Monday, March 31, 2014

Kerith Carpets

I thought you'd be please to hear that after nearly 25 years of use we're going to be replacing the carpets downstairs in the Kerith Centre auditorium and back corridor. The work will start on Monday 7th April and should be done in time for the following Sunday. I would have included here a picture of how the carpet looks now but frankly it would be too embarassing :)

This is all possible because of last years "Give to Grow" gift days - a huge thank you to everyone who gave to make this and many other things possible.

Simon.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Mothers Day (and the clocks go forward)

We're going to be celebrating Mothers Day on Sunday. I know that for some this is cause for great celebration as you reflect on being a Mum or on your own Mum. I know also that for others it is a more complex day, often bringing a whole mix of emotions for a wide variety of reasons.

However it looks for you I want to encourage you to come and join with us on Sunday. We've got a great meeting planned, with a message from Lydia Harris-Lane, a performance song and dance and a gift for every Mum there (and anyone else who would like one). Church community is the best place for us to face up to the complexities of life - I hope you can make it to be with us on Sunday.

And don't forget that the clocks go forward an hour on Saturday night - you wouldn't want to miss what is going to be a great time together.

Simon.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Generosity Revisited by Paul Reid

For anyone who wasn't around to listen to Paul Reid when he preached in Bracknell on generosity I really want to encourage you to listen to what he said - you can catch it here. I've been listening to it again this week and been inspired again.

By coincidence the same weekend Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, also preached a message on generosity. You can watch or listen to that talk by going here and scrolling down to the message titled "Stronger in Generosity".

What really helped tie the two messages together was that Paul told us that one of the things he likes to do as an act of generosity is to pay for the car behind when he stops at a motorway toll booth. In his talk Bill Hybels tells of a time when he was on the receiving end of somebody doing exactly this (I don't think it was Paul!) and the amazing impact it had on his life. You can hear that story about 7 minutes 30 seconds into Bill's message.

Thanks to Alan and Penny Lander for telling me about Bill's story.

Simon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Podcast Pictures & Rick Warren's Words

Anyone who has listened to Sunday's podcast, where I kicked off our series on the Promises of God, may have been a bit confused by the pictures I referred to whilst explaining what the promises of God weren't! Well for your benefit, and for anyone still wanting to listen to the message, I thought I'd include the pictures in a blog to try and make it all make a bit more sense - they're included below.

I also referred in the message to a remarkable interview Rick and Kay Warren did with Piers Morgan, talking about the suicide of their son Michael. It's one of the most powerful interviews I've even seen - you can see some excerpts from it here or read a transcript of the whole interview here.

The particular bit I was referring to on Sunday was making the point that God allows things to happen in our lives which aren't his will (what he wants for us), and aren't in and of themselves good, even though the amazing promise of God is that everything that happens in our lives God will work for our good. This is what Rick said in response to Piers Morgan asking him if Matthew's death had caused Rick to question his faith in God.

I never questioned my faith in God. I question God's plan. There's a big difference. I know God is a good God. Nothing can shake that from my life. I know God is a loving God. The question is -- it's like my children, my children have never doubted that they -- that I love them but they sometimes doubt my wisdom and they don't think I've made the right decision.

Not everything that happens in the world is God's will. Everything that happens in the world God allows, he permits but because it couldn't happen without his permission but we live in a world where there are free choices and if I chose to do wrong, I can't blame God for that. So God isn't to blame for my son's death. My son took his life. It was his choice and if I chose to go out and get drunk and get in a car and I was in an accident, killed somebody, I can't blame God for that.

Now for the pictures :)

Simon.

 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Liam Parker - Evangelism Booklet

We have yet another Kerith author. Liam Parker has written an excellent evangelism guide, which you can find on Amazon here. So far it's only available on Kindle - hopefully at some point in the future we'll produce a paper version too.

Any of you who know Liam will know his passion for reaching people with the gospel. He has an infectious enthusiasm for Jesus which comes across throughout the booklet. It also contains some very practical teaching on different styles of evangelism, which contexts each one will work in and how to present Jesus in a way which is very natural for all of us - not just for out and out evangelists like Liam!

I thoroughly recommend it.

Simon.

 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lithuanian Peaches and Coconuts

I thought you might be interested to know that our friends Saulius and Sanna in Lithuania have been taking their church through some of the Peach and Coconut material. The photos are of Saul preaching last Sunday.

