Serious4God: Mark Pugh's Blog en-us Wed, 02 Apr 2008 04:21:16 GMT System Message [RSS.COPYRIGHT] System Message [RSS.DOCS] 15 System Message [RSS.IMAGE.TITLE] System Message [RSS.IMAGE.URL] System Message [RSS.IMAGE.LINK] I have a chauffeur! yipeee As the Gathering 08 looms on the near horizon of this weekend, the beginning of my week proved to be quite eventful.I spent the first part of the day at the A&E dept of the hospital with my oldest lad who has sprained some of the muscles in his foot, my computer has been taken to the intensive system administrators care for a complete refit and my lovely wife Nita has passed her driving test!! At last, I have a chauffeur.....Everything gets a bit manic in the office in the lead up to these big events and today has been no exception. Trying to keep our eyes on both the bigger picture and the minute detail can feel quite stretching and I'm so grateful to God for the fantastic team of people both in the office and around the country who are doing so much to make it happen. Teams are not just important - they are essential.Through the busyness of it all at this time, I am trying to ensure that I take good time out to be with God. It has been good to know a very special sense of His presence. There are lots of prayers going up for this weekend - if you get the opportunity to add to them then I know they wont be wasted. Bless you loads! Mon, 04 Feb 2008 00:00:00 GMT Blog A day in the life of a sickness bug!! Spent much of the weekend coping with the effects of a nasty sickness bug which has evangelistically been making its way up the highways and byways of cheshire. I'm recovered now and raring to go - which is a good job because the next few weeks in the lead up to the gathering are going to go very fast!It would be hard to talk of much else at the moment - the programme is looking really special and there is a really strong sense of anticipation in my spirit about this one. Can you believe this: Songs of Praise are coming to film some of the event! It may just be a cameo of the event with some interviews but they are putting together a programme on the founder of the Elim Pentecostal Church (George Jeffries) which is being shown around Pentecost time and they want to look at ways that young people are engaging with the pentecostal church all these years later. Should be fun!Spent quite a bit of time listening to the 'not quite final mix' of the new Gathering Band album this last week - it is amazing! The songs are catchy and powerful and the arrangements and production are top notch! It is going to be a very special release. We are offering some really special promo deals to those who pre-buy at the Gathering.I'm looking forward to the very first Generate conference this wednesday. It's a new initiative that we are partnering with to help senior church leadership recruit, mentor and train young people to take on leadership roles in church. QUite a lot of people booked in so should be a good time.Anyway - must go to bed... it's getting late and I have a 6.30am appointment with the gym before assessing some of the students doing a powerpoint presentation. Bring it on! Mon, 28 Jan 2008 00:00:00 GMT Blog Any ideas on 'how to be bored'? 2008 has arrived big style. This year is going to be anything but slow in comparison to 07. I love new years, i love the opportunity to take stock, re-focus and plan for the days ahead. I'm buzzing with ideas for this great year!In just a few weeks it will be our big event 'The Gathering 08' and already record numbers are booked in - I am so excited when i think through the plans for the weekend. If you haven't booked in yet i would really encourage you to do so. It's going to be a very special time. We are hoping there wont be any snow this year!Over the last few weeks my travels have taken me to: Cornwall, N.Ireland and Burton on Trent. It has been great to also welcome the Serious4Youth Ministry students back to Regents after their Christmas break and to also see the Serious Gap Year students join us for a week of training before they go to their next placement.I've been trying to step up my personal devotions with God this new year and earlier mornings are proving fruitful pickings for me. Still keeping up with the gym as well which makes it probably around 7 months since i started going. It has been interesting to watch loads of new people join since the new year.... guess many of them will stop attending soon.Must go to bed now.... very early start in the morning before hitting the beautiful M6 south! Have a great week..... Sun, 20 Jan 2008 00:00:00 GMT Blog What's my excuse??? August the 10th! that was a long time ago.... that is the entry date of my last blog - how shocking is that.... so what excuse am i going to come up with. I have one of three options i guess:1. Life has been so bland that i have nothing to write about2. Life has been so eventful that i dont have enough time to write about it3. I got out of the habbit (is that with 2 "b's" or 1?)Excuse 1 is definately out of the question. What a few months I have had. Highlights include my car passing it's MOT, my first sale on Ebay and passing the 400 friends mark on Facebook. Other things that may be considered slightly exciting also include Enlarge 07 with hundreds of youth and childrens workds, the Gathering MAX with over 6700 people and 1137 responses to the gospel appeal and seeing all my kids in various christmas productions! Not to mention losing two and a half stone as a result of cutting out the junk from my diet and visiting the gym regularly!Excuse 2 could have been cited some days but i think it would be an exageration to suggest that i havent had a spare few minutes to update my blog.So that leaves excuse 3..... Apologies!!I hope to improve things in the coming weeks and months. It's good to read the other blogs that have joined with me on the site from the Serious4Youth Ministry students and the Gap Year students.Have a great day! Mon, 17 Dec 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog Summer Madness It has been a while since my last blog so I'm trying to work out whether i should try and fit in all that has happened in the last few weeks or just pick out a few key points. I think the latter may be more appropriate....There are 7 Elim summer camps that take place around the country and this summer I was due to visit 5 of them. I mentioned in my last blog about Fraisthorpe being cancelled but since then one of the other camps Infuse (which I help lead) needed to be cancelled because of the weather. This was sad news and because we knew there would be so many gutted people around, we didn't want to make this decision - unfortunately we were forced to because of circumstances. Needless to say, my summer diary has changed a bit. Despite all the short and medium term weather predictions the weather has been amazingly good since then though - i felt like waving my fist at the blazing sun and singing 'too little too late!'. Both Fraisthorpe and Infuse will more than make up for lost ground in 2008!!!I have managed to be at the North West Youth Camp in the Lake District and the Isle of Wight Youth Camp in um..... the Isle of Wight. Had a great time at both and really enjoyed connecting with these great young people and leaders. It has been particularly special to see the level of sacrifice and committment that hundreds of voluntary leaders give to the various youth camps - taking time off work is in itself a sacrifice but to return to the day job after a camp feeling more tired than then you when your week off started is tough. We salute these heroes....Back at the office we are busy putting the finishing touches to a 'mini-mag' for the Gathering MAX which will be coming out to all of our churches (and anyone else who wants them) at the end of August. It is full of helpful stuff and each magazine also contains 3 invitations to give out to 'friends, family and the forgotten'. With only a couple of months to go to this unique event, this is the big last push.FacebookOne more thing..... after a fairly poor attempt to get to grips with myspace (I'm still perservering though) I have recently applied the same technical dexterity to facebook with slightly more success. Do a search for Mark Pugh and feel free to add me. You will find 2 events on there as well - 'The Gathering MAX' & 'Enlarge' - it would be great if you could send invitations out to all your friends for these. Check out a few groups as wellSerious4God & Gathering MAXLive Worship from the Gathering 07: 'Rise Up' Album Appreciation SocietyInfuse 07 is cancelled and I'm gutted support groupElim Pentecostal ChurchTill the next time....... Fri, 10 Aug 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog Floods and the world crisis I've just read my past few blogs again and realised that they have all been about the shocking weather we are experiencing. I really feel for all those who are being affected in dramatic ways. It's not just homes and economies that are being hit, but last week it was announced that Fraisthorpe camp, which has been running for 40 years, has been cancelled this year due to the condition of the fields after weeks of heavy rain. There are lots of gutted young people out there, but the team are pulling out all the stops to put on an alternative in Leeds for young people. See for more details.I returned from the gym this evening where i had watched quite a bit of news coverage about the floods that are hitting various parts of the UK (while i was exercising of course). It's like watching one of these disaster movies, only it really is happening on peoples doorsteps (literally!)There is another bit of news today that was given less exposure but eclipses anything we are experiencing in the UK at the moment. President Bush's top advisor on AIDS, today told a conference in Sydney, that the world is losing its fight against this terrible disease. Despite increased availability of drugs, for every one person being treated, a further six are being infected. In 2006, more than 39.5 million people were found to be living with AIDS across the world. That was an increase of 4.3 million new cases. Many advancements are being made but the disease is running out of control in much of Africa and Asia. Last year 2.9 million people died from it.This is a true disaster. See for further details of this story.Let's pray, give and keep aware of all that is going on in this crazy world which needs the hope that Jesus brings so much! Mon, 23 Jul 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog I'm singing in the rain.... How easy it is to get locked into seeing things from our personal experiences. For me the constantly lashing rain has been an inconvenience. I have had to carry my umbrella, take a coat with me and have not had the opportunity to open the sun roof in the car. But for many others the rain has been much worse than an inconvenience. Thousands of homes have been ransacked by flood waters, and after a few weeks on they are still trying to pick up the pieces of their lives. I recently watched the film 'In pursuit of happyness' with Will Smith. It's a great, inspiring film of a mans detremination to make something of his life against all the odds. Everything seemed to go wrong for this guy yet he kept going.We find it all too easy to complain and make the 'worst of it' rather than the 'best of it'. We complain about getting our hair wet (well i used to!), we complain that the traffic lights dont change quick enough, we complain that the challenges of everyday life don't fit in with our plans - we complain, moan, groan and vent our frustrations on others.I pray that God would help me to 'sing in the rain'. That I would realise that:1. There is always someone else facing greater challenges than I am - i should pray and take opportunity to step out of my challenge