Saturday, 31 May 2008

In Whitley day 3

Today was all about face painting, balloons, football & basket ball - all leading to an invite to the guest meeting tomorrow and the 'Just looking' course on Monday night.

Friday, 30 May 2008

In Whitley day 2

Today we did more door to door visits and also worked up on the Cowsey recreation area. We had a team of around 35 people - so a slightly bigger turn out than yesterday. In the evening we ran a youth event at the community centre.
It was wonderful to see RFC hanging out with new people - Scott, Sitho & others spent most of the time playing basketball with youth. The graffiti wall, sumo wrestling and the DJ were a hit, as was the over stocked tuck shop!!!
Dan Head told something of his story - from a 12 year old on weed to a 25 year old heroin addict with 9 prison sentences finally yielding his life to Jesus.
Sitho followed this by asking the big question of life "Who are you following? because we are all following someone". 15 young people filled out forms asking to know more about the youth activities we run.

Tomorrow we are out again with face painting, ballons and basketball & football skills - lets see how God is going to use these activities!

In Whitley day 1

Here are a few photos of us working up at the Cowsey during our week of outreach: making a path, painting fences and litter picking. We teamed up with Reading Borough Council and another local agency to make improvements to this recreation area in Whitley.
The aim was to improve access to the area and 'sight lines' to help people feel safer.
We managed approx 80m of path in the two days - and tonight I saw two girls running up it at top speed!

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

A word for the wise

King Ahab, whilst under pressure by a foreign king, responds to verbal threats with this telling proverb:

Ahab answered, "Tell him: One who puts on his armour should not boast like one who takes it off." 2kings 20v11

In effect Ahab is saying "a sober assessment when readying for battle is prudent; you haven't beaten me yet, you've yet to do battle & return home safely".

A welcome proverb for us when people write us off; or when our own self confidence allows us to get ahead of ourselves...

Saturday, 24 May 2008

21 days

With only 21 days left until the Royal Windsor Triathlon our minds are getting focused.

This morning at 6am Craig picked me & Kirk up (with all our bikes & wetsuits) as we headed out to Liquid Leisure in Datchet for a 1500m open water swim.

Leaving the car there, we cycled over to Windsor to ride the 40km bike section. It is a lovely route, taking in the Windsor Great Park but I suspect I will be too tired on the day to notice it. Sadly Kirk picked up his sixth puncture of the season - I think he has tissue paper for tires...

I have entered into a strange subculture of wetsuit clad individuals, who in the early mornings, gather at lakes for a swim and then jump onto their bikes for punishing rides. What's stranger still is I get home tired, exhilarated and wanting to do it all again. It must be a mid life thing ...

Friday, 23 May 2008

Just looking

Last night I was out leafleting with our cell group and I got talking to some locals. One of them turned out to be the dad of a girl we took to 'Newday youth camp' last year. Thankfully I had watched the final between Man U and Chelsea so had enough common ground to keep the conversation going!

This made me again realise the importance of the 'Just Looking' course we are starting in 10 days time, just around the corner from where he lives. It will be running in the heart of Whitley, for 4 weeks, and only 75mins each session.

So whilst we are 'out and about' next week, we have to believe that God has ALREADY been working in people. We have to believe that we will meet people who WILL come to a group meeting on their turf, led by Nicola and her team. Let's pray that people like the dad I met last night, would also meet Jesus, whilst 'Just Looking' on a Monday night.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Next week in Whitley

Well our week of outreach into the local community is nearly upon us so in case you have forgotten what we are up to, here is the week in full:
  • Tues 8-9pm prayer meeting at the church office.

  • Wed 6-7am prayer meeting at church office.

  • Thurs 9:30-4pm meet at church office then break into groups for social action / visiting homes.

  • Fri 9:30-4pm meet at church office then break into groups for social action / visiting homes.

  • Fri 8-10pm Youth Event at South Reading Community Centre.

  • Sat 10 - 12noon Fun in the community.

  • Sunday 10 - 12noon Guest meeting with Phil Moore

  • Tues 8-10pm joint prayer meeting with South Reading Churches at JMA.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

In light of the resurrection ...

Therefore, my brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.

Therefore my beloved breathren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. 1Cor 15:58

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

The root issue

Last night a cross-party attempt to ban hybrid human / animal embryos was defeated on a free vote, by 336 to 176. MPs are now debating the abortion laws and any changes that should be made in a free vote.

Health Minister Dawn Primarolo insists there is no evidence requiring the abortion laws to be changed. She said the government wanted to protect the right of women to choose. The right of the 'unborn child' to life is apparently second to the mothers wishes.

As a nation we are rightly shocked by the brutality and lack of regard for life shown to immigrants in Johannesburg. Yet our government doesn't see the parallels of 'the sanctity of ALL human life' - be it at 12 weeks in a womb or a 32 year old citizen of Zimbabwe in Jo'burg.

