The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God. But every novelty prevents this. It fixes our attention on the service itself; and thinking about worship is a different thing from worshipping. - C S Lewis
I wish we wouldn't sing so many new songs. Or God
The music is too loud. Or God
The music is too soft. Or God
I can't believe the worship leader has a tattoo. Or God
The worship leader is hot. Or God
These songs have not got much depth to them. Or God
I've been standing for 30 minutes now when can I sit down. Or God
The worship leader has the voice of an angel. Or God.
Why are they letting this numpty lead worship. Or God
That's a cool background they are using on the screens. Or God
Where is "Whoa Oh" in the Bible. Or God
Don't tell me to lift my hands how I worship is my business. Or God
Don't these guys know any new songs. We have done this one to death. Or God
The lady next to me should go sing on X factor and give us a laugh. Or God
Is there something in the Bible that says we should sing songs through 3 times. Or God
It may be hard sometimes but we are worshipers not critics.
Why would we bother with all this other stuff when we get God.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
I've been using YouVersion since it made its debut on the web. It simply revolutionised my Bible reading so I love telling others about it. Over the last few years it has gone from strength to strength helping people around the world connect with the Word of God.
I got this e mail from the YouVersion team yesterday.
It’s official. You’re part of a revolution. Millions of people (9.1 million to be exact) are discovering that the Bible can and should be a part of their everyday life. It’s no small thing that people today can have free, simple, whenever-wherever access to God’s Word using an app for their mobile device. It’s taken centuries of sacrificial translation efforts, immeasurable investments from Bible Societies and publishers, and, more recently, leaps in technology and innovation to make it possible. And YOU are also a huge reason that so many have the Bible App in their hands today. Tens of thousands of you are sharing verses on Twitter and Facebook, telling your friends and co-workers, inviting the person sitting next to you at church to download it, posting it on your blogs, and doing so many other creative things to help more people experience what you already know - it works, it’s awesome, and it really is free. Thank you for making all of this possible!
The YouVersion team is expanding rapidly, and hundreds of volunteers are stepping up to help make it even easier for you to engage with and share the Bible with millions of others. Many new features and tools are coming soon, but we wanted to briefly celebrate and highlight a few things that can help you and others:
:: Record Growth in August ::
In just one month, almost 900,000 new mobile users downloaded a YouVersion Bible app and engaged with Scripture. And September is shaping up to be even bigger!
:: Create Your Own "Free Bible" Page ::
We launched a new tool that makes it simple for anyone to give away “free Bibles” just by sharing a link. We’ve seen great adoption of this tool by churches, bloggers, and other ministry organizations over the past several weeks. To create your own page, just visit http://youversion.com/free-bible.
:: A New App for Android Phones ::
The YouVersion Android app got a face-lift, some new paint, and a lot of new wiring recently. Some of the biggest upgrades were a new dashboard that makes it easy to reach different areas of the app quickly, a sleek redesign of the Bible reader, new reading plan features including a calendar view, and the ability to sync your bookmarks with your YouVersion.com account. Download the new Android app now by visiting http://youversion.com/download from your Android phone.
Some of you non-Android phone users may be asking, “What about me? When can I have some of those new features on my phone?” The answer: very soon! New upgrades are coming to all of our mobile phone apps in the next couple of months.
:: Still Time to Start & Finish a Reading Plan in 2010 ::
Finally, we want to strongly encourage you to stay connected to God’s Word. Many of you have subscribed to a reading plan and are consistently reading The Bible. Others of you may have started, but got behind or distracted with the busyness of life. It’s never too late to start or re-engage. In fact, you still have time to read part or all of The Bible before the end of 2010. You can sign up for the Bible in 90 Days, New Thru 30, or The Gospels from the Bible App or at http://www.youversion.com/reading-plans/all. What a great way to finish this year!
The next few months hold unlimited potential and we can’t wait to see how God works through you and YouVersion to help millions more engage with Scripture!
It feels good to be part of a revolution!
Posted by Billy Ritchie at 5:10 am
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I saw this graphic over at The Resurgence today. I loved the graphic but I like the message even more.
Death changed to life
Despair changed to hope
Enemies changed to friends
Lost changed to found
Guilty changed to forgiven
Judgement changed to grace
Shame changed to glory
Fear changed to faith
Brokenness changed to wholeness
Hell changed to heaven
Changed to be changed.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever‑increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. - 2 Cor 3 v 18
A few more quotes from Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer
"The gospel is not a solution to lifes troubles, it is in fact a life long battle against ones own sin."
