Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Spurgeon - Incarnation 3

"I am persuaded that no man has any idea how wonderful a stoop it was for God thus to dwell in human flesh, and to be “God with us”.
The Lord might have come with thunderbolts in both his hands he might have come like Elias to call fire from heaven; but no, his hands are full of gifts of love, and his presence is the guarantee of grace. The babe born in the manger might have been another prophet of tears, or another son of thunder, but he was not so: he came in gentleness, his glory and his thunder alike laid aside.
'Twas mercy filled the throne,
And wrath stood silent by,
When Christ on the kind errand came
To sinners doomed to die."

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Merry Christmas

We had a great time as a family as we gathered for our Christmas Celebration.
Matt Giles and his band led us very well. It was good to start with 'Oh come all ye faithful' and 'Hark the herald angels sing'. There were prayers of thanksgiving, prophetic words of hope and restoration and readings from the Bible.
Simon and the team did a great job to set up the hall and the trees the day before. John and Fi had a party with the kids and Chris Mitch gave a great talk on the amazing gift of God to us - Himself! The morning was a good team effort.
John Fielder spoke powerfully for us about Christmas. He shared some amusing stories about growing up and sharing Christmas with his in laws! He then walked us through some questions...
  • Who was this baby?

Was he God as a baby? Did he grow into a man who is God?

  • What has that got to do with me and you?

Is he a badman? Is he lunatic? or... could he be God?

It was great to have guests among us, enjoy mince pies, and catch up with some who have not been with us for a while.

I was struck by the weight and the amazing news that God came to us. We have something truly unparalleled to celebrate during this season.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Rejoicing in God's grace

Paul was very good at rejoicing when he found evidence of grace of God. When he saw God at work, though he was always aware of sin and shortcomings, he rejoiced!
1Co 1:4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus...
Eph 1:15 & 16 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers...
1Th 1:2 & 3 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
We got together as a student leaders team last Friday to celebrate all God has done this term. I shared an overview of the term. We looked at the numbers, read some testimonies and thanked God for all He has done. We sang our praises then opened a bottle of champagne...
We have a great team working with/for the students:
'Air war'
Rach - (Impacter) Hospitality, music, meet ups.
Nat - (Impacter) Hospitality, meet ups, communication.
Tim - (Impacter) music, teaching, meet ups.
Jono - (Impacter) tech, videos, meet ups.
Dave - Sound, visuals.
Kath Dags - Logistics, planning, bookings, communication, meet ups.

'Ground war'
James Slater - 'Ground war leader'
Impacters
Mark Scott
Emma Cookman
Emma Rice
Annabel
Nicola
Cat Lambert

Many meet ups, people cared for and prayed for. Much study and reading done.

The team have been amazing this term. I genuinely rejoice at the work that God has done both in and through these guys. The time given and the sacrifices made speak to me of hearts being transformed by Him. Its a great privilege to stand with and lead this team in all that God is doing.
We saw a couple of people become Christians, a handful baptised and many many guests came to The Lounge and heard something of Jesus. We have much to do but this Friday was a pause to celebrate.

Making big decisions... knowing His promises

As a Christian, God is my Father. Whatever challenge I face in life, knowing His love and His promises to me will be very important.
I found John Piper's work on this topic to be exceptional. A great read for the holidays whatever may be on the horizon for our lives.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Proverbs 23 - 24

What are you drinking?

Small group response
Read Proverbs chapter 23 v 29 – 24 v 6

What were the two ‘bottles’ presented on Sunday?
House favourite – lifestyle of binge drinking
Vintage life – life pursuing God


What three choices do we all face?
Drink from House favourite, vintage life, or not drink at all!

