28 episodes

Discipleship for busy blokes: conversation with lots of blokes about life, faith and what it means to follow Jesus!

Elim MPower Elim MPower

    • Religion & Spirituality

Discipleship for busy blokes: conversation with lots of blokes about life, faith and what it means to follow Jesus!

    Episode 28 with Richard Gamble

    Episode 28 with Richard Gamble

    On this episode we had a great opportunity to catch up with Richard Gamble, the pioneer of the Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer, which is to be built between the M42, M6, HS2 and Birmingham airport and which will become visible to approximately half a million people a week once complete.

    The architecture is configured into a Moebius strip comprising of a million bricks, each one linked to a testimony of answered prayer – in written, audio or video form.

    Richard’s heart is for the stories of answered prayer to be told in much more accessible ways and to make them far more widely available to anyone, through visiting the structure.

    A Moebius strip is an infinite loop which speaks of the eternal nature of God; and furthermore, because the strip effectively only has one surface, no-one can be left on the outside.

    People are able to share their testimony at www.eternalwall.org.uk and these can be linked with the bricks via an app that can be downloaded at the visitor centre.

    It will be possible to explore answered prayer in thematic ways, such as navigating difficult seasons of life, illness, issues with fertility, struggles with provision, enduring suffering or waiting for long times for prayers to be answered.  The prayers featured will cover all areas of life and the app can also interactively bring up prayers from all parts of the globe and from different times in the past.

    The app links the position of your phone against the Eternal Wall and then presents the prayer back to the phone upon request.

    The Eternal Wall Of Answered Prayer pushes the boundaries of architecture and technology and aims to collate a million testimonies about prayer.

    The project is also the first ever crowd-funded landmark in the world.

    Richard originally heard from God 17 years ago and has seen so many answered prayers in the journey from the original conception up to today.  He reports some astonishing testimonies from different people who heard independently from God about the Eternal Wall and offered their support, particularly regarding provision of land for the project – land now worth £1.7m.

    Richard comments on the obvious parallels between the Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer and the book of Nehemiah: how different groups draw together to build something with God's help, and how we navigate those who resist.

    We touch on the miraculous continuity woven into the concept of the wall, where testimonies from it have contributed to a rise in faith which then in turn have led to further answered prayers – the presence of one brick literally leading to the emergence of another!  Richard also envisages going beyond a million testimonies, as bricks have 6 sides!

    Before closing in prayer for everyone listening, Richard also wisely advises those waiting continually for a prayer to be answered to keep our gaze on the person we pray to i.e. Jesus, and not the next time of prayer or meeting or event.


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    • 28 min
    Episode 27 with Leon Mills

    Episode 27 with Leon Mills

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    In this episode we are chatting with Leon Mills, the manager of the foodbank on the staff team at Birmingham City Church.

    Leon talks us through his role in overseeing the foodbank – how it originally started out, who it serves and its heart to bring the compassion of Jesus to people in financial difficulties. He explains how the foodbank feeds people physically with food for up to 3 days, and also spiritually through offering prayer. A big driving factor for him in leading the foodbank is that people are known and valued for who they are, no matter their circumstances.

    He reports that the pandemic has seen a rise of people needing the food provision, with all sorts of people needing to make use of it, and he gives us a breakdown of the kinds of food that people are able to take away with them after they visit.

    We get into an insightful discussion about the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus and talk about Jesus’ teaching about compassion that comes through so strongly in that powerful story.

    Leon suggests that a hindrance to compassion is a lack of empathy. In other words, if God allows us to go through hardship, he could be gifting us the capacity to have more compassion towards others – and so we must continually attempt give time and energy towards other people’s situations and the feelings they are having. The danger for the rich man was that he was defined by his wealth. Is what we are worshipping going to turn on us, and destroy us?

    We note that the rich man’s five brothers also ignore Lazarus, and that it only takes one person to pipe up and press for more compassion to completely change the plight of someone in need.

    Leon offers three really helpful ways for men listening to increase the compassion further: reaching out to the people all around us; offering to pray for people; and offering our service in a bigger cause. All of these things open up and increase our compassion so much.

