Friday, August 28, 2015

The Holy Spirit and Love

There is a video circling the Internet that doesn't really do much to show that we as Christians have grasped the greatest virtue in the area of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 13 - Love!

In it a person who identifies himself as a prophet invades the stage of a well known preacher, who obviously does not share the same view on the Gifts of The Spirit, and shouts and screams at the preacher.

After the so called prophet is removed the preacher in turn ridicules him in front of his audience.

Whatever my beliefs on the subject the name of the Holy Spirit was not exalted in this exchange.

Yesterday I sat and listened to a couple tell me simply how the Holy Spirit had showed up in a real time of need and uncertainty and made a real difference.

They listed miracle after miracle and talked about the peace and comfort that God the Holy Spirit had provided for them. The selling of a house in impossible situation, the "coincidence" of a door closing at last minute, the provision of a job at just the right time, the list went on and on.

The interesting thing to me is that one of the couple is from a pentecostal background and the other a brethren background and belief system. But yet that have been married and in ministry together for nearly 50 years.

Their story will probably never do the rounds on the Internet like the sensationalised shouting match I mentioned before.

But their simple faith and obedience has seen the Holy Spirit at work in their life in a miraculous but almost anonymous but certainly common everyday way.

If the greatest is love i am always left scratching my head with a puzzled look on my face when people "use" the Holy Spirit to cause such tension and division in the body of Christ.

It is no surprise that the Holy Spirit decided to inspire Paul to insert the most amazing passage on love right between two passages on the working of the the Holy Spirit in the Church! Doh!

Old Innovation

Change and innovation in church life and ministry is prized by many and resisted by others.

Following advice by Rick Warren to ensure in reading that the whole of church wisdom was dipped into from the ancient to the modern, I keep being surprised how much of modern innovation is actually quite old.

Reading about Samuel Medley a preacher and hymn writer who lived from 1738-99 I found that he was looked on as a bit of a rebel who did things a little different.

He was renowned for preaching on just one word. But, Not or His..

Frustrated that his congregation couldn't sing the hymn's because of a shortage of hymnbooks, he ditched the hymnbook and printed the songs on broadsheets. On attending the service he handed everyone a copy and all could join in. I'm wondering if he was the first to remove the hymnbook? Long before the argument I remember in the late 70's in my home church about the use of an OHP?

He would also often, pen a hymn, that went with the text he was preaching that day. Was he the first to plan a service so that one spiritual point or lesson could be empahasised in the minds of his congregation.

This was also done by none other than the famous John Newton and his friend and hymn writer William Cowper. Each week they would meet up in the orchard that connected their two Olney homes. John would share his text and topic and William would compose a song that would reinforce the message. These were often at the same rhythm as the looms in the local lace mills would beat at so people could sing as they worked.

Reading a little of our history would really help us contextualise the present. Maybe the new thing we get excited about is really quite old and not to be prized or feared but to be held lightly in the shadow of the infinitely important - the message of Jesus

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Beggars Prayer

Samuel Medley, preacher and hymn writer, of the 1700's penned the following hymn as a description of himself. For me its like looking in a mirror and seeing myself. I am so thankful for the perseverance of God with a sinner like me.

A beggar poor, at mercy's door,
Lies such a wretch as I;
Thou know'st my need is great indeed,
Lord, hear me when I cry.

With guilt beset, and deep in debt,
For pardon, Lord I pray;
O let thy love sufficient prove
To take my sins away.

A wicked heart is no small part
Of my distress and shame;
Let sovereign grace its crimes efface,
Through Jesus blessed name.

My darkened mind, I daily find,
Is prone to go astray;
Lord, on it shine, with light divine,
And guide it in thy way.

My stubborn will opposes still
Thy wise and holy hand;
Thy Spirit send to make it bend
To thy supreme command.

Affections wild, by sin defiled,
Oft hurry me away;
Lord, bring them home,
nor let them roam
From Christ, the Living Way.

A conscience hard does oft retard
My walk in holy peace;
Let it by thee made tender be,
And all its hardness cease.

My memory bad, but what is sad,
Can folly still retain;
O fill it, Lord, with thy sweet word,
And let it there remain.

Before thy face I've told my case;
Lord, help, and mercy send;
Pity my soul, and make me whole,
And love me to the end.

Samuel Medley 1738-99

Sunday, August 16, 2015


by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centred. Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.

