Friday, January 27, 2012

Memory Muscles

I loved this blog from Rick Warren on the importance of memorising the Bible, and developing what he calls our memory muscle. It helps underpin very clearly why our Texts for Life series is so important for us all (thanks to Tim Felgate fir sending me this).

I'm also loving all the thoughts on the Texts for Life blog. I don't have the list of who is going to be doing the blog each day, so I really look forward to getting my email each morning and seeing who has written the blog for the day. There have been some incredible insights in there all ready, and I've learnt lots of things I didn't know about people which is always interesting.

Hoping you're doing well learning this weeks verse, and putting it into practice! Just in case you've forgotten it here it is again :)

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" - Matt 28:19


Simon.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thanksgivings

 We're having a bit of a change of with thanksgivings for babies and children this year. Rather than just fitting them in on 'random' Sundays we thought it would be good to have designated Sundays in the year where we make it more of a focus for the meeting. This is how we used to do thanksgivings, and of course how we have done baptism for years, so hopefully it will work well.

The first of these Sundays is coming up on the 5th February. Sola will be preaching on the Texts for Life verse Philippians 4:13 ("I can do all this through him who gives me strength"). Catrina and I will be doing the actual thanksgiving. If you're interested please contact Lydia Harris-Lane at the church office (01344 862699). 

We're planning on doing these Sundays three times this year - we'll also be having them on the 20th May and 23rd September - so if you miss the one coming up don't worry, just contact Lydia and ask for one of the other dates. 

Hope that all makes sense!

Simon. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Peter Scazzero

I've just heard that Peter Scazzero, who is going to be speaking at the Willow Emotionally Healthy Leadership Conference here next Tuesday, is also going to be speaking at our evening meeting this Sunday. Michael Ross-Watson, who was due to be speaking both morning and evening, has graciously stepped aside in the evening so that we can get to hear Peter. 

First of can I encourage all of you to get out to hear Michael in the morning. He's going to be speaking on our next "Texts for Life" verse, 1 Corinthians 9:6, which is a verse which he is so equipped to speak on, and I know that as always he will be outstanding.

And then I'd implore you to get out again in the evening to hear Peter. I'm about half way through his book "Emotionally Healthy Church" which is so speaking into both where I am as an individual and where we are as a church. Especially if you're not going to be able to make the conference I'd encourage you to take this opportunity to hear him. You can read more about Peter here, more about his church here and more about the emotionally healthy movement here.

For those of you who aren't evening regulars just a reminder that doors open at 6, the meeting starts at 7 and the college car park is open.

It's going to be another outstanding weekend!

Simon.

 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley and Peter Scazzero

 It's only a few days now until the Willow conferences we're hosting at the Kerith Centre.

There are over 600 booked in to hear Bill Hybels and Andy Stanley on the Monday and close to 400 for Peter Scazzero on the Tuesday. I've just started reading Peter Scazzero's book on "Emotionally Healthy Church", and I'm now almost as excited about the Tuesday as the Monday (don't tell Bill!). 

If you're coming either day please note that there will be NO parking at the Kerith Centre or K2, other than for registered disabled, due to the numbers coming. Park instead in any of the town centre car parks, Charles Square is the closest, or walk or come by train or bike. 

There are still places on the serving teams for the Tuesday, if you'd like to come for free and get in on at least most of the sessions. Contact Sue Ranger at the church office (01344 862699) if you'd be interested in serving. 

Otherwise if you're not coming either day please be praying for the days, both that we as Kerith will be impacted through all that we hear, and that God will speak to the other leaders coming from churches all over the UK.

Very exciting :)

Simon.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Alpha and Prayer

 A reminder of two very important events this week in the life of our community.

Alpha course start on Wednesday at 7.30pm in the Kerith Centre and on Thursday at 10am in K2. If you've never done an Alpha course before please consider coming along as it's a great way to both refresh the core of your faith and to meet new people. And if you've got guests who'd like to come then please invite them and bring them along. It was brilliant on Sunday hearing stories in the the baptisms of people's lives being changed through Alpha, it never ceases to amaze me what God does each time we run this course.

