Tuesday, 25 December 2012

A Christmas Day Psalm ...

Born this day - a Christmas Day Psalm

The promised One was there in the beginning, and He was with God and He was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Through Him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 

Adam was created and enjoyed God as his father. Adam the head of mankind, the heir of the world. But Adam was not the Promised One; He rebelled; He took; He fell.

God made a promise, a solemn vow, that a Promised One would to come and to crush the serpent’s head. And yet the Promised One would have his heel struck.

Noah came & preached righteousness. His work saved those who responded yet those who ignored Him perished. But Noah was not the ‘Promised One’.

Abraham believed God. He left his homeland and became the Father of many nations & multitudes. But Abraham was not the ‘Promised One’.

Isaac was the child promised by God. Isaac was offered as a sacrifice and in one sense came back from the dead. But Isaac was not the ‘Promised One’.

Joseph the beloved son of the father, betrayed by his brothers yet later became king and saves them. But Joseph was not the ‘Promised One’.

Moses the Prophet and Priest. Moses led God’s people out of slavery through the shedding of innocent blood. But Moses was not the ‘Promised One’.

Joshua led the way to a Promised Land. With a loud cry Joshua defeated God’s enemies, the walls came down. But Joshua was not the ‘Promised One’.

David defeated the giant that mocked God’s people. David was anointed then persecuted, but none could gain an advantage over him. But David was not the ‘Promised One’.

Daniel was without fault yet unjustly sentenced. He was thrown into the lion’s den but miraculously escapes certain death. But Daniel was not the ‘Promised One’.
Jonah was a preacher of righteousness. Jonah offered himself so that others might not perish; they threw him overboard and received their salvation. But Jonah was not the ‘Promised One’.

My friends, Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.

These men, Noah, Joseph and the like, are all foreshadows, pointing to another who was yet to come.

The Promised One is greater than all these...

Gabriel was sent to Mary, a virgin pledged to be married & highly favoured by God. The Spirit overshadowed her, now she carries the ‘Promised One’.

Joseph led Mary to Bethlehem. He belonged to the house and line of David, and now the time had come for the birth of the ‘Promised One’.

Angels appeared to shepherds. “Today, in the town of David, a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord”. The ‘Promised One’.

Jesus the long awaited Christ came. Wrapped in cloths and placed in a manger, for there was no room at the inn for the ‘Promised One’.

My friends, Be not concerned of his humble beginnings; tho born in a stable he is the anointed God-Man come to save us. Jesus is the ‘Promised One’.

My friends, look to those who foreshadowed Him; See how they reveal facets of His mission & character. He is the true & greater Noah, Abraham and Isaac.

The Promised One, lying in a manger, is the true & greater Moses, Joseph & Joshua.

The Promised One, wrapped in cloths, is the true & greater David, Daniel & Jonah   

Today is the day to sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests”. Jesus is the ‘Promised One’.

Today Our eyes have seen again God’s salvation, which He has prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles (that’s us).

Today He who was promised has come; He who was anointed to preach good news to people like me, people like you. Jesus is the 'Promised One' has come.

Today we remember Jesus, the long awaited Christ, the ‘Promised One’.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

latest from Gecko Collective

Our friends at Gecko Collective have released another video from their winter sessions. This is James who played at the Carol Concert last week. 

Friday, 21 December 2012

A quick reminder

With Christmas almost upon us, Family Green want to wish you a merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year. We shall be around over the festive season so hopefully see you at one of the gatherings below:  

This Sunday (23 Dec) we have a family service at Reading Girls' School, children have been asked to come in nativity costumes! At South Street we will be watching a Stephen Furtick DVD; for someone so young he is an outstanding communicator.

Christmas day we are meeting at 10-11 at the church offices. I am speaking on 'the long awaited Christ' and it will be different! I'll say no more. 

Sunday 30 Dec - no meetings.

New years Eve - A Family friendly party at the church offices, 7pm till late. Everyone is invited so please bring some nibbles and non-alcoholic drinks to share ... the Groovy Greens will be throwing some shapes as DJ Scottmeister rocks da house!

Sunday 6 Jan - Meeting at Reading Girls' in the morning. Evan Rogers will be leading worship at South Street in the evening, a lively start to the year!  

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Building update ...

I received this email from Ian Anderson who leads the Buildings Team:

Hello Buildings Team!
Thank you again for your input on Monday evening as we discussed the way forward with 171 Basingstoke Road.  It was useful looking at layout and deciding we could fit into this space and make it work for us. 

However I had a call from our commercial agent yesterday to say, that the agents have received three offers. Two of which are unconditional cash buyers and a third offer subject to planning . We are the fourth offer, which is conditional  on change of use etc and not cash.  They are apparently going to accept one of the unconditional offers and that does put us out of the running from this point of view.  

