church nottingham

FOR OR AGAINST? 
by Roy Todd

It’s far better to define yourself by what you’re for rather than against. There are plenty of negative voices out there which can effortlessly articulate what they dislike. But people who make a real difference in life contribute to solutions rather than complaining about ‘problems’.

Simply being against stuff is not only unhelpful, but it’s profoundly lazy and extremely unproductive. You see, any fool can criticise. There’s nothing brilliant about offering strong opinions from the aloofness of a sedentary position. In the end though, the question we are wise to ask ourselves is; what are we doing to make things better? 

At the Junction Church, our heart is to create an environment that is positive and encouraging. Having served in churches for over 20 years, I am only too aware of how negative and cynical God’s children can sometimes become. This is nothing new. Even in the Old Testament after Moses led God’s people to deliverance from the oppression of Egypt, there was grumbling and murmuring. Yet it should never be this way. Church ought to be the most positive, upbeat, faith building, hope restoring & life giving community around.

Being defined by what you’re against immediately establishes negative vibes around your life. Ultimately, you can’t lovingly build anything better when what you hate forms your outlook. This will always lead to a downbeat pessimism which does nothing to inspire faith. If you find that this is your default setting in life, then how about resetting your heart to focus on what you’re FOR? Just one degree of difference changes everything. Instead of being anti, suddenly you find yourself being being pro…for hope, for encouraging, for celebrating others, for reaching people with the greatest news on the planet, for doing whatever it takes to help others….the list goes on.

So…are you a for or against kind of person? As we approach 2018, I strongly encourage you to embrace the former. It will make a world of difference to your year.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH NOTTINGHAM LAUNCHING WITH LIFE GROUPS IN 2018.

church nottingham

EXCELLING IN THE ART OF CONVERSATION 
by Roy Todd

Developing great people skills is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself & others in your life. When you learn to relate well to people, they’ll always want to be in your company. That’s exactly what happened with Jesus. Thousands flocked to be around him because there was something about this man which made sense. He could converse with anybody…no-matter who they were or where they were from. We could learn a thing or two from him!

Here are 7 things to think about developing so you can excel in the art of conversation (they’re in no particular order)…

1) Seek to understand people

People will forget what you say, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel. When they ‘feel’ understood, you create a connection with them that makes it far easier to build a meaningful friendship. It causes conversation to flow much easier.

2) Think ahead

Even before you meet other people, think ahead to the kind of questions you will ask them. It’s the lack of forward thinking that often stunts conversation and makes it difficult to engage with others.

3) Avoid awkwardness

Long silences and uncomfortable body language are all excruciatingly awful. They’re also totally unnecessary. Be open. Be friendly. Smile. Show initiative. Take interest. Ask questions. Think ahead (remember the previous point).

4) Don’t be too Intense

Just because you might see yourself as a ‘deep’ person doesn’t mean everyone else must start there. Gauge where others are at and try to make a connection with them. Intensity which happens too quickly simply exhausts conversation and ultimately makes it unenjoyable. You must work your way there.

5) Respect space

Be alert & sense when you’re invading someone else’s personal space. But be sure not to be too distant either. Conversation is an art that needs strong self awareness and a profound understanding of context. Remember, it’s an art.

6) Be humble

Name dropping and self promotion are deeply unimpressive, especially for high calibre people. Be far more concerned about showing interest in what others do than in mentioning your own achievements. Humility is an underrated characteristic.

7) Stay positive

The best conversations are created by what you’re for, not against. So create good vibes. It’s how you’ll get the best out of others. Negativity & gossip might be great short term tittle tattle, but in the long term they create suspicion & distrust. Set the right tone…and watch what happens.

Conversation is an art which needs to be lovingly crafted. Make it your ambition to get better and better. 

CHECK UT THE JUNCTION CHURCH NOTTINGHAM HERE, THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE & THE JUNCTION CHURCH LOUGHBOROUGH HERE.

church leicester

TAKING CAPTIVE EVERY THOUGHT 
by Roy Todd

It is human to feel lots of emotions in life. But when emotionalism sits in the driving seat, a world of fickleness beckons. It is subjective rather than objective. It is impetuous rather than principled. It is careless rather than considerate. But wise people don’t allow their lives to be driven by the immediacy of raw emotion. They afford themselves time to reflect & read the road ahead – beyond the path of sentiment. 