    Leon shares a moving story about a woman who broke down in tears after receiving some unexpected Christmas presents alongside her food parcels, and how kindness still has universal currency.

    We play ‘spin the wheel’ and in response to the fitness / food option, Leon talks about his regular fitness routine a martial-art fitness called Capoeira; and his love for Jamaican ackee and saltfish! Leon also reminisces about leading the drama ministry at BCC; and admits to a love of playing of charades, in which he gets to cater his acting skills.

    Leon closes in prayer for all the guys listening in – a meaningful and yet fun chat, Leon, thanks!


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    • 32 min
    Episode 26: Special Edition on Loneliness with Mark, Gordon, Liam and Nick

    Episode 26: Special Edition on Loneliness with Mark, Gordon, Liam and Nick

    In a special and extended edition of the podcast, we feature four of Elim’s MPower team: Mark Lyndon-Jones, Gordon Allan, Liam Husband and Nick Whittome.

    We have gathered some of the team to speak especially via the podcast into a big issue affecting men’s lives: loneliness.

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    Mark explains that men can find it hard to build and maintain friendships and avoid isolation – and the recent pandemic has undoubtedly made this worse.

    Isolation is a real threat to men: King David slipped morally with Bathsheba once he was isolated. And despite the availability of social media and messaging, men don’t always connect in a way that is healthy. Mark reported that the suicide rate in England and Wales in 2019 was the highest for 20 years, with 3 of 4 of these being men. The highest risk age group for suicide is men aged 45-49.

    The MPower team believes it is absolutely crucial to speak into this issue to offer men a way forward, and to remind men that God loves them and that he has a plan for their lives.

    Mark shares a couple of stories of how isolation has been playing out for a couple of the men in his network.

    Liam shares the story of a man connected with a former church who had been in and out of prison. He was very difficult to connect with, no matter what was done for him – and very sadly he took his own life on Boxing Day. Liam said that he and the guys from that church responded to the tragedy by being so much more intentional about connecting, because even though we might be surrounded by people, we may still have few meaningful connections.

    Gordon identifies a whole range of reasons why different men might feel isolated or lonely, but he also reminds us that under God, we are never truly alone, because we belong to Him as our heavenly Father.

    Spending time in the bible and spending time in prayer helps us to remember that God is always with us and for us. Church is a family and a connected body, and Jesus promises us that he will not leave us orphans and that we will receive the Holy Spirit, as sons of God.

    Gordon also reminds us that Jesus himself experienced loneliness in the wilderness, in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross.

    Nick reminds us too that the Bible offers us powerful rescripting to counter the negative messages we may have received from all sorts of sources which might be driving us towards isolation through falsehoods we might be wrongly believing. He reminds us that Jesus calls us his friends.

    To counter loneliness in practical ways, Mark suggests that as the pandemic begins to lift we should now start connecting with friends – and sometimes it’s good to make it about them even if it us who is feeling lonely. Perhaps have a coffee and take a walk, or maybe play some sport – just connect.

    Gordon suggests we ask God to reveal us the truth about us from the bible, and get our ourselves to church and get involved! We need to get a passion, and get a project. Once men are working on something jointly they will open up. We need to check around us to see who needs our help, and to count our blessings.

    Liam rightly points out that the biggest challenge is reaching out in the first place, and admit that vulnerability to ourselves. Being involved and helping at church is such a great help for blokes struggling with loneliness. Community sheds are also a great way for guys to connect – Google ‘community shed’.

    Before closing this important episode in prayer, Mark encourages us all to keep inviting those guys in our networks who might be on the fringes of church or who don’t know Jesus. He also recommends that we listen to an audio reading of the bible via YouVersion.


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    • 50 min
    Episode 25 with James Glass

    Episode 25 with James Glass

    We are chatting with James Glass, who is the Elim Regional Superintendent for the North West of England and for Scotland. James is married to Beryl who is also an ordained Elim minister and they have three children aged 24, 21 and 16.

