Monday, 30 November 2009

The Lounge - Sunday 29th November

Another full bar enjoyed live music from Alex and Ben, playing keys and guitar, followed by our very own Tim Allen. I like The Lounge. I got the chance to connect with more people within our Church and also had a chance to meet guests who were with us again. Some had been before and some were there for the first time.
The theme of the evening was alcohol/drunkenness. Jono's work on the videos this term has been exceptional. This week I thought was insightful of the variety of views among students when it comes to alcohol consumption. It was also very funny. We heard stories of one student mistaking his laptop for a toilet and another losing their nipple!?
I shared my experience of drinking culture at university and the reasons I think people love the smash! Drunkenness brings community, adventure and freedom from thinking about yourself all the time! I went on to speak about becoming a Christian and being under the influence of something a little different...
"Do not be drunk from wine... but be filled with the Spirit."
I talked about how authentic Christianity is supernatural living. Community, adventure and freedom from thinking about yourself all the time! I talked a bit about Jesus and a bit about the early Church in Acts. I was clear that drunkenness is not acceptable among believers but that our goal is not just to be sober, but be filled with the Spirit. We then had a short break before I interviewed a friend of mine about supernatural living and healing he had seen in the last few weeks. John Fielder is a legend.

I hope that our guests found the evening provocative and that all the Christians were more than challenged to pursue authentic Christian living.
We also picked up a few questions from the texts. Here are a few rough notes from how John and I responded
  • "You have the Spirit, I have my alcohol. Comments?"
John and I both commented on the negative effects of alcohol and the positive effects of the Spirit on individuals and the community. The Spirit takes you to God himself!
  • "Can Christians smoke weed in moderation?"
Christians are called to obey the law. So no. Also why would you give yourself to be under the influence of drugs when you can know God himself. Its a poor substitute.
  • "Some people say, 'if you don't want to get wet, stay out of the river.' Can this principle apply to alcohol?"
Yes and no. If you find it difficult to drink and not get drunk, we'd look at the principle of the weaker brother in scripture to help. (Romans 14) We're not aiming for a blanket ban however. The aim is that we are filled by the Spirit and enjoy a drink, just like Jesus.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Alpha - suffering

It is getting towards the end of the current Alpha course. One more week to go. We've heard about Jesus. We've heard about sin and we've heard the offer of rescue. Many questions have been raised and thoughts shared as people are slowly deciding for themselves how to respond.
Last night John asked me to speak on the subject of suffering. I'm not an expert and I would not consider myself as someone who has really suffered. So in all humility I walked us through the life of Jesus from his birth to his death making the point that Jesus was the suffering servant.
Born in a situation of poverty, no sign of Dad in the gospels after a certain point. He saw his friend die and his cousin murdered as he walked through life on the earth feeling pain and grief.
We see suffering like that of Baby P and something inside us screams out, 'There is something wrong with the world!' We get angry and rightly so. We find ourselves agreeing with Jesus who was and is angry. Turning over tables, using rightly harsh words and talking about wrath and fury Jesus expresses something of what we feel in our hearts.
Jesus taught into the issue of suffering. We are all in trouble. He asks us, 'Will you be rescued?' The world needs saving and so do you.
When God made the world, He knew it would fall. But he also knew what it would cost Him to restore it. Jesus and the Father agreed the plan. He was abandoned, stripped, abused, beaten, mocked, spat on, tortured, separated from His Father as He faced the wrath of God. Jesus knew suffering.
Jesus lived in the world familiar with suffering feeling the pain and the anger. He taught into the issue and then suffered beyond words to offer us reconciliation.
It is always difficult teaching on a subject like this. There is not exactly a 'feel good' factor in the room afterwards! I hope it was helpful. As I reflect on this topic I am amazed at the reality of the gospel, the weight of sin and the love of God. As I walk this life I expect to suffer and so I'm grateful to know a man I can go to who has more than been there.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

In step, every step...