and see if I can help them in theirs2. That challenges give me an opportunity to persevere3. If I persevere, I can do more than if i give up!Come on..... let's all join in on the chorus!!! Mon, 16 Jul 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog The sun shines bright (pity the clouds are in the way....) The ducks have never had such a good summer. Is anyone else fed up with all this wet stuff that keeps falling from the skies? Only a few months ago, I remember hearing the long term weather forecast which stated: 'a mega-hot summer - get ready for a very dusty few month!' I know we still have a few months left where things could change but you must admit it's not looking good.I took Monday off this week and went to Wimbledon for the day with Nita. We were there for 9 hours and managed to see 2 hours of tennis on the centre court. Despite the wet experience it was a good day.The office is buzzing at the moment. We are developing the next phase of promo for the G:MAX which consists of resources to help us all get our friends there. We have now confirmed the full programme for the day and it is going to be amazing (look out for details soon). Do all you can to join us and do all you can to get your friends and family there.Once the schools break up I'm going to be spending quite a bit of time at the various summer camps around the country. If you are going to North-West, Fraisthorpe, Isle of Wight, Infuse or the River Camp let me know. I look forward to seeing you there.Have a great weekend! Fri, 06 Jul 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog Life beyond the web! I know i know!!! I've been quiet again on the blogging front but i do have a good excuse. The last couple of weeks have seen me enjoying my summer holidays with the family in the garden of Wales (Carmarthen). I know it's a bit early but the main summer period seems to get filled with visiting the range of youth camps around the country and it gets a bit tricky trying to take time off then.Had a great time though - even had quite a lot of sunshine so we enjoyed the lovely sandy beaches quite a bit.Couldnt get an internet signal where we were staying though. It feels so wierd to not be connected to the cyberworld. 2 weeks with no Wi-Fi connection... the withdrawal symptoms took a few days to get used to. We did pick up a Nintendo Wii on our hols though - they are amazing. We have had loads of fun on the thing and I'm nearly a pro tennis player now!I came back to literally hundreds of emails which i have just about worked through and am nearly through a pile of marking (all exciting stuff here!).Congratulations to my footie team - Derby County - genuine commisserations to all the baggies fans. It's always sickening to get so far and then miss the final hurdle.Congrats to Andy Cogdon for climbing the 3 peaks in less than 24 hours (he designs all our publicity). Congrats to Graeme as he starts his new role as youth pastor in Eastbourne! Congrats to my dad for a few weeks ago for his 59th birthday. Congrats to my Grandparents for their 60th wedding anniversary and congrats to me for going to the gym 3 times a week for the last 7 weeks (except for my holiday period of course - although i made up for it in the boxing ring on the Nintendo Wii)Keep living for Jesus! Tue, 12 Jun 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog Return of the Mark.... Thanks Andy about the gentle nudge about my quiet blogging period! It certainly hasnt been due to not having anything to write about. So much has happened over the last few weeks.Just over a week ago we said an emotional farewell to the students on the Serious4Youth Ministry course. Term ends amazingly early here at Regents (Early May) and the final week was full of amazing weather to enjoy. We enjoyed a BBQ, visit to the best ice cream farm in the world, end of term Ball (The students actually dressed up!!!) and then the final commissioning day, which saw a gathered throng of around 700 people. It's all very quiet at the college now and I described it to someone as being like a zoo without the animals! We are missing them loads though and Mike is looking lost in the office without having to look for his 'hidden' chair!Then there is the news that the college and Elims international offices are moving. In 2 years time we will all be heading to a new site we have aquired in Malvern. Been there a few times recently and each time come away thinking the new place is even bigger than i last remembered. So S4G will be on the move once again.... What an adventure!Just got back last night from a weekend in Weston Super Mare. This is the church of the Elleringtons - great place, great people - pity about the weather!! The heavy rain made sure that the beach was a strictly 'look but dont touch' place.Been feeling a little lost this last week on my travels. My Sat Nav broke down and I cant believe how much I have come to rely on it. Just bought a replacement part from good old Ebay though so hope to be able to find my way home again!By the way - I've just taken out a membership to the gym! 3 mornings a week and getting into it. Theres nothing like a good work out at 6.30am to wake you up (at least that is what i keep telling myself!)Be Blessed! Mon, 14 May 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog Recovering Feet We had a great time at Elim Conference - I've been back almost a week now and am now enjoying my feet feeling normal again. I guess i must have walked miles each day at the Butlins site and didn't really have a comfy pair of shoes with me- by the middle of the week my feet were throbbing that much that i thought my heart and slipped down to my soles. Nice to have them back feeling all normal again.It was a great week and full of highlights. Meetings were great, the whole programme went according to plan and we really felt that people were up for the Gathering MAX event later in the year. It was great to hear so many churches talk about the 'faith-steps' they were taking.There were some real fun moments as well and 'Pastors in Drag' must be up there with the best of them - it's not what you think - pastors were placed in a plastic boiler suit and dragged on the end of a rope from a Land Rover - Jeff Lucas and Mark Ryan went head to head in an attempt to out do each other..... classic moments! We have some video footage that we may try and get on the site soon.We all returned to a bit of a strange atmosphere at college - the students are in the thick of their exams but are finishing next week. Some are returning for a further 2 years of study to work towards a full degree, others are returning to their churches to work with young people and others are taking new posts in churches around the country. I think everyone feels a bit sad that this chapter of their life is coming to an end. If you get chance, say a prayer for them all would you..... Thu, 26 Apr 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog Off to Butlins.... The car is almost packed, and I'm just putting the finishing touches to a few presentations ready for Elim's National Conference at Minehead Butlins. First thing in the morning, our car packed with kids, suitcases and everything but the kitchen sink (have you seen that advert where people squeeze things into the car and when they close the boot the car explodes?) will begin the long journey south to this Somerset Coastal resort. We have a great programme lined up for kids and young people as we oversee everyone from 3 months to 20 ish (plus children & youth leaders). It's going to be a great week.At the week we will be officially launching the 'Rise Up' Album which arrived with us just a few days ago - looking hot and sounding amazing. If you have ordered yours and are at conference you can collect it there - if not, they will be in the post as soon as we return the following week! Do make sure you order your copy asap - it is really special!I always think these conferences are so special because you keep bumping into people who you will be sharing eternity with. I really hope the coffee is free in heaven because i think we will be spending much of our time meeting people and catching up there - wont it be great!Thanks to all those who have told me that they read my blog - I'm now dipping my toe into myspace trying to catch up with you all. Feel free to add me to your friends list: i dont get an internet connection this week or the time to use one if there is one available - have a great week. If you are at conference - I look forward to seeing you there!!!! Sat, 14 Apr 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog One Life I spent Easter weekend in Belfast, N.Ireland where probably the largest regional S4G event for many years took place. Alistair Ritchie and his team had taken a massive step of faith and booked the great Waterfront Hall for Saturday, and put together a fantastic evangelistic event to which over 1200 young people attended and over 120 gave their lives to Jesus! It was really special to be with them and see the teams faith being outworked and the dream being realised. Well done guys!Next week we are off to Elim Conference at Butlins, Minehead, and will be putting on a great programme for both children and young people. It's also the launch week of the new album 'Rise Up' which is going to be so exciting. Orders are rolling into the office - dont forget to get your copy! We have launched a music publishing label to go with the album as well and you can check us out on myspace: numerous conversations with church leaders over the last few weeks, in regards to looking for available youth workers. I'm thrilled that churches are seeing the strategic importance of taking on youth workers, but gutted that we dont have enough people to fulfil each vacancy. I'm more and more convinced of the words of Jesus 'the fields are ready for harvest but the labourers are few'. Let's pray that God will release increasing numbers of workers into this rich harvest. Maybe you are one of the answers to this prayer. Check out our youth ministry training course and get in touch with us if so. Going to be living on healthy fast food the next few days as my lovely family have gone away to friends...... Mon, 09 Apr 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog The end of the week is nigh Had a really eventful week with lots of things culminating. The 2 days with the Serious4God team were really productive and I know that much good will come out of this time. It can be a real challenge for the team to leave busy churches and families behind for a few days before making the long journey to meet - really appreciate them!Was really pleased the team were able to jointly lead a session with the Serious4Youth Ministry students as well. There was a lot of good wisdom shared. It's all a bit strange at the college at the moment because the end of the course for this years students is almost upon us and they are now in the run down to finishing assignments and swotting up for exams. Had a great session with them on Thursday though and it was a joy to hear of the way that each has discovered God in a new way through the highs and lows of the year. Some will be going into churches to work with young people but the majority are intending to stay on to switch to year 2 of the Theological course so at least we will see alot of them again in the coming months.Quite a number of interviews have taken place over the last week or so as well and it has been encouraging to meet these keen, passionate and teachable people who are anting to take time to train in this way.Had an incident in the car wash towards the end of this week! All paid for, programme about to start and couldnt get the ariel off. Had to go for it with the ariel banging around on the sunroof. We all survived!Also enjoyed our 15th wedding anniversary this week! These years have