Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. - Romans 12 v 2 (NLT)
Change is hard, some people would even say it is nigh on impossible. We want to be different, we try to be different but a combination of our sinful nature and our life experiences have programmed us to think a certain way. And that way of thinking can be damaging to us and others.
Jesus breaks the power of Sin in our lives at salvation and starts the healing process of our broken lives. To often then we concentrate on the wrong thing. We focus on our efforts of behaviour modification. That's like trying to get apples from a pear tree. Impossible! Sin is first a HEART problem not a behaviour problem.
Here Paul gives us the key to change, to transformation, the key to being a new person. LET God change your heart, the way you think and your behaviour will change.
So I determine to spend more time LETTING God touch my heart.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Here is a quick update on the progress of the building project at MKCC.
The sound quality is not the best but you will get the idea.
Can's see the video on rss etc click here.
Monday, March 29, 2010
On Sunday I had the opportunity to preach at MKCC on our latest series - The Cross.
Each Sunday we have looked at a different aspect of the Cross and how it speaks to us of God's love for mankind. This week we looked at Redemption.
We have a choice every day, we can live our lives by what we FEEL or what the Cross says is REAL. Below is a few quotes that really spoke to me:
"Too often we let our view of God and life be shaped by our feelings and the way we see circumstances. The Cross changes this. Instead of surveying our circumstances and listening to how that makes us feel. We need to survey the cross and let it speak to us of a different country, a glorious place that we glimpse too rarely as it disappears behind the fog of our feelings. But is truly is a place of wonder. It is a place of justification, reconciliation, redemption, atonement, holiness, righteousness, value, inheritance, grace, acceptance, and love." - Me
"We are far better at looking inward than we are at looking outward. Instead we need to expend our energies admiring, exploring, expositing & extolling Jesus Christ". – Sinclair Ferguson
"To sin now that we know Jesus and the price he paid, is not breaking rules, it is wounding love." - Martyn Lloyd Jones
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
8 God is far higher than you can imagine,
far deeper than you can comprehend,
9 Stretching farther than earth’s horizons,
far wider than the endless ocean. Job 11 v 7 - 9
But with all our progress of pushing back the boundaries of our own limits we still do not scratch the surface of His limitless existence.
Monday, March 22, 2010
“What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbour to the man attacked by robbers?” - Luke 10 v 36
Jesus tells a story that has become know as "The Good Samaritan" in response to a Lawyer getting off on trying to split hairs with Him. He wanted a theoretical discussion where Jesus was focused on the outcome.
The lawyer was looking for Jesus to define who his neighbour was. He was looking to restrict his care, love and grace. Where Jesus was looking for a certain type of person he was looking for opportunities to become a neighbour. Circumstances to show love & grace.
Choose to BECOME a neighbour.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Guess you will have to be a crazy football fan like me to understand just how sick this joke is.
I'm with the guy who nervously laughs and says "There really is a match on. Im not joking!"
My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want? - Matt 26 v 39 (Mess)
I am so glad that Jesus decided to finish that prayer.
He remembered the example he set out to His followers when speaking to Father God: "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done."
Leaving Jesus "in it" accomplished infinitely more that "getting Him out of it".
So the next time you shout to God get me out of this remember to do the hard and dangerous thing finish the prayer and trust Him no matter what.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Picked this quote up through Joe Ramayah's Facebook status today:
"Pride talks; humility listens. Pride postures; humility prostrates. Pride is easy; humility is hard. Let's take the hard road for a moment by admitting that none of us have it altogether." - Kurt Bruner
You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment. - Matt 10 v 10
At MKCC we are in the middle of building some new facilities. The people have been so generous in giving towards the building fund. We expect the building will be completed in September. More recently my mind has been focused on the equipment we will "require" to make church happen.
People keep asking what the budget is for things like PA / video etc and I just laugh and say "Budget what is that?" Seriously the figures talked about make me wince.
Again please understand me. I love great sound & music. Arresting and captivating video. Lights that create man made atmosphere and mood. Given unlimited budget I'd have it all twice over.
But seriously we really DON'T NEED it! God's presence puts the greatest of technology in the shade and the greatest of technology without God is a pile of junk.
I have known God's presence in a borrowed school building, singing to a second hand beat up piano reading words off a fuzzy OHP screen listening to a preacher through crackly speakers. I have also known the hand of God bring me to my knees when watching a story of life change brought to me by watching video screens that cost literally millions of pounds.
