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stonepavement church planting
Location: Bourton-on-the-Water
behind the scenes

2002 Coming soon!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

is Britain Great?

Not any more...we're morally bankrupt, but this is only a symptom of being bankrupt of faith - faith is Jesus Christ. We've lost for a long time now the understanding of the gospel and that the Good News of Jesus Christ is the only answer to our many many problems. Problems which stem from turning our backs on God...we still as nation have our culture firmly turned away from wanting to turn to Christ.

Winning the Olympics will not bring us greatness, winning the Ashes Test Cricket will not bring us greatness...only by turning our lives in surrender to the person of Jesus Christ will we know greatness again.

Billy Graham said "I do not believe that any man can solve the problems of life without Jesus Christ" He said this in California in 1949...and it hasn;t changed since then nor since the 1st century church.....

Our challenge is to be His ambassadors today, right now and to be used as a channel of the gospel through our testimony, and life lived out.....

Sunday, August 21, 2005

taking ground this weekend

It happened but not as we imagined...20 young people on the first night...!
Great icebreaker games; time to hang out, discuss and make music in the first night....
I don't think we could have imagined it going better. First of all God blew our hopes out of the water and has us redefining and preparing again for growth at a rate we never thought possible..
The feedback so far has been really positive and we give all the glory to God.

My week break from work which starts anew in lecturing tomorrow turned out to be a full week of stuff. Painting a sign for the village Christian book shop is nearly finished. Preparing for last night which was amazing and general running around helping friends and family do those things that need help.. a fulfilling week....

...also a week of battle, as last night (Saturday) loomed up so did circumstance to distract and depress... our foe is a past master at bringing us down. My "take" on the this is "good" the heat is rising so we're going the right way into the fire, forward on the front line..this weekend God didn't take an inch at a time..which sometimes we have to do but He took us a giant leap into growth...

...so now a new target is set... 50 by Christmas...with strength, depth and changed lives...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

20 by christmas..

Ryan, Sarah, Fran and Charis are just the first 4 to be part of a new work in Stow-on-the-Wold Baptist Church Youth...they don't know it yet, but a vision of 20 of them by this Christmas is the target..

I think my nerves at entering again the arena of youth work is formost in my mind than enything else...will we engage them? will the time be interesting and provoke thought?...will the ice breaker and fun time be pitched right? all these questions and I know it's so totally out of my control..and totally in God's hands. I think from experience youth work on the night is very well ordered, but perceived chaos...and then it's over...

Well it happens for real this Saturday between 6:30 - 9:00pm...if you want to check how it goes, check back on the weekend..

SAFEHOUSE http://safeh.blogspot.com theme on the night:poverty

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

celebration today - another year!

Happy Brithday Sis....

I left home when I was 18 and my sister 5 and family life kind of ended for our relationship until much later in our lives...I went through college, married had children and slowly Nae caught up with me and we've now a wonderful friendship...thanks to my wife Karen who always kept a strong link.

Nae works and ministers in Trinity in Cheltenham and has God given gifting in worship...and we now live just 30 minutes drive from each other..

It's her day today...she's on her way to us to have a birthday tea with her 6 nieces and nephews and some jelly and icecream for desert...seeing God work out His plans in her life these days when a life is surrendered to Him is really exciting and encouraging to see...

Visit her blog and wish her happy birthday....Happy Birthday Nae...

Monday, August 15, 2005

walking in His will

God has ordained good works for us to do as Paul reminded the Ephesians in ch2. We are as believers called to walk in the way He has perfectly prepared...whatever that means this week, it's so important to embrace it...

Friday, August 12, 2005

such Grace and Mercy

I'm spending a short few days in between jobs and I am getting the time to sit and reflect and think over the past and towards the future. In a couple of weeks time about 2 weeks away on the 28th my pastor has opened the pulpit to me.

Preparing for such a privilege as this, is something that sends me deep into reflection on the enormity of Grace and Mercy which has been poured out onto my life in the 39 years I've breathed air on this earth.

The reality of God's grace in every minute is too large to put my finite mind around. It's wonder that best describes the adoration and surrender I feel and want to know.

Mat Redman put this way in his song "Breathing the Breath"
"We have nothing to give
That didn't first come from Your hands
We have nothing to offer You
Which You did not provide
Every good, perfect gift comes from
Your kind and gracious heart
And all we do is give back to You
What always has been Yours"
When I think of the places we've travelled as a family, the diversity of the people we've met, the persecution we've seen in our brothers and sisters and their sacrifice, it leaves me in awe of a God who wants me to live in the truth of His word...

