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!