Why do many enjoy ‘The house favourite’?
Fun, adventure, community, forgetting of self…

What does it cost people?
Verses 29 - 35
Galatians 5 v 20 – 21


1 Corinthians 5 v 11 – 13

What has Jesus done for us?
Read John 3 v 16 – 17

Where can we go to drink now?
John 7 v 37 – 39

What do we learn about how vintage life can be lived?
Proverbs 24 v 1 – 6


(You may wish to break down into two’s or three’s at this point.)
Where do you desire to drink from?
Do you need to confess and repent?
Do you need any help/support?
Why do we always have hope for people?
Are there people who you would like pray for?

Spurgeon - Incarnation 2

"Sin had separated between God and man; but the incarnation bridges the separation: it is a prelude to the atoning sacrifice, but it is a prelude full of the richest hope.
From henceforth, when God looks upon man, he will remember that his own Son is a man.
From this day forth, when he beholds the sinner, if his wrath should burn, he will remember that his own Son, as man, stood in the sinner's place, and bore the sinner's doom.
As in the case of war, the feud is ended when the opposing parties intermarry, so there is no more war between God and man, because God has taken man into intimate union with himself.
Herein, then, there was cause for joy."

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Spurgeon - Incarnation

Dec 24th 1871 by CH Spurgeon...
"The God who made you, and against whom you have offended, has come down from heaven and taken upon himself your nature that he might save you. He has come in the fullness of his glory and the infinity of his mercy that he might redeem you.
Do you not welcome this news? What! will not your hearts be thankful for this? Does this matchless love awaken no gratitude?
Were it not for this divine Saviour, your life here would have been wretchedness, and your future existence would have been endless woe.
Oh, I pray you adore the incarnate God, and trust in him. Then will you bless the Lord for delivering you from the wrath to come, and as you lay hold of Jesus and find salvation in his name, you will tune your songs to his praise, and exult with sacred joy."

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Planning

My wife and I, and a few of my friends have found this Mark Driscoll study very helpful.
Hugely practical and I think some things I have drawn from here will increasingly make me fruitful. :-)

The Christmas Lounge - December 6th

I really enjoyed The Christmas Lounge. Nat and Annabel worked really hard and the bar looked great. Lights, ribbons and decorations galore provided the a good Christmas 'feel' to the evening.
I've had a great time getting to know new people simply from being at the Lounge this term and the numbers of new people every week is very encouraging.
Dave opened the evening with some slide guitar and then some regular playing and singing. The open mic contributions varied from accomplished to entertaining! The Christmas video was great then Tim brought a thought to share.
Tim was brilliant. He shared a few funny frustrations about the 'tack' at Christmas and suggested that millions of people gathering around nativity scenes each year might be part of this tack. He went on the comment about why this birth (of Jesus) was unlike any other. He then drew two simple yet life changing observations...
1) God likes/loves us. To enter into human form leaving heaven and taking on flesh tells us that our maker has a specific interest in us.
2) We can know God. No need for speculation. If we want to know God, we can go to Jesus.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

High Sundays

There are certain Sundays in the year when we expect to have a high numbers of guests among us.
We have found that Baptisms and dedications bring a lot of people into Church to see family and friends who would not otherwise attend.
Similarly at Christmas many of our friends and family are open to visit Church when they normally would not. We refer to these kinds of Sundays as 'High Sundays'.
We really want to welcome and serve our guests well. We want to give a flavour of who we are, and serve people where they are at.
This Christmas, Matt will be leading a time of worship with a strong band. He is very gifted and serves people well. He'll bring a Christmas theme for this occasion. John Fielder will be sharing something on the subject, 'Who is this Christ?' I will be welcoming and we will be enjoying mince pies afterwards.
This is a big week for all those in our Church. A great week to invite friends and a good time for all of our teams including kids, PA, set up & welcome teams.
We expect to have a good time together and meet lots of new people. We hope people may will visiting us again and maybe see a few people sign up for Alpha in January! We look forward to seeing you there. :-)


Thursday, 3 December 2009

Spirit-filled missional Church

Bill Johnson has had a huge impact on some Christians I hugely respect. A revelation of God's heart as a Father and his willingness to give more of the Spirit has seen his Church apparently explode with signs and wonders, healings and miracles every week. A New Frontiers leader spent three months over there. The town is about the same size of Exeter. He did not find one person who had not heard of the Church. He did not come across one person who had anything negative to say.