flown by in one way but it seems like so much has happened during this time that i wonder how we have fitted it all in. As my anniversary present, I bought us tickets to see danicing on ice with torvil and dean next week. Not very youthy I know but should be a good night - containing most of the finalists from the recent tv series.Tomorrow we have a just glancing day at the college where interested people can come and find out about the courses we offer. Should be a good day! Fri, 30 Mar 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog Glasgow Sunshine Just had a terrific weekend in Glasgow. One of our former students has had an eventful year with completing the course, getting married and moving to Glasgow to become the youth pastor of the great Elim church there. It was a real blessing to be with them both this weekend and to speak at a number of events they had arranged as well as to the church on Sunday.I took the whol family actually which was really nice - particularly as it was Nitas birthday on Sunday (someone thought it was a good idea to put the clocks forward on Saturday night though...)I am now trying to catch up on some emails while listening to the 'final master' version of the live worship album we recorded at the Gathering. It is amazing and I'm so chuffed that we have managed to work in the tight deadlines. Tomorrow, it should arrive with the duplication firm who will then be busy in printing and pressing a few thousand discs ready for distribution mid April - feels a real blessing to see it happening. I'm really excited about people connecting with the worship and presence of God in their homes and cars!Tomorrow, the S4G team come to Nantwich for 2 days of meetings. Loads on the agenda but really looking forward to being with them all. They are always encouraging times.BTW - was really amused to see Gathering MAX on the NEC website sandwiched between Take That and Donny Osmond - how cool is that! Mon, 26 Mar 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog Top of the league Football wasn't much of a love of mine when i grew up in the valleys of south wales. Rugby was the sport I, and it seemed, everyone else followed (my sympathies go out to all the English readers today!!!) But when I moved to Derby, no-one was interested in rugby and so I began to attend the then 'Baseball Ground': home to Derby County Football Club. They were in division 1 when i started following them and in my first season as a supporter they finished 2nd and were propelled into the giddy heights of the premiership. I spent 6 happy years going to matches, seeing the cream of English football and was gutted that in the same year which I moved away from Derby (to become a pastor in Birmingham), that Derby were relegated and Birmingham were promoted! Wierd....The year I moved away from Birmingham, they were relegated. So were West Brom (I lived just a few miles away from the Hawthorns!) When I moved to the Crewe area, I passed this set of coincidences onto the chaplain, hoping that they may give me a season ticket in the hope that my presence would bring them promotion. They didn't get me the ticket and sadly they were relegated!!And now, Derby and Birmingham battle it out for the automatic promotion spots and today Derby hit the no. 1 spot - come on you rams!I often wonder how it can seem that the same set of players can have a really good game one week and a really poor game the next. Consistency seems to be the elusive characteristic of many teams. How this can be true of our Christian lives as well. How we manage to worship one minute and sin the next is a mystery. God give me strength, persistence and discipline to be consistent in my walk. Sat, 17 Mar 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog Has it really been a week? 7 days since my last blog - not very impressive i know!Lots of meetings, 2 fillings, lectures, one2ones with students, a christmas meal (yes honestly!) and a vision/planning day. Kids are all now over the Pox and so we can finally all go out and do family things again. I wasnt away this weekend so we were able to make the most of this new found 'they can leave the house' freedom. Ventured to the soft play with them on Saturday before letting them loose pulling weeds out of the garden. Then after church on Sunday we went to watch lambs being born at a local farm. Yuk! Kids loved it but I will never look at a kebab in the same way again. I also finally took down the Christmas lights off the garage door frame.In the office, we have just bought a big map of the UK and are busy sticking pins in it to show who is bringing young people to the Gathering MAX. Hope your church has a bright red pin! Also, just noticed that Gathering MAX tickets are now available on the NEC Box Office site - bring it on!Album is sounding hot.....Until next time! Mon, 12 Mar 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog It's oh so quiet sh sh.... Apart from a howling wind outside it is completely silent in our house right now. No music, no tv, no kids running around and no one reminding me to wash the dishes (Nita is out for the evening and the kids are tucked up in bed). I love being busy and spend most of my time loving being busy, but there is just something really special about moments of silence. I should try it more often...After a weekend of babysitting chicken poxed children (they are over the worst of it now) and having the opportunity to catch up on some reading, it was time for the week to begin with a faculty breakfast at the college. (except there was no breakfast - i've been conned!). Then it was into the day with devotions for the students and then mainly planning for a range of our upcoming ventures. Picked Nigel James up from the train station in advance of his lectures with the students and celebrated with Mike briefly as he completed entering into the database thousands of contact cards which have been filled in at our events. He was a very happy and relieved man! Well done Mike!The NLT (Elims National Leadership Team) are at Regents for the next 3 days and so everyone is on their best behaviour - best jeans only for us in the S4G office! I will get an opportunity at some point to give them a report on the Gathering and the preps for the MAX. I so value and appreciate the support they are giving us in these faith ventures.Just finished writing an article for direction magazine which I have been chewing over for a few weeks. Sometimes these things just flow and other times they make you sweat. This one was definately the latter. Still a week ahead of deadline schedule though so time is still on my side thankfully.Anyway - in the process of typing this, the peace has been shattered - Nita is back! She's had a great night with the girls at the college - they have been washing each others feet for Lent. She said it was a very powerful night! Mon, 05 Mar 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog Dewi Sant Day.... I hail from the valleys of south wales and so grew up with the customary leek and daffodil on March 1st for the national St Davids day. I havent lived in Wales for around 13 years and it wasnt until i went on google to search something out today that i was reminded of this national event, thanks to a yellow flower wrapped skillfully around the word google. How easy it can be to forget things that were once so familiar. There are things in all our pasts that we need to move on from and forget but there are some things that we need to remember. Today a few hundred people began marching from Hull to London to remember 200 year since Wilberforces successful but long campaign to abolish slavery came to a triumphant conclusion. I read a biography about him a few years ago and was stunned by his committment and diligence to this just cause. It will be my daughters 8th birthday in a few weeks time and i can look back on so many special memories from the time of her arrival into the world. I will celebrate my 15th wedding anniversary in a few weeks time and have so many blessings to remember and chew on. So often we seem to be obsessed with 'moving on from yesterday'. The bible tells us to 'forget the former things' and we are encouraged to 'press ahead'. I dont think we will turn into a pillar of salt by looking back and thinking of all the things that we have to be grateful to God for though.God thank you for all the good things you have blessed me with to this point in my life. You have blessed me way beyond anything I could hope for. You are an amazing God. Help me to remember your blessings and to live my life with a constant heart of gratitude and help me to move on from past issues that will hold me back. Thu, 01 Mar 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog TV Times Spent the day at the HQ of UCB. They are probably most known for producing the 'Word for Today' bible notes or the 'Word 4U Today' youth alternative. They also run five 24 hour radio stations on satellite and the internet and a satellite TV station. Their offices and set up are impressive - and i joined a number of other leaders from a wide range of Christian organisations, who had been invited to an open day to see what they are doing and to feed back to them.Throughout the day it was impressive to see what had been achieved and that the 21 years since their inception have been a journey of taking bold decisions and experiencing God providing miracles. We enjoyed a presentation by the UK director of the Book of Hope, which is a presentation of the gospels in a format that particularly targets specific young age groups. In 2007 they will distribute 64 million copies of this great book and will do so without asking anyone for any payment. 'God has aksed us to do this for Him and so He is responsible to pick up the bill and sort out the payment' said David, the UK director. What an inspiring statement.It was great to worship together (Noel Robinson was inspiring) - great to meet friends who are on the same journey, great to make some new friends and contacts and inspiring to see some of the amazing things that the church in the UK is involved in.After finishing at UCB, I took the office team out for a 'team building' social. We went to a local driving range and all managed to hit the ball with the club by the end of the night. Good job it was quiet there.... Wed, 28 Feb 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog Loving lighter nights and lighter mornings... Summer is coming - yipee! went for a walk yesterday lunch time with some of the team and enjoyed mild temperatures and the smell of freshly cut grass. I'm enjoying seeing some daylight either side of the working day as well - all these things point to only one conclusion - winter is nearly over....I've had a great few days (except my daughter has now taken the chicken pox mantle off my son). I spent the weekend in Colchester with the Elim church there. Great to meet some fantastic people and see some of the special things that are happening in the church. A great group of hungry and responsive young people!Also have really enjoyed listening to the initial ruff mixes from the Gathering Live Worship album - as the whole weekend was recorded it has provided hours and hours of fantastic listening and the 4 hour journey to colchester was a pleasurable experience thanks to these recordings. It is moving to the next phase in the studio now and we are really working to get it out in time for Elim conference in April - it is going to be the 'must have' music of the year! Many many people have already pre-registered their intention to buy it when it comes out.My congratulations to Richard & Georga Vernon as well who started the week with the birth of their second child - Evie Anna Vernon, born 8.17am on Monday. For those into the spiritual significance of numbers- how about the weight - 7lb 7oz - what