Wednesday, 21 December 2011

End of Year Reflection

What a year!

What a year it has been! I feel like I'm just about to step off the adrenaline train for a change of scenery this winter. For me personally it has been quite a year of transition. We had our daughter Mabel, I became an elder and as a Church we have been working through me becoming lead-elder in January. We reduced our staffing and have moved venues what seems like more times than I can remember. My role and priorities have been re-ordered on almost a weekly basis! I do feel like we are getting more clarity now. The number of members in our Church has remained steady but the number of people who have joined and left feel high to me. I've met and also said goodbye to loads of people! Both venues have enjoyed dozens of new people demonstrating the value of meeting across sites. We have sent many to new ventures and Church planting and others seem to have come to a natural end to their time with us. A change in leadership has that effect I'm told!??!

Money Matters

This time last year we were under financial pressure as a Church. After a year of re-structuring and reshaping teams we were able to hit all our targets in the first quarter and raise an addition £9,000 for a 0-11's worker who we will look to employ into the new year. I am pleased that our foundation is now clear and secure as we look to build into the new year as we look to launch into more kingdom building adventures. 


Our goals of 10 power hour prayer meetings, 10 'celebration' or 'high sundays' and the raising of £10,000 have been interesting. I have enjoyed the renewed focus on prayer. There have been seasonal fluctuations in attendance but overall I have been pleased and our people seem hungry to me. I might look to wrap those meetings in a little more teaching into the New Year.

This term we enjoyed baptising 6 people. We baptised 3 people at our Church weekend and 3 people on a high sunday. I felt it was great to hear the stories of those being baptized and also those who shared some of the journey with them. We're looking at ways to get our next baptism sharper in March. Christmas this year was our best yet I think. Around 300 people and many guests enjoyed a family service in the afternoon and our carol service in the evening. Many felt that this was the best event we have ever done as a Church and a couple of people have expressed an interest in Alpha while others have come to Church. 

Going Through Changes

This term we saw 2 great people give their lives to Jesus! As a Church we have had another 6 babies added this term. Carnage. I loved our Church Weekend away, laughed lots and felt that we created some good memories together. Dressing up as my team mate Dan was more fun than I thought it would be and I was glad that many demonstrated the ability to laugh at themselves as they were mocked all night long! I felt it was important in that context to preach 'Growth Changes Everything' to help prepare our people for some of the challenges ahead. 

New Year - 40 Days

We'll be welcoming in the New Year through a period of 40days of teaching, prayer and fasting. I'll be preaching vision on the 8th Jan and then will be pressing full steam ahead. Our Leadership Transition Service will be held at Belmont on the 22nd January as Andy hands on the baton to myself. Bring your friends - all are welcome! We have much ahead of us.    

Monday, 28 November 2011

Friday, 28 October 2011

Book now for Westpoint!


Chloe and I are going to have a go at camping this year. (Deep breath) But we are within a stones through if it goes bad for us. I hope my kids don't go insane! A number of us in Church are throwing our hats into the ring in a greater measure this year...

Cheaper Bookings

Cheap rate bookings end on Tuesday so book now.

I honestly can't wait...

We'll get a marquee, eat together, have a lot of fun and I expect to be built up.

I'm particularly looking forward to hearing from PJ Smyth who is an inspirational leader and great communicator. Bring it.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Video update to Church - Gift Day & Venue Move...

Here is our second go at a video update to and for our Church. Hope it helps to keep people 'in the loop'.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Power Hour 2 - another venue move...

Last night nearly 70 people gathered together to seek God and ask Him for some big things.

As Elders this year we are looking to prioritise corporate prayer and have committed to 10 'Power Hour' prayer meetings as one expression of this.

We sung our praises to the Lord and asked Him for blessing. We spent time praying for our loved ones, others in the room and for those who God has sent us to serve and bless.

We closed with two big items:

Venue Challenge

Having been given four weeks notice in the Thistle Hotel our last meeting there will be October 16th. We have looked for alternatives and considered multi meeting options. Currently our preference is that we stay at two meetings (Thistle site & St Sidwells site) for the next season. Therefore we are proposing as a short term measure that we explore the possibility of a move to St Peter's School. Currently Vineyard meet there in the morning as so for us it would mean a 3.30pm meeting.

Our staff team are going to go up have a look. We face a financial challenge as St Peters is more expensive and we also face a storage challenge. An afternoon meeting will be a very different experience for our people. Last night it was good to share and make our requests known to God. We're asking our people to walk with us through the journey in prayerful and open discussion as we go.

Gift Day

As Elders we are looking for £10,000 for a 0-11s worker. The initial brief for this person will be starting with 0-4s to support, resource and make our Sunday meeting exceptionally helpful for young families. We are looking for the role to grow and including primary school age. The details on this position and process of employment is subject to discussion with our Trustees.

We feel we want to resource and bless this group of people that God has given us. A good base of families will additionally help us resource and multiply other ministries across the Church.

After Sunday we are around half way towards our target. We have a big Sunday ahead of us as we look to hit this target. Lord make us generous!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Looking for wisdom...

Walking with Jesus and seeking to build His Church is not boring.

Venue Challenge

After our recent venue move to the Thistle Hotel we have been given four weeks notice. We are seeking clarity and a conversation over exactly why this is. It seems to be related to the Council and the use of the hotel for civil ceremonies. As a leadership team we have been praying together and we are looking to sketch a couple of options to pray through as a Church.

Will we stay?
Another venue?
Another time?
Multi meetings?

Staff Team Challenge

This year we have needed to reduce our core expenditure and therefore our staff team is just Andy, Dan and myself. Dan's workload has increased significantly and therefore our planning and prioritising has had to improve significantly. We had made our processes far more effective particularly when it comes to processing finances which is now part of Dan's role. We are streets ahead of where we were this time last year.

We are still in a process of adjustment and working out exactly how much we can carry as we are now.

Pressing On

It's a big Sunday for us this week as a Church. We are looking for £10,000 to be raised for a 0-11's worker. We are still having a conversation over the exact role and the experience needed for the role. We are all persuaded that this is an area which needs investment and more leadership. Wherever we will be meeting in the future we want this ministry area to be well resourced.

Next generation.
Families needing support.
Outstanding opportunity.

I love the opportunity to give over and above my regular giving. I want to overflow with generosity like my God. My wife has a phrase written in our living room which I like, 'live simply, give extravagantly.'

Wider Family Input

As an Eldership team we have invited Matt Partridge and Grant Van Schalkwyk to join us for some outside input. As a team we are in a season of transition and so we'll be gathering tonight to add more clarity to this process. It's amazing being part of a wider family. I feel increasingly humbled by the willingness to serve and the attention that these men are willing to give us. :-)

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Video Update to Church

As part of an effort to improve communication within Church we are exploring the option of video messages and updates. I have in my mind particularly young parents, those who serve on Sundays, shift workers and returning students. I really hope this helps our guys. This video is for members of our Church intended to catch them up with some practical information.

