Have not posted much recently. The Ultimate Event at Alton Towers is taking up much of my time. However took some time out last night to go and see the new release - Amazing Grace. The very title alone was enough to get my interest.
For those of you who do not know, it tells the story of reformer William Wilberforce and his battle to abolish the evil slave trade 200 years ago. There are many things which hit me watching the movie. You have got to see it! Apart from the main theme of the cruelty of man to man there were other slightly more unexpected messages for me.
One scene shows Wilberforce in his garden amazed at the creation and talking to God only to be interrupted by his butler. His butler acknowledged that Wilberforce had found God only for him to reply: "Its more that God has found me and it is somewhat inconvenient". I loved this description of His relationship with God. I once heard some one say that Jesus was the hound of Heaven and he is after you. We very often talk about our spiritual quest to find God but its amazing to think that God is looking for us!
In another scene William is trying to decide if he should become a preacher and follow God or become a politician to change society. The answer came back that he could change the world by doing both. Sometimes we set our sights to low. Through years and years of arguing, politicking, convincing, hardship, misrepresentation and illness Wilberforce fought to bring God's Kingdom into this world.
We are not here to do or play church. God found us so that we could find our cause and bring God's Kingdom to the earth.
Now thats a cause worth getting up in the morning for.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Spent a quiet evening in last night watching my favourite sport - Football. I was introduced to this great game as a nipper by my Grandad - William Whyte. He used to entertain me with stories of great games he had been too and I was consumed with excitement when we set of with my Uncle and him to watch my first game at Pittodrie stadium. Home to Aberdeen Football Club my first love.
Our start at that time was Joey Harper our top goal scorer. At halftime we were 2 - 0 down and my dream had turned into a nightmare. Joey hadn't touched the ball and my faith was evaporating fast. Everything had the perfect ending though as Joey scored a hatrick in the second half and we ended up winning 4-2.
My journey with AFC has given me some great highs and some terrible disappointments. Passions run high. I've never been quite so bad as the "fan" who ran on to the field last night and tried to punch Frank Lampard - a chelsea player. I may have wanted to do it but always managed to restrain.
After all it is "only" a game! You got to be kidding!
Friday, March 16, 2007
Posted by Billy Ritchie at 4:56 pm
For most of my life I have worked a "normal" job, mixing with all sorts of people. I have always sought to serve in the church in ministry and share my story of how God made a difference in my life. 5 years ago things changed it took up the role of a pastor at my local church.
I always wanted to do this but never thought it would happen. The chance to actually work full time building the local church and God's kingdom was like all my birthdays had come at once.
5 years in and although it has given me some incredible highs it has also produced some incredible lows. Yesterday was one of those days. I left my office after 12 hours wondering why I do this. Its certainly not for the money - I took a substancial decrease to take up this role. Its certainly not for an easy life - i've never worked so hard or sacrificed so much family time.
I am still left with a burning desire inside to see people who are hurt & broken experience this incredible relationship that is possible with an awesome God!
I don't do it for Christians, I do it for those yet to start following Jesus.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Read this quote today from Steven Furtick. Success means sacrifice.
This made me think of one man - George Ridley. I have know George for around 25 years now. I first met him when he came and lectured my class at Bible college. He was very different to the other lectures. He had vision, passion and determination. I knew then that I needed to be working with Him.
He built a successful church from scratch, made a successful transition to a younger leader (something very rare) and has developed a successful mission's organisation - LightForce International, which is making a difference in 1000's of lives around the world.
To achieve this took all the qualities I mentioned before and one more - sacrifice. Planting the church meant huge sacrifices for him and his family. Many times financially he had nothing. He took a salary drop to bring in another pastor and paid him more because he wanted to see the church grow.
He now spends much time away from family in places like northern Uganda so he can make a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable.
His sacrifice will not be forgotten by the most important person!
Roger Blackmore my Pastor from Cairnbulg days made the following post in his blog yesterday. Grace works!
Sitting here, fighting sleep, with a cold drink and a WW muffin, reflecting back on a very good evening. We had our small group tonight and it was excellent. What a great group of people! I've got so that I really look forward to seeing each of them over in darkest East Patchogue.
We chatted for a while tonight about the encouragement to be radically inclusive that Bill Hybels gave in one section of the DVD teaching that made up Part 4 of Just Walk Across The Room. While we were discussing that I remembered a good example of it from Jonathan and Donna's wedding (our son and daughter-in-law for the uninitiated!).
