Losing perspective on life is an easy mistake that even the best among us can make. There are all kinds of perceptions which can conspire against what’s true, causing us to miss the reality of what is really going on.
A loss of proper perspective usually results in an over-exaggeration of a challenge – or – a failure to recognise the seriousness of the current course. Either can be very dangerous and will eventually lead us to destinations we were never meant to visit. Over the years, I’ve seen people make rash & foolish decisions based on false perspectives. Too many times, those same people ended up living in deep regret because only afterwards did they realise how badly wrong they’d got it. Misunderstanding, insecurity and suspicion all create sinister illusions when the eyes of our heart fail to see God’s grace on the horizon.
So how do you maintain some kind of proper perspective on life, especially in the more challenging times? Here are four thoughts…
1) Watch out for tiredness
Sounds simple, right? But this one is big….REALLY BIG. Not getting enough sleep will cloud your judgment and blur your focus. It is imperative we learn to rest well. The lack of it can be catastrophic, both mentally and physically. Be sure to give this some serious attention.
2) Guard your heart
You are the gate keeper of your heart. No-one else can do this for you. YOU decide what goes in. YOU decide what stays out. So guard it ferociously. Get around those who build your confidence rather than pull it down. A healthy heart will help you maintain a healthy perspective on life. The company you keep is crucial here.
3) Recognise the danger of isolation
Isolation is fake. There, I said it. It makes YOU the centre. It teaches you bad habits. Thing is…the perceived vulnerability of community is nothing compared to the real danger of aloneness. Sure, there are times when you need your own space. But all the time?? No, that’s not healthy. It’s also how you completely lose perspective on life. Don’t cut yourself off from reality. Never good. Ever.
4) Make God’s grace your refuge
Have the courage to believe the best. Then never stop believing it, no-matter what. This is not just about being positive. It’s about seeing God’s grace in every situation. That’s the grace which saved you. It’s also the same grace which others need too. When we learn to extend a little grace, it helps us gain God’s perspective on life. Suddenly, everything makes some kind of sense.
Whatever you do, don’t believe the first thing your emotions tell you. They’re SOOO fickle. God’s word is true. That’s the perspective that really matters.
CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH NOTTINGHAM – LAUNCHING SOON!!
I’m sure you, like me, have been deeply disturbed by the poisoning incident in Salisbury recently. The method used was a military grade nerve agent – in essence a chemical weapon which could potentially have killed many people. Our thoughts and prayers are for the healing of all those affected, especially a father & daughter who are critically ill in hospital.
The UK government is convinced that the Russian state was behind this serious incident. I trust their judgment. Yet the fact that there are growing numbers of people questioning this conclusion should concern every politician in our nation. A house divided against itself can never stand.
These are serious times which feel very much like a new cold war has descended upon us. What is needed in days like these is…truth. The growing distrust in the integrity of government is devastating to a nation. Any hostile agent can wreak havoc in a culture of deep suspicion. The current British political system with it’s culture of arrogance has done a terrible dis-service to our nation. The Salisbury incident is a serious wake up call. Integrity REALLY matters.
In a sense, the chickens are coming home to roost. The political system in the UK has been in serious trouble for a very long time. I’ve written about this HERE. Recent political campaigns have been filled with lies and ego driven one-upmanship. Take the EU referendum campaign of 2016 for example. The sheer amount of untruthfulness on both sides has had the effect of severely eroding trust. This weakens a nation. It is far more devastating than many politicians seem to grasp. The current situation regarding Russia is a case in point. Just when trust is needed more than ever, this can now be easily undermined.
So how do we, as Christians, respond in times like these? Well, first and foremost, it behoves all of us to live lives of profound integrity. Sounds idealistic, right? But it’s far more gritty than that. It’s about living the truth….even if it hurts. Truth starts with ourselves – not anybody else. In a world of fake news, authenticity is like a refreshing tonic. It’s what builds trust. Furthermore, we do well to remember that the prayers of the righteous are ‘powerful and effective’ (James 5:16). So we pray for our nation and those who lead us. We also call out to God to cause a massive spiritual awakening. I have concluded in my own heart that this is the only answer for a broken society. Our nation needs God’s healing grace like never before. So does our world.
CHECK OUT OUR BRAND NEW NOTTINGHAM CHURCH HERE.
Recently at the Junction Church, we had a ‘Let’s Talk Church’ day. We don’t do many of these because if they happen too regularly, they tend to become naval gazing and self congratulatory. Yet, it’s important to afford ourselves moments to look back and reflect on how far we’ve come in just over five years of existence. This is not only encouraging but it also gives us some perspective regarding the why behind our what.
When we planted the Junction Church in 2012, there was just a small handful of people. Today, there are literally hundreds of people who call it their spiritual home. Our Sunday services have grown very significantly. But what is most encouraging is the type of growth that’s happening. The vast majority of people in our church community are recent Christians. This creates a freshness in the atmosphere. There’s also an obvious hunger for a real relationship with Christ that is free from religious pretence. As a pastor, I find this profoundly healthy.
