

#allin or nothing.

Maybe, just maybe, this is what we’re called to?

Showing commitment.
Giving everything.
Leaving comfort.
Taking risks.
Going all in.

At some point you just have to get out of the boat. #allin. Step out of the boat. Even if that means getting wet. Even if that means falling flat on your face. Even if that means getting your heart broken. Even if that means getting it wrong. Even if that means failing. Even if that means facing fears. Even if it’s impossible.

What would happen if I went all in?

That moment where Peter steps out of the boat is so audacious. It’s one of the best biblical examples of going all in. There’s no logic to it. The figure (Jesus) upon the waters (that the disciples thought was a ghost) tells Peter to come because Peter asks the figure to tell him to come. How much sense does that make? And Peter does it. How much sense does that make? He gives everything in that moment. He climbs out of the boat, clothes on, eyes fixed upon who he thinks might be Jesus. It might not have been. He might have got it wrong. He might have looked like a fool. A cold and dripping wet fool. But he ignores the doubts, he ignores the wind and the waves and he steps out that boat. He goes all in. It might not have made sense on the surface, but in fact, it’s the opposite that’s true for Peter – #allin or nothing. It made no sense to him to stay in the boat! If he couldn’t go all in, it wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t worth a fisherman dropping everything because a man said “follow me”.

2014 and I’ve heard those same words. “Come, follow me”. It’s the call of Jesus. “Nothing else is worth it, nothing else can satisfy like I do, no love even comes close to the love that I am and that I give.” Nothing compares. And so I’m convinced that the walk with Jesus is meant to be one where we go all in. Going all in is what is required to see our God-given dreams burst into life. Sometimes it involves sacrifice. Wars don’t end without someone taking a stand. The starving are not fed without radical effort and without someone going further. Lasting social change doesn’t happen overnight. Books don’t write themselves. Songs are not composed if you never took time to learn the instrument. Water isn’t walked on unless you get out of the boat. Safety and security must be left behind. At some point you have to nail your colours to the mast. You have to go all in. Lukewarm living is not life to the full (ask the church in Laodicea – Revelation 3:14-20). There’s a choice. There are so many things that we put our hands to with no real commitment – there’s little desire and little heart. And what have the results been? It makes no sense to stay in the boat! If we’re not giving Him everything, it might as well be nothing. If we try to hold onto our life, we end up losing it (Luke 17:33). What if we followed Jesus with our whole hearts? What if we gave Him our whole lives? What does it look like to go all in?

  • What would happen if I loved people to the point where I couldn’t walk past a hungry stranger without providing them food?
  • What would happen if money wasn’t ‘mine’ but was a good gift from a good Father that could be used for radical generosity at any moment?
  • What would happen if I actually prayed for every person with physical need to be healed?
  • What would happen if I didn’t just drift along in life but actually seized opportunities to make a difference?
  • What would happen if I put the work in to see my dreams fulfilled? What if I didn’t just have good ideas and pipe dreams but tangible goals that, with determination, focus and effort, could produce lasting fruit?
  • What would happen if I opened up my heart so that ‘community’ and ‘family’ were not just concepts but realities to explore and embrace?
  • What would happen if I went all in? If I got out of the boat and got a bit wet? If I took a few more risks? If I believed that impossible could become possible with a bit of motion and a lot of fixing my eyes on Jesus?

It is so easy for me to give up before I have even started. But here’s to 2014, a year where more and more of these words are no longer empty and hollow but are rooted in the light and life of a heart that went all in. And we’re bound to miss the mark once in the next 365 days so here’s to each day given over to Holy Spirit’s leading and to pursuing the best Dad who loves us relentlessly and to awakening more and more to the fact that we are one with Jesus, united in His death and resurrection. Or here’s to the next hour where we will go all in – where we will choose to give Him our whole heart and embrace the opportunity or risk that brings about in the next sixty minutes. Moment by moment, day by day: chasing dreams, taking risks in love, giving Him everything, going all in and getting a bit wet.

Because if we’re not going all in, how much do we believe?
If we’re not even aiming at going all in, why bother?
It might as well be nothing.

It makes no sense to just stay here.

#allin or nothing. Happy New Year.

Encouragement.

“That is SO encouraging!!”

How many times have we heard someone say that? It is a very typical response to a range of scenarios. Maybe I gave you a generous compliment… or maybe I prayed for you after a church service. Maybe I gave you a prophetic word… or maybe I said I was here for you if you ever needed it.

“Thanks Tim, that has really encouraged me…”

…has it?!

“…that’s really encouraging to know”

…is it?!

I have been thinking about encouragement a lot recently. I am not discounting the above as examples of encouragement but I believe there’s a new depth of ‘encouragement’ that we are yet to grasp.

It comes down the actual word. Think about this: the prefix “en-“ means to “make” or “put in”. The word ‘encourage’ therefore essentially means “to put in courage”. When was the last time you thanked someone for saying something encouraging to you? Did it really put courage into you? Did it deposit something into your heart that allowed you to courageously step out as who you are meant to be?

Because that’s the kind of encouragement that I want to start to give. That’s the kind of encourager that I want to become.

Everyone Needs Encouragement

You see, everyone needs encouragement. At the moment I see a lot of people with a lot of training but they do not have the courage to step out and see their God-given dreams fulfilled. You can have all the training and equipping in the world, but you won’t do much without the courage to step into the person that you were created to be.

The great thing about being in relationship with the God who created the entire world is that He has the capacity to released massive dreams in people. This is great! We are each created in His image with God-given kingdom potential embedded in us. Sometimes these dreams seem impossible, but they are not when the creator of the universe is living inside of you! That’s why encouragement is so important – it’s calling out that God-given potential in people and giving them the courage to live it out!

