It is amazing how easy it is to forget Jesus. The events of the last few days must have been heavy on the disciples minds. Death and burial gave way to resurrection and hope. The disciples had met the risen Jesus on at least 3 occasions now so you couldn't say that nothing was going on.
So when a few of His disciples met together you would have thought they would have been strategising about what this meant to their mission, what had Jesus already told them about the kingdom and what part did they play.
Yet somehow they decided to go back to what they knew. Back fishing - for fish - not men. It also sounds like they were not very good at it because they caught nothing. Jesus had to help them out on that too.
Around a breakfast he finally has a heart to heart with Peter who was a natural born leader but prone to huge mistakes. He deals with Peter's betrayal and gives him a specific mission and it was not catching fish.
In the words of Philip Yancey "Jesus took a huge risk in going back to heaven. He took the risk of being forgotten."
Take a moment now to remember Him.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
John, the writer of this book, appears in the narrative of the book often. Its an eye witness story but for some reason John chooses not to say "I" or on this occacasion "Peter and I". He always refers to himself in the story as the ONE that Jesus loved.
I am sure there is some deep and meaningful theological reason to this. On first reading I thought that he was trying not to dray attention to himself not using his name but surely he did the opposite. He set himself up as the ONE that Jesus loved.
Maybe to the people looking on from the outside it seems a bit ostentatious to refer to oneself as the ONE whom Jesus loved.
Two things jump to mind though.
1. Jesus clearly had an inner circle of followers. He had hundreds if not thousands of followers, he had 12 disciples that he hand picked and of them 3 were closest. Jesus saw the value and also cultivated strong intimate relationships with a few choice friends and actually had one friend that was closer than all the rest. A good model??
2. Thankfully you are the ONE that Jesus loves and me!
Friday, August 29, 2008
As a small boy it always puzzled me as to why Jesus was put to death. I sat and listened to many stories in Sunday School about this wonderful man named Jesus. The various teachers used to use the cutting edge technology of the time - Flannel graph. Ok I am getting on a bit.
They told me how he went around healing people, telling people to love one another and serve each other. Do to others what you would have them do unto you. Come on its not hanging material.
Here is (v7) I get my answer. Jesus was not put to death because of what he did it was because of one thing that he said over and over again - I am God.
Nothing much has changed. Most people like flannel graph Jesus, most religions recognise him as a good teacher but what sticks in the throat of many people is the claim that Jesus is God.
Now I understand why he was put to death and I am forever grateful.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Jesus followers were certainly and interesting bunch. From all walks of life but with quite a few fishermen. (With my family background I have to say that.)
What I am most glad about is the so many of them were failures. We maybe that’s a bit strong suffice to say that they all failed in some way.
Peter probably the chief proponent of failure:
* He sought prominence.
* He thought His way was better than Jesus way. (to that Jesus called him Satan!)
* His faith was rocked by looking at the circumstances. (But he had enough about him to get out of the boat)
* He was aggressive.
* He betrayed Jesus at the crux moment.
* The list goes on...
Yet to Peter was entrusted the opening preaching slot in church history. The ultimate visiting speaker slot. God is bothered far less by failure than we are. Its our training ground.
LifeChurch.tv have a mantra in their church environment. Failure is not an option: its ESSENTIAL.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Its great when someone prays for you isn't it. To know that someone has thought about you and spoken to God on your behalf is inspiring to say the least. To pray to the almighty God for someone else must be one of the best things you can do for someone.
Here in Chapter 17 we read Jesus prayer for you and me. Jesus took the time to pray for you. He knew his time was drawing near and he knew that his closest followers were about to face their ultimate crisis of faith. The torture, conviction and death of their teacher.
Everything was about to change and Jesus takes time out to pray for them and us (v 20).
Take the time out to re read this incredible prayer and what Jesus wants for you. You will never lack vision for your life again every word is rich in meaning.
