Friday, 8 July 2016

Luca Anderson

I'm guessing that by now many in RFC will have heard the tragic news that Luca Anderson died on Sunday night (3rd July). His death was unexpected and as yet unexplained. His second birthday is only a month away. 

Clearly for James & Jenny, their daughter Zara and their wider family and friends, this is devastating news. It is also heart breaking for us as their church family, it wasn't that long ago we had his thanksgiving. 

Like many, Liz and I have cried a lot this week, as well as hugged our own kids a little tighter. We shall be around this Sunday and I will be speaking at all three meetings. 

Please keep praying for family Anderson. Let's be those who 'mourn with those who mourn' (Rom12v15) but with a robust hope in Christ and the resurrection to come (1Thess 4v14).

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Sabbatical: Another day in the cabin

I've got to be honest ... am loving this space to think, write and pray. 

Thursday, 16 June 2016

My sabbatical

Purpose: To be refreshed, to listen to God and to return with a ferocious appetite for Jesus! Essentially the trustees and my fellow elders recognize I need a break and are giving me permission to not feel responsible for our beloved church.

12 weeks: Starting Monday 20th June and finishing on Sunday 11th September. I have drawn up a 12 week plan to ensure I make best use of this gift. I have scheduled times of quiet reflection, attending a conference, writing & editing a study guide and family holidays.  

Family Green: Whilst technically it is only me on sabbatical, this will impact Liz and the children. Liz and I wont be around on any Sundays, the children may be, unless they’re with us visiting another church.

Be normal: If you see me in Asda, or around town, just say hello, tell me I look well, you miss me and ask how my sabbatical is going. But please don’t joke about ‘how’s my 12wk holiday is going’. I really won’t find that funny but may try to chuckle so you don’t feel foolish. 

Also, please don’t tell me what isn’t going well in church, or the challenges the team are facing. I am only one person in a highly competent elders, deacons and staff team. They can figure out whatever challenged or problems RFC face. To be honest I am expecting the church to continue to power on without me, it's Jesus who is building His church.  So please, just tell me the good news!

Study Guide: over the 12 weeks I shall producing, helped by a small team, a study guide to support our sermon series on 1Corinthians. I have written it but now it needs to be edited and formatted ready for publication in the Autumn term.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Cotswolds 113 Triathlon

On Sunday I joined 800 other crazy people to swim 1.9km, ride 90km and run 21km in the Cotswolds.

I did this race a few years ago and really enjoyed it ... mainly because I seemed to be better prepared then!

I raced with my good friend Craig who stopped on each run lap to kiss his wife! Liz and Zoe cheered me on but it didn't occur to me to stop for them. You can make of that what you will.

I finished in a time of 5hrs 5 mins which I was delighted with. The biggest challenge has been dealing with sore calf muscles making descending stairs a blend of comedy and agony.  

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

An encouraging email ...

I just thought I'd let you know to encourage you that this morning I've transferred 2 gifts from different RFC members within the church to 2 other RFC families as anonymous gifts to bless them. This happens fairly frequently so just thought you may like to know. 

Karen Fisher
Finance and Administration

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Cityhill Church, Jo'burg

Liz and I returned this morning from a 5 day trip to CityHill Church, Jo'burg, which is led by Sibs Sabanda. 
Whilst there we stayed with Sitho & Miranda, he who was an elder with us here at RFC, and is now an elder at CityHill. 
Liz & I spoke at their Men's & Women's breakfasts, visited their foster home project and joined them on their food bank run. I preached at their Sunday meeting, which was followed by a BBQ for their wider leadership (where we were interviewed on balancing marriage & ministry). We also visited PJ Smythe's church 'Godfirst' which was really interesting.
To be honest it was a bit of a whirl but we did spend a LOT of time listening & learning from them. They are exploring a discipleship strategy and I've asked Sibs to speak on this when he is with us in November. 
We also found a few hours to drive out in the bush and play in Sitho's Discovery: top-tastic fun!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Cycling in the Yorkshire Dales

Last weekend, 20 of us from my Tri club travelled up to the Dales for our 4 day  Spring cycling camp. We stayed in a youth hostel in Kettlewell and I shared a room with 4 others -  fun but not a recipe for a good nights sleep!
It was my first visit to the Dales and the landscape is truly beautiful: vast empty spaces, lots of sheep & lambs, postcard villages and lanes lined with daffodils.
We arrived Friday lunch time and the first ride set the pace: long climbs with fast descents, stunning scenery, blustery wind and changeable weather. 60 miles in the Dales is not the same as 60 miles in Berkshire. It's proper cycling there!
When out on a bike for the day, stopping for lunch is a welcome break. Nowhere was busy so we had the pick of the tea shops, I reckon the cafes must be heaving with people in the summer.

