Friday, December 19, 2008
Thought you might like to see these photos John Mitchell took of the events over the weekend.
Don't forget to be thinking about who to invite on Sunday morning, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (and Sunday evening if you're fortunate enough to be young enough to be in the youth!).
Thursday, December 18, 2008
The photos are of a series of meetings which have been taking place to let the local community know about what is going on.
In the New Year I'm hoping to set up a Serenje blog, where every couple of weeks we'll add a report on some aspect of what is going on, as well as photo updates. Until then I'll use my blog to try and keep everyone updated.
As well as the photos I thought you might be interested in this email from Leah who works for the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) who are the partners we are working with, through Tearfund, in Serenje.
There ar trips being planned to Serenje for April and August next year. More details once we've got the exact dates confirmed.
Hope you're having a great (cold free) week.
Sent: 12 December 2008 09:06
Subject: Serenje Project Update
Dear Pastors Catrina and Simon,
Greetings from Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia.
I remember your faces often – on a weekly basis as we discuss the Serenje Project. You are very special because God has chosen your church to demonstrate the Kingdom and to be part of those that would carry Gods Agenda for the end time. I am so excited!
The mystery of God – It was in His HEART to establish His Name in Serenje communities – and so He sought for a people in the name of Kerith Church.
So what is happening in communities of Kankoso, Chilisha, Kashitu and Mwansankano? A LOT…
The implementation of the project has started and below are some highlights:
- We have had discussions in each of the communities including a meeting with the chief!
- Project plans have been discussed and communities have shared their challenges and action is taking place
- Small scale farmers (vulnerable families) have been identified and are already planting beans and groundnuts, to be followed by planting cassava cuttings and sweat potato roots in early January.
- Orphans and Vulnerable Children are being identified right now in target villages and communities.
- Serenje Pastors Fellowship Project Committee are visiting schools to assess capacity of schools – and availability of school places.
- The District Commissioner in Serenje was very happy to have EFZ go and share development plans for Serenje and is ready to offer all the help we need – he is a God fearing man.
- The Field Officer and four teams are going round the villages and communities right now to ascertain implementation plans are going on schedule.
A detailed report will follow and PLENTY of pictures.
Greetings from Serenje to Pastor Ben and the team that visited!
In His Service,
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I have to admit that I really love it (even if I do miss being away from home). Many of you will know that one of my dreams is for us to be a church of thousands, so that bit of it all really excites me, but it has also been a great chance for me to get to know other leaders who are facing many of the same issues as we are and begin to build relationships with them.
This time round we've got a day with John and Debby Wright who lead the Trent Vineyard church in Nottingham. They're a church of thousands and although I've never been there I've heard great things about it from people like Colin Boyle and Ken Bothamley who have visited it. So I'm really looking forward to extracting all the information I can from them, especially as we move to our three meetings from January as they do a similar thing with the preach from the morning repeated in the evening.
I'll also be staying overnight with my sister Lucy who lives in Forest Hill. I don't get to see her often so I'm looking forward to spending at least a bit of time with her and her husband Simon.
Just pray that the 2CV lasts all the way round the M25!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Lee went into hospital today for an operation to sort out some problems with his pace maker. I got a text at 6:30pm from Lydia (my wonderful PA), who had gone to the hospital to keep Lee's wife Linda company, to say that Lee had come round after the operation, was still quite groggy and in quite a bit of pain, but was cracking jokes which must be a good sign. We need to be praying for Lee, particularly that there won't be any infection as a result of the surgery which has been done. Lydia also said that Lee may be able to come home tomorrow, so knowing Lee that means he'll probably be in church on Sunday morning! In reality it's going to take Lee at least a week to recover from what has been fairly major surgery, so if by any chance you do see him in church on Sunday send him straight home :-)
So lots to be thanking God for there. That's a good point to remind everyone that it's prayer meetings next Wednesday and Thursday, where we're also going to be sharing communion together. I know we're in an incredibly busy time of year but please can I encourage everyone to make one of those two evenings a priority, as we seek to regain a little focus in the middle of the Christmas madness!
Hope you have a great weekend.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
One idea for an act of kindness is to get involved buying items for the hampers we're going to be giving out this Christmas. There's a list of things we'd like to put in the hampers in last weeks bulletin - you can see the bulletin on our website if you haven't got a copy.
