Friday, 28 November 2008

Ben Davies @ RFC

In September 1992 I went to church at the Kerith Centre in Bracknell and walked into the life of Ben Davies. He was passionate for Jesus. His honesty was scary. And he immediately loved me.

There began our 16 year friendship.

I have travelled with him, was married by him, been rebuked by him (more times than I want to remember!). But most importantly, I have grown in my love for Jesus because of him.

I think everyone needs to spend some time with him. Ben is preaching with us this Sunday morning. And if you ask me nicely, you can come back to our house for lunch and meet him personally.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Highlights from elders & wives weekend

  • Time with Liz without the children.
  • Getting lost in Milton Keynes with Pete Cornford navigating.
  • Meeting with God in the worship times.
  • Saturday night's meal with old friends round the table.
  • Ikea on Saturday afternoon (Liz's chosen activity).
  • Running with Tony Thompson (he's a sub 3 hour marathon boy).
  • Seeing a warehouse being used as a church building.
  • Steve Tibbert teaching on 'rest' and Stef Liston on Joshua 1.
  • Richard Walker texting me at 8:30am Sunday morning about RFC ... hmmm
  • Liz's dad driving Joshua to football all the way from Oxford (and Joshua scored!)
  • Meeting so many dear friends and hearing their news and sharing ours.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Driscoll on spiritual warfare

I watched this whilst doing the ironing this afternoon, it's 62 minutes and hugely practical:

Friday, 21 November 2008


A few nights ago I re-watched Casino Royale (CR) ... having recently seen Quantum of Solace (QoS).

In CR, M implies Vesper Lynd loved Bond because she agreed to deliver the money in exchange for Bond's life. (Just thinking about the 'chair with no seat scene' still make me shudder). In QoS it seems as though Vesper was also being played by her old boyfriend (who gave the necklace).

So here is my question: In CR, what control did her old boyfriend have over her? Was he working for Quantum? Why did she drown herself and not let Bond save her?

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Lead elders & wives weekend

This weekend Liz and I are off to Milton Keynes to join other lead couples from newfrontiers churches in the UK.

We had always thought of this weekend as 'the last fuel station' before we headed off to Amsterdam in December. All that has now changed and we are going on a very different footing.

Part of the weekend will involve telling friends our story, which in turn will help me process how I feel about the past 9 months (the fullness of which will only come out over time). Right now we are both still very comfortable with our decision to stay in Reading.

Quite how we try to condense our news to 30 seconds whilst talking to people in coffee queues remains to be seen!

Back in Reading, Scott & Barbie have the weekend off and Sitho is preaching on 'living with change' ... one sermon I WILL be down loading next week!

Friday, 14 November 2008

Ortberg on leadership

I was reading some articles on leadership last night and thought I would post the most helpful insight:

"One of the things I believe deeply is this: Leaders ought to be the most self aware people in the room.

I'm talking about the kind of self awareness that makes you comfortable in your own skin. You know who you are and who your aren't. You lean into and lead out of your strengths. You have words for your brokenness, and while you may wish you had none, you know you do and you know what they are. And you know that other people know. You wouldn't have it any other way." - Nancy Ortberg

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Keep the faith engines revving hard

One of the things I am becoming aware of is the challenge of keeping my faith engines revving hard.

We had planned to move our family to a new country, put our children in Dutch schools, and start a new church. We were planning on leaving our identity as a lead couple in a growing church. We were planning to leave the financial security of an established church. We were planning to leave the emotional support of established friendship networks.

All that forces you to pray hard and fuel your faith engines - ours were revving hard.

The challenge now comes to keep these engines revving as hard but in familiar surroundings. We need faith to stay and build. Faith is required to see RFC growing through 200 and meeting in a new Sunday venue.

Faith is required to see the church planted in Amsterdam and us not having regrets. Liz and I need to keep our faith engines revving hard.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Amsterdam Day postponed

The last 9 months have been an unforgettable journey. In April of this year, in light of Romans 12v1, Liz and I decided to move our family to Amsterdam to plant an international church. We put our house on the market, accepted an offer, made plans to move this December and transition out of leading Reading Family Church.

