Friday, October 31, 2008

Standards of the ancestors

2 Chronicles 29

(v2) In God’s opinion he was a good king; he kept to the standards of his ancestor David.

Maybe its just because I am getting a little older but I am appreciating more and more the older generation. Thankfully my mum and dad were Christians so I grew up in church. As a teenager I saw the older generation as past it. They had had their day got stuck in the past and were holding back the development of the church.

It is very easy to loose that visionary spirit but age is not the only contributing factor. But one thing sometimes only years and experience brings is wisdom.

Looking back now I was blessed to have some influence from some godly people. So many of them had an authentic spirituality and humility.

One such guy was our old Sunday School Superintendant. (Strange names we used to have for a Children’s Pastor) Alex Duthie was gently spoken but lead each week a Sunday school that I think saw 75 - 80% of all the children in our village attend.

He was an incredible student of the word and I used to love to listen to his Bible Studies. I still remember his studies from Revelation on the New Jerusalem. (Not sure though he would appreciate my interpretation of that book now).

His love for God and the scriptures was tangible. Would he have liked or approved the way we do church now hey I don't know but I would like to keep the standards of my spiritual ancestor Alex.

Who are your spiritual ancestors whose standards you would like to emulate.?

Halloween Gospel


Thursday, October 30, 2008

99 Balloons

The following video was shown on the Oprah show recently. Incredible!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Kidz Church Taking Shape

Hidden behind the hoarding around our building the new Day Nursery and Kidz Church is starting to take place. The foundation slab for the extension is down, internal walls are beginning to be framed out and the new external walls will start to rise next week.

Check out some more photos at the T2B Blog.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Whose plan?

2 Chronicles 25

Amaziah king of Judah had a plan. On the face of it a good plan. He was strengthening his army for conquest. He had a strong army but had hired some mercenaries from the rest of Israel and increased his forces by a third. All good until God interrupts his plan.

God sent a prophet to tell him to send these recruits home , he didn't need them. Puzzled Amazaiah asks the question why. The reply is profound.

“God’s help is worth far more to you than that,” (v9)

Its good to have plans, ideas and strategy. God gave us brains to use for his glory. But are we prepared for our plans to be interrupted, tested and even changed.

Watch out for God interruptions and always be prepared to follow his advice. God's help far outweighs any other help.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Connector to the current of the power of christ

Pastor Steven Furtick brings it on service for God.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Thoughts

  • Love it when the clocks go back. You get an extra hour in bed then you get to tell people who think they are turning up 15 min late for the service that they are actually 45 min early. (Yes I am sad I get a kick out of that)
  • The band did a great set today my highlight the song Undivided by Wade Joye of Elevation Church. Get it from iTunes here.
  • Mark did a great job in talking about the Addiction of Happiness. Photo on right struggling with his rucksack with his bricks of fatigue, debt, conflict etc.
  • His advice 1. Focus on being grateful 2. Focus on being generous with your possessions and 3. Focus on maintaining a godly perspective on what we have.
  • You are going to last a lot longer than possessions
  • Insomnia increases with income
  • If you missed it listen here.
  • Spent the afternoon experimenting with a couple of recipes. 1. Macaroni Salad and 2. Copycat Outback Steak Marinade. We will find out tonight how it went.
  • American Football League live in Wembley, London Yeah!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Nursery & Kidz Church Update

Things are moving on in our building programme at MKCC. This video is actually now a couple of weeks out of date but it shows where we were at that time. More soon.

Nursery & Kidz Church Update from Billy Ritchie on Vimeo.

Friday, October 24, 2008

List of Good Words

The ploys of the enemy do not change very much - deception and isolation. Why is it when we are in trouble we retreat into ourselves. We buy into the lie that if other people knew the real me and if God knew the real me they and he could not love me. The lie leeds to isoloation. Isolation from family, friends and a church community.