Lord, take me again and use me, make me a channel of your love and your life. Lord may I truely be your fragrance that others might see life and want to know you....Amen
"Who has given to You
That it should be paid back to him?
Who has given to You
As if You needed anything?
From You, and to You, and through You
Come all things, O Lord
And all we do is give back to You
What always has been Yours"

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Who am I?

Our two younger boys...amazing little lives, full of life and hope and all that lies before them..I love them...standing next to the off-road Range Rover...a boys dream..

Looking at this photo I am moved again by the words of one of my favourite albums by Casting Crowns "Who am I"

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart

Not because of who I am
But because of what You've done
Not because of what I've done
But because of who You're

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I'm calling
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling
And You've told me who I am
I am Yours, I am Yours

Who Am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again
Who Am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me

I am Yours
Whom shall I fear
Whom shall I fear
'Cause I am Yours
I am Yours

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

reflection on John the Baptist

The Old Testament testifies to the coming messiah (Saviour). Jesus appeared as the perfect embodiment of the truth, which he illustrated in His own sinless life. We see slow deliberate clues in the early Old Testament turned to specific promises later on that a messiah would come to deliver the Children of Israel through a final sacrifice in which all mankind would benefit (Isaiah 49:6)

...then John the Baptist arrives into history..

What’s interesting to see in John ch1 is that John the Baptist’s mission was his identity. He deflected all attention from himself to Jesus. He refused to allow anyone to acknowledge anything about himself except his message. He ate locusts and honey, he lived rough..his physical appearance was so different to the expected prophesied messenger referred to in Isaiah 40:3-5

Erwin McManus puts it this way in his book The Barbarian Way:

“John’s faith was raw and untamed. There was nothing civilised about him….If you were looking for a reed swayed by the wind (someone easily moulded by the expectations of the civilised) or a man dressed in fine clothes (someone to impress the political or religious elite), you were looking in the wrong place. But if you went out to see a prophet, John was your man. And he was more than a prophet. He was the one whom God chose to prepare the way of the coming of His Son. Of all the men born of women- and that pretty much covers everybody but Adam- John was the greatest. Jesus by the way was born of God. The assumption was that for such a job, God would choose someone with polish and refinement.

Jesus wanted to make clear that the greater the kingdom responsibility, the more barbarian is required. But then He added something that opened a floodgate of possibilities for the rest of us. Jesus said “Yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” Matthew 11:11

Question: If you were to remove your Christian witness to unbelievers, how different would your life be? Do the people in your life (sphere of influence) know you are a believer/follower of Christ/Christian?

Reflect: Today ask the Lord for a single opportunity to have a conversation that is directed towards Jesus. Seek a John the Baptist opportunity to engage someone in a life challenging moment.

Read: 2 Cor 14b… “…and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him”

Pray: Make a personal list of 3 people who during a week you meet and sometimes strike up a conversation. Seek to know the right words to say to them that engages and provokes their need of Christ.


Monday, August 08, 2005

Dad I need to pack!

I've been remis over the last 2 weekends with my writing here. Life has caused me to concetrate and focus on the reality in living rather than writing. As much as I find my blog a stimulating process and a record of the journey of life, so as we serve I find the reality of work, home and family takes priority and is a joy.

I walked downstairs this morning to find Matthew and Jacob sitting leisurely in the lounge in their regular morning routine of cartoon watching...I think they phase into the day waking up to the reality of another summers vacation day.

Normally they don't notice me other than to say..."Dad can I have a bowl of cereal?" I oblige and they go back to the lounge...but this morning was different....
...Matthew turned to me and said "Dad I need to pack!" his look was urgent, he had an expression that said - I need to do it now, I need to be ready...I'm going somewhere...He didn't want to watch, he wanted to pack....sure enough our 2 youngest boys are going to their grand parents this week in South Wales. As soon as they knew they were going they wanted to pack instantly. Karen said, let's do it the day before we go and you can help me....

What struck me:
1. Matthew wanted to go - right away
2. He felt things were not ok until he has done something towards leaving....
3. His usual routine was second to where he wanted to go...he had a purpose today...
4. He was ready to put aside what he considered fun in order to pack....
5. Matthew remembered his Mum had said the day before we can pack together...he was ready waiting..it was on his mind.

His change this morning really made me think how much of our routine dulls us into lack of action...we do "this" and a do "that" and this is scheduled and that is arranged and slowly the hours, days and weeks pass and we are conditioned into a dangerous place of "sameness"......Every day is a new day, a day of individual purpose with plans laid before us that God wants us to walk in......are we ready everyday to be in the frame of mind I met Matthew in? It challenges me.

