Written in Kings at Costa

soul sessions jun 2015

I love good coffee.

I love great music.

And I’m passionate about the work of Compassion!

So I’m BUZZIN about the event that we are hosting this coming Friday evening. We have booked out Cwmbran Costa for an evening of live music, gospel challenge and Compassion promotion. We have invited an amazing band, Written in Kings, to come and bless us with their musical goodness and will present a host of ways that people can engage with the ministry of Compassion. If that’s not enough, £100 of drinks will be our treat, so the earliest punters will be blessed with a beverage too!

So please do join us if you can, and please help us spread the word as we really want to pack the place out!

Hopefully see you Friday.

Blessinz

Thoughts on following Jesus in the current cultural climate (Pt.1)

Follow-me

I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that our culture is becoming increasingly hostile to Jesus and to the church.

It seems as though laws are being passed, cases are being made and judgements are being served on an almost weekly basis that are aggressively opposed to those who seek to honour God and hold to a biblical worldview. In truth, it is becoming ever harder to live, speak and follow Jesus in our current cultural context. I guess what makes society’s slide into secularism so hard to navigate is the fact that we are sliding out an era that has marked us for so long as a predominantly ‘Christian’ nation. And while most would agree that we haven’t been a ‘Christian nation’ for decades now and that the Christendom in the UK is dead, buried and decomposed, the speed at which things are changing is nonetheless dizzying!

However, where I might be alone in my thinking, or at least in a significant minority, is that I’m not persuaded that it’s an altogether bad thing for the church to be where she is at right now. As I have been studying the signs of our times through the lens of scripture, 7 thoughts/challenges have gripped me, and I’m going to share them in a series of posts over coming days.

Here goes…

1. Recognise our current context

As I alluded to in a recent post, we do not live in a Christian country anymore. Whereas 50 years ago belief in God, church attendance and Bible-based morality were normative, today things are very different! Society’s rules and the rules of engagement have changed. People aren’t asking the same questions that they once were. They don’t have the same frame of reference that they once had.

And that’s what makes the current age so exciting for Christians.

Rather than complaining about the godlessness that surrounds us, or looking back wistfully to the ‘good old days’, we need to be more like Paul whose approach to mission varied dramatically in the various cultures he sought to evangelise. Take a few minutes to consider his different approaches in Lystra (Acts 14 v 8-21), Berea (Acts 17 v 10-15) and Athens (Acts 17 v 16-34). Paul wasn’t lazy and he didn’t adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to mission. Rather, he was observant, flexible, strategic and courageous.

We need do adopt a similar approach as we consider our current cultural context.

2. Remember the words of Jesus

A friend of mine of mine recently tweeted a comment about the same sex marriage refferendum in Ireland and was quickly given the mutha of all pixelated beat-downs! One of the many comments thrown back at him was something along the lines of

“Take your f***ing faith back to the margins of society where it belongs!”

I have no idea who the author of that comment was, but as far as holding to the teachings of Jesus they were pretty much on the money! Here’s just a few of things that Jesus said to His followers in the gospels:

the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
(Matthew 7 v 14)

Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!
(Luke 6 v 22)

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
(John 15 v 18-19)

I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
(John 17 v 14)

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(Matthew 5 v 11-12)

Now I am not one of those seemingly masochistic Christians who wants nothing more than persecution and grief for for following Jesus, but neither am I blind or indifferent to the scriptures that teach clearly about the cost of following Jesus.

The gospel path is the narrow path.

The unpopular path.

The path of the few.

The way of the cross.

This guy on twitter had essentially condemned and consigned Christianity to the very place where Christianity was custom-built to thrive and flourish – the margins of society! Spend some time in the gospels. Consider the stories throughout Acts. Read Paul’s letters. Listen to the words of Jesus to the churches in Revelation. Study church history. It’s always in times of polarisation and persecution that the church is at her most zealous, most fruitful and most glorious! And while I don’t believe that we are being persecuted in the UK right now, we are certainly being pushed into the margins…and I honestly don’t think that this is a bad thing.

Nominal hypocrisy and compromise will flounder and die in the margins.

Fellowship will be sweet in the margins.

Apathy will not survive in the margins.

Prayer will increase in the margins.

Faith will rise in the margins.

Jesus will be with us in the margins!

And He told us it would be this way!


Part 2 coming soon…

My Testimony Pt. 2 #battleweary

As I mentioned in my earlier post, today is Testimony Tuesday.

This morning I posted a video that tells the story of how I was saved by the grace of God. This afternoon I want to share a video that tells the story of how God’s grace has sustained me through the toughest of times. This poem was written during an especially dark and painful season of my life and, I hope, will testify to the amazing sustaining power of God:

My Testimony Pt. 1 #buzzin

Hey guys!

Our church is currently running a week of mission and today is ‘Testimony Tuesday’. The idea behind Testimony Tuesday is to seek to share the story of how God has changed our lives as clearly and as creatively as possible.

One of the ways that I thought I’d try to do that today is to re-post a couple of spoken-word videos that I believe tell the story of God’s amazing grace in my own life. The first is the story of my salvation and why, 22 years later, I’m still BUZZIN to be a follower of Jesus…

Thank God for CAP Money

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It was a year ago to the day that I attended the CAP Money course, organised by our church.

CAP Money is a money management and budgeting course that is run by Christians Against Poverty, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that it has MASSIVELY impacted our family in a very positive way.

I did the course, not because we had big money problems. In fact, by the grace of God, we have been well provided for by generous Christians who support our ministry for many years now. So we weren’t in major debt, but neither were we in total control of our finances. What I mean by that is that some months we were doing fine and managing to keep our heads above water, but all it took was for the car to need some work or for us to enter into a gift-heavy season (e.g birthdays and Christmas) and we’d go overdrawn and start to feel the pressure build up. God was certainly providing for us, but we…I…wasn’t being a faithful steward of what He was providing us with.

Then came CAP Money.

Michelle is generally a lot better than I am with money and administrative stuff, but for some reason I really felt that I should be the one who attended the 3 week course.

And I’m so glad that I did cos it changed everything for us!

It wasn’t so much that I learned any new ninja money-raising skills (though I was encouraged to look again at child tax credits, which was very helpful!) It was more the tools that I was given to budget effectively that really did the trick (the online budgeting calculator is EPIC!) By simply taking on board the advice given and spending some quality time working out incomings, outgoings and spending priorities with Michelle and my friend Andy Rees, it took less than a month for us to be in full control of our finances. Consequently, this is what the last 12 months have looked like:

  • We haven’t been overdrawn once, not even for a day!
  • We have managed to go on holiday without paying for it afterwards.
  • We have successfully navigated multiple birthdays and a Christmas!
  • Our car has been MOT’d and had other necessary work done on it.
  • We’ve been in a position to be far more generous in our giving to others.
  • The dog is still alive!

So all-in-all it’s been a fantastic year for the family. Now I want to be clear that God gets all the glory for His faithful provision for us. We continue to live by faith, trusting in God’s sovereign care, and we acknowledge that every good gift we receive by the hands of His people ultimately comes from His kind hands.

But we are also so grateful to God for CAP Money, because those sessions last June have really helped us to be more self-controlled, more integral, more at peace and more able to bless others. Ministry can be a thankless task at times so we wanted to be faithful to thank and honour those responsible for delivering CAP Money at Hill City last year, and to recommend the course to anyone out there who wants to get their finances under control.

Thanks guys!