Need

Posted: April 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

It’s been a long time since I last posted here. Ten months, in fact.  Recently I thought, “I need to get writing again.”  This started a thought process about the idea of ‘need’, and in particular the clear statement in the Bible that:

“Our God gives you everything you need…” -2 Thessalonians 1:2

You can’t argue with a verse that’s as straightforward and as unambiguous as that.  However, I’ve realised that I have been limiting it.  I limited it because it’s very close to another passage:

“…do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink…Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?” -Matthew 6:25-26

I’ve always thought that “God will provide for your needs” as “God will look after your survival”.  But I think that this limits our view of God’s provision in our lives, and in fact I think that there are two further types of need that God provides for:

1) God provides for our basic needs

These needs are the basic needs for survival.  Food, water, shelter, those kinds of needs.  What we need to stay alive.  This is what I’ve always read the 2 Thessalonians verse as.  Especially when people told me that “God will give you what you need, not what you want.”

2) God provides for our needs in order to fulfil his calling

In addition to our basic needs for survival, God also provides for what he calls us to do at the moment.  This could mean many things: money for doing mission work abroad; a house with a spare room to provide hospitality; an income to enable us to practice generosity; and so on.  Though we may not need these things to survive, we do need them in order to answer his call.  At the moment I am looking for a house.  I’m not married, nor do I have children, and so you could say that all I need is a one bedroom flat just big enough for me.  This is true.  To survive, that is all I need.  But I believe that God has more than survival in store, and so I’m praying for the provision of a house with two bedrooms, a large living room, and a garden.  This is so I can host people overnight (including backpackers), host worship sessions, and host summer church BBQs on the marvellous sunny days that Scotland enjoys.  I do not need these to survive. But by being provided with them, I am able to serve the Kingdom in more ways than without.

3) God provides for our needs in order to grow into a future calling

Churches are like goldfish: they tend to grow in relation to the bowl you house them in.  When God provides for us, I’d like to think that he has the future in mind.  So when he provides for us, he may provide more than we need at the moment so that we might grow into it.  This could be a church building that’s too big for its current size, because it’ll grow; it could be a car with too many seats, because you’re about to start a family; it could be a gift in public speaking, because one day you’ll preach to hundreds.  If God has provided more than you need, perhaps it’s because you’re going to grow into it.

What do you think?  Where have you seen God’s provision in your life?

Last year I went to the Youthwork Summit. It was in Birmingham during that year, and was a brilliant event. This year it was in Manchester. I wanted to go, but it was too much money to travel and accommodation was hard to come by. This got me thinking, what if the Youthwork Summit came to Scotland? What if it came to Perth?

So here are my 10 reasons why the Youthwork Summit should be in Perth in 2015:

1- It obviously needs to be in a central location so that travel time is evened out. Geographically, Dunsop Bridge in Lancashire is the most central part of the UK. But there’s not much there, so we should base it on public transport centrality instead.

2- The majority of the UK’s population live in the south-east of England. So the YWS needs to be accessible to London with a maximum of one change of train away. Which Perth is.

3- Perth Concert Hall has the best acoustics in the UK. Imagine how great the speakers would sound if they spoke in Perth!

4- A newly-built Holiday Inn will open this year in Perth. Next door to Perth Concert Hall. It’s meant to be! I’m sure we could organise a discount for delegates too.

5- People from Stornoway, Orkney and Shetland will be more able to come. And they’re awesome folks!

6- The Scottish Reformation started with someone giving a talk in Perth. Exactly.

7- In Scotland, Perth’s accent is the weakest of them all. This means that everyone will understand the locals! Bonus!

8- The Scottish Highlands are just a bit more north. So if delegates want to make a holiday of it, they can!

9- Perth has everything a modern youthworker needs: Starbucks, Paperchase, and Boots meal deals!

10- I bet you can’t think of any good reason why it shouldn’t be in Perth, except that (statistically) you probably live in south-east England and you can’t be bothered to travel.

Can you think of any other reasons why the Youthwork Summit should be in Perth? Do you think it should be somewhere else?

Perth Prayer Week: Days 1-4

Posted: October 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

20131016-205148.jpgThis week is a week of prayer for Perth. Having not had the time to properly organise it, and neither the funding, the room looks brilliant and God has met with everyone who has attended. But one thing has discouraged me. Something that I’m almost too embarrassed to admit that it affects me:

The numbers have been few.

Now before you quote the Bible at me, I know that Jesus is present whenever 2 or 3 are gathered (despite this being taken out-of-context, as if he isn’t present when you’re on your own – another topic entirely). But I’ve caught myself thinking, “Why don’t people want to come and pray?” and “Can they really have more-important things to do?” Judgemental, I know. My hope was that the city would be united further through praying together. We have been praying together, but not quite on the scale that’s been in my head for the past few months. But then I read this:

“True unity has to be based on the endorsement of each other, not the endorsement of a particular practice” -Martin Scott

The road to unity isn’t through events, it’s through relationship. When Jesus put together his disciples, they were far from united (in fact some were sworn enemies!). The fact they were (more-or-less) united three years later was not due to them holding a week of prayer, but due to building strong relationships with each other and “doing life” together. That is what harbours true unity. It really is difficult to be prejudiced against a friend!