I've not done any video before as you can probably tell. Hopefully we'll get better as we look to post a message on a monthly basis. Due to busy diaries and volume of work we agreed that we would do this in one take... so we did.

Feedback welcome. (I think!)

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

'LXI' Missionary Training Tracks...

Love Explain Invite

As a Church our goal is to, 'Love, Explain, Invite'. The Love of God has transformed us so much that we are compelled to love and serve others as He has amazingly served us. If given the opportunity we want to explain how and why this has happened. If people are interested, we want to invite them to join the party!

LXI Training Tracks

This year as we kick off 'LXI' 2011/12 as a Church we are running missionary training tracks to help us kick start the year. These tracks will be held at Belmont Chapel 7.30pm Wednesday 14th & 21st September. The tracks are as follows...

'Marriage on a Mission'

If you are married, your marriage is the important team in your life. If we don't get this right, everything else suffers. If our marriages are good, much blessing flows! Andy and Jane are running this track with much fun, wisdom and around 40 years experience. If you would like to participate in this track the best thing to do is contact the Church office. You will need specific instructions for this track.

'Our Father - The One Who Sends'

God the Father is the one who sends Jesus for us. All love and mission comes from His heart. Dave Bish will be teaching two sessions for us on this subject. Dave has a great teaching gift and will thoroughly get his teeth into this subject I'm sure bringing much depth and insight.

'Pursuing Spiritual Gifts'

God wants to equip His people with gifts and power from the Holy Spirit to live out all that we are called to. Steve Blake will be leading this track as we gather to ask Him for help and empowerment. Steve is passionate about this area.

'One to One With Jesus'

When you have  a close relationship with someone you want to connect and chat everyday. The more you think of them the more you will enjoy this time! The Bible says that Jesus is alive and by His Spirit we can talk to Him through prayer and listen to Him speak through the Bible by the Spirit. I'll be looking at 'the quiet time' with Jesus. For this track you will need a Bible (that you don't mind writing on) a pencil, pen, highlighter and note book. I'll be leading this track.

It's on. We'll be gathering together at 7.30pm for a time together and then we'll split into smaller groups for hour long sessions. :-)

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Venue Move - This Week! (& where to park...)

This Sunday we are moving our morning meeting from The Maynard School to The Thistle Hotel. This is a great move for us as a Church.

Real blessings

We are looking forward to benefiting from now having two sites in the heart of the city. We have storage in the hotel which will bless many volunteers who have been carrying heavy boxes for the last 5 years! The environment is far more helpful as we are seeking to be more and more hospitable through our High Sundays in particular. The room is slightly bigger and by the grace of God we have been given a good deal.

Park it.

As with any event in the centre of Exeter parking will be a challenge. We all have some local knowledge and our favourite places to park without paying. I'm wondering if anyone else knows the spots that I'm thinking of! Cycling is a great way of getting around Exeter. I cycle to work each day which is a blessing in many ways.

Chloe and I will look to walk I think initially and see how we (and the weather) go. The car park options around the hotel are not massively appealing to be honest. They get quite expensive if you want to stay for 3hours. Here is a helpful guide to parking in Exeter. I think the best bet for us might be to drop the family at The Thistle and then head to park at the Howell Road Car Park. There you can get 3hours for £1.70 and enjoy a prayer walk through town before meeting the Church!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

New Year - New Season - New Goals

Last year our Church was marked by Matt Giles writing exceptional music. Additionally Dan Partridge joined us on staff and many of our young married couples are now having babies. We now have around 20babies in our Church family! This year we are looking to gather and grow as we seek to make a big lasting difference in Exeter.

Our mission as a Church is to 'Love - Explain - Invite'. Motivated by love, we want to love and serve others. At some point we want to explain something of our story, how Jesus is alive and generally awesome, and ultimately offer an invitation to meet Him!

This year we are looking to hit 'Three10s' to help us with this...

10 High Sundays

On certain Sundays we gather to celebrate special occasions such as new life (dedications) new faith (baptisms) and Christ coming (Christmas). On these Sundays we'd like to invite as many people as possible to join the party! We'll put on our best band, have a short talk, enjoy our time together, ask God to bless us and give an opportunity to find out more.

10 Power Hours

It's the privilege of Christians to talk to the maker of the universe. He even asks us to make requests and promises to answer us! We're going to gather as a Church to ask God for some big stuff this coming year. We'll be meeting the first Wednesday of each month. First Power Hour Wednesday 7th September.


We would like to continue to resource and support our ministries in Frontiers Church Exeter. This season we particularly want to invest in and resource our young families and initially children of 0-11 years old. We're currently discussing the role and job description as well as the skills we believe are needed for this potential position while we look to raise money!

I will be sharing headlines of our Three10s this Sunday. Our first 'Power Hour' will be Wednesday 7th September 7.30pm St Sidwells School. More detail of why we are going for this and how you can make a meaningful contribution will be shared through preaching and gift days on the 2nd & 9th of October.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Westpoint Gathers Pace

Westpoint 2011

New Frontiers Churches in the South & West regions gathered together last weekend under the leadership of Guy Miller and his team. This is the second time that we have gathered together and man it has kicked on!

Great Teaching

This year Terry Virgo came and was brilliant by all accounts. My wife was particularly blessed. Guy Miller spoke on 'remember the poor' which was a challenging word for local Churches particularly at this time in our nation and in places like Kenya. Next year PJ Smyth will be among us. Bring it on!

Good Time Together

Of our Church around 70 people came for at least one day. I had a great time on Friday just hanging out, chatting among friends and catching up. I was particularly impressed by the caravan brigade and the birth of a new nickname for one particular Church member. It was a lot of fun.

Other Leaders

As a pastor it was good to hang out with some of the guys from other Churches. I had one or two chats with other leaders which was really good. I do feel increasingly part of a wider family as we share life over time and look forward to being together more in the future.

It's really exciting to be part of such a vibrant family of Churches. With all our faults and shortcomings I love all that we are seeking to do and am seeing much evidence of the grace of God on us! :-)

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Back for another go!

Times change

When I was single I did what I wanted to do on holiday. When I got married I started to do more what Chloe wanted to do on holidays. Chloe likes to be 'out and about' on holiday going for trips and enjoying coffee shops. I prefer to be asleep in the sun or in the gym. Now that we have kids we do what neither of us like to do!

