Month: October 2010

Planting A Church On The Rock Of Desolation

When we planted Hill City Church 3 years ago it was always our intention to be a church plant that plants churches. Right from the outset we identified two other estates in Torfaen that we believe need a gospel preaching, light-spreading, love-incarnating church at the heart of the community. One of these estates was Garndiffaith in north Pontypool (‘Garndiffaith’ literally means ‘the Rock of Desolation’!) Over recent months myself and my co-pilot, James, have become increasingly convinced that God is telling us that now is the time for Hill City to step out in faith and plant a church on the Garn.

We’re in the very early stages of working this through and suffice to say there will be a lot more to report over coming months. However, this little video should give you some idea of where we’re at and what we’re up to.

If you’d like to know more, leave a comment below or get in touch with us through the Hill City website.


Today is the 1st anniversary of my mam’s death. I was contemplating doing a lengthy post, but to be honest, that just didn’t feel appropriate. I wrote a series of posts last year called Grace That Shines In The Dark in which I shared about the pain of losing mam to cancer and the hope that my family and I drew from the gospel of Jesus. Feel free to read if you’d like.

Truth is that I still miss mam like crazy. I still have days when I weep without warning, still wish I could talk to her about random stuff, still wish she’d met the twins, still expect to see her in the kitchen when I walk through the front door of dad’s house, and still find my heart warmed and my mouth smiling when I think about her. However, I’m convinced that the grace that has got me and my family through these last 12 months is the same grace that continues to strengthen and sustain us today and will continue to do so. I don’t say that flippantly, I simply believe that it is one of the treasures of the gospel that mam clung to and taught her family to love.

So if you could spare a thought and a prayer today, please pray for us as a family (especially my dad). I’m sure we’ll all cope in different ways today, but praise God we’ll all do so in the company of a friend who sticks closer than a brother, in the arms of a Great High Priest who sympathises with us in our sorrow, and in the hope of a Risen Saviour who we’ll one day join mam in worshipping forever after!

Jesus wins.

I’ve Re-emerged!

Just a quick note to say I’ve re-emerged out of my week in the blogging, twittering darkness and I’m back in the swing of things. The last 7 days haven’t been spectacular, but they have been very helpful in exposing my weakness, my self-centredness and the shameful superficiality of my faith.

I’m back on the blog. I’m Back tweeting. But I’m also back with a renewed desire to make sure that every minute I spend, every thought I publish and every pixel I produce is for His name and His glory – not my own! I hope the content of my posts and my tweets will reflect this!

Thanks so much for your prayers.


Stepping Out Of The Loop To Get In The Zone

When I was a rebellious teenager a teacher once wrote this about me in my school report:

“If he spent as much time learning as he did trying to be the centre of attention – he’d be a genius by now!”

I’m clearly no genius so I guess that was wasted advice! In all seriousness, however, I think that my teacher spotted something in my character that was a real problem back then…and it probably still is today! Truth is I’ve always been much better at gobbing off, showing off and doing stuff, than sitting back, listening and reflecting.

What that looks like in my life as a disciple and Pastor is that I find it much easier to preach, to talk, to tweet and to blog than I do to pray, to fast, to study Scripture and listen to God. Thing is I crave a deep, meaningful and powerful walk with God yet in reality life is hectic and I’m getting squeezed, stretched and starved all at the same time. I can talk/blog/tweet about Jesus all day, but to be honest it doesn’t mean jack if it’s not rooted in authentic, rich relationship.

I think what I’m saying is that right now I need to be still and let God be God.

So I’m stepping out of the loop for a week.

To be more specific I’m taking a 7 day break from blogging and tweeting and all other forms of social media. I intend to fill all the time I would have otherwise spent writing, reading and responding to blogs and tweets with focussed prayer and Bible study. Furthermore every time I feel the urge to whip my iPhone out and check my Twitter timeline, I’m going to be firing up bullet-prayers for various people and situations who are on my heart.

