Thursday, 31 January 2013

My roomy from Burundi

Last week I travelled out to Dubai to spend time with Dave Devenish.

Technically my role was to 'carry his bags' which thankfully all had wheels on. Embaressingly, I did leave one of his bags in the hotel lobby as we loaded up a car, but that is another story :o(

Dave was speaking at a gathering of newfrontiers pastors from the UK, Africa & India who relate to Steve Oliver. We were 35 in total and it was encouraging to be amongst men & women who I had never met yet felt at home with.  

I shared a room with Everest from Burundi and we spent the first night trying to agree an aircon setting (cool or tropical) which suited us both for sleeping. I can honestly say that two pastors trying to defer their aircon preference is exhausting in its own right.

Everest lost 71 members of his extended family during the Burundi genocide in 1993, yet he had no bitterness. It was inspiring to listen to him talking about those days and his hope & faith for his country and Africa.

On the Friday, Dave spoke at Gateway church which is Steve's base church in Dubai. The congregation was multicultural and really welcoming, and Devonish preached a blinder! 

I did get some 1-2-1 time with David and I so enjoyed seeing how this new season of newfrontiers was evolving outside of the UK. 

Dave will be preaching here at RFC on 14th July.    

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Breakfast in Dubai

Sometimes you have to travel a long way in order to spend time with someone. 

I flew out to Dubai last night in order to spend a few days with David Devenish. If you don't know who he is, let me give a brief resume. He has been serving his church in Bedford for 30yrs and has been a senior leader within newfrontiers for much longer than RFC has been in existence! He is now also leading one of the emerging newfrontiers spheres of churches called 'Catalyst'.

David is speaking at a leadership conference hosted by Steve Oliver who is based here. In 45 minutes time we are off to the meeting venue which is two hours drive inland.

I have my running & swimming kit so hopefully I can get some training in, am feeling pretty pent up after all the snow & travelling :o)   

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Golf Club Church

For the past 11 years many of us have been dreaming of (and trying to build) a church that is a growing, Jesus-centred community, serving the town of Reading & beyond. 
This Sunday I shall be preaching on what we call Vision Sunday. Whilst we have so much to give thanks for (not least our numerical growth), I sense we need to be make a few adjustments to how we think & do church.

So Sunday is going to be a little different in that I shall be introducing a sermon series which will explain some of the changes we plan to make and why. 

Some of these changes will have a tangibly impact on most of us; others will be more subtle in nature yet have an equally significant impact. 

Change is rarely easy and few of us embrace it with open arms (I tend to be a late adopter). Yet I trust that as we move into 2013 with faith & confidence, Jesus will continue to build His church through us.

Please come on Sunday all prayed up and ready for more adventure in God.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

An unwanted truth

A graphic from the BBC website that those of us who enjoy the Tour de France feel sad about. 

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Giving to RFC by text

In order to help those who don't bring a cheque book or wallet to church, we have been trialling giving via our phones. Here's how, text: ACTS14 £xx (xx=1,2,3,4,5 or 10) to 70070.

You can only give £1,£2,£3,£4,£5 or £10 using this method. Vodafone will reply asking if you want to Giftaid the amount. 

Hopefully this will be helpful to those who want to get started in the grace of giving. 

A bunch of thanks

Each Christmas we ask the Lifegroup leaders & Pastoral Team to recommend who in RFC would benefit from food vouchers over the festive period. A few thank you cards have landed in the office this week, a selection of quotes are below:

Dear Reading Family Church
We wanted to say thank you so much for the lovely surprise that came through our door before Christmas. The Sainsburys gift card arrived at just the right time as we were trying to work out what we could afford to buy to eat at Christmas. We really appreciate your generosity towards us and the support & encouragement you have given us over this particularly difficult year. 

Dear RFC 
Thank you very much for the Asda gift card you gave me and my family. It was really touching and came at just the right time as I was going to Asda that day and was praying about what I would buy in order to feed the kids on what little money I had. It's just amazing how God works. Thank you for your support, I find it hard to accept that anyone would want to help me when I am used to being the one helping everyone else. 

Dear all at Reading Family Church 
We wanted to write and say a big thank you for your generous gift just before Christmas. We so appreciate your love and support it what has been a very difficult season for us.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

New year, new you?

A New Year is really just a clever illusion, nothing has changed yet we all feel we get a fresh start. We hope that in 2013 we will somehow be different from who we were 2012. We really want this to be true but deep down we know it isn’t … like when the magician pulls a rabbit out of the hat. We hope that we can escape the mistakes of last year and suddenly become an entirely new person. But can we ever really become a ‘new you’? 

Jesus’ answer to the question of being freed from past mistakes has little to do with midnight on New Year’s Eve and everything to do with being born again. Spiritual regeneration and sins washed away through faith in Him is the means to a different future, a ‘new you’ (John 3v1-7). Forgiveness from Jesus promises a different future, one not predestined by destructive cycles of our past.

The forgiveness Jesus offers is primarily with God the Father but also includes offering & receiving forgiveness to one another… and to ourselves. His forgiveness offers a sympathetic reading of our past, it helps us to look back and see things to value & celebrate. Forgiveness isn’t interested in instant magic of new beginnings, rather it creates genuine expectations of our future. 

There is no way of dealing with the ‘new you’ of 2013 that doesn’t involve dealing with the ‘old you’. The key to this is forgiveness. Of course, forgiving others & ourselves is incredibly hard to outwork on our own (let alone getting right with God). In fact it is impossible. That's why Jesus had to come. He came because we couldn’t do this. Because He came, now we can.

The giant of unforgiveness, that once mocked God’s people, has now been slain by our true and greater saviour, Jesus. If you want to be a ‘new you’ in 2013, forget the diet plans, and outwork the forgiveness Jesus won for us. 

Friday, 4 January 2013

Evan Rogers this Sunday evening

Just a quick reminder, Evan & Tracy will be with us at South Street on Sunday night, he will be leading worship and I will be speaking. 

He and Tracy are moving back to South Africa so this will be the last time for a while that they will be with us ...