Saturday, December 31, 2016

God says Come & See

In his book written in 1883 titled Holiness, J C Ryle, marvels in amazement at the promises of God contained in His Word.
God is continually holding out inducements to man to listen to Him, obey Him & serve Him… He has shown his perfect knowledge of human nature, by spreading over the Book a perfect wealth of promises, suitable to every kind of experience and every condition in life…. Their name is legion. The subject is almost inexhaustible. There is hardly a step in a man’s life, from childhood to old age, hardly any position a man can be placed, for which the Bible has not held out encouragement to everyone who desires to do right in the sight of God. There are “shalls” and “wills” in God’s treasury for every condition. About God’s infinite mercy and compassion, - about His readiness to receive all who repent and believe, - about His willingness to forgive, pardon and absolve the chief of sinners, - about the encouragements to pray, and hear the gospel, and draw near to the throne of grace, - about strength for duty, comfort in trouble, guidance in perplexity, help in sickness, consolation in death, support under bereavement, happiness beyond the grave, reward in glory, - about all these things there is an abundant supply of promises in the Word. No one can form an idea of its abundance unless he carefully searches the scriptures, keeping the subject steadily in view. If any one doubts it, I can only say, “Come and see.”

My passion for you and me is that we will discover first hand the great promises God has in the treasury of His Word just for you. Pastor John Piper said in his book Future Grace:
Raking is easy, but all you get is leaves; digging is hard, but you might find diamonds.
Plan to dig into God’s Word this next year. Prepare today and start tomorrow!

Download the Bible App to your device and choose one of the many reading plans they have available.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.  – 2 Timothy 2:15

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Wizards want to worship

This past Sunday I had the honour of preaching at Milton keynes Christian Centre. We are currently taking a fresh look at the nativity story and my task this week the Journey of the so called wise men. watch the message below...

The Journey - The Wise Men from MKCCpreaching on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I am the resurrection & the life

I had the great honour to teach last Sunday at MKCC in our latest series: I am - Jesus in his own words. My subject, I am the resurrection and the life. Check it out below:

I Am - The Resurrection and the Life from MKCCpreaching on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

When Paul applied to be a missionary

This made up letter by the Antioch Missionary board made me chuckle:

Dear Dr. Paul,

We have received your application to serve with our mission. Unfortunately, the board was unanimous in deciding not to accept you as a candidate with our mission. We want to be as honest as possible, so that you can address what we see as some serious deficiencies in your character and past service.

First, we understand that you have never had sufficient financial support in your missionary labors. Working on the side to support yourself is unacceptable to this board. If a man does not have the faith to trust God for full support, we think that he is not qualified to serve on the mission field.

Second, we have heard that you have been brash and outspoken about your own views. Specifically, we heard that you publicly criticized Dr. Simon Peter and that you contended so strongly with some of our ministers that a special council had to be convened at Jerusalem to prevent a church split. We cannot condone such radicalism. We are enclosing a copy of Darius Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Jews and Influence Greeks.” We encourage you to read it.

Also, we understand that you have not graduated from an accredited seminary. We are glad that you learned a lot during your three years in Arabia, but that does not count. Also, in our background check, we discovered that you used to be a violent man to the point of persecuting the church. Even since your conversion, you have been in jail on more than one occasion. You caused so much trouble for the businessmen of Ephesus that it led to a riot. If it were an isolated incident, that might be one thing. But a pattern of causing enough trouble to lead to your being beaten on several occasions and even being stoned once shows an underlying problem on your part. We would advise a counseling program where you could learn some basic relational skills.

Our background check further revealed that you have numerous critics and enemies, even in some of the churches that you supposedly founded. Some of those critics in Corinth challenge whether it was you or Apollos who had the most influence there. We also learned the details about your falling out with the fine young minister, John Mark, and your refusal to cooperate with Barnabas. We have talked with Hymenaeus and Alexander, who said that you delivered them over to Satan! We believe that such extreme measures are uncalled for! A more tolerant and less judgmental approach would be more in the spirit of our gentle Savior.

Apart from these serious flaws, we have heard that you are prone to preach too long, not being sensitive to your audience. We heard that one young man actually fell to his death while you droned on and on! You need to get in tune with the younger generation that has been raised on TV. Fifteen-minute sermons are the maximum that they can endure. We advise you to use more stories and less doctrine in your messages. Have you considered using a drama team instead of a sermon once in a while?