    In this episode of the podcast we discuss the idea of truth: how culture interprets, handles and presents truth, and how far that might differ from what the bible says about truth.

    James suggests that in our western culture there is a prevailing trend for relativism, which is the postmodern idea that we each have our own truth, and that there is no such thing as objective truth.

    In this way of thinking, things like ‘fake news’ come to the fore, as seen particularly under President Trump’s administration; or we have telling ‘your truth’ and ‘my truth’, as seen in the Oprah interview with Harry and Meghan.

    On the one hand it seems that we do really want ‘the truth’ and to be sure that things aren’t just made up; and yet at the same time we don’t like purely objective truth – and this is a tension that our present-day culture struggles to resolve.

    We talk about the debate over the numbers in attendance at President Trump’s inauguration, and ask whether politicians are especially prone to difficulty with truth. James makes the point that no one seemed able to come out with genuinely balanced commentary during Trump’s presidency – things were either strongly for or strongly against him, but no sensible middle ground.  Perhaps this made worse by a whole swathe of people feeling that they weren’t well represented.

    James shares some thinking from the philosopher John Gray, former professor of European thought at London School of Economics and visiting professor at Harvard and Yale. Gray’s perspective is the much of western politics seems built on Christian ideals, yet with the kingdom and person of God stripped out. When politicians throughout history (including figures like Pontius Pilate) start trying to make the truth subservient to an ideology, the situation can become really dangerous and not just truth becomes casualty – people themselves get damaged. Jesus’ trial was based on a religious ideology taking supremacy over the truth.

    After noting Justin Welby’s response to Harry and Meghan about the true point at which they were really married, we ask whether the church has the responsibility to tell the truth always. James wisely advises that we can be more effective as Christians in the arena of truth-telling when the church picks its battles – a bit like wise parenting!

    James reminds us that truthfulness is enshrined in the ten commandments: ‘we shall not bear false witness’. It affects our personal relationships, and not being truthful erodes political credibility. He draws some great analogies: in taking a aeroplane flight we really need to know that the pilot flying the plane is just not ‘making things up’; or in crossing a bridge that the structural engineer is not just ‘inventing’ equations!

    For the apostle Paul, the truth of the resurrection is the ‘yes or no’ hinge point for Christian belief: it either happened or it didn’t.

    And in answer to the question about where men should take a stand on the issue of the truth, James again wisely reminds us of the need to keep in step with the Holy Spirit about the times when we need to be courageous, versus the times when we need to be wise! Sometimes we are battling with unregenerate minds, and we have to decide just how fruitful we are going to be in making a point of pursuing truth.

    On the other hand, we should always stand up for others if they are being misrepresented, and make sure that false witness does not prevail.

    James offers some great advice for blokes who perhaps struggle with always telling the truth.

    We conclude that truth-telling usually needs accompanying with kindness!

    Thanks for an excellent and thought-provoking chat, James!


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    • 36 min
    Episode 24 with James Aladiran

    Episode 24 with James Aladiran

    We are chatting in this episode with James Aladiran who leads Prayer Storm, a charity that aims to “gather people together around divine encounters and equip them to be increasingly fervent and strategic in prayer.”

    James opens by telling us about his family and explaining the background to his journey towards Prayer Storm. He confesses that to begin with he never had an ambition for Christian ministry as such, and on top of that hated public speaking! He likens how he felt about his speaking ability to one of those really bad X-Factor candidates who can’t sing!

    He then shares about a turning point in around the year 2000 in a meeting where the Holy Spirit really took hold of him in an unusual way, however, delivering him from holding back and birthing a fire in him to speak about God, describing it as a personality transplant!

    He also shares openly and honestly about how marriage is like a crucible or an amplifier, where lots of things in our lives suddenly get a much bigger focus for change from God. Becoming a dad also then takes this process to the next level, requiring us to dig deep and hard into our maturing process, making us want to be the kind of person that our kids aspire to become.

