Archive for January, 2011

Godfirst Jo’burg

January 28th, 2011

For the last week I’ve been getting to grips with the phenomenal Godfirst church in Johannesburg. Planted with 20 people in January 2005, it now has 9 meetings every Sunday, spanning 7 sites and gathering in the region of 2,000 people. And they’re still expanding! Last Sunday saw them announce that two new sites would be launched over the next few months!

In an attempt to get to the bottom of their extraordinary success, I’ve attended a couple of their sites, three elders meetings, one early morning prayer meeting, a joining the church evening, and had one to ones with nine of their key leaders.

It has been impossible to get away from their energetic devotion to God – they really do put God first! As their remarkable growth implies, there’s also an overwhelming sense of being on a mission together.

The whole experience has certainly been both inspiring and faith building. I feel as though I’ve caught more of a glimpse of our future as we seek to reach the many people God has for us in our city. Suddenly the prospect of seeing Jesus the most talked about person in Birmingham doesn’t seem so hard to imagine!

The next leg of my trip sees me visiting Phil and Claire in Bulawayo – hopefully for a spot of much needed r & r (!) before returning the UK on Tuesday.

Spur One Another On…

January 21st, 2011

Hebrews 10 throws out clear challenge: “…and let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…”. This comes after the writer reminds the Hebrews of a God who promised and is faithful!

Following Jesus is not a solo project! We are supposed to do it in community, with others around us, encouraging, helping, spurring us on!

If you are a student at Churchcentral the student weekend away is an excellent opportunity for all of this. From the 18th - 20th of February it is a chance to get away, have a brilliant time developing and deepening relationships with each other while totally focussed on our God who is faithful in every way. Year after year students return having made great friends and having heard clearly from God. Many last year described it as a “must”. It is a weekend jam packed with fun, food and good company. It has been an amazing success in the past and this year is going to be no exception.

Book in this Sunday with a £10 deposit and get the whole weekend for the bargain price of £49! It’s your last chance before the price rise. For more details talk to Steve and Danielle Wheeler.

Categories: Central Life, Events Tags: ,

Setting The Pace

January 14th, 2011

Like thousands of others, Jonny found himself stuck in his car in gridlocked traffic last Friday. A very brief snow shower brought all the main roads in the city to a virtual stand still. God used the experience to speak about what he is doing on a spiritual level:

I’m the one who sets the pace. I can bring people to a stop and I can propel them forward. I can make them still and I can excite them into action. I can obstruct progress and I can clear the way. Ultimately, whatever skills are possessed or efforts undertaken, it is me that causes movement or stagnation…

The condition of my church in England over the past 50 years has not been normal, free flowing traffic. It has been a traffic jam that has been at a crawl. This is not how my kingdom usually advances. This is kingdom advance at a standstill and I have brought it to a standstill.

However, just as I can bring to a standstill, I can set things in motion. Just as I can block the path, I can also clear the road. I want my people to start to pray expectantly for a break in the traffic – for things to go from a crawl to an open road. I want them to pray for increased speed of breakthroughs in individuals’ lives, for believers who have been stuck for long periods of time to be suddenly moving very fast. I want them to pray for the quick, violent release of leaders and for leadership gifting to develop in individuals at breakneck speed. One minute they looked like they would never travel faster than 10 miles an hour; then suddenly, they are racing along at the national speed limit…

When the road clears, individuals get to their destinations more quickly but also masses of static traffic is dispersed quickly. I want to speed up individuals, churches and my church within this nation. You will look back at the days of snow traffic and wonder how you could have moved so slowly and your children will be amazed that you thought that a traffic jam was normal traffic. But I used that time to teach you to be still and know that I am the one who causes movement, that I am God. Now I want you to experience what it is to know that I am God while travelling at high speed.

As a church we’re certainly believing for an increase in momentum over the coming twelve months. This Sunday we will be sharing a little more about what we think this is going to look like in practise.

Categories: Central Point Tags: , ,

God Comes First

January 7th, 2011

Well it’s that time of year again when in a fit of optimism many of us set goals and make great promises to ourselves about what we are going to do in the New Year. Sadly, the reality doesn’t always match our lofty dreams. This is often down to a lack of resolve on our part to keep going with our well-intentioned resolutions. However, circumstances can also conspire against us. It can be hard when things that we had hoped for don’t materialise, or things that we cherish get taken from us. Yet there is a way to safeguard against the despair, disappointment and disillusionment of unmet dreams.

I’m constantly challenged by the mindset of Asaph when he prays these radical words: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25-26). He’s basically saying that even if he lost everything, he would still praise God. And, beyond that, he’s saying that God is his number one passion, desire, goal and treasure in life.

It was this same desire for God that enabled Habakkuk to utter these similarly profound words: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Saviour” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

I can’t help thinking that of all the things we could long for in the coming year, if we could only long more for God, our lives would be most deeply impacted for the better. As Jonathan Edwards put it back in the 18th century: “God himself is the greatest good which we are brought to the possession and enjoyment of through our salvation. He is the highest good, and the sum of all that good which Christ purchased.”

This Sunday I want to talk about some resolutions, some commitments which I guarantee will revolutionise your life if you follow through on them. Over and above everything else, I want to appeal to you to make knowing God your chief resolution and goal in the coming year.

Categories: Preaching Series Tags: ,