Tag Archive: Spirit


city centre lifegroups

I’ve been led through a rather radical change of heart in the last couple of years.

I moved to the Peak District because I love the countryside.  I was definitely not a city person.  I still believe that God called me to the beautiful market town in which I live.  And I absolutely love it.  However, I now work predominately in the city of Derby and I serve in a church with a clear vision for the city.  Which makes the city quite central to my life.

So when it became apparent that I could play a part in establishing, growing and multiplying LifeGroups in the city centre I thought it would be a good thing to do.  And having made the decision to do it, I am more excited and enthusiastic about it than I ever would have believed I could be.

Our first group meeting was two weeks ago.  Seven of us met McDonald’s and enthused each other about what God was saying.  Last week twelve of us met in a bar and this week I am confident that more will join us.

There is something really challenging and edgy about this group.  It’s very different from a traditional small group based in a home.  Meeting in bars and coffee shops automatically gives a feel of being friends together.  Every meeting is a social.  And meeting in public places means that outreach is automatically at the heart of what we are doing.  Talking at normal volume about our faith, our love of God, our walk with Jesus and our desire to see the Spirit move, is challenging and fun.  Praying together is scary and wonderful.

Of course, such groups have to be different from what happens in homes.  We are already discovering that.  Plotting a way forward is huge fun.  My enthusiasm feels boundless.  I long to see more groups of this nature growing out of what we are doing and I am confident that they will.  I am confident that in turn we will have a real impact on the people around us.

What better way to be salt and light than to meet, talk and pray in the very bars and cafe’s where so many others are gathered?

And of course, it is a really simple transition for our alpha guests to make.  Already, several have indicated that they will join the group when the course has finished in order to continue their journey.  Which means that the groups will have people in them who haven’t yet given their lives completely to Jesus but who are being drawn to Him and want to continue their journey of discovery.

It seems to have filled me with life again.  I don’t think our Christian lives should feel “safe” in that sense – I like feeling out there, on the edge, putting myself in places where I am totally reliant on God.  But I can only do that when I am confident that He has called me to do it.  And I am confident that He has called me to do this.

I will let you know how it goes.

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alpha

I love a good alpha, and I’m loving a particularly good alpha at the moment.  With salvation on week 2 and new guests joining as we go along, a great venue, good food, lively atmosphere, hilarious heckling and some really helpful discussions, we’re seeing God move in so many lives. 

I really enjoy engaging with people who are prepared to come along and ask questions.  People who struggle with some of the big issues in life.  People who have experienced difficult times and are trying to make sense of the world.

People like you and me.

I enjoy exploring the gospel in relevant, contemporary ways.  I enjoy communicating God’s love for people, the history of God’s passion for us and the lengths He will go to for us, the simple truths of the Christian faith in a complex world, the power of the cross and the wonder of a relationship with an all-powerful and holy father in heaven.

I am always amazed by God’s grace as people of all ages and backgrounds are saved and Christians are provoked about holy lives and what it means to be a child of God.  Every time I teach on the cross I am changed.  Every time I teach on prayer and the bible I am challenged.  Every time I consider the Spirit I find myself longing for more.

Which means that next weekend I will be coming to God with many others asking Him to pour out His Spirit upon me, equipping me to live a life that is pleasing to Him and which brings Him glory.  Because that’s what I’m here for.

enjoy the meal!

In Psalm 23 David has been exploring the image of God as a good shepherd, drawing upon his experiences of God in times of restoration and testing.  In verses 5 and 6 he turns to the image of God as a generous host and draws upon his experiences of God in times of blessing.

Now we know that we live with the incredible blessings of God every day.  We have already received every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Jesus.  We have grace and mercy and forgiveness of sins, we have the adoption as sons and the filling of His Spirit.  But there are still seasons of life in which God seems to bring special blessings.

And the table of blessings that God lays out before us in such times are there to be enjoyed.  If you have friends round for a meal and you go to a lot of trouble to prepare a fantastic meal, no expense spared and all the garnishing, you don’t really want to hear them say that they are on an onion diet and won’t eat anything but onions.  You want them to enjoy the meal you have prepared.

And God wants us to enjoy His blessings.  Enjoy them and accept the honour that He gives you in the process.

And in my view, it is in seasons of blessing that it is best to make decisions about the principles we will live by.  When things are good, decide how you will parent your children, use your money, serve your church and local community.  In a season of blessing, commit yourself to living whole-heartedly for God so that you can carry these things through when times are harder.

And in seasons of blessing, know that God is with you and will always be with you.  Goodness and love will follow you all the days of your life.  All the days of your eternal life.

God is not like Windows

As we worshipped this morning at Jubilee, I was very aware of an inter-weaving of two truths. 

The words to the songs we were singing spoke of God being greater than anything else, of how He  stood before the beginning of time and spoke creation into being.  Songs about healing and salvation. 

At the same time, the Spirit was giving gifts that spoke of God as with us, close to us, intimately involved with us.

These two truths are found throughout the Bible.  God is transcendent.  He is Almighty, all-powerful, unlike any other god, He cannot even be compared to them.  God is also imminent.  He is with us, His Spirit lives within us, He cares passionately about us.

And He is both of these things at the same time. 

It’s not that we’re working with two separate applications, having to flip between them, minimising one application when we want to work in the other.  God is not sometimes transcendent and sometimes imminent.  God is always both transcendent and imminent.  Right now, at this point in your life, God is above and beyond the universe, knowing the name of every star He created and He is in the room with you, loving and caring for you.

How wonderful is that?

Ephesian foundations

 What should a great church look like?  In Acts chapter 19 when Paul arrives at Ephesus we are given a clue.

The kingdom of God is proclaimed

Paul speaks boldly – “reasoning, and persuading people about the kingdom,” (Acts 19:8).  He did that for years.  Well, all the time he was there I suppose.  And he did it, “in public and from house to house,” (Acts 20:20).  In fact, he “did not shrink from declaring (to you) the whole counsel of God,” (Acts 20:27).

A great church proclaims the kingdom.  In public places and in people’s homes.  It does not shrink from the whole gospel, it does not parcel up and ignore the bits of the bible that are uncomfortable reading in its cultural context. It does not get bored with eternal truths and forsake them.  A great church knows and teaches the whole counsel of God.  The bible is high on its list of values.

The Spirit is moving

“God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul,” (Acts 19:11) and He loves to do extraordinary miracles now too.  Luke gives us a brief insight into the wonderful signs that accompanied the gospel in Ephesus and whilst we don’t want to focus on miracles, we surely want to see them. 

A great church loves the presence of the Holy Spirit and faithfully seeks His counsel. wisdom, gifts and signs.  It doesn’t shy away from praying for the sick and exercising authority over evil spirits.  A great church moves in the power of the Spirit in everything it does.

The culture around it is changing

“There was no little disturbance concerning the Way,” (Acts 19:23) – mainly because the church was having a significant impact on the local economy and the pedlars of the cities idols were losing business.  The changes in people’s lives were significant and the impact was felt by the whole city.

A great church affects the society in which it is situated.  It may even change the culture around it. People’s lives are changed, communities are changed.  Whole cities can be changed.  Great churches make a difference even to people who are not part of them.

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