Catrina is going Christmas shopping on Saturday so Alice and I will be off to Tescos to buy hamper stuff, and then off to the garden centre to get a tree. The children are packing the hampers on Sunday morning so if you can get stuff to reception before 10 that would be great.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
So what are you going to smell of this Christmas? I'm not talking BO or aftershave but your spiritual aroma. Is it going to be the aroma of Christ, the aroma of self or even the aroma of the devil. You see I believe every time we have contact with another human being we leave a little bit of our scent on them, and that scent will have an impact on them. And we need to make sure that aroma is the right aroma, even if at times that will provoke a negative reaction (the smell of death).
So how do we make sure we smell of Christ?
First the aroma we want is "the fragrance of the knowledge of him". So having the right fragrance starts with knowing him - knowing Christ. That shouldn't be such a shock to us, as all that we have comes from having a relationship with Christ. Not being religious or following a set of rules but having a relationship with him through his death on the cross.
So two ways to know him better. Read the Bible and pray. I'm reading a book at the moment about William Tyndale who first translated the Bible into modern English (John Wycliffe translated it into middle English) and the incredible battle which the Catholic church and the English establishment engaged in to try and make sure people didn't get access to it, which ended up with Tyndale being martyred. People could lose their lives for just owning a copy of Tyndale's translation, and yet there was enormous demand for it. It's challenging me about how I can have a "take it or leave it" approach to reading the Bible, when really having copies available is such an amazing privilege. So read the gospels as a great place to start knowing him. Then pray, taking moments through every day just to have a conversation with him, talking to him about what is going on and involving him in all of it.
And then how to spread that aroma to others. Well there are lots of ways, but it starts by being in contact with other people. Whether that's in the queue at Tesco's at work, at the office Christmas party or talking to the neighbours. And then when you're with those people taking them up in your lift. That can start as simply as being kind to them. Rom 2:4 talks about "God's kindness leads you toward repentance?". If God's kindness can lead to repentance then so can ours. So just start by being kind to people!
That's enough for one blog entry. I might expand on this later this week, but hopefully that's given you some thoughts on how to smell good this Christmas!
Monday, December 1, 2008
Oh yes, and thank you to everyone who complimented me on my singing in the "No Difference" audition video!
So please be thinking about who to invite next Sunday morning, when Sola is going to be speaking on God's dream revealed through the Old Testament predictions of Jesus coming, and to next Sunday nights Xmas Factor event.
If you have any comments on Sunday night feel free to leave them here as I'm sure others would love to see them.
Friday, November 28, 2008
The Christmas CD has also come in. It really is superb, contemporary arrangements of classic Christmas carols with wailing lead guitars (or at least a couple of electric guitar solos!). I might even grow to like carols! Dave Cottee has done an incredible job of pulling it all together. You can buy it priced £5 from this Sunday - makes a great present and all the profits are going to our HIV/AIDS in Serenje.
Hope you have a great weekend and catch you Sunday.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I just can't wait for Sunday night when the building will be full for the first Xmas Factor Live event. Hope to see you there.
"We are on our way this morning to Ohrid, Macedonia by minibus. Snow on the mountains here. We will climb 700 metres to Macedonia border, walk through the land border and then by taxi to Millenium Palace Hotel Ohrid for the Newfrontiers Balkans Conference. We are well and travel with 8 others from Elbasan. We return here on Friday afternoon, meal out with landlord and family then onto Tirana on Saturday and then home Sunday. It will be nice to be where there is electricity all the time and things work! Pray for us at the conference as this is a key time for many small churches spread out across Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria, Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia. I ask for prophetic words and words to strengthen people. We will see Edi and Artina again and many others we know."
Edi and Artina are the couple who came over for the Willow GLS earlier this year - they are a fantastic couple and I think we're going to be seeing quite a bit more of them.
Let's be praying for the churches in Albania, and thanking God for us having at least a small part in all He is doing there.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Sandy Lane Primary School also won an "Eco Hero" award - well done to them.