Although I never doubt Gods ability to turn things around now or later -  we could still get this building, it looks less likely it will be ours in the near future.  Yes I am disappointed and this is the most promising building we have seen in the last 18 months of looking. But our God is never a disappointment, he is reliable, trustworthy, he has our best interest at heart and his timing is perfect. So I think we should see this as an encouragement to pray and seek God, believing he will supply all our needs according to his riches in heaven.

Here is my TOP VERSE FOR THE YEAR AHEAD, which I think fits this situation rather well 'May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit'. Romans 15 v12

Thank you again for all your support - Ian

Whilst this is disappointing, we have only expended time, prayer & energy and not any RFC money. And we are confident that God is with us and will give us what we need when we need it. Let's wait and see how it all drops out in the New year.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

You've gotta watch this

Very funny. When I was 16 I applied & was offered a job in the Army. I have always had great respect for them... 

Friday, 14 December 2012

Carol Concerts this Sunday

Just a quick update to say that the Carol Concerts are this Sunday which means no morning meeting at Reading Girls School or evening meeting at South Street Arts Centre. 

Nearly all of the 660 tickets have now been allocated, but there are a few left for the 7pm concert (4pm is now fully booked). Please contact Beka at the office if you need these. 

It will be a hugely creative & contemporary carol-fest and Adrian Holloway will be preaching. 

So do enjoy a lazy Sunday morning and come in the afternoon with great faith to see lives changed. 

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

In the news

In case you missed this in the Reading Chronicle ...
A NEW Christian mentoring scheme will empower disadvantaged young people and teenagers to take their first steps on the career ladder.

Starting Point Reading reaches out to youngsters aged 16 to 25 who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs) - pairing them up with mentors to gain work experience, internships or permanent positions.

The project is run by Christian charity the Mustard Tree Foundation and has received an initial £30,000 cash boost from Reading Borough Council's Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) and Reading Family Church.

Project manager Rachel Green told charity supporters gathering at last Friday's launch in BB's Coffee and Muffins in the Oracle: "There are so many opportunities available to young people in Reading but unfortunately getting your foot on the first rung of the ladder is often the hardest step to make. What we aim to be is a place where young people who would like a job, training or education, can come and be partnered with a mentor who will help them explore their options."

So far 24 mentors have signed up, including Lis Rout who works for pregnancy advice centre Reading Lifeline. She urged more businesses and community groups to get involved and told the audience: "I'm excited about following a young person and encouraging them to look outside of the box and try new things, have a go and learn from the experience."

Three youngsters are already being helped by the scheme and more will be referred from Jobcentre Plus. Thames Water, BG Group, Christian Community Action and Reading4U community radio are among the companies and charities offering placements in everything from construction to catering, plus retail, media and horticulture.

Reading West MP Alok Sharma offered his support as a mentor and stressed the project will help equipped youths with vital skills needed to help the town and the country compete in the globalised world.

Young people and organisations looking to join should contact 0118 956 7000  07864 040 466 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Our new home?

If you have been around RFC for the last few weeks you should be aware that a warehouse on the Basingstoke Road has come onto the market. It's location is great, its 15,000 sqft and selling for £1 million. It has been vandalised internally, needs approx £400k of work done and we'd need Change of Use. 

I sense God hasn't spoken specifically regarding this building, but there is enough about it that we should take the next steps. The only time this week it can be viewed is tomorrow and Ian Anderson will be hosting the viewing.

Wed 5 Dec, 1pm @ 171 Basingstoke Rd, RG2 0HF

It would be really helpful if you can get along to view it and ask God for wisdom as we consider this (it's not in a suitable condition to bring children). We aim to gather at the church offices on Thursday night to hear your feedback and continue to ask God for His leading on this.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Cold toes, broad smile

Winter training is progressing well. 

This morning was a chilly 3hr ride with TVT, chasing hills around Henley. Once the mist had cleared it was really pleasant in the sun, although when gasping up yet another hill all is forgotten. At the bottom of the first climb my chain came off and I managed take out all but two with my sudden dismount. Let's just say I wasn't the most popular rider at that point :o)
I am also a regular at the Thursday night turbo session - 10 grown adults on training wheels in a village hall in Arbofield. For a sweaty hour we are shouted at by 'Coach Troy' on the big screen and we love it!

Joshua and I swim with the club on Monday nights and my running will be tested in a few weeks with my first cross country race in a very long time.

I am currently wondering what to aim at next year ... most likely a 70.3 race (1.2mile swim, 56mile ride, 13.1 run). It needs to be something to make sense of all this winter training madness...

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Carol Concert video

In case you missed it on Sunday ... it's 56 secs and needs to be played loud!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

What will you NOT do?

I just wanted to seed a question at the start of this week and ask ‘what will you not do?’ given the gift days over the next two Sundays.

Last week I heard someone say they were NOT going on a ‘City mini break’ in order to give. Liz and I have decided not to do some work on our home in order that we can give generously into the Vision Fund. Maybe you will decide not to buy those shoes, go out for that meal or not upgrade your phone just yet.

Today is a good day to think about what you will NOT do in order to once again be generous towards God and the needs of His people.

You can give a one off financial gift, or make a pledge to give a certain amount over the next 12 months or a combination of both.    

It may be that you have decided to not give to the Vision Fund, if so then please be easy about that but do celebrate with us who have decided to.

Just wanted to seed a question ...

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Thoughts on fasting

This week we are asking everyone who calls RFC their home, to set apart Thursday 1 Nov to pray & fast for our new venue. We have two prayer meeting planned, one at lunchtime 12:30-1:30, the other 8-9:30pm.

To help prepare us, here are a few thoughts on Why, How and When not to fast:

Why fast? I could just say because Jesus did but here are some other reasons to. Fasting can free up 'meal times' to be used as 'prayer times'. We can let our hunger work for us by using it to remind us to pray. Hunger can be helpful because it temporarily weakens us and reinforces our dependence on God. Having to choose between prayer or food can reveal our true priorities. Fasting creates a short term crisis which can guard against 'mission drift' in our everyday life. Hunger helps us identify with 2/3 of the world who have little food security and reminds us of our affluence & responsibility. Fasting is inconvenient, that's the point, there's never a good time to fast.

How to fast - Most people can skip one meal and safely endure hunger for a few hours. Many of us are well enough to not eat for an entire day with no adverse effects. That said, it is VERY important to drink a lot of liquid when fasting, personally I drink a lot of tea & 2lts of squash over the day! If skipping a meal feels too big a step, you can create time by getting up earlier, not watching TV or not listening to music on your commute and using that time for prayer. The point is to pray & humble yourself before God more than you would normally do. Please don't just skip meals, go hungry and not pray ... that's called a diet :o)     

When not to fast - if you are unwell, pregnant or on certain medication then don't fast (if in any doubt check with your GP). It is unwise to fast if you have no faith for it or are only doing it out of a misplaced sense of Christian duty. If you don't want to fast, please don't... but do create time to prayer more this Thursday.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Liam from Trinadad

Liam is part of the South St congregation, we baptized him on Sunday night.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Turkey with friends

Last week Liz and I had the privilege of attending the newfrontiers Conference in Turkey. Over 400 leaders from around the world gathered for 4 days of teaching, envisioning and fellowship.

The sense of family and being together on mission was brilliant. We ate with different people each meal time and enjoyed their diverse contexts. 

A typical day was breakfast with African pastors, lunch with church planters from Stockholm and dinner with a guy church planting in Japan. Coffee breaks included conversations with those in Middle East contexts, and praying with Philippinoes about RFCs new Sunday venue!

We caught up with Dave & Hanna Henson, sadly he is still in a lot of pain from his operation on his spine. I swum with Adrian Birks (he preached recently with us), and we spent an evening with Adrian Holloway who will be speaking at our carol concerts in December.

Liz & I also went to Ephesus and it was moving to sit in the same theatre that the Apostle Paul made his defence as recorded in Acts 19. 
All in all it was newfrontiers at its best: mission, faith, heartfelt worship, teaching and a strong sense of family unity.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Prayer & fasting with newfrontiers?

On Tuesday Scott & I travelled to Milton Keynes to gather with other leaders from newfrontier churches to pray & fast. I never look forward to the fasting bit but it's benefits are unquestionable - using hunger to seek God!

The time was hosted by Dave Devonish and the team he is gathering around him. If you aren't aware, newfrontiers in the UK is now served by 5 apostles (David being one of them). We are still exploring which apostolic sphere God is leading us to join and this day was part of that process...    

It was strange to be at such an event and the name of 'newfrontiers' hardly mentioned; the talk now is all Catalyst network, the name given to David's new sphere. I understand this, but it is another reminder that the movement has shifted (which is a good thing albeit costly in relationships).
An unexpected benefit was the venue we were meeting in; a 24,000 sqft warehouse. Worshipping in it further fuelled my faith for our new home in Reading.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Nick's journey

In case you missed it on Sunday ...

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Venue updates

One of the things I didn't cover on Vision Sunday is all things buildings. So here goes:

Church Offices: Our lease on the London Street offices has now expired and we are in the process of signing a 1 year lease with LatinLink. The main point of note is that both tenant & landlord will have a three month notice period, so although the lease is for 12 months both parties can give 3 months notice. 

Reading Girls' School: Last Sunday morning we put out 280 chairs and gathered 238 people. The students return this week so we expect another 40-50 additional people ... potentially it's standing room only this Sunday morning. Although that may sound exciting, it sends a rubbish signal to new people i.e. there's no room for you here.

