Month: July 2009

SovGraceOz

sovgraceoz

Good friends are hard to find and even harder to say goodbye to! However, in about 5 months that’s exactly what I will be doing as my good friend Dave Taylor (Executive Pastor of Christchuch, Newport) will be leaving these shores on a bit of a crazy adventure! Along with his lovely wife Emma and 3 precious kids Dave is emigrating to Sydney to plant the first Sovereign Grace Church in Australia (in fact the first SG Church in that entire continent!)

Strewth!

It’s going to be a massive step for them and will obviously be a significant change from Newport! That said I firmly believe that they’re the right people for the job and that God’s hand of grace is all over this.

However, I’m going to miss them loads, especially Dave who has become both a close and trusted friend to me over the last 4 years or so. He’s the guy who introduced me to Sovereign Grace music, CJ Mahaney’s life-changing book The Cross Centred Life and welcomed my teaching and creative input into the awesome VJ youth events that Christhurch run. More importantly, he’s the guy I’ve had numerous coffees and meals with while chewing over some of the tougher challenges we’ve faced in ministry, and he has ALWAYS pointed me back to grace and the gospel of Jesus. I think that’s what I will always be most grateful to him for.

Anyway, the reason that I’m bloggin about this 5 months before he’s even left the jolly country is because I want to draw your attention to the brand-spanking-new Sovereign Grace Sydney website that has literally been launched in the last 12 hours! It’s a cracking site and will onviously be getting regularly updated as the Taylor’s departure in January comes ever closer.

Please do pray for Dave, the family, and all those on the ground in Australia who will be part of this incredible mission.

May the God of sovereign grace get a whole heap of glory down under!

Advertisements

Congratulations To A Pair Of Nutters!

Wales_3000_w350pxOn Friday night 2 of my very good friends (James and Ben) pitched camp on top of Snowdon before embarking on a ridiculous adventure to reach the top of 15 mountains in Wales that stand at over 3000 foot…in less than 24 hours!

Why? 

Well to raise a wedge of cash for Christian child sponsorship programme Compassion of course! Anyway, sometime on Saturday evening I got a text to say that they had done the whole jolly lot in just 14 and a half hours – which is incredible if you think about it! However, they also raised hundreds of pounds for Compassion and proved themselvs to be bonkers in the process!

So well done boys – you’re nuts!

Where Now?

where nowYesterday was just nuts in church! It was the first Sunday since we started Hill City Church that I was literally unable to count how many were in attendance, but it is definitely fair to say that we had between 60-70 people which once again is more than we’ve ever had. Praise God!!!

Among the highlights yesterday was seeing a bunch of young girls off the estate marching into church with their Bibles under their arms, firing off their memory verses and demanding their prize lollipops! Awesome.

It was also great to have some new faces with us, including a local man who was one of the first people from the estate that I invited to church about two and a half years ago. It was the first time that he’d been and after the service he was utterly gobsmacked: “There’s just so much life here!” was all he could say. He said he’ll definitely be back! Hallelujah!!! On top of all that, the sung worship time was just immense and it was great to see people who didn’t even know Jesus a few months ago fully praising God – it makes it all worth while!

Anyway, alongside the massive encouragement comes a huge dilema – where the dickens do we go from here? There’s so much potential for the gospel to take root up here, yet we physically can’t take many more people (either logistically or legally). We are ramming our currnet venue to the max and haven’t got a great deal of options available to us. Therefore the church leadership has decided to spend the summer holidays in serious prayer to seek God’s will and wisdom with regards to the next step. We don’t really know what else to do – we have literally been squeezed to our knees! I’m writing this post to both encourage those who are reading (cos God’s moving and it’s awesome!) but also to ask you to pray with us (cos we don’t know what to do next but God does and we’re really keen to know what He’s got planned!)

Thanks guys and God bless you.

Life – A Message Of Hope For A Generation In Despair

This short film is my repsonse to the tragedy of suicide that has affected so many lives and communities here in South Wales. It features the inspiring testimonies of 3 young people who have all been redeemed by Jesus from self-harm and suicidal tendencies, alongside a message of hope given by myself.

I made it with Ignite and Dan Clemo of ST0RM VC last year, but thought I’d profile it again now as depression and suicide are still massive issues, especially here in the Valleys…

AAA – Round 2

AAA slideThis Sunday in church I’m starting a new 6 part series – Ask Absolutely Anything (AAA) – Round 2. As the title suggests, this series follows on from the first AAA series that I preached earlier in the year and which the church seemed to really enjoy as they’ve dubbed it the ‘Make The Pastor Squirm’ series!

Borrowing the idea from Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church, AAA gives members of Hill City Church the chance to ask literally any questions they want, and I get the joyful privilege (?) of trying answer them as bluntly and biblically as I can. Check out the 6 questions I’ll be grappling with this time round:

19th July – PRAYER

  • If God really knows the outcome to every situation before it even happens, then what is the purpose of praying for a particular thing to happen or not to happen?

 26th July – ASSURANCE

  • How do I know if I’m a Christian? What changes should there be in my life?

