Life Change

Life change and character development take place best in the context of relationships. For example, when our three children were growing up, I noticed that when they are 'alone', such as on a date with me, each of them had the ability to be extremely angelic. However, when they were ‘together’, especially in the backseat of our car, something demonic seemed to emerge! “He hit me, … she hit me first… he’s looking out my window … no, I’m not … she’s ignoring me, dad … he ignored me first … etc, etc.” You get the picture! Yet it was... Read more →

Love Pays Attention

Love pays attention. Unfortunately, I often get distracted when people are talking to me (including my wife, Nicole), which usually evokes the comment, “You’re not listening to me!” Love means being 'fully present' with a person, paying focused attention to them by looking them in the eye and concentrating not just on their words but also on the meaning and feelings behind the words. Studies in psychology tell us that the thing people value as much as direction or insight when they go to someone for counselling is to be in the presence of another human being who will actually... Read more →

The Art of Coaching (Part 3)

Graham Alexander developed a simple but effective model (or mental map) for sequencing good questions. It is called The GROW model and it was first published by John Whitmore. The Grow Model GOAL – “What do you want? What are you trying to achieve?” REALITY – “What is happening? What action have you taken so far and what were the effects?” OPTIONS – “What could you do? What are the alternatives?” Seek possibilities, not one solution. WILL – “What will you do? When will you do it? What obstacles will there be? How can I help?” This requires active listening... Read more →

The Art of Coaching (Part 2)

The coaching process involves two aspects: (1) raising awareness and (2) building responsibility. Creating awareness is all about helping the individual see themselves ("self-awareness") and their situation (what is happening around them) accurately. People can only deal with what they are aware of. Without awareness, no true change or progress can be made. John Whitmore says that “a coach is not a problem solver, a teacher, an advisor, an instructor or even an expert; he or she is a sounding board, a facilitator, a counsellor, an awareness raiser.” Building responsibility is the next step. Until an individual accepts and takes... Read more →

The Art of Coaching (Part 1)

In many ways, all of us are leaders. We influence others - family, friends, neighbours and school or work associates. It may be formally or informally, but it happens. We get to choose whether that influence is positive or negative, helpful or unhelpful. Leaders engage in a number of activities when interacting with other people, including communication, planning, problem-solving, directing, training, assisting, mentoring or coaching. People, including ourselves, rarely achieve their potential without the help and input of other people. Today let's talk about coaching. In his excellent book Coaching for Performance, John Whitmore defines coaching as: “unlocking a person’s... Read more →

The Priority of LOVE (Part 4) - Awkward Love

The Christian God exists eternally in a Trinity of loving relationships – Father, Son, and Spirit. God created us as the object of his love and invites us to participate in a community of loving friendships. As we fully understand how much God loves us, we are able to love others from a strong foundation of acceptance, significance, security, and purpose. A Community Characterised by Forgiveness Because of sin, loving others is not always easy. In fact, sometimes it is awkward. This is especially so when people act in ways that offend or cause hurt to us. Situations such as... Read more →

The Priority of LOVE (Part 3) - I Am Loved

The foundation of our love for others is a revelation of God’s love for us. The most important question in your life is not how much you love others or even how much you love God. It is how much do you think God loves you. Everything flows from this. Once we grasp and fully understand how much God loves us and allow that love to transform our lives, we are in a much better place to reach out in love to those around about us. In contrast, when we are unaware of God’s love for us, we can tend... Read more →

The Priority of LOVE (Part 2) - Original Love

Relationships in Turmoil Despite the fact that there are many good things happening in our world today, it doesn’t take a lot of insight to realize that we are a time of turmoil – especially in our relationships. At our very core, human beings are relational creatures. We have this tendency to ‘herd’ - to want to be together with other people. Deep inside, we have longings for belonging, for acceptance, for love, for intimacy and for meaning – all of which are found in a relationship with others. Yet despite our obvious need and our best efforts, there is... Read more →

The Priority of LOVE (Part 1)

The fairly new church in the bustling seaport city of Corinth back in AD 65 was booming. It was a dynamic charismatic and Pentecostal community attracting pagans and religious people alike. The meetings were pumping - inspiring worship times, sensational preaching, insightful teaching, as well as regular healings and miracles. It was the place to encounter God. The Holy Spirit was at work in powerful ways. But something was wrong. In the midst of all the growth and hype about this church, a kind of spiritual cancer had subtly set in. Yes, it was good at pretty much everything ...... Read more →

Finding Happiness (Part 2): Strong Personal Relationships

The second factor that contributes to our happiness (read Part 1) is Strong Personal Relationships. Each of us is born into a family and a desire for a sense of belonging is a part of what it means to be human. Although the introverts among us tend to be energized by solitude and alone time, most people enjoy meaningful conversation and are enriched by good friendships. In many ways, relationships are spatial. Most people have lots of acquaintances, many 'friends' or people they know more about or do life together with, but usually only a few close or best friends.... Read more →