Man made technology is great but nothing compared to God's invention - YOU!
Thursday, March 18, 2010
You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment. - Matt 10 v 10
I am a bit of a technophobe. I like gadgets so I am certainly not against using technology past, present and future in the church but from time to time we all just need to be reminded on the basics. In the above verse as Jesus sends out His followers on mission he reminded them that THEY were the method he would use to make a difference in the world.
In my early life church used equipment:
Hymn Books, a Hammond Organ, PA System but only for the voice, in Sunday School the flannel graph but really there was not much more. We had an accordion and portable speakers that looked like 2 metal bowls stuck together for our open airs. But that was it until the Over Head Projector made an appearance.
That was my ministry for a while, putting the acetates on the screen, the RIGHT way up, then to move the verses up to the top as we sang them. However we could only use it in our "Gospel" service not the breaking of bread service and then only for "Choruses" and not Hymns, for them we used the books.
Strange I know but on the other hand equipment really was not that important as I remember it. We didn't have discussions about what we NEEDED to do church because there was not much TO need we just did it.
What we did need then and we do need now is for God to show up. The best thing about that is that is "free" and is available the same to a church meeting in a mud hut in Africa with zero equipment as it is to multi million pound state of the art auditorium seating 20,000 people with all the bells and whistles.
Tomorrow Equipment - Present.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Today is St Patricks Day. Having worked for an Irish Company for many years I participated in a number of these celebrations. They always seemed to include copious amounts of the black stuff that is their national drink. (Unfortunately I didn't like it)
So today I thought I would take a quick look at what St Patrick was all about. So I consulted good old Wikipedia.
"When he was about 16 he was captured from Britain by Irish raiders and taken as a Slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. After entering the Church, he returned to Ireland as an ordained bishop in the north and west of the island, but little is known about the places where he worked. By the eighth century he had come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland."
So an adolecant captured slave becomes a venerated Saint celebrated still after nearly 2 millenia. Sounds like the sort of thing God would do!
Happy Paddys Day!
Often people mistake the thought of Grace lowering the bar on how we live out our Christian life. If God all ways forgives and meets us with Grace then the suggestion that Paul refutes to the church in Rome of lets keep on sinning so that we can experience more & more of Grace, shoots across our minds.
However I don't see Jesus lowering the bar one bit. In fact he raised it to incredible heights.
Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom. Matthew 5 v 20
He then goes on to compare the Law to His message:
Do not murder - Do not get angry.
Do not commit adultery - Do not lust.
An eye for an eye - forgive your enemies.
Love your friend - Love your enemy.
Impossible? As recipients of Grace and Kingdom subjects Jesus is always calling for us to grow up in Him.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
If the statistic that only 20% of Christians regularly read the Bible with nearly 60% never or VERY occasionally reading it, my suspicion is that the number of us who talk to him on a regular basis is even less.
So the personal relationship with God that we hold out as a result of salvation is at best now a second-hand knowledge of God.
J B Phillips says in his book "Your God Is Too Small: A Guide for Believers and Skeptics Alike" (P44)
"The significance of this second-hand knowledge of ... the conception of the Character of God which slowley forms in our minds is largley made by the conclusions we draw from the "providences" and "judgements" of life. We envisage "God" very largely from the way in which He appears to deal with (or not to deal with) His creatures. If, therefore, our knowlege of life is faulty or biased or sentimental, we are quite likely to find ourselves with a second-hand god who is quite different from the real one."
Don't let God be filtered through other peoples eyes or even worse your own faulty set of spectacles. Get to know Him and let Him be God.
Monday, March 15, 2010
I once heard Bill Hybles say that "how we handle the challenge spike in our lives show us the level of our maturity".
Church life has shown me that this is very true. I have seen people give up after facing what to many would be no more than a very small bump on the road. I've seen people handle the small bumps and jack it in when something major happens. I have also seen people remain faithful in situations that I can almost hardly believe and I question how I would face it!
Maturity shows up under pressure until then you are not sure that it exists.
The Apostle Paul faced many challenges he even wrote a huge section of what is now the New Testament when in prison. What if Paul had given up? What if Paul had been more concerned with his own circumstances that His Masters mission.
We would not have the truths contained in Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians or Philemon.
We would not be able read over and over again his window into the incarnation of Christ:
5. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil 2 v 5 -10
Unthinkable! You just don't know what can happen if you don't give in.