Jonathan works in the fashion industry and had invited a number of friends from work to be guests, several of whom were gay. When one of them asked if it was okay for him and his friend to dance together, Jonathan told them to go ahead and they had a blast. We also had a good time getting to know them. We did not ostracize them because of a lifestyle we do not condone, we accepted them as people and were radically inclusive.
One of the guys there that day ultimately came to faith, was helped by a ministry that reaches out to homosexuals and was married last year. I dare to believe that the fact that Jonathan and others opened their hearts and homes to him played a significant role in his life being turned around.
That's a great phrase.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
On this day in 1963 William Whyte Ritchie ventured into this world. I discovered today through the Internet that I share a birthday with Albert Einstien, not bad company eh? Also the actor Michael Caine.
It still blows my mind that I can sit in Starbucks with my morning coffee catch up with events in some great churches from half way around the world and access information using something called Google. Much has changed in the world in 44 years. I still remember at the age of 11 at school when the computer coming to school was a big event. It came for just a few days and covered nearly half a classroom. We spent the week leading up to it filling in cards to give the computer instructions so it could understand it and complete a very simple arithmetic equation. Now I carry around a little box capable of things that were inconceivable then.
Time passes so quickly and things change daily. Its good to know that I have a relationship with a God that does not change. The Bible says he is the same yesterday, today and forever. His love for me and mankind never changes. His longing for relationship with His creation never changes.
Today I am a bit older and hopefully a bit wiser. 44 sounds good. Excited to see what God has in store for me till I reach 45.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Over the last 2 years we have had a bit of a torturous journey in our efforts to develop our church campus. We have a great facility but it is really too small for us now. We have added a second service on Sunday morning which is growing and more recently a third on Sunday evening.
Not only is our present building starting to shape our activities on Sundays but it getting too small for our week day activities.
Over the last 2 years we have had a couple of rethinks on what we really want and been let down by our architect. We interviewed for new architects before Christmas and appointed the successful firm in early January.
We have had 2 meetings with them outlining our requirements and they have just come back with some plans and renderings of their initial thoughts. I was completely bowled over by their solution to our needs. I am now pumped about presenting this to our members at our special meeting on Saturday night.
Will post a couple of sketches after Saturday.
This week has been a slog. Nothing seems to have come easy.
Problems with cars and busyness has taken its toll. We are gearing up for our annual members meeting at MKCC. They are great evenings where we have some good food, celebrate what God has done in our church over the last year and look forward to the next year.
BTW not like some of my dreadful experiences in some other churches where voting and arguing were top of the bill. To think we would have a vote over the colour of paint or an argument around awarding the pastor some minuscule raise on an already laughable wage.
It was a time when small minded people with very little vision other than being king of their small world ruled the roost.
Here at MKCC we are blessed to have good godly leaders who use their gifts and talents to complement each other with the common vision of reaching a world.
This Saturday we will be recognising a new leadership team. (They are already doing the work) and appointing some great new people to our Governance Board. We will also be presenting the latest update on our new building project.
Monday, March 05, 2007
The last few days have had some great highs but I am left today feeling quite low. Not sure why. I have no real reason to feel this way but can't quite get out of it. Maybe a good nights sleep will help.
Friday was a great day. We got together our new leadership team for MKCC for the first time. It really was exceptional to have the people who are really active in leading the church together. We have some awesome people who give incredible amounts of time and effort to our church. We planned some great things for the rest of the year but even more importantly we were doing it together.
Sunday was a crazy day. Mark Sherratt and I preached together. That always seems to make it longer than usual. We laid a dud in the first service but got our act together in the second service. We talked about making Changes. Probably the thing we find the most difficult. But as someone once said: to change is difficult, not to change is fatal.
I want to continue to change and become like Christ.
Friday, March 02, 2007
This weekend we are talking about change in our Sunday services. Change is something we strive for but also find the most difficult. We all want to change for the better. We preach and believe in life change is not easy. Read this week a quote that said: To change is difficult, not to change is fatal.
The great thing is that God gives us a way to effect change in our lives even when we are finding it difficult or even impossible. Romans 12 v 2 offers a hope and a path of transformation. Changing our actions and our character begins with changing our minds. We plug into our relationship with God and he reprogrammes the way we think.
Steven Covey said: People can’t change unless there is a changeless core inside them. I am so grateful that God has moved in to give me the power to change.
Pumped about today. Our new leadership team meets for the first time today. Praying that it will be an incredible time of God's help as we work together to see more people brought into His kingdom.