Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
- Matthew starts with his list of the ancestors of Jesus, and then takes us into the 'traditional' Christmas story".
- Mark is so desperate to get on with the action (as he is with much of the rest of his gospel) that he takes us straight to John the baptist preparing the way for the ministry of Jesus, with not a word about the birth of Jesus, wise men, shepherds or inns which are fully booked.
- Luke, in his historical fact finding style, tells us why he is writing his gospel and then takes us through the Christmas story.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
This is a great opportunity for more people to hear about the amazing work the Foodbank is doing. Please be praying God will use it, and if you can listen in either live or later in the day via iPlayer (I'm not even going to begin to describe all the different ways you could do either of those things!).
If you enjoy it why not leave a comment to encourage Pat and her team.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.
Friday, December 2, 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
9am: Ben Weeks, Rob Plant and Becca Taylor
11am: Melanie Watkins, Hannah Boyle and Rob Omakaro
7pm: Krystyna Lysakowska, Rebecca Toy, Demi Riley and Joshua Richheimer
Why not plan to come to more than one meeting on Sunday, or come and join me and listen to all ten!
I'll also be announcing the total for the Serenje offering which will be very exciting too!
Hope to see you there.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
I got a chance to spend time with the Team of BGEA. I was very impressed to see that some of these men served together for 50-60 years. The official photographer Russ has been travelling with BGEA since 1956. He is 81 years old and still on the road. Amazing. When Franklin worked with me at his hotel room to get the sermons ready I was very moved by his humble and gentle spirit. He said „I don’t understand, but when I preach a simple Gospel message all over the world, poeple respond the same.“ He just preached the Gospel to me and that was our prep time for the nights. These were sweet moments.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
- Their Developing Courageous Leaders Programme
- Some brilliant Defining Moments talks and interviews
- A growing list of other online courses and sermons
Saturday, November 26, 2011
- What did this mean to the people at the time? Actually try and put yourself in the story. Imagine being Mary, a shepherd, Zechariah, or Joseph and think how you would have felt and reacted in the same situation.
- What does this mean to me today? How does this store relate to my life as it is today. Where are there's similarities, what are the principles, commands or promises which I need to hear?
- What an I going to do with what I've read? Do I need to stop and thank God for something, repent of something, pray for someone, apologise to or encourage someone else, change an attitude, choose to trust God or something else? The Bible properly applied will always change us.
Friday, November 25, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
I have never seen such diverse denominationals groups having so much fun together. The Holy Spirit worked deeply in the hearts of many. Many churches send their full elder boards and church boards. We laughed and cried together. That was very powerful. Over 100 of participants have already registered for next year’s conference. That is a very high number for Lithuania where most people don’t plan for tomorrow, let alone for next year. Praise God. Next year we are planning to do two sites – Klaipeda 16-17 Nov, Vilnius 23-24 Nov.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.
There are many reasons I love this Psalm. One of them is that when I became a Christian I was a big U2 fan, and it was only after I became a Christian that I realised that their song 40, which is on the end of their album "War", is these opening lines of Psalm 40 put to music. They used to finish every concert by singing this song, and I can still remember the only time I've ever seen U2 live being lost in a spiritual moment at the end of the concert, tears streaming down my face, singing Psalm 40 and thanking God that he'd heard my cry and set my feet on a rock.
Why, you may ask, am I telling you all this? Good question! Well it's because I think there is something powerful about new songs. Old songs are great, but often new songs which are unfamiliar and fresh can help us engage with God in a way in which old songs can't. "Shout to the Lord" is an amazing song, but I've sung it so many times now that sometimes the words just become too familiar. And God is a God who is always doing new things, both for us as individuals and as a community, and we will need news songs to help us express those things.
So we as a community will be committed to singing new songs. Both great songs being written around the world, and great songs being written by the songwriters in our community. On Sunday we sang a new song, written by Dave Betts, based on King David's desert experience in Psalm 63 - you can read more about what caused Dave to write the song here. And for a real treat check out this acoustic version of the song "Drawing Near". We're aiming for our musicians to record two CDs a year of new songs, which we'll give away for free and put on the website. The next one of these, "This is Love", should be out around Christmas.
But I'm also encouraging our worship leaders to be singing what I call "old new songs". Helping us rediscover old hymns which many of us won't know, but which express some of the timeless truths about God in ways which will be fresh to us. Look out for some of those too in the coming months.
I pray that this week God will put a new song in your mouth!
Friday, November 18, 2011
If you're on a PC then the easiest way to get to listen to a sermon is to go to our website, put your cursor over the word "Home" in the top section, then move the cursor down and click on Media. There you'll be able to find all the latest sermons, as well as media clips and songs.