Jesus said, “Go home to your own people. Tell them your story—what the Master did, how he had mercy on you.” - Mark 5 v 19
Jesus arrives in the area known as The Ten Towns or Decaplois. A group of 10 cities that were fiercely independent. They even had their own currency which very often had the word "FREE" engraved on it. Here he found someone that was anything but free. He was controlled by 1000's of demons.
Man's answer chain him up. Jesus answer freedom.
Then Jesus gave this man who had been enslaved some simple instructions. "Go tell your story of what I did for you".
It really is that simple. We who have been made free just share your story!
For those of you from MKCC we have a course this Sunday that will help you better to this. Register for Discovering Your Life Mission here.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Searching the internet it would seem that 14 March 1963 was not a red letter day in History. According to Wikipedia no notable events took place. Some Australian cricketer called Bruce Reid was born and no one of note died.
So its not very special to anyone but a certain William Whyte Ritchie who popped his head into the world a little prematurely and a little sickly.
Funny how when you are growing up you want to be older. You want to start school, you want to go to big school, you want to leave school, you want to drive a car, you want to start work, you want to get married, you want to have kids. Now at 47 the tendency is to start looking back remembering instead of anticipating.
I want to to do both. I love the warm feeling of remembering but I want the adrenaline of looking forward.
Looking forward to getting to know my wife Nicola even more and enjoying life together.
Looking forward to my kids heading off into the adventure of life and encouraging them along the way.
Looking forward to what my master Jesus has in store for me and how he is going to change me.
Looking forward to Aberdeen & Villa both winning the league. (OK that may not be in my lifetime)
Friday, March 12, 2010
That's the date we expect our contractor to hand over our new building at MKCC. Here are some of the latest pics. I understand that some of the block work will start next week.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Over the last few weeks I have been confronted forcefully with reality that I am broken. I need fixing. I've tried to fix myself, boy I've tried. And slowly I am beginning to understand that I can't do it. To a Mr Fix it, control freak like me that's hard to even say let alone accept.
I don't say this to indulge in a pity party, I actually feel good about it. I feel like I have got to a place and a point where so many people even Christians don't get too. We realise we are broken and we cannot do anything about it. Of course we realise we are broken but we will not admit it to anyone even if we are brave enough to admit it to ourselves.
So we spend our lives covering up our brokenness and trying in vain to fix ourselves. Whist we are trying fix ourselves we even leave God out of the equation. We focus on ourselves and our weaknesses instead on God and His power.
Ultimately I think we are afraid. Afraid of exposure, afraid of failure, afraid of rejection.
Today I heard a phrase that helped me understand all over again in a brand new way.
"God is not in love with a future version of you." - Matt Chandler
Sure God has a future version of me that I am becoming but he loves me for who I am now. Broken and loved.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Read this quote by Charles Malik (1906-1987), Lebanon's ambassador to the USA (1945-55) over at Desiring God.
"I speak to you as a Christian. Jesus Christ is my Lord and God and Savior and Song day and night. I can live without food, without drink, without sleep, without air, but I cannot live without Jesus. Without him I would have perished long ago. Without him and his church reconciling men to God, the world would have perished long ago. I live in and on the Bible for long hours every day. The Bible is the source of every good thought and impulse I have. In the Bible God himself, the Creator of everything from nothing, speaks to me and to the world directly, about himself, about ourselves, and about his will for the course of events and for the consummation of history. And believe me, not a day passes without my crying from the bottom of my heart, ‘Come, Lord Jesus.'"
And yet we leave this book gathering dust on a shelf. Why? We talk about it, argue about it, fight for it, listen to other talk about it, read books about it BUT fail to read it, so never hear what God has to say to US.
Sunday, March 07, 2010
King David was noted as a man after God's heart but yet he did things that I have never done. He was an adulteress and a muderer. He was a victim of God's agressive grace and pened a song of thankfulness and praise to God after being forced into the open with his sin.
Part of his prayer:
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Psalm 51 v 10 & 11
This song was written on the back of this Psalm:
v 13 - Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.
Saturday, March 06, 2010
“Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple." - Mark 6 v 8
We do a great job in the church at complicating things.
To do church we seem to NEED a lot of equipment.
Looking at our new church build has caused me to think about it much more.
We are having to think about all the things we NEED.
Really the list of things we NEED is much smaller than the list the we WANT (and more importantly can afford!)
