Friday, 20 December 2013

Latest on Naomi - a change in her plans

'I've been asked to stay with a couple of people in Nairobi to process information for the US government about what's happening, so, I think I will stay. I feel very hollow and empty being out of South Sudan and it'll be good to try to do something useful and be with others who are processing all this.

I've told my parents that I won't be with them for Christmas.  Please pray for them as they were understandably sad.  But I'll come home in a few weeks, or at least before I return to South Sudan.

Things are getting really bad. A friend's mum is stuck with young children and her two -year old granddaughter in a village that Nuer are attacking. Most people have run away but they don't feel they can as they don't have the strength, so we're just waiting. My friend is here in Nairobi. Everyone's just waiting.

Please pray.

Thankyou, Naomi'

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Update on Naomi in South Sudan

Many of you will know of Naomi and her work with the Dinka and Nuer people in South Sudan; she is a member of RFC, was sent out from us and is a constant feature in our prayer meetings. 

If you have been following the news, you'll be aware that there has been fighting and civil unrest in the country, resulting in blood shed. 

Roy Avis has been in regular contact with her throughout the last week and we can now confirm that she has been safely evacuated by air to Kenya ... 

Please do pray as she and her family process her unexpected return to the UK; for peace in that young nation; and thank God that she was not out in the bush and the emergency evac plan worked.  

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Christmas @ RFC

We have a new initiative this year, the New Year's Eve Prayer Meeting. This will be hosted by Pastor Richard at the church offices and everyone is welcome to pray in the new year.   

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

New start time for South St congregation

Our congregation that meets in the town centre at 6:30pm @ South St Arts Centre has been steadily growing and we have been exploring ways of helping people to connect before and after the meeting.
This term we launched a Student tea at 4:30pm and that has been really helpful introducing them to the South St congregation.

However, we also feel that if move the meeting start time 30 minutes earlier we could encourage everyone to do something afterwards, be that to eat, go to the pub, etc.

So from Sunday 5th January the South St congregation will be meeting from 6-7:30pm.  Hopefully this small time change will make a bigger change to the friendships & the community that is being formed on Sunday nights at South St.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

RFC Bible School

As pastors, we are convinced that we change the most when when we regularly read the bible and pray. Yet the bible is a complex collection of books and we all need help navigate both it's big story and the smaller details!

One of our new initiatives for 2014 is to start a Bible School with the aim of helping us feel more at home in reading the bible.

Richard Walker will be leading the School and helped by Mark Amos and others who were involved in our Biblical Thinking Forum.  The syllabus for next year is outlined below ... more details on Richard's blog here:

20 January Approaching the Bible. What do we mean when we say that the Bible is the inspired "Word of God"?

17 February Coming to the Light. What is the central theme of the Bible?

17 March Gospel Rhythm: From Darkness and Chaos to Light and Order. How does Genesis 1 set the scene for the rest of the Bible?

28 April Leviticus: The Gospel for "Little Children" How do we make sense of the laws and rituals of Leviticus?

19 May The Psalms: Gospel Songs for our Journey Through This Life. How should we read the Psalms?

16 June The Prophets: God's Gracious Gospel Enforcers. Who were the prophets and how were they used by God?

15 September The Gospels: Behold the God-Man. How do the Gospels shed new light for us about Jesus? 

20 October Acts: The Gospel goes Viral. How is the Gospel planted into and lived out in Alien Cultures?

17 November Revelation: Not as Strange as You Think. How should we try to understand one of the most controversial letters ever written?

Friday, 6 December 2013

Volunteering in Istanbul

I received this email from a friend who is a church leader in Istanbul. I wonder if anyone in RFC would like to explore this opportunity. If so, contact me for more details ... 

As you may guess, the challenges of living cross-culturally and developing a busy ministry, we have found support at home with the kids to be an invaluable part of our existence. Having someone help us during this year has made a substantial difference to our quality of life!

Our current volunteer will be leaving at the end of January, and we are keen to find someone else. We plan to have a sabbatical at the end of June, so we are essentially looking for someone 1st Feb-30th June 2014. It costs 600 Turkish Lira a month (at the moment 200GBP) to keep someone here (excluding flights) - they would need to fund themselves.

I wonder if you have someone in your church who would consider this? They would need to be good with kids and willing to serve. Perhaps an FPer you could release? We have so far not managed to recruit anyone, and would value your prayers and help.

Please do let us know if an appropriate person comes to mind.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Why would I say "No"?

Yesterday, Ben Davies phoned me and asked if he could come to RFC on Sunday. 