If you've got an iPod, iPad or iPhone then the simplest way to get sermons is to got to iTunes (either on your PC or your device) and then in the iTunes store search for "Kerith". There are two Kerith podcasts there. The first is an old one which we need to get removed, but the second one should have all the latest sermons. The great thing about this is that new sermons will be downloaded to your device as they're added.
On a Blackberry, Android or Windows 7 phone I assume you're best off using the web browser and going to our website to listen to sermons. That won't work on an iPhone as it doesn't support flash (and the podcast is easier to use anyway) but should work on those other phones. Please leave a comment on the blog if anyone knows of a better way of doing it on these phones.
Finally to say a huge thank you to Geoff Hawke who week in week out edits and uploads the sermons to the website, often within a few hours of the meeting finishing. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Geoff, one of our many, many behind the scenes heroes.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Someone asked me this week which of these two presences, physical or virtual, is the more important. My immediate reaction was to say that our physical presence is the most important one. That we can always have a bigger impact on the people we actually physically spend time with, than the ones we interact with virtually. But having reflected on it I'm not so sure.
Take preaching. You don't have to go far back in history to find a time when preachers would refuse to be recorded, or to even have their sermons written down and distributed. Their belief was that preaching wasn't proper preaching unless the people you were talking to were in the same room as you. Yet we now live in an age where events such as the Willow Creek GLS reaches far more people through DVDs, podcasts and satellite links than ever experience it live in Willow's auditorium. Is the preachers physical or their virtual presence having a bigger impact?
Or go back further and consider the writing of Paul. He had an amazing physical presence, planting numerous churches, seeing untold people saved, and keeping the apostles in Jerusalem on the straight and narrow. Yet it is his virtual presence, through the letters he wrote, which have I would argue have had a bigger impact, both on the people alive at the time when he was writing the letters, and certainly since. If he'd given all his time and energy to just being with the people he was actually with, his impact would have been far more limited in terms of both time and geography.
So let's not underestimate the power of our virtual, online, presence. In the first of these blogs I wrote about not being afraid of technology, but grabbing it with both hands and making full use of it's potential. You might not be a preacher, you certainly won't ever write a book of the Bible, but you can use your online presence to take people up in their lift, to take them closer to God and to see his kingdom grow.
I'll finish this series of blogs with one more observation. You can only be in one place at any one time (brilliant I know!). You're either interacting with the physical world around you, or the virtual one online, but you can't do both at the same time. Even if you're a girl and can multi task! So at any point in time choose which world you're in.
I was sat in a coffee shop a couple of weeks ago. There were two ladies on the table next to me. One of them was pouring her heart out to her friend, but as she was doing this her friend was constantly looking at her phone, reading and writing texts and making virtually no eye contact. I've seen the same scenario on holiday around a pool, with children pleading with the parents to come and play with them, whilst their parents send just one more email. At Kerith I've had to ban certain people from having their phones in staff meetings, because all their attention is on the phone rather than the topic we're discussing. By all means take every possible opportunity to make the maximum possible use of your online presence, but choose when and where you're going to do that, and don't ever let the people in your physical world feel that you're more interested in your iPhone than you are in them!
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
We started out this year aiming to raise £205,000 for Serenje this year. £80,000 of that is to support year 4 of the HIV / AIDS project we are involved with there, and £125,000 is to fund the building of a girls dormitory for 100 secondary school girls. You can find a brilliant video with details of the first three years of the HIV / AIDS project here, and another superb video about the girls dormitory here - please take the time to watch them both.
So far this year the giving has been amazing. We have:
- £36,062 for the girls dormitory, raised by the youth through Project 125, Garth Hill College through their walk to school day and other direct giving to the dormitory project.
- £35,242 given in the October Gift Days we have just had.
- £29,814 which is made up of unclaimed Gift Aid, money left over from year 3 of the project and money which people have pledged to give over the coming year.
Somebody asked me this week if we should just go for the money required for year 4 of the project this November, and then look to raise the money for the dormitory next year. There's a lot to be said for that approach, but having been to Serenje and seen the conditions the girls have to live in, I'm desperate to get the money to build the dormitory raised as quickly as possible so that isn't what is holding the project up. I'm therefore encouraging every one of us to think and pray about what we can give over the next two Sundays.
Some may have already given all they can give, or want to give. If that's you then thank you so much for all you've already given, and please feel no pressure to give any more.
Some may have given in October, and feel stirred to give more. If so, that's brilliant.
