Friday, 30 July 2010

Terry Virgo on "Apostolic" versus "Missional"

A really helpful 11 minute clip on Terry's view on the role of the apostle both in the NT and today ...

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Heirs with Jesus

On Sunday we continued in our series entitled 'Sin, Law & Life'. We are currently on the Life part and for those who missed my sermon here is the outline for Romans 8v12-17.

Our obligation (v12-14) - Christians are no longer “obliged” to render obedience to their sinful nature, even though at times we can feel it’s influence. In fact, Paul strongly warns his readers that they will be damned if they continue to live according to their sinful nature! This warning must be balanced with Romans 8 teaching that truly regenerate believer, while often committing sin, will be infallibly prevented from living a sinful lifestyle by the Spirit within. The Christian is to put to death the misdeed of the body; we are responsible to kill off our sinful deeds. Holy Living is achieved by our constantly living out the life placed within us by the Holy Spirit. Our ‘self mortification’ is necessary but never apart from, or distinct to, the activity of the Holy Spirit within us.

Our adoption (v15- 16) - Paul argues that one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is that He makes the objective fact of our adoption a subjective reality in our experience (Eph1v4). There can be a tendency in those who don’t know the Spirit in his fullness to live as slaves rather than as sons. We have received the Spirit of God’s Son, and He evokes in us the cry of ‘Abba, Father’ (Gal 4:6). When we cry out by the Spirit ‘Abba Father’ our relationship to God the Father is like (but not exactly like) Jesus’ relationship to God the Father. We are God’s children, the Holy Spirit works in us so we have inward assurance of God’s love and His fatherhood.

His heirs (v17) Adopted children are heirs of a future inheritance, a future blessing. Christians are “heirs of God” not meaning that we inherit God himself, but that we inherit what God has promised to his people. Because we are one with Christ, we are his fellow heirs, assured of being “glorified with him”. But at the same time, this “oneness” means we will follow Christ’s own road to glory “suffering with him” as Philippians 1v29 reminds us. Suffering for being a Christian is, according to Paul, the condition of our receiving our inheritance;

In Conclusion - The Holy Spirit dwelling within obliges us to live His way (v12) and He enables us to put to death the misdeeds of our body (v13). He leads us as God’s children (v14) and bears witness to our spirit that we are what we are (v16). He himself is also the foretaste of the inheritance in glory (v17). It is His indwelling which makes a fundamental difference between our old way of life and living out Romans 8.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Mayor of Reading at our Carol Service

The Mayor of Reading confirmed today his attendance at our Christmas Carol Service on Sunday 5 December at 5:30pm. We plan to take up an offering for the Duchess of Kent House, the specialist palliative care unit where Karena died earlier this year. The Mayor's late wife also spent her last days there, so he was keen to support our event.

We have booked the Concert Hall which is the largest space in Reading's Town Hall. It seats 700, so we will have lots of seats to invite our friends to!

I realize most of us haven't yet had our summer holiday and so not even thinking about Christmas, but please put this date in the diary, Reading's mayor already has.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

cycling round the Isle of Wight

Today James, Craig and me drove down to Southampton and caught the ferry to Cowes in order to cycle round the island. It's 64 miles and if I had to sum it up in one word it would be 'hilly'. It took about 4 1/2 hours including a short stop to buy Mars bars & more water.
James (the young pup) gave a master class in hill climbing to us 'old dogs' - it was annoying but I was too focused on trying to breathe and turn the crank to be able express any disapproval.

I did manage to clip Craigs back wheel and do a spectacular dismount / forward roll at speed -I appear to bounce well even at my age. The hill at Chale was brutal as was the one at Freshwater.

We followed the well signposted circular route which took us down quiet roads and took all the pressure off navigation. Sadly that meant James was able to focus on driving us hard - I can't remember any scenery, just the hills, descents and working hard on my gear selection.

A really great day out, an adventure and sense of achievement. Our next event is the olympic distance Triathlon here in Reading in September. Come on!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Thoughts on South Street

Its been almost 6 months since we started our evening meeting in the town centre. Last night, 48 people gathered at South Street Arts Centre and about 20 of us went to the pub afterwards.
I have been giving our evening meeting a lot of thought recently and here are some of my conclusions.
  • We are now gathering new people, both from the surrounding area and those who can't make a morning meeting. We hoped to open a new door into the town and that IS happening.
  • The meeting is taking on its own identity - new people, a different location, and a funky venue is creating a new expression of RFC.
  • It is genuinely exciting - it has the feel of something 'small yet at the beginning'.
  • We have two key prophetic words: 'it already has momentum' and 'God is building with many different shape stones'. Last night we had another significant contribution 'take heart for God has many people in this city.'
  • It is very hard work yet there is a real buzz about it.
Our immediate challenge is to get through July & August whilst building community and serving teams from within the evening congregation. Our longer term goal is that no morning RFCers be required to make the evening happen (except the preacher and maybe a worship leader).

Please do continue to pray for this faith venture, it has been a strong start but we've yet to see anyone saved nor is there yet a lifegroup with just South Street attenders in it.

Friday, 16 July 2010

New 'Students at RFC' Welcome Video

Joe's last media project on FP is without a doubt his best video yet...

Reading Family Church Students 2010 from Reading Family Church on Vimeo

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Who is "I"?

Ben Davies won't now be with us this Sunday, so I will be continuing our series entitled 'Sin, Law & Life'. We shall be starting Romans 8, so to remind us where Romans 7 got us to, I have outlined my last sermon below.

