Wednesday, December 31, 2008

YouVersion Challenge 2009

One of the things that has revolutionised my Bible reading this year is

I hooked up with the website earlier this year and started to use the 1 year Bible reading plan. Find it here.

As I tend to carry my lap top with me most of the time and make use of wifi at places like Starbucks and even MKCC my reading plan is only a click away.

Later in the year I got an iPhone and downloaded the free Bible app. This means that my connection to loads of versions is always on and I have even been able to download a offline version.

I can honestly say that these tools have dramatically increased my Bible reading in 2008.

I also used to link devotions on my blog for our series at MKCC: Simply Jesus or Acts.

Join with me this year and you will read the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice.

Read more here

Visit the web here

Download the iPhone app.

Download the Blackberry app.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Promise first

I have started to read the latest book by Erwin McManus entitled Wide Awake - The Future is waiting within You. At first glance I was not sure I wanted to read it. To be honest the sub title put me off a little. I felt myself saying if my future is within me I don't want to know it. It won't be that great. But I need not have worried that one of my favourite communicators would let me down.

Recounting the story where James & John approach Jesus to ask him something but before that do they want to know the answer was yes. Just like we used to do with our parents. As Erwin says: Promise first, and then I will tell you what I want.

Often we can do that with Jesus. We want an up front yes for what we want. The only problem is that we don't always realise what we are asking for. James & John asked basically to be in charge in God's Kingdom. But they and Jesus were looking at 2 different sides of the same coin.

They were looking at the power, privileges and prestige of their request. Jesus was looking at the servanthood, sacrifice and pain they would have to endure to get there.

I wrote at the top of page 14 of the the book - Being in charge means pain!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Where is God?

Not much blogging over last few days. On holiday and too much other things to do. Read this quote yesterday:

When you walk through the valley of the shadow,
When your steps take you to the edge:
When your voice echoes back across the void;
God is closer than your breath.
- James Long

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Peace on Earth we need to now

Woke up to look at BBC website news today to be greeted by this.

Seems like the day after the ceasefire was over the Israeli's have launched an air strike on Gaza. In response to increased rocket attacks by hamas.

Then I read about yet another car bomb in Iraq.

Merry Christmas everyone!

I was reminded of the U2 song - Peace on earth. The phrase was connected to Jesus birth by angelic appearance. Bono's song expresses his frustration with the lack of peace in his own country of Ireland at the time of writing.

Heaven on Earth
We need it now
I'm sick of all of this
Hanging around

Sick of sorrow
I'm sick of the pain
I'm sick of hearing
Again and again
That there's gonna be
Peace on Earth

Where I grew up
There weren't many trees
Where there was we'd
tear them down
And use them on our enemies

They say that what you mock
Will surely overtake you
And you become a monster
So the monster will not break you

And it's already gone too far
You said that if you go in hard
You won't get hurt

Jesus can you take the time
To throw a drowning man a line
Peace on Earth

Tell the ones who hear no sound
Whose sons are living
in the ground
Peace on Earth

No who's or why's
No one cries like a mother cries
For peace on Earth

She never got to say goodbye
To see the color in his eyes
Now he's in the dirt
Peace on Earth

They're reading names out
Over the radio
All the folks the rest of us
Won't get to know

Sean and Julia
Gareth, Anne, and Breeda
Their lives are bigger than
Any big idea

Jesus can you take the time
To throw a drowning man a line
Peace on Earth

To tell the ones who
hear no sound
Whose sons are living
in the ground
Peace on Earth

Jesus in the song you wrote
The words are
sticking in my throat
Peace on Earth

Hear it every Christmas time
But hope and history won't rhyme
So what's it worth

This peace on Earth
Peace on Earth
Peace on Earth
Peace on Earth

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

O Holy Night

Just because its Christmas Eve a Christmas Carol:

Oh Holy Night from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.

Bono on Christmas

Its Christmas Eve and its been a little different for me this year. 80 degree temperatures do not make it feel like Christmas. My house is usually covered in various decorations and today I sit in a very nice yet bland rented villa. So in some ways it does not feel like Christmas. One thing that is similar are the shops. They are packed morning, noon and night. You would not believe there is a credit crunch!

Today we are going to Aquatica and Sea World sandwiching a trip to Discovery Church for their Christmas Eve services. It will be good to take time out to remember what Christmas is all about.

At MKCC we have just finished our series based on U2 songs so I was interested to read the following quote from Bono over at The Resurgence.

"On Christmas Eve Bono went to the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Jonathan Swift was once dean. Apparently he was given a really poor seat, one obstructed by a pillar, making it even more difficult for him to keep his eyes open…but it was there that the Christmas story struck him like never before."

“The idea that God, if there is a force of Logic and Love in the universe, that it would seek to explain itself is amazing enough. That it would seek to explain itself and describe itself by becoming a child born in straw poverty, in shit and straw . . . a child . . . I just thought: “Wow!” Just the poetry . . . Unknowable love, unknowable power, describes itself as the most vulnerable. There it was. I was sitting there, and it’s not that it hadn’t struck me before, but tears came streaming down my face, and I saw the genius of this, utter genius of picking a particular point in time and deciding to turn on this.”

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It is well with my soul

Hooked up with this video by Ken Wilson. It was part of their Christmas services and features their band playing the famous old hymn - It is well with my soul.

I've been reading Job recently and following his highs and lows through the disasters in his life. So when I listened to this song my mind went back to the story of Horatio Spafford the writer of the hymn.

Here is an wiki extract:

"This hymn was written after several traumatic events in Spafford’s life. The first was the death of his only son in 1871, shortly followed by the great Chicago Fire which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer). Then in 1873, he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the S.S. Ville du Havre, but sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with another ship, and all four of Spafford's daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone." Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died."

It Is Well from David Jolley on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What's following you?