If I was to go out for day with my wife and ignore her for long periods when she wanted to communicate with me I'd be an idiot. It would be very rude to the one I love and not helpful for our relationship.
If I was to be in a key meeting at work, and had a world expert in the room, and did not ask for his/her advice I would be a fool. If I had the designer of my work sat next to me and made big decisions without consultation I would be a fool.
If I was at home working out how best to love my family and had someone there who was an expert in family life, leadership and counselling, and I did not seek their help, something would be deeply wrong.
If I told you I love and respect someone in life above all else and did not passionately seek communication every day, I'm not sure you would believe me.

As a Christian, I have the Spirit of God walking with me each day in every situation. The eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9v14) uncreated along with the Father and the Son was there in the beginning. (Genesis 1v2) He is fully God and is of equal majesty and everlasting glory. He is maker of all, expert of all, and He loves people. He designed family, he is an expert in every discipline. He is the great counsellor. He is God with me. Its so easy to forget Him! It's so easy to be a foolish, proud, uncaring, hypocrite it seems...

I'm glad He is so patient.

I'm glad He is forgiving.

I'm glad and excited that He is so willing.

I'm inspired to walk with Him more each day.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


2,000 years ago, in the middle east, Jesus Christ told his followers to go and make disciples and baptize them.
On Sunday it was amazing to see this commandment lived out. In the South West of England, Devon, Exeter his commandments are being obeyed with joy and conviction in front of hundreds of witnesses. What an influence Jesus has had, and continues to have on people all over the world!
Baptism is of course part of our response for salvation so it was a very important day for many. It contributes nothing to earn salvation, but is part of how we receive it by faith. Normal Christian life begins with baptism. As a church we aimed to serve our guys well by having our worship led as best we can and a message which was helpful for our guests in particular.
It was good to pray for those who were taking this step of faith. My wife enjoyed doing some of the dunking! I particularly enjoyed seeing my brother in law taking this big step as well as others who we have shared our lives with up to this point.

Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Mat 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Mat 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Raising women to pursue godliness in all areas of life...

Encouraging prophets (Acts21v9) missionaries (John 4v29) businesswomen (Acts16v14) pioneers (Acts18 Romans 16v1) and homebuilders (Titus2 Proverbs31) who can handle the Word of God and walk with the Spirit.

Ladies night is part of Church life where women are taught by, and connect with, other women in the Church family.

Its my hope and prayer that we will have women in our Church…

Who move in the prophetic…
1Co 14:24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all,
1Co 14:25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.

Act 21:8 On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.
Act 21:9 He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied.

Missional women…
Joh 4:28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people,
Joh 4:29 "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?"

Godly businesswomen...
Act 16:14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.
Act 16:15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us.

Act 16:40 So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.

Pioneering women...
Sense of adventure for God…
Look at the life of Aquila… she was amazing… what an adventure…
Acts 18

Rom 16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae,
Rom 16:2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.

Vision of homebuilding…
Napoleon was asked what could be done to restore the prestige of France he said, “Give us better mothers!”
Pro 31:25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
Pro 31:26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
Pro 31:27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Pro 31:28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
Pro 31:29 "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all."
Pro 31:30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Pro 31:31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

Handling/teaching the Bible...
Act 18:24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures.
Act 18:25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
Act 18:26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

Women teaching on impact…
Teaching in kids work…
Teach other women…
among the opportunities in church life...

Tit 2:3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,
Tit 2:4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,
Tit 2:5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Recommended reading...

Men's Bible study 2 - 'Men of sacrifice'

Big Idea: Because Jesus died for us, we are radically freed to live sacrificial lives in marriage and in the Church for the city

Sum from Genesis…
Made by God, in his image, to reflect his glory. Different from females, given responsibility to work and to protect moral climate. Made to rule the earth, man to lead, be responsible. God says this is good.

We have failed… To be a real man we need Jesus!
Jesus didn’t.
He imputes righteousness
He transforms us by his grace.

Kick off questions…

What is the biggest sacrifice you have made and what was it for?
Are you married? Would you like to be one day?

Pray & Read Ephesians 5v25-26

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
Eph 5:26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, Eph 5:27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

What does it mean for you to make a sacrifice?
For you?
For others?

From the text, and the following questions how are husbands to love their wives? How are you to love your (future) wife? (Verse 25)
What did Jesus do?
How does that motivate you?

What is the purpose/goal our sacrificial lifestyle for our (future) wives? Verse 26 & 27

What are you preparing her for?

If you want to be a good husband how are you to view the following…
Word of God
Your own preferences
The point of your marriage

How does that challenge you today?

Regardless of whether you will marry…
What is Jesus’ heart for the Church?
What is the final destination of the Church?

What is your part to play?
Look up the following: 1Cor14v26 1peter2v9 Gal6v2 Gal 5v13 Eph4v32 James5v16 Hebrews 13v16

What sacrifices are you going to have to make to build church as Jesus wants you to?

What should our attitude be towards…
Church meetings
Your brothers and sisters
Homegroup/I.D. etc

How can you balance commitments to the Church family, work, mission and hobbies? Is there enough time for it all?

Pray for each other…

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Alpha - Faith

I really enjoyed Alpha last night. I do fear that may have been guilty of over eating! Good to have dinner among friends again and great to catch up with Ben and Roz and hear about Bolivia.

John spoke on repentance and faith after grace last week. He made some very helpful points about faith. We all choose what to trust and rely upon with our decisions big and small. The question is what or who do you trust? He shared the joy of repentance. Its truly awesome that we get to turn from whatever we are doing and turn to trusting and believing our maker.

Some good points and observations were made in our discussion...
  • Many people seem to trust and put 'faith in' friends and family values or achievement in whatever form.
  • Faith and reason have a curious relationship. They are certainly not opposites. But many people exercise blind faith in friends and family or achievements which don't promise what we look to them for.
  • When comparing Jesus as someone to trust it can stir both a sense of security and stability for some and provoke fear in others.
It was a real privilege to hear people speaking honestly about these issues.

Lounge Q & A request...

Here are some rough notes from how I responded to some questions last week for those interested...

Does size matter?!
This was a joke, but I felt it was worth picking up. Within the context of an exclusive life long sexual relationship your partner is your standard of beauty and body composition that God made for you. Within marriage you can enjoy the adventure and exploration of enjoying each other free from false comparisons. So size can bless... but then 'its not the size of the fish - its the motion in the ocean'...?! haha. The most import dynamic for good sex lives is commitment, trust and exclusivity in marriage built on faith in Jesus.
If I'm willing to die for my partner, can I sleep with them?
If you are willing to die for them, then you should marry them. Then you can sleep with them.
Should Christians go to the safer sex ball?

Questions to consider...
What are you living for?
What are you trying to build with your life?
Does this help or hinder?
I'd say given the levels of alcohol consumption and nakedness that I would not go because it would be both unhelpful and unfruitful.
Is passionate kissing ok if you're not married?
In the Church, if you are not married, you are brother and sister. How do you kiss within your family? I know this might depend on where you grew up but its not normal! She/he may marry someone else. How would you feel to be at their wedding?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Who am I?

Jesus Christ was a preacher (Luke20v1) who performed miracles (John2v11) got angry at sin (John2v15) had compassion for people (John11v25) healed many (John5v8) washed feet (John13v12) and raised people from the dead (John12v17) and did many other great works that were not written down. (John20v30)

John 14:12 He said to his followers...
"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me... (I think this means me and many I know)
...will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”

We see his followers in Acts...
Preaching (Acts 4v8) getting angry (Acts5v3) compassionate (Acts 2v45) seeing healing (Acts 4v14) miraculous escapes (Acts 12v7) and many more great works of the Spirit done by the disciples.