South St Arts Centre: On Sunday night 80 people gathered to worship Jesus and hear our God given vision. The seating capacity is 123. 

Lease / Purchase new Venue:  The plan is still to lease (maybe even buy) a venue big enough to do everything in one place i.e. move the offices and the two Sunday congregations onto one site (ideally in a central/south Reading location).

Some comments: We have spent the last 12 months chasing various leads and drawn a few conclusions:

#1 The process is important - God is using this to work in us; the process is, and will be, a means of grace to us. 

#2 The Buildings Team are not aware of any venue to buy or lease that meets our minimum criteria. So we will have to actively wait and creatively use the space we have.

#3 We need to keep 'Believing for our tomorrow' which must surely include facilities that better serve our calling here in Reading. 

Point 3 is important because it means that 'in faith' we are not willing to sign a longer agreement for our office hub. 

Point 3 is important because it means that even though we don't know the final outcome we are acting & trusting that God will provide for us. 

Point 3 is important because it means we must keep investing into the Vision Fund which we will use to lease/buy/kit-out/run this new facility.

I hope that helps ... any questions or comments?

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

1st Thursday is this week

Two days from now is the first Thursday of the month, which is the day we set aside to fast & prayer together. 

As such there will be prayer meetings on Thursday at 12:30-13:30 and 20:00-21:45 at the church offices. Please do try to get to one of these.

My good friend Craig wrote a little poem this lunch time to stir my faith: 

There once was a man called Sean
Who prayed till his knees were all worn
But God heard from heaven
(and the folks down in Devon!)
now people are second-time born. 

You gotta love his creativity.

Monday, 1 October 2012

His first & my last

Saturday was my son's first triathlon with an openwater swim. Our club entered 10 teams in this relay event, we were on the same team, each doing a 400m swim, 15km bike, 5km run.
The lake temp was below 16C which made for a bracing 400m swim (the wetsuit only started to warm up as you got out)!
Joshua did really well, and coped with the tussles from other swimmers going round the marker buoys (it's DEFINITELY a contact sport!).
Sadly the bike leg was cancelled because of the poor conditions of the route ... Dorney lake was an Olympic venue and the site contractors currently dismantling the site had left too much mud on the road. Very annoying. 

That meant we had fresh legs for a fast 5km run. Joshua flew round in 20:40 which included a lengthy transition of timing chip from me! Craig, as ever, made sure he looked fresh for the camera but I reckon he was struggling!
 A great morning of racing but sadly my last for this year.  

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Dad & Lad on a relay team

So this Saturday Joshua and I are doing our last race of this season. Our club has entered 10 teams into a relay Triathlon at Eaton-Dorney Lake, currently there are 96 different teams overall.

Each team has 3 'athletes' the first of whom will swim 400m in the lake, then pass a timing chip to the next who then swims the 400m, and then so will the third.We then each ride 15km in succession; then each run 5km; again passing the same timing chip between us to gain a cumulative time. 

The event is supposed to be friendly, fun and not taken too seriously.
The only concern is that the water temperature has now dropped below 16C, that is chilly when you first get in. Especially so when you are 14 years old, have a shorty wetsuit and not overly confident swimming in a lake. 

Joshua has swum 1200m in a lake before with no problem but swimming amongst 96 wildly thrashing triathletes in cold murky water will be different. 

It will be quite a challenge for my beloved son.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Those Three Words

Vision Sunday is shaping up to be our most creative yet:  

The media team (aka Josh & Zoe) have been filming at various secret locations. Our artists have been doing funky stuff with box canvases... And I am getting a lot of texts about 3 words. 

Let me explain.

I asked everyone on Sunday to text me three words that would describe the church they want us to become. I plan to use these words as part of my message. Here is a sample of the texts I received so far: 

  • Inclusive, Discipling, Influential.
  • Relations not Religion
  • Fun, Strong, Flexible
  • Humble, Love, Sacrifice
  • Full of Life

Please be part of this by letting me know your three words :o)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Why did I go upstairs?

Have you ever gone upstairs to do something but once there you've forgotten quite why you went? 

That happened to me yesterday. Twice.

Liz tells me its my age but I think it was because I was rushing around trying to get 'Monday stuff' done! 

Life is like this. We can get so busy doing work/home/church stuff that we forget why we are here and what the important stuff is! 

Like me, I guess you also need to keep being reminded of God's call on your life and where we sense God's taking us as a people. 

On Sunday 30 September we have planned both morning and evening meetings to stir our hearts and remind us what we want to be about.

Please do plan to be there, or maybe make changes so that you can be at one of these meeting.

I hope to see you there ... Sean

Monday, 17 September 2012

She's back!

After 4 weeks in local garage our car is finally back with us ... a happy day at family Green.
She may not look pretty, and she isn't exciting to drive, but she makes our life much easier :o)

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Elders & Deacons Day

I can happily report that at the core of Reading Family Church are people who not only love Jesus but also enjoy being together. 

