Welcome to a window into our world.
We have been fortunate enought to have lived in various places around the world and have enjoyed and been challenged by the faith, education, wildlife, work, culture and people we have encountered. These experiences have also moulded us in our thinking and contemplation. Some insights we have shared below.

Thursday


Christmas Peace 
We hope these musings  finds you well and able to enjoy the festive season. The US is reeling from the insane tragedy of the elementary school shootings, just as others around the world are reeling from different insanely tragic situations.
This time of year can be a period full of mixed emotions for many. 
So we hope and pray that this year it may be a time where we, you, our community, friends and family are at our best and most supportive. 
May it also be a time for deep community, comfort, grace and love. 
 We hope that, in some way, this is your experience over this period. 




a prayer that was shared by one of our friends and relates to the End and the Beginning that I found helpful:-

Lord give us:
A remembering heart for the things that have happened
A compassionate heart for those who mourn
A forgiving heart for what has hurt
A grateful heart for where we have been blessed 
A brave heart for what may be required of us
An open heart to all that may come to us 
An attentive heart for what has been learned
A trusting heart to go forth with you
A loving heart for all of your creation
A active heart to engage injustice and 
A longing heart for the reconciliation of all things. 
                                                AMEN                                                                      (adapted)



Kingdom Bytes #1



People who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ are taught that pastors, teachers and various leaders of the faith are in positions of responsibility to equip others to undertake works that God has prepared for them in advance. 
They are to illuminate the reality of God

This seems to imply that Christian leaders are to mentor, equip, train and empower people to face situations and opportunities that God has already constructed so that those trained would be able to help those within their sphere of influence taste and see the practical goodness of God.

I therefore have the following musings...
  1. If leaders are mentors/teachers and spiritually gifted people who enable others to undertake God’s work and impact the local and global environment; does that not imply that the congregation, denomination or church, the multitude of people who follow the teachings of Jesus should be significantly impacting their community with acts that emphasize the reality of the Christian kingdom culture? Should the people who are taught not also be better known than the people who mentor them? As there are more people in the body of faith than the people who are leading, mentoring and teaching. 
By simple mathematics, therefore, students should have more impact than the teachers as one of the reasons for   teaching others is so that a magnified impact will occur . After all, Jesus told his disciples that they would do greater things than he did. 

       2.   Could this imply that if leaders of a faith are more known or have a greater personal impact than the totality of the 
              people they are teaching then the body of the faith is not being equipped appropriately? 

If the body of a church is trained and is undertaking the works that God has prepared for them then they are the ones who should be widely known within their environment and sphere of influence and not the church leaders who do the  training. 
However, there can be a tendency for charismatic leaders to be the face of a church or ministry and they are the ones that people flock to. If this ancient teaching is correct it should be that people flock to a church or a Christian gathering because of the impact and influence of the people meeting at that assembly. 
People need to be attracted by the community of faith as a whole because of the reputation and impact that body of people has within their sphere of influence through the works God has prepared for them to undertake.

3.     It would seem that a church, ministry or congregation that has leaders that are more well known than 
         the total impact of the people they teach, could have significant imbalances to address.  Either because:- 
  1. leaders have too great a control and are using the body to empower their own “ministry and or identity”. Or 
  2. because of students who are unable or unwilling to undertake the works that God has prepared for them. 
In the book of Acts chapter 2 the section starts with the impact of the Apostles but finished with the impact of the people who had been taught and mentored. 

Ephesians 2:10, Ephesians 4:11, Acts 2!!!! 

Monday

Oasis is for Community.


What does this mean?

Today in a world where we can buy a pair of shoes and someone will donate a pair of shoes or we can buy a bottle of water and a company will distribute a bottle of water.....

Oasis intimately journeys in the community adventure of the people that need the shoes and water.

It may be that one community is impacted by human trafficking and Oasis helps people escape to freedom. In another Oasis helps children reach a level of education that gets them accepted into local schools. However, these initiatives are only some of the steps in the process of wholeness. Being rescued or educated may be the doorway to escape and awareness but there is also restoration, reintegration and the development of a sustainable lifestyle.

Take the child from the slum who we help educate but then who goes to the local school for admission but has no birth certificate, due to them being born in the slum, and is therefore rejected. Oasis then becomes an advocate and helps the family get an affidavit that proves the birthdate of the child so they can go to school.

Oasis either develops projects and/or partners with a variety of initiatives, faith groups and organizations that provide integrated resources such as education, healthcare, employment, housing, etc…. So that the person or family can pass through the developmental adventure appropriate for a sustainable lifestyle. 

In the 28 global communities that Oasis is involved with, and depending on the needs of the community, there are education programs, investigative teams, safe houses, vocational training initiatives and a variety of entrepreneurial business ventures available, that assist people be reconciled back into community and assist them as they travel towards living out their holistic potential. 

Oasis becomes a journeying advocate that ultimately leads to the individual and community moving towards their God given potential.

Oasis is for community, a place where everyone is included, making a contribution and reaching their God given potential.
See this posting and more at www.oasisusa.org.

