Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hear Jackie Pullinger (and others)

On Monday 6th May we're arranging for a coach to go from the Kerith Centre to GO2013, a mission-focused conference which is taking place at the WEC headquarters at Bulstrode, in Buckinghamshire. WEC is an organisation which Michael and Esther Ross-Watson have worked with for a number of years, and which does amazing work spreading the gospel around the World.

On the Monday Jackie Pullinger (who many of us will know from her amazing book "Chasing the Dragon") is speaking, along with a number of seminars and the chance to spend time in the beautiful grounds of WEC.

To get on the coach you need to book here, where you'll also find all the details you need about the coach.

Simon.

 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Good Friday and Easter Sunday Events

We've got three great events taking place on Good Friday.

For all pre-school age children there is an Easter Egg Hunt at Oakwood Youth Challenge (Waterloo Road, RG40 3DA) from 11am - 12.30pm. Phone reception on 01344 862699 before 5pm on Thursday if you want to book in (prebooking is essential).

For all primary school age children our BUILD holiday club is running from 10.30am - 2.30pm in K2. Again phone reception if you want more details and to book in.

Then for the rest of us we've got a contemplative meeting where we're going to reflect on all the events leading up to the crucifixion - 7-8pm in the Kerith Centre lead by Lee Layton-Matthews. You can just turn up to this one :)

On Easter Sunday we're going to be looking at the resurrection from a different angle to anything I've heard preached before (don't worry it's all Biblical!).

Please don't get so caught up in Easter as a time to eat chocolate or spend time with the family that you miss what lies at the heart of it all. Be reading the Easter story from the gospels over the next few days, be joining with us as we celebrate together as a community, and be thinking about who you can be inviting to each of these gatherings to hear about the most important event in all of history!

Hope you have a fabulous Easter,

Simon.

 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Palm Sunday

This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, preparing us for what is going to be a great Easter celebration the following week. Michael Ross-Watson will be speaking at all three meetings which as always means we're in for a treat.

I'll also hopefully be walking normally by then after the half marathon :)

Hope to see you there,

Simon.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Perspective

Given all the cold and rainy weather we're having at the moment (I won't say terrible weather as I know some of you actually like it when it's like this!) it reminds me of the times when I've been on a flight when the weather is like this. There comes that point after the plane has taken off when it breaks through the cloud into glorious sunshine, and rather than being under the wet weather you're looking down onto it. That moment always comes as a bit of a surprise to me, and reminds me that the same set of circumstances (a wet rainy day in this case) can look very different depending on your perspective, on the viewpoint which you look at them from.

It's the same in life. I never cease to marvel at how two people can face a very similar set of circumstances - an illness, a job loss, a relationship not working out the way we hoped, a failure, a bereavement or even things going well - but choose to face them very differently. One person is crushed by the circumstances and seems to live under them, the other despite being impacted by them seems to rise above them. I think that largely comes down to a difference in perspective, in the point from which we choose to look at what is going on in our lives.

As Christ followers I think there are many things which should be different about our perspective on life. In fact part of who we are in Jesus is that we can view life from angles and directions which aren't available to other people - in the analogy we now have the option to get in the plane and to see the view from above the clouds. Part of us reading the Bible regularly is that we allow ourselves to view life from God's perspective, that his word about what is true is given a chance to get into us. But I've been reflecting recently on one perspective which have been shaping my thinking, the perspective of eternity.

The apostle Paul puts it this way:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor 4:16-18)

This is a man who has been beaten, flogged, stoned, shipwrecked, betrayed, imprisoned, hungry, in poverty and yet he describes all of that as "light and momentary troubles". How? Because his perspective is eternity. He knows that heaven is his home, what Jesus describes to the thief on the cross as paradise, and that all that heaven holds far outweighs anything this life can throw at him.

I had a bit of that experience running the half marathon on Sunday. My goal was to run it in under 2 hours (not very impressive but a major achievement for me!). There was a point about 10 miles in where I was on track to achieve my time, but was feeling exhausted, wet and cold and wanted to stop and walk the rest of the way. If I'm honest what kept me going was the thought that although there was another half an hour of pain ahead, if I endured that and kept going I would get the enduring satisfaction of achieving my goal. Ultimately it was that perspective that kept me going, and I can't tell you how glad I am now that I did.

Heaven is not just a vague hope for us, it is a reality and a certainty we need to live with every day. Not that we idle our lives away waiting to get there, but we realise the reality of what Paul says when he writes "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).