It's so encouraging to hear how some of the things we've been learning as a community are now being applied not only in the UK but also in other nations.

Simon.

 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Serenje Dormitory Progress

Several people have asked me about progress on the building of the girls dormitory in Serenje. Well they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so hopefully these pictures will help convey the progress which is being made, and the scale of the building and the impact it is going to make.

Please keep praying:

  • For construction to continue to a high standard with no problems which would hold up the building
  • For the girls, to be kept safe whilst the dormitory is being built
  • For wisdom for the management team overseeing the build, including Ralph Allen from Kerith who designed the building and is helping supervise the construction
  • For wisdom for the Serenje community as they select which girls will be in the dormitory, and plan for the long term sustainability of the dormitory
  • That the dormitory would speak to the wider community of the love of God and his goodness

Thank you to everyone who has given to the project - your generosity is going to make a huge difference.

Simon.

 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Signed, Sealed, Delivered - Living out the Promises of God

On Sunday we start a new series which will run all the way through to Easter Sunday. Every week we're going to be looking at a different promise from the Bible and seeing how it applies to every day life.

I'm kicking it off this Sunday where we're going to spend time thinking about Romans 8:28, which is:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIVUK)

For me this is an incredibly challenging, but also life revolutionising, promise to see our lives through.

Hope to see you on Sunday :)

Simon.

 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Prayer Room - Cancelling Bookings

We are more than half way through our second month of having a prayer room, and it is great to see how many people are making use of this great facility to take time to hear from God and talk to Him. Just this week it's booked for over 110 hours which is so brilliant to see. If you want to book a slot then you can do that here.

A number of people have asked how they can change or cancel a prayer slot which they've booked. At the moment this can only be done by contacting the administrators at prayer@kerith.co.uk. They will then change or delete your slot. When emailing please give the date and time of the slot you would like to change.

In Jeremiah 33:3 God says; ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'

Let's continue to call out to God and see the what amazing things He will do.

Simon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Production Support Job Opportunity

As part of our staff reorganisation we need to make sure that we continue to properly support all our production and worship volunteers who make Sundays and other events such as conferences happen. We are therefore creating a Production Support role, which will be based within the creative arts team. We are looking for someone with understanding of the needs of both the technical and worship teams, although not neccesarily an expert in either of these areas. This will include helping to plan the meetings, getting all the technical resources such as slides, videos and equipment ready for rehearsals and events, as well as arranging training for the large number of volunteers across our growing number of sites.

If you think this is an opportunity you might be interested in please pick up an application form and information pack from reception at the Kerith Centre, or email ali.hudell@kerith.co.uk for more details.

Simon.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Paul & Priscilla Reid

 

This Sunday Paul and Priscilla Reid are going to be speaking in our morning meetings, with Paul preaching in Bracknell at 9am and 11am, and Priscilla preaching in Sandhurst at 10am. They actually get here today (Thursday), speaking to the Academy students on Thursday afternoon, meeting with the elders on Thursday evening and spending time with the staff team on Friday. Liam Parker is speaking at the 6pm on Sunday, so why not plan to come out twice on Sunday.

Paul and Priscilla started a house church in 1981 which eventually became Christian Fellowship Church in Belfast, Ireland. They recently handed over leadership of the church to a great guy called Andrew McCourt, and now enjoy travelling round the world encouraging and helping building churches like ours, as well as spending time with their ever growing number of grandchildren!

Catrina and I have had the privilege of getting to know Paul and Priscilla over the last two years, as they help host the ONE event which I've spoken at. They have an infectious love of God, of people and of life and I know we're going to enjoy and appreciate having them with us.

Just to add that they come in the middle of a couple of weeks of many different people visiting us. Saulius and Sanna from Lithuania have been here all week, James Emery White from Charlotte in the States was meeting with some of the staff on Wednesday and a group of pastors I've gathered on Thursday, Russ Kline from Virginia in the States was leading Wednesday nights prayer meeting, we've got a group of Estonian church leaders coming on Friday and some more pastors from Serbia arriving in the middle of next week. Never a dull moment!

Hope you're having a blessed week,

Simon.

