Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Too busy to blog

Its good to be back in church life. The weekend was a wonderful blur of activity, quite simply it was a wall to wall, people-tastic, 48 hours.

Monday was spent with Ben Davies and other pastors talking all things leadership (actually Ben did most of the talking). I even got 90 minutes alone with Simon Benham & Ben which was a tonic to my soul. Last night was Alpha at the Glo bar and the edgy 'who will turn up' gut wrenching feeling was exhilarating!

It's good to be too busy to blog. I like blogging but I much prefer meeting with people, preparing to preach, leading, and generally being out and about.

The caged tiger that was 'Sean Green on sabbatical' has been let out again and I still have plenty of pent up ministry fervour to discharge! (Remind me I said this in December when I prefer blogging to being with people!)

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Sabbatical Reflection #1

This is the first of my reflections, grouped around my personal life:

Fatherhood - I have realised that when my children ask me for something, in my mind I often start with a 'no' and then figure out if a 'yes' makes better sense. A small detail, but when under pressure / grumpy I find I don't progress past my starting point. I need turn that around, in my mind to start with a 'yes' to their request and then figure out if a 'no' makes better sense.

Intensity - I am an intense & intentional person, which I like, and I don't do 'laid back' about much. The problem is that my intensity has seeped into too many areas of life and that is exhausting & can make me way too serious at times! I need to channel my intensity into certain activities and then chill out about everything else.

Well done - I can focus too much on my failures & sinfulness and miss what God's grace has done in my life. Independent of my perceived achievements, I need to enjoy the 'well done' of God.

Fruitfulness - I need to dare to believe I have been fruitful, that I have stewarded my talents, time and treasures well. I have been fruitful for Him because He has been at work in me - and I need to celebrate that.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

1 in 10

This morning I preached on the small, throw away line in Nehemiah 11v1. It's a verse about how Jerusalem was re-populated after Nehemiah had finished the walls. 1 in 10 of the population were 'chosen by lot' to move into Jerusalem.

These people already had stories of great faith, albeit a few years old, for they had returned from exile in Babylon. And yet God was calling numbers of them to go again into new faith adventures by starting over in Jerusalem, which would be a risky place to live.

Given God's big story of mankind's redemption, moving your family again a few miles down the road, makes perfect sense to us. But for them it must have felt like being cornered.

Kingdom life involves movement. Be that literally or metaphorical, physical or spiritual we are to be always on the move. When God calls us, by whatever means he chooses, we need to ask for the grace to 'pack our bags and head to the city'.

Many of us are 1 in 10 people - our 'big faith stories' are years old but now God is asking us to 'go again'. It may be pursuing new levels of holiness, it may be stepping up to new responsibilities, it may be joining us in Amsterdam. Whatever it is, Jesus is worth it.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Back in the office

It is a strange feeling to be back in the church office after 10 weeks out.

There is clearly momentum to the Autumn term that I need to catch up on - Alpha at the 'Glo' bar, week of prayer, Worship day and Marriage Course. The Czech & Slovak toddler group and our partnership with the residents at Purley Park are two new initiatives this term. Andrew, Hanna & Sam have started their year team and Nathan Bailey will be the youngest person we have ever bapitised.

It's a strange feeling stepping back in to all this. On the one hand I am thrilled that the elders and deacons and everyone else have gotten on so well without us. This is what we want, have built towards and expected.

But to be honest is does all feel slightly un-nerving! Not being involved and having to catch up on all that has happened... and all without us!

However, life is change. And I guess how you respond to change defines so much of our outlook. All this momentum certainly builds confidence in Liz and I as we are sent out to plant again.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Rubbish - but not a crisis.

Today our house buyer pulled out. Apparently, whilst trying to exchange contracts on their own house, the offer was dropped by £30k. They have subsequently withdrawn their offer on ours.

Rubbish.

This morning I arrived at the following verses in my bible in a year:

Hebrews 1:2 In these last days God has spoken to us by His Son, whom he appointed heir of all things and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being sustaining all things by his powerful word.

Isaiah 32:17 The fruit of righteousness will be peace, the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.

Psalm 105 Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he had done.

God is able to order my daily bible reading to help me through unwanted news. God is good & able & in control and therefore we are not in a crisis ... (although it still feels rubbish!)

Monday, 15 September 2008

Just like us ... but Dutch

On Saturday Liz & I flew to the Netherlands to meet with people from the newfrontiers churches there. Everyone seemed very normal and wonderfully Dutch.

They were friendly, loved Jesus and sang the same songs (but in Dutch ... mainly). They laughed at jokes, drank coffee and food seemed to be at the centre of most meetings. They had an offering at their celebration meeting (I felt very at home!). No-one wore clogs or a 'bonnet' or carried armfuls of tulips.

Liz and I were warmly received, honoured and made to feel very welcome. No-one said we were mad planting into their capital city - and once we are there I am sure many will join us. Above all, we both felt we would easily love these people and their nation.

We return next month with our children for a week of house & school hunting and having more Dutch fun. Meanwhile it's back to life at the RFC church office.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Fear

My son is currently on a school trip and yesterday overcame his fear of heights and did the 'leap of faith' - he even got a special mention on the school trip website!

Apparently, psychiatrists believe we are only born with two innate fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. That means every other fear is 'learnt' and this week I seem to be swimming in a lot of my 'learnt' fears.

I have been swimming in the fear of moving to Amsterdam and then my kids being in terrible schools and they struggle.

I have swum in the fear of the financial pressure that comes with a church plant and isolation from close friends.

I am wading in the fear that RFC may falter and then my friends feeling I let them down.

