Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Living a Kairos Life in a Chronos World



One of my favourite films as a youngster (OK not quite so young) was Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Unforgettable elements include Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham, my favourite tree(!), some terrible geography as they travel from the South coast to Nottingham via Northumberland, but perhaps most of all some incredible scenes involving Kevin Costner doing amazing things with a bow and arrow. 

All that as an intro to my sermon from Sunday, kicking off our new series by talking about how to declutter our time. I spoke on how the greek language has two different words for time. 

The first is ‘chronos', which refers to a period of time; a second, an hour, a week or a year. The key feature of chronos time is quantity.

The second is ‘kairos', which refers to a critical or opportune moment in time. The key feature of kairos time is quality. 

Part of the origin of the word kairos describes the moment when an archer releases an arrow (hence the Kevin Costner references). It is a unique moment which requires both a particular set of circumstances (the arrow being in place and the string of the bow being pulled fully back), and once it has passed has a bearing on everything that follows (the archer can’t influence the trajectory of the arrow once it has been released). That kairos moment defines what happens in the chronos time that follows. 

That is a good picture for our lives. We live in a chronos world, defined by timetables, schedules and deadlines. But it is the kairos moments which give our lives direction, meaning and richness. For those of us who are followers of Jesus those kairos moments are very often the moments where we hear from God, sense his presence or seize a God given opportunity. 

On Sunday I suggested some ways we can cultivate and engage with the God given kairos moments in our life. Go and listen to the talk for the full list, but I wanted to highlight one, which is to start every day with God. I’m increasingly seeing that first thing in the day is a unique kairos moment where we set the trajectory for the rest of the day. If we start the day connecting with God and inviting him into our day, then there is a good chance we will take that into the rest of the day. If we start it on Facebook and twitter it is likely to be a very different story. 

I talked about one commitment I’ve made, which is every morning to aim to pick up and read my Bible before I look at my phone. That one commitment, which is rapidly becoming a habit, is proving to be transformational in my life. If that’s a habit you too would like to form we’ve created some tools to help you develop it - take a look here

I’d love to hear stories of people pursuing habits in order to engage better with the kairos moments in our lives, and the impact of those moments. You can always leave a comment on the blog, or send me an email. We may even share your tips or tell your story on a Sunday.

Don’t miss next Sunday where we’re going to look at decluttering our friendships!

Hope you have a great week.


Simon. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Ongoing Brexit Thoughts


As Brexit continues to rumble on I wanted to share some thoughts on our ongoing response as followers of Jesus.

Prayer
We need to keep praying. Each time we see anything about Brexit on the TV, on social media or in the press let’s turn it to prayer. In the words of Jehoshaphat from the Old Testament “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12). Pray for our politicians, pray for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done, pray for justice, pray for God to use the lack of peace to bring the true peace of Jesus. You know the stuff!

While we’re in this critical season I’ve started hosting an online time of prayer most weekday mornings from 6.45-7am. It’s on Facebook live on my Facebook page. I’ll start the stream a couple of minutes before 6.45am so people can connect in. You can either watch it live or the video stays up for a few days if you want to catch it later in the day. If for any reason there are days I can’t do it I’ll try and let people know, but if you get there and it’s not happening then just pray on your own!

This is a new idea for how we can gather to pray in a different way. I know that this doesn’t work for some people (which is fine), but I’ve also had feedback from others who have found it helpful, so I’ll continue it for now. I'd love to hear any ideas on how it can improved, but through that process please join me when you can.

Be informed
It was said of the men of Issachar that they “understood the times and knew what they should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). Oh that we might have the same insight today. 

Let’s daily be reading our Bibles. The Bible is so full of insight on the times we live in. I’d encourage you to try my pattern which is to try and commit to picking up and reading my Bible every morning before I pick up my phone. What you do first thing in the morning will set the trajectory for the rest of your day (more about this in my preach on Sunday!) so get into the scriptures. 