God loves us with all our rubbish there is NOTHING we can do that will stop God loving us.

Please read this post by Craig Groeschel now. It is brilliant. Then switch off your computer and start writing and do not stop till you get to 100.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hail to the King - Hillsong London

Hillsong Church in London is exploding. They meet in the Dominion Theatre every Sunday where over a 100 volunteers load in and set up church. They are passionate about the church being ...the visible representation of the invisible God.

I've just been sent a pre release of their brand new album by Integrity Music - Hail to the King. Their first album in about 3 years but I can assure you it it has been wort the wait.

From high energy songs like RISE (co wrote by Israel Houghton) to the haunting melody "Look to the cross" the album takes you on a spiritual adventure.

Check out You are Here (The Same Power) on YouTube below then preorder the album here its out next week.

Just breathe

Picked up the new Superchick album - Rock What You Got. Great album! One song really got to me today.

The opening lines are:

Please tell me you'll fight this fight
I can't see without your light
I need you to breathe into my life

It maybe your call today to God. Like Asa the king we have looked at over the last couple of days you don't have to fight this battle alone. God's answer to you is that you do not have to, and never will have to fight this battle on your own. He is on your side. Maybe you have come to the end and all you can do is just breathe. Well keep breathing and let him do the rest.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How is your feet?

2 Chronicles 16

Asa previous victories were secured by one thing his reliance on God. If asked we all know we should rely on God. We should ask him for direction. We should ask him for protection and we should ask him for help. We all know that most of us have done it at one time or another. So why do we sometimes try to things in our own strength.

Asa at one time went to God as a matter of course but somehow the habit had eroded and now faced with a great challenge he decides to bargain and compromise his way out of it. What makes a man face up to a huge challenge with God by his side only to buckle and not even bring God into it when faced with another similar situation.

Basically somewhere on the way he and we replace God with self. Its not a conscious up in lights moment but a slow transference of our focus from God to self.

The problem in its self was not because he made the wrong decision it was because its a heart thing. His heart had drifted. As the Prophet said:

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. (v9)

Asa spent his last years with crippled feet. Maybe a bit of an example. Without feet it becomes difficult to do things on your own you have to start relying on others.

Lesson? Guard your heart and rely on God.

Give it all

Yes I know I am growing into a bigger and bigger softy but this video brought a tear to my eye.

NewSpring Church in Anderson SC are expanding their building including a new youth facility.

Anderson Youth Building Vision Event from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Remember who is fighting the battle

2 Chronicles 14

Reading this account of another new king in Judah's history I was struck with somethings.

Asa did some great things.

In a time of peace he did some great preparation work. Its tempting to sit back when everything is going smooth and take it easy. Asa took the time to purify, pray and prepare. He got rid of all the idols he called the people to pray and he started training an army. A great example for us make God first in our lives, to develop our relationship with him and to prepare for His mission.

But eventually it was time for conquest. There is a purpose for preparation. Eventually this well prepared committed army faced a huge foe. Asa knew he was in trouble and went to God in prayer. Even when we have planned and prepared we can sometimes end up facing huge obstacles.

Like Asa we can pray to God: “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O Lord, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.”

Then it says: The Lord struck down the Cushites.

I think too often we try to fight the battles in our own power and strength. Maybe its time to speak to God about it. Simple I know but very often forgotten.

Are you small minded?

Well I suppose the title of the post got you reacting already in one of two ways.

Earlier this year we participated in a teaching campaign with 1000's of other churches around the world called One Prayer. It was a huge success for us. The other week we showed as part of our hope series a video message of Louie Giglio - The Anchor of Hope. It was an incredible message!!

What saddened me was that I was told that a few of our regular attenders chose to stay away because it was video teaching. Well if that is you and you are reading this I need to tell you, you missed out.