It seems that too many people in life are quick to believe the first thing their emotions tell them. Take a quick glance over a Facebook timeline and you’ll soon discover this. Yes, feelings can inform us about what we’re experiencing in the here and now. But whilst we don’t have to deny what we might feel, it’s never good to give it too much credence. It has a habit of changing very quickly. Besides, the foundation on which God wants our lives to be built is the truth of his word, not the strength of our emotions. This is what will keep us standing during the storm. This is what will sustain us through challenges. This is what will guard our hearts when we feel hurt, disappointment and pain – all of which are inevitable.

Paul encourages us to be very intentional about ‘taking captive every thought and making it obedient to Christ‘ (2 Cor 5:10). In other words, we need to think about HOW we think. Instead of allowing our feelings to think for us, it’s important to develop disciplined thoughtfulness. The bench mark is how it lines up with the truth of God’s word. Interestingly, Paul encourages us to take ‘captive‘ those thoughts which are off the mark. This conveys the idea of capturing invading lies and then incarcerating them. In a world in which we are bombarded by ‘fake news’, this is particularly relevant advice.

In the end, what matters is that which is true. Jesus is the personification of truth. That’s why wise people submit their thoughts, feelings and emotions to him. After all, he is ‘the way, the truth and the life‘ (John 14:6).

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE AND THE JUNCTION CHURCH LOUGHBOROUGH HERE.

church leicester

GODS MASTERFUL ART OF SUBTLETY 
by Roy Todd

The most poignant music is marked by subtlety. Things happen in the background which aren’t entirely obvious, yet when included in the overall score, help create a meaningful sound. The same is true with art. For me, the finest artwork is layered with subtleties rather than glaringly obvious. They create an experience which provokes thoughtfulness and adds perspective to life.

God is an artist. He is the true original whose creative brilliance surpasses the very meaning of ‘genius’. Yet his work is often subtle, weaved deep into the fabric of his creation.

On one occasion when Elijah the prophet was struggling with dabilitating discouragement, God surprised him by bypassing all expectations. Instead of ministering through fire, wind or earth quake, he chose the intimacy of a still small voice. It was so perfectly pitched to Elijah’s ear that only the prophet himself could hear it. Not many words where spoken by the Almighty – but the means by which he spoke was as much a message as what was spoken. The moment exuded grace, love, gentleness and kindness. Brilliance lovingly rained down on the dreariness of desert land – refreshing, beautiful, subtle. (1 Kings 19)

It’s wise to resist the temptation of over-spiritualising the extra-ordinary and under-spiritualising the ordinary. The supernatural is rarely spectacular. It’s in the ordinary, everyday stuff of life where God’s power is most at work – subtle, hidden, profound. Most miracles don’t feel like miracles. It’s only hindsight which tells the tale. That’s why it’s vitally important to hold your nerve. Often, your greatest need is just a miracle in disguise.

One of the most priceless gifts you can give yourself on any given day is to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. He’s always at work, even when you don’t realise it. Learn the art of sensitivity and suddenly your eyes will be opened to a new perspective of God’s amazing grace…in the ordinary. That’s where His best work is.

 

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH IN LEICESTER HERE,  THE JUNCTION CHURCH IN LOUGHBOROUGH HERE AND FIND OUT ABOUT OUR NOTTINGHAM CHURCH HERE!!

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BITTERNESS VS BETTERNESS 
by Roy Todd

Someone once said that Christians are an Easter Sunday people living in a Good Friday world. Our faith has to manage the present tension of earthly facts and the future anticipation of heavenly truth. Lets be honest, this isn’t always easy. 