To pick out just one phrase. (v 11) For I’m no longer going to be visible in the world; They’ll continue in the world.
To think we, believers, are now the visible face of Jesus in the world. What awesome responsibility. I challenge you to click here and read again the prayer that Jesus prayed for you.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
SORRY THIS IS LATE THE WIRLESS NETWORK I WAS EXPECTING ON HOLIDAYS WAS BROKEN SO I HAVE FINALLY FOUND AN INTERNET CAFE TO POST MY THOUGHTS. THINGS MAYBE A LITTLE SPORADIC BUT REST ASSURED I AM READING ALONG.
v1 I’ve told you these things to prepare you for rough times ahead
There is a certain belief system that crops up in church world sometimes suggests that if you are having a rough time and things seem to be falling apart you are somehow out of the will of God.
So the reverse should then be true if you are in the perfect will of God then everything will go smoothly. Even Jesus agrees that this is hogwash.
Over the last couple of chapters Jesus is preparing his followers for the ultimate bad time their martyrdom.
Jesus does not say I am going to rescue you out of it or if you are really good and are full of faith and stay at the centre of my will you will be OK. No what he says (Ch15 v 26) is that he was going to send the Holy Spirit to comfort us in the difficulties.
Now is that a description of truly living by the Spirit facing the rough times head on and trusting Jesus through them.
Staying in Folkestone overnight befor heading over to France tomorrow by Channel Tunnel. Folkestone is not the most inspiring of places however found a Starbucks with WiFi so has some redeeming features.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Something a little different today. Instead of my thoughts here is an audio message by Mark Driscoll on Persecution in America. Think you can substitute UK for America. Have a listen!
I am learning lots and being stretched immensely and determined to grow.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
The opening verses of Chapter 14 are some of my favourite verses in the Bible. They are quoted very often around church particularly at funerals. Jesus is going to prepare a place for us. But these words of Jesus first and foremost are far more targeted in the context. They are spoken directly to Peter.
In the previous chapter Jesus has just broken the news to Peter that very soon Peter will be denying he even knew Jesus. He then follows it up by telling Peter not to worry because there is room for him in heaven. Even for a follower who would deny even knowing Jesus at His greatest point of need. Jesus still had words of encouragement.
I will never understand the depths of Jesus love and grace it keeps on surprising me.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
John 13 - Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end.
This story for me takes the biscuit. How can someone know that in a few minutes he is going to be betrayed by one of his closest companions and still serve him.
Judas had been with Jesus through so many things. He had seen many miracles, he had heard some great teaching yet he was about to blow it, and Jesus knew it. If it had been me I would have outed him in front of everyone.
After all what use is a gift of knowledge (that's what Jesus had) when you don't use it. Jesus served him as he did everything else by taking the position of a servant and washing his friends dusty feet.
So often we fight for our rights Jesus simply loved and served. An incredible example.
Friday, August 22, 2008
I am so glad that when we read about Jesus closest followers we do not find a group of incredible supermen that were nigh on perfect. It gives me great hope.
One guy that gives me great hope is the twin disciple named Thomas. In church world he has become known as "doubting" Thomas. Mainly because of his reaction to the news that Jesus had risen from the dead. He was not going to believe it till he could see and touch Jesus for himself.
(v 16) That’s when Thomas, the one called the Twin, said to his companions, “Come along. We might as well die with him.”
Jesus was telling him that he was going to see the power of God in action Thomas just thought it was an opportunity to die. Thomas reminds me of Private Fraser in Dads Army fame. When confronted with any small obstacle his famous phrase was: We're doomed, doomed. In his inimitable Scottish accent.
I for one am so glad that God chose people with a tendency to doubt and despair because if gives me hope.
Thomas went on to do a great work for Jesus kingdom. He pioneered the christian church in India and was speared to death because of his work. He may have doubted but eventually he acted.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Time and time again through varying statements and stories Jesus proclaims himself as the one thing the Jewish leaders couldn't cope with - He claimed to be God.