a blessed baby!Also - Happy Birthday to my mum! - I think i posted the card too late to get there on time though (apologies once again) Tue, 27 Feb 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog The Return of the Students Last week things were much quieter than normal around the college. Out of the sheer kindness of our hearts we had decided to give those lovely (but noisy) Serious4Youth Ministry Students the week off - well I suppose it was something to do with being half term as well....It has been good to see them back today though and it was our first chance to catch up after the gathering - they put such a massive amount of energy and work into the event behind the scenes that i know they really needed a week off afterwards. I'm always blessed when i see them all - I can really see each of them really making a difference for God. A year ago some of them wouldnt have dreamed that they would be training full time in this way - what a difference a year can make eh? Latitia and Nikki both shared brilliant illustrations in communication class today - look out young people - here they come!Nice to speak briefly with Tim Sanders this evening as well - he spent most of last week in bed recovering from alleged food poisoning - he's up and about again now and we are both looking forward to the initial rough mix recording of the worship from the gathering, which should be arriving in the post any day now.... Come on Mr Postman!!!! Mon, 19 Feb 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog Happy Birthday to Me!! Not that I should be admitting this, but yesterday was my 34th birthday (what do you mean - is that all?) Amazingly a few cards come my way and the morning began with my kids bursting into the bedroom singing 'happy birthday dear daddy'. What a great alarm clock! I think I used to assume that when people got older, they felt older as well - I'm guessing they dont though - I still feel like I'm starting out - hopefully a bit wiser and a bit more experienced but essentially I feel like a 'learner at life'. I think it has something to do with 'the more you know, the more you realise there is so much more to know'.Still trying to catch up with things after last weekend - each day we continue to get massive encouragement from people who were there and people who have met people who were there. The other day i heard a story about a youth group who returned to their church Sunday night and one of their youth group who didnt attend the gathering, gave their life to Jesus because of what they had seen happen in the lives of those who had gone! Fantastic.....It's hard to believe it was a week ago - today has been quite a contrast. One of my kids is confined to the house with Chicken Pox (he cheered when it was diagnosed as he knew he wouldnt be able to go to school for 10 days), and I have been trying to catch up with those 'round the house' chores - exciting things like clearing the guttering etc.....Food is ready - must go.....btw - Mp3's of the main sessions at the Gathering are now in the resources section of the site - enjoy!! Sat, 17 Feb 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog Blessings are infectious I have been so blessed and encouraged the last few days as emails pour into my inbox and postings are regularly being left on the community section of the website - all stating 1 thing - how blessed and fired up people were at the gathering. If you havent seen the community section yet then i encourage you to check it out!Check out the community section hereIt has just been amazing to hear of so many people say how active they are goiing to be in reaching their friends with this amazing great news of Jesus. If ever there was someone who could sue society for laible damage it would be Jesus. He is the most misrepresented person in modern time. This is not His style though - instead He is stirring young people to tell the truth about Him. It's fantastic to see just how many truth bearers He has recruited at the Gathering. It feels like a revolution! Tue, 13 Feb 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog The Gathering? all ended or just begun??? I have just got back home after an incredible weekend at the gathering. My feet are aching and I need some sleep, but I am buzzing with the memories of what happened. It all started a bit tricky though as we faced some very unexpected challenges on the Friday that the event was due to begin.As final set up preperations were under way we began to get some phone calls asking whether the event was still on? A little into these conversations it became apparent that these questions were being prompted by severe snow fall in various places around the country. As we looked out of the windows of the venue for the event in West Brom, we began to see that these conditions had made their way to the Midlanda as well. A bit of snow never harmed anyone though..... this should not cause us a problem...... cue ungritted roads, severe snowfall, icy conditions, gridlocked roads, key team members taking 5 hours to travel 2 miles in Birmingham and you begin to get the picture that maybe we have a problem here. A considerable number of people were already on the road and we decided for safety reasons that our function that night was to welcome those who could make it on this opening night and get them to their sleeping venues as quickly as possible. The depleted team of workers (many had been stuck in the gridlock and unable to join us) did an incredible job in the face of such challenges. The forecast was predicting overnight rain and an increase in the temperature to around 6 degrees. Never had such a forecast seemed so appealing. If this forecast was true, then it would be all systems go for a big start on Saturday morning.Throughout the night, i kept checking out of the window of where i was staying to count the amount of snowflakes on the ground. It was looking increasingly promising.Saturday morning - roads were improved, minibuses that had not set out on Friday made early starts and the car parks began to rapidly fill with young people - it was on!!! now it was going to happen! To say i was pleased would be a complete understatement.After this 'interesting start' the whole weekend was full of so many mind blowing hiighlights. (look out for the reports and pics on the site). I'm now sat at home after getting back on Sunday evening. I feel blessed, elated, excited, challenged, humbled, stirred, moved and full of faith that these special young people, who so passionately engaged with God, are going to 'shine their lights' all across the nation in the coming days, weeks and months.... Bring it On! Sun, 11 Feb 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog Where will I be the day after tomorrow.... I think someone wound my watch up too much because the hands seem to be going around quicker than normal. I was considering looking on ebay to see if i could buy some time. This is the sort of week that you learn the flush the toilet before you've even started doing your business, just to save time.....The Gathering is almost here and apart from a few lectures and a few meetings, this event is taking my entire focus for the week. Bookings continue to come in and the office are busy preparing all the details for registration and church billets. This is going to be such a special weekend.Just off to say hello to some prospective Just Looking students. Regents put on these regular times where people who may be interested in studying here, can come and sample life for 3 days. There are 28 interested people on this one. I pray that they will know God clearly leading them on the next step of their lives.Just one more thing: the students were looking forward to breakfast much more than normal today - maybe something to do with a special day of prayer and fasting on Monday. Good on them.....BTW - We had snow this morning. Could today be our winter.. Tue, 06 Feb 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog Serious4 Sniffles I cant believe it has almost been a week since i last blogged. This certainly doesnt match my aspirations. It has been a busy week though so i can easily justify my ommissions this week.In a weeks time, the long anticipated Gathering 07 will be reaching its final stages of climax. This week has obviously involved many of our hours in preperation for this weekend. We so want to put everything into this and take it to another level. A number of us have been trying to work on despite having colds and bugs, but one day this week, I just had to pull out of my diaried activities and spend some time trying to recouperate in bed. During this 'sick bed' day I was really gutted to have missed the funeral of Chris Hunt, one of the youth leaders in Derby who was swept into the Cornish sea on New Years eve and whose body was recovered a few weeks ago. The day in bed and the anti-flu medication was beginning to have its effects though and thankfully i was able to get back into things the following day. All seems to be going well and a site visit to the Gathering site was re-assuring.Nita felt that we should call a day of prayer and fasting next week for the gathering - so we have circilated word around the many people involved in the event and invited them to join us. The time we would normally eat we will be dedicating to prayer on Monday. Without getting super-spooky about it, I am so aware that the enemy doesn't want the Gathering to have the effect which i believe God wants it to have - it's a battle and I know who will win. We need to really cover everything in prayer though.My aim for the coming week...... to blog a bit more. Make sure one of your aims is to join us at the gathering. Sat, 03 Feb 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog After this weekend the Gathering should be easy.... Weekends normally involve travelling lots of miles to speak at a different church each week. This weekend something unusual happened - Nita went away on a brilliant ladies conference and I was left holding the baby... well a 2 year old, a 6 year old and a soon to be 8 year old. We have had a fun time but there have been lots of challenges.1. Picture this - i open our high fridge door and true to the laws of Newton 'What is put on the top shelf of the fridge must come down' - a 3/4 full tin of bight red tomato soup (Heinz no less) decided to do the equivalent of a belly flop in my direction. Our recently fitted creme coloured kitchen looked like a scene from a horror film. The floor, the walls, the cupboards, the doors - this soup was omnipresent - it was everywhere.... cue the kids 'Dad Dad' - door opens with enthusiasm and and 3 sets of small feet go paddling in this tomato soup stream. Where does one begin to address this.... Do I grab the kids, remove their shoes, clean their feet and ensure they are t-soup free before we end up with a trail of the stuff through the rest of the house. Do i deal with the dripping red stuff as it begins to seep its way into the inside of the freezer. Do I try to halt the flow of the tide across the floor before the clean half of the kitchen becomes contaminated as well..... Answers on a postcard please......2 hours later, it was all fixed.....2. The cinema seemed a good idea - my youngest has never been before and so i bought a massive supply of sweets to help pursuade the active bundle of fun to not run around and try and get behind the screen. Just incase they ran out, I bought a 'community sized' box of popcorn. We made our way to screen 10 and what could only be described as a scene that looked similar to the local recycling centre, greeted us. I realised why they switch the lights off in cinemas - it isnt so you can see the film better, its so you cant see the state of the carpet. I nicely asked to see the lovely manager and simply pointed out that there are farms in