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November 2007
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January 2008

Mark's BLOG Update

I entered the world of blogging on August 16th, 2007. It's been quite a journey and I've enjoyed sharing a few thoughts on most days, as well as interacting with people's opinions on a variety of topics. Here are some statistics for your interest (as of Dec.25th, 2007): Total blog posts - 147 Total page views since launch - 57,357 Average page views per day - just over 441 Total comments - 515 (an average of 3.5 per post) Feel free to give any constructive feedback about the blog, including content, frequency of posts, length of posts, and topics covered... Read more →

Our Greatest Need

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. But since our greatest need was forgiveness, God sent us a Savior. [By Max Lucado] Read more →

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Today, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Although, his birth probably took place in October rather than December, we take this opportunity to honour and worship Him. Obviously, the Christmas story has accumulated a lot of extra trimmings over the years, with the addition of things like Santa Claus, Christmas trees, cards and holidays. These had no place in the original story. However, we should be thankful for the opportunity to take some time off, to gather as families, to focus on Jesus Christ and what he means to us, as well as... Read more →

Peace on Earth

“Peace on Earth” - now there’s something I’m sure we’d all like to see more of, especially in an age of increasing conflict and tension. According to the Gospel of Luke that’s the message that the choir of angels gave when they announced the birth of Jesus Christ: “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth and goodwill toward men!” When you hear the word “peace” you think of things such as harmony, rest, tranquillity and quietness. The opposite of peace is hostility, tension, conflict or even war. God’s desire is that each one of us experiences peace in... Read more →

Christmas Humour

Little Johnny desperately wanted a bright red wagon for Christmas. His friends were writing letters to Santa Claus, but Johnny decided to go one better. "Dear Jesus", he wrote. "If I get a red wagon for Christmas, I won't fight with my brother Peter for a year." Then Johnny thought, "Oh, no, Peter is such a brat, I could never, ever keep that promise." So Johnny threw away the letter and started again. "Dear Jesus, if I get a red wagon for Christmas, I will eat all my vegetables for a year." Then Johnny thought, "Oh, no, that means spinach,... Read more →

An Amazing Oma

Nicole's mother, Renate Meyer (affectionately known as 'Oma', which is German for grandmother), passed away earlier this week, after an intense battle with cancer. Yesterday we held a thanksgiving service for her life. We sang a few of her favourite songs - What a Friend We Have in Jesus, Praise the Name of Jesus, and Amazing Grace. Nicole gave the eulogy (click here to read a copy of it). We watched a DVD photo montage of her life. We listened to tributes from Rene Conner, Lisa Wotton, Samia Sedhom, Lynn Moresi, and the grand kids - Ashley, Josiah, and Natasha.... Read more →

Life Planning (Conclusion)

We've just spent the last 14 days doing some Life Planning exercises. Over this time we have looked at six steps for leading your own life. Each of these six simple steps can also be applied to your church, your ministry, your organisation or business, your family, as well as your career. You need to know God’s (1) mission and your (2) roles. You need to establish (3) goals and organise your (4) time. You need to put your plan into (5) action and finally you need to take regular time to (6) evaluate your progress. I have found this... Read more →

Life Planning [Day 14]

Our final step in Life Planning is ... STEP 6 - Evaluate. Effective life leadership requires that we take time to evaluate our lives and our progress. Every Christian needs to periodically take a spiritual “stocktake”. We need to bring ourselves to account, to see how we are really doing. It is very easy to live by the “clock”, focusing on working faster, harder and even smarter. However, going faster is not helpful if we are heading in the wrong direction. We must regularly take out the “compass” and ensure that our lives are aligned with our Mission, our Role... Read more →

Life Planning [Day 13]

Let's move on to the next step in Life Planning ... STEP 5 - Do God's Will Paul’s instructions to the believers at Ephesus were action-orientated (Eph.5-6). He gave them things he wanted them to do. They were to take action, which meant to start doing things they weren’t already doing or to stop doing things that should not be done. He expected them to take full responsibility for the daily choices they made. A mission or a goal becomes effective only when it is translated into action. We need a balanced perspective between God's sovereignty and human responsibility. God... Read more →

Life Planning [Day 12]

Let's now look at our next step ... STEP 4 - Organise Weekly To make the most of your time and to manage your life well means that you need to consider what you are doing with your time. That’s why a weekly planning appointment is so helpful. Use a calendar and schedule specific time for your important appointments, events and tasks, as well as for the implementation of your goals. A goal set and then never looked at again will never be achieved. It takes character, commitment and determination to turn good intentions into reality. God is a great... Read more →

Life Planning [Day 11]

