Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Feeding of the Five Thousand - Part 4

Does anyone remember part 3 :-)

Well in case you don't my first point from the feeding of the five thousand was this:

The need was huge.

My second is perhaps no less obvious:

Jesus called his disciples (the church) to be part of the solution.

The disciples saw the size of the need. In fact they brought the need to Jesus attention (as if he was so busy preaching he wasn't aware of what was going on). But they wanted the hungry people to provide their own solution, to go off to the local Subway or MacDonalds and buy their own meal. Jesus had a different idea. His simple statement to them was "You give them something to eat".

I believe that whenever we see a need, Jesus calls us to be part of the solution. Not to expect people to fix it themselves, or to campaign for the government or some other organisation to come in and fix it, but for us to be part of the solution. Jesus was always meeting peoples felt needs, whether for food, healing, forgiveness, comfort or acceptance, and he expects us to do the same. Just take a look at Matthew 25:31-46 and see how seriously Jesus take this.

And this call isn't simply to us as individuals, but to us as a church, which is what the disciples represented. The church was never intended to be just a thermometer, measuring the temperature of society, but a thermostat, not only measuring the temperature but also being an agent for change.

In the next part I'll look at what this means for para church organisations.

Simon.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Our Shed Door

I'm sat outside the Open Learning Centre whilst Jacob has his drum lesson loving the heat (apologies to anyone who doesn't) and reflecting on the weekend.

I've had lots of positive feedback on the "half time team talk" I gave on Sunday which was encouraging. But I've mostly been thinking about some DIY I did on Saturday. We've got a garden shed which has quite a lean on it, which makes the door hard to open as it drags along the ground. It's got so bad recently that Alice has really struggled opening and closing it to get in there to feed her animals. Well on Saturday afternoon I finally got round to doing something about it. To my shame it only took about 20 minutes to take off the door, cut a
chunk off the bottom and screw it back on. And now what joy - the door swings open and shut with no scraping, no yanking and no effort. I just can't believe it took me so many months to get round to it.

It made me reflect on how often I just 'put up with things', rather than taking the often simple steps to fix them. The opticians appointment I need to make. The broken light switch in the cupboard which needs replacing. The punctured tyre on Catrina's bike which needs fixing. But also relational fixes required. That person who has asked me to do something but I know I really should say no. The person I know I've upset and I just need to go and apologise. That decision where I'm not sure what to do and need to talk to a friend for advice.

Not to say everything is so easily put right. But so many things are, and often not sorting them leaves us with stress, anxiety, worry and not sleeping well and robs us of our joy.

So is there anything you need to do today that you've been putting off? If so - Just Do It!

Have a great week.

Simon.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Crazy Week

Apologies for the lack of blogs this week but it's been one of the busiest weeks I've ever had! I'm not sure how that happened, but anyway I've stopped now which is very nice. I'm sat watching Alice and a friend swimming at the sports centre (well to be honest there isn't much watching going on!), wondering how the girlies prayer day is going and wondering when I can get a coffee.
Hope to catch you Sunday - I do promise to write at least one more installment of the feeding of the five thousand next week.
Simon.


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Monday, June 22, 2009

Feeding of the Five Thousand - Part 3

Apologies to everyone waiting for part three, but last week was very busy :-) By the way I hope those of you who were there for Father's Day or Young Guns encountered God in the meetings.

So here's the first point I felt God showed me in Zambia, and it may seem blindly obvious, but it was this.

There was a huge need!

Although we know the story as the feeding of the five thousand, as Eileen Scott pointed out last night at Young Guns there were far more than five thousand people as that count only included the men, not the women or children. The need was huge.

We need to open our eyes to see that the needs around us are huge.

That's true on a global scale. I read in the paper this weekend that one billion people throughout the world now suffer from hunger. That makes the problem the disciples faced seem tiny. We're not likely to meet many of those one billion people today, but that's more than one in seven of the world's population who won't have a proper meal today, tomorrow, this week or this month. Then there are the estimated 15 million children who've lost one or both parents to an AIDS related illness. That may seem just to huge for us to comprehend, representing the equivalent of one quarter of the UK population.

But there are very real needs in our neighbourhoods too. The single mum doing her best to bring up young her young children, but desperate for some practical help and someone to babysit so she can get out for at least one evening. The young couple struggling with debt as one of them faces the risk of losing their job wondering how they're going to keep their home and being kept awake at night with worry. The couple who are desperate to have a child, but despite all the medical help available just can't conceive. The elderly person facing the agonising decision as to whether to put their life long partner into a home because they can no longer cope with the 24 hour care they require. The teenager desperately trying to work out who they are and how to win the acceptance of their peers.

Why not take a moment today to think about the people in your street, your workplace, your school and your family. What are some of the needs you see there?

Point two later this week :-) Hope you're having a great week.

