Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Minor revelations

Like many Christians across the world I have been chasing days to read my ‘bible in a year’. On 14th December I calculated I had 191 chapters to read before the end of the month.

To be honest I liked the challenge because of the huge upside of reading big chunks of the minor prophets & the tail end of the NT.

I crossed the line this morning and I’ve come to a conclusion - we are not mad in believing the bible.

I had forgotten quite how rich the minor prophets are in prophecies about Jesus. The book of Revelation gives such hope in Jesus and His return that current challenges slot into their correct significance.

I don’t know what your year has been like - maybe like me you seem to be chasing stuff that refuses to stand still. It’s good to remember that through it all is 'God’s big story' about Jesus and the cross, about a garden and a city, and about His glory and His grace.

We are recipients of amazing grace, predicted by prophets 100’s of years before Jesus was born, how cool is that?

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Something worth saying

Jesus.

Jesus is.

Jesus is the.

Jesus is the Son.

Jesus is the Son of.

Jesus is the Son of God.

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God (1John 4:15)

Monday, 15 December 2008

Are we there yet?

On today's ironing marathon I was accompanied by Driscoll on stewardship. We all need to keep training our heart on this issue!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

WW2 and my Grandad

Joshua is doing a school project on WW2 and he interviewed my Grandad about his experience. I found it fascinating and learnt some new things about him! I have posted the transcript below:

Joshua: How old were you when war was declared?

Grandad: Seven.

Joshua: Where were you when you heard that war had broken out?

Grandad: I was at home with my mum & dad and my two sisters. We had a wireless which ran on an accumulator and a large battery. We were told to be quiet while the Prime Minister broadcast we were at war with Germany.

Joshua: How did you feel when you heard about the war?

Grandad: I didn’t know what to expect. I think I knew mum & dad were worried. All the young men in the village were called up for the forces and all the teachers at school were women as the men had to go in the forces.

Joshua: What parts did your parents play in the war?

Grandad: My father was a coal miner in the Kent mine called “Chiselet”, sunk in the Isle of Thanet (Kent) where we lived. He also was a member of the Home Guard and did night watch guard on the cliffs of Kent. My mum was a house wife who looked after the family feeding and clothing us, she was excellent.

Joshua: How did your life change during the war?

Grandad: My life became very exciting. Air raid sirens sounded every day and at all times. German bombers flew over head on formations of 100 plus, anti aircraft guns blazed away. At night search lights went on to illuminate them. I watched Spitfires shooting some down and fighting with German fighters, planes crashing everywhere, parachutes coming down with English and German pilots attached.

Joshua: What was it like at school before the war?

Grandad: It was very enjoyable and quiet and a pleasure to go to school. I was in the second form after starting school and I was 4 ½. I had good friends and we played marbles and conkers and chased the girls.

Joshua: How did school life change because of the war?

Grandad: School life became a constant upheaval. We had an air raid shelter built in a square under our normal play ground, everyday the sirens sounded and we all filed down steps (about 15-20 steps) and kept in class order sitting on benches and had our lessons down there. There were toilets down there at each end but they were horrible. Sometimes we went home late because they had to wait until the ALL CLEAR siren was sounded.

Joshua: How did your family cope on the rations?

Grandad: Mum was an absolute heroine, she cooked wonderful dinners all the time for us kids, although she went without herself. We all had ration books and mum went to the butchers shop every other day to get what was available. We had a veggie garden and we kept four chickens for eggs and dad would come home with an occasional rabbit and mum would make pies and stews. We also received on a regular basis food parcels from Canada. Mum would buy dripping as well which we enjoyed on toast. We could always go scrumping.

Joshua: Do you have any other memories of the war?

Grandad: My memories were exciting, watching planes shooting each other down. I never realised the hurt it was causing others. We would collect bullets and souvenirs from these planes before the authorities got to them and told us to clear off. I went to school in Canterbury after winning a scholarship and caught the bus every day. One day coming home a Messerschmidt machined gunned a bus and two girls were killed. I once was caught with ten others boys pinching ammunition from an army ammo dump. We all had to go to court and my dad was fined £1-10 shillings … he wasn’t happy! We had a German POW camp in the fields at the back of the village, they used to be taken to work on our farms. They were friendly towards us. D day was exciting for everybody and Victory was a blessing.
Our life at home was an upheaval every evening before sunset, we had to fit blackout frames to our windows so we didn’t show any light. We all slept in a “Morrison Shelter” which was a big solid metal caged table with a mattress and blankets. We ate off the table which was fitted in our kitchen. We lived with candle light and the toilet was out I the yard. We were a lucky family Joshua because we all survived. But my dad was worn out and died before he was 60.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Church budget 2009

The church financial year runs from January to December so right now Karen & I are day tripping to 'Spread Sheet Land'.

