Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Warehouse Move - Help Required

Many of you will know that for the last year we've had (almost) free use of a warehouse on the Western Industrial Estate. This has been great in that it's created space for us to grow the Foodbank, space to sort and store stock for the K4 shop and storage for the donated furniture which we regularly give to people in need.

Some of you will also have heard that we've just been given notice on the warehouse as the owners have found a paying tennant and need to be out by the 17th May.

At one level that's good news. One of our regular prayers is for the prosperity of Bracknell and the surrounding area ("seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." - Jeremiah 29:7). The warehouse going is a sign of us emerging from recession which is an answer to prayer.

But on the other hand it also presents us with a challenge - a good challenge and a God challenge but nevertheless a challenge. Andy Jackson and his team are working hard to work out the logistics of what we do without the warehouse, coming up with a solution which will serve us even better that the current one. However, to make that work we're going to need quite a bit of volunteer help, especially around dealing with all the stock for the K4 shop.

Would you be able to spare a few hours to go down to the warehouse and help? There are morning, afternoon and evening slots so hopefully everyone can find some opportunity to help. You can sign up for a slot by going here, and choosing the slots where you could help. You could also choose to do this as a small group activity, or with a bunch of friends.

Thank you so much. I'll keep you updated on our warehouse plans as they develop.

Simon.

ps - The warehouse is Unit 3, The Western Centre, Bracknell, RG12 1RW. Access is round the back of the warehouse on the side furthest from the main road.

21 Days in John: Day 4 - God's Will Is Everything



Please Read John chapter 4

Key Verse:

“Jesus said to them, My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work” John 4:34

The most important thing in the life of Jesus was to do the will of His Father. It was His delight and more satisfying to Jesus than even earthly food.   

Two amazing stories are found in John chapter four. First, Jesus met with a Samaritan woman, broke all racial and religious barriers and as a result her life was totally changed and many came to know the truth. Then Jesus spoke a word and a nobleman’s son who was at the point of death was healed.

It is wonderful to see Jesus changing people’s lives but behind the miracles, signs and wonders is something fundamental – doing God’s will! Being where He wants us to be at the right moment and listening to His and obeying Him.

In God’s will is peace, joy, happiness in every circumstance, and contentment. All of life swings on this divine hinge – the will of God.

At the end of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” [Matthew 7:21]. When we live in God’s will, like Jesus, we will see lives changed.


Questions:

Have you discovered God’s plan for your life yet? Have you asked?

Paul pleaded with Roman Christians to give God their bodies and let their minds be transformed so that they could enjoy God’s will. What do you think it means to give God your body and your mind?

What is one way in which you have seen God’s will worked our in your life?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

21 Days in John : Day 3 - You Must Be Born Again



Please Read John chapter 3

Key Verse:

Jesus answered and said to Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you,
unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” John 3:5


For many it would be shocking that a man so steeped in religion as Nicodemus was cannot get into the Kingdom of God except by new birth. Nicodemus was a renowned religious teacher in Israel but this was something totally foreign to him. How could someone enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born a second time and yet this is the one pre-requisite that Jesus says is necessary to enter into God’s Kingdom? Jesus was speaking about a spiritual rebirth and not a physical rebirth.

The Bible teaches that man has a spirit that has been separated from God through sin. The Bible says that the human spirit is dead towards God unless it is born again. The spirit is that part of man that is intuitive, conscience and was originally created to have communion with God. When the human spirit is made alive again by the Holy Spirit man’s relationship with God is restored.

Later in this chapter Jesus reveals that God’s love and the sacrifice of Jesus is the only basis for new birth. By actively trusting in Jesus and leaning on Him alone we find new life and salvation.

Questions:

As you read through John chapter 3 what words or phrases are used that describe the person who has been born again?

What part of man is “born again”?

What single verse in John chapter 3 tells more about God and His plan for this world than any other verse in the Bible?


Monday, April 28, 2014

21 Days in John: Day 2 - Jesus Is More Than Just A Supplier Of People's Needs


Please Read John chapter 2

Key Verse:

“But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man” John 2:24-25


From a heart of compassion Jesus met the needs of the bridal party at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. They would have been so ashamed to confess that they had run out of wine. Such public disgrace! Jesus was able to meet that need by performing a miracle of turning water in nearby stone water jars into wine. One hundred and eighty gallons of wine and not just cheap “plonk” but the very best vintage!