my vicinty that would allow the kids to visit the pig styes cheaper than what the cinema were charging to visit. They took my point and asked everyone to leave while 'Rentokil' were called in. I'm not sure if it was any better after they had been in but the lights were off. My kids settled into their seats, finished off the popcorn before the adverts had finished, worked their way through the numerous bags of sweets before the 30 minute mark and i spent the remaining hour trying to convince my little cherub that he did actually want to sit still..... i think i won! We all enjoyed the film and then made our way to the golden arches for a joyful meal.3. The house - may have been free from T Soup but i had been left with a list of instructions as to what needed to be done and when. I knew that all of these things had to be completed by the time Nita returned and the clock was ticking - I thought i would try to use my delegation skills and turn house cleaining into a game. The kids set off on their errans with complete enthusiasm. They used an entire bottle of pledge to combat those pesky dust specks but had fun. It felt like i was winning, until i turned around and realised that every room we had completed was being turned over by my fun loving 2 year old. Joy joy joy.....I take my hat off to all those house husbands and house wives. I think you should be cheered everytime you walk into church - I'm going back to work tomorrow for a rest.... (actually had loads of planning and prep stuff i have been able to get done from home over the weekend between incidents)btw - Nita is back and i think we just about made all the deadlines.... phew! Sun, 28 Jan 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog The national team Just enjoyed a couple of days with the national Serious4God team. We had a big agenda to work through and with the Gathering 07 only a few weeks away there was plenty of discussion about the planning for that great weekend. (bookings are rolling in daily and its all very exciting!)I have always workerd in teams and thoroughly believe in them. I always remember the quote 'a man or woman is as good as the people he or she surrounds himself or herself with' (see how hard i tried to ensure that statement was full of gender equality!!) This is a great team of gifted and special people and each of our times together are always stimulating, inspirational and constructive. (I'm not going to comment though on the alleged escaping wind problem that 1 or 2 of them seemed to be struggling with)Also managed to grab an hour to take all the family to the dentist this evening. Everyone sailed through except for me - need to go back for some xrays! (dont you just love dentists)For those who are wondering how my cycle riding is going this week..... have you seen the weather forecasts each morning - do you think I'm mad???? Wed, 24 Jan 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog The friendly ops manager Spent the evening today with some friends in Birmingham. Not only was it a good chance to catch up with the special family that is the 'Stockers' but it was also an opportunity to go over some operational plans for the Gathering. By day Tim is a top sales executive for a massive company, by night he is many things. Tonight he was operations manager (in planning mode) for the big event which is only a few weeks away now. He has managed the massive volunteer force of workers behind the scenes that ensure the event runs smoothly, effectively and safely. Last year the volunteer stewards topped the 100 people mark. This year, even more helpers are required. Tim does it all with a smile and with a heart that wants to do God proud! Linda has not only carried out the role of administrator over the first few events, now she organises the all important breakfasts for the host venues. Together they and lots of other people will be blessing many in a few weeks time. Many young people wont see them or even know they are there - they would certainly know about it if they werent there though.I have never believed that the spiritual stuff is just done on the stage. Everytime someone does anything at all for God, no matter how practical - it is always a spiritual thing! Thank you God for all the spiritual giants working behind the scenes in churches throughout the country. Thank you for all those who will be serving the special young people who will be at the gathering in a few weeks time... Sat, 20 Jan 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog The spirit filled thermometer? Set the students a challenge for today. I asked them if they felt it would be possible to make a decision as a group to raise the spiritual temperature of a particular event. They were keen to give this experiment a go and so targeted the spiritually charged college devotions as their unsuspecting target. They decided that they would need to be on form that morning and so decided that they would meet for Breakfast (kitchen staff almost fainted when they saw some of them walk in) and then they would meet for prayer and go into devotions early and sit on the front few rows. They decided that they would worship God for who he is and the song choice would make no difference to their attitudes of worship. they decided they would be attentive and be keen to hear God speak. Was really proud of them when i walked in and saw them all on the front 2 rows giving it everything. When we met to discuss how they felt it had gone they were really pumped up about how they had been blessed by God. When aksed with how they can affect their surroundings with God they made the conclusion that it could be done if they allowed God to work in their own lives. They were keenly waiting on the next assignment. Cant tell you what it is yet though.... Wed, 17 Jan 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog Swopping 4 wheels for 2?? I sometimes when preaching, tell the story of a time when i decided that I was going to ride a bicycle to work. It usually induces laughter in others and strikes a sense of fear in me about sitting on a thin bit of metal, with 2 spoked wheels revolving on the tarmac of the road as a massive lorry whizzes past. Well, today as part of my new year regime it was time to address this fear and don my high vis jacket, strap my cycle helmet to my balding head and proceed down the driveway with my family inside the house at 7.30am waving and smiling! As i made it onto the open road i began to remember clearly the reason why i had stayed away from this mode of transport for some years. I also remembered that riding a cycle can improve your prayer life as prayers for safety and protection just flow naturally.I made it to the office and despite needing a shower and slightly short of breath i got to my 8am meeting on time. It was a good day, with various meetings and loads of phone calls for planning issues to do with the gathering. I would be lying if i didnt admit that there was rarely a moment where i wasnt aware that i had to cycle home though.And here i am typing this from my home, safe and secure on an office chair that has 4 wheels. I do feel pleased to have done it though and am determined to keep doing it - 3 times a week is my goal. I'll help save the planet from all these nasty carbon emissions that you are all destroying the ozone with and burn off some of those Christmas mince pies! Mon, 15 Jan 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog Musical Heaven.... Spent the day in Nottingham today with around 23 other people who had travelled from all over the UK. These incredible musicians and singers had made it to this east Midlands location for an intense day of rehearsals for the gathering. The majority had met or worked together on previous occassions but there were 5 new faces who were about to fit into the set up like a hand in a glove. Without giving too much away, let me just say there were moments when the hairs stood up on the back of my neck and the shivers went down my spine. It was just a day of blessing, and with a vast amount of new songs being unleashed upon the gathering this year and some diverse musical influences, this will just be such a special occassion. The live album we are recording at the event is already on my shopping list - i cant wait!Even though we had the process of collecting our kids from their 'Aunty Pam & Uncle Steve' and then travelling around 1 hour home late at night, it was hard to settle down and get off to sleep. It had been such an exciting day... Bring it On for the Gathering!!!!For more about this rehearsal click here for the news article. More pics can be found in the Gallery as well. Sat, 13 Jan 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog A Day out at Butlins... I made the journey back down the M6 this morning, before joining the M5 and then eventuallly after hours of driving coming off on the A39 to Minehead in Somerset. I was joining a number of other people at Minehead Butlins where we were meeting the management to discuss and plan the site details for the Elim Conference / Bible Week which wil be happening for a week in April. It will be a fantastic time and Serious4God will be running a fantastic youth programme as well as overseeing the childrens programme as well. If you have never been you should try it. As well as the great programme (including youth leaders training sessions) it is a great venue with great facilities (including an amazing fun-pool) and the great atmpsohere just makes it really special. For more details visit Spent most of the journey home on the phone with various people about preperations for the Gathering and just about got home before my mobile phone battery died on me. I always make sure i use a hands free kit when driving, but always get a bit concerned when i finish a call and realise that i cant remember any of the journey i have just driven. Although i got home late, Nita had kindly let the kids stay up later than normal - was nice to be able to see them before they went to sleep. Talking of sleep, that's what i need to do right now. Another early start in the morning. The Gathering worship band have a full day rehearsal tomorrow in Nottingham. Musos and singers from all over the country are joining us. We have some fantastic new songs! Fri, 12 Jan 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog Filling the GAP... Early mornings on the M6 south are never a great experience - this morning was no exception. I past 4 accidents in the space of 100 miles and as a result was 10 minutes late for my 9am start at Cheltenham. (I hate being late) Today I was spending the day with 6 fantastic young people who have given this year to serve God in a special way by taking a Gap Year with the missions dept of Elim. Some had just returned from Cambodia, and in just a few weeks time they are heading off to Kosovo, Macedonia and then some will be going to the Philippines - what an adventure. Today though they were going to join with me in a full day of looking at some issues which would help them. It was great o be with them and share this time of teaching. I know they will be impacted in the coming months and that they will make a big impact as well - go for it guys! The journey back was a little easier and I enjoyed the music of 'Muse' before listening to an hour of the New Testament on tape. great book that bible..... It had been a busy day in the office in my absence as well - today was the last day of the early bird booking discount for the gathering 07 and many had waited for this day to arrive in order to bok their places..... It's fantastic to see quite a number of churches who have never joined us before booking in. We are going to have such a great weekend! Wed, 10 Jan 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog A moving end to a busy day! All the students arrived back at Regents today