Saturday, 31 October 2009

Just a mum

This week my wife and I sat down to pray and plan the week ahead. I was struck by the river of blessing which flows out of a household when the wife can be released into a fuller homeward orientation.

Not valued or recognised by our culture, biblically this is a very high calling and I'm starting to see the fruit of it in my household. For some this is not possible at all. For some this could mean downsizing, for us it means not having loads of money but we feel its well worth the sacrifice.
Vision from God
"To love and worship Jesus through building a home that blesses, supports and helps my husband, disciples my children and influences the community for good." (Chlo's vision from Genesis 2v18 Titus 2).
Study
My wife has had the time to read and research how to raise our boy. Both practically through the NCT website and spiritually through books like 'Shepherding a Child's Heart'. She is also enjoying reading John Stott's 'The cross of Christ' and 'Marriage to a Difficult Man' (!) by Sarah Edwards (Jonathan Edward's wife). Like all mums should be, she wants to be a good theologian for her role. This is not wasted on my boy and will serve our family well as it grows as well as our Church and community.
Finance
She handles much of the outflow of money from our household. My wife will spend thousands over the year. Her decisions and wisdom will largely determine how we go financially. She is a real giver and is often aware of needs and we are able to give small gifts to demonstrate her heart. She also hopes to use our garden at some point to grow as much food as she can (which at the moment is about 3 tomatoes).
Community
Chlo was able to have 5 mums and babies over this week. Babies and toys everywhere. We were also able to have one of my best friends and his girlfriend round this week. Chloe has also been able to connect and share life with ladies on our square over the recent months.
Church
Chloe and her friend organised and cooked for 21 guys who came round after Church on Sunday. We were able to have some good friends over and Chlo had three student girls over as she shares her life with those in our Church family. We had nearly 40 people (large and small) through our house this week.
She also goes through nearly every sermon with me that I preach. She offers much wisdom and many a sermon has been restarted from her direct and helpful comments. :-)
Home
She has time to make our home nice! She does a lot of hard work around our home which releases blessing. This is such a gift for me and for others as they come into our home. :-)
Mary was just a mum as well. She raised Jesus - who saved the world, and James, who led a huge Church in Jerusalem.
It's amazing how God values and uses this role.
My wife did not catch this vision from our culture. She has cultivated it as she reads the Bible and draws close to God through various sources. I love her. She is the biggest blessing I have been given after Jesus himself. She is amazing. I know she is being challenged and stretched in all of the above. Especially as she is being woken up a few times a night by Rufio. She is a soldier who is strong and courageous as well as beautifully feminine.
Homebuilding:

Submission:

Homes that change the world!

Titus 2 series:




Friday, 30 October 2009

Sex in a different position

For those who requested, you can catch my sermon from the other week on my friend's blog:

Great sermons

Here is a link to a couple of my favourite talks from last years leadership conference in Brighton.
4. Main Session 4 - Daniel: Engaging with Society/David Stroud
http://www.newfrontiers.xtn.org/resources/talks-and-preaches/select-event/leadership-international-09/main-sessions/

This was very helpful for me and also a couple of my doctor friends. For those of you who are working in the world, this is a must listen.

Joel Virgo preached an exceptional sermon on the armour bearer.

7. Main Session 7 - The Armour Bearer/Joel Virgo
A great message which I found very stirring and challenging if we are to build churches which genuinely impact our cities. Another must listen!

A vision for life

Check out http://www.mobilise.xtn.org/
The early bird catches the worm! We are booking everything early this year to ensure 1) People know about it. 2) People have time to plan for it. 3) To ensure the cheapest rates.
Catch the vision
This week in the summer has been a life shaping week for me. Its filled with great teaching and times of praise and worship as you catch God's heart for the nations through God's plan of local churches.
Stay together
We have booked a hostel on the sea front within a short walk of the venue. I should be a good time as we stay together as family from Exeter!
Key info...

