call, challenge, Commitment, cost, Cross, Determination, Discipleship, Discipline, Endurance, faithfulness, Fruit and fruitfulness, Grit, obidience, pperseverence, steadfast

Grit, the missing Element.

I had a breakfast the other day with my friend ‘Pastor Benson’ it was great to catch up with him. He arrived in Kingswood with the instructions from his Church leader to “plant a Church in Bristol”, and that’s how I got to know him and become friends.

He tried planting in the conference room of the Soundwell Swimming Baths, before moving into the city centre into the Holiday Inn as a venue for their Church.

He now has a small fellowship meeting regularly there, interestingly I asked how his Church started and he had on e word “grit”.

Keeping on going.

Each Saturday they went out onto the streets and invited people to come (anyone doing much Street work knows what a hard and thankless task it can be!), each Sunday there were there, set up, with tea and coffee waiting for people, as they prayed, worshipped and sought God. It took 7 or 8 weeks before anyone other than his family to come and join them, yet they kept on going, they didn’t quit, and the Church was born.

He said to me on Saturday “it doesn’t say well done and gifted servant, or well done successful servant, but well done good and faithful servant” we just had to be faithful.

My mind wandered back to my Greek lessons at College (not exactly my finest hour!) and remembered a phrase (actually normally used of being filled with the Holy Spirit) which is “go on be being filled”, but wondered if “go on be being faithful” perhaps might have the same idea, faithfulness isn’t a one off, but something we are called to be in a continuous cycle of repetition, remaining actively faithful.

Yet as I thought about this, it is amazing how quickly Christians scarper from the battle-field, they may all be noisy in the barracks before the battle, and maybe be around for the first charge, but faithfully having the grit and determination to ‘stand firm’ or ‘stand fast’ keeping going with what God has called us to do. Holding the line in obedience not wandering off in distracting vanity projects, not fleeing the battle front-line for a safer-option.

Let’s be people of grit, of determination and perseverance.

Scripture is full of heroes that kept on going, that remained faithful, gritty characters that persevered, Noah building the Ark, Moses leading the people through the desert, Esther in prayer, Ruth in her commitment to her mother-in-law Naomi, Daniel in righteous living, Nehemiah in re-building the wall and Paul in the proclamation of the Gospel.

Yet our greatest example of grit and deterination is Jesus “who for the joy that was before him endured the cross and scorned its shame”. Jesus did quit on his Fathers Mission even when his sweat fell like drops of blood, even when it cost him everything he had including his life. Jesus remained faithful unto death “even death on the cross”.

I believe the “secret” to transformation in mission is not more courses, or new programmes and ideas but rather greater grit, more steadfastness, keeping going and pressing in to see the harvest.

Bill Wilson of metro-ministries the worlds largest Sunday School in New York said “Christians so often quit before the break through”.

So, a challenge for us all is to not just start new things but have the grit and see them through and come to fruit.

Patient endurance is tough, but often the key to fruitfulness.

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Cross, love, Salvation, sin

What Does the Cross Say?

I as thinking about how we use and see crosses in our culture… Here are a few  thoughts.

Voting seems very much on the agenda at the moment with whether you voted for (or against) Brexit, whether America Votes Trump or Hilary?

Whether Teresa May has a mandate to govern or not?
Will anyone vote for Jeremy Corbyn, is he electable?
Voting is about our choice of who is in power over us? -Where do we place our cross?
The cross in electorial terms is asking who do we want to be in charge, where are we choosing to let power and authority rest?
For the Christian the cross says of our choice to allow the risen Christ to not be our Saviour, but our Lord too.
The Cross says that Jesus is in charge and we are no longer the leader of our lives.
Yet the cross, is not just a symbol of where we choose to place power, it also has become a symbol of love, we end our messages to loved ones with the cross, as a kiss.
Christians aren’t just called to be subjects of Christ, but “I know longer call you slaves, for a slave does not know his Masters business, instead I call you friends”.
Many people are obedient for so many reason, fear or duty perhaps, but our obedience to Christ isn’t for either of these reasons but rather out of our love for him flows our obedience to him. We obey him because we love him, living as Andy Hawthrone described it “living in such a way that makes Jesus smile” -living in a way that pleases and brings joy to God’s heart.
Yet the Cross in our world also speaks  of  things that are wrong, I used to make the old joke that my Maths teacher loved me because she put kisses all over my work!
The cross says that something has gone wrong, it’s not right, in fact there is a big cross over our world, we all know that the world is not how it should, and we ourselves are not as we should be, where things are wrong in both the big picture and the smaller detail too. It’s not how it should be. For me, the Christian world view makes sense of the world, it is a wonderful and beautiful world, but people have turned form God, causing us to fall out of relationship with God, the world and each other… sin has entered in a caused a barrier between us and God, something we have all done, and the cost of that sin is fatal, resulting in death…
Yet the Cross speakers more than just to point out wrong doing and fallen-ness in our world, for the Cross is primarily both for Christians and even with organisations like the red cross, a symbol of rescue and of hope.
The Cross on which Jesus died, rescued us from sin and death, setting us free from all that imprisons us and keeps us from the arms of our loving heavenly father. The Cross speaks of victory and liberation for the world, where Satan does not get the world, nor does sin, pain, injust but rather the God who made it all has spoken the word of forgiveness and redemption, restoration and transformation into his world through the death and resurrection.
The Cross to is an Algebraic formula for the unknown, X is the problem that needs solving, X is where the treasure is on a pirates map. Yet the cross speaks of the unknown God being known in the person and face of Jesus Christ. The treasure of the world, that pearl of great price.
The world knows that there must be an answer to the big questions, yet the don’t know, or at least haven’t been able to work out that the unknown factor is God himself, Jesus Christ.
The world is searching for treasure of what is of real value, looking for this treasure in all sorts of places, and yet again the cross marks the spot, the treasure of this world is, as John says in the book of revelation, The Lamb who was slain -Jesus Christ himself.
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Cross, Kingswood

My Kingswood.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=kingswood+what+i+was+expecting&biw=1366&bih=643&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwiy8OjCyqXNAhVjCcAKHQAYA4IQ_AUIBigB#imgrc=vvOHLaTyLUexaM%3A

I live and work in a place called Kingswood.

I’m a Vicar here.

The name “Kingswood” sometimes makes people think…

I’ve heard people talk and pray around this and have heard people say about “Kingswood” bring “The Kings Wood”, as in an area belonging to the King, and the Kings is Jesus.
Alongside words about the Kingswood or ‘the Kings Wood’ I’ve heard people talk about Psalm 1, with the idea of Christians being people who are fruitful and obedient with their roots drawing downing into the river.
I’ve also heard people talk about “Oaks of Righteousness” (Is. 61), this particular passage has been deeply significant for us who have been praying into Kingswood for a long time.
Yet my friend Jackie heard someone else talk about “The Kings Wood” and she described the ‘Wood of the King’ for the Christian is actually the Cross  of Christ… Our Kings Wood, is the cross on which he died for us.
One of the websites that tries to connect people with what is happening in Kingswood is called http://www.mykingswood.co.uk/ yet ultimately we connected by the King who reigns on high and yet stooped down low to suffer and die for us.
So every time we think of what the call of Christ is and what he is saying for this area we have the reminder that Christ died for the people of this area (as well as the whole world), lets embrace the cross of Christ, his death and resurrection.
His cross which shows us how to minister to this area, a call of sacrifice, surrender and service, it’s ultimate about love and dying to self.
The true King of Kingswood died for his people on the cross of execution.
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