Friday, 30 April 2010

One for the weekend

A six minute clip of Driscoll on 'Judgement & Forgiveness'. A very helpful reminder.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Go Wayne Grudem!

Wayne Grudem is a writing hero of mine (Systematic Theology) ... Dave Bish posted this on his blog today:


Last night our Lifegroup went along to HOPE, RFC's ministry for adults with learning difficulties. It was brilliant (and very noisy!).

The evening started with a time of worship, with some of the songs done in the Makaton sign language, which was fun but tricky!

Keith spoke on the story of Jonah and encouraged them to follow God and call on Him when they needed help. When Keith mentioned the big fish, one of the residents shouted 'Big chips' and then hilarious laughter erupted ... the 'Big chips' catch phrase dogged Keith's story to the end!

The craft activity was fun - I helped a guy with his gluing & sticking and wrote his prayer request for him.

The HOPE team run these evenings twice a month and is led by Keith & Leslie Holland. RFC started in their house and now they are pioneering for us a truly inspiring 'work for Jesus'. Next time you see them, and the HOPE team, cheer them loudly on! (They are always looking for new team members).

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Jesus, Politics & Me - Government & Politicians

At RFC we want to foster a positive attitude to the elections and the possible social change that they could bring. Just as Jesus came to change lives & communities, so His followers are called to do the same. We are called to think ‘theologically’ as well as ‘act politically’.

There are at least three ways of governing society, all of which presuppose a view of human beings:

Absolutism is the political expression of imposition and has a pessimistic view of people. It essentially demeans citizens because it does not trust them to share in decision making. Absolutism denies human beings their dignity due to being made in God’s image; and leads to tyranny, not justice.

Anarchy has an entirely optimistic view of mankind as it considers unrestricted freedom as safe and that laws are unnecessary to create a just society. Anarchy denies the depravity of mankind due to the Fall; and leads to chaos, not utopia.

Modern Democracy reflects the balanced, biblical view of human beings, and it has its roots in post reformation Christian Europe. Because human beings are made in God’s image yet fallen, there is bound to be a gap between God’s ideal and the human reality ... a gap between what God has revealed in the Bible and what ‘humans find possible’ in everyday life. Democracy is supposed to be “the art of the possible”.

Christians’ should engage in the election process in order for our voice to contribute to society. We are called to champion the cause of the sick, the oppressed, marginalised and economic disadvantaged. As we consider which candidate and party to vote for we need the ‘plumb line of Jesus’ teaching from His ‘Sermon on the Mount’ ringing in our ears! (read Matt 5v3-10, 5v24, 5v25, 5v28, 5v37, 5v42, 5v44, 6v3, 6v14, 6v19, 6v33, 7v2, 7v12, & 7v24).

Despite a commonly held view that British public life is becoming ever-more secular, parties had been working hard to make inroads into faith-based communities and organisations.

Should the faith of a party’s leader influence ones vote? Yes & No! We can do better than simply going on a few guarded words in front of a camera. God’s chosen instrument can look very different from how we might expect them to be. We must ask God for wisdom to see beyond candidates’ words and catch both their heart & the team around them.

Your MPs voting record

Josh Betts has sent me a link to an interesting website that, amongst other things, helps you track your MP's voting record on various issues.

Please be aware that someone has made a morale judgement as to whether an MP has voted in line with the Christain faith, so treat their assement with some caution. Never-the-less this can be a helpful site to get you started.

(If you dont know who your MP is, then find out who they are here)

If you know your MP's name, click here to see their voting record.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

King of the Hill

7:30am Saturday morning rides are now firmly back on the training schedule.
This morning was memorable for two things:

Firstly, it was the first time this year my feet weren't frozen when finished - last week it took about an hour for them to warm back up.

Secondly, Sean Dooley (who leads Thameside Church) joined us - I really enjoyed riding & chatting with him.

Sadly James is still 'King of the Hill' although I gave him a good tussle this morning. I sprinted too early, only to see James power past me in the final 50m. There's always next week ...

Friday, 23 April 2010

My own stories

I have been asking Jesus for opportunities to talk to people about Him:

Last Saturday, I had a conversation with Liz's uncle about my faith in Jesus and was able to encourage him to explore Jesus' teachings by reading the gospels.

On Sunday night after church, I met two Americans and we chatted about why RFC was meeting in a pub. I ended giving them them a 'RFC venue' business card.

After swimming with TVT on Monday night, I had a conversation across the changing rooms about working for RFC.

Yesterday afternoon, I met a guy on my doorstep and ended up inviting him to church & gave him a 'venue' business card.

It's really good to have my own stories about loving Jesus & loving people ... and that my stories are less than a week old.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Jesus, Politics & Me - Election Issues

Why this series? Christians are citizens of two kingdoms and have responsibilities in both. As UK citizens we need to overcome our apathy and engage in the biggest event in our culture this year. (see article on BBC news website 'Will Christians swing the 2010 election' here)

What’s happening on Thursday 6th May? There are two elections taking place: A general election that decides which Member of Parliament (MPs) will represent the constituency in which you live; and a local election that decides which councilor represents you in your local council.