Some may have missed the October Gift days completely and be giving for the first time, if so please be generous, even tend towards being sacrificial in what you give, but again don't feel under any pressure.
You can either give in the second offering over the next two Sundays, or you can give online. Some may also want to give a regular amount over the coming year, rather than, or as well as a one off gift. If so there are standing order forms available from reception to allow you to do that.
In all of this let's remember that God loves a cheerful giver, and that we will reap what we sow - we can never out give God.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Being an ambassador for a country is a huge honour, and carries with it great responsibility. But as ambassadors for Jesus Christ we have an even greater responsibility and honour, representing and being messengers for Him in all we say and do. We need to be aware of this in all of our lives, but I believe in particular with what we do online, as the things we choose to blog, tweet and put on Facebook are available for anyone to see, and once written are almost impossible to remove. That means they can leave an even more indelible mark than the things we say verbally.
So what does that mean for us practically?
First we need to make sure that everything we say online reflects well on God and honours Him, That doesn't mean that everything that we post online has to be bland, unquestioning, sugary or just plain "nice". It's possible to write about our doubts, worries, questions and fears in a way which is authentic but which still honours God - if you don't believe me just spend some time reading the Psalms! They manage to express some of the darkest human emotions, and biggest questions of life, in a way which still rightly recognises who God is. But let's focus on the incredible blessings of our relationship with God, answers to prayer, encouragements and verses which inspire us.
Secondly we need to represent our church, and other churches, well. If we have disagreements or questions about what is going on in church, let's not play out our disagreements in a public forum. And let's make sure we honour leaders in our community in what we say online (see 1 Timothy 5:17). There is so much positive going on for us to talk about, and so much to celebrate, so let's talk about those things, as people will be reading what we write online when making deciding what they think about the church. That's not to say we can't challenge other people online, especially if what they've made their comments publicly. For an example of how to do this well see how Dave Gilpin reviewed Rob Bell's controversial book "Love Wins", or take a look at what Vicky Beeching had to say about discussing theology on social media.
Thirdly let's represent one another well, always thinking the best of, and wanting the best for one another. Let's not pull one another down or criticise one another online, but choose to build one another up and encourage one another. And let's be aware of our audience when we write - there may be some things you'd be happy to say to an adult audience, but not to all the teenagers who may be your friends on Facebook.
The bottom line. As a Christ follower, when you speak you no longer just speak for yourself but you speak as a representative of God and His kingdom. That's an awesome privilege, but also an incredible responsibility.
Monday, November 14, 2011
I knew little of the life of Bonhoeffer before I read this book, but the more I read it the more I came to admire this incredible man of God. The author, Eric Metaxas, has managed to write a book which reads like a really good novel or a thriller, at each stage drawing you further in to the story and making you just want to keep on reading more to find out what happens next (don't start reading it late at night!).
I'm not going to tell you any of the story, as that could spoil it, but I will say that what you read of in this book is not some 'sinless saint', but a man who struggled with working out his faith, who wrestled with how to apply the Bible to his context, who was let down by the people around him, who knew both great joy and incredible sadness, yet through it all kept strong in his pursuit of God and all that God had for him to do, and showed incredible courage and bravery.
I've asked the wonderful team who run our bookshop to order some copies of Metaxa's book in, but if like me you're a Kindle devotee it is available on Kindle too. This book would also make a great Christmas present, perhaps even for people you know who have an interest in the Second World War, but wouldn't normally read a 'Christian' book. I think they'd find it very accessible and might open their eyes to an aspect of the war they've never considered before.
Finally I wanted to use this opportunity to apologise for the mistake I made at the 9am meeting this week. As I introduced the two minutes silence I spoke about our armed forces fighting in World War 2 against what the Germans wanted to achieve, rather than what the Nazis wanted to achieve. There were many Germans, like Bonhoeffer, totally opposed to what Hitler was attempting to do, and I would never want to blur the distinction between the people of Germany and the Nazis. I did apologise to two of the Germans in our community straight after the meeting, who very graciously forgave me. Please will those of you who were there extend the same grace to me.
If any of you do read the book I'd love to hear what you thought of it. Have a great week.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
In the past I've spoken about the concept of lifts. That in every interaction we have with another person it's as though we take them into our lift, and what we say and do will either take them up or down, will leave them either encouraged or discouraged. I believe that's as true in our online interactions as it is in our physical ones. Everything we text, tweet, Facebook or blog has the potential to take people up or down, to take them closer to God or further away, to make them feel more or less equipped to face the world.
