Friday, 17 December 2010

Getting ready for Christmas

So today is my last day in the office before I get to spend some time off! Soul Survivor Extra is done and on tape. I think it's come together really well – hope that people enjoy it when it's broadcast. It's a good look behind what Soul Survivor is all about, why it exists and the difference that it makes. I really encourage people to send their youth groups – lives get changed.

Anyway… I'm about to go for my company Christmas meal and then I'm done. I should really turn my attention now to the message for our Christmas Eve Meeting. I'm excited about this one, we've never really done something on Christmas Eve at our church to my recollection – but it is a great time for potential outreach and to come together as a church family. There may even be mince pies!

Right, I need to finish off this Message from last year's Soul Survivor then I can go enjoy some Turkey!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

When we first went to Bede

Originally uploaded by newlifebillingham

Just looking at some photos of our first day over at bede. It's amazing how much has happened since then.
Numbers are on the rise, which is great - but on top of that I really think it's raised our game as a church. It's nearly a year now since we made the decision to move.
It makes me wonder... where next?

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Playing the numbers game

This is an interesting article:

It made me think a bit about the focus on number. How important an indicator are numbers of a success in ministry? Clearly active members is more important than numbers - but as it says here, "We count people because people count"

Playing the numbers game can be tough on a church as it can bring discouragement or pride. But the key is to remember that the focus is the people, not the numbers. You want to see people grow and develop in their relationship with God. BUT - you want do to that with as many people as possible.

We can't avoid keeping check on numbers. It's important to know how many people are attending and to see that number go up. Otherwise we are not reaching people. But we cannot forget, numbers don't necessarily mean disciples.

A good thing to remember, "Every number is a person. But every person is not a number"

What do you think? How important are numbers?

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Dead Sea Mud

I was just looking through my pictures from Israel taken a few months ago. And I just saw this and it made me wonder. They tell usthat dead sea mud is really god for you with all it's minerals and so on and I'm sure it is.
My skin felt great after all the mud soaking and I was sure to buy Emilia lots of product that I've also used in secret.
But I can't escape the fact that I was essentially rolling around in mud. Is there any other circumstance in life where I could get away with rolling aorund in mud and NOT get disapproved of?
I couldn't really get away with this, even in my garden. And it seems a bit of a shame. Rolling around in the mud was actually a lot of fun, even if it hadn't have been good for my skin. As a child I wouldn't have thought twice about it.
There was something about the place and the experience that just reminded me of the 80s. I wasnt sure what it was, but I think it's the way it made me feel. Like a child again. I wish more mud was medicinal....
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Tuesday, 30 March 2010

6 Preaching & Teaching Tips for Easter

6 Preaching & Teaching Tips for Easter

Some good advice from mark Driscoll:
For most churches, Easter is the biggest Sunday of the year. It is an occasion to celebrate the resurrection victory of Jesus Christ over Satan, sin, death, hell, and the wrath of God, while also seeing lost sheep return home and lost people become Christians. For some preachers, though, it is a difficult time because they struggle with the weight and pressure of preaching an Easter sermon in fresh ways year after year. Having now preached on every Easter at Mars Hill Church since 1996, I relate, and I would like to offer the following six preaching tips for Easter in hopes of serving those who serve others by preaching and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

1. Keep your Easter message short.

It is very difficult to get children’s workers on Easter because so many of your key people want to bring family, friends, and coworkers to church and then go enjoy brunch or some special time together. So, it is wise to do the Easter service “family style” with no childcare. This gives your kids’ workers a day off, allows you to turn services around more quickly (as Easter requires multiple services for many churches), and also allows the service to be uniquely fun. For little kids, perhaps some crayons and coloring sheets as gifts would be helpful. Let the parents know in advance that the service will be short, that some noise from the kids is welcome—indeed, the sound of children is a good sign of God’s grace and the church’s future—and that there will be lots of singing and celebration that the kids will enjoy. So, keep your Easter sermon short.

2. Keep your Easter message simple.

Easter is not a time to get fancy. The goal of the Easter sermon is not to impress your people with your oratory skills, your Greek syntax expertise, or your clever cultural insight. Easter is a time to boldly, loudly, passionately, gladly, and publicly proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ! So, keep your Easter sermon simple. Hearing the good news of Jesus is something your people will delight in if the Holy Spirit resides in them, so make it plain. They know you will tell them Jesus is alive, they are coming to hear it, and it sounds good every time, much like a wife whose husband often tells her he loves her and is devoted to her—she never tires of hearing it and rejoices every time.

