Monday, February 28, 2011

Pastor Mark comes a cropper

Pastor Mark Sherratt puts everything into it when preaching at MKCC. This past Sunday he was talking about the "Challenge of Contentment". As part of the preach he decided to give a quick illustration about "Chasing the Wind". Here is what happened next:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

1 Billion

Shout out to YouVersion for helping to bring 1 billion minutes of reading the Scriptures into people’s lives!

Yesterday, February 15, we just passed 1 billion minutes of engaging with Scripture using the Bible App™. While it took 46 days instead of the 31 we had hoped for, it’s still nothing short of extraordinary. Going all the way back to the Bible App’s launch in July 2008, this period represents the most people reading the most minutes in the shortest amount of time that we’ve ever seen. It’s reason to rejoice.

Just incredible!

I very rarely read the Bible any other way now.

Friday, February 25, 2011

In God we Trust! Really?

Waited around for what seemed like an age last night to hear Pete Wilson talk at Radicalis. (The bonus was that I listened to Rick Warren whilst waiting). Pete blasted it. Here are a few quick quotes from his talk.

  • Its not the Cross that is offensive its the fact that the people who follow the Cross look nothing like the man who hung on it that's offensive
  • There is a God and it is NOT me. You are not in control He is. In what area of your life do you need to say this is not mine.
  • There's a POWER that comes when we SURRENDER.
  • Satan likes to tell us God can't be trusted.
  • God is powerfully present even when we think He is apparently absent.
  • Often my prayer life isn't about me getting to know God more, but it's getting more of what I think He will give me.
  • Our greatest temptation is to chase after what is deceptively good… even ministry.
  • You're going to be tempted to ditch your God given values in pursuit of your God given dreams.
  • Our dreams, visions, your ministry etc … will make a lousy "god".
  • Never doubt in the dark, what God has already told you in the light.
  • Are you worshiping your dream, ministry, or vision over your relationship with God?
  • If you allow anything to define your worth other than Christ it will grind you down.
  • Are you putting your faith in God's IDENTITY or in God's ACTIVITY?
  • Sometimes we think of God as a cosmic vending machine.
  • God’s message to you: I am with you, will you choose to be with me?
Honestly is you haven't read his book Plan B get it NOW!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sometimes I'm stupid

At the end of Jesus most famous message - The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his disciples a short story about two builders. One stupid who chose to to build on sand, the other wise who sought out a foundation of rock.

Jesus had covered so many subjects in the last few minutes; money, heaven, prayer, relationships, forgiveness, criticism, persecution, joy, the kingdom, character, godliness, fasting. The list goes on.

He is giving his disciples an inside track for this Jesus shaped life.

So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them [obeying them] will be like a sensible (prudent, practical, wise) man who built his house upon the rock. - Matthew 7 v 24

Reading through Jesus sermon over and over again in the last few days I realise again that too often I am more foolish than wise. I choose to listen but often fail to act.

Knowing the right thing to do but choosing not to do them is the thing that classifies me as stupid.

Often like the stupid builder we know we are foolish before anyone else does, but stubbornly we keep on being foolish till the storm comes.

How stupid is that!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Stealth Christianity

As followers of Jesus our lives should speak of our master. We are commanded to share our encounter with Him to everyone we meet. Following Jesus is not like joining a secret society with secret handshakes.

However Jesus also to keep some acts of our Christianity on the quiet. Yes we are to do them but we should do them in secret.

Giving to the poor, prayer & fasting we are all encouraged to keep it quiet between us and God.

Matthew 6


2 "Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

5 "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

16 "And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

All vital parts of following Jesus but somehow God knows us only too well. Our ego and pride keep sneaking up to us and getting in our way. Somehow we can even take godly disciplines and acts of worship to a holy God and turn them into: look at me!

God help me to hit the stealth pedal and forgo a reward in the hear and now that will disappear so quickly and invest in eternity.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jesus didn't always go for the crowd

Time after time we read in the Gospels about crowds following Jesus. He didn't seem to have a problem gathering a crowd. I suppose people getting healed all over the place stimulated interest. At the end of Matthew 4 we read that so great was his fame that people travelled from all over the region to find out about him and see him in the flesh.

