Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
Yesterday as part of our Highlights series at MKCC we showed some video teaching by Louie Giglio. It was titled "How great is our God". It really is an amazing message.
Judging by comments after each service and the vibe on facebook the rest of the day. The message messed people up well and Good and gave us a better perspective on the awesome God that we serve.
It reminded me of Gods Transcendence and Immanence. This old hymn sums it up for me:
"Lord of all being throned afar, Thy glory flames from sun & star, Centre & soul of even sphere, yet to each loving heart how near."
Here is a little snippet of Louie talking about Laminin the stuff that holds us all together.
Louie quoted on of the fathers of the church Augustine which sums it up for me:
"Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of
the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the
ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves
Oh and one last thing yesterday at MKCC showed me yet again that video teaching works in church yes even in England! It is never the medium it is always the message!
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Being in leadership is something that so often is aspired to by many of us. Be it at work, in church or in families. Of course leading companies, work colleagues, a family, a ministry, a small group or a church can be very fulfilling and a rewarding thing. But one thing leadership is not is easy.
So here are some reasons you don't want to be in leadership. If you still want to lead after reading these then maybe you are just about mad enough to do it.
1. You will feel the weight of responsibility.
As has been said with great power comes great responsibility. In the old Testament the watchmen on the city walls carried the responsibility for the safety of the whole city. The blood of the city was on their hands. Before God we will all give an account for ourselves but leaders will give an account with what we did with the gift he gave us.
2. Your authority as a leader will continually be questioned.
I know the use of the word authority causes concern straight away. But leaders have authority and it is important to use that as a servant leader. But every leader has their authority questioned. Even Jesus see Luke 20. So get used to it. And just because people question your authority it does not automatically make them rebellious and bad people. They are just asking a question and you can show your maturity as a leader by winning them with your answer. (Although I know there are the few, the very few, who will never submit to any sort of authority and they are not really following you anyway so by deduction you are not their leader. So ask them to find a leader they want to follow.)
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Gary gives his incredible story to Eminem’s “Not Afraid”. Awesome!
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all‑surpassing power is from God and not from us.8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. - 2 Cor 4 v 7 - 11
The craziest thing about the Christian life to me is that God decides to move in with me.
Into this body that is ordinary, weak, sinful, rebellious, aging and fragile, God takes up residence. To me and everyone else it looks as crazy as taking the crown jewels and keeping them inside an unimpressive clay pot. But that is what God chooses to do. And very often I can do a good job of keeping Him hidden.
But this fact has incredible consequences for our lives. Although we face common things to all mankind they will not destroy us. Not because of my power, motivation or positive thinking, but because of His power living inside us.
Pressed not crushed
Perplexed not despairing
Persecuted but not alone
Knocked down not destroyed.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. - 2 Cor 4 v 17
In us we carry the weight of Glory and a I need to let others have a glimpse of its wonders.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
One of my many hangups is a bent to worry. I am a past master at taking some small problem and by examining it from every angle I can think of end up with a potential life crushing crisis.
The Bible tells us not to worry. But telling me not to do something just does not work for me. I need an antidote. And for worry that antidote is worship.
Instead of worshiping the problem I need to worship God. What I worship dictates what looms larger in my life.
I read an old hymn today:
I’m sitting in His presence, the sunshine of His face
And with adoring wonder His blessings I retrace
It seems as if eternal days are far too short to sound his praise!
And it seems that the Apostle Paul discovered the same thing:
We all with open face beholding as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord. - 2 cor 3 v 18
Monday, August 23, 2010
Over the last few week I have visited Luke 17 a number of times.
The more I read it the more I think its core message is:
We as Jesus followers are very often looking for more faith as the solution to our problems, where God is looking for more obedience.
In answer to His disciples request for more faith Jesus told them they didn't need more faith. The amount of faith was not important. Then he told them a story about the obedience of some servants once they had done what they had been told Jesus says:
"9. Does the servant get special thanks for doing what’s expected of him?10 It’s the same with you. When you’ve done everything expected of you, be matter-of-fact and say, ‘The work is done. What we were told to do, we did.’” - Luke 17 v 9 & 10
We must always remember that it is God that moves mountains not our faith.