"The beauty of a life of discipleship in the Jesus mould is He must increase I must decrease."
"When you are learning what Jesus means for your life & for the world. Class is always in session."
"At whatever table you preside always include the excluded."
"Obedience is action not just a set of beliefs."
Monday, September 27, 2010
On holiday recently I took a journey with Michael Spencer the late writer of the blog "The Internet Monk" by reading his book Mere Churchianity
Michael had many difficulties with the established church. So as I read sometimes I felt like shouting at the book NO. It seems like Michael's' experiences in "church" had caused him pain and disappointment and some of his comments were barbed to say the least but at the same time he also communicated great truth.
The Church and each of us have a Divine mission and somehow we seem to settle for something way less than the Jesus road. Michael would suggest the establishment that has become the church of today actually hinders people from taking up this mission in totality.
He would suggest that churches and church leaders have become more obsessed with attendance at events rather that the development of Jesus shaped disciples.
So although I found many of his conclusions hard to digest I felt God talk to me from the pages of this simple book about the focus of my life to be a Jesus shaped disciple.
Here are a few quotes from its pages:
"Jesus is not going to leave your idea of God alone until He is your idea of God."
A Jesus shaped truth invasion brakes into that safe place where we keep our long held ideas of God, and breaks them into pieces."
"Our biggest problem with Jesus is that we want to control things and He turns out remarkably difficult to control."
"Are we followers or fans of Jesus."
"You will learn most about Jesus when you are standing on life's diving board and He is telling you to jump into the water you have always tried to avoid."
"Jesus was not clearing the road so I could ride victoriously through life. He was becoming the road that would carry me through all the garbage, falls, failures & disasters that were the inevitable results of my existence."
A few more of his thoughts tomorrow.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
The Apostle Paul opens his second letter with a huge encouragement for those in the church who are facing hard times. 2 Cor 1 v 3 -12 is an amazing concise theses on hard times. I'd really encourage you to read it through here.
So if you are in the middle of hard times or know someone who is here are some of my thoughts from this passage. It would be great to hear yours.
- Hard times WILL come as a result of following Jesus. (v5)
- God comes along side us during hard times. We get God but somehow we get Him even more when we need Him. (v4)
- With the experience of hard times we can comfort others going through similar situations. Be like God to them. (v4)
- During hard times we GET Gods comfort. (v5)
- We get a guarantee of great times. (v5)
- God uses hard times to help us grow up in Him (v6)
- Enduring hard times is a sure sign of our faith in Jesus. (v7)
- A hard time is not just a bad day at the office but could mean facing death. (v8)
- Hard times means we need to rely on God for deliverance not our own efforts. (v9)
- We will never face a hard time that God will not be there to help us (v10)
- My own prayers and other peoples prayers are a key factor in helping us through hard times (v11)
- We can't get through hard times on our own we need God. (v12)
Friday, September 24, 2010
In 2 Corinthians 11 v 23 - 28 we get a resume of Paul's ministry:
I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
This seems out of place in our western 21st Century church. Somehow with this list of disasters I don't think Paul would have been invited to the latest church conference to share the secret to his success. From that list of disaster his ministry must have been in trouble! Really?
Of course we know much more about Paul's dynamic ministry looking back now. But back then it looks like the churches were getting sucked in by so called "Super Apostles" (v5).
Paul decides time and time again to boast in his weaknesses. Maybe just a lesson for us church leaders about how we talk about our churches. Some of us seem to be trying to impress other pastors not Jesus. And a lesson for each of us:
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. - 2 Cor 11 v 3
Thursday, September 23, 2010
I read a great post by Pete Wilson about over ambitious parenting. Good read here. But he said one phrase that sent me off on a rabbit trail.
We could be raising a generation of kids that are "experience rich but relationally poor".
This phrase found a place within my heart and has made me quite restless. I worry that we the church is on a path that could be leading to raising a generation of Christians who are experience rich but relationally poor.
Now I know that we have a habit in church life to be a bit reactionary and tend to swing the pendulum from one extreme to another. So let me say straight away that when Jesus followers get together our gatherings should never be boring and dull. They should be electric with the presence of God and the common fellowship of fellow followers. Sunday like it or not is a focus of church services on Sunday so they should be experience rich. I love great music, God inspired songs both new and old, God has touched my heart through videos creatively produced.