The Greatest Love Song of All Time (Pt.2)

Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to read through the Song of Songs - an extraordinary love poem. How can we apply the insights from this love poem to our own lives today? What efforts are you making to keep the romance of your love relationship alive? What things can you do to cultivate a greater desire for the one who you love? In what ways can you further affirm the value and dignity of the opposite sex/gender? Wisdom calls us to loving and exclusive commitment, not to a rampant promiscuity which turns sex into a mere commodity. Read Proverbs 5:15-19... Read more →

The Greatest Love Song of All Time (Pt.1)

Everyone likes love songs. They fill the radio waves throughout the day. I can still remember enjoying the crooning voice of Lionel Richie singing "Hello, is it me you're looking for?" in my late teens. There is something deeply profound about the desire and yearning of one person for another. We call it love. The Bible contains many diverse types of literature, including poems, prophecies, narratives and of course, songs. The book of Psalms is literally a psalter, or collection of songs, expressing the full range of emotions of the human heart. But then we have that small little book... Read more →

Who have you been eating with?

One day Jesus was having dinner at the home of one of the top Pharisees (the religious leaders of his day). As always, there was some lively and interesting conversation around the dinner table. Near the end of this meal, this happened ... Luke 14:12-14. Jesus turned to the host. "The next time you put on a dinner, don't just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You'll be — and experience —... Read more →

A Church United

John 17 is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus and it reveals what was important to him. After praying for himself (vs.1-5) and his disciples (vs.6-19), he prayed for all who would believe in him – for the church yet to born (vs.20-26). Nearest to Jesus’ heart was his concern for the unity of his followers. So how are we doing at being “united”, as Jesus prayed? The Centre for the Study of Global Christianity estimates that there were 34,000 denominations in the year 2000 rising to 43,000 in 2012. These are all “Christian” denominations, not those of other faiths... Read more →

The Power of Encouragement

Someone once said that “encouragement is like oxygen to the soul”. Each one of us thrives in an environment of affirmation and encouragement. No one likes to be in an atmosphere where we are being torn down or ridiculed. So think about what you are doing to those around about you. Are you encouraging them? Are you lifting them up with your words? Occasionally, I’ll sit at a funeral and listen to the eulogy or the tributes that are given and often think, “I wonder if that person knew those things when they were alive?” Don’t wait until someone dies... Read more →

Emotional Intelligence

Well known psychologist, Daniel Goleman has done a lot research on the components of success, especially in the work place. His conclusion is that Technical Skill and Intellectual Intelligence (or IQ) are very important, but that the quality of Emotional Intelligence (or EQ), is the most essential. In fact, it’s twice as important as the other two attributes. ‘Emotional intelligence’ is: knowing how to relate well to a wide variety of people. How do we do that? Well, Jesus gives us some great advice in Matthew 7:12 when he says, “Do for others what you would like them to do... Read more →

The Art of Loving Confrontation

Life can be very rewarding and fulfilling. It can also be very difficult at times. Two of the hardest things to do are handling criticism and confronting people, not that we should love confronting people (!) but learning how to do so in a loving manner. The apostle Paul once wrote in Ephesians 4:15 that one of the marks of a mature church is the ability to “speak the truth in love”. Some people speak the truth but not always in a loving manner. Others are so loving that they never speak the truth. Finding the balance of doing both... Read more →

Think Win/Win

In his best selling book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey noted that when it comes to healthy relationships, mature people think “win/win”. Win/Win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all situations, agreements and solutions. With a Win/Win solution, all parties feel good about the decision and are committed to the action plan - there is something in it for everybody and everybody wins. Win/Win sees life as a co-operative, not a competition. One person’s success is not achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others -... Read more →

Happy Mother's Day (2016)

[Watch this message] It’s Mother’s Day: a century-old tradition of taking time to thank and honour our amazing mums. Mums are special people we owe so much to - in addition to our very existence! Most mums are faithful, loyal, hard-working, loving and caring people. We honour and applaud them today. Of course, Mother’s Day brings a variety of emotion with it – gratitude, if you had a great mum, some sadness and pain if you had a difficult or absent mum, and grief if you have lost your mum or wanted to be a mum but haven’t yet been... Read more →

Stories Around the Cross - The Denial

The Denial (Mark 14:27-31, 66-72) The theme of abandonment overshadows many of the Stories Around the Cross. Jesus was abandoned by betrayal (Judas), by indifference (the disciples sleeping three times in Gethsemane), and by denial and desertion (Peter and the Twelve). When Jesus needed them the most, his friends left him alone. They all participated in the supper (Mark 14:23), they all confessed their allegiance (Mark 14:31), and yet they all deserted Jesus (Mark 14:50). Peter is as impetuous as ever – opening his mouth first and thinking afterwards. But he is hard to condemn and impossible to dislike. He... Read more →