You admit on your application that you cannot remember those whom you have baptized. A good record-keeping system would help you to be more organized. Also, your resume shows that you have never ministered in one place longer than three years. This pattern of moving on to new works shows that you lack perseverance. Our staff psychologist also suggests that it may reflect a pattern of running from your problems rather than a commitment to work through them.

We share all of these things out of love and concern for you. We want you to succeed in whatever the Lord has for you. But we strongly believe that you would do best in something other than missions. The stresses of the mission field could lead to a complete nervous breakdown. Perhaps a good Christian counselor could help you begin to work through some of these problems. We wish you God’s best.

Sincerely, The Antioch Mission Board

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Idolatry of Mnistry

If we only rejoice in God because of what He is doing through us and not because of what He has already done for us, we cherish our ministry more than Him. If our awe for what He is doing through us surpasses our awe for what He has done for us, we have made ministry our god. - Eric Geiger

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

A walk is really good for you

If you've been unfortunate enough to get my status updates via social media for the last 10 months you will have noticed that my health has been a concern. There are still some strange sensations going on in this ageing body but in other ways so much has improved.

A year ago I went to the NFL at wembley. I struggled walking up the incline that is at the end of Wembley Way. I pretended to the people with me that I wanted to look around and take photos. Truth was my legs were like lead and I just couldn't move them anymore. I left early knowing I had to climb a few sets of stairs to get up to Wembley Park tube. I literally had to pull myself up the final flights using my arms and the bannister. Finally I decided that I had to see the doc.

I finally saw a neurologist who basically told me that there was nothing essentially wrong with my muscles and I had to start doing a little more exercise. He said: You are over 50 jhave a very sedentary life style and if you don't use it you will lose it! He also said if you are bedridden in hospital for 10 days you would lose 10% of your muscle mass and take 6 moths to get it back.

That's when I simply started walking. Nothing rediculous I started with 10,000 steps. Since January I choose to walk when possible. Things have changed totally. There have been a number of milestones but returning to wembley a year later with the same people with no problems whatsoever interms of climbing stairs etc. Just reminded me how far I've come.

You don't have to join a gym and pay a fortune just walk a bit more. I won't be running a marathon any time soon but I can function in day to day life and enjoy trips to watch some sport which I honestly thought was going to be a thing of the past.

As I said I've still got very weird sensations but I'm in a much better place thanks to something as simple as a walk!

Friday, September 23, 2016

A rant to my fellow church leaders about children's ministry

I find myself having very similar conversations with church leaders here in the uk over and over again and their reluctance on some of these issues confuses me. One such conversation is around providing a dedicated children's church for the duration of the service and the other going to multiple services.

Obviously I am biased as we at MKCC have been doing multiple services for at least 20 years and been providing for our children through Discovery Kids for over 10 years.

Here are some reasons for providing children's church for the whole length of your service.

1. Children learn about Jesus on their level

Ok I guess you can do that during the 45 minutes of the preach.

2. Children can sing songs & worship Jesus in a way that's relevant to them

We can sing songs that communicate truth that they can understand and relate to in a musical style that connects with them. Please don't give me this family worship thing. I've been in church all my life from being a baby. I had little comics (christian ones of course - about Tim and someone if I remember correctly) to keep me quiet. Now they have iPads etc. It's not family worship it's how do we keep them quiet!

3. Parents can actually relax and enjoy church

I remember when we first started providing a children's programme for the full length of the service. We did not make it compulsory (and still don't ) and allowed parents to take children into our service and join the Discovery Kids during the preach (we don't allow that anymore). Within a week or two everyone was checking the children in at the start of the service. I can guarantee that 99.9% of parents will welcome it with open arms and the 0.1% well they are gluttons for punishment! (Just a wee joke). Now in the summer where Discovery Kids take a 4 week break parents can't cope and don't come to church lol

4. Children will look forward to church

We have kids that drag their parents to church. Being brought up in church having to sit through what seemed like a millennium to me, actually 90 minutes, and being thumped for dropping my pencil on the stupid wooden floor, church was not fun. The thump or should I say clip round the ear made a bigger noise than my falling pencil. God didn't make children to sit still on a chair for 90 minutes.

5. The congregation is less distracted as there is less noise

It's not the number one reason but it is a reason. My childhood memories kick in again. On dropping your pencil on the wooden floor was not enough to distract then if the clip round the ear was too hard the said child would start to cry. So the parent would then have to clump over the wooden floor dragging the crying child behind them the cries getting louder as you neared the door. Because the child knew that an even worse fate was beyond them doors. ( ok I know that this sort of thing doesn't happen now but I was born in the 60s) So now no one was listening to the preacher or worship leader. 

