Thursday, 18 December 2008

A must view!!!

Just found this on Terry Virgo's blog - thought it was brilliant - link below

What will your response be when you are not getting drunk at the office party or any other festive event?

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

A very good draw

It's taken a few days to sink in, but Chelsea didn't beat the Hammers!!! I thought that after the dismal effort at home against Tottenham, that Chelsea would destroy us. Especially due to the fact that Frank Lampard had sat out of the mid week game due to suspension. Instead the boys played well! Zola had them set up to nullify the attacks of Chelsea forcing them to play through the middle, so when the ball bounced out we could counter attack effectively.

The only thing that I do despair at is the fact that Carlton Cole has definitely stopped scoring again. He should have made it 2-1 on Sunday in the dieing moments but chose to shoot instead of rounding the keeper and slotting the ball in. At times we look like a very blunt hot knife cutting through butter - i.e. we get through the defence easily, but have no sharpness in front of goal.

The defence is definitely better, I hope Zola now works on attack!!!

Friday, 12 December 2008

What a party!

What a fantastic afternoon we had yesterday. As I mentioned on Wednesday, a group of us from the church helped out at the Residents Association Christmas Party for the elderly.

It was one of those events that you never know how it will go. It was organised by the team, they had hired a singer from Bristol and had invited us to partner with them. An event that draws together people from different avenues can be tricky, but this one was not. There was good hearted banter as we set up for the event; the singer was excellent and really worked with the crowd of around 40 that had gathered; and the team from RFC were outstanding in doing everything and anything that was needed as well as chatting to the guests.

Highlights included Andrew using his charm to help the guests feel at ease so he could take their photos; Hannah dancing with one of the ladies towards the end in a jive type dance; seeing Sam do what she is great at i.e. making people feel welcome and loved; Kay was a hero in the kitchen helping Barbara (one of the residents association) to make sure there was a flow of tea and coffee, mulled wine and juice; Joseph, Gary and Tom all served brilliantly on the tables and made sure that everyone had what they wanted; Tim Rooke bringing in a couple of his young people to give out presents.

However the biggest buzz was probably seeing a majority of the guests smiling and dancing at the end as we had some rockier songs sung by the singer. To me this said that the event had been a great success. Maggie, who had done a lot of the organising was thrilled with how everything had gone.

I returned home at about 6pm on a complete high, knowing the presence of the Holy Spirit. I know that being out in the community was great for all of us who went and the guests were greatly impressed with the people from our church who served. We may not have preached the gospel, but I do believe we loved with the love of Jesus and that we will have more opportunities to do so with this particular group.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Out and about

This has been an incredibly busy last couple of weeks. There has been so much going on that blogging has been the last thing that I have been able to get to and hence here I am two weeks on from my last post.

Today has seen me have the opportunity to speak at two very different gatherings. The first was at the pastors prayer meeting at Greyfriars. This is an hour where the pastors of the town and the leaders of Christian charities come together to worship, share a word for the day and then pray for each other and the town. This morning we read Philippians 3:7-9 and I spoke about the year I have just had and the fact that God got me to a point that I recognised that all (including ministry) should be counted as loss for the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus. I brought the message in humility due to my relative young age considering the wealth of experience and wisdom in the room!

The second gathering was at Verizon, a telecommunications company with it's UK headquarters at junction 11 on the M4. Here I had the opportunity to speak of God's love for us displayed by the fact that Jesus chose to come to this planet and live and die for us. Through it I shared snippets of my story and even used some audience participation! The event was accompanied by good food and there were at least two responses in terms of people wanting to know more about Jesus. It was 'good times' in deed!!!

Ultimately I am about the business of the King and today I have enjoyed being a mouth piece for Him. At other times I will be back seat and support ministry. Whatever He has for me I want to embrace and run hard at. Today was going to two different venues with a message for each - tomorrow sees a group of us from the church supporting the South Reading Residents Association Party for local elderly residents - this will be a time to listen!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Time with my dad

One of the highlights of my weekend away at my parents was Sunday afternoon, going to the pub to watch footy with my dad. Although West Ham did win, which was great, it was the first time me and my dad had sat and had time together alone, doing something that we could both talk about for two hours. That time spent with my dad was priceless and will be a lasting memory for me.

It's funny how we can yearn for and have these encounters with our earthly fathers, when actually our Heavenly Father is yearning for those encounters with us. He longs to spend time with us; and for us to seek time with Him. After the enjoyment of spending time with my dad on Sunday, I have realised that I long for those moments with my Father in Heaven and I have to make more time in order to have those times. I can't remember who said it (might have been Luther), but whoever it was said:

If I know I am going to have a busy day, I make sure I spend at least three hours in prayer.(Or something like that anyway!)

Great quote, but I want the principle behind it to be true for me. If I'm busy I need to seek God more than if I am doing nothing, otherwise I am just doing stuff in my own strength. I also get to a place where I am just not enjoying my time with Him, just because I want to spend time with Him.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Feeling very looked after!!!

Greetings all the way from Devon!!! What a lovely time we are having with mum and dad. As I type this post, a wonderful roast chicken is being dished up; this off the back of my favourite dinner yesterday, bacon pudding! We have also been treated to a cooked breakfast this morning and we are looking forward to sausage sandwiches for tea, just before we embark on the 2 and a half hour journey back to Reading.

It's not all about the food though. It was good to see my little sister yesterday with her husband and three children. More importantly though, spending time with mum and dad is great. It's the first time they have met B's bump and they are so excited. Ah! We don't get to visit often, but when we do we try to make the most of it. As with B's parents we always go home feeling very looked after and ready to tackle the week ahead.

Must go now, but I am reminded again how blessed B and I are in having such lovely parents.

Friday, 21 November 2008

It's almost unheard of!!!

I know three posts in a day, but hey when you see something like this it's so rare I thought I couldn't keep quiet... a positive West Ham article!!!

Church in Theatre Land

On Sunday, B and I took a trip to the West End, not to see one of the great shows that take place in theatres there, but to go to Christchurch London! Just metres away from the glowing lights and hustle and bustle of Piccadilly Circus lies the small but elegant Piccadilly Theatre. For most of the week it plays host to Grease, but on a Sunday people start to gather early to worship God.

At 10am the setup crew arrive to start the long arduous job of building the stage set for the 4pm meeting. A full crew are involved in rigging up a giant scaffold structure which holds a screen that would not be out of place in a cinema amongst other things. At around 2:30 the band and sound crew arrive to sound check and from 3pm onwards it seems like a small army of people descend on the place wearing black t-shirts which say host on them. From the tube to the front doors right to your seats, you will encounter a warm and friendly person who makes you feel like you are really important to the whole gig!

At 4pm everything kicks off. The sung praise and worship rocks the stage and I myself encounter God. There are bible readings, prophetic words, prayers, a tongue and an interpretation. In a place which is used to singing 'Your The One That I want' and 'Hopelessly Devoted To You', it was wonderful to be turning these things around and saying that Jesus is the one that we want and that instead of being hopelessly devoted we can be devoted and full of hope!!!

Adrian Holloway then gave the third in a series of four talks based on the book 'Just Walk Across the Room' by Bill Hybels. This is a magnificent, inspiring book on personal evangelism from one of the best protagonists of this form of evangelism. Adrian brought the talk in his own inimitable style and people walked out buzzing with the message.

We then joined others from the church in a coke up at a local pub. In all, B and I came away feeling greatly blessed in having the opportunity to visit this local expression of church being worked out in a completely different environment. We came away with ideas and a fresh vision for what church can look like here in the town of Reading and looking forward to seeing that come to pass.

