This Wednesday we had the awesome privilege of hosting Perry Noble and a team from his church - Newspring, in Anderson, South Carolina.
Perry had invited a number of church leaders from around the UK for a round table event. Perry spoke in his usual transparent but uncompromising style with a total focus on Jesus.
He dropped many pearls of wisdom as well as being very open about some of his struggles. (I hope to post the audio here soon)
Out of the many things he said one stood out to me more than anything:
I've never gotten over the cross!
That's the Christian life in a nutshell.
Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom,23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Cor 1 v 22 - 24
To most its just plain crazy. They just don't get it. How could one man being murdered on a piece of wood make any difference in their life. They just can not get it.
To others it is the most amazing demonstration of the power, wisdom and love of God in all eternity. It stands for all time as the most important, miraculous act witnessed by a confused world.
Like a moth to a flame I am always drawn back to the cross where Jesus the God Man selflessly & sacrificially gave up His life and took the field as my substitute as punishment for my sin was ready to be dished out by a Holy God.
How can I get over that and why would I want to?
Friday, October 29, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
And all the lost and lonely
All the thieves will come confess
And know that you are holy
Will know that you are holy
All will sing out, Hallelujah
We will cry out, Hallelujah
All the hearts who are content
And all who feel unworthy
All who hurt will nothing left
Will know that you are holy
Shout it, go on and scream it from the mountains
Go on and tell it to the masses
That He is God
We will sing out, Hallelujah
We will cry out, Hallelujah
We will sing out, Hallelujah
Thursday, October 21, 2010
One of the amazing verses that I have heard over and over in Church is 2 Cor 10 v 4
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.
It is often quoted when we are facing opposition or difficulty in church life. I understand that. But sometimes I think we miss what important truth that Paul is trying to communicate here. The context of his writing here is all about fighting and divisions in the church.
Paul is saying that we do differently in the church to the way they settle disputes outside the church. Jesus has given us the tools to do things differently. I love the way The Message puts it in v 6.
Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity. - 2 Cor 11 v 6
Sometimes the stronghold we have to pull down with the divine tools of God are the strongholds of disobedience in our own lives.
Obedience sets us on the higher less traveled path towards maturity.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
In Chapter 9 of his second letter to the believers in Corinth Paul encourages them to be extravagantly generous with their lives, including their money. They were to take God's example as their lead and give a great offering to help out their fellow followers of Jesus who were facing unbearable hardship.
Paul sets out in v 14 what they will receive in return for their generosity.
Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they’ll respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need. - 2 Cor 9 v 14
They people they were helping had nothing. They had nothing to give in way of thanks. But they had the gift that surpasses the gift. The gift of prayer. The most wonderful thing you can do for anyone on planet earth is stand in front of God and ask Him to bless and meet the needs of another.
Give the gift that surpasses the gift to somebody else today.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Thank you to everyone who has sacrificed time, energy and finance over the last few years to make this a reality.
We had 870 people turn up.
Now on with the greater mission of: "Bringing people to Jesus equipping them to be filly devoted followers of Christ."
Sunday, October 17, 2010
I've been awake since 4 am and I can't get back to sleep. My mind is active with items to do and also an excitement that takes me back to magical Christmas Eve's as a kid.
Today we hold our first services in our new building at MKCC. Today is the next step on a journey that I started on the 4th September 1984 when I first drove into Milton Keynes and arrived at what was then New City Pentecostal Church.
On arrival we were at the start of a building project to see what was to emerge as Milton Keynes Christian Centre put its roots down at the heart of our great city in Oldbrook. So many people sacrificed financially and in time to self build our original home.
It has served us well sine then and will continue to in the future. But for years it has been straining to help us continue to grow as a church. It seems to have been a long journey with many twists and turns along the way.
We had a change of architects, doubts about the best way to expand, concerns about finance, opposition, knock backs from planning, the worst recession in a lifetime. But God and His people have been so faithful.
So today His church comes together in a new facility to celebrate Jesus and to commit to being Jesus to the world. Up till today it has been an empty building and great though it is, today is the day it comes alive because it will be full of people. People experiencing and demonstrating God's grace.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy. - 2 Cor 6 v 10 (Mess)
Paul tells the Corinthian church that as followers of Jesus people are watching them. How they react to hard, painful, life threatening times will be watched and judged by the inquisitive crowd. (v4). He suggests our validation as disciples of Jesus is found in the details of our lives.
So, as followers of Jesus, when we find life so hard that we are almost drowning in our own tears and we are struggling for breath we have joy.
Not that we just ignore the situation, pretend that it is not there or put on a happy mask. But that we have encountered an eternal saviour. Our hopelessness has been replaced with hope. We have a comforter here and now and eternal bliss in the life to come with Jesus.
Does it make the pain and tears unreal no but this Jesus engulfed life picks us up and provides a new vantage point from which to view our circumstances.
Every single minute we have in this life is an opportunity to savour the most incredible gift that could have ever come our way. A gift that will not fade in time but is active for eternity.
Weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning. - Psalm 30 v 5
An amazing video from TED Talks of Stacy Kramer.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Great preach by Mark Driscoll
You can't beat satan by morality, spirituality or religion. You need Jesus.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets. - 2 Cor 7 v 10
The pharmaceutical industry has done a great job in helping us mask our pain.
All the pills that we so often pop don't really cure our problem, They just manage our pain. To a manageable level and if not we take something a bit stronger.
None of us like pain so we will do anything to avoid it. So in his dealings with the church at Corinth Paul probably questioned if he should raise the subject that he knew would cause such pain. Maybe he wrote the letter a few times chucking the first draft in the bin before he actually decided to do it. (Yes my imagination that's not really in the Bible!)
