Friday, 31 December 2010

Questions of 2010

At the beginning of this year I wrote a number of questions in my journal and have often referred backed to them (They're taken from John Burke's book 'No Perfect People Allowed'). Here they are:

Am I experiencing a life of growing in connection with God?
Am I growing in my love of God and people?
Is it Jesus I need or do I think I need something else?
Do I believe He is the source of the life I want?
Am I living a life others want?
Am I being honest with myself and others?
Have I truly found Jesus so fulfilling I can't contain it?

As I pondered the year, reflecting on how I might now answer these questions, I realized my conclusions were based on what has happened, how I reacted and how I now view those moments.

I was able to easily list a page worth of 2010 blessing; things that I am thankful to God for. At times I was moved to tears as I considered God's goodness to me and my family.

I also wrote a few Low-Lows; unanswered questions underlining my inability to fix or change things. At times in 2010, I have been at a loss of what to say, do or feel, only being able to point people to Jesus.

The reason I like these questions is that they embrace my deep desire to know God and have Jesus as the source of the life I want. I want to love people and know God the Father as Jesus did. I want to do life well, and that is rooted in growing in relationship with the Triune God.

And so I think there is still enough life in the questions to copy them out again tomorrow to see how I journey with them though 2011.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

'Bible in a Year' 2011

On Saturday I am hoping that many of us at RFC will start reading the Bible cover to cover in a year. The plan we have suggested has 25 readings a month so that there are a few 'spare' days for you to either catch up (like me) or have a break.Just as I like to train for triathlon with others, I find doing reading plans alongside others really helpful to keep me going when I'm behind ... or bored (Yes, I do get bored of bible reading, pray for me!). To download this scheme click here.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas day @ RFC

One final reminder that we are meeting at the church offices at 10am to worship Jesus and celebrate His birth.

There will also be the traditional 'Bring & Show' of your favourite present, some come prepared!

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

A weekend with Julian Adams

One of our values as a church is that we are open to the prophetic. At present that is primarily outworked on a Sunday morning through contributions (by a few) and also in Lifegroup. I would suggest that we all need to grow in our understanding and experience of using the prophetic gift and receiving it.

On Saturday 15 January, Julian Adams is speaking at a conference in Shepperton, equipping us to be 'Naturally Supernatural'. Please do consider coming along to that (details here).

The following day we hope to have Julian here with us at RFC in the morning ...

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

North Point's iBand

Very cool - thanks to Josh John for putting me onto this ...

Traditions and Truth

On Sunday I spoke about the importance of us embracing truth, as well as tradition. I reminded us of some Christmas gospel truths which I have listed below in case you didn't get them down:
• Genesis 3v15.
• Isa 7v14 & Isa 9v6.
• Jer 33v14-16 & Micah 5v2.
• Matt 1v20-23.
• Luke 1v30-32 & Luke 2v10-11.
• John 1v1 & v14, Col 1v15-20 & Phil 2v5-8.
• Rom 5v6-8.
• Rev 22v12-13.

As pastors we are encouraging all at RFC to join us as we follow a plan to read the Bible in one year. It is 25 readings a month, allowing a few days each month to catch up ... or simply have a rest!

To download the reading plan in preparation for the start on 1st January click here

Monday, 20 December 2010

Shovelling for Jesus

Each week a huge amount of work gets done by teams of people to help us gather as church. Given the snow fall on Saturday, there was some question as to whether the school could open because the carpark was under a few inches of snow and the incline onto the school grounds gets very slippery.

Cue Iaon Hoare, Josh Betts, Pete Horne and Scott Taylor.

By the time I arrived on Sunday, a path 2m wide x 200m long had been cleared, allowing us all to drive & park as normal.

Let's keep cheering on those who keep going the extra mile in order to serve Jesus and His people.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

RFC leadership awards 2010

Last night we gathered the leaders to recognise the unique contributions they make to the life of RFC:

The 'Roy Avis award' went to Pete Horne for the best new beard of 2010.

The 'Loudest Amen Award' went to Anita Bailey who consistently offered a clear and enthusiastic response in every preach.

'The Most Abrasive Comment Award' went to Stuart Wakeling with his now famous email on why people should serve "Why are you letting everyone else do the work you lazy slacker? Stop thinking and do it!"

'Longest Time in the Hole under the Stage Award' Ben Patterson & Andy Twine who some say are part man, part mole.

'The Breakfast Award' went to the fabulous foodies Mark & Kerry Cowieson who lead both men and womans breakfast teams.

'The Host Tshirt Award' went to Ed Rundle for wearing his host T-shirt on a date, to the pub and for countryside strolls.