Psalm 23 v 6 "Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life."

You know when you read something familiar. You just blast past it not really taking it in. Well I was doing that this morning and then God stopped me in my tracks.

The above verse comes at the end of the most famous song in the Bible - The Lord is my shepherd. I am not even sure if this is the right way to read this but God invaded my world with this thought.

I have done all this for you. I have cared for you, looked after you in troubled times, been by your side in the darkest hours, comforted me in times of grief, protected me from my enemies. "
my cup overflows!"

Now what are you going to do with this? What is going to follow you? What is left after you visit?
What do you leave behind? - Goodness and Love! That's the natural outcome of God in my life. Leaving a trail of Goodness behind.

I am so proud of MKCC this Christmas time. Together we have left a trail of love and goodness behind us. Here is some of the things we have done:

  • Restocked the MK Food Bank with over £1,300 worth of food.
  • Provided 62 Christmas hampers for needy families.
  • Sent a gift to honour a retired minister who was instrumental in MKCC being started.
  • Sent a gift to the widow of an AOG minister who went to be with the Lord this year.
  • Provided gift bags for senior citizens in a local sheltered housing complex.
  • Provided hampers for a few senior citizens.
  • Given away over £3,500 as part of our love at Christmas project. Read just some of the ways this has been done here.
I am so glad that 100's of people this year when they think of MKCC the first thing that will come to mind is Goodness! Well done guys!!

Who is that sitting next to you?

Yesterday consisted of one long journey it felt a little like that movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Our flight from London to Atlanta seemed to take ages to get going mainly due to seating arrangements. It almost felt like Delta had gone out of their way to ensure that anyone travelling in groups of more than 2 we sitting as far apart as possible. So the whole plane seemed to embark on one massive game of musical chairs.

Nick and I were happy that our kids were somewhere else on the plane. (Sorry I didn't mean that) It seems that sitting next to someone you knew was important and the world would end if you had for 9 hours out of your life you had to sit next to a stranger.

Made me think how much more important it is to have the right people sitting next to you for life. I am blessed and thankful to have so many great people to sit next too in life.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Very Mickey Christmas

Its Friday, its 5 to 5 and its crackerjack. Well not exactly. But it is Friday and it is time for Florida. For me some of the best parts of a holiday is looking forward to it. I am a sado who likes to read all about the place before I go. Find out about the restaurants, plan my to do list.

So booking a Holiday in January to take in December gave me a long time to look forward. Well the day has finally arrived and we are off to the land of Mickey and the mouse.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rick Warren inauguration date

BARACK Obama has selected Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration.

I for one am pleased. If in any way he is seen as representing the Christian church I don't think he could have chosen many better.

Well done Rick.

Read about it here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

To Good to be True

Much of my life before coming on staff at church was spent in the financial markets. I can't say I have always personally made the best financial decisions. However one thing I have learned is that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

In the 90's a manager for a new Internet fund that was showing monthly double digit growth. Told us and I quote: "The only risk is not being invested." 4 weeks later Internet stocks crashed the money disappeared and so did he.

In 2006 I read the following story about a fund set up by a couple of Christians that were promising incredible returns based on God blessing the fund. Seems like God had a hard job because most of the money did not make it into the fund but was spent on items from jewelry to houses. The writer of the article asks the question:

Would you invest your nest egg with the advice of a part time roofer and a licensed practical nurse? Or, would you entrust your nest egg to their investment company?

Obvious answer till today and we read of the huge list of Banks, Investment Managers and individuals taken in by the $50 Billion scam by Bernard Madoff.

There is only one thing in this world that is to good to be true without a catch - God's grace.

Judge and Jury

Job 20

Jesus encouraged us not to judge people. (Matthew 7 v 1) We also receive this instruction in James 4 v 12 & Romans 14 v 10.

Zophar's argument is a perfect example of why this is good advice. Zophar knew truth, he knew that in the end wicked people would not prosper before God whatever the short term impression. However he wrongly applied this truth to Job. It was not the truth that was the problem it was how he used it.

It is so easy to look at situations, apply our filter of knowledge, and end up with the wrong conclusion. It is important to seek not only knowledge but wisdom from God.

The great thing is that God through the Holy Spirit wants to help and assist us with incredible Gifts that allow us to catch a glimpse of how he sees things. His wisdom. So next time you are tempted to judge a situation using your accumulated knowledge pause. (Difficult for the likes of me) Then ask God for his wisdom instead of rushing to judgement like Zophar.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wild Wild West

Had some fun putting together a small video to open the New Year series in Kidz Church - Wild Wild West. Maybe I am missing the homiletic exegesis but can't understand how the character of Jonah equates to Cowboys and Indians. Maybe I am just getting old!

The Wild Wild West from Billy Ritchie on Vimeo.


A short video to introduce our January series at MKCC - Surrender.

Surrender Opener from Billy Ritchie on Vimeo.

Mariah eat your heart out

Rose Angela from NewSpring is incredible.

All I Want for Christmas from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.

Empty Churches

The Telegraph recently reported on many of the churches across the UK that are empty or have very low attendance.

The quoted Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, as suggesting "churches with low attendance could be turned into gyms, restaurants and multi-faith centres." Read here.

He suggested that this could be the best way that they could serve the community. Now the church is more than a building its people but somehow I think that one of the reasons these churches are empty is because they stopped serving their community a long time ago.

The phenomenon is not restricted to the Church of England. I understand that the denomination I have been part of since birth has many failing churches. Their assets being sold off when it becomes untenable and the proceeds used to support central administration.

How about us all looking at this a different way. At the same time as this decline there is also stories of growth all over the country. Many churches taking on building projects. What if we all forgot denominational divides and gifted each other property. What if a church on the edge of closure struggling to keep up a building were to find a church that was bursting at the seams and say here is your answer.