As I write an essay for leadership training I am pondering...

Who am I in Christ?

What should I expect?

What does he require of me?

What should we see within the Church of Jesus Christ?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The Lounge - Sunday 15th November

We had another good night at The Lounge this week. The bar was packed again and half the people there were guests who really seemed to enjoy the evening. James Dickson opened the evening. He is class and a really good bloke. Another guest Jo played second and he is also very talented. The open mic was brilliant again. Contributions were of a very high standard and good to watch. I particularly enjoyed the keys and guitar combination and I was loving the slide guitar.
The topic for the evening was 'sex preaches'. I told some stories of my experience of teaching in Church and suggested the idea that sex is a good gift that tells us about God. I shared a verse from the Bible about having sex outside - God is good. :-) The joy and thrill of sex tells us he is a God who gives us good gifts to enjoy and bless us. Knowing Jesus, "better than orgasm!" Good sex is merely a signpost to the maker. The relational depth of connection tells us something of the relational nature of God and the context (within marriage) tells us something of God's commitment to his people.
I had some fun answering questions which were text in...
Does size matter?!
If I'm willing to die for my partner, can I sleep with them?
Should Christians go to the safer sex ball?
Is passionate kissing ok if you're not married?
I was glad to be open and honest and also to teach directly what God says about these issues in a way people seemed to be receiving. Thank you Jesus.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Don

One of the best things about New Frontiers Leadership training is the chance to meet men who have built churches and fought great battles for the gospel.
Don Smith has planted two successful Churches in his lifetime. Last year I was introduced to him. I reached my hand out to shake his and he punched me in the stomach. I was a bit shocked but felt an invitation to banter so I went to rugby tackle him and lifted him up on my shoulder. I then realised I had an old man on my shoulders and that I should probably put him down - gently! So let him down. As soon as his feet were on the floor he got me into a headlock and wrestled me to the floor. It was on... Welcome to leadership training.
This year Don was a little more mellow. Classic Don jokes were around. "80% of people die in their beds, so get up!" He was pumping vision for the local Church. He was preaching how there is no other plan and the his conviction of church planting. Brilliant.

He answered questions for the young leaders and finished by laying out these three simple yet profound and sustaining comments for us youngsters...
1) Know that God has called you and that HE will equip you.
2) Work hard. No substitute for hard work.
3) Stand on the Bible and walk with the Spirit.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Right here, right now.

I have read testimonies of persecution in countries such as China and ponder how we would survive if our Church ever had such a battle for faith.
Perhaps to dwell on this too much is to miss the very real battle that we are in right here, right now. I found the second service emotional to preach on Sunday at the thought of our members falling into sin and away from Jesus and life.
I was struck by CJ's comments in his book Worldliness: "The biggest challenge to you today is not persecution from the world, its seduction by the world... That’s how we lose people… Not really attacked from the outside but decaying from within."

This has to be taken seriously. I pray that people might respond well in homegroups this week and help each other to resist the seduction from the world and be overwhelmed by Jesus.

Monday, 9 November 2009

This is it

Chloe and I went to see Michael Jackson's film last week. He was amazing. His attention to detail, his singing, his dancing and his creativity was inspiring. I've never seen anything like it. Had he pulled those concerts off they would have been something else. Genius.
I read this week from AW Tozer, "Man for all his genius is but an echo of the original voice, a reflection of the uncreated light. As a sunbeam perishes when cut off from the sun, so man apart from God would pass back into the void of nothingness from which he first leaped at the creative call."
I still don't know what to make of Micheal Jackson. I had Bad, Dangerous and History and as a young boy I learnt as many of his dance moves as I could. The worship he received from millions was testified to by the interviews from his dancers on film. Then there was the children (!) and those TV interviews and now his song which is being played around the world... "I am the light of the world," he sings. The Bible declares, "it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment." I wonder how Jackson will feel when he meets The Light of the World. I'm glad God knows all that went on and will deal with it.
Gifting is always pleasing to the eye. Micheal Jackson's gifting and creativity reveals something of God to me, the creator of creativity. Jackson in all his glory and gifting was but an echo of the creative genius of Jesus Christ, who gave him all his gifts.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Proverbs 7