New joy

It's funny how kids change every area of your life. Early mornings, seal sanctuaries, short beach trips, and throwing stones into rivers were all part of our break this year. It's a good day if we've been able to bless the babies and then we get joy from their enjoyment! My wife is awesome. She was able to release me to go for a run every day. We went on holiday with close friends again this year who were a massive blessing and we even had a couple of sleep ins! :-) We also took the opportunity to see both sides of our wider family.

Energy for holidays

I had a lot of fun with my family and it was special to be able to invest time day after day. Two year old's have a lot of energy so I have to remind myself that I cannot binge holiday any more. (Overwork and then sleep for two weeks.) I really want to create good memories for our family as our kids grow up.

New term

I'm now back in the office with some fresh reflections. I have read two or three books (in part) over the last couple of weeks and I think I have some greater clarity over areas of strength and weakness in my leadership from last year. I'm looking forward to another year of learning and grateful for the next couple weeks preparation time and a chance to catch up with people more thoroughly.

Westpoint (Regional New Frontiers Conference) begins tonight. Will be good to be with a couple of thousand Christians singing to and looking to hear from God as we seek to live for Him in the West! Let's get it on...

Friday, 29 July 2011

Signing off for the year...

Well what a year it has been... Tomorrow I head to Cornwall with family and some close friends to invest time and create memories! I'm glad to hit this finish line.

Family Growth

This year has been a year of growth and learning in many ways. The most significant addition for us personally was the birth of Mabel. We have now made the stretch from husband and wife, to husband and wife with Rufus, to husband and wife with Rufus and Mabel! I'm told that to go from one baby to two is one of the more difficult transitions to make and so far I think we are doing okay. The addition of Mabel has changed all of our relationships within the family. Chloe and I face a different challenge - There is always someone who needs help! Chloe and Rufus now are no longer alone together for longer periods of time and quality time between anyone requires far more planning. We are adjusting all the time but after three months we feel life is manageable again. It has been another year of amazing blessing and fun for us a family.

Church Growth  

Our Church has experienced growth this year. We have had around forty people join us. I have had the privilege of meeting and getting to know many new people. I love the way people make themselves at home in our Church so quickly. Many have gone home over the summer and I look forward to catching up at the start of next term. Across the Church we have also had another 13 babies born and we're expecting I think another 8 or so. New people and new babies would suggest a time of blessing!

New Staff  

The staff team this year have been a real joy. I think we have served well, worked hard and laughed lots. We had a really good time at Brighton together at the New Frontiers Leadership Conference. I have enjoyed genuine friendship among our team which includes Andy, Matt, Dan & Laura. Matt Giles has written an album packed with truth from the letter of Ephesians which has fed me well and we have had a new website built. Dan Partridge particularly has been an outstanding addition. He is a good young man who is learning lots and a man that I would want on any bus on which I'm travelling! I can't really imagine working without him.

New Responsibilities

I became an elder (or senior leader) in our Church in Feb. My role has been evolving more and more. I now take more responsibility for preaching, Church vision, leading in team contexts, overseeing some outstanding ministry/small group leaders, and Church finances. We also planted a second meeting on a different site! I have enjoyed the transition and the increased 'weight' which I have been able to carry. It was through somewhat of a financial challenge that we decided I would take responsibility for this area and I thoroughly enjoyed leading the Church through the process. I get a lot of energy and enthusiasm from challenging situations and I look forward to more in the future.

I will enjoy my break and look forward to teaming up with the guys and being back with the Church in a couple of weeks time for another year of adventure.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Looking Good - Reflections

Preaching every week

We are into the final week of our 'Looking Good' series at Church. This is the first time that I have preached four weeks running. (Five weeks if you include the final talk from the previous series.)

It has been an interesting learning experience. I have appreciated the continuity of thought and prayer in preparing and also the opportunity to build from week to week. I have also appreciated the encouraging feedback from various members of our Church.

Pride vs humility

During the series we have built on two definitions:

Pride: Self exaltation. (Making yourself look good.)
Humility: Serving others for the glory of God. (Making Him look good, because He is good!)

Going deeper

Here are some reflection questions for those who have enjoyed the series:

How well do you celebrate the success of others?

How well do you pray for the success of others?
How much do you look to encourage others?

How willing are you to ‘step up’ and take a risk?
How willing are you to ‘step back’ and take a back seat?

How do you respond to trials? Faith/Frustration?
How well do you respond to correction?

How grateful are you?
How good are you at laughing at yourself?

How much do you value God?
How much do you value him being made known?

If you want to check out this series you can find it here.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

A Family on a Mission

On Sunday I preached our last message from our Ephesians series.

Paul's closing thoughts are insightful as he paints something of a picture of the blessing of being part of a family of Churches. Here are some further resources for those who are interested.

This is Newfrontiers from Jubilee Church Leamington on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

July Preaching series - 'Looking Good'

Starting July 3rd I'll be preaching a four-part series called 'Looking Good.'

People invest much time and effort in beauty and self image. As people we spend much of our time promoting various lifestyle choices, activities, heroes and sometimes ourselves(!). We express appreciation for things which we desire and by our choices make certain things look good.

The aim of the Christian is to make Jesus look good - because he is good! The Christian life is to demonstrate and illustrate the goodness and greatness of God. I hope over next month or so our Church will receive a renewed enthusiasm to live for him.

Alongside the preaching series and home group studies we'll recommending that our people read and go through CJ Mahaney's book on humility. Much of the material in the sermons and studies will be based on this text. We've made these books available at our morning meeting.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Some thoughts on sleep...

It's strange to think that during our lives we will have spent many years sleeping.

Here are some loose thoughts which I have been pondering when I was very much without sleep.

1) God gives sleep as a gift. 

When we are working hard, trusting God and receiving wisdom from God human beings will generally sleep well. (There are of course exceptions.) It's stupid to work harder and sleep less without looking to God. Psalm 127v2 Psalm 4v8 Proverbs 3v24. I love sleeping. Thank you for this gift. The benefits of sleeping well are obvious.

2) My need for sleep reminds me that I am not God.

God does not need anything or anyone else. God does not need sleep. Psalm 121v3&4. I am created and I am dependant on other things much to my dismay. During times of sleeplessness I am reminded of my utter need and dependence on God and to honour the way that He has made me. Prolonged planned periods of sleeplessness will stop me from functioning! Grumpy, groggy and without a memory is not a state which I enjoy. Sleeplessness has brought me to my knees in every way. I obviously needed that.

3) There is a time not to sleep.

Sleeping at the wrong time or too much is criticised by Jesus is scripture. We have a measure of control to stay awake and chose when to rest and when to work. There is a time for both. During some seasons, for example if one has young children, getting sleep seems to require more planning and flexibility than others! Proverbs 20v13 Matt 26v45

4) Sleeping well requires wisdom.

