Month: March 2009

Txt Worship

txtAfter the last Ignite event my boss and good friend Gary Smith asked me if I could think of any creative ways of encouraging our young people to engage more deeply during the worship time in the next event. For some reason I came up with the random idea of encouraging them to use their mobiles to text their personal expressions of worship to God, and for us to put them up on screen during the sung worship.

Fair play to Gary he was well up for it…so last night we went for it! And boy was it inspiring! Text messages flooded in all night and the tech team couldn’t type them out fast enough. It really did seem to capture the raw passion that so many young people feel towards their Saviour Jesus. There was a real buzz as they joyfully tapped away on their phones and read the heart cries that were being broadcast in the midst of corporate worship.

It was immense!

Texts were still being received long after the event had finished. This morning the guys at Ignite sent me an email with 6 pages of A4 that were crammed with beautiful, sincere txt worship! I’ve put 12 of them below though were plenty more to pick from. I hope they encourage you as much as they’ve encouraged us: 

  • Thank u for forgivin me for the bad sinful things I’ve dun in the past.
  • A broken heart fixed by the Almighty God – forever praise his name!
  • Lord God, Jesus my saviour, my provider, my redeemer, Thank you for counting me worth saving. I love you man! Amen amen amen!
  • U have never let me down. I luv u Jesus!
  • God I thank you for your mercy. Thank u for washing me clean and taking the pain away Lord I love u so much
  • Thank you God for loving a screw up like me
  • Amen, BY GRACE I WAS SET FREE FROM THE CHAINS OF SIN
  • I love u Jesus, with all my heart!
  • Jesus Christ, PRAISE YOUR BEAUTIFUL NAME FOR EVER, AND EVER AND EVER! You alone deserve our worship! May it be a sweet sounds in your ear! Be lifted high in this place tonight. You are King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Take what little we can give you. We praise you. Let your Kingdom come! You alone can set us free.
  • Thank you God for being there
  • I LOVE YOU JESUS! My life my awesome God Thank you.
  • 160 letters & numbers is FAR TOO SMALL for what you deserve LORD! Thank you for saving us, sustaining us and being truly awesome & more faithful than I can dream of being! Holy Holy is the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY! Hallelujah

Bring The Book

the-bibleI was reading the book of Nehemiah yesterday and one verse just jumped off the page and slapped me (not literally!) To put the verse into its context, God’s people had just finished rebuilding the ruined walls of Jerusalem in mind-bogglingly quick time (52 days). This is what happened next:

“And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel.” (Nehemiah 8v1)

Let me explain why this hit me so hard.

I recently attended a conference in Wales in which not one of the speakers even carried a Bible onto the platform, let alone read from one. The few biblical references that were made were more like the retelling of a storybook narrative than the prophetic proclamation of the very words of God. Session after session the opportunity to open the Word and hear what God had to say was neglected in favour of pithy sound-bites, pearls of wisdom and formulas for success. I found the whole thing very distressing.

We encountered a very similar theme at our Ignite events last year. Almost every ‘big name’ speaker we invited to come and speak to the hundreds of our Ignite youth opted to leave the Bible behind and settle instead for story-telling and fluffy analogies. Suffice to say this year we’re doing the bulk of the teaching oursleves! We might not be Christian superstars but we all share the same convivtion that God’s Word is timeless, powerful and says things better than we ever could!

So what the Dickens is going on? Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for cultural relevance in gospel communication, but not at the expense of the Bible. Without the Bible there is no gospel! Furthermore, if faith truly does come through hearing the Word (Romans 10v17) then no Bible equals no faith! And without faith, it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11v6).

So if we really want to be Chritians who give pleasure to God and life-giving faith to our communities, we need to be Christians who are all about the Book. We need to be committed to churches where the bloke in the pulpit, like Ezra, will faithfully and uncompromisingly bring the Book every week!

May God stir up a passion and a hunger for His mighty Word once again in Wales.

Cardboard Testimonies

You may well have seen this, but I just think it’s amazing so I thought I’d post it up here anyway! It’s such a simple idea – the story of your salvation written on two sides of cardboard – who you were before you met Jesus and who you are now! I did this at a conference recently and found it incredibly helpful, humbling and inspiring.

I wonder what would your cardboard story be?

Feel free to post your comments on this one…

Breaking Bread In Moccasins

slippersAt Hill City Church we take communion every week. However, we don’t do it on Sundays (which might sound outrageous to some) but rather in our homegroups on Tuesday evenings. Our reason for this is simple – we don’t see communion being done publicly in scripture, but rather intimately and privately in locations such as people’s homes (e.g. Acts 2v46). We see our sunday services as a shop window for the church – an open door for all comers (believers or not) to come and join us as we learn from the Bible. We regularly have young people off the streets coming in to hang out with us (and scoff our biscuits!) Taking communion in this kind of context we feel, would potentially alienate or confuse unbelieving visitors such as these.