3. Keep your Easter message invitational.

Make sure to clearly, winsomely, persuasively, and passionately invite people to repent of sin and trust in Jesus as God, Lord, and Savior during your sermon. Do not assume that everyone in attendance is a Christian, or assume that they will figure out salvation by themselves. Be an agent of the Holy Spirit who instructs people about the finished work of Jesus and what it means to repent of sin and trust in him for new life. Be bold, take a risk, and do the work of an evangelist like Paul commands.

4. Keep your Easter message special.

For believers during the Old Covenant era, Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) was referred to simply as “the Day.” For Christians, the chain of events from Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday to his resurrection on Easter Sunday is the fulfillment of Yom Kippur. This makes Easter “the Day.” To celebrate the Day, the entire Easter service should be special. Some examples of special aspects to incorporate are a greatly decorated stage, fantastic joyful songs to sing, and a choir. Also, everyone on stage should be dressed up for the special occasion (for casual churches like Mars Hill, this is particularly noteworthy, and so I always wear a full suit, including a tie, on Easter and request that all our elders-pastors do the same).

In addition, you should baptize people to show the personal application of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in our place for our sins. At Mars Hill, we baptize more people on Easter than any other time of the year. Some people sign up to be baptized in advance and come ready to share their salvation story in a few minutes from the stage during the service. Others are invited to repent of sin, trust in Jesus, and be baptized on the spot, and it is not uncommon to see men in suits and women in Easter dresses being baptized in response to the power of the gospel. We do baptisms after the sermon while taking communion and singing loudly together. We even like to have the bapto-cam positioned to show people going in and out of the water on the screens for everyone to see. On the Day, people are singing, crying, laughing, and cheering after the sermon. The celebration of changed lives erupts into something of a sanctified resurrection party. I would encourage every pastor to do something similar.

5. Keep your Easter message personal.

Before we preach or teach, those entrusted with this high honor need to first have a deep encounter with God the Holy Spirit to ignite in us an ever-deepening thankfulness and passion for the living Jesus. In the week before you preach, you will be busy with all the details of services for Good Friday and Easter Sunday, plus the family plans you must juggle with your ministry responsibilities. So, it is imperative that you intentionally set aside some sacred silence and solitude time to get with Jesus and remember his death, burial, and resurrection in place of sin for salvation. During that time it is good to read your Bible, repent of your sin, pray, invite the Holy Spirit to meet with you, read a good Christian book on the gospel, sing, and journal what God reveals to you. It is good to remind yourself of who you would be and what your life would be like had Jesus not saved you. It would also be beneficial to remind yourself of the evidences of God’s grace you have witnessed in your own life, family, and ministry because of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Personally, I like to think of those people who have shed tears over sin they have committed and sins that have been committed against them and picture Jesus wiping every tear from their eye on the other side of resurrection as Scripture promises. I like to think of those people I know who are disabled one day being free to run and leap for joy on the other side of the resurrection. And I remember the deceased whom I love and I look forward to seeing them again on the day when we rise together to walk into the kingdom that never ends.

6. Keep your Easter message biblical.

Most importantly, your Easter sermon must be biblical because the Word of God about the Son of God is the means by which the power of God is unleashed to transform lives by the Spirit of God. The following list of Old and New Testament Scriptures regarding resurrection is by no means exhaustive, but is offered in hope of helping preachers and teachers find a section of Scripture in which to root their Easter sermon:

•Genesis 22:13 and Hebrews 11:19 show how the story of Isaac is a type of the resurrection.

•2 Samuel 7:7–16 contains the Davidic Covenant, which promises that Jesus will rule over an everlasting kingdom, and Romans 1:3–4 shows the fulfillment as God the Father anointed God the Son as Davidic king at his resurrection.

•Psalm 16:10 promises that Jesus would not be abandoned in the grave.

•Isaiah 26:19 promises that the dead will rise.

•Isaiah 52:13–53:12 is the entire prophetic promise of Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection, with the resurrection emphasized in 53:10–12.

•Ezekiel 37:1–10 gives an illustration of the resurrection of the dead.

•Daniel 12:2 is one of the clearest Old Testament Scriptures on the bodily resurrection of believers and unbelievers.

