Sometimes I think church life is far from simple. Evn if it is simple we manage to make it complicated and VERY busy.
Over the last couple of years we have tried to de-clutter a little at MKCC but it still seems to run a breakneck speed. And there is always a little pressure to start another ministry. Honestly, I think people generally confuse a heart and passion that God has given them to follow through for getting the "church" to start a ministry.
My answer now normally is. Yes start doing it. If God has spoken into your life to help or minister a certain group of people just start doing it. You don't need the church to organise, structure and promote something. Just start serving.
My friend and pastor Roger Blackmore put it like this:
"During my recent visits to the UK, a number of people were asking questions about our church - seems we’d be a bit of a novelty over there just as we are on Long Island.
One of the questions that came up fairly often was what programs and activities we have running mid-week and of course the answer was “not a lot”.
The second Sunday in our church’s brief history, I explained very clearly that we were not going to be another over-programmed church with stuff going on every evening that pulls people away from two important areas of life.
One of those is family. It amazes me how so many churches preach family and then do their best to separate them by making unbelievable time demands on family members that pull them out of the house way too often.
The other area of life that is neglected when churches have a whole mountain of mid-week activities is social interaction with the unchurched. God never intended us to isolate ourselves in countless services of one kind or another with fellow Christians, he rather expects us to be salt and light in this world. That means we need to have the time to be out there.
So what do we do mid-week?
Small groups. Three times a year in six to eight week segments.
Celebrate Recovery. For those who are dealing with hurts, habits and hangups.
That’s it - no men’s group, no ladies’ fellowship, no prayer meetings, no special Bible studies, nothing but the basics needed to enable our congregation to be as effective as possible in influencing others for Jesus.
And if you don’t think that’s enough, check out the research in the book Simple Church, which offers irrefutable evidence that the healthiest churches in America are those that have stopped pulling their folks in a hundred different directions."
Well said Rog!
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Sometimes I think church life is far from simple. Evn if it is simple we manage to make it complicated and VERY busy.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Cor 5 v 17
Jesus wipes the slate clean.
(HT: Deadly Viper)
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Came across this Good.ly on Church Crunch.
Ever want to send a web page URL to a friend via e mail, twitter etc. Only to find number one its too long or it all gets broken up when you copy and paste. There are a number of sites out there that will shorten a URL for you.
Good.ly does this with a twist. Once it creates the short link it tracks it and if any goods are purchased using it from various affiliates then a commission is earned and Good.ly give a proportion to charity.
Use their site or download a bookmarklet to use in your toolbar so you can shorten with just one click.
If you had known God's provision for decades, every day, then it suddenly stopped. What would you think?
God, don't you love me any more?
Are you mad at me?
What have I done wrong?
This is what God's people Israel faced. After living with His food provision each day of Manna we read that when they left the wilderness and entered into the promise land the manna stopped. Now they had to work for their food. (Joshua 5 v 12) I am sure that all these things went through their minds.
But they had missed the point. It was never God's plan for them to live on a miraculous spiritual handout day in and day out His plan was to bring them into an incredible life with God at the centre.
Yes that life involved battles, victories and yes even defeats, disappointnent, joy, sadness, times when God's voice is clear and times when he is silent.
God is far more than a sugar daddy who produces blessings from nowhere on demand, So when the manna stops don't get mad just keep following the father who loves you so much.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The Trethewey’s story from Vegas about how God gives and takes away.
C J Mahaney on Humility: "We are all proud people pursuing humility by the grace of God."
Seems like I battle with so many things and pride is yet another.
I hate loosing at anything - pride.
I always feel I always need to have an answer - pride.
I don't always listen to others - pride.
I often wear a mask to cover the real me - pride.
I try to hide my deepest fears - pride.
I hate to admit I am wrong - pride.
I fear failure - pride.
True humility is a great key to unlocking the real person that is inside us to freedom which is locked up and hidden by one of our greatest enemies - pride.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Saw this over at Desiring God. Was not expecting this to impact me the way it did. Thankfully I have never experienced the heartache of the one I love telling me they didn't love me any more.
Unfortunately I realise that in John's example I have told the ONE that loves me a thousand times that I didn't love HIM and yet how does he continually treat me?
One word: GRACE.
Posted by Billy Ritchie at 7:30 am
Monday, May 18, 2009
17th century Japanese Poet, Matsuo Basho, said, "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought." (Via Evotional.com)
"You and I don’t do many significant things in our lives. We only make 3-4 major decisions. Most of us will not be written up in history books. Sorry, it’s true. For most of us, several decades after we die, the people we leave behind will struggle to remember the events of our lives. You live in the utterly mundane. You live in little moments. And if God doesn’t rule your little moments He doesn’t rule you because that is where you live. I think one of the big problems we make in our marriages is when we name little moments as “little moments” and say they are not important. If the character of a life is not set by four or five big moments but is set by 10,000 little moments, every little moment of your life is important. That’s where your life is formed and that’s where your relationships are built and formed. We cannot back away from the little moments because that happens to be where we live. And our God is a God of the little moments. He enters those little moments with his truth and wisdom and grace.” - Paul David Tripp (Via Deadly Viper)
Sunday, May 17, 2009
I understand that this ad may run during the final of American Idol. I thought it was a very powerful image of potential. Part of CatholicVote.org's national new media campaign "Life: Imagine the Potential."
Reading about Jesus followers give me hope. Why? They are by no means perfect. They often get things wrong. And they often say crazy things.
In Acts 10 v 14 in answer to a direct instruction from God he utters these words:
Not So Lord.
A slave never dictates and to say Not So & Lord in the same sentence is an oxymoron.
We need to cross out either "Not So" or "Lord".
Which one is our daily choice.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
We have a saying in the UK: Mud Sticks. The accused in a crime even though he is acquitted still can have a stigma. The very fact that he has been accused means that people view him with suspicion. Mud has been thrown at them and their reputation and no matter what some of it sticks.
Duet 31 v 5 suggests that very often we throw mud at God.
"His messed-up, mixed-up children, his non-children,
throw mud at him but none of it sticks."
God you are not fair why is this happening to me.
Why are you allowing people to say that about me.
I thought you were on my side and that guy is telling lies about me why are you allowing it.
Why have you not healed me.
You could have stopped that gunman.
You could have stopped that disaster.
Through our accusing questions for some reason we try to throw mud at God. But unlike ourselves with God mud does not stick.
His reputation is always faultless and his supreme act of grace when we are covered in mud stands out for all to see. Jesus decided to become covered in mud so we could be clean.
Friday, May 15, 2009
The story of Angie Smith and her daughter Audrey Caroline touched my heart.
Angie wrote: "Jesus you have brought the rain and we will praise you for it."
Click on the picture below to watch their story. Or start reading the story here.
Deut 31 v 12 Gather the people together—men, women, children, and the foreigners living among you—so they can listen well, so they may learn to live in holy awe before God, your God, and diligently keep everything in this Revelation.
Good leadership is hard but great leadership transition is even more difficult to find. The transition we read of from the old generation, Moses, to the new young Joshua generation gives us many insights to how to achieve it successfully.
For many effective transition is too difficult a hill to climb which often results in the tension causing division and isolation. Examples of handing the baton on to the new generation with success in church leadership seem few.
Amongst many other lessons from this passage I see the need for the new generation to listen, record and remember. (Suppose at 46 I’m getting to be the older group now but I like to think of myself as young.)
So my advice to the 20 something’s (and me) is:
Spend time with your leaders asking questions. Their experience can become your wisdom.
Record how God has moved in their life and ministry. God's intervention in their life can be your example and inspiration.
Remember and share their successes with others. They are part of your story. You wouldn't be where you are today without them.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Reading through this passage today one phrase stuck out to me in The Message. Time and time again Moses uses the phrase:
God, your God.
God is majestic.
God is all powerful.
God is the creator.
He lives outside of time.
God holds the world in His hands.
Nothing surprises Him.
He is never blind sided.
He knows the beginning and the end.
And today I am reminded that he is God, MY God.
Question: Why do I worry so much?
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
You are all standing here today in the Presence of God, your God - Dut 29 v 10
Remembering this today, tomorrow, the next day and forever is something I need to do. Too often I forget that I spend my days & nights in the presence of my God.
When I think how this knowledge lived out could have changed my yesterday I cringe. How will it change today? That's yet to be seen. But I need to live in the light of that knowledge more than I do.
Steve on Sunday whilst preaching on our current series at MKCC, 24: A Day with God, talked about the difference between trying and training.
It sent my mind back to a book based on the letters of a man called Brother Lawrence - Practicing the Presence of God. Born very poor he ended up working a mundane lowly job in a monastery kitchen cooking & cleaning. This is what he said:
"Nor is it needful that we should have great things to do . . . We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God."
"I began to live as if there were no one save God and me in the world."
Together, God and Brother Lawrence cooked meals, ran errands, scrubbed pots, and endured the scorn of the world. Now that’s perspective.
Monday, May 11, 2009
This past Saturday saw the Ultimate Event at Alton Towers take place. Check out some photos here at Joshua Wyborn's Flickr.
Friday, May 08, 2009
Listened to a new song by Matt Kearney today called Closer to love.
One line stuck in my brain.
"I guess we are all one phone call away from our knees."