Yet through all this I found I had an underlying heaviness of heart. However, my head was clear on the subject (after all it is a very reasonable thing to do) so I resolved to keep moving forward expecting my heart to catch up. Yet the lack of connection between my head & heart troubled me.

In October we were asked to delay our move to allow further time to build the core planting team. This delay was unwelcome but it did further expose how my heart felt. I chatted these feelings through with David Stroud who gave me good advice on how to further explore them.

By then I was interacting with potential church plant team members and was finding it hard to encourage others to come (given my own lack of consistent joy in going). This reached a climax this week with the onset of the Amsterdam Day Sunday 16th.

I have discovered I don’t feel a unique, robust calling that gives joy, that I can lean into. After talking all this through with trusted friends, Liz and I concluded that we should call it a day. I have chatted this through with David and he graciously released us from leading the church plant.

So we will not be moving to Amsterdam. I will continue to be involved in the plant with Tony Thompson, we still plan to go there in 10 days time. Tony will take the lead on the plant, supported by myself. We intend to keep the face book group active and the website running (although it will need editing!).

In it all Liz and I are disappointed but at peace. We met some good people, Gerke and Maxine in particular, and had great fun meeting the Dutch churches. We feel we ran at it with all our might but I can’t manufacture a head & heart connection.

I will contact each person who has registered for the Amsterdam Day to ensure they don’t travel to Reading next Sunday. Tony plans to reschedule the day when things are clearer.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Fog & Hybels

This morning I got up at 3:30am to drive to Luton airport in order to sit in a steel tube from 6am to 9:30am whilst being firmly rooted to the ground...

Apparently fog in Amsterdam shut Schiphol airport down, so our flight got badly delayed. By half past nine we had the option to get off the plane and Tony & I headed back to his house to finish our planning meeting. We have booked to go again in two weeks time, fog permitting.

Tomorrow, Scott and I are heading off to a London to spend a day with Bill Hybels. I attended a similar event last year with approx 50 other leaders - it was a magnificent. The event tomorrow is the same format; Bill gives a 5 minute introduction and then opens the floor to questions.

It's a day with a leadership giant.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Amsterdam with Tony T

Tomorrow Tony Thompson and me are off to walk / bike / tram the streets of Amsterdam for a day. I don't know the city that well but I've got a map and "in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king".

I am hoping we meet up with Daniel who is from a Newfrontiers church in Mexico and is currently working with YWAM, based in the 'Jesus loves you' building by central station. It would be great to hear his views on the Christian scene there.

A key part of the day is to agree a strategy for the church plant - it will be helpful to sit in a cafe (NOT a coffee shop!), having spent time in the city, and flesh out some details. That's the part that is exciting and scary ... but facts & details are my faithful friends!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Wassenaar, Berkel & Amsterdam

Wassenaar - we stayed in a mobile home on a theme park with a huge indoor water complex (Never stay in a mobile home in Autumn half term - it was freezing). When it comes to rides, it seems our Dutch friends have a different concept of 'safety' and they clearly assume people have common sense. This results in rides that are self regulating, fast, and worrying easy to get hurt unless you sit very, very, still. The water slides were no better, insanely (and irresponsibly) steep - one ended with a 3m drop into a pool. Some were so fast that I couldn't face repeating the experience!

Berkel - we visited the newfrontiers church on the Sunday and met up with family Geurts. It was fun to worship with Dutch songs and listen to a sermon via translation headphones. Afterwards we went to Gerke's parents house for a typical Dutch lunch. There was a shocking disregard to well established traditions of savoury food followed by sweet food. It seems they are happy to mix it all up throughout the meal - which Gerke again demonstrated a few days later in a pancake house. Shocking.

Amsterdam - We visited a school that has offered to take our children and we were shown around and 'sat in' on various classes. Our children bravely attempted to understand what was being taught in Dutch whilst also trying to pick out potential friends. Half the class were non white, non of them spoke English. It was in an urban setting over 4 floors - not the leafy, low buildings and playing fields of suburban Reading.

It was a good time in Wassenaar, Berkel & Amsterdam. We have some more good Dutch memories and a clearer picture of our future lives there. My back is still sore from those rides but that is all part of carrying my cross for Jesus!