Monday, 31 March 2008

God in three persons

Yesterday I picked up the April-June issue of the newfrontiers magazine. Terry's article was ever, great ... and I always take note of his book recommendations! I chuckled my way through the interview with Mark Driscoll and enjoyed the articles on God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

But it was Greg Haslam's article on our Trinitarian faith that I found most provoking. I must admit that I do get slightly irritated when people pray and they switch between Father and Son mid-sentence; as if God has a personality disorder. But Greg brought day to day Trinity implication beyond prayer and mental assent to historical Christian orthodoxy.

For example, how the Trinity should shape every day life. I have never considered that the root of oppressive relationships is the denial of Trinity. He suggests that a Philosophy of Trinity should break the boredom of regimentation - our diversity is anchored in unity.

Give it a read and enjoy the wonder of 'God in three persons, blessed unity'!

Friday, 28 March 2008

Heroes of the week

This week’s heroes has to be a family you probably haven’t met, Dave & Hanna Henson. Liz and I met them on the church planting school 7 years ago and we have kept in touch. Dave planted into Loughborough then handed the church over to move out to Tver, Russia last May (Katie Oxborrow went out to visit them).

We regularly chat on Skype and catch up with their news (Russian winter, car woes, language learning etc). But this week it was all about future moves to another Russian city and the numerous challenges to make that happen, not least financial.

Here was a guy who had a steady job, and then went to work for the church he planted. He then handed that over, moved his family to Russia, to spend two years learning language and culture in order to be able to plant in that great nation.

Dave and Hanna are my heroes because they burn with a passion to take the gospel to the nations … and are working that through.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

This Sunday, Jezebel and life at RFC

So this Sunday I am preaching on Rev 2:18-29 and am pondering the meaning of tolerating Jezebel.

Jezebel was an Old Testament woman who incited King Ahab and Israel to compromise by worshipping the false God 'Baal'. (1Kings 16:31, 2Kings 9:22,30-37). She was a nasty piece of work (1Kings 19:1-2) and hated God's people. In the New Testament city of Thyatira it seems as though a 'Jezebel figure' was an established influence / teacher in the church who was arguing that some degree of participation in idolatrous aspects of local culture was permissible.

So here is my question: in our desire to be in engaged in and exposed to our culture (and not be in a christian enclave) where can we slip into pagan idolatry? For example, what aspects of our culture try to define us or promise us self worth?

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Ruth

So with a huge pile of ironing to do I switched on Liz's ipod and listened to the first week of Mark Drisoll's series in Ruth.

He had much to say that was provocative and helpful and insightful. But the statement that has stuck was me was this one 'Ruth didn't hear from God to return with Naomi, she simply went loving Naomi and trusting in God's character'. I saw afresh that she backed herself into God and his people, and that was enough for her and can be enough for me. Very helpful.

Follow the link and listen to Ruth chapter 1, it's about an hour but well worth the time investment. http://www.marshillchurch.org/sermonseries/redeemingruth/

Monday, 24 March 2008

Thames Turbo Sprint Triathlon - Race report

The first race of the season got off to a very cold start - it was +2 when we left at 5:45 and there was frost on the ground as we waited around to start swimming!

The transitions from swim to bike (T1) and bike to run (T2) were slow owing to the additional clothing required - all very time consuming but made for a warmer race!

Craig beat us all on the bike leg and bought me a bacon butty and a cup of tea - what a great friend ... magnanimous in his victory!

Richard put in another solid performance but suffers for riding his Trek hybrid with panniers ... I think he will now have to buy a road bike to even up the field!

Kirk, the newcomer, put in an amazing swim & a solid run, and he pipped me by 26 seconds...DOH! Once he cracks the bike section he will be really hard to beat!

I came in over 2 minutes behind my target time ... no excuses. It's gonna be a great racing season!

Images from Henry Budgett/Tri247.com

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Are we relevant and seeker sensible?

Thinking caps on.

I have been reading around the need for our gathered church meetings to be both 'relevant to our culture' and 'seeker sensible' whilst also holding to our core values of teaching from the Bible and Spirit led worship.

