Archive for the ‘Ministry’ Category

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Meinl Cajon Kit in Albania

September 20, 2014

This September (2014) I had the privilege of visiting a child feeding programme in Albania… the aim was to serve, encourage and inspire the local Albanian team… and to engage with the children and their families…

I had thought to do some percussion with the Kids… but there were two issues… 1. my percussion is big and heavy (baggage allowances were pretty small)… and 2. whatever I brought with me I wanted to leave behind.

I had already planned to bring some tuned percussion in the form of a BoomWhacker kit (Here at Thomann)… as this was a lightweight 25 piece kit…

So the idea was to build percussion in country… and we were advised not to assume that we could find the resources we needed there… so we needed to bring all that we needed

That’s were the Meinl Cajon Kit came in… a ‘flat pack’ Cajon.

Meinl Kit

Weighing in at 4kg it was ideal weight and size for transport… so ok I did have to bring some clamps, an awl, a screw driver, compression straps, sandpaper and glue… but by pre drilling and counter sinking the playing surface before I left no drill was necessary.

Meinl ConstructionArriving at our first overnight stop in Albania I started assembling the main body of the kit (gluing top, sides, back and front brace) before heading to bed and completed construction (snare, playing service and feet) after breakfast in the morning…

Back on the bus again… the first use of the (unsanded) cajon was at a staff meeting with the Albanian team…

I haven’t played a Cajon that much… but the highly reflective room we were in created a ‘huge’ sound… the bass notes had real body and depth. Folks sat up and took notice… and the Boom Whackers were a delight (our translator told us he was bewildered that he could ‘hear music’ before he realised that the tubes were ‘tuned’)

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Movement in worship was also part of our team – and the girls started with some pre-recorded music – but this started to be drowned out as more and more people started to participate… so I joined in on the Cajon… wow!  in a few moments the pulse of the drum was filling the room, providing a foundation for the dance that was developing…

Meinl FinishedI had to be careful – the Cajon had sharp edges (not sanded yet)… but the effect was dynamic… excellent!

The cajon had proved to be very effective…

After our two meetings of the first day I spent some time sanding the edges of the instrument, giving it a smooth safe playing surface.

The Cajon was a hit (pardon the pun) with the team in Albania and through the week various Kids and Adults gave it a go… and everyone has great fun.

Before our team left we wrote some Albanian phrases (suggested by the local kids) on the Cajon… their promises and prayers  for their village and country — te jene te lire (to live free), blessings on their families, faith, hope… each surface covered with words written in colourful sharpies… and as the drum is played, the sound will resonate through the words… carrying them through the villages and valleys of the places where it is played.

The Meinl Kit was easy to put together – it sounds good (though the snare sound could be a little better) – and it is easy to play… may it’s sound resound for you Albania….

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Romans 5 – Word Cloud

May 24, 2013

Romans5

 

This morning I was reading Romans 5… and as I was reflecting on it I thought to create a word cloud from the chapter… and this is it.

The chapter talks of being made right with God by faith in Gods perfect gift, Christ Jesus… it talks of peace, it talks of undeserved privilege… to be able to stand… in confidence… in joyful hope.

And it goes on… we will experience troubles.

Why?

Faith is tested… tried… weighed…  as you would a precious metal or jewel.

Tested faith endures… develops strength of character… strengthens hope… Love wins.

I know of many people going through troubles at this time… to them (and to myself) I say “stay with it”… endure… let God develop in you the character he wants to draw out… come to His promised peace… a deeper relationship in Him.

Let the creator make you… let Him sign you as His own work…

And be sure of this… God is Love, God loves you (he sent His Son for you be in right relationship with Him), and He has given us His Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with love.

Hold to your faith in Him.

Grace and peace.

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Quiet Retreat Day – 20th April 2013

May 10, 2013

Kilravock-castleAt the start of this year, my wife and I felt a spiritual nudge… to facilitate a quiet retreat day…

Stillness and silence are very foreign to most of us – we all lead busy, noisy lives; balancing all the pressures and demands of the day, the week… the year. In some respects deliberately encountering stillness and silence are as about counter cultural as it gets.