If you didn't catch the sermon on Sunday you can download it from Dave Bish's blog (
Thanks to some helpful comments from Dave and my wife, the second service I feel was more helpful. :-)

Friday, 6 November 2009

Draw your weapon

Some verses mentioned on Sunday on the following...

God doesn’t mind sin

Col 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.

A little bit wont hurt

Gal 6:7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
Gal 6:8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

I don’t have to do anything

2Ti 2:22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

I can’t control it

1Th 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;
1Th 4:4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,
1Th 4:5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;

Temptation is too much

1Co 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

When you stuff up

1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Draw your weapon

I have found these notes helpful as I learn to handle the sword of the Spirit in the fight against temptation. Not all we need but definitely something we need to learn...

Pro 7:1-3 My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

Pray – ask for help from His Spirit…

1) Identify and define Sin biblically.
What are you hoping for?
Define heart motives as God describes.
What are you saying about God?
What is the lie?

2) Embrace the gospel.
See the cross. Confess, ask for forgiveness.
Who are you in Christ?
What is your deepest desire?
Thank God.

3) Take practical steps to help.
Places you go...
People you see...
Things you look at or listen to...
Words you say…
Confess and apologise where you need to.

4) Replace sin with Christ.
Replace lies with truth.
Declare what is true of you in Christ.
Declare what is not true.
Meditate and pray over key passages of God’s word.
Ask God for more faith and more of him!
Sharpen your sword and preach to yourself regularly!
Put verses in key places. Car, work, dairy etc…

5) Share with someone you trust.
Tell someone what you are battling.
Meet to share and update.
Make yourself accountable.

6) Review steps 1-5 daily and 6 as you agree.

In the Christian life God has many means of grace for us. Specific forgiveness and pastoral help will of course at times be needed, but the above is not a bad place to start...

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Alpha - The reality of the human condition

Was good again to gather among friends and have some banter around the table. I love the way through the Church and through friends I'm always meeting new people and enjoying the company of new friends. I'm looking forward to some golf with a couple of the boys. Our next 'Band of Brothers' event is November 22nd. This cannot come quick enough. At the moment we all have to face the horrible reality of Matt Giles walking round as the self proclaimed 'strongest man in the Church' which was again a dominant topic over dinner!

The topic for the evening was, 'the problem'. John Fielder talked us through the thorough pollution of the human heart and the ultimate penalty.

Whenever hell is talked about it provokes a response. Some are deeply offended, others are provoked to really think and take Jesus seriously for the first time. We had some great questions being considered on our table. 'What's the point of trying to be a good person if my best efforts are filthy rags?' 'How are we saved if the situation is so bleak and depressing?'.

Personally I was struck again at the depth and reality of my need for a saviour. The reality of eternity and the weight of the message we carry.

I guess when pondering hell a couple of questions will always need considering...
  • How do you define good?
  • Who can judge?
  • How bad is the crime?
  • How valuable is the object of our offence?

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Lounge - Sunday 1st November

We had another good week at The Lounge. Was really good to see so much of our Church family there. Its good to catch up and spend some time together as we share life. A good number of guests were among us and others are hoping to make the next Lounge.
The music was quality. Both James Dixon and Matt Giles were really good to listen to. Good to see some quality on the open the mic after as well.
The theme was 'success'. I laid out the idea of success being a god (something that you live for...) is rubbish compared to Jesus. I told a story of a man who is close to me to warn of the dangers. Again we had some great questions coming in. Personally I'm pleased with how things are going. I was a bit ill on Sunday and my voice just about lasted and the evening was solid! :-)