Cloud cuckoo land? Maybe. Putting the needs of the community over our own little patch that is kingdom thinking.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Prosperity Gospel

Job 19

I have always had a bit of a hard time accepting what is commonly known as the prosperity Gospel. It seems to suggest that Jesus is not only the pathway to salvation but also riches. Its funny to me that this is usually purported by leaders suggesting that the way to tap into God's riches is to send them or their ministry money and then you will unlock God's riches in your life.

My greatest difficulty is the idea that if you are not rich then somehow you are not in God's blessing.

So here we have a record of Job's calamity as we know, not because of sin, but because his life was exemplary. Yes he was very rich and God was pleased with him. Now everything had been taken away. God's opinion of him had not changed. But would Job still feel the same about God and remain faithful.

Job had: (Job 19 v 9 - 20)

  • Lost his reputation
  • Lost his self respect
  • Lost his possessions
  • Lost all hope
  • Lost his friends
  • Lost his relatives
  • Lost his servants
  • Lost his butler
  • Lost his family
  • Lost all respect
  • Lost the love of his wife
  • Lost his health
Very prosperous! yet from the pit of despair he records what probably are his most famous words, dragged from from the very depths of his dark soul.

(v 23 - 26) Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever!

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

A desperate cry of faith that probably can only be fully understood from the pit of loneliness and abject despair that Job was feeling.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Offering

Just because its getting close to Christmas. Christmas is very often about what we get. The question "What are you getting for Christmas?" is popular. Of course Christmas is really about giving. God gave His son lets remember to bring Him an offering - Just our worship.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sunday Thoughts

  • Picked up the usual sausage and egg Mc Muffins for the volunteers. The workers always think its amusing that someone is buying so many before 7 in the morning.
  • Andy did a good version of the U2 classic - Where the streets have no name.
  • Mark did a great job preaching today.
  • The church, God's Kingdom should be absent of labels. Rich, poor, black, white.
  • One quote that rocked me was: I am like a little pencil in God's hand. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it.- Mother Teresa”
  • Great to see all the Christmas Hampers come in today. This week is going to be awesome as Food Bank delivers them to needy families all over Milton Keynes.
  • Check out here how people are using the Christmas love gift we gave out a couple of weeks ago.
  • Loads of you commented on Nicola's enthusiasm in the Kidz Church update video below. See is just easily pleased.
  • House quiet because Kids are going of to the Church Youth party this evening.
  • Had a rather non descript meal at the Harvester. It turned out that Nicola and I had exactly the same meal with just different sauce drizzled on top. Didn't sound that way on the menu.
  • Looking forward to the BBC sports personality of the year. Suppose it will probably be Louis Hamilton, Chris Hoy or Rebbecca Addlington.
  • Hoping for a quiet week as I head of with the family for Christmas in Florida on Friday.

Why is Nicola so excited

Kidz Church update 12.12.08 from Billy Ritchie on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Your Church Doesn’t Disciple Anyone

Perry Noble hit the nail on the head with this post. It's in a series of posts about arguments that you just can't win. Seen from the point of a church leader. In this one he looks at the statement he has heard: "Your Church Doesn’t Disciple Anyone" maybe another way I have heard this put is "This church does not feed me"

However you put it read Perry's thought here.

Pompous quacks

Job 13

Job has had enough of his so called friends and lets them have it with both barrels. Reading this I find that I seem to have more and more in common with Job. I sometimes swing from faith to doubt and from hope to despair. I start out with great intentions my heart is there but sometimes in the time of testing my head can kick in just like Job. But I also seem to have another similar trait.

Reading these comment of his "friends" everything inside of me has been shouting tell them where to go. Finally he lets rip and sends out a bit of a tirade against them. And to let you have a little glimpse in to the ungodly part of my life I am shouting yes! Let them have it.

Yes I am sad to say all that stuff is hidden, and maybe not all that well hidden, inside of me. Do I want to change it yes but can I deny it absolutely not.

I've been around church for all of my 45 years and honestly I've heard a lot of spiritual junk spouted. There are a lot of, in Jobs words, "Pompous quacks" around. When you become a pastor its even worse people seem to think when they speak to you they have to talk on some super spiritual plane. But really deep down the do not even believe what they are saying. Job has good advice for that. He says in v 11

Doesn’t his splendor put you in awe? Aren’t you afraid to speak cheap lies before him?

Lets stop quacking and start being real.

Bluedoor Thank You

One of the ministries we support financially from MKCC is Bluedoor Ministries. Chris and Dana Byres and Family have moved from in the US to London. A group of us went down to support their Internent Campus Life experience in central London.

Here is a little message of thanks from them to their supporters for the past year.

Year-End Message from Blue Door Ministries on Vimeo.

Follow their progess here or here.

They will be visiting MKCC for our Christmas presentation on Sunday 21st (12 noon I think) so be sure to say hi.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

NLT on

This is an early Christmas present for me. NLT been my preferred translation for years and now I can read it on my favourite Bible app. If you have not used or downloaded for iPhone or Blackberry get it now.

Extract from swerve blog announcing it.

"I know that MANY of you have been asking when we would have the NLT (New Living Translation) on Well, the day has come.

You can now access the NLT on, the Bible App for the iPhone/iPod, Mobile YouVersion, and the Bible App for the BlackBerry. All are free.

For nearly 1 1/2 years, we’ve been working through the licensing and technical details to make this possible. Thanks to Tyndale for their support.

Also, we are simultaneously releasing another modern English translation called “God’s Word.” The team at Baker Publishing have also allowed us to also make this translation available for offline use on the iPhone App. You will definitely want to check it out."

I can't stands it no more

Job 12

I remember a preach by Bill Hybels when he talks about having his Popeye moment. One of Popeye's catch phrases was "That's all I can stands, I can't stands no more!". Bill was referring to a time in his life when things HAD to change.

