Month: February 2010

New Breed Website

Super quick post to say that the New Breed church planting network, of which I am one of the pioneers, now has a slick new website, created and managed by my good friend Simon Patterson of the Valley Church.

Check it out here.

You can also follow us on Twitter @NewBreedCP

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Persecuted Saints In India

I’m not going to write much about this video. I’m just going to let it speak for itself. All I am going to say is that unless you’re emotionally dead – this video will shock and disgust you. It’s left me completely wrecked! I’ve got to warn you before you watch it that it contains harrowing real life footage of violence perpetrated against Christians in India. If you’re a Christian watching this, I hope your response will be compassion, fervent prayer and humble repentance. If you’re not a Christian watching this, please know that the only crime these people have committed is putting their faith in Jesus Christ and trusting Him for salvation. They have found something in Him so wonderful, so irresistible that they can endure suffering like this with love, joy and even forgiveness in their hearts.

Truth is you’ll never see stuff like this on BBC News, but this happens every day all over the world. I am deeply ashamed that I have ignored this for too long, and profoundly grateful to Francis Chan for bringing it to my attention.

I can no longer claim blissful ignorance.

Please God help me to stand with my suffering brothers and sisters in India and around the world, both prayerfully and practically.

Please grant them the grace to keep shining for you.

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” (Psaln 116v15)

My Bible Is Enough!

Over the last few months our trusty old lap-top has crept ever quicker towards the grave as it started to fall apart both internally and externally! Therefore I was ecstatic 2 weeks ago when I was informed by my financial team that we had enough money in the kitty to be able to purchase a brand new MacBook Pro. So I went ahead and bought and I have to confess – it’s a beautiful bit of kit and a huge blessing, for which we thank the LORD!!

However, 2 days after receiving it my inquisitive 21month old son decided that while I was upstairs – he would get acquainted with it!

SMASH!!!

I heard it from upstairs and when I arrived at the scene of the crime the MacBook was on the floor, the toddler was in shock and the dad was almost in tears!! Closer inspection revealed that the casing was dented both on the top and the bottom and upon putting a DVD in the drive it sounded like there was a load of gravel in there too! I took it to the Apple Store and they confirmed that my lovely little boy had done £350 worth of damage to the machine! This was annoying on 2 levels:

i) Because we don’t have £350 lying round and have therefore had to use our contents insurance for the first time ever!
ii) Because I couldn’t do all the work that I wanted to do this week for sermons, website etc. as it’s still being repaired as we speak!

However, it wasn’t all bad news. Far from it!

Why? Because I still had my Bible! I Guess I’m as prone as anyone to take technology too far – spending more time clicking and browsing the internet than praying and reading scripture. It’s just easier innit?! But this week I’ve spent more time with my good ole ESV in hand than usual, meditating on and chewing over deep truths and beautiful promises. To be honest, it’s been quite liberating!

I guess the Bible is enough!

Furthermore, I started preaching a new series in Hill City on Sunday looking at the life of Joseph. A book that has been really helpful in getting me excited about Joseph is RT Kendall’s God Meant It For Good. However, as I settled down to do some sermon prep last week I couldn’t find the book anywhere, so had to simply go to the scripture with nothing but a prayer that the Holy Spirit would illuminate the text and guide me into all truth. And He really did! As I got lost in the text I got really excited about what I was reading and started itching to preach what I was learning. I suppose the lesson is that RT’s good – but he’s not the Holy spirit!

Once again I guess the Bible is enough!!

It really shouldn’t come as any great surprise to me. I like to think of myself as a Bible guy – someone who esteems and places a high value on God’s Word. But in reality, I think that my love for scripture had started to be mere lip service. I would say how much I love the Bible, but my lifestyle suggested otherwise!

So now, I’m putting an end to it! I’m going to enjoy these few days without my MacBook Pro and rediscover the godly discipline of getting stuck into scripture! I’m actually going to take Paul’s advice and “Let the word of Christ dwell in [me] richly” (Colossians 3v16).