    James speaks candidly about four main issues that he sees are facing blokes in 2021: purity, identity, security and spirituality. If there is one thing that really stands out for him as ‘charged’ in our society right now, that is a huge challenge for men, it is the area of sexual purity – in thought and action. He feels that the church needs to be spiritual hospital where people feel they can go and get wholeness and healing, rather than being shamed about it, although sadly this is not always the case. (Note from MPower: visit https://mailchi.mp/m/destroying-the-stronghold-of-sexual-impurity for a sexual impurity stronghold buster you can pray through daily for 40 days)

    James identifies strongly with both Moses and Elijah from the bible. He wants the same connection with God that Moses had – that he can walk with God as a friend. He also prizes how Moses interceded for the undeserving nation of Israel. He is also really stirred by the prophecy of Joel that the Holy Spirit will be poured out on all people.

    We press into the issue of unanswered prayer. James believes there is a mystery connected with prayer that has not yet been answered: just as Elijah kept on praying for rain, we need to keep being persistent in prayer, and stand on what God has told us. Sometimes though we also need to check our motivation about the unanswered prayer: is it coming from a place of taking offence at God, or is it coming ultimately from a place of trust in God’s character? If we are trusting in the middle of the mystery, then we are being positioned for greater revelation.

    James also reminds us that we must not let our unanswered prayers become the definition of our prayer life. Whether our prayer needs are met or not, we still have a relationship with Him. If God were not going to answer any further prayers, He has already done enough!

    James shares a great testimony from a time when a missing cartilage in someone’s knee got formed from nothing during some worship; and some of the recent Prayer Storm livestreams have also seen great turnarounds in people’s situations in response to worship and prayer. He also reports that there have also been some stunning answers to personal financial needs – sometimes to the exact amounts of finance requested!

    He encourages us all as men to keep on contending strongly for the breakthroughs we seek.

    James admits to a liking for Jaguar cars, and shares about a wonderful holiday in Spain at a villa with an infinity pool.

    He closes in prayer for all the guys listening.

    A great conversation, James, thanks so much from all of us in Elim and in the men’s MPower ministry!


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    • 31 min
    Episode 23 with Luca Russo

    Episode 23 with Luca Russo

    In this episode we are chatting with Luca Russo, who looks after the livestream production and the student and twenties ministry at Birmingham City Church in Birmingham UK, as well helping to lead worship on Sundays and create video productions.
    Luca is Italian, the son of a pastor from Sicily, and he became a Christian as a teenager in a youth camp. He went on to study in bible college, and has always wanted to serve God with his life. Luca is married to Deb and they have a son.
    Luca shares his strong confidence in God’s capacity to provide for his needs, because of the number of times that God has come through for him and his family, again and again, even if it has come through at the last minute!
    He also reports a time when he had bronchitis so badly at the age of 17 that he had to go for a hospital for a week. Initial x-rays showed some very concerning scarring, but after praying with his dad, Luca received complete healing, so much so that the doctor called it a complete miracle. As men we are prone to trying to fix things ourselves, but Luca advises us to trust God’s character and capacity more often!
    Luca relates strongly to the character of David in the bible, because of his humanity. What marks David out was that every time he got things wrong, he had the ability to keep on returning to his heavenly Father’s house straightaway in repentance. If you sometimes don’t feel as spiritual as Jesus as a man, then all you have to do is look to David for a great biblical example!
    We play the spin wheel, and Luca shares his love of football and how he grew up playing it in the streets in his home nation of Italy. He also admits to being excellent at Fifa on his games console.
    Luca also highly recommends his Boss Tuner app which he uses all the time to tune his guitar, which works brilliantly.
    He also really enjoys his Pure electric scooter which he uses to ride in to church, with his son on board! It takes 4 hours to charge, and whisks him to his train station in the morning really quickly. In has a better range in warmer weather of up to around 18 miles but quite a lot less in colder weather, and can almost reach 26 miles per hour.
    Luca closes the podcast for us all in prayer. Thank you Luca, it was a great chat! https://vurbl.com/station/6UHJxuc7etf/


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    • 23 min

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