If God can speak though a donkey then he sure can use a man through the medium of video. Why is it that sometimes in the church we are last to adopt the technology that God is giving us to spread the gospel. (People thought the printing press was from the devil)

Yes I know its in America but I also have heard of incredible stories about people in the Indian bush, seeing the Jesus movie and whole villages following Jesus. Lets open our mind to what God can accomplish through the technology we have today.

If in any further doubt please read this post by Perry Noble:

"Does video teaching work?

This question was the center of a lot of debate a few years ago…and it has been answered very quickly…YES!!!

Yesterday we launched our new location in Florence, SC and had 189 people show up…which is WAY more than we were anticipating.

For those who don’t know…we do not have a permanent facility down there…we do the load in/load out thing…and the service yesterday was a “preview service.” (We will have another one in two weeks.)

SO…after our 11:15 service in Anderson I called Michael Brown, our campus pastor, to see how the service went.

He picked up the phone and said, “Hey man, I am SO sorry–have you been trying to call me?”

I thought that was a weird way to begin the conversation…so I said, “No, why are you asking?”

He said, “My phone has been blowing up but I haven’t been able to answer it because I was meeting with a guy who came to our service this morning.”

I then asked him how things went and he said, “Dude, the MOST exciting thing that took place was the meeting I just had with the guy who showed up today. This was the first time he’s been to church in 20 years…and I just led him to Christ!”

I about ran off the road!!! Seriously…I was so excited that I literally lost my awareness of how fast I was driving! THAT ABSOLUTELY PUMPED ME UP!!!


You must understand that we are launching Florence in a unique way. Sam, our worship pastor, led worship with just a microphone and an acoustic guitar…no band, no drums…just Sam.

AND…we showed a video of a message I preached at the Anderson campus in January of 2007. (To which Michael said everyone was interacting with!)

All that taken into consideration…and a guy who hadn’t been to church in 20 years met Christ!

Our vision for Florence is to one day see NewSpring Church in a permanent facility; however, the way that a vision is accomplished is one step at a time–and today the first step was taken in planting a church in that area of the state that has a passion to see people far from God come to know His Son and have their life changed forever.
Florence…he’s the first of thousands in your community that are going to have their lives changed!!! Keep on praying, serving and inviting your friends…God has great things in store.

Does video teaching work? There’s a guy in Florence, SC that is now going to spend eternity in heaven because a church refused to believe that church has to be done the way it’s always been done! I am sure he would say he’s thankful!!!

God is doing great things THROUGH technology…and I can’t wait to see what happens next!!"

Monday, October 20, 2008


What now seems many years ago (1982 - 1984) I attended Mattersey Hall Bible College.

Strange that I knew everything back then and now 24 years later I know nothing.

Well today I am going to the funeral of one of my old lecturers - Vernon Ralphs. He went to be with the Lord recently.

When I was at college Vernon was a visiting lecturer while he still pastored in Luton eventually after I had left he went to work full time at the college for 20 years. I remember him teaching New Testament Survey but he went on to be Director of Studies. He also pastored churches in Golborne (Lancashire), Newark (Nottinghamshire), Brentwood (Essex).

Vernon was a faithful servant for God. He wrote this in a recent blog post:

The future? We must plan for the eternal future. “For what shall it profit a man
if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Vernon has now entered into his eternal future well prepared. Please pray for his wife Brenda and family at this time.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Recognising the battle

For those of you who know me you know that I do not see demons everywhere. BUT I do believe in the spiritual battle. Sometimes it is not at the forefront of our minds and sometimes we need to recognise when we are in it.

One thing for sure is that when you are trying to push the envelope for God's kingdom the other kingdom does not like it and will use the usual tactics to get at you - temptation, deception and lies.

Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6 v 10 and following that we must take our guard in the fight. So much of this battle rages in our minds so it is no surprise that he tells us to put on the helmet of salvation. To continually place into our minds God's salvation message is probably the best thing we can do.

To the best of us in the battle is suggested, you are a failure, you are a fraud, you are no good, God is disappointed in you, he cannot love you and on and on the lies go till we end up believing this rubbish.