Then on Wednesday and Thursday at 8pm in K2 we've got out monthly prayer meetings. These are always great times to come together, worship in a less structured setting than a Sunday, pray for the life of the church and share communion together, so please come if you possibly can (and you're not on Alpha!). 

Also on Thursday morning at 6am is our weekly prayer meeting, where we focus on praying for money and for people to be saved and added to the church. There are normally between 12 and 20 of us who gather in the Kerith Reception to pray for an hour. Those who know me well will know that I'm not a morning person, but I so value the chance to pray with others and the difference it makes to my life that even I find it worthwhile to drag myself out of bad at that unearthly hour! Let me encourage you to do the same.

Hope you're having a great week, and don't forget to GO!

Simon.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dates - Julian Adams and Canon Andrew White

 I wanted to give you all advance notice of a couple of forthcoming events.

On Saturday 21st April we're going to be hosting a prophetic conference with Julian Adams. Julian has a widely recognised prophetic gift, and last year he gave me a quite remarkable prophetic word about our future as a church, which I've shared on a number of occasions. We'll be running the conference in partnership with our great friends at Reading Family Church.

Then on the Thursday 26th to Saturday 28th July Canon Andrew White has asked us if we'll host a conference with him highlighting his work in Iraq. Speakers will include the one and only J.John. 

We'll have a load more information on both conferences soon, including booking details, but for now I just wanted to make sure you all had the dates in your diaries.

It's going to be an exciting year!

Simon.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Calling All Leaders

Tomorrow (Tuesday) night is our termly all leaders meeting. We start at 7.45pm in K2 with cheese, wine and chat and then I'll be sharing some thoughts on all that happened in 2011, followed by some vision for 2012. We'll then have a chance for any questions anyone may have.

All of our leaders should have had an invite, but if by any chance you've been missed out, or are an aspiring leader and would like to hear some of what is going on, please consider yourself invited and just turn up!

Simon.

Texts for Life - Week 2

Already I think the "Texts for Life" series is developing into one of the best we've done. I just loved today, especially with first time commitments in all three meetings - so exciting.

If you haven't already done it please can I encourage you to check out the texts for life blog, and sign up for the email updates. Every day there are thoughts on the weeks verse from different people in our community - some of last weeks were incredibly insightful. You can also follow it via Twitter at @textsforlife. 

For those who haven't yet heard it, you may also enjoy James Hosker's 'remix' of me singing the verse for week 1. There's now also a link there to a version which will work on iPhones and iPads. As I once heard Erwin McManus say "If my humiliation is necessary for the advancement of God's kingdom - so be it!". Just to be clear I love James's creativity, and feel flattered he would take what I did and apply all of his gifting and talent to it. I just hope it helps people remember the verse :)

Hope you have a great week loving God and loving people!

Simon. 


Friday, January 13, 2012

Texts for Life - Week 2 - Matthew 22:37-39

This Sunday we're going to be looking at our second "Texts For Life" verse - Matthew 22:37-39. Here it is if you want to get a head start on learning it:


‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

You'll be pleased to hear there isn't a song this week, but there will be some other creative ways of remembering it!

I've been loving the contributions on the Texts for Life blog. It's great to hear different perspectives on the same verse. There are going to be a load more guest bloggers this week, so please sign up to get each days update via email.

Hope to see you on Sunday,

Simon.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

More Thoughts on Different Translations

I know that some of you will have been completely turned off by this discussion of different translations, and translation philosophies! But for those of you who are still with me, I thought you might like one more thing to ponder and to get your brain cells working.


