Monday, 28 February 2011

220miles & 1/6 done

I like numbers. They help me measure progress and stir me to action.

My training is back on schedule, steady 8miles this morning. Unsurprisingly, I log my times and distances ... so far I have run 220.8miles over 30 runs. Given I only have to run 13.1 miles on the day, the cost/benefit ratio is not working in my favour!

2 months in and I am now on track in my Bible-in-a-Year. I managed to get 8 days behind and had to get real focused! Having 25 day reading blocks really helps. If you want to start, its never too late - click here.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Nervously risk or confidently deny?

Our church community is on a journey and right now I am reviewing (on behalf of my fellow pastors) how we apply our Complimentarian Theology to life at RFC (our understanding of God given gender roles).

As Complementarians we believe that church governance (elders/pastors) is a male role, whose qualifications are outlined in 1Tim 3v1-7 & 1Peter5v1-4. Elders/Pastors are men who are the custodians of the 4 D's of church life: they give Direction, set Doctrine, apply Discipline & Display a life worth imitating.

Our position as Complimentarians is not up for discussion.

But how we outwork this at RFC is. In particular the role of women in teaching the gathered church (both male & female).

I have been spending time today in 1Cor11v2-16, 1Cor14v26-39 & 1Tim2v1-15. In chapter 11 women can pray & prophesy (so long as they understand submission). Prophesy must surely include some element of teaching to bring strengthening or encouragement yet in chapter 14, women are to remain silent (context is prophesy & testing). In 1Tim2 women are not permitted to teach or have authority over a man. Clearly Paul is not contradicting himself and so we must be able to hold these in harmony.

We must also affirm that the great commission in Matt 28v12-20 is given to male & female and that teaching is part of making disciples.
Lois & Eunice presumable taught Timothy (2Tim1v5) just as Prisicilla, along with Aquila, helped instruct Apollos (Acts 18v26).

The reason I blog on this without drawing any conclusions (yet) is that as pastors we want to let you know we are discussing this aspect of women’s ministry at RFC.

BUT, I am VERY NERVOUS about blogging on this. My fear is that we could turn inward and
spend too much time & energy debating this and lose the great sense of momentum that Jesus has given us. Let's not do that!

Yet, I do sense this is a good time to nervously risk this conversation rather than confidently deny our sisters the opportunities to serve in this way.

To help you frame this, read this blog by Thabiti Anyabwile, I found the conversations in the comment section really helpful.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Solitude & intimacy

So for the next two days I will endeavour to quiet my soul and press into the presence of God.

I am sitting at a desk, looking out of the window, with a pot of tea by my side. I've forgotten to bring my iphone, but my bible and journal are here and the Spirit is crying within me "Abba, Father".

Its going to be a good time

RFC unplugged on vimeo

In case you didn't make it to our first acoustic night, here are few videos to whet your appetite for the next one (For more click here):

Gecko collective - Riverboat song

Abi Hope - Black Horse and the Cherry Tree

Bambury Tree - Unravelling

Saturday, 19 February 2011

A day with Chris & Meryl Wienand

Today, Liz and I joined with others for a day with Chris and Meryl. I first met Chris about 16 months ago through Sean & Nola Dooley and now try to get to any UK gathering he is at. Here's a few quotes from my notes today:

"We are living in an uncertain time but it is not a time for fear; theology must paint over the fear in our hearts. We need to understand Gods investment in this world and be confident that God is at work in all things."

"The moment a system works it is already heading towards being obsolete

"Our calling wont change but our robes may; Joseph wore many different robes (A son, prisoner, steward, prime minister ...)"

"Who wants to be a historian or a custodian of other peoples history? How old is your last 'trusting in God story'?"

"The size of the church does not, & should not, determine the health of the pastor".

"Pulpit time can not replace face-to-face time"

"Our role as a husband is not to define who our wife is, rather to endorse who she is".

"Sadly, at some point, a generation will want the benefits without the sacrifice".

"The 'scaffolding' in church life has no eternal value, so be open to change things and fight the right battles".

"I'd rather sit in darkness and wait for God, than light my own way".