 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lindsey Reece-Smith in the Central African Republic

Many of you will know that for the past few weeks Lindsey Reece-Smith, who is a part of Kerith and works for Tearfund, has been out in the Central African Republic helping to coordinate the humitarian response to the crisis there (if you're not too sure what's going on there this BBC article gives a good overview). I asked Lindsey to write about what she's doing, and what we could pray for. This is what she said.

"I'm not sure if you can see the photo but I took it last week when I went to a meeting with Valerie Amos who is the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator. It was held at the only posh hotel in the country and the luggage trolley was full of bullet proof vests and hard hats. It made me laugh. I just forget that it isn't normal to have 3 tanks filled with troops holding automatic weapons and machine guns at the end of the road!

It seems quite strange to be in a position where I am asked my opinion on letters going to the UN and whether I have anything to say about peace keeping forces and how they should be constituted. Also trying to sift through so many emails regarding peace and reconciliation, how the church can engage, and involvement of an inter faith Platform (Catholic Archbishop, Imam and President of the Evangelical Alliance). It is in many way a privilege to be involved and I have to hold on to the belief that God has put me here for a purpose and I can make things happen and bring them together.

The good news to report for this week is that we finally moved into the compound which will have the house and office. Not all the furniture has arrived, so the first night I had a mattress on the floor and we have been promised (for about the 6th time) that the dining table and desks/chairs for the office will arrive tomorrow. Our registration process is now at the point where the authorities need to come and check we have an office, so we need to set it up before they can check. We don't have any curtains yet so I am currently making good use of the eye mask from the plane, my room is at the front of the house and the security lights shine in all night.

I was woken at 6.30 this morning by the truck driver who had come in to repair a puncture. There was an awful lot of hammering against metal to get it fixed. We had a small house warming last night and in the middle there was a loud noise as the tyre suddenly blew. No one quite threw themselves on the floor with the sudden loud noise, but almost. It is good to be in the house, to have a kitchen to make drinks and an area where we can sit and relax in the evening. Team houses never really have comfortable furniture but they are definitely better than the hotel we were staying in.

The night before we left the hotel a group of Polish ex military arrived, they said they are here to get information about what they could do to help the Polish contingent who will be part of the EU forces being deployed. They appeared to be bodyguards for someone as well, but drank quite a lot and seemed to be very happy to drink and handle weapons at the same time. Definitely time for a quick exit. This week generally has been relatively calm, but with very volatile areas. I've had 4 security txts this morning and there was a major incident on Thursday when a couple of Muslims were killed and one decapitated. Roads were closed for a number of hours. The UN is also trying to evacuate 3 or 4,000 Muslims from a camp outside the city, into the city to give them greater protection. It will mean that the military airport camp that was winding down will now be filling up again. That site is near a couple of military bases and will give the best protection, though it is an unsustainable situation as people then get trapped into another small area.

I've spent a lot of this week focusing on obtaining information on a prefecture just outside of Bangui. There are not many agencies there, but the need seems really great. I would really like to visit to talk to some of the communities myself but it is a situation where it would be better to go and actually do a distribution of some kind, rather than just ask more questions. A number of assessments have been done by other agencies, including the UN, and I am hoping that this is where we can find a 'Tearfund shaped hole'. I had a meeting with the lead pastor of a network there this morning, and now this week I need to try and meet with a number of different government agencies. We need to get it right in terms of community involvement and consultation before we go any further. A couple of distributions have recently had to stop due to insecurity, and it has been suggested it was because they had only spoken to a couple of people before going. It all takes a quite frustrating amount of time.

Water trucking has had delay after delay, Monday the person we needed to see wasn't available, Tuesday the meeting kept being put back until the end of the day. Wednesday the bladders weren't available, Thursday they were but the supervisor to sign them off when we went to collect had gone home. We managed to get the platform built at one of the sites to hold the bladder. We collected the bladders Friday, then didn't have the right fittings, we got those Saturday and UNICEF said they might need them back for the influx of IDPs coming in from outside Bangui, we needed, different hoses, pumps, straps etc. But finally yesterday, Saturday we managed to deliver some water to a site who normally only get a small amount of water at the beginning and end of the day. Today, with all the equipment finally (hopefully) in place. The team have gone out to put a big bladder into a site with no water, set up all the connections and fill it. It has seemed like a mammoth task, with so many hurdles, to get things moving.