Faith, baby books, planning, 20min 'power naps', a regular 'bed time' and 'wake up time' as well as less technology in the bedroom can apparently all help. I recently took a sleep survey which told me that my sleeping was only 40% optimised. I hope as Mabel (Our 7week old baby) gets older and I implement some more wisdom this will improve...

Friday, 10 June 2011

Playing rugby again... just for fun.

This year I've decided to start playing rugby again. I have agreed to join Exmouth RFC for pre-season and see how I go. I hope it goes well and that we can work it into our family and Church commitments. I'm going to play for fun with some guys who I already know from when I played previously. Here is an article in the local paper. Here are my reasons for playing this year:

1. When I played before, it was too big in my life.

From the age of 16 all I wanted was to play rugby full time. My whole life felt like it was riding on it. I worked hard and carried huge expectations from within and from others in part because of Dad. On reflection I think Rugby was an idol in my life and therefore I did not play it or enjoy it as I could have done. I feel now I might be able to play and enjoy it for what it is.

2. I need better balance in my life.

Wiser leaders have recommended having other interests and activities in my life. Church, work and friends are all one thing for me! This a blessing but also brings challenges.  

3. I want to be around different people. 

My job is about people. The more people I am around from different walks of life the more I am able listen and learn. Rugby is one of those sports which holds together the bricklayer and the lawyer in the same team. Life is so much more enriching when I spend time around different people. No doubt this will inform the way I do things at Church.

4. The lifestyle is good.

I'm back in the gym and we have reviewed my diet. I'm feeling better, fitter and have more energy even though our baby Mabel is only 7 weeks old! Training well is helpful for the rest of life. It teaches me to keep going through the pain barrier as a habit and I hope will increase my capacity in life. 

5. I want to make a contribution.

I want to make a contribution in a community outside of Church. I hope I get in the team, play well and share a bit of life with these guys. I'm looking to be a blessing and make a positive contribution.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Give me some space!

"And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone..."
(Matthew 14:23 ESV)

Jesus often withdrew from the crowds and his people to have time on his own praying.

Monthly 'Mountain Time'...

I enjoy reading the Bible and praying daily. However my favourite time of speaking to God is when I book in the diary a couple of hours, then go to pray on my own in a place of outstanding natural beauty.

God speaks to His people

God invites us to offload all our fears and concerns to Him. It's so good to do this! I have often received impressions and outstanding wisdom in this context which has been invaluable and specific for situations which I would then go and face. I am confident that He is speaking to me and shaping me through these times.

When I feel God is speaking to me I will open my Bible, look up that theme and see if it is something that God has already said which the Spirit is applying to my heart in the moment. This week I was blown away. :-)

With Him, I can...

I find these times refreshing and deeply encouraging. I love my 'mountain time'. I love being a Christian knowing that God cares about me, that he speaks to me and that he does genuinely give me strength and courage for all that life brings.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Steve Tibbert... bit of a hero to me.

I came home early this week from Leadership Training because my wife is unwell. She seems a little better today. I have been looking after the babies therefore I did not get to church.

At Leadership Trainining I did manage to catch the group time with Steve Tibbert. Steve leads the Catford Church and has quickly become a man who inspires me like few other.

Steve leads Catford which is a church of I think around 1000 members. Catford hosts New Frontiers Leadership Training Advanced.

Attention to detail

Steve took our group of trainees round the three sites which are now owned by kings Church. One of the things that struck me is that Steve has very impressive attention to detail. He has a thought through philosphy of ministry and he applies it rigorously. It appears that he has his goals in mind and will stop and nothing to do all he can to implement them. I have had the privilege of learning a little bit about Jonny Wilkinson's attitiude to detail through my Dad over the years. Steve is the first Christian leader who I have come across who reminds me of stories that my Dad has shared over the years.

Attitude to learning

To me Steve's attitude to learning was another element of his leadership which I found very impressive. He is a student first. He is currently seeking to find people who are a few steps ahead of him. He wants to learn, he pursues wisdom and you can see the fruit in his ministry. Steve takes the initiative to go get what he needs for the next step in his journey. I can't imagine him procrastinating for one moment!

A bit of banter

I also like the way Steve is quite funny. He is honest and speaks openly about his experiences. He makes his teaching time light by throwing in banter and making big statements. I like this in a leader. I do not believe him when he says he is a 'natural athlete' but the way he views his life to be organised as an athelete resonates with me.

Steve is a leader and he is very strategic. He thinks logically and his approach to ministry is one which I find closest to my own aspirations than any other Christian leader. I'm glad God has blessed him with his gift. I am glad that his Church is going well and I'm glad I've been able to learn some stuff from a distance.

I won't be putting any posters up or making any T-shirts but I will look forward to three days of training with Steve Tibbert next year as part of my final year of training. I might even buy his book.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Back to work... It's a new day.

It's a new day. I'm back at my desk today after what seems like a very long time away...

Back to it

It was great to de-brief with the staff team this morning. I have been able to clear most of my emails and plan something of a shape for the next couple of weeks to include upcoming preaching engagements. It will be good to touch base with the other elders this evening. We have some significant decisions being worked through at the moment.

Away this week

I travel to Leadership Training tomorrow. I'm very much looking forward to being with the others for our last time this year. Steve Tibbert is doing some stuff as well. I always find him stimulating and motivating. :-)

Tired & Fresh

Personally I feel strangely stretched and kind of fresh at the same time. I am lacking sleep a bit but I also feel like I have a blank sheet of paper in front of me in many areas of Church life. I feel like I am coming to old situations with fresh eyes and fresh enthusiasm to re-engage with ministry areas. I am grateful for a renewed appreciation of my wife and a greater need for help!

Renewed appreciation

My respect and admiration for my wife is currently sky high. She works very very hard as do many in raising kids. It's her first day week with me at work this week. She is amazing. I've realised from my time at home that those who are homeward in orientation receive very little praise or 'well dones' from the little ones who they care for so well. Encouragement is few and far between when compared to working in other contexts. It's down to me to thank her and point out grace in her life so we can celebrate what God is doing together.

Renewed sense of dependence

I have been humbled by having our second child. If I am to even in part live up to that which God is asking me for in terms of how I speak to people, experience of joy etc I really need help. His standards are quite frankly beyond me. I am experiencing a new level of need. I am glad that he forgives me and glad that He empowers me. I am asking God more for His help and power. If I go a day without deeply requesting His help my wife will notice by my mood! I guess this is a good place to be in terms of learning about walking with God but it is not an easy place to be.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Like father like son?!

First this...

and then this...

Watch Dan & John get baptised...

Last night we had our first Baptism at our Central site. It was a lot of fun to hear these guys speak of their journey to Christ. I spoke briefly and then Andy led us through the Baptism. Here is a video which I took randomly on my phone.

