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.