"Of course" was my reply ... 

He then asked if I would like him to preach because "I have a sermon for the churches" ...


My friendship with Ben is loving and strong enough for me to easily say "No", especially as I was relishing the thought of preaching Esther 9.

But in the 12 years that RFC has been running, Ben has never made this request, so we had better give this serious consideration.

So Ben is preaching this Sunday ... and I can't wait to hear what he has to say!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Notes from Sunday's Sermon - Esther 8

As we rejoin the story, we need to remind ourselves that the Villain is hanged but the bomb is ticking; Haman’s law against Gods people still stands.

Esther 8v1-6 The Love of a bride for her people.
Esther is safe but distressed. Why? Because judgement is coming on her family and her people, and she cannot bear to see their destruction.

Esther 8v7-13 The Law of a king that can’t be cancelled  
King Xerxes law is irrevocable; it can’t be changed, reversed, cancelled, repealed or revoked... yet they figured out a way to counter it. The irrevocable nature of Xerxes law is an echo of God’s Law, which is supremely Irrevocable.

God’s Law (Mosaic law) was given to restrain (to hold back) sin and to reveal God’s character (He is Holy). It also shows the standard of righteousness God requires of his people and the seriousness of Sin. God’s Law shows our need to atone for our Sin and that to do so we must go beyond ourselves to a substitute sacrifice. God’s Law points to a Coming Judgement, a great & terrible day of reckoning.

Read Revelation 20v11-15. Jesus Christ will be the judge. Those who have believed in Jesus will be judged but only in order to evaluate and bestow various levels of rewards ... they will not be condemned. Angels will be judged, certainly the rebellious ones. Those who have not believed in Jesus will also be judged. Every unbelieving man, woman and child will be eternally punished in varying degrees in the lake of fire. Hell can be thought of as a place of eternal, conscious punishment for the wicked. A place of unquenchable fire; devoid of hope, mercy and access to God. We are all destined to die once and then to face judgement (Heb 9v27).

And the clock is ticking.

Esther 8v14-17 The Joy of those who find salvation.
Once news of Mordecai’s law reaches the ends of the known earth, there is great joy & gladness; People rejoice as those rescued from certain death. The parallels for us are clear. Jesus came not to counter God's law, but to perfectly fulfil it.  

Yet will we pick up Esther’s plea in verse 6? How can we bear to see disaster fall on our people? How can we bear to see destruction of our family?

Friday, 29 November 2013

END IT ...

Not a classic Friday youtube video but important viewing none-the-less... it made me cry with helplessness. 

This is happening in our town.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Carol Concerts - Sunday 15 December

This Sunday the tickets for the Carol Concerts are available, so now is a good time to think through who you can invite. It will be a great way to introduce your friends to our church & the real message of Christmas.
We anticipate both meeting being at capacity so if you find yourself with spare tickets, please do return them. On that Sunday there wont be any meetings at 9am,11am or 6:30pm.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Advent reading for RFC

At Easter, many of us enjoyed using John Piper's e-book as a devotional guide running up to that Sunday. He has now released a similar Advent e-book ... I have already downloaded and it looks brilliant. His introduction email is below:    
Dear Friends, 

I’m excited to announce that our Advent eBook is newly revised and ready for December 2013 — and free of charge. It’s called Good News of Great Joy. As you know, Advent is just around the corner. It starts the fourth Sunday before Christmas — this year, that’s December 1 — and is a season of preparation for Christmas Day. Our prayer is that this eBook would help you keep Jesus as the center and greatest treasure of your Advent season. The candles and candies have their place, but we want to make sure that in all the Christmas rush and hubbub, we adore Jesus above all - John Piper.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Poverty in Reading ...

Last night I attended a conference hosted by Reading Borough Council aimed at tackling Poverty in Reading. Over 200 people were in attendance at the town hall and the Christian engagement / response was self evident. 

Their working definition was helpful because poverty is relative: "Individuals, families or groups in the population can be said to be in poverty when they lack the resources to obtain the type of diet, or participation in the activities, living conditions and the amenities which are customary (or at least widely encouraged or approved) in the societies to which they belong. Their resources are so seriously below those commanded by the average family that they are in effect excluded from ordinary living patterns, customs and activities."    

To put numbers on that, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation was quoted as saying that the minimum income to meet the cost of living for a couple with two children in 2013 is £36,060. 

The official poverty threshold is 60% of the Median income ... so in Reading a couple with two children who have an income of less than £19,000 is below the poverty threshold.

