Saturday, 29 January 2011

'Training hard' or 'Hardly training'?

So this year I am following a training plan to help me achieve my goal of running the Reading Half in 90 minutes ... 3 minutes quicker than I have ever done it.

I am currently running 30 miles a week, eating loads, sleeping deep and nursing a 'sore everything'. This afternoon is scheduled to be a long run - 13 miles.

But why am I chasing a time?

I don't know. I like to push myself. I like being fit. I like achieving hard goals. I like running (most times anyway). And I like the afterglow of a 'good run'.

I'm not sure I really need to answer that question ... and if I hit 1:30 on the day I know nothing will really change.

But my smile will say that I went hard after something and got my desired outcome. Maybe that's enough in itself.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Baptisms this Sunday

This year we are going to try to do a few things differently, the first being having baptisms indoors! We have a few people who want to get baptised and thought we best get on rather than wait for better weather.
This coming Sunday afternoon 2:30-3:30 we will be having baptisms @ Brookside Church Building (RG6 7HG). If you would like to be baptised it’s not too late – please contact Scott via the office.

Everyone is welcome to join us in celebrating lives that have been transformed by Jesus.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

RFC Vision Sunday

On Sunday we gathered just under 300 people to worship Jesus, remember our history as a church and to get a sense of what He is uniquely calling us to.

I tried to sum up the next decade using the following statement; we're a 'work in progress' so please be part of the discussion on what our next steps should be:


“Becoming a large, Jesus-centred community; serving the town of Reading and beyond.”

Becoming – We are on a journey, we have not yet arrived; and so we choose to embrace change with faith.

A large – We believe our unique contribution to society is best served by us growing in the number and diversity of the people we gather.

Jesus-centred – We desire to grow in heartfelt worship of Jesus, aligning our lives to His teaching, whilst helping others to do the same.

Community – We dream of building a community of people who know, accept & care for each other; where no-one has to stand, suffer or celebrate alone.

Serving the town of Reading – We want to play our part in meeting the needs of our town; helping create footprints of justice, mercy and hope.

And beyond – To be those who joyfully share our time, talents & treasures to further God’s kingdom beyond our horizon.

I spoke to Nigel at lunchtime, he says 'hello' and that he REALLY likes cheese sandwiches. Our hope is that one day we will be able to offer the vulnerable in Reading more than a cheese sandwich.

Friday, 21 January 2011

This is Nigel

He grew up in Reading and is now homeless. He likes cheese sandwiches and 3 sugars in his tea.
On Sunday I shall be talking about our vision here at RFC. We can do more for our town than simply buying cups of tea.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

RFC unplugged - Sat 19 Feb

An acoustic night to help build our community ... e-invite will be sent out later this week so you can invite your friends.

3 Days of Prayer

Tonight we are gathering at the church offices at 8pm to worship and seek Gods presence and will for this term. As pastors we have dialed down our lists of prayer requests to make room for the Spirit to come and do His work amongst us.

Tomorrow night at 8pm (Thursday) we are calling all the members and regulars to join us as we talk and pray through RFC finances / other church wide conversations.

On Friday we are gathering on the top floor of the church offices from 8-12midnight to worship and pray through the prophetic words that Julian had for RFC. No doubt we will also follow other routes for prayer as the evening progresses.

Let's be seeking God in prayer as we begin this term - hope to see you there.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Thoughts on Sunday with Julian Adams

At times I have been concerned that our Sunday meetings at RFC are lively but not very charismatic. Well, last Sunday was CHARISMATIC-tastic.
Julian's accuracy in word's of knowledge & prophecies were genuinely amazing. I kept asking myself, "How did he know that?".

At the evening meeting we invited the Holy Spirit to come, and He came! A visitor who is not yet a Christian said "All I can say is, God must be here". I got an email today that said
"It was an incredible Spirit filled Sunday". That captures the day well.

So what now?

Firstly, I want to say that I think Julian has both a remarkable gift and calling from God to revive an expectation of the supernatural amongst God's people. He clearly worships Jesus, loves the Father and walks with the Holy Spirit. He has a love for the Bible and is rooted in a local church. And we had a really great time with him over lunch, lots of laughter !

Secondly, Julian is a great guy but is not inerrant (He is not God, He is not speaking Scripture, he is a finite man who will make mistakes). When he prophesies he prophesies in part (1Cor13v9) and so we must test everything he says (1Thess 5v21).

Thirdly, prophecy is meant to strengthen, comfort and encourage us (1Cor 14v3). I sense that this was happening on Sunday morning and is one of the ways that we test the prophetic.

Fourthly, we should not treat prophecy with contempt (1Thess 5v20) and so if you did receive a personal prophecy on Sunday then please do prayer about it and talk it through with a trusted friend / Lifegroup leader. We hope to have each of Julian's prophetic words cut down to an mp3 file sometime this week - contact the office for yours.

Fifthly, treasure the prophetic and then do the next normal thing. Don't quit your job, book into bible school or assume you know the ways and timing of God. He is well able to direct and lead you. If He loves you enough to give you a prophetic word in a meeting, He is well able to get your attention / keep you on track. Just keep doing the next thing and trust God.

Lastly, lets cultivate an expectation of living supernatural, Holy Spirit filled lives. Let's be lively AND Charismatic. Our love for God's Word and the oversight of newfrontiers will guard us. So let's build on this weekend and expect more of the Holy Spirit's activity (and messyness) in our lives & meetings.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Zooloretto

Tonight is 'Family night' and we plan to play Zooloretto. Essentially you get to build your own zoo, collecting different animals whilst ensuring you don't have too many left in your barn at the end.

It has a very differently feel from 'Settlers of Catan' which has been a firm 'Family Night' favourite.

I like Zooloretta because it's simple, yet you can play strategic; it's quick (45 minutes); and Zoe (6 years old) can whoop us without too much help!

Tonight my strategy is to go for chimps, elephants, zebras and camels, with a vending stall at each enclosure ... not that I play to win.

Latest news - Liz won :0(


Friday, 14 January 2011

My notes from Julian Adams

Julian led a session at our newfrontiers regional meeting yesterday. He is also speaking at a conference tomorrow (Details here) and with us on Sunday morning. Here's my notes from yesterday ...

Julian Adams - 13 January 2011
There is an increase in people being saved and healed we need to get excited about what God is doing – it reflects a faith filled, grateful heart. We need to create a culture of supernatural church life, a raising of the bar in the area of the supernatural. Grab hold of the reality of God's kingdom with greater fervour. We need to contend for joy in ministry.

Mark 6:1-6 Jesus could do no significant healings because of their lack of faith – how many of us have settled for few healings? Quote “Jesus healed as a man submitted to the Holy Spirit”??!! Leaders should be setting the culture of the church, not 'the prevailing culture of the people' setting church culture. It is possible to miss what God wants to do even though He is sovereign.

Unbelievers often have no problem with God doing the supernatural amongst us.

The kingdom of God covers both social action and Him coming in power. We must demonstrate that which the kingdom of God demands … power and good works.

The tension comes in pastoral care and expectations. Pastors feel this heaviest but must lead into the power of God – this is a tension we must live with. We tend to lean into the ‘but not yet fully’ more than ‘the kingdom of God is here’!

Reformed churches like ours are committed to the bible and apostolic ministry. Apostolic ministry comes with power, not just as ‘one he is sent’. A Roman Empire ‘apostle’ would come and change the culture of a place to be more like Rome – Jesus came and borrowed that phrase. The Apostolic came to change culture to Kingdom culture, which will bring the supernatural. God is in a good mood, He is good and want to be good to us. The enemy wants to distort our view of God. The early church fathers blamed sickness on enemy – we tend to blame God.

We are afraid of over promising in case God doesn't deliver, so we under-call it. This must be changed in my thinking and at RFC. We have a true ‘prosperity gospel’, in that we receive ‘the shalom’ of God. We must have a clear theology of the goodness of God. God is good to us.

We need to radical commitment of the manifest presence of God. We believe in His Omni-Presence and His indwelling. But we also need to have a clear understanding of the manifest presence of God. We need to be wary of 'working the formulas' rather than 'waiting for the moment'. We must create a culture of waiting for the manifest presence of God, We have confused emotionalism with extravagant worship; extravagant worship draws people into an encounter with God.

We need clear teaching of the Father's love – to move on from the God who judges us and on to enjoy the Father adopting us. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we know who we are, to 'be' more. Toronto was about receiving something of the fathers love – not just equipping us for mission. I am my Father's and the Father is mine.

My ministry is based on my Sonship not performance. We need to grow up and be children. We need to enjoy the Father. Jesus ministry was not one of revealing sin but revealing the Father. We all need to know the Father and reveal the Father. We need to walk with the Father’s love and compassion. We need to know that God heals because He loves, not simply because He can.