We stood/fell off towers built of milk crates; navigated low ropes courses with a 'blind' team-mate and did various other trust exercises. Several of us were ordered to do press-ups for misdemeanors, all of which was very amusing for the rest!

This afternoon we talked, reviewed and worshipped.

They are a great bunch of leaders and we should continue to thank God for their contribution to the life of RFC.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Introducing 2 new interns ...

We are now in the 6th year of our Intern Program and I'm really pleased that Becca & Zoe are part of it this year. The scheme hugely benefits RFC whilst creating unique personal & spiritual development opportunities for the interns.

Becca Cavanagh (left) studied History at Reading and will be supporting Scott in running events and also assisting Karen in day2day administration.

Zoe Anstell (right) studied TV, Film & Theatre at Reading Uni and she will be supporting Sarah in Kids Church and also Josh in Media. 

They will also receive theological training and opportunities to serve on a mission team outside of Reading. 

Would you please would you prayerfully consider sponsoring them, they are each looking to raise £200 a month to help cover some of the costs of the program.

Lets make their year full of encouragement as they look to serve Jesus and His church with all their energies :o)

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

We are supposed to care #2

More on the growing issue of relative poverty amongst UK children (source BBC website) ... 

The charity Save the Children, best known for helping some of the world's poorest families, has launched its first appeal to help UK children.
The charity says the UK's poorest children are bearing the brunt of the recession, with some missing out on regular hot meals or new shoes.
The campaign urges the government to focus on benefits for low-paid families and ask employers to pay a living wage.
The government said it was committed to eradicating child poverty.
Researchers for Save the Children surveyed more than 1,500 children aged eight to 16 and more than 5,000 parents, focusing on the lowest income groups.
The study draws on Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) figures which estimate that there are 3.5 million children living in poverty in the UK and predict a steep rise in the numbers in coming years. more here

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

We are supposed to care ...

... about justice for the poor. 

The book of proverbs has two themes / warnings regarding the poor, the first being a strong emphasis on personal responsibility / warning against laziness (10v4). The second theme / warning is the abuse of the poor by the wealthy & powerful (13v23). Whilst we must take note of both themes, it is the latter that I have been exploring.

Proverbs 29v7 states 'The righteous care about justice for the poor, yet the wicked have no such concerns'.
It is helpful to understand the context that the book of Proverbs was set in. God called out the lower working class of Egypt (the slaves) and set them in a Theocracy (a society governed & structured by God).

This new theocratic state had many laws & provisions to safeguard the poor:
  •       Justice system – Judicial Equality, Lev 19v15
  •       Preservation of Land – Jubilee, Lev 25v23-24
  •       Voluntary servitude – Sabbath Year Dt 15v13-14
  •       Access to harvest - Gleaning  & Sabbath Yr Crops Lev 19v9, Ex 23v10-11
  •       Interest free, forgiveable loans – God’s people & Sabbath  Year, Lev 25v35, Dt 15v1
  •       Collections – every 3 years, Dt 14v28-29

These together reveal something of Gods concern for the poor but unfortunately Israel failed to safeguard them, a common theme of the OT Prophets (Is 58v6-7).

Jesus transcended this theocracy & its social mechanisms, all of which pointed to his first (& ultimately second) coming. Jesus indentified with the poor, disadvantaged & oppressed, His focus was on their plight & meeting their needs (Luke 4v18-19). Acts 4v32-36 and 2Cor 8-9 describes communities of Christ followers expressing this same concern. How much more should we also follow Jesus’ example.

Proverbs 29v7 tells us that the righteous care about justice for the poor. By 2015, 1in5 children in UK will be in relative poverty; rising to 1in4 by 2020. Our economy is increasingly structured so that the best deals goes to those with greater resources, thereby reinforcing the poverty trap (buy 2 get 1 free deals at your supermarket is the tip of a big iceberg). Is this OK given true equality is the ‘haves’ meeting the needs of the ‘have nots’? (2Cor8v13-14)  

So what? Let's at least be open thinking about this stuff. Justice for the poor can be expressed in our judicial system, health care, education, diet, housing, state benefits, transport systems and their dignity & place in church life.  

News from Derrick about his mum

If you were around in August you'll know we have been praying for Derricks mum who was gravely ill with cancer in Singapore ... 

'Dear RFC Mom (Sally) has gone to be with the Lord at 11.15am Sunday 26th August 2012. Mom has certainly been liberated from pain and suffering which was very severe in those last days. As hard as it was to see her go and now deal with the void she's left behind, we know that she's in a better place. In light of the recent event, I finally really understand the statement i'm about to make: Thank you Jesus for your promise of eternal life. I get to see mom in heaven in the future. It's not a goodbye but it's a 'see you soon'. 