after their long Christmas break. Some were eager, others are going to take a few days to get used to waking up at a descent hour I guess. It was great to see them all again.My day started with a breakfast with the faculty and John Glass, then devotions with teh returning students, then a morning of letter writing, phone calls and emails. Then Nigel James arrived for the first of his module lectures and so we spent some time together before introducing him to the students. Then I had a few hours of calls to make in regards to the Gathering with some of the technical team. These guys (Nick & Peter) are amazing - they are sold out to make these events happen and to raise the bar each time. I so thank God for them.As the activities of the day drew to a close, i went through the routine things like putting the bins out and then we happened by chance to flick onto the God Channel. There was an amazing documentary / interview with a lady whose ministry has really impacted me over recent years. Heidi Baker is so full of God and she has spent years working in Mozambique with some of the poorest and most needy children on the planet. When she arrived there 12 years ago she took in 1 orphan and fed them. Today she feeds 12,000 children every day and she has a vision to feed 1 million children each day - these are children whose parents have been killed and who are largely forgotten by the world. She doesnt just feed them, she prays with them - she sees blind eyes open, deaf ears open, the lame walk. She has seen thousands of miracles. But even more impacting than all this is the incredible love of Jesus that just shines through her to these kids. To say I was moved was an understatement. I didnt see this coming at all.I feel i need to declutter, and come closer to Jesus. We get so busy and so complicated - I've been reminded I need to keep to the simple things like encountering the love of Jesus myself so i can pass it onto others... Mon, 08 Jan 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog It's good to walk - Refresh Part III Despite the wet and windy conditions we were going to stick to the plan - we were heading by cars to a Forest where we were going to enjoy a walk together and get some time in nature to talk with the 'Main Man' who designed and made it all. On the way there one of the city slickers, who shall remain nameless (I wouldnt want to embarrass Simon by exposing him), announced that he had never been to a forest before - this would be fun.Once we got out of the cars and explained to the un-named one what the tall things were (trees) we began to walk like a group of rambling pros - except the pro's didnt wear white trainers and scream everytime they slid in the mud - they also didnt seem to carry massive umbrellas like our group. We were going to do it our way though!After lots of walking and talking we found a secluded spot and invited everyone to make their own path through the trees and get some time with God - who knows He may want to talk with each of us? I love the space of going to these sort of places. Free from most of the busy things of life, it can feel like it's just you and God and that sometimes forces you to get reaquainted again. It was interesting to hear some of the things that people heard God say to them when we reunited again. He's always wanting to speak to us we just dont tune in that often i guess....After a nice meal together, and a final prayer and hugs all round, we all said our goodbyes and hit the road.Next I was off to a kids party. My oldest son is 6 this week and he was having a 10 pin bowling party with lots of his friends - it was a world away from the solitude of the forest but there was something special about the sound of life as well, even if the 'sound' was rather loud... Sun, 07 Jan 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog It's good to talk -Refresh Part II I gave the guys on the refresh weekend a nice lie in this morning - we didnt start the programme until 10.30am. We spent much of the day giving everyone an opportunity to share an update of their life and how they are doing. Each persons time of sharing was followed up with everyone getting around them and praying or prophesying into their lives. It's is just the best thing we can know in life to be able to share where we are at with people who care and people we trust - I recommend it to anyone! I find it so sad that we can sit in church for years and know nothing really about the people who are sitting around us - sometimes we recongise the back of fellow members necks better than their faces.... Our Christian walk should be so much about genuine relationships.It was a great day, and it rounded off nicely with everyone coming to our house for a takeway and yet more.... you guessed it - more play on the Ninetendo Wii - except once my kids saw it, there wasnt much chance of anyone else getting a go. Sat, 06 Jan 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog A 'Refreshing' Weekend... I was really looking forward to this weekend. I had forgotten that I could have been flying out to the 'Planetshakers' conference in Oz and was eagerly awaiting the arrival of a range of students from the 'Serious4Youth Ministry Course': both from last year and this current year. I don't believe that we get trained and then apply the training. I believe all of us spend our lives learning and those students who graduated from the very first year of the course are still on their learning journey as I am as well. When we stop learning we stop living! I have been keen to continue the journey of encouragement to all those who have trained with us and a re-union seemed a great way of doing this as well as a great opportunity to catch up and enjoy some fun together.As the hours ticked by for their arrival i was gutted to get a few people let us know that for various reasons they werent able to make it. Those who had made it though deserved the best weekend possible so it wasnt a time to sit around and be sad about the depleted numbers. As we greeted each other it was easy to forget that some hadnt seen each other for quite some time - it was like old times again. It was also a great opportunity for current students to compare notes, experiences and funny stories with last years. We shared, laughed, prayed and then went to play on a Nintendo Wii that Simon had brought along with him (top man Simon!) I flattened the first 7 boxers on this game (in love of course) and then got a bit stuck on opponent number 8. I have never played a computer game and sweated before. Those games consoles are amazing. I think I'll ache tomorrow.... Fri, 05 Jan 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog New Year Focus Yesterday was all about planing for the soon to be here Gathering. This is such a key time and there is so much to be done to get ready for this. It's all coming together very nicely though - really excited about all that God is going to do through the weekend. Had time to take a very unusual phone call - I was offered a fully funded place to the 'Planetshakers' conference in Australia - imagine the suprise at such a phone call - thank you Jesus - just one problem.... i would need to fly out this weekend and that is a bit of a problem!!!! gutted... can't believe it.... I've wanted to get to this conference for a few years - i think they get around 40,000 people at it and i'm sure i would get loads of ideas and ispiration for what we are doing in S4G. The reason I cant go is I am hosting a brand new weekend conference this weeked for all the former and current students on the Serious4Youth Ministry course. There is no way i could consider pulling the plug on this event and so to channel my dissappointment at not being able to go to planetshakers, i am praying and believing that this weekend will be even more special than i had initially anticipated. Today i met the S4G office team at my home for the day. We got away from phones and email to give quality time to review the work we are involved in and to plan and prepare for the year ahead. It was a very fruitful time and the left over mince pies and Ferrero Roche which Nita kept bringing us were very welcomed. Then tonight I went to a conference on 'communicating to a post modern world' at Regents. A friend of mine, Nigel James, was speaking and it was both challenging and inspiring. Nigel directs Ignite in Cardiff which is involved in a wide range of youth ministry initiatives. He is also the 'On the Road Pastor' for the mega band 'Third Day'. In just a few weeks he will be touring Australia with them. I had chance to catch up with him and his wife at Nigel Tweens house after the session. Next week he will be back at the college teaching the Serious4Youth Ministry students. They are in for a treat! Thu, 04 Jan 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog I can't believe it's 2007 already Only 364 days to Christmas - doesn't time fly!Back in the office today. It's been good to catch up with a few people after the break. The new year came with some very tragic news though. A really special young guy from the Derby church was tragically washed off a cliff by a freak sea storm in Cornwall on New Years eve. Yesterday, the search was called off after 2 unsuccessful days of trying to find him. Chris Hunt was 24 and since becoming a Christian in his teens, he had influenced and impacted many people's lives. There are a lot of grieving people right now. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends. I remember the first day he walked into the church and began his own journey to find God. It was a joy being there as he found Him on a weekend away.How fragile life is. How little we recognise how fragile life is. God help me, God help us to make the most out of the precious life He has given us. I dont want to waste a day. Each day is a gift that I want to appreciate and love. Tue, 02 Jan 2007 00:00:00 GMT Blog A New Day Approaches!! It seems to have been a busy Christmas but I think that has more to do with 3 growing kids in the house whose presents get more interesting each year. My oldest daughter had 2 lopped ear rabbits who she has named 'floppy' and 'snoopy'. I must admit that they are cute from a non-holding distance, The one time i tried to overcome my hesitation of contact with them resulted in them kindly piercing me with their claws - bless them! My middle lad had an electric guitar and there has been no phobia at all about getting my hands on that present. My youngest had a baby drum set. Picture the scene, there I am wearing my new aftershave, playing my guitar, with my 2 year old banging his drum kit and my 5 year old strumming away with his amp on volume 11, while 2 rabbits hop around the room leaving little round bullets behind them. We have had family and friends visit and we have visited family and friends in various parts of the country - we have all had a great time. Probably overindulged on the calories but it all helps prepare for the new years resolutions. As 2006 breathes its last breath, I have been thinking lots about the new year. I'm both excited and daunted by the things I believe God has led us into for the coming year. I have been reading through the book of Acts again - just feel really burdened at the moment to admire and catch the faith of the early church. Nothing could stop those guys! I'll have some of that..... Sat, 30 Dec 2006 00:00:00 GMT Blog He's got the whole wide world in His hands... Yet another item on the radio grabbed my attention today as I was driving. It was an interview with a general who works for the armed services in the USA. His department monitor the skies looking for any missiles that may be launched etc. Tonight though their services had been deployed to an entirely unusual mission - to use their radars and satellite systems to monitor the progress of Santa. Not