Friday, 18 February 2011

Dinner, tears & bringing glory to God

Over a family meal last night we watched these two short films below.

Last weekend was the 1st anniversary of Karena's death and as a family we are still journeying in this. Somehow hearing another story helps ...

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Godfirst, Cheltenham

This Sunday 'Family Green' are travelling over to Cheltenham to spend the day with Howard & Naze Kellett and Godfirst church. I will be preaching at their morning meeting and then everyone is going to the Kellett's for a church lunch.

I am looking forward seeing their venue, hearing their stories and catching their faith.

I can still remember the raw excitement (and anxiety) of the early days of RFC. It was hard work and I'm glad I've experienced it ... but am so enjoying the challenges of the current phase.

Howard & Naze are a great couple and good fun to be around, and I anticipate that those in the church plant will be the same!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Ouch! Sore Achilles

Had to abandon today's run. Rubbish.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Finishing strong with my son

Today was my long run and Joshua joined me at 11.5 miles. He set the pace and quickly gave me this advice "Stop talking dad and save your breath for the pace". I did as instructed for the remaining 3 miles.

Joshua runs for Reading AC and has clearly improved! Sheer doggedness kept me going whilst he looked very fresh throughout (he had 50m on me when we finished).

Without a doubt I finished stronger today because my son set the pace and called the best out of me.

Whilst running with him, I prayed for the day (God willing 40+ years from now) when my son will help me finish my race well and I go home to be with Jesus.

It won't matter what times I did the Reading 1/2 in. Only two things will matter: #1 That Jesus' righteousness has been credited to me; #2 How I lived for Jesus.

And when that day comes, I hope my son is running fresh & strong for Jesus, setting a pace that inspires me as I take my final breath.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Building Community - Acoustic night

We do need to just 'hang out' together and this event is perfect for that. It's different, it's next weekend, (Saturday 19 Feb), and 3 great bands have been booked.
You can pay £2 on the night (or online
here) and there will be a cash-bar.

I am going with my son and a few other friends. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Large or Growing?

A few weeks ago I tried to sum up the next decade @ RFC using the following statement;

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

It has created a good framework for discussion. The word 'large' was often questioned as it is associated with the impersonal and also with success as defined by numbers on their own.

So I think a better word could be ‘growing’:

“Becoming a growing, 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 Growing – We long to be growing in the number & diversity of people we gather; in our influence & impact; in our unique contribution to society.

Jesus-centred – We desire to cultivate 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.

Would love to hear your thoughts...

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The 1st cheque

Last Sunday morning at Reading Girls' we had to 'squeeze' in more chairs during the morning meeting; the newcomers lunch at the London St offices was very busy (two families got lost getting there); and the evening meeting at South St is now starting to get some traction. For the last two weeks we have gathered well over 300 people.

Also on Sunday, RFC was given her very first 'unsolicited cheque' for a building fund (technically we don't actually have one yet). I sense this generous & spontaneous gift is also a prophetic statement, one to make note of.

I have a growing sense that having a bigger building allowing us to do everything in one place, could help us touch more lives for Jesus. I also think it could come as a 'suddenly God' moment, certainly Julian Adams prophesied as much a few weeks ago.

Do keep praying and being open about our next steps in terms of facilities. Reading Girls', South St & London St are serving us well for the time being, but they won't sustain the growth we are currently seeing.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Dwell Deep – Building Community.

Acts 2:44-47

This new community were together, they had a sense of connection to each other. They were now in a vertical relationship with the Triune God but also adopted into a horizontal relationship with His household, the church. The early church were taught how to be closely involved in each other’s lives (Eph4:32, Rom 12:10, 1Thess 5:11, Eph 4:2).

We too can build this - Because of Jesus’ death on the cross & with the Holy Spirit’s help, we too can build a community like the one described in Acts 2. A community who:
Know & accept & care & love each other.
• Take off your own masks and be real & authentic.
• Joyfully sacrifice time, comfort & treasure for the benefit of others.
• Listen & encourage & talk to each other.
• Care but don’t control; who give but don’t remind.
• Seek out reconciliation and don’t gossip (Matt 18).
• ‘Tame our tongues’ and ‘speak the truth in love’.
• Get it wrong, own up, seek forgiveness & start again.

