So it seems everyone is starting to get on board and recognise that today is St Andrews day in Scotland.
For the first time the USA officially recognised the day when Hilary Clinton sent a telegram:
'I wish the people of Scotland a joyous St Andrew's Day celebration and a successful year ahead."
And also honoured Davy Crockett and Neil Armstrong as trail blazing Scots!
Even Google celebrated with a doodle!
So a inquisitive fisherman from a tiny down at heal village in the middle east has come to represent my nation. Strange!
But then again he became the first person willing to give up everything and set out to follow a man who said he was God. His name means brave and maybe we should add impetuous because of his actions.
Born around 5 AD, crucified on a diagonal cross and celebrated 2000 years later in a country he never visited.
But the most important thing he did from the moment he met Jesus was to bring people to His saviour. Starting with his brother and ending in Greece with his martyrdom.
Other post on St Andrew - Come and Die
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
So it seems everyone is starting to get on board and recognise that today is St Andrews day in Scotland.
The following is a copy of a post by Mike Foster over at POTSC.
I could not have put it any better and it sent me to my knees to repent yet again.
By Mike Foster (Read original article here)
Here is who I give grace to:
1. People who I like.
2. People who have failed the same way I have.
3. People who can offer me something in the future.
4. People who everyone else has already shown grace to.
5. People who will not make me regret giving them grace.
6. People who only need a small amount of grace.
7. People who simply don’t know better.
8. People who have groveled, begged and pleaded for grace…and then begged harder.
9. People who gave me grace…first.
My grace giving is weak…stunted…and mainstream.
Malcolm Muggeridge says “Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream.”
If I only give grace to these people then I am dead inside.
I want to be part of the scandal…not swim with the stream.
Safe grace seems like it’s not really grace at all.
I am part of the problem. I’m just like everyone else.
God help me change!!
Billy: ME TOO!
Monday, November 29, 2010
My friend Roger Blackmore mentioned the song "How Many Kings" by Downhere on his blog. Its the first time I've heard it but the Chorus ripped my heart out.
How many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
Only one did that for me
That's why Christmas is so special! Watch and listen below.
I recently had the opportunity to preach at MKCC in our LoveWorks teaching series.
The subject LoveWorks for your enemies.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
27% of churchgoers say they read the Bible at least once per week outside of church attendance.
58% of church leaders read the Bible daily.
- ComRes for the Bible Society, published 2008
These two statistics are almost unbelievable to me. Almost 3 out of 4 Christians actually read God's precious Word do not read the Bible from week to week outside of a church service in the UK.
Even more crazy is that almost 1 in 2 church leaders do not read the Book that should be core to everything they are teaching.
Something needs to change. Really!
But if you find yourself as a non reader don't go a guilt trip just make a decision to change. This Christmas season is a perfect time to start.
Youversion have developed a simple short daily reading plan called "Rediscovering the Christmas Season". Start it on 1st December on your smart phone or web.
Honestly it will revolutionise your life.
Although I am now in my 28th year of living in England I am a died in the wool Scotsman. So my heart beats a little faster when I remember the line from Braveheart as William Wallace is challenging his rag tag group of followers. "They may take our lives but they will never take our FREEDOM."
True freedom is won for us without doing a thing. It has been won by Jesus. Freedom from sin. Freedom from religion. Freedom from rules. Freedom from guilt. We didn't have to fight for it or win it, Jesus did it. Sometime we don't live like we have it and sometimes we give it up and choose to live a life in vain trying to attain by a set of rituals that which is free.
Our religious acts can never bring us the freedom we seek but encountering the freedom won by Jesus drives us to places we would never have gone to on our own.
Paul sums it up in Galatians 5 v 14 repeating a Jesus saying.
"For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom."
The pinnacle of freedom is love.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
The Apostle Paul called the Christians in Galatia - Crazy. In fact he does so more than once.
Crazy because the a crucified saviour was not central to their lives. v1
Crazy to think this new life had anything to do with them. v2
Crazy to think their religious acts were needed to complete their salvation. v3
Crazy to think that they could keep up this Christian life by their own efforts. v3
Crazy to think that behaving in a certain way rather than believing, was the way to see miracles. v5
Crazy to think that God blesses us in direct proportion to our good works. v5
Crazy not to realise a life lived by their own effort was doomed. v10
Crazy to think they could sustain a relationship with God by following rules. v11
Its crazy to me that so many of still want to rely on our own efforts rather than His grace.
It is even crazier that we recipients of God's free grace continue to enforce conditions, man made rules and customs and the latest religious fad on our fellow believers or even worse people who don't know Jesus.
Seems like we are still crazy after all these years.
When will we learn?
Monday, November 22, 2010
Martin Luther on sanctification.
This life therefore is not righteousness but growth in righteousness;
not health but healing;
not being but becoming;
not rest but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it.
The process is not finished, but it is going on.