Our homegroups, however, are geared specifically for Christians to come and interactively study scripture, worship, pray and encourage one another. This seems (both biblically and practically) like the perfect setting for us to remember the broken body and redeeming blood of Jesus as it is the cross that unites us as God’s family. I was reminded of the beauty of communion again last night during homegroup at our house. As I was serving the wine I looked down and realised that I was still wearing my moccasins! It felt a bit weird initially, but then it dawned on me just how profound it actually was! I wear my moccasins when I’m at home with my family, and that’s what realy blessed me – I was with my family – my brothers and sisters were with me! It’s so encouraging that as we share life together in the warmth and security of our homegroups, we can confess sin, endure hardships, intercede and face our fears together, knowing that each week we will break bread and be confronted once again by the cross that binds us tight and speaks forever of grace, mercy, healing and hope.

Hill City is such a close, joyful and loving church and has been since the start. If breaking bread together in our slippers has got anything to do with it, then long may it continue!

Trevolution – Answered Prayer!

worshipJust want to say a big ‘thank you’ to all of you who read this blog and who prayed for Trevolution this week following last week’s trouble. I’m a strong believer in not only making a big deal of seeking prayer when things are tough, but also of offering worship to God when prayer is answered! And last night God has answered our prayers and we had a fantastic night at Trevolution – no trouble, great atmosphere, relationships with the youth going deeper and a handful staying behind for over half an hour to ask questions about the gospel! Buzzin!

So why did it go so smoothly? Well, by God’s grace I had been able to have a very timely, cordial and strategic chat with some of the older youth earlier in the week which seems to have helped (following that conversation I felt like a fuse had been pulled out of a bomb!) and we were slightly down in numbers too (still over 40 though!) However, there was more to it than mere human factors…

Yesterday morning  I was reading the inspiring story of Nehemiah, a man who had been commissioned by God to rebuild the ruined walls of Jerusalem. He had already faced opposition in chapter 4, but in chapter 6 his enemies were really pressing in hard, looking for a way to destroy Nehemiah and scupper the the plans of God. Nehemiah, however, was wise to their schemes, strong in the Lord and he didn’t budge an inch from the mission that God had given him to complete. Nehemiah was a hero- simple as that! The final paragraph of chapter 6 starts with these words:

“So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. Andwhen all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. (Nehemiah 6v15-16)

I read that and took it as a promise that if we stand strong in our obedience to what God has called us to do, He will be with us, He will help us, He will grant us success and all those who oppose us will be humbled by the blatant reality of God’s power at work. And I believe that last night we saw that happen. I’m not naive, however, and I know the enemy won’t lie down for long, but for now I’m quite happy to revel in God’s victory.

So thank you Lord! And thanks to you lot out there for praying! By God’s grace we will see this mission through, many precious young people will be saved, God’s enemies will be crushed and God Himself will get all the credit and all the glory that He alone deserves!

Magnificent

It may come as a surprise to some that I am a big U2 fan and I have been since the 80’s! Anyway, I bought the latest album on the weekend ‘No Line On The Horizon’ and as with every U2 album – it takes a while for the album to grow on you. There is one track on there, however, that blew me away first time I heard it and just keep getting better. In my opinion ‘Magnificent’ is one of the best songs they’ve ever written, both musically and lyrically. The lyrics are absolutely dripping with the gospel and reveal a great deal about Bono’s faith and appreciation of grace. The word on the street is that it’s coming out as their next single in May which means that it’ll be all over the airways too. Buzzin!

Check out the lyrics:

Magnificent

I was born
I was born to be with you
In this space and time
After that and ever after I haven’t had a clue
Only to break rhyme
This foolishness can leave a heart black and blue

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar

I was born
I was born to sing for you
I didn’t have a choice but to lift you up
And sing whatever song you wanted me to
I give you back my voice
From the womb my first cry, it was a joyful noise…

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar

Justified till we die, you and I will magnify
The Magnificent
Magnificent

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love unites our hearts

Justified till we die, you and I will magnify
The Magnificent
Magnificent
Magnificent

Graffiti Gospel

I’ve got a hectic weekend ahead of me that includes tickets to Wales v Ireland on Saturday and preaching on Sunday, so thought rather than writing a long post I’d just post a quick link to an evangelistic video that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association have produced. Being a big fan of urban art I think it’s awesome. Hope you do too…

“Follow Me”

feetOver the weekend I preached at a youth camp at Hebron Hall in Dinas Powys and I had a great time. My theme was ‘Encounters With Jesus’ and I simply looked at 3 different people who encountered Jesus in the Gospels – Zacchaeus, Peter and the dying thief. While I felt God’s help in each session (I was as shattered as a Pastor with a sleepless baby) it was something that came out of my studies in Peter that I really wanted to write about.