Then at the start of Matthew 5 we read this:

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. - Matt 5 v 1

He often spoke to crowds, for long periods, so much so that he had to perform a miracle to feed them. But on this occasion he decided to leave the crowds and disappear up a mountain. On this occasion when he sat down to teach it was with a smaller group of His disciples.

Jesus saw the need to spend some quality time with the key people in this revolution that was to become His Church. They get the inside track to help them understand where this thing was going. He wanted them to understand what the vision for His Kingdom was all about. It was different and these guys needed to understand.

So he teaches his most famous sermon for the few and not the crowd. He lays out the crown jewels of the Kingdom to the few.

As a leader he knew that these were the people who would carry His topsy turvey message to the bigger crowds with the help of the Holy Spirit when He was gone.

Sometimes as a leader you need to give up the adrenaline of the crowd to invest your best into the few.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Do we really believe in restoration?

Ted Haggard a well known Pastor that had a well publicised failure suggests that the "world" is doing a better job of restoration than the church.

Challenging & thought provoking.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Direct Debit of Grace

Another clip from my preach at MKCC on Gratitude. I never want to take for granted Jesus sacrifice and his grace that arrives in my life on a daily basis.

Click here if you can't see the video

Monday, February 14, 2011

Its Mine!

Taken from my preach this past weekend at MKCC on the subject of gratitude. How often when God has come asking me to use some of the stuff that I have accumulated for His Kingdom and I have shouted back - It's Mine.

I don't actually use those words but that's what I mean.

By the way, I'm loving the shirt :-)

Crazy Jesus Followers

Following Jesus means that you do some crazy things.

But maybe none more crazy than his first followers. Jesus borrows the boat of a couple of brothers who were in business together so he could teach to a crowd who had gathered on the shore. Once finished preaching Jesus tells Peter it was time to fish. The carpenter telling the fisherman how to fish!

Peter does it but maybe just to humor Jesus only to catch so many fish that they couldn't even get the fish into the boat so they call over their friends, James & John, to pull the nets. Peter and his colleagues new this was no normal catch something was going on.

The Bible tells us that as soon as the boats his shore these guys who had just had the catch of their lives left EVERYTHING and followed Jesus. Leaving a mountain of fish to rot or maybe be sold by someone else.

And after they had run their boats on shore, they left everything and joined Him as His disciples - Luke 5 v 11

But no matter what their dreams had been replaced by a new mission that consumed their lives, Following Jesus.

So I ask my self today what do I need to walk away from to pursue Jesus? What looks like the fulfillment of my dreams but needs to be left lying in the docks as I head off in the footsteps of Jesus.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Did John the Baptist miss it

I was thinking the other day that the greatest man that has ever lived in Jesus eyes, John the Baptist, wouldn't have fallen short as a modern day prosperity evangelist.

He chose a dessert instead of a stadium or TV camera
He wore camel hair instead of a cashmere suit
He preferred bush craft instead of fine dining
He had a leather belt instead of a Rolex
He promoted Jesus not his latest book
He stayed in a prison instead of a mansion

Finally he lost his head because he wouldn't compromise the message.

He was a strange guy back then but in today's background he would be certifiable. Don't believe me? Well when a well known Pastor of a "Mega" church decides to give it up and resign then go and spend some time serving poor people he is written off as an extremest and given dog's abuse.

In an age that the celebrity culture seems to be at least knocking on the door of the church, John's message is one that we need to remember.

"I must decrease, He (Jesus) must increase."

Just saying!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Quotable Giving

C S Lewis in answer to a question of how much a Christian should give:

"I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amuse- ments, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities [giving habits] do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charities [giving] expenditure excludes them."

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Losing Jesus

Other than Jesus birth we don't tend to know too much about his early life. One of the few glimpses we get is in Luke 2 v 41 - 52.

Jesus family had visited Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and now they were heading back home to Nazareth. The only problem was that they left Jesus behind by accident. The assumed he was with friends in the larger party and their mistake only came to light when it was time to bed down for the night. A sort or ancient Home Alone movie.