What’s “Voting with a Jesus agenda”?:
Economy: Politicians need to be able to grow the private sector whilst also keeping a tight rein on the public sector in order to cut the borrowing deficit. Jesus said we can’t serve two masters (Matt 6v42) and so economic policies must reflect God’s heart for the disadvantaged, not just be driven by business principles.

Family: People are living longer than ever, which raises the question about care for an aging population and who will pay for it. More children are growing up in the UK in relative poverty compared to other European countries, and our nation still has the highest rates of teenage pregnancy. At the end of his earthly life, Jesus provided for the care of his aging mother (John 19v26). God’s building block for society is still families.

Health: In the UK we are rightly proud of our desire to provide access to health care to all people, regardless of race, wealth or religion. However, the cost of providing care is significant & increasing. Jesus healed not just because it pointed to him as the Messiah, but because he had compassion. Access to health care is a good gift from God and we rightly want to express His compassion by access to health care.

Race relations & Immigration: Since the last election in 2005, an extra 1 million people have come to live in the UK. Some believe this boosts the economy while many others have concerns of the pressure it brings. Jesus said we should ’love our neighbours’ (Luke 10v 27). So regardless of the complexity surrounding the immigration issues, we should not set ourselves against those who are different to us.

Education: In England, 1 in 4 in children start secondary school without a good grasp of English & Maths and nearly 1/3 of all school leavers now go to university. Who will pick up the bill for further improvements in our education system? Jesus embraced & valued children (Matt 19v4) and so we need an education system that reflects his heart for children & young people regardless of their background / postcode.

Environment: With threats of power-cuts, fuel supply availability and rising skepticism about climate science, whoever wins the election faces challenges. The bible says that Jesus created all things (Col1v16) and that Adam was put him in the garden to work it and take care of Jesus’ creation (Gen 2v16). That mandate to look after creation has not been revoked!

God has established a democratic elected government for our nation and as His people we must actively participate in what He has established (Rom 13v1). As we consider who to vote for, let us remember who is really in control, Jesus (Col 1v17, John 1v1 & Isaiah 9v7).

Monday, 19 April 2010

TVP to Shiplake and back

Today Liz and I walked 10.62 miles along the Thames River (I also know our average pace, heart rate, elevation and other important stats - its a 'guy with a GPS watch' thing).
It was such a lovely day for a walk / chat / ponder. I do like asking Liz fun questions like "What holiday destination would you choose if it was a mini break with me; a 3 week family holiday; a short break with a girl friend?". Unsurprisingly, camping didn't feature in any of her answers.

To my great delight, I also discovered Sonning Lock tea rooms sell a big mug of tea made with a PG Tips Pyramid teabag, perfect!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Breakfast with Ben Davies

Yesterday morning I had breakfast with a 70 year old barbarian. No-one seems to have told him to slow down or dim his passion for Jesus.

Ben is concerned that I am not radical enough. He asked if I saw myself 'in a zoo or a safari park; caged or roaming free?'.

Hmmm. I was hoping for a few Cumberland sausages whilst listening to his funny stories...

The truth is, like us all, I restrict & cage myself by my insecurities & desire to fit in.

I find myself trying to be somebody I'm not, rather than roaming around in the freedom I have in Christ. I need to stop conforming to expectations (mine or others) and radically pursue Jesus, and out of that, conform.

I don't want to be a safe husband or dad or friend or pastor. I certainly don't want to be caged; a safe exhibit on show. I do want to live in the freedom of seeking God, believing His word and acting on it.

Just for fun, I have plotted myself on the axis below ... where would you be?

Zoo / Caged 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Safari Park / Free

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Men, Women & Marriage

On Sunday evening, Liz and I spoke on how husband & wives are to relate to one another in marriage. To hear us click here (its about 1hr including the Q&As). Here is a summary of what we said:

Ephesians 5:22-33

God’s plan for marriage: This passage in Ephesians demands a good understanding of Genesis 1-3. The creation of Mankind as male and female was to show God's image in harmonious interpersonal relationships; in equality in personhood and importance; and difference in role and authority. Each member of the trinity has distinct roles or functions (Father sent the Son & Holy Spirit; We’re filled with Holy Spirit not the Father or the Son). These differences in roles or functions are consistent with equal importance, personhood and their deity. Just as male and female are made in the image of God, so too are we equal in importance and personhood but with differing roles. Simply put the male role was headship / leadership within the married unit as seen in Genesis 1-2.

The curse of the Fall: God's plan for the marriage relationship was distorted by the Fall. As a direct result of this rebellion, God introduced conflict and pain into the once harmonious relationship of marriage. The curse brought a distortion to Adams humble considerate leadership and to Eve's intelligent, willing submission to that leadership which existed before the fall.

Restoration of God's Plan for marriage: Just as Jesus dying on the cross undoes the curse of Sin, so too would we expect the curse on marriage to be undone by Jesus' death. We would expect that in Christ, wives would be encouraged not to rebel against their husband's authority, and husbands would be encouraged not to use their authority harshly.  In fact that is indeed what we do find (Col 3:18-19, Eph 5:22-33, Titus 2:5, 1Peter 3:1-7).

Back to our passage in Ephesians 5! These verses teach that marriage is the human echo of the relationship between Jesus and his church. So a discussion on relationships between husband and wife should reflect aspects of the relationship between Jesus and the church. 

Christ and the Church - Jesus (God's own son) and the church (God's chosen people) are joined in a union that is difficult to comprehend or explain. By God's grace, we have become members of Jesus body (v30), two have become one. The church rightly submits to her head, Jesus. In the same way, in marriage, the wife’s submission to her husband echoes the church’s submission to Jesus.

Husbands and Wives - Just as within the intimate relationship of the Trinity there are differing roles, so to within the most intimate human of relationships, marriage, there are differing roles. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord (Eph 5v22). (‘Submit’ does not mean obey, rather to ‘yield ones rights’). Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself (Eph 5v24).

Therefore Wives (Not women! This is for marriage only) - just as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything (v24). A wife can be resentful or rebellious to her husband's leadership (to compete with him for the leadership of the family). This is a result of sin, a result of the fall and is contrary to God's best for them. Wives should be willing to speak a word of correction to their husband if what he is doing is clearly wrong. Submission to authority does not mean being entirely passive and agreeing with everything that the person says or suggests.

Therefore Husbands - love your wives. Not just in the romantic stuff, although that is important. Our wife deserves a Godly, loving, sacrificial and faithful husband. The pinnacle example of which is Jesus relating to the church. A husband is to release his wife from her everyday responsibilities so that she can grow & achieve her potential in Christ. Husbands are not to be lazy in their leadership.

If we are to build strong marriages at RFC we need to both understand God’s Plan for marriage and apply it to our married lives.

Ricky Gervais & Cemetery Junction

Our town's funniest son is releasing a film based on 1970's Reading ... "Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant explain why the have left the world of making TV sitcoms behind to make a coming-of-age drama set in 1970's Reading" (Full BBC story click here).

Best line from the trailer "I'm surprised you want to go to Paris, there are parts of Reading you haven't seen".

To visit the film website click here

I suspect there wont be any footage from that part of town but I'm going to see the film anyway! It just so happens that today, Darren Giles & Sam Cooper delivered 650 flyers around Cemetery Junction but there was no sign of Ricky....

Saturday, 10 April 2010

1st lake swim of 2010

We managed 30 minutes but it was very cold!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Jesus, Politics and Me

On Sunday 18th April we are starting a new sermon series ...

If you have any thoughts / questions to help shape this series, please do let me know. My aim is to make Jesus central in all our voting decisions on 6th May.

AM: Perth & PM: Marriage

This Sunday morning we have Pete & Nicky Cornford with us @ RFC. Pete will soon be handing over the leadership of the Crown Church in London in order to move his family to Perth, Australia. He is going there to lead a Newfrontiers church in that city, but with a view of seeing other churches started in that part of the world.

On Sunday evening, Liz and I will be speaking on how men & women should relate in marriage. In 2008, the primary reason women in England gave for getting divorced was 'the unreasonable behaviour of their husbands'. As a church we are committed to building strong marriages so it seem appropriate to hear again what the Bible says is appropriate male behaviour! There will also be an opportunity to text in questions for Liz and I to attempt to answer after we have finished speaking.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

1st night camping 2010 - part 2

What can I say?

DS games followed by my magnificent story about Sid the Squirrel, Timmy the Sheep, Fluffy the Rabbit & Alfie the Kingfisher. Had it not been for the constant interruptions and requests for clarifications, it could have won a Booker prize.

We then briefly played 'name that worship song' whilst making a body noise but the laughter soon drowned out any sense of progression in what should have been a very stimulating game.
Then came the tricky part of reducing the 'frenzy in a tent' to praying and sleeping ... let's just say it took some time.

I ended up sharing a mattress with Zoe 'ants in her pyjamas' Green. She was throwing shapes all night like I used to on the dance floor in the 80's.

Joshua's snoring has really progressed since we last slept side by side ... it's quite special.

Lucy woke up from 1am on the hour asking for help rearranging the bedding that the nocturnal groover had kicked off.

Net sleep for me, sub 4 hours at best, but it was fun ... apparently.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

1st night camping 2010

So me and the kids are sleeping out tonight in the garden. The girls have taken their mattresses into the tent leaving little space for us boys. This all seemed like a good idea at 3pm.

Liz has decided to stay indoors ... probably wisely but it does lacks adventure! Will update you tomorrow.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Classic Terry Virgo - 1984

Terry on grace, its 4 minutes long and will do you good ...

I love his line "Grace is not an old beauty queen, she's a wonderful doctrine!" ... and I think that's Ben Davies in the background.