only were they monitoring it but they were also allowing people across the globe to log into a specially set up website where they too could follow santas progress. When I got home i checked it out with our kids and to my amazement Santa was at that point flying over moscow. I was even able to watch him swirl around the Kremlin. How different this is to the arrival of someone who brought greater gifts 2000 years ago. There were no news reporters, no websites, no radio coverage - just a few shepherds with tea towles on their heads and a few guys carrying strange gifts from afar. I sat in church this morning wondering what our nativities would have been like if one of the hotels had been able to offer Mary & Jospeh an available room. Churches across the world may have been able to get their nativities sponsored by Hilton Hotels or Travelodge. As Santa allegedley circumnavigates the globe tonight, I am moved to think of some of the Christmas Experiences that fellow members of the human race will wake up to. There will be those who roam their countries as refugees, displaced by wars, there will be those who would feed for a month on what we will probably throw away tomorrow. There are those who have lost a close loved one this year. There are addicts whose cravings dont give them a festive break. I'm not sure how relevant a gkobetrotting santa is to all of them, but I know that Jesus can be. I want to really celebrate this season, but I pray that I will be so mindful and prayerful for those who need the gift of Jesus life in whatever circumstance they find themselves in. Sun, 24 Dec 2006 00:00:00 GMT Blog Church Attendance goes through the roof! On the radio today I heard that 50% of the UK's population are expected to attend church over the Christmas period. That is a lot of people - around 30 million to be roughly accurate. In the last census an even larger percentage of people ticked a box to say they were Christians. This is amazing, particularly when you consider the ridicule that Christianity is often dealt by the media. It's a fact that more people go to church on Sundays than attend premiership football matches. It's not as bad for the church as some would make out. Yet we know that 30 million people going to church this weekend doesnt equate to revival. There are a lot of bizarre things that dont add up about this 'religious tendancy' at this time of year. Infact, listening to radio 1 on the way home from work tonight I was amazed to hear the first verse of 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing' being sung by a group of guys whose agreed lifestyle would be far away from 'Glory to the newborn King!' There may be religious sentimentality going on around us, but it does give us all the opportunity to represent the incredibly relevant truth about the coming of Jesus into our lives. Wouldnt it be great if this weekend, loads of people had an encounter with Jesus while at church - this is going to be my prayer! We are taking two lovely families to church with us on Sunday. It will be their first time. I'm praying it wont be their last and that Jesus will be more than a sentimental story in their lives! Anyway I must go - It's 11.30pm and I'm going to do our food shopping at the 24hour tesco to try and avoid the rush, although if the predictions are correct, it may be a bit quieter there when the church services are taking place.... Fri, 22 Dec 2006 00:00:00 GMT Blog I can see clearly now the Fog has gone... We had a lot of fog here yesterday but after listening to the news on the way home this evening it would appear that much of the country has been engulfed with fog today. The forecast predicts a few more days of these conditions to follow (I hope Santa has a Sat Nav and that he doesnt get lost for lack of visibility).I learnt some things about fog today that i didnt know previously. Fog is created by powerful high pressure creating a 'lid like' effect on the country - we are currently experiencing the worst high pressure since 2002. As a result of this high pressure we are experiencing an 'inversion' of the weather which basically means that the temperature on the ground is lower than the temperature at higher levels. As I type, I'm impressed with my memeory for such incidentals but this is the facinating one - fog is effectively condensation! Because the 'lid' of high pressure is preventing pollutants from escaping the atmosphere, they stick around and become the 'grit' on which the 'condensation' sticks. This builds up and creates fog.Amazingly, there are massive airoplanes sitting on runways today, instead of soaring in the skies, and all because of this condensation. The runway is still there, the instruments on the plane work the same, the sky hasnt changed but it cant fly! Why, becuase it is hampered by poor vision.How true this can be for our own lives. God has given us the abaility to soar on wings as eagles but we find ourselves sitting on the runway. How easy it is to allow little pollutants to hang around our life which in turn hamper our vision which in turn stops us flying. I feel reminded tio check on the small details of my life, the attitudes, the thoughts, the passing comments etc. I dont want the enemy to get a sticky foothold in my life which will hamper my vision.... Wed, 20 Dec 2006 00:00:00 GMT Blog I want some figgy pudding..... Its easy to tell that Christmas is almost here. It seems that food is being made available to me at every turn throughout the day. Whether it's a big tin of Roses or Pringles at a party, or mince pies at a school concert, there seems to be calories everywhere I look. I can sense the new year resolution about losing weight beginning to weigh on my thinking already.It's been a really good few days. As well as attending the local church carol concert on Sunday (which was followed by mince pies) we then went around some friends house (where we were served a gorgeous meal). Then 2 couples drove up from Birmingham to see us (bringing chocolate gifts) and we had a really fantastic time catchcing up with them.(while enjoying home made pizzas) Monday started in the office before slipping into the canteen where all the faculty waited on the students with their Christmas meals before sitting down for a generous helping of it oursleves. Today started with another school carol concert (followed by mince pies) then time for a range of phone calls and meetings at the office (with my packed lunch being consumed somewhere in the mix) followed by a cracking chicken dish at home for tea, followed by another special Christmas party event contained once again..... you guessed it..... food! I know the bible says that if we open our mouths then God would fill it but i'm not sure this is what He meant!I spent some time with the students today asking about ways that we can ensure we get filled with God over Christmas. We highlighted some things that could rob us:1. Bad Influences2. SelfishnessWe decided we needed to keep focussed and make sure that the college break doesnt create a break from God. 3 chapters of the bible every day were prescribed, along with God space moments and good fun!Anyway i must go - beginning to feel a bit peckish!! Tue, 19 Dec 2006 00:00:00 GMT Blog X Factor success? I joined millions of other people around the country today watching the X Factor final. I both love and loathe this programme. I love the way it gives people an opportunity to follow their dreams. I loathe the way it portrays success as having riches and fame and that both of these are worth giving up everything else for.Leona has won. I'm possibly a littlle embarrassed that for the first time in the series we voted but feel a little justified that it could have been my 35p vote that swung it for the winner. (where does all of the 35p's go? If 8 million people voted that makes a lot of money? Do you think ITV should start giving the proceeds of these votes to charity?)Will Leona be successful? She has certainly displayed talent in bucketloads but success depends on the very definition of the word success. I reckon success is defined as 'doing what you love in an ever excelling way'. Riches and fame, without the ability to do that which your passions connect with doesnt sound much like success to me. Riches have never in itself made anyone happy. You only have to hear some of the stories of those who have come into money to see this. Fame can create an illusion of importance in a persons thinking but they quickly realise that when no one is looking they are still the same person and the problems they had on the inside of their life continue.Well done all those who follow their passions and dont compromise for the glittering distractions of this world..... Sat, 16 Dec 2006 00:00:00 GMT Blog The day before the calm... Tommorrow I officially have a day off!!! No gathering on tour, no ministry engagements, just me and the family, last minute Christmas shopping and the X-Factor final (come on Leona!!!)Before I get there though I had to make my way through a very special day. While the ashes happens but once a year (I dont like cricket no...), the world cup and olympics happens every four years, I spent the day at an event that only happens once every five years. (and no it wasnt a visit to the gym cheeky) It was infact the colleges 'Course Review Day' where all the faculty begin a process of reviewing all the training courses and modules on offer. In an attempt to suggest new courses that would be relevant to many pastors or prospective pastors I was tempted to propose a new degree in 'coping with baldness and receeding hairlines'.It was a good day though. I have been so blessed and impressed by the quality and heart for teaching with excellence that exists in all the lecturers at Regents College. I'm sure that many of the thoughts and discussions that took place today will help better serve training world changers over the next few years. The college is lead by Nigel Tween who is an amazing man of God. I count it an honour to be working with him at Regents after working together at our previous church, Birmingham Christian Centre. I'm pretty sure I wouldnt be doing what I'm doing today if it hadnt been for his continual encouragement to go for things. I pray that God brings a Nigel into all of our lives - someone who will push us to go for our destinies! Fri, 15 Dec 2006 00:00:00 GMT Blog Hark the little cherubs sings... 