Simon.

ps Please don't forget the prayer meetings on Wednesday and Thursday and the Gift Day on Sunday.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Coats and Shoes

I was going to write a blog entry reminding everyone that the coats and shoes for Serenje need to be at The Kerith Centre by Monday 22nd June, but my wife has written a much better one which I've linked to.

It's been inspiring seeing all the shoes and coats coming into the building this week, and thinking of all those children who will soon be able to go to school during the winter because of what we're doing. You are an amazing community of people.

Simon.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Super Heroes

A reminder that this Sunday morning we've got our Father's Day Heroes guest meeting with a Super Heroes theme. If you've got children with super hero outfits (or you've got one yourself!) then bring them along dressed up. And be inviting those dads, friends, neighbours and relatives - you never know what God will do.

Then in the evening 6 of the Young Guns are speaking - come along and be wowed.

Hope you have a great weekend and catch you Sunday.

Simon.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

TMTL Heroes

Every now and again an individual, or a group in the church, does something that just makes me sit back and go "that is fantastic, that so embodies what the kingdom of God is all about, and why I'm so proud to be a part of it".

Today it was our group for the retired, There's More to Life, or TMTL as they're affectionately known.

Hopefully one day I'll be able to tell you the whole story, as it's quite remarkable to see the way God has worked, but for now all I'll say is that a week last Sunday I was introduced to someone on the fringes of our community who had recently suffered a bereavement, and I offered to take the funeral if they wanted me to. They also asked whether we could help with the refreshments afterwards, and I said we'd see what we could do. Well the funeral ended up being this afternoon, which meant that TMTL would be meeting in K2 at the same time, which was a problem as we don't really have another venue. However, knowing the hearts of the TMTL leaders I phoned one of them and asked whether they'd be up for serving this family, and was overwhelmed by their willingness to drop all their existing plans and offer to prepare the hall, put out all the food, serve all the teas and coffees, make all the guests feel at home and then clear up at the end.

Well we had the funeral today. The crematorium was as full as I've ever seen it with people stood all around the edges of the room and a crowd stood outside in the entrance hall - amazing scenes. And then well over 100 of those people came back to K2 and were just served magnificently by the TMTL team. It's now 5.30 (3 hours after the first guests turned up at K2) and I've just seen the final team members leaving after the clear up. They've served a grieving family and grieving friends in the most amazing way, and I'm so proud of them all.

As Bill Hybels says - "This is church".

Simon.

ps I was hoping to write the next part of the feeding of the five thousand today, but it's been a long day and I'm shattered so hopefully I'll get round to it tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Feeding of the Five Thousand - Part 2

(if this makes no sense you need to read yesterday's blog first!)

So I walked up to the lectern, and after asking three of team members to bring a short greeting (during which time I continued to pray like mad for inspiration) decided there was no option but to read the passage, after which I really was going to be exposed. But as I read the passage the most amazing thing happened. It seemed like points from the passage which I'd never really noticed before started to jump off the page, almost as though they were written in the margins of my bible. And I was able to spend the next 25 minutes or so talking my way through the points God was showing me.

Now that may sound really weird, and I certainly wouldn't recommend it as a preaching style (unless you take some sort of masochistic enjoyment in being scared witless), but the reality is that since then I haven't been able to get these points out of my head. I've actually spoken briefly on them a couple of times since, once to a leaders meeting and once to our staff, and they've had such an impact on me I'm going to dare to share them with a wider audience. Apologies in advance if they seem obvious or not particularly inspiring but hopefully you'll get something out of them.

Come back tomorrow for the first point :-)

Simon.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Feeding of the Five Thousand

I wonder how often you find yourself praying one of those "I need you to show up God, and I need you to show up now" prayers? I had one of those moments when we were in Zambia earlier this year. We were at what we were told was going to be a pastors briefing where each of the Serenje pastors would give an update on what was going on in their churches. But just as we were going into the meeting one of the leaders asked me if I'd be willing to share something - "just 30 minutes or so"!

I rapidly thought through all the "elephant in the church" talks but it didn't seem like any of them were going to fit :-) And I didn't feel this was one of those moments to delegate to one of the other members of the team! So I sat there listening to the pastors updates praying for an angelic visitation or Jesus to come again - neither of which happened.

The only idea I had somewhere in the recesses of my mind was to talk about the feeding of the five thousand, but I didn't have any notes on it and I'm not sure I've ever preached on it before. So with no better idea I found the version in Mark 6:30-44 and was still asking God to intervene as I walked up to the lectern, with a load of expectant faces looking at me.

Come back tomorrow to find out what happened next!

Simon.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Chris Moyles

If you haven't seen it already I thought you'd enjoy hearing what Chris Moyles, the Radio 1 DJ, had to say about a BBC programme he saw from Kingsgate Community Church in Peterborough. Quite fantastic - you can catch it on Youtube here.

Or watch the embedded version below, although I know lots of you have email programmes which don't let you see the embedded version, if that's you just click the link above!