But he knew on this occasion pain was going to have to be suffered to effect healing. He didn't want to cause pain but facing truth and the resulting pain was the only way to growth.
I heard some words recently that caused me a huge amount of pain. But I need to feel the pain not mask it because in the words of Paul this Distress drives me to God. It turns me around. It gets me back in the way of salvation. I will never regret that kind of pain.
“My happiest moments are when I am worshiping God, really adoring the Lord Jesus Christ, and having fellowship with the ever-blessed Spirit. In that worship I forget the cares of everything else. To me it is the nearest approach to what it will be in heaven” – Spurgeon
Monday, October 11, 2010
Ignored by the world, but recognized by God. - 2 Cor 6 v 9
In the middle of describing this strange upside down world we would expect as followers of Jesus, Paul says that we should be expect to be anonymous to the world whilst known to the one person that matters.
The advent of reality TV has seemed to uncover tens of thousands of people who desperately want to be famous. To be known by millions. I'm sure that desire has always existed but now there seems to be a ready built medium to catapult them to fame or maybe infamy.
But it is however great to be recognized by someone we respect or look up to in some way. To think that they could look into a sea of faces and pick you out of a crowd is exhilarating. You doubted that they would even know your name let alone recognise your face.
God not only recognises each and everyone of his followers but has even numbered every hair on their heads.
You can never be anonymous when God knows your name.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
- When you start following Jesus you are always a learner. If you stop learning you stop becoming a disciple.
- Churches can sometimes be more interested in drawing a crowd than developing Jesus shaped disciples. (Yes both are important but isn't funny that we are always counting the first number and not the second)
- Jesus continual message to the people who showed up (the Crowd) was follow me.
- Following Jesus is not an idea, a theory, a legend, a list or a lecture. Following Jesus is following a person.
- Discipleship is not just formed in the classroom its is formed on the battleground of life.
- Do you attend church or follow Jesus? (both hopefully)
- Start reading about Jesus from the Bible for yourself. Some of you are in for a surprise because the Jesus you will find will be very different to the Jesus you have been fed by others.
- Jesus made disciple by taking them out of their comfort zone.
- Jesus made disciples by Demonstrating the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus made disciples by allowing failure.
- Jesus made disciples by creating a movement not an institution.
- We are the church. The movement of Jesus can not be contained in a building or controlled by a few leaders. It can only be unleashed on a world. Individuals who have had God’s word imprinted on their hearts not stored away in books. Every follower filled with the spirit of God not just a few figureheads. From every background, status, race or age.
This past Wednesday a container arrived all the way from China with all our chairs for the new auditorium at MKCC. We had a great team of people come in at 6 am, unload and then assemble them.
Thanks guys and girls you are awesome. Looking forward to next Sunday and them being filled with people.
The finished product. 600 chairs in 8 hours
More pictures on our facebook page.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Had the opportunity recently to share a message at MKCC - Engage with God. I had a great time sharing it.
Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. - 2 Cor 5 v 14
Extreme - the greatest possible degree or extent or intensity.
Very often we look for balance.
A balanced diet.
A balanced life.
A balanced outlook.
A balanced work life.
A nice balanced church service.
Balanced can be good but also can be an excuse.
It is difficult to remain balanced when confronted with the most unbalanced act of selfless love our universe has ever witnessed. Extreme love resulted in the extreme sacrifice. To bring me who was separated by an extreme gulf of sin to encounter the extreme grace of God.
A love like that can not foster a safe balanced life but as with Paul it demands us to live at the extremes of love and action.
Monday, October 04, 2010
Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.- 2 Cor 3 v 18
The Bible tells me that there is nothing between me and God.
My sin has been paid for.
I have inherited righteousness.
I can stand before God with my head held high.
Yet often it can feel like there are a million things between me and God.
And I can go into hiding.
Hiding so I don't have to face up.
Hiding because I am embarrassed.
Hiding because I am ashamed.
Hiding because I am angry.
Hiding because I don't care.
Hiding because I am tired.
But God never goes into hiding.
He is always ready to "enter my life" just the way it is, and when He is around He changes things. It may be "gradually" but He is at work.
Sunday, October 03, 2010
Reminded again that everything is about Jesus. I can make my Christian faith about all sorts of things. But it is about knowing, following, becoming life Jesus.
So as I head off to church. I remind myself its not about the music, the videos, the songs, the cool images, the funny illustrations, the preaching, its about Jesus. And the good book says that when we lift Him up he has a way of attracting people to Him.
So I was blown away by this simple but powerful video over at ChurchCreate, Jesus is ______ .
You can read more at Jesus-is.org
Posted by Billy Ritchie at 5:22 am
Saturday, October 02, 2010
For no other reason than I fell in love with the city the first time I was driven through it by my friend Roger Blackmore on a trip from NJ Airport to his home in Long Island. (Still not sure why I didn't fly in to JFK and save him a few hours of his life.)
Friday, October 01, 2010
Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. - 2 Cor 14 - 15
A few weeks ago I went to watch MK Dons play at stadium MK. As a brand new stadium it has great uninterrupted views from every seat. They are some of the most comfy seats I have ever sat on in a sports arena. So I checked my ticket and dutifully headed off to my assigned seat, without a concern that I would have nothing but a perfect vantage point to enjoy the match.
I was totally correct, the view was great. But, they guy sitting was reeking with the stench of stale B.O. It was gaging proportions. It didn't matter what I saw the stench totally overwhelmed my senses. I some how stuck it out to half time and then joyfully moved seats.
Paul suggests that as followers of Jesus we carry around the smell of God. He was reminding this church, who were struggling with some internal matters, that it was time to take a shower, get rid of the stench of contention and bring the aroma of life.