Baptism is the way to start following Christ

If you want to follow Jesus, he says we are to believe and trust him. The first step that we are asked to take is to be baptised. (Matt 28v19 Acts 2v38)

It's awesome that in being baptised we get to live out something that Christ asked us to do and also do what he himself did. We read of 'coming up out of the water...' (Matt 3v16) It's awesome that his teaching and example flowed out from Jerusalem across the Roman Empire, through Europe, across the world and down the generations all the way down to Exeter, Devon 2011.

Baptism is powerful

Baptism is for believers. It's a powerful portrayal of dramatic inward change in the person being baptised. It speaks of union with Christ in his death as we are plunged under water, and union with Christ as he is raised to new life, as we come out of the water. We are declaring our old lives buried and the beginning of our new lives in Christ.

Our culture is confusing

Baptism is married with the decision to follow Christ in the New Testament. Sadly there is much confusion over baptism in our nation and historically. Strangely sometimes we 'baptise' those who have no faith. 'Christenings' are still common for those in and outside of the Church. I personally find this very odd. Some people who don't want to follow Jesus think they are baptised. Others who do want to follow Christ in this way are later told that there is no need!  I think believers are massively short-changed when they are taught not to follow Christ in this simple and beautiful declaration.

Sunday was great :-) 

I left Sunday night with a real sense of joy. It's so good to obey Christ. It was great for us as a site. It was great for us as a Church to enjoy this one together. It was great for my good mates who pour themselves out for other people to have the joy of baptising and of course it was great for Dan and John who nailed their colours to the mast.  

Thursday, 5 May 2011

We have a new born baby... help please!

Baby Mabel is just over a week old. We are slowly adjusting to having two babies in our home. World news has been dramatic and people are voting, meanwhile we're walking around like a couple of zombies! It's funny the second time around realising how differently we are handling Mabel compared to Rufus. We were very very clueless the first time around. This time we have a few more clues.

The blessing of community

Our friends, family and Church have been amazing. Our Church are providing evening meals for us for two weeks! This means that we have one less thing to think about. We can concentrate on feeding and bathing and getting the kids ready for bed and then a generous person brings round a hot meal in the evening. What a blessing. On a couple of occasions when I have found this season really stretching, the simple good company of close friends have been rejuvenating for me.

We've been listening to Rachel

My wife is not really into the Gina Ford stuff. This time around however we have been drawing a lot from Rachel Waddilove. She spoke to our Church parents a month or so back. She is warm, loving and very affectionate. We bought both her books and have found them very very helpful. We have adopted Rachel's 'flexible routine'. It has been a huge blessing to us as we try and manage two babies. Obviously we are still learning loads and it's very early days butIhave particularly appreciated her practical help. I wish we had done this first time around! Clearly every child is different as is every parenting team however I think she is well worth checking out.

Getting a vision

Over the last couple of days I have also been re-reading 'Shepherding a Child's heart' by Tedd Tripp. It's so refreshing to catch God's heart for families and his call on parents again. It's easy to slip into survival mode with kids I think. I've been spending a lot of time with Rufus over the last week. I don't just want to fill the day and entertain him. I want more for him and God is asking for more from me. I expect to be visiting and re-visiting this book. 10mins reading a day can change everything.

Friday, 29 April 2011

New arrival... Mabel Jennifer Alred

We've been at home for two nights now. Chlo & Mabel came home from hospital just a few hours after giving birth.

On the morning of the birth, Chlo came down to tell me that 'it's started.' I immediately went into organisational mode much to her distress. Chlo's mum came over to take Rufus, (she has been gold) while Chloe was having contractions every minute or so. We had contractions on the door step, in the car, in the car park, in corridors and then finally into the room with the birthing pool. We got there around 8.00am.

The labour was fast. We had baby in arms by 9.40am! She was 9.11lbs. By 12.45 we were driving home from the hospital.

It was great to introduce Mabel to Rufus and then later more friends and family. Two days in so far and we are going well. Mabel is feeding well and sleeping for a couple of hours at times. My friend told me that by the end of the first week you have some idea about how you are going to actually cope with caring for two little ones. I hope he is right! :-)   

Friday, 22 April 2011

Have you been substituted yet?

A couple of times during my short lived rugby career I was playing so badly that I got substituted. I remember one particularly bad experience during a BUSA quarter final vs. Hartpury College when I got taken off at half time. I had a kicked charged down and dropped a ball, giving the opposition a two score head start. It was not good.

For the sake of everyone I was taken off the pitch! Someone else came on to take my place. It was a humbling experience.

The essence of Good Friday is an offer of a substitution. It's amazing how familiar the sight of a Roman cross is these days. It's common in jewellery of course and features in many tattoos and other forms of art. Yet the cross was a brutal means by which the Romans would torture people to death.

Worse than my performance in some rugby matches, (and of course with far more serious implications) the behaviour of humanity before God is, according to the Bible, horrendous. The Bible describes us as God's enemies. The Bible describes us as those who live in God's world receiving good gifts and yet ignoring the giver. The Bible attributes the suffering and evil in the world to our choices as a race against God. Each one of us plays our part and each one of us is responsible according to scripture.

If we don't think that God is serious about our offence, or that he is not serious about his love for us, we have to look no further than the cross.

Jesus came into history to pay our debt. He paid so that we might not have to. He faced the anger of God as a substitute for us. He offers this act to people as a gift so that we can get to know God again. He pays so that we don't have to. The word he uses is 'ransom'.

Humanity is divided between those who have accepted Jesus as their substitute and those who will face Jesus as his enemy. I wonder if this Easter might be a time to consider where we stand at the moment.

Here is a great series for those who want to ponder once more the mystery of the cross by CJ Mahaney. If you're a Christian I recommend a long walk and a listen to these on your iPod and talk to your God who died for you. He died in my place, for my sins, so that I can know and love him as I was made to.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Porn is the norm.

I lived my first twenty odd years my life my way. I have lived the last six years as someone who follows Jesus.It has been quite a transition. Some Christian values are widely accepted as being good and right. In some ways our culture is aligned with Jesus.

There are however, many teachings of Christ which have been widely rejected and ignored. I think that this is particularly true when it comes to sex and sexuality. It is certainly true when it comes to pornography. When I was growing up I'd say that porn was normal and an expected part of life. Whether online or videos or late night freeview. TNS surveyed 1,057 adults aged 18-24 for the research between 18 March and 21 March 2011 as illustrated above From BBC Website. It's interesting reading how views are developing on this one.

The teaching of Jesus collides head on with what is now accepted as the norm.

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Matthew 5:28 ESV

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.