Conference dates 6-9th July 2010
Accommodation: £54
First instalment of £27 due now (by 15th November)
Second instalment of £27 due in May
Conference cost: TBC (Booking opens in January). But to give an indication, last year it was £30 for students, if paid by early March. You will have to book this yourself online but we will keep you informed...
Make sure you grab a letter and response slip from us on Sunday. :-)

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Alpha


Another nice evening down at Nico's. Good to eat among friends and have a catch up. I was particularly pleased with the apple slices for pudding.
The subject for the evening was the Resurrection. John Fielder again spoke passionately and clearly and I found it really helpful.
I believe that Jesus physically died. I believe that he was physically and supernaturally brought back to life. Am I mad? Am I lying? or could this possibly be true? What are the implications if Jesus was raised to life? What does that mean for my Gran? What does this mean for the people in my city who die every day? What impact does this have on my life? How does this change my approach to death? What does this say about Jesus? What about other religions?
In our group the size of the claim was something that we considered. It was helpfully pointed out in our group the need for a scientific and thorough examination of the evidence. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15 the implications if Jesus did not rise. (No forgiveness, preaching is pointless, faith is empty, the apostles are liars and all those who have died are lost.)
The stakes could not be higher. For those investigating or weighing up their faith, the Resurrection is a great place to go.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Why every student should consider applying for Impact

Many students finish university and would be wise to consider an Impact year. The timing and quality of this year offers a unique opportunity...

  • To build deep foundations in God through extended study and teaching.
  • To work in a team of people who are passionate for God.
  • To explore identify and grow specific areas of gifting.
  • To leave a genuine and lasting investment in people and their walk with God.
  • To establish yourself as a servant to the bless the city.
  • To see the Church grow and gather momentum.
  • To prepare you for the next phase of life in God.

For many the timing of this year is perfect...

No wife/family to support yet. No mortgage commitments yet. No work commitments yet.

If you are considering serving in this way, keep your eyes open for application forms and interview dates.

Band of Brothers

After eating, studying and praying, we made our way down to Heavitree Park for the 'Heavitree Olympics'. Great to get the guys together and really good to get to know some the freshers better.

Brilliantly organised by Joel and Mark, 2 teams, 5 events, 1 king of the ring.

Cream bandanna's vs. blue bandanna's we kicked off with three legged football. Despite the off the ball collisions from a certain Mobbs and Slater, the blues came up 1-0 winners. Always fun to score the winner especially when you are tied to a worship leader with a considerably sized glutes.

Pick pocket wrestling was next. We picked four of the keenest from our team to face the others. The long arms of Ryan Hanley were almost as impressive as his dress code. Stripey shorts up to his chest and hair everywhere made him easily the best dressed.

Dan Partridge was outstanding in frisbee showing he offers more than just chat. His long throws and the octopus arms of Jono made it 3-0 to the blue 'Rydogs'. Tug of war and stick wrestling brought us home. I got beaten up by Mark Williamson much to my frustration! To make matters worse I have a sore neck, shoulder and shin this morning.

I think we need to re asses as men as we now face the reality of Matt Giles as king of the ring. His intimidation tactic of shirt off, trousers up, war dancing while painting mud on his chest and face saw him go home with the trophy. This can't happen again.

Band of Brothers

Great to have the boys into my house on Sunday afternoon.

We ate together, opened the Bible together and prayed together. This was followed by the 'Heavitree Olympics'. Two teams, 5 events and one king of the ring!

Men’s Bible study 1 – ‘Gospel Men’

Kick off questions:

When you were growing up, who did you look at and think, ‘he is the man’!? Films,books,TV,Sports etc.
What does culture say about the differences between man and women?

Read Genesis chapter 1 v 26 – 28 & Genesis 2 v 15 – 18.

What do these verses tell us about…
Who made us?
Whose image/glory men and women are to equally reflect?
The different roles for men and women?
Mankind’s role on earth?
How God felt about this in his creation?

Sum up what a real man is according to Genesis 1 & 2?