Think about the examples above: if I give you a compliment or a prophetic word but you walk away the same as before, has it really encouraged you (put courage in you)? But if I give you a compliment or prophetic word that instills a sense of courage in your heart where you can walk out the room with a smile on your face, believing that you can see the Kingdom of God come in your situation and you can see your God-given dreams become reality, no matter how big or crazy… then that sounds like encouragement!!

Invitation and Challenge

The great thing about this kind of encouragement is that it encompasses both invitation and challenge. Imagine someone comes to me and says: “Tim, I believe in you. I believe that you can see both universities in Sheffield transformed by God’s love. Your dream to see broken students encounter God’s love will become a reality. Keep stepping out and taking opportunities because I believe in you Tim and I believe in the dreams God has given you.”

What a great thing to say to someone! Not only are they affirming what God has put in my heart, but they are inviting me into relationship and backing me as a person. However, it is also contains an element of challenge – it’s saying “I believe in you, so go and do it!” Step out and live the life God has called you to. Go!

Jesus was the best encourager. When I read some of His words I like to imagine what it would have been like to have been there. Can you imagine how courageous you would feel if Jesus said to you “all authority has been given to me, so go! Get out there and make disciples everywhere… and I’m going to be with you along the way, every single day, no matter what!” (paraphrase of Matthew 28:18-20)? That’s encouragement! There’s the challenge of chasing after an amazing dream and purpose – people from all nations being discipled! To get there, they have to go. Yet it is combined with the invitation and the reassurance that He will not leave them! No wonder these uneducated fishermen saw 3,000 people saved on day one after Holy Spirit showed up in Acts. They were left full of courage by Jesus (courage that is reinforced and increased by the wonderful Holy Spirit – Jesus in them!!)

If we just challenge people without the invitation of relationship, we end up beating them down. I don’t think the disciples would have been as effective if Jesus had just said “go and change the world and disciple people”. That sounds scary! How could they step out to be the people they were created to be without the reassurance that Jesus was going to be with them?! In the same way, if we only challenge people we do not release people to be who God has made them to be. And my guess is that those people will continue to struggle to overcome the areas of their life that you are challenging in them. However, if we grasp what it means to encourage, to put in and instill courage in the hearts of the people we are discipling, then we will see a courageous generation stand up who see and hear the dreams God has put in their heart and they believe that they can play a part in seeing them become reality.

So go! Find people that encourage you and go and encourage the people around you. We need to create a culture of encouragement by being encouraged ourselves and learning to put courage in the hearts of the people around us.

  1. Are you good at encouraging (putting courage in) people? Think of some ways that you can encourage people around you.
  2. Who are the people around you that give you the courage to be the person that you were created to be?
  3. Who are the people you feel God is telling you to encourage this week?

Dreams That Change The World

“Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible.” – TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)

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I believe that the ‘instant gratification culture’ that we live in has had a direct impact on our dreams. Everything is now, now, now. We live in the moment. If it’s not easily and instantly attained, it’s not worth fighting for. It’s not worth longing for or dreaming about. Sure, we do have dreams but they seem to have been downgraded to the highly unrealistic or the ridiculously meaningless. Becoming a pop star that would have a chance to date Mr Justin Bieber or maybe him just retweeting us.*

Dreams no longer cost us anything. The essence of a dream should be the hope for something better. Instead they’ve become fantasies, where the closest they come to reality is in the deep recesses of sleep.

I watched the film adaption of Les Misérables last night (excellent, by the way) and I am always struck by the depiction of the 1832 June Rebellion in France – young men, fed up with the status quo, but willing to die to change that. They had a dream. One that had been crushed time and time again. There had been revolutions before, but change had never really happened. Yet they still put there lives on the line.

I lead the student missional community at the King’s Centre in Sheffield and one of my dreams is to see students encounter the love of Jesus for the first time and to ultimately see lives and universities transformed by the amazing love of God. This is a big dream and my heart used to ache for it. But big dreams don’t happen overnight. If we’re expecting everything to happen instantly then we can become disillusioned or discouraged. This is especially hard when you no longer ‘feel’ the dream. When you know the vision and what you’re aiming for but it doesn’t move you like it once did. It’s times like this where we can feel like giving up. I know I often do. Recently I’ve been asking God “What’s going on? What am I doing? Why am I not seeing my dreams fulfilled?” Finally I said to him: “is this dream dead or am I just not the right person to be chasing after it?”

Somewhere in my heart I heard a quiet voice say: Dreams from the Father’s heart never die.

Paul wrote in Romans 5:3-5: “…we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

The gap between the initial dream and seeing it fulfilled can often involve suffering, especially when there is slow progress. But I believe God is reforming our character and bringing us to a place where our foundation is a steadfast and unwavering hope. So many people can miss out on this but restricting to their vision to ‘dreams’ that do not cost a thing. Dreams imparted by Dad’s love sometimes cost us, but they will never disappoint because they lead to hope.

Dreamers of the day are dangerous because they could change the world. But in a culture where we want everything instantly, when we see something that we know needs to change, we usually end up complaining. I heard it said recently that complaining is like negative intercession. Rather than changing the situation, it’s giving permission for it to be there and it rarely leads to people doing anything about it. Complaining does not lead to change.

This world needs a radical generation that learns to dream rather than complain. We need a people who fix there eyes on hope and are strengthened by Holy Spirit who pours love into our hearts. These people are world changers. Wake up dreamers and dream again!

  1. What are my dreams? (If you don’t have any, dream with the Father today!)
  2. How is the ‘instant gratification culture’ impacting these dreams?
  3. Does my complaining restrict my ability to take the steps necessary to see dreams being fulfilled?

*these are not my dreams. Honest.