A set-back from out of no-where this week has meant that I have a little more time to look at things that have happened over the last year. During this reflection it has dawned on me that there has been a lot of stuff going on, or more precisely going wrong, since I started training for ministry. I won’t go into details here, but simply to say and not to over dramatise, there has been much that has gone on in the last year that we as a family could have done without. I like to think of myself as having a problem solving personality, and someone who doesn’t look to blame others when things go wrong. But in this approach I think I may have missed the underlying theme. I think I may have been “sucker punched.” Dictionary.com describes a sucker punch as, “a sudden surprise punch, especially from behind” or “a sudden unexpected defeat or setback.” That’s where I think we are, so the question is how did that happen?
I’m no boxer, and it may be carrying the metaphor a bit far, but I don’t think I have had my eyes on the opponent. I have had my head down driving forward, just getting on with the day job, the training and trying to get things done in the Kingdom for Christ. This has meant I have missed early warning signs. I haven’t seen those around me getting stressed, or needing my help, making them vulnerable to attack. Perhaps I have missed obvious signs, or made bad decisions that I would have seen if I were alert. I don’t look for evil in every issue in my life, but we do know from 1 Peter 5:8 that the “devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” So perhaps I should raise my head a bit and look towards my enemy, to dodge the sucker punch. I also know that my guard has been lowered, or the punch would not have got through. Suzy and I were reading Acts 1 this morning, and I was struck once again by how Jesus emphasised the Holy Spirit as being vital in ministry. He told the apostles that they would receive power once the Holy Spirit came upon them to preach to the ends of the world. But He told them they should wait for the Holy Spirit to come before they started. The Holy Spirit is my guard and my guide and I think I may not be waiting on Him enough. Being a one with the Holy Spirit means I will see and dodge the sucker punch.
Suzy and I decided this morning that as we move forward in ministry we can pretty much expect attack, the Bible says as much in 1 Peter 4:12. We also realise that there are many people who are suffering more than us in may ways beyond our understanding. In addition I suspect that we are not alone in lowering our gaze and our guard, and that beyond the obvious suffering there is much pain that happens that could be avoided. So we did not pray for less attack, but instead prayed for more strength and insight from the Holy Spirit to resist the blows. Perhaps you would join me in praying for more of Gods Holy Spirit in our lives and yours. More relationship, more insight, more wisdom, more discernment to avoid the sucker punch.
It’s 7 oclock in the morning on 25th December 2011. Yes it’s Christmas day and I am the only one awake. I’ve been awake for an hour now which tends to be my normal rising time, even when not a work day. However it does seem funny, as I look back over the years to know that the three great kids (one is nearly 18) are still snuggled in bed asleep on Christmas day. Their Mum often wakes with me, but after the busyness of the celebrations that come with being a Children’s worker, this year she slumbers as well.
So I turn to you my friends at this time and wish you a very happy day, on what I often term the Main Mans birthday. As I do so I think of friends old, some in the time that we have known each other, some in the their years. Friends who took us under their wing, as we became new parents and believers within the same couple of years, nearly eighteen years ago. Their ailments never seem to completely leave them now, but their wisdom has also remained the same, and I am grateful for the gift of their input in my life. Friends who are old because they have known us for a long time, some of whom we will meet tomorrow at the “Hamsters Nose”. They know the daft stuff I have done in the past. The Bus in the fort, the frequent exits from moving motorbikes, the loud, brash, attention seeking yet nervous lad that a slightly fraught school life produced. I thank you for the gift of sticking around for the long haul. Finally friends who have just recently joined, many of you will bring wisdom and some of you will stay for the long haul and for that I am also grateful. Some of you are just passing through, and I will treasure the time we have together. I thank you for your gift of friendship in the now.
What of my gift to you? If you have been around for more then two minutes, you will know that the chances of a card at Christmas or on your birthdays are remote. It’s probably not fair that I project my lack of interest in a piece of pre printed sentiment on to you, but hey it is you who choose to be my friend, so I hope your will forgive me. This year as you may know if you are on Facebook the money we don’t spend on cards is going to http://www.greatlakesoutreach.org and the work they do in Burundi. Perhaps I should take after Wendy & Mark and send a newsletter each year. It’s something we read with eagerness when it turns up. But Wendy is way better prepared then I am. Lets be real even this note, is because I happen to be up on my own early on Christmas day. My faith would suggest that my gift to you would be telling you about the love of Jesus, and my whole heart cries out that you investigate what that would mean to you. But then again you are probably already aware that I would desire this, and it’s your choice. I guess my gift to you is that Ill do what I can. I am by no means any sort of example of what a Christian should be, or even just what good bloke should be. But today my gift to you is if you need me, Ill do what I can. It’s not much, but as I begin to hear the noises of a waking house I hope you enjoy unwrapping it. Oh and I do wish you a Happy Christmas on the Main Mans Birthday.
It’s that time of year again when we send out the Cross family well wishes to all our friends. Those who have known us for some time will know that we would rather the money went to a good cause rather than the Christmas card industry.
This year we are giving you the choice as to where the cash not spent on a card for you goes. Simply complete (Update: Poll now closed Toybox won) the poll below or go to http://cross.org.uk/christmas-card-2010-poll and vote to help us decide.
We hope and pray that you and yours have a fantastic time celebrating the Main Man’s birthday, and that you have a great new year.
It’s this time of year that I normally send out an email wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, and explaining that Suzy and I will be donating the money we would have spent on Christmas cards to Toybox. Toybox are a fantastic charity that work with street children in Latin America. In many ways nothing has changed this year. We still want to wish you a Merry Christmas and we still will be donating the money we would have spent on cards to a charity, only this year it’s a different charity. It’s not that we suddenly feel Toybox don’t deserve the money, it’s just this year there is a charity that is slightly closer to home.
On Thursday 10th December 2009 our daughter Becky who has self funded a trip through many kind friends, flies off to India to visit and work with Mustard Seed Ministries (http://www.msm.org.uk) for a couple of weeks. Mustard Seed are about enabling local charities and people to impact the young and old who are in need, in their communities. I have met Rick and Gilly who work with MSM in India and greatly admire the work they do. I won’t say that the concept of our daughter going out to India doesn’t scare us, but we know she is with good people and in Gods hands. I know Becky will come back greatly impacted by the visit, and in many ways these types of trips bring greater short term benefit to the individual visiting then they do to those in need. However I believe that over the long term, people like Becky being exposed to different cultures and situations benefit those in need greatly. Those visiting change their life views, and get involved with compassionate issues more over their life.
So I hope you forgive me once more, if you don’t receive a piece of card form me this year. You will know that somehow, somewhere the cash that would have bought the card that you would have thrown away in January, will carry on working with those in need. I’m pretty sure that Jesus didn’t intend his birth to fund a card industry, and would rather we celebrate His birth by helping those in the world who need our help. A slightly out of scope post for this site, but actually it dawned on me as I wrestle with my journey and where that should take me, my daughter is also taking these initial steps, only nearly thirty years my junior. It makes me both proud and scared to be her Dad.
Welcome to my journey of discovery, as I seek to understand Gods plan for my life. My posts are relevant rather then regular. I will post when I feel God is prompting me to or when something significant has happened in my journey. You can get email updates whenever ever I add a post by subscribing here . Or if you know what a news reader is you can subscribe using that here. You are welcome to read and comment either anonymously or by creating your own account. So as we journey together please have your input and pray for me, yes please do pray as well.