Read Genesis 3 v 2 – 6

How did the man (Adam) fail?
Some men abuse, some men abdicate responsibility. In imaging God we are to morally perfect. How have we failed to be men? (Romans 3v23)
Can you think of anyone who has perfectly reflected the image of God, treated women well, always did the right thing, and taken responsibility? Read Hebrews 4v15.

What did his death achieve?
Matt 20v28 Romans 3v23 & 24 Romans 8v29

In light of the above, how has God helped us to become real men?
What is the first thing you need to do if you want to be a real man?
Who is our model of manhood?
What is the ultimate purpose of being a real man?

Read some of the following verses to get a flavor of this man who we will study in the following weeks…

Matt 23v33 John 2v14-16 Phil 2v8
John 11v33-35 Luke 7v13
A couple of verse to think about:
Ephesians 5v25-27 1 Tim5v8

Friday, 23 October 2009

Sex in a different position

Must reads:
A Celebration of Sex Guidebook
by Ph. D. Deborah C. Neel Ed D. Douglas E. Rosenau R. N. Ma Ed W. Ellen Fox

Sex, Romance and the glory of God
by CJ Mahaney

Pro 5:18 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
Pro 5:19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.

Application for men…
Plan an evening to bless your wife.
(Hopefully you will do this every week)

What do you need to organise?
Babysitter?
Food/wine/will you cook? Go for a drink? Budget? What does she like?
Candles?
Music – what is her favourite?
Quality time – turn off phone!
Communication… Have you heard her heart?
Energy levels – go home ready to give!
Clothes – what does she like you to wear?

Share your preferences of your partner as you seek to bless each other:

Husband/wife likes and dislikes:

Smell

Sight

Sound

Taste

Touch

What solutions do you have to the following barriers to regular, good, sex?

1) Too busy/tired
2) Inhibitions
3) Tension, conflict
4) Parenting demands
5) Procrastination

Which of the following would help you each night?

Go to bed at the same time/early
Tidy house
Teach the children to respect locked door
Schedule lovemaking around preferred times
Connect while apart (call,text,note,voicemail.)
Create a good atmosphere/anticipation/communication

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Alpha

Last night after meeting some new people and having a good meal among friends, I was reminded of the monumental nature of the claims of Jesus Christ.

John Fielder is an inspiring and passionate man who laid out some great teaching for us to consider.

If I was genuinely convinced that I was the president of the USA and told people I was for many years, I wonder what you would think of me. I would not be accepted as a sane balanced person. I would rule myself out of being a good moral teacher. Similarly if I thought I was a poached egg... even more so if I thought I was God.

Jesus claimed to be God. Last night we looked at six areas of evidence as we pondered the possibility that this man could have been what he claimed. These stand out to me...

1) His unrivalled moral teaching.
2) His breathtaking character and integrity.
3) His commitment to his claim even to torture and death.

In our group we landed on the importance of the reliability of the Bible and the NT documents to uphold the historical Jesus. A great point to make if we are to be persuaded.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The Lounge - Sunday 18th October


We enjoyed another good evening in The Lounge. Music was played, we watched a video, I spoke and then we opened the mic.

Good music, great people.

The bar was packed, there were many new faces and our live acts were brilliant. The good music provided a backdrop for mates to catch up and a chance to meet new people. The open mic provided a chance for guests on the evening to contribute with a song or two. We had a talented pianist who played some great stuff. I particularly enjoyed his ‘jazzy number’.

Jesus hates religion.

It was good to be able to share some of the spice of the gospel to provoke thought for guests and to push for integrity from our Christians. The theme was morality and we looked at ‘being religious’, ‘being good’ and ‘gospel’. I talked about how people who make rules, fulfil them and then feel justified are by definition self righteous. They are in danger of pride or despair as they either succeed or fail. Whether religious or moral, Jesus may have attacked you for hypocrisy!