There are lots of verses in the Bible where the original meaning is ambiguous. That may be because the author deliberately set out to be unclear and God wanted them to be unclear, or because we've lost the sense of what those words meant in the original. Where there is ambiguity, then it's important that a "word for word' translation doesn't try and resolve the ambiguity, as that wouldn't be helpful for us in getting back to the original meaning. Instead we then need to look to what the rest of the Bible teaches to help us work out what the verse or passage actually means.

One verse I came across recently which fits into this category is Romans 16:17. In the NIV this verse reads:

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

There are (at least) two ambiguities here. 

The first is whether Junia is a male or a female name. The majority view seems to be that Junia was a woman, and probably the wife of Andronicus, but from the original Greek and even from the traditions of the early church we can't say for certain either way.

The second is what does the phrase "outstanding among the apostles" mean? Does it mean that Andronicus and Junia are apostles, and even amongst the group of apostles they are outstanding? Or are they outside the group of apostles, but even when you compare them to the apostles, or perhaps in the estimation of the apostles, they are outstanding? Again the text is unclear, and I think the NIV, and most other translations, well express that ambiguity.

These ambiguities can be important for us to ponder. For instance, in this case if Junia is a woman, and she is an apostle, then that would have something significant to say about the role of women in the church. 

Now in my opinion a good "word for word" translation should leave the ambiguity in. One of the criticisms of "thought for thought" translations is that often the ambiguities like this get removed based on the translators own thoughts, ideas or understanding of what the rest of the Bible teaches. We might like that, particularly if we agree with the thoughts of the translator, but it doesn't help us in getting to the original meaning. Now take a look at how the ESV translates this verse:

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.

All of the ambiguity around the second phrase has gone, without any footnote to indicate the words could be read a different way (to be fair there is a noet to say that the female name Junia could also be the male name Junias so the first ambiguity is left). The ESV study Bible in it's notes says "The verse seems to be saying, however, that Andronicus and Junia were well known to the apostles, not that Junia was herself an apostle". The two potential meanings are expressed in the study guide, but not in the Bible itself. All of the other translations I've looked at, including the NASB, King James and New King James leave the ambiguity in. 

Now I love the ESV translation, I use it extensively in all of my studying, and I'm sure the translators had a very good reason for translating this verse the way they did. I'm simply saying that we need to be aware that there is great value in using more than one translation, to be aware that no translation is perfect, and ultimately to recognise the value of having people in our community who can take us back to the original Hebrew and Greek - something I'm praying for!

Well done for getting to the end, and for listening to my musings. I'd love to hear any thoughts on this.

Simon.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Kerith House Bible

While we're on the subject of Bible translations I thought I'd say a bit about the idea of Kerith having a 'house' Bible, or to put it a different way having a default translation which we will be the primary translation we use on Sundays, on our courses and in our literature. 

There are a number of advantages to having a house Bible. It means that if people bring a paper Bible on a Sunday there is a reasonable chance that they will have the translation the preacher is using. Similarly we're soon going to put a bookcase in reception with Bibles on for people to borrow during the meeting or course they are attending - having a house Bible makes it easy to choose the translation to use there. It can also protect the preacher from the temptation to flit around, choosing each time the translation which most says what they want it to say. And it means that when we memorise verses, as we're doing at the moment, we're all memorising the same version.

Having a house Bible doesn't in any way force everyone to use that translation. I'll still expect Sola to make extensive use of the Amplified Bible, and Michael Ross Watson to quote from the King James and New King James versions. And you're utterly free to read whichever translation you find most helpful in any given situation. The aim is not conformity, but some level of uniformity where it is helpful.

For years our house Bible has been the 1984 New International Version. That is about to go out of print, to be replaced by the new 2011 version of the NIV. We therefore need to make a decision about our new house Bible. As elders we've been talking about this for a while (I even wrote a short paper on it if anyone is interested) and have decided to adopt the 2011 NIV as our new house Bible. We did consider various other translations, but in the end felt that in terms of continuity (for those of us brought up on the 1984 NIV the new one is very similar, the primary difference is more gender inclusive language such as referring to 'brothers and sisters" rather than just "brothers" where the word in the original refers to both men and women), and because the mix of "word for word" and "thought for thought" translation styles makes it both accurate and readable, this was the right choice. 