Faith thrives in a culture of expectation. We need to preach expectation and then faith is built and comes. So share stories, be authentic about your lack of faith and fear about stepping out. In the UK we celebrate failure, in church life to. We judge people only on their successes or failures rather than on their Sonship. We can be afraid to step out because of failure and performance. We need to be able to say we are scared or have failed. Let’s celebrate success, and failures. We are on an escalator of grace so that even if we fall, we are still rising.

Honour. Mighty works are tied to honouring one another, glory and honour are connected. We are to think of the best of each other, not the worst. Honour the gift and the brother/sister, we don't need to honour the packaging. We need to be drinking from other streams.

Worship and know the Holy Spirit – He is experiential.

Jesus didn't command us to build the church rather to make disciples of the nations.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Biblical Thinking Forum 2011

RFC's Biblical Thinking Forums are held on the 3rd Monday of every month at the church offices from 7:30pm-9:30pm, the first being Mon 17 Jan.

Each forum will be a mixture of presented material/group discussion and an 'Ask Anything Q&A' discussion time. Please e-mail Richard Walker who hosts the evening if you intend to come. All are welcome ... no previous knowledge or Bible reading necessary.

January 'In the beginning' - Pointers for journeying through the Old Testament

February 'Gardener’s Gospel' - How Genesis 1-3 set the rhythm & pattern for the rest of history.

March 'God’s Theatre' - How God used the appointed places of worship (Tabernacle and Temple) to prophetically enact His Gospel.

April 'The Word In Season' - How God wove the seasons of the earth and the celebrations of his people together to prophetically enact His Gospel.

May 'The Wheat and the Weeds' - How the relationship between Saul and David, epitomises the relationship between God’s family and Satan’s family through the ages.

June 'Christ is #1' - How the Music and Poetry of the OT declare the Gospel.

July 'Loving the Adulterous Wife' - How God wooed His faithless people through Prophets.

August No Meeting

September 'The Berean Ultimatum' - On using the OT as the lens through which to read the New.

October 'Behold your God' - Five ways in which Christ fulfils all OT expectation.

November 'Preparing Christ’s Bride' - How the Ascension changes everything.

December 'Out with the Old, In with the New' - How the final dismantling of the Old Covenant sets the stage for final mission of the church and the renewal of the whole creation.

Monday, 10 January 2011

A 'trouser cough' moment

This weekend we went away with Liz's family - 9 kids, 7 adults in the wilds of Shropshire. We all stayed in a rambling 9 bedroom coach house which was perfect for playing 'Sardines'. Unsurprisingly, just as we were about to leave for the 3hr journey home, the kids wanted one last game of 'Sardines'. Everything in me wanted to play the 'lets get on the road ... its a long journey ... Mr Sensible Dad' card. Thankfully I didn't.

The airing cupboard was hot, dark and already had 4 people in it by the time I climbed in. Three more children quickly found us, so we squished even closer together. It got REALLY hot. And then it happen.

A spectacular and anonymous 'trouser cough'. We all howled with laughter and accused each other. Finally discovered by the last few, we all tumbled out, gasping for fresh air and giggling wildly. It will be a moment of Groovy Green Legend.


And I could have so easily missed it, if I had stayed on schedule and ignored the pleas of excited cousins. Moments like that are never planned, and probably often missed by focused people like me.

So my advice is: Slow down. Ask "why wouldn't I linger or delay a moment longer" ... and maybe, just maybe, you'll have a 'trouser cough' moment too.

And for the record, it wasn't me. Honest.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Us & Mental Health

The older we get the more complex questions we seem to face ...
What should we say to a Christian friend whose doctor has prescribed anti-depressants?

What about when they want to stop taking their medication because they 'feel better'?

When should our friends 'stop listening to themselves' and start 'speaking the gospel to themselves?'

Is their inability to make decisions because they are emotionally tired or is it deeper than that?

If you are like me, you can feel out of your depth in this area of suffering. To help me, I have booked myself yourself into the 'Cloudy Days in Summer' conference next month.
It's on Saturday 5 February, 10-4pm at Kerith Centre in Bracknell.

There are two seminar streams - one for 'those who walk through these experiences' the other for 'those who walk alongside'. Tickets cost £10 per delegate; to book your place either phone the RFC church office or
book online here.

The conference won't answer all your questions but it will give both permission and a framework for Christians to discuss mental health issues.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Proper music

So I got an itunes voucher for Christmas and spent £7 very wisely buying an album you can actually sing along to ...
At lunch time today, whilst out running, I listened to my purchase and was instantly transported back to my days of 'black staypress two-tone trousers & donkey jacket'.

In case you have no idea what I am talking about, check out this video and see some proper dancing...