Mark Driscoll has had an equally large impact on Christians all around me. Teachers I hugely respect will often quote and refer to Driscoll. His church has reached into the thousands and his exaltation to mission at the New Frontiers Brighton Conference I thought was very helpful. I particularly enjoy his teaching.

I believe God calls his Church to be both filled with the Spirit and missionally effective. I am sad when a tension is felt between those who 'want the Spirit' and those who want to 'reach the city'.

I have been pondering the following...

The Spirit is poured our for mission!

Act 1:4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, "you heard from me;
Act 1:5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

The Spirit is the most important person in the Church for mission.

Christians are to pursue the Spirit and His gifts...

1Co 14:1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts
Luk 11:13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
Eph 5:18 be filled with the Spirit

Christian life is to be in the Spirit.

The Spirit loves unbelievers among us.

Part of catching the heart of the Spirit is also to develop awareness and understanding of the family of believers and unbelievers, not simply individual experience. (1Cor14v24) It was the Spirit who breathed out guidance in 1Cor14 to use His gifts in a way which pleases Him and serves all who are present in our meetings.

Spiritual gifts can be used in a way which does not please the Spirit.

The Spirit is not pleased when gifts are not used for the common good, (1Cor 12v7) or when people are impatient mean and rude. (1Cor 12v4) The Spirit is not pleased when we do not interpret tongues, (1Cor14v13) have too many tongues (1Cor14v27), too many prophetic words (1Cor14v29), or when people are left confused (1Cor14v33). The Spirit wants to be among us and bringing gifts in a way which is powerful, understandable, explained and helpful to all.

“We want the power gifts and the sense of security that good leadership brings as well.” Lex Loizides

I believe the Spirit wants to move in our meetings through good leadership anchored in what He has spoken in the Word. 1Co 14:40 “All things should be done decently and in order.” We don’t want to misrepresent God by the way we handle His gifts. 1Co 14:33 “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” God wants to attract and convict people through his genuine work but we can be put off by our weirdness and poor handling of His gifts.

We want the power of God without the unnecessary, unhelpful trappings of irrelevant Christian subculture that mean nothing. Spirit filled meetings will surely be marked by a sense of faith in the people, gifts manifesting while managed in a helpful way for guests. Music styles, lights, venues, time of day, use of technology, or specific songs, meeting formats will change as the Spirit leads us to serve our cities better, but the power of the Spirit will be increasingly among us.

For me the 'L' plates are on to learn from others and keep in step with Him.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

One Church - One vision - Two services...

Over the last few years our Church has continued to grow. In September this year we took two massive steps of faith.

1) Bringing me onto staff full time.
2) Going from one to two services.

Currently our Church is hovering around 200 members.
As the Church gets bigger there is a temptation to feel, 'others will do it.' When the Church was 50-100 if you didn't do something, nothing would happen.
Despite appearances the same thing is true today. As we have grown we have increased our faith and therefore our spending according to God, and the numbers he has added to us. As a Church we are 'all hands on deck'. The financial challenge is there for all of us, and the volunteer challenge of going to two services is very real week to week. Teas & coffees, set up, sound, music, welcome, visuals, home group leading, rent, wages, Alpha, Beta and many more challenges are being met each week. Many of our people are serving hard at the moment and as a team we are excited and determined to bring on more staff in the new year to meet increasing vision and faith.
I find my heart is revealed when I look at my diary and read my bank statements. I know Jesus burns with passion for His bride and for this city and so I cannot help but be drawn to His mission. I'm very excited about continued growth and facing the challenges this brings as a family on a mission. I'm glad to be surrounded by people who share His heart and have a good sense of challenge and faith about what we're doing.