Friday, 28 August 2009

New interns - an adventure with God

Over this past year, Samantha, Hannah and Andrew have served the church magnificently as trainees on our intern programme. Next week we welcome in our new interns. Joe and Claire are great people who arfe giving a year of their life to serve God by volunteering for the local church. They are both graduates with excellent degree qualifications, but are choosing to delay any career moves to serve Him.

Joe will be involved in students, film media and youth, whilst Claire will be doing the day to day media, worship and administration. They will both be extremely busy, have no money (it is in fact costing them money to do the year), and will need lots of support and encouragement.

I know that these two will have a massive impact on the church as they are both hard working and full of the Holy Spirit. They both love Jesus and want to do all they can to grow in Him. Please pray for them and maybe even consider supporting them financially in this coming year as they embark on their newest adventure in God.

Also let this be a timely reminder to us all that we are all on an adventure. Ours may not be volunteering for the church for a year, but it may be starting a new job, a new hobby or maybe starting a family or seeing the last of the children leave home. Things in life are always changing and we can embrace these changes with the knowledge that God is in control and although the adventure maybe harder than we thought, we can count on the fact that He is there for us. Alternatively we can shy away from the changes, reject them and stay in the status quo. Who ever grows in the staus quo? What adventure are you embarking on in this coming term?

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Lifegroups together

Last night B and I gathered the Whitley lifegroups together for a big joint lifegroup at the church offices. It was really good to see the groups well represented, although it is still Summer so it wasn't as big as it usually would be.

As an icebreaker, we played a game trying to guess what the 10 most searched verses are on Unsurprisingly John 3:16 was top! This proved to be more fun than it may sound, with people bringing up all sorts of obscure verses with different rationales for their choices.

During the worship time there were specific words for individuals and there were pictures and bible readings that really spoke to people. As we prayed for each other in response to these things you could really sense the presence of the Spirit. It was great to be part of it.

Tom and Nicola then divided the group in two and lead us in the word - which they did with skill and obviously lots of preparation. Finally we caught up about the fun day and had some feedback from Chris who had been on the organising group and we also prayed that we would be those who invite our friends on Alpha.

The evening was a great success and I enjoyed it immensely. It was refreshing to meet with people you wouldn't usually meet with and to worship Jesus in a bigger group of people outside of Sunday morning. As I looked around the room last night, the nations were represented, we had people from different age groups and people who ranged from being currently unemployed in the workplace, to being mums, to being IT people. A diverse group of people drawn together by one man, Jesus.

Me thinks we shall plan another evening like this at some point in the not too distant future.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Saddened and disappointed

As a West Ham fan of many years I am saddened and disappointed by the events that transpired outside and inside the ground last night. To see the people running onto the pitch was sheer lunacy, middle aged guys as well as teenagers just letting emotion run wild and not thinking about the consequences After all the trouble and negative press West Ham United has had to deal with through the Tevez affair, the banking collapse in Iceland and the constant rumours of us having to sell our best players to balance the books - what were these so called fans of this great East London club thinking of?

In what world does hooliganism on any scale seem right? That world is the world we live in. Somehow the bitter rivalry between the two teams 'firms' was such that they didn't spare a thought for the actual reason that the two sets of fans would be at the ground - a football match. These guys were not interested in football and cannot call themselves followers of football. You are not a more passionate supporter if you fight with the oppositions supporters or invade the pitch - why, because you bring the club into disrepute. You show no affection to the club whatsoever.

Hooliganism is selfish and shows one of the ugliest sides of our sinful nature. The sheer tribalism that these men would more than likely have shouted off about when the Kenyan elections went so disastrously wrong, is exactly what they are involved in. Only this could be deemed as even more mindless as they were just rioting for rioting sake, not to try to seize power or demand that things are done fairly.

Men ranging from early teems to mid fifties, becoming like our barbarian ancestors all in the name of a sport that condemns it. Actually our country has not only condemned it, but has also become the world leader in tackling it. My guess would be that most of those involved in last nights trouble would have been those who had previously be banned from grounds for many years, rearing up only because it is Millwall against West Ham.

As you can see this has struck a nerve with me. I hate the fact that football hooliganism happens at all, but when it happens at my club, it frustrates me. Two young lads who have been brought through the academy at West Ham played their hearts out last night and scored the goals that saw the team through to the next round of the cup. That will not be remembered. A great last breath comeback which wold have been hailed as a great achievement in different circumstances, will not be reported on. Only the actions of these mindless few who heap slander on all football fans. I pray that we will not see scenes like these again and pray that justice will be served.

Christs light is the only thing that will serve to transform the lives of men who are otherwise determined to damage each other all in the name of football, but actually it's in the name of violence and hatred. The rage shown last night makes me resolve in my heart all the more to stay hidden in Christ and endeavour to constantly choose to put off my old self and clothe myself in the Spirit of God and the Gospel of peace.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Photo Competition

As a church we have partnered with the Reading Chronicle to find talented photographers in Reading. The competition is to get interesting pictures of Reading whether black and white or colour, that offer an 'interesting' perspective of our town. You can find out more information at:

or on our church website:

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Good news...

I never did finish blogging on my Lithuanian adventure and that now seems such a long time ago. On reflection it was an outstanding three days with a man whom I respect and admire, but more than that, a weekend where I saw afresh the vast reach of the global church of which i am part. To go to a place that geographically I couldn't put a pin, and to be welcomed so warmly, helped me to see beyond the end of my nose. I am definitely one who focuses on the things that are immediate!!!

Since, B and I spent the week at a youth camp, joining with Newfrontiers churches around the country. We saw young people inspired by hearing about their God and seeing him at work, as well as going out and helping local churches in their communities. As a church we took 12-16 year olds with us and saw three of those respond to the invitation to follow Jesus. We also saw three of them healed of varying ailments. What a joy it is to see 350+ youth respond to the gospel, especially knowing that 3 of them are people you can share the moment with.

However God is not constrained to do things just at big meetings. Even yesterday, Darren, a new friend of mine from the last Alpha course came in to the office and committed his life to Jesus. He rang the bell with the understanding that his God was rejoicing at his turning to follow Jesus.

It may be the Great British getaway time of year, but God is not on holiday and He is still revealing his love and grace to people in Reading and He has a people here ready to respond in leading those he has chosen into a new life, birthed by the Spirit, lived for Jesus, to bring glory to the Father.