'The Washing Up Delegation Award' was accepted by Dorothy Dix on behalf of Will Offei (he delegated her to do it ... a similar strategy he adopts for washing up).
'Arts Centre Lighting & Ladder Award' went to Chris Poston who can now be regarded as the leader of the ladder, the star of the steps & the ruler of the rungs.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

RUCU carol service

I was asked on Friday to speak at the carol service run by Reading University Christian Union. It was held this evening at Christchurch which is a beautiful setting for traditional carols. The CU team did a great job and they had a good crowd there.
It was good to see so many RFC students there, it really helps having friendly faces when your speaking!

Friday, 10 December 2010

71 and still a Barbarian

This Sunday @ RFC we have our great friend Ben Davies with us. We met for breakfast this morning and he has told me something of what he will be preaching about ... it's going to be great. 

I've known Ben since I joined his church in 1992, and he is as passionate now to extend the kingdom of God as he ever was.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

New sermon series - dwell deep

My thoughts have been turning to next year and what sermon series would set the best 2011 trajectory for RFC. I have given this quite a bit of reflection and landed at the following sermon series:
We need to be those who 'dwell deep' in Truth; those who plumb new depths, discover new treasures, find fresh delight in God's Word, the Bible.

We need to be those who 'dwell deep' in Building Community; those who take off their masks, reach out, and do life together.

We need to be those who 'dwell deep' in Acts of Service; considering others more important than ourselves, prefering their needs to be met first.

We need to be those who 'dwell deep' in Missional Living; those who are intentional about the people & places that God has placed around us.

And finally we need to be those who 'dwell deep' in Generosity; those who endeavour to cultivate generous hearts expressed in attitudes & actions.

I am really looking forward to this sermon series as it helps set the trajectory for us at RFC for the year ahead - that we 'dwell deep' in the things of God.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

What a night!

So 700 people gathered this evening in the town hall for our Carol Concert. It was fantastic.

The host team were excellent and looked fab in their black polo shirts. The band did really well pulling together new arrangements of old carols - very cool. The choir sounded magnificent, I had no idea we were such a talented bunch!

The tech team (PA, lighting and laptop) worked hard all day and made the whole event a delight.

The offering raised £3319 for the Duchess of Kent House which they were thrilled with.

All in all it exceeded our expectations and I sense the pleasure of God in all we have endeavoured to do for His glory.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Another RFC hero

Many of you already know Keith & Leslie Holland, RFC started in their home way back in Feb 2000. They now lead HOPE, our group based in a Residential Care Home, bringing church to adults with learning difficulties.

Sadly, two weeks ago, one of the regulars of the group died. She knew Jesus and was loved by all at HOPE. Keith was asked by the Residential Home if he would lead the service at the Crematorium, which he did today.

Keith & Leslie are RFC heroes because, 11 years on, they are still commited to extending God's kingdom and doing new things for Him. They are great ambassadors for what Jesus is doing in Reading.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Sermon prep

Am preparing for Sunday - lacking energy - found this story - made me smile:

A father was reading Bible stories to his young son. He read 'The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city, but his wife looked back and was turned to salt.'

His son asked ' What happened to the flea?'

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Cloudy Days in Summer - 5th Feb 2011

Last year RFC hosted a day aimed at giving both permission and a framework to discuss mental health amongst amongst Christians. It was oversubscribed and many people told us that they found the day useful.
We plan to run the conference again but this time at Kerith Community Church in Bracknell to cope with the anticipated demand. The two morning sessions will lay out a Biblical framework and explore the relationship between psychology and faith. After lunch there will be two seminar tracks, one for 'those who walk through these experiences' the other for 'those who walk alongside'.
Tickets cost £10 per delegate; to book your place either phone the RFC church office or book online here.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Prophecy today

On Sunday I spoke about the ‘Prophesied Kingdom’ and said that both the Prophets & Prophecy recorded in the Old Testament are uniquely different to our experience of the prophetic. The Prophets of the Old Testament can be regarded as bringing the very words of God; infallible, inerrant and spoke as God's very mouthpiece.

But we don’t live in that age of the infallible prophetic word of revelation. In short, prophets & prophecy of today need to be carefully weighed whilst also not being treated with contempt. So what can we expect?

What the church has been given is the gift prophecy, the office of prophet, and a whole range of prophetic gifting in between. The bible encourages any Christian filled with the Spirit to prophesy ‘Everyone come with a tongue, a scripture or a prophecy.’ 1 Corinthians 14:26. Steve Tibbert in his blog uses the following diagram that I found helpful:

He argues that prophecy has degrees, or measures. I do think this is helpful in seeing that very few (if any) will operate with only God’s word at the point of giving the prophetic word. As such we need to be very discerning in weighing each and every prophetic contribution: 'What is of man and what is of God?'.

I don't think I want to argue for each of the 4 types of prophesy or try to map people into them. But I do want us all to be wise about 'from who' and 'how' we receive prophetic words. We are to be always looking for that nugget of Gold that leads us to God.