Staff wise things are starting to move, but it does mean I will need to stay longer to do a proper handover in country. I said I would rather stay and do the handover than leave and feel that the programme would lose any momentum. I will also stay on to host a media team (due to be confirmed on Monday). It depends on that visit whether I stay one week or two more. Today it seems like quite a mountain still to climb, but I'm sure a few good connections during the week will help me get going again. This week I have staff leaving and staff arriving, another week of transitions, briefings and trying to keep things moving forward. We've employed a cook and a couple of national staff which all helps to share the load and build up momentum. Do pray for all the right connections, for me to make sense out of all the information, possible partners, how to bring together work on trauma counselling, peace and reconciliation, accessing the right people and organisations to get gifts in kind for distributions, the right staff, applications to donors for funding and anything else you would like to add to the list!"

Please be praying for Lindsey,

Simon.

 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Saturday 17th May - Refresh Evening

I wanted to let you know about an evening of worship and prayer, called Refresh, which we're planning for Saturday 17th May. It's going to run from 7.00-8.30pm and will be an opportunity for us to spend time with God and to be refreshed and renewed in His presence.

The evening is going to be jointly led by our very own Matt Price and Wale Adenuga, a pastor who leads Jubilee Christian Centre in Lagos. Wale trained as a Civil Engineer, is a singer-songwriter who has written some of Nigeria's most popular praise and worship songs, and is a man with a passion for social justice, which is worked out through the charity Worship for Change. He is also a long standing friend of Sola Osinoiki, one of our elders, and I'm sure is going to become a good friend of our church too. As well as doing the Saturday night Wale will be preaching on the Sunday at all four meetings.

There will be more details nearer the time, but I just wanted to flag this up now so that you can get it in your diaries.

Simon.

 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Adrian Plass

On Sunday 27th April our friends at Easthampstead Baptist Church are hosting an evening with Adrian Plass. One of the first Christian books I ever read was "The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass", his incredibly funny and slightly irreverent observations on Christian life. He was very funny then and I'm sure he still is now :)

You can find more details and information on how to book here.

Simon.

 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Estonian Builders Required

Many of you will know Pete Moon and Steve Cronin, who are part of Kerith and run their own bathroom and kitchen fitting business.

Last October they visited a church we are linked with in Estonia (the church our three Estonian Academy students came from last year) to check out the possibility of taking a team to Estonia to work on renovating their church building. The church out there has been given a huge old communist era military building which bit by bit they're doing up (the picture at the top is of our old sound desk in their auditorium - you may also recognise Ken Bothamley and Mike Maton in the photo). That trip was a great success, and they're now planning on going out again from Friday 18th to Friday 25th July.

So far they have at a small core group signed up, but they would love anyone with trade skills, those with DIY competence and also keen volunteers who don't mind picking up a paint brush to join them! They're asking people to pay for their flight and bus journey - everything else will be provided.

For more information take a look at Pete and Steve's website here, email them at info@pspsltd.net or use their other contact details which you can find here.

Personally I'd like to encourage you to think about going. You'll get so much out of giving your time and energy, they're a wonderful group of people out there, it's a beautiful country and it's a load cheaper than going on a missions trip to Africa (and you don't need any injections!).

Alur, the pastor of the church, and some of his team are visiting Kerith next weekend. If you see them then please say hello as they're a great bunch.

Simon.

 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Russ Kline at March Prayer Meeting

Those of you who have been around Kerith for a while may remember a guy called Russ Kline who, something like 15 years ago, visited us for an evening with his wife Kim. Well a couple of months ago I got to have lunch with Russ and felt that it would be good to invite him to be with us again.

Russ has a powerful prophetic ministry and I know a number of us were impacted by words he and his wife spoke over us last time they were here. In the years since we last saw him his ministry has developed, and he now has a vision for the prophetic speaking into business, government and wider society as much as it continuing to impact the local church.

We've given over our next all church prayer meeting on Wednesday 12th March to be a prophetic evening with Russ (sadly Kim won't be with him this time). He'll do some teaching on the prophetic and then we'll see what happens :)

It's going to be in K2 (Alpha is running in the Kerith Centre with over 40 guests booked on already) so both car parking and space in K2 may be a challenge (we hope to have the surgery car park too). However, we like challenges, especially ones which involve running out of space. Please car share where possible and don't miss what should be a great evening.

Simon.