This was the stumling block for so many of them. They were fine with his funny stories, they were ok with some of his moral teaching (until it got too close to home and meant it needed life change), they were fine with the good deeds and miracles but him being God that was a problem.
That is still the stumbling block today. Most people accept that Jesus was a good man, a moral teacher and good example but Jesus being God that is another matter.
I also like Apple
Picked it up from Tim Stevens
Unfortunately the news I heard yesterday has proven to be true. I am extremely sad to hear that Mike Guglielmucci writer of the song Healer which I featured in this blog here has been living a lie.
For the last couple of years Mikes friends and family have been under the impression that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. It now transpires that this is not true. You can read a press release here.
Clearly through this deception Mike has hurt his church and immediate family. Many people I am sure will condemn and castigate him. At this difficult time please remember how Jesus dealt with a person caught red handed in sin.
- Lets pray for Mike and the people around him that they will be able to help him.
- Take Jesus words to heart and only start throwing stones at Mike if you have no sin.
- Think about what peoples reaction to you would be if all your hidden sin was made public.
- Pray for his immediate family at this difficult time.
- Remember that God's love for Mike has not changed. He loved him before he did anything wrong, He loved him while he was living the lie and he loves him now when his world has been exposed.
- Healer is a brilliant song and is truth. Its the messenger that has been tarnished the message is still 100% true.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
John 8 & 9
This goes little glimpse into Jesus life and actions more than any other impacts me like no other.
Here we see a lady who had been caught in the very act of adultery being brought before sinless pure Jesus. The religious people were ready to stone her for her sin and they wanted to get Jesus in on the act of killing her.
Jesus simple reply go ahead but whoever had no sin in their should be the first to throw a stone. Of course they couldn't. At least they were honest in walking away. They were admitting that they had sin and couldn't kill her. Sometimes I think that many religious people today would not have been as honest as the Pharisees we so despise in this story. Some people would have justified their sin and thrown the stone anyway.
Jesus did not come to kill people for sin he came to set them free from sin. Jesus simple challenge for the future was to go and stop sinning. What about an outward sign of repentance, what about consequences. Yes there needs to be repentance and yes I am sure there were consequences. She would have had a long journey to walk with her husband. But what she didn't need was More condemnation but a vision for the future.
This is a very apt story for me to read just now as I have just heard some difficult news about a pastor. I don't want to say anything till I am 100% sure. But if true we must remember how Jesus dealt with this person who was caught red handed in sin for all the world to see.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
For those of you who do not follow the Time 2 Build Blog for MKCC things are moving on with our building programme. The first phase is to refurbish our existing Day Nursery and Kidz Church. This will mean rehousing these activities in other parts of our campus. To assist we are bringing in a rather large temporary building.
It was delivered last Saturday over our existing building. I am glad the ropes did not snap!
Porta Cabin Delivery from Billy Ritchie on Vimeo.
We often make the point that Jesus lived as a man facing many of the same issues we face. The Bible also says he was tempted in the same way we are. The difference being is that he never sinned.
Here in this chapter we see that Jesus faced a heartache that many people face. We have found this great new relationship with Jesus and we want our family members, father, mother, brothers and sisters to know Jesus too.
(v 5) His brothers were pushing him like this because they didn’t believe in him either.
Jesus knew what it was like to have His own brothers not believe in Him. James, Joses, Simon and Jude the guys he grew up with, played with, eat with and probably worked with did not believe in him.
However things must have changed for at least 2 of them, James as a leader of the early church in Jerusalem, and Jude wrote a letter which forms part of the Bible. in the short letter bearing his name.
Just shows you that things can change and people close to can move from scepticism to belief.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Over this 2 months of the Simply Jesus devotions I have been reading through the Gospels in the "Message" a great paraphrase version.
I loved the way that it put v 34
“But my purpose is not to get your vote, and not to appeal to mere human testimony. I’m speaking to you this way so that you will be saved."