The thing about life is that it can be filled with moments of high exhilaration as well as deep exhaustion. The mountain tops are inspiring and enthralling – but the valley experiences can be gloomy and menacing. With the latter, there are the questions, the doubts, the frustrations and the demoralisation, all of which can be hugely influential in defining our faith. When we feel the harshness of earth’s toil, we have a choice. We can either allow it to make us bitter or better. Truth is, as much as the pain of life can feel uncomfortable and even at times unjust, in a strange way, it signifies life and purpose. 

I’ll never forget reading the story of a leprosy doctor who was returning from a medical trip abroad. As he sat in his hotel room waiting for a flight home the following day, he suddenly felt numbness in his leg. A cold shudder went down his spine as he realised how potentially significant this could be. You see, one of the first signs a person has contracted leprosy is the inability to feel pain. In a moment of desperation, the doctor proceeded to grab a pen and gash it into his leg. But still, he felt nothing. He want to bed that dreadful night with an awful sense of worry and shattering despair. However, when he awoke the next morning, a felt a sharp ache in his leg from yesterday’s wound. It was the most wonderful sensation he’d ever experienced in his life. It meant he hadn’t contracted leprosy after all. The pain proved it. He was alive and well!

When you feel pain, it means you’ve got breath in your being. It makes you more human. It helps you relate to a whole world of people who are experiencing their own hurt. Yes, pain can make you bitter…if you let it. But it can also make you better. Instead of permitting it to grind you down, why not have the audacity to build others up? Allow it to define your faith for good, not bad. Avoid the victim mindset too. It’s never helpful. Your pain is part of your story. Dare to use it to become a better you, not a bitter you.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE

church leicester

GO AGAINST THE FLOW….

If the vibe of your everyday conversation tends to be voiced with sarcastic put downs and mean spirited ease, it is your right to speak this way. However, it is wise to understand that nothing of nobility or worth will ever emerge from this kind of talk. It simply flows with thoughtless effort, monotonously submitted to a tedious tide of cultural toxicity which has been gathering momentum for years. 

When you’re swept away by the pressure of it’s current, it is normal to drag others with you, deep into an ocean of discouragement. Your vision becomes blurred by the seas of cynicism, so much that you can’t grasp just how utterly suffocating this is to vitality and confidence, not least your own. Only when you experience the freshness of a genuine alternative can you truly breathe and impart life to those around you. However, this means raising your head above the waters, going against the flow and daring to be different.

Words matter. In a hurting world, they can either add to the weight of people’s hurts and drown them in negativity – or lift their sinking hearts and breathe the oxygen of God’s healing grace to their souls.

When we first planted the Junction Church, part of our vision was to create a church culture that was so filled with encouragement that when people walked into our environment, they would experience something that is rare….love. We totally understood that this intentionality might appear strange and over the top to some, especially to those who’ve only ever known cynicism as the norm. However, what has transpired over these past few years is a quiet revolution in the hearts of numerous people. One person I spoke to recently told me of the impact this culture has had on their family. The pessimism they’d struggled with for years has been profoundly challenged and replaced with a life giving optimism they had never experienced before. 

In truth, this vibe should be the norm for any church community. The bible says ‘mercy triumphs over judgment’ (James 2:13). If we believe this is true, this means that in a world of never-ending pessimism and judgmental accusation, we are the eternal optimists. How could we possibly be anything else?

No-matter how theologically correct a local church community might seem, if the atmosphere is not overflowing with the language of encouragement and uplifting others, then the toxicity of worldliness has come flooding into it’s culture, and is suffocating the potential of it’s people. Beneath the ‘spiritual’ surface are powerful currents of carnality which are both corrupting and corroding to life.

God has called us to carry a different culture – the culture of HIS Kingdom. It is totally different to the culture of the world. This has to have an impact on the way we converse and leaders must always model this first. If a leader isn’t carrying it, then the people they lead will never grasp it.

In Ephesians 4:29, Paul says ‘Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up…that it may give grace to those who hear.’