On Sunday morning I spoke about this in terms of kindness. You'll have to listen to the podcast to get the full message (including the drama team doing their "real life" Facebook sketch), but the short version was that it is God's kindness which has made it possible for us to repent (Romans 2:4, Titus 3:3-7, Ephesians 2:1-10, Isaiah 54:8), and that God now intends us to show others the same kindness which we ourselves have received (1 Corinthians 13:4, Galatians 5:22-23, Colossians 3:12, 2 Peter 1:5-8). In fact true kindness isn't possible until we have been transformed and made new creations as a result of God's kindness coming into our lives.
So seek to be kind in all of your online interactions. Here are a some thoughts about how to do that:
- If you know someone is going through a tough time, send them a text to let them know you're thinking of them and praying for them (and make sure you actually do pray for them).
- Be open to the Holy Spirit prompting you to encourage someone with a text or an email.
- Write blogs and tweets which will take others up in their lift. If you have something negative to say to someone then have the courage to say it face to face.
- Don't use Twitter or Facebook to gossip about other people, to say what a terrible boss you have or to moan about how awful the people who work for you are!
- If someone is negative about you online then choose to forgive them, and don't retaliate online. As someone once said "unforgiveness is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die". Practice Matthew 18:15-20.
- If you wrongly offend someone online then sort it with them and apologise as quickly as possible.
- If you ever write an email or blog which you're not sure about, particularly if it's in response to something unpleasant someone has sent to you, then save it in your drafts folder and come back to it when you've calmed down. I can't tell you how many times this has stopped me getting into big trouble.
We've also got baptisms on Sunday with people being baptised in all three meetings, and a different preacher for each meeting. Please come and support those being baptised.
It should be a great Sunday - hope to see you there!
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
So here we go with thought #1 - Don't be afraid of technology - use it! Historically Christians have been at the forefront of using new technology to spread the gospel and build the church. Whether it was Paul having a missionary strategy which depended on the roads the Romans were building, people like Tyndale and the reformers seizing the opportunity presented by the printing press or CS Lewis inspiring a nation with his radio broadcasts during the Second World War, our history is full of people taking 'new' technologies and using them to advance the gospel (OK I'm not sure the radio was that new in 1940, but you get the idea!). So let's not run away from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Podcasts, texting and blogs and the opportunities they give us. Let us as individuals and as a community grab hold of them and see that they are used for good rather than evil.
One final thought on technology. Let's be sure we are in control of it, rather than it controlling us. Don't be stressed out because you're checking your email from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep. Have times in the day when you turn it off and get a life! Why not even every now and again leave your mobile phone at home. You know there was a time not too long ago that you could actually go on a car journey without a mobile phone and everything would be OK - why not give it a go and enjoy some technology free time!
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Normally on a Sunday I'll preach the same thing at the 9, 11 and 7. However this week I'm going to split the preach in two. In the morning I'm going to talk about an aspect of God's character which I believe, if mirrored in our own lives, would transform our use of social media. In the evening I'm going to give 5 practical guidelines to using social media for good, as well as doing some Q&A. If you can't make both morning and evening then please try and catch the one you missed on the podcast.
See you Sunday!
Monday, October 31, 2011
At the time Sam wasn't a Christian, but after doing the Marriage Course Sam went on to do Alpha and there became a Christ follower. Now a number of years later they have two daughters, Isla and Amba, and are firmly embedded in the life of our community. As a couple they embody God's heart for justice - Sam works with the homeless and Hannah has a job standing up for marginalised children.
Sam came with us on the very first trip to Serenje. They now have a plan to spend a year living in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, working for the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia, developing a child protection programme which will be rolled out across the whole of Zambia. You can read the latest about what they're up to on their blog. They're going as volunteers, which means they're currently fundraising to raise the £30,000 they'll need to support themselves for the year. They're already nearly three quarters of the way there which is amazing, but I know they'd appreciate any extra help!
Tehila isn't an "official" Kerith project, but Sam and Hannah have the full support of me and the rest of the leadership team. Hopefully they'll have your support too. Their plan is to go in March 2012 which isn't too far away! Please take a look at their blog, be praying for them all, and consider supporting them financially.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Please remember also that it's the last Sunday of our offerings for Serenje. We're aiming to raise £80,000 for year four of the project and £90,000 to get the rest of the money to build the girl's dormitory. Please don't be intimidated by the totals, or by the current economic turmoil, but let's give as the Macedonian Christians did - "Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability" (2 Cor 8:2-3). If you can't be there on Sunday you can also give online here.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Many of you will already have heard that Bill Hybels and Andy Stanley are going to be doing a one day leaders conference at the Kerith Centre on Monday 30th January 2012.
