Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Like the 1st Century Church All Over Again...

I have just got back from 8 days in Canberra and I have to tell you, it was so much like what I imagine living in the 1st Century Church would have been like.

I stayed in people's homes (with them there - thanks for putting up withe me Rhys, Anna and Lucy - and with them not there - thanks for your trust, Pip!), ate with people in their homes and out, was looked after and driven around the place (Emily Keese Lambert, I owe you big time), and spoke and did comedy in churches, youth events and schools.

There is something about the Christian value of hospitality that I was so enveloped by with these people. Especially my good friend Mark Beresford and his wife Katie. Mark and Katie helped it all happen by co-ordinating stuff. Somehow the people in Mark'c circle have a grip on hospitality and practice it to the hilt.

From the waived tab at the Iceburg Cafe run by Basement Ministries (Caitlyn, I am surely blessed) to the basket of food that Katie B made up for me when I went to stay in her sister, Pip's house, I was on the receiving end of such an amazing show of love and generosity that I have been left speechless.

I only hope that what I have been able to impart in humour and word whilst in your midst has been a blessing to you as you were to me.

Folks, I need your prayers:

I have been working on my bookings for the end of the year. God seems to always come out in the end, but please pray that my schedule becomes a little more busy than now. A few things have happened that we hope will help this.

First, an article has been printed about me in the national AOG magazine, Accent, which will be in AOG churches across the country in the next few weeks. Please pray that many of these churches get in touch and engage me for ministry, especially in the closing months of 2009. Click here to read: http://www.aog.org.au/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=KAGrArOrXpI%3d&tabid=145&mid=811&language=en-AU

Second, we have advertised with local schools my availability to deliver my new leadership workshops for Primary School leaders both at the end of this year and beginning of next. As far as we know, I am the only person in Queensland delivering this type of presentation. If you know schools that might be interested, please get them in touch with me.

Also, don't forget to follow me on Twitter - www.twitter.com/markgladman - and to keep an eye on the gig guide at www.myspace.com/markgladman

And keep the sponsor dollars for my Kokoda walk coming in: www.tinyurl.com/kokodamark

Thank you for your prayers and support.



Friday, July 31, 2009

Devotions with me on Twitter

In my role as a ministry coach and consultant, I am always working with pastors and youth pastors and others in ministry worldwide who struggle in their personal devotional time. It just isn't consistent. I know we are all aware that keeping our personal devotions is vital to ministry health. To help this along, I have begun a novel way of sharing devotions on the 'net and would like to invite you all to join with me in this.

I was initially inspired by Wayne Cordeiro's book "The Divine Mentor". This is an amazing book that, if you have not already read it, every person in ministry should! Ps. Wayne goes deep into discovering the amazing array of mentors that God has given us through the Scriptures, and encourages reading the Bible seeking the Holy Spirit on what His fresh bread is for us that day. He also goes into the S.O.A.P Bible reading method as a way of journalling and getting into us what God has wanted us to receive that day from our reading. As I said, it's about getting 'fresh bread' from God rather than using devotionals that 'tell' you what you should pick up on and think about scripture.

The deal is this. In his book and on his church website, (link below), there is a reading outline that covers about 4 chapters a day. Basically, over the course of a year we will be reading the OT through once and the NT through twice. On each day, you are asked to do the following:
- Spend some time reading the scriptures for the day. As you read, ask the Holy Spirit to highlight a scripture for you to reflect on. Somtimes, I get that verse in the first reading. Other times, I read the lot, go back and then see it.
- Once you have pinpointed the verse(s) that the Lord seems to want you to reflect on, meditate on them. Then do the following in a notebook:
a) S = Scripture: write out the verse(s) that God has drawn you to that day.
b) O = Observation: Write down your thoughts and observations from that passage.
c) A = Application: write down how you think you should apply this to your life.
d) P = Prayer: write out your prayer to God based on what you have read, what he has shown you and how you need to apply it.

Ps. Wayne has outlined this on the churches website also. Check out http://www.enewhope.org/firststeps/journaling/ to see what they do. While we will be reading "together", we do NOT have to reflect on the same verse. That's the cool thing. What you receive from God that day may not be from the same verse I reflected on. And it doesn't matter when in the day you do it, just that you do (even if you only read one passage and reflect on that - better than nothing!)

Nearly all of Cordeiro's church do this. Many meet in groups that they call 20/20/20 life groups. These groups will often meet in public places. The first 40 minutes is spent on your own, reading the passages (first 20min) and writing your journal entries (second 20min). Then in the last 20 minutes they come together to share what God brought to them that day.

