Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Church office update

Last Friday Scott and I met with LatinLink regarding the lease for our offices, the outcome being a verbal agreement to renew the lease for a further 3 years.
Given our vision for Reading the location is superb, as is our relationship with LatinLink. We not only use our leased space but also use their top floor during the week for our language school and on Friday night for Youth Group.

We use our meeting room for mum & toddlers, prayer meetings, training and lunches, as do other churches & organisations. We regularly have people who don't yet know Jesus in our offices - be that a Foster Carers Support Group or the Czech play group.

Our ministry base for the next few years has been agreed, now we need to find a new home for our Sunday mornings!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Arbitrary & meaningless, yet smiling

Yesterday, I finally admitted to God I really wanted to do well in the Reading Half marathon (i.e. to finish as close to 1:35 as possible).

I did feel pretty silly admitting to Him that it had become so important to me, especially as my target time was arbitrary and meaningless. Anyways, I told God I would worship Him whatever the outcome.

The good news is my 'chip' time was 1:34:39. I ran with my buddy Kirk all the way until his speed burst over the last 300m gained him 8 seconds! Amazingly my Achilles held out, as did my heart rate which was over 180bpm for half of the race!

Joshua also did really well in his race - he came in 36th out of 942 who finished the 2.8km course!

So I have a limp, a medal and a smile. God is good and clearly has a sense of humour.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

medals

So today was the last race of the Schools Cross Country season and Joshua & Lucy were both representing their school.

It was a 4 x 1.2km relay race with Lucy in the year 3/4 girls team and Joshua in the year 5/6 boys team.

Lucy's team won today and were also first overall in the race season - so she took home her first two cross country medals! Hooray!!!


Joshua's team came in second today and were second overall, so he also got to add to his ever growing collection.


Why am I blogging on this? Because I am their proud dad ... and I have never 'won' a medal in my life!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Tea & Hobnobs & Grapes

Last night I sat in on our church membership evening, which in essence focuses on relationships & dealing with conflict.

It was quite a diverse group: Melita & Tolu are from Kenya & Nigeria respectively, Robert is from Lithuania, Andrew is from Egypt and is married to Jenny, Peter is from the Isle of Wight and Mike & Carol seemed to have lived in quite a few places!

Yet we all sat together drinking tea, munching chocolate hobnobs & grapes with a sense of being joined together in Christ through a local church.

Of course I had hoped we would be a multicultural church - but I never dreamt it would mean the blind, the deaf and the able bodied gathering together as well.


Oh, and the camera on my BlackBerry is rubbish.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

A racing hiccup

On Wednesday I ran a fast 4 miles which felt really good at the time but sadly has left me with a very sore achilles tendon. I have been limping since then and feeling very frustrated.

I hope it will clear up by next Sunday for the Reading Half Marathon but don't expect to be able run until then. Hmmm

It does make me realise how keyed up I am to race, the thought of not be able to give next Sunday my best shot is annoying.

Fitness is fickle. It's just as well I have a few other interests...

Friday, 20 March 2009

We commend ourselves in every way

  • In great endurance;
  • In troubles, hardships and distresses;
  • In hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;
  • In purity, understanding, patience and kindness;
  • In the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;
  • In truthful speech and in the power of God;
  • Through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report;
  • Genuine, yet regarded as impostors;
  • Known, yet regarded as unknown;
  • Dying, and yet we live on;
  • Beaten, and yet not killed;
  • Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;
  • Poor, yet making many rich;
  • Having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

The glory of God in the face of Christ

This morning my Bible in a year readings covered Exodus 16 & 2Cor 4.

In Ex16, the Israelites were grumbling and so God graciously promises bread & meat. As they gather to hear this news, the whole Israelites community looked towards the desert and saw the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.

2 Cor4:6 says that "God who said 'Let light shine in darkness' made his light shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ".

God has done a new work of creation by shining the light of the gospel into our hearts. God has given us illumination, to see who Jesus is. We don't look to a cloud, rather we see the glory of God in Jesus.

We get to look into the face of Jesus with confidence and see his beauty and majesty and glory. I do like looking at clouds, but I much prefer to gaze at the one who sustains them.

Monday, 16 March 2009

A racing dilemma

2 weeks to go until the Reading 1/2 and my running has been going well, yesterday I ran 14 miles very comfortably. I received my race pack today and it turns out there will be a pace runner for my target time of 1hr 35mins.

Meanwhile, my training buddy Kirk is also doing well, he did 16 miles on Friday and is looking really strong.

Here is my dilemma .... do I stick with the pace runner and go for a solid 1:35 or do I run with Kirk and perhaps get an even better time?

This may seem trivial but race plans are important! I sense this dilemma reveals more about my psychology than it does about race strategy, even so I do need to decide!

Decisions, decisions ...

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Giving

We finished the 'Jesus, Money & Me' series today with a few quotes:

"If a person gets his attitude towards money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in his life" - Billy Graham.

"The worlds asks, what does a man own?" Christ asks, 'How does he use it?'" - Andrew Murray.

"Money never stays with me. It would burn me if it did. I throw it out of my hands as soon as possible, lest it should find its way into my heart" - John Wesley.

