Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Happy Birthday Abbie

15 years ago today Abbie Louise Ritchie ventured into the world. She and I didn't know what we were letting ourselves in for. Not really sure where the 15 years have gone but they certainly have passed in a flash.

Just come back from a meal with family and friends at the local Chinese. Very enjoyable.

Hope you have had a good birthday. Try to not loose the mobile this time!

Lessons from Apple

Read an article today about the unexpected success for Apple's venture into opening flagship stores in city centres and shopping malls. Most pundits predicted failure and Apple to be left with a pretty big bite out of it. Now after what must be classed as a resounding success other manufacturers are being tempted in. Sony has opened a number of stores.

The New York Times carried out a review of the 2 stores. Here are there findings:

They found Sony outlets virtually deserted except for inattentive salespeople and security personnel, while the Apple Store was packed with shoppers and friendly staff. The Sony stores, according to the "retail consultants" The Times later talked to, are merely "places of stuff," a condition which makes them not "shop-able," while the Apple outlets "extend an emotional connection."

Just made me think of our churches. Are they just sterile unwelcoming places that have just packaged our "product" in uninteresting bland ways that does not try to connect with people at there point of need.

The NY Times concluded was that Sony really needed a killer product. Well we have that! (Maybe killer is the wrong word) So why do the vast majority of people still think it isn't relevant to them.

Help us God to stay focused on the people that still need the worlds best product.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Joys of preaching

Preached yesterday in our 3 services. Still have not quite used to sharing the same thing 3 times. The emotional energy used really wipes me out. You would think it would get easier each time but actually I find it more difficult. I still visit the toilet as many times trying to deal with the nerves. Add to this the mind games that go on with: I know I have said this before but was it in this service or the last.

Trying to change things on the hoof that didn't go well last time or trying to remember a great point you made that was not in your notes.

The subject matter the last two times I have preached have been good ones. How serious is sexual sin really? and What make God sick? Challenging subjects but really worth investigating.

Even with all the nerves there is nothing I enjoy more than sharing God's word with people in a way that helps them.

I remember the fist time I ever preached. My pastor Roger Blackmore gave me the opportunity as a young lad to preach in a service just before him. It lasted about 3 minutes, I read it all from my notes, the subject matter was Matthew 12 v25, no one else in the world will remember.

But I was hooked for life.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Heading where I am looking

Church leadership very often seems to get very complicated with tensions tearing at your mind.

1. We are in the people business. But the more people you have the more opinions on how church should be you have.

2. Church is the hope of the world. But there are countless ideas and initiatives that all seem worthwhile. Its easy to become schizophenic.

3. We are called to equip God's family. But it sometimes keeps us away from our own family.

Don't get me wrong I love what I do. But I must realise that outside of my personal relationship with Jesus there are thre things I must do: focus, focus, focus.

The question is what to focus on. The following quote I read on Perry's blog today helped me.

"Left to itself an organization will always look inward–that is why LEADERSHIP with a heart for people is so important in the church."

I must not and will not forget that church exists for people that have YET to meet Jesus.

Hope is gone

Left disappointed again. Milan 2 Liverpool 1.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Will football disapoint again?

Settling down to watch probably the biggest game in club football - The European Champions League. Seems like the days of my team being in the final are long gone and will likely never be seen again. Although I have had the privilege of watching Aberdeen FC winning the Cup Winners Cup and Aston Villa winning the European Cup.

Tonight its Liverpool v A C Milan. Everything points to Milan with Kaka to win but you never know. If the last few days in Football are anything to go by hope will soon be dashed.

MIlton Keynes Dons
(My home town team) lost out on a play off to get into the next English league. They will be playing football in the basement of the English league in a brand new incredible stadium. The FA Cup final on Saturday was probably one of the worst cup finals in history.

Lets hope for a great match and a few goals - Liverpool to win in the end.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Italy air strike hits travellers

Not a very interesting headline for some one living in the UK. However if you have been planning to go to Italy on that day it takes on a whole different meaning.

Last October we as a family booked a holiday for our Dad on his 70th birthday. He frequented Italy many times for holidays with my mum when she was alive. He always wanted to go back, sort of a reminiscing trip.

So today we ended up at the airport with hundreds of other disrupted passengers trying to find a way there. Long and short of it we can go next Thursday! and even that took a lot of calls and Internet searching.

