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.