Why?

Because the Bible really is enough!!

Alone With My Thoughts

We hosted a Bible Overview Breakfast in Pontypool with Steve Levy on Saturday. It was a cracking morning that featured an insanely tasty breakfast and some frank, provocative and insightful teaching. The highlight for me was Steve’s second session in which he explained how the Bible reveals things about God that are uncomfortably true, and the ways in which we should respond. One of the things I found particularly helpful was the idea that Scripture (especially the Psalms) encourages us to approach God with a raw, honest vulnerability.

Which is why 2 days later I was stoked to discover Brewer. Brewer is a Christian grime (UK urban rap akin to what I do) artist who has just released a new ‘mixtape’ as a free download, and it’s buzzin! Alone With My Thoughts definitely holds its own musically, but it’s the lyrics that have really got me gripped and prompted me to give it a mention on the blog. It features some of the most raw and honest lyrics that I have come across in Christian grime and it manages to tread the difficult line between being unnecessarily gritty and real enough to be completely authentic. Some of the tracks aren’t necessarily comfortable listening because they’re real, and I think that’s what I love about it – it’s not so much Christian grime as grime that’s been written by a Christian. It’s the gospel applied to real life – sometimes overtly, sometimes covertly, but shining throughout each track like a silver thread. So often it says “I’m struggling…I’m going down…I can’t cope…I gotta cling to Christ!”

I think I just like hearing honesty in a genre of music that’s too often full of fakeness, fronting, and shallow sentiment! This project is real, creative and seriously flippin’ deep! Above all it’s free, which is insane cos I would have paid hard cash for this!!

Anyway, check out the intro track below and if you like it – get the full thing here.

Answered Prayer And A Dream Fulfilled

I AM SERIOUSLY, EXTREMELY, VERY, CRAZILY, RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED!!!

Perhaps I just need to calm down a minute and take a few deep breaths…

Right that’s better. So what am I on about? Let me explain…

As some of you may know, I have been part of a group up here in Trevethin that was formed specifically to see the regeneration of the derelict playground that literally lies less than 10metres from my front door. When we moved here in 2007 there hadn’t been a playground here for over 12 years. The two-tier site where it used to be was essentially a desolate dumping ground for kids to kick a ball around in. Just before we arrived the next closest playground to us was also removed after it was damaged by a burned-out car. There are currently only 2 playgrounds on this entire estate (4,000 people) and both are a massive trek (down steep hills) from where we live. Neither is particularly modern or well equipped. What that means in reality is that there are only 4 swings, 2 slides and 1 see-saw to be shared between over 1000 children.

That’s just nuts!!

So when Michelle became pregnant with Josiah I decided that something had to change and so hooked up with the local councillors, the local Communities First workers and the manager of the Cold Barn Farm Youth Centre (where Hill City now meets!) Together, as a meaningful and united partnership we committed ourselves to consulting with the community and raising funds to provide the kids of Trevethin with an awesome play facility to enjoy. You can read more about the history and community consultation here.

Anyway, to cut a loooooong (2 years+) story short, thanks in a large part to the colossal effort of the team, and Shane from Communities First in particular, (as well as a shed-load of prayer from the Hill City Church mob!) we were informed just before Christmas that we had received £90,000 towards the infrastructural work that needed doing and the creation of a community garden on the lower tier of the site. However, as we braced ourselves for the contractors to start work on site this month, we still had no guaranteed funding with which to purchase the actual playground equipment for the top tier! What we did have, however, was an agonising wait to hear from the Big Lottery fund to see if we had been successful in our application to receive funding to provide both state-of-the-art play equipment for children of all ages, as well as salaries for community outreach workers to engage with the kids in community. All we were asking for was a mere £171,000!!! Well we found out today that

WE GOT THE MONEY!!!!!