A highly recommended read

I have just finished reading Reason For God by Tim Keller. This is without a doubt the best apologetics book that I have read which looks at answering the objections that I as a Christian face. Tim Keller engages with the questions and does a fair amount to deconstruct rather than nuke, the arguments, which I found a challenge because I have been a bit of a 'nuker' in the past! He then goes on to say this is why it is totally reasonable and rational to believe in and follow Jesus. He doesn't offer absolute proofs, but instead builds a strong case by looking at the world in which we live and the dilemmas we all face.

I for one have found the book invaluable and it has started to retrain my mind when it comes to speaking to people who do not know a living relationship with my King. It's not always the easiest read and like anything I'm sure that you will find plenty on the web that will argue against some of his points, but as a whole this is a book that I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who wants to help their friends further along the road to discovering a new life in the Kingdom of God.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Our lives are not our own

At the beginning of 2008 who would have thought that this year would have panned out as it has? When we woke up on Jan 1st, BT was a prayer that B and I were praying constantly and the events that were to unfold in church life were not even spoken into being.

The roller coaster since then has been exhilarating, terrifying and faith filled, leaving no room for ego or the faint hearted. Sean being asked to go to Amsterdam, working that through as elders to a place of Sean and Liz saying yes, then the conversations around who would then lead RFC culminating in the decision that I would lead the team here. In the midst of all this turmoil we find out we are going to have a baby.

Leading the church over the Summer was fun but challenging, leaving me realising that the undertaking ahead of me was not as straight forward as just filling Sean's boots. On Sean's return from sabbatical, he had some great insights into what needed to happen in the church and also around the areas that I needed to develop. As time went on I became acutely aware of the areas where I had been totally oblivious to the fact that I couldn't actually do certain things because I had never had to. We discussed and devised plans to aid me in leadership growth which have been invaluable, but as time went on it seemed like a steeper slope up which to push the water.

During that time my focus was very much on being the leader of the church here and it had drifted from Jesus, the one who deserves my attention before anyone or anything else. This was brought home at a Willow Creek conference that Sean and I attended. I realised that I had been chasing a badge of leadership and forfeiting the joy of living for Jesus in the process. After recalibrating my outlook I started to doubt that Amsterdam was indeed the right thing.

I could see that Sean had a fresh vision for the church here that he was trying to help me see and I felt faith rising for him to stay here in Reading.

That came to a head at the Bill Hybels day last Wednesday. During that day I felt strongly that Sean was still the guy to lead RFC which obviously meant that Amsterdam would not be planted by the Green's and that I was doing myself out of a job of leading the team in Reading.

This was both disappointing and exciting. Disappointing in the respect that I had looked forward to leading a great church of wonderful people who are up for mission and seeing lost people saved, but excited because I felt like we had hit the centre of God's will.

B and I admire Sean and Liz greatly for the fact that they were willing to uproot their family to go to Amsterdam. We admire them all the more for the big call of staying. We are looking forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with them in the coming months and years knowing that God has not finished with us here as a team in the town of Reading.

We love the fact that we are part of a team that want God to be more central to our lives than our own agendas, ambitions and comfort. We love the fact that we are on a team that puts Jesus first and makes hard calls, a team that God is shaping and wants to continue to shape as we lay our lives down for him.

Our lives are not our own, let us remember this and live lives that are sold out for Jesus and him alone.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Irons lose again.

I can't believe that West Ham lost it in the last 10 mins today. From all that I have heard and read, the team certainly didn't deserve to get this result. It's now 1 point in 18 and still not a clean sheet in sight. Matty Upson has been stretchered off today which should only make that situation worse.

At this rate we will soon find our selves in the bottom three and fighting a relegation battle. I don't know what Zola is going to be able to do, but I do hope that things start to turn around soon. We have good players, none of them great, but some good players and I just want to see them perform with consistency over 90 minutes, let alone from one week to the next.

Looks like this our down season after our good season again, but hey Come On You Irons!!!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

A quickly a week goes by

Well a whole week has gone by. B and I spent a lovely couple of days in the Hertfordshire countryside, returning back ready for the great weekend that was!

On Saturday, Kat did a wonderful job of organising a Worship Day. A day spent talking about and worshipping the living God. What better way to spend a Saturday! The main talk will go up on the Internet within the next month or so I will post a link when it becomes available. I came away thinking what a great God we serve and how worthy He is of all our praise, attention and affection. I know that for those who were there on Saturday they can't help but to have been stirred and encouraged to step out and step up there everyday lifestyles of worship, their individual times with Him and their own contributions in corporate worship.

Sunday was also a wonderful occasion, as Richard was recognised as an elder, Mark Landreth-Smith was with us and we also had a church lunch.

This week sees me preparing to preach on Sunday, looking at reaching the town in which we live (having kingdom vision for Reading). It is stimulating to once again look at what I am doing to look beyond the church and into the community in which B and I live - I pray that that will be so for all those who hear what is preached on Sunday!!!

Tomorrow sees Sean and I go to Holy Trinity Brompton in Kensington for a day with Bill Hybels. I am looking forward to that immensely. Bill is an outstanding leader and a great evangelist and just to be around him for a day, I know that I will learn heaps. More on that when next I write!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

A rich outtake from Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones

"Here are you and I, miserable worms in this world, miserable worms with our arrogance and our pride and our appalling ignorance. We deserve nothing but to be blotted off the face of this earth. But what has happened is that before the foundation of the world this blessed God, these three blessed Persons, considered us, considered our condition, considered what would happen to us, and the consequence was that these three Persons, God, whom man hath never seen, stooped to consider us and planned a way whereby we might be forgiven and redeemed. The son said, I will leave this glory for a while, I will dwell in the womb of a woman, I will be born as a babe, I will become a pauper, I will suffer insult in the world, I will even allow them to nail Me to a Cross and spit in My face. He volunteered to do all that for us, and at this very moment this blessed Second Person in the Trinity is seated at the right hand of God to represent you and me. He came down to earth and did all that, and rose again and ascended to heaven; and it was planned 'before the world' for you and for me.

Do you still say you are not interested in theology? Do you still say you have no time to be interested in doctrine? You will never begin to praise God or worship or adore Him until you begin to realize something of what He has done for you."

(God's Ultimate Purpose, Ephesians 1:1-23, Chapter 4, page 55)

After preaching on Sunday about having a fresh passion for Christ, I read this and want to burst. Jesus is amazing, I know I've said it before and I know I am going to say it again, but when you read this and start to let it sink in it can only change your life. Praise the Lord!!!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Trip to Trent

B and I had a great time on Sunday at Trent Vineyard in Nottingham. If you have read my last post you will know the reason for the trip and it was more than illuminating.

The church is buzzing. It has a quality building (both inside and out), although not as striking as Kingsgate Community Church in Peterborough, the warehouse feel really works; there are large pieces of artwork adorning the walls in the main auditorium, good atmospheric lighting and a wonderful open space where there are around 1000 seats for the meeting, tables and chairs for coffee and tea and areas where you can get more info about the church.

In terms of run order, quite similar to ourselves although executed differently (they do pass round Cadbury's Roses during the offering!), however in terms of follow up and plugging people into the life of the church we have many things we can learn from them.

B and I came away inspired and believing once again for bigness for RFC. What Trent is doing is fantastic for Nottingham, but we are called to Reading and we have been called to be a large relevant bible believing, Jesus centred, Spirit filled church that reaches our town, the region, the nations and the nations. Going to Nottingham on Sunday helped me see that afresh and raised good questions as to how we can get there.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

This weekend

A busy weekend starts today. Today sees B and I travel to Potters Bar to have lunch with B's Grandma and then spend the evening with her parents. It will be the first time they have seen B with her bump and I am assured that they are very excited at the prospect of the sight! It will be a great time just catching up with wonderful people whom I have the privilege of calling family.