As an ongoing Hope08 event on Saturday 13th December we're going to be joining again as churches in Bracknell town centre, singing carols and giving out leaflets inviting people to the various Christmas events at our churches. Minced pies and mulled wine will also be on offer. That runs from 11am til 2pm. Whilst that's going on we'll also be meeting on The Kerith Centre lounge to pray for the outreach. It would be great to have lots of us there both to be part of the crowd and to pray.
Please be thinking about who to invite to our first Xmas Factor Live event on Sunday night. It's worth coming just to see how bad I am in my audition video! Be sure to get there on time, as the opening sequence is going to be spectacular, and remember to park in Avis!
Hope you're having a great week.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Last week I was at what was called a Wider Leaders gathering. I'm not sure I like being described as a wider leader. Perhaps they're just trying to wake me up to the realities of middle age! It was up in Warwick and was for leaders who oversee other churches and leaders of the larger NewFrontiers churches.
Then right now Catrina and I are battling our way up the motorway to Milton Keynes for a weekend with the couples leading the 220 NewFrontiers churches in the UK.
Finally in a couple of weeks I'm off for two days of coaching looking at building larger churches.
It's very inspiring spending time with all these leaders, many of whom are facing some of the same issues we are. However, there's a large part of me which would rather be at home this weekend with the children and listening to BenD on Sunday morning! However, I'm sure we'll have a great weekend - hope you do too.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Given the large number of people who I know will want to come and say goodbye to Bert and celebrate his life, the parking at The Kerith Centre is inevitably going to be stretched so please look to share cars wherever possible.
I've been overwhelmed by the number of people who have been stopping me, or sending me emails, to tell me their own particular "Bert story". So many different little acts of kindness which Bert (and his wife Olive) did for so many different people over the years. If you have a "Bert story" then I'd love it if you could add it as a comment to my previous blog entry. There are already a number of stories there, but it would be great to have a whole load of them as a tribute to his life. We might even get to read some of them out on the 5th.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Hope you have a great weekend and that I'll get to catch many of you on Sunday.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Ben Davies is going to be leading Wednesday night as I'm at a Newfrontiers leaders event in Warwick on Wednesday and Thursday. Ben then flies off Thursday morning with Ben Oliver to Poland for some time with Darek and the rest of the church there.
I'm then hoping to be back in time to lead Thursday night.
Hope you manage to make one evening or the other.
Lydia (my wonderful PA) contacted the Sanctuary today and was given the following directions, which I hope will be helpful.
The Sanctuary is the Free Church in Whiteley Village, and sits at the opposite side of "The Octagon" from St Marks, the C of E Church.
At weekends there is only one point of access into Whiteley Village, this being through our North Gate. The post code for this gate is KT12 4EN. On entering the gate, follow North Ave as far as you can go (over junctions & memorials, past building sites). When you can go no further, the Sanctuary is just to your left.
If you are planning to attend please could you contact The Kerith Centre reception by Friday as we have promised to let Jill's family know how many people are coming so that they can cater accordingly.
I did a video interview for the Bracknell News last Friday, which is going to be shown at the awards ceremony on Friday 21st November. I'm not going to be there on the Friday as Catrina and I are going to be away that weekend at a NewFrontiers elders and wives event, but I'll let you know as soon as I hear any results.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Well sadly Jill died of cancer on the 24th October. I spoke today to her daughter Lorraine, who managed to get over from Zimbabwe to be with Jill for her last few days, and had a good chat with her as we shared some 'Jill' stories. There is going to be a memorial service for Jill in Walton on Thames and then a funeral in Wales. Details have yet to be finalised, so please contact our receptionists if you want to be told when either of these events are taking place.
Let's be praying for Jill's family as they come to terms with their loss.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
In the middle of the day Bill actually left us for about 3 hours to go and record an interview with Bono, who happened to be in London, for next years Leadership Summit. How cool must that be! Sadly none of us were asked to accompany him, although after Bill's wife Lynne spoke here at the launch of our HIV/AIDS project in October she did contact me to let me know she'd emailed Bono to tell him about what we were doing, and how it had been inspired by the talk he did at the Leadership Summit 2 years ago. Not quite as cool as getting to meet Bono, but still pretty good.
Talking of the project in Serenje I got the latest gift day total today. I'm going to announce it on Sunday, but suffice to say for now that it's very, very exciting. Don't forget we've also got baptisms Sunday morning and evening which are also going to be unmissable.