6. It is so much more accessible & reassuring for new guests.

So it's my first time in church with little Johnny who's 5. I sit through the first part of the service then during one of the songs some strange dressed up character appears and asks all the children to follow him as he prances round the church. The kids form a line and disappear to who knows where! Really? Wouldn't it be better to have a secure place where they can go to with clearly identified volunteers with maybe tshirts. With a robust check in and out procedure so that they know where there child is, who they are with and that they are safe!

Discovery Kids has been one of the biggest growth engines of MKCC without a doubt so why do pastors and churches fight against it.

1. It will need more volunteers and you don't have enough for what you already do and you don't realise there will be people sitting in your church with a passion for kids who will step up. Discovery Kids has the biggest volunteer team in MKCC and has the most young people serving in it. 

2. It will probably need a very high capacity volunteer or even a paid member of staff to lead it. It staggers me that in the UK a children's pastor seems to be at the bottom of so many pastors and churches list. When will they realise that the investment in a great children's pastor will reap so many rewards and add more to your church than the pastors pa will, that he really doesn't need. Discovery Kids has 3 full time and one part time members of staff. More than any other department or area!

3. It will cost money. It staggers me that churches will spend tens of thousands of pounds in upgrading lights, video screens and projectors but make the children's department bake cakes to raise money to buy some new crayons! 

4. It's difficult to transition the children into "big" church when they are older. This one does my head in. Reaching teenage years is always a challenge but I really believe our experience is that a greater percentage of our kids make a good transition. Many of them have experienced Discovery kids from the age of 2 through to 12. So the are desperate to serve, to become a junior leader, into whom we train and encourage. But if they are going to struggle in our services at the age of twelve why make them totally out of it for the 10 years before that.

Please pastors & churches get with the plot invest in the kids in your church & see your church grow

Rant no 1 over:)

Saturday, August 06, 2016

The Heart of Worship

On my walk today I was brought to tears by the following part of a message by John Piper - The Heart of Worship. It was given in 2009 at The Worship God Conference.
The New Testament is stunningly silent about forms of worship. The Old Testament is not stunningly silent. It is very verbal. I mean, you have got down to the threads and the colours of the threads and the tassels and days and months and seasons and endless detail of how to do it in that regime. And it is gone. Jesus is now the temple. Jesus is now the priest. Jesus is now the blood and the sacrifice. And all the geography is irrelevant and the buildings are irrelevant. I think it is a stunningly silent, frighteningly silent.
The word most commonly used for worship in the Old Testament proskuneo in the Septuagint. Proskuneo is prevalent in the gospels, prevalent in Revelation and virtually absent in the epistles. There are two little exceptions in Hebrews and one in 1 Corinthians where a person falls down.
Why is the main word for worship in the Old Testament gone out of the Church, but there in the Gospels and there in Revelation? And here is the reason I think: Jesus was there in the gospels physically and people could fall down in front of him and they did over and over again. So you got a lot of uses of the word. They ran up. They fell down. They worshipped him. In Revelation, he is right there on the throne. People are really falling down. He is right there. They are falling down. And that word is gone. It is gone. It is not in the epistles. Why? Because he is not anywhere. He is everywhere. You can meet this Jesus in worship anywhere. You don’t go anywhere. You don’t have to move one millimeter of your body to meet this Jesus while you are in a bed dying with cancer.

There is an incredibly strong de-externalization, internalization, intensification of worship onto the heart in the New Testament.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Reckless Ones - Love your enemies

This past Sunday I had the honour of continuing our teaching series at MKCC - Reckless Ones.

We looked at Matthew 5:

You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbour, and hate your enemy." But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:43-48

This is probably one of the most outrageous things Jesus said in the whole of his ministry. love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. This is abnormal!

Watch the video to find out what we discovered.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Trusting enough to love a enemy?