Tomorrow morning we travel up to Nottingham to Trent Vineyard Church. They have had a fantastic journey and we are going see what we can learn at RFC from what they have done. What does a large church in the UK look like? Well we shall find out tomorrow morning. After being in Peterborough this week for prayer and fasting and hearing Dave Smith's story of Kingsgate Community Church, I long for us to be a church that has influence within our town and beyond, not for our glory, but for the Glory of God.

W then come back and I meet with a small group of emerging leaders in the church. the last time we met was a really good time of searching within ourselves and seeing how each other tick. We then roll into the evening for a members meeting at the church offices talking about all things RFC.

On top of all this West Ham travel to Hull tomorrow wanting to erase the memory of a 3-1 home defeat last time out to Bolton.

By Monday, I know I will need a rest (and a rest I will get as it is my day off), but I know that I would have had a great weekend, well balanced with faith, family and friends. The big bonus of course is that I am doing virtually the whole weekend with my beautiful pregnant wife.

Thursday, 16 October 2008


Chapter three of Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones' first commentary on the Ephesians is about chapter 1 verse 2 of this great Epistle. In it he speaks of the grace and peace that is ours in Christ. He says that 'grace is the beginning of our faith; peace is the end of our faith'. In other words, we are saved by grace and this should always lead to peace; peace should always be the end result if we get the full sense of the grace by which we receive reconciliation, redemption, atonement, justification and victory. This is all fantastic news and then I got to this as he continues to unpack the verse and gets to Jesus:

"This is the differential of Christianity, this is the element that changes everything. It is the Lord Jesus Christ. Lest there be any uncertainty or confusion let us note what Paul says in this very salutation: 'Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.' The grace and peace come equally from the Lord Jesus Christ and the Father. This is vital doctrine. There is no such thing as Christianity apart from the Lord Jesus Christ; there is no blessing from God to man in a Christian sense except in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Anything which claims to be Christianity without having Christ at the beginning and the centre and the end is a denial of Christianity, call it what you will. There is no Christianity apart from Him; He is everything.'

(God's Ultimate Purpose, Ephesians 1:1-23, Chapter 3, page 43)

You have got to love this and be challenged by it. HE IS EVERYTHING. Can I hand on heart say this is true of me? Can I stand and say with Asaph in Psalm 73 that I desire nothing on this earth besides Him? My wife, my unborn child, my family, RFC? These are all so dear to me and at times they can feel like everything to me. My desire is to get to that point where I can say that in all circumstances, HE IS EVERYTHING.

Friday, 10 October 2008

I don't want to worry about the sudden disasters!

Well panic really seems to have set in regarding the financial turmoil the world finds itself in. The FTSE 100 finished 9% down the lowest since 1987 I am led to believe.

We are now living in uncertain times when it comes to the money markets, banks and governments. Are our mortgages now in danger, what about savings and pensions? Will our insurances be worth anything? Basically will I be able to look after my wife and my child that is on the way in the next year? How will all of this affect us as a church financially? Will people whom I love and care for lose their jobs, will redundancies become a thing that we expect? How will we as God's people help each other?

These are all legitimate questions that we can ask - they are all things that are real concerns. However I cannot get away from the verse that has had me thinking for a while now - it is found in Proverbs 3:25-26:

"Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared."

I do not wish to be trite or glib, but I cannot read this and then go back to being consumed with what-ifs regarding the economic crisis that rages on. I must focus on Jesus, on bringing glory to Him. It says in the Bible in Matthew 6:33-34;

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Maybe we will be in a place where we will emulate the early church in Acts 2 by selling possessions so that others amongst us can eat, if that is the case let's be those who do it with joy and not let that which the world is so panicked about rob us of faith and hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes let's be diligent, but let's also keep a generous spirit and watch out for those around us who may need help.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

I felt Baby Taylor kick!!!!

Tonight, as I sat with my wonderful wife, I gad the joy of feeling our baby kick for the first time. For the past few weeks, B has been telling me of the feelings that she is having. For the past week she has been placing my hand in the area where little one is moving around, but i have been unable to experience the feeling with her. Tonight, I experienced the sensation.

What a feeling, what a joy. We thank our Father that He has blessed us and pray that He will continue to bless our growing child over the second half of the pregnancy and less B as she carries this precious miracle.

West Reading Badminton Tournament Update #11

Well I did it, I managed to win back the medal yesterday evening. The return of Kim, 6 hard fought matches, great shots played all round and a real sense of enjoyment. I really enjoy playing with these guys, it's great fun, a real challenge and it's good to have friends outside of the usual circles.

Next week there will be a new champ as I am unable to join the chaps due to being at prayer and fasting but I look forward hearing who that new champ is!!!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

More from the Dr!

It takes me a week to process and chew over each installment from the Dr. Here's my highlight from this week:

'In the sixth chapter of Romans Paul works it out and says that when Christ was crucified we were crucified with Him; when He died, we died with Him; when He was buried, we were buried with Him; when He rose again we rose with Him. He is seated in the heavenly places. Paul says in the second chapter of this Ephesian Epistle, 'God hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ'. We are seated in the heavenly places with Christ at this moment because we are 'in Christ'. What a tremendous, staggering, overwhelming truth - I am part of Christ, ~I belong to Him, I am a member of the body of Christ! I AM NOT MY OWN (emphasis mine), I have been 'bought (purchased) with a price'. I am in Christ. He is the Head, I am one of the members. There is a vital, organic, mystical union between us. All the blessings we enjoy as Christians come to us because we are 'in Christ'. It is 'of his fullness we have received, and grace upon grace'. 'I am the true vine', says the Lord Himself, 'and ye are the branches.'

All that is for you if you are a Christian. Do not talk about weakness or helplessness; He is the Life and you are joined to the Life, you are part of the Life, you are a branch in the the Vine, 'in Christ.' (God's Ultimate Purpose, Ephesians 1:1-23, Chapter 2, page 32)

I so often talk about weakness and helplessness - what wonderful truth to chew on this week - we are IN CHRIST, I am not my own but now am His, Jesus is my everything and my identity is found in Him; not being a husband, not being a prospective father, not being a church leader, but in Him!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The Reason for God, Willow Creek and Alpha!!!

A lot has been going over this past few days. I have really started to read The Reason For God by Tim Keller. I must say, I am not finding it the easiest of reads because he has obviously got a much sharper mind than my own. However, his understanding of the culture in which he lives and how he has managed to distill objections and then give calm, gentle, humble answers is fantastic. I do find sometimes though that I can be tied in knots in my thinking when looking at what he has written which means I have to read and re-read (not a bad thing but as I say his sharpness is his brilliance amongst other things). What I am left with as I read is that I always want to have an answer when someone asks me why I follow Jesus - obvious I know, but so important. After all it's all about Jesus.

I have also spent two great days with Sean Green at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. It was great to go and focus on leadership skills and be inspired by people that are passionate about their vision for what God has given them to do; also those who have just taken knocks and upsets but have still continued and let those knocks shape them and their future. The one thing I came away with was the same as that of Sean (see his blog here) and that was a call to be a full-time follower of Christ - to chase after Him and not anything else. In all that lies before us as a church, I want to be someone who is going for God and as a result everything I do will be for Him and not for any other reason.

Thirdly Alpha. The first official week took place last night at the Glo Bar in Reading town centre - a great venue by the way. We did have three new guests but they were not the same three from the Alpha launch night. I would dearly love to see more people coming to this course as I believe that God is using this particular medium to see people saved. however I am also acutely aware through this that God is in control and who we have is those that He has planned to be there since the beginning of time.

In all three of these things that I have written about, it highlights to me that I need to be a Christian who isn't just wearing a badge, but someone who is engaging with those around me in a way that they can understand; this coming out of my love of Him as I spend time with Him and continually rediscover that love which set me free from bondage to sin; resulting in me seeing the bigger picture and trusting that in all things, God is in control!