IMG_0177So we went about organising a space, a place of quiet, where people could come for a day, have their ‘logistical’ physical needs provided for (shelter, food, warmth, safety, community)… so that they could engage spiritually in silence, stillness – ‘wasting’ time in the presence, the person of God.  Hearing not from a guest speaker, but from the source of life Himself.

Seventeen brave souls came along to meet in the silence, following our naive, inexperienced expression…. invite people to come and then get out of the way to let God work in each person.

IMG_0182And our ever faithful, ever loving, heavenly father… well…

He met each person where they were at.

The stories and the feedback we’ve received – are sacred… and  I won’t share them here… all I can say is that they were deeply meaningful to each person… way beyond what my wife and I could have imagined.

What this has shown me is that there is a place for stillness and silence in todays world.  A place were, when we intentionally close out the noise and business around us… to be with our beloved God… He is already there waiting for us.

If there is something that responds in you about this  – a desire to go silent, to go to the deeper places in God… well… we hope to run another retreat later this year, and you would be very welcome to join us.


The following links are to the blog of one of the folks, a writer, who came along and experienced the day…

Silent Retreat Day – The Cross

Silent Retreat Day – Playing With Pictures

Silent Retreat Day – Tent Pegs and a Ball of String

all by Melanie Kerr


Here are images of some of the resources created for the day…

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A walk in the trees – grace and the law

May 9, 2013

This morning I took a walk in the local woods.

forest1I was thinking as I walked along in the middle of a commercial, managed forest.

At a distance the woodland looked lush and green – but as I moved into the trees there was a different story.

I saw trees densely packed either side of the hard-packed logging road.  Imported species of trees, packed ‘efficiently’ together so that little or no natural light made it down to ground level.  In places great trees had fallen as their roots had little to grow in.  The pale gray soil devoid of health.

Where trees were harvested the ground looked like it was ruined, raped, shredded. Dead.

There was no life… it was a desert.  I couldn’t wait to get away.

I crossed under a railway line into a different woodland.

This place was chaos – differing varieties of indigenous, deciduous trees spread their arms to the heavens… grass and wild flowers grew in the dappled light.

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The air smelt of buds, and flowers, and new growth.  Old trees seeming to gather round new shoots encouraging them to grow, to reach, to be.  Red winged butterflies, danced around. And where the ground was open, there was deep dark soil. Full of the potential for life.

The sound of bird-song was deafening.

Here – here I could have spent the rest of the day. Just being.

Selah.

At present I’m pondering about the law and grace… and something about my walk today made me think more about it.

I reflected on a passage from Matthew 19…

3 Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?”

4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’” 5 And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”

7 “Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked.

8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended”.

Now while this passage is a response specifically to a question about divorce – it’s not simply that subject that Jesus response speaks to me.

Could it be read this way?…

The “law of Moses”, is a concession to your hard hearts – it is not what God had originally intended.

Under the law we have structured, managed, rules – right or wrong… things man can do to be efficient… Jesus called those who lived by the law whitened graves… like the managed forest… dead.  The fruit of the commercial forest is only the trees themselves.

What ‘Law’ does Jesus say we should follow… “love the lord your God with all your heart, mind soul and spirit. And Love your neighbour as yourself”… this is what God originally intended.  Grace…

The natural forest I was in today had an abundance of life… little structure to it, chaotic… but rich and fertile.  It’s fruit was colourful, wild and varied.

When we live into the calling to Love God, Love one-another… we are living as God intended, in that place of Grace.  It’s a fruitful, colourful, wild and chaotic place… but you’ll want to stay.

 

 

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The Good Samaritan – Ft Augustus & Invergarry

April 29, 2013
Invergarry Church of Scotland

Invergarry Church of Scotland

The following are my notes from an opportunity to share about the work of Inverness Street Pastors at Fort Augustus and Invergarry Churches of Scotland on April 21st.