Colossians 3:5-6 ESV

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.
Ephesians 5:3 ESV

To enjoy porn (drawing sexual pleasure from someone who is not your wife or husband) in scripture is to be unfaithful to your wife, to anger God and it should not even be hinted at among Christians.

This sharp contrast is really the tip of the iceberg in terms of different values. As a Christian I am standing on  and working out the following:

1. This is God's world and it's for him to say what is good and what is not.
2. I have got it wrong.
3. He died for me and invites me to learn to walk His way with His power and patience.
4. People are made in his image and are valuable to be honoured and respected.
5. Sex is designed to be exclusively enjoyed in marriage.
6. Great marriages include great sex for years and years. This will not happen without work. This bookbelow is awesome. :-) I think married couples should have a glass of wine and read it through together. There are application points for each chapter. (!) I have also enjoyed reading 'Sex, romance and the glory of God' by CJ Mahaney. A must for husbands.
7. Sexual satisfaction, thoughts and imagination are to be given to my wife alone.
8. Porn robs people from enjoying sex in the way for which it was designed.
9. We have some work to do.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Waiting for number 2...

Our second baby is due April 23rd. My wife looks like she could go pop at any moment. It's been strange thinking back to the early days when Rufus was first born. Here is a picture when he was just a couple of months old.

I can't wait to meet my daughter. She moves around a lot. I wonder if she will be dark or blonde. Rufus started dark and now is really blonde! I'm praying for a safe and successful birth.

I think it took me about six months to feel like I could start to do stuff in life and not just survive after Rufus. I wonder how long it will take with two babies to feel like I can cope! I guess every parent feels a mixture of excitement and also aware of the daunting nature of the task ahead. I guess also we will take each day as it comes and work hard together. Grateful that God is actively involved in all that I do, that I am in a Church family and have wider family who are willing to help.  

A mixture of paternity leave, bank holidays and Leadership Training means that I will not be at the Church office very much in May. I have a couple of important commitments to honour but other than that I will be largely on home base, then I aim to travel to Catford for Leadership Training May 18th.

I'm looking forward to standing with my wife and being with my family over the coming weeks while at the same time feeling like I am just about to start running a marathon!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Matt Chandler on suffering - deep

Asking for a flood

Ask for God

Walking with Jesus starts with, and is continued by the power of the Holy Spirit. God dynamically dwells within His people. Amazingly in the Bible, we find invitations to ask for 'more of Him'! It appears He is willing to give more and that we can ask.

On Sunday

I'm praying for many to ask for and encounter God in any and every way this Sunday as we preach through Ephesians 5v18-21 where Paul tells believers not get drunk on wine, but be filled with the Spirit.

The Bible describes the impact on believers as 'rivers of living water' which can flow from people. Charles Spurgeon wrote hungry for a flood of the Spirit for his people:

"What a wonderful thing a flood is! Go down to the river, look over the bridge, and see the barges and other craft lying in the mud. All the king's horses and all the king's men cannot tug them out to sea. There they lie, dead and motionless as the mud itself.

What shall we do with them? What machinery can move them? Have we a great engineer among us who will devise a scheme for lifting these vessels and bearing them down to the river's mouth? No, it cannot be done.

Wait till the tide comes in! What a change! Each vessel walks the water like a thing of life. What a difference between the low tide and high tide. 
You cannot stir the boats when the water is gone; but when the tide is full, see how readily they move, a little child may push them with with his hand.

Oh, for a flood of grace.
The Lord send to our Churches a great springtide! 

Then the indolent will be active enough, and those who were half dead will be full of energy. I know that in this particular dock, several vessels are lying that I should like to float, but I cannot stir them. They neither work for God nor come out to our prayer meetings, nor give of their substance to spread the gospel. If the flood would come, you would see what they are capable of: they would be active, fervent, generous, abounding in every good word and work. So may it be! So may it be!"

So may it be.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Biblical womanhood/wives...

Chloe and I had fun today teaching and sharing on biblical womanhood and submission in marriage. You get check out the sermon here. We're working out for us what it means to apply a Biblical blueprint to our marriage.

Here are a couple of study books which Chloe has found particularly helpful with this whole area of womanhood and what the Bible says. They are produced by the Good Book company.

In the past as a Church we have recommended Sharon James' work as well. I think this is great and very thorough. My wife particularly appreciates Carolyn Mahaney and her influence. Her book feminine appeal is similar material to that which she shares in the 'According to plan' set.

My wife has also found the 'girl talk blog' a huge encouragement. 


Rest is part of God's design

To rest or not to rest?

Let me get straight to the point - in the end, if we choose not to rest I think we are either arrogant or idolaters. Apart from exceptional circumstances, God has woven rest into His design for humanity.

In the Bible God models and has given us a Sabbath to rest one day in seven. He also gave different festivals and holidays as a break from the routine of work.

Learning lessons

As a pastor in my second year of ministry I made the mistake last year of not taking all my holidays. I enjoyed the ones I took, but did not take them all. At times I suffer from arrogance. At times I deny my need of sleep and rest and believe that I can do all that I want for as long as I want. I also struggle at times with an over-enthusiasm for ministry and all that I could be doing. When I think about it carefully I think the reason I did not take my holiday last year was idolatry. I was holding up ministry ahead of what God was asking of me.

I love working for the Church but I love God more! An older pastor who I know was sharing about his Church and their positive attitude towards holidays. You get commended for taking your holiday because God has designed us to enjoy them. Our lead elder has a similar attitude.

It's a faith issue

Personally I find it takes faith to take a holiday. It takes faith to believe that God cares about and will continue to build his Church without you. It takes faith to leave people who have needs, and projects which you can contribute towards in the hands of others. It takes faith to not feel guilty taking a rest when others are working hard. It takes faith to be around tired people and not feel bad for feeling rested and sharp.

I have just finished reading 'Going the distance'. It's been good for me. My wife and I have reviewed our annual pattern and have decided that a week off in March is a good place to start. :-) This week we'll be having a week off. We're going to visit friends and then spend three nights away in Cornwall. I can't wait. I'm filled with faith to receive it is a gift. I refuse to feel guilty. I believe I am being obedient to Jesus.

On holiday this week :-) 

I am pleased that we have drafted a good annual pattern and that I have been able to learn and improve my leadership of my home in this area. Next week I'm going to read, sleep, spend time with my son (kicking a football and wrestling predominantly) and look to bless my wife as much as I can. Thank you Lord Jesus for ongoing patience and provision for me and my family.

Friday, 25 March 2011

What should wives do?

On Sunday I will be preaching through Ephesians 5v22-33 looking at the role of wives.

This text contains those infamous words, "Wives submit to your husbands..." 

This topic always provokes a range of responses. On Sunday I'm looking to punch through 9 observations which I have made from scripture and then interview my wife Chloe. 