But our aim is not first and foremost to produce experiences it is to make disciples of Jesus. A great experience in a worship service alone will never make a disciple, a relationship with Jesus will mean in His words we will "never thirst again".
Do I put too much effort into producing experiences and not enough helping people connect to God relationally?
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
In Luke 20 a story is recorded where Jesus talked about tenants. His immediate aim was to talk to the Pharisees about how they had lost sight of the fact that they were only serving the owner.
It got me thinking that in the world we will never be anything but tenants. Temporary occupiers passing through from which we take nothing with us. That's nothing. We may behave like we are owners, pretend that we are owners but we don't own a thing. All we have is on loan.
However we can be owners. We can be owners of God's Kingdom if we will only choose to put our efforts into building it. We have a 1000 choices every day as to what we will build. We can choose to invest our precious lives is a corruptible stock of we can invest in the incorruptible stock of God's kingdom.
In one we work hard to create an illusion of ownership but we can be evicted with nothing at a moments notice.
His Kingdom will know no end. Simple choice? Why sometimes do we find it so hard to make the right one?
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I can live in the present or the immediate future just a little too much. I am being challenged over and over nowadays to get my gaze up and off this life to eternity. However I seem to focus to much on this dot called my life instead of the endless line of life God wants me to live for.
One of the things that does not help me is that I still have not grasped the enormity of God. In the words of J B Phillips: My God is too Small. I know there is so much more for me to know I just really can't grasp how much.
Paul suggests that our image of God at present is like looking through a dark glass. Our view of God has almost totally been obscured.
In 2 Cor 5 v 5 Paul suggests that we have only received a DEPOSIT of God. A fraction of the real thing.
One of my old lecturers, John Phillips, used to say that the reason for eternity was its what we needed to start to get to know God.
When we've been there 10,000 years we have only just begun. So maybe I am only approaching the starting line.
Monday, September 20, 2010
This last week we refurbished our existing car park at MKCC. Our existing old car park was looking a little beat up next to our new building. So we scraped the top off laid a new surface and got it lined out
"I was a drowning man whose rescue depended on stopping all efforts to swim and trusting someone who was not going to make me a better swimmer, but would drown in my place." - Michael Spencer, The Internet Monk in Mere Churchianity
Thank you Jesus!
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. - 2 Cor 12 v 9
On holiday I read a couple of books Mere Churchianity and God is the Gospel. But it was not the writers wise words that got me. It was the above verse that I must have read 1000 times but sitting by a poolside in France God the Holy Spirit used it to destroy me. In a good way.
It was like I was reading it for the first time and tears ran uncontrollable down my face as the truth of Paul's words ran around my head and into my heart.
I have many weaknesses and the last thing I want to do with them is boast about them. I will try to manage them, work on them, hide them and even ignore them. But the one thing I do not want to do is boast about them. To speak with excessive pride and brag about them.
But the Bible is clear. That bragging on all our weaknesses means that the power of God will show up in our lives.
This Christian life is strange. Following Jesus means that we have to continually challenge our way of thinking turn 180 degrees and do what seems totally unnatural.
Paul sums it up in the next verse:
When I am weak, I am strong! (v10 )
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
So it has been a bit quiet around here for the last week or so. We have been in France for a holiday and although there was free WiFi on site decided to give it a miss for a while.
Then on return I was laid low for a few days sick so only now starting to get back into the swing of things.
Had a great time on holiday at Le Clarys Plage camp site near St Jean De Monts. It really is a fantastic site. Loads of activities on site, great pool, bar etc. Supermarket, boulangerie and cave de vin all next door and about 500 yards from the beach. With great friendly staff.
We went with a Kel Air for the first time which were about half the price of our usual Eurocamp and they stayed open a week longer. With the Schools going back and the major camping companies closing it meant that the second week was very quiet. Ideal!
As you can see from the photo below the flip flop rack at the pool had just one pair present - mine!
Lots of relaxing, BBQ's, reading, numerous games of pool with Liam and a few good books.
So I was sorry to say goodbye to France for another year.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Matt & Lauren Chandler talk about leading their family through suffering. Matt has been going through Chemo for a brain tumor.
Yet another wonderful family facing a Plan B situation. Cancer was not on their agenda and not what they were expecting but now they are walking through their suffering as a family with God.
I am sure its not how they expected God to show up in their lives at this time but they are walking through Plan B with eyes fixed on their saviour.