I watched a broadcast of a forum from Saddleback Church on Saturday night. Pastor Rick Warren interviewed the candidates for the American Presidential Election. It was quite interesting and you can watch it online here.
I was still left with the impression that politicians are very careful what they say possibly bending it the best way they can to win your vote.
Jesus didn't mince his words he realised that something greater was at stake than someone’s vote a battle was on for people souls. He was not prepared to pander to the religious systems that were bringing death to people.
Jesus did not come to earth to win an election for a term in office he came to establish His Kingdom for evermore. To do that he does not need our vote he needs our hearts.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Its amazing how even when something good is happening we have a way of turning it into bad. The religious leaders of Jesus time were very good at it. Great things were happening. People were repenting to the message of the Kingdom. John was baptising people and Jesus disciples were baptising people. So the Pharisees decided to keep score and started a competition and then had the people joining in.
How is it that when we are all on the same side we Christians can get into a competition. Pastors can be the worst at this. I really believe we should be interested in numbers. Numbers help us to understand if we are being effective in what we are doing. Numbers of people who are getting saved, baptised, attending Life Groups attending Sundays etc etc all are indicators.
With at least 2 provisos:
1. The people behind the numbers are more important than the numbers themselves - ALWAYS.
2. For the few of you who read this and are in church leaders write this down. When we are on the same side we should CELEBRATE with and not COMPETE with our fellow leaders.
Remember who and what we are fighting with and its not each other.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
John 2 & 3
Growing up in church I was always told that Alcohol was evil and you must never touch it. But it also intrigued me that the first miracle that I read of the Jesus performed was making wine out of water. (Don't really want to go into that right now but if you want to watch what I think is a very good message on the subject listen to Perry Noble here.)
What fascinates me is the relationship between Jesus and his mother. This is the first miracle that we read of Jesus doing but clearly their was an expectation from His mother that he could do something about the small difficulty of a lack of wine. Jesus is reluctant but His mother presses on. Verse 5 in the message says "She went ahead anyway" and presses Jesus into action.
I'm not sure why, maybe out of love for His mother, maybe he didn't want her to be embarrassed, I don't know but he goes ahead and changes water in to a Grand Cru wine.
In someway Jesus reacted to not giving up.
Friday, August 15, 2008
John 1 & 2
(v14) The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood.
Being brought up in a small village where you knew everybody somebody moving in to the village was big news. They were often looked on with a bit of suspicion and were sometimes called "Outsiders".
I remember one older lady who lived in the village who had actually lived there a lot longer than I had been born but everybody referred to her as "Glasgow" Ellen. Signifying even decades later that she was not originally from the village.
When Jesus moves in to the neigbourhood, the Bible tells us that the people who should have been ready to receive him did not and did not even realise the greatness of the person who had just moved in.
I'm so thankful that Jesus has moved into our neighbourhood.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
(v 8) Then they remembered Jesus’ words.
In a time of crisis and total confusion Jesus mum, Mary Magdalene and Joanna were reminded by 2 angels that Jesus had warned them about the current events.
(v 6 & 7) Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?”
On first reading I was thinking how daft these ladies were. How could they forget Jesus telling them something like this. Its not as though he was telling them something insignificant. I am going to be killed, actually crucified, but don't worry I am going to rise from the dead. But somehow they had forgotten.
But after thinking about it its something we all very often do, especially in time of crisis, we doubt or forget what Jesus has told us.
Its time to remember what Jesus has told you.
(And if you don't think he has told you anything. Switch off your computer, pick up your Bible and read a chapter you will be "amazed" how loudly he talks.)
Following my post yesterday about betrayal I was reminded of a poem by Rudyard Kipling that Mark's dad gave me a copy of a few months ago.
One man in a thousand, Solomon says,
Will stick more close than a brother.
And it's worth while seeking him half your days
If you find him before the other.