I think here in Ch 12 we start to see Job having his Popeye moment. He had listened to his friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. I think Zophar was more like so far and no further.

This last guy spoke to him like a complete know it all. So much so that Job in his retort suggests that the way Zophar was speaking if the guy died then wisdom would come to an end.

In v 13 Job makes this confession “True wisdom and real power belong to God; from him we learn how to live, and also what to live for."

Sometimes you just have to get to that place for yourself. Job had travelled from a place of faith to doubt and despair. Then to frustration with his "friends". It would actually seem that his frustration with them through him back to God. And at the end of this chapter he says I am taking my case to God.

Good move!

Roof on

On Monday the roofers started on our extension for Nursery & Kids Church. By Monday evening all the felt and batons were fixed and by Tuesday night 95% of the tiles were laid. Today they are getting on with the more awkward pieces but hopefully they should be finished today.

That meant the new extension should start drying out from all the downpours we have had over the last few weeks.

We are still on track for a completion in mid to late February.

The Truth

Mark did a great Job on Sunday with our latest message in the When Love Comes to Town series. You can watch the full message here.

A number of people have commented on the video he used - The Truth. It was produced by Granger Community Church. They have posted it on YouTube so watch it below.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Friends Indeed

Job 12

I am getting the feeling reading this that these guys were not actually Job's friends. A true friend just doesn't kick you when you are down. Of course they will tell you the truth and sometime that is difficult but from a friend it doesn't seem half as bad.

These guys seem to want to put the boot in. Its almost like they are gloating in what is happening to him. Zophar weighs is with v 7, You think this is bad actually you haven’t got half what you deserve. Encouraging eh?

Family gone, possessions gone, business gone, health gone, faith in crisis and desperate to die. What else could happen?

Friends are important but not guys like this. True friends. You don't come across them very often. You can probably number them on your fingers. Friends do not walk away no matter how much you have screwed up. Friends are honest with you but love and accept you at the same time. Friends share good times and bad time together. They are fiercely loyal and constantly supportive.

Think about someone in your life like that and you have found a friend. Not a facebook friend a true friend.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Rock bottom

Job 10

This has been an incredibly difficult journey for Job and in this chapter it would seem that he hits rock bottom. His faith journey has been a bit of a downward spiral since he made his faith declaration in Job 1 v 21. Now he arrives at a place where his bitterness overflows towards God.

Its easy to be critical of Job. I have to be honest I have never been in such a dire place as him but still in my life been in a place of doubt and despair. It would appear that Job's main difficulty was trying to come to terms with the difficulty and find a reason for it. He had no understanding of what was going in the eternal realms of God.

It would appear that Job is on the verge of fulfilling the Devil's accusation. I doubt if I rate in the ball park of having the devil making a direct challenge to God about me but the Christian life is none the less a journey learning to trust God more.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sometimes we just don't understand

Job 9

There are times in life when I have said God I just don't understand what you are doing. I've looked at situations and thought that's just not fair.

I remember when my mum was very ill not long before she died and her brother came to visit. He said why you? What he meant was hey why is God allowing this to happen to you? You have been faithful to God. I could understand him doing this to me but why you? Her answer was a question, Why not?

I thought it was a great answer of trust and faith. So often we try to answer the question why. That's much of what the question of the book of Job is all about trying to answer the question why. It seems however at this stage that trying to answer this question was leading Job in a downward spiral. His conversations with his friends and own thought process brought him to a difficult place with a warped view of God.

v17 As it is, he knocks me about from pillar to post, beating me up, black and blue, for no good reason.

At some point in our lives I am sure we are going to be faced with the question why and we will just not understand what is going on. At that time we must remember the character and nature of God and trust Him to be with us through it even if we don't understand the why.

Easier said than done.

Sunday Thoughts

  • Band did a great job today in our services.
  • It was great to hear Gareth's guitar rip it out.
  • Phrase that got me today during the worship. You look to the depths of my heart and love me the same. (That rocks my world)
  • Also: Should I stumble again still I am caught in your grace.
  • Mark continued a great 3 weeks of preaching.
  • Yes he did say use your assets that God has given you don't just sit on your ASS-et.
  • Jesus came to turn the world system up side down.
  • Its time to kneel.
  • Mark finished early in all 3 services!
  • If you came to the first then you got short changed Mark got the times mixed up and finished about 15 mins early because he thought he was out of time!
  • We are providing 62 Christmas hampers to needy families in MK this Christmas.
  • Went to Nicola's mum and dads for a lovely roast dinner which is unusual for us. We usually just crash after the services.
  • Villa just scored a winning goal 4 minutes into injury time to win 3 - 2 against everton after losing a goal 30 seconds earlier. Agony to exactly! Just sat down after jumping around the room like a maniac!
  • Don't forget to let us know how you used your Christmas Love Gift here.
  • 12 days till we leave for Florida!

Amazing Il Divo

I love watching X Factor and last night there was an extra surprise in store. Il Divo performed the song Amazing Grace. They also used the bagpipes which for me is a must for this song. But I suppose I would say that.

Watch and enjoy:

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Scandal of God

Job 8

Job's other mate weighs in with his thoughts. A bit more of the same. But this time not only is Job wrong doing but also the sin of his children (v 4) that has brought God's judgement on him.

It is said that Job in history predated Abraham and surprise surprise the same rubbish that Job's mates trotted out then we trot out today. We think if someone is going through a difficult time or is ill or some terrible atrocity happens it is God's judgement for sin.

If we can't find something he has done wrong then it must be someone else who is related to you. A few years ago I became sick on holiday in a Greek Island. Not unusual but a guy that was with me decided that the sickness was caused by some sin in my past not that I had committed but someone had sinned against me. Now my memories needed heeling. I had no recollection of this whatsoever so was unsure how I needed my memories healing when I did not have the memory. Sometimes Christians are crazy!

