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.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Known for our Love #1

A few weeks ago I read John 13v34-34 and have been mulling it over ever since. 

Jesus had just washed His disciples feet; Judas was sent to spring his trap and Jesus said He was going to a place they couldn't come. He continued:   

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another." 

Simon Peter seems more agitated about Jesus' comment about going away (v36,37) than he was intrigued about this 'new command'. Yet the apostle John seemed to have been listening intently, his later writings (1,2&3John) contain 30 references to love ... John might be described as the Apostle of Love!

In the busyness of our everyday lives we do well to think again on this 'new command'. I plan to preach on this on Sunday 8 July and as part of my preparation I hope to blog my sermon prep thoughts.

Our desire at RFC has always been that we would be known for our love for one another. Of course this is a lifelong journey and we all take wrong turns, yet we must keep pursuing this path.

It would be fun/cool/helpful to hear your thinking on this as well. 

Quote for today: "Love is the final apologetic" - Francis Schaeffer

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Not in Employment, Education or Training - our response

I left school when I was 15 and went straight on the dole. After a few days I was placed on a training scheme, which led to an apprenticeship, which in turn led to me going to university. Then ICL, Fujitsu, Dell & now RFC. It has all turned out well even after a wobbly start.  

As a school leaver on state benefits, I was fortunate enough to be given a training opportunity AND had people cheering me on as I got my working life started. 

In Reading there are approximately 1400 16-24yr old who are classed as NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training), 400 of these are aged between 16-19. Why so many young people are in this category is complex but isn't because of a lack training opportunities, many such schemes have vacancies. 

One of the issues these young people face is that they need support and encouragement in engaging with existing processes & schemes. That's where we come in.

We have decided to partner with Reading Borough Council and the Mustard Tree Foundation to start a mentoring programme helping these young adults plug into education, employment & training schemes. The project also hopes to create easier access opportunities, so that a jump into a structured working week isn't too wide.  
Rachel Green (she did an intern program with us) has been appointed the full time project worker and today is her second day in the post! 

This Sunday, she and Counsillor James Anderson, will be introducing the project at both our meetings and will be outlining how we can be involved in mentoring. 

We are funding our contribution to this project from the Vision Fund tithe; we are indeed beginning to play our part in serving the town of Reading.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Lucy's photo shoot

Today our eldest daughter Lucy had a few friends over to celebrate her 12 birthday. 

The highlight of the party was a photo shoot which required them to bring themed outfits, perfect hair and a sense of fun - all of which they did with aplomb!

Liz bought a 2mx4m length of white vinyl fabric as a backdrop and one of her friends brought  studio lighting; our kitchen looked like a proper studio. Judging by the laughter, cheering and running up & down of the stairs to change, all were having a super time.
 Joshua and I were banned from the kitchen and only saw glimpses of all the hilarity. Family life is punctuated by happy memories, today will surely be one of those.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Windsor Triathlon 2012

The day finally arrived, it was sunny and I was up for racing but sadly didn't need any swimming stuff. For the first time in its 22 year history, the swim leg was cancelled because the Thames was deemed too dangerous for swimmers. The event was changed to a Duathlon (1km run, 42km bike, 10km run) much to my disappointment and I guess relief...

Mass swim starts in deep water are both scary & exhilarating; thrashing bodies swimming over each other; everyone trying to avoid oxygen debt yet getting a fast rhythm. This 1.5km of mayhem was replaced by 1km run in a park .. very gentile by comparison. 

The bike leg went well, I was soon chasing those ahead and trying to ignore those who overtook me. I ended up leap frogging with another guy who was faster on the flats yet he faded a little on the hills. We pushed each other all the way round and am sure we both got a quicker bike time as a result :o)

The 10km run is three laps around Windsor & Eton with a brutal climb up Castle Hill, my legs were heavy off the bike and took a lap to wake up. Craig had come to support me and cheered me on as he sipped his Starbucks latte  ... I soon realized we were having very different race experiences.

Quite a few from TVT had come along to support so I got a good cheer as I came in the finishing tunnel. The run REALLY hurt but at least I gave everything out on the course and took nothing home in my legs. 

Its Tuesday and I still cant walk properly ... a proper badge of racing commitment!   

Overall time 2:04:22 (1km run=4:38, T1=1:12, 42km bike=1:12:38, T2=1:02, 10km run=44:50).       

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

France Vacance 2012

So this year we spent half term in the Loire Valley, in a chalet on a small camp site between Orleans & Blois. The site was close to the river and connected into the brilliant cycle paths of that region.

The kids loved the pools, badminton & table tennis and made full use of the sun loungers on the few hot & sunny days! We had some hilarious antics on the unsupervised water flumes; we bought inflatable tubes to zoom down on and I actually got friction burns from the speed!
Joshua and I managed to get a few runs & rides in, as well as swimming against the lazy river as part of our training workouts! We all enjoyed our new family board game Carcasonne  which was really good, a top game for 5 people.

Lucy and I read two Harry Potter books and watched the associated films, the books are far better. Liz didn't see as many ch√Ęteaus & pretty villages as she hoped but we were having so much fun on the site.   

The only down side for me was driving through Paris when I forget we had a bike on the roof and I hit a height restriction barrier ... very stressful and it broke a gear level on Joshua's bike  :o(

Oh, the other rubbish thing was that I couldn't find any olives to eat with the lovely French cheeses & wine...