Stu Alfred on his blog gives some helpful guide lines in weighing prophetic words:
1) Is this true? Where do I find this truth spoken in the Bible?
2) Will this edify? This is the purpose of the gift. It is given to build up others.
3) Is the timing right? In a meeting or when speaking to someone, when is the best time to offer what I feel.
If someone offers me a word I will ask the following questions...
1) Is this true?
2) What do my leaders feel about this? (Seeking Godly wisdom)
3) How do I apply this?

For Stu's full blog post click here

Friday, 26 November 2010

Pursuing God's will

I have been slowly working my way through the book of Ephesians and have been camped out in Ephesians 5 all month. One of my conclusions is that its ok to be my wife's biggest fan.

Liz spoke recently at our regional newfrontiers woman's conference on 'Pursuing God's will' for you life.

It's worth a listen (click here), even if you're a bloke ;o)

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Carol Concert sold out!

All 750 tickets for the carol concert have been collected and we are now operating a waiting list. If you already have tickets can you confirm your guests are still coming and let Josh Betts have any spare ones.We have 46 on the waiting list and don't want any seats to remain empty! A great problem to have.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

My Blackberry is bust

So I am now without my blackerry and I feel OK .. so far. Vodafone have supplied me with a basic phone and it took a while to remember how to input text (It's all so very primitive).
I am going away for a few days with newfrontiers so will be 'off comms' with no email or web access. I am quite looking forward to this retro experience.

The big decision I face is whether to now switch to an iphone or continue with my trusted friends at RIM... the lure of '79 pence apps' is high ;o)

Monday, 22 November 2010

Very cool

I'm so pleased people do stuff like this...beautifully filmed; incredible riding.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Comedy @ RFC

So we asked the budget holders to submit proposals for 2011 as we have the first round of budget discussions this Friday. Below is the feedback from Ed who heads up our Welcome & Host team (Sam is one of our interns).
I particularly liked the £5000 allocated to the 'Like to Know More form' bonus scheme and the £700 for a trap door for unwelcome visitors ...

Fathers & daughters - Paul Reid

At the weekend I attended a Men's conference in Belfast, Mandate 2010 (a curious name ... I went to a 'man date' with 2000 other guys!). Whilst there, I attended Paul Reid's seminar on the father / daughter relationship. He was honest, funny and very helpful ... here are my notes:

There are no perfect fathers - only one, our Father in heaven. I can't take all the credit for our kids, neither can I take all the blame. Proverbs 22v6 is not to be used as an all binding promise.

It all begins with my relationship with my wife. Don't under estimate the impact of my relationship with Liz on Zoe & Lucy. They watch, learn and form their norm for the marriage relationship / relating with men.

Each daughter is different but they all need unconditional love. My girls need to 'feel' loved, not just know it. Daughters are emotional beings who thrive on unconditional love. Therefore avoid the 'behave-believe-belong' train of doing life, rather adopt the 'belong-believe-become' ethos. No relationship can flourish in an atmosphere of disapproval. Don't corner my girls into conformity by approval. Unconditional love is to be the foundation of our relationship.

They need to know they are my priority and that is reflected in quantity of time I give them. The 'boyfriend chat' is rooted in playing 'Polly Pocket' now. Affirm them as a woman and use appropriate physical touch. They need a father to affirm and admire their beauty without any motive other than unconditional love. Girls need dads increasingly as they get older. I need to stand at the head of my daughter's parade and be their chief supporter.

Few things can penetrate my daughter's heart as my foolish words, so be careful and seek forgiveness (Proverbs 18v21 & 15v4). Daughters see the 20% they can't do and think that disqualifies them. Sons see the 20% they can do and think they can do it all! Be interested in what they are interested in.

They need to hear me say "I'm sorry" but not everything is about me.

They need to be encouraged to follow Jesus in the way that suits their own personality.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Mandate 2010

I am off this weekend with Sitho to attend 'Mandate 2010' in Belfast where Mark Driscoll is the keynote speaker. It is an annual men's conference and this year they are looking at the life patterned by John the Baptist.
I plan to attend a seminar by Paul Reid which will explore the father/daughter relationship.

We are traveling as part of a group organised by one of Sitho's friends and I am really looking forward to getting to know these guys. Judging by the pre-conference email banter, it should be good fun.

We do need to keep raising the bar on what it means to pursue true greatness as men and hopefully this weekend will equip Sitho and I to do that at RFC.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Enjoying my faith

I am really enjoying my faith at the moment.

That may come as a surprise to some, but if we are all honest, following Jesus can be a hard slog. At times my faith journey is dry and I can see more clearly what I don’t have or can't have. I endure in my faith but it's not always easy or overly joyful (The plod of God as someone once said).

But right now I am enjoying my faith. I am mining the gospel and the going is easy. My tools seem to be ever sharper and my light ever brighter. I am in a rich gospel seam that is yielding it's treasure with minimum effort. Oh, how delightful is this season.