This is not the end, but it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.
HT Desiring God
Sunday, November 21, 2010
I light of God's magnificent grace what can I do but surrender EVERYTHING!
Saturday, November 20, 2010
The guys from YouVersion hosted a webcast on the 16th November to celebrate 10 million users of the Bible App.
I remember sitting round a table a few years ago in Milton Keynes with Bobby Gruenwald when he mentioned this new idea that LifeChurch.tv had about an online Bible.
The advent of YouVersion.com revolutionised my Bible reading and study then the Bible App took it to a whole new level.
Here is the webcast. Its over an hour but apart from realising you have not won one of the iPad give aways its worth the watch.
Youversion would like to see the Bible read for 1 billion minutes in January. You can be part of the movement. Download the app for your mobile device here. Then pick one of the many reading plans and you are away.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
From "Permission to Speak Freely" by Anne Jackson
"Sometimes we've been churches that preach a grace up front for those who aren't Christians and grace at the end for those who follow the rules and are "good Christians," but we've tragically neglected the people in between. The truth is that none of us, even on our best, "holiest" days - the days we don't cuss or look at porn or yell at our spouse or at the idiot who cut us off in traffic - even our best days aren't holy enough to be looked at by God.
That's why there's the Cross. And that's why we all need it for both our brokenness and our righteousness."
The book says that ALL my righteousness is like soiled rags.
As Tim Keller puts it in his book - The Prodigal God
"Pharisees only repent of their sins, but Christians repent of the very roots of their righteousness too."
Thank you God that your grace met my brokenness but it also meets my selfish righteousness too opening the door for me to appear in your view.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Yesterday I got up bleary eyed at 4 am to start a pilgrimage with Mark Sherratt & Ryan Amos to St Annes Cathedral in Belfast. Initially I said to Mark that after the schedule we have had over the last few weeks we must be mad. But after a few hours listening to Mark Driscoll I was left in no doubt as to why we came.
Here are some headlines from Mark's first talk.
When there is new technology there is new opportunity for the Gospel.
He suggested that he saw the following hallmarks where God was moving in the church globally.
1 Reformed Theology
There is a return to Christ centred biblical truth.
Resting in the sovereignty of God in uncertain times.
The Bible starts with in the beginning God! Always start with God not man.
Follow the story line of the Bible don't pick a team of systematic theology.
We don't make movements towards God, it is God who pursues us, God who saves us, God who redeems us.
The heart of reformed theology is Jesus! A saturation of Jesus.
2 Complementary relationships in the church and home
1st government is the government of the home. Husband wife & children.
The question is not: is the man head of the home, it is, is he a good head or a bad head?
To be the head is not to be the bully or the boss it is to take 1st responsibility.
You must not only help the women who have been victims in your church you must beat the men till they change!
Presently there are around 10,000 people in Mars Hill Church. If I just had the women who had been raped and abused in the past I'd still have a mega church of 2000.
In men there is an epidemic of evading responsibility.
A man is defined not by what he consumes but by what he produces.
Men follow men.
3 Spirit filled lives
A life patterned after Jesus.
To be spirit filled you will be on mission in culture.
Luke is very intentional to show the Spirit on Jesus in his first book and the Spirit on the church in his second.
Spirit filled people don't want to be a part of a museum they want to be part of a movement.
True religion is the gospel takes root deep in the heart of the affections.
4 Missional Churches
Contend but not for everything.
A missional church contends and contextualised.
Are you doing all you can and using everything you can to reach the lost.
Don't be afraid of failure. You are already failing Just fail more creatively.
Move people from meetings to mission.
We should be gathering for worship scattering for mission.
The Holy Spirit gives us the power to be what we cannot be and do what we cannot do.
How do I say this. Everything seemed to go wrong at our services at MKCC this past weekend. None of this is a critisism of all the great people that pour so much in to make our services happen. But we had a bit of a "mare".
Technology bit us on the bum. Videos went wrong, computers started doing strange things, we got some programming wrong. The list goes on. But in what I would have classed as one of our worst services in a long time at least two great things happened.
Firstly we wiped angel tree out of gift tags and gave cash on top so 68 children of inmates of Milton Keynes Prison will recieve a gift and a book this Christmas thanks to MKCC.
A man started a relationship with Jesus for the first time.
So this goes to prove two things. The people at MKCC are amazingly generous and God is still at work even though we get things wrong and the technology fails!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
- Think volunteers before staff.
- We need to identify leaders in the church not just doers.
- In church we need to get away from the mindset that says that we can only give leadership roles to paid staff.
- When you are trying to raise up leaders in your church you can not just fill roles.
- Are we helping people serve in the area they are gifted to serve.
- Practice shoulder tapping
- What would happen if each of us would invite one friend to come serve with us.
- Make the ask personal.
- Leaders will not respond to a platform announcement.