All life is sacred, we are all image bearers of God. No-one has the right to violence over another, no-one has the right to take another's life.

Monday, 19 May 2008

29 years in 20 minutes?

This evening I read 1Kings 8 -11 which is an account of King Solomon's reign from having finished building the Temple to his death. It took me about 20 minutes. These four chapters record him bringing the Ark into the Temple, His prayer of dedication, God appearing to him a second time, the visit of Queen of Sheba and finally his sad demise.

From the pinnacle of Israel's glory to the death of a wayward king - a 29 year period all done in 20 minutes.

Life is short and we have precious little time to attempt great things for God. By God's grace I trust the account of the next 29 years of my life will take longer to read than a leisurely 20 minutes at the end a day ...

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Mark Driscoll on Revelation

'Sadly the book of Revelation has become the fishing pond for Christian wingnuts with an affinity for goofy charts and endless debates about the mark of the beast, who the Antichrist is, and whether or not locusts are really codeword for Blackhawk helicopters. Such people need new hobbies and the right medication. Revelation is a book about Jesus and emphatically declares that in the opening line of the book'. Vintage Jesus, p150.

This statement brought a smile to my face ...

Thursday, 15 May 2008

newfrontiers Prayer & Fasting

This week the staff team attended two days of Prayer & Fasting at Peterborough and yet again the journey was rewarded by meeting with the manifest presence of God.

This was one of the recurring themes of the two days, the presence of God: desiring His presence, expecting it, enjoying it and bringing it. And the Spirit moved wonderfully.

We spent time praying for the urban poor. We prayed for overseas workers and for church planting teams. We prayed for the UK abortions laws, the young people and the doubling of newfrontiers churches.

Terry gave some superb teaching on restoring the church. We are to diligently attempt to restore the church to her NT reality. The church should be built on a foundation of grace not law; should value and make room for the presence of God; worship should make space for the gifts of the Spirit. Church should have a sense of fellowship, partnership, deep involvement; should be theologically rooted; and the church is the centre of the purposes of God.

It was a wonderful two days ... I can't wait until the Brighton leadership conference in July!

Old friends

Last night I met up with two old friends that I was at Uni with (88 - 92, Elec Eng).

Neil 'Jock' Beven was the student most likely to die by age 25 due to his lack of care when doing project work for British Nuclear Fuels. He was famous for his 'dashes' into restricted high radiation areas to recover the prototype inspection robot he was driving. Thankfully he is now 38, healthy, has two daughters, and is a mad as ever.

Rob 'the Gob' Vermeer hasn't changed. We met in the first week of the 1st year and we were founding members of the 'Arrows' drinking team. When I turned to follow Jesus, I lost all those 'friends' except Rob. But he stood by me and we did everything together: our 'year out' in Hamburg, horrible holiday jobs, we lived together and sat our finals together. And now he is happily married.

And last night we were all together again and laughed at Jock's stories ... and thanked him for picking up the tab for the meal. I like meeting up with old friends.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Another pool side lesson

Last night the swim coach decided to move people up a lane - presumable to move us out of our comfort zones. I moved up into the lane that Alan's was 'pacing' - apparently he is 65 and without a doubt he is a human torpedo. So yet again I had 60 minutes of pain. Yet again I kept coming in last.

Now, my head knows it was good for me. I am sure I had a more beneficial swim as a result. But being out of my comfort zone is not pleasant and you don't go home in quite the same frame of mind.

Life is like that - we know it is good to raise our game it just so much more comfortable where we are.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Girls & Boys

We blokes have a lot to learn.

On Saturday afternoon the girls organised themselves a time together which, by all accounts, was a raging success.

The personal stories of Nicola, Georgie, Barbie & Kerry not only reflected the grace of God but also showed what tenacious faith looks like.

Karena's seminar on prophecy and Lucy's on studying the bible bore fruit at the Sunday morning meeting and will continue to do so.

I am told that, as ever, the tables looked beautiful - fresh flowers and table clothes. Apparently they ordered just the right amount of Chinese takeaway and the scones for the cream tea were perfect. (They at least were baked by a guy!)

All in all, they have once again set the pace in encouraging community & godliness. We guys have some stuff to learn.

Friday, 9 May 2008

This weekend at RFC

Tonight the youth will be going wild in Lower Earley - a treasure hunt with water bombs, followed by toasted marsh mellows. Avoid the area if you want to stay dry.

Tomorrow morning at ACTS14 leadership school Andrew Wilson is speaking. He was fantastic at the last session - the way he brought alive Isaiah 6 was inspiring.

In the afternoon, the girls are meeting at the offices for a cream tea, various seminars (prophecy, how to get more from the bible), testimonies and then a Chinese meal together.

On Sunday we are continuing our series on Jesus - this time looking at Him as our Shepherd (John 10:11-18). I shall be preaching and I would really value your prayers.