When did you last break out of the routine and stop..listen...and act? Or you know that time the Holy Spirit prompted you to call that person? Remember? have you done it yet? Was it a word of encouragement? or something that was hindering your fellowship between freinds/family....
....don't waste any more time here...pick the phone up.
....email them...comment on their blog.
....encourage, engage....it's character building......I am!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

attack of the bloggers!@~#!

I've been reading several blogs over the weeks that have passed since I started to blog and have come to the conclusion that blog forums have a tendency to distract our time..time spent discussing the "ins" and "outs" of our theological persuasion consume inordinate amounts of time. This time is spent arguing and thrashing points of view around the world with fellow bloggers who we don't really know personally other than what we read.....(I'm not devalueing the friendships and encouragement gained from blogging)

The greatest rule of all within the blog world has to be "let the gift of Grace be evident in all we write"

This clearly is not the case when issues cause heated responses. Another underlying trend I've noticed is the sarcasm displayed when proponents of one emphasis are challenged from the other viewpoint.

This then escalates into a semi personal attack on integrity of one belief.

A recent example of this is from the EmergentNo team where the authors are very clear of their intent to proclaim the herecy of a movement.

"Challies" by the nature of the freedom it offers to post also provides a well bed of theological discussion from every spectrum of reason....

"Pyromaniac" ...manages to keep his views edged with Grace, though by his own admission he is oppinionated. He still manages to stay on the right side of christian comment.

I sympathise most of all with Dan and "Cerulean Sanctum". Dan doesn't attack, Dan comments and we are drawn in empathy to cry from the heart that rings..."Lord take your place here in this world of comment"

For those of us who are sideliners in an often frantic catch-up of reading in lives spent more in the real world than the theoretical blog world, take heart! We do not need to be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good...let's get balanced

...b a l a n c e!!!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

it's time to educate!

I picked up the phone it was on silent mode and buzzing on the desk. "Hello Andrew? can you speak it's Gloscat. ....I have the pleasure of offering you the Lecturers post here with us in the college!"

"Many are the plans of a mans heart, but it is the Lord's purposes that prevail" Proverbs 19:21

In 3 weeks I see a job change!... I got the job, I now embark on a journey as an educator in the Higher Education College of Gloucester (Gloscat). Incredible, last week I knew it was time to move on, then I get an interview request, Monday the interview and today the job offer...QUICK...I like this kind of guidance!!. The salary though only slightly higher is irrelevant...what is significant is this:

1. Gloscat will train me to educate (PGCE training starts in a couple of months)
2. I'll be educating 16-19 years olds in a profession...the profession the Lord led me into...Civil Engineering.
3. Being able to mentor young people with a Christian viewpoint...a privilege
4. 50 days vacation a year - the time to support the work of our fellowship in Stow-on-the-Wold..
5. Time to study in the open learning Spurgeons Degree programme...
6. Time to serve.

...it's all about His will, direction and purposes prevailing....encouraging day..Thank you Lord.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

the believers rule of three

Over the last few days the opportunities God has brought my way have been exciting and interesting...

Over the weekend I was preparing for an interview with the regional Higher Education College for a role as a lecturer in construction. To join other educators training young people from 16-19 years old in a career in building and construction. It culminated in 5 hours at the college yesterday where I had to do a "mini-teach" in front of the interviewing panel and then a case study and a formal interview...I'll know today or tomorrow if this is the opportunity God wants for me to take..I was shortlisted during the day to the last 2 candidates...

Another privilege is the new youth work which my wife and I are preparing to launch later this month....praying and talking to our core youth of about 5 students it's a time of visioning and preparing how it will glorify God and establish a safe place for young people to explore the reality of a life submitted to and relationship with Christ..

And last but not least..I was in the church sanctuary last night moving and setting up the pc and projector so we can worship without the Overhead Projector..I ended up putting the screen on the seat of the 100 year old organ(we don't use it at present)..I'm not sure the Dissenters if they saw the screen would mind..their sole purpose was to worship the Lord freely and live in the truth of the priesthood of all believers...

I've been reading Spurgeon this week.. a book my Mum gave me called "Prayer & Spiritual Warfare" In the chapter "The Power of Prayer and the Pleasure of Praise" Spurgeon writes....

talking about Paul he says "We find him computing by the Believers Rule of Three: he argues from the past to the present and from the present to things yet to come.....1 Cor 1:10 "Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us". Because God is "the same yesterday, and today, and forever" (Heb 12:13)

Listen to what Spurgeon says next:
"His love in time past is an infallible assurance of His kindness today, and an eqaully certain pledge of His faithfulness tomorrow, whatever our circumstances may be, however perplexing our path may be, and however dark our horizon".

Amen, Amen, Amen....