So yes I am tired but enjoying my faith. Each day I seem to unearth new treasure and bring it into the light of my day.

A delightful season in the glorious gospel of Jesus.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Stuff I'm thinking about

Here's some of the stuff that I'm buzzing with, in no particular order:
  • Who's the next elder, next 2 deacons, next full timer?
  • What's God saying about Sunday nights at South Street? (We always planned to review it this month).
  • What has God got for us in 2011?
  • What venues does RFC need from Oct 2012 onwards?
  • What do I uniquely bring to RFC and what should I stop doing?

Monday, 1 November 2010

Putting out chairs

Nine years ago on a cold November morning, we set out 50 chairs in Reading Girls’ School for the very first time. We had just leafleted 2000 homes and were now publicly launching the church. I can’t remember how many new people turned up, but we didn’t fill all the seats.

Since that morning, we have put out a lot of chairs, met many new people and seen Jesus change lives. There is something about putting out seats, trusting God to fill them and then people becoming Christians, still thrills me.
Next month, on Sunday 5th December, we are setting out 750 seats in the Town Hall. In attempting to gather that many people in the heart of our town, we are embarking on the biggest outreach event in the life of RFC. It is going to be a great evening.

In 2001 we struggled to gather 50 people. Nine years later I’m sure we can get close to filling the Town Hall for a Carol Concert ... we just need everyone to bring at least 2 guests. There’s no Kingdom benefits from empty seats.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

St Petersburg

Liz & I are still processing all we experienced over the weekend with Dave & Hanna in St Petersburg (SPB).

We arrived on Friday at their flat in central SPB, around 5pm local time. Their children were returning home from school and family Henson was in full swing. Before long some of their Russian friends joined us for tea & cake, although we understood very little as they were all speaking Russian.

On Saturday morning we went for a boat trip around the canals with Dave & Hanna and their children. With a dusting of snow on the ground it felt proper cold, we were issued with blankets when we went out on deck.
In the afternoon Liz & I hosted a marriage seminar for the leadership team at Hope Church (a pastor & wife from another church also attended). This continued over dinner in the evening and was great for getting to know them all better.
On Sunday I preached at their church meeting with someone translating. A tongue was given and the interpretation was brought first in Russian, then in English ... very cool! The meeting finished at 1:30pm but the ministry time continued another 3 hours.

In the evening I spoke at a leaders meeting on relationships in church life (which was attended by pastors from another church).

On Monday we flew home, but not before an official confiscated some Russian honey from us. I guess the biggest impression we have been left with is the joy of partnering with Dave & Hanna and Hope church, SPB. To be amongst them on your behalf was a real privilege, even though it was exhausting!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Off to St Petersburg

Tomorrow Liz and I are off to see our dear friends Dave & Hanna Henson and the newfrontiers church in St Petersburg. RFC have been supporting them for a few years now so this trip is long overdue!

On Saturday we will be spending time with some of the leaders and on Sunday I am speaking (as well as meeting with other leaders in the evening). They seem to have a busy schedule for us and it will be fun doing ministry with Liz.

We also hope to see something of the city, they tell us it is very beautiful ....

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Christmas Carol Concert

Flyers will be available this Sunday!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

News from Perth

RFC support family Cornford and the newfrontiers church they joined. See below latest email from Pete:

"Thankyou to all at RFC and Praise God for all he has done! In the 16 weeks since the Cornford family landed in Perth Western Australia we have much to thank God for:
• The people already on the ground have been very welcoming and supportive
• Our 3 Kids have got into local schools
• Within a week we found a house to rent and within 2 weeks we had brought a car
• The church income has risen by almost 50% a month
• We have closed 1 house group and started 3 life groups
• We are introducing teams to Sunday mornings with over 85% of folk signing up (many on multiple rosters)
• It was great to gather every Sunday night in August to pray
• Exciting to see several people following a challenge, buying and reading the John Ortberg book ‘If you want to walk on water you have to get out of the boat’, as we embark on a journey of faith.
We are really looking forward to having Terry & Wendy Virgo with us for the last weekend in October and believe God for a powerful impartation to the church.

Please Pray
• Great to thank God for all He has done
• Please pray for our family: the kids to find friends and for all of us to overcome days of homesickness.
• Please pray that the church grows, that a worship leader emerges, that a leadership team develops, that people are saved and baptised.
• Please pray that we know the powerful presence of God with us"

Saturday, 16 October 2010


Yesterday at work I had my cheque book stolen from my bag (I had popped out to buy the children their 'Chocolate Friday' treats). I bumped into the culprit as he left our offices - I even escorted him, in my usual cheery manner, out of the building ... Dohhhh!