Peter was called by Jesus with the simple words “follow me” (Mark 1v16) and he didn’t think twice! He dropped everything and followed Jesus on an adventure that would transform his life forever. However, Peter’s walk with Jesus (pre-resurrection) is full of impetuous decisions, irrational outbursts and moments of stupidity that fully endears him to disciples like me who are so gifted at messing up. That’s why Peter is my New Testament hero! Peter’s worst moment, however, was his triple denial of Jesus following His betrayal and arrest. As the cockerel crowed the extent of Peter’s shame and failure dawned on him and he fled weeping as Jesus was led away to die on a cruel cross for the sins of the world (including Peter’s!)

Following His awesome resurrection Jesus went looking for His boys and blessed them with a cooked breakfast on the beach. After they’d eaten He took Peter aside and asked him 3 times to express his love for Him, which Peter duly did. The thing is I’m so familiar with this story and have heard so many messages preached on it (3 questions for 3 denials etc.) that the last bit of the passage had just passed me by. That is until this weekend. Check out the poignancy of the very last words of Jesus to Peter: “Follow me!” (John 21v19) The significance of these words would not have been lost on Peter as they’re the very same words with which Jesus had initially used to call him to join Him on a mission to change the world.

That just blows me away! That after all Peter’s stupidity, his mistakes and his sin, Jesus desire had not changed one bit – He still wanted to be in a relationship with Peter and still wanted to use him for his kingdom purposes. Talk about a fresh start! The grace of Jesus towards us never ceases to amaze me, and I’m so glad that I get to follow Him! I don’t deserve Him, I’m weak, flawed and pathetic, but His ways are higher than mine, His blood has covered my sins and His grace is more than sufficient!

Thank you Jesus!

Please Pray For Trevolution

prayWe had a really rough time at Trevolution last night. The place was packed to the rafters as usual, but there was some real trouble involving some of the older youth (some of whom were off their faces on drugs) with several fights breaking out and a lot of anger, frustration and tears. By the time I got to give my testimony at the end of the evening there were only about 15 of the 50+ youth who’d come still with us! The rest had followed the trouble out of the building and down the street.

In many ways we should have expected it as things have been going so well and our adversary the devil is always prowling round like a vicious lion looking for opportunities to wreck stuff…and he must HATE all the gospel stuff that’s going on up here at the moment. However, we still have some big decisions to make with regards to Trevolution and how we’re going to run it with so many youth of such different ages.

So once again your prayers would be valued. Please pray for salvation and peace for the youth up here, and for wisdom and courage for the team as we seek to continue to demonstrate and proclaim the love of Jesus to these young people. On a positive note the youth who stayed behind to hear my rap and listen to my testimony were completely focussed on what I shared and most took tracts home to read too. So praise God for that!!

I’m convinced that prayer is where the true power is at, so please stand with us in this.

Thanks and God bless.

Another Gear

gearstickJust a super quick post to ask you to pray.

In the last month or so we have seen a significant increase in the amount of outreach that we’ve been involved in here at Hill City Church. This time last month our outreach was limited to just our bi-monthly Soul Sessions events, coupled with the every day personal witness of individual church members. In the last month, however, we have launched Trevolution that not only has an impact on Monday nights, but is creating fresh gospel opportunities throughout the week too! I’ve never had so many positive conversations with young people on these streets as I have in the last 4 weeks! Furthermore Something To Chew On is running each week too, which again is proving to be both fruitful and fantastic! On top of all that my old comprehensive School has also thrown its doors wide open and following a successful assembly last week, I’m now in every morning this week (except Wednesday) taking further assemblies, with the very real prospect of more significant involvement to come! And Easter’s just round the corner too, which will again create more opportunities for us as a church here on the estate!

In short – we’re flying by the seat of our pants, though I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t enjoying the ride!

However, your prayers for another gear would be appreciated. God is so clearly on the move and we’re buzzin’ to be in the thick of it all, but we don’t want to burn ourselves out or bite off more than we can chew. Therefore please would you also pray that we’ll be wise in what we put our hands to. Above all please pray for God to bless us with His salvation.

Thanks and God bless you.