There are still a myriad of things to be sorted but we're getting there. Dealing with the absence of mom as we continue on with life is something which is inevitable for it is that process that healing and adjustments will entail. At this point of time, we're still catching each other sniffling and staring in space. I've caught dad a number of times turning his head to his side as if speaking to mom (but really: speaking to himself). 

2012 has been a very trying year. Dad's lost his soulmate, his companion, his wife. I've been having visa issues (which would be a story for another day) and Callie had to dive headfirst along with us in her first year of marriage. We now see his 'bigger picture' as to why the progression of things happened the way they did but i'm sure there's more to it than meets our eyes. His grander scheme of things we shall not try to comprehend. 

Thank you so much for standing with us and helping through this very rough patch. Callie and I was talking and one of the things mentioned was how RFC has always been there as a family despite the short time we've been with you. You guys have the sense of family evident in your church structure and certainly you walk the talk of being Christ-like. We've been comforted and encouraged so much by your church. Well done, RFC. We might be in UK for a few weeks in October to tie loose ends (which we didn't get to do) and we're trying to get dad and my sister, Joanne over for 2 weeks to fulfill mom's dreams (it was mom and dad's plans to visit Europe and UK June - July which was cancelled due to mom's declining health). 

Once again - thank you so very much for your thoughts, prayers, support. Keith and Lesley, Tope, Richard and the life group : thanks so so very much for sharing your lives with us. 

Sean : For your tough words of love which is well rooted in the Word of God which have been reality checks as well as words that initiated healing.
Scott: For being that father figure, embracing us and encouraging us. 
Matt Young: For your heart of gold. 

God bless you guys, Derrick

PS: Mom's wake service was recorded and streamed live. We had many church members at different parts of the globe tuning in: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/24998055'

Thursday, 30 August 2012

News from Zim

RFC currently has a team of 10 out in Zimbabwe partnering with Creating Better Futures and renewing old friendships with various churches in Harare. 

Becca C, Chris, Mike & Dorothy & Jasmine, Anne M, Kat LF, Richard, Scott & Sitho flew out last weekend for a two week trip. Here's the news so far ...

'Scott driving well in Harare - tricky with potholes and free thinking drivers, road signs in bad shape. We have discovered stone throwing and catching gifts in Becca and particularly Kat who won our roadside game of "donkey". Anne is enjoying leading gardening when we plant vegetables at the orphanages. Carol Mush is on holiday here but has been with us throughout, her knowledge of Harare is not quite invaluable! Mike, Dorothy and Jasmine are working hard and having a fab time - Dorothy's mum and brother are legends. Chris Poston making good links with other folk in the church who work with poor communities. Rich, besides tummy troubles is true to form!

Spending time with the orphans has been a blessing, God reveals so much in and to us. My own heart for the 18 yr olds who come out of orphanages with little to no chance in life is growing - more thoughts on this later. Rich speaking this evening and Scott and I over the weekend - Sitho'

'We're all good guys. Team working well together. Seen lots of orphans and lots of need.  My yeah has definitely become more of a ja but I know that it'll change back in Reading. After a while anyway. Off to Cheza school tomorrow and to kingdom church where Richard is preaching. Much love to y'all! Blessings from Zim - Scott'

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Blogging again

So it has been a busy August so far:

We had a brilliant 2 week family holiday in Northumberland: a wild coastline, marshmellows roasted on beach fires, bike rides with Joshua, tide-fights, a visit to Farne islands & lighthouse, crabbing, and dramatic coastal castles. My phone was switched off and it hardly rained ... happy days. 

Yesterday was the annual Isle of Wight bike trip - 65 miles of hills, hills and more hills. I went through two inner tubes but the other guys had no such issues :o) The cafe at Freshwater was a new innovation and set to become a feature of the ride!  

I am off to 'Together at Westpoint' this weekend on behalf of RFC exploring which newfrontiers apostolic sphere we will relate to ... more on this over the Autumn term.

Friday, 27 July 2012

A letter of thanks ...

Dear Sean and Reading Family Church.

I wanted to write and reiterate my thanks for the generous donation you gave us: refugees and asylum-seekers are often not the most popular and well-served members of our community so this gift is very welcome and will make a huge difference for our clients. It will pay for a Sports Day to be held on Sept. 9th, probably at the John Madjeski Academy. There will be both led and free activities (e.g. football, cricket, swimming, zumba) plus refreshments and the day will be open to all our clients. 

As I mentioned before if there are any members of your congregation who would like to join us and/or help supervise the event, they would be very welcome. If so please contact Yasmin Bador, our Volunteer Coordinator, on vcoordinator@rrsg.org.uk. We will of course forward you pictures of the event that can be used in your publicity.

With best wishes, Alison McQuitty Director

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Consider WORDplus

Being part of newfrontiers has many advantages, one being access to courses that will strengthen our faith in Jesus. 

