Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Travelling Mercies

Not long after I became a Christian, when I was 18, I went every now and again to a Pentecostal church. Apart from the pastor being one of the biggest people I've ever met (there was a universal fear that one day he would disappear through their not very substantial stage) one of the things I most remember about that church was that they would regularly pray for "Travelling Mercies". Not growing up in a Christian home I had no idea what "Travelling Mercies" were! In fact I was so unchurched I wasn't even sure what mercies were! But over time I came to understand that when they prayed that, they were asking God to keep people safe on their journeys.

We had an occasion this weekend to thank God for "Travelling Mercies". We were travelling up to Manchester on Friday night when, to cut a long story short, all of the traffic in front of us stopped. We stopped, the car behind us stopped but the next one didn't and pushed the car behind us into our car. The bottom line is that although our car is a bit bashed up at the back, and the other two cars were I suspect write offs, no one was injured in any of the cars and everything is now in the process of being sorted. I really believe that God looked after us in that moment. Looking back it could all have been so much worse, so much more serious.

I've just been listening to Sola's sermon from Sunday on "Remember to Give Thanks". If you haven't listened to it then please do. It's just brilliant foundational teaching, reminding us to always give thanks. Somehow we remember to give thanks when it all went a bit wrong but turned out OK, but lets also remember to give thanks when it all turns out perfectly, as on our return journey from Manchester which went without a hitch.

And let's always be praying for "Travelling Mercies". I'd suggest not using that language, as we don't want to confuse 18 year old heathens like I was, but let's grab hold of that belief that God is the one who is our protector and the one who watches over us. And not out of fear that if we forget to pray bad things will happen, but out of a confidence that God is our Father who cares for us more than we could ever understand.

Simon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

CAP Wednesday

Tomorrow I'm going to be at a conference for all the pastors of churches with CAP (Christians Against Poverty) debt counseling centres in the South of England. Fortunately I don't have to travel very far as it's in K2!

You might not be able to come tomorrow but if you'd be interested in finding more about the work of CAP, or how you could involved, then I'd like to invite you to an evening in K2 starting at 8pm on Wednesday 4th November. More details on our website, or if you're a facebook junkie you can use this invite.

CAP is a great thing to get involved in if you want to "remember the poor". It provides a safe, structured variety of ways to get involved so please go along if you're at all interested - I know you won't regret it!

Simon.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Graham's Thanksgiving

Today we held the Thanksgiving Service for Graham McMoneagle. It was a great celebration of Graham's life, and an opportunity to thank God for all that he meant to us. His brother Grant did a great YouTube video of pictures of Graham which captures Graham really well. Our thoughts are very much with Sandra, Graham's wife, and all of Graham's family at this time.

We've also go the Thanksgiving Service for Peter Novelle next Thursday. More details are on the family news section of the Kerith website, where you can also post memories of Pete, or of Graham.

Hope you have a great weekend.

Simon.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Remember the Poor

On Sunday Lee told us that we will only truly be able to "Remember the Poor" when we've understood and grasped the significance of the cross. That only then are we able to truly meet the needs of and be a help to the poor.

I was reminded of that when I was reading John 12 this morning. You'll probably know the story. Mary (of Mary and Martha fame) breaks a jar containing a pint (half a litre) of Chanel No. 5 all over the feet of Jesus, and then washes his feet with her hair. Judas Iscariot gets upset about the waste of money, and protests that the perfume could have been sold and the money used to help the poor, although he didn't really care about the poor at all. However, Jesus replies with the killer line "You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me".

The point isn't that Jesus didn't care about the poor. We know from passages like Matthew 25 that he was passionate about the poor, and expected us to be too. But that he wanted us first to be passionate about him, and then let our passion for the poor flow out of that.

So let's do both. Let's be passionate about Jesus, love him with every ounce of our being and try to live lives that glorify him. But then let us be a people who let what we have received then overflow to the people around us. That we would be channels and not buckets. Whether that's babysitting for the single mum in your street, getting shopping for the elderly couple two doors down from you, getting involved in CAP or the Foodbank, or giving money to Serenje.

Simon.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday Afternoon

I'm at the meeting to select the Bracknell Conservative candidate for the next general election. Three hours of presentations and question answering doesn't exactly fill me with joy, but I do feel it's important to be involved in the democratic process, so here I am.

At least I'm sat with some good friends which should help pass the time, as well as having my iPhone with me!

Simon.


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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Final Reminder...

....that if you want to go to the public meeting to choose the Bracknell Conservative candidate at the next general election you need to register by 5pm on Monday - either at www.bracknellconservatives.com or phone 01344 868894. I'd encourage everyone who lives in the new Bracknell constituency to go and take take this opportunity to make their views known.

Hope to see you there next Saturday!

Simon.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mental Health @ RFC

I've been leading the church for almost two years now, and in that time one of the things that has challenged me most is how we help people living with mental health issues. When someone in our community gets cancer, has a heart problem or suffers bereavement I think we all have at least a vague idea how to respond and what we could do to help. But when it comes to mental health issues such as depression, schizophrenia or a personality disorder I for one am much less sure how to respond. I've also found that people affected by mental health issues are much less likely to be open about what is going on, for fear that other people will write them off as being 'mad' or somehow spiritually inferior.

Given all that I was really pleased when Sean Green at Reading Family Church told me recently they were running a day looking at all of this, including seeing what the Bible has to say and how we can best help people facing these issues. More details here on Sean's blog. I'd really encourage anyone either suffering from or supporting someone with a mental health issue to go along as it looks like a really helpful day.

Simon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bracknell Conservative Candidate Selection

I spoke on Sunday encouraging people to get involved in the selection process for the Bracknell constituency conservative candidate at the next general election. The meeting to choose the candidate will be held on Saturday 17th October at Blue Mountain Golf Club starting at 2pm, and is open to anyone who lives in the new Bracknell constituency. In order to go you need to register by 5pm on Monday 12th October - the easiest way to register (which I've already done) is by going to the relevant bit of the Bracknell conservatives website. Note that the boundaries of the Bracknell constituency change for the next general election - check on the website whether you live within the new boundaries.

You can see a list of candidates here. I'm not going to endorse any particular candidate, but would encourage people to go and listen to what each of them has to say on the 17th, and choose the candidate who you think would best represent the people of Bracknell. I will mention though that I've so far met two of the candidates. Julia Manning came to see me during the Willow conference and Ryan Robson was with us on Sunday at the 11am meeting. Both are Christians and currently live in London, but would move to Bracknell if elected.

I feel it's really important for us as Christians to get involved in this process. Andrew MacKay may have been very wrong in the way he handled his expenses, but in my experience he was a good constituency MP and I know helped a number of people within our church as well as in the wider community. We have no right to moan about our next MP if having being given the option we don't choose to get involved in the selection process.

I want to be very clear that I'm not endorsing the Conservative party, its policies or telling anyone who to vote for at the next election. That would be totally out of order for me as a church leader. However, I am encouraging people to engage in the democratic process, and for us a Christ followers not to withdraw from the world, as though it is somehow going to contaminate us, but be salt and light by making our voice heard.

Hope that makes sense!

Simon.