In Reading, 6400 (21.8%) of children are living in poverty ... it costs around £160 to bring a child up to age 18 and meet their minumum needs. 40-50% of children growing up in areas of Whitley, Katesgrove & Caversham are in poverty.

4,780 pupils in Reading are eligible for the Pupil Premium (additional funding given to schools so they can support disadvantaged pupils).

Men in Whitley have a life expectancy 8.5 years less than those in Earley.

6000 households in our town are estimated to be in fuel poverty (where a household spends over 10% of its income on fuel bills).

The changes to Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit Under-occupation Reduction (bedroom tax) and the introduction of Universal Credit, the Benefit Cap and the new Personal Independence Payments (replacing the disability living allowance), are all expected to create further churn in the poverty cycle.

And to finally ground it all ... about 10:30pm last night I chatted with a rough sleeper outside Blockbuster in leafy Lower Earley. He had set up his bed next to his wheel chair, he was 28 and had a brittle bone syndrome. He was cold and I felt helpless.

But together we are not helpless ... and we have our part to play.     

Monday, 11 November 2013

Philosophy of Leadership @ RFC #6

TEARS: Speaking honestly, with love.
Leadership will inevitably involve difficult conversations , conflict or disappointment. Just as it was for Jesus, so will it be for us. In these moments we lean into Proverbs 27v6 which tells us that wounds from a friend can be trusted. 

As pastors, we are committed to ‘speaking honestly, with love’. Note we don’t say ‘speak the truth’ rather ‘speak honestly, with love’. Speaking honestly makes room for our feelings whilst acknowledging we don’t have the monopoly on truth. 

Never-the-less, we are committed to asking hard question, risking offence, saying what others don’t want to hear. Our words may produce tears; we may have it all wrong; but we say what seems right to us, until another gives their account (Proverbs 18v17). 

Good leadership requires us to love each other enough to risk tears.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Philosophy of Leadership @ RFC #5

HANDS: Leadership is key & costly
Bill Hybels hugely influenced our Philosophy of Leadership when he wrote ‘The local church is the hope of the world and its future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders’. Whilst this sounds dramatic, never-the-less we believe it to be true.

Individual leaders can make a big impact on church life. We highly value the gift of leadership and want to ensure our leaders have opportunities to hone their gifting. Church life needs to be well led; we don’t want to start any ministries until we have identified a gifted leader for it. 

Leadership is key yet none of us can lead without personal cost; using this gift will demand our time, energy, resources and much heartache. When leaders hear of gift days they know they have to step up with faith & generosity. When leaders see problems in church life they move towards it, and sometimes get hurt. 

Leaders experience real cost, yet they mine the gospel to gain new treasures.

More to follow ...

Monday, 4 November 2013

Philosophy of Leadership @ RFC #4

STEPS: Take people on a journey 
As pastors of the church, we don’t expect people to figure everything out quickly nor make all the changes at once. We are all on a journey and whilst we don’t want to stay where we are, neither do we want to leave anyone behind. 

Each of us has a trajectory and that is more important than our situation at any given point. This can look messy and feel uncomfortable but what is most important is to present people with next steps. As such we try to make it clear what their next step is, be that for a newcomer, a regular or a member. It could be to believe, to repent or to change; to belong, to serve or to give.

If we wanted to go quick, we would go alone. But we want to journey long, so we go with others. We are in this for the long haul.

More to follow ...

Friday, 1 November 2013

Catalyst Festival: Sat 24 - Wed 27 May 2014

For the first 5 years of the church, we had an annual camping weekend - it was a great way of getting to know one another and build memories together.

Next year we plan to take many RFCers away on the second May bank holiday weekend to be part of the Catalyst Festival (We wont have any meetings that Sunday in Reading). 
This is a gathering of newfrontiers churches that want to relate to David Devenish and the team he is gathering. Families Green & Taylor went for a day last year and it was refreshing to gather with thousands to worship Jesus!

You can either camp or stay in a B&B and we will have our own area with a large marquee for us to hang out in. Bookings are now open with the first early bird discount expiring 30 November.  

For more information & booking details follow this link

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Philosophy of Leadership @ RFC #3

CIRCLES: From rows to circles
Whilst our Sunday meetings require us to sit in rows to maximise our seating capacity, this does not reflect our end goal. As leaders, we want to be world class at moving people from sitting in rows on a Sunday to sitting in circles midweek. 

Sitting in rows on a Sunday can speak of attendance whereas sitting in circles midweek speaks of community. Sitting in rows suggests hierarchy whereas sitting in circles suggests equality. 

Sitting in a circle helps us to see each other’s faces, hear each other’s voices and feel part of one another’s lives. Helping people get into groups makes it easier for them to build friendship, community, belonging & discipleship. 

These circles are to be interlinked; interdependent on one another. Even our serving teams and pastoral care pursue this ethos of valuing circles of community. 

More to follow ...

Monday, 28 October 2013

Philosophy of Leadership @ RFC #2

DOOR: Sundays our Front Door 
The biggest door into the life of our church is still our Sunday meetings. We have to be honest and acknowledge we have grown primarily through new people coming on a Sunday and not Alpha or mid week activities. Our Sunday meetings are disproportionately important for our mission / growth.

First impressions count far more than they should; yet a great building & location count for less than a friendly welcome & authentic faith on display. Again, first impressions count more than they should, so we pursue excellence in welcome, worship, preaching & kids works. 

We endeavour to have enough seats & space at the right time & place; we ensure our front door stays open and says welcome; we try to think like a newcomer and remove as many hurdles as possible (jargon, etc).

More to follow ...

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Philosophy of Leadership @ RFC #1

A few people have asked for my session notes from the RFC Leadership Summit. I thought it easier to post them as a series over the coming weeks... 

With so many new people joining our community we want to ensure we develop men & women with a common & agreed ‘Philosophy of Leadership’. By this I mean a system of thought & assumptions; a set of ideas & beliefs through which we pass all our leadership decisions. To help communicate this, we will use the following images:

SHEEP: Mission as our bias:
When Jesus spoke about ‘His sheep’ in Jn10, He includes both existing believers AND those yet to found. He moved easily between these two sheep folds, and so must we. Clearly there is a spectrum between focusing exclusively on feeding ‘believing sheep’ and finding ‘lost sheep’. Our starting point/emphasis/bias at RFC is towards finding lost sheep. 

This is a profound distinction to make; tension in church life can arise because we are not agreed on this. Pastoral & Missional can be viewed as a spectrum, both extremes being unhelpful, but our bias at RFC is already agreed, Mission. 

This demands we need to work hard at feeding & caring for ‘found sheep’, lost sheep need to be added into a healthy sheepfold! But to be clear, the bias of eldership team at RFC is to first orientate our thinking & activity to those not yet in the sheepfold.

More to follow next week

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Most improved ...

As many will know, I am an active member of our local Triathlon Club. At the awards dinner a few weeks ago I was recognised as the Most Improved Male Triathlete for 2013.

I was genuinely surprised and am still really chuffed, I have never won a trophy in my life! 

Inevitably, the post dinner banter was all about how rubbish I was in 2012 and that any improvement would have made a dramatic impact ... you gotta love these guys!

Nevertheless, I am pleased to be recognised by my fellow 'athletes'. 

If you are ever in my study, I will be more than happy to show you my name engraved on this roll call of honour :o)


Thursday, 10 October 2013

News from the campus

Here is an email I received from Lydia Burnham who is on the CU exec at Reading Uni

Hi Sean, We had such an amazing week last week with the Christian Union, meeting loads of new Christian students and also having various non-christians come along to evangelistic events. 

Some of the highlights for me were: 

  • Really encouraging numbers of students engaging with the events, more than I had hoped for. 
  • Great prayer meetings every morning, sharing blessings from the day before and praying for the day ahead.
  • Great team work within the CU with lots of the older students really getting involved and working very hard all week without complaining A couple of non-christians who are interested in finding out more (we are having an Alpha Launch tonight so hopefully they will come to that)
  • Large numbers of international students at our international welcome meal (80) and at the first 'Small World Cafe' which runs weekly (60)
  • Really exciting first main meeting, room was packed out with about 120 students of which more than half were new. 
  • Great gospel message by Dan Dwelly and lots of new friendships forming. 
  • 150 new students signing up who want to join CU or find out more about Christianity 
  • Some of the first years already getting involved giving out flyers or helping at events. 
Thank you so much for the support that RFC gives to the CU. We really appreciate the effort which is made to involve students in church life so that they can be a part of church family and be discipled. And thank you for praying for us last week, God more than answered our prayers for the week and as a team of leaders we are so excited to see what Jesus will do on campus this year. 

Would I be able to give some sort of short testimony about some of the points above so that the church can hear a bit of how God is working on campus? Thanks, Lydia

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

'Our Home' prayer meetings

At RFC, we are believing God to give us 'Our Home', a building we can call our own. We haven't yet found that building (to buy or lease) but we are saving up for it, so far we have raised £210,000 towards it.

Next week we want to start regularly praying for 'our home' by having two prayer meetings:

  • Guys on Thursday 17th Oct 6-7am
  • Girls on Friday 18th Oct 6-7am

We have chosen to pray by gender as we have many families in RFC and we think this will enable both mum & dad to get to an early morning prayer meeting.

The first Gift Day for our Vision Fund is the following Sunday, so the timing works really well. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Vision Sunday - sermon summary

The reason we have a Vision Sunday twice is a year is three fold: to create a moment give thanks to God; to remind regulars of what we believe God has called us to; and to inform newcomers of our distinct contribution.

Read Isaiah 54v1-5
The woman who was barren is to rejoice and shout for joy, for God has promised to supernaturally give her many children. In faith, she is to enlarge the place of her tent, to spread out to the right & left, believing God will add to her household. She was to do this with confidence because God Himself was to be her husband.

Incredibly, when the apostle Paul used this passage he said the desolate woman is the church and Jesus is her husband (Gal4v26)! Once we were spiritually barren, we were not a people. But with Jesus as our husband/redeemer we a supernatural people with a God given vision: to become a growing, Jesus-centred community; serving the town of Reading and beyond.

In 12 years we have grown from 27 adults & 7 children to over 400 people. We now have three meetings on a Sunday; over 100 people have been added to us in the past two years.

But this growth & momentum has come with challenges, we have stretched our tent curtains wide but now we need to hold them in place! We can do this in at least three ways:
·         Rows to Circles: we need to keep moving people from sitting in rows to sitting in circles (Lifegroups & Serving teams).
·         Create Moments: we need to meet with each other, as we meet with God.
·         Serve the town: we need to continue in our new initiatives such as the Job-Club and Starting Point Reading.

An invitation to regulars:
·         9am – arrive at 8:45 & welcome people warmly; Pray; Get in a circle; Review your giving; Give on the Vision Fund gift days (20 & 27 Oct).
·         11am – Consider moving to 9am or 6:30pm meetings; Pray; Get in a circle; Review your giving; Give on the Vision Fund gift days (20 & 27 Oct).
·         6:30pm – arrive at 6:15pm & welcome people warmly. Pray; Get in a circle; Review your giving; Give on the Vision Fund gift days (20 & 27 Oct)

An invitation to newcomers: Come and help us fulfil this God given Vision.

Vision Sunday - another prophetic word

We asked several RFCers who have an established prophetic gift, to bring something on Vision Sunday. Here's one that didn't get spoken out but is so encouraging ...

I felt God gave me a picture last night of a football match and the commentators saying the words 'its not over yet, a football match is a game of two halves'. I felt God might say to the church not to rest on her laurels. That they may feel they've served, that they've financially given over this last season. They may be reminded of how many people have come to Christ and of how the church has grown. All amazing stuff. But God says its not time to sit back and think 'job done'. It's time to go again into 'the second half' and face new changes, 'new tactics' that need to be made and to go for it again. And for those who feel it hasn't been a great 'first half', that what God has in store isn't over yet... there's another half. And God says go for it! - Love Lois xx

Thursday, 3 October 2013

RFC Job Club in the news

Today's Reading Post:

MP's praise for jobseekers club set up by Reading Family Church. 

A new club for jobseekers set up by a Reading church has been given the seal of approval by MP Alok Sharma. ... full article here

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Life in 6 words

In case you haven't seen this yet ... 4 minutes that stirs your soul. Thanks Barry for putting me onto this. 

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Local paper wrap-around

After the success of the adverts in May, this weekend another 68,000 homes will be receiving their free newspaper with RFC on the wrap-around ...

Thursday, 12 September 2013

3 New Interns @ RFC

In case you haven't met them already, let me introduce Charlotte, Becky & Kathryn. They are key members of the staff team and we literally couldn't get stuff done without them!

They each need to raise £230 a month for the next 11 months, so if you could spare £10-20 a month to sponsor one of them, that would really help them. 

Charlotte (left) will be supporting the deacons leading our Crèche, Kids church and Youth. She will be a busy intern!

Becky (right) will be supporting Scott in events and helping students to get plugged in to life here at RFC.  

Kathryn (below) will be involved in Media, Students and all things South Street Arts Centre!  

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Parenting - my notes from Sunday

I spoke on parenting on Sunday ... please note my disclaimer!

Disclaimer: Everything I said was ‘borrowed knowledge’, and was not everything you need to know, nor the only way, to parent.

Their Story, Our Goals: It can be helpful to step back and think about how our kids will tell their childhood story. What Words, Traditions, Memories and People will they remember? Parents get to shape much of this story, but we only get to do that once. Parenting does not just turn out OK, it needs focused attention over years & decades and having an overarching goal can help.  

Rejection & Acceptance: This begins at home and shapes our children. The Words We Use And the Schedules We Choose communicate acceptance or rejection. Our words may be true but do they reject our children? It is helpful to figure out what each child needs to hear to feel accepted and then say it 10x more than we think we need to! The schedules we choose also communicate acceptance or rejection. Kids can’t always see our hearts but they can clearly see our schedules.

Discipline: This needs to be based on the premise they WILL like you later, and later is way longer! 4 Stages of Parenting:
  •          Discipline 1-5: Establish boundaries & authority figures; often reactive.
  •          Training 5-11: Giving instruction ahead of time; showing them.
  •          Coaching 12-18: Encouraging from the sidelines, not charging out into the middle of the field to sort things out. Negotiation.
  •          Friendship 18+: Later is way longer than the first 18 years.

You can’t suddenly add discipline when they are teenagers.  Doing so provokes rebellion and communication breakdown. You cannot “be friends” with your teenager, you are the coach. A Coach is not the same as a friend.

The goal of discipline must be to re-establish broken relationships. It should be related & proportional to the ‘crime’ and they are to be embraced after discipline, the offence no longer mentioned. We are to side with them against their disobedience and with them as they face the consequences of their actions.

Don’t Freak Out: It is probably best not to freak out when our children do or say stuff that shock or surprise. By not freaking out, the lines of communication remain open and you generally find out far more!  

Faith & Family: Fostering a Jesus-centred family life requires us to intentionally mesh our faith into family life. It will be messy and constantly changing in its expression.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Reading Job Club

One of our new initiatives for this term is a Job Club to serve our town. Andy Dickens is taking a lead in this and so far it has been a promising start. Last time they met there were 12 clients, with referrals from the Job Centre, Housing Associations as well as from within RFC.

The club meets every second & fourth Monday at 12noon for lunch together at our offices. Afterwards, they catch up on their job seeking activities and then there is a short skills session. Andy closes the session with a bible verse and a short prayer.
Reading MP Alok Sharma is coming along later this month to officially launch the initiative and we will invite the press along.  Meanwhile, if you know anyone who would benefit from being part of this club, please ask them to phone Andy on the Job Club dedicated line of 07900 877712.     

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Proud dad ... Worried dad

Joshua turned 15 in August which is the age at which he can race with seniors. On Sunday, Joshua did his first open water Sprint Distance Triathlon and he came 38th of 273 finishers. I am a proud dad

The swim was 750m in a lake and he did well in the mass start, surviving an impromptu headlock from a fellow swimmer in all the thrashing around! His 22km bike went really well, as did his 5km run.

Family Green were out in full voice to cheer him round and our Tri club kept up the support. He loved the whole experience. 

He now tells me he is looking forward to racing the Hart Sprint Distance triathlon next May as we can both race it and he is confident to whoop me! 

I am a worried dad. 

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

53 miles and smiling

On Saturday I went out with some friends from TVT for yet another lovely summer ride. But we are a strange bunch ...  
We are very comfortable wearing lycra and talking bikes/triathlon for 3 hours solid. We occasionally get lost (this time around Marlow) but see it as bonus miles. We don't easily recognise each other without our helmets/club kit on but know each others bike specs really well (or that might just be me). 

I'm so glad to be living in a town with a club like TVT ... makes my obsessive tendencies feel less 'special'.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Proposed Deacons

In case you missed this, we are proposing seven more people to serve as Deacons within RFC. We asked that over the next 6-8weeks you to test them against the criteria laid out in 1Tim3v8-13.

If you have any concerns about them, please let either Scott, Richard or myself know.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Isle of Wight with an Ouch!

On Wednesday 11 of us travelled to Cowes for the now annual bike trip around the Isle of Wight. Its a 66 mile route with a good sprinkling of hills and brilliant vistas (not that we stop to enjoy many of them).

This year we were joined by our first female, Lucy Thomas, who did really well. We also had a few riding hybrid bikes which managed to keep up!

It was almost an 'uneventful ride' with just one puncture (James Del Rio). That was until I got stung by a wasp and later crashed whilst descending a steep hill. I was flying down, leaning into a corner when my bike slid away beneath me (diesel on the road). 


Once we stopped the bleeding and I had come to terms with the damage to my bike, we cycled on for 40 more miles.

Apart from that, it was a brilliant day, and better to come home with grazes than never to have gone at all. But I am very sore ...    

Friday, 19 July 2013

Fearing God ...

Josh John put me on to this video a few months back. It is beautifully filmed but more importantly its message has been sitting in my soul for some time. I plan to preach on the 'Fear of God' on August 4th ...

'The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.' Psalm 147:11

'The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death.' Proverbs 14:27 

'His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.' Isaiah 11:3 (Speaking of the promised Messiah)

John Piper: 'Christian fear and trembling are not because God is our enemy but because he saved us from his wrath through Christ, and now we stand on the brink of the Grand Canyon of his holiness and justice and grace and wrath with unspeakable wonder, knees wobbling and hands trembling, but overcome with worship at the depth of his majesty, not with worry that we might fall in. Listen to the way the Bible says it so paradoxically, and yet, all true saints know what these words mean. Psalm 2:11, “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” This fear is shot through with joy'.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Macbeth at Caversham Court

Feeling pretty grown up watching open air theatre by the river Thames ...

Friday, 12 July 2013

Marriage enrichment retreat

Today Liz & I are off to a 24hr marriage retreat and this video is the homework ...

Thursday, 11 July 2013

RFC Leadership Summit - 23 Sept 2013

It’s been a few months since we jumped to three congregations and already we can see the fruit of our faith. Overall attendance in June was 68 more people than last year ... I say this because each one of these new faces is precious to our Heavenly Father. 

But it has created pressure, not least on the leadership reservoir within RFC. More than ever we need to invest in our existing leaders and help new leaders emerge. 

To jump start this process we plan to gather every leader / potential leader for a day and look at our Philosophy of Leadership at RFC , the Character of a Leader and then try to figure out individual next steps for each of us. 

Lunch & refreshments will be provided and babes in arms welcome but unfortunately we will not be able to offer child care. 

  • Time: 10 – 5pm 
  • Venue: Wokefield Park, RG7 3AH (near J11 of M4). 
  • Cost: £10 contribution 

We must fan into flame the leadership gifts within the church. Please consider coming along to this day and book in by giving Karen in the church office your £10 contribution (There’s always a cost to leadership).

Friday, 5 July 2013

17 years ago

17 years ago, Liz said "I do". We celebrated today with a picnic in Forbury Gardens ... she still makes me smile inside. 

Thursday, 4 July 2013

An anonymous letter ...

Left on my desk ... don't know who it is from but it is an encouraging story.

Dear Sean

Thank you for your message on Sunday on Generosity and Giving. I was greatly challenged and encouraged by the principle for life that you so wisely and sensitively explored with us. I wanted to write to you to encourage you on the way your words supported what God is doing in my life at the moment.

I have been particularly challenged by the topic of financial over the last few months after hearing a sermon online preached at Woking’s New Frontiers Church ‘The Coign’ during a series called Money, Sex and Power Well worth a listen “Sermon 4: Investing in Eternity”

The preach was on the topic of spirit filled giving and, as the speaker spoke on tithing and giving, he shared similar challenges of exceeding current giving standards that you spoke on when you mentioned the different steps last Sunday.

God spoke to me clearly after hearing the online sermon a month back and asked me to be radical and crazy- To give our months earning straight out and keep none of it. God has blessed us greatly in the past and after running the numbers I recognised that this act of faith would not be a foolish thing to do.

I was excited to try it and shared the idea with my wife who was sensitively reluctant. As we chatted, we remembered God’s faithfulness to us and how he has challenged and blessed us in the past. I have felt a particular call at the moment to pursue greater steps of faithfulness after hearing God speaking to me on several occasions for me to test my faith.

The end of the month came and we watched as the money came into our account as usual. It took me almost 3 weeks to muster up the courage to go online and pass both of our incomes for the month (pre tax) to RFC (our usual tithe to the church and the rest to the vision fund).  I can tell you honestly that we have never been so financially challenged as we were that day. The amount was equivalent to 6 months worth of what we put into savings.

God is clearly still at work in us on this issue and we were greatly blessed by your message to continue to pursue sacrificial giving. I must be honest when I share with you that I had to stop myself from switching off as you started speaking on Sunday, as my false pride told me I didn’t need to hear it. However I knew that God was always be speaking new and fresh and that you would give me an honest and inspired perspective. Your words, about having a genuine and joyful heart when giving to God, were inspiring and made for a great life-group discussion this week. My wife and I have continued to chat this week about God's provision in our lives and recognise his sovereignty in our giving.