WORDplus is a course for Christians run over five Saturdays a year for two years. It aims to equip the students with an overall grasp of the Bible and it's key theological themes. 

Students are asked to sign up for one year at a time, and can start with either year one or year two. The course usually attracted 40+ students each year and is hosted by my friend Andrew Ryeland who leads Beacon Church in Runnymede. 

The dates and details can be accessed on this web page here: http://www.beaconchurch.net/links/wordplus 

This page also has a clickable link where people can download a PDF file about WORDplus 2012-2013. This single A4 sheet consists of the details and a tear-off registration form across the bottom. The course will be held at Open Door Church Centre, Sunbury. 

Why not consider giving it a go - it will bless you and thankfully is not aimed at academics :o)

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Taming our Tongues (its a Gospel issue)

We all have words we regret, be they spoken (reckless, gossip, deceit, anger) or unspoken (forgiveness, confession, truth or encouragement). No matter how hard we try, we all seem to fall short in taming our tongue. Why is it so hard to consistently use words wisely?

Our lives are lived in a series of small moments that together shape a trajectory. The book of Proverbs has many pithy sayings, nuggets of wisdom, that can act as curb stones to keep us on the straight & narrow. When it comes to taming our tongues, Proverbs has much to say: 4:24, 6:2, 10:31&19, 12:18, 15:2, 16:23-24, 17:27-28, 18:6-7&21, 21:23, 28:23, 29:11.  

Yet Proverbs 15:4 is really helpful because it is a faint echo of both the problem & solution of the reality that we live in. It resonates Genesis 1-3 where the Great Talker speaks the world into being, establishes Adam & Eve in a perfect garden and gives them the Tree of Life. Yet they decide to listen to the Great Deceiver, eat God forbidden fruit, the results of which is crushed spirit, division & barred access to the Tree of Life. Mankind’s sinful hearts can now do little else but speak out harsh words, we are unable to tame our tongues. 

Yet the Great Speaker sent the Word, who became flesh (John 1v1-2 & 14), Jesus came to bring Revelation & Redemption. In the gospel we embrace our ‘inability apart from Christ’ and our ‘ability in Christ’. This is a holistic truth – what is true for our Sins is true for our tongues. Taming our tongues is not a technique to be learnt but a Gospel issue to be outworked. The Holy Spirit is now at work within us, bearing fruit; we can tame our tongues because Christ died & rose again. 

And just as Jesus’ words brought us healing & access to the Tree of Life (Rev22v2) so too should our words bring healing & life to those around us. 

Questions for reflection:
#1 Does your talk have an ‘us together’ or a ‘me against them’ posture?
#2 Are you ‘open & teachable’ or ‘defensive & self protective’ in your words?
#3 Do your principle relationship have healthy communication? (Parent/child, husband/wife, siblings, employer/employee, friends, fellow Christians).
#4 Do your words reflect a ‘willingness to serve’ or a ‘demand to be served’?
#5 Do your words ‘build relationships’ or simply ‘solve problems’?

Monday, 23 July 2012

Sleeping on our trampoline

We slept last night in the children's new den ...
Any sense of 'Personal Sleeping Space' was impossible to maintain given I was in the middle and they all rolled towards me ... its funny now but was quite annoying at the time :0)

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Blessing those we haven't met #2

Last Sunday we had representatives from anther three local charities with us. The money we have given to AgeUK Reading will be used to cover costs for a theatre trip. It was good to meet Ken and hear him describe the many other ways that they serve the older people in Reading.
Malcolm from 'Faith Christian Group' not only thanked us for the cheque to help them furnish flats for those who would otherwise be homeless but also  for being a main ongoing sponsor for Readifood (the Green boxes at the front on Sundays).  
Alison from Reading Refugee Support Group talked about how our gift has enabled them to offer a day trip to Beale Park for various families who are seeking sanctuary in our town. I really enjoyed chatting to her before the meeting began, co-coincidently my son is doing a project on the charity for his school!

Friday, 13 July 2012

RFC on Radio Berkshire

Radio Berkshire have picked up on our investing £17k into charities that serve people in Reading and have asked to interview me on their faith show this Sunday. 

Mary Green, the presenter, was with us on a Sunday about  a year ago and interviewed some church members ... she also covered our 10th anniversary celebration in October.

Please do prayer for me, that I represent us well and don't get too nervous! The slot is from 8:30am ... 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Blessing those we haven't met #1

On Sunday we heard about how some of the £17,000 we are investing into charities in Reading has been/will be used.
Lorraine from RAHAB (befriending & advocacy for women exploited in Reading's sex industry) told us how the £1500 will be used for activities that express value & worth to their clients. Their first months activity was pottery painting:
Sheila from Aspire2 spoke about how the £1000 was used to pay for  children from Whitley (an area of high social & economic deprivation) to attend a residential break. Despite the poor weather the children had a great time doing things they would never normally be able to ...  