What in your life needs to be viewed in the light of eternity? Why not take a moment to meditate and reflect on what it might look like from the perspective of eternity.

Simon.

 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Building the Next Level

For anyone who missed my video preach on Sunday (I was running the Reading Half Marathon at the same time) I spoke on how we are in a season where God wants to add another level to the house we are building - if you missed it you can listen to it here or watch it here.

At the end I spoke about three ways we can all get involved in building this next level:

  • by praying - getting to the prayer meetings, and be continually asking God for favour in the life of the church.
  • by giving - become a regular giver (ideally by setting up a standing order) and get involved in the "Giving to Grow" gift days - the next one is on Sunday 7th April.
  • by serving - for everyone to get involved in serving in some way on a Sunday
For anyone interested in getting involved in serving we've set up a very simple form on the web which you can fill in. This also includes the option of saying you'd be interested in serving at the Sandhurst site when it launches in September. If you fill it in then someone on the team will get back to you within a week to talk about being on one of the teams.

It's a very exciting season which we are in at the moment - don't miss the opportunity to be a part of it all.

Simon.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Encounter

I've got the privilege of speaking this Wednesday (20th March) at Encounter, our midweek meeting, which is hosted by the one and only Ben Davies. It's on from 1-2pm in K2 - more details here.

I'm going to be looking at the run up to the Easter story, and in particular at the events surrounding Peter. I'll definitely be preaching from a stool as standing up is still quite painful after the half marathon! It would be great to see you tomorrow if you're free, or if not this Wednesday then I know the Encounter team would love to see any time Encounter is meeting.

Simon.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Living with Failure not Regret

One of my favourite film quotes comes from a very obscure but quite brilliant film called The Dish - if you've never seen it it's well worth getting hold of a copy.

In the film there is a young scientist who has fallen in love with the girl who delivers the sandwiches every day, but he is too shy to ask her out. An older scientist encourages him to take the risk of speaking to her, using the brilliant logic "it's easier to live with failure than regret".

That phrase has become a bit of a mantra for my life. When I get to the end of my days, I'd rather look back at things in my life that I'd given a go but failed at, rather than things I never had the courage to even try. That quote may not be in the Bible, but I think it's a deeply Biblical principle. God wants us to live our lives to the full, not constrained by the fear of failure or of what others will say or think, but in the light of who he says we are, in the light of what really matters in life and in the light of eternity.

A friend recently wrote to me about a book they read by a lady called Bronnie Ware, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Bronnie is a palliative nurse who talked to people close to the end of their lives about their biggest regrets. The top five regrets she heard were:

  • I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  • I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
  • I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  • I wish that I'd let myself be happier.

Do any of those regrets strike a nerve with you? If so why not take a moment to talk to God about it, to think about how you might live life differently, and then do something about it straight away.

Simon.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Giving to Grow Gift Day Update

This year we are having a series of "Giving to Grow" gift days, aiming to raise £310,000 by September to allow us to finish paying for our reception redesign, launch our new Sandhurst site, make improvements to the Bracknell site, buy a house from Bracknell and Wokingham College and tithe on the income. You can find more detail on all this here.

Through to September we are having a gift day on the first Sunday of every month. We had the first of those at the beginning of March, which raised £21,100. We also received an earlier gift towards paying for the reception of £12,500. That makes a total so far of £33,600, which is such a great start. A huge thank you to everyone who gave, it is so appreciated and will make such a difference to what we can do as a community. All that makes the total we now have left to raise a mere £276,400.

The next gift day is on Sunday 7th April. Please be thinking about what you're going to give, although if you meant to give this time round and haven't yet had a chance it's not too late. You can either put your gift in an offering envelope, write "Gift Day" on it and put it in the regular Sunday offering, or you can give online here.

Thanks again to everyone who gave - be assured that you will reap what you've sown.

Simon.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Mothers Day Reveal - Please Watch This!

I loved our Mothers Day meetings, celebrating so many amazing Mums in our midst. I thought Catrina did a great job bringing the reality of all it means to be a Mum, showing how to resist the pressure to try and be perfect (or at least pretend to be perfect), as well as revealing quite a few Benham family secret - I felt like I got off quite lightly! If you missed it you can catch it here.

Also if you missed our Reveal church news on Sunday please follow this link and take a look at Sophie and Joshua presenting it - quite brilliant. Well done to both of them, and to the amazing volunteer video team who produce Reveal week in week out.