I was looking for a way to do the latter. Many of my friends have different jobs and body clocks to give God their best, so coming up with a mutual time was difficult. That's how I got the idea of doing so online on Twitter. What made that even more appealling is that you have to condense what God has spoken to you that day into 140 characters! What a great way to solidify the message into something memorable!

So, here is how you can join in. First of all, let me know you are joining us by sending me a note via the contact tab at http://www.markgladman.com/ - your info will not be shared but if I send out a group e-mail update, I can make sure that you stay in the loop. Put #DV7 or Twitter Devotions in the subject line so I know what the message is about.

Then, get an understanding of what the S.O.A.P. method is all about and how you might journal using that. This is especially important since the sharing is not about delivering a message as much as it is sharing how God has personally challenged you or personally comforted you from the reading that day. And remember, you are looking for the 1 passage, 1 idea, 1 verse that The Holy Spirit brings out for you. Visit http://www.enewhope.org/firststeps/journaling/ for info from Wayne Cordeiro on this.

Then, get into the reading plan. Go to http://www.lifejournal.cc/bible/ click on the Bible there and it will take you to a page on BibleGateway.com with that days readings in any Bible version you choose. Keep in mind though that if you do not live in the US you will need to set the date in the top right hand corner of the http://www.lifejournal.cc/bible/ page before you click the Bible.

Then, once you have journalled, jump into http://www.twitter.com/ (if you are not a member, you will need to join). In the "What are you doing?" box, break your devotion down into a 140 character Tweet. Start with the verse you used and end your tweet with #DV7. That is a special link that will enable us to read each others Tweets. If you then put #DV7 in the search box on the right and hit enter, you will be taken to all of the other people who have tweeted with #DV7 as a tag. This enables us to read each other's Tweets. But the cool thing is that, a little like the 20/20/20 group with open Bibles spread throughout a cafe, we are also sharing in a public forum since people who are following you will get your tweet too.

If you'd like to take a look at my tweets, go to http://www.twitter.com/markgladman and scroll through my Tweets to see the links with #DV7 in them to get an idea.

You don't have to do this every day, but if you did so even 3 or 4 times a week, I am sure that it will enhance your commitment and accountability to personal devotions and hearing from God for the day. I hope that you will join me in sharing what God is doing in our lives together. And please feel free to forward this article to others. Have them contact me and get on board - the more the merrier. I look forward to journeying with you, and to the conversations I am sure that will emerge.

Cheers and Peace,

Mark G

Monday, July 20, 2009

Meet the Church openly promoting it's Vision - Law 1!

Before I get into my blog entry, I have to say that I have had the most amazing and challenging 3 weeks since my return from Gladstone. Everything in me was screaming "You have to keep working! You can't stop! How are going to keep income coming in?!" But another part of me, and God, and my beautiful and supportive wife was saying, "You need to stop for a while or you are going to burn out." God seemed to be adding, "You think nothing can keep going becuase you stop for a rest, son? Get over yourself!"

In that break though came some magic time with my family. I got out on the Harley for a day where I didn't have to get somewhere for a meeting or ministry; something I haven't done for a few years. I read - no CONSUMED books (which for me means I finished about 5 books in the same period I might read 2 or 3). And most importantly, God and I re-established the barren and dry landscapes of my personal devotional time in an amazing way which I will speak of in a future post.

So yesterday it was back to business and today I am following up with some schools and churches for upcoming ministry tour to Canberra. My friend Mark Beresford at Burgmann School has invited me down to speak to his Christian Studies Ethics classes on the 17th and 24th of August, and Mel Doyle (my amazing PA) is working hard to help me hook up some other opportunties down there to make the trip viable.

One of the churches we found to contact was called Crossroads Christian Church (http://www.crossroads.asn.au/). I have never been there before and I do not know any of the ministry team there (that I am aware of - I've met so many people over the years you never know - so apologies if I have!) but when I went to their site to have a look, I noted what I reckon is their vision statement in their website's banner. You will understand why it struck me when you read it. It said:


Yes, you read it right! There is a church in this country that is openly promoting it's desire to grow people who understand their destiny as followers! While I am not suggesting that other churches don't have the same passion and vision, I must say that a church that is open about it is rare.

In the intro to the book, I put it this way:

Jesus called people to follow Him. The type of following Jesus calls us
to do is hard. It involves denial, humility, surrender and looking out
for others interests before your own. You would be forgiven if you were
to think that the contemporary Christian church has missed this. After
all, most churches these days, while often doing their best of putting
into action Jesus’ teaching, tend to have a public face that focuses on
taking the world by storm, growing the biggest congregations, raising
the most finances and empowering people to lead the way in changing
the world.

