Monday, 28 November 2011

Jesus the Superior Saviour

Wanting or needing to be saved from something is a very common desire; a savior rescues people from harm or delivers them from unwanted outcomes. The question we face is which savior will we cry out to? Read Luke 2:10-11

Bethlehem was a town that heroes came from: Boaz saved a family, David a nation and now Jesus was to save the world. Jesus was a superior savior in every way:
·        Jesus is God. (Jn1:1-5) In the beginning Jesus was with God and Jesus was God. All things were made through him and for him and without him nothing was made that has been made.
·        Jesus dwelt among us. (Jn1:14)Jesus was born as man, the perfect union of Creator & creature. He knows what it is to live our lives.   
·        Jesus is the only way. (Jn14v6) Jesus is a superior savior because access to God the Father is exclusively through him.
·        Jesus saves many people.(Jn 3:16)  Jesus is a superior savior because he saves people of all incomes & intellects, cultures & sexuality, the popular & rejected.
·        Jesus saves from many things.  Jesus is a superior savior because he alone can rescue & deliver us from things like Sin, Death, Satan and God’s wrath.

The bible teaches us to choose the Superior Savior Jesus; we are not to settle for lesser saviors that at best are faint echoes, or at worst are demonic. Many Christians depend on inadequate savior which can be exposed by finishing off these sentences:
·        I am most afraid of …
·        When I need comfort, I run to …
·        The thing that has made me most angry / disappointed with God is …
·        The person whose approval I seek, or thing that most validates me, is …
·        The person or thing I most sacrifice for is …
Inadequate saviors promise life to the full but ultimately deliver death. Jesus is not like that. Although He promised eternal life but He did not promise to deliver us from every undesirable outcome. Rather he promised to give us His rest as we wait for our final salvation. He does not slumber or sleep; He intercedes and sustains us; We call out to him and He listens… and He gives us His peace & rest & hope.

Jesus is a SUPERIOR savior. Choose Him. Keep choosing Him.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Communicating for a change

Whilst in Russia I read a short book that I found compelling. 

For some time now I have been frustrated by my plateauing preaching skills; I don't feel I am improving. I am not talking about my desire to preach from bible passages rather that I need to hone my skills in communicating.

The book by Andy Stanley has given me a new framework in crafting a message that the Spirit can use to bring life change. 

So this week I have followed a new methodology in my sermon prep, the fruit of which you should experience this Sunday when I continue our series back2basics:Jesus.

Its both good and scary to try new things, the worst that can happen is I look stupid & bore you  ... at best, the Spirit can use it to bring life change.  

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Getting kids through church without them hating God

Last night a crowd of us went along to hear Rob Parsons talk about stopping a generation of young people being lost to the church.

He spoke about the four stages of faith for a child in a Christian home: Experienced faith (in the home), Affiliative faith (copying those around them); Searching faith (asking their own questions) and Owned faith (believing for themselves). It was a helpful process to try to map my three in this way. 

I found his comments on the importance of church youth groups creating a sense of belonging (which is highly valued by teenagers) very helpful. As was his five big killers of teenage faith: Christian over-busyness, Christian cynicism, Christian hypocrisy, Christian judgementalism, Christian over-familiarity with the beauty of the gospel (apparently Christians are the big killers not Jesus' radical lifestyle demands). 

But I guess the most timely was he thoughts on preparing them for disappointment; be that with others, themselves or with God. In essence, getting them ready for life in a broken world.

He summed up this helpful evening with one of his one liner's "Catch them doing something right!".

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Friday, 18 November 2011

Dave Bish @ RFC

On Sunday my good friend Dave Bish will be with us at both meeting. Some of the many things I like about him is that he is Gospel minded, has a passion for good coffee & enjoys crafting words (check out his blog here). 

He has also authored two books based on the sermons of the puritan Richard Sibbes who was known as 'the heavenly doctor' and the 'sweet dropper'. 

Dave leads the UCCF team in the South West of England and will be continuing our back2basics series looking at 'Jesus ascended'. 

Hope to see you there.

An empty promise @ RFC

Chuffed – a mystery big box of Thornton’s on my desk

Thrilled - a bonus Wispa bar was on top. 

Gutted – the Thornton’s tray was empty!

Laughter – their 'jolly jape' had played out brilliantly.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

RFC acoustic night

In case you missed it - footage from the sound desk captured on a iphone 4 

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Hope Church & other stuff

So my feet have finally been under my desk for two consecutive days... here are some of the highlights of the past two weeks

Hope Church St Petersburg: Things have really moved on since May: their new venue is in a hotel which is a central & visible, Hanse has gone full time as the pastor and several churches are looking to become part of the Hope Church 'sphere'. Dave & Hanna are at full stretch at home, their children have started  a new school & Dave has new work patterns! Please do keep praying for their family in particular, they are under a lot of pressure and much is out of their control.

Time with Chris Wienand: Through my friendship with Sean & Nola Dooley at Thameside Church I have been able to hang out with Chris whenever he comes over to the UK. A number of UK & USA pastors spent a day with him talking through the book of Titus. Chris has remarkable insights into the intersect of leadership, culture & the Gospel. We also talked through charismatic gifts on Sunday meetings and how churches relate to 3rd generation apostles (Conversations I don't usually have!).     

Newfrontiers Wider leaders: I spent two days with other leaders from the movement discussing the apostles of 1Cor4, the future shape of newfrontiers in the UK and lessons from William Booths successors. On the second day, Dave Smith from Kingsgate Community Church joined us and talked through his leadership lessons of growing from 20 to 1400 in 24 years. Again, a very insightful & helpful time.   

A day with Ben Davies: Lastly, I spent Friday with Ben and 8 other pastors talking through leadership challenges. A Nigerian pastor from London had a stirring story of leasing a 10,000ft warehouse and favour from the local planning office for change of use. Just the story I needed to hear! Howard Kellet from Cheltenham was also there; he always lights up the room with his questions & comments!

So a delightful, but busy, 10 days and I now have lots of things to mull over in my mind. I am very grateful to God to have so many opportunities & time to learn from people who are ahead of me.

Gecko collective - winter sessions

Check this out, a chilled video by our very own Abi, Joe & James ...
The Winter Sessions - Part One from Gecko Collective on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Gumboot dancing @ RFC

Sunday's community lunch had an African theme and a traditional Miner's dance was taught. For those of us who missed it, here's a short video clip ... 


...apparently some white men in wellies can dance.