I REALLY like being in 'Spread Sheet Land'. I like the challenge of understanding what has happened over the past financial year. I like tracking and trending and trying to figure out forward costs. I like bringing faith to actual figures on a spreadsheet.

And our church are incredible givers. Somehow, against the odds, we might break even this year (at least within 2%).Clearly our God is not in recession.

The fun, then, comes in what to believe God for next year whilst being wise in the current climate. Next year the lease on the church offices expires and we do need a Sunday venue closer to the town centre. We want to do even more ministry than we have this year. We want to handle our money with faith and generosity and wisdom. We want to show Reading how to thrive in recession, thus pointing them Jesus.

One of the things that boils down to is this - how much of an increase in giving are we believing God for next year. I love the way Kingdom life often runs counter intuitive.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Jack - a soldier's story

Last night I watched a documentary about 24-year-old Lance Corporal Jack Mizon. Mizon was involved in full-on fighting in Afghanistan, and saw his friends die and get injured. He was honoured for his bravery. He seemed a regular guy, doing a job he loves for £19k a year.

But back home he struggled to adapt and unsurprisingly gets into trouble (assault, GBH & goes AWOL) . The contrast between the footage of him fighting for his life in Afganistan and then on guard duty in Aldershot is stark.

Through it all he seems like the boy next door who you always want to be on your team. And yet I was left feeling we have failed him. Are we really surprised he struggled to adapt? He clearly can't go around punching people to the ground when he gets angry but what else could we expect?

Give it a watch on the BBC iplayer here ... but it expires in 6 days.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Breaking the ice

On one of the coldest Sundays mornings for a long time, we filled our baptism pool with 1000 gallons of water straight from the fire hose at Reading Girls.
Mike Dix, who became a Christian 4 weeks ago after the men's breakfast, stepped resolutely into the cold water and got baptised.

Mike's story is wonderful. In just a few short months he has moved from being married to a Christian to following Jesus himself. This is what we are about as church - making disciples. Mike is a lovely guy who has met our beautiful Saviour.

This coming Sunday we are baptising three more people, I just hope it will be above zero degrees this time!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Preaching is the 'new' sex

Today whilst ironing I listened to Dave Bish's latest sermon at Arbofield Church. I really like Dave's style and insight ... and the parallel he draws between Genesis 2 & Acts 6 is provocative. It's only 25minutes and well worth the time ...

Thursday, 4 December 2008

RUCU & Romans 8

Tonight I am speaking at Reading University Christian Union . They are working through Romans and I have been asked to do Rom 8:18-32. This term they have exploded with overseas students and so they are asking speakers to keep things simple and accessible - I love the heart behind the request.
I have broken the passage down to three areas:

Sin has ruined - the bible worldview is traced to Gen 1-3, the effects of which we live & experience daily.

Hope is secured - the bible worldview is that Jesus will come again and usher in an eternal age and His glory will be revealed in us. AND new pleasures in God will be discovered and enjoyed eternally.

Help has come - the bible worldview is that the Holy Spirit is a grace gift to us from God the Father. The one who Jesus said was ‘Just like me’ helps us live out our lives as Christians.

I have enjoyed the rigour of handling v28 but am won by Douglas Moo's overall postion :“The promise to us is that there is nothing in this world that is not intended by God to assist us on our earthly pilgrimage and to bring us safely and certainly to the glorious destination of that pilgrimage”.

I am planning for it to be a Jesus centred evening!

BlackBerry helmet

Gotta get one of these:

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

My first BlackBerry

Today I joined the company of people who get email delivered straight to their mobile phone. The sense of connectedness I now feel is palpable.

The device in question is a BlackBerry Bold 9000, and it is pretty funky. I do need to figure out a bible application to load onto it but apart from that it seems to have all I need.


On the down side, I am told that most people become enslaved to checking email / SMS, but I am convinced that won't happen to me! Liz has wisely given me a weeks grace before we agree my 'blackberry boundaries'.

My next step is to post a blog from the device ... just because I can.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Another RFC hero

In the summer Lucy Thomas met a Czech lady in a local park and they got chatting. It turns out she has other Czech friends with toddlers and they would love a place to meet and spend time together.

So began a journey that has resulted in a Czech Playgroup meeting in our offices on a Monday Morning. I popped in this week to find the mums & children singing songs in Czech whilst Lucy & Helen Forster were tidying stuff up.

Lucy is a true RFC hero. She has reached out to a community in Reading that we didn't know existed and has helped us use dead time in our offices to serve Czech mums in our town. Everyone wins.