Then he sends 10 lepers off to get checked out. On their way they become clean. They had faith enough to do what Jesus told them to do. That was all the faith they needed. Enough to do what Jesus told them to do.
Faith is sometimes talked about like a trump card. Or a get of jail free card in monopoly. When in trouble we have to find it and everything is OK. I'm beginning to think that faith is much more about doing what Jesus tells us to do in the middle of trouble. Faith is trusting Him no matter what.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
This is by far in a way the best blog post I have read in a long time. It is titled "Never follow a leader who..." and written by Perry Noble. I just had to quote it here.
#1 – Never follow a leader who seeks to build their platform through constantly tearing down the platform of others.
#2 – Never follow a leader who constantly makes excuses as to why they compromise their character…and refuse to confess and repent of obvious sin.
#3 – Never follow a leader that constantly talks about how gifted they are but refuses to serve in areas that requires them to get their hands dirty.
#4 – Never follow a leader that refuses to declare the entire counsel of Scripture because doing so might cause people to feel uncomfortable.
Read the next 3 here.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag. - Luke 19 v 26 (Mess)
Jesus said this after he told about a story about a guy who played it safe with the resources of a King.
God has given me so much yet I am very cautious in almost everything I do. I even invest my money in the "cautious" fund (what little I have. I'm always telling my kids to be careful.
Being cautious in some things maybe a good thing but when it comes to following Jesus it would appear that cautious is not on His agenda. Sometimes our caution is so that we can somehow keep our illusion of control.
With God my caution can show my lack of trust in God.
My giving is cautious because if I give more than I can afford I don't trust that He will provide.
My prayers are cautious because I don't believe he will answer them.
I am cautious in telling others about Him because I fear rejection.
I don't act by faith because I am not sure he will turn up.
My caution robs me of ever finding out the all sufficiency of God and His love for me that drives Him to show up on my behalf. Not always how we expect Him to turn up. But turn up he always does.
If you play it safe in life, you've decided that you don't want to grow anymore. - Shirley Hufstedler
It may be time to JUMP!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
I read the following statement on Gary Lamb's blog this morning:
As a Pastor "there is a constant battle between using people to build the church vs. using the church to build people."
Without a doubt God uses people to build His church. People sowing their lives into the local church to make a difference in the world is a beautiful thing. Communal service and self sacrifice is the life blood of the church. As part of the church part of our responsibility is to minister in that church. As I heard recently saved people serve people.
Usually in most churches there is a serving deficit. More people required than willing to serve. We need stewards, kids workers, camera men, car park attendants, computer operators, lighting operators, video mixers, PA technicians, singers, musicians. The list goes on and that's just to make the Sunday services happen. And church is so much more than that.
The tension that Gary mentions then becomes very real to many church leaders. We need and want bigger churches so we need even more people serving. All too often it is then possible for people to be used rather than built.
This comes front and centre for me when people say that they now want to stop serving in a particular ministry. How we treat people in that moment and after will tell us if we have been using people or building people.
If using, then we tend to write people off, pay less attention to them, decide that they have missed it it some way. As though them stopping serving or even just questioning you was some sort of open rebellion against your leadership.
If building people, we look to release, understand why, support through difficult or testing times, help them find a more fulfilling expression of service or even help them find another church that they could find a ministry that they are passionate about and send them there.
In the end none of us will connect to and stay in a place where we are USED but we will crawl over broken glass to be BUILT UP.
Lets all concentrate on BUILDING PEOPLE.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
By far and away the best book I have read this year is Plan B by Pete Wilson.
Here is an interview done by Pete on Canadian TV. (It seems a little intiminating to me being interviewed by a group of women!)
"I want to get to the place in my life that if God does not give me one more single thing I will still owe Him everything"
I read this story in one of Tony's books years ago. The story of grace touched my heart then and still does today.
Grace: Undeserved favour from a Holy God to screw ups like me.
I still long to build a church like that.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Things are taking shape on our new building at MKCC both inside and out. The car park is jammed pack everyday with men in white vans working on the site. They have even started doing some work Saturday mornings in an effort to get it finished.