For example, on Sunday mornings are there things we do that aren't too important but don't make any sense to unchurched people?

So here is my question that I need you to ponder and comment on:
What things do we do when we gather as church, that create a barrier or are simply weird or Christian-ese to those on our fringe / unchurched?

Helpful comments please ... (and yes, comedy can be helpful if it has a point!)

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

The Joy of Fearing God

Liz has finally finished with 'The Joy of Fearing God' by Jerry Bridges and has passed it on to me. She has been working it for ages but relinquished her copy after my constant badgering! I started it this morning and plan to do a chapter a day as part of my devotionals.

I wept reading chapter 1.

Now there is something about first reading the bible and praying that helps me engage with books with a far tender / open spirit. But after only one chapter, I can see why Liz held onto and worked this book for so long.

So I say, get a copy of the book, read chapter 1, and hear why fearing Him is 'life and health' for us.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

A small victory

On the 29th February, I wrote about 3 cars getting clamped during a church meeting and how it was another example of exploitation in our town. The clampers were acting on behalf of Reading Single Homeless Project who are a great local charity but have outsourced their carpark security to an unjust contractor (who charged £975 to release the 3 cars ... ).
This afternoon, together with LatinLink, we met RSHP and they have agreed to drop the carpark security firm and work with us on a new solution.

It is so good when common sense prevails and three organisations can work together to diminish, albeit minor, expressions of exploitation. I am hoping that we can now start to tackle the weightier expressions of exploitation in our town.

Incidentally, the girl I wrote about on that same posting has just been paid £63 for 48 hours work. She has now left that employment.

Monday, 17 March 2008

A busy day off ...

  • Up at 7:15 - family breakfast, planning Zoe's birthday.
  • Take children to school.
  • Bike ride - 19 miles, steady pace, light winds!
  • Lunch - smoked mackerel salad ... I am a changed man.
  • Sort out house finances - good to do but dull none-the-less.
  • Pick up children from school - at least it's not in the car.
  • Help Joshua with his school project - 'Ernest Shackleton - Arctic explorer!'
  • Cook dinner - I only cook on Mondays and tonight it is my speciality!
  • 6:30 Craig is picking me up - local bike shop '20% discount night!'
  • 8-9pm 'gasp-a-thon' at the pool with the Tri club.
  • 10pm - bed ...

Friday, 14 March 2008

Hugging Men

I have always struggled with why guys want to hug each other. It is all very strange but I do want to learn this peculiar art if only to say I tried it and proved it a nonsense. Please watch this video as it will help explain what's happening the next time we greet ...



The following photos are compelling reasons why I NEVER try to hug a guy:

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Too close to home

Today I emailed my MP regarding his voting record on issues surronding abortion - I could have put it much stronger but I am still working all this out:
Dear John Redwood,
I wanted to drop you a line and thank you for for voting record on issues related to abortion. I am gravely concerned about the rising abortion rates and am pleased that my MP is taking a lead in stemming the flow.
Yours sincerely,
Sean Green

Here is John Redwoods reply: 'Thank you. I will continue to do so'.

I also emailed the church regarding signing a new petition calling on Parliament to support amendments to reduce the number of abortions in the UK.

Why am I doing this? Because I love Jesus and His views on life need to be heard and I need to indentify them. Secondly, I find it easier to work in London Street, having spoken out against this, knowing it is happening just 100m from where I sit.

It is just too close to home to ignore.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Would the real Sean Green stand up.

So much clamours for my attention: bills, house maintenace, my training, problems, deadlines, meetings (in all there forms) etc etc. To compound this, I find that I am also generating a fair amount of noise: my goals, my responsibilities, my tasks, my dreams, my fears! With all this going on I sometimes find it all too easy to start to drift and not lead myself well.

So I have been working on leading myself better: to let the real Sean Green (the new creation, born again and filled with the Holy Spirit) have the loudest, clearest voice (and not the old distracted Sean Green).

Basically I want to be all about Jesus - I want to be a fanatic for Him and after Him. What I mean is when faced with the clamour of life, decisions, fears, or a character development moment (i.e everyday life), I want to let the real Sean, the wanabe Jesus fanatic, to lead me.