Well the biggest scandal of God he is not fair. He chooses to treat us with fairness he chooses to treat us with Grace. Through that grace he does not send calamity into our lives because of our sin (although we sometimes invite it by ourselves) let alone another persons sin.

I like what Matthew Henry says about this passage:

"Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, sometimes they are the trials of extraordinary graces: in judging of another's case, we ought to take the favorable side."

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Not only is this a seriously cool site in looks and functionality but it has stories of so many people impacted by grace. Go now

Appearances Can be Deceiving

Job 5

(v7) What a Blessing When God Corrects You!

Christians say some stupid things sometimes. I just wish that they would engage their brain sometimes. Job's friend was very free with his words. Was all that he said wrong? No. Was all of it bad advice? No! But one thing for sure he had got the wrong end of the stick.

Eliphaz was convinced that Job must have displeased God and Job was now under God's judgement. Nothing could have been further from the truth. God was very pleased with Job in fact he bragged on Job to the devil.

I remember once when a friend had just lost a baby and some crazy "spiritual" Christian suggested that it was the judgement on God. Crazy!!!

God is not in the business of condemning and judging people he is in the business of lavishing His grace on them and forgiving them.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

It's a Wonderful Life

Job 3 reminds me of my favourite film. It always comes to the fore this time of year and I must have watched it a thousand times. Starring my favourite actor Jimmy Stewart - It's a Wonderful Life is a classic.

George Bailey had great dreams but through circumstances saw them disappear and ends up on Christmas Eve in a desperate situation. Although not quite in the mess that Job finds himself he ends up making the same statement. I wish I had never been born!

His guardian angel Clarence Peabody Angel 2nd Class is given the task, as is Job's friend in Ch 4 v 4 of explaining to George that his life has affected many people and that he had done huge things.

Life is an incredible gift that we have been given by God. In it we can touch so many others for good and God can touch us, not by sending an angel 2nd class, but by sending His son. Through Him no matter what the circumstances we can have - a wonderful life.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

This is the worst day ever!

This morning I read as part of my daily readings I read Job 1 & 2. See here. So my mind was churning over how I would react in difficult and even disastrous situations.

Driving into work with Abbie who I drop off for college I had to brake hard because some crazy lunatic was driving too fast, (or maybe I was driving too fast) and all of her work folders fell on the floor. They promptly burst open and all the pages were spread across the floor of the car.

After picking up all the pages and stuffing them back into her folder she realised that she had dropped some money and had lost a £1. That was when she uttered these words:

Oh! This is the worst day ever!

Maybe I need to introduce her to the story of Job.

He Gives and takes away

Job 1 & 2

These two chapters are some of the most challenging you can read in scripture. It brings a whole new meaning to the prayer bless me Lord. Job was the creme d' la creme of a God follower. Even to the point that God brags about him to the devil.

How would he react when things turned bad and difficult. He is only following you because life is good were the challenges that the devil threw out.

How would I react if I lost everything in one evening. All my possessions well maybe I could cope with it just maybe. But then he looses his family in one foul swoop. Just how do you react to this my mind just cannot comprehend.

Job makes an incredible declaration which I have sung many times in church in the Newsboys classic song - Blessed be your name. Part of the lyrics are based on v 21

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name
I will bless Your name

Now this contexts brings a whole new depth to the song. Clearly Job kept his faith and integrity because some time later God and the devil are having another conversation and God is still bragging on His man. As a result the devil tests him further by taking his health.

A good, righteous, faithful man with oodles of integrity but his physical world was falling apart. Whats that all about?

Thank You Thank You Dad

We took Liam to his first Snowboard lesson at the Xscape last night. He was so looking forward to it. Not sure why failing over numerous times and hurting yourself has never held much appeal for me.

It looked like he got to the point of going down backwards and only falling down a couple of times on a descent. He had a brilliant time and couldn't stop thanking us.

PS. I don't think he was quite as thankful this morning when he started to feel it in his muscles and the bumps and bruises.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Recap

It was great to have Andrew Shearman with us today. He did a great job in continuing our series "When Love Comes to Town" speaking on the subject of grace.

He mentioned the Hymn The Love of God Words by Frederick Lehman. Here is the full version:

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

It was great to see all the food coming in for the Food Bank Restock day and all 50 Shopping lists for hampers went from the Christmas tree. So I am looking forward to seeing them all come in on the 14th December.

We also launched our Christmas Love Gift offering. We gave everyone who attended today and envelope with anything from £5 - £100 and asked everyone to give it away to a good cause or a person or family in need this Christmas time. Remember if you have given away one of the gifts let us know what you did by writing it here.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A World saturated with Grace

So often we religious people walk amid the beauty and bounty of nature and we talk nonstop. We miss the panorama of color and sound and smell.

Nature's lessons are lost and the opportunity to be wrapped in silent wonder before the God of creation passes. We fail to be stretched by the magnificence of the world saturated with grace.

We must rediscover the gospel of grace and the world of grace.

Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel chapter five


Esther 5

It's so easy to read a story in the Bible and gloss over it. Sometimes you need to just pause and feel the situation. Put yourself in the middle of it. Only then do you understand the courage shown by Esther in this perilous situation.

This was a life and death moment. They just don't happen every day. Esther was probably trying to get by. Ripped away from her family, forced into a relationship, living in fear of her life if she did not please the king, trying to hide her background gives some context to the position of "Queen".

Things were far from ideal. Where was God in this? Then God came calling not with deliverance but a further challenge. It was time to up the ante. She had to convince the King that his closest advisor was up to know good and it could easily cost her her life. What if God did not step in? It didn't seem like he had helped her till now.

