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2 lesson on Freedom from the little yellow ducks

Ducks

In 1992, a cargo ship left Hongkong destined for the US.  En route a container full of 29,000 rubber bath toys (lots of yellow ducks!) spilled into the Pacific Ocean.  Two-thirds of them happily went south, while 10,000 of them got caught in the Subpolar Gyre.  The water current (red on the map) took the ducks in a circle around the ocean.

Here are two lesson we can learn from these little ducks.

1. They were Helpless

They where trapped in this current, it took approximately 3 years for the ducks to complete their first loop in the current.  The water carried them along, hedged them in, allowing them no chance for escape.

2. They were not Hopeless

Despite being caught in this current, by 1996, ducks started to appear in Tacoma on the west coast of the US, then by 2000, ducks were appearing in the East side of the US, by 2007 this ducks arrived on the shores of the UK.  They were bleached in colour, encrusted with barnacles, decomposition had set in… but they were FREE!

They found freedom where there was none.

How did they break out of the Subpolar Gyre?? THEY didn’t.  They needed help.  Some of the ducks that washed ashore had teeth marks on them… Large fish had seen the army of ducks and attacked them, eventually spitting them out in disappointment… but they were spat to freedom!  Ships would cut across the water current and bring ducks along in their slip stream.  Wild storms would hammer the ducks out on the ocean and knock them out of the current.

The ducks were helpless by themselves, but not hopeless.  With help from the outside, they could be free form the current.

The bible says our heart is very much like that.  It is a prisoner to itself, it does not want to know the God that created it.  It closes its eyes and stops it ears so that we never return to our God.

By ourselves we are helpless.  But we are not hopeless.  God is gracious and kind and loving.  Like a storm he breaks into our lives to give us freedom… freedom to come back to him, freedom that we could never make for ourselves.

 Check out the podcast below..

ducky-clip-art

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4 bits of advice for life’s journey

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Whereabouts are you on that journey?

Have you any advice for people who are in the early stages of their journey?

Here are 4 bits of advice that  Peter gives us:

1. Humility

The humility to accept the things that we cannot control.  God is powerful, he is at work, sometimes he sends good times our way, sometimes we live through the hard times.  We need to humility to trust him and trust his plan.

2. Prayer

Whenever we are anxious or scared, worried or stressed… whatever part of the journey lies ahead – take it to God in prayer.  He cares, he listens…

3. Alert

We are involved in a spiritual war – God is real and the devil is just as real.  Let’s keep our head, keep perspective – this is a spiritual journey we are on.

4. Faith

However hard the journey – keep trusting God’s promises.  The journey doesn’t end at death – it’s just getting started.  For those who trust in Jesus, sin is forgiven, eternity with God is ahead… keep the faith.

Peter’s advice to us is to remember that the road may be hard, but there is glory at the end of the journey.  God’s walks with us on the road, stay humble, stay prayerful, be alert and keep the faith.

Check out the podcast below…

Posted in 2. Living for Jesus, 3. Dealing with Suffering, Hard times | Leave a comment

2 Leadership Qualities – Nelson Mandela

Mandela

“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”

- Nelson Mandela

From 1996 – 2000 Jim Collins, a leading expert on business leaders, wanted to find out what made companies not just good … but GREAT.

He focused on the main leaders of those companies that had achieved much and he made two observations.  On top of all the normal skills, experience and competencies that a leader requires – he spot two other qualities…

1. Fierce Resolve

This one was not a surprise – a determination, a drive to keep going.  In the face of loss, conflict, opposition – these great leaders had a fierce resolve that kept them moving forward.  But it was the other quality that surprised him….

2. Humility 

In the face of success these leaders did not become magnets for glory – they focused away from themselves.  In the face of loss, they did not look for scapegoats but stepped up to take responsibility.  In times of glory they where in the background in times of trouble they were front and centre.

This second quality was a massive shock! … and yet we can see it, it rings true.  We can see it in people like Nelson Mandela – his fierce resolved matched only by his humility.

Yet this is not new!  In fact it’s been around for at least 2000 years.  Jim Collins could have saved a lot of time if he had have asked Jesus!  The leader who’s resolve is unmatched, yet he washed the feet of his disciples.  Who’s drive and determination refused to be pushed around by the powers of the time, yet he give his own life to pay for the sins of those who would kill him.

Jim Collins’ research produced his catchphrase…

“The triumph of humility and fierce resolve”

I think that is a great description of our Saviour’s leadership and a great model for everyone in whatever leadership positions we face.

Check out the podcast below…

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3 ways to use your gifts

Picture4God has made you soooooo special – he has given you a unique set of gift, talents, skills experiences that no-one else in the whole world has… here are 3 ways we use these gifts in church…Picture1

1. The Consumer Christian

This is when we come to church but don’t use our gifts.  Maybe we think only the ‘ministers’ do ministry.  Maybe we think we are too busy.  Maybe we think we aren’t gifted… but for whatever reason we don’t take ownership of what goes on.  If we see a problem we think to ourselves “someone should fix that” – rather than thinking how WE can fix it.  We attend church, we even enjoy church, but we don’t use the gifts God has given us to serve His people in church.

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2. The X Factor Christian

This time we DEFINITELY use our gifts! Except this time it is the motive behind using them that we have to question.  It is less about serving people for God’s glory and more about showcasing the wonderful skills and talents that we have.

3.  The Cross Centred ChristianPicture2

Here we acknowledge that God has given us certain gifts that he longs for us to use to build up the people of God.  We seek to use them not to impress people but to serve people.  Not to gain respect for ourselves but to give God glory.

God HAS given you gifts, wonderful gifts, whether you know it or not… they are on loan to you from God – how are you doing at using them?

Check out the podcast below…

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Am I really a Christian? How do I know?

hammerDid you know there are all sorts of ways to tell if an egg is hard boiled… spin it, shake, check for bubbles, use a torch…

… but a hammer has a unique way of getting below the surface of an egg.

It’s one of the best tests of all time – give the egg a crack and see what happens!

It’s a bit like that with our faith in Jesus.   We are made right with God only through God’s grace – it is not down to anything we do but what Jesus HAS done.  Yet when we come to God – he changes us.

One of the sure signs that we belong to God, that we have genuinely put our faith in Jesus is seen in the “hammer test”.  You can shake us and spin us and check for spiritual bubbles and shines lights on us – but if you really want to see genuine faith, wait for the hammer test.

Peter talks about the hammer test (1 Peter 4:1).  He says when we are ready to suffer for Jesus, suffer for doing what is right – that is a sign that our faith is real.  The hammer test is the suffering test – are we ready to be one of God’s people when it COSTs us?

When was the last time we did something simply because it was the right thing to do?

When was the last time we did something simply because it honoured Jesus even though it cost us much?

Check out the podcast below..

Posted in 2. Living for Jesus, 3. Dealing with Suffering, 4. Dealing with Temptation, Giving Up, Hard times | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment