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28.3.12

He Restores My Soul - Selah

Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”                                                               - Hebrews 4:11

Lorah, my twenty year old daughter, was in tears! She was tired and she was in need of sleep - two entirely different things. As I hugged her to comfort her she said,

"When is my 'to do' list ever going to be complete?"

Her frustration was one that many of us face, a life of never ending tasks and the constant feeling that there is more to do than we will ever have time to complete. As I tried to console her, I realised that offering to take on some of her workload wouldn't help her. What I needed to do was to teach her to manage her life well.

Rest is mentioned so many times in the Bible in so many ways for so many reasons, it is a very important part of life. Without understanding how to rest we will burnout or end up being totally overwhelmed with life! This is not God's plan for us, ‘life abundantly’ does not mean life so busy that we can't cope and want to find a shortcut to heaven. Life abundantly means living an abundant life here on earth. Being permanently exhausted is not an abundant life, it is no life at all.

There are four types of rest that I want us to delve into - menuchah, anapauo, Shabbat and selah.

Selah סֶלָה
He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. Selah God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.”        - David, Psalm 57:3

Selah is a Hebrew word for pause סֶלָה‎. It is used mostly in the Psalms to indicate a pause in the music. It can also be an instruction on the reading of the text, something like "stop and listen". Although this is most often used in music, it offers us a great key to leading a balanced life because the 'to do' list will never end. There are big rests like holidays and weekly rests like the Shabbat, but selah is a little gem that will keep us from falling apart in between the big rests and the weekly rests. Selah is like coming up for air when you are swimming or taking a quick breath of air when singing your heart out. 

Selah is also the pause that keeps things in perspective and makes the symphony of life sound beautiful. Can you imagine a piece of music without pauses or a poem being read without a breath being taken? Life is like that too, can you imagine what life would look like if we didn't stop and pause at regular intervals? 

Selah comes from the primary Hebrew root word calah which means 'to hang,' and by implication to measure (weigh). In Biblical history, money, food and other valuables were weighed by hanging them on a type of balance. This means that we should measure carefully and reflect upon the statements preceding selah when reading the Psalms. To me it also means that selah is an important ingredient to a balanced life. 

So how do we translate that into our modern day living? In Lorah's case, it might mean that she needs to take regular short pauses through out her days, instead of rushing from one thing to the next. What I like to do, is to sit in my garden whenever I can, just to take a moment to stop and selah. It's just a short, five minute pause, where I sit and look at the birds or squirrels in the garden or simply take a deep breath of fresh air. It is in those times that I can also reflect on something that I need to consider or simply have a minute with God and ask His opinion on my day or something specific. 

Other times I sit in my rocking chair and gaze out of my bedroom window with a nice cup of coffee or perhaps take a short walk on a beautiful sunny day! Working from home has it’s advantages and disadvantages but one great advantage is the flexibility to balance each day with reglular pauses. There are so many things that can be done to create a balanced life and creating opportunities to selah will lead to a much better, balanced life.

Working in an office can also offer moments of selah. Perhaps you can step outside for a short five minute walk, I am sure smokers in your company step outside for a smoke break so why don’t you step outside for a selah break? Other employees might drink ten cups of coffee a day, which amounts to a lot of time spent making and drinking coffee and without realising it they are breaking up their day with short pauses too. 

Do not feel guilty under any circumstances for breaking up your day with short pauses. You will eventually be a better employee for it as you will be less stressed and more productive in general. A healthy person is always better off than an unhealthy person and investing in rest will naturally lead to better health! Having short pauses during your day is a choice and you can make it work no matter what your day or workplace looks like.

This is a chapter snippet from He Restores My Soul.  Find out more about menuchah, anapauo, Shabbat - some other types of rest - in He Restores My Soul.
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25.3.12

He Restores My Soul - Overworking

As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return. To go as he came; and he shall take nothing from his labour. Which he may carry away in his hand.”                                        - Ecclesiastes 5:15

Rest may refer to leisure, relaxation or sleep. Rest is the opposite of work. Rest is not being productive, not accomplishing anything and not overworking. Rest is often one of the most difficult things for people to do. Who would have thought that doing nothing would be one of the things we struggled with most? This is especially true in Christian circles! Christians are very prone to doing too much, trying to achieve too much while disregarding their need for rest. They fear being seen as lazy or unspiritual. Of course, this is a trap, a very well thought out trap by the one who opposes everything that God designed. 

God rested after six days of work and He told us to follow His example. Jesus commended Mary for taking time out from work to be with Him. Jesus even said, “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” 

If the Almighty God and Jesus Christ have given us clear examples of how to rest, as well as clear instructions to rest, then why do we struggle so much with the concept of rest? Before we get into how and why we rest, let us examine why we do not want to rest. One form of not resting is of course overworking, burning the midnight oil, doing too much or burn the candle at both ends. Let’s take a look at why some of us tend to lean towards this horrible habit.

Definition
Some people are defined by what they do or by what they accomplish. If they stopped doing what they do, they would not know who they are. Is that you? Do you hide from who you really are by overworking? Do you feel good about your accomplishments and feel empty without them? Does your work define you? 

Take some time to consider how your work affects you, it can be anything from your career or your work at church to things like being a parent or a spouse. Does anything that you do define you? If you stopped doing what you do, would others still recognise you? It is essential to stop every now and then and take an honest look at how much your work defines you. If you cannot be content with who you are during periods of rest, then you are clearly defined by your work and God never intended for our work to define us. We are made in His image therefore our definition should come from Him alone and nothing else. 

This need to measure our value through the prism of our work is one reason why so many young people are often under so much pressure at school. Pressure to pick the right career is thrust upon them with the ultimatum that if they don’t pick well they will never amount to anything in life.

It’s sad that so much effort is put into pressurising young people to commit to a career and so little is invested in their self worth and identity as an individual. Family values, personal morals, integrity, confidence and other such things are seldom taught or encouraged at school, leaving young people unequipped to lead a balanced life.

Stop and Rest from Definition
If you know you are being defined by your work, stop and rest. Take time to discover who you really are and learn to be content whether you are busy with work or simply having a day off. Stop caring what people think of you and start taking care of yourself. After all, they don’t have to live your life, so you really don’t need to consider their opinion on how you live.

It doesn’t matter if you are not always on the go, if you don’t have something to show for your work, if you are not achieving all the time. Stop and rest, find out how you are made in God’s image and allow Jesus to give you rest.

Guilt
Guilt is a trap in every possible form. Guilt is never a reason for anything at all. Too many people are trapped into overworking by guilt. They are not free to stop and rest because if they do people might think they are lazy. Perhaps they even perceive themselves as lazy if they rest and so guilt keeps them going. 

Guilt motivates a parent or single parent to overwork in compensation for what the child has lost in a parent. Guilt motivates a spouse to overwork to make up for what they cannot provide in other areas of the marriage. Guilt motivates a student to overwork to get affirmation and love from their parents. Guilt causes a Christian to overwork in church because they have not understood God’s gift of grace.

The list could go on forever but if you are overworking at this point in your life, assess for yourself and see if you can find any guilt driving you to overwork.

Stop and Rest from Guilt
If you know you are overworking because you feel too guilty to stop, stop and rest from your guilt. Maintaining guilt is hard work and the opposite of guilt is innocence! Cut yourself some slack, you are innocent! Whatever you are beating yourself up about, stop and rest. There is nothing at all that you have ever done that cannot be forgiven. If you have been forgiven, you are innocent.

Fear
What will happen if I stop? What will I have to face if I am not consumed by my busyness? Some people fear having to face deep internal issues, they avoid dealing with things by overworking. At night they are so exhausted that the memories of a past hurt is easily avoided as they crash into a deep sleep from exhaustion. They continue with this pattern until one day everything comes crashing down around them. Their health suffers or their family falls apart or something dreadful happens as a result of their fear driven overworking.

Fear can also be a driving force where overwork is being done for love or approval, especially in children or in marriage. Children may drive themselves into complete burnout at school just to earn a simple well done at the end of the year. Many children are starved from tangible love and affection and so they force themselves to overwork. Fear of losing this love, affection and approval could cause them to continue overworking even though they know it is not good for their health.

The same can be said for a husband or wife who is working hard to earn love and acceptance or for a person who lives for the approval of their boss. Even when they realise how unhealthy it is, they may choose to continue to overwork, as they fear losing the approval that they so desperately need in order to survive.

Stop and Rest from Fear
If you know you are not taking time to rest because you are too full of fear, then stop and rest. Remember what the Bible says about fear, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”
Rest in God’s love and allow His perfect love to cast out all of your fears. Take time out to be healed and set free from your fears. Overworking out of fear cannot solve anything, it will only add to your problems from which you cannot escape. Stop and rest.

This is a chapter snippet from He Restores My Soul.  Find out more about disobedience, materialism and addiction - some of the other things that cause us to overwork and not rest in He Restores My Soul.
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22.3.12

Nearing Home

Never have I given growing old so much thought as I have in the past two weeks. I guess I thought I would live forever with the perfect health that I currently enjoy. Growing old was something I feared in many ways but paid very little attention to. It just seemed so far ahead that it almost seemed silly to start thinking about it now!

Well, I was wrong! Billy Graham's book, Nearing Home, is an honest look at his life and his struggle with the ageing process. Now in his 90s, he tells the truth and holds nothing back. Growing old is not easy and Billy shares many of his pains, sorrows and struggles.

He also delves into practical things such as retirement planning, financial matters and ministry issues. I can't begin to tell you how highly I recommend this book to both the young and old. 

It so happened that when I started reading this book I also started meeting with a wonderful lady called Dee from Defined Finance. I don't believe in co-incidence at all. I do however believe that God is nudging me to get my life in order. Dee has done a fantastic job of helping Eric and I sort out our insurances or protection as she calls it and I would very much like to recommend her to you too. 

You are never too young to start planning for old age. Reading Billy's book and meeting with Dee has taught me some valuable lessons. Don't take your life for granted and don't leave a mess behind for others to clean up. Putting your 'thing's in order is vitally important.  If you live in the UK, get in touch with Dee here and may I humbly recommend you all read Billy Grahams book.  It will completely change your perspective on life.

*  Nearing Home was provided to me for free by Thomas Nelson for my honest review.
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21.3.12

Nature's Way - Shampoo

I was shocked when I discovered that the dangerous chemicals in shampoos were found not only in your every day cheap shampoos but also in luxury salon shampoos, shampoos claiming to be natural or organic and even baby shampoos. In fact, some of my research led to me to a shocking discovery about a very popular brand of baby shampoo. This shampoo contained three carcinogenic ingredients namely dioxane, formaldehyde and nitrosamine.

It’s terribly complicated with many scientific explanations which I will not be going into but the bottom line is that these ingredients are extremely dangerous. Scientific info on all of the ingredients listed on your shampoo bottles can be easily obtained on the internet. Here is a list of some of the dangerous ingredients to look out for:

• Quaternium-15
• DMDM hydantoin
• Imidazolidinyl urea
• Diazolidinyl urea
• PEG-100 stearate
• Sodium laureth sulfate
• Sodium myreth sulfate
• Polyethylene
• Ceteareth-20
• Propylene Glycol
• Methyl paraben, ethyl paraben, propyl paraben, butyl paraben, isobutyl paraben or E216

The 2007 EWG study also determined that:
• 82 percent of children are exposed every week to one or more ingredients with the potential to harm the brain and nervous system.
• 69 percent of children are exposed every week to one or more ingredients that may disrupt the hormone system.
• 3.6 percent of children are exposed to ingredients with strong data linking them to cancer, including chemicals classified as known or probable human carcinogens.
• 80 percent of children's products marked as gentle and non-irritating contain ingredients linked to allergies and skin or eye irritation according to government and industry sources.

The bottom line however, is that if you are not sure what the ingredients on the shampoo bottle label mean then perhaps stay away from it. If you can't pronounce it, you probably don't want to put it on your body anyway. Each country will offer different ingredients in their shampoos as each country has different regulations. The following table shows the health concerns based on commonly used shampoo.


Nature’s Way Alternatives

Shampoo does not have to lather and does not need to be complicated. More often than not we suffer from dry hair, itchy scalp, oil hair or other common problems as a result of all the shampoo we use. Your body produces oil to keep your hair naturally healthy. Using shampoo upsets this natural balance and could cause you to produce more oil than is necessary. Shampoo also irritates your scalp and hair which could cause it to dry out.

The simplest ‘shampoo’ is one tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda mixed with two tablespoons of water. It works by opening up the scales of the hair shaft then combining with our natural oils to clean our hair. At first it might feel strange as there is no lather and you really need to work it through your hair well while being gentle on your scalp. Allow two to four weeks for your hair to adjust. Your hair may become dry, frizzy or oily as it adjusts but eventually everything will level out and you will reap the benefits and have fantastic hair.

Results:
• No harmful chemicals
• Clean hair
• Balanced natural oils
• Save money

Cautions:
• Bicarbonate of soda might strip the colour from some coloured hair.
• Bicarbonate of soda is known to have a slight lightening effect on some hair types.
• Bicarbonate of soda can dry your hair if used too often – not recommended for daily use.

I have been using bicarbonate of soda to wash my hair once or twice a week for six months and will never go back to using shampoo. I also use this method on my children, aged three and sex years old, and have not only found their hair to be shinier and healthier but have also noticed that their eczema has totally cleared up.

NATURE’S WAY SHAMPOO

Ingredients:
Bicarbonate of soda

Method:
Mix one tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda with two tablespoons of water. Work the paste through your hair and rinse thoroughly.

More shampoo recipes:

There are many recipes available for more complex homemade shampoos using natural ingredients, here are some:

Olive Oil and Grapeseed Shampoo
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 cup liquid Castile Soap (olive oil soap)
• 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil

Mix ingredients together, wash and rinse well.

Honey and Mustard Shampoo
• 1 teaspoon probiotic yogurt
• 1 teaspoon mustard powder
• 1 teaspoon honey
• 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil

Dilute 1 teaspoon of mustard powder with yogurt and then add honey and grapeseed oil. Apply the mixture on your hair and massage into your scalp then rinse. For extra conditioning leave in for 20 minutes and then rinse very well with water.
To get rid of excess oils you might like to do a mild bicarbonate of soda wash afterwards.

Now it's your turn.
If you have any shampoo recipes that work well, please share them with us.  Find out more about Nature's Way here.
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19.3.12

Being a Wife - Who is Happy

Happiness is not something that happens to you but it is something that you make happen. Well actually, God makes it happen every morning (Psalm 30:5) but it’s up to us whether or not we embrace it or reject it. 

As wives, we often tend to expect our husbands to make us happy. When he doesn’t we get upset. This leaves him feeling like a failure and leaves us wondering why he won’t make us happy! The biggest mistake we can ever make as wives is to depend solely on our husbands to make us happy. He can’t. It’s not possible for one man to make a woman entirely happy. It cannot be done and expecting it to happen is setting you both up for disappointment. 

To have a truly happy marriage you need to have two happy individuals. So how do we become a happy wife? Firstly, we let our husbands off the hook and start taking responsibility for our own happiness. Secondly, we turn to the Holy Spirit because happiness or joy is a fruit of the spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23) And thirdly, we choose to be happy and not negative. 

Happiness is a choice. Two people can be in exactly the same circumstances in life, one person can be miserable and grumpy as a result and the other could be full of joy. Life’s circumstances do not dictate whether or not we are happy but our attitude to them will. Every morning, when you open your eyes, you can declare out loud, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) 

Did you notice the ‘will’ in this verse? It doesn’t say we will see how the day goes and then decide at the end if it was a happy or miserable day. It doesn’t say, we will see how kind our husband has been, how well the children have behaved and how well the traffic flowed and decided if it was a good day or not. No, it says we will rejoice and be glad in it. 

This is a choice, an act of your will that you declare in the morning. You will be happy. You have decided that your day will be good. You will rejoice and be glad in it! The power to be happy is in your mind, only you can choose to be happy or not. You husband may attempt to make you happy, but if that is what your happiness depends on then it will only last as long as your husband can keep it up. 

When he gets busy with his day or forgets to be a slave to your happiness, you will get unhappy again. Let him off the hook, give the poor guy a break, let him get on with what God has called him to do. Choose to be a happy wife. You cannot lose. No matter how tough life gets, no one can steal your joy if your joy stems from an act of your will.

One final thought. There is one place and one place only where you can achieve the maximum experience of joy, the highest level of satisfaction and the ultimate pleasure. There is only one experience unparallel to any other happy experience and that is in God’s presence. He will show you the path of life; In His presence is fullness of joy; At His right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

Now doesn’t that sound like something worth having in your life, who would say ‘no thanks’ to pleasures forevermore? Be a happy wife and inspire others to too be happy too.

Find out more about Being a Wife here or about using our material to host your own Girl's Night here.
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15.3.12

A Samburu Woman

Cynthia Fowler

"We should run away"! Cynthia said to her cousins. "It is the only way we can avoid being cut."

Laughing, they said to her “Don't be silly, you are a coward” and continued to mock her for not wanting to go through with it. They were all looking forward to the day and could not understand why she would want to refuse. Deep down inside Cynthia knew that this practise was wrong. She had watched her aunt suffer and nearly die when she was circumcised. Deeply etched in her mind was the memory of the horrible agony she underwent. Cynthia had never seen so much blood. Her aunt was rushed to a nearby hospital as the lady who did the circumcision was old and partially blind. She had cut the wrong vein. Thankfully, she survived. Sadly, many women don't even get the opportunity to go to hospital and die either from infection or blood loss.

Fear filled Cynthia's eyes as she recalled her aunts traumatic circumcision. It was two days before her coming-of-age ritual. She did not want to be cut but tradition said that if she wanted to be a 'real' women she had to have her clitoris removed. Culture indicated that removing the male parts from their body would cleanse them. Cynthia was very young but she knew deep down inside that this injustice was not going to happen to her. The consequences were too unbearable to think about but not more unbearable than submitting to circumcision. Circumcision would be carried out with knife-like implements, scissors or razor blades as the basic surgical instruments, often used by a person that lacks surgical expertise and usually without anaesthetic.

An uncircumcised woman would be shunned by her people, rejected by men and deemed unfit for marriage. If she ever did manage to have children, the baby would be called unholy and rejected by the Samburu tribe. Some Samburu women are even forced to kill their unholy baby. Cynthia tried to block these images as she pleaded with God to deliver her from this evil.

She thought of her parents. Both her mother and father had been taken four years ago by the merciless HIV/AIDS virus. Her mother, only thirty three years old at the time, suffered a long fight with HIV/AIDS. Knowing she wasn't going to live for very long, she took Cynthia to meet her best friend Christine, whom she affectionately referred to as auntie. Her mother trusted and loved her. Perhaps she thought Christine was the only person who would rescue her from the traditions of circumcision. As Cynthia looked at her mother she saw sadness in her eyes. She was not only worried about her looming death but also the traditions that were awaiting her daughter. Her disapproval of this tradition was clear and she did nothing about other than talk and wish that her daughter would somehow escape it.

Being just fourteen years old at the time, Cynthia did not fully understand how things worked. It seemed simple to her and questioned why she should not simply move to live with Christine, leaving her free from worry about the circumcision. Sadly it was not that simple. Her dad had paid a dowry before he died, which meant that she now belonged to his family. This ensured that when her mum died that she could go and live with them. However, she was convinced that it was her mums wish that she would not be circumcised. Leaving Christine's home to go to her father's family was deeply emotional. Even though she had only met her once, she knew there was something special about her. Christine was so loving and motherly. She gave Cynthia her telephone number which became one of her most prized treasures. She knew that one day this number would be important.

It was a sad day. Her mum's funeral passed and immediately her uncle began preparing the circumcision ceremony for herself and her two cousins. Cynthia had made a definite decision though. She was not going to be a circumcised woman. Tradition said that if a girl didn't have her clitoris cut off it would grow until it reached the ground. Young girls were threatened into circumcision with stories of having this long clitoris dragging on the ground. Uncircumcised girls were shunned, called the most vile names and were declared unfit for marriage. None of this deterred Cynthia. Deep down inside she knew that her parents would approve of her decision to avoid this dreadful tribal tradition as well as what would follow shortly afterwards, a forced marriage. It was custom for girls as young as eleven to be forced into marriage and many times it was with a friend of their fathers who could be a much older man.

Morning came after a dark, fear filled night and her uncle came with a letter addressed to her from the NCCK (National Council Churches of Kenya). Cynthia was an extremely grateful recipient of a sponsorship from the NCCK that provided for her high school education. She picked up the letter and read the life changing words that stared up at her from the paper. She had an invitation for a conference in Nairobi where all the sponsored children would meet.

"Oh ignore that, you cannot make it as that is when you are going to be circumcised!" Her uncle said matter-of-factly.

Cynthia knew otherwise, this was her escape route and she knew it. She praised God and insisted that she went, saying that she would lose her sponsorship if she didn't. After some persuasion her uncle said, "It's OK, you can go as long as my son will take and bring you back."

Hurriedly, she packed a few belongings, mainly dresses. Happily she thought to herself, while praising God for His mercy, "This is it! I will never experience the knife!"

...This is not a piece of fiction but these are some facts from the life of a real person, a beautiful Samburu woman that I have had the privilege of meeting. In my recent post I mentioned how troubled I was. It was as Cynthia relayed her story to me a couple of weeks ago that I knew something had to be done. Although President Daniel Moi of Kenya issued a decree against female circumcision in December 2001, little has changed in reality. Young girls continue to undergo genital mutilation and forced marriages. Conditions in the Samburu region of Kenya are unbearable and people are dying daily for various reasons. I want to continue writing to you, King's Daughters, about what is going on in this remote part of Kenya. My hope is that together, you and I, can adopt these precious Samburu people and bring God's justice to this region.

It is God who says that we should, "Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, And plead the cause of the poor and needy." - Proverbs 31:8-9

Soon I will tell you Mark and Cynthia's story, how they met and the dream that they have for the Samburu people.
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12.3.12

Free

Over the past few weeks I have been preaching a series at D7 Church based on my book FREE.  My deep desire is that God uses my 'colourful' past and the freedom He has given to me, to help others find freedom too.  
Do you feel like you are hiding behind masks and not being your true self?  Do you live under a cloud of shame from your past?  Is fear your constant companion?  Do you know that there is more to you and more to life than you are currently experiencing?  Free covers all these issues and so much more.  
Have a read or listen to the sermon series below.  If you live in England, why not join us for one of our Girl's Nights where I will be delving into this subject some more.

Buy 'Free' here: UK, USA, AU, Kindle
Listen to 'Free' here:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
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10.3.12

TOCP - Build a Great Team

Church is not a one man or one woman job! It can’t be mostly because God says that no flesh should glory in His presence. If we could successfully build a flourishing church on our own then it is quite likely that we would become proud and even arrogant. God made us relational and dependant on each other in order to do His will. Eric and I realised this right from the start, we knew we could not pull it off on our own and so we got stuck into recruiting team members right from the word ‘go’!

Before even thinking about planting a church, I would highly recommend building a team that will work with you and support you no matter what! It’s not about quantity but about quality. A small team with the right heart will do so much more than a large team with a bad attitude. Sounds easy doesn’t it, but I can assure you that finding people with a great heart that will just shut up and get on with it is not easy!

Our team started way back in 2006 without us even realising it. They were at our home weekly, doing life with us more than with their own parents. Little did we realise that all the seeds we were sowing were going to produce the future leaders of our church, the church that we never even knew we were going to plant! It’s a valuable lesson to learn, you just never know what God is planning for the future, so do everything to the best of your ability.

At first we tried to lead the church without giving anyone a title. We did this to try and avoid unnecessary arrogance and to avoid people who were looking for a title in our church, but in the end for various reasons, we allocated titles and job descriptions. Titles were more practical and clearly defined roles helped those serving to understand what was expected of them. Despite having a clear structure and detailed job descriptions for each role, we still held back for quite some time before appointing people to these roles. We had been burned by appointing the wrong people to lead when we first started the church and so we intended to be very careful before trusting people with our church again.

Paul gave Timothy some great advice when appointing leaders in church. Firstly he cautioned Timothy that a leader should not be a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Since our church consisted mainly of new Christians it was difficult to find suitable leaders. It was also difficult to remember that they were new Christians because very often I would see their potential and quickly forget their lack of maturity. Many times I would have to force myself to remember that they simply lacked the years that were required to give them the maturity that they needed to lead.

True leaders will lead with or without a title! A title is of no consequence to them and we were quickly able to identify which people were truly passionate about leading. The other bit of very helpful advice that Paul gave Timothy was not to lay hands on anyone hastily and this was something that we adhered to. And so our structure was agreed and some people were placed in boxes to test them out but no one was officially appointed leader for quite some time.

We decided that we needed a Senior Pastor and four assistant pastors - a Youth Pastor to care for under- twenties, a Community Pastor to take care of people and our community, a Creative Pastor to focus on the creative side of church and an Executive Pastor to handle the strategy and administration of the church. We allocated each pastor with three teams to manage.




Eric and I led together as Senior Pastors and I took on an additional role as Executive Pastor as I had a good, strong background in this area. At first our team consisted of Eric, Dave and I along with a bunch of teenagers who were aged from fourteen to seventeen years old. As you can probably guess we were criticised! Some people who came to our church wondered why they, much older that seventeen, were not invited into our leadership team. Those who had been Christians for many years, some even having been to Bible School, wondered why they were not invited into the leadership team.

Meet the D7 team leaders here and find out more about our teams here.

We were mocked, ridiculed and even had negative comments in the newspaper about our church. Eric and I never doubted the team we had chosen. They had faithfully served right from the beginning, in the days when we were a youth group, in the days where there was no title or prestige, just plain hard work. We knew their heart to serve and we had a special relationship with them. Age was not a deciding factor when choosing our core team and neither was education. A simple, proven passion for Jesus and His church and a willingness to do whatever it takes to build the church was all that was required along with a commitment to serve the leadership and vision of D7 Church one hundred percent. 

Needless to say, all the people that criticised and complained stayed for a short time and then left to go to another church. It was usually the ‘old Christians’ that had the most to say, did the least work and criticised the most. It was also the ‘old Christians’ that didn’t agree with how we did things and left our church for greener pastures. However, it was that group of amazing teenagers that were always the first to pitch up at every single meeting, they were the first to roll up their sleeves and get on with the work come rain or shine and they were always the last people to complain.


This is a chapter snippet from The Tale of a Church Planter, find out more about how we set up the teams and how we grew together as a team by buying a copy of our book here.  More info on our adventures here.
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9.3.12

Conference Payment Plan

Only 182 days to go until our awesome King's Daughters Conference!  Am I being a bit too enthusiastic?  I can't contain my excitement, it's going to be a top quality event.  In order to make it easier for you to come we have set up a 7 month payment plan of £5 per month.  All you have to do is pay £5 here seven times.  

If you want to pay the full amount of £35 please do so here.

Another thing we have done for your convenience, is that we have created an children's program for the entire conference so that you can relax and not worry about your children.  There are limited places so please get your children's name down early or they might miss out.  It's totally free - more info here.

It's going to be a fantastic event but please don't wait until the last minute to get your ticket as the venue has a strict seating limit of 400, after that we will have to turn people away.  For more info on the event please visit www.kingsdaughtersconference.co.uk and please accept the FaceBook invitation and spread the word through it.
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6.3.12

TOCP - Pitch Up and Press On

There have been days when I have wanted to give up. MANY DAYS! Tiredness had overcome me and I had grown weary. It’s not the sort of weariness that can be solved by sleep. This sort of weariness was deep down within my soul; it seemed to seep right down into my bones and made my belly ache. I had known many of these sorts of days. 

There had also been many Sundays when I had not wanted to go to church. Yes, I confess, many Sundays when I had just wanted to stay in bed and leave Eric to get on with it. A few Sundays I managed to make it into the car and all the way to church but then had just stayed in the car outside church and cried. On a few occasions I had even started the car and reversed out of the parking space with the intention of driving away. Despite the battles that have raged within my soul some Sundays, I have always pitched up. Not always with the best attitude, not always with the enthusiasm that I should have, but I pitched up. That is step one to surviving the rough seasons! 

Let me describe how bad it got at one point! During the week Eric was telling me that it was his desire that I enjoyed the journey. I had been particularly down in the dumps and very negative about everything. I loved God with all my heart but was drained by church. During a conversation one evening I told Eric how much I hated church and began to spew all my complaints over him,

“I don’t even know if God is with us, surely if He were with us there would be more fruit and at least some growth? It has been two years now and people have come and gone but our weekly attendance is still the same as when we started! In fact it has dropped!
   Surely if God were with us things would have been showing some improvement by now? How about signs and wonders? We are supposed to be seeing the mighty hand of God move but all we see is hard work day in and day out with no fruit!
   Do the people that we are working so hard for even love God? Do they read their Bible and pray or do they only love the benefits of church? They come for the free food and all the nice things we do for them, but do they come because they love God?
   Even our team! I am not convinced that they have a deep relationship with God, they just enjoy the cool stuff about church, but do they love God? I am not convinced any more. I am not sure if any of this is worth it! Those of us that have been doing this for two years are drained now; we have lost our passion and are working ourselves to death – for what? So that others can come in and sponge off of our work and give nothing back?
   I am tired, I am fed up and I hate church on Sundays. I don’t even want to go anymore. I dread Sundays and don’t have the energy for all this.”

And so the complaining and grumbling continued. I was weary and I wasn’t convinced that God was even with us. I had lost my passion for the House of God and wanted out. Although I wanted out I would never leave or quit. Something inside of me had to keep going. There was always that one little ‘what if?’ What if breakthrough was around the corner? What if people really did love God and just needed more time? What if God was testing us and our perseverance? What if I was wrong and this was just how it is?

The ‘what ifs’ plagued my mind and kept me motivated to pitch up Sunday after Sunday until breakthrough came – and it did come. It came in the most unexpected way too. It was a regular Sunday morning and I was doing what I always do – I pitched up and I did my best to do my part. I was on autopilot getting busy with doing what I had to do. After sorting out the kids, chatting to visitors, pouring some coffee and listening to a homeless woman’s woes, I sat down to ‘enjoy’ the service. 

This was a Sunday when I had the opportunity to participate in the worship and not lead it. I sat in the front row with the children. We sang a few songs and then the children started to get rowdy. They started singing passionately and loudly – all you could hear were their voices. Sweet sounds of four year olds were rising up to heaven singing, “Bless Your Holy name, bless Your Holy name, bless Your Holy name, bless Your Holy name” 

It was a beautiful sound and I was humbled by their worship. I agreed with them and said, “Yes Lord, bless Your Holy name, you are so worthy of the awesome praise of these little ones, I know how much this must bless You. Bless Your Holy name Lord!” It wasn’t my worship, it was their worship, but I knew how much it must have blessed God, and I was pleased for God that He was receiving such pure worship this morning. It made me feel ashamed of my pitiful worship. He was God Almighty and deserved so much more than I was giving Him. My heart was softened and ready to receive the Word that my wonderful husband was about to preach! Little did I know that his sermon would rock my selfish world and totally blow my mind! It changed me back into the passionate, lover of God’s House that I used to be. Without further ado, let me share his sermon with you – over to Eric...

This is a chapter snippet from The Tale of a Church Planter, find out what Eric preached that changed my attitude by buying a copy of our book here.  More info on our adventures here.
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3.3.12

Nature's Way - Teeth Whitening

Let’s begin will dispelling the fallacy that teeth are pure white. Pure white teeth are not natural and the best way to tell what colour your teeth should be is to look at a child’s teeth. If they are eating correctly then their tooth colour is the perfectly natural colour that our teeth should be. A tooth has a similar makeup to ivory and as you know ivory is not pure white either.
  The following table shows the health concerns based on commonly used whitening product.


Stained or yellow teeth can be caused by what we eat and drinking as well as poor dental hygiene. Removing stains as opposed to whitening through bleaching is best for your teeth. Bleaching your teeth might give you sparkling white teeth for a few months or years but could cause you a life time of teeth problems afterwards. Keep your teeth clean and remove stains but don’t go for the pure white, unnatural look as that is a sure sign that problems will follow later on in life.

Nature’s Way Alternatives

1. Eat Your Teeth Clean
The most natural way to keep your teeth free from stains is to eat vegetables such as celery, carrots, broccoli and cucumbers. These vegetables are naturally abrasive and have the same effect as brushing and whitening your teeth without any harmful consequences.

2. Brush with Bicarbonate of Soda
This remains the most effective, safe and natural whitening method. Many harmful whitening toothpastes contain Bicarbonate of Soda as their main whitening ingredient. Why not skip all the added dangerous ingredients and only use Bicarbonate of Soda.

3. Clean with a Microfiber Cloth
Try rubbing your teeth with a microfiber cloth when your teeth start looking a little dull. You might just see the dirt rub off onto the cloth which means the discolouration was merely stains from coffee, tea or wine.

4. Rinse after Drinking
A fantastic way to avoid staining is to rinse your mouth with water immediately after drinking tea, coffee, cola or wine. Of course brushing is best but simply rinsing will remove most of the tea, coffee, cola or wine that is known to stain teeth.

Results:
• Whiter, cleaner teeth
• Enhanced oral hygiene
• Save money

Cautions:
• Avoid using fruits such as lemons and strawberries regularly for whitening. If you want the natural whitening effect of lemons and strawberries just eat them normally, don’t rub them onto your teeth or leave their juice on your teeth for a long period of time. Although you will see instant whitening results, the acid will strip away the tooth enamel until it is damaged beyond repair. If you choose to use fruits for whitening brush your teeth afterwards and rinse you mouth well.

• Some people use Peroxide as a whitener. This is a common ingredient in tooth whiteners and it will whiten your teeth but bleaching molecules can get trapped in nerve passageways which can cause increased tooth sensitivity. If you chose to use peroxide don’t leave it on your teeth for too long.

NATURE’S WAY WHITENING

Ingredients: 
Celery, carrots, broccoli and cucumbers

Method: 
Eat one or more of these vegetables every day and enjoy perfect colour teeth.

For added whiteness continue brushing with Bicarbonate of Soda.

Now it's your turn.
Over the next few weeks try using Nature's Way whitening instead of your shop whitening products and let us know the results by posting your findings in the comment box below.  If you have any other tips or suggestions for a mouthwash please let us know.  

Find out more about Nature's Way here.
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2.3.12

Women of the World

I didn't sleep well last night.  I was troubled.  What I had heard yesterday disturbed me.  Surely that can't be true.  Surely that sort of thing doesn't still happen in this day and age.  There are women in this world, many women, who have real problems.  Life threatening problems.  These women have no help and they continue to suffer without any hope of change.  I tossed and turned all night, wrestling with God, saying, "What can I do, I am just one woman with little to offer."  
    It was then that I realised that King's Daughters is not about me, it never was and I never wanted it to be, but it is all about what God wants to do for His daughters in this world.  He is grieved that His precious daughters are suppressed and we who are free should rise up and do something about it.

How?  I don't know but that doesn't mean we will sit back and do nothing.  
When? Right now.  
Who?  You and me
Why?  Because we can

Together, we can make a difference.  We will start by raising awareness of the suffering of other women.  We will start by raising up a team to build King's Daughters into an international organisation.  We will start by praying that God's will be done.  
    Women in the UK and USA, do you know how rich you are?  Do you know how small your problems really are?  Do you know that if you lost everything today you would still be better off than most women in other parts of the world?  Consider women who are trapped in the sex trade in most of Europe, Thailand and Brazil.  Young girls who are being subjected to genital mutilation in Kenya as a part of their culture, young girls being abducted and raped by LRA warlords in Sudan.  Do you want to hear more or would you rather turn a blind eye? 

Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die.
Open your mouth, judge righteously, And plead the cause of the poor and needy.
- Proverbs 31:8-9

And so, today, I have started a new category on this blog called 'World Wide' where we will explore what is happening to women and see what we can do about it.  As wealthy and privileged women, we must fight for those that cannot fight for themselves.  We will all stand before God one day and have to give account for how we used everything He has given us, and saying that we maintained a nice house and nice car  and raised 2.4 children won't cut it!
    Soon I will share with you what I heard about yesterday.  Be prepared to have your heart ripped out, it's gut wrenching and we must do something about it.  If you want to get involved in the King's Daughters Causes team please get in touch and if you live in the South West of England why not join us this Saturday to raise money for a disadvantaged Kenyan woman's son, Amos - join us for a fundraising meal this Saturday in Ross-on-Wye. It's £15 for a traditional African meal and promises to be a fantastic afternoon. For more info please contact Mark and Cynthia at markandcynthia@btinternet.com.
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