West Reading Badminton Tournament update #10

Nearly a week ago Nev, Richard and Andy (Kim's stand-in) met to play again for the weekly medal. The medal has been changing hands regularly now so it remained to be seen if Nev would achieve his prized goal of becoming the third different winner in as many weeks, or would Andy win for the first time.

Well after some entertaining games it came down to a play off between Richard and Nev. Once again this was close but Nev came through to take the medal. It is now several weeks since I last had the medal and I am starting to become a little concerned. I am hoping that this week will be the week that I once again win through, but I am not holding my breath, the other guys are playing so well.

there is a new champ and his name is Nev!!!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Money markets collapse, but Jesus reigns

As I turn on the radio or TV these days there is always a news report telling of the woes of the financial markets. It's true that things are not looking great at the moment in that respect. The two major banks in Belgium have hit major problems, Spanish banks seem to be buying up many other European banks, the senate have had to sanction a massive rescue package for the US banks. If you focus on these things you cannot help but start to worry about your own finances. We have a mortgage and we have savings; we both have pensions and we have insurances for all the things that you would expect.

However, I cannot get away from the teaching on money that we find in the bible.

For starters we are not supposed to trust in money. We are told that we cannot serve two masters and that refers to money or God. I follow God, I want to serve only him!

When Jesus talks about not worrying about tomorrow, it is in the context of clothing ourselves and feeding the family - he makes the point that God makes sure that the birds of the air can eat and that the lilies of the field are clothed in splendour and that because of this how much more will he provide for us.

I know for me and my house we will continue to trust in God. Yes there are real problems with the worlds economy, but I am not going to let that detract from the fact that my God is bigger than the world economy and He will do what needs to be done.

In some ways I want to take the opportunity at this time to bring people hope in a world that is in turmoil. At the end of the day, those that have trusted in finance have seen that fail and are looking beyond the money markets. I pray that they will find people who will introduce them to Jesus so they may know what real hope is.

As I sat tonight with B with my hand laid across her tummy where BT is laying, I had a random thought about how we will survive on one wage in this current climate - the answer came quickly:

'So do not worry, saying "what shall I eat?" or "What shall I drink?" or "What shall I wear?" For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.' Matthew 6:31-34

I don't mean to trot this out glibly, but I have to believe that God is in control and that he knows what is happening and that he will ensure that we as a family will survive through it, whatever that surviving looks like!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Update on BT

The 1st of October has roiled around - where has this year gone? B and I are now half way through the pregnancy which will see us become parents for the first time. We had the 20 week scan on Monday and all was well. Baby Taylor is growing as a baby should and Barbie is healthy. She has felt lots of movement and her bump is slowly growing. I get very excited at the prospect of being a father and holding our little one in my arms.

It is truly incredible to see our 23cm long child moving in B's womb, stretching legs, drinking and generally being a baby! It's incredible because as a Christian, I know that this is not some chance happening, but this is the work of my God. We read in Psalm 139:13-15:

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mothers womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place."

In Jeremiah 1:5 we read:

"Before I formed you in your mothers womb I knew you before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as prophet to the nations."

Our child is beautiful already and I am almost in count down to February 12th mode already! But I also want this pregnancy to be a reminder of the awesome creative power of my Father in heaven. It is Him who opens the womb and brings forth life and therefore I will praise Him for giving us this precious gift of Baby Taylor. I love the fact it's not all chance but that this is God's sovereign creative delight to give us this joy.

Friday, 26 September 2008

West Reading Badminton Tournament update #9

A new week a new champ, from the brilliance of Kim the week before to the resilience of Richard this week (that's not saying he didn't play well!)

This week we were always going to have a new champ as Kim was unable to play due to work commitments - this therefore paved the way for Nev, Richard, our guest Andy or myself to take the medal.

Although there were some tight games on the night, the consistency and periodic excellence of Richard lead him ton emphatic victory, winning 5, 3, 3, 1 on the night. He served well, returned well and anticipated shots much better than any of us and fully deserved his victory.

I still have so much to learn about this game and am enjoying every minute of finding that out!!!

For those who might be interested and by request of my fellow players here is an updated table:

Nev 4
Scott 13
Kim 1
Richard 8

I anticipate some changes in this over the coming weeks, especially when Kim returns in two weeks time.

However for now, there is a new champ and his name is Richard!

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Alpha at Glo Bar

Alpha at the Glo Bar, only 4 days to go and the course finds itself into the paper. Nicola has done an outstanding job of organising and promoting this terms Alpha and this has included letting the Chronicle newspaper know all about it. Go out today, buy the Chronicle and show it to a friend - just casually 'Oh look this is our church!!!'

Well maybe not so twee, but you get the idea. The article is also available on line here. Let's fill out the upstairs of this great venue and see our friends and colleagues won for Jesus!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Just what the doctor ordered!

How about this from the great preacher, Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

"There is only one way whereby God forgives us; it is because He sent His only begotten Son from heaven to earth, and to agony and the shame and the death on the Cross: 'In whom we have redemption through his blood.' There is no Christianity without 'the blood of Christ'. It is central, it is absolutely essential. There is nothing without it. Not only the Person of Christ but in particular, His death, His shed blood, His atoning substitutionary sacrifice! It is in that way, and that way alone, that we are redeemed. In this Epistle (Ephesians) Christ is shown to be absolutely essential. We shall find it to be so as we come to the details. He is everywhere, He must be. We are chosen in Him, called by Him, saved by His blood. He is the Head of the Church as this first chapter reminds us. He is 'far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come'. He is 'the Head of the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all'; and He is at the right hand of God with all authority and power in Heaven and on earth. Jesus, our Lord, is supreme; He is the Son of God, the Saviour of the World. That is going to be our theme. Are you beginning to look forward to it- to look at Him, to gaze upon His Person, in His offices, in His work, in all that He is and can be to us?'
(God's Ultimate Purpose, Ephesians 1:1-23, page 18)

I certainly am looking forward to looking and gazing upon Jesus, what greater thing is there to do. The doctor paints a picture here that causes my heart to once again race at the thought of my King, my Saviour, my Lord, my Redeemer, my Brother, my Friend, my Rock, my everything. Oh to one day be able to be as eloquent as this great man of God, but for today I will immerse myself in his words and reflect on the greatness of Jesus.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Real joy isn't West Ham winning (there I said it!)

As I blogged on Saturday about going to see West Ham play, I couldn't have imagined the performance we would see. All things considered I don't think we could have picked a better day to go:

Zola's first game in charge;
A return to full on attacking football;
Two goals and an assist from David Di Michele (Could he become as important to us as Paolo Di Canio?);
Glorious weather;
And of course a 3-1 win!

It was easy to come away from Upton Park on Saturday feeling happy and content.

It then dawned on me as we travelled back on the tube that for many that were travelling with us, this was their life. Making the pilgrimage to the Boleyn Ground (Official name of Upton Park) in the vague hope that maybe, just maybe, life will seem better because West Ham have won. That a win for West Ham will fill the void of emptiness that every human feels when left on their own. On this occasion, all the claret and blue supporters were upbeat, people were complimentary of the players, they admired the Zola's tactics, the game was positive etc etc.

However on the same train there were also Newcastle United supporters. The faces told the tale. They didn't make small talk, their faces were blank, they appeared tired and weary with the trudge of life. I realised that regardless of the fact that West Ham had won - my joy was in another.

My Messiah is not a Kevin Keegan type icon - my Messiah is Jesus. My hope is not that we might finish in the top half of the table this year, but my hope is in the promise of eternal life and a life now that is lived in the full knowledge that my God is for me and not against me.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Off to Upton Park!!!