Read Romans 7v7-13
Paul vindicates the Law - Paul has painted such a bleak picture of the Law that he anticipates that he readers will question the integrity and usefulness of the Law. Paul now demonstrates the usefulness and purity of the Law:
#1 The Law defines sin v7 - We didn’t know what Sin was until the Law was added to show it. The Law provided an objective standard in which to evaluate our own actions (Rom 3v20).
#2 The Law provokes sin v8 - Man in his rebellion is provoked by the Law, the Law became an avenue in which sin entered.
#3 The Law is good v12 – The Law reveals our sinfulness; it reveals God’s very best for us; and it leads us to Christ (Gal 3v24).

Read Romans 7v14-25
Handing difficult texts - Romans 7v14-25 and V19 in particular is amongst the most controversial in the book of Romans. The key question people wrestle with is “Who is Paul referring to when to? A Christian (a regenerate person) or an unbeliever (an unregenerate person)?” Wise, godly, pastor/theologians disagree over who they think Paul is describing. Whatever your view is of whose experience Paul is describing, it must stand alongside other bible passages describing the Christian’s life. To help us draw our own conclusions, I outlined some of the most important arguments for each position.

Some argue that these verses speak of an unregenerate person because:
1. The use of the term sinful nature v14, 18 & 25 suggest Paul is talking about being unregenerate – before God awakened us.
2. Throughout the passage this person struggles on their own, without the aid of the Holy Spirit.
3. This person is ‘sold as a slave to sin’ a state from which every believer is released. (6v2)
4. This person is defeated by sin but Paul’s theology is always more positive than that when writing about Christians.
5. This person struggles with the need to obey the Law, yet Paul has already proclaimed release of the believer from the requirements of the Law.
6. For those who find these arguments decisive, this passage describe the struggle of a person who is outside of Christ and trying ‘to do good’ (which is doomed to failure because it is fought without the power of God, who alone is able to break the power of Sin).

Others, however, say these verses speak of a regenerate person because:
1. Paul refers to himself and the shift from the past tense to the present tense explain his present experience as a Christian
2. Only the regenerate truly ‘delight in God’s law’ and seek to obey it. – the unregenerate do not seek after God (3v11).
3. The person must be a Christian because only they possess an ‘inner being’ (Eph 3v16).
4. The passage concludes after Paul’s mention of the deliverance by God in Christ – this shows the inner struggle of a person already saved by God in Christ.
5. For those who find these arguments decisive, they describe an important aspect of normal Christian experience: The continuing battle with sin that will never be fully won as long as the believer is in this age.

For what it is worth, I think Paul is talking about his struggle as a Christian. As I understand it, Romans 6 makes clear that we will win the war against sin (v6:14). Chapter 7 makes clear that we will know some tactical defeats in this battle that will make us love our Saviour Jesus all the more. It's the earnestness of the war and the response to our defeats that show our Christianity, not our perfection.

How Does This Affect My Life?
Remember the promise of Justification - We are justified by faith apart from works of the law (Rom 3:28) and trust in him who justifies the ungodly (Rom 4:5). Jesus is our righteousness (Rom 10:4).

Remember the promise of Sanctification – We are sanctified by faith (Acts 26v18). A life of fruitfulness for the glory of God does not come first and decisively through law-keeping, but through personal union and satisfying fellowship with Christ by faith.

Remember there is a difference - John Piper said "There is a world of difference between a soldier who experiences tactical defeats, but keeps fighting on his way to victory and a soldier who surrenders to the enemy because war is just too painful and the enemy territory just too attractive. There is a difference between the divided man of Romans 7 and a sellout. Don't sell out. Trust Christ and fight sin".

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

"Thousands flock to churches funday"

A great article in local paper on the funday and they produced a short video (below) and posted it on their website!

'The people of Whitley were out in their thousands on Saturday enjoying all kinds of fun in the sun. Churches from across the Whitley area raised more than £4,000 to put on the South Reading Churches Fun Day so that families from the area could enjoy a free day out.
full story here

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

10 top tips for training Children to manage money

Liz sent me an article as 'a good reminder for us' on how we can better train our lovely children to wisely handle money. I love Tip #3:

3. Take a field trip to a junkyard. How can we teach our children the emptiness of materialism in a memorable way? Take them to a garage sale and show them how things that people spent great amounts of money on are now sold for pennies.

To read the full article click here it will only take 5 minutes but is full of great pratical wisdom!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Jam side up

Occasionally, life can drop out very nicely indeed. Here is a view from the bath in hotel at Brighton. I cheekily asked for a room with a view and they gave me one!

That aside, I am really enjoying being here with others from RFC as well as 1000's of others from newfrontiers churches across the nations.

Terry Virgo is preaching on Ephesians 6 - he is superb. My seminar track is entitled 'tracking theological trajectories' and is a review of three significant contemporary christian books.

It is so good to be part of something that is much bigger than RFC and still feel a key part in what is going on.

I will try to capture some of my thoughts and feedback on Sunday during my sermon.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

14 years together

So much has happened since Liz said "I do" at the Kerith Centre in Bracknell 14 years ago.

God has given us three children (who spent most of breakfast this morning laughing at our funny stories) and I've left working in the world of IT. He has set us in a wonderful spiritual family in Reading (RFC, we love you guys). Our heavenly Father has blessed us richly with friends, a lovely home, and a compelling vision for our lives together.

Today is about our love for each other and the goodness of our saviour. Without him at work in our marriage, I suspect we wouldn't make it. But He is. And so with great confidence we prayed as family over the breakfast table for another 40 years together!

And yes, she is still a fox!