 2nd August – HELL

  • My friend died last year. He was a good decent man. He worked hard for his family. He cared about his friends. He never hurt no one … ever. But he never went to church or thought about God/Jesus. According to your sermons, he has gone to hell forever – just cos he didn’t think about religion or God!!! He didn’t believe or disbelieve – just never thought about it. So I am asking how can it be that he is in hell? If he is, then your God is not as good/fair as he is cracked up to be…

 16th August – WOMEN

  • Should Christian women preach God’s Word?

 23rd August – TRINITY

  • When Jesus died on the cross He was cut off from God. But Jesus is God. How does that work?

 30th August – SUICIDE

  • What does the Bible teach about Suicide?

If you’d like to listen to me squirm for six weeks then you can follow the AAA2 series here.

Lessons I’ve Learned From My Little Girl – 6. Etch-a-Sketch

What a duck!One of the one of the best investments we ever made for Elen was a magnetic Etch-a-Sketch pad that we got from Tesco for £2.99. It might not sound particularly impressive on the surface of it, but trust me the hours of pleasure she got from doodling and creating were worth so much more than £2.99! In fairness to Elen she also loved to share her ‘skecthy’ with her parents and would regularly let me have a go on it. The thing is she only ever wanetd me to draw one thing – a duck!

Initially my ducks weren’t that impressive, but after months of dedicated practice, I could soon draw ducks with my eyes shut – and I reckon they looked pretty cool! Elen, however, being the creative genius that she is, liked to add her own finishing touches to my master-pieces. These finishing touches would usually take the form of large, enthusiastic scribbles all over my beautiful art, which to Elen’s finely-tuned eye were master-strokes, though in reality – she regularly, recklessly destroyed my ducks! One of the best things about the sketchy, however, is the little slider at the bottom that erases every trace of wanton vandalism and destruction, and leaves you with a brand-new canvas to start working on again.

It’s a powerful reminder of what Jesus has done for us.

If we’re honest, most of us would have to put our hand up and admit that in some way, shape or form we have messed our lives up. We have all sinned and done stuff that we regret and often times that regret is accompanied by a deep sense of shame.

  • If we could turn the clock back we would.
  • If we could shake off the memories we would.
  • If we could clean up the mess we would.

But we can’t. We try any and every way we possible to numb the pain – drink, drugs, sex, violence, retail therapy, denial etc., but it never works. It’s like the beautiful picture that our lives should have been has been totally wrecked by our sin.

The truth is if we were offered a fresh start we’d grab it with both hands!

Well that’s precisely what Jesus offers.

Imagine every single word, thought and deed that you’ve ever done wrong, written on a skecthy (even the stuff you think is unforgiveable!) As Jesus shed His blood on the cross, it’s as if God Himself slides the wiper from one side to the other and in doing so – all trace of our sin is gone. The punishment that we deserve was taken by Jesus. The forgiveness we all crave is now freely available.

“the blood of Jesus [God’s] Son cleanses us from all sin.”  (1John 1v7)

“as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103v12)

It might sound too good to be true – but it’s not! It’s God’s loving gift to guilty people in a messed-up world. There’s only one appropriate response: 

“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”  (Acts 3v19-20)

Behind Every Great Man…

AnniversaryThis year’s men’s final at Wimbledon was epic to say the least! While I am gutted for Andy Roddick who played like a legend and did virtually nothing wrong all match, you have to admire the way that Federer, with all the pressure of history on his shoulders, dug deep and remained calm at crucial moments – eventually prevailing and sealing his status as the greatest player to ever pick up a tennis racket.

However, I think what I was most impressed by yesterday was not the thrilling game of tennis being played on court, but rather the commitment and unyielding support of Federer’s heavily pregnant wife, Mirka, who sat out in the baking sun for over 4 and a half hours to cheer her husband to victory!

That’s love right there!

I mention that because today’s my 7th wedding anniversary! By God’s grace I have been happily and faithfully married to the beautiful Michelle for the best 7 years of my life, and I just wanted to post something as a tribute to her today!

Not only has she born me 2 gorgeous kids and stayed by my side for these last 7 years, but she has also revealed the grace of God to me in more ways than I can adequately convey here. She has unceasingly loved, encouraged, inspired and prayed for me. My life is richer, my soul is stronger, my decisions are wiser, my ministry is better, and my tendency to be an idiot has been seriously curbed – all because of God’s grace expressed to me through my fantastic wife! Our marriage is a strong marriage. That’s not an arrogant statement, just a fact and I believe that it’s because the gospel is at the heart of all we do and who we are. And while it may often seem that I’m the one doing all the preaching, writing, pastoring, rapping and ministry stuff – Michelle is not only behind the scenes in our home – raising our kids in a beautiful way, cooking awesome munch etc. but is part of this mission heart and soul. She has some amazing gifts and a beautiful spirit and is so warm intelligent that she could be doing anything with her life – and she has chosen gospel ministry as my wife – which humbles me deeply!

We spent our first year of marriage living on St.Mellons estate in Cardiff and we learned how to weep, love, laugh, hope and pray together. So many say that the first year is the toughest – but we didin’t find it tough at all – it was the making of us! Right from the start we have served God together through seasons of great joy and heart-ache, but our love for Christ and each other has only grown stronger. I can truly say that I love Michelle more now than I ever have done and I thank God for trusting a pleb like me to look after one of His special Princesses!

I love you Michelle!

Roll on year 8…

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  (Ecclesiastes 4v9-12)