Hope you're having a great week,
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
As long as she doesn't end up with more page hits per day than me I'm happy :-)
Monday, November 3, 2008
For me The Old Testament is always a particularly rich place to do leadership studies. For instance studying the contrasts between the lives of Saul and David, and getting to the bottom of what made David a great leader and Saul and such a lousy leader. So as I've been studying the early chapters of Nehemiah I've been looking hard at what made Nehemiah such a great leader. There are lots of things to learn there, his ability to cast a compelling vision and to recast it when the vision begins to fade, his organisational ability and his ability to ignore the critics. But the thing that has struck me time and again about Nehemiah is his ability to live with the tension of how much did he rely on God and how much does he take responsibility on himself to make things happen.
I've termed that tension, for want of a better phrase, the dependency matrix and it looks a bit like the diagram in the flip chart picture above which hopefully you can read (I noticed no one was taking my flip chart pages home to keep as a memento!). To give it some reality I'll explain how it works in terms of someone who is unemployed and needs a job.
Some people place no dependency on either themselves or on God. People in that situation are either lazy (don't need or can't be bothered to get a job) or in a state of despair (they've given up all hope of ever getting a job).
Some people place all the dependency on themselves and have no expectancy of God intervening or being part of the process. I call these people practical atheists. They might call themselves followers of Christ but in reality they are living their lives like God doesn't exist. So in the job example this would be someone who's applying for jobs left, right and centre, has got their CV looking perfect and prepares diligently for every interview, but isn't praying about what is going on and has no real sense of even needing God to move for the situation to resolve itself.
Other people are expecting God to do everything. So in the job example they are sat at home waiting for the phone to ring, or for that chance encounter with someone who is just going to offer them a job. They aren't applying for jobs or taking any practical steps to get one. These people are super spiritual. As Ben Davies often says "they're more spiritual than God".
Then there are people like Nehemiah, who lived his life as though it all depended on God but at the same time as though it all depended on him. On Sunday morning I spoke from Neh 4:9 where they are facing attack, and Nehemiah's response is ".. we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat". That's a pattern repeated again and again in the life of Nehemiah. Dependence on God but also a deep dependence on practical action too. I'd encourage you to read Nehemiah and look for them yourself, but to get you started take a look at Neh 1:11, Neh 2:4-5 and Neh 2:20.
As Morton Morton C Blakewell (whoever he was) said so eloquently "Pray as if it all depended on God; work as if it all depended on you”.
So where are you on the dependency matrix, and do you need to switch which quadrant of the matrix you are operating in.
If this has provoked any thoughts in you then I'd love you to leave a comment to say what you think.
Hope you have a great week,
Friday, October 31, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Respite Club - Two Saturdays every month we run a respite club in K2 where families who have children with special needs can have them looked after in a fun, loving, caring environment while they get a break. This is just part of our special needs ministry which is ever growing and of which I'm incredibly proud.
Ethos on Tour - Our Youth band 'Ethos' were down in Hereford this weekend playing at a Hope08 Youth Event on Saturday night and a churches together joint service on Sunday morning. Lee (our Youth Pastor) went with them and spoke at both events, seeing 8 first time commitments over the weekend. We're believing for Ethos to have a growing ministry serving the wider church and they're already playing at the NewFrontiers Butlins event in January and have an invite to go to Lithuania and play at a youth event there too. As an indication of their commitment Lee and Ethos were back to run our youth meeting on Sunday night.
Ben Davies on Tour - Ben and Mo were in Cyprus last weekend doing a series of meetings for a church over there. Ben is having increasing impact nationally and internationally and is also going to Poland And Lithuania before the end of the year. Just so you know Ken Bothamley also going to Lithuania with Ben, and will be visiting the Balkans again before 2008 is out.
Alpha Day Away - This was held on Saturday at Tony and Liz Pudner's House. I spoke at the first session where there was just such a great buzz amongst the guests. I had to leave after that but Ken and Karen Jones who were leading the day said the buzz just grew and God was powerfully at work in the lives of the guests - more to come of this I'm sure.