But Esther showed a spirituality and a courage not seen so often. After a time of prayer and fasting she stepped up to the mark and off the ledge not knowing what would happen - that’s courage.

When Love Comes to Town

Here is the intro video we used to start our new series at MKCC last Sunday

When Love Comes to Town Opener from Billy Ritchie on Vimeo.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Food Bank Restock Sunday

Remember this Sunday is Food Bank Restock Day. In line with the prevailing economic conditions our Food Bank is seeing a huge rise in clients over the last few months.

We have also partnered with other churches in the city who now run satellite distribution points from their building. This means that needy people in MK can now visit Food Bank on 6 out of 7 days of the week.

We want to ensure that no one in our city needs to go hungry this Christmas time. So bring food this Sunday. Give us a huge problem with storage. There will be a van at the park and ride at MK College to take your donations.

Remember to concentrate on these items:

  • Rice pudding
  • UHT Milk
  • Long Life Fruit Juice
  • Breakfast Cereal
  • Cup a Soup
  • Jam
And don't miss this weekend. Not only do we have Andrew Shearman visiting but we are going to launch 2 new Love Comes to Town projects. One of which we have never done before. You do not want to miss it. Be there Sunday!

The Perfect Husband

Role models and mentors for all you husbands out there.

Compassion Art

Compassion Art is the brain child of Martin Smith, Delirious?. Worship leaders from all over the world got together for one day and collaboratively wrote songs. Including Martin Smith, Matt Redman, Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, Darlene Zschech, Graham Kendrick, Paul Baloche, Andy Park, Israel Houghton, Stu G, Chris Tomlin and Matt Hughes.

They have now recorded them and an album has been released. All royalties and profits are going to the charity Compassion Art. W H Smiths have agreed to stock the album so get along to your local store today.

Compromised Principles

Earlier this year a Zimbabwean MP Coltart said : "I would rather lose my seat in Parliament than compromise certain principles that are fundamental to my belief system.

Coltart had beliefs and principles that we core to his political life. Even if it meant an end to that political life he was not prepared to compromise them. Sometimes it cam be good to compromise. If you are married and are not prepared to compromise you are probably going to have a few arguments. But some things go just too deep and are just too important.

In Esther 3 we read about Mordecai facing this type of challenge. He could have rationalised things. I've got a reasonable reputation with the king because of my past actions why rock the boat. God I am bowing on the outside but not in my heart. Knowing that it was going to cause problems for him which could even take his life, even under duress day after day he held to his principles.

Monday, November 24, 2008

This is uncomfortable

Came across this on my Vimeo feed this week. NewSpring church used this piece of drama in their weekend series recently - Beautiful. It Illustrates Proverbs 7, read it first and then watch the video.

Based on Proverbs 7:10-23 from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.

Party time

Nehemiah 12

It's important to take time to celebrate things. Too often we let things go by and do not mark them with a celebration. I think that this can be particularly true in church environment. We work hard then we work harder achievements are made then we just move on and work even harder.

Not sure why this is maybe because we don't want to take glory away from God and make it look like its about what we have done. Or maybe its because we think that church is just a place for seriousness I don't know.

But when I read the Bible God is not afraid of a party. Think it says all heaven throws a party when one person starts to follow Jesus. Jesus also tried to explain God to us by using a story of a father who threw an extravagant party for a returning delinquent son.

In Nehemiah Ch 12 we see another wild party. All sorts of music, multiple instruments, loads of singers, 2 choirs. Oh and by the way the music was LOUD. The "rafters were ringing" v 42 and they were just celebrating some walls being finished.

Lets always celebrate the goodness of God in our lives and what we see him do especially when someone who was once lost is now found.

Live London Event: 2 Lives Changed Forever!

Hey great news that means it was more than worthwhile getting out of bed at 5.30 am on a Saturday morning and driving to London.

Read Dana's post here

Lost Son Lovesick Father

Brilliant day on Sunday at MKCC. We launched our new series for the run in to Christmas - When love comes to town. This December we as a church will be demonstrating Jesus love to our community in many different ways.

The band did a great job of I still haven't found what I'm looking for.

One thing that really got under my skin when talking about the lost son was that the Father let him go. This is so not how I am as a father. I want to control and direct (with a good motive) but here in the story the father lets the son go. It must be the hardest thing to do as a father to see your child making wrong decisions knowing you can help but also knowing that they will not listen.

Jesus paint the picture of a lovesick father who never for one moment forgot about his son, continually watched out for him and eventually on welcoming home after all the mistakes he knew would happen did not say I told you so.

Here are a couple of the videos we used.

When love comes to town Bono Interview from Billy Ritchie on Vimeo.

Lost Son from Billy Ritchie on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 22, 2008 Live Experience

Today team of us from MKCC headed down to Soho, London to be part of Internet Campus Live Experience.

20 of us turned up at the centre at 6.30 am, loaded up a couple of mini buses and headed off down the M1. Thankfully traffic was lite and we were parked up 90 minutes later. We descended on a coffee shop and gave the barrista a bit of early morning hard work.

It was great to partner with Chris, Dana and their team in hosting the first even of this type. The Curzon Theatre was a great venue for a church. (Its set my mind going on possibilities we have here in MK) While some of set up the theatre for church others hit the streets with invitations to church and a coffee and Krispy Kreme donut.

It was great to see a few visitors come into this brand new experience. Keep praying for the guys down there.

I was so proud of the team from MK and proud to be part of a team that demonstrates Jesus love and servant attitude so well. Thanks guys and girls! A burger king in a motorway service station doesn't quite portray my thanks to you in the right way. But again thanks so much.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Revolutionary love

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture - Romans 8 v 35 (mess)

This blew my mind apart yesterday. The first part I am cool with. Nothing that happens to me from outside circumstances can separate me from God's love. The credit crunch, repossession, redundancy, illness these are the types of things that can happen to us very often not because of anything we have done and certainly not because we have done anything wrong.