Jesus amazingly met their need, but sadly for many, Jesus has simply become the One who meets our needs and performs signs and wonders. He is far more than that. In this same chapter He drove out of the temple those who were buying and selling and the moneychangers. He was passionate about His Father’s house and righteousness. In the same passage also, He foretold His coming death and resurrection [verses 18-21]. Although misunderstood, even at this early stage in His ministry, Jesus was focused on the main reason for which He had come to earth – to die and rise again to set men free from sin and to give them life.

Jesus knew what was in men’s hearts and that they would try to manipulate Him for their own needs and purposes. People’s daily needs are important to Jesus but He is concerned for righteousness and the eternal values that cannot be measured by natural human thinking.


Questions:

Jesus promised in Matthew 5:33 that He would meet our every need. What would you say is your greatest need?

How much time do you give to thinking about your eternal needs on which Jesus placed so much importance?

A Prayer:


Lord help me to see people in the way that you see them and to be kind and compassionate towards them. Help me to see the potential in people rather than their present situation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

21 Days in John: Day 1 - Receiving Jesus



Please Read John chapter 1

Key Verse:

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,  who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God John 1:12-13


John’s purpose in writing his gospel was to show that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God [see John 20:31]. Before He came to earth Jesus was known as “the Word” and John makes it clear that He is God. He is the Creator of everything. He is the Light that shines in the darkness. Jesus is God come to earth as a man. John the Baptist said of Him, “Behold, the Lamb of God” [John 1:36]. In the Old Testament the lamb was sacrificed so that sin could be forgiven. Jesus, the God-man became the sacrificial lamb and took the punishment for our sins on Himself at the cross.

Sadly, His own people, the Jews, rejected Jesus. They thought that their religion, family, education or good works made them God’s children. This is not true. The only way to know God and become His child is to accept and receive Jesus as savior by faith. When you do this He promises to give you the authority to become His child, and will give you the dynamic power and phenomenal ability to live the kind of life that God wants us to live.


Questions:

Have you ever taken that decision to personally receive Jesus Christ into your life as your personal savior? If not, will you take that decision now?

If you have received Jesus as your savior, in what ways did you notice that you immediately changed after you invited Jesus Christ to be Lord of your life?

A Prayer:
“Come in to my heart, come into my heart,
 Come into my heart Lord Jesus;
 Come in today, come in to stay,

 Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.” Amen

Friday, April 25, 2014

New name for CCB

Just over a year ago we started using a new online database called CCB (Church Community Builder) to try and help facilitate our online interactions, including arranging rotas, events booking, calendar management, messaging and much, much more.

In reality it's taken us quite a while to begin to get our heads round how to use it properly and we've not always made it as easy to use as it should have been. However, we're now starting to use it much more extensively, and are beginning to see some of the benefits it can bring. For instance we're in the process of switching to electronic registration of children on a Sunday which is both quicker and more secure, many of our rotas are now online where anyone in the relevant teams can see them and update their availability, and we're getting better at making things like online room booking available. Part of us getting better this year is making sure we get as much benefit as possible from CCB and all it can do.

One thing we'd like to do is to come up with a new name for CCB - as to be honest it doesn't mean anything to anyone! So could you help us come up with a more relevant and Kerith related name that we can use in our communications but will be easy and fun to remember? An acronym that will actually make sense to people!

When decided the link on front page of the website will change, so if you come up with the greatest name you prize will be that your suggestion will be on the Kerith website for ever more (or at least until next time we change it!). If you do have any suggestions then please email them to comms@kerith.co.uk - I'll let you know the winning suggestion when it's been decided on.

Thanks and hope you have a great weekend.

Simon.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

21 Days in John

This Sunday we're going to start a three week series looking at John's account of the life of Jesus. Starting on Sunday we're going to encourage everyone to read a chapter of John's gospel every day, which given there are 21 chapters in John gives us the series title!

  • On Sunday we're looking at Jesus being sent to the earth as the Word becoming flesh. Michael Ross-Watson is speaking in Bracknell at the 9am and 11am, Heather Pocock is speaking in Sandhurst at 10am, and Ben Pocock will be leading the 6pm in a group Bible study which is going to be different but I think will work very well.
  • On Sunday 4th May Liam Parker will be speaking at all 4 meetings on Jesus the Light of the World - looking at Jesus ministry on Earth.
  • Then on Sunday 11th May I'll be speaking on Jesus being the vine, and the need for us to be filled with the Spirit as we await His return.