None of this is inherently wrong, but there are dangers of having people
miss the point of following Jesus. You can understand why they do it
though. As we have said, following doesn’t sell, and no promise of,
“But wait, there’s more! Call today and you will also receive this free
Cross…” is likely to help. So in order to reach goals that placate our increasingly

worldly mindsets when it comes to justifying, qualifying
and quantifying what we do, we make it a little easier to bear. We pad
the Cross, hollow it out to make it lighter and put little wheels on the
back. Much more attractive!

Seriously though, following wasn’t meant to be easy. Worse, there are
times when Jesus seems to intentionally throw things up at us to get us
to really contemplate what it seriously means to follow. Denying self,
selling all we have and giving to the poor, taking up our Cross and
even being dead to self and then come and follow Him – Jesus take on
followship is nothing short of a marketing nightmare!

In Law 1, I talk about how everything begins and ends in followship. And that we can't avoid making sure that this is a priority in how we grow disciples of Jesus.

I am stoked that someone seems to get it. I hope that many more do so as well, and begin to be unashamed to make this key point the main thing.

And I certainly hope to get the opportunity to minister with Crossroads, if not on this trip but at some stage in the future.

Keep following!

Mark G

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Good Samaritan and Sustainable Pace and the Law of Dirty Hands (Law 9)

I read an interesting experiment report that I had to share here in this discussion about sustainable pace.

Inspired by the parable of the Good Samaritan, Princeton University psychologists did a study. They had some seminary students come and meet with them. They asked them why they wanted to go into ministry. The vast majority said they were doing so because they wanted to help people. They were then asked to prepare a sermon. Half were asked to prepare based on the Good Samaritan parable. The other half were told other topics. Afterwards, they were told to go over to a building on campus to present their sermon.

What they did then was place a 'victim' to play someone who was in need of assistance - a bit like the person beaten up in Jesus' parable. He was to moan and groan and make a bit of a scene in order to attract help.

Now, the psychologists prediction was that those who had said they wanted to help people and had prepared a sermon on the Good Samaritan would be the most likely to stop to help the moaning guy. But that is not what happened. And the psychologists put the reason for this down to the last variable:

To some they said, "They aren't expecting you for a few minutes. Take your time getting over there."

But to others they said, "You're late. They were expecting you a few minutes ago. Better hurry."

The results staggered those making the study. 63 percent of the students who were told "Take your time" stopped to help.

The percentage of those told "You better hurry" who stopped? Only 10%! And to make matters worse, in a few cases, the seminary student, studying for ministry because they wanted to help people and who had just prepared a sermon on the parable of the Good Samaritan actually stepped over the victim as they raced to present their sermon on time.

The study concluded that: "The words 'You're late' had the effect of making someone who was ordinarily compassionate into someone who was indifferent to suffering."

In relating this study in his book Wild Goose Chase, Mark Batterson says: "Hurry kills everything from compassion to creativity. And when you're in a hurry, you don't have time to get out of your routine, do you? No time for Spirit-led spontaneity... Here is the great irony: the priest and the Levite were probably on their way to the temple. They were so busy loving God that they didn't have time to love their neighbour. And that is when our routines become counter-productive. Let's be honest. We can get so busy doing "ministry" that we don't have time for ministry."

Read that last line again, and then ask yourself this question: WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO GET A SUSTAINABLE PACE BACK INTO MY LIFE?

More on what that pace might look like in another post.

D.Re.A.M.S. PROJECT UPDATE: Met with Ross Harrold from CrossTrek in Normanton (Far North Remote Queensland). He is stoked that we are looking to develop a long term relationship with that predominately Indigenous community and we are hoping to get me up there for a week before the end of '09, and then 3 times per year from 2010. Should you want to financially assist in this ministry, please contact me via my website: http://www.markgladman.com/

Cheers and Peace,

Mark G

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Finding a Pace That's Sustainable(Law 11)

Yesterday I 'Tweeted' (visit www.twitter.com/markgladman and follow me if you like) that I had spent the day trying to live at a sustainable pace. My sister, being the inquisitive and think promoting thing she is asked me, "What is a sustainable pace for you?" I got the impression that her questions was part tongue in cheek (if you know me and know how much I seem to be able to fit into my life at any time you will understand her jest). But I also got the impression that she was asking me to think about this. It certainly got me doing so.