Tuesday

Insights on Uganda. An article that Josh recently had published in europe by the Dutch Family 7 network (http://www.family7.nl/.)


Uganda. The Pearl of Africa. It’s beautiful. And it’s where I’m about to go. For six months I’ll be living in Uganda during my gap year between high school and university. I knew all along there was no way I could make it through high school and four years of university without going insane. I wanted a break; a year away from the rat race, from all homework and all the studying. But, more importantly, I wanted a life changing experience; something that I could take with me, something I would remember, something crazy.
My family always encouraged a gap year and I knew that I was going to go for a long time. But it wasn’t until my friend suggested that I come and work with him in Uganda that things started to move forward. If I chose to go I would be working for the first three months with an organization called Oasis Uganda in a small village called Musoto, working mainly in the schools, setting up a football program that taught the children about HIV, and also teaching a bit of English and Math. I would then transfer over to an equally small fishing village called Bulega where I would be working with an organization called Cherish Uganda. Here I would work, again in a school, helping to teach P.E and Music to the primary students. Didn’t sound too bad, so I decided to sign on. Before I knew it, I was boarding a plane, bound for Entebbe airport. 
The hot, thick air of Uganda hits me in the face as I step off the airplane. “This is an adventure” I think to myself, “I am trekking through some unexplored land, far away from the realms of civilization.” I’m really not, but I don’t care. It’s new to me. And it’s exciting. Gradually, as time moved on, the newness wears off and is replaced with something else, something different. After living and working here for a while, I start to notice the other side of this beauty and excitement. The sort of paradox that is Uganda. Though there is beauty, there is something else, something hard to describe. If you drink the water without first boiling it, you’ll end up with some nasty disease. If you swim in Lake Victoria and forget to take the tablets you may end up with bilharzia, a potentially fatal parasite. Behind the beauty of this amazing country is a fact that roughly 1 in 20 people here have HIV; a virus that has already claimed the lives of over 25 million people worldwide. (Uganda is doing a lot to stop the spread of AIDS in its borders, but it’s still very present.) Everything grows, but many families can’t get some of that food because they don’t have the money to buy what they don’t grow. And sometimes the rainfall, the very thing that makes everything grow, is so much that it destroys crops. I myself met a man whose garden was ruined due to too much rain at the wrong time. Instead of giving up, he tells us he will just keep trying. 
I’m confused. Why is God letting this happen? This place has so much potential! It’s amazing. So many questions run through my head; so many thoughts. And these questions aren’t being answered, these thoughts aren’t stopping. Then I realize, I can ask my God any question I want, but that doesn’t mean He’ll answer. He knows the answers, but He may not answer. And if He really is in control, then that’s fine by me. I believe He’s in control. I believe He knows the master plan. Uganda changed me. Being totally immersed in a different culture showed me just how big our God is. Learning that the same God that we worship is worshipped in Uganda is just unbelievable. Our God is a big god. Uganda also showed me that God is there. During the last couple of months when I was in Uganda I got very down. Many questions, no answers, and I just felt distant from God. As this was happening though, I still, somehow, felt that God was there waiting for me. I felt distant, but I was the distant one, not Him. He was waiting for me, patiently waiting for me.
Uganda was amazing. It was tough and it sometimes hurt because you see the suffering and your heart bleeds for the people in that suffering. But that’s the beauty of what a gap year is. Not the bleeding, but the journey that you go on that allows you to bleed. A gap year isn’t just a year to take out because you are tired of school and want something different. A gap year is something you do that will change you and allow you see the suffering, but also to joy; something that allows you to bleed with people and rejoice with people, to understand, if only slightly, the lives of others.. It’s an amazing adventure. It’s something that can change the course of your life. I was going to become a civil engineer. Not sure what happened but now I’m becoming a journalist. A gap year will do that to you. It’ll show you what you really want, and what God really wants for you. If you let it, it will flip your world upside-down and inside-out. Why not let it? You have your whole life to go to University, find a job, and settle down. Why not take a year out and do something crazy? Something that could change your life and show you just what our God is all about. It’s scary. You will be forced out of your comfort zone at times and will do things you don’t want to do. But it’s worth it. And come on, you get to say that you went to somewhere like Uganda for six months. That’s cool, right?
My name is Josh Potter, I’m 19, and I just came back from living six months in Uganda.

Friday

An article by Josh Potter published by Barnabas Clothing in California.



Check out the picture in the middle of the T-Shirt:-




Sonshine Ministries Limited Edition Barnabas Sonshine Summer Tshirt
Date: June22
Written by: Joshua Potter

For the second year running, Barnabas clothing will be teaming up with Sonshine Ministries to bring everyone over at Sonshine a new and exclusive product, the Barnabas Sonshine Summer Tshirt. Uniquely designed with this organization in mind, these shirts are a limited edition and only available on the Sonshine Ministries houseboats. The Barnabas Sonshine Summer Tshirt will be available on the Captain Fun boat as it makes its way from houseboat to houseboat, whether you are a staff member or you come along on one of their week long trips. Along with the shirt, Barnabas Clothing stickers will also be up for grabs.