The last phrase is the big left hook though. "not even the WORST sins recorded in scripture". No this is different this is something we do. And the very worst sin listed in scripture that you carry out can not drive a wedge between you and God's love. Now that is an incredible definition of grace. That is revolutionary love.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Everything's Amazing, Nobody's happy

Saw this over at It made me laugh and think about the series we just did at MKCC the pursuit of happiness. Note there are a couple of words in here that are not totally wholesome so if you get offended by that sort of thing please do not watch then send me an e mail complaining!

Getting It

Nehemiah 8

V 12
Now they Got it!

God had given this people his word through Moses but they had stopped reading it. This had gone on for so long that they were not following one of the most basic celebrations that had been introduced.

Its almost like us forgetting to celebrate Christmas or Easter. That’s how bad it had got. So when the word of God was going to be read again it turned into some sort of city wide festival. With every eye watching the great and the good on the platform to open this mysterious book that contained the very words of God. Then the man of God had to interpret and explain what the words meant into an language that they understood.

Thankfully we live in a day certainly in our part of the world that the Bible is available in our every day language. In fact I can turn on my iphone and can read the bible in 10 English versions and at least 16 foreign languages. And that’s just the ones I can download. There really is no excuse for us reading Gods word. What are you waiting for. Stop read this and click here to start a reading plan.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Award time

Last week we went back to Abbie's school for her awards ceremony. Academia is not her strongest point so getting an award for top marks in English & maths was always going to be difficult. However as you can see Abbie did get an award.

The Matthew Knight Award is sponsored by a mum and dad whose son died back in 1993. After he died only then did they find out many of the incredible selfless and caring acts that their son did. So they wanted to help the school recognise pupils who quietly but consistently care and assist other people and give their time volunteering for the benefit of others.

Well the school chose Abbie to receive that award. I could not have been a more proud dad. Yes I want her to do as well as she can academically but even if she had come home and said she had achieved 8 A* in her GCSE's it would not have compared with how I felt when she picked up the Matthew Knight Award.

PS. I have suggested that she volunteer to tidy up her bedroom now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bad Leadership

Nehemiah 5

Bad selfish leadership is at the root of many problems. We see it clearly in so many countries. How many stories have we heard of power hungry leaders storing up great wealth while their country goes bankrupt, even siphoning off aid money meant for their people.

That’s exactly what happened here. Nehemiah had put in an incredible amount of effort and personal money buying back the freedom of so many of his compatriots only to find that he had freed them from one task master only to see them put into hock by their own leaders.

This is sickening where ever it happens. I heard Jim Collins say that one of the distinguishing marks of a great company over a good company was a servant-hearted leader. Their vision for the company was great than their own personal wealth.

Jesus was the ultimate servant hearted leader. Phil 2 v 6 - 10.

So it stinks when leaders in the church can sometimes seem to have a bigger vision for themselves than they have for people.

One Prayer 2009

Earlier this year we participated in One Prayer with nearly 2000 churches from around the world. We heard some incredible teaching on the subject "My One Prayer for the church is ..."

Our Senior Pastor preached week one then by video we had visiting speakers for the following 3 weeks all sharing their One Prayer for the church, Craig Groeschel, Perry Noble and Steven Furtick. It was an awesome time.

Well the guys from have just announced that they will be following it up with another series, One Prayer will take place from June 7 - 28, 2009.

The teaching theme for 2009 is, “God Is...” We’ll be exploring the attributes of God through messages like “God is Powerful,” “God is a Fortress,” “God is My Provider, ” and “God is Love.”

Registration opens early 2009. If you lead a church check it out over at One Prayer. If you are in the UK we would love to partner with you.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Prayer and Action

Nehemiah 4

v 9
We countered with prayer to our God and set a round-the-clock guard against them.

You would think that everyone would be happy that things were beginning to look better for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. But no it didn't take long for the opposition to start. Sanballett was one of the main ringleaders himself a Jewish man. Isn't it frustrating that the first opposition should come from someone who should have been on the same side.

Nothing much has changed in church history. So often opposition comes from sources you would not expect. Its amazing how often they surface when things seem to be starting to happen in church. Honestly it frustrates the pants off me. I don't know if it is the British disease of cynicism that pollutes the church or if it is a purely church disease. But why oh why do we feel the need to pull the church down the road down because they don't do it the same way or even criticise the church we attend because its not the way that we like it. Lets celebrate with each other because we are all on the same side and share in each other success.

So God spoke to me today. I need to have Nehemiah's reaction to this not my carnal reaction. Its time to go back to God and talk to him about it.

Tactical Meetings

Over the last week we have been making some changes to our meeting structure between my team at MKCC. Every day we meet first thing at 9 am for just 5 minutes to share with each other the top priority for the day. What is the most important thing we need to get done that day?

Each Monday we meet for an hour to discuss the week ahead. What are our 3 top priorities for the week? This has really helped us to start to get a better understanding between the team. Very often although we work in the same office space we can be very focused on what we are doing so do not have an appreciation of what each other are working on.

Some of the priorities shared this week are:


Produce literature for Christmas series
Finalise trip to Live experience in London.
Produce videos for this Sunday preach.


Progress CRB items
Shoot video for children's teaching Christmas Series


Finalise bands for Ultimate Event 2009.
Develop Christmas series for young people.


Produce newsheet for Sunday
Construct weekly ezine
Develop posters etc on Christmas series

Bev V

Prepare Christmas series for Pre School
Set up rota for Kidz Church staff for December. (Many people are away for the whole of December)
Prepare for Kidz Quest

Bev S

Prepare for New Friends Supper
Contact New Visitors from weekend
Contact recent visitors who it has been difficult to reach


Prepare video of Sunday Services to be uploaded to web.
Investigate difficulty with one of the projectors.
Prepare video for NFS.

