Tuesday, April 29, 2008
The conflict Catrina and I had in front of everyone on Sunday morning seems to have provoked a lot of positive debate - you can catch it on the Kerith website if you missed it - in summary there have been a few DIY projects around the house which I've been putting off! There was a bit of a hitch on the wardrobe building front (one of the projects I've been putting off) as I got it out of the box yesterday and found it had come without any instructions - and that's not just my excuse for putting off building it! Anyway, the instructions have been emailed through now so I'm without excuse. Please try and find half an hour this week to sit down with somebody else and try and spend 15 minutes listening to each other without interrupting, reassuring or going off at a tangent. Why not post a comment to let us all know how you got on!
I thought Rachel Hickson was very inspiring on Sunday evening speaking on us having genuine hope. Hopefully it will be up on the website soon, but in summary she gave four steps to hope.
H - Have a God given heart cry of desire with a faith filled expectation of your desire being fulfilled. Be irritated to hope for more.
O - Open new doors. Lev 26:10 says "You will still be eating last year's harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new". Be willing to let go in order to grow.
P - Press through delay. Job 14:7-9 says "At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant." Don't give in to the lies of the devil that it will never happen.
E - Eager expectation. Let the house of God be a house characterised by love which gives the greenhouse effect to allow us to live the life of faith. This ties in well with the what we're looking at in the mornings.
For me I felt she lifted the whole expectation around our summer Hope08 events, believing God for something much bigger than just a week of social action followed by a fun day but for God to do a whole new things amongst us and through us. Please don't forget to come to the prayer meeting at Easthampstead Baptist on Thursday - I'd love us to pack it out and bring an atmosphere of hope to the proceedings.
Have a great week and hope to see you on Thursday evening,
Friday, April 25, 2008
Well this blog entry feels a bit like that competition - lots of different and mostly unrelated bits and pieces of stuff which I've been thinking of putting in a blog entry and which you'll hopefully find interesting.
First to mention that Zoe Hayes (on the left in the photo and not to be confused with our George Clooney lookalike Andy Jackson) was at Spring Harvest recently in her capacity as Tearfund Youth and Student Co-ordinator. She had this to say about what she was up to.... "I was on the team running the youth and student venue called Iscape. We were up in Skegness. There were about 30 of us on the team and I went as Pastoral Leader for the venue, so headed up the prayer ministry and dealt with any issues that arose. I also did the main stage talk on night 2, on the subject of hope in the hard times, and also a seminar on sexuality (with a couple of other guys on the team). We had about 800 in our venue throughout the week and it was fab to see God working in their lives, particularly with some tough issues they're facing."
Second sticking with the Radio 1 theme and to counteract the idea that I'm now a totally uncool old person who can't name a single record in the charts I thought I'd mention that as I'm writing this I'm listening to music from The Hoosiers. They're a great band with a very upbeat style (no depressing REM style music here) which is a mix of ELO, Jeff Buckley, The Cure and others. Check out their website here. What's even better about them is that Irwin Sparkes - the lead singer - used to be in our church and was part of the youth when Catrina and I helped lead it. He came to visit at Christmas to see his sister Esther Buck in our Christmas Eve drama (Esther and her husband Guy are part of the Kerith Community). It was great to be able to able to introduce my son Zak (who loves The Hoosiers) to "my friend" Irwin! One of my dreams is that we would be a church that raises up and encourages leaders of all ages in all areas of society including politics, the media and the creative arts so let's be praying for more Irwin's. Let's also pray for Irwin - that he'll be be gripped by his "first love" for Christ and use the influence he has to impact others.
Finally we've got a really exciting weekend coming up with the NewFrontiers Social Action Conference on Saturday (you can still turn up on the morning and pay on the door), the start of our series "All you Need is Love - Love in a Broken World" on Sunday morning with Catrina and I discussing a 'live' issue in our marriage which we haven't previously discussed and I know nothing about (how scary is that!) and Rachel Hickson on Sunday evening - please park in Avis if you can as we're expecting a big crowd. On Sunday afternoon we're also hosting the Scouts St. George's Day Parade with Ethos, our Youth Band, playing and I'm off to Chris Porter's induction as Senior Minister at Easthampstead Church.
Well that's it I think. Hope to catch you some time over the weekend,
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
So over to Ken..............
Having been here just over a week now we can send you this email from Arjan's office. Arjan is one of the guys who the church paid for to come over to the Willow Creek leadership conference in Bracknell last October. He runs the children's orphanage in Elbasan.
The photo is of Ann standing beside our accommodation....no seriously this is Ann standing next to one of the thousands of concrete bunkers built all over Albania during communist times when they expected the West to invade. They are hemispherical and litter the beach, the countryside everywhere! This one is at a place called Lezhe.
When we arrived in Albania we went first to Burrel, a mountain town, and delivered a keyboard that I had brought out from England for the church there. I spoke to the church on Sunday on money and tithing.
The photos I have uploaded show Rustem, Maria and Lili their daughter who lead the church in Burrel. Then on the Monday we traveled onto Lezhe to see Robert, an English guy who has been here 10 years and leads a church there. We spent time with him and I spoke at a new Lifegroup they have just started in Shengjin, a seaside town which becomes a major resort in the summer.
Then onto Tirana, the capital, where we had lunch with Shaban and Elvira who lead a church of about 70 people there. Shaban and his 2 sons have been to the Kerith Centre. Then at last onto Elbasan our base for most of our time here. We have a large 2 bedroom apartment, a massive bathroom you could throw a party in and a lounge cum dining room opening onto a balcony. It was interesting. No kettle or toaster, a 2 ring cooker and only basic cutlery but it has all changed now and a cooker with oven arrived at our front door this morning! We shop for wonderful fruit and veg in the local market. We very obviously stand out as foreigners. At 6 feet tall I am a giant in the land! and all the women eye Ann up and down all the time looking at the clothes and shoes she is wearing. Ann has learned to cope with this by smiling and saying Mire which simply means "good" and is part of the daily greeting.
Every morning I meet with Festim the church leader and talk about all manner of things to do with church life, e.g. Sunday meetings, welcoming visitors, Elders meetings, agendas, making decisions, their children's work, plans for the future, the whole idea and value of planning at all!? having a team from Germany and how they will cope with this, finances personally and for the church and so on. I have been to an Elders meeting and we go to their weekly prayer meeting tomorrow and I will preach on Sunday.
Now Ann has her cooker I am sure she will be busy cooking, mish pule - chicken, or mish vici - veal and inviting people round. It is exciting to see God's church at work in a very different culture which has been deeply affected by communism and a history of 500 years of Ottoman (Muslim) rule, and is hugely impacted by poverty and lack of work for people, 38% unemployment rate, and where many people so obviously struggle to live from day to day.
Do please pray for us especially that the church here grows, we keep safe and well and we can encourage the church leaders in faith and vision.
Ken (and Ann)
One of our five purposes as a church is to reach out with ministry, meaning practical demonstrations of the love of Christ (the others are to reach up in worship, out in evangelism and in in fellowship and discipleship).
As part of that most of us would be aware of our Christians Against Poverty Debt Counselling Centre and the impact that is having (although you may not know that Andy Jackson has been nominated by the CAP central office as Debt Counsellor of the Year in the Credit Today Awards which is a national secular award - how cool is that - let's be praying that he wins!).
However, I think many of us would be unaware of the reaching out that goes on with respect to people of all ages in our community with special needs. Those who come on a Sunday night may have seen Hilltop, our ministry to adults with a learning disability, which joins us for the first 20 minutes of the evening gathering once a month. More hidden away is Konnections which is our multi-faceted support ministry for families with special needs children, headed up by Catriona Mitchell. Take a look at their page on the website for a better description of what goes on than I could give here - but I really wanted to highlight something we did for the first time this Easter which was to run 4 days of Youth Respite. Rather than me waffle on any more I'll let Karen Metha who lead the Respite Club say a few words about it, along with some pictures of what the young people got up to.
Over to Karen.......
A quick “hello” from Youth Respite. We had four fantastic days on our first Youth Respite Scheme.
I know people in general were pretty excited about the snow at the weekend, but I have to say that the thought of sloshing around Legoland or Bournemouth in three inches of slush didn’t fill me with joy. But the snow lovers enjoyed their morning and then the snow made a rapid exit giving way to blue skies and quite a bit of sunshine, which seemed to follow us were aver we went – God is good!
The staff team this week has been quite amazing. For a number of them this has been their first experience of working with the over 11’s and they have all done really well. The youth we are providing respite for really enjoy having other young people around to just hang out with, and although the staff took their responsibilities seriously, they still managed to create an atmosphere more akin to friends going out, and just having a good time.
I hope that this is the first of many schemes we offer to this age group, I know that the staff team has already asked about the dates for the summer!
Although this ministry only serves a small percentage of our community, it provides for the most vulnerable and in many ways the most over looked members of our society I don’t think we can over estimate the difference that Konnections can make to the lives of people going through really tough times, with not much relief in sight. It is such a privilege to part of such an amazing ministry and to have the chance to show the love of Christ – no strings attached. I know that it speaks powerfully to parents, professionals in Bracknell but most of all to the children and young people themselves.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Rather than doing a blog Ken has set up an internet photo album which he's going to update regularly with new photos - have a look as it will give you a really good idea of where they are working and the people they are working with. Why not do the following to support them:
- Bookmark the page so you can regularly check for updates
- Leave comments against any of the photos so they know you've been there
- Pray for Ken and Ann
There's something very biblical about doing this sort of input by actually going and living amongst the people you are trying to help, rather than just jetting in and a couple of days later jetting out again. That certainly seems to be how the Apostle Paul did it, so Ken and Ann are in good company!
Hope you have a great weekend and that you can make it on Sunday for the final part of The Pursuit of Happiness in the morning and Colin Boyle preaching and the youth band leading worship in the evening.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
For the next two days I'm at a Newfrontiers gathering of leaders of larger churches, looking at how to grow past the thousand mark. There are about 15 of us there, all with churches between 200 and 800 people in attendance on a Sunday. If you know me you'll know that stuff like this really makes me buzz so I'm looking forward to it. The meeting is at Steve Tibbert's church in Catford - my sister Lucy lives just down the road in Forest Hill so I'm seeing her tonight which I'm looking forward to too.
Talking of Newfrontiers I thought I'd give a mention to the the Newfrontiers Social Action Conference will be taking place in The Kerith Centre on Saturday 26th April . This is being organised by Simon Allen who is one of Ben Davies' sons in law (I'm sure someone will correct me on where the apostrophes should have gone there) who is also based at King's Church Catford (I'm more confident about that one!). Please can I encourage you to have a look at the conference content and see whether this is something which you would benefit from attending.
This conference was held at The Kerith Centre two years ago and was very well received by those who went. On that occasion we ran lots of the conference such as the car parking, welcoming, stewarding, musicians and the technical crew. A number of people have asked me why we aren't doing that this time around and instead are treating it more like an outside booking. The primary reason was that as we looked at the list of Saturday events we are running in the first half of 2008 such as the HIV/AIDS conference, the Gordon MacDonald Men's day, Unique and United breakfasts and various weddings I felt it would be too much to ask our army of volunteers to turn out to support yet another event. That's always a tricky call and it would have been great to have offered to do more, but I do feel that God is saying to us that sometimes "less is more" and this felt like one of those occasions.
Also just to highlight the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th October at The Kerith Centre. The speaker lineup looks fantastic. For me I'm particularly looking forward to hearing John Burke, author of the book "No Perfect People Allowed" which has had a profound impact on me and is, I think, beginning to shape our Kerith culture - the book is available in our bookshop so if you haven't read it why not pick up a copy on Sunday. Can I encourage you if you're a leader in any capacity to block out those two days and plan to be there at the Leadership Summit.
Hope you're having a great week and hope to catch you Sunday,
Thursday, April 10, 2008
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
The bottom line is that we decided as leadership to give them £1,000 towards the cost of their building. I have to admit that I didn't think much more about it until I got a great email from Carole to say that they had now completed the purchase and conversion of the shop and had their first meeting there on Easter Sunday.
We often give away much larger chunks of money (for instance we just gave £10,000 and did a short term loan for £35,000 to PJ Smyth in Johannesburg to allow him to buy a piece of land for their proposed church building) but it's great to also be involved in some of these 'smaller' projects and see how we can seed things like this and bless people who most of us will never meet.
The photos are of the majority of the congregation in Bolulogne stood outside the shop and then a view of the renovation work going on.
I hope this inspires you as much as it did me.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Jesus is saying that true happiness starts with what is internal rather than with the external. My first point was that "Blessed are the poor in spirit" really means that the emptier we are of ourselves the more opportunity there is for us to be full of God and know a bit of "on earth as it is in heaven" in our lives. On reflection I didn't feel I unpacked that very well in terms of real life examples of what that meant so though I'd try and do a bit of that here.
Sometimes we are "full of ourselves" in terms of having confidence in who we are, the physical or mental gifts or talents God has given, our education, our upbringing, our contacts or the amount of money in our bank accounts. I remember the first time I ever faced the threat of redundancy at work (a fairly regular occurrence in the electronics industry), I was so worried about losing my job and how we would survive financially that I didn't sleep properly for over a week. I realised after a bit that my confidence in life was in "me" and my abilities and education rather than in God. Happiness disappeared when the external circumstances changed! What I came to realise was that my security depended not on me and who I am but on God and who he is. Being poor in spirit put me in a place to be happy, regardless of what was going on externally.
But for some of us we are "full of ourselves" not because of positive things but because of negative experiences from our past. We allow past hurts, negative things people have said to us and bad things that have have happened to us to shape who we are today. It's a hard thing to say but allowing ourselves to live lives of self pity is as much as form of self idolatry as is being proud of who we are and what we have achieved. If we're shaped by negatives from the past then we need to be willing to let that go, to forgive and to live in the light of who God is, how he has forgiven us and what he has to say about us. That too is being 'poor in spirit' and putting ourselves in a place where we can be empty of ourselves and full of God.
I'm not saying that we at any level suppress the character and gifts that God has given us. God has made each one of us uniquely different, and being a follower of Christ releases you to be the person God created you to be rather than being put into a box by the world. But it does mean realising that all the positives in your world such as your gifts and talents came from God, and that all the negatives have been dealt with by God, so that you can be full of him and experience the kingdom of heaven in your world every day.
Hope that clarifies what I was trying to say. If you weren't there on Sunday and want to listen to the sermon, or were there and want to relive my "sex holiday" gaffe, then it's online here. Ben's excellent Sunday evening sermon on Revival (part two will be next Sunday evening) is also there.
Hope you have a happy week.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Then left that in time to get to the Kerith Men's breakfast with Steve Legg speaking. We've now decided to call the men's ministry United which has a nice sort of symmetry with Unique for the women and is also a good blokey sort of word! All associations with football teams are to be avoided. We also announced details of the Men's day with Gordon MacDonald on the 10th May, if you're a man reading this get your ticket soon as places will be limited. Steve Legg was a very interesting speaker. He's a magician, comedian and escapologist, all of which he uses to preach the gospel. He also edits a very credible magazine for men "Sorted" and a newspaper called "The Son".
Finally the email. I got an update from Edward Buria in Kenya this morning. I'll just copy it here in its entirety so you can get a feel for what is going on in Kenya. Please use this as a springboard for praying for Edward and all our Kenyan friends.
Thank you so much for all your prayers,love and continued support which is highly appreciated.Such prayers have kept us going through the most difficult times in the history of our Nation.Have never witnessed such suffering and hopelessness in my entire life like what have seen in the last 3 months.
We all the same remain so grateful that at least we have had a sustained peace for the last 6 weeks or so after the signing of the the all important document on the 28th February 2008 between the two Principals' i e President Mwai Kibaki and Prime-Minister designate Hon. Raila Odinga.Our prayers remain that they will honour the commitment of coming up with a government of national coalition.The following is how I see things:-
THE REALITY ON IDPS (Internally Displaced Peoples) AND OTHER CHALLENGES
Although we remain grateful to the fact that the leaders have agreed to work together making the country to have a relative and sustained peace, the challenges we face as a result of the violence, i.e. IDPs, general damage to the infrastructure and the many that have been traumatised because of loosing their loved ones, being raped, sustaining injuries remains enormous and very complex. These realities have made us to move from place to place with peace crusades, dedicating our TV programmes to preaching messages that have had great impact on the entire country, also playing a major role behind the scenes talking with our leaders showing them the importance of putting the interest of our nation ahead of their personal interests, and also with relief supplies. All these measures have yielded great and good results and we remain so grateful to God for giving us the courage, faith and most needed leadership that has given leadership to the nation in the midst of great confusion, tribal hatred and the like.
OUR WAY FORWARD
We have very good plans that are backed up by the initiative Mission Re-Build Kenya that targets around 3000 for the next six months with the following interventions among many:-
Unimix for children
Cooking Fat and Sugar
Clothes, blankets and Mosquito nets
PHC-Primary Health Care for around 1500 persons
Shelter-Temporary shelter, Makeshift and in a few cases mobile toilets.
Professional Services (e.g) Doctors, Psychologists, and community officers etc.
Most exciting is the (SMEs) kick off about 1700 small micro-enterprise ventures as a way to once again give the affected a livelihood rehabilitation.
Our television programmes remain the strongest voice God is using in bringing back the much needed healing and reconciliation to our Nation. Our plans remain maintaining these special programmes being aired throughout this year.I think this is where we will need your assistance Simon.The TV programmes are helping the entire country at the moment-we will appreciate the prayers from all of you at the Kerith Centre and financial assistance to keep these programmes on air.
Holding of gospel crusades in the affected areas, giving people an opportunity to encounter the prince of peace.
We will maintain our role of advising the politicians from the political divide, getting involved where requested by the government e.g. formation of truth, justice and reconciliation commission, best methods of assisting the displaced and both formal and informal sittings with the authorities.
Above everything else we have been able to create prayer chains across all our churches who are praying on certain points guided by us as we monitor the situation. We feel so encouraged as we see our contributions towards the effects of the post election violence yielding good fruits. It is in such moments like now when the big picture of why God brought me into the Kingdom becomes more clearer. Reading the book of Esther especially Chapter 4 and 14 b, has ministered to my heart a great deal. Wendy's(Terry's Wife) email dated 27th February, 2008 and especially the statement that reads "Truly you came to the kingdom for such a time as this! You are ambassadors of the King of Kings" meant so much to me. I have also treasured allot the many emails,smses,calls with prophetic words,words of encouragement etc.
The other area of great need is that of assisting those with HIV/AIDS,this scourge has just started to take its toll on our people-especially those displaced persons who had to run away from their homes therefore breaking down the discipline and pattern of treatment and follow up.All over sudden we are hearing of new cases of infections, which is very sad,in this connection we would appreciate any help that could help our teams that are reaching out with assistance to the affected.
Give our love to your family and the saints at Bracknell Family Church.We have been praying for you a lot, hope all going well with you and your leadership.
God bless and continue to give you great success in every way.
Friday, April 4, 2008
This Sunday morning we're continuing our series on The Pursuit of Happiness. Comments on week one, "Temporary or Eternal", were very positive so hope you can make it for part two, "Internal or External", either live on Sunday morning or via the podcast.
Also Sunday morning a number of our young people are going to Jubilee Community Church in Maidenhead which is lead by my good friend Stuart Otto to perform their "Everything" drama. Let's be very proud of our young people and all that God is doing through them.
Then Sunday evening our previous Senior Pastor of 43 years, Ben Davis, is going to be speaking on revival. Ben grew up in Wales amongst people who still remembered and were involved in the 1904 Welsh revival so has a unique view on what revival looks like and has a passion to see it again. Come and be inspired as he speaks both this and next Sunday evening.
Finally let's be continuing to pray for Kenya and Zimbabwe, that the peacemakers will win out.
Hope you have a great weekend,