I like John Pipers definition: “Submission is a divine calling of a wife to honour and affirm her husbands leadership and carry it through according to her gifts.”

1.Biblical submission is not assigning different value, it’s assigning different roles.

2.Biblical submission is not just a cultural expression, it’s an eternal value.

3.Biblical submission is not primarily a response to your husband, it’s a response to Jesus.

4.Biblical submission is not passive, it’s active.

5.Biblical submission is not absolute, but it is genuine.

6.Biblical submission does not allow abuse, it’s part of Church life.

7.Biblical submission is not for husbands to enforce, it’s a call on the wife.

8.Biblical submission is not easy, but it is powerful.

9.Biblical submission is not popular, but it is beautiful.

Chloe and I are seeking to build our marriage according to God's blueprint. I'll be asking her the following questions:

1) How would you have described yourself as a single Christian girl?

2) What was it like getting to know me?

3) How did you feel about the biblical model of marriage?

4) How have you found trying to build according to God’s blueprint over the last four years?

5) Can you think of any examples where you have had to choose to submit?

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

What should husbands do?

Sexuality, gender and roles within marriage are topics which always draw quite a response. There is much speculation and debate in our day over how we should or should not build our relationships.

In the Bible, the calling on husbands is amazing. We are called to lay our lives down in servant leadership just like Jesus. We are called to provide and to protect. I felt Andy preached brilliantly at both of our sites on Sunday.

Personally I feel challenged again to be intentional about loving my wife as I am called. I want to be quick to learn, quick to change and quick to say sorry where I have not been as I should.

CJ Mahaney encourages his men to cultivate a 'pattern of sacrifice' in their lives.

Husbands, what can we do each day to demonstrate sacrificial love for our wives?

What can we do today, that costs us, and blesses our wives?
Big things or small things, what can we do?

How can we lead our wives spiritually today?
What have you prayed for your wife today?
How will you expose her and encourage her in the word of God today?

How hard are you working today to provide for your family?

If you are a man who is not yet married, how can you start building towards this calling?

Further listening:

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

A Christian conference?!

Up until a few years ago I had never been to a Christian conference. I'd only been to a local Church meeting.

My first time

I'd heard that my local Church was part of something bigger which helps us and gives us a sense of security but that was the extent of my insight. One summer I decided to go to the New Frontiers 'Brighton Conference'. It was the first time I'd been in a room with thousands of people who loved Jesus and were passionate about walking his path. It was the first time I'd seen so many different men and women with different styles and gifting working together for the same ends. It was the first time I'd been exposed to different wisdom in different areas and experienced the strength of something of authentic relationships at this level. It was the first time I'd danced the night away to music while being completely sober! The truths of scripture and the calling of God to plant Churches were illuminated in my heart in a powerful way.

The week in Brighton completely changed my perception of what we were building as a local Church and all that we are part of. It made me want to give my life to work within this movement. We are a family on a mission!

Not just a conference

I'm not really a fan of Christian conferences per se. I think that the specific purpose is important. What are we trying to do together? I enjoy being exposed to good Bible teaching and/or a specific gift but in the end I'm looking for more when Christians gather together in this kind of context. I think we're looking to be part of a movement led by the Spirit of God. 

Some of our students were catching something of who we are a couple of weeks back. It looks like the Bude Weekend for Students and 20's could be a good fixture on our calender in the future. It was great for them to see a little more of who we are and to see there obvious enthusiasm with all that they had seen and heard. 

The times are changing

New Frontiers is changing and the Brighton Conference will end this summer. As a family we are looking to different spheres for relationship and corporate vision so therefore for us in Exeter Together at Westpoint is vital. I felt is was a little rough around the edges last year however I am utterly convinced about what we are trying to do together. I'm sure the guys will have learnt loads and I'm really looking forward to gathering again this summer at something which is far more than a conference. 

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

This is New Frontiers

I have often been asked, "Who are New Frontiers?" "What kind of Church do you belong to?" Here is a helpful little video which gives a little of the history of our movement.

Friday, 4 March 2011

(Christians) What will your life say today?

"You are writing a gospel
a chapter each day
by the words that you say
and the works that you do.

Men read what you write
disturbing or true.
What is the gospel
according to you?"

My wife and I were praying this morning that we may not waste today. What will we write? What will we say? What will the Church do today across our city I wonder?

Thursday, 3 March 2011

'Are you serious about hell...?!' Some considerations

Last Sunday I had a look at the (un)popular(?!) subject of hell. The most unpopular and yet frequently asked about subject. I spent some time looking at Luke 16v19-31. I found it an emotional and difficult subject to speak on such a text. At one point during the morning sermon I paused while I wept. Part of me felt vulnerable and uneasy but I do feel that it is an appropriate and 'real' response when handling a topic like this.

This topic is part of the central message of Christianity and has been a view held by biblical Churches throughout Church history. I also added 5 considerations which I think we need to have an awareness of as we think through this difficult subject.

1) This is Jesus talking.

To reject something which Jesus talks about on moral grounds is making quite a claim about our own wisdom and moral judgement.

Tim Keller writes: “We must come to grips with the fact that Jesus said more about hell than Daniel, Isaiah, Paul, John, Peter put together. Before we dismiss this, we have to realize we are saying to Jesus, the pre-eminent teacher of love and grace in history, "I am less barbaric than you, Jesus--I am more compassionate and wiser than you." Surely that should give us pause!”

2) Jesus cares deeply.

Some people find the idea of Jesus/God being angry almost impossible reconcile with the idea that God is loving. However, in scripture, it is because he is loving that he is angry! An unloving response to all the abuse, injustice, crime, selfishness and general mess in the world would be indifference.

Jesus cares passionately about how you treat me and about how I treat you. When people are mistreated - he gets angry. This is because he is good.

3)  This is very personal.

If I was in your house eating your food, enjoying your furniture, music, etc and treated your house as I pleased, without speaking to you or honouring you as my host I guess you would be offended.

We live in God's world. He made it. We didn't. We'll all die and the world will keep on spinning. We are not in control of and we did not design creation. The best we do is study and work with that which is already there. The whole of creation belongs to God.

When we reject God and abuse His creation we are personally offensive to God in his world.

4) God is that valuable.

When I was living in my old flat, my car was parked on the street and someone threw a brick through the back windscreen. I found this offensive. However the offence was less that it would have been if someone had thrown a brick at my wife! Why is that? Same action?

As the value of the object increases, the offence increases. Chloe is more valuable than my car so I the action is more serious and more offensive.

Is eternal punishment an overreaction?

Well I think we have to ask the following questions:

How valuable is God?
Therefore how serious are our crimes?

Scripture speaks of an everlasting God who is of infinite value. To offend and reject something of such value is a very scary reality.