Here are some recent facts:
- Since January, Loughborough has seen 78 people deciding to follow Christ (as of 11 March 2018)
- Since January, Leicester has seen 28 people deciding to follow Christ (as of 11 March 2018)
- We’ve recently baptised 28 people (with more to come)
- There are over 40 nations represented in our community
The church is by no means perfect. Seems silly to even say this since our imperfections are glaringly obvious. Yet as we lean into God’s grace, it creates an opportunity for people to encounter Jesus. It’s unforced. It’s unpressurised. This is the grace we carry. It doesn’t matter what the service theme is. Everything we do seeks to exude God’s love.
I really love being part of a church where people feel comfortable to bring their unchurched friends along to any service or event. It’s not embarrassing. Nor is it cringy. It’s raw. It’s real. Yet people are more open to Christianity than I’ve ever seen before. These are momentous times – days of God’s amazing grace. Our message is loud and clear. Religion is NOT the answer. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is. It’s HIS grace which makes all the difference. This is the grace we’re privileged to carry.
Listen to a recent podcast called ‘Let’s Talk Church’
Many years ago, I spent some time teaching at churches and colleges in India. After one particularly rough bout of illness which lasted a couple of days, we got on the road again to speak at an event that evening. En route, I was powerfully overcome with hunger the like of which I’ve never experienced before. My body craved food to the point of desperation since I hadn’t eaten for the past 48 hours. Strangely enough, I really fancied a slice of pizza. But in rural India, there’s never a pizza joint around when you need one…at least that’s what I thought. Yet as we drove along that lonely country bypass, suddenly in the distance a sign appeared which looked like it said ‘PIZZA HUT’. I seriously wondered if I was just hallucinating at first. But true enough, it was an actual pizza restaurant. I quickly requested the driver to pull in…and all I can say is that I consumed the finest slice of the round stuff I’ve ever eaten in my life. My gosh it was good!
Hunger is a powerful feeling. It alerts us to what we need. Jesus spoke about hunger in his famous ‘beatitudes’. He said ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.’ (Matt 5:6).
When you’re physically hungry, you don’t have to be told to eat. No, you actively search for food. The same is true for spiritual hunger. I believe God is looking for a generation who are hungry enough to seek him, to serve his purpose, to grow in faith and to make a difference.
Apathy is the sign of a lack of hunger. It has no appetite and is therefore uninterested in experiencing real fulfilment. It disengages from seeking because it is self-satisfied. There’s nothing more uninspiring than being in a culture which has no interest in seeing more.
At the Junction Church, I don’t ever want us to become apathetic. I really like being around people who have a hunger to learn and develop. It’s the most refreshing thing to do life with those who are really hungry for growth. That’s the kind of environment where fulfilment is found.
As we start out on a brand new year, my prayer is that we will experience a greater hunger than ever before to see our towns and cities impacted with the life giving power of the gospel. I’m hungry to see more salvations, more healings, more miracles, more breakthrough’s. How about you?
Jesus promises that those who hunger for what’s right will not only be blessed, but they’ll be fulfilled. How hungry are you?
CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH NOTTINGHAM HERE.
The Junction Church debut worship album will be released on Friday 26th January 2018…and we need your help! Before we let you know how you can help us, here’s a word about the album itself (you can pre-order it HERE).
This project has been a labour of love over the past year. In a world which is so filled with hopelessness, we wanted to create a different vibe – refreshing, upbeat, deep, authentic, hopeful. Every line of every song has been lovingly crafted to capture the brilliance of God’s truth in our lives today. The title track sets the tone for the entire album.
All 12 tracks are original, written as a reflection of what’s happening here at the Junction Church. Some of the songs have been sung at our services. Others haven’t…yet.
We wanted to be careful not to compromise the authenticity of the album by over-producing it, a danger with lots of music today. We think we’ve got this just about right. Truth is, all the technology in the world can never substitute for a really good tune accompanied by excellent musicianship. This album has all that. From upbeat songs like ‘You’ve given me hope‘ to the sheer power & gravitas of ‘Your Word‘ (which is brilliantly orchestrated), to beautifully poignant tracks such as ‘The Cross‘ and ‘Now to the King‘, there’s pretty much something for everyone in this album. We hope you love listening as much as we loved producing it.
The ethos of the Junction Collective is that ego is taken out of the equation. This is not about individual artists, but a collective of musicians who have a heart to serve God’s house. We passionately believe God is at work and that he is drawing many more creatives into our community. This collective will grow.
Ok…now, here’s how you can help us. We want to produce more albums in the future. So we’re looking for 100 people to pre-order the album rather than just stream it when it’s released. This is literally the best way you can support us. Will you be one of those 100 people?
The pre-order link is HERE. We’d really value you standing with us and believing that there’s much more music to come. Thanks church!
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.
