'For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord….'

Archive for Jesus

George’s prayer…

Taking a short break from Easter Sunday preaching preparation, I stumbled across this.  Rev George Whitefield’s prayer.  Note the correct use of the word ‘awesome’…

“Yes, that we shall see the great head of the church once more…….raise up to Himself certain young men whom He may use in His glorious employ.  And what manner of men will they be?  Men mighty in the scriptures, their lives dominated by a sense of greatness, the majesty and holiness of God, and their minds and hearts aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace.  They will be men who have learned what it is to die to self, to human aims and personal ambitions;  men who are willing to be fools for Christ’s sake, who will bear reproach and falsehood, who will labour and suffer, and whose supreme desire will be, not to gain earth’s accolades, but to win the Master’s approbation when they appear before His awesome judgement seat.  They will be men who will preach with broken hearts and tear-filled eyes, and upon whose ministries God will grant an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit, and who will witness ‘signs and wonders following’ in the transformation of multitudes of human lives”.

Phew!  If that doesn’t get the neck hairs bristling, then nothing will….

P.s  Something to consider…


Multi-Site musings #9…

7 weeks in and all is going great.  Well, there are the ‘little foxes that spoil the vineyard’, but hey, I’ve got broad shoulders!

So what’s great?

~ 200+ gathered every week so far (yes, I am counting women & children!)

~ new faces EVERY week!  This is phenomenal, and many are connecting. So good to hear their stories

~ needing to multiply small groups very sharpish!

~ learning to harness newly passionate people

~ best of all, 7 weeks ago there was no church.  Now there is 🙂

We’ve also gone crazy and started an Alpha right from the kick-off.  There were 10 guests last night!

Multi-Site musings #7…

In one weeks time, set up will be under way for our first Pre-Launch meeting at the Shoreham Centre.  It’s come around so quickly, I can hardly believe it!

At first light, teams of brilliant servers will be moving tech equipment off lorries into the Main Hall (which can squeeze close to 300 people into it), into other rooms to cater for COG’s (our children’s work), and into areas for serving us great coffee & croissants.

Then worship team will get set up, the Connect (Welcome, Host & Point) will hold their positions, looking to engage with all-comers. The magnificent COG’s teams will ready themselves for our little ones.  The whole building will be buzzing with expectation!

Expectation is very high, and although that can seem pretty nerve-racking, I for one have very high expectations of the coming months.

My expectations are NOT that we MUST get it all right, first time and with every ‘i’ dotted and every ‘t’ crossed – that simply won’t happen, but we will aim for it.  We will be ironing out some hefty creases in the early weeks, no doubt about that.  In that respect, let’s see if we can out-do one another in our ‘grace thresholds’.  We are going to need to!

But my expectations are on another plain.  Remembering that we are acting on the initiation of God, His plans and purposes for us as a church as we move to a multisite model.  Jesus building of the church not only fills me with great relief and peace, but reminds me that I can fully expect great things!  After all, he’s the Senior Pastor!

My prayer for all of us this week and many that follow, is that we remember that at it’s heart, multisite is simply FOR the gospel and making Jesus famous in more localities than we are currently reaching.  Where the gospel gets proclaimed (not just through preaching but through everyday life), people will come to know Jesus – simple.

William Carey once said “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.”  We’ve been promised ‘quick fruit’, and expectation is high in light of the gospel.  If you are a CCK’er involved in this adventure, let’s go for it this coming week.  Raise your expectations of a God who is committed to us.

For your good, and His glory…

We are not unaware of the realities of human suffering.  In my particular experience right now, there seems to be an inordinate amount of it in the sphere in which I cover.

Without finding grace in the cross of Christ, we would be nowhere.

Here is an impacting, Christ-centered, God-honouring talk by Matt Chandler who is battling brain cancer.

His very real theology of suffering is essential for the shaping of our own response in the face of suffering.  We are eternally secure in Jesus…..

One thing I do…

Jan 1st must be THE day for starting a blog or rejuvenating one….and I’m no different!  I managed to knock a few posts out last year, but hey, a new year beckons…

The Apostle Paul helps me out here and says ‘forget what’s behind, but press on to what’s ahead’ (Phil 3:13b-14), and so yes, I concur. What’s gone is gone, you can’t change anything (we must all live with the effects of our words, thoughts and actions, good or otherwise). It just makes the gospel acutely good news, doesn’t it?  …..designed with weak men and women in mind!

But I also think it’s healthy to have a quick review of things that I’m grateful for over the last 12 months….

~  good overall health in my family

~  a job that paid me wages

~  a terrific and godly wife

~  the best neighbours in the hood

~  special summer hols with special mates

~  an awesome church family that ACTUALLY cares

You might be thinking ‘bully for you mate’, but I won’t list the ‘not so great’ things of 2010.

However, even those things are wrapped up in God’s unfolding plan for me (and you, & the rest of mankind!).

When you look forward, you do so with new resolve and hope. The writer of Hebrews reminds us…

Let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds onto us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us.  Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.  (Heb 12:1-2)

In other words, no quantity of our own resolve will suffice. There is, of course, a place for determination and discipline, but ultimately it’s Jesus’ resolve and determination that does it for us. Let’s depend on Him in 2011.