- Do on the job training leaders are busy people respect their time.
- Ensure you balance getting the tasks done and caring for the people in ministry.
- Stay focused as a church – don’t just add more ministries.
- You need to continue to share stories.
- Never do ministry alone.
Monday, November 15, 2010
In opening his letter to the Christians in Galatia Paul tells them that he is "God Commissioned".
This short simple phrase really helped me today.
I remember at the age of 16 going to tell my Pastor that I thought that God was calling me into "the ministry". (That's how we put it back then - now we know that every Christian is a minister) He sent me away to seek God to know for sure that God had had called me into church leadership.
He said that if I didn't know for sure that I was God Commissioned I would not last.
My crisis of calling came before I even left Bible College. One night having made yet more mistakes, feeling far from God I sat on my bed and told an almost non existent God that he had one last chance to talk to me.
For some reason I picked up a hymn book and opened it at random to read:
I know not why God's wondrous grace to me he hath made known, nor why, unworthy, Christ in love redeemed me for his own. But I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I've committed unto him against that day.
The Chorus being a quote from 2 Timothy 1 v 12 the exact verse that God used to confirm His calling on my life.
Commissioning is defined as the act of granting certain powers or the authority to carry out a particular task or duty. And for us as believers that power and authority comes from God.
We are not self commissioned or man commissioned we are God commissioned.
Lets act like it!
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Planting a Church in a Gay bar in the Bible Belt of the USA.
This video has challenged me and inspired me.
"To reach the people no one else is reaching we have to be prepared to do what no one else is doing" - Craig Groeschel
I think Alex Early is someone who is doing that.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. - Psalm 78 v 39
This was what the song writer Asaph said of his ancestors in this Psalm of Instruction (Maschill).
They forgot everything God had done for them. They forgot the miracles, the interventions, the deliverance, the provision, the direction and the salvation.
By forgetting they turned back and THEY limited God.
God is limitless, but His people had LIMITED Him.
How many times have I limited God because forgetting has caused me to turn back in the face of the slightest difficulty or opposition.
God help me to always remember and to stay the course and witness a limitless God.
Monday, November 08, 2010
God let me make a difference for you that is utterly disproportionate to who I am. - David Brainerd prayer (1718-1747)
HT: Pete Wilson
Sunday, November 07, 2010
Prayer Answered by Crosses
By John Newton
I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace,
Might more of his salvation know,
And seek more earnestly his face.
‘Twas he who taught me thus to pray;
And he, I trust, has answered prayer;
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair.
I hoped that, in some favoured hour,
At once he’d answer my request,
And by his love’s constraining power
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.
Instead of this, he made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart,
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part.
Yea, more, with his own hand he seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe,
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.
Lord, why is this? I trembling cried;
Wilt thou pursue this worm to death?
This is the way, the Lord replied
I answer prayer for grace and faith.
These inward trials I now employ
From self and pride to set thee free,
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st seek thy all in me.
God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. - Heb 12 v 10
HT: Desiring God
Saturday, November 06, 2010
To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless.- Psalm 119 v 95
Athletes strive to run the perfect race.
Footballers long to play the perfect pass.
An actor is looking for the perfect role.
A Singer endeavours to hit the perfect note.
A young girl dreams of a perfect wedding.
Perfection is something that we look to achieve.
A destination we long to visit.
Once visited we find that it is a place where we cannot stay.
Imperfection appears so soon.
But God's commands start as perfect and go on from there.
His words are never less than perfect and go beyond,
to a realm that we cannot even begin to understand.
David goes on to say that he could meditate on God's commands all day.
A day is no where near long enough.
The expanse of eternity will not even be enough to bottom our understanding and comprehension of Him and His words.
Friday, November 05, 2010
A video we played at the opening celebrations at MKCC this past weekend.
Monday, November 01, 2010
This last weekend must go down as one of the red letter days in the history of MKCC.
We opened the doors of our new facility to our community and the response was overwhelming. We opened the doors at 12 noon and were inundated with visitors till we closed at 4 pm. As well as many friends and family that came with our church family we had so many guests join us from our immediate community.
One lady had lived near by for 30 years and visited for the first time on Saturday than came back for the services on Sunday. It was wonderful to see nearly every inch of our facilities both old and new busting with people.
The evening brought a special concert with comedian Bobby Ball who had the whole crowd rocking with laughter, whilst leaving them in no doubt who mattered most - Jesus!
Bobby was back Sunday with 100 people having to watch on monitors from the foyer because the new auditorium was full as we saw over 850 attend. With a number of people starting a brand new relationship with Jesus! It just never never gets old!!
None of this could have happened without the dedication of the staff and volunteers of MKCC . They are just totally amazing. They have had a crazy busy week. Not only did they carry off an incredible weekend but they entertained 70 church leaders just a few days earlier when Perry Noble from NewSpring Church came to town.
I am humbled to serve with them.