As you'll have seen on Reveal it's our monthly prayer gathering this week - hope to see you there on Wednesday - 8-9pm in K2.

Have a great week,

Simon.

 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Monthly Prayer - Don't Miss It

Next Wednesday (13th March) we'll be having our monthly church wide prayer meeting. Following on from the success of the Wednesday night prayer meetings during the 40 days of prayer at the start of the year, for the rest of the year our monthly prayer meeting will just be just on Wednesday nights, rather than Wednesday and Thursday evening as we've done in the past.

We'll be meeting for an hour from 8-9pm in K2 to pray for our new site in Sandhurst, the continued growth of all that goes on in Bracknell, Serenje, Albania, Lithuania, Estonia and a whole load of places in between - as Jesus said a house of prayer for all nations. Let's pack out K2 for an hour of power as we pray for more of heaven on earth.

Hope to see you there,

Simon.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Our New Website

Those of you who visit the Kerith website on a regular basis will have noticed that it has gone through a complete rewrite. It's taken over a year to get to this point, starting with an initial set of meetings to discuss the idea of revamping the site in December 2011. I for one am absolutely delighted by what we've ended up with.

As with all these sort of projects three has been a large, dedicated team involved in making it happen including project management, designing the look and navigation of the site, photographers, copywriters, photographers, video production and so much more - I'm not going to mention any Kerith individuals as I'll be sure to miss someone out but I'm very grateful to all of them. We've also worked with a great guy called Mark Titheridge from a company called Visual Design who has done the actual implementation of the site.

There are still bits of the site which aren't quite right, and some videos we are still working on which need to go up, but don't let that stop you taking a good look round.

If you do find anything you think needs fixing, or have ideas for making the site better, you can leave your thoughts and comments here.

I think this is the fourth version of our website I've been involved in, and I suspect it won't be the last. Thanks to everyone who has been involved in all it's versions, and I hope you all enjoy this one.

Simon.

 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Mothers Day

Please plan to come to our Mothers Day celebration on Sunday (9am, 11am and 7pm), and be thinking about who you can invite along. My wife Catrina is going to be speaking and she's got a great message (I've been finding drafts of it lying all around the house). You'll also get to hear quite a few Benham family secrets!

Mother's Day stirs up so many different emotions for all of us, many of them happy, some of them not so great. We want to acknowledge all of that on Sunday, and see how God can bring good out of all of those experiences.

See you there!

Simon.

 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Giving to Grow - Just £50

Yesterday I wrote about our "Giving to Grow" Gift Days, where we want to raise £310,000 to allow us to continue to grow, both in Bracknell and from September at our new Sandhurst site.

£310,000 can sound like such a huge amount of money that we might be tempted to feel that anything we could give would be so small that it just isn't worth getting involved. But I want to say very strongly that just isn't true. This is the way I've been looking at it:

There are 7 gift days to our final one in September. That means we'd need to raise about £45,000 at each of those gift days if we want to get our target.

On any given Sunday there are around 1,000 people who come to Kerith. That means that if each of those people gave just £50 we'd easily break the £45,000 target. I don't know about you but £50 seems a lot more achievable to me than £310,000.

Now some people there on a Sunday are going to struggle to give £50. Our under 11's, people working with CAP and Foodbank, some of our pensioners. But there are others who can afford to give far more than £50. Some who can give £100, £500 or even more. We've already had a single gift of £10,000.

So here's the challenge. Work out what giving £50 each would mean for you or your family. (For the Benhams with Zak away at Uni we're looking at £50 x 4, or £200). Then starting with that figure work out what you're going to give. If you can give that amount that's fantastic. If you can give more, then brilliant - that will allow you to help cover for some of those who can give less. And if what you decide to give is a smaller amount then that's brilliant too. Then having worked that out, ask God if he wants you to give more, moving from what you can afford to what will start to stretch you.

Paul puts it this way when writing about to the church in Corinth:

For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means.. (2 Corinthians 8:3 ESV)

Happy giving!

Simon.

 

ps One final thought. Although there are around 1,000 people in Kerith on a Sunday, we reckon that over a month there are something like 1,600 - 1,700 different people who to come to Kerith and call our church home. If you're one of those 600-700 who are part of us but won't be there on Sunday, then next time you're in church just put your gift in one of the offerings envelopes and put it in the regular offering with "gift day" written on the envelope.