To support the series we've asked Michael Ross-Watson to produce a set of Bible reading notes for each chapter - I'm really grateful to Michael for taking the time to produce these.

We're going to publish Michael's notes every day on my blog with links to them from the church Facebook and Twitter accounts. If you haven't signed up to get my blog via email why not do that now (you can register for that on my blog on the right hand side of the page) - that way you'll get Michael's notes emailed to you every morning throughout the series.

If you know anyone not on the internet who you think would appreciate the notes please let them know that we will have a few paper copies behind reception in Bracknell and Sandhurst, but for the rest of us let's do what we can to save the trees :)

It's always life changing whenever we reflect on the life of Jesus. Let's do all we can to immerse ourselves in these 21 days.

Simon.

 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

David Cameron and Christianity

I guess most of us will have seen the comments made by David Cameron over Easter where he said that he had experienced the “healing power” of religion in his own life, and insisted that Christianity could transform the “spiritual, physical, and moral” state of Britain and even the world.

I wonder what you made of what he said?

For me at one level I want to jump up and down in agreement and celebration at a British Prime Minister being willing to say this sort of thing. We do believe that the local church is the hope of the world, and that it is God's plan for the transformation of society. We do want the church to be front and centre in speaking into and shaping so many issues in society, just as it has done so powerfully in our nation's history. Surely it can only help having a Prime Minister who embraces those truths.

But then the more cyncial side of me kicks in. This is the same person who before the general election hugged huskies and said this would be the greenest government ever. This is someone who in the past has described his faith as being "like magic FM in the chilterns", meaning that it periodically fades and then reappears. This is the same government which whilst David Cameron praises Trussell Trust Foodbanks, Ian Ducan Smith's Department of Work and Pensions accuses Trussell of "misleading and emotionally manipulative publicity-seeking" and denies any link between benefit delays and people needing to use Foodbanks - a claim which is frankly laughable if you've spent any time talking to Foodbank clients.

I honestly don't know what to make of it. But as I've reflected there are a couple of things which I do know.

The first is that we need to pray for David Cameron, and for all of our leaders (especially the ones in the DWP!). The apostle Paul writes to Timothy:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4 NIVUK)

Let's pray for wisdom, insight, compassion, humility, honesty, strong families, courage and whatever else we can think of. Let's remember that when Paul was writing to Timothy the people in authority were the Romans who were occupying Israel and were about to set out on a mass persecution of followers of Jesus - Paul didn't tell Timothy to make a value judgement about his leaders but to pray for them - we need to do the same. If we spent half the time praying for our leaders that we spend reading about them, watching TV about them or talking about them I honestly think we'd have a very different nation.

Secondly what if David Cameron's comments aren't genuine, and are an attempt to win over Conservative voters who have defected to UKIP or something similar? Well the Bible tells us not to get too worried about it, but to rejoice that people are talking about Jesus. This is what Paul said in a sort of similar situation:

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defence of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. (Philippians 1:15-18 NIVUK)

I don't know David Cameron's motives are (and neither do you), but what I do know is that Paul tells us to rejoice that people are talking about Jesus and the church. Let's just be sure that we are proclaiming Jesus, and the local church as the hope of the world, even more confidently and boldly than our Prime Minister!

Hope that helps. I'd love to hear people's thoughts on any of this.

Simon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Monthly Prayer - Please Come

This coming Wednesday (23rd April) is our monthly prayer meeting, in the K2 Hall on the Bracknell site. We gather to pray for our Social Justice ministries at 6.45pm, and then to pray together as a church at 8pm.

I'm leading the 8pm prayer meeting this month, and there are a whole load of areas of church life I want to update us on and to pray into. This will include a finance update (there'll be more on this on Sunday too), some news on the warehouse and the K4 shop, the latest on Serenje and a whole load more. We'll also make space to pray for one another. Don't miss it!

Please also continue to make use of the prayer room. I was in there this morning - I find it's a great way to start the week. There are still slots available this week - you can see what is available and book in here.

Hope to see you on Wednesday,

Simon.

 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Home for Good - Fostering and Adoption

Some of you will have watched the recent Channel 5 series "15,000 Kids and Counting" and seen the huge need for people to foster and adopt the thousands of children waiting for homes in England. Last year at Kerith we started to touch on God's heart for putting vulnerable children into families when Sharon Klitgaard and I talked about her experience of adoption (you can listen to the message again here).