Read the papers and watch the news. Read articles from people you agree with, and people you disagree with. There is a danger for those of us on social media or who only read one particular newspaper that we can live in an echo chamber, where we only interact with people who share our views, and assume that everyone with a differing view is either an idiot or a bigot. The Bible tells us to be slow to speak and quick to listen (James 1:19). Much of the disunity we see is people creating lazy caricatures of the people on the other side of the debate, rather than understanding their genuine concerns. Seek to understand before you seek to be understood.

All the time remember the advice of the theologian Karl Barth: “Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.”. Understand the times through the lens of the Bible, not the other way round. 

To understand the wider issues behind the rise of populism and much more of the times we live in I’ve found the “This Cultural Moment” Podcast with John Mark Comer and Mark Sayers really helpful.

Be Active
Although much of Brexit is confusing, particularly as we seek to discern the will of God on what should happen next, there are some things the Bible is very clear on. 

If you encounter racism, whether it comes from the mouth of your next door neighbour or the President of the United States, don’t be afraid to call it out. Every human being has unique value and worth as someone created in the image of God, and we are to affirm and defend that value. And reach out to people from other nations, letting them know that you are pleased they are in our nation and taking time to learn from them and the culture they have come from. 

Let's be models of what it looks like to disagree agreeably. We are told to "let our gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5). Gentle doesn’t mean weak.  You can be gentle and strong, gentle and challenging, gentle and prophetic, gentle and provocative. Let us help people rediscover the art of gentle disagreement. 

Be a force for justice, practically demonstrating the love of Jesus. That could mean donating food to the food bank, visiting an elderly neighbour or taking the time to talk to the homeless people we sadly see all around us. It is a fact that the Brexit process is having an economic impact on our nation, with those on the margins of society paying the greatest price. We as the church are called to be part of the solution. 

Our friends at Jubilee Plus have written some very helpful ideas (written for church leaders but relevant to all of us) on how we can practically begin to respond. Please take a look and think about how their suggestions might apply to you.

Proclaim the name of Jesus. Let’s not be afraid to “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). He is the one who one day will “reconcile all things to himself” (Colossians 1:20). He is our hope, our peace, our strength and our refuge. I was on a train to Yorkshire on Monday and had a long chat with the guy next to me about how I came to follow Jesus. Let’s take every opportunity to share the reason for the hope we have. 

And remember that prayer is activity. Praying changes things, and whether or not we immediately see the answer to our prayers, it always changes us. 

There’s much more I could say but this will do for now. Thanks for reading this far, and let’s commit to being part of the Christ centred solution.

Shalom,


Simon 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

WTC, Equip & The Bible Course


Two weeks ago I was coming towards the end of my first Westminster Theological Centre (WTC) residential in Telford. This is my first step in taking a two year Graduate Diploma in Kingdom Theology. WTC allows anyone to study on a part time basis everything from a Certificate in Higher Education through to an MA, taking twice the time a full time degree or MA would take.  Each year half the teaching takes place at two residentials, and half at a local hub which for us is the Thames Valley hub which we are hosting.

It was a brilliant five days away, although the pace was intense with 7 or 8 hours of lectures every day, combined with times of worship, lessons on how to write essays (a whole new world for me) and a personality profile alongside meals, an early morning run, a trip to the pub and not much time for anything else. There are a number of people from Kerith studying with WTC, including two of our sites pastors Heather Pocock and Leon Johnson, and Judith and Andy who are part of our deaf community and the first ever deaf people to study with WTC.

The highlight for me was the lectures we had on the Old Testament. Our lecturer was Dr. Stephen Dempster who has spent his whole life studying the Old Testament and it showed! He wrote the NIV Study Bible notes for Deuteronomy, and started each of his lectures by praying a psalm over us first in Hebrew, then in English. Stephen lectured us for 16 hours, by the end of which we’d only got to the end of the book of Kings, but such was the depth of his knowledge and passion for the subject that he could have gone on for many hours more without it ever becoming dry or starting to drag. He made the Old Testament come alive in a way I’ve never seen it before.

