Thursday, March 31, 2016

Sunday Morning and Sunday Evening Prayer Meetings

This Sunday morning we're looking at Jesus reinstating Peter after he'd denied Jesus three times. I feel it's a really key message for us to hear as we deal with the failures and disappointments we all experience in life - please get along to hear it if you possibly can.

On Sunday evening we're having site specific prayer meetings at 6pm in Bracknell, Sandhurst and Windsor.

All three meetings will include a time of worship and prayer for one another, our sites, Kerith Community Church as a whole and the world beyond Kerith.

The Bracknell and Sandhurst meetings will be in the Kerith Centre and Sandhurst School respectively.

In Windsor we'll be meeting at Windsor Hall, Ruddles Way, Dedworth, Windsor SL4 5SJ. Although the meeting will formally start at 6pm I'd encourage anyone going to get there for 5.30pm for tea, biscuits, cakes & community. If you're interested in what we're up to in Windsor please go along to hear vision from Leon Johnson who is heading up Windsor, as well as from Ben Davies who lead Kerith for 43 years and is going to be there to share some of his insights and vision.

Hope you have a great weekend,

Simon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Generous Gift Days - not too late to join in:)

As part of our Easter celebrations (where it was so good to spend time reflecting on and celebrating Jesus death and resurrection) we had our Generous Gift Day offering, looking to add another £39,000 to the £61,000 we raised last year. If you were away this weekend and missed the opportunity to give then it's not too late - you can still give online, or put your gift in one of the giving envelopes on Sunday and write Generous Gift Day on the envelope.

If you missed Sunday then you'll have missed this slide showing the 15 local charities, each of which has received a gift from us of £1,000.

It's been humbling reading the thank you letters we've received from many them, expressing both their gratitude and letting us know the difference which our giving will make to the lives of local people.

I also got these pictures this week from Ken Bothamley of the floor being laid in the church building in Elbasan in Albania. Once completed this will be the meeting room where the adults will meet on a Sunday. All of this has been paid for from the gift we gave them from the last Generous Gift Day.

This will make a huge difference to the church there, especially as they are in the process of merging with another church from the same town which will significantly increase their numbers.

Thank you so much for your generosity - lives are being changed as a result of it.

Hope you have a great week,

Simon.

 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Generous Upside Down Easter Sunday

Please be thinking about who to invite to what is going to be a great Easter Sunday celebration at both our Bracknell and Sanshurst sites. We've got a really exciting meeting lined up including a personal story, a performance song and celebratory worship as we remember the most important day in history.

This year we're going to turn our Easter Sunday meeting upside down compared to the normal format. We'll start with a short time time of worship, then have information, the regular opportunity to give and the preach. Parents will then be released to pick up their children from K2 and then we'll all come together for a time of celebratory worship. The meeting will finish with hot cross buns for everyone!

During the time of worship at the end we'll also take up our Generous Gift Day offering. We're looking to raise £39,000 to reach our overall target of £100,000. If we all came ready to give £39 then we'd easily make the total. However, I realise that for some of us (including the under 11's!) that would be a big stretch - I encourage each of us to think about what generous would look like for us. For some that will be less than £39, for others including Catrina and me generous looks like much more than that. Let's all do what we can in response to God's great generosity towards us.

Hope to see you on Good Friday and Easter Sunday :)

Simon.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Good Friday

This coming Friday we'll spend time reflecting on the death of Jesus on the cross, with meetings at 7pm in both Bracknell and Sandhurst. Both gatherings will be contemplative in nature - we'll leave the full on celebration for Easter Sunday!

We're going to focus in particular on the parallel stories of Peter and Judas. Both disciples of Jesus who spent three years with Him. Both left everything behind to follow Him. One of them betrayed Him, the other denied Him. Two very similar stories but two very different endings. Fascinating.

Hope to see you there :)

Simon.

 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

This Sunday - Generosity, Lisa, Ben & Sean Green

The last two weeks we've started to give away locally the money we raised last November as part of our generous gift days. In total 15 local organisations will be receiving £1,000 each as an expression of our generosity towards them. We've bought one of those big cheques so that we can take a photo with each organisation - we'll hopefully get to post some of those online this week.

Over the next two weeks we want to raise another £39,000 to be given away locally, nationally and internationally. Please be thinking and praying about how much to give either this coming Sunday or on Easter Sunday (what better day could there to give as we reflect on God's generosity to us releasing us to be generous too).

This coming Sunday morning we're looking at the last of the seven signs in John's gospel - Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Lisa O'Brien is preaching in Bracknell at the 9am and 11am, and Ben Oliver is preaching at the 10am in Sandhurst.