Now we're privileged to host one of the UK's leading champions of fostering and adoption, Krish Kandiah, Executive Director of the Evangelical Alliance, who is coming to speak to local church leaders this Tuesday evening, 22nd April, at 7.30pm at the Kerith Centre. Krish speaks across the country on the national campaign Home for Good, and is passionate about churches supporting new foster and adoptive families. Our great relationship with the local council means we're also partnering with our local authority fostering and adoption team who will be here on Tuesday evening. Together we can impact vulnerable children living in our neighbourhoods.

If you're a church leader in the area, or part of another local church and wanting to know more, then you are warmly invited along on Tuesday. If you could email Penny Lander (pennylander1@gmail.com) in advance to let us know you're coming that would be really helpful, but if not then feel free just to turn up!

If you're part of Kerith and would like to know more or you'd like to come on Tuesday, just get in touch with Alan & Penny Lander (phone 01344 453542 or email pennylander1@gmail.com). There's going to be more happening at Kerith in the summer around fostering and adoption and Home for Good so look out for that too.

Thanks,

Simon.

 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter Reminder

A quick reminder about our Easter meetings.

On Good Friday we're meeting at 7pm for an hour at the Kerith Centre. This is always a powerful time as we reflect on Jesus death on the cross and it's meaning for us today through song, drama, Bible reading and reflection. We'll also be sharing communion together.

Then on Easter Sunday we're looking at the reality of the resurrection, thinking about the different experiences people had on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Easter and how they relate to us today. We've got a fantastic drama the team have been working on, as well as a powerful new song and a preach which I think is going to be speak to each one of us wherever we're at. I can't wait.

Hope to catch you on Friday, Sunday or hopefully both. If you're not around then have a great time wherever you are :)

Simon.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Alan McDonald

By now many of you will have heard the sad news that Alan McDonald died last week, after a lengthy period of illness. Alan was a much loved member of our Kerith Community, and I know our thoughts and prayers will be with his friends and family.

Alan's daughter Hana has asked me to let everyone know that the funeral will be at Easthampstead Park Crematorium on Thursday 24th April at 11.15 am. The family have requested family flowers only, but for anyone wanting to make a donation in memory of Alan's life, please give to Cancer Research UK, which you can do here. Alan wanted people to wear colourful clothing to the funeral, so I'll leave it with you as to how you'll interpret that request!

Hana is going to be putting together a booklet of memories after the funeral. If anybody has any thoughts or things they would like to say about Alan, then please email them to her at mrs.hanaprice@gmail.com

Simon.

 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Carpet Survey Results

Last week I posted a short survey asking how we should look after our new auditorium carpet (which as you can see in the photo below looks great), and in particular how we cope with the tension between our value of excellence (wanting to keep the carpet clean) and our value of community and being welcoming (wanting to be able to relax over a tea or coffee).

In the end over 140 people completed the survey (thank you) and it was fascinating to see the results.

The first question was:

That sounds about right given we have around 120 people in Sandhurst out of a total of just over 1,000 on a Sunday, although I did wonder whether Sandhurst people voting on issues on the Bracknell site was a bit like Scottish MPs voting on legislation only affecting England - I probably shouldn't go there :)

Second I was interested to find out how many people have a drink on a Sunday.

We obviously like our hot drinks on a Sunday!

The final question was this one:

Looking through the comments of the 10 people who voted for 'other', 5 thought we should enforce some variation of having lids, 4 didn't mind what we did and 1 wanted no drinks in the auditorium, so roughly in line with the other responses.

So there we have it! Around 90% of us are in favour of allowing drinks in the auditorium. About half of those would also like us to have lids, although reading through the comments lots of peple felt this is something we should encourage rather than forcing people to do.

It does seem that in this case when excellence and community collide as values for us, then we seem to want to favour community. I'm personally encouraged by that!

