Friday, October 30, 2015

Inside Out - Homework

Ahead of the start or our "Inside Out" series I wonder how many of you got to see the Pixar movie of the same name?

The film is set in the mind of a young girl, Riley Andersen, where five emotions - Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust - try to lead her through life as she moves with her parents to a new city. It's a brilliant analysis of how only by dealing with both our so called 'positive' and 'negative' emotions can we truly experience what it is to be alive.

I would encourage everyone see it, but sadly it's not on in cinemas any more and only comes out on DVD on the 23rd November. However, as a taster take a look at this clip which shows what is happening not only in Riley's mind but also with her parents, in a scene which will be very familiar to any observers of family meal times. Why not watch it with a friend and talk about how many times you've seen this scenario play out!

Enjoy, and see you Sunday :)



Thursday, October 29, 2015

'Generous' Gift Days

One of my wife Catrina's favourite programmes is DIY SOS, with her hero Nick Knowles! If you've never seen it then in each programme you meet an individual or a family who have been through a tough time. Nick and his team then send them away somewhere nice while they, and a huge team of volunteers who have taken time off their regular jobs, do a total renovation of their house and gardens to make it suitable for them. It always finishes with the big reveal, where the people being helped get shown round their wonderfully transformed home, with the inevitable tears from them, the team and everyone watching. They then get to say thank you to all the volunteers who have given up their time, and the companies who have donated the materials, required to make it happen. In the most recent series they did up an entire street to house wounded veterans - for the next three weeks you can catch it on iPlayer here (just have the tissues ready!).

There's something incredibly moving about the generosity of one human being helping another, for no motive other than their desire to do them good. One of the many life principles Jesus gave us to live by is that "it is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). You see that in the faces of the volunteers involved in each edition of DIY SOS, that through their generosity they receive far more than they've given.

It's that generosity we want to model in our forthcoming 'Generous" Gift Days, which are on Sunday 15th and 22nd November. All the money that comes in we're going to give away locally, nationally and internationally (more details about that next week). Perhaps we don't have the time, or the skills, to be involved in a DIY SOS, but we can all excel in the grace of giving. Please be thinking and praying about what you're going to give - let's model what it is to be an incredibly generous community!



Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Inside Out - Embracing Every Emotion to Enlarge your Soul

On Sunday we start a new 4 week series called Inside Out, where we're going to look at how we deal with our emotions, and in particular what we might call 'negative' emotions such as sorrow, grief, disappointment or anger. It is easy to view those sorts of emotions as something a 'proper' Christian should never experience, to think that the Christian life should be a journey of unrelenting joy, peace and happiness, and to assume that if we feel anything negative then we need to deny those feelings and focus on the happy ones instead!

What is interesting to me is how open Jesus was to both feeling and expressing all of those negative emotions. Whether it was weeping at the tomb of Lazarus, mourning over Jerusalem rejecting him, his anger at the money changers in the temple or his pain at feeling forsaken by God on the cross, he embraced the full range of emotions and would encourage us to do the same.

I'm delighted that to kick off the series we've got Dr Roger Bretherton with us. Roger is is a clinical psychologist, lecturing in the School of Psychology at the University of Lincoln - I like to think of him as the English verson of Dr Henry Cloud! He's a Christian, based in Alive church in Lincoln which is lead by our friends Stuart and Irene Bell, and speaks widely including at the HTB Leadsership Conference. I'm sure you're going to love both him, and the insights he has to being on the place of the emotions in living life to the full.

See you Sunday :)



Thursday, October 22, 2015

Excel in this Grace of Giving

“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very 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. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: they gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But since you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”

2 Corinthians 8:1-7 NIVUK

One of the core values we want to model as a community is generosity. Generosity in every area of our lives. Generous with our faith, our words, our time, our talents, our love and our money.

In November we're going to have an opportunity to model that generosity with our money, through our gift days on the 15th and 22nd November. We want to raise £100,000, all of which we want to give away either locally, nationally or internationally.

Locally we want to give grants to people doing great work in our community. That could be a charity, a school, a church or any other locally based group. We'll be asking people to nominate organisations to give to - we'll announce how that process is going to work nearer the time. In the meantime please be thinking about who you might want to put forward, but please don't speak to anyone in any of those groups as we wouldn't want to end up disappointing anyone.

Nationally we're going to partner with Cinnamon Network, a brilliant Christian charity which specialises in giving grants of £1,000 or £2,000 to churches looking to set up social justice projects in their local communities. This is a list of the amazing range of projects they sponsor, some of which we'd be familiar with and others which I think will be new to us. Hopefully we can help in the launching of a whole load of new initiatives all around the UK, helping churches to make a real difference in their communities just as we have.

Internationally we'd love to have money to give to our friends in Albania, Estonia, Serbia and Lithuania, specifically to help them with making improvements to their church buildings. The amazing thing in those nations is how much they can achieve with what to us would be relatively small amounts of money - our giving there will make a huge difference to the life of those churches.

I'll write more on each of those areas over the coming weeks, but in the meantime please be thinking and praying about how you are going to excel in the grace of giving.

Much love,


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

All Together Now

Other than being a fabulous song from 1990 by Liverpudlian band The Farm (based on the First World War Christmas day truce on the Western Front in 1914), "All Together Now" describes what we're going to be doing this coming Sunday morning, when we're going to have all ages joining together at each of our three morning gatherings.

One of the many ways God has blessed us as a community is that we are pretty equally spread across all the age ranges. That's part of what the church is supposed to be, perhaps the only place left in our society where people of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds come together as one family - a foretaste of eternity!

This Sunday we want to celebrate that. For one Sunday to have all the ages together, to celebrate all of the different generations in our midst, but especially the children God has blessed us with. I read a recent report that almost half the churches in the UK have less than 5 under 16's attending. Last Sunday we had 188 under 12's, which is amazing and something to celebrate and thank God for!

OK, so it will be a bit chaotic! There are very good reasons why most Sundays our children are in age appropriate groups - that's part of the reason we have so many of them! But for one Sunday at least let's gather all together to celebrate and pray for one another.

Be assured that there will still be the normal private spaces for nursing mums to feed their babies, and we will be providing activities for the children to do during the meeting if they want them. Let's embrace the opportunity and have a great Sunday "All Together".

See you there :)


ps - the 6pm meeting in Bracknell is always an all age meeting! This week we're making it a worship evening - hope to see you there too!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Ten Top Tips for Taking up your Towel

On Sunday I gave some ideas on how we can go about taking up our towels and follow Jesus command to serve one another. Several people asked me if I could post the tips I gave, so here they are:

  1. Study Jesus and seek to imitate Him
  2. Know your identity in Christ
  3. Be the first to offer to make the drinks
  4. Wash the dishes / empty the dishwasher (without telling everyone you did it)
  5. Declutter your life so you have time to respond to unexpected requests for help
  6. Forgive others freely, as Jesus forgave you
  7. Be generous financially (you are blessed to be a blessing)
  8. Make space for people to come into your world
  9. Serve in our church community
  10. See Jesus in everyone
If you weren't there and want to know the detail behind any of these, you can find the pocast of Sunday here.

Hope you have a great week of towel carrying!


ps Don't forget Wenesday's prayer meeting - 8pm in K2. Please park in the surgery car park to leave space for all our guests on Alpha.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Ten Top Tips for Taking up your Towel

Last Sunday we looked at the example of Jesus taking up his towel and washing the disciples feet at the last supper. How he stepped down from the place of honour, did the job that the lowest of the servants should have been doing, and then stepped back into the place of honour, all of which was a picture of his life. Giving up heaven's riches to come and walk the earth, serving us by dying a criminal's death so that we could be reconciled to his Father, then returning to the place of honour alongside his Father. And then seeing how he now, out of the place of honour which has he bestowed on each of us who follow him, calls us to do what he has done and choose to serve others as he has served us.

This Sunday I want to take last weeks message further, looking practically at how do we go about living that sort of life. Should we literally be going round washing people's feet, or does it look different in 21st century Britain? Prepare to be challenged, and hopefully encouraged at some very simple things we can all do in order to daily take up our towels.

Hope to see you Sunday :)


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sabbatical Reflections - Theology Matters

One of the many excellent things I got to do on my sabbatical was to attend a three day theology conference, hosted by Andrew Wilson. The subject was 1 Corinthians, the letter which Paul wrote to the church in Corinth to address a number of different issues which he'd been told were impacting the church there.

Many of us will remember Andrew from the time he came and preached in Kerith, or may have heard him speak at a conference or read one of his excellent books. He's an elder in King's Church in Eastbourne, but is also someone God is raising up to have a much wider voice to both the church and society. Andrew has that rare gift of being both hugely gifted (and I don't use that phrase lightly) in terms of his understanding of how we should properly understand what the Bible teaches, whilst also having the ability to express his understanding in a way that ordinary human beings like you and me can understand!

It was excellent to spend three days going much deeper into the contents of a book than I would normally get time to do. Especially with 1 Corinthians as many of the issues Paul is addressing are issues the church in the UK faces too. Division in the church, living in a society which has a very different view of sex and sexuality, dealing with immorality in the church, the place of marriage, the correct use of spiritual gifts, the role of women in leadership and much more. It was a real privilege to be in the room as Andrew took us through the various different views people have held on how to interpret what 1 Corinthians teaches on these different subjects, and helped us to think about how we might come to our own conclusions about which position held the most weight.

One practical outcome of the conference is that I've started to learn New Testament Greek! I was deeply challenged when I was discussing a passage with the young lad I was sat next to (he only looked about 12 but he must have been older than that!) and he suddenly started reading from his Greek New Testament. I don't know how far I'll get, but even where I've got to so far is inspiring me to go deeper. There's something strangely moving about reading the words in the Greek and realising these are the actual words that Paul, Luke or John wrote - not just the interpreters translation of them into English. Don't worry - I'm not going to start trying to bamboozle anyone by claiming I know more than I actually do, which so far really isn't very much!

I'd like to encourage all of us to dig deeper into the Bible. I spent the whole of my sabbatical reading very slowly through John's gospel - spending about 4 days in each chapter. That was an incredible revelation as I felt I met Jesus in a deeper way. I'm now doing the same with Luke's gospel - in the 3 weeks since I got back I've made it to chapter 4! I don't know what that would mean for you? Starting a YouVersion reading plan? Getting a Beth Moore study guide and working your way through a book of the Bible? Joining me in learning Greek? As Christ followers it is our responsibility to feed ourselves - let's take that seriously and feed more deeply than we've ever done before.



Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Willow GLS Preparation

Only a few days now until our Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit on Friday and Saturday. We've already got over 350 delegates booked in, 30 European leaders coming to be trained on how to run GLS in their own nations and friends coming to us from churches we work with in Serbia and Bulgaria. Very exciting.

It's still not too late to book in, which you can do here. And if you're part of Kerith you can still get a 65% discount, allowing you to get in to the two days for £35 or either Friday or Saturday for £21.15. You will need to get a promotional code which you can get by emailing our reception team.

Will Salmon, who heads up Willow in the UK, did a great blog last week with some ideas on getting ready for the Summit. I thought I'd include his ideas here, so that you can be in the best possible place to receive all God has for us on Friday and Saturday.

Hope to see you there :)



Here Are Some Ways You Can Prepare:

1. Pray. Ask God to clear your mind of clutter, prepare your spirit to learn a new truth and open your heart to hear His words to you as a leader.

2. Download the GLSnext app here. With this newly released resource, you can continue your learning after the Summit. Find hundreds of Global Leadership Summit video shorts organised by leadership topic (with more added each week). The entire leadership library is at your fingertips. And it’s free!

3. Watch a Pixar movie with a kid or a tween. Pull out a longtime favourite from your DVD collection or go to the cinema and watch the recently released Inside Out. Discuss your thoughts about the movie. Ed Catmull will give us a unique window into Pixar’s culture and how they manage to create innovative and impactful films, every time.

4. Think about the last time you received really bad customer service? List the elements that made it so awful and what could have turned it around. Horst Schulze will give us a deeper understanding of the mechanics of good service.

5. Read the story of the Feeding of the 5000 in John 6. One of the Summit talks will be built around this biblical text. Whose? We’ll let that be a surprise!

6. Take Liz Wiseman’s* Rookie Smarts quiz here.

7. Identify a recent time when you took a risk for a project or relationship – but something went wrong. Bring that experience to mind for Dr. BrenĂ© Brown’s* session. She will help us explore healthy ways we can emerge, Rising Strong, after a failure.

8. Get social with us! “Like” The Global Leadership Summit and WCA UK/IRE on Facebook. Follow the GLS and WCA UK/IRE on Twitter. Follow the conversation happening with the hashtag #GLS15. You’re definitely going to want to post and tweet about your experience!

9. BOOK YOURSELF IN or ADD TO YOUR TEAM. Call us on 023 8071 0295. We might even offer you a discount!