"When Jesus calls a man to love those who do not love him, He is not calling for heroes who, by sheer will to self surrender, act for the good of others. He is calling for insecure and self indulgent children to trust their father and thus find the security and gladness which will enable them to take patiently whatever pain or humiliation may come from loving their enemies." - John Piper (Love your enemies book) #recklessones #mkcc 

Monday, July 18, 2016

The steadfast love of God

You know that, in a wheel there is one portion that never turns round, that stands steadfast; and that is the axle. So in God's Providence, there is an axle which never moves. Christian, here is a sweet thought for thee! Thy state is ever changing; sometimes thou art exalted, and sometimes depressed; yet there is an unmoving point in thy state. What is that axle? What is the pivot upon which all the machinery revolves? It is the axle of God's everlasting love toward his covenant people. The exterior of the wheel is changing, but the center stands forever fixed. Other things may move; but God's love never moves: it is the axle of the wheel - C H Spurgeon (God's Providence)

Friday, July 08, 2016

Reckless Ones - Above All Else

This past Sunday I had the honour of launching our new teaching series at MKCC - Reckless Ones. In the early history of the church a group of Christians gained the nickname, "Parabalani" the reckless ones.

At a time plagues were wiping out whole communities at the first sign of an infection in a town the rulers, priests and medical people would leave. They knew what was coming. Into this background the early christians would move in to care for the sick and give any assistance they could even at risk to their own lives. They were reckless with their love. That is the essence of our teaching series, lets be reckless with love.

You can watch the first message below:

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Longing for the perfection of transformation

"Christians today will understand that biblically authentic Christianity is never merely a matter of rules and regulations, of public liturgy and private morality. Biblical Christianity results in transformed men and women - men and women who, because of the power of the Spirit of God, enjoy regenerated natures. We want to please God, we want to be holy, we want to confess Jesus is Lord. In short, because of the grace secured by Christ's cross, we ourselves experience something of a transforming moral imperative: the sins we once loved we Lear to fear and hate, the obedience and holiness we once disposed we now hunger for. God help us, we are woefully inconsistent in all this, but we have already tasted enough of the powers of the age to come that we know what a transforming moral imperative feels like in our lives, and we long for its perfection at the final triumph of Christ."

Dr D A Carson, Scandalous: The ironies of the cross. Pages 31-32

Thursday, June 09, 2016

An all knowing God

Had the great privilege to share a message at MKCC this past Sunday in our series Awesome God. My subject an all knowing God. You can watch it in the video below.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Christ Alone

We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is "of Him". If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in His anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth....if we seek redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission from the curse, in his short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other.

- John Calvin (institutes 2.16.19) 

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Christ all in all

"The religion taught in the New Testament, is Christianity in the most emphatic and peculiar sence of the term, "Christ is all in all". It is his religion. It is all by Him; it is all about Him; he is its author, he is its substance; he is the sum of this system, the soul of this body.

Everything is viewed in its connection with Him. Every doctrine and every precept, every privilege and every duty, every promise and every threatening. The ground of acceptance is His sacrifice; the source of life and light, holiness and peace, His Spirit; the rule of duty, his law; the pattern for imitation, His example; the motives to duty, His authority and grace; the great end of all, His glory, God's glory in Him....let the language of our hearts be that of the dying Martyr: "None but Christ, none but Christ"."

- John Brown (commentary on 1 Peter 2)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Elements Children's Ministry Conference

At Milton Keynes Christian Centre we are so looking forward to hosting around 300 people who are involved in Children's Ministry. On Saturday 11th June we are hosting Elements Children's Ministry Conference.

Early Bird Tickets are still available till the 24th May here.

Here is a message from our keynote speaker Cherie Duffey, Director of KidSpring at NewSpring Church, SC.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Bigger than we think

This quote from J C Ryle reminded me that the church of Jesus Christ is so much more diverse and larger than my puny mind can comprehend!

"Here is a golden rule indeed, and one that human nature sorely needs, and has too often forgotten. Men of all branches of Christ's Church are apt to think that no good can be done in the world, unless it is done by their own party and denomination. They are so narrow minded, that they cannot conceive the possibility of working on any other pattern but that wi h they follow. They make an idol of their own peculiar ecclesiastical machinery, and can see no merit in any other."

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

7 months of silence

This morning on my walk I listened to my friend Roger Blackmore preach a message called Jesus does all things well. The phrase comes from Mark 7:37

“And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

One observation Roger made really stood out to me. Earlier in the chapter we read of Jesus delivering a young girl of a demon. Then it says he traveled through some places and healed a deaf man. The way it flows in Marks gospel it sounds like he performed a miracle, walked down the road and performed a miracle. Life with Jesus was just one spiritual high followed by another.

Roger made the point that the journey described in v 31 could have taken up to 7 months on foot. Seven months between one spiritual high and another. But in that time Jesus was with his chosen companions preparing them for the mission.

Seven months of silence does not mean God is not working.