Finally, the church prayer meeting is on Sunday night. We need to keep praying that people will get saved ... only two people this year (as far as we know) have become a Christan through our church!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Sojourners, aliens, strangers & exiles

This morning I again came across the word sojourner so decided to look it up for a definitive definition:

noun: a temporary stay i.e during his sojourn in Paris.
verb: to stay for a time in a place; live temporarily: to sojourn on the Riviera for two months.

It has the sense of being away from home, living temporarily, not really fitting in, on a journey. The NIV bible tends to use the word 'alien', 'stranger', the ESV bible 'sojourner', 'exile'.

Heb 11:13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.

We are not supposed to be surprised when our value systems don't fit our current culture. In a very real way, we are supposed to think of ourselves as journeying citizens from another kingdom.

Food for thought for those of us who like to put down roots, to get established and fit in. We will never really be at home this side of death - we are just staying for a short time. Our true home is in the age to come.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Vintage Jesus

Scott has just passed me his copy of Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll. I scanned the cover and read the endorsements from the following people:
  • Matt Lindland - 2000 Olympic silver medalist in wrestling; top-ranked middleweight mixed martial arts fighter
  • Brandon Neal: President, Tooth & Nail records
  • Wayne Grudem: Research professor, Phoenix seminary
  • Church Colson: Founder, Prison Fellowship
I love the diversity of their backgrounds - a mixed martial arts fighter ... a research professor. All desiring to know Jesus better and this book promises to paint a vibrant picture of Him. I can't wait to get going on it!

David found strength

I read over the weekend 2Sam30 where David returns to his camp at Ziklag (a cool name for a base) only to find it had been raided by the Amalekites. They hadn't killed anyone but did take captive all who were there. David and his men were distraught, they even talked of stoning him, such was the bitterness of their souls . "But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God".

'Strengthening yourself in the LORD' is far easier to 'read' than it is to 'do'. Pressing into God when every sinew in your body is screaming out to hide / run / flee / panic / escape is no easy thing. Being able to 'strengthen yourself in the LORD' when your world is messed up, is an activity worth cultivating. For me it involves enforced sung worship, enforced scripture reading and enforced prayer. It often starts in the enforced, but it regularly finishes in the embrace of God's grace. Jesus was the master in this activity, and He has not left us as orphans.

When I try to strenghten myself in the LORD, I often find God is quick to rush in. To be honest he rarely changes my circumstances but He does strengthen me to endure. God is good. God is the gospel.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Hart Sprint Triathlon - Race report

Waking up to rain on a bank holiday is always a downer - especially when it's race day. In my mind race day should always be sunny, the birds singing and the family cheering ... yeah right. Thankfully by the time it was my slot to start the sun was out.

The race was based around Fleet (where I preached at the newfrontiers church recently) which is a lovely rural town in northern Hampshire. The 400m swim was indoors, followed by 20km bike ride on mainly quiet country roads. However this was followed by a gruelling, water logged, mud-tastic, cross country 5km run.

That said, I had a good race, coming in 67th out of 409 finishers. Both Craig and Kirk put in good performances but weren't quite on there usual best. To be honest all our eyes are fixed on the Windsor race in 6 weeks time, so at best Hart was a training exercise.

It was good to see some of the guys from the club there ... I am still getting to know them, and some of them are hard core! All I need now is for my blisters to heal, then I am back to some serious run training.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Chocolate Friday

We have many great traditions in the church office: the 10:30 tea break, shorts as apparel of choice for male staff from 1st May, fridge policing and desk dancing, to name but a few. But perhaps the best one is 'Chocolate Friday'.

Throughout Friday morning previous 'Chocolate Friday' purchases are first reviewed, then graded, resulting in a clutch of chocolate options that are purchased. Today's selections were:
  • Scott - Double Decker
  • Nicola - Guylian
  • Rachel - Mars bar
  • Karen - Twix
  • Ed - Yorkie
  • Sean - Double Decker

Chocolate Friday's pinacle is 3pm when everything stops - even sermon prep - for tea and chocolate in my study (the study as the venue is a recent amendment). If you are ever around on a Friday, choose your chocolate, place your order, and head on down to the church office for 3pm...

Thursday, 1 May 2008

In Whitley

I read this morning 1Sam 25, which is the account of how a wise & godly woman saved her family from David's righteous anger. She acted on behalf of her household and turned away his judgement.

This naturally turned my thoughts to our outreach into our community at half term. In just 4 weeks time we will be bringing some summer cheer and the good news of Jesus to the men & women, boys & girls, mums & dads, granny & grandads and the uncles and aunts of Whitley.

Now is the time to book annual leave, or talk to your kids about getting involved, or to plan your revision to free you up, so that like Abigail your response to the coming judgement, your wise words and actions, will save many in our community.