In my book, Law 11 is called "The Law of Sabbath". The tag line for the chapter is "Followship requires rest, even in a culture where rest is seen as weak." I guess it is something like this that I had in mind when I began to look at the pace of my life and how I can live in a sustained way. I have also just finished reading (and studying for a new seminar I am putting together) a number of books about health for leaders. I can highly recommend Wayne Coreiro's "Leading on Empty" which was a part of the catalyst for looking at the pace I live my life.

So is it just slowing down? Well, no it has become more than that. I have had to look at everything I am doing and consider whether it is a part of what God is calling me to do right now. As my good mate Mal Galer (quoting Phil Baker quoting Covey) reminded me, "You gotta keep the main thing the main thing".

But this is hard. It's kinda nice to be on the board of this and have that going on and be involved in x and also have a hand in y and z. It makes us feel like we have something to say when someone asks us, "So, what are you up to right now?"

On the other hand, what if we were to respond to that question by saying, "Oh, not much today - I am resting" or "Only this - I let the other things go so I could sustain my life and still have some parts left for my wife and my kids and my God." Even in a Christian culture, this is not a cool place to be. For some reason, Busy-ness is next to Godliness. In reality, this ideal is right up there with cleanliness - there is absolutely no Scriptural basis for it whatsoever!

So, back to my sister's question: what is a sustainable pace for me? Well, right now I am still sorting that out. Obviously, in my line of work where I have lots of stuff on the boil all the time, it is easy to get caught up. But rest assured that I want to honour God first and foremost with my life and if I am living at Mach 3, in the end I will really only end up killing myself and being good for nothing.

But I consider all this with the word 'Sabbath' on my lips. More than just a 'day', Sabbath is a lifestyle of taking time to really rest in God. To stop and say, 'Hey Lord, if you could stop, I have to.' And to realise that there is nothing Godly about rushing through life. And that Sabbath resting isn't just about being reinvigorated, but it is about finding balance in society as well as life (re-read chapter 11 to see what I mean).

When I get to heaven, Jesus won't want to see my shedule or my diary or my appointment book. he will look at my life and how I lived it for him. If you are rushing around, you aren't living. Rediscover what Sabbath is and means. Force yourself to find a true Sabbath rest and a sustainable pace to your life.

If you haven't already, please read the blog entry below about the D.Re.A.M.S. project and pass it onto whoever you know.


Mark G

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Big D.Re.A.M.S. for Small Communities

In the last little while, nearly all of my weeks away on the road have been in small communities where I have been welcomed amazingly; where what I have to offer across a huge variety of avenues was voraciously accepted which meant absolutely full schedules; and where people have thanked me for coming and sharing in their community. From comedy shows to schools to businesses to coaching and mentoring young people and youth workers and teachers, to speaking in churches to appearing at large scale events: no matter what it was, whatever I did was attended well, recieved and responded to passionately and appreciated.

Conversations in two of these towns got me thinking: these places need people to come to them and work with them. They need people who will not just be 'fly-by-night', but who will commit to a long haul plan that will not come in and head out, but that will commit to coming back again and again and again to support the work that has been done and assist thing to the next level.

God has been speaking to my heart since my week in St. George, and my coversations with my mate Ross in Normanton (see the last post about what is happening there) have led me to believe that I can do something of this ilk.

Enter, the D.Re.A.M.S. (Delivering Remote Area Motivation and Support) Project. The idea is to 'adopt' 10 regional and remote towns and to work with them for an extended period of time. It would go something like this:

I would go into a town and spend a week there doing any number of things:
- Speaking and running programs for children and young people in schools and in the community;
- Working with those who work with young people: teachers and principals, nurses, youth workers, youth pastors whatever supporting and coaching them;
- Engaging with community groups that need support and ideas;
- Working with local businesses/chamber of commerce to coach and develop business owners and managers and help them to provide ongoing opportunities for the local community;
- Engage with local churches in their work and ministry in the community, especially where they engage and work with children and young people;
- ...and so on.

After a week in the town, I would come home and do two things:
a) continue to engage with connections in the community to provide ongoing support and coaching;
b) in consultation with local community leaders, begin to develop the next week long visit to come 6 months down the track.

The idea is that a commitment is made with the community to engage with them continuously, and to visit with them to suport and motivate every 6 months for a one week period.

I have worked out that I should be able to do this for only $5000-$6000 per week/per town. This includes everything - my work for the full week, transport, accommodation, expenses, resources and preparation for the next visit. That's only $10,000-$12,000 per town each year. I am hoping to find some in-kind support to help with travel and accommodation that would bring this figure down by about $2000/year or so for each town.