I have occasionally paddled in the fear of failure - yes looking stupid, but mainly that I am leading my family into something we won't be able to do.

And in truth, all my fears are well founded and could come to pass.

But Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. What I fear could happen, however the root issue is this: who do we believe our God to be and what has He asked us to do?

The fine details of our future as a family are hazy but Liz and I are certain of what we see: our family thriving in Amsterdam, RFC powering on and a new church established, and the gospel going to the nations.

So like our son, we are going to make our 'leap of faith' knowing it is our heavenly Father at the end of the safety line.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

The God particle

BBC website today - The Hunt for the God particle begins today at the European Centre for Nuclear Research or CERN (full article here).

There is a fine line between scientific endeavour (which I applaud) and the arrogance of man as shown at the Tower of Babel.

I love mankind's desire to explore, discover and understand. I love huge engineering task that display our collective learning and achievements and advancement.

But science can be a religion - the CERN complex one of it's cathedrals.

Theoretical physicists may well be 'bracing themselves for a revolution' and experiencing 'palpable excitement'. I however am looking forward to hearing more about how God has wired up this universe that He spoke into being ...

They are not looking for 'Higgs Bosun' - they are looking for Jesus.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

In full view - Rom 12v1

Today I went walking with Scott in the Chiltern Hills. It was raining, it was muddy, and it was fabulous. We walked along the Ridgeway which has wonderful views of rolling hills & fields ... and we had space to think and talk. And every so often we had to stop and admire the view.

Admiring the view is becoming a habit of mine these days.

I grew up on a council estate in Portsmouth with a violent, alcoholic father who had to be removed by the court system. My mum did all she could working late shifts to make ends meet, but it wasn't enough. State benefits clothed us, paid for school dinners and our rent, but could not connect with the insecure boy that was me.

By the time I was 21 I was becoming my father; when sober a lovely guy but also one who abused alcohol and was growing in violence towards my girlfriend. I was deeply insecure and very unhappy.

Then I met with God's mercy. I met Jesus, the friend of sinners, and my new life began.

I thoroughly enjoyed my walk today - the views were magnificent. But it pales to insignificance when compared to this walk of faith and the glorious views of Gods mercy it provides. So I want to offer my body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Him - this is my reasonable act of worship.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Trent Vineyard

Yesterday we visited Trent Vineyard in Nottingham, and it happened to be their 12th birthday and the first meeting in their new building extension.

The building is fantastic. It's a warehouse that has been converted and extended, the aesthetics' and art pieces were beautiful. The worship time was of a different style and the welcome & info presentation was relaxed and very informal.

The message by John Wright was a short refection on the past 12 years and then he introduced 5 people who had joined Vineyard recently. Their stories were very moving and illustrated his points succintly.

And then came the brilliance of the meeting. At the end, words of knowledge were given and people were invited to respond. Liz said the maturity and care of ministry team was excellent.

I would have wanted more songs about Jesus, contributions during worship and a 'proper' expository preach by John. But I am not leading that work and God was there, is there and will be contine to be at work there, regardless of my views!

It was an inspiring morning because God is also with us at RFC and will be with us in Amsterdam. And He is able.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Out and about

With our sabbatical drawing to a close we still have a few fun things to do:

Tonight we are travelling to Bracknell to have dinner with Simon and Catrina Benham who lead Kerith Community Church - we got engaged in their kitchen so who know what will happen tonight!

Over the weekend we are going to Nottingham to visit Trent Vineyard. The church was planted 12 years ago and is thriving.

On Tuesday I am spending the day with Scott walking in the Chiltern Hills whilst planning our transition in the Autumn term.

On Wednesday I am travelling up to Birmingham to meet with Jonathan Bell who planted and leads churchcentral. Jonathan is a great friend and thinks very different from me!

Next weekend we are travelling to Harderwijk in the Netherlands and staying with Henk & Eunee Kersten . On the Sunday we will be attending a newfrontiers celebration meeting in Voorthuizen where all six of the Dutch churches are gathering.

And then on Tuesday 16 Sept it's back to the church office for the 9am team meeting - and it will be good to be back at RFC!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

My 'dash' #2

Sean Green, 20 August 1967 - ?

I've been thinking more about my 'dash'. I find it intriguing to see my life represented by such a small mark. Its not that I mind my life being represented by a dash, I just don't want it characterised by a small mark.

As a christian I've always wanted to be like a BIG DOG i.e. I would not be easily shaken off when I have my teeth into something for Jesus. I want to have a big dog's prescience, ferocity and 'bite' that advances the kingdom of God.

And I want to love and know and obey my masters voice. I want the 'dash' between my birth and death to be characterised by a man who knew and loved and obeyed the great friend of sinners ... and who also look as good as this as Alsatian!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

My 'dash'

Sean Green, 20 August 1967 - ?

I have just finished reading John Ortberg's book 'When the game is over it all goes back in the box'. In chapter 16 he asks you to fill out your name and add your date of birth. There is then a 'dash' and 'question mark'. He says one day someone else will fill in the date of the question mark.

Ortberg reminds you that we don't choose our birth or death but we get to work on the 'dash' (it's sobering to see my life as little more than 'dash' between two dates). The book outlines, in his usual readable style, how we can make the most of our lives.

Like many, I want to my life to count. I want to have a legacy that the world was a better place because I did what God had for me. And like many, fear, comfort, fitting in, laziness and settling for less, all fight to reduce the lustre and depth of my 'dash'.

Ortberg's book is a great, easy read (and his illustrations are both funny & poignant) and if you can make the time to read it, I am sure it will stir you too.