Step 1 of Life Planning was Understand Your Mission. Step 2 was Identify Your Roles. Let's now move on to Step 3. STEP 3 - Establish Goals. As Paul identified each role, he gave some specific instructions or goals for the believers at the church of Ephesus to work on. Wives were to lovingly submit to their husbands (Eph.5:22-24), husbands were to love their wives as Christ loved the church (5:25-33), children were to obey and honour their parents (6:1-3), parents were to raise their children in God’s ways (6:4), servants were to obey their masters even when they were... Read more →

Life Planning [Day 10]

STEP 1 in Life Planning is to Understand Your Mission. We have considered a number of things to help us get a better handle on our mission: a mission statement, core values, personal vision, prophetic directives, our unique SHAPE, a SWOT analysis, and some personal shifts. These all work together to show us different aspects or perspectives of our life mission. Let’s move on to Step 2 now. STEP 2 - Identify Your Roles After encouraging each believer to understand God’s will for their life (Eph.5:15-17), the Apostle Paul then identified a number of specific roles or responsibilities that a... Read more →

Life Planning [Day 9]

In moving towards God's Mission for your life, there will be changes you need to make. God leads us day by day, step by step, level by level, and season by season. Another helpful analogy is shifting gears. There are times when God wants us to transition to a new gear, so we can move faster on less energy. When I became the Senior Minister of CityLife Church back in 1995, I sensed God directing me to make seven strategic shifts in our congregation. These are articulated in my book Transforming Your Church. God also spoke to me about making... Read more →

Life Planning [Day 8]

Another simple tool to help you as you continue to think through your Mission is a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for: Strengths - what are you good at? When do you feel strong? Weaknesses - what do you find difficult? What drains you of energy? Opportunities - what are the greatest opportunities facing you right now? Threats - what are the greatest threats facing you right now? Jesus used this approach when he sent letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor (see Revelation 2-3). He commended them for some things (strengths), adjusted some things (weaknesses), gave them any necessary... Read more →

Life Planning [Day 7]

Another helpful thing to consider when reflecting on your Mission is your personal SHAPE. SHAPE is a concept developed by Rick Warren and it includes consideration of five things: Spiritual Gifts - what spiritual gifts has God given to you? Heart - what are your passions, interests, and motivations? Abilities - what are you good at? Personality - what type of personality do you have? Experience - what is your life experience, as well as your education? These five things work together to form your unique SHAPE. After all, our purpose in life isn't so much something we decide, as... Read more →

Life Planning [Day 6]

Another dimension of Mission is considering any Prophetic Directives God may have given you. This includes any specific prophetic words God has given to you directly or from others, as well as any specific Bible verses God has quickened for you. Listening to the Spirit's directives and then following them creates a sense of spiritual momentum in your life. Spiritual Momentum answers the question, “What is God saying or doing right now?” Momentum comes from a combination of God’s work in our lives, along with our responsiveness to keeping in step with the Spirit. Jesus continually sought to see and... Read more →

Life Planning [Day 5]

Another aspect of Mission is Vision. Vision answers the question, “Where?” Where are you going in the next period of time (3-5 years)? What is on the horizon and which way are you heading? Leaders are called by God to communicate a preferred picture of the future that motivates people with passion to give their lives to make it a reality (see Prov.29:18 and Hab.2:1-3). Vision must be clear, specific and should lead us towards further fulfilling your mission. Jesus had a clear vision of what he wanted to accomplish during his short ministry time on earth, as well as... Read more →

Life Planning [Day 4]

Another dimension of Mission is Values. Values answer the question, “Who?” Who are you? What is important to you? What are you building on and what do you hope to outlast you? Jesus had specific values that he was building His kingdom on and he made them very clear to everyone. “You have heard it said that … but I say to you … (Matthew 5:21-22, etc).” In others words, “This is the way I want things done around here.” This is how I want my house and my kingdom to function. Organizations, including churches, are encouraged to articulate their... Read more →

Life Planning [Day 3]

Effective life planning involves SIX STEPS aimed at helping you to lead and manage your life well. Today we begin with Step 1. STEP 1 - Understand Your Mission The apostle Paul tells us to “understand what the Lord’s will is” (Eph.5:17). What is God's will? What is God’s purpose for your life? How has he made you and what are your desires? Gaining a clear perspective on God's mission for your life is essential. Otherwise, you will become very busy managing all the details of your life without any overall sense of purpose or direction. There are a number... Read more →

Life Planning [Day 2]

To begin our life planning process, we’ll make use of a reflection exercise. Reflection is all about pulling aside from the busyness of our life in order to contemplate and think about a specific thing. It is related to the concept of meditation, a common biblical practice which simply means to chew something over and over in your mind. Set aside 20-30 minutes sometime today and reflect on the following questions. This is not a test. These questions are simply designed to stimulate your thinking. Allow your mind to wander a bit. You might want to jot some of your... Read more →