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Investing £17k into Reading based charities

Hopefully you know that we planned to give away 10% of whatever was raised in the first 12 months of the Vision Fund. In fact, there was enough worthy projects that we decided to give away £17k (£5k more than planned, believing another £70k will come into the Vision Fund!).

Last week I went along to the Dingley Family Centre to present a cheque and to see first hand the excellent work they do. 
This Sunday we will have representatives from RAHAB, CCA & Aspire2 with us at both congregations; other charities will be coming to our Sunday meetings on 15 July. A brief summary of our Vision Fund giving is outlined below:  
  • Starting Point Reading (NEET project with The Mustard Tree Foundation and Reading Borough Council): £10,000 towards project set-up costs and project worker annual salary
  • Faith Christian Group: £2,000 towards set up costs of flats to house the otherwise homeless
  • The Rahab Project: £1,500 to provide a year of monthly daytime activities for women exploited in Reading's sex industry
  • Aspire2: £1,000 towards a residential break for disadvantaged school children from Whitley
  • Christian Community Action: £800 to provide a new counter and till in Oxford Road charity shop
  • Age UK Reading: £600 to provide a meal and theatre trip for a group of senior citizens
  • Reading Refugee Support Group: £500 to provide a day trip for a group of refugees
  • Dingley Family & Specialist Early Years Centre: £300 towards garden story-telling area for children with special needs and disabilities
  • Talisman Riding for the Disabled: £300 to provide therapeutic horse-riding sessions for children and adults in Reading who could otherwise not afford it.
I thank God that I am part of such a big hearted and generous church.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

1st Thursday - another thing to pray into

Our church prayer rhythm continues tomorrow with a day set aside for fasting and pray...

LatinLink (our landlord) has advised us that we should plan to vacant our London Street offices by the end of the year. 

These have been central to all we do outside of Sundays: Youth, Toddlers, Socials, Lunches, Training, Band practice, Storage, Alpha, Biblical Thinking Forum, Staff & Administration, to name but a few!

We now have six months in which to seek God and make our next step, be that a temporary office or our much prayed for bigger venue for midweek activities & Sundays. 

I do sense Ben's sermon on Sunday (comfort zone, miracle zone, revelation zone) was very timely. As a church we seem to be in a comfort zone yet a crisis is building that could well result in a miracle & a greater revelation of who Jesus is.

So although it can feel unsettling, I am choosing to see God's hand in it and find it both stimulating and exciting. As such, I am looking forward to setting aside tomorrow to fast and prayer with my fellow brothers and sister in Christ here at RFC.

Meeting times at offices: Lunch time 12:30 - 1:30, Evening 8-9:45pm. 

Hope to see you there.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Known for our love #3

Jesus gave a new command to his followers, to love one another (Jn13v34).

Being commanded to do anything is unfamiliar to most of us. We live in a culture that prefers 'requests' that come with a 'please', and ideally an option to ask 'why?' 

So being commanded to love someone can seem strange, if not absurd. We often see love as an emotion or preference, so being commanded to love others we don't know, or even like, messes with our heads. Perhaps the problem arises from our limited or narrow understanding of the word 'love'. 

Jesus' concept of love is far broader than a strong emotion of affection or personal attachment; it's richer than a passionate desire for intimacy or closeness. It encompasses the unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another. 

The love Jesus commanded was to be more than a notion or feeling; it was to be a pattern of thought AND behaviour. The love He had in mind was to be tangibly outworked:  

'Love is patience, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes. Love never fails.' 1Cor13:4-8

This kind of demonstrable love flows from a choice to obey Jesus (Jn14:15) but is sustained by another Counsellor, more on Him later.

A community choosing to obey Jesus and love one another proclaims to all that they follow Jesus. 

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Known for our love #2

I met with another Reading pastor for lunch yesterday and he innocently asked me what I was reading & who was inspiring me. This is a question I would ask others and is common amongst pastors, yet I found it awkward to answer. 

My answer was tainted with my loss of appetite for Christian books, conferences & marvelling at other peoples journeys with God. In its place is a hunger for my own story being written from an intimate, experiential relationship with Jesus.

So I responded weakly, almost apologetically, that I am primarily reading the gospel of John and that Jesus is the most inspiring person in my life at the moment. 

 It felt so cheesy to say, it just seemed to hang there in the silence. I felt obliged to also mumbled something about Bill Hybels & Mark Driscoll but it wasn't with any conviction... 

I blog this because the heart & source of being 'known for our love for one another' is knowing, loving and being with Jesus. Who He is and who we are in Him, fuels our love for Him and His bride. Abiding, dwelling, resting and drawing from Him bears the fruit of love in us.

The starting point for being 'known for our love' is knowing who first loved us.