I am a follower of Christ, I am destined to have 'life to the full' and therefore must be at the rudder of my life with confidence and clarity. I need to let the real Sean Green stand up and lead me.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

A true friend's question

Last night Craig dropped me off after the Monday night 'gasp-a-thon' swim session at TVT. As he did so he asked me a great question. It went like this "Sean, were you flirting with the girls in your swimming lane?"

A potentially life saving question from a true friend. Hand on heart I could say to him "No, but I do want to be friendly". With my heart in my throat I asked him if he thought I was flirting. Thankfully he said "No".

What followed was a helpful discussion on being friendly to people of the opposite sex. I do want to be friendly to those I spend an hour a week with. But I don't want it to lead to anything else. And with a friend like Craig - I have another safeguard in place.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Alpha, chalk and mealie meal

Sibs Sibanda (Zimbabwe) sent through another email this week outlining how some of the money we gave them last year, is being used:
'This week we are running an Alpha leaders training week in Shona in Dotito. Alpha Zimbabwe are sending 2 guys up with 3 of our leaders from our Shona speaking church to train the guys in Dotito on how to run Alpha! Awesome hey! The best thing about it is that Reading Family Church is funding the whole thing! - materials, food, transport - everything!

Not only that but I found out on my last trip that the government schools in the area (2 primary schools and 1 high school) don't have a piece of chalk between them! The kids have no exercise books and their text books have fallen to pieces. So RFC jumped in again! We've bought each school 5 boxes of chalk and 100 exercise books for the kids. We're also planning to buy mealie meal for all the school teachers because they get paid so little. This will open incredible doors for the gospel in this entire region!

Brother, I thank God for your partnership with us in the gospel! We would not be able to do such things by ourselves.'

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Newfrontiers elders & wives weekend away

This weekend we are away with Sitho & Miranda, Craig & Karena and Scott & Barbie and approx 80 other couples from various Newfrontiers churches in our region. Dave Stroud (who leads the UK team) and Steve Tibbert (who leads the London team) will both be speaking - so it should be excellent.

Weekends away as an eldership team have always been really important, if only to ensure we keep building relationally and to top-up our treasury of good times together. They are also times for hearing from God as a team; it is very rare to get the 8 of us together without having parenting or leadership responsibilities.

But they are also times when the deacon team, yet again, shine brightly. They demonstrate their maturity and responsibility by ensuring that when the church gathers she doesn't miss a beat. The deacon team make an eldership weekend away possible and for that alone I am truly grateful for them!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Anxiety

I sometimes seem to live with a knot in my stomach the size of a football, at present though it has diminished to a tennis ball! Worse still, at times I am not even sure why anxiety is gnawing away at me. I thought this was normal and something I simply had to manage (via sleep, triathlon, time off, family time, etc).

However, yesterday whilst ironing a huge pile of laundry, I listened to Mark Driscoll on a A rebels guide to joy in anxiety. It was so helpful, if only to be reminded that it is normal but it is not reasonable for a Christan to stay in anxiety (Phil 4:6). He made a brilliant statement 'Anxiety is an attitude to be repented of and not a symptom to be managed'. For me I needed to be reminded again who God is and to live out the command 'do not be anxious about anything but to bring my petitions to God'.

Please do listen to his message and let me know what you think.

Monday, 3 March 2008

We held hands but didn't kiss

So the Reading 1/2 marathon is done. Liz came down with a flu thing on Saturday and had a fevered night ... not classic pre-race preparation. At 10 miles we were still on track for her target time but then Liz faded and we ended up coming in at 1:43:13. Liz was relieved to have finished and was quicker than last year but gutted all the same (Especially as we have done faster 13 mile training runs!).

Highlights:
#1 Watching the fire in the field that was caused by the starter gun.
#2 Running with Liz even though she didn't say anything at all ... for 13.1 miles.
#3 Seeing so many friends as we ran the course.
#4 Holding Liz's hand as we crossed the finished line.

Low light:
#1 Not getting a kiss until we left the stadium (but it was worth waiting for).