Nine nundred and ninety-nine depend
On what the world sees in you,
But the Thousandth man will stand your friend
With the whole round world agin you.
'Tis neither promise nor prayer nor show
Will settle the finding for 'ee.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of 'em go
By your looks, or your acts, or your glory.
But if he finds you and you find him.
The rest of the world don't matter;
For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim
With you in any water.
You can use his purse with no more talk
Than he uses yours for his spendings,
And laugh and meet in your daily walk
As though there had been no lendings.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of 'em call
For silver and gold in their dealings;
But the Thousandth Man h's worth 'em all,
Because you can show him your feelings.
His wrong's your wrong, and his right's your right,
In season or out of season.
Stand up and back it in all men's sight --
With that for your only reason!
Nine hundred and ninety-nine can't bide
The shame or mocking or laughter,
But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side
To the gallows-foot -- and after!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Luke 22 & 23
Jesus hand picked a group of 12 men to follow him and be the closest people to him. But even Jesus had one of his closest people betray him and walk away. Judas was there with him through thick and thin, he saw all the miracles all the healings. He was in the thick of it then he chose to be disloyal and took the path of betrayal.
I saw this video sometime ago from Pastor Ed Young talking about betrayal in Church life. Its aimed more at church leaders but important principles to here.
By the way I am here at MKCC for the duration. Hope you are not disappointed. Years ago I made the mistake of walking away from the table because of pride. I will never make that mistake again. I took a covenant vow with a band of brothers from MKCC on a boat in Greece. I am at the table and I am not leaving.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
When does a penny value more than £1000. It can do in God's economy.
Jesus and the disciples watched as people filed past to give their offering. A number of rich people put in large offerings then in amongst them a widow filed past and up in 2 mites. The smallest Jewish coin. In our economy we may value the people who gave £1000's more but Jesus saw it a different way.
(v 3 & 4) “The plain truth is that this widow has given by far the largest offering today. All these others made offerings that they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all!”
Another translation says some people gave out of their "Abundance" whilst she gave out of her "want".
This reminds me of the time I was left in a crumpled heap as I saw people in a IDP (Refugee) Camp in Uganda come forward and give their offerings at a church service in the open air under a tree. These were the same people that we were trying to help because they had absolutely nothing. I mean nothing.
What a standard that these people and this widow sets. They gave their all. Yes ALL! I bow to their greatness.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Luke 19 & 20
(v 10) For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.
This sums up Jesus message and purpose here on earth. This little story about about a little man tels it all.
Tax Collectors were probably amongst the hated of people in Jesus time as they all took money for themselves from the "taxes" imposed. Each hand that the tax passed would take a little out for themselves before it finally ended up where it should.
Zaccheaus being the "Chief" Tax Collector was pretty high up in the food chain so would have been very badly thought of. But it was to Him that Jesus focused in on. There was obviously a great crowd with many people to choose from but Jesus choose the most hated.
I think he was making a point. Our job is not to "do" church in our nice little box for the next few years but to FIND and RESTORE the lost by introducing them to Jesus.
It was great to have Chris & Dana Byres visit Milton Keynes over the weekend. (They attended our 12 noon service so read on if you came to one of the earlier services)
Chris & Dana and their 2 children have moved from the USA to plant a church in Wimbledon, London. The church is a network church with Lifechurch.tv. Many of you will be familure with it through the OnePrayer teaching series and their Pastor Craig Groeschel. The church will use video teaching from Pastor Craig and LifeChurch.tv
They are also hosting an internet campus of Lifechurch.tv which takes place at 9.30 am GMT each Sunday. They had around 100 people join them this week for the GMT internet experience. It is brilliant to see the internet being used to reach people for God instead of some of the other stuff.
Visit their website, their http://byersfamily.wordpress.com or become their friend on facebook (Chris facebook , Dana facebook) if that’s your thing.
Edit. Take a look at a new video Chris has done about their launch.
