Category Archives: Mission

Epiphany At The Bar

N.B. – I am no longer a member of God’s Squad Christian Motorcycle Club after resigning in January 2019 to focus on family, training and local work. I am grateful for the continued friendship and incredible ride I’ve had with some amazing people.

This is the story of a friend I met. We’ll call him ‘Marty’. ‘Marty’ is a significant player in the biker scene, and a fairly notorious man.

I met Him at a party in an area I’d never visited before. Marty is one of those guys with a rough exterior and a twinkle in his eye to hint at a keen wit. His behaviour was chaotic, with all the usual trappings of the biker lifestyle.

I’d been chatting on and off with him all night, and by the time we got down to brass tacks it was the wee hours of the morning. It came down to this. Marty told me that he had read the Bible cover to cover several times last time he was in prison, and his next words were even more surprising.
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St Frank, Biker Cafés and Verbal Diarreah

Being a two-wheeled missionary to the fringes is a confusing business. People are wonderfully complex, and love to blast out of the boxes we put them in. It’s much easier to have well constructed opinions when regarding things from a distance, but when you get up close enough to feel the breath, the beast is a many-faced monstrosity.
Continue reading St Frank, Biker Cafés and Verbal Diarreah

My shoulders just ain’t broad enough…

My shoulders just ain’t broad enough

This is the conclusion I’m rapidly coming to. Many people warned me, and as per usual I didn’t listen. The cries of, “You’re doing too much”, “Don’t burn yourself out” and “Don’t spread yourself too thinly” all fell on deaf ears.

But the truth is I don’t think it’s how much I’m doing that’s the problem, or even what I’m doing. I think the problem is how I’m doing it. I haven’t even properly started on my change of work balance yet, and to be honest, I feel exhausted. Not really physically – 10 years in construction has taught me to recognise this well, not really mentally, but emotionally. Life was so much simpler when my eyes were closed to the reality of the world around me.

So
Much
Pain

A wise friend once told me that a part of ministering to the broken is to share the burden of their pain. And trust me, there’s plenty of it. So back to my point, my shoulders just aren’t broad enough to carry all this. And thank God they don’t need to be.

One of the obvious pitfalls of sharing God’s love with broken people (including myself) is the constant urge to fix everything. I’m a fixer, it’s what I do for a living and it’s what I’m good at. But people don’t need to be fixed. They need love, they need friendship and they need truth. Most of all they need pointing in the direction of the Saviour. Marriage started getting a little easier when I began to realise this.

My only hope of surviving my imminent foray into a bizarre balance of time shared between working as a good-news-sharer to the poor and marginalised, and part-time construction work, is to grasp this truth. And most importantly to recognise that other people’s burdens are not mine to carry, they are God’s. God’s children, whom he loves. He loves them far more than I do and in a far more redemptive way. Supposedly an old Polish proverb goes “When other people drag you into their mess, say to yourself: “Not my clowns, not my circus!” Love those crazy chaotic clowns!

Today started as a day where I began to feel like giving up, before I’d even really started. I was looking for a back door more frantically than an Irish Priest lost in the lingerie section. Two things have redeemed this day.

Number 1, I arrived home to find a delicious home cooked meal for me and the Mrs left on our doorstep. It was a gift from a busy Mum at our Church. “I don’t have any time or any money, but I really want to support you in what you’re doing”. Cue man tears.

Number 2, reading these two things:

“The mystery Jesus revealed to the Samaritan woman is the mystery contained in the life of each one of us: if we drink from the source of life, which is Jesus, we too will become a source of life;
we will bring life, the very life of God, into our world. Thus we fulfil the deepest desire of Jesus for us: his desire that we become men and women who are fully alive.” Jean Vanier – ‘Befriending the Stranger’

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)”

So friends, if like me you’re getting back-ache from carrying the load, then just drop it. Right at the foot of the cross. Then join me, there’s spot right here on his yoke, saved especially for you. And it’s so much lighter, especially when we all pull it together…

A milestone day

Jeremiah 29:11

Kind of a milestone day today, my first team meeting since becoming a full team member at Azalea and my third visit to the Diamond Day at Ace Café marking two years since I first started hanging round with God’s Squad.