So my pocket money account is now all but empty (it appears it took him 17 minutes to cash the first cheque at the bank). Hmmm. An inconvenience but it could have been worse ... assuming I win my fraud appeal and they credit the money back!

Lessons learnt:
#1 Not everyone is as honest as the people I spend time with.
#2 I can afford to have money stolen, I'm not upset or panicking.
#3 Children process things differently to adults (this episode initially upset them).
#4 And of course the obvious, dont leave cheque books unattended, even in churchy places.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Beginning with Moses - week 1

On Sunday we started our new sermon series entitled 'Beginning with Moses'. If you missed the sermon you can listen to it here and it is outlined below. The graphic is reproduced by permission from 'God's Big Picture' by Vaughan Roberts (buy a copy of his excellent book here for £5:56)

Read Luke 24:13-27
These two followers of Jesus were struggling to link the events of Jesus’ crucifixion with the Old Testament. Many of us can relate to that … we simply haven’t had time or teaching to help us think about how the OT relates to Jesus. The aim of this sermon series is to give us an overview of the OT: To see it as a progressive, unified, unfolding of salvation history which, as Graeme Goldsworthy puts it, 'reaches its goal, its focus and fulfillment in the person and work of Christ'.

The Bible is One: The Bible is a diverse collection of writings. It contains 66 books written by about 40 human authors over nearly 2000 years. That said, it is fundamentally, one book written by one author with one main subject. God ensured, by the Holy Spirit, that everything they wrote was exactly what he wanted them to write. The one supreme subject that binds it all together is Jesus and the salvation God offers through Him. In the OT God points forward to Jesus and promises his coming in the future. In the NT God proclaims Jesus to be the one who fulfils all the promises

The Kingdom of God: Vaughan Roberts defines God’s kingdom as: ‘Gods people in God’s place under God’s rule and blessing.’ God longs for human beings to enjoy an intimate relationship with Him in his presence.

Pattern of the kingdom: In the Garden of Eden we see the world as God designed it to be - God’s people (Adam and Eve) live in Gods place (Eden) under his rule as they submit to his word.

The Perished kingdom: Sadly, Adam & Eve think life would be better if they lived independently from God and they are banished from the garden, they are no longer under God’s rule or blessing.

The Promised kingdom: God calls Abraham and makes some unconditional promises to him – through Abraham’s descendants God will re-establish His kingdom.

The Partial kingdom: Through the exodus from Egypt, God makes Abraham descendants His very own people. At Mount Sinai He gives them His law so that they might live under his rule and blessing (the blessing is marked chiefly by God’s presence in the tabernacle). By the time David & Solomon are king, the people enjoy peace & prosperity; they were God’s people, in Gods place (Canaan), under God’s rule & enjoying His blessing.

The Prophesied kingdom: After Solomon’s death, the kingdom split in two. 200 years later the northern kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrians, the southern kingdom struggled on for another century but they too were conquered and its inhabitants taken in exile in Babylon. During this depressing period, God spoke to his people through prophets. They pointed forward to a time when God would act decisively through his King, the Messiah, to fulfill all His promises. God people did finally return to their land but it was only a shadow of the former glory. This is where the OT ends; God’s people waiting for God’s King to appear to introduce His Kingdom…

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Newfrontiers Prayer & Fasting

Scott, Josh John and me are spending the next two days with approximately 600 other leaders here in Peterborough. It is so good to be back amongst our spiritual family, being part of something so much bigger than life at RFC.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Scott on the Holy Spirit

On Sunday, Scott preached a great message on what we believe the Holy Spirit's activity is within the life of RFC. If you weren't there on Sunday, do try to make time to listen to it and then ask the Spirit to come upon you!

Listen to the sermon here

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

new sermon series @ RFC

This Sunday we start a 9 week sermon series entitled 'Beginning with Moses'.

The title comes from Luke 24v27 "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he (JESUS) explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself."

The aim of the series is that we see the OT as a progressive, unified, unfolding of salvation history which, as Graeme Goldsworthy puts it, 'reaches it's goal, its focus and fulfillment in the person and work of Christ'.

I found Vaughan Roberts book 'God's Big Picture' to be very helpful, its an easy read and only £5:56! That said, here are some other books I've found helpful:
  • Gospel & Kingdom – Graeme Goldsworthy
  • Understanding the Bible – John Stott
  • Dominion & Dynasty – Stephen Dempster
  • A passion for God’s story – Philip Greenslade
  • Bible Overview – Steve Levy
  • Salvation belongs to our God – Chris Wright
  • According to plan - Graeme Goldsworthy
  • Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament – Chris Wright
  • Mission of God – Christopher Wright
  • A great website for all this is

And yes, I still feel sad about yesterday's 'Marie Stopes' encounter .

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Did I do right?

Today whilst returning from a lunch time run, I came upon a tearful woman asking directions to the Marie Stopes centre on London Street. Without thinking, I gave her directions and then ran on up towards our offices. And as I did so, I realized what I had done, I had shown the way for a baby to lose their life.

I was filled with confusion.

I resolved to find the woman again and tell her about Reading Lifeline, whose offices are opposite the clinic. I caught up with her, now with a young couple, near Marie Stopes and as I spoke, she cried. The young couple would not/could not look at me, they had an appointment to keep.

I gently urged them to delay and get pre-abortion counselling at Lifeline. I then let them know that Lifeline also do post abortion counseling. As I stood before them, a sweaty stranger in running gear, I was acutely aware that an unborn life hang in the balance.

I don't know the outcome, I left them there outside Marie Stopes. I cried. Did I do enough? Did I plead for a life gently enough, for long enough?

It seems to me we all lost something... but none more so than that baby who, presumable, lost his/her life this afternoon, as I sat in my study just a few doors away.

Men's Breakfast @ Frankie & Benny's

Just over 22 years ago (before I was saved) I met a guy who didn't like the fact that I was trying to date his Christian friend. He made it very clear to her that I was bad news and should be avoided at all cost.

Since that shaky start, our friendship has endured the different paths we've walked since leaving Uni. Tim joined the Army, served in various theatres around the world and is now based back in the UK, with the rank of Leftenant Colonel.
I have asked him to speak about the some of the lessons he's learnt about following Jesus in the workplace ... and also some of the scrapes he's been in (a wrong turn whilst driving a Landrover led to a standoff against a foreign tank!).

So please put this date in your diary Saturday 20 November, 8-10am, Tim's a great guy and Frankie & Benny's do a huge breakfast.

Friday, 1 October 2010

RFC in the movies

Check out this short film about FRONTEDGE and spot footage from RFC when Chris Kilby was with us. It was a great morning!!!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

RFC Music Resource

Josh Josh has been busy (he's one of our interns whose project is supporting our musicians). He has created an online resource for the musicians in our community.

Check the site out here.

It includes key dates, rotas, song lists, lyrics/chords/mp3s of homewritten songs.
If you have time, watch the two videos by CJ Mahaney & Bob Kauflin, they're very stirring!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Solitude revisited

So here I am again at Stanton House, with unhurried time to strengthen myself in God and seek His face.

September has been such an 'ambitious' month for RFC, we've hit the term running and met so many new people. On Sunday the 'newcomers lunch' was a reflection of the growing momentum that God has given us: it was at capacity, there was a wide spectrum of people there, and it was great fun!

It's in busy seasons like this that we all need to create space to press into God. It's easier for me to do this, so thank you for giving me permission to lead out of intimacy with Jesus.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Elders & Deacons day

Today was spent with my fellow elders & deacons, worshipping Jesus and enjoying being together. There is so much momentum (& pressure) in church life at the moment it is important we carve out time as a team to seek God and have some fun!
Unsuprisingly, Simon & Sitho came up with some great games that caused a smile. Anthony led us into a beautiful time enjoying the presence of God. The day seem to rush by and we were soon back in cars heading to Reading to pick up the children.

For those of you who are part of RFC, I want to commend her leaders to you - they love Jesus and want to see His kingdom extended. Please continue to pray for them and that God would add more elders & deacons to lead us.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Reading Triathlon 2010 race report

Sunday was a fine and sunny day as 500+ competitors headed over to the Copthorne Hotel to take part in this race.

My wave set off at 8:15am (a deep water start) 60 of us churning up the lake, trying to get to the first buoy without getting too badly bumped / kicked / swum over. As ever, I managed to gulp in enough water to trigger my obligatory mid-swim coughing fit. I still cant swim straight in open water, so ended up tracking someone hoping they could. Eventually l navigated all 5 marker bouys and clambered out of the lake.

The bike section was two laps of a undulating course through some lovely villages and fast, smooth roads. Craig and I had decided to race together as a fitting tribute to the 'crazy' year he has. This was good news for me as he is stronger on the bike and chasing him would improve my time. As normal, he charged out and then had to throttle back in order for me to stay in contact. We kept an OK pace and I came in with tired but not spent legs.

The 10k run was 4 loops of an off-road course which was muddy and rutted - not pleasant running. Our pace was slow enough to let us chat and review quite why we do stuff like this! We crossed the finish together with fuel still in our tanks ... but sometimes doing things together is more important that getting your fastest time.

Quite a few guys from our Tri club where racing, as was Sean Dooley and others from Thameside Church. It was good to see other friendly faces as red as ours.

I came in 92nd out of 268, with a time of 2:44:33 (1500m swim=26:14, 46km bike=1:26:28, 10k Run=46:51). I was pleased with that, maybe because I know I can go faster!

Friday, 10 September 2010

RFC & Readifood

RFC partners with Readifood, a local Christian charity, providing for the needy and homeless in our town. Social Services and local doctors can refer people to Readifood who in turn deliver food parcels to homes on a short term basis.

Around 100 people/couples/families in the town are
referred to Readifood for help at any one time, but the charity only have the resources to currently help 25 of these. Below is a photo of the sorry state of their food storage shelves, this should give you an idea of the need!
Readifood are totally reliant on local churches for donations, and we at RFC can make a HUGE difference to people in our town by us forming the habit of 'simply picking up an extra item on our way around the supermarket'!

This week, they are particularly short on canned meals & meat, but more generally the most needed items are:
  • Tinned meat pies & ready meals
  • Tuna, spam, pasta sauces
  • Tinned peas, sweetcorn
  • Tinned fruit, Custard, rice pudding

Readifood's shiny green boxes will be at the front of Sunday gatherings each week, so please encourage your Life Group members to get into habit of picking something extra up each week. If you have any questions, please talk to James & Jess Del Rio who are our point leaders on this.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Chris & Becca

Every so often you get clear reminder of how God uses the local church to change lives.

Chris became a Christian 4 years ago during our first prayer meeting at our London Street offices. Becca gave her life to Jesus 2 years ago after a morning meeting.

Chris now leads our laptop & lighting teams, as well as taking a lead on the Whitley Fun Day. Together they have been a key couple in HOPE, our ministry to adults with learning disabilities.

This Saturday Chris & Becca are getting married and then heading off to an exotic location on honeymoon - very nice!

Jesus has transformed their lives and now they are starting this next chapter on the same solid foundation. It is so encouraging to see people who have became Christians through RFC plugged into church life and doing so well.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Called to Serve

Without a doubt we live in a celebrity obsessed culture. Their lifestyle and viewpoints are often heralded as desirable and authoritative; their fame and status celebrated. We can learn from many of them but we also need to remind ourselves of what true greatness is.
When Jesus was asked about promotion in His kingdom he replied “whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave” (Matt 20v26).

This kind of teaching flies in the face of the culture we live in and yet Jesus lived out what he taught. Over the next month we are going to look at what it means for us to follow Jesus in ‘taking on the nature of a servant’ (Phil 2v7). It doesn’t come easily to most of us but we are expecting the Holy Spirit to be at work as we continue our journey as a community of people.

Our identity as ‘Servants of God & Others’ is both beautiful and self beneficial. As we pursue true greatness we will become more like Him ‘Who came not to be served, but to serve, and gave His life as a ransom for others’.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The rise of the 'Mamil'

Apparently I am a 'mamil' (a middle age man in Lycra). I had not heard the term until one of my 'so called' friends sent me this BBC article saying it brought me to mind.

Ironically, I have just ordered a new pair a cycling shorts and await its arrival at the church offices, classic 'mamil' behaviour according to the article.

And yes I do gawk at hi spec derailleur gears and carbon frames. Sadly, I still use my sister's steel framed 10 year old bike with squeeky gears but I aspire to greater things.

With only 10 days to go until the Reading Triathlon I am regretting the vast quantity of cheese I ate in France and my woeful lack of bike & run training over the past few months.

I have downgraded my pre-race language from 'racing' to 'participating' in the event ... at least I will enjoy the swim.

So I am officially a 'Mamil' but just don't ask me what my time was at Reading.

Friday, 6 August 2010

4 new interns - your help required

Over the past few years we have flourished as a church, in part because of our Intern Program. This program has helped us to resource areas of church life way beyond what Scott, Karen & myself can cover. To be honest, much of the day-to-day running of RFC has been done by our interns.

In September, we have 4 new interns starting: Josh B, Sam, Angie, Josh J. It costs the church about £400 per month per intern, and they in turn commit to raising half of that through people sponsoring them. That's where your help is needed.

So here's the ask, would you please consider sponsoring an intern for £10-£20 per month for 11 months. If you can't do 11 months, would you consider a one off gift to help them. Liz and I will be spreading our sponsorship across them all - but you can also chose to sponsor just one. In case you don't know them or what they will be doing, here they are:

Sam (Left) will be supporting Sarah Horne in our Kids Church as well as leading into our Youth Work. He will be living with Richard Walker so will be well fed!

Angie will be leading our Media Team, which means she will live and breath our website, flyers, graphics and video production!

Josh John (left) will be supporting Kat Starling and our growing company of musicians. One of his first projects will be to produce a CD of the songs they have been writing over the past few years - RFC will be booking a recording studio!

Josh Betts (right) will be supporting our students on campus and ensuring they are plugged into the life @ RFC. He will also be supporting Scott in our evangelistic events.

Let's support them in prayer and money as they set aside a year to help RFC grow into all God has for her. If you do have any questions, please talk to Scott or one of the interns directly, as I'm not around for the next 3 weeks.

Tilly the Tarantula

Yesterday I went to Staines to spend time with some church planters and I came home with Tilly. Tilly is a 7 year old Chilean Rose Tarantula who is, in my opinion, proper scary.

I had a wonderful game with the children as they tried to guess the surprise in the car ... I fully expected them to freak out when they saw her.

But they didn't.

They all submitted competing reasons are to why they should have Tilly in their bedrooms. The thought of having her in the house made me feel a little woosy, so she spent the night in the conservatory. Thankfully I didn't dream about her, but I did wake up a few times with a feeling of unease about the whole episode!

So my jolly jape has thrilled the children but left me feeling mightily uncomfortable (she is one scary spider). At least I have introduced another story into their childhood memories.

Tilly is scheduled to return to Staines in 6 weeks, I just hope they quickly get bored of our 8 legged guest and don't ask that we keep her any longer.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

On the street with RAHAB

Last year during our sermon series 'the Chronicles of Reading' I preached from a news article on prostitution in our town. As part of that sermon, I talked about the RAHAB project which offers support, befriending & advocacy to women involved in the sex industry in the Reading area.

Earlier in the year, RFC gave them some money to help them with a cash flow crisis (from the Nov 09 gift day fund). And a few months ago Lorraine, who leads the project, spoke at our Sunday morning & evening meetings.

Last night, I went out with them on the Oxford Road as a silent observer (clearly it wouldn't be appropriate for me to initiate any conversations). We walked around known hotspots whilst Lorraine explained the ethos and challenges of serving these girls.

Apparently it was a very quiet night, they only spoke to one girl, who sadly was under the influence of drugs and not coherent. It was strange to realize that acts of kindness can included handing out condoms, lubricant, 'love heart' sweets and rape alarms.

Lorraine and her team do a great work to those who are largely overlooked by mainstream life in our town. Do prayerfully consider how you can support this work and love those who are often trapped in a destructive lifestyle.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Terry Virgo on "Apostolic" versus "Missional"

A really helpful 11 minute clip on Terry's view on the role of the apostle both in the NT and today ...

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Heirs with Jesus

On Sunday we continued in our series entitled 'Sin, Law & Life'. We are currently on the Life part and for those who missed my sermon here is the outline for Romans 8v12-17.

Our obligation (v12-14) - Christians are no longer “obliged” to render obedience to their sinful nature, even though at times we can feel it’s influence. In fact, Paul strongly warns his readers that they will be damned if they continue to live according to their sinful nature! This warning must be balanced with Romans 8 teaching that truly regenerate believer, while often committing sin, will be infallibly prevented from living a sinful lifestyle by the Spirit within. The Christian is to put to death the misdeed of the body; we are responsible to kill off our sinful deeds. Holy Living is achieved by our constantly living out the life placed within us by the Holy Spirit. Our ‘self mortification’ is necessary but never apart from, or distinct to, the activity of the Holy Spirit within us.

Our adoption (v15- 16) - Paul argues that one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is that He makes the objective fact of our adoption a subjective reality in our experience (Eph1v4). There can be a tendency in those who don’t know the Spirit in his fullness to live as slaves rather than as sons. We have received the Spirit of God’s Son, and He evokes in us the cry of ‘Abba, Father’ (Gal 4:6). When we cry out by the Spirit ‘Abba Father’ our relationship to God the Father is like (but not exactly like) Jesus’ relationship to God the Father. We are God’s children, the Holy Spirit works in us so we have inward assurance of God’s love and His fatherhood.

His heirs (v17) Adopted children are heirs of a future inheritance, a future blessing. Christians are “heirs of God” not meaning that we inherit God himself, but that we inherit what God has promised to his people. Because we are one with Christ, we are his fellow heirs, assured of being “glorified with him”. But at the same time, this “oneness” means we will follow Christ’s own road to glory “suffering with him” as Philippians 1v29 reminds us. Suffering for being a Christian is, according to Paul, the condition of our receiving our inheritance;

In Conclusion - The Holy Spirit dwelling within obliges us to live His way (v12) and He enables us to put to death the misdeeds of our body (v13). He leads us as God’s children (v14) and bears witness to our spirit that we are what we are (v16). He himself is also the foretaste of the inheritance in glory (v17). It is His indwelling which makes a fundamental difference between our old way of life and living out Romans 8.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Mayor of Reading at our Carol Service

The Mayor of Reading confirmed today his attendance at our Christmas Carol Service on Sunday 5 December at 5:30pm. We plan to take up an offering for the Duchess of Kent House, the specialist palliative care unit where Karena died earlier this year. The Mayor's late wife also spent her last days there, so he was keen to support our event.

We have booked the Concert Hall which is the largest space in Reading's Town Hall. It seats 700, so we will have lots of seats to invite our friends to!

I realize most of us haven't yet had our summer holiday and so not even thinking about Christmas, but please put this date in the diary, Reading's mayor already has.