Then in the evening we've got a treat as Sean Green from Reading Family Church will be with us to lead our evening of prayer and worship. Sean, his wife Liz, and a gang of people from Kerith were planted out into Reading in 2000, and since then have done a brilliant job of growing a thriving church impacting Reading and beyond. Sean is bringing with him a prophetic team from the church who are very inspired to pray for anyone wanting fresh input or direction from God. It will be a great evening.

Simon.

 

Friday, March 11, 2016

This Weekend

We've got another busy weekend coming up.

Saturday sees our young people taking over the Hexagon in Reading, hosting a youth event for young people from Berkshire and beyond. If you're not going to be there please be praying for them, and watch Twitter and Facebook for updates on all that's going on.

On Sunday morning we're looking at the sixth sign in John's gospel, Jesus healing a blind man. Sola Osinoiki is preaching in Bracknell at the 9am and 11am, and Heather Pocock is preaching Sandhurst at the 10am.

In the evening we'll be having a time of worship and prayer. Last Sunday evening was excellent and it really felt like we met with God - I'm expecting more of the same again this Sunday!

Hope to catch you somewhere over the weekend :)

Simon.

 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Prayer Meeting Changes

Following on from our month of prayer in February we're going to try something different for prayer meetings for the rest of 2016. Rather than the pattern we've had for several decades of a midweek prayer meeting for the whole church, we're going to try having separate monthly Sunday evening prayer meetings for each of our sites. That will mean Sunday evening prayer meetings in Bracknell, Sandhurst and Windsor/Maidenhead where we'll encourage everyone who considers themselves to be part of that site to go along and seek God. These will usually be on the first Sunday every month, starting on Sunday 3rd April.

Each of the prayer meetings will be lead by the site pastors for that site. That means Heather and Ben Pocock in Sandhurst; Catrina Benham, Liam Parker and me in Bracknell and Leon Johnson with support from me in Windsor.

In each of the meetings we'll have a mixture of prayer and worship. I'm increasingly understanding the importance of worship as an expression of prayer, and that our prayer is meant to flow out of our worship of God. If you're not sure about that then just take a look at the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, which begins like this:

“‘This, then, is how you should pray: ‘ “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,” (Matthew 6:9 NIVUK)

That sounds a lot like praise to me!

The one downside in all this is that those who normally attend the evening meeting in Bracknell will once a month get a prayer meeting rather the preach for that day. We'll encourage everyone missing out this way to either come to one of our morning gatherings that week, or if they can't do that listen to the podcast.

One extra thing! We're also making the next two Sunday evenings in Bracknell evenings of prayer and praise too. Sola Osinoiki will be leading the 13th March and on the 20th March Sean Green, who planted Reading Family Church out of Kerith, will be coming to lead us and bringing with him some of his prophetic team which should be very exciting.

Simon.

Ps - please be praying for our youth as they take over the Hexagon in Reading on Saturday for a day gathering young people from Berkshire and beyond.

Friday, March 4, 2016

If You're in a Storm ..

If you were around last Sunday you'll have heard me speak on Jesus walking on water from John chapter 6. My main point was that if you're in a storm then invite Jesus into the boat with you, as He's the one with supernatural power to calm the storm, either by removing the storm or giving you peace in it. If you missed it, or want to catch it again, you can listen to it here.

Before the meeting Becca Taylor, who has been speaking over the last two weeks on how to get started in prayer as part of our sofa conversations, shared with me a picture she felt God had given before her before the meeting. There wasn't time to share it in the meeting, but I thought I'd blog it below as I think people might find it encouraging and helpful.

This Sunday we're celebrating Mother's Day at our morning meetings in Bracknell and Sandhurst, then in the evening we'll be gathering together to pray and worship. Hope to see you there.

Simon.

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Becca's Picture

I had a picture of a tiny rowing boat, filled with all sorts of packages. They were wrapped up or covered over, but each one represents the things we hold in our lives: family, relationships, health, careers, jobs, finances, hopes, aspirations, status, homes, achievements, challenges, joys and more.

This boat, full of cargo, sat in the middle of a raging sea. The sky was dark, the waves crashed overhead and all around with power and force which looked like it would overwhelm the little boat. But, even though it was getting battered and beaten, it remained in one spot, it was not tossed about by the ocean as you might expect. It remained in the same place throughout the storm.

Then I looked down below the chaos of the winds and waters and I could see a long rope down to the bottom of the waters, it was attached to a sturdy and weighty anchor. The size of the anchor and the depth at which it rested was completely disproportionate to the size of the boat, it was a deep sea anchor. In fact the boat was out at a depth way beyond where you would expect to find a boat of its kind. Yet it survived because of the anchor.