The Open Door / Launch / 14th September from The Open Door on Vimeo.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Jesus tells a story about a woman badgers a king about her rights being violated. She keeps on his case so much that the king finally investigates the case. The reason her persistence. To start with the king had no interest but because she kept on and on he finally got involved.
(v 7) So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them?
Luke starts off in v1 by saying Jesus told this story so we could see the importance of consistently praying and never quitting.
I don't understand this completely but the Bible is the Bible and so if you are thinking of giving up praying even though you may have been praying for many years with no success don't stop keep praying.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Luke 16 & 17
Jesus tells an unusual story for him but unfortunately not quite so unusual in every day life. Corruption clearly was as rampant then as it is now. Day after day we here of people abusing their position for financial gain. Politicians, businessmen, salesmen the list goes on.
Like many stories we have heard of politicians they feather their nest running up expenses and then offer back handers and bribes to protect themselves. Survival instinct kicks in and they will do anything to survive until their position becomes completely untenable.
Jesus says: I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival.. (v9)
When confronted with difficulty he wants us to use it to creative ability to find a way through - not in a dishonest way - but not to give in but to find a way through it.
I find it very interesting that Jesus suggests we do this. Of course we pray, pray and pray again but clearly Jesus is also telling us to use our brains to find a way through.
Do you agree?
Where can I get one?
Friday, August 08, 2008
A few years ago after being a Christian for many years I read a book that changed my life. A book by Philip Yancey by the same name as the title of my blog. It changed my whole view of God!
These 3 stories about the pursuit and joy over finding the lost continually rock my world.
A shepherd who is willing to leave the flock and search for a solitary lost sheep, a woman who is willing to empty her whole house to find a coin and a lovesick father who is overjoyed to welcome home, restore and celebrate a rebellious and destitute Son who had caused him so much trouble.
An insight into the heart of God. Wonderful.
To be honest this has been a difficult week. Being in my dream "job" has incredible highs. To be paid to concentrate fully on building God's kingdom is the most unbelievable privilege. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming and other times I want to bang my head against a wall so I can wake up from a nightmare.
The expectation place on "church leaders" sometimes is like asking a brand new manager to win the premiership with Mansfield Town. (For those of you that don't know football its just not going to happen)
I could go on at length about the expectations place on church leaders but let me choose just one that although I have not encountered this week, I have in the past.
Pastor I am just not being fed in this church!
My answer: Its not my job! You are supposed to do that for yourself. How can the pastor feed a person for life in a 40 minute window a week on Sunday morning. (Actually its less than that the average attendance at most churches 2 weeks in every 3 at best). It is only ever meant to be a launch pad for us to feed ourselves.
John Burke said: It is not our responsibility to make people grow. It is only our responsibility to create environments for them to grow.
These are services, courses, devotions, Life Groups, seminars etc. To grow you've got to be in the environment. Its your choice.
Anyway in the words of John Maxwell - Most Christians are educated well beyond their obedience.
(A Friday afternoon rant! Sorry)
I have just been tiding up some old notebooks and came across some things I wrote when hearing John Maxwell talk about Success.
It is what you learn after you know it all that makes the difference.
Base success of the day on the seeds you sow not the harvest I reap.
Success as a leader is only measured in adding value to people.
4 Things people do with excellence to be successful
1. Get along with people
People won't go along with you if they cant GET along with you.
2. Equip and Train others
We teach what we know but we reproduce what we are.
3. Attitude Development
Attitude is not everything but it is the difference.
4. Know how to lead well.
Five levels of leadership, People follow you because:
They HAVE to: They WANT to, of what you have done, you have mentored them, they respect you.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Luke 13 & 14
Jesus talked often about the "Kingdom of God" and used many different stories and analogies to help us understand what it is like.
(v19) It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.”
I am not sure of everything that Jesus meant by describing the Kingdom in this way but what it does symbolise is - Growth. A tiny little seed becomes a huge tree. God's Kingdom is synonymous with growth.