In its place we need to put the promises of God, yes you may get things wrong but there is no change in God's love no change in his grace. One thing I do realise more and more is that the enemies greatest tactic is to isolate people with their spiral of negative thoughts. Do not accept this get a Godly friend you can trust and stand together.

Take a look at this message from Craig Groeschel on spiritual warfare. Its about 35 min long but well worth the investment of your time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Catalyst Conference Pictures

My first experience of Catalyst Conference was incredible. It certainly was a crazy few days with many memorable moments. I feel like my life and leadership has been stretched to breaking point. I have lost to process and develop so now the hard work starts.

Here are a few pictures of the conference:

12,500 people sit in the round

Steve Fee rocks the house

Craig Groeschel talking about IT

Steven Furtick taking about the process between the promise and the pay off

Indigestion of Opportunity

Between a crazy schedule in the states, travel, jet lag and walking back into work after more than a week away blogging has been far down the list of priorities.

One of the things I took away from the Catalyst Conference, amongst many, was a statement by Jim Collins.

He said many of us suffer from the "Indigestion of Opportunity". This statement found a home in my heart. In church leadership life there certainly is a host of opportunity. There are many causes, projects, ideas, values, practices and visions that shout for our time. The biggest problem with all these are virtually non of them are bad, most of them are noble and good, but they cannot all be great for us. We can end up chasing so many causes that we end up spreading ourselves to thin, loose our disciple and end up doing nothing great.

Being clear on what our core mission is and having the disciple to stick to it like glue continually building momentum is vital to build something great.

I need to learn to say yes to what builds momentum and no to things that diverts my discipline. Hard for me because for a habitual people pleaser like me it means I will have to say no but what is more important?

Friday, October 10, 2008


Ryan and I are at conference called Catalyst at the moment. Someone asked why we go to conferences and why do we go to the states? It's a great question and the opening day of Catalyst nailed it for me.

We had the privilege to sit and listen to:

  • A pastor who leads one of the largest churches in the states and is recognized as one of the top church communicators on leadership. Andy Stanley
  • A janitor who decided to write a book for his kids that no one wanted to publish so he published it himself. The book about his spiritual journey "The Shack" has been the NY Times no 1 for 20 weeks. William P Young
  • One of the worlds top business speakers and author of the book "Good to Great" - Jim Collins.
  • One of the leading voices of racial reconciliation and author - Brenda Salter McNeil
  • A 28 year old guy who started a church 2 years ago with 7 families and now sees over 5000 gather each week. A few weeks ago they baptised 1000 new Christians - Steven Furtick.
  • Seth Godin - recognised as the worlds leading guru on marketing.
  • Leader of Craig Groeschel, who as well as growing a local church through multiple campuses has a passion to see the church unite over denominational and theological lines and are leveraging their resources to assist the worldwide body of believers.
And that was just one day. If you are reading this and you attend a church one of the best things you can do is invest in the development of your pastor and leaders. Do they have to go to the states no but outside of the Global Leadership Summit I don't think I have seen this sort of breadth of speakers in the UK at one time. But they need to hear voices that will build them up, challenge them, stretch them and inspire them.

I believe if you grow the leader and you will grow your church so invest in their training and development.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Having a good time

On Monday Ryan and I did a whirlwind tour of NYC. In about 5 hours we hit the main sites.

  • Ferry to Staten Island and back to pass the Statue of Liberty and get a view of probably the most famous skyline in the world.
  • Wall Street
  • Ground Zero
  • Rode in a Yellow Cab
  • Rockefeller Centre - Skating rink (Well there was no skating rink yet)
  • Top of the rock to get great views of the city. Central Park, Empire State etc.
  • Maddison Square Gardens then back on the Long Island Railway from Penn Station.
I also introduced Ryan to Ellen's Stardust Diner just off Broadway. The waiters and waitresses are aspiring Broadway actors so they entertain you while you eat. They even sing when serving you, making coffee and giving you the bill. Is it the best food around no but it sure is a great experience. I took the photo above but below is a video from someone elses visit.