Authenticity is key (Eph 4v25) - Community thrives when people are authentic, open and genuine. Community dies when authenticity is sparse and where people pretend. Being authentic is being true to your own personality, spirit, character or situation.

Walking together in life is messy - There are no straight lines or obvious timeout zones. Doing life with others requires self sacrifice and trust. It can be hard. But freedom from the ‘demands of community ’ can leave you growing without the safeguard of having other Christ followers around you.

Lifegroups are important - They are intended to create moments where friendship and trust can be built; where 'you can be you'; where we can grow in our love for Jesus and each other.

Membership is helpful - It’s not a biblical command but is pragmatic. It signals an expectation to be cared for and expresses a desire to play your part in meeting the needs of the church family.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Cloudy Days & Newcomers Lunch

This Saturday is the 'Cloudy Days in Summer' conference at the Kerith Centre in Bracknell. It's not too late to book yourself in (£10 per delegate) by either phoning the RFC church office or book online here. It promises to be a helpful day looking at a growing issue in our nation click here.

On Sunday the pastors here at RFC are hosting a 'Newcomers Lunch' at the church offices. If you are new to RFC, this is for you!!! It starts at 12:30, you can meet our families, and beat us at table football. Please let me know your coming so we can cater for you!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Dwell Deep - Truth

On Sunday I kicked off our new sermon series, albeit a few weeks late!

Read John 18:33-38

We can know Truth: Pilate had no appetite for truth; no conviction to seek it out or to uphold it. Jesus however, said that everyone on the side of truth, listens to him. Truth was standing right in front of Pilate and he did not see it. So, Truth is found in the Person of Jesus. Truth is, ultimately, relational (the Triune God). We can also know truth through God's self-disclosure to humanity found in a sacred compilation of various writings known as the Bible.

The Bible contains Truth: God can not lie or speak falsely. The writers of the bible repeatedly affirm that the words of the Bible, though human, are God’s own words. Therefore all the words in the bible are completely true and without error in any part. What was originally written down by the author (in their native language) contained no errors, omission or lies, it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. God’s words are the ultimate standard of truth for our attitudes, actions and decisions.

The Bible is necessary for Knowledge of the Gospel: Eternal salvation only comes through belief in Jesus. The bible is necessary for salvation in the sense that you must either read the gospel message for yourself or hear it from another (Rom 10v13-17).

The Bible is necessary for Maintaining Spiritual Life: Jesus said in Matt 4v4 that our spiritual life is maintained by daily nourishment with the word of God.

The Bible is necessary for Certain Knowledge of God’s will: In the Bible we have clear and definite statements about God’s will. He has not revealed all things to us but He has revealed enough to us to know his will Ps119v1.

We Gather People to Truth: We gather to God’s Truth in the Bible because:
#1 As we go through life, frequent practice in searching the bible for guidance will result in an increasing ability to find wise, accurate answers to our problems and challenges.
#2 It reminds us that we are to add nothing to Scripture and that we are to consider no other writing of equal value to Scripture.
#3 It reminds us that God does not require us to believe anything about himself or salvation that is not found in the Bible (beware the Gospel of Thomas!).
#4 It reminds us that no recent revelations from God are to be placed on a level equal to the bible (beware wacky Charismatic’s!).
#5 It reminds us that nothing is sin that is not forbidden by Scripture either explicitly or by implication (beware Legalists).
#6 Nothing is required of us by God that is not commanded in the Bible either explicitly or by implication.
#7 It reminds us that our thinking & ethics should emphasize what the Bible emphasizes & we be content with what God has told us.

We Gather People to Truth & Grace: As we search the Scriptures we discover story after story where God’s Truth speaks and reveals unmerited favour. We want to extend Truth & Grace to a town & culture desperately seeking answers, hope and meaning. Jesus is our ultimate model for this (John 1v14). We are to be clear and confident as to what God has revealed. And we are to extend Grace, God’s unmerited favour because Jesus died for our sins.