5) The offer of God

God has offered to pay our price himself. Jesus offers himself to be our 'wrath absorber' or 'wrath diverter'. He offers to be our great substitute so that we can know God and walk with Him rather than being against Him. His offer is open today.

The only way people can get to a place  of punishment is to trample over and reject the cross of Christ.

Friday, 25 February 2011

"Are you serious about hell? Some people have never even heard..."

It must be the most unpopular subject to speak about yet ironically one of the most asked about. It certainly was asked a lot in our survey...

The time has come to take some time to consider what the Bible has to say...

At both sites I'll be offering some personal reflections, looking at what the Bible says and offering 5 considerations when handling this topic.

"Are you serious about hell?! Some people have never even heard..." 

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Move that body!

I find at times I know something to be true, but my experience and feelings do not match that conviction. Do you know what I mean? For example, sometimes I know I can do a task, but I don't feel confident in the moment. As a Christian I say that I love God but often I do not feel the affection and joy which I hope that I would given how great God is.

Is my mind and heart connected?! Am I cold hearted? How can I be more human?! How can I do big things when I am nervous but I know I am called to it?!

At leadership training last week Irene Brooks from CCK briefly referenced recent studies in psychotherapy which focussed on the body's impact on the mind. (This as opposed to the impact of the mind on the body.)

Perhaps we are now in the realms of subliminal learning? My Dad has worked hard on this area as part of his Phd in 'performing under pressure' and keeps suggesting the I read the book 'blink' by Malcolm Gladwell. (It is on my list!) It appears that one of the results for Dad has been a huge emphasis on body language and posture. If you are not feeling confident, stand up straight and put your shoulders back!! If you know something to be true in your mind, that you are struggling to live out... set your body first! This is a powerful tool.

Both Dad and Irene seem to be saying that the body and the mind are far more integrated than I would think. It seems that God has made us in a way which means we can lead our whole selves with our bodies.

I find this very interesting. Andrew Wilson referenced this in a lecture a couple of years back. He commented on how you can lead your heart towards God through your actions. He talked about the psalms and giving among other activities...

Psalm 134:2 Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the LORD!

Psalm 33:1 Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!

Mat 6:20-21 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

These verses call for action! I think God is great, and here I'm asked to set my body as a response. I don't think that I have to work myself up or try and manufacture anything. I do not need to wait to feel anything either. With my body, I have an opportunity to lead my heart and my affection towards where I want them to go.

When I want to praise and worship or even just talk to God I can stand and lift my hands... when I'm called to lead his people I can stand with my shoulders back knowing what he has promised me and I can take hold of what I know to be true. I can lead myself by setting my body in line with scripture! 

Not very English but perhaps this will be a helpful insight for a tired daddy. X

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Sending of our best...

Christians are by definition 'sent' people. We are called to 'go' and to love, explain and invite people to meet with our maker through Jesus.

Ever since the book of Acts Christians have moved to new towns and cities with the motive of being effective on this mission.

John and Hannah Fielder are great personal friends to Chloe and I. We have known them for years now and have found them to be great people. They are both very gifted and it has been a joy to have them in our Church in Exeter.They fill us with enthusiasm for life and challenge us to stand up and be all we can be. Chlo has looked after Bethan twice a week and my son has been quite taken by her! They giggle and smile whenever they see each other. It's very cute even if I do say so myself. :-)

This Sunday will be their last with us as members. They are now moving to Birmingham. They aspire to Church planting and will be joining up with Jonathan Bell to serve him, with a view to planting in the future. Matt Partridge has been very helpful in linking these guys up as they are looking to be involved in an urban context.

Both John and Hannah are passionate and have demonstrated exemplary humility on many occasions. It is this that gives me confidence as I look ahead to the future with these guys. We will miss them sorely week to week but we're also excited about this next chapter and very much looking to stand with our friends during this time.  

Thursday, 10 February 2011

A Special day...

Last Sunday was a special day for me. I was appointed as a senior leader or to use a biblical word/office an 'elder' at Frontiers Church Exeter.

Family Matters

I was so pleased that my family was able to come and share the day with me. My Mum, Dad and Sister came down as well and Chloe's parents who took a day trip down from Northampton. I felt very much loved and supported by my family as well as my Church family. My best man and his wife also made a surprise visit! :-)

Apostolic input

Matt Partridge who leads Emmanuel Church Oxford and helps oversee our Church taught from Peter's first letter. He pointed out 7 hallmarks of elders in the Church. Here are a few things that I noted.

1) Shepherds of people. People are the priority for God's shepherds.
2) Elders are to be willing. You need desire.
3) Not greedy for gain but greedy to serve.
4) They lead by example. The man must embody his message. 
5) Humility.
6) Must keep alert and demonstrate self control. 
7) Never, never give up. Do the simple things well. Fight.


Today I am very aware that I am just one piece in the jigsaw of His Church. It seems strange to have had a whole service for this. (Though it was great for the whole Church to be clear on all that we are doing and to celebrate.) I have had two meet ups this morning with great leaders in our Church and am very pleased with the student team which we are working with right now. I am currently involved with several ministry teams. It's in these areas where I find real joy in my role. I love being with our people, I love building teams, developing leaders and looking to accomplish things together with Jesus. I feel very, very blessed to be able to play my part along side so many people who I admire and respect.  

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Becoming an elder...

God willing, this Sunday I will be publicly recognised and appointed as an elder for Frontiers Church Exeter. I will be joining a team of three elders, Andy Rob and Steve.

It is a very exciting time for me personally. I feel that God has blessed me hugely and is asking me to carry more responsibility into the future here in Exeter. Over the last month I have begun to feel more of a responsibility as we have faced various challenges as a church. I am confident that I can make a positive contribution for the team while remaining equally sure that I am on rather steep learning curve!

Paul writes to a young Timothy in the context of Church leadership to endure like a soldier, work hard like a farmer, and remain disciplined like an athlete. When I started leadership training two years ago, we were told that statistically not all of us would survive ministry. A few months later the guy sat next to me crashed out. Success rates seem to be around 30% due to the unique challenges and pressures of Church leadership. I am looking to work hard and find a sustainable pace for fruitful ministry in the coming years.  

This Sunday will be a special day for me. I'll be thanking God for all the work He has done in my life and I'm really glad that my family will be there to share the experience with me.

In the New Testament Paul and Peter outline the qualifications for Eldership within the Church.

1 Tim 3v1 -7 "The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer [1] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, [2] sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of byoutsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil."

Titus 1v "This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, andappoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, [3] and his children are believers and not open to the charge ofdebauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, [4] as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound [5] doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it."

1 Peter 5v1-5  "So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, [1] not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; [2] not for shameful gain, but eagerly; notdomineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”