"I never would have been able to tithe the first million dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first salary, which was $1.50 per week" - John D Rockefeller.

"The Dead Sea is the dead sea because it continually receives and never gives." - anonymous

"We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give." - Winston Churchill.

"It is more blessed to give than receive." - Jesus

Friday, 13 March 2009

Elders & Deacons day away

Tommorrow, the elders & wives and the Deacon team are spending the day together. The primary aim to build some more memories by worshipping, talking, laughing (a lot) and eating.

We will spend some time looking at the challenges we are facing, but mostly we will worship, prophesy and enjoy being in the same place with no pressing responsibilities.

That said, it is the first time in 9 years that we have gathered as leaders and not had Craig & Karena with us. Karena now has a CT scan in the afternoon and is suffering the effects of chemo #3. We will all feel their absence.

So it should be a great day, and Liz & I will enjoy being in the presence of God with dear friends. It's great being on team with them.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

A blind journey

Carol and her husband Mike are both blind and use guide dogs. This morning, Carol and her dog 'Major' were learning how to navigate to the church offices.

It was all a huge education for me. Apparently, Carol has to remember the route, not Major. Carol asked me to send her a link to my blog so she could read it (I have no idea of how). She then asked for the photo I took so that she could show it to her friends. Finally, she then told me she puts the lights on at home because the dogs like it, and has a mirror for her friends when they come to visit.

I really had no idea of how blind people live.

So Carol, if you are reading this, I am really looking forward to getting to know you, Mike and the dogs, and I am thrilled your part of RFC!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Two books

for men only - Shaunti & Jeff Feldhahn.

Liz recently handed me this book whilst she read the companion book (for women only). On the cover, it promises to be a straightforward guide to the inner lives of women. It's short, has a pull out Quick Start Guide, is easy to read ... and it delivers on it's promise.

I was shocked at the simple insights ... and that Liz agreed with them. After 12 years of marriage I am still surprised at how differently women's / Liz's mind works to mine. A great read & tool to better love & understand your wife. And it is funny (for a man, women are like swamps - he often has no idea what he is stepping into!)


Money, Possessions and Eternity - Randy Alcorn

I have been working through this book over the last month as background reading for the 'Jesus, Money & Me' series. It is a provocative read and well worth the investment in time.

Chapter 20 'Battling materialism in the Christian family' and Chapter 21 'Teaching our children to deal with money and possessions' were both outstanding. If you can't read the whole book, and you have children, read those two chapters.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Thermometers

There are some things in life that you simply hate.

One of mine is 'The Fund Raising Thermometer'. For me it smacks of small, grubby, 'please give God a hand' thinking. It just does.

That said, you can imagine my angst when I was volunteered to swim and raise sponsorship for Marie Curie Cancer Care and the on-line tool has a 'cashometer thermometer'.

So here is the deal. For one time only, I am 'associated' with a fund raising thermometer.

If you would like to sponsor me as I swim 5km to raise money for cancer nurses, hospices & research, click here.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Debt

Debt seems to be part of our national identity ... almost all of us have debt of some kind (I have a mortgage). What our nation is grappling with is the levels of personal debt and the reasons behind it.

Debt is as old as the hills. Jesus talked about debt, particularly the joy of being being released from it (Lk 7 & Mt 18). Presumably debt was a common feature of life then also.

For Christians, debt often has its root in the following (although not all debt is avoidable):

  • We don’t trust God to provide for what we really need. We know what we want but we aren’t sure God thinks we need it! We don’t trust God to come through for what we want so we live beyond our means.

  • We don’t have the patience to wait for God provision for us, we don’t want to wait and learn the lessons that are born out of time.

  • We aren’t content with God’s provision for us. Faith in God’s provision, anchored in the reality of His love, and the truth that God has no favourites, should be a powerful source of contentment … but sadly often it isn’t.

  • Peer pressure. We get into debt because we succumb to the pressure that everyone else ‘has’ & ‘does stuff’ (funded by debt), so why shouldn’t we?

It can be helpful to think about debt in two ways. ‘Having debt’ means being be able to comfortably service your debt. ‘Being in debt' means being stretched or unable to service your debt.

I have listed a few sayings to help shape our thinking on debt:

  • If you have to have debt, ‘have debt’ but avoid 'being in debt’.
  • Debt is not sinful but you can be ‘in debt’ because of sin.
  • Avoid debt wherever possible.
  • Living within your means is boring but living ‘in debt’ can be fatal.
  • Life is uncertain therefore be prudent, ‘Stretch is Stress’.
  • ‘Having debt’ can quickly spiral to 'being in debt’.
  • We need very little but we want very much.
  • A student loan is a debt, not an income.

If you are ‘in debt’ Jesus does have compassion for you. Now is the time to ask for help. Reading Frontline and Christians Against Poverty can help you, as can our church community … but you need to ask for help.

In Luke 7:40-43, Jesus told a story about a money lender cancelling a debt to introduce Spiritual Debt. Simon the Pharisee understood having financial debt cancelled was good but he needed to understand the reality & the need for Spiritual Debt to be cancelled.

So when we hear about our nation's huge personal debt, if we follow Jesus' lead, it should turn our thoughts to our nation's individual need for spiritual debt to be wiped out. Faith in Jesus.