Welcoming Pokemons

Welcoming Pokemons

So I spent an hour up at church today – fully expecting that no one would show because apart from a few Facebook post, nothing had been said to anyone. But within a minute of opening the door, one young person had turn up and this was then followed by about 9 others! 5 young people were know to me, but 5 were new. Some just hung around outside, some came in and chatted. We offered free wifi and power for those who needed to top up their phones. They were extremely grateful and enjoyed chatting for an hour about life and the game. We discussed some of this risks of which there are some. Walking around with your phone out trying to catch something makes you vulnerable to a mugging and we also discussed that gyms and pokestops could become a place where people who want to cause harm might hang out. We discussed how we could protect ourselves a little too.

Mostly though it was about the welcome – offering a safe and inviting place for young gamers (and one not so young!) to come and be and connect with one another.

My hope is that this will be something we can repeat and offer on a more regular basis as a drop in style group.

CGBC Welcomes Pokemon

Missional Pokemon

Missional Pokemon

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The other night, with summer finally here, our youth cafe moved up to the local park to make the most of the good weather.  While we were there I watch a rather odd thing happen…packs of young people laughing and joking as they roamed around the park, glued to their phones but seemingly engaged in some group activity – almost as if they were looking for something.

And indeed there were.

They were out hunting these loveable virtual creatures called Pokemon.IMG_8377  A new version of this classic game has been released for a new generation (and some old time gamers too!)

Almost everywhere we looked more people were out searching for and capturing these