It might be a New Year, but it’s the same faithful God.  I have a rough idea of what’s coming up in 2011 personally, but I’d better hold onto that lightly. Not sure what 2011 holds for you, but Happy New Year!

Joseph…quite a guy!

So…. this is a series of short blog posts about Joseph, the favourite of Jacob’s sons.  The difference with this series is that it is a ‘transatlantic-tag’ effort between me and my good buddy Jon Lyndon!  I’ve no idea what he’s going to say, but he’s doing Part 2, me part 3 and so on……….should be fun!


We know that the life of Joseph shows us certain things: primarily how suffering, no matter how (seemingly) unfair, develops strong character and deep wisdom.  He ultimately wins through, forgiving his brothers and feeding a nation.   Remind you of someone?  Yep, he is a type of Christ.  And we will use this Christocentric approach in each of our posts, showing how the gospel runs through the story, and how we apply it to our lives.

Part 1 (Gen 39-40)

It was no big deal to get a ‘tunic’ from your old man (all of Joe’s bro’s would have had one).  Normally they’d be used for carrying stuff, wrapping up babies, even using as security for a loan, but they were generally plain and boring.  But the one Joe got was the type usually worn by royalty!  Multicoloured, ankle-length and certainly not off the peg!

His Great Grandpa was Abraham, and we’re told ‘God blessed him amongst his brothers’.   To his brothers, He was one of those really annoying guys who appear to have it all!  Dads favour, the flash jacket, the good looks!

To cap it all, he had quite an attitude.  He knew he was the man!  He even had a couple dreams about his family bowing down to him, and this sent his brothers over the edge.  As things came to a head, they plotted against him, slung him in a pit and sold him into slavery, which took him to Egypt……but God was with him.  Can you imagine?  A country boy into big city, surrounded by lots of false religion, and Pharaoh thinking he’s god?

It’s here that he comes face to face with Mrs Potiphar.  She is brazen in her attempts to seduce Joseph.  It’s a picture, like the world seducing mankind, making us drunk on immorality, appealing to our senses.  She is suggestive to him, persistent and offering great promise……‘Lets delight ourselves with caresses’.   We live in a seductive world, it flatters, it bares a leg, it winks!

How does Joseph do?  He does well, resisting temptation at every corner.  He repeatedly turns down her advances with increasing clarity, making it plain that he serves God and Potiphar.  He says, ‘Potiphar trusts me with everything, and all is under my control except you, because you are his wife!’  (she is the forbidden fruit and he had to walk past the forbidden fruit everyday).

Both (culture & woman) tried to entice him, but he stayed true to the God he trusted and feared.  Joseph was a human being, so I can assure you he would have succumbed to some temptation in his life, but in this story we see a picture of pure triumph over it, a success story. 

What Jesus correlations can we make?  Just look at these incredible threads :

~ Joseph was sold by his bro’s for the going price of a slave / Jesus was sold for the going price of a slave (+ inflation)

~ Joseph fled when hounded by Mrs Potiphar / Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness and resisted

~ Joseph refused to abuse the power Potiphar had given him by resisting his wife / Jesus also refused to abuse the power God had given him by not ‘getting into bed’ with Satan

~ Joseph was unjustly accused and thrown into prison / Jesus suffered the same injustice and was murdered as a criminal

For Part 2 of this series, click here

Shame reduction…

I listened to a very interesting (poor choice of word….) radio discussion the other week about a chap (formerly 32 stone in weight, now down to 25 stone) who had opted for radical stomach surgery in an effort to combat obesity.

Along with his weight reduction (physical) he was also having to deal with shame (emotional).  How to reduce it, that is.  He couldn’t completely remove it himself, so ‘reduction’ was worth a try.

In our Western world we don’t ‘do’ shame…….. not like the African or Asian cultures.  Why?  Arrogance?  Issues of shame remain untouched by our modern cover-up jobs.  In our pride we call it ‘low self-esteem’.

The bible is huge on this issue, right from the start…….. ‘They were naked and without shame…’   A few verses later they are ‘covered’ with shame.

Low self-esteem is the modern language for it, because our culture cannot stomach (no pun intended) the word and its appalling connotations.

Someone once said that ‘the Gospel is like a medicine cabinet for every ill’ (flawed, like every analogy) and that must include shame.  We will all ask at one time or another, ‘What do I do with my shame?’   It’s a big question.  Being exposed, shown to be unclean (outcast, rejected etc.) is our fear.  The gospel not only forgives, it cleanses.

Weakness is also the bible language for shame.  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 ‘I boast in my weaknesses’ (no human would do that naturally), because he knew that Jesus (at the cross) exchanged it for strength.  Quite an exchange!

When you see the bible theme of shame more vividly, it will deepen your appreciation of the gospel.  Our culture is great at spotting it, calling it low self-esteem and attempting to ‘reduce’ it, but removing it?  Clueless.

In his first bible letter, Peter writes to those suffering Christians (the dregs of society, outcasts).  He reminds them that depsite their position, everything gets righted at the cross of Christ, the most shameful moment in human history.  He then goes on to remind them who they now are.  ‘A chosen people, royal priesthood….received mercy’.

Allow the gospel (Jesus taking our shame) to not just reduce but wipe away all shame. Only Jesus can do that.