B and I will be leaving shortly to go and witness Zola's first game in charge of West Ham. It feels like a big adventure and one we are undertaking together. The Irons are playing against a Newcastle team that have no manager and are up for sale. It could be a memorable day for the team, but I am not holding my breath!!!

One thing is certain though and that is that B and I will have a lovely day together and we will experience this together. I love building memories with B and we have been privileged to build so many in our ten years together. It will also be Baby Taylor's first trip to a football match and BT will hear bubbles sung - apparently we should now be singing to our little one as it soothes and BT will be able to recognise the songs after birth.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

West Reading Badminton Tournament update #8

There is a new champion and one who whole heartedly deserves it!!! Kim was outstanding. I would say that the rest of us played to our normal standard but were outplayed by a sharper, quicker witted opponent. His shot selection was immaculate, his timing was impeccable and his net play was exquisite. I look forward to seeing this continue as it will force the rest of us to improve.

There is a new champ and his name is Kim.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Week of prayer

Next week sees the church embarking on a week of prayer and fasting. There is so much to pray about. Reading, the UK, Amsterdam, Zimbabwe, Russia, Pakistan; we need to pray for Alpha, salvation, growth, both in maturity and in numbers, the marriage course; church finances and the current world wide money market problems are areas we will seek God's face on.

We are prepared for five days of seeking God's face and have organised a few central events to help us focus in on prayer:

Monday - 6 am-7am - Men's prayer meeting
Tuesday - 6 am-7am - Women's prayer meeting
Wednesday - 7:45-9:45 - Cell group prayer walk
Thursday - 7:45-9:45 - Cell group prayer walk
Midnight Thursday - midnight Friday - 24 hours of prayer (watch this space for details)

All the meetings will at least start at the church office!

My prayer this week is that this week would not pass anyone by. That as a church we will all be part of praying and fasting for this term ahead in Reading, the nation and the nations. In Luke chapter 11 v 9-0, Jesus says:

'So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened to.'

Let's gather together, asking, seeking and knocking and let's see glory brought to God the Father as prayers are answered.

Friday, 12 September 2008

An attitude of humility and submission.

I have been reading 'The Winning Attitude' by John C Maxwell. It has been both insightful and timely. In it e highlights how our attitudes affect our actions and that there are so many factors that comprise our attitudes. He however says that we should have a positive attitude. He says that we should be like Paul who, although faced many circumstances that were hard, facing disappointment, persecution, shipwrecks and the like, he still pressed on towards the goal. Maxwell says that if we keep good attitudes we grow through trial and discouragement, through criticism and painful words. If we have a bad attitude we sink in a mire of self pity and woe.

Paul makes the point in Philippians that we should have the attitude of Christ Jesus:

'Who being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow,
in heaven and on earth,
and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.'
(Philippians 2:5-11)

This comes off the back of Paul saying:

'Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.' (Philippians 2:4)

Paul basically showed us that Jesus' attitude was one of humility and submission. Considering others above ourselves. Jesus didn't even see his equality with God something to be grasped - he submitted to the Father's will in coming to this earth; he submitted to his Father's will in all he did in life; he submitted to his Father's will even going to the cross. This is Jesus who in very nature is God, who is the radiance of God's glory, the exact representation of his being. He humbled himself and submitted.

How often I can find myself wanting my agenda. How often I want my will to be done. I long to have an attitude of humility and submission to God, to my wife, to my fellow elders, to RFC and to everyone I meet. I don't want to be a door mat, but I do want to be a man who does not think of himself more highly than he should. I want to be a man acquainted with my limitations and not overconfident in them. My prayer is that I can look at the attitude of Jesus and learn what humility and submission are, that I may be a man that can say to my God I want your will to be done and not mine.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

The End of the world... I don't think so!!!

"The Earth is the LORD's and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
for he established it upon the seas and established it upon the waters." Psalm 24

Today as scientists endeavour to recreate the so called 'big bang' in Switzerland, these verses stand out. These verses remind us that He, that being the One True God, created and established the earth and that it all belongs to Him. As humans we can do all the experiments in the world but we cannot recreate that which God did when He spoke the world into being.

Incredible as this experiment may be in magnitude and financial outlay and indeed in danger, it can neither show how the world began, nor indeed end the world. Only God has the power to do both of these. We as humans find this so hard because we don't want to humble ourselves before an almighty God. We want to have explanations that ignore God because then we don't ever have to be called to judgement for our behaviour and our attitudes. We can live for ourselves and that seems right because we can ignore God.

I say ignore because He is always there, breathing new life into wombs, making it rain, bringing crops, allowing there to always be air to breath, making the sun and moon to rise each day. This is called God's general grace in theological terms and it means that he is in control. More specifically it is actually Jesus - we read in Hebrews chapter 1 that Jesus is the sustainer of all things; the bible also says in Colossians chapter 1 that Jesus creates all things whether seen or unseen, for Him. It then goes on to say that he holds all things together. You see God is in control and the experiment today is a way of showing our ignoring of Him.

It is almost preposterous to say that God created everything but we happy for a mother nature to be involved or worse still that it was just a bunch of chance happenings that explains why we are as we are. The universe points to an intelligent designer who is is control. I am no scientist, I also don't despise science - science has brought many great things to this world, I just think that as a society we believe blindly in theories, accepting them as fact, because some plausible men on television and periodicals tell us it's true.

Jesus is true and I am going to believe in Him, on the final day that's the only thing that will matter and it will be Him that brings about the final day, not some scientists in Switzerland!

Friday, 5 September 2008

More news at Upton Park

Well after a rough couple f days at Upton Park hopefully things will start to settle down. I have just read that we have signed another player on a free transfer (makes it obvious I guess that it wasn't Curbs doing the hiring and firing as if that was in doubt anyway!). the guy is Walter Lopez, a 22 year old Uruguyan international. Never heard of him, but he is a left back so he's got to be better than no left back at all.

That said we have also signed two guys on loan - Ilunga, who is a left back currently on international duty, and Di Michelle a forward who has represented Italy at senior level. I personally think these are good signings. I have heard of both and Di Michelle even played and scored against us when playing for Palermo. It could be that we will be coached by Roberto Mancini, the former Inter Milan coach, this I believe would be an absolute coup. Other names banded around have been the return of the Pards, Donadoni and of course the legend that is Paolo Di Canio.

My choice would still be Bilic, but he is currently unavailable I hope that Mancini comes. He will be used to directors of football calling the shots and is a top class coach: it could be that PDC could be his assistant - now that would be class. Whoever comes in I hope that they recognise that we are a passionate club who would rather lose playing great football than win playing rubbish football (if you disagree with that statement, you only have to look at the way Curbs was treated by certain sections of the fans.)

Let's hope that what ever happens, the board keep their promise to take the club forward. we still have our core players even though other clubs wanted the likes of Green, Ashton and Noble. I'm going to remain optimistic and watch with baited breath to see what will happen next in the soap opera that is Upton Park.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Reflections on Psalm 19

Psalm 19 has really arrested my attention. I have become intrigued by the words written in verses 7-11.

"The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The command of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring for ever.
The ordinances pf the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous."

This is speaking of God's word to us. That today comes mainly through the words of the bible. The bible that is so often mocked and maligned for being out of date and condemnatory, is said here to be enduring for ever and reviving to the soul, giving joy to the heart! Not only this, but David goes on to say

"They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.
By them is your servant warned:
in keeping them there is great reward."

How often do we think of the bible, the true and living word of God, as more precious than gold? How often do we consider it sweet? In reading the bible, we do read hard things, David isn't surprised, he says these things warn us. In it we find we must obey, David knows this and says when we stick to what the bible says there is great reward.