The church featured is the one we go to for Newfrontiers prayer and fasting (although it's not a Newfrontiers church). It meets in a warehouse on an industrial estate on the edge of Peterborough and seems very impressive, with a huge vision to impact the local community. Check out their website for more info.

Thanks to Michelle Garthwaite for sending me the YouTube link.

Simon.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thank You

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone planning to give to the Gift Days this Sunday and in a fortnights time.

Thank you from Liam Parker for releasing him to be with us for another year working with young people. Thank you from all the pupils in Garth and Brackenhale who will benefit from his input over the year. Thank you from our young people who will have another year of being discipled and trained by Liam. Thank you from all the young people who will come to the Friday night and Sunday youth events Liam will be organising. And thank you from Lee Layton-Matthews who will be released to think more about growing the Sunday evening meeting, raising up more young leaders and overseeing next years growing year team.

Thank you from Dave Betts for releasing him for another year to work with our youth bands Ethos and The Revolution. Thank you from all the young musicians who will be trained up and released to use their gifts. Thank you from all the people (not all young) who will be powerfully impacted by our youth bands, both in the UK and overseas. And thank you from all the people who will be encouraged, inspired and renewed as they listen to the Ethos CD and the songs they write.

Thank you for saving us as a leadership from having to decide which projects to cancel in the second half of 2009 because of a lack of finances. Thank you from all the people who will be impacted by those projects still being able to go ahead. This includes the continued expansion of our CAP centre, expansion of the work we are doing with special needs and money we plan to give away locally and overseas.

And (assuming we get to lease the cricket pitch land) thank you from all the children who will get to play in the playgrounds we will build there. That will include children on Sundays, children doing Saturday respite and the Easter and Summer respite clubs. Thank you from all the youth who will have somewhere outdoors to hang out other than on the car park. And thank you from all the people who will get to hold BBQs and other events on that piece of land.

Thank you from Simon Smith (our wonderful treasurer) who will sleep a bit more easily at night! And thank you from a senior pastor who genuinely appreciates every penny which is given, who thanks God for the generosity of spirit He has put into each of the people he has the privilege of leading, and who is daily humbled to part of a community like this.

Thank you.

Simon.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ethos in the Recording Studio

Anyone who enjoyed the new Ethos song 'Calling Out' we learnt on Sunday will be pleased to know that next week they're going to be spending 5 days recording 6 of their songs for a forthcoming CD. It's really exciting to see the creativity which is breaking out all over the church and definitely something we want to see more of.

Colin Boyle is also currently with a team in Chicago at the Willow Creek creative arts conference. We've got people there from our music, drama, media and technical teams and I know they'll come back with a whole load of fresh ideas on how to use the creative arts to enhance all that we do.

Finally to let you know that at the end of July Ethos, Lee and Ken Bothamley are going out to Albania to support a youth conference there. All very exciting.

Simon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Surprised by the Voice of God - Jack Deere

I first read this book something like 10 years ago. It deeply impacted me then, and has deeply impacted me again as I've read it in preparation for the Holy Spirit series.

Jack Deere, who for the early part of his Christian life was convinced (and taught others) that the only way God speaks today is through the Bible, looks at the different ways God has spoken to people both in the Bible and throughout church history. I particularly loved the section on the Scottish Reformers (who are sometimes thought of as being very "straight laced") and the ways God spoke to and through them, and how subsequent books have tried to remove those parts from their stories!

He then goes on to look at the different way God speaks to us today including the Bible, prophecy, dreams, audible voices, visions and a whole load of other ways. But he manages to do it all in a way which is devoid of the 'weird' but full of practical advice. If you wanted a manual on how to be a "peachy charismatic" then this would be it!

The book is also laced with stories from Jack Deere's own life, and from that of his friend Paul Cain. The cost of the book is justified by the story in the last chapter alone!

I can't recommend this book strongly enough. I'd love for everyone in our community to read it, and put it into practice.

We'll try and get some copies into the bookshop for this Sunday.

Simon.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Back in the Land of Blog!

Well after my longest break since I started blogging nearly two years ago it's great to be back!

Since I last blogged (after the now historic Andrew MacKay meeting) I've had a weeks holiday (decorating Alice's bedroom and spending two days in sweltering conditions on Littlehampton beach) and then had a crazy week in the office catching up on all the things that had happened whilst I was away! That included moving the creative arts team into the Rochdale room in The Kerith Centre and moving the admin team into the main office (well done Ruth Buxton for organising all of that), more people wanting to join our 2009/2010 year team, plans moving ahead for getting several hundred coats and pairs of shoes to Serenje (hats off to Penny Lander for sorting that), great feedback from the Kids2 weekend at Oakwood (Yvonne Scott and her team all deserve medals) and good reports on Sola's preach - I must go away more often :-)

Hope you're having a great week!

Simon.