There were also some excellent and very helpful comments that people left. These included:

  • The observation that the lids we've bought in the past were often the wrong size. We now think we've found a supplier of lids which are the right size!
  • Requests for me to do a lid fitting demonstration on a Sunday - I might just do this one day soon! My advice is to put the cup on a hard surface and push down all round the edges of the lid to get it on.
  • The idea of having a spot cleaning kit behind reception, with instructions on how to use it, so that if there is a spillage on a Sunday we have a way of dealing with it straight away. This is a really good idea which we're going to put in place.
  • An inspection of the carpet on Monday morning before sparklers set up to quickly treat any new stains - this is going to become part of the cleaning rota.
  • Realising sparklers, LIFE and others make mess too and it's not just Sundays - very true.
  • The comment that "the carpet was made for man, not man for the carpet" - very good :)

 

Thanks again to everyone who filled in the survey. I may well do some more of these on other subjects as it's a fascinating way to find what people think!

Simon.

 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Carpet Survey - Part 2

I have to admit that I had no idea that the survey on how to keep the auditorium carpet clean was going to be so popular! The survey tool I used only allows 100 responses, which we've already nearly reached, so I've set up another identical survey which you can find here. Please only use this if you haven't already filled in the survey.

I'll close the survey on Monday lunchtime and then let you all know the results later in the week. This isn't a vote, ultimately decisions about how we keep our buildings in a good state of repair rest with our trustees, but it will hopefully help inform that decision.

I realise this may all seem a bit trivial compared to feeding the poor, telling people about Jesus or trying to get the dormitory built in Serenje, but for me it is really interesting to see how people react to the collision of our values of excellence and community. It will also be interesting to hear what our wider community thinks about this particular issue, as opposed to the people who come and talk to me about it who I might end up assuming represent what everyone thinks.

Thanks for your input :)

Simon.

Friday, April 4, 2014

New Carpets - Vote on what we do when values collide

The new carpet in the Kerith Centre auditorium is being put in next week - huge thanks to everyone who gave to the Give to Grow gift days to make this possible.

A number of people have asked me how we're going to make sure the new carpet stays clean, especially with our ability to pour cups of tea and coffee all over the current one! Well for one thing we hopefully won't wait 25 years before we change it again. I'm also assured the new carpet has lots of treatments on it which should make it much easier to keep clean.

However, this does raise the interesting issue of what we do when two different values collide.

The first of those values for us is excellence - excellence which honours God and inspires people. Excellence would say that we wouldn't allow any drinks in the auditorium, in fact in an ideal world we wouldn't even allow people in the auditorium!

But we have a second value, which is community - that we are a family. Part of that community is chatting over a tea or a coffee, something which has become a very natural part of our Sunday gatherings.

In an ideal world we'd have a big enough reception area for everyone to comfortably have their drinks in there. That would allow us to combine our values of both excellence and community (ignoring all the drinks that get spilt on the reception carpet!). However, sadly that isn't the case so we've got a decision to make. Options as I see them are:

  • Don't have any drinks other than water on a Sunday
  • Don't allow drinks in auditorium and just put up with the reception area being very crowded.
  • Allow drinks in the auditorium, but enforce people having lids on the cups to try and limit any spillage and so make cleaning easier
  • Allow drinks in the auditorium and just do our best to keep the carpet clean

I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts on this - so interested in fact that I've set up a little survey where you can express your thoughts - you can find it here. Please take a moment to fill it in and next week I'll let you know the results.

Simon.

 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

HTB Conference Places Available

The HTB Leadership Conference is a conference put on by Holy Trinity Brompton (the church which started Alpha and The Marriage Course) at the Royal Albert Hall in London . About 60 of us from Kerith went last year, and I can honestly say it was the best UK church based conference I've ever been to. Not only were the speakers and seminars brilliant, but there was also an amazing sense of hope around what God could do in our nation.

This year the conference is on Monday 5th - Tuesday 6th May (the Monday is a Bank Holiday). The speakers include Rick and Kay Warren, Nicky Gumbel and Mike Pilavachi. For more information about the conference see here.

The Albert Hall is totally sold out for the conference, but I've got a great offer for you! Last year we enjoyed it so much that we pre-booked a load of tickets for this year, and we've still got some left. If you'd like one they cost £92 each, and you'll need to contact Heather Pocock (heather.pocock@kerith.co.uk) and pay for your place by Wednesday 9th April. The conference is for anyone interested in seeing the name of Jesus lifted up in our nation - you don't need to be a church leader to be there.

We've also hired a coach going from the Kerith Centre each day to and from the Royal Albert Hall. A place on the coach cosst £24 for the 2 days travel, although you're welcome to buy one of the conference tickets and not come with us on the coach. Just let Heather know if you'd also like to make use of the coach.

Hope to see you there :)

Simon.