The relational dynamic between the Old Testament prophet Elijah and his successor Elisha is always fascinating to observe. Elijah was a charismatic firebrand. His servant Elisha was an introverted thinker. Yet when Elisha knew he had a chance to pursue God’s call on his life, he ran at the opportunity…literally (1 Kings 19:20).
The idea of running denotes determination & commitment. You see, there are some things in life which require us to move fast. The privilege of serving God’s purpose is one of them.
It’s interesting to note that it wasn’t the mentor Elijah who ran after his student Elisha. It had to be the other way around. Elisha refused to rest on his laurels or become complacent with a sense of arrogant entitlement. Complacency is a dreadful hindrance to divine destiny. Elisha certainly couldn’t be accused of being apathetic. No, he ran after the man of God with focussed intent. By honouring the past, he was paving way for the future. This is critically important when it comes to fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives.
There’s a time to wait patiently, but there’s also a time to run vigorously. The latter means taking initiative, embracing inconvenience, committing to the long haul and refusing to be distracted. To the very end, Elisha pursued Elijah, not taking his eyes off the goal. At the moment when Elijah was taken into the presence of God, Elisha carried on the mandate and accomplished even greater things.
So what about you? How much do you want God to use your life? Are you running for it? Really running? There is no need to wait before you serve. No need to pray before you do it either. What God’s Church needs today are people who get on with it, passionate about running to get the prize of the most high call.
CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH NOTTINGHAM HERE.
The most precious commodity in any relationship is…trust. When it is strong, magnificent feats can be accomplished. When it is weak, suspicion reigns and progress is hindered. The thing is, trust is something that needs to be built with intentionality. Here are five ways to construct it around your life.
This means avoiding gossip, a vice that poses as harmless chatter but is one of the most destructive forces to healthy relationships. It feeds suspicion, encourages fear and stirs distrust. Be assured, whoever gossips to you will also gossip about you. Resist it with all your heart. Choose to believe the best of others, not the worst. Speak life…always. That’s how you build trust (Prov 11:13).
Ambiguity may maintain the status quo for a while. However, it ultimately kills trust. When people don’t know where they really stand, this does nothing for the health and strength of friendships. It’s always better to be graciously honest and vulnerable. Proverbs 23:23 says ‘Buy the truth and do not sell it‘. This is what healthy relationships are built upon.
In a world where so many just seem to easily give up on each other, faithfulness is like pure gold. It’s what builds longevity into relationships, creating trust over the long term and proving commitment through the diverse seasons of life. God values it very highly (Matt 25:23). We should too.
Jesus defined greatness as servanthood (Matt 23:11). This means we don’t ever need position to serve. Nor do we need to be motivated or persuaded by some ulterior motive. Selflessness is one of the most powerful ways to build trust. It serves and serves and serves, without thought for itself. This is what Paul meant when he spoke about ‘honouring others above yourselves‘. (Rom 12:10). It’s the foundation on which trust is established.
How we respond to correction is a statement of our heart. Pride resists it. Humility receives it, even if it’s measure is unpleasant. In the end, a teachable spirit enables trust to be built and love to be established. Everyone has something to learn. Proverbs 29:1 tells us that resistance to reproof is something which breaks trust beyond healing. That’s why it’s wise to receive correction well.
Building trust can’t be rushed. It takes time. But it is totally worth it in the long term.
Check out the Junction Church Nottingham HERE.
Amidst the warm glow of festive lights and sparkling tinsel, there’s a more gritty reality to the Christmas story. The drawing below by artist Charlie Mackesy makes the point well. While Heaven greeted the birth of Christ with adoration, earth’s response was generally apathetic.
Yet as humanity slept, angelic beings could not contain their joy as they recognised the sheer magnitude of what had just taken place. They knew that Jesus wasn’t merely born to be king – but He was born AS King (Luke 2:11-14). That night over isolated middle eastern farmland, the atmosphere above was bursting with the magnificence of heavenly song, and music the like of which the world had never heard before. Yet still, underneath the majestic chorus was a neglected barn, putrid with animal stench, filfthy, dirty, cold, dark, lonely. It was here that the Son of God was born. The greatest miracle happened in a graceless mess.
Surely there’s a lesson to be learned here? Christmas teaches us that there is no mess in this life which God is not willing to enter. This is grace in all it’s glory – gritty, humble, real, pure, authentic.
Interestingly, the first to visit Jesus were simple shepherds, not wise kings. Some theologians estimate that the wise men didn’t actually visit Jesus until between one and two years after his birth. Funny isn’t it….common agricultural workers saw Jesus first, the kind of people society would have looked down upon. God takes delight in inviting those the world has given up on to encounter him, even involving them in his story. There is certainly nothing elitist about the advent story. This was God in the flesh, coming to do life with ordinary, every day people.
The Christmas narrative is one which goes far beyond mere sentiment. It shows us what love looks like. It reminds us that however gloomy circumstances might be, where there is God there is always hope. Have a wonder filled Christmas season!
JOIN US FOR OUR CHRISTMAS SERVICES THROUGHOUT DECEMBER. MORE DETAILS HERE.
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