How could they be so daft as not make sure Jesus was not with them.

Yet I've done the same so many times.

I've gone to church without Jesus
I've gone to work without Jesus
I've gone on holiday without Jesus
I've been in Bible College without Jesus
I've gone on mission without Jesus
I've spent my money without Jesus
I've even preached without Jesus

I've assumed Jesus was still around when infact I left him behind and didn't even know it.

Jesus I know that you never leave me. I want to walk with you today and every day and recognize your presence.

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
and every common bush afire with God;
but only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

-- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Becoming what I already am

Jesus GREW in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people. - Luke 2 v 49

I don't really understand it all but this God-Man Jesus was on a journey of growth. I've sat around with many people and debated subjects like: "When did Jesus know he was God" and the like and to be honest its a bit beyond my understanding.

But the Bible is clear that Jesus grew.

Sometimes our journey of God is a paradox of who we already are in God and what we are becoming.

We are holy but are confronted day after day by our own unholiness.
We are seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus but catch ourselves living for selfish gain.
We are dead to sin and alive to Christ but still listen to a corpse.
We are a new creation, born again but still need to crucify the flesh.

As finite entities we serve an infinite God. Growth for us will last an eternity. So embrace it with all its challenges, opportunities, uncomfortableness and exhilaration.

Love & gratitude for the devine gift that has arrived in my life drives me on to become what I already am in Christ.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Putting God First in our Finance

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to introduce the offering by using an illustration I saw another pastor doing.

Jesus told us that our treasure goes where our heart is. How are we reflecting our love for God in the way we are using our finance?

I mention the dreaded word tithing so I suspect I may get the obligatory negative comments but hey here we go.

Favour with God

When we read about the encounter between the angel Gabriel and Mary to let her know that she was to give birth to Jesus there is a little phrase that always makes me smile.

You have found favor with God! - Luke 1 v 30

It has nothing to do with the passage but the same image flashes across my mind every time I hear the phrase "Favour of God".

I was sitting in a meeting with my friend Mark Sherratt at a well known Theme Park. Our task was negotiating a pricing structure for an even we held there each year. A Christian music event that attracted young people from all over the country. Negotiations were not going well. I had tried everything I knew short of begging but was getting no where.

That's when Mark piped up, surrounded by hard nosed executives with profit, understandably, as their bottom line. Mark basically told them that the favour of God was on the event and because they were hosting it, the favour of God was on their business.

The room went very quiet. Neither I or the business people were sure where to look. So we quickly brought the meeting to an end and said our goodbyes and set off fully expecting that we had run our last event.

A day later we received an email not only taking out all the additional charges that were proposed but we were offered a better deal than we were the previous year!

Either the favour of God was on us or the business was scared they were going to lose it :-)

Either way later that year we saw 100's of young people make a first time decision for Jesus and I will never forget about the favour of God.

A 1000 words will not acomplish what the favour of God will.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Mandy Smith

I've shared before about the story of Zac Smith and how he faced cancer. Watch it here.

His widow Mandy Smith shares her continuing journey with God.

In the light of these amazing Jesus followers I have to hesitate for at least a moment before I call myself the same.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Lets Talk Church

Had the opportunity to hang out with some Pastors today at Outreach Church in Nottingham.

Justin Widdop, Paul Benger and James Galloway organised the gathering "Lets Talk Church".

It was a chance to meet some old friends and start to make some new friendships. But the one thing that really made me smile is the great things that are happening in the church here in little old England.

We shared ideas, strategies, successes, failures, inspiration, wisdom, resources & encouragement. Everyone keen to learn and grow from each other all with a good dose of humility. Very refreshing.

I've come back with a few pages of notes to work though over the next few days.

Quote of the day goes to Mr James Galloway:

"We lead from the front not on top"

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

681 Million Minutes

Update from the guys at Youversion on their goal of 1 billion minutes of Bible reading on the various apps.

It didn't quite happen but the users racked up a massive 681 Million minutes. Outstanding.

If you have not downloaded Youversion yet hop on board here.