I was also presented with some Boomf marshmallows, apparently sent to me by Krispy Kreme because I am a loyal customer ... an ongoing TVT in-joke ... they occasionally refer to me as 'Krispy Green'.
There is already talk of next years trip, and I for one will be signing up ...

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Death & Judgment

Here is the handout for today's sermon (click on diagram to enlarge) ...

Physical Death: Most of us are not keen to die, yet the bible tells us that for the believer ‘to live is Christ and to die is gain’ (Phil1v21). At death, the body of a Christian ‘sleeps’ (returns to the dust), awaiting resurrection. The spirit of the believer goes immediately into the presence of Jesus in Paradise.

What about Unbelievers? When they die their spirit goes to Hades, a place of conscience waiting, (Jude 1:6). Presumably they are enduring torment as they anticipate their judgment.

Second Coming: The Bible teaches that Jesus is coming back. This sudden, personal, visible, bodily return of Christ, heralds the moment when the church will be snatched up to meet Jesus in the air (1Thess4v16-17). Believers (their spirit) will be united with their bodies, which have now been transformed, ready for the eternal age to come. These glorified bodies will be ‘very good’ in that they will be imperishable and untainted by sin’s effect.

Unbelievers (their spirit) will be united with their bodies, which have also been transformed, in that they are now eternal in nature, but corrupted. All will now be gathered before the Great White Throne where Jesus will sit to make His Judgments.

Judgment: No-one who has ever lived can avoid the judgment of God.
Believers are judged but found righteous through their faith in Jesus. He will  also makes an assessment, a judgment, of each believer’s works. (2Cor5v10). God is Just and will reward each Believer in accordance to how they have lived. Christians need to understand their lives will be assessed; the result of which will lead to accruing/not accruing reward, but NEVER loss of salvation.

Unbelievers will also stand before Christ for judgment. This judgment will not be a second chance at salvation but a judgment defining their punishment. God is Just and will apportion a just and appropriate punishment in accordance to how they lived.

Eternal Age For Believers, this is where the good stuff gets much, much better. The renewed Heaven & Earth is a physical place, where God will forever dwell with His people, of reunions and beauty beyond imagination. In a sense it is easier to say what won’t be there: no Sin, Satan, no Death; No sorrow, pain or sacrifice; No separation, faith or doubt; No longer any curse. No evangelism.

For Unbelievers, this is where bad stuff gets much, much worse. They are sentenced to Hell, a place of eternal, conscious punishment, with no parole. Hell is a place of separation from God & His restraining Grace. Hell is a place of misery & torment. The companions of Hell will be the fallen angels (Satan and his demons) who have now been called to account and sentenced to degrees of eternal punishment. Hell will be a fixed final state from which there is no removal or return or escape.

Will I lose my salvation? When you are in Christ, your salvation is assured, you will not, can not lose it (Rom 8v1, Jn 5v24). However, our faith is not about a moment. Because we are saved, we continue to follow Christ. And because we continue to follow Christ, we are saved. 

Should I work for greater rewards? Accruing reward should be a great stimulus for how we live our lives following Jesus. It may seem more spiritual to be determined to work hard without the motivation of accruing rewards but we shouldn’t try to improve on the bible.

Is Hell really that bad? We must first acknowledge that we have little or no real understanding as to the sinfulness of Sin and the holiness of God. Then we must acknowledge we dare not call God to account regarding our understanding of justice and apparent fairness. Jesus was emphatic (Matt 25v30, 41, 46), Hell is a place that is required, appropriate and Hellish.

What will you do now? Salvation is not an entitlement; it is an unmerited gift. Because of Gods great compassion and mercy, He has made a way for people to be saved. Over next few weeks let this teaching seep into your hearts. Let it motivate you to live a holy life; to run in such a way to gain the prize. Undoubtedly this must include calling others to put their faith in Jesus; to cross over from eternal conscious suffering to eternal life with God.

Richard has written a short paper that he has posted onto his blog, it is well worth a read.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Reading 1/2 marathon 2016

So yesterday I completed my 9th consecutive Reading 1/2 and I feel epic.
I ran with Craig and Steve, all of us chasing the mythical sub 90 minutes. But it was not to be. Craig had to pull out because of an injured calf, Steve 'faded' at 8 miles and I missed by 4 seconds. Doh!
Many of my Tri club friends wanted to know if RFC was out on the course because our section gives them such a buzz! And we didn't disappoint. As I turned into London Street there was a wall of noise from our cheering & Scott's decks. It certainly gave me a huge boost!  

To be honest, I am delighted with 1:30:03 ... but sub 1:30:00 still beckons me. 

I turn 50 next year. And I plan to run my tenth Reading 1/2. Put together, that's a fitting reasons to finally nail that goal. 

