A Call To Fatherhood - Focus 2015 Recap

It's surprising how much you can learn in a field on the south coast of England in just one week.

We have just returned from a week at HTB's Focus Holiday at Camber Sands, now for the 4th year returning to sit under teaching and worship from some of the most amazing people around the world.

This year's Focus was a very different experience for us for 3 reasons:

  1. We were camping (well glamping)
  2. We were taking a 8 week old baby (ours)
  3. See above 2 reasons

Reason one was short lived due to be being evacuated from our glamp tent after just 48 hours due to high winds and torrential rain - resulting in us being moved to the less glamorous chalet's of Pontins Camber Sands (trust me - if you've seen the Watchdog episode it's not far off...).

The theme of the week was Calling - what it means to be called by God. And for me that calling really resonated as what it means to be a father.

What it means to be a leader in the home - what kind of family I want to be in charge of and how I want to raise Mini Milk*.

It's incomprehensible how your perspective can shift so dramatically unless you have gone through it when becoming a parent. Everything you thought was important just dims slightly in the light of needing to preserve the life of this little creature that's entered your home.


It’s that sense of calling, of being known that will stay with me from this Focus.

What makes that light all the brighter is the knowledge that this is a little life that God has pre-destined to do great things.

A little life that will go on to learn to walk, talk, do taxes, take the tube, write their own thoughts on some social network of the future, come (hopefully) to know that there is a universe so expansive around her and that beyond all that there is a God who loves her and knows her place in it.

It's that sense of calling, of being known that will stay with me from this Focus. The speakers were great, the worship was amazing, the Spirit of God was in the place - but more than that, was a knowing.

A knowing that as much as I care for this little life who is asleep next to me as I write this, there is a God delighting in her, and me more than I can ever know, or even imagine.

Some shots from the week:


*Mini Milk is going to be our online given name for Baby Poulter 1 as one of the principles we are choosing to honor is not giving Google too good an idea of who she is before she decides to do so herself!

Becoming a dispenser

Tokyo, Tokyodome Baseball If you have been to a festival, rugby match, football game, or in some cases even the odd school fete, you will have no doubt come across a strange looking fellow or lass with a large barrel beer or pint of "The Black Stuff" strapped to their back, holding a spout, ready to fill your cup with their hoppy beverage. These things are not a bad idea at all. The beer comes to you and it often turns up again when the glass is empty. Someone one day thought about using the technology of portable cooling, filtration and storage, saw the problem of people cramming up to heavily packed bars in stadiums, and fixed one of the truly annoying parts of live events - just simply getting a drink.

I think this little innovation paints a brilliant picture of what is going on around us now. We can all be dispensers. We all have the potential to use a little bit of technology and share what we have with the world, in a way that is truly useful. So how do you go about being a dispenser?

What's in your barrel?

Working out what kind of brand you have in your barrel is often more difficult that getting out there and sharing it (after all, twitter and Facebook aren't all that difficult really...  I mean if 500 Million people can do it...). Each of us has been packed with a truly UNIQUE set of giftings, skills and a past that makes us full of great stuff. We had the potential to be a dispenser of that uniqueness - and the first step to dispensing it, is know what you have. So take stock of it? What do you have that you can give away?

  • What knowledge? What Experience?
  • What connections? What Network?
  • What assetts? What information?
  • Work out what is in your barrel...

Learn to pour it out

Learning to dispense what you have I think is a two part deal, one if a attitudinal, one is a technical.

First - the technical.

This bit is easy. Just get on with it. Can you write a blog about your experience? Can you create a great presentation and share it on Scribd? Can you create a great set of infographics and get them up on Flickr?

Or can you just meet up with someone to share an experience over a latte? (Above all the twittering and blogging I do - this remains my single favorite way of sharing with people).

Second - The attitudinal

Being a dispenser however requires openess. Openess to be opposed, rejected, applauded, revered, belittled and in many cases ignored. This is a matter of the heart as much as it is of the head. If you are ready to share what you have, then be ready to face up to what people may have to say about it - and if you are really ready to be a dispenser, then be ready to share and encourage that constructive critisism. This is something I have learned and love about some of the best dispensers I know.

Tear up the bar tab

What I have found the most rewarding about being a dispenser, is the one thing that the beer dispensers at a Rugby ground cannot do - a dispenser creates new dispensers. You see - when we begin to pour out what we have into others, we see it well up in them, and sooner or later like when a beer glass overflows people become so full of what we and pour into them, they cannot help but dispense it themselves. now that's exciting...

Your 2pence worth...

  • How do you choose to give away what you have?
  • What are the barriers that get in the way of you living the life of a dispenser?

*I felt compelled to share this thought after a talk at our church @stmaryslondon, by our senior pastor Barry Kissell. Barry spoke on how we can share the Holy Spirit because we each have him in us, and therefore we can be dispensers of the spirit to others. I think this is a reality for many Christians, but something that applies to all people, no matter what your faith (or absence of it).*

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