There is a certain section of doctrine that teaches that Jesus is going to have to come back and rescue a defeated and almost defunct church that is holding on by its finger tips. I just don't get it. That does not speak of growth.
Growth is intrinsic in the kingdom of God. I need to grow more and more like Christ and the church needs to grow daily so more and more people can find a home in his safety and security.
"Your kingdom come your will be done"
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
6-7th September 2008
Don’t miss this weekend if you want to meet some or all of our partners from Europe, Africa or Asia.
International Mission Weekend from Billy Ritchie on Vimeo.
Saturday 10am – 6pm. Open House. All our guests will be present throughout the day to meet visitors, talk about their work and share ways & means of partnership. There will be refreshments available.
Sunday 8.30, 10.15 & 12noon. Our guests will participate in each Sunday Service.
A huge crowd had built up around Jesus. Most of them had probably just witnessed Jesus rip into the religious leaders. Frauds, hopeless and phonies. Jesus was "angry" with them because as he put it "You took the key of knowledge, but instead of unlocking doors, you locked them. You won’t go in yourself, and won’t let anyone else in either.”(11 v 52).
Then Jesus turns to his followers and begs them not to become like these guys. Making sure they don't hide behind a mask, making sure what they say in public is the same as they do in private. Jesus is telling them that in spreading his message integrity is vital.
An encounter with Jesus gives us the knowledge of a new way of life. Knowing it is easy, living it is hard. We have a choice: put on a mask and pretend we are living it whilst reminding other people how they are failing or take the mask off admit we struggle ask God to help us on a daily basis and encourage our fellow travellers along the way.
Integrity is a choice.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Top Dog Promotions Ltd based in Milton Keynes are looking recruit.
Ultimate Events have worked with Top Dog Promotions over a number of years at our event in Alton Towers.
They are a busy music and entertainments agency and are looking to recruit an experienced PART TIME ACCOUNTS ADMINISTRATOR 30 hours per week (flexible hours).
A varied role that includes all aspects of administration including telephone work, bookkeeping, banking, diary management, use of Microsoft Outlook, Word and Excel. Opportunities to progress within the company available.
Excellent people skills, ability to work alone, good grammar, attention to detail, accounting knowledge and a methodical approach to work are essential. Knowledge of Quickbooks (accounting software) a benefit but full training will be given.
Apply by email.
Luke 10 & 11
In the previous chapter Jesus sent out 12 now he commissions 72 to go preach the good news. His message was and is now "Go tell". Seems like Jesus had similar problems to us today. A huge harvest of people ready to hear and accept his message but not many people actually telling the story.
Not much has changed. The team he was sending out had difficulty handling rejection. What if we tell people and they don't listen, what if they laugh at us, what if they think they are weird. Or whatever reason we have to not share the good news of Jesus. There really is no new reason just the same ones Jesus faced with his followers here.
(v10) Jesus was telling them not to worry about rejection, there is a big harvest out there ready to hear the message. Just move on and tell someone else.
Great advice. Keep going and telling.
Monday, August 04, 2008
I took delivery today of a couple of new books from Amazon. So I have started to read one of them. Humility: True Greatness by C J Mahaney.
I certainly would not suggest that Humility was one of my virtues. I struggle with pride and that pride has very often got me into deep water. So I suppose I need to read the book.
Having said that one of the things that does my brain in is when you get into a conversation with someone and no matter what you talk about they have done it better, bigger and bolder than you have. They have one favourite topic of conversation - themselves.
Pastors are certainly not free from this difficulty. The question how are things going in your church? Is really an opening gambit for them to talk about them their Church and why things are so great for them. (Sorry! but its true)
This may or many not get peoples attention but the Bible suggests that something else gets God's attention - Humility.