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Our mission worker on the Amazon

Laura Lovering, a much loved member of our church, has been a a mission worker in the Amazon jungle since 2011. She went out with Baptist Missionary Society as their project was a good fit for her skills. 

They have just produced brilliant video of what she has been doing out there...

Let's keep praying for her ... as a church we support her financially but if you would like to give additionally, or simply find out more, follow this link: 

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

The Turks are coming

We have just received some great news: our friends church planting in Turkey have asked if RFC can host them again for their meals at the Catalyst Festival (if you havent yet booked in, click here). 

Essentially this means we will have around 12 guests with us in the marquee at each meal time ... Richard & Elli will be providing the meals, if you are able to help with washing up or food preparation do let them know. 

Please do make time to say hello to our Turkish guests, I really enjoyed having them with us last year... 

Thursday, 10 March 2016

new RFC banners

Josh John has refreshed the pop up banners for our Sunday venues ...

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Josh John's Easter play list

In case you missed this in the e-news:

I’ve created this Easter playlist for you to use. Why not fill yourself with songs that talk about the victory Christ has won, about how he was gloriously resurrected as the first fruits of the new creation, and of how death & sin have been defeated and eternal life secured for all who believe. Why not start preparing your heart and soul over these next few weeks to celebrate our Saviour, by simply listening to this playlist (or why not create your own?) as you go about your day.
I hope the playlist below will help you over these coming weeks to take delight in the fact that King Jesus is alive.

Spotify (You can listen to this link without a Spotify account) 

Monday, 7 March 2016

My first Audax

On Saturday I rode my first Audax with some of my TVT friends. An Audax is an unsupported, long distance cycle ride (this one was 129 miles). It's all about self sufficiency in nutrition, pacing and navigation, no-one is going to come and help you.

Around 250 cyclists left a village hall in Gravely at 7:30am heading west to control points (cafes) in Hungerford, then Bratton before circling back to Hungerford and Gravely. 

Within 2 miles we had our first puncture, at 3.5 miles our second, at which point our TVT group split into two to avoid us all getting cold hanging around.
I took my late Grandad's hip flask and we had a celebratory tipple at 100 miles, whisky and lemonade never tasted so good.

Over the day we had sunshine, hail, sleet, rain and gusting winds ... and a lot of banter.

We got back at 6:10pm in the dark & driving rain. I was cold and wet but elated as it was my longest ever ride.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Mad Stad 13 March

On Sunday 13th March @ 10:30am we shall be gathering all three congregations at the Madejski Stadium. 
During this meeting we shall be thanking Keith & Leslie Holland and Martin & Becca Craker for serving as deacons, as well as laying hands on Andy Dickens to become an elder. 

I shall be preaching from Matthew 25v1-13, which is a parable that God has really spoken to me about. Please do make every effort to be there … these are important faith moments for our church.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Hope Into Action Reading

Yesterday I went along to the commissioning service of the house where we are partnering with Hope Into Action
Essentially a house has been purchased by a group of investors and we provide community, non judgemental relationships, mentoring/befriending, support and prayer. All of this is overseen by Hope Into Action.
Each of the three residents are very likeable and were given a welcome pack of toiletries & treats in their rooms. The house, the furnishing and the welcome packs were a tangible expression of God's love for vulnerable people.
Tom & Pam Ward, along with Barry Semark and many others have done a great job getting this house opened.  

If you want to be involved in this project (prayer or house maintenance or befriending) please contact the church office.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Guest speakers @RFC

I thought I would give you a quick heads up that Andrey Bonderenko from Ukraine will be with us the weekend after the Catalyst festival (4/5 June). 
I visited Andrey last year with Dave Devenish and am delighted he will be with us. Andrey and his family fled the fighting in eastern Ukraine and he is currently planting a church in Kiev, as well caring for many churches in the occupied area.

Sibs Sibanda will be with us over the weekend of 5/6 November and at many of our meetings (youth, mens breakfast, Sundays, elders meeting, deacons lunch). 
Sibs planted several churches in Zimbabwe before moving to Jo’burg to plant Cityhill church. In May, Liz and I are flying out to spend a week with Sibs and the church there. In case you hadn’t realised, Sitho is now an elder at CityHill.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

RFC Student weekend away

This saturday a group of our students are heading off to Rushall Farm for a weekend of food, fun and very little sleep.

I've just been shown their schedule and it includes a bonfire, board games, our prophetic team; Sam & Emily talking on 'Growing in Christ'; Scott on 'Identity' and Aaron speaking on 'When the going gets tough'.
The must-take kit list includes bible, wellies & marshmallows for the bonfire. 

Becca Morgan, our student intern, has done a great job pulling all this together!

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

it still makes me smile ...

this is still a foot tapping genius moment from our recent history...