What great reward?
The reward of a life of victory over sin;
The reward of a place in heaven set aside for us;
The reward of growing to be more like Jesus as we heed what the bible says and implement it in our lives.

The bible is the final authority of what our church believes and should be doing. When resolving difficult issues biblical mandates and principles will be relied upon, not just human understanding. The same is true for us as individuals, we need to live our lives according to the principles and guidance of the bible rather than the principles and guidance of this world. To do this we need to know the word (in other words we need to read it!!!), we need to have godly counsellors (psalm 1) and we need the Holy Spirit to remind us of what scripture has to say.

I know that I want to grow in my knowledge and understanding of my God and that only comes by savouring the sweetness of the words of grace that come to me through the pages of my bible and by honouring and regarding the purity and the preciousness of it's guidance.

Football's a game, Jesus is life!

Sitting in the office at 3:45 yesterday, I heard the news that Curbishley had left West Ham, he had resigned. I thought they were joking. I returned home at 6:00pm after playing badminton knowing that this was true. To be honest I was not surprised, but I must confess to being a little shocked. I have disliked immensely all the negative media attention that Curbs has ad to face in his time as our manager and to be honest I wish the man well and pray that he will find a job that will honour his capabilities and respect him for the football manager that he is.

At present it is difficult to supprt West Ham, the family club that we once were doesn't seem to be that any more. Of course I will continue to support them as to me they are the only team to support, but questions must be asked. Why is Kia Joorabchin having his say about Curbishley, he's the one that nearly took our club down in the Tevez saga and then wanted to sue us? Who will replace Curbs? I can't see Bilic coming yet; Harry will have no interest in coming; we could end up with an Italian manager! (My personal choice would be Bilic by the way.)

Of course there are far more questions, but do you know what, I am not going to dwell on it. As I have thought this through I can see that (I can't believe I am about to say this), it's only football. I do not follow the developments of Vodafone or Shell with such interest why would I, they are businesses, and to some extent that is what my football club has become. We as fans still see it as our game, but let's be honest, we are just the people that help finance it.

On the last day, I am not going to be concerned as to whether Alan Curbishley left West Ham, I am going to be totally consumed by the presence of my King. When He returns, West Ham will be no more (If it hasn't happened before then!!!) but He will remain Lord of all reigning forever. My concern in this life should not be on earthly matters as they will fade away but on Jesus, the authour and perfecter of my faith.

Of course I will continue to support West Ham and of course I will love it when they win and feel it when they lose, but I must always remember that football is a business and a game that I enjoy (or endure) looking in at, but my focus must be Jesus.

West Reading Badminton Tournament update #7

After the Summer holidays it was once again time for the four intrepid shuttle warriors to go forth onto the wooden floor arena that is the Rivermead leisure centre. As I arrived a few moments late you could already sense the tension in the air. Over the past three weeks, there had been two victors, Richard once and Nev twice.

I could see as I approached our court that Nev was focused, he had no intention of relinquishing what he felt was rightfully his, the medal; Kim was certain that this would be his week and Richard looked like he was just toying with the shuttle. I had resolved in myself that none of these men would intimidate me and I proceeded top quietly do up my shoe laces and stepped onto the court. After an absence of three weeks would I still be able to play, I was thinking and I could tell that the boys were also.

All I can say is that the badminton that followed was intense. The first game, as an example went to 26-24, other games went to 24-22 and 22-20. This was not an evening for the faint hearted. All four of us were placing our shots all over the court, smashes were fast and drop shots were tight to the net. As I stood at the end of the last game 21-20 I couldn't help be feel that all of us had come back ready to show what we could do and so it was with relief that I had the medal placed round my neck by a smiling Neville, knowing that I had had to work hard for the medal in winning all 6 games.

However I do believe that tonight's winner was badminton!!!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

New signings at RFC!!!

Well after my rant of yesterday, west ham didn't sign anyone new up for this part of the season. Oh well never mind!!!

However Reading Family Church have signed three new year teamers and that's much more exciting. Today Hannah, Sam and Andrew came on board to serve the church in their respective areas. These guys are three new heroes in the life of RFC. They are paying to come and give 11 months of their lives to serving the Kingdom.

Hannah is going to be working with the students; Sam will be working with Sarah to continue to build our children's work and see it go from strength to strength; Andrew has come on board to support the work of the youth team and to be Mr. Creative in the media department. They are three great people and I am excited about the prospect of them working with the church.

With these three new signings in the team, we can expect to continue to make progress and see our church grow from strength to strength.

Monday, 1 September 2008

What's going on at Upton Park?!?

This is going to be a strange post considering what I wrote in my last one but: what are the West Ham board up to. we have sold Anton Ferdinand and it now looks like George McCartney is off to the same destination, Sunderland. This is rubbish. He is the only senior recognised left back and no matter what anyone says, Lucas Neill is a right back, nit a left back.

I hate the fact that we are still a selling club. I recognise we have to balance the books, but surely selling our best players is not the answer. I do hope no one else gets sold today and that we have some surprising signings, but as things are going so far, I am not holding my breath.

I know that I am going to have some forgiving to do, after all I did preach on that yesterday (link to come later). I do feel for Alan Curbishley as he is doing a great job whilst the board continue to sell off the team. I hope the press get off Curbs back and recognise where all the nonsense in our club is coming from.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

What a great Olympics

Well I was away from a computer for the whole of the Olympics pretty much so I didn't have the joy of day to day analysis - however I though I would just put on a brief post to say Wow - what a great time we had.

Sport watching doesn't come much better then this. The British guys winning medals left right and centre, Olympic records broken all over the place and World records being smashed that we didn't think would ever be caught. It was two weeks of really exciting stuff.

Highlights for me were the obvious ones really - Rebecca Adlington doing things we didn't think female British swimmers could do; Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins, Victoria Pendleton, Rebecca Romero and the rest of the team ruling in the velodrome; the rowers and the sailors. But number one has to be Usain Bolt. Whether a so called freak of nature or the beginning of a new style of sprinter, this guy was immense. you sensed that whenever he got to the track that something incredible was bout to happen and he didn't let us down.

I didn't see the opening or closing ceremonies as this isn't my sort of thing, but what I do know is that London is now the Olympic city. We hopefully wont try to compete with Beijing as I don't think I can afford to have to pay more taxes to pay for sport, but I do thin k we will do a great job of doing it our way.

As far as I am concerned we have to start getting behind our sporting teams. We are so fickle as a society - we build people up to super star status only to shoot them down when they don't always come up to our unrealistic expectations. We have just destroyed the South Africans in one day cricket and the players are hailed as heroes, but if we lose the next one I know they will be calling for this player and that player to be dropped. Freddie Flintoff was supposedly past it, but he's now once again number 1 in the world as an all rounder, I suppose he's got it again!!!

I for one will continue to support our British sports men and women and our England teams as well as my beloved West Ham with a more realistic expectation than I ever have. I don't want to make sports men idols, I want to celebrate their victories.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Looking forward in anticipation

It's been great to get away and refresh a little, but I'm now excited to back and raring to go. This is a big term starting next week with the arrival of three new year teamers. You will no doubt hear the names of Andrew, Hannah and Sam (Samantha) over the coming months, but just to say they are all quality people who we are looking forward to having on board.

This term will also see us running Alpha again (more details in a later post), foundations and for the first time, the marriage course. We will hopefully be partnering with Reading Girls School to put on a carol concert at the school as well as meeting for Christmas day in the church office.

The preaching series this term will be Gathering and Going which will see us teaching into what it is to gather as a church in different contexts and then subsequently how we are to go into our local community and the nations. This will, as always, be based in scripture and will build towards Sean and Liz moving to Amsterdam to start the church.

There will be people At RFC that will hear the call to go to Amsterdam with Sean and Liz and we will be taking up an offering to support Sean and Liz in setting up the Church Plant as a gift to them.