People favour underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Picture of Humble Leadership

Below is a post by Ron Edmondson on 10 attributes of a humble leader. I am a long way from a number of these attributes but I strive to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus.

I also have the honour of working for a leader who I believe the below attributes describe to a T.

Dangerous Trust
Humility always demands a certain level of trust. Obviously, for a believer, it begins with a trust in God. But, a humble leader is willing to take a risk on others also, trusting them with the sacredness of the vision, even at the chance they may be disappointed with the outcome. 

Sincere investment
Humble leaders know the vision is bigger and will last longer than they will. Wow! That’s a hard reality, isn’t it? But, knowing this humble leaders willingly invest in others, raising up and maturing new leaders.

Gentle, but strong
One can’t be a leader and be weak. The two — weakness and leadership — don’t go together. Every position of leadership will provide a challenge to the leader, but humble leaders have learned the balance between being gentle and remaining strong. (Think Jesus!) 

Readily admits mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes. In fact, we often learn more through failure than through success. The humble leader is quick to admit when he or she has done wrong and deals with the fault-out without casting blame or making excuses. And, they seek forgiveness when the mistakes they make impact others.

Forgives easily
Leadership is filled with disappointment; often at the expense of other’s mistakes. A humble leader forgives easily, remembering how many times he or she has been forgiven.

Quickly diverts attention 
We all like to be recognised for accomplishments, but a humble leader is quick to divert attention to others, sharing the limelight for successes with those, who many times, may have even had more to do with the success than the leader did. They celebrate the success of others louder than personal success

Remains thankful 
A humble leader is appreciative of the input of others into his or her leadership. So much so, that a humble leader naturally praises the actions of others far more than the time spent patting themselves on the back for personal accomplishments. Humble leaders recognise that all good gifts come from above.

Recognises limitations
No one can do everything. A humble has the ability to say, “I can’t do that or I’m not the one who should“.

Shares authority 
Humble leaders don’t take all the key assignments for themselves, but gives out prime responsibility and authority to people he or she is leading.

Invites feedback 
A humble leader wants to learn from his or her mistakes and wants to continually see improvement. Humble leaders initiate other’s suggestions and feedback, not waiting until complaints come, but personally asking for the input.

Humility is not putting yourself down as a leader. It’s ultimately recognising who you are in view of Christ and others. The danger in not being a humble leader or considering ourselves better than others, is that one day we may be “humbled”. Many of us learn humility the hard way.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Chosen Ones

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. - 1 Peter 2:9-10 (The Message)

Peter makes it quite clear to the early believers, facing huge trials and tests, that they hadn't just stumbled into this new life in some accident. But that they had been divinely chosen. They were:

Chosen to Worship

When Luther taught of the priesthood of all believers, he was maintained that the "plowboy" and the "milkmaid" did priestly work. Moreover their plowing and milking was priestly work. Access to enter the presence of God was not restricted to a select few specialists in a sacred place. Worship was now an everyday, anywhere experience where the division between secular and sacred had disappeared.

Chosen to be holy 

The rituals that the priests of the Old Testament had to go through to be accepted before God on the day of atonement were immense. Even then they entered God's presence with fear and a rope tied round there ankle in case they had to be pulled out dead.

Now all this is replaced. The atoning altar is replaced by Jesus Christ and his shed blood. Fear has been replaced by gratitude as we now stand holy in God's presence, not because of our rituals or righteous acts, but because Jesus is Holy then I am holy.

Chosen to witness

Now we have the opportunity to tell others about the transformational difference God has brought about in our lives through the perfect work of Jesus. From a "nothing to a something" from "nobody to a somebody and from "rejected to accepted".

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Just another brick in the wall

Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God. - 1 Peter 2:5 (message)

Before we meet Christ we are focused on building a life. After we meet Christ, our life is consumed with building a Christ centred sanctuary for those searching for life.

The transformation that has taken place, the hope that has been birthed, the gratitude the overflows, compels us to abandon our carefully crafted plans and find overwhelming fulfilment and purpose in a new plan. God's plan!

That plan is to show up, bowed in worship, adoration and thankfulness before our deliverer and say "not my will but yours."

I'm ready to take my place, build me into your glorious kingdom, I am ready to be a simple brick in your glorious creation, it doesn't matter where just include me. Let me be an other brick in the wall.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Remember....who taught you the Word of God

As part of Discovery Kids Live, where the the children's ministry of MKCC was showcased in all our services, my wife Nicola brought a great word.