We've got a number of different 2011 NIV Bibles on sale at cost price on the bookshop - I'd encourage everyone to get a copy of the new translation. 

Hope that makes sense. If not you know where to find me :)

Simon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bible Translations

One of the things I spoke about on Sunday was the difference between different Bible translations, and how there isn't one 'right' or 'proper' translation to use. Somebody said they thought it might be useful to repeat it in a blog, so here goes!

The Bible was originally written in Hebrew (the Old Testament) or Greek (the New Testament) with a few bits written in Aramaic. When people come to translate the Bible into English, as when translating anything from one language to another, they have to make a decision about what philosophy of translation they are going to use.

At one end of the spectrum is a "word for word" translation, where the translators attempt to take each word in the original language and convert it into the equivalent word in English. That's not always possible as the word order in the original language may make no sense in English, there may not be an English word to match the Hebrew or Greek word, and extra words may need to be added to make it make sense, but wherever possible the intention is to make the translation as direct as possible. The problems with a "word for word" translation is that the English in them sometimes feels awkward or clumsy because of the desire to be as close as possible to the original, and that having the original authors words doesn't necessarily mean you know what they were thinking.

At the other end of the spectrum is a "thought for thought translation", where the translator attempts to express the thoughts or ideas the original author was trying to express, rather than just translating the words. This can be helpful as the same words can mean something very different today to what they meant 2,000 or more years ago, as well as differences in culture meaning that we may understand a given event, story or idea very differently to the people who first read it. The obvious problem with a "thought for thought" translation is that you are at the mercy of how good the translator is at understanding the authors original thoughts. If they've got that wrong then the translation will be wrong, misleading and potentially heretical!

The chart below (copied from this website) may be helpful in explaining where various translations sit on the "word for word" to "thought for thought" continuum. 

My recommendation is to use a range of translations. If you want to study a passage in depth use a "word for word" translation such as the English Standard Version (ESV), for everyday use and ease of reading try something which is a mixture of the two styles such as the New International Version (NIV), and for 'something different' which might give you a fresh perspective on a passage take a look at the Message. 

We've currently got a range of ESV, NIV and Message Bibles in the bookshop which we're selling at cost price. Alternatively if you use the online YouVersion Bible, or Bible Gateway then you get dozens of different translations for free. Have a go at looking at the same verse of the Bible in different translations and see how they differ. 

Hope that was helpful. 

Simon. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Texts For Life Blog

I really enjoyed the kick off to the new Texts for Life series on Sunday, other than the news that some unkind person has posted a video of my return to the worship team :-) Listen to the sermon here if you missed it.

Just a reminder that there's a blog which goes with the series which you can find at textsforlife.org Every day a different person will be writing about the verse for that week. Today it was Alan Lander writing some great stuff on this weeks verse,  Psalm 119 verse 11. On the site we'll also be adding a load of other resources, I noticed that there are already some kids colouring sheets there which you can print out and colour in.

Just as with my blog there's an area on the site where you can enter your email address so that you get an email each time the blog is updated. Alternatively you can follow the Twitter feed @textsforlife to be sent a tweet every time there is a new blog. Or there are links to the blog on the Kerith website and on mine and Catrina's blog. So many ways to get to what I think is going to be a great resource.

Finally I'd love to hear your thoughts on the series. You can either leave comments on the blog, send an email to textsforlife@kerith.co.uk or tweet with the hash tag #textsforlife, or you could even just talk to me or someone else about it!

That's more than enough technology for one blog. Hope you have a God filled, risk taking week and hope to catch you next Sunday.