Sunday mornings will be back in Reading Girls School from the 14th September when the children's work will all start again. There will be some recruiting of personnel going on between now and then, no doubt, particularly in the area of creche. The students will return at the beginning of October which will mean a return to student lunches each week.

We will be having Ben Davies, Tony Thompson and Mark Landreth-Smith come and visit and preach with us. We will see Richard come into eldership and the church leadership handed over.

there is so much happening this term that it could be easy to take our eyes off of Jesus. We must be those in the coming weeks and months, who, regardless of what is happening around us, must look to the cross and know that we are Christians not for our comfort but for his glory. We as a church are not gathered to be a cosy community, but a radical community who live for something other than ourselves. In this busy time lets remember the author and perfecter of our faith and run hard for him. My prayer is that no one will be left behind in all the changes; that we will all be caught up in this great mission of starting two new chapters, that God has called us on.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Jesus saves us from sin

I'm sitting here on the first morning of a two week break. I am catching up on the Olympic news, feeling proud that we've got another gold and a bronze, howveer you would think that we had actually won the Olympics. Adrian Chiles has just left the studio saying that he will need to lay down because of the emotional energy expended.

As I sit here enjoying this symbol of unity - the Russians diving alongside the Americans and Chinese - the news comes on and the first piece is on the trouble in Georgia. How can it be that on one hand the nations all join together in something as futile as sport but elsewhere there is death and destruction as bombs get dropped and people are killed?

It's the proof of the fall. The only thing that explains it is the gospel. The fact that mankind is born sinful and as much as we try to be 'good' we still have this prepencity to hurt, maim or kill each other. We cause injury through our words and through our actions. This sin also means that we are against God, we are in rebellion against him. Jesus came not so we can have Christmas and Easter, but so we can have forgiveness for this sin. Jesus came to pay the price for for our rebellion against God. He died so that we may live.

I pray that the situation in Georgia will be over quickly and that there will be limited bloodshed. I shall be back in a couple of weeks.

Friday, 8 August 2008

The Bridegroom and his bride

Well this is wedding season. B is off to another wedding tomorrow that I cannot go to because I am on the stag do of another friend who is to marry in a couple of weeks time. I must confess I can be a bit overwhelmed when this season comes around, but on reflection it is fantastic. These are young men and women bucking the trend and marrying before they have moved in together. They are those saying we want to do it God's way.

One of the ways that Jesus is described in the bible is as the bride groom of the church. The one who is in anticipation of his beautiful bride. The one who has sacrificed himself for her. The one who nurtures and cares for her; the one who provides for her and releases her to be all that she was intended to be. He doesn't stifle or hold her back; he does not heap condemnation on her or put her in her place. He is gentle and loving and sets the pace at which the relationship is to go.

A marriage is so much more than a man and a woman saying some stuff and then working it out. It was instituted by God to show us the relationship Christ has with his church. The wife being loved by the husband as Christ loves his church and the woman loving the husband back in gracious and thoughtful submission as the church submits to Christ.

I pray for these couples who are marrying and those who have married recently that their marriages will reflect this mytsterious but wonderful relationship, and that our marriage will be an example to follow.

One day Christ will be united with his bride, on that day there will be a banquet and all those who have followed Christ will be invited, and he, like so many of the bridegrooms I have seen recently, will look on in extreme joy, love and adoration as he receives his prize.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Newday musings

Yesterday saw, B, Nicola, Beckie Chard and I travel to Uttoxeter racecourse to visit the youth for the day. We arrived at about 12:00, just in time to wave the youth off as they went to serve in a park in Derby clearing paths for the local community. What I loved was seeing that our youth is made up not just of church kids but of children from the local estate here in Reading, who are regulars at our Friday night youth meetings. The way they had bonded was excellent and a joy to see.

As the afternoon unfolded there was a chance to shoot some hoops with Sitho and some lads who were far younger, fitter and more talented than we were. B and I spent some time meeting old friends and making new ones and I went for a walk with Andy Martin, a man I respect greatly. This was all wonderful stuff.

However the evening surpassed it all. The evening meeting started with high anticipation as to what God was going to do. 5000+ people jammed into the big top to worship God and hear the good news of Jesus preached. During the sung praise time, Adrian Holloway got 4 guys who were healed last year to bring their story and then he prayed a prayer of healing. Straight away people were healed, I could see one girl near us burst into tears and jump up and down controlably, seemingly any pain that she had had was eradicated by the miraculous healing power of the Holy Spirit.

Adrian then preached the gospel. He used many props and made it extremely relevant. He is an outstanding communicator and story teller. When he uncovered the full size guillotine there was a general hush over the crowd - his point being, this was the sort of instrument of death that Jesus died on, not what we now see as our gold and silver crosses that are worn whether you are a Christian or not. (He of course made the point that Jesus did die on a crucifix not a guillotine!!!) His presentation was powerful, and was then followed by the now slightly famous dance drama set to the music of Lighthouse (see here for a you tube version).

Once again an hush descended as people watched the dance and many were moved, including myself. Then Adrian made the call. Kids from all over the big top came streaming forward including two from our youth. They were going forward to accept the invitation to follow Christ, to make him the number one priority in their lives, to seek him for forgiveness, to look to him to be their confidence. It was an incredible sight. As I have read the Billy Graham book listed to the side, I have wondered what it would be like to be in a context like that of the New Testament where it's not just one or two committing their lives to follow Jesus but hundreds - last night I caught a glimpse of it and it was beautiful.

I am overwhelmed with joy at the fact that I am going to be a father. As Father God looked on last night he must have been elated to see so many new Christian births, people coming to him and saying daddy I want to follow you.

I want to see more of this; as I wept last night watching everyone flowing forward I realised that I wasn't just full of joy, but also of sadness at all those who didn't respond; I know now on reflection that my tears were also a stirring of hatred once more of sin and the Devil and knowing how some will never see the truth. My tears are to remind me again that the job is only just starting here in Reading. There is a town here who predominantly do not know Jesus and it is our responsibility, privilege and joy to be able to let them know, through friendship, Alpha's, marriage courses, cell social events, cell cluster events.

Jesus is alive, he will return and all will be judged. Let's find as many of God's elect as we possibly can, by telling as many people about the good news of Jesus as we can.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

God is in control

As a busy week unfolds, including: a trip to Newday, the Newfrontiers youth camp at Uttoxeter race course; a membership interview; and the joy of preparing a sermon for Sunday looking Gen 39 v 1-20; it's so good to remember that God is in control. Those words continue to ring in my ears. It is the major lesson that I feel that I have been learning for about 6 months now. There is nothing that I can do aside from what he wants me to do. He is totally sovereign. Yes he has given me free will and i can make mistakes, but even through those mistakes he uses them to bring about his purposes.

The fact that I will be leading the team from the end of November, Sean and Liz leave in January and we have a child in February is all in God's timing not mine. He is in control and he knows what his plans are in all of these things. In this week I know that I want to lay myself open once more to him declaring 'speak Lord your servant is listening' and 'here I am send me'. I want to be full of his word and his Spirit that I may live a life that honours him. I want to give him my fears and my apprehensions and learn to lean into him as my rock and my fortress, knowing that at times there will be bumpy roads ahead.

Philippians 3 v 17 - 4 v 1:

" Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!"

Monday, 4 August 2008

I'm going to be a dad!!!

After a great weekend meeting with God and his people, watching West Ham play live and going to yet another wonderful wedding, the best was waiting to be revealed.

B and I went to the hospital today to have our 12 week scan. We are officially going to be parents. The Lord has blessed us with this great news after 20 months of trying. It has been a time of digging in with God and trusting that he knows best. We have had to persevere and lean into him knowing that he is totally in control of all things.