The anchor is God. The rope is prayer. When we build a deep, strong, regular connection with God, willing to communicate the very core of who we are with complete honesty, and then when we listen to His words into our lives through the Bible and through the Holy Spirit we become anchored by God. We are free to go out into the deep seas of life, where storms are possible and perhaps even likely, into the situations which feel too big for us, without fear of being overcome by the waves because we are anchored to the one who controls the wind and the waves.

Some of the cargo needs to be thrown overboard during the storm, other cargo needs to be protected through the storm. But throughout we are able to withstand and not be overwhelmed, because of our relationship with God.

Then I saw another boat, similar in size and appearance, but without an anchor, or even a rope to attach an anchor to. It was being beaten and battered and thrown around, unable to withstand the storm. It was thrown towards the anchored row boat and then tethered to it. Now this new boat could withstand the storm because it was connected, albeit indirectly, to the anchor.

We are like that; as we cultivate our connection with God and allow Him to anchor us through life's storms we are able to hold in, protect and support others who find themselves in the same stormy waters, by sharing our journey with them, by tethering them to ourselves. As the boats sat together in the midst of the storm the anchorless boat began to put down a rope, slowly but surely towards the anchor. Our connection with God enables others to build their own relationship with Him and to experience 'the anchor' for themselves.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Accounts Assistant Job Opportunity

Due to some recent changes within our Finance Department we are currently recruiting for an Accounts Assistant to join our team.

The position is part time, 14 hours per week initially, and would suit somebody with previous finance experience in accurate accounting records, purchase and sales ledgers, payroll and Sage accounts. If you or someone you know is interested in the position, application packs are available from the reception desk at the Kerith Centre. Further information on the role can be obtained by contacting - Mike Webber Gant our Finance Manager or Ali Hudell our Human Resources Manager or through Kerith Reception on 01344 862699.

The closing date for applications is Friday 18th March with initial interviews anticipated on Thursday 24th March.

Applications for our three kids team roles are also still open, up until the closing date of Monday 7th March. You can find details on those three roles here.

Please be praying that we find the right people to fill all four of these vital roles.

Simon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Guest Blogger - Sola Osinoiki on Thanksgiving

We officially ended our February month of prayer yesterday. For me it's been really good to have the encouragement to pray more and in different ways.

  • The prayer room has been in pretty much continuous use during the daytime in February (we've still to crack those tricky midnight to 6am slots and actually do 24-7 prayer over a period of time - perhaps we'll go for that later in the year).
  • I've personally really appreciated the Sunday evenings of prayer, creating space for us to flow in and out of prayer and worship. It was also great to have Brian Heasley from 24-7 prayer leading one of the evenings, and to pray in Bracknell, Sandhurst and Windsor last Sunday.
  • The Sunday morning sofa conversations around prayer with different people from our community have been very insightful.
  • I'm very grateful that so many people got involved in the day of prayer and fasting we called to pray for the right people to fill our kids worker job opportunities.

Please keep it up! Prayer is at the core of everything we do and everything we are. Keep up having a conversation with God all through the day, as well as finding specific times to spend with Him.

As a final encouragement we've got a guest blog from Sola Osinoiki, encouraging us to give thanks as a central part of our prayer life.

Have a great week,

Simon.

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Three Dimensions of Thanksgiving

Any request we make of God mixed with thanksgiving, is an awesome combination. Prayer has multiple dimensions. Paul says:

“First of all, then, I urge that petitions (specific requests), prayers, intercessions (prayers for others) and thanksgivings be offered on behalf of all people.” (1 Timothy 2:1, Amplified Version)

As a church we need to become more accustomed to giving thanks. ‘Thank You’ is not a word used as much any more; we need to be full of thanksgiving expressing a heart of gratitude to God.

There are three dimensions of Thanksgiving as it relates to making a request of God:

1. Thanksgiving before a request

We see Jesus do this in John 11:41, where He gives thanks before raising Lazarus from the dead.

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’ (NIV)

So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised His eyes [toward heaven] and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me and listen to Me; but I have said this because of the people standing around, so that they may believe that You have sent Me [and that You have made Me Your representative].” (Amplified Version)

2. Thanksgiving during a Request

“Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God.” (Phillipians 4:6 Amp, Amplified Version)

3. Thanksgiving after a Request

In 1 Samuel 2:1-10 Hannah breaks out in thanksgiving.

We are encouraged to always enter his courts with thanksgiving for all He has done.

“Enter His gates with a song of thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, bless and praise His name.” (Psalm 100:4)

Finally, Paul encourages us:

In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18, Amplified Version)

As a final encouragement to be thankful take a listen to this song.