•Hosea 13:14 speaks of resurrection victory over death and is quoted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15.

•Jonah 1:17 and 2:10 and Matthew 12:40 speak of Jonah’s three days in the fish as a type of Jesus’ resurrection after three days in the grave.

•Matthew 9:18–26 records Jesus resuscitating a young girl from death (unlike resurrection, in which the risen never dies again, resuscitation is followed by a second physical death). This passage could be used to show how one day Jesus will also cause believers to rise from death, despite mockery from the world as Jesus experienced at that event.

•Matthew 11:1–6 records that, as evidence of his divinity for John the Baptizer, Jesus appealed to the fact that he could raise the dead.

•Matthew 12:38–40; Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33–34; and John 2:18–22 all reveal Jesus prophesying his resurrection in advance.

•Matthew 22:23; Luke 20:27; and Acts 23:8 all report that the Sadducees denied the resurrection in arguments with Jesus.

•Matthew 28:9 and John 20:17, 20–28 all report that Jesus rose physically from death, not just spiritually.

•Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all close with large sections reporting the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from death, and any of them, or portions from them, could make a good Easter sermon.

•Luke 14:12–14 is a parable Jesus told about the repayment that will come to the just at the resurrection.

•John 5:19–29 records Jesus teaching that we will stand before him for final judgment and rise for eternal life or eternal death.

•John 11:1–44 records the death of Lazarus and Jesus resuscitating him from death. Jesus also declares himself to be the resurrection and the life who can also raise us from death.

•Twelve of the twenty-eight chapters in the book of Acts report that the continual refrain of the preaching in the early church was that Jesus had risen from death, and all or some of these sermon snippets could make a good Easter sermon.

•Acts 9 reports the dramatic conversion of Saul—who had overseen the murder of the early church deacon Stephen—when he was confronted with the risen Jesus.

•Acts 17:32; 23:6; and 24:11–15 report how belief in the resurrection can result in mockery and persecution.

•Romans 4:25 connects Jesus’ resurrection and our justification.

•Romans 6:5 says that we are united with Jesus by his resurrection.

•Romans 8:1–11 speaks of the new power we have, through the Holy Spirit, to say no to sin and yes to God because of Jesus’ resurrection.

•Romans 8:11 and 2 Corinthians 5:15 say that believers have the same power as Jesus did for his resurrection through God the Holy Spirit.

•Romans 10:5–13 speaks of how to be saved through Jesus’ resurrection.

•Romans 14:8–12 describes how Jesus is Lord of the dead and the living because he was dead and is now alive.

•1 Corinthians 15 is arguably the most comprehensive treatment of resurrection in all of Scripture. While one sermon on the entire chapter would likely be impossible, there are innumerable options that could be emphasized in an Easter sermon.

•2 Corinthians 5:1–10 teaches about the state between death and resurrection as well as the kind of body we will have after resurrection.

•In Galatians 1:1–2, Paul declares that the resurrected Jesus Christ gave Paul his apostolic authority.

•Ephesians 2:1–10 explains how we are dead in sin but made alive in Christ through his resurrection.

•In Philippians 3:1–11, Paul teaches that the resurrection is infinitely better than religion.

•Colossians 1:15–20 speaks of the preeminence of the risen Jesus over every created thing.

•Colossians 2:6–15 and 3:1 say that we have been raised with Christ.

•1 Thessalonians 1:2–10 encourages Christians to wait patiently for the second coming of the risen Jesus.

•1 Thessalonians 4:16 teaches us that at the second coming of Jesus Christ, the dead in Christ will rise like him to be with him.

•2 Timothy 2:1–13 reveals Paul using the resurrection of Jesus Christ as motivation for a life of faithful ministry in the midst of suffering and trial.

•2 Timothy 2:17–18 actually names false teachers who denied the resurrection, and Paul declares them to be heretics for doing so.

•Hebrews 6:1–2 lists the doctrine of the resurrection among the most elemental and essential of Christian truths to learn.

•Hebrews 13:20–21 reminds us that the same God who raised Jesus from death is faithful to keep his promises to his people as well.

•1 Peter 1:3–9 speaks of the inheritance that Jesus has purchased for us through his resurrection and how our suffering in this life reminds us of him until we rise in his kingdom.

•1 Peter 3:21–22 and Romans 6:5 explain how the Christian act of baptism shows us the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, which cleanses us from sin.