Steve Adkins is working hard to make sure everything is done to our satisfaction with almost daily trips to site.
Somehow we live with a sense that God owes us.
We would never say that out loud.
But our behaviour often says it in many ways.
It took the Children of Israel next to no time to complain.
When God lead them to Elim that was fine.
An oasis, refreshing crystal clear springs and trees with figs and dates.
They were up for it.
Then on the journey Elim turned to the wilderness.
Shade turned to blazing heat.
Hunger and thirst kicked in.
Then complaining started.
They were saying God owed them.
Because THEY followed God.
God owed them.
Help me always to remember that:
God came and found me.
When I wasn't looking God was looking for me.
No matter where he leads,
I count it an awesome privilege to follow.
God has already given me everything.
He owes me nothing.
I owe him everything.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Rich Man 1 - Luke 18
with great morals
openly speaks to Jesus
When challenged chooses His money over Jesus
Rich man 2 - Luke 19
despised tax collector
cheat & crook
Too scared to talk to Jesus so watches from afar.
Freely offers his money without even being asked.
Which one am I?
Recently I have read some scary statistics that suggest that much of the western church has become the first rich man. I've read of good churches where 50 of people never give anything and the percentage of people who tithe in the teens!
What I do know is that in our consumeristic western society if God has not got your wallet he has not got your heart!
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
One day a very rich man asked Jesus what he had to do to get into His kingdom. Jesus listed off some behaviours which the man had no problem with. Not only was this guy rich he was clearly a GOOD rich guy.
Then Jesus turns up the heat. He tells the guy this:
“Then there’s only one thing left to do: Sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Luke 18 v 21
It was not what he expected to hear. But it becomes obvious why. Jesus was after his heart and ultimately his heart wanted riches more in this life than God in the next.
One of the problems with us in the UK is that we always think this story is for someone else. Maybe its what Jesus would say to a premier league footballer, film star or city banker. But not me.
As a Pastor at MKCC I am paid well but certainly not extravagantly. I would not class myself as rich. Until I put my annual salary into the Global Rich List. It turns out I am in the top 1% or earners in the world! (So if you are really interested you can work out what I am paid by using the pic above and the rich list. Smile)
So maybe this story from Jesus is for me. So what if he said to me "Sell everything and give it away"?
So often we struggle with him asking us to give Him just 10% in a tithe let alone everything. So maybe this guy in the scriptures who we have always looked down on for so long could have been better than us. Maybe if he was given the option of 10% he would have been happy to do it while every week we can choose not to even give 10%.
It comes down to whose rich list we want to be on.
Monday, August 09, 2010
I hear many people criticise the church.
Much of the criticism comes from THE church.
That's people saved by Jesus.
We are THE Church.
But we criticise US.
The call from outside THE Church is that its full of Hypocrites.
The answer yes.
THE Church has flaws. Yes I am in it.
THE Church gets thing wrong. Yes I am in it.
THE Church lets people down. Yes I am in it.
THE Church does not love enough. Yes I am in it.
THE Church is too judgemental. Yes I am in it.
THE Church sometimes sucks! Yes I am in it.
Jesus knows all this and more but he always loves HIS Church and that will never change.
I'm glad because I am in it!
Photo tweeted by Jon McDerment
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Somehow being brought up in church most of my life I was left with the thought process that the disciples had in Luke 17 v 5. They approached Jesus and asked for more faith. The presupposition is if we we want to see miracles if we want our prayers answering WE need more faith.
More faith seems like a good thing to ask for. But Jesus basically tells them that they don't need more faith. Jesus says:
"There is no ‘more’ or ‘less’ in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a poppy seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it would do it."
For years this verse haunted because in my mind it was telling me that all my unanswered prayers were because I didn't even have the minimum of the minimum of faith.
Jesus story about the master and servant delivers me from this condemnation and vicious circle of disappointment.
Because it confirms to me that this thing is all about the Master Jesus. All I need to do is what he tells me. Obedience is maybe more important than faith!
Friday, August 06, 2010
That's how long it took for celebrating to turn to complaining.
In Exodus 15 we read about the huge celebration that took place when God provided a miraculous way out for His people Israel. Moses and Miriam lead the party with singing and dancing.