By contrast the Gospel says that we are all the same and offers us a free gift which gives no grounds to boast. Free from pride, despair, dead religion to life and knowing God. I invited our guests to consider this difference and suggested to Christians the dangers of religion and that we may owe people apologies for self righteous hypocrisy.

Pub preaching?

One of our guests described my talk as a combination of spirituality and stand up comedy. I hope my colloquial style is easy to receive in this context. The team seemed pleased and we are hoping more people will catch what we’re about and enjoy The Lounge.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

8 Reasons God wants Christians to be part of a local Church



1) To meet with other believers/Church family. (Hebrews 10v25)

2) To worship God through Jesus. (Ephesians 5v19)

3) To be taught from the Bible. (Matt 28v20 2 Tim 4v2 Acts 2v42)

4) To celebrate communion. (Luke 22v19 Acts 2v42)

5) To baptize believers. (Matt 28v18-20)

6) To be under Godly authority of male elders. (1Tim3 Titus1 Acts14v23 Hebrews 13v17 1Peter 5v5.)

7) To be in environment where discipline functions for the good of all. (Matt 18v15-20 1Cor 4 Titus3v10)

8) To work together in loving the city. (John 17v18)

Closer

This Sunday night some members of our Church met to spend some time drawing closer to God.

The event was called 'Closer'. It was a great evening. I particularly enjoyed praying for those in the Church who I hugely respect but do not get to catch that much time with. I love our people.

Prophetic words were shared, tongues were sung & interpreted, people sang spontaneous songs. The whole evening was about drawing close to God through prayer and intentionally opening our hearts and asking for more of God. All this was done under the oversight of our lead elder who both encouraged released and weighed words as we went.

I love the reading the Bible every day. I love hearing great preaching. I have seasons where I listen to a sermon a day. I love to study the Bible in detail. But I also really value time to just stand with my brothers and sisters and ask God for more of him through the gifts which he gives us by His Spirit. I'm glad this is going to be a monthly feature.

6 Reasons Pastors should blog

6 Reasons Pastors Should Blog
By: Abraham Piper

1. …to write.

If you’re a pastor, you probably already know the value writing has for thinking. Through writing, you delve into new ideas and new insights. If you strive to write well, you will at the same time be striving to think well.

Then when you share new ideas and new insights, readers can come along with you wherever your good writing and good thinking bring you.

There is no better way to simply and quickly share your writing than by maintaining a blog. And if you’re serious about your blog, it will help you not only in your thinking, but in your discipline as well, as people begin to regularly expect quality insight from you.

2. …to teach.

Most pastors I’ve run into love to talk. Many of them laugh at themselves about how long-winded they’re sometimes tempted to be.
Enter Blog.

Here is where a pastor has an outlet for whatever he didn’t get to say on Sunday. Your blog is where you can pass on that perfect analogy you only just thought of; that hilarious yet meaningful story you couldn’t connect to your text no matter how hard you tried; that last point you skipped over even though you needed it to complete your 8-point acrostic sermon that almost spelled HUMILITY.

And more than just a catch-all for sermon spill-over, a blog is a perfect place for those 30-second nuggets of truth that come in your devotions or while you’re reading the newspaper. You may never write a full-fledged article about these brief insights or preach a whole sermon, but via your blog, your people can still learn from them just like you did.

3. …to recommend.

With every counseling session or after-service conversation, a pastor is recommending something. Sometimes it’s a book or a charity. Maybe it’s a bed-and-breakfast for that couple he can tell really needs to get away. And sometimes it’s simply Jesus.

With a blog, you can recommend something to hundreds of people instead of just a few. Some recommendations may be specific to certain people, but that seems like it would be rare. It’s more likely to be the case that if one man asks you whether you know of any good help for a pornography addiction, then dozens of other men out there also need to know, but aren’t asking.
Blog it.

Recommendation, however, is more than pointing people to helpful things. It’s a tone of voice, an overall aura that good blogs cultivate.