I know its not the context of what is a great song but this statement bothered me. Asking myself why it rankled? I came up with the reluctant answer: Sometimes the only time we get on our knees is when we get that phone call.
We sometimes use the phrase "Driven to my knees" suggesting it is something that we have been forced into involuntary. I have to pray rather than I get to talk to God. Yes thats right I GET to talk to God.
Why does it take a crisis to call me closer to love when it is always there?
This short video by Matt Chandler is amazing. I am so glad that even though sometimes Christians and the church don't want the rose Jesus always does. And I'm forever grateful. (via Desiring God)
Thursday, May 07, 2009
It was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe. - 1 Cor 1 v 21
Some have suggested that preaching is a little old hat. I'm with Spurgeon on this.
Personally, I have to bless God for many good books…but my gratitude most of all is due to God, not for books, but for the preached Word—and that too addressed to me by a poor, uneducated man, a man who had never received any training for the ministry, and probably will never be heard of in this life, a man engaged in business, no doubt of a humble kind, during the week, but who had just enough of grace to say on the Sabbath, "Look unto Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth."
The books were good, but the man was better. The revealed Word awakened me, but it was the preached Word that saved me; and I must ever attach peculiar value to the hearing of the truth, for by it I received the joy and peace in which my soul delights.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
A few years ago Ultimate Events started at partnership with Compassion UK. We have a great music event at the UK's premier theme park. Every year we see hundreds of young people make the decision to follow Jesus for the first time. But we want to see more.
We want to see a generation raised up that can change the world. That isn't happy with the status quo and wants to make difference in a child's life who faces things that in our world never will because of where they have been born.
A group of bloggers recently visited India with Compassion International. Check out Anne Jackson's perspective of their trip with a series of posts here.
Then come to The Ultimate Event ready to make a difference or start making a difference in a childs life here. It is astounding what 70p a day can do.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Hope is invading my world. A light is illuminating hy heart.
Lyrics of Hope Now by Addison Road
If everything comes down to love
Then just what am I afraid of
When I call out Your name
Something inside awakes in my soul
How quickly I forget I'm Yours
When my life is like a storm
Rising waters all I want is the shore
You say I'll be ok and
Make it through the rain
You are my shelter from the storm
I'm not my own
I've been carried by You
All my life
Everything rides on hope now
Everything rides on faith somehow
When the world has broken me down
Your love sets me free
Thank you Jesus for hope.
It can plunge me into a dark hole that consumes my existence. I need to grow, I want to grow but honestly its tough.
I read this written by Ragamuffin Soul today that helped me and reminded me even in the middle of my worry I still have choices.
"I have been struggling the last week with some nasty anxiety.
Not like the kind you feel before a test.
More like the kind you feel if you’ve skipped your last 5 20mg’s of Paxil.
It is a thorn that I have been given that I will always have respect for.
And a thorn that I will always try and make my female pooch.
It comes in waves.
What normally happens is a few days of intense anxiety will turn into a few days of intense depression.
In the midst of this nastiness I get to continue living.
I get to continue working.
I get to continue fathering.
I get to continue husbanding.
I get to continue smiling.
I get to continue serving.
I get to continue pastoring.
So here’s the deal.
Today, or tonight, whenever the crap you are reading this,
You get to decide too.
And I’m telling you, as much as it sucks imagining working past whatever hell hole you are in,
It sucks a lot more giving into it.
Just some words of encouragement I wrote to myself that I figured someone might need to hear too."
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times” ~ Bruce Lee
Monday, May 04, 2009
Love this from Ed Young. You are contagious! Which strain are you spreading the whine flu or the germs of Jesus?
I read this quote over a Chris & Dana's Blog which made me think allot and talk to God.
"We’ve conditioned ourselves to hear messages without responding. Sermons have become Christian entertainment.”
Most of us use ‘I’m waiting for God to reveal His calling on my life’ as a means of avoiding action. Did you hear God calling you to sit in front of the television yesterday? Or to go on your last vacation? Or exercise this morning? Probably not, but you still did it. The point isn’t that vacation or exercise are wrong, but that we are quick to rationalize our entertainment and priorities yet are slow to commit to serving God." -Francis Chan, Crazy LoveAs a preacher I study, prepare, pray, practice and deliver a message with passion. My purpose? To see life change. Not that anything in me can cause change in people but to somehow connect them to a God who is in the business of life change.
My iTunes library is full of incredible podcasts from brilliant communicators of God's word from around the globe and somehow I am dissatisfied with change in my own life.
God suggested something simple to me today as I asked him the question.
Try listening to me as much as you listen to men. They point you your heart towards me but its my words that transform you.
Sunday, May 03, 2009
Thought this was very funny. Used at Catalyst West Coast.