Reading Family Church@Madejski from Reading Family Church on Vimeo.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

A weekend with Giants

Liz and I have spent today with couples who are church planting in Slough, Swansea & Cheltenham.
We have been meeting together for over 4 years and our friendships continue to deepen. Liz and I learn so much from them; our faith tanks get stirred just listening.

Tommorrow I'm preaching at Godfirst Cheltenham and then having lunch with their eldership team.

A weekend with Giants ...

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

#proud dad

this little boy passed his driving test today ...

Helpful video for our new sermon series

In preparing for our new sermon series, I found the video below really helpful in understanding the background to 1Corinthians ... 

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

New sermon series

This Sunday we start our new sermon series in 1Corinthians and I anticipate we will spend all of 2016 working our way through it. 
The church in Corinth was embroiled in many controversies: divisions over apostles, lawsuits amongst believers, sexual immorality, drunkeness at church meetings and attending feasts for idols, to list just a few. In fact, the best Paul could say about this church in his opening remarks was that they were recipients of grace! 

Unsurprisingly, we have much to learn from this letter. 

Do consider investing in a commentary to help you track the series, Tom Wright’s 'Paul for Everyone - 1 Corinthians’ is a good starting point and can be ordered here.

Vision Sunday ...

Andy Dickens: On the basis of your feedback and the reflections of the elders & deacons, we would like to formally propose that Andy Dickens be recognized as an elder. If you agree with us, or you have concerns, please could you also let one of the elders know.

Our Purpose & Culture at RFC
We have a clear sense of our God given Purpose: To be a growing, Jesus centred community; bringing God’s kingdom to Reading and beyond.
To be a growing: We believe history has a destination and our lives are part of that forward movement. Just as a mighty oak grows and provides shelter & structure, so we want to increasingly become a landmark community of solidity & shade

Jesus centred community: We desire to grow in our heartfelt worship of Jesus, aligning our lives to His teachings, whilst helping others to do the same. We dream of being a people who know, accept and care for each other; where no-one has to stand, suffer or celebrate alone.

Bring God’s kingdom to Reading: We want to play our part in meeting the needs of our town; helping create footprints of justice, mercy & hope. We want to bring joy, peace and transformation wherever we find ourselves mid week.

And beyond: To be those who joyfully share our time, talents and treasures to further God's kingdom beyond our horizon.

How we journey together is a vital part of our story. the culture we are building here I can be summed up by the acronym GRACE:

Generous: Like Jesus, we want generous hearts  & spirit, attitudes & words; generous with our favour, time, money and our skills. We believe generosity has everything to do with our sense of identity.

Real: Like Jesus, we want to be real about who we are and what’s really going on in our lives. We are ambassadors for Christ, and want to live accordingly.

Accepting: Jesus was a man for all people but was most often found with the last, the least and the lowest. We too want to learn to accept people as Jesus did, to speak God’s word and express God’s love without distinction.

Courageous: Jesus courageously set out for Jerusalem so that lost people could be found. We too want our journey to be marked by a 1000 acts of courage: the big & bold, the small & hidden, the physical & morale.

Enduring: Like Jesus, we will patiently endure despite to receive the promise of God for our church and the people of our town. We will endure with faith and joy and fruitfulness, as we build for the long haul.

Grace isn't a concept; grace is a person, Jesus. God’s unearned, unmerited, unending favor is personified in Jesus. But if we demonstrate these values, without being able to say how Christ is the source and meaning of them, we will have failed.

Prophetic word read on Sunday
I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. Isaiah 45:3

As I first read this, the first question God asked me was “Why do my people always look for the treasure the world thinks is treasure?” What I believe God meant by this is that we are quick to ask God and expect our lives to fulfill what the world views as ‘success’ (good job etc).

But what I believe God wants to stir in us is a desire for that which God views as one of the highest treasures, the souls of those He has created. The people that are right now lost in darkness. He has placed His people, His bride, to be a beacon of hope that penetrates the darkness and snatches those out of the fire.

And so what I felt for the Church was that people needed to realign their perspective, to see and fight for that which God sees as undeniably precious. But I knew that these people, these secret hoards were deep in darkness. And it was going to be the miraculous power of God that was what was going to bring them out. And what God wanted to say was that “I know you think those people are so enslaved, so deceived, that there is no way they will ever get out. But I AM THE LORD. I will seek and save, and THAT is how you will know and understand that I make impossible things HAPPEN. In partnering with Me in my plans to rescue, you will see the miraculous power of God in your life, and your skepticism of Me shall turn into the deepest awe and gratitude. So reach out, in faith, in prayer, in earnest desire, to first see as I see, then to see Me for who I am, the redefiner of impossible. It’s time to delve deep, to receive what I have already given you.”