Blogs are not generally good places to be didactic. Rather, they’re ideal for suggesting and commending. I’ve learned, after I write, to go back and cut those lines that sound like commands or even overbearing suggestions, no matter how right they may be. Because if it’s true for my audience, it’s true for me, so why not word it in such a way that I’m the weak one, rather than them?

People want to know that their pastor knows he is an ordinary, imperfect human being. They want to know that you’re recommending things that have helped you in your own weakness. If you say, “When I struggled with weight-loss, I did such-and-such,” it will come across very differently than if you say, “Do such-and-such if you’re over-weight…”

If you use your blog to encourage people through suggesting and commending everything from local restaurants to Jesus Christ, it will complement the biblical authority that you rightly assume when you stand behind the pulpit.

4. …to interact.

There are a lot of ways for a pastor to keep his finger on the pulse of his people. A blog is by no means necessary in this regard. However, it does add a helpful new way to stay abreast of people’s opinions and questions.

Who knows what sermon series might arise after a pastor hears some surprising feedback about one of his 30-second-nuggets-of-truth?

5. …to develop an eye for what is meaningful.

For good or ill, most committed bloggers live with the constant question in their mind: Is this bloggable? This could become a neurosis, but I’ll put a positive spin on it: It nurtures a habit of looking for insight and wisdom and value in every situation, no matter how mundane.

If you live life looking for what is worthwhile in every little thing, you will see more of what God has to teach you. And the more he teaches you, the more you can teach others. As you begin to be inspired and to collect ideas, you will find that the new things you’ve seen and learned enrich far more of your life than just your blog.

6. …to be known.

This is where I see the greatest advantage for blogging pastors.

Your people hear you teach a lot; it’s probably the main way that most of them know you. You preach on Sundays, teach on Wednesdays, give messages at weddings, funerals, youth events, retreats, etc.

This is good—it’s your job. But it’s not all you are. Not that you need to be told this, but you are far more than your ideas. Ideas are a crucial part of your identity, but still just a part.

You’re a husband and a father. You’re some people’s friend and other people’s enemy. Maybe you love the Nittany Lions. Maybe you hate fruity salad. Maybe you struggle to pray. Maybe listening to the kids’ choir last weekend was—to your surprise—the most moving worship experience you’ve ever had.

These are the things that make you the man that leads your church. They’re the windows into your personality that perhaps stay shuttered when you’re teaching the Bible. Sometimes your people need to look in—not all the way in, and not into every room—but your people need some access to you as a person. A blog is one way to help them.

You can’t be everybody’s friend, and keeping a blog is not a way of pretending that you can. It’s simply a way for your people to know you as a human being, even if you can’t know them back. This is valuable, not because you’re so extraordinary, but because leadership is more than the words you say. If you practice the kind of holiness that your people expect of you, then your life itself opened before them is good leadership—even when you fail.

Conclusion

For most of you, anything you post online will only be a small piece in the grand scheme of your pastoral leadership. But if you can maintain a blog that is both compelling and personal, it can be an important small piece.

It will give you access to your people’s minds and hearts in a unique way by giving them a chance to know you as a well-rounded person. You will no longer be only a preacher and a teacher, but also a guy who had a hard time putting together a swing-set for his kids last weekend. People will open up for you as you open up like this for them. Letting people catch an honest glimpse of your life will add authenticity to your teaching and depth to your ministry,

Friday, 9 October 2009

Singing to the Father

I was having a some time reading the Bible and praying with my wife the other day. I found myself singing to Father God. I found it quite overwhelming.

How deep is your love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That you should give your only Son
To make a wretch your treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
You turned your face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold your Son upon a cross,
My sin upon your shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held you there
Until it was accomplished
Your dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast you my God
Your death and resurrection

Why should I gain from your reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
Your wounds have paid my ransom

Kubernesis


'Kubernesis' translated 'gift of administration' in 1Cor12v28 is referring to the helmsman, pilot or ship master. The role involves implementing vision, releasing, planning, delegating and monitoring.