Playing your part

Ever wanted to do something for God but it does not seem to work out. A passion burns in your heart to accomplish a certain thing but no matter how hard you try it does not happen.

King David experienced exactly this. His passion was to build a temple for God in Jerusalem. The message says in 1 Chronicles 22 that he wanted in the “worst” way to build God’s house. He had set his heart on something for God and was desperate to do it but God actually prevented him from doing it.

Worse David’s dream was going to be fulfilled and accomplished by someone else, his son Solomon. David had done the heavy lifting in this mission surely he deserved the glory. God said no.

David’s reaction? Was he bitter, angry, resentful, critical? No it was encouragement. That takes a huge person to do that. 1 Chronicles 22 v 18. I played my part now its time for you to play yours.

What an incredible heart.

There is always another giant

One of my favourite Bible stories growing up was David & Goliath. A little guy faced with an impossible task that was sure to be crushed like a nat came through with God’s help. He was God’s man on God’s mission and had to fight God’s battle.

The battle was over the victory won time to rest and reflect in the glory. But when you are on a conquest for God there is always another Giant around the corner. Well there is if you are not prepared to settle where you are.

In 1 Chronicles 20 we read an account of more battles fought and more giants faced and defeated. And the new Giants are bigger and more fearsome than the last one. But God is still the same. The challenges may be different but his power is more than enough.

I also noticed that it was not David killing the giant any more it was his mighty men. He realised that his mission was bigger than himself and he mentored others to go after the giants. Previously it was him alone against the enemy everyone else cowered away but his example had inspired a new wave of giant slayers.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Volunteers for the Kingdom

This past weekend I experienced Church in a cinema. One big plus was the seats. They certainly were much more comfortable than the brown plastic ones we use at MKCC. Another plus is that they have a video screen to die for.

I learned loads but one thing that struck me more than anything else was the volunteers. Every week a huge team of volunteers arrive at 7.30 am and transform the space into a church. Everything and I mean everything is brought in. Then a few hours later everything is put back in the box. Did I say that these guys do it every week. One of the guys who had been loading in since 7.30 then sang in the band then loaded out again.

Here is a little video I put together of the morning.

Church at the Movies Set Up from Billy Ritchie on Vimeo.

Finally checkin in

Have not had a chance to post over the last few days as things have been non stop but here is a quick review and I will post a little more detail separately.

  • Flew Delta from Heathrow to JFK on Saturday.
  • Spending a few days in Long Island with my old friend Roger Blackmore.
  • Our visit coincided with their 10th anniversary weekend for their church.
  • Joined in a celebration party with all the core team who were there on day one 4th October 1998. I missed the first week but I did make the 4th week when I visited with Nicola for her 30th Birthday. (Yes that means she is nearly 40 and looking younger every day)
  • The food was incredible which included two 8ft long sandwiches called Heroes!
  • Sunday experienced church in a movie theatre.
  • More food this time Indian.
  • Tagged along to a leadership team meeting where Roger outlined the vision for the next 10 years. I love it when people talk about their vision its exciting and they have a big vision that needs God to show up. And yes more food - more heroes!
  • Monday did a whistle stop tour of Manhattan in 5 and a bit hours.
  • Spending a little time with Rog today before heading off to JFK and flying to Atlanta. Catalyst here we come.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Time to Destroy

The guys have been working in the Nursery and Kidz Church area for couple of weeks now. Its more demolition than building at present. Here is a little update:

Nursery & Kidz Church Progress from Billy Ritchie on Vimeo.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Pursuit of Happiness

Over the next 2 weeks at MKCC we have a short series on Hope - Where to get help when it hurts the most. This week we have the visit of Ron Heagy. More about him here. Make sure you do not miss Sunday and bring your friends with you.