That’s my lesson from the first-half of this week: that unity is by relationship, not by events. I’m sure God’s got more lined up for the remainder of the week…

Day 8 – Rakovnik to Prague

Posted: August 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

So it was the final day, and spirits were high as you’d expect. We were due to arrive in Prague at the festival site at 8pm to be cheered in by 5,000 delegates and to go on the Main Stage. I couldn’t wait!

At lunchtime we stopped at a really posh restaurant. Everything looked really expensive, but I was forgetting that we were in the Czech Republic – and outside of Prague! My fancy lunch was only £3!

After lunch we left for the final leg of our adventure through Europe. All was going well and everyone was excited to be finally arriving in Prague!

However, with 14 miles to go, a massive storm hit Prague. We were being blown by the winds, it was dark, and the roads were busy. We pulled into a layby to talk about what to do. We were considering quitting, but after 650 miles we wanted to finish our challenge more. We then received a text saying that the first night of the festival had been canceled due to the storm. Apparently some of the big tents had just disappeared from the site! Therefore, with no festival to arrive at, we decided to end the cycle there and then. It was nowhere-near how any of us wanted to end the adventure, but spirits were still high. We’d still cycled all the way from Dunkirk, and had still raised over £10,000, so we still consider the challenge to have been completed.

So we did it. We actually did it. Twelve cyclists rode 650 miles through 5 countries in 8 days. It was very difficult. Not physically as such, but mentally. It was difficult to stay patient when people got punctures and when we took a wrong turn. I’ll never do it again, but I’m glad I did it.

Day 7 – Cheb to Rakovnik

Posted: August 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

Instead of staying in a hotel in Germany, we stayed in cabins in Cheb in the Czech Republic – simply because it was a lot cheaper. What we didn’t realise, however, was that after yesterday’s 100 miles we had a 2-hour drive to those cabins. The original plan was to drive back into Germany and continue cycling, but we didn’t feel we had the time. And we were right.

Starting in Cheb, the difficulties associated with long-distance cycling in the Czech Republic were apparent from the start. Compared to our route in Germany the roads were lower quality (though still better than the UK), there were motorways everywhere, and it was a lot more hilly. There were several big climbs throughout today, including two Category 4s and me and two others didn’t hear the calls to stop before we climbed a Category 3 for two miles after we took a wrong turn. My thighs were burning, and I think that climbing Schiehallion was easier.

Experiencing the Czech Republic today made me realise just how comfortable I’ve become in speaking German during this trip. Not being able to speak Czech made me feel awkward about even buying things in a shop. This isn’t the case with German anymore, as I’m now at the point where if I don’t know how to say something I’ll just have a try. This is a big change, and I think it’s a crucial one for the future when learning German.

Cycling through the small Czech villages has been very interesting indeed. You can still see the remnants of communism, and there are many buildings that look run-down, and even entire villages that came across as abandoned. We stopped at a village café or lunch, where we were told that we were eating chicken…but it wasn’t chicken…

And so we have one day left. Rakovnik to Prague. One final push.

Distance: 100 miles

I co-led the Thought for the Day today, commenting on the crazy coincidences that’s happened and how deliberate God’s been with the entire journey. For example, we stopped at a café for lunch, so we phoned the support minibus to meet us, and there they are already at the café! At another time, one of us crashed…right next to a garage that just so happened to have exactly the right tool we needed!

As for the cycling today, it began just as yesterday ended: exhausting. I could feel myself flagging in the morning, so when we went to a bike shop to replace broken equipment, I bought some energy bars and gels. I really noticed the difference over the flapjacks I’ve been eating. My mood very soon picked up, and I’m not as mentally exhausted today as I was last night.

The temperature was even hotter today. The highest I saw my cycle computer read was 48.6C. This makes today’s temperature the highest I’ve ever experienced – never mind cycled 100 miles in!

Distance: 100 miles

If you’ve ever seen the film “Run Fatboy Run”, then you’ll know about The Wall. Today, I hit the Wall head-on. Normally this week I could maintain a pace of 19mph for miles, but today it was a huge effort to even stick to 15mph. My thighs hurt, probably because I’m not giving them enough time to recover, and my mind is exhausted due to lack of sleep and constant translating. One major factor of today was that it was hot. In fact, the temperature gauge on my cycle computer says it reached 39.1C today, and I was out in it for 13 hours.

We’ve now done 468 miles, which means we now have 268 miles to do in 3 days. But there is a game changer approaching in that Würzburg marks the end of the flat roads. We’re now approaching the mountain range that separates Germany and the Czech Republic. The real challenge has yet to begin.