Based on Hebrews 13:7

Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.

Check it out here

She even quoted me... very wise:)

‘I’ve learned my greatest spiritual lessons talking to giants of the faith who rarely took the platform in their local church never mind elsewhere’ - Billy Ritchie

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The art or leadership: Who is it about?

Below is a copy of a great post from Dave Kraft on his view on two types of leaders. (Note: Dave Kraft is at MKCC hosting the seminar: Mistakes Leaders Make in November. Check it out)

Unfortunately I have met many of group one in "church" world but I am privileged to work for someone who is firmly in group 2, in fact he could have written the manual!

There are two kinds of leaders. Which are you more like?

As you can well imagine, I have known, and worked for, many leaders through the years. I have spent my 47 years of ministry life in Southern and Northern California, Sweden, Colorado and Washington State. I have been involved in a variety of ministry responsibilities and have had a lifetime of experience during those years. I have been an astute student of leadership and leaders for over 30 years.

Now, I am well aware that I can get myself into a heap of trouble by saying you can divide leaders into two groups…three groups…four groups, or any number of groups; but, anyway, let me take a stab at two groups.

Group one is composed of leaders whose world revolves around themselves. 

It’s all about their responsibility, their successes, their books, their place in the leadership pecking order, etc. They love to hear themselves talk about their favourite subject…themselves.

A number of years ago I had an appointment with a leader who was experiencing an unusually high degree of success. In my world he was tops. I think I may have spent an hour with him. During that time he never asked me a single question. He never asked me about how I was doing, how my family was doing or anything about my life or ministry. With very little prompting from me, he talked non-stop about his many successes and accomplishments. It was all about him!

He was not the first or last leader I met who was totally focused on himself. A person who is all wrapped up in themselves makes a very small package. How sad!

Group two is composed of leaders whose world revolves around others. 

In one of his blogs, Michael Hyatt shared that when he was new in the publishing world, he was on assignment to interview Billy Graham. He was nervous and unsure of what to expect, being in the presence of such a well-known man of God. Here, in Hyatt’s own words, is his experience of meeting and spending that time with Billy Graham:

“I arrived at the arena where Mr. Graham was scheduled to speak about an hour before the program was to begin. My palms were sweating. My mouth was dry. But I was eager to meet this great man of God, counting it an extraordinary privilege to meet such a living legend. “One of his aides ushered me back to the “Green Room”—the special preparation room where speakers wait until it is their turn to speak. 
When I walked into the room, Mr. Graham was the only one there. He immediately stood up, smiled, and extended his hand, ‘Hi, Michael, my name is Billy.’ (As if I didn’t know.) “He invited me to sit down and visit with him. I pulled out my day planner with my list of questions. 
I never got to ask a single one. “Mr. Graham pummelled me with questions. He asked about my upbringing, my family and my business. He asked me about my relationship with Christ. “These were not the questions of an interrogator but a friend. He laughed easily, and followed up every answer with another query—before I could turn the tables. He never took his eyes off me. He was totally present. “I left feeling known and validated. 
I was on cloud nine. In 20 minutes, he had an impact on me that would forever change the way I think about leadership. I remember thinking; if I am ever in a position of leadership, that’s the kind of person I want to be!” 
I am grateful that, over the years, I have worked for a few leaders like Billy Graham. Here comes the question for you and for me: What kind of a leader am I and what kind of leader am I becoming as the years progress? 

“You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you.” Mark 10:42, 43 The Message

“Jesus also taught: ‘Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets.’” Mark 12:38, 39 The New Living Translation

Monday, August 10, 2015

Satisfied with a Taste?

You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God. - 1 Peter 2:2-3 (Message)

The dictionary defines taste as:

the sensation of flavour perceived in the mouth and throat on contact with a substance.

No nothing can compare with the taste of God in our lives. The Psalmist wrote a song with the great line "Taste and see that the Lord is Good." We were not sure what to expect. We had heard other people tell us how incredible it was but as we had never tasted for ourselves before we really didn't know. So nervously we took the plunge not sure if the sensation of the taste would make us gag or smile. Only to find out it was the most delicate, sweetest taste that we had ever found.

But so many of us then revert to the taster menu of the essence of God. Happy every now and then to taste bite size samplers served to us as we dip into the presence of God rather than sit down for a feast at his banqueting table.

A taste was never meant to be the end of the journey but the prelude to show us how more we need. We cannot grow as healthy followers of Christ with a mere taste.