10 days to Christmas and the festivities are in full swing!After teaching one more session at the school of ministry this morning and then catching up with some of the Serious4Youth Ministry students, we all took a walk to Nantwich town centre (yes i could have taken the car but thought the exercise would not only be good for me but would do my bit to help prevent global warming). Now the town centre is a nice place - full of character and blue rinses, but i rarely make the short journey there. Today was different though - we were going to loose our over zealous vocal chords on the unsuspecting general public in a passionate display of carol singing - oh what joy to the world!! It's only my opinion but I do think that Dan sang the best.... well maybe i mean the loudest - good one Dan!Then after a quick stroll back to the college, it was back on back meetings with various people.This evening I had 2 options. Either go to the college 80's party or see my daughter dance in a presentation concert entitled 'Dancing in the Air'. The 80's night required big hair styles and tight fitting jeans, neither of which work for me to be honest - where on the other hand the dance presentation by Chloegrace represented lots of proud moments of parental joy! There was never any question as to which one would win my vote.... so i did my hair big and went to the party.... no only joking! Nita and I proudly watched on tiny little seats as she did us very proud! The hall was full of people not there to enjoy a night of entertainment, but to enjoy a proud parental moment. Each child had their respective parents attention. My eyes were fixed on my daughter, following every move, noticing every smile....I guess God is even more obsessive with us. I hear he has a picture of each of us on fridge magnets? Thank you God for watching my every move and always being there for me!O come let us adore Him eh! Thu, 14 Dec 2006 00:00:00 GMT Blog Come and join us... I woke up to a warmer climate this morning - back at home with 3 kids tends to provide noisy mornings with lots to be done at the start of the day. After breakfast all round, sandwich boxes nicely packed and uniforms suitably worn, it was time to take them on the short 3 minute walk to their school. Then after sprinting back to load our youngest into the car seat, Nita and i drove to the bible college where he attends the nursery.The day in the office began with a quick catch up on the events of the last 2 days with the team and then it was time to start the first of 3 sessions teaching on Elims School on Ministry on the subject of youth ministry. There are 12 students on this full time course that covers a range of subjects and I was there unapoligetically to wave the flag for youth ministry and invite them to make a difference among young peoples lives. I really enjoyed my time with them and i have my final session in the morning.It was good to catch up during the day also with a few friends / colleagues. Mark Ryan, who has been a key part of the Serious4God team for some years was up at the college teaching the youth students about 'Youth Work and the Local Church'. It was good to catch up breifly with him. I also managed to catch up with Glyn Barret who heads up Youth Alive and Audacious. We have known each other for a number of years and it has been so helpful to both come into our similar national roles at the same time, with an already established relationship. It is really exciting to hear of all that is happening through the ministry he is leading.Thank God that we do not travel the adventure of this life alone. Thank God for fellow warriors and friends who are passionately sowing their lives into bringing the best hope on this planet to the world. Hope you can join us...... Wed, 13 Dec 2006 00:00:00 GMT Blog Head south for warmer weather... After a morning of more exciting discussions with the guys in Fraserburgh, it was time to begin the journey back to Nantwich. On the way to the airport we picked up a few missionaries who are currently on a break - one has been in China for a number of years and the other is in the Philippines. It was amazing to hear their stories as we shared an hour in the car together on the way to the airport. It is always really inspiring to be reminded just how vast the work of the church is across the world! Before i got on my plane there was just time for one more 'over coffee' discussion with Dave Ritchie about some exciting plans and developments for Serious4Kids. There will be more to say on this in the coming months. Then i hear the final call and quickly make my way onto the plane (which left 15 mins early??) and headed down for the warmer climates of northerly england - just in time for evening tea.... Chicken Korma.... bring it on!!! Tue, 12 Dec 2006 00:00:00 GMT Blog Haggis Hunting... My day began today with a journey – firstly to Liverpool Airport in the car (during which I was massively challenged as I listened to the first 15 chapters of the book of Acts), then I ‘embarked’ a Ryanair flight to Aberdeen during which I made good progress on reading a new book about ‘success, built to last’ which proved to be stimulating. I arrived in this northerly Scottish city a little early for my appointment so I managed to find a BT Openzone in a café where I was able to pick up my emails – isn’t technology great! My lift arrived and 2 friendly faces by way of Neil Passmore (Scottish Youth Director) and Dave Ritchie (Serious4Kids Team) greeted me with a heated car (it is cold up here). We continued another 40 mile journey to the fishing village of Fraserburgh where they both minister. We had scheduled this time together to discuss and plan some important developments for the future. Watch this space…. Dave pioneered a children’s outreach in this remote fishing village a number of years ago and has seen some spectacular things. They get hundreds of kids each week to Powerhouse Kids and many of them have gone onto the youth programme and quite a number have become leaders themselves. A local headmaster recently commented that he had been impressed with the number of pupils who had included their involvement with powerhouse kids on their CV’s when applying for prefect posts. The project is largely funded by a charity shop in the town. This whole thing is a real testimony to what can be achieved with vision, passion and endurance. After a ‘fish supper’ I had the opportunity to speak at their Monday night youth event ‘Underground’ and it was fantastic to see the level of openness of these young people. After the youth event it was back to Dave’s home for more discussions and some biscuits. I have now just arrived back at the very hospitable home of the ‘Passmores’ and am about to try and get some sleep before a day of more meetings and more travel tomorrow! Mon, 11 Dec 2006 00:00:00 GMT Blog The tour comes to an end! I feel pretty shattered today after getting back from the final tour date just after 3am this morning. It feels a bit like the end of an era. It's hard to believe that I may be able to watch the final of the X-factor next week as it is being broadcast, rather that having to watch the repeats the following day and hoping that no-one mentions the results before i have seen it. I think it will feel a bit strange though to not be on the road next saturday. The tour has been a really special time. It has been amazing to work with outstanding people and meeting fantastic young people all over the UK. We have seen around 4000 young people during the tour with thousands signing up to the Serious4Our Friends pledge and over 160 giving their lives to Jesus. As I drove home last night I regularly thanked God for the joy and honour of serving Him and for the way that he has blessed this tour - big up to God all round!On returning home in the wee hours of the morning it was nice to arrive home to a house that had been decorated for Christmas. Nita and the kids had been busy in my absence putting up the tree and decorations and flashing fairy lights welcomed me home. Despite my Christmas shopping rant the other day, I do love this time of year. On the way to Swansea yesterday i listented to some of the Gospels on audio tracks in the car. What an amazing and real story - Jesus, becoming one of us to save us! Christmas - bring it on!!!! Sun, 10 Dec 2006 00:00:00 GMT Blog Christmas Shopping - AARRGGGHHH!!!! After leaving work last night we left our 2 older children (Chloegrace & Luke) in the capable hands of a friend of ours while we took our youngest (Joel) on a Christmas shopping trip. Surely no-one would be shopping in Stoke on Trent at 7pm? - Wrong!!!! The whole world had travelled there for some shopping conference i guess.... Because the majority of our weekends have been tied up with the Gathering on Tour over the last few months, this was our first (and hopefully last) Christmas shopping venture of the year and it was a real test for me. I find the whole notion of looking for something (but you dont know what you are looking for) for someone (that you dont know what they want) just a little frustrating. Mix that frustration with a constant Rant going on in your mind about the commercialism of this special season and you have the perfect recipe for a headache. Nita, my wife, is a hero though - she could go on for hours and hours shopping (and often does)! I think we got most things covered though. Today, I should have been taking our absolutely wild Serious4Youth Ministry students on a church visit to Leeds Bridge Street Church. Unfortunately though, I received a call yesterday afternoon from the youth pastors wife (Lisa Lenton) saying that her husband (Andy Lenton) had been involved in a multiple car accident on the motorway yesterday and would be unable to host the visit. I spoke with Andy this morning and he was extremely sore but came out of the accident, it seems, really lightly. Our prayers go to Andy and the family. So the students get a lighter day - this evening though they will be going to their placements where they are pioneering a number of new youth works. You can follow the progress of the students on the community message boards. I had some time with our S4G administrator this morning as well - Mike Humphries - what a blessing he has been since joining us in October. We have been working through more details for the Gathering 07 - what an amazing weekend this is going to be. I am so excited in my spirit about all that God is going to do there. I hope you will be able to join us. I'm about to leave the office now to pray and prepare for our final Gathering tour date tomorrow in Swansea. This tour has been a major logistical challenge but we have such an awesome team of people making it happen. I thank God for great friends in the ministry such as Nick Hickman, Peter Hinks, Clifford Oguzie. These guys and their teams have put so much into this tour - and it isnt just what they have done, but the way that they have done it - with hearts of excellence and servanthood. I always find it staggering and humbling when people work their butts off to invest into something and thank you for the opportunity of doing it! Wow!!! Anyway - 3 days and now 3 blogs, all looks very promising doesnt it! Fri, 08 Dec 2006 00:00:00 GMT Blog The Office! Since my inaugural blog I have had an interesting 24 hours. Last night I met up with one of the former students from last years Serious4Youth Ministry Course. What a hero - he is now working in a very challenging school with some very needy students. To hear him share about some of the situations he is working with was very illuminating and just inspired me about the reason that we are all trying to make a difference in young peoples lives! Today it feels like i spent much longer than i anticipated downloading emails and answering them. I also met up with our new Gap Year Administrator, Tim Cobham, who is working on the development of a fantastic new gap year experience which will start in Sept 07. We are thinking of calling the whole thing 'Serious?' - it will be a serious Gap Year experience which as well as oversees missions opportunities will also have a wide range of UK opportunities such as working in inner-city projects, children's ministry projects etc. It will be such a great way to spend 12 months. Then i spent some time with this years students in our weekly discipleship / pastoral group. We made a 'praise altar', prophesied into some prayer needs, and opened up about our daily devotions. These times are the highlight of the week in so many ways. Then I met one of the guys on the course (Darren) for one of our regular 1to1's. It is such an honour to be able to invest in these guys lives. It was my first meeting with him since he announced his engagement to Gemma - massive congratulations all round. Thu, 07 Dec 2006 00:00:00 GMT Blog The blogging adventure begins here It seems like the whole world is blogging and so i officially jump on the bandwagon right here- right now and begin my personal blogging adventure. I have very good intentions and look forward to letting you into my world. I have loads i hope to share with you - but right now all i have to do is tie a bottle of shloer onto a piece of string, and smash it into my pc and declare this blog OPEN! Until next time..... Wed, 06 Dec 2006 00:00:00 GMT Blog