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.