It was absolutely incredible to see the movement of our baby for the first time and to remember the words in Jeremiah that God knits us together in our mothers womb. Our BT (baby Taylor) has arms and legs and of course a head, we saw BT's spine and which we saw as he/she proceeded to stretch, turn over and go back to sleep.

I should imagine that I will be keeping up to date over the coming six months as to what is happening regarding the pregnancy, but all I know now is that I am both relieved and ecstatic that all is well and I am so grateful to God for all his amazing blessings.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Off to see the boys...

Very excited today. I get to go off to see West Ham play in their pre-season game against Southampton. I haven't seen the Irons play live for over a year. I will be travelling down with Simon and his Dad. I am looking forward to seeing the likes of Ashton and Bellamy as well as some of the youngsters, Sears, Hines, Stanislas, Reid etc. I am particularly anticipating the performance of our only senior signing of the Summer so far, Valon Behrami. He joined from Lazio a week or so ago and apparently played very well against erm... Peterborough - well you hope that he would really!!! Anyway, it'll be interesting to see how well he does against some tough championship opposition.

I don't know whether we will sign anyone else. There is talk of us loaning a keeper to cover for Rob Green, which will be useful, however we do have the young lad Marek Stech who looks like he is going to turn out to be a quality keeper. I still think we could use a striker because as good as Coley is at assists, I just don't see him weighing in with the goals to supplement Bellers and Ashton. I would love him to prove me wrong however because he seems to love playing for the club. Gutted to see that my favourite player of Euro 2008, Roman Pavyluchenko, is going to probably sign for Tottenham. Poor lad, he will probably sit on a bench and lose all credibility (Rebrov, Defoe, Bent to name but a few.)

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Rachel moving on to pastures new

So after Nicola leaving last week, today we saw the last day in the office of Rachel Green. Rachel has been a fantastic member of the team this year. She has worked extremely hard and has also brought us many laughs. Her compelling review of her trip to Romania when she recounted meeting many different people was one o the high lights pof the year. Also seeing her grow in confidence and presence through out the year, knowing that she is loved by her God and that she has a part to play has been brilliant.
Like Nicola there have been some Rachelisms:

1) rrrooowww (pronounced r-ow: used when surprised)

2) Boomb!!!

3) Yowsa

4) Yum! Spinach leaves again!!! (She didn't actually say it but she could have done.)

I'm sure I will be able to add to this or maybe you can help. What I do know is that we are going to miss her, but look forward to hearing stories as she starts work at Huntercombe. She will be a great asset to them.

More gems from Humility

Humility continues to be a book that touches me. I have been reading it very slowly and not everyday as I meditate on certain aspects. I have been reading the two chapters on the practical strategies of working towards a humble life - As Each Day Begins and As each Day Ends. These are the things that CJ Mahaney suggests:

At the beginning of the day-
-Reflect on the wonder of the cross
-Acknowledge my need for God
-Express gratitude to God
-Use any travelling time wisely (to work)
-Cast my cares, worries and burdens upon him
-Ask for Holy Spirit Annointing for my day

At the end of each day:
-Give God the glory for everything you have received and acheived
-Receive the gift of sleep from God and acknowledge it's purpose, sleep is a picture and parable of what it means to be a Christian. Our bed holds us up and takes our bodily weight as we relax; our Saviour holds us up and takes our sin and sustains us as we relax into him.
None of this is brain surgery, but seeing it written down and assessing what my quiet ties currently look like is helpful. It is changing the way that I come to God at both the beginning and the end of the day.
You can read a great reveiw on the book on Phil Whittal's Blog.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Dinner with friends and co-workers

Eating with friends is excellent. Last night We ate with my cousin Terry. Terry was my best man and has been one of my closest friends of all time. He travelled all the way from Dartford on a Tuesday afternoon, to take B and I out for a curry. We had a good time catching up on family and old friends and then ate a huge dinner. although all three of us were tired, we had a wonderful evening in each others company.

This afternoon, I had lunch with another local pastor, Pete Lowman. We went to a chinese restaurant which had a special meal deal and we shared stories about church life as well as discussing things such as evangelism, prophecy, healings, spiritual warfare and men being men! It was great to spend time with a man who has had such a diverse range of experiences in his ministry and someone who is from a different style of church to our own. Eating with someone who loves Jesus and longs to see the advancement of the gospel was really refreshing.

I can't get away from the fact that Jesus ate with people, both those who followed him and those who did not yet follow him. He ate with tax collectors and he ate with his disciples. He used one of the everyday functions of every man woman and child and turned it in to times of friendship, teaching and impartation. We are a bit odd as Christians because we do invite people to our homes for dinner or out for a meal without there being a special occasion, but if it's good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

A long, fun packed, God lead weekend

What a great weekend just gone. Every one of the last three days has been packed with plenty to thank God for, not least the beautiful weather.

Saturday: Dan and Becki Chard's wedding day was fabulous. The anticipation was huge, B and I had done their marriage prep and so for us it was really exciting to see them walk down that aisle as man and wife. The reception was lovely at Cantley House Hotel in Wokingham. I would highly recommend this as a venue. There was giant Jenga, horse shoe throwing, boules and croquet. This was the first taste I have ever had of this seemingly upper class past time, but I can say that I would love to play it again. I wasn't particularly good, but it was fun. In all it will be a day to remember for the food the friends and the fun that was had!

Sunday: We had our first meeting in South Reading Youth and Community Centre. It was fantastic. From 8am when the equipment was picked up, until the meeting started at 10am, there was a real buzz. Many of the church lended their hands to setting things up, working through new chair layouts, having the projector screen central, working out which way round the tables should be for tea and coffees. The car parking and welcoming team were superb, teas and coffees were served as diligently as ever, the worship team did an excellent job of leading us into our sung worship AFTER the preach. There were visitors there for the first time including Steve Smith who is pioneering a work with his family in Cambodia. The Holy Spirit came and met with people as they came forward to encounter Him. In all the morning was a resounding success. I would like to think it was because of careful and diligent planning, but it was actually because God is in control. I look forward to seeing what he does with us over the next few weeks that we are there.

Monday: From church on Sunday B and I went to Brighton to spend time with her her sister Cathy and her husband Steve. We had a very relaxing afternoon/evening sitting on Hove lawns, chatting, swimming, laughing and enjoying much BBQ food. We then returned to their flat which overlooks the lawns and enjoyed several games o table football - which I won - how cool! B and I then spent the day in Brighton yesterday, in the town, on the beach, eating at Donatello's and Harry's and generally spending time with just the two of us - utter bliss.

After that weekend I now look forward to this week. There is much to do, but I know that God is in control and I know that he equips us and prepares us for all we need to do. Speaking on Sunday from Gen 37:1-11 on Joseph and how he faced rejection, just makes me more determined to be someone who stand in the face of rejections, disappointments and fears and trusts that God knows what he is doing. I know that I am clothed in a robe of righteousness and I for one want to wear it publicly!

Friday, 25 July 2008

Nicola finished today

Today was the last day of Nicola's tenure as an impact student for RFC. It basically meant she took a year out of her life and paid the church to work for it. She has proved to be an outstanding asset to the team. She has shown great creativity, teachability and sensitivity in all that she has done. She has worked hard and has also brought much fun to lunch times and coffee times and many times through out the day times. She has also given us some memorable lines that I think will coninue for a while after:

1) Good thinking Bat Rachel!!!

2) Lit-er-rall-y

3) The _______ hates me! (Insert computer, microwave, tap or any other thing that doesn't work properly)

4) Get off _______ (Insert anything or anyone that someone might be knocking!)

Nic will be greatly missed on a day to day basis but she will still be around the church and leading Alpha, as well as other bits and pieces. She is truly an inspirationing RFCers.