It’s time for us to have the courage to challenge the ‘norm’ of cynicism and create an alternative vibe to the culture of doom and gloom that’s so prevalent in our world. How do you start? By making sure your words are building others up, not pulling them down. By bathing your language in honour. Think about it. If enough people do it, this could shift the tide of momentum. It means going against the flow…and daring to speak life.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH IN LEICESTER HERE

THE POWER TO CHOOSE
by Roy Todd

Some things in our lives are beyond our control. For example, none of us got to choose where we were born. Nor did we get any choice about the circumstances into which we were born. We didn’t choose our genetics & appearance either. However, no-matter what kind of background we’ve come from, we all have the God given power to choose the way we live our lives today. This is an incredibly powerful truth.

In the Old Testament book of 1 Chronicles, a character called Jabez is mentioned. His name meant ‘painful’. However Jabez chose to break free from the poor choices of his own mother – and believed for God’s blessing in his life. What’s interesting is that Jabez choice wasn’t birthed in rebellion – but in honour. It actually says that he was ‘more honourable than his brothers’. He chose to live an honourable life even though his upbringing was dishonourable. Here’s what we learn about Jabez:

He chose to put God first .
He chose to pursue God’s blessing.
He chose to live in God’s healing.
He chose to pray for God’s increase over his life.
He chose to believe for God’s favour.

Read about him for yourself – just two verses in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10.

The point is – no-matter who you are, where you’re from or what you’ve been through, God has given you the power to make choices. A smart person will think carefully about this and be sure to make decisions that are wise. A good benchmark when it comes to decisions is to think…..what will this decision look like in 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years etc. (I’ve written a blog called ‘The Path of Least Regret’ which you might find helpful HERE.)

Here are some things all of us get to choose TODAY

You choose your attitude
You choose your words
You choose your friends
You choose how you react
You choose to be mean or gracious
You choose how you spend your time
You choose to be offended or not
You choose to gossip or to speak well of others
You choose to believe or not

This list could go on. In his book ‘Live, Love, Lead’, Brian Houston puts it like this “If you put God first, you’ll never come second’. Yup, it’s ALWAYS a good decision to put God first.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE.

WORDS
by Roy Todd

Words have the potential to do great good. For example, a word of encouragement can build up a person’s confidence and be like oxygen to the soul. However they can also do great damage too. When spoken unwisely, words can feed insecurity and cause great hurt.

When the apostle James wrote in his letter about the power of the tongue, this was obviously pre the social media era. But no doubt the same principle applies to the words we write as well as speak. James urges us to think carefully before we use words. He says ‘ It only takes a spark to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word can do that too.” (James 3:5)

Jesus urged us to take care in our use of words. He says in Matthew 12:36 “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” This is a very sobering thought – that one day, we will all give account for our words (conversations, tweets, statuses, instagram posts, snapchats etc), even the careless ones. That’s why it’s better to use words to build rather than destroy.

Once they’re spoken (or written), we can never get our words back. There’s an old story about a rabbi who slandered another rabbi because he was jealous of his apparent ‘success’. This resulted in his colleague having to leave town over something which simply wasn’t true. Many years later, the perpetrator of the slanderous rumour found out that he had a terminal illness. Wanting to make amends for the wrongs he’d done in his life, he confessed to a senior rabbi the untruth he’d said about his colleague. Asked what he should now do, the senior rabbi took a feather pillow case, opened the window and proceeded to rip it outside the room. He then asked his junior colleague to go and retrieve all the feathers. ‘It’s impossible. You know I can’t’ said the junior rabbi. “Yes,” said the senior rabbi, “that is how it is: once a rumor, a gossipy story, a ‘secret’ leaves your mouth, you do not know where it ends up. It flies on the wings of the wind, and you can never get it back” He then strongly encouraged the junior rabbi to urgently seek the forgiveness of his former colleague.

It’s an old story…but the principle is true. Words are powerful. That’s why it’s always better to use them in a way that builds up rather than pulls down. An unwise word spoken (or written) in the heat of a moment might make you feel better in the short term – but it’s damage is often seen in the long term, just at the time when you regret having spoken it. How many relationships have been destroyed by foolish words?

It’s always better to talk well of people. To speak faithfully and loyally of others is to build trust and confidence. Be a blesser with your words – whether this is reciprocated or not. Speak kindly. Speak generously. Speak lovingly. Speak graciously. Speak honourably. You’ll never regret it.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE