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" ...

ERRR...

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?