While the towns have not yet been selected, interest has been shown from St. George, Ayr, Normanton, Gladstone/Tannum Sands, Mt. Isa, Cooktown/Mareeba/Atherton, Woorabinda, Charleville and Port Augusta. Alice Springs is also on my heart.

Can you help? Expressions of interest are being sought to provide the resources to do this. Are there businesses out there who want to invest in regional and remote areas? Are there corporations who are stakeholders in some areas who might want to support this endeavour? Are there individuals with a heart for these communities who might want to contribute?

If you have networks who may want to be involved, please show them this blog or pass on the information and have them get in touch with me. I am looking to meet with some potential supporters in the coming weeks, want to at least see if we can get Normanton funded and in before the end of the year, and have at least 5 of the 10 towns supported and booked in for 2010 before Christmas.

Contact can be made via the contact information to the right of this page.

Please commit this to your prayers.

Cheers and Peace,

Mark G

Monday, June 22, 2009

Petrol Sniffing and Dirty Hands (Law 9)

Hey Y'all,

Sorry it has been so long - have been on the road having a great time. Special hello to all in Ayr and St. George. And this week I head off to Gladstone for a show and to speak at a youth conference.

Sorry too about today's topic - pretty much getting back into things with a whack, right?!? well, I got an e-mail today from my mate Ross Harrold. Ross lives in Normanton FNQ where he ministers amongst the indigenous communities up there, and works in the school (where Ross' wife Leigh is principal) in a pastoral/chaplaincy type capacity.

Ross forwarded me an alarming e-mail today and I wanted to share a bit with you. The e-mail came from the Carpentaria Youth Worker, Oliver Wrathall. Be warned that some of the information may be found by some to be distressing. Here's what Oliver wrote:

"I am getting significant feedback from community and Police that sniffing and drug use is increasing amongst youth: specifically, in the age cohort 8 – 13 petrol/solvent use is increasing and in the 13 – 16 age cohort marijuana use is widespread and is being mixed with alcohol use. This confirms my observations.

I think that most sniffing is occurring after school and in the early evening although there is evidence that children who do not attend school are using marijuana during school hours to alleviate ‘boredom’."

He then goes on to outline some programs and interventions he wats to try and implement.

In his e-mail, Ross wrote:

"Hi Everyone,
"This [the e-mail that the exerpt above is from] is from the Council Youth Support officer here in Normanton. I am forwarding it on to you all as a major prayer request for the youth of Normanton. As some of you may be aware Leigh and I are in the process of creating a community hub at the Gulf Christian College and my focus regarding this is to create a Youth Support Team. This Team would run in conjunction with Councils Youth Support Officer numerous Youth events as well as other workshops and support programs. At the moment Oliver is the only person regularly running events to help the Youth in our community and when possible I help out, but with four children, study and School my time is limited and I am not able to help out as much as I would like or as much as is needed.

"So we NEED your help!!!!!

"This is why sending teams to Normanton, even for short term mission trips, is so valuable and important! The opportunities for Christians to make a difference are huge! But the workers are few. So please PRAY FOR US – Myself, Leigh, Oliver and the families and youth of Normanton. It is time for the Church to mobilise and reach out to young people in remote Australia – This is a massive area for Missions.

These young people need to know there is a future for them and a hope in Jesus Christ. Join with us to serve them and show them the Love of God."

Ross Harrold
0402 254 986

I have been talking and talking and talking to Ross for nearly a year now about taking some of my programs up to Normanton for a week or so. Today, I felt ashamed that I was still talking when this is hitting the fan in Normanton.

How typical of me - us - to get so wound up in myself that I forget what is happening in the ral world. When I do, I talk about it 90% of the time. Sure, deep down I think I really mean what I talk, but talking is convenient.

Whereas action - getting my hands dirty - means I have to get out of my comfort and DO something.

If you have my book, read chapter 9 again: The Law of Dirty Hands. It says simply that really following Jesus means getting our hands dirty. Simple as. as they say, talk is cheap...

Well maybe not if it actually leads to some sort of outcome. Which is what Ross' e-mail did to me today. I want to get up there and take my programs and try and go for a week. I am going to need prayer and finances to do it, but we are going to make it happen. If you want to help support this, e-mail me at markgladmancomedy@gmail.com and we will set you up.

Better still, do as Mother Theresa did - find your Calcutta. Where is God pulling your heart - where does he want you to go so that you can make a difference. It will probably be easy: you talk about it all the time...

Now, stop talking and get your hands dirty.

Nice to be back.

I am now on Twitter: www.twitter.com/markgladman

Cheers and Peace,

Mark G