The following week we will welcome by the magic of video Louie Giglio on his message Hope. This is an INCREDIBLE message looking at the subject of where do we go when things just don't work out.

The week (19th October) after we start a brand new series The Pursuit of Happiness lots of reasons to make sure you attend each week at MKCC.

Pursuit of Happiness Opener from Billy Ritchie on Vimeo.

Outward Bound

Tomorrow I catch an early morning Delta flight to New York. Ryan and I are heading off to catalyst conference. On the way we will be stopping off in Long Island to visit Roger & Gill Blackmore. Roger was my pastor as I was growing up and is responsible for shaping my early spiritual development. (So yes blame him)

It is the 10th anniversary of their church that meets in a Cinema. Each week loads of volunteers turn up early in the morning and load in and set up everything, and I mean everything, to make church happen. Incredible. I am so excited to be there for this special occasion.

We are then going on to Atlanta for catalyst. It is sure to be a great time of inspiration and a great opportunity to network with some friends from across the pond. We will also visit 3 churches on the Sunday before we flyback.

Some of you may ask why go to conferences:

  • I need to continually grow as a leader being challenged by better leaders is vital.
  • It gives you a wider understanding of what is going on in the church at large.
  • Its helps you learn from other people successes and failures.
  • As a leader you need to be refreshed and receive input from others.
  • I need to be continually challenged to grow.
  • It gets you away from all distractions and creates a great learning environment.
Looking forward to a week where I am going to be challenged an taught by God.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Time to Destroy

Our renovations at MKCC are well under way. However our building work has started with quite a bit of demolition. The Nursery and Kidz Church is looking a little sad.

More pics over at Time2Build Blog

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

You Version iGoogle Gadget

If you are an iGoogle user there is a great new gadget from YouVersion. From their blog today:

Today we officially launched the first Google Gadget. If you find yourself using the very useful interface take a minute and install the gadget.

Porn Again Christian

Last year we did a series at MKCC called We've got mail. It was based on the letters to the churches in the early part of the book of Revelation. I got the subject: How serious is sexual sin. I think I got more feedback on that sermon than any other I have done.

I did something many preachers would not do be honest about the struggles they have had or are having. My struggles with porn continued even throughout my time at Bible College. Thankfully through connecting with good people and reading some good material it no longer dominates my life. Am I immune absolutely not as with any sin put yourself in the wrong place often enough and you can get trapped.

So today I came across this post by Mark Driscoll. Basically over the next few weeks he is releasing chapters of his book "Porn Again Christian" on the web. Once completed it will be available as a free PDF. Mark is straight talking and I am sure that he will ruffle a few feathers but if you are a man I challenge you to read along here as it released. And tell your friends. One of the biggest difficulties with this sin is it isolates people. Lets ensure we provide safe places to assist each other.

Things I hate about myself

  • It takes very little to make me worry, a sleepless night is very easy to come by.
  • It takes very little to get me angry
  • I often take things personally when I shouldn't
  • I often speak before I think
  • I am often at "work" even when I am home. The lap top does not help.
  • Believe it or not I try to please people too often (insecurity)
  • I have to prove myself all the time (insecurity again)
  • At the same time I can be very selfish (how does that work?)
  • I feel guilty allot of the time. I have not done this piece of work, I have not spent any time with the kids, I am not a support to my wife enough the list goes on. But even my guilt does not move me past my selfishness.
There are others but think that is enough for now. Not exactly a resume for a good Christian let alone a church leader. (I may get fired if Mark reads this - something else to worry about) Today and every day I thank God that I experience his grace that still loves me and seeks to mould and change me.

Philip Yancey in his book, What is so amazing about grace, told a story about a guy who went back to work amongst the clan who had killed his friend. When asked why he answered: (And please do not get offended) "We are all B******S but God loves us any way"