I’m really excited by our partnership with WTC, and the theological depth it is going to sow into our community over the coming years. For many years in charismatic circles there has been a rejection of formal theological training, which has been unhelpful and I think longer term is dangerous for churches like ours seeking to be strong in both word and spirit. I’m therefore delighted by our growing relationships with WTC, as well as St. Mellitus College where a number of our youngsters are gaining BA’s in Theology, Ministry and Mission and with Moorlands College

If you’d like to go deeper in your relationship with God through getting a better understanding of the Bible, but don’t yet feel you’re in a position to study with WTC, I’d really encourage you to consider joining our Equip course which launches this coming Monday evening. Over two years you’ll get to work your way through the whole of the Bible, with the option of skipping terms if you can’t do the whole course in one go. The course is being certified by Moorlands College, and having seen the manuals I’m sure it’s going to be excellent. 

There is a termly cost of £75, which although much cheaper than WTC may still I realise be an issue for some. We don’t want the cost to stop anyone from attending so if that’s the case for you, or you have any other questions, please contact Karen Dack who will be able to answer all your queries. I’m going there on Monday to say hello to and pray for everyone starting the course, so I’ll hope to see you there :)


Let’s go deeper together.



Simon

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Autumn 2019 Week of Prayer - Sunday - Sites


Thank you so much for engaging in our week of prayer and fasting. I’ve heard really encouraging things from people who have been working their way through the blogs and the daily prayer themes, people who came to the Kingdom Come prayer night, people who watched in online and people who have booked into the prayer room. Prayer is part of the foundation of all we do, and it feels like we have done some of the groundwork for all we are hoping to see God do this term.

Please can you finish this week by praying for our sites.

Please pray for the site you attend:
  • Pray for your site leader and their family, and all the other leaders at your site
  • Pray for salvation and healing to be a regular part of what happens
  • Pray for unity and great love for one another
  • Pray for favour and great relationships with the other churches in the area, with the local authority and other local organisations
  • Pray for your sites expressions of justice in the local community
  • Pray for marriages to be strengthened and for singles to find family in community
  • Pray for the children and youth on your site
  • Pray for continued favour for us financially as as a church
Pray for the sites other than the one you attend. 

Pray for the elders, trustees and central teams who support everything that happens across all of our sites.

Please can you also be specifically praying for West Wight as they launch weekly Sunday meetings this Sunday. I’m going to be down their to join with them. It’s so exciting how the work there has emerged out of what was our Sandhurst site, a grandchild for Bracknell. Pray for many children for each of our sites :)

Thank you again. I am so grateful for your prayers.



Simon

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Autumn 2019 Week of Prayer - Saturday - Kerith Partners


I’d love us to spend time today praying for the different partner organisations connected with Kerith. Partnership is key to us growing the kingdom. We are so much stronger when we work alongside others with more experience of an area where we are looking to bear fruit, and in pretty much every case the benefits are mutual with us able to invest back into those who are blessing us.

There are a number of Kerith partners which are connected to us because people in our community either founded them or work for them. Please spend some time thanking God for the impact people in our community are able to have through these partnerships. Pray for them to be encouraged and for them to know much fruit in all they are doing. These would include:
  • Tehila
  • Novō
  • Create Hope
  • CHIPS
  • Oakwood Youth Challenge
  • Tearfund
  • Compassion
There are a number of other Kerith partners who we work alongside in growing the Kingdom. These include:
  • CAP (Christians Against Poverty)
  • TLG (Transforming Lives for Good)
  • Home for Good
  • Trussell Trust
  • Tearfund
  • Hope for Justice
  • Justice and Care
  • Alpha
  • Alpha in Prisons
  • 24-7 Prayer
  • Wildfires
  • Newfrontiers
  • WTC (Westminster Theological Centre)
Please thank God for each of these partnerships, and pray blessing on each of these organisations.

Apologies if I’ve missed anyone out (which I’m sure I have!). If so please let me know and I’ll look to add them to any future lists. Apologies also for not adding all the hyperlinks to the websites of each of the organisations (life is too short), but I’m sure you can google them if you want to know more about what they do, and it will reduce the temptation to head off on a click fest round the internet rather than praying! 

Thank you,

Simon

Friday, September 13, 2019

Autumn 2019 Week of Prayer - Friday - Healing & One Another



Today I would love us to spend some time praying for one another. 