Skydiving - On Saturday morning Ruth Jackson, Lisa Rutland and Iris Joyce went skydiving to raise money for CAP. Mad or what! I'm sure it's not too late to sponsor them if you want to - just get in contact with them.
Wedding - On Saturday afternoon I did the wedding at The Kerith Centre of a girl who isn't a christian, but who works as a helper in our respite club, and her partner. It's really interesting that she considers herself to be part of our community and so wanted us to marry them, and it was a real privilege for us to be able to serve them in this way. Very few of the guests had ever been in The Kerith Centre before so it was fascinating to chat to them and hear their comments on what went on - very peachy!
Sunday Meetings - I'll write a separate blog about "The Wall" on Sunday morning, but suffice to say for now I was thrilled by peoples response to stepping up as a community to making our three main meetings in January happen. I haven't heard what the total offering for Serenje was yet, but I do know that the 5-11's raised £150 in their bring and buy sale for Serenje which was brilliant. Hearing Catherine Rohr again on Sunday evening was great too.
I'm sure there's stuff I've missed, so add comments to fill us in on anything else you are aware of. We're hosting a South of England CAP Pastors Conference tomorrow (Tuesday) which I'll be attending, then I'm taking Thursday and Friday off to spend some time with the family.
Hope you have a great week,
Friday, October 24, 2008
Well we just got an email from Gabriel to let us know how it all went, which I've included below.
Talking of the Summit this Sunday night we're showing the talk a lady called Catherine Rohr did at there this year. I've now seen it once live and four times on DVD and can't wait to see it again - it's that powerful. Get there to see it if you possibly can! Also don't forget the second week of the Serenje offering this weekend.
As Catherine Rohr prays "Bring it on God.....".
From: gabriel makan
Sent: 24 October 2008 09:16
To: Sue Ranger
Subject: Re: GLS this Weekend
The GLS in Jos was, to the glory of God, successful! By 3 days to the Summit, our Registration was about 900. This scared us not to go on Radio and TV, so we do not have Seating crisis. Yet we realised that doing so would have served as Reminder to many delegates who were selected/nominated by Heads of their Church Denominations. Attendance first day was around 550 and second day around 650. The Speakers were well received and we have continued to receive positive feedback of how a blessing it was to those who attended.
My time with you at Bracknell was so valuable as it gave me a good picture of how the GLS runs. Willow sent a volunteer Technical person with a good Projector. He arrived in Jos, along with 2 officials from Kent's Church, on the 14th October. We had time to go over issues peculiar to our Location and God helped us such that at the end we made just a few learning mistakes.
Thanks for your support and prayers. Our God will continue to be glorified in our labor of love for His Kingdom sake. Please extend my personal appreciation to Pastor Simon.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
It was so cool to see the great stuff Ed is doing, and the passion he does it with. A number of the people in the two classes I went to also go to Hilltop, our church group for adults with learning disabilities, and it was really good to see them too. Their dancing was much better than mine!
If anyone else fancies having me visit their work just let me know!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Andy did a great job - you can listen to an archive recording here.
Radio 1 and the Chris Moyles show must be next on Andy's list!
Total money given: £19,629
Total money pledged for the next 12 months: £17,180
That gives us a grand total of £36,809, which is fantastic. Gift Aid needs to be added to that which should take it over £40,000, but we still need in the order of £60,000 this weekend to meet our target of £100,000.
So for those of us still to give let's be praying and asking God what we should give this weekend. I have a deep confidence in us as a community, that even in the current economic turmoil we will give beyond ourselves and reach our target. It's just so exciting to be on this journey together. That because of what we're doing children who would have been deprived an education will instead get through secondary school and then go on to train as doctors, nurses, school teachers, politicians, business leaders and church leaders. That parents who would have died young because they weren't able to take their ARVs and didn't have enough food will live into old age and get to see their children grow up, get married and have children themselves. And that a whole community will be given hope and a future because we chose to give.
Bring it on....
Hope you have a great day.
Monday, October 20, 2008
From what I've heard it sounds like a good time was had in Bracknell too. I'm in the middle of listening to Lee's preach from Sunday morning, it sounds like both Lee and Zoe did a great job speaking on Sunday. I also hear there were over 180 people from more than 60 churches at the CAP Money training course we hosted on Saturday - it's great to be in partnership with the CAP guys - their success is our success.
Let's just hope Newcastle can beat Man City tonight, and then my weekend will be complete!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
It was great to catch up with Tebogo - his church is doing really well but he's feeling the pressure of leading it all - I told him I had no idea what he was on about :-)
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Just heard that three ladies made first time commitments this week at Sparklers (our Mums and Toddlers group). Well done to Dany and the team for their planting and watering, and thanks to God for breaking in and causing the growth.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
A great photo of John Kirkby speaking on Sunday morning. I was so gutted to miss it, but have heard from everyone how well he spoke. People also said how well it fitted into the Money series we're in and as preparation for the next two weekends Serenje offering. Please be thinking about what you're going to give towards our target of raising £100,000 to cover the costs of the first year of this project.
I also heard the drama on Sunday morning was very good. I thought you might like this photo of some of our great drama team in action.
Monday, October 13, 2008
- The meetings will start at 9am, 11am and 7pm
- Each meeting will be an hour and twenty minutes long
- There will be childrens work for the two morning meetings
- Children can be dropped off up to 10 minutes before the start of each of the morning meetings
- We'll serve tea and coffee and run connect between the two morning meetings and after the second morning meeting
- We will look at having the children come in for the adult worship at some times during the year
- There will also be youth work as part of our morning gatherings
- Initially only the 11am meeting will have signing for the deaf and hard of hearing
- For most of the year we'll have the same preach at all three meetings, although there will be some Sundays where the morning and the evening will have a different preach
- Lee Layton-Matthews will be gathering a team to oversee the evening meeting, possibly looking at running a coffee bar both before and after the meeting
- We'll open the balcony from day one of the evening meeting starting in anticipation of growing a big Sunday evening meeting
- We're still hoping to have Hilltop (our group for adults with learning disabilities) join with us once a month on a Sunday evening
I'm so excited by the opportunity these three meetings are going to give us to grow. I realise that there is still lots of detail to be worked out, but we've got a great team working on how having done the fire bit we now do the aim! I'm going to speak on the morning of 26th October on Nehemiah rebuilding the walls and what we can learn from that about the journey we're on. Why not start reading it in advance of the 26th.
Hope you have a great week,
Thursday, October 9, 2008
We also watched the film crew I mentioned yesterday at work which was fascinating. Their attention to detail is quite incredible and a real challenge to me as we look to do more media stuff. There must have been 100 people there when I went for a run at 7.30 this morning and they were telling us this is a low budget movie! The film is going to be released next June, is about Charles Darwin, stars Paul Bethany and will be released next June. They wouldn't let us be extras though!
Tonight I've been karting in Milton Keynes with some guys from the company I work for. Great fun but my arms really hurt now!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The photo probably isn't very clear but there is a film crew here making a film about the life of Charles Darwin. They're filming a scene where Charles Darwin and a load of children run towards a lake. Not exactly Indiana Jones but watching it has kept all of us amused - it doesn't take much!
Talking of Charles Darwin we'll be looking at evolution versus creation next year. Perhaps we'll show some of this film!
Monday, October 6, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
I went for a meal with the Lithuanians and Albanians and they were just overwhelmed by it all.
Can't wait for today!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
This morning I met with Saul who leads that church along with 3 other key leaders, Ben Davies and Ken Bothamley to talk about next steps in our relationship. It looks like Ben is going to go over and do a leaders weekend for them in early December which will be exciting.
The Kerith Centre is buzzing this morning with people setting up for the conference. I've come home to watch some of the DVDs as I'm hosting it all.
Hope to see you there!
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Anyway, Alan Lander (one of our elders) sent me a link to some great guides on creating financial headroom in our lives from a Christian organization called Credit Action. The man behind Credit Action is Keith Tondeur who is highly respected in money circles and his views are often sought by Government. I've used some of his books in preparing some of the current money series - they're very good and are available at our bookshop. Anyway, on the Credit Action website there are some very readable and practical money help guides in their 'Better Money Management' series including specific guides for single parents, students and a helpful one on pocket money.
I'd also highly recommend the CAP money course which is transforming how Catrina and I are making headroom in our finances. We've never been great at budgeting - if you're the same then book yourself in for the next course which starts on Tuesday 14th October.
Off in a bit to see the Lithuanians who are apparently now in the UK and on their way to sunny Bracknell!
We must always be a people who think globally but act locally. To that extent it's so exciting to be associated with people like Andrew, and that this afternoon the 26 Lithuanian Pastors who are coming over for the Willow conference are turning up. If you see any of them at the conference or on Sunday (they'll probably be hard to miss!), or the Poles, Albanians, Nigerians or Americans who are coming too then be sure to let them know how pleased we are to have them with us.
Hope to catch you at the conference on Friday or Saturday.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Ties in well with Sunday morning when we're going to be looking at the issue of debt and hearing a story from a couple who worked with CAP and are now debt free - how cool is that!
I'm speaking at Alpha tonight. We had 17 guests last week (plus 6 on the daytime course) so hopefully they'll all be back with some additions.
Monday, September 22, 2008
I was primarily talking in the context of our finances. That if our income all gets spent on us and living for today then there is no space in our finances to do anything else and it's quite likely that money is our master. Having headroom in our finances allows us to tithe (more on that in two weeks time when we look at what the New Testament really says about tithing). Having headroom allows us to help people in need. Having headroom stops us getting into debt when unexpected expenses come along. Having headroom allows us to give beyond our tithe. Often we think our income isn't big enough to give us any headroom, but it's rarely the income that's the problem. More often our out of control expenditure. That "where did it all go" question when there's too much month left at the end of the money. We'll talk more next week about creating headroom, but one key is the biblical principle of 'first fruits'. Of deciding first what we want our headroom to be and then shaping our lifestyle and expenditure around whatever is left.
But headroom also applies in other areas. It has huge implications for us with our time. I'd suggest that the vast majority of us are just too busy, and the lack of headroom in our time prevents us doing the things God really wants us to be about. It's Rick Warren who says that we can learn as much from studying the stops of Jesus as the steps of Jesus. Jesus always seemed to have time for the interruptions that came into his life. Whether it was Nicodemus in the middle of the night, the woman at the well or the woman with the issue of blood. I wonder whether in the parable of the good Samaritan the issue with the Pharisee and the Levite was not that they didn't care but that they were just in too much of a hurry (Malcolm Gladwell has some interesting insights on that - look up "Good Samaritan" in his book "The Tipping Point", or listen to what I said on Sunday if you want to look into that further).
So I challenge you to look at making some headroom in your life this week. Take a look at how much you've got to spend this week and decide to spend £5 less. Then think about who you could give that £5 to, or what you could buy with it just to surprise someone in your world. And decide that when you get interrupted this week, or when you feel the Spirit prompting you to make that phone call or ask that person out for a coffee, that you won't just ignore it on the grounds that you're too busy, but that you'll create some headroom to be able to respond.
More on creating headroom next Sunday, but let me know if you find creating headroom making any difference this week. I might even get you up to share on Sunday if you do :-)
Have a great week,
Saturday, September 20, 2008
We're on our way home now. It's been a superb conference, very inspiring and thought provoking. Next years conference is the 24th to 26th September if you fancy putting it in your diary and coming with us, as we'll definitely be back. I do wish all of us could come as in many ways Abundant Life is where I think we'll be in 3 or 4 years time.
Willow next, which will be great as a whole load more of us will get to experience it.
Friday, September 19, 2008
More today at the conference on us being culturally relevant, on being clear in our communication and on prayer. Lots of food for thought.
We also took everyone on a tour of the CAP offices. It was great to hook up with John Kirkby again - he's preaching with us on the 12th October which isn't to be missed.
We're coming back home tomorrow afternoon - can't wait to see all the family again the really looking forward to church Sunday morning with part two of the money series.
Hope you have a great weekend.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
This morning was seminars. Colin went to a media seminar and came out very encouraged with how far we've come and excited about some of the future developments we're planning such as video notices. Lee was doing some post RockNations networking and there are some exciting tie ups there in the offing for Ethos, our youth and our wider church. Others went to seminars on kids work, working with the poor and a bunch of other issues. All very exciting.
It's also great to hook up again with Ben Pocock who's just started at the leadership academy here - we just want him back when he's finished!