We will not have all the bells and whistles but Jesus suggests that the equipment that the Holy Spirit works through is not cables, lights and projectors but flesh and blood.
The Holy Spirit has not found a home in a speaker or projector but he does take up residence in His people.
(Although I still love all the gadgets!!)
I hope many of you from MKCC have been joining in with the New Thru 30 reading plan this month. However one of the negatives of embarking on a plan that requires a lot of reading is that we start to just rush through just to get to the end.
I love this quote by Spurgeon:
Some people like to read so many [Bible] chapters every day. I would not dissuade them from the practice, but I would rather lay my soul asoak in half a dozen verses all day than rinse my hand in several chapters. Oh, to be bathed in a text of Scripture, and to let it be sucked up in your very soul, till it saturates your heart! --Charles Haddon Spurgeon
As someone once told me Meditation on the scriptures is using the same God given ability that we use often to worry, but using it to focus on scriptures.
Worry takes us on a downward spiral whilst meditation takes us in an upward spiral.
Work the Word - Hear
Work the Word - Read
Work the Word - Study
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Check out the previous 2 posts:
We also need to Study God's word. Basically ask questions like: Why? When? Where? Who?
Rick Warren has written a great book on this subject: Rick Warren's Bible Study Methods: Twelve Ways You Can Unlock God's Word
Another two essential tools is:
A Study Bible - I would suggest:ESV Study Bible
A Bible Dictionary - I would suggest:Zondervan Bible Dictionary
What suggestions do you have. Leave a comment below.
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Following on from yesterdays post, Work the Word - Hear, today we look at Read.
Statistics suggest that nearly 60% of Christians in the UK seldom or never read the the Bible. And it isn't that very involved people do and "nominal" Christians don't. One person who is very involved and a great person to boot said that a year ago they would have been in the 60%.
Reading the Bible on a regular basis is a must for anyone wanting to follow Jesus.
Following a reading plan each day is one way to do this.
We have posted 3 PDF's that you can download at MKCC website: 30 day New Testament, Bible in one year or the Bible Chronologically in one year.
If you are more of a technology geek then you can access a whole host of plans at Youversion.com. To keep a record of where you are you need to sign up for an account.
Youversion have also developed apps for the iPhone, Blackberry, Android and even Java apps that work on most popular web enabled phones.
Jump in today.
Monday, March 01, 2010
I was introduced to Zac through reading his blog via the Internet. We have never met. But how he faced his first bout of cancer challenged me to my core. I cried and celebrated when he posted the news he was clear. Only to be stopped in my tracks with the news that transpired only a few weeks later.
Zac says If God heals him God is God and God is Good and if he doesn't heal God is still God and God is still good.
Watch his story and pray for him today.
I've tried to be authentic in my posts here. I document my struggles with all sorts of things. I am a fan of grace because I need it so often. Somethings are struggles but they don't really affect anyone but me, others unfortunately affect people.
So today I sit frustrated with myself. Today I used my words to hurt someone. Somewhere in the scheme of things I MAY have had a valid point, but it really does not matter. And I sit trying to understand myself. Confused & annoyed!?
It's not a surprise to me, I know myself only too well. This has been with me from early in life. Being physically weak meant that I lost at most things such as sports, which I loved. I never got used to loosing I just hated it all the more. Even my nickname, Spunk, was derogatory and poked fun at my weakness. I hated it every time someone used, I wanted to hit them but knew it was a waste of time. But winning in anything became important even if it was just winning an argument with words.
I'm a control freak and can win an argument but lose the person.
None of this is an excuse and it isn't the whole story but it is the beginnings.
I'm broken and I really need God's help to fix me.
Hard to write but probably not a surprise to those who really know me.
Yesterday we completed our teaching series TXT at MKCC. We looked at "Working the Word into our Lives"
Here is one thing that summed it up for me.
"We don’t go first to the bible to find out about us and how we should live our lives, or to find out about church and how we should do it. We go to the Bible to discover God in all his glory and fall down on our faces in awe and gratitude."
We said that we needed to do 6 things to work the word into our lives:
Today - Hear
Download an MP3 at Faith Comes By Hearing
Listen at Youversion (Go to the bottom of the right hand panel on the Bible Reader view)
Buy an Audio Bible at amazon.
Listen or watch past sermons on the web from MKCC
Listen to other teachers:
Mark Driscol - Marshill Church
John Piper - Desiring God
Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones - Living Grace
You can listen on line, download MP3 or subscribe via iTunes.