I hope you can be encouraged by these words and that it may strengthen and encourage your ministry. Feel free to share with others, that they may be encouraged too.

I wanted to finish with a few wise thoughts I have collected over the last few months on this topic.
Firstly, God owns everything; it is an insult to him not to receive the gifts he gives and an insult when we try to give back to him what is already his as if it were our own!
Secondly, God does not need our money; Simple but often forgotten in church giving. 
Finally, God blesses and prospers us not to increase our standard of living but our standard of giving. He gives us stuff in order to test our response.
Please pause and re-read these. I’m sure they are not new to you but it is great to reflect on these truths.

Feel free to share this with anyone you think would find it useful, inspirational or challenging.

Yours in Him,

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Love is ...

... Liz letting me put up my Tour de France poster in the kitchen ... and not making comments when I fill in the results after each stage.  

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Please listen to this ...

If you weren't at church on Sunday please would you listen to my message - I have a deep conviction that it was a timely word for us.

And when you do, don't be caught by the 'lethal later', take your next step... it will do your heart good. 

Click here to listen and for notes.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Furtick on prayer

In case you missed this on Josh John's blog, it stirred my heart & emotions ... I am so bored of some of my prayers. Well worth the 10 minute investment.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Feeling Epic on Father's day - Cotswold 113

So race day finally arrived and I was VERY excited. Six months of training was put to the test and I smashed my first middle distance triathlon... 

A 1.2 mile open water swim, around a lake course with 8 turn points, is without a doubt a 'contact sport'. I was swimming in a pack most of the time which made for a good swim speed but it was 'bumpy around the bouys'. That said, the 34 minutes quickly sped by and I was soon clambering out and running to my bike.

The 52 mile bike was always going to be the key to the race - ride too hard and I would fade on the run, ride too slow and I would needlessly concede precious minutes. Having figured out my nutrition/hydration/optimum heart rate (yes I am that obsessive) I followed my plan meticulously. No punctures or other mishaps meant I finished in 2hrs 37mins, strong and ready to run ... 

The 13.1 mile run was flat & fast and I wanted to get within 10% of my Personal Best at Half Marathon (1hr 30min) implying I cycled at the right intensity. I finished in just under 1hr 39min, perfect. 

My overall official time was 4:55:54, I was aiming for 5:30 so was thrilled. Both Matt & Craig also exceeded their times so we were 3 very happy, but tired, dads. 

I felt Epic on Father's day. And I still do ... albeit with very sore & tired legs.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Redeemer Church Plant

Yesterday I travelled to Ealing to visit my good friend Pete Cornford and catch up on how his church plant is doing. 

They meet in the town hall and he gave me a thorough tour of building. He also showed my every Post Office, tube station, bus-stop and information point where there was/will be a poster advertising Redeemer. I also saw another 30,000 flyers sitting in the hallway of his home.

We walked from Ealing Broadway to Hanwell; ate vegetarian Samosa's in Southall; and I marvelled at the sights & sounds of an area where you can spend India rupees. 

The church plant is coming into her first summer of Sunday meetings which is always a critical time ... many regulars are away, yet visitors still look in. 

I am preaching there on the 7th July which I am looking forward to.

Scott & I are taking an outreach team there Friday 26th July, please do consider investing a day into establishing this church.         

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Holding hands in public

Today at the Reading Pastors Prayer Meeting we went to Forbury gardens in order to 'sow revival seeds into the heart of our town'.

This involved digging a small hole on the Forbury mound; putting in paper cards on which key prophetic words/promises were written; pouring Oil for healing and Water from a town in Wales experiencing revival on them; then burying them. A stake was then literally driven into the ground and prayed over (the head of the mallet came off mid stroke which made me smile).  

We shared communion with proper red wine (Anglicans can be relied upon for that) and then spoke out the Lord's prayer as we all held hands in a big circle.

Now for me, much of this symbolism is helpful albeit at the very limit of my comfort zone. Holding hands in public for what seemed an extended time was WAY over my line of comfort ... thankfully no-one then tried to hug me.

I write this because I want to fully identify with my fellow pastors & leaders in the town; we genuinely love being together and partnering for the gospel. Jesus is clearly using these dear brothers & sisters and it was a privilege to be part of this symbolic/prophetic act in the heart of Reading. 

I really like how we do things at RFC yet we are not the full expression of what it means to follow Jesus whole heartedly.   

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Lucy's birthday tea party ...

The girls have been busy preparing for today ...