This is by no means all that the team do but their important tasks for the week. The meeting also throws up longer-term issues which we record and then plan to spend some concentrated time on.

Early days but I think we have all found it beneficial.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Nehemiah 3

This chapter of the Bible gives us one of the most incredible descriptions of team work you can read. In all most impossible circumstances this rag tail group of men women and children set out together to build a city out of the rubble of decades.

Time and time again the word "next" appears as people from all walks of life bent their backs and got on with the job.

v1 The priests didn't sit in a holy huddle praying about the situation. They got their hands dirty.
v8 No matter what their speciality (ministry) goldsmith or perfume maker they all got down in the dirt and carried bricks.
v12 The women worked alongside the men.
v14, 15 & 16 The leaders led by example.

The work of God is urgent and important. Christ is building his church but he is and has always used men and women to do the work. We have daily the opportunity to wake up and get on the greatest teamwork project in the history of the world - His Church.

God goes to great length to tell us how this thing church should work. Maybe one of the best metaphors is the one he explains to his followers at Corinth through Paul.

1 Cor 12 v 12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Prayer Meeting

Nehemiah 1

Hey on my YouVersion reading plan I have come to what is my favourite book in the Bible. I can still remember the first time I read this story as a young teenager it completely rocked my world. I had sat through years of Sunday School and heard all sorts of stories. David & Goliath, Jonah & the whale, Feeding the 5,ooo the list goes on. But no one had chosen to tell me about this incredible guy called Nehemiah who fought against impossible odds to revive a nation.

What hits me front and centre was that this guy was a man of prayer.On hearing about the problems back in the home country his first reaction was to talk to God. In fact he prayed about the situation for months before he talked to the King about it and even then in the middle of his conversation with the King he is praying under his breath. Continually throughout the book he is in prayer. Prayer for him was a lifestyle and every day constant occurrence not just a meeting.

Growing up in church we seemed to have meetings for everything:

  • Breaking of Bread Meeting - Where we took ritual we were supposed to be doing anytime we met and eat with other Christians.
  • Gospel Meeting - Where we should invite our unsuspecting friends to to here the Gospel.
  • Bible Study Meetings - I liked them but for too many people they were the only time they would study Gods word. (Well to be more to the point listen to what someone else had studied)
  • Waiting Meetings - Where people could get baptised in the Spirit.
Then there were Prayer Meetings - Tuesday and Thursday evenings where we would sit for an hour and a half for long periods of silence punctured occasionally by some long winded high fluting prayer that I could not always understand because grown people in the North of Scotland in the late 1970's thought that to talk to God they had to speak King James English of 400 years ago.

Hey I am thankful for much of this upbringing but it had a tendency to take what God had for our everyday lives and lock it all up in meetings.

Nehemiah did not have to have a "meeting" to pray he talked to God all the time. Did he call people together to pray? Yes. But his private personal prayer life far out weighed the public corporate meeting.

When love comes to town

Next Sunday is the launch of our brand new teaching series at MKCC leading up to our special Christmas presentations on Sunday 21st December.

It is called "When love comes to town". Based on John Ch 1 v 14.

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.

When Jesus came to town love moved into the neighbourhood in flesh and blood. He practically demonstrated love he didn't just talk about it. We are going to be launching various projects over the next few week so that our church can practically demonstrate Jesus love at Christmas time. Make sure you come along tomorrow and hear about the first opportunity.

I took delivery of the logo above today which we will use during this season.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Kidz Church Building Update

The redevelopment of our Kidz Church and Nursery continues to develop. The new walls have been framed out and the guys are starting to cover all our brick work with plaster board.

New Reception Area

Entrance to new Little Stars Room

New extension for Champions League Children

New Little Stars Room

Famous of Infamous

Ezra 10

Lots of the Old Testament seems to be full of lists. Lists of people. Here is the list of people that did this or that. Earlier in the book of Ezra we looked briefly a list of famous pioneers. The people and families who were willing to sacrifice everything for the cause.

Here Ezra records a different type of list. It records the men from all walks of life that had ignored God's instructions and gone their own way and married foreign wives. In their difficulty their God had become too small and they decided to live for themselves instead of God's plan.

Their actions listed them for all time in God's word not for fame but infamy. This is not a list that I would want to appear on.

Unfortunately lists are still made today both good and bad. Its great to read lists of the largest churches, the quickest growing, the most innovative etc etc. But its sad to read a list all too often of people, pastors and leaders who make wrong decisions. Yes God's grace is unquestionably there for us all but the damage that is done to all concerned is immense.

Our decisions and actions can have far reaching consequences if our God becomes too small and in our minds we become bigger than him. I want to stay on the right list.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Best Man takes a tumble

This one has been around for a while but hey it is funny.

Feeling the weight of Sin

Ezra 9 - Ezra feels the weight of sin.

Grace is the major theme of this blog. It has become my life message. 10 years ago it burst into my life as a Christian and changed it forever. When I talk about sometimes people suggest it’s just too easy. They view it as a sort of get off scot-free card. You can do anything and God lets you off.

I get to thinking they just have not understood grace because when you do the weight of sin that is felt is more intense than you have ever felt in your life. When Grace and the price that Jesus paid to accomplish it settle in your heart and find a home there, senses to sin are heightened as we contemplate the God Man Jesus.

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us..." Galatians 3:13

Jesus bought us out of the system of rules and regulations and set us free in the world of Grace. How? He actually became cursed for us. On the cross he became sin for us. On the cross he felt the weight of sin. Not just my sin but he felt the weight of the sin of the whole world! He was innocent. Completely blameless. Yet He chose it. He chose the suffering. He chose to feel the full weight of sin.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1 - 2