Simon.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Texts for Life

This Sunday we start our "Texts for Life" preaching series, which aims to give each one of us a 'toolkit' of verses to memorise, which should help us in a host of different life situations. At the end of it we should all have memorised 12 different verses.

We start off this Sunday with Psalm 119:11 - "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you". The team in the office have been challenged with different ways of making helping us memorise the verses, this Friday Ben Pocock led us all in the incredibly messy exercise of seeing who could write the verse most quickly using Alphabetti Spaghetti - you can see the winning effort above. Sadly we won't be doing this on Sunday, but I am going to teach you all a song (my return to worship leading!), and over the 12 weeks you'll see a host more wacky ideas for helping us memorise all 12 verses.

As with all things 21st Century we couldn't miss out on the social media opportunities the series provides. There is therefore a blog which you can find here, where every day starting from this Monday a different guest blogger will give their perspective on the verse for that week. There's also a twitter feed @textsforlife, and an email address textsforlife@kerith.co.uk where we'd love you to send in any stories of how the texts have helped you, challenged you, changed you, or in any other way impacted your life.

Hope to see you on Sunday!

Simon.

Invest - Term 2

For me one of the most exciting things we did last term was to kick off our Invest training programme, which helps people understand and get more out of the Bible. It's something I've wanted us to do for a number of years, and I'm so pleased that we've got it up and running, and that the feedback from the first term was so good. It's a two year rolling course, which means that you can start it at the beginning of any term. The next term starts on Wednesday 11th January, and it's not too late to sign up.

Below are some details on terms 2 from Ben Pocock who heads up Invest. Please take a look and think hard about signing up, or continuing on to term 2 if you've already done term 1.

Simon. 

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“INvest is a training course on Wednesday evenings for all those wanting to deepen their knowledge, understanding and application of the Bible. Through weekly teaching and training sessions you will learn more about God’s Word Theology in order to help you in your walk with God. With 2 years worth of biblical teaching material, you can sign up for a term at a time, covering subjects such as Jesus, the Holy Spirit, a book by book Bible Overview, Church History and many more.
 
Whether you have been a Christian for a day or a decade, it’s so important that you INvest time and effort in your relationship with God. In Term 2 we will be focussing on the Holy Spirit and the Early Church. We will look at subjects such as:
  • The Early Believers
  • The Holy Spirit – (The Trinity, Fruit of the Spirit, Gifts of the Spirit and more)
  • Paul & his missionary journeys
  • Pentecost
  • Hermeneutics (in helping us read the Bible)
  • The Holy Spirit in church today
Just incase you can’t make it to every week, those on the INvest course will receive online access to the weekly recorded messages, as well as a USB Memory Stick containing all the talks at the end of the term. So sign up today! The Term is £30. You can register online for the course, or on Sunday at church. Please don’t let the money stop you from being on the course, just speak to us if you need help.”

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Matthew Barnett - Transforming Your Community Conference

On Saturday 4th February King's Community Church in Hedge End near Southampton are hosting a one day conference with Matthew Barnett from the Dream Center in LA. Many of our young people will know Matthew from when he spoke at Rocknations in Bradford a few years ago, where they were deeply impacted both by him and by what his church is doing in their community.

As we think of building churches which are passionate about both the gospel, and about social justice and making a paractical difference locally, nationally and internationally, the Dream Center would seem to be light years ahead of any other church I have come across. They serve around 40,000 people in their local community every month, and have an impact which has been recognised internationally. It will be great to hear both Biblical and practical insights from someone who is in the middle of all this happening. 

If you're wondering who King's Community Church are, Martyn Dunsford who leads the church is for me one of the most unassuming but inspiring leaders I have ever met. He introduced us to the churches we work with in Albania, and as well as founding a great local church which has just built a fabulous 1,300 seat auditorium, is also involved in helping hundreds of churches across Europe and beyond to grow and develop. I count it a great privilige to have him as one of my friends. 

You can read more about the Dream Center here, and about the conference here.

Simon.