Its time to tuck into the feast - God's Word.

The key to growth as a Christian is savouring the supremacy of God in every moment and every situation in our lives not just the odd ecstatic spiritual moment.

The Essence of Discovery Kids

This past Sunday at MKCC we had Discovery Kids Live. The leaders, volunteers & children of our church showcased the great work of Discovery Kids in all our services. Here is a short video that was used to intro the services. I think it sums up very well what Discovery Kids is all about:

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Defective Leaders

Reflections on Mark Driscoll and the Church from Desiring God on Vimeo.

John Piper hits it out of the park with a truly Jesus view on the problems faced when Christian's and christian leaders fail. In this video he is answering a specific question retaliated to people walking away from church because of the failures of well know leaders Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill, Seattle.

  • There is no church that I like everything about..including my own.
  • It (Mark Driscoll) is not a unique situation, in history or in our day, Christians are failing, lay people and pastors everyday and bringing reproach on the gospel.
  • Who has not let Jesus down.
  • Historically God has been willing to use people to speak Gospel truth who have motives that are defective.
  • Gos is unbelievably merciful to use you and I to speak Gospel truth with our defects.
  • You have to have a category for gospel faithfulness in defective containers.
  • Don't throw the baby of truth out with the bathwater of sin.
  • To walk away from Jesus because Jesus representatives are failures is to make an absurd choice, Jesus is our only hope.
  • Jesus is the one person in the universe who has no defects, he has no failures.
  • As I look over history God must be the kind of general who looks over his army that willing accepts tactical defeats for strategic victories.
  • The general is not out of control!
  • If you walk away from the church you are walking away from church.
  • To say that I love Jesus and not submit to his word is a lie. Jesus founded the church I didn't
  • The choice of Jesus over the church implies a choice of your opinion over the Bible...because the Jesus of the Bible is the Jesus of the church.
Very wise words from Rev Piper!

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

7 years later

So there I am minding my own business at my in laws Golden Anniversary party and this lady comes up to speak to who I've never seen before. A slight challenge for an introvert like me:)

This was further heightened when she said let me tell you about our interaction 7 years ago.

She said, "7 years ago I was struggling spiritually. I had been brought up a catholic and was full of guilt and fear. For some reason that even I can't explain I ended up attending a service at Milton Keynes Christian Centre. I was fearful and felt all alone knowing no one. I had never been there before so sat nervously alone wishing I'd never come."

Not knowing about this lady at the start of the service, hearing what I thought was a whisper from God I decided nervously to share something with the congregation. It wasn't the most earth shattering thought and I almost dismissed it.

I can't remember the actual words but it was something like, There is a lady here today for the first time. She doesn't even really know how she has ended up here today. She knows no one and feels all alone. But God wants to say to her even though no one here knows her name that, He knows her name. He knew she would be here and he loved her.

That was it. No thunder and lightening, in fact to my knowledge there was no response and it helped no one.

But now 7 years later I find out that actually I did hear the whisper of God and through simple obedience with no fanfare, God's Word found its home in a moment of need.

Just a small reminder to me and us all that listening and acting on the whisper of God can change lives. And maybe just maybe God arranged for us to meet just to give me the encouragement I needed.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Golden Anniversary

This weekend is the 50th Anniversary of Nicola's mum and dad. So all the extended family are heading down from Mansfield to be joined by all the local friends for a shindig.

I've known them since I arrived in Milton Keynes in September 1984 and became part of the family in September 1988 on marrying their oldest daughter, Nicola. (Well actually she was pretty young at the time, only 19!)

So here are ten things I can say about them after these years:
  1. They love Jesus with a passion.
  2. They love their kids - even if Jonathan is a challenge. lol Only Joking!
  3. Their greatest success is bringing up three kids that all passionately love Jesus.
  4. They adore their grand kids. (Lost count of the number of times Abbie was leaving home to live with them)
  5. They may have grown to like their first son in law after a rocky start:)
  6. They serve God in so many ways without ever wanting to be noticed.
  7. They have always had an open home, welcoming all and helping many without any fuss.
  8. They are fun to go on holiday with, many happy memories in Florida. (Except the time we nearly drowned Vic)
  9. I'm sure Vic has some Scottish blood in him as he loves a bargain
  10. Whilst Viv reminds me of my mum as she likes the more expensive things in life:)
P.S. Just one more they gave me the most amazing lady who I have the honour to call my wife.

Have a great celebration.