I guess essentially I’m taking a week out to pray and to fast!*

However, I want to make it clear that I’m not doing this because I think blogs, Twitter etc. are sinful? Quite the opposite in fact! I’m just in a place where I need to unplug for a while and rediscover the beautiful discipline of waiting on Jesus, resting in His presence and letting the gospel grip my heart again!

So here’s where you come in: I’d love it if you would stand with me in this. Would you be willing to commit the time you might have spent checking the blog or following me on Twitter in prayer?

  • Pray for my relationship with God – that He’d grant me the desire of my heart, draw close and refresh my spirit.
  • Pray for my family – that God would give us grace and strength as we continue to get used to life with LOTS of kids.
  • Pray for my Church – we are at a critical stage in the life of Hill City. We really need the saints to stand and shine, yet many are getting smashed to bit at the mo!
  • Pray for my community – this council estate needs Jesus BIG TIME!! Please pray for more doors for the gospel and more salvation!

Thanks so much guys. See you in a week…

*I once heard this helpful definition of prayer and fasting: “Prayer connects you to God. Fasting disconnects you from the world.”

Guidance Part 6. Silence

Ok, so 5 weeks and 2 newborn babies later, I thought it was about time I rounded off this mini-series on guidance.

This is the shortest post in the series, due in large part to it’s simplicity. Here’s the big idea – God often speaks most powerfully by staying silent. I think it was Ronan Keating who sang “You say it best when you say nothing at all.” While it’s fair to say that Ronan probably wasn’t crooning about divine guidance, these lyrics still capture perfectly one of the most profound lessons that I have personally come to learn about how God communicates His will for our lives to us.

Allow me to elaborate…

We live in an age when everyone wants to know “what’s next?” Our generation, perhaps more than any before it, is obsessed with pursuing new adventures, fresh challenges and the latest experiences. People seldom seem to stay in the same place, the same job or even the same relationship for long – believing that there’s always something better just around the corner.

This mindset is as rampant in the church as everywhere else. I’ve spent time with so many Christians who are obsessed with finding out what’s next? They pray, they study Scripture, they read books, they seek godly counsel, all in the name of discovering their destiny.

“God, what do you want me to do?”

“Where do you want me to go?”

“Who do you want me to marry?”

“Which church should I go to?”

None of these are bad questions to ask, but what if God doesn’t answer? I mean literally what if there’s complete silence on the other end of the line? For many this leads frustration and even anger.

“God, why won’t you speak to me?!!”

The truth is that in the deep silence God is speaking. He really is. The tragedy of the “what’s next?” generation is that they’re so obsessed with their future that they miss the beauty and the significance of the moment. They’re so concerned about the there and then that they miss the here and now! And that’s tragic, because while God does have a future mapped out for us, He also has today planned too!

So here’s my parting shot: If you’re a Christian who has been seeking God’s will for your life, and God doesn’t seem to be saying anything to you about it, then maybe, just maybe as far as God’s concerned, you’re in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.

That should be both encouraging and reassuring.

For what it’s worth, my advice to you is to keep doing whatever it is you’re doing with joyful contentment to the glory of God. If/when He’s got something else for you, He’s powerful enough, caring enough, creative enough and loud enough to make Himself heard!

In the meantime, embrace the silence and give Him all you’ve got!

Banksy’s Back

Ironically it was only yesterday that I was thinking about Banksy.

Bansky is a mysterious, controversial, provocative street writer from Bristol for whom I have huge respect! Back in the day I started profiling some of his work on this blog, though for whatever reason, ‘Bansky Wednesdays’ didn’t last long. However, as I drove past one of his pieces yesterday I decided it was time to give it another go.

So you can imagine how buzzin’ I was this morning to discover that Banksy has only gone and crafted the opening sequence for the legendary Simpsons (my favourite cartoon of all time!!) Banksy’s intro is dark, edgy, creepy, sinister…and it’s got people talking (which is what Banksy does best!)

What better way to relaunch Banksy Wednesday than this?

James 3

I just came across this video again. It was produced by Desiring God and when I first saw it a couple of years ago it profoundly challenged and convicted me. So I thought I’d post it up here on the Rant and see what you guys make of it.

Let me know what you think: