Thursday, July 31, 2008

Final Day at Oakwood

Here is my daughter Alice in mid air on the Leap of Faith - basically you have to climb a telegraph pole, then stand on a platform on the top, jump off and catch a trapeze bar some distance away! I don't know who dreams these things up but the children love it. They either have no imagination or no fear!

Looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight and eating in a room which isn't so loud you can't hear yourself think!

Simon.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Final Night Fire

I have to admit to being something of a pyromaniac, so nothing could be better than being asked to light the closing night camp fire. I did consider rubbing two sticks together but half a can of petrol and a match was far more dramatic!
Today has been superb. Great activities, beautiful weather and 40 very happy but pretty tired children. Tonight Lee did an appeal and a number of children stood to make first time commitments - not just emotional responses or peer pressure but genuine decisions to follow Christ - very moving. Any concerned parents can rest assured that their children are having a great time - and being very well behaved. It was the youth I had to get up for in the middle of the night last night to tell them to be quiet!
Having said all that I'm looking forward to my bed tomorrow night. Then Matt and Hanna's wedding on Saturday (what a great celebration that is going to be) and church on Sunday with a not to be missed Rob Bell DVD on Sunday evening. Can't wait.
Simon.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Greetings From Oakwood

I've turned into a childrens worker for four days as I'm helping at our Oakwood Kids Camp with fourty 8 to 11 year olds. Apart from the sleep deprivation and the lack of anything other than instant coffee we're having a great time! Karen Mehta who is leading is doing magnificently, Lorraine Wade who is in charge of the food is everyones favourite person, I'm so proud of Lee and our youth who are leading groups, running activities, leading the worship and serving everywhere and the children all seem to be having fun.
Next Tuesday Catrina and I along with Ben and Mo Davies and Craig Mills head off to Chicago for the Willow Creek Leadership Summit (I'll Blog regularly from there to give you a taste of what we can expect when it comes to Bracknell in October), then as a family we've got two weeks in France coming straight back for Hope08 - what ever happened to restful summer holidays!
Hope you're having fun whatever you're doing. Think of me in my tent for the next two nights!
Simon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Graham Love

Those of you who have been in Bracknell for a while may well remember Graham and Helen Love who were with us for a number of years, lead a Housegroup and were hugely missed when they and their wonderful children moved up to Edinburgh to be part of a church plant there.

Well recently Graham found out that he has Colon Cancer. I spoke with Graham last Friday and he was in incredibly good spirits, despite all that's gone on so far this year. Graham has started a blog to keep people updated on what is happening so why not take a look, add a comment and pray for Graham, Helen, their children and for his complete healing. If you've ever met Graham then you'll just hear his wry sense of humour, honesty and deep rooted faith in God, speaking through all he has written.

Hope you're having a great week - keep on letting your light shine!

Simon.

New Hillsong Album - This is Our God

I just wanted to commend the new Hillsong album "This is Our God" to you. I've been listening to it since the weekend and am really enjoying it. Many of you know the story of how a few years back God engineered circumstances to get our family to Hillsong church in Sydney and how once there God spoke to us so powerfully about our future, which in great part is responsible for me leading the church today.

If you were at the prayer meeting on I think it was Wednesday night last week you'll have heard Clive Challis talk about the song "Healer" from the album, and how a video about the song had spoken so powerfully to him. I think this is the video Clive was referring to - it's very powerful so don't make the mistake I made of watching it in an office full of people - crying in a public with headphones on can be so embarrassing!

You can get the album from the Kerith bookshop - be assured that I'm not on commission - I just want you to be blessed!

Simon.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Kerith Community Church - One Day In

Well this Sunday just gone we officially became Kerith Community Church, after 18 years as Bracknell Family Church. It was great to see the welcomers and the technical teams in their new shirts and the car parkers in their new fluorescent jackets. The new look bulletin is a good step forward too. There are still some more changes to come, with the completely redesigned website close to completion but not quite close enough to be set loose yet (hopefully in the next few weeks), and a whole load of external signage which will follow on later in the year. If you missed it you can hear my sermon from Sunday morning here, although unfortunately the excellent Kerith brook drama, complete with scary ravens, and the Vox Pops of people in the town being interviewed about what Kerith meant to them aren't available anywhere.

I'm so grateful to everyone who has put so much effort into making this next chapter in our history as a church happen. I'm not going to name names as I'll inevitably miss somebody, but just let it be known that hours and hours of work have gone on, and are still going on, to make both our transition to being a charity in our own right and our having a new name possible. In some ways nothing of any substance has changed. Our passion for Jesus and to see his kingdom come and his will be done remain the same, our vision to grow more like Jesus both personally and as a community is unaltered, and our longing to have genuine and growing impact locally, nationally and internationally is undiminished. The name change really just reflects our desire to take that pursuit to another level, and to start another chapter in the ongoing story of our church. I'm so looking forward to what the future holds for us all.

After a week of prayer and fasting and then all of the excitement of the weekend I feel exhausted but very pleased with how it all went. Hope you had a good weekend too.

Simon.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tired but Encouraged!

Well it's 2am in the morning and we've just finished praying for our men's ministry - United. 23 men and 5 women which I reckon is pretty good going for this time in the morning - I'm very encouraged anyway. For me the whole week has been excellent - I feel it's just sharpened my hunger for God and desire for Him and I love doing it with other people - I have to admit I'd never fast on my own.

I'm going to leave it there as I'm in danger of writing something incoherent if I write any more!

Simon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Twenty Four Hours of Prayer

I have to admit that I find fasting really hard! I love food, and I love the whole social interaction of eating and spending time with people. We've got a chocolate machine at BlueArc (the company I work for on the days I don't work for the church) which is subsidised - all the chocolate bars and the crisps are just 20p. I swear it's been talking to me all day today tempting me to buy multiple Mars bars!

Anyway, I do find fasting very helpful in sharpening my spiritual appetite for God, and causing me to ask how serious I really am about wanting God to break in. The more we've gone on this week the more I've found my hunger for God growing and my desire to see Him impact us in a major way getting bigger and bigger. For those not there last night amongst other things we had a great time praying for a couple who lead a church in Albania - it felt good to be a house of prayer for at least one other nation. There is a mystery in prayer but it's an absolute key in us seeing God do all the things we long for.

I thought I'd post here a list of the times, topics and leaders for each of the one hour slots in the 24 hours of prayer. I'm not expecting anyone to be there for the whole 24 hours, but I would encourage everyone to make at least a couple of hours, so please take a look and choose the slots for you. Especially think of coming to those less popular slots during the day or at meal times to encourage the leaders of those. If you're not physically in Bracknell then why not decide to pray with us in one of the slots wherever you are - God hears!

Hope to catch you at the prayer meeting tonight, tomorrow night when we join with other churches to pray for Hope08, or in the 24 hours of prayer (which we'll finish with croissants and bacon butties!).

Simon.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Link to Newfrontiers Leaders Conference Talks

You can listen to the talks from the conference in Brighton that Ben and I went to last week here. I'd really recommend catching Mark Driscoll's Main Session and Seminar talks - provocative, challenging and very relevant to us as we seek to engage with 21st Century Culture and build a Biblically based, Spirit filled church. Not all the talks have been uploaded yet but I'm sure they'll all be there soon.

I've had a lot of very favourable comments on the Sex series we've just finished. I've felt that it's been so important to lay down in as unambiguous way as possible what the Bible does and doesn't say on the subject of sex, as causes such confusion in the world and in the church. You can listen to the first two weeks of the series here, I'm sure this Sunday's will be up there soon. A number of people have suggested that we do them as a box set (or perhaps we should put them in a brown paper bag!) for sale in the bookshop - we'll get that sorted soon. I also loved the alternative versions of Queen's "We Will Rock You" which we started the meeting with on Sunday morning - will it be Bohemian Rhapsody next?

Thanks also to everyone who worked so hard to make Sunday's Picnic such a success, and to Tony And Liz Pudner for allowing us to hold it at Oakwood. The weather was perfect and it was great to see so many people there, even first time visitors from the Sunday morning meeting who got invited along and got to share in other peoples picnics - very Acts2!

Simon.

A Week of Prayer and Fasting

Tonight we start our second week of Prayer and Fasting in 2008. We've got so much to thank God for, to bring to God in prayer and to listen to his prophetic voice on. As in previous weeks we'll be starting each evening without any specific agenda (except for Thursday night when we're joining with other churches in the town to pray for Hope08) but will begin each evening in worship and then see where God takes us. Then from 8am on Friday 'til 8am on Saturday we'll join for 24 hours of prayer, split into one hour slots with a specific topic and leader for each slot.

Please plan to come for as much as the week as you can. Come ready to worship, come ready to share what you sense God is saying to you and come ready to do the hard work of asking God to break in. Can I ask you to consider fasting as well. I'm planning on fasting the whole week and had a great time at lunchtime walking round the lake next to where I work, talking to God about tonight, and sharing some of what is going on in church with one of the guys I work with who I met half way round the lake! If you can fast the whole week then please do, but if not consider skipping at least one meal a day and using the time you free up to talk to God.

I'm still buzzing with much of what Mark Driscoll said at the Brighton Conference last week and felt God spoke into a number of areas where we need to accelerate our expansion plans. I'm really hoping God is going to speak into some of those this week.

During the last week of Prayer and Fasting we had some great problems with car parking - don't forget we've got the surgery as well as the K2 and Kerith Centre car parks all week with the addition of Avis on Thursday. If parking does get interesting then just thank God that we're struggling with issues like that and make sure you abandon your car somewhere legal!

Hope to see you several times this week!

Simon.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Back in Brighton

Well after a very brief return to Bracknell to see Zak in his play (which was excellent) it's been another good day at the conference. All of the sessions are going to be on the Newfrontiers website for download in a couple of days, so I'll post a link to that as soon as they're available so you can hear them too.

Mark Driscoll was the highlight again for me today, talking about how we stop movements from turning into museums, but keep them fresh and alive. He particularly spoke into the issue of succession and on maintaining the balance between honouring the founder and honouring the future. That's an issue very dear to my heart as I seek personally to honour Ben as the father of our church but also seek to be totally committed to our future. It's great being here with Ben as lots of people told him last year that it would never work with me taking over and him staying in the church. So far at least I think we've managed to show that it can work, not only for the two of us but for the church as well - for which I thank God more than you can imagine!

One more seminar in the morning and then Ben and I are travelling back to get ready for Musa Njoko at 7.15 on Friday night at The Kerith Centre - should be a great evening of music and hearing her amazing story. It's free to get in so just turn up - hope to see you there.

Simon.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Too Wet for Sandcastles Today

And as somebody has pointed out Brighton beach is all pebbles so no good for sandcastles anyway.

The highlight for me today was Mark Driscoll's seminar on combining family life with ministry. He spoke to lots of live issues for me including not doing emails or phone calls during family time, carving out regular immovable time for date nights and time with children and making sure you make time for friends. For those of you who saw Andy Stanley's session on "cheat the church" at the Willow DVD Summit two years ago there were lots of similarities, although Mark was probably less provocative than Andy Stanley, which is surprising if you've heard Mark Driscoll speak or read any of his books! One phrase I loved today was that very often leaders think that if they look after the church God will look after their families, whereas the biblical model is the other way round. Very challenging, not only for those of us paid for what we do in the church but for all of us combining ministry with family.

As part of my trying to be a good dad I'm currently travelling back to Bracknell to watch Zak perform in the play Blood Brothers at his school - I'm really looking forward to it. The train just broke down so I'm standing on Richmond station waiting for the replacement, but I've had my coffee fix so I'm coping well!

Back to Brighton tomorrow morning for more Mr Driscoll. Further updates then.

Simon.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside

This week BenD and I are in Brighton for the Newfrontiers Leaders conference. The main non Newfrontiers speaker is a guy called Mark Driscoll from Seattle in the States, who some of you may have heard of. He spoke this afternoon on Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit and how if we are to live the life Christ calls us to we too need to be filled with the Spirit. Very good stuff. I'll try and post updates on other highlights as the week goes on.
I was really excited by the weekend just gone. We baptised 3 people in the morning and 10 in the evening and the stories were just so moving, and spoke of the impact we have when we are peach like. Let's pray for at least another 25 people to be baptised in November which would take the total for the year to over 70. That's 70 lives changed by God's power. Cool.
Next Sunday is our final week on sex. I've already got a load of questions to answer but if you have any more then send them to the office, or if you're feeling brave post them here. After that we're off to Oakwood for the picnic which should make for interesting discussions over the sandwiches! Please come if you possibly can as it will be good fun for everyone.
Finally please be prioritising the week of prayer and fasting starting next Monday. The observant will have noticed the information sheet in the bulletin had the wrong dates on it - rest assured that it does run from Monday to Saturday morning with bacon butties and croissants to finish.
Think of Ben and me as we build our sandcastles tomorrow!
Simon.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Music on the Internet

I wanted to briefly let you know about two excellent music resources I've recently found on the internet.

The first is from a Christian organisation called Praise Charts. Anyone who has a recording of a song can submit it to them and if they think it's OK (which they do for about 25% of songs submitted) they will make it available on-line. As a trial Colin Boyle (our Creative Arts Director) submitted Matt Price's song Mercy's Flame to them and it's now been accepted (obviously!). Unfortunately they've got it all a bit wrong and think Colin wrote the song, but hopefully we'll get that sorted soon. You can listen to it here. If you like it then why not leave a comment on their site - apparently the more comments they receive the more likely they are to put arrangements of the song on their site for sale and the more chance there is of Matt becoming the next Darlene Zschech (if you know what I mean).

The second is a secular site called Last.fm. You just go to their site and type in the name of a band you like and it will then play you music by that band and from other bands with a similar musical style. You can skip any tracks you don't like so after a while it gets to learn your own personal preferences. It seems to have a load of Christian stuff in there so you can get to listen to Hillsong, Delirious?, Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin all day for free - cool eh!

Hope you enjoy these sites as much as I have.

Simon.