Started the day by sharing one of the most beautiful communions I’ve ever experienced. Some incredible life stories in the Azalea team, ministering to the broken out of our own brokenness. I’m deeply encouraged by what’s happening there, it’s exciting to see people taking initiative and working together to answer Christ’s call to the lost. I feel privileged to keep meeting brothers and sisters from all kinds of backgrounds who have, in their own way, kicked open the Church doors and launched an assault on the gates of Hell. As Christians step out in strategic ways, working in blessed unity, and begin seeing our ministry in the context of God’s Kingdom, change will come!

So now I’m back at home, trying desperately to distill a day of rich experiences into words, and failing miserably! If I could travel back in time and tell just a few stories to the bitter and cynical man I once was, maybe I could reclaim some of those frustrating years.

For now, I’ll take 5 in the midst of a manic weekend. Time to sit and daydream about the songs of victory we’ll sing when we share that communion meal in eternity….

“Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the lord : “I will sing to the lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; he has hurled both horse and rider into the sea. The lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him— my father’s God, and I will exalt him! The lord is a warrior; Yahweh is his name!” (Exodus 15:1-3 NLT)

Sean Stillman on Zac’s Place

Please check out this video about Zac’s Place Swansea, a place of special significance to me.

A Friday Morning Musing…

So, as Bob Dylan once wrote, ‘The times they are a changin’. I’m currently in the process of a shift in work, lifestyle and (to use a horrible Christian jargon term) ministry. One thing that has come out of the countless application forms, retellings of my life story and newsletter writings that have characterised the last few months, is that I find writing incredibly therapeutic. Also, every once in a while some reads through my poorly constructed prose and gleans some kind of encouragement from it. With this in mind I’ve decided to start sharing my thoughts in a ‘blog’ of sorts. Being lazy and increasingly technophobic this format will have to do for now. So, if for some unknown reason you decided to read any of this, read it in the understanding that it’s more for me than for you. Something about attempting to communicate my thoughts in a way which others can see is a salve to my over-active ADHD brain.

My musing for today is this…. What a curious thing it is for us Christians to claim to be ‘In the presence of God’? Having read the Old (and New) testament quite a few times it seems pretty clear that God is not a fan of what us Christians call ‘sin’. This is basically an old fashioned way of describing a cock-up, a little foible or a monumentally destructive behaviour. These leaves me with a problem, because (don’t tell anyone) I make a lot of those. And I don’t mean in a polite preacher’s false humility kind of way, I mean I’m a bit of a bastard. I remember reading somewhere many years ago in a little ‘Thought for the day’ words to the effect of “as the years go by I’m more amazed at the goodness of God and more ashamed at the blackness of my own heart”. Those were the probably the first words of extra-biblical Christian literature that I really connected with.

There is this great dilemma of the goodness of God and the incredible fallibility of humans, especially humans like me. We Christians preach a God of forgiveness and mercy, but how often do we really live like we believe it? How often have we cast and angry eye at the behaviour of others to mask the shame of our own actions and attitudes? The late great preacher and lifelong alcoholic Brennan Manning said this:
“French philosopher Blaise Pascal said. ‘God made man in his own image, and man returned the compliment’ – the God of so many Christians is as superficial, petty and judgemental as they are”
More words which resonate with me. My only concern is that many in what is known as the ’emerging church’ seem to take these ideas too far, and somehow lessen the weight of the very sin which led God to sacrifice his own son, something of himself, to be tortured and killed as a sacrifice in our place. And at that pivotal moment in history (without getting into a debate about how God exists in linear time) the unrelenting hatred of sin and unimaginable mercy of God are acted out on a hill in an area of the world which has seen little of peace and forgiveness since. Utterly mind blowing.

So here I sit, a couple of millennia later, still wrestling with, and at once comforted by, an idea which the mightiest empires known to man have tried to crush. Which has outlived countless sects, wars, philosophies and nations. Which has brought the most savage of men to their knees and strengthened and empowered the weakest of underdogs. Maybe I’m to be scorned for still being fixated on this most basic tenet of the Christian faith, or maybe this glorious juxtaposition is the foundation upon which all we understand about Our God is built. I am loved.

Much peace to all.

(Photo by Rich Pearce instagram @rich_)