"This is the one to whom I look: he who is humble and contrite in Spirit and trembles at my word" - Isaiah 66 v 2
"Humility draws the gaze of our sovereign God" - C J Mahaney
Sometimes I think church and the Christian life gets all a bit complicated. Don't get me wrong I need to keep learning and I am committed to keep learning. I want to be a better Christian, I want to be a better leader, I want to be a better husband and I want to be a better father. Obtaining knowledge and applying it to our lives is vital.
But here when Jesus is sending out His followers on their mission he seems to imply that old acronym - KISS - Keep it simple stupid.
I love so many things about the way we do church today. I love the music. (I could not have said that 30 years ago) I love practical Jesus centred teaching, I love our use of video to aid our church experience, I love the way that we welcome guests with great coffee and cakes, I love how we can connect and learn from leaders around the world through the web, I love that we can even visit those leaders and see first hand what they are doing.
Those of you who know me know that I love technology and gadgets. I love my mac, I love the web, I love my iPod, I am looking forward to getting an iPhone. But Jesus reminds us here that we don't need the latest gadget, fad or method to fulfil his mission. We must always remember that (v4) We are the equipment.
All we need is his commission with his power and authority. God is not primarily interested in instruments or music, methods or practices, video or lights his equipment is people.
Keep it simple stupid.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Just in case you have not caught it over at the Time2Build Blog - we started building work this week on our Nursery Refurbishment. We to be more accurate we took down some walls to make room for temporary building to house the nursery and Kidz Church during the project.
Liam is lending a hand to his Grandad.
Nursery Refurb Preperation from Billy Ritchie on Vimeo.
Luke 7 & 8
People come to Jesus for all sorts of reasons. Many only call on God in utter desperation, they call on God as a final throw of the dice. They have tried everything else nothing has worked so lets try Jesus.
On the face of it it looks like what this Roman captain was doing. But there is more going on here. His son was at deaths door and his dad would do anything for him. His son was his prized possession (v 2) he would do anything not to loose him.
This captain was obviously a good guy even the Jewish leaders talked to Jesus on his behalf. But they guy didn't quite see it that way. In the face of Jesus he saw himself as a bad man and was too embarrassed to have Jesus in his house or even to go to him in person. He sent a message to ask Jesus just to say the word and his son would be made well.
Jesus says something remarkable:
(v9)“I’ve yet to come across this kind of simple trust anywhere in Israel, the very people who are supposed to know about God and how he works.”
This Guy, a Roman, understood the ways of God even when God's own people didn't get it.
People that should have known better had obviously forgotten how to simply trust God.
Note to self.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Yet again we find that Religious people are the most messed up people on the planet.
The religious leaders of Jesus day were so warped that they criticised Jesus for healing a man with a crippled right hand.
They classed it as working on a Sunday (or Sabbath). It was against their rules and regulations. Jesus knew their criticism was coming but he was not afraid to hit it head on and even made sure everyone saw what he was doing!
Jesus was saying I have no time for rules that leave people helpless. He even went as fat to say that if you the power to help and you don't it was an evil act. v 9.
The religious leaders of the day missed the point it had become about a list of rules instead of helping needy people.
Friday, August 01, 2008
Luke 4 & 5
Here we meet Jesus as he prepares for his famous encounter with the Devil in the wilderness.
We are greeted in v1 Now Jesus full of the Holy Spirit.
In is interesting to note that Jesus did not head off on a 40 day fast to become full of the Holy Spirit. He was already full of and being lead by the Spirit.
It seems like it was a normal everyday experience for Jesus to be full of the Spirit. I believe more and more that this is the place that God has asked us to live. To continually be full and being lead by the Spirit in our everyday lives.
I also believe that if Jesus lived in a place where he needed to be full of the Spirit then we need to live in that place also.
I don't think that we need any special formulas or special prayer meeting to live in that place it just takes a heart daily surrendered to God's will first and foremost. And simple request for God to fill us with his power to live a pure life and to share His love with those around.