Many thanks to Rev Tabea Baader and Margaret Allen for the opportunity to share about the work, and for the generous hospitality my family and I received…


The Reading: Luke 10:25-37, NLT

25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”

27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”

29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

A few years ago Princeton University psychologists conducted an experiment on a group of people studying for ministry…

They met with each student individually, explaining that the student was to complete a questionnaire on why they wanted to be in the ministry and prepare a short talk on the parable of the good samaritan… some of the students were told that they had little time before they had to present their talk in an adjacent building, others were told that they had plenty of time and just head over to wait their turn.

The researchers ‘arranged’ for the students to  come across someone in the alley between the buildings – this person was lying on the ground, head down, eyes closed, groaning and coughing as they went from one building to the next.

All the students answered the questionnaire that they were entering ministry in order to help people – however of those faced with being late for their presentation on the good samaritan only 10% stopped to help… (some literally stepping over the body in their rush to their presentation)… and rather surprisingly only 63% of those who had plenty time stopped to help.

These students are like us… we know that the most important commandment is to Love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength… and to love our neighbour as ourselves… but we can become easily distracted by the business of life… and fail to stop.

For me, a street pastor in Inverness – the parable of the good samaritan is very close to what we do.  We’re nothing particularly special – no super men or women, most of us are not ministers, or pastors, or elders, or deacons… we’re simply volunteers from 18 different churches who work together to show mercy to those in need in the city…

and I think the key difference between us and the ministry students in the experiment above – is simply intent.  We are intentionally looking for opportunities to show mercy, and making time and space available to allow us to respond to the needs we see.

We are intentional about where we go… we go looking for where there are people in need.

The parable of the good samaritan tells us that the man was on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho – historically this was known as a notorious place, a place of robbers and thieves… it was not unusual for someone to be robbed, beaten and left for dead.

Inverness City Centre on a Friday and Saturday night between 10pm and 4am is a very different place to the city during the day…

1000’s of people are there drinking and partying… sometimes this can spill over into aggression, arguments over misinterpreted slights descend into anger.

Young women, scantily clad, coming out of very warm clubs into a cold -5 night, high heels in hand as they can’t steady themselves any more – somebodies daughter, someones wee girl… dazed and bemused, can’t find a taxi home – vulnerable.

Young men with sad stories to drown – tales of broken families, destroyed hopes and growing fears… Some with unresolved memories of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places around the world.

Some of those we see are penniless and hungry – some homeless – some deep in substance abuse.

The parable tells us that the samaritan saw the need, and it stirred in him compassion – He didn’t judge the man for being in a notorious place – and we as street pastors intentionally follow his example in showing mercy…

We are not on the streets to preach at the people we meet, we are there to demonstrate Gods love in practical ways…

  • We are there to pour oil, and bind up the wounds…
  • Here the street pastor teams –
  • help calm aggression, by being peacemakers;
  • clear glass from a path in case a girl in bare feet comes that way;
  • giving away flipflops to those who need them;
  • helping people get home safely – occasional paying for a taxi;
  • helping others find a safe place to sleep for the night;
  • wrapping someone in a foil blanket to keep them from getting colder;
  • sharing a hot meal – or a hot chocolate;
  • calling an ambulance when someone is in need of medical assistance…
  • Referring someone in need to services – to Highland Homeless Trust, or Social Services, Drug and alcohol services…

Sometimes we get asked “why?” – and then we get to share about Jesus, about how to become reconciled with Father God, and to pray.

And we are received well by nearly all those we come across – in the 5 years in Inverness none of the 60 street pastors has received any injury, or been hurt as part of the work.

The Nightime City Centre is only one part of the work – we also operate in two communities; Merkinch and Hilton… places where there is deep poverty and deprivation… Street Pastor teams here have ministered to physically and emotionally abused women, frightened children and broken men.

We also work in the City Centre during the day – specifically on days when court is in session as this draws people into the city from all over the highlands – we work to reduce anti-social behaviour, and with people for whom substance abuse, chaotic lives and homelessness are a lifestyle rather than a recreation.

And in the day time service we work closely with the Council/Housing, NHS & Social services, Police, Businesses, the local charities (HHT, APEX, Calman Trust, Blytheswood) and churches to meet the needs of those we find in the city. Meeting with key service providers on a fortnightly basis to identify solutions to issues currently identified in the city.

In 2012 the 60 street pastors have had nearly 7500 conversations with people in the city and the communities… and some of these are faith related.

A local businessman gives us his coffee shop on a Wednesday morning to operate as a drop in location for the people we meet and would like to find out more about God.

Many of those whom we help directly tell us that what they have seen in street pastors has helped them have a more positive view of church… and some have returned to church attendance after years of being away.

… This and much more is how we as street pastors respond to Jesus’s words “Now go and do the same”…

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How evangelical is your church? – be the light

April 28, 2013

How evangelical is your church?

Posted on April 27, 2013 by 

As part of my work with The Light Project I’m on my way home from speaking at a CLAN Lothian’s event. When I phoned home this morning my son said ‘how’s your holiday?!’ While I was having fun I wasn’t exactly lounging around with a good book or sightseeing! I spoke on the Friday night and Saturday morning on 6 characteristics of Brave Christians whom, instead of a spirit of fear have been given a Spirit of power, love and self control. (2 Timothy 1.7)

CLAN sounds somewhat Braveheart but it’s less swords and horses then you may think and stands for ‘Christians Linked Across the Nation.’

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As part of the training the churches had organised a family fun day with over 20 different activities for all the family from face painting, bouncing castles, great food and plenty of opportunities for people to engage with the Christian faith. This included stalls where people could ask for dream interpretation, prayer for healing. Everyone was also invited to a free concert in the evening.

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I also sent teams out to do ‘Treasure Hunting’ and also offer gifts to people to remind them of God’s love. (The stories of these Devine appointments blew me away!) One couple met the person whom they had exactly written that they would meet, this man was so surprised that he took them to meet his wife to share how God had led then to him!

What struck me about the whole day was that it didn’t seem unusual. The people running it naturally shared their faith and lives with their neighbours and observing the church leader engage with the people around him was greatly encouraging. This church was truly evangelical as it was heralding the good news in the most vibrant way. One of the people who attended the conference on how to be ‘brave in sharing your faith’ was a lady who wasn’t a christian but was there to serve one of the delegates as her ‘hands.’ She wanted to talk to me afterwards to encourage me by the way I communicated and also with the examples I gave in sharing faith!

Reposted from ‘be the light’

How evangelical is your church?.

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CULTURE OF HONOUR CONFERENCE – DANNY SILK

April 26, 2013

COH

CULTURE OF HONOUR CONFERENCE – DANNY SILK

24-25th May 2013

CULTURE OF HONOUR

We would like to invite you on a journey with us into a shift of Christian culture that we believe is key to transforming our nation, and enable us as communities to see increasing levels of His presence among us. 

A Spirit filled church environment creates increasing levels of joy, freedom and peace. These qualities will only remain to the degree that we can protect our relationships with one another, We have many times lost momentum because of disappointing relationships.

The practice of honour is often a lost art in our modern culture, or has become jargon without depth.   Honour is a two way experience.

We must understand the function of honour comes through free people making a way for each other to remain powerful in the relationship. If we violate another person’s need for value, self-control or safety, then dishonour rushes in and fear fills our motivations.

Honour requires that we prioritise relationships so love can rule the situation, family dynamic or corporate environment. 

This conference is for those who would love to see their communities become places of love, freedom and safety and for those who long to leave control and manipulation far behind.  It’s for those who want to see more of heaven on earth through believers and churches who know how to host his presence through relationships full of love.

for more information see: Hope Church – Glasgow