•1 John 3:2 says that a Christian’s resurrection body will be like Jesus’ risen body.

•Revelation 1:17–18 reveals Jesus as the Alpha and Omega who was dead and is now alive.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

5 Big Issues facing the church

I recently came across this - it was posted on the Resurgance, from Tim Keller's blog. It's quite interesting. What do we as the church need to do in order to face the big issues that we will be facing?

1. The opportunity for extensive culture-making in the U.S.

In an interview, sociologist Peter Berger observed that in the U.S. evangelicals are shifting from being largely a blue-collar constituency to becoming a college educated population.

His question is, will Christians going into the arts, business, government, the media, and film

•assimilate to the existing baseline cultural narratives so they become in their views and values the same as other secular professionals and elites?

•seal off and privatize their faith from their work so that, effectively, they do not do their work in any distinctive way?

•or will they do enough new Christian 'culture-making' in their fields to change things?

2. The rise of Islam

How do Christians relate to Muslims when we live side by side in the same society? The record in places like Africa and the Middle East is not encouraging! This is more of an issue for the Western church in Europe than in the U.S., but it is going to be a growing concern in America as well.

How can Christians be at the very same time a) good neighbors, seeking their good whether they convert or not, and still b) attractively and effectively invite Muslims to consider the gospel?

3. The new non-Western Global Christianity

The demographic center of Christian gravity has already shifted from the West to Asia, Latin America, and Africa. The rising urban churches of China may be particularly influential in the future. But the West still has the educational institutions, the money, and a great deal of power.

What should the relationship of the older Western churches be to the new non-Western church? How can we use our assets to serve them in ways that are not paternalistic? How can we learn from them in more than perfunctory ways?

4. The growing cultural remoteness of the gospel

The basic concepts of the gospel—sin, guilt and accountability before God, the sacrifice of the cross, human nature, afterlife—are becoming culturally strange in the West for the first time in 1500 years. As Lesslie Newbigin has written, it is time now to 'think like a missionary'—to formulate ways of communicating the gospel that both confront and engage our increasingly non-Christian Western culture.

How do we make the gospel culturally accessible without compromising it? How can we communicate it and live it in a way that is comprehensible to people who lack the basic 'mental furniture' to even understand the essential truths of the Bible?

5. The end of prosperity?

With the economic meltdown, the question is, will housing values, endowments, profits, salaries, and investments go back to growing at the same rates as they have for the last twenty-five years, or will growth be relatively flat for many years to come? If so, how does the Western church, which has become habituated to giving out of fast-increasing assets, adjust in the way it carries out ministry? For example, American ministry is now highly professionalized—church staffs are far larger than they were two generations ago, when a church of 1,000 was only expected to have, perhaps, two pastors and a couple of other part-time staff. Today such a church would have probably eight to ten full-time staff members.

Also, how should the stewardship message adjust? If discretionary assets are one-half of what they were, more risky, sacrificial giving will be necessary to do even less ministry than we have been doing.

On top of this, if we experience even one significant act of nuclear or bio-terrorism in the U.S. or Europe, we may have to throw out all the basic assumptions about social and economic progress we have been working off for the last 65 years. In the first half of the 20th century, we had two World Wars and a Depression. Is the church ready for that? How could it be? What does that mean?

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Keller.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Soup Week

Soup Week

So this week I'm trying to loose weight... and I'm having a lot of soup for lunch... well, not a lot - just having it every day.

I bought enough for 4 days, but forgot to bring some today. Thankfully Jamie had some spare... ham and pea.... this is a picture of it. NOw is it just me, or does that look unusually solid for soup?

I do feel a lot less bloated with soup for lunch every day. In fact it does feel like it's making a difference... but, my goodness - it's depressing. I'm craving solid food.

Wonder how long I can keep this up. I currently weight 12 and a half stone... which sounds light until you see that I'm only 5ft 5. I think 11 is a good target... will the soup get me there?
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Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Masquerade Ball

Masquerade Balls.... strange things. You go to so much effort with your masks, ours here were home made and took a fair while to do. Then you wear a nice suit or dress... then feel very odd when you put a mask on.
Then you get to the party and realsie that if you actually wear the mask you will fall over a lot and can't really eat. So you have to take it off... and then where can you put it? I think mine ended up back in the car.

Fun... but curious.
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