First off I would love you to pray for healing for anyone in our community who you know isn’t well. That means people struggling with both physical and mental health issues. I read in the new this week the tragic story of a church pastor in the USA committing suicide after a long battle with depression. These things are no respecter of background or position, they can impact every one of us, so let’s speak God’s healing power over anyone who we know who is unwell.

Once you’ve done that they here’s my encouragement for today:
  • Write down the names of a couple (or more if you want) of people in our community to pray for. They could be people in your small group, on one of your serving teams, somebody you lead or somebody you are lead by, people new to Kerith or who have been part of our community for decades. It might even be someone you struggle to get on with! Ask God to prompt you as you think of who you are going to pray for. 
  • Spend time thanking God for each of those people. Whoever they are they are God’s image bearer, made in his likeness, which gives them unique value and worth. Thank God for who they are, and for what they mean to you.
  • Pray that they might know God better, and have a deeper revelation of his love for them. I’m increasingly struck that in the letters of the Apostle Paul as he records his prayers for both individuals and churches he never prays for their situation to change. His prayer is always that that they would know God better. Knowing God changes everything, so pray they might know him better. 
  • Having said that it is still right to pray for breakthrough for people. Do they need healing, a job, a wider circle of friends, restoration of a relationship or something else. Whatever it might be ask God on their behalf for that thing. 
  • Pray a blessing on each person. There is power in a blessing. Jesus once blessed five loaves and two fish and it fed over 5,000 people. There is power in our blessings too, so pray blessing over each person. Pray for the fruit of the Holy Spirit to grow in their lives. For more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Pray for great relationships that will do them good. For health. For financial breakthrough. You know the stuff.
  • Finally pause for a moment and ask God to give you something to encourage them. He might give you a scripture passage, a picture or a prophetic word or you might just want to let them know you’ve been praying for them. If God does prompt you then why not text it to them (unless that is too weird!) or write it down and share it with them next time you see them. I’d love to imagine a web of encouragement pinging around to one another today. 

Thanks so much for engaging. 



Simon

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Autumn 2019 Week of Prayer - Thursday - Government & Justice


It is hard to imagine a time in the recent history of our nation that we need to be praying more for our government and those in authority. Here are some ideas on what we can be praying:
  • Pray for wisdom for everyone involved in the Brexit negotiations. Pray for Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, the cabinet and shadow cabinet, Jo Swinson, Nicola Sturgeon, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, your local MP and Christian MPs in parliament. Pray through it all for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done.
  • When you have no idea how to pray for when it comes to Brexit pray in tongues! And if you haven’t got the gift of tongues then now might be a good time to ask for it.
  • Pray that in all the negotiations the needs of the vulnerable and marginalised in our society will be kept to the forefront. 
  • Pray that God would begin to bring healing to our divided and broken nation.
  • Pray that in the midst of it all God would raise up the church, and individual Christians to have a prophetic voice which speaks love, hope, challenge and purpose to our nation. 
  • Pray that God would use all the turmoil and uncertainty to cause people to come to know him.

I’d also love it if you could spend some time praying for our own local expressions of working for justice.

  • Pray for our Foodbank, debt counselling, job club, life skills courses, reading and writing courses, recovery groups and all our other justice ministries. Thank God for the army of volunteers who make all of this possible.
  • Pray for our TLG coaches going into primary schools to work alongside children in danger of being excluded from school.
  • Thank God for all the children being fostered and adopted in our community, and for our partnership with Home for Good which is  helping fuel this work. Pray for more families and individuals to be inspired to foster or adopt a child.
  • Pray for our team going into local prisons to run Alpha Courses and lead Sunday services. I heard last Sunday over 50 inmates attended a service our team were running and one guy gave his life to Christ. 
  • Pray for our work supporting families who have children with additional needs and our group for adults with additional needs.
  • Pray for our work with the homeless, including the night shelter in Windsor and the GPs who come into the cafe on our Bracknell site to offer medical support.
  • Pray and thank God for for the legal support we are now able to offer to people attending the cafe.
  • Pray for anything I’ve missed, plus all those people in Kerith working for justice outside of our own church ministries.

Well done if you’ve prayed this far! Know that God has heard your prayers, and they are already making a difference. 

Simon