Sonshine Ministries is a non-profit, non-denominational, Christian organization dedicated to serving young people. They offer a variety of different house boating adventures for middle school, high school, and college age students. Their staff members are fun, friendly, down to earth, and only want the best for each individual camper. For more information on Sonshine Ministries or to book your spot on one of their numerous houseboats, go to www.sonshineministries.com.

Do not miss out on this one time opportunity to get your hands on the limited edition Barnabas Sonshine Summer Tee, and why not have an adventure-filled week while you are at it? 

You can see more of Barnabas Clothing at http://www.barnabasclothing.com/blogs/products

Saturday

Lent, leaders and a naked man

I am led to believe that Lent is a time of letting go and walking into a sacrificial mindset. It’s where I can put aside the competing voices that would distract me and like Jesus Christ, seek to gain a deeper understanding of God’s heart and by that very act increase my wisdom, see the truth and try to live it out.
In my last perusal of Hans Christian Anderson's tale of a deceived emperor I found the opposite to the above. I see a vain man confused by the voices around him and not able to speak the truth even though he sees it. The story gives a picture of a leader and his advisors, not involved in their community and definitely not having a heart for their community. This could be a statement on some of the situations in our world today, yet this story comes from a period of aristocratic control when there where seemingly God-given rights granted to specific humans with little or no accountability. This type of governance led to ignorance, greed, control, abuse and fear.
When the majority of the governing leaders of a community do not mirror the lives of the vast majority of the people that they represent then the people lose faith and the community implodes.

Passages from the Bible help me focus during Lent so that I cannot just seek wisdom but need to live it out as well. One section of that ancient script also significantly redefines a leader’s goal in terms of wisdom. In the book of Jeremiah it says that leaders who care for the poor and marginalized have an opportunity to know God. Not that kings know God and can then help the poor but rather when they help the poor and marginalized, and get immersed in the needs of their community, they can know God.
Leaders are in positions of governance and authority to help the innocent and the powerless. If they do this they come to know God and gain wisdom, as all wisdom comes from God.
The aim therefore is not to gain wealth but wisdom.

Leaders need wisdom as they are a key part of the system that holds in tension the struggle between people and organizations that want to arrange life only for their own desires, whether thats’ for greed, power, control, or anarchy. They manage this chaotic tension so that there can be integrated just community for all.
Leaders help form society and community structures so that they benefit all constituents of the group and enable the cry of the weak and innocent to be heard and listened to. For if their cry is not heard and taken into account it forms a layer of injustice that when it reaches its fullness will rip a society apart. On the other hand if a community cannot facilitate those who would grow its wealth and resources it dies of malnutrition and cannot sustain itself.
Community leaders help manage the chaotic situation and assist the community to grow in an integrated manner that benefits all.

Usually, people and organizations do not like chaotic places of societal tension. Society likes to live safely, relatively comfortable and secure from change factors that they cannot control. It is difficult to control chaos, but marginalized, ostracized, weak and innocent people will always seek change, as change is the only way that the injustices and abuse that they are facing can be remedied. Many civilizations have imploded because the leaders of that society became comfortable and tried to control the situation for their own ends. They became isolated and only think about their own good and ignore or abuse the innocent and weak. They amass wealth and power that separates them from their community. They develop an unrealistic reality separate from the vast majority of their community.
Ancient Rome declined due to leaders who sought only their own personal comfort and safety at the expense of the rest of the people and they were defeated long before any army came and sacked the city.
When that occurs the society destroys itself from within, a long time before they are beaten by any outside force.

In the Hans Christian Anderson story the words of the child highlight the truth. However, even truth can be elusive! What is truth and to whom does truth belong?
If today the child had cried “he is naked”, spin doctors, PR reps, lawyers, politicians, journalists, spiritual leaders, social pundits and the wise from various groups would have swooped in and laid out competing and conflicting scenarios depending on the interested parties involved or on the leaning of those communicating the tale.
So what is our truth - are we naked or are we clothed?

Thankfully, lent gives us space and allows us to seek the heart and wisdom of God and, for a time, get closer to that truth. One method I have found helpful in this multi-layered communication overloaded world, consists of using a patchwork of items.
  • I look around and see whose voices I am listening to and ask what their aim is
  • I listen to people I respect and who have illustrated that they have wisdom
  • I add to this times of prayer and fasting
  • I try and hear God in the words that speak to me through the teaching of Jesus Christ
  • I mull over the work and story that the Spirit of God is weaving in the practical realities of my life.
  • I try to engage in the marginalized places of my community and with the ostracized people that God has a heart for and allow them to speak to me
  • Then I look to give time so that I can be marinated by these ingredients of wisdom and let them bubble up and work their way into my thought process and hopefully take root in the actions of my life.
During this Lent season I hope we all can have our minds transformed and renewed and come to know God’s will. May we then have the confidence to live it out and not be deceived.