Here is hoping that the Air Traffic peeps decide to work on May 31st.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Ed Young Video Blog

Yes yes yes!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hate the sin love the sinner

A quote that we in the church have said many many times. I have said it lots of times but sometimes do not stop to really think about it in practice.

I was quite challenged reading Gary Lambs blog today when he listed the following quote about Jerry Falwell from Larry Flynt, the owner of Hustler Magazine. Larry and Jerry stood for very different things. He said:

“The Reverend Jerry Falwell and I were arch enemies for fifteen years. We became involved in a lawsuit concerning First Amendment rights and Hustler magazine. Without question, this was my most important battle – the l988 Hustler Magazine, Inc., v. Jerry Falwell case, where after millions of dollars and much deliberation, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in my favor. My mother always told me that no matter how much you dislike a person, when you meet them face to face you will find characteristics about them that you like. Jerry Falwell was a perfect example of that. I hated everything he stood for, but after meeting him in person, years after the trial, Jerry Falwell and I became good friends. He would visit me in California and we would debate together on college campuses. I always appreciated his sincerity even though I knew what he was selling and he knew what I was selling. The most important result of our relationship was the landmark decision from the Supreme Court that made parody protected speech, and the fact that much of what we see on television and hear on the radio today is a direct result of my having won that now famous case which Falwell played such an important role in.” –Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler Magazine

I never knew Jerry Falwell, I saw some news stories on TV and to be honest I sometimes didn't like what he said and I would have thought there was another way to do things. However if someone who he did so much battle with in life can say this then he can't have been far wrong.

God help me to stand up for truth at the same time as valuing people.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What is so serious about sexual sin?

This last week has been stacked. Trying to clear up after the Ultimate Event always is a bit mad but everything put to bed almost. Start the planning for 2008.

Then straight into preaching the latest message in our current Sunday series at church - We've got mail. Based on the letters to 7 churches from Jesus at the start of the last book in the Bible, Revelation.

My task was a church at Thyatira. Some great things going on there but they had a serious problem with a false prophet who were leading the people to sin - particularly sexual sin. It seems that the leaders let her continue unabated and even forgave her.

Maybe it was because it was the easy way out for them. There was a need to belong to a Union in that town to be able to work. No union no work. However being part of a union had serious consequences - it meant idol worship, idol rituals and all sorts of sexual practices.

This presented the opportunity to talk about Sex in church. I have never heard anyone speak about Sex in church apart from my old pastor Roger Blackmore in a youth meeting many years ago. I was quite nervous about the whole thing but knew that we had to talk about it. Why well look at these statistics from Tim Stevens in Leading Smart:

# 12 percent of all Web sites are porn.
# 25 percent of all search engine requests are for porn.
# 35 percent of all Internet downloads are pornographic.
# Every second, 28,258 Internet users are viewing porn.
# 89 percent of porn is created in the U.S.
# $2.84 billion in revenue was generated from U.S. porn sites in 2006.
# 70 percent of the Internet porn traffic occurs during the nine to five workday.
# 260 new porn sites go online daily.

Somebody is speaking so its time the church spoke up.

It really seemed to touch peoples lives. I would have to say I have had more feedback from people on that message than any other I have given. I am so glad that we have actually started to talk about serious life issues in church.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Ayiesha Woods

Last Sunday we had the great privilege to host Ayiesha Woods at MKCC. She was over from the states for 2 gigs, the Ultimate Event and Louder at the Albert Hall. On the Sunday she visited our church and took most of the services.

Pictured above with her brother they blew the church away. At our 11 am service the standing ovation went on and on. She had a sweet spirit and really brought a great message through song. She sold 119 CDs to our congregation afterwards.

What was interesting to me was as usual it upset some people: for some it was too loud, for some there was no preaching, for some it was because she sung a song with a reggae beat and others well they probably just got out of bed the wrong side.

You certainly can't please all the people all of the time. Anyway I thought Ayiesha was awesome.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Ultimate Event

I know its been very quiet on this blog for the last few weeks. As I have said before I have been working literally night and day on the Ultimate Event at Alton Towers.

Well it has come nad gone and was a great success. Over 8000 people decended on Alton Towers for a great concert headlined by Toby Mac & Delirious? More pictures soon at our website but here are a couple for starters.