For the next 3 days they were lead through the wilderness. After 3 days they came to some water. Surely another God provision. Until they took a drink and found the water was bitter.
Now instead of celebrating they started complaining. It took them 3 days. If I'm honest it can sometimes take me 3 hours.
A verse that helps me understand is Ex 15 v 26
That’s the place where God set up rules and procedures; that’s where he started testing them.
God is in the business of testing us as well as taking care of us. We need to celebrate both and trust Him in both.
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Our new baptism tank arrived on site today ready to be sunk into the floor of the new auditorium.
The builders couldn't believe how big it was and what it was all about. It took 10 of them to carry it in.
Lets pray that a few of them end up in it! In the right way that is.
Thanks to Mr Baird for the pose.
My Pastor & friend, Roger Blackmore has just celebrated 40 years in ministry as a pastor. He has been posting a few blogs about the various churches he lead over the years. Yesterday he posted about my home village where he arrived in 1976 - Cairnbulg & Inverallochy.
He was 26, but to me at the time a 13 year old kid he was ancient. Our relationship was sealed when he brought me home from a camp because I was ill. A pastor who was willing to listen to me talk about the first love of my life, Aberdeen F C, for 3 hours had to be cool.
I posted here about how he mentored me.
But one story that sticks out in my mind was when Roger met my Uncle Billy.
So many of the men in our tiny village were fishermen. They were away all week and then landed their catch on a Saturday morning. This involved getting up very early and travelling to nearby Peterhead by mini bus. Landing the fish at market then sailing back to Fraserburgh on the boat. Lots of us kids used to go along for the sail.
One of the traditions seemed to be that Pastor had to do this. A sort of unspoken initiation ceremony into the fishing community. (Secretly I think most of the men just wanted to see this guy throw up over the side.)
On picking up Roger, my uncle, not a church goer decided to wind him up a little. So he offered Roger a cigarette. Of course Roger declined politely. To which Billy fell about laughing and suggested that Rog would not have lasted long as pastor if he had taken it.
Then Uncle Billy said something which has stayed with me for over 30 years. (With our Doric dialect I'm not sure if Rog knew exactly what Billy was saying.)
"You see Roger as Pastor of the church you have got to realise that first they will idolise you, then later they will criticise you and in the end they will scandalise you."
It made me so sad then even as a young kid that I knew he was right and now all these years later we in the church keep on repeating the cycle.
Roger became my Pastor when I was 13 and taught me, mentored me, inspired me, laughed with me and cried with me over the next 6 years till I left for Bible College.
Rog says that when he drove into the village for the first time he said he could never live here. I am so thankful he decided to listen to God and stay.
He is now in Long Island, I am in Milton Keynes. Both of us Pastoring, both in great churches. But just sometimes I wish we were both building Jesus Kingdom in the villages which were the centre of our world for so long.
Monday, August 02, 2010
Had the great privilege of bring the In Rhythm series at MKCC to an end this past weekend.
So if you have a spare 40 min you can watch and listen to what I had to say on "Running after the heart of God".
I enjoyed preaching if you take the time I trust that it will speak to you.
One of things we really want to do at MKCC is assist other churches in the UK whenever we can. We have had the great opportunity to learn from some great people here in the UK and in other countries. We don't know much but willing to share what we do!
So for the first official conference using our new facilities we will be hosting Tony Morgan for one day on Thursday 11th November.
Tony is a great strategic church leader based at West Ridge Church in Atlanta. I first heard Tony speak at a Purpose Driven Church conference at Saddleback Church in California with his friend and Co author, Tim Stevens. They gave some great simple but profound advice.
On the day Tony will be focusing on leadership in the local church helping people take the next step towards Jesus. There will be a Q&A session so you can ask "anything". Also Tony wants to learn about some of the challenges facing the UK church so come prepared to answer his questions!
We don't want church leaders to come alone, we want other members of the team to come as well so we have priced it accordingly. Tony is also waving any fee and is coming for travel and accommodation only. The £10 cost available until the 1st October includes refreshments throughout the day, including a light continental breakfast and lunch.
More details here.