Yep!!! All £171,000 has been granted, which is just immense! Many will see it as the result of a lot of hard work and dedication from a bunch of fantastically committed people – and they would be right. However, as a Christian who passionately believes that EVERY good gift comes from the hand of God, I have to say that ultimately this money has come from the LORD and so I’m quite content to give Him all the glory – cos He’s worthy of it! I’m thrilled as a member of the team. I’m thrilled that Hill City Church was part of the process. And I’m also thrilled as a dad cos I’m soon going to be able to take my kids to play out the front of the house! I’m just buzzin about that!!

So as the contractors roll in on Monday morning, my family, along with many other excited residents will be able to watch the day-by-day creation of answered prayer and a dream fulfilled!

Thank you Jesus!!

A Beautiful Day Intro

OK so I finally managed to carve out a little bit of time to start work on this new book which I’ve been asked to write, A Beautiful Day. I’ve literally just finished the introduction and so I thought I’d post it up here on the blog to gauge your opinions. I might do the same with each chapter (publisher permitting) Just to give you a heads-up, it’s an evangelistic book that will be short (20,000 words or so) and that will appeal to the unchurched/non-bothered, especially blokes in the 18-30 age bracket. (Think bloke down the pub who you’ve had a good chat about God with and you want to give him something to read before you go. ) It’s based on the story of the lame beggar in Acts 3.

I’m not easily offended so please feel free to comment critically and honestly – so long as love is your motive I’ll welcome all feedback.

Thanks and God bless.

(PS – the picture obviously won’t appear in the book – it’s just there to beautify the blog slightly!!)


Intro

HUMPTY DUMPTY

Poor old Humpty Dumpty.

There he was just chilling on his wall, minding his own business when in one life-shattering moment the little eggy fella fell!

SPLAT!

Did he jump or was he pushed? We’ll probably never know! However, it matters little as either way the consequences were severe! Blue lights flashed and sirens wailed as all the king’s horses and all the king’s men rushed to the scene, but it was to no avail. Humpty lay in a shattered heap on the floor – completely shell-shocked. Despite the best efforts of the emergency response team, they couldn’t put him back together again. He was just too messed up.

Humpty was broken for life!

While the story of Humpty Dumpty’s tragic fall from grace is purely fictitious (and slightly comical) I can’t help but feel that for many of us, we have more in common with Humpty than we’d like to admit. Now I’m not saying that we’re all a bunch of wall-warming egg-heads. That would just be weird. Rather what I’m suggesting is that just like Humpty we’re fragile. While our wall and the nature of our fall may vary, the truth is that to some degree or other we have all made a mess of our lives.

  • The bloke who seems to have it all, yet is torn apart by shame and self-hatred born out of a savage addiction to illicit sex and internet porn.
  • The girl who whose life is a relational train-wreck as she recklessly pursues the love and security that she never knew, yet so deeply craves.
  • The young thug for whom a clenched fist is the only sure-fire ways to earn respect and make himself heard.
  • The student who is paralysed by fear and anxiety as she constantly strives and fails to attain the unreasonable standards set by over-bearing parents.

The reality is that we are all broken people.

If we’re being brutally honest, we must surely acknowledge that things in our lives aren’t as they should be and that each of us has a deep-down longing for things to be put right. We need fixing and we know it. But just like poor old Humpty, no matter how hard we or other people try, the pieces just won’t fit back together.

We’re damaged goods!

So what hope is there for us? If we’re looking to Humpty Dumpty for insight into our fractured world then surely the end of the story is quite depressing for all of us – cos he was a mashed-up omelette on the floor and that how he stayed! Don’t worry though, because we’re going to leave Humpty Dumpty alone now and turn our attention to another story – one that I believe offers genuine hope and encouragement to fragile, broken people.

People like you and me.

Unlike Humpty’s tale, this is a true story about a real man, who really lived and who really did experience the kind of radical, life-changing transformation that we all so desperately need. His story is found in the Bible and the rest of this book is simply going to consider exactly what happened to this man, and celebrate the amazing truth that there is a God who is more than able to put a bunch of busted-up Humpty’s like us back together again.

Here’s how the story goes:

“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”