Most of us have heard Bill Hybels at the Global Leadership Summit. He is the most inspiring Christian leader I've ever met, not only through the way he speaks but also the way he lives his life has been an inspiration to me.
Andy Stanley is an outstanding communicator, as well as leading an incredibly dynamic and innovative church. His book "Communicating for a Change" is required reading for all the Kerith preachers, and my iPhone is full of his podcasts.
Getting these two leaders together on one day in the UK is amazing. If you're a leader in any capacity then please plan to be there.
You can book on the Willow website, £60 for WCA UK members and £75 for non members (which is amazing value - in my other job we were being charged £250 for a day learning how to use email!), but if you're part of Kerith you can get an even better rate of £30 for the day. To get that rate you need to go to the Kerith Centre reception and register there.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
This Sunday we're going to be looking at how we deal with the Halloween season which is soon to be upon us. Whether you're a parent deciding what to allow your children to do, a teenager deciding which parties to go to, or are about to have your front door knocked by lots of trick or treaters we all have decisions to make about how we handle Halloween. I'll give a bit of the history of Halloween and then outline a series of Biblical principles which should hopefully help each of us to decide how we are going to deal with it. The principles will also help us understand how we deal with similar related issues such as Harry Potter. Should be interesting!
Hope to see you there on Sunday.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
It's amazing to see the generosity of our local community, and their support for what we do. Today I had the privilege of going into Garth Hill College to be presented with a cheque for £5,000, which they raised through a series of events including a walk to school day. All of that money will go towards the girls dormitory which is going to be built in Serenje. In addition we last week got a grant for £10,000 towards the cost of the reception works, and next week a team from GlaxoSmithKline will be giving up their time to volunteer in Foodbank. Amazing.
Sometimes we can have a sense that as Christians everyone is against us and develop a sort of siege mentality. Yet in the book of Acts it says "They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people" (Acts 2:46). Acts 2:42-47 is often quoted as a description of church at its best - let's believe that part of that will mean us continue to enjoy the favour of those around us.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
We've got a superb meeting planned, which will include:
- A great opener - please don't be late for the 9, 11 or 7!
- An update on all that has been achieved in the project so far
- Hearing from Bishop Samson Kasele on how the whole project started, from a Zambian perspective
- Hearing from teachers involved in the schools links
- An update on the hospital links
- Updates on fundraising and planning for Project 125 - building a dormitory for 100 girls in Serenje
- Hearing what Kids2, LIFE and Garth Hill College have been doing to raise money
- Pastor Bernard Ngosa talking about what the future holds for our partnership
- Matthew Frost, the Chief Executive of Tearfund, giving their perspective as our partner in the project
- The chance to eat some Nshima, the staple food in Zambia
- And most of all thanking God for His hand on all that we have attempted to do.
We will also have the first of three weeks of offerings, looking to raise £80,000 for year 4 of the project, and £95,000 to get the girls dormitory built.
We will also be joined by a number of leaders from other churches who are considering embarking on similar projects. Let's be praying that God will speak to their hearts too, and remember to make them feel incredibly welcome.
Hope to see you there,
Sunday, October 9, 2011
I want to let you know about two things you can do to help us access more external funding.
Firstly our Konnections Ministry (providing support to families with children with special needs) is in the running for a £6,000 grant from NatWest. The money is awarded on the basis of which charity in an area gets the most votes. Please can I ask you to go through the voting process (which is slightly complicated, but not too bad), and to encourage everyone you know with their own email address to do the same. If everyone who reads the blog were to vote I'm pretty sure we can win. The details for what you need to do are as follows:
First follow this link.
Then click on the “I accept...terms and conditions box and click on the “vote for us” box.
Click on the “register now” words in the red box. This will take you through a short form to register your name and email address. A confirmation will then be sent to your e-mail pretty instantaneously.
Once you have received your confirmation enter your email and password and log in
This will then return you to the Konnections screen and you once again click on the “I accept...terms and conditions box and click on the “vote for us” box.
You should see a screen confirmation that you have been successful in casting your vote.
Please do the above now!
Secondly for those of you who shop in Waitrose in Sandhurst, our Konnections Ministry is one of the chosen charities for the Waitrose community matters scheme for the month of October. There are three charities chosen every month, which get a share of £1,000 in proportion to the votes of shoppers in the store, which they indicate by putting a green coin in the appropriate bin at the exit of the shop. If you normally shop in the Sandhurst Waitrose then please be sure to vote for Konnections.
Thanks for your help with this.