Those gifted at this task for the Church will need to be persuaded of the bigger picture. They need to have a deep conviction of the Church and a heart for the city.

5 duties of a navigator which are applicable to Church:

1) They know where we are going.
Know the heart and vision of the leaders.

2) They know where we are at the moment.
Measure and monitor how we are doing clearly and honestly.

3) They are able to communicate effectively with people.
Build teams, motivate and empower others to achieve our goals.

4) They are able to foresee problems and find solutions.
Offer innovation and ways of doing things more effectively.

5) They literally make things happen.
Own and love the vision.

Biblical examples:
Joseph Genesis 41v33-36
David 1 Chron 22v1-5
Moses Exodus 18v13-26
Jesus Matt 14v16-21

Without this gifting Churches will not run well. Leaders will not lead effectively and people will not hear about Jesus. This role is massive.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Men of conviction


I have grown up in a generation whose parents have de valued and eroded family and roles within the family as God intends. Divorce, separation and bad marriages are common experiences inside and outside the Church.

Some men abuse. Being physically stronger some men dominate and abuse women. Some men abdicate. They do not take responsibility and let their wives carry the weight which God has asked them to carry to release the wife to be all she should be. Some explain this role away but God still holds men accountable.

I see a generation

I am increasingly finding myself around young men who by God's grace have a deep conviction and a hunger to be the men who God has made them to be. A burn which drives men to make big decisions, to be open and appreciative of direct rebukes and a commitment to love wives self sacrificially. I even find students wanting to prepare for this calling. I find this refreshing and exciting.

Do you see the beauty?

Men made to lead as head (1cor11v3) to provide (1Tim5v8) to protect and guide morally (Gen2v16-17) (Eph5v26) and to lay down his life down for his wife just like Jesus did for the Church. (Eph5v25).

Our women should feel loved, valued, treasured, prioritized, cared for, covered, secure, prayed for, supported, lead well and released into all kinds of ministry. Teaching (Titus2) Leading ministry areas, mission and loads more.

A great sermon from CJ Mahaney
http://www.sovereigngracestore.com/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=A1010-03-51
"A husbands responsibility and how to change" which I think outlines the truth but also the beauty of God's plan. "Who would not want a head like that?!"

My hope

Currently New Frontiers stick out like a sore thumb in the evangelical world with regard to gender roles both in marriage and Church. I know many do not come to our Church over this issue. I hope as men we start by taking responsibility in building a culture where the wonder of God's plan and the beauty of it are evident in every mans heart, every household and in our Church. A place where men honour and serve women as sisters and wives unlike the world has seen for generations. A place where both men and women can be all God intends with great joy. A place which teaches and demonstrates a way out of the mess of broken families where our culture broadly finds itself. The men who I have spent time with recently give me great hope.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Lounge - Sunday 4th October

The candles were lit, the music was playing and the people arrived. We had a great night on Sunday getting to meet some new students and catching up with some old.


Tim Allen and Matt Giles played as our main acts before picking up the theme of the evening. "What are you living for?" The video clips from town was interesting and then I spoke for 10-15mins asking the big question, "What is your hearts desire?" "What do you want above all else?" I proposed the idea that this is an object of worship and therefore its worth asking, "Is this good for me?" Relationships, family, work, sex, morality? Are they good enough to give your life to?


We then opened up the text Q&A. Helpfully someone pointed out that I was flying low, there was a request for more men in Church (from Pompey) and some really good ones.


"How do I apply the idea of worshipping Jesus?"

"Why is Jesus so good that I should worship him?"


We then opened up the mic to bring the night home. We had a couple of great acts and many offering to play next time.


We were pleased with the evening. The team worked hard and were packing down late into the night. The Impacters are serving very well so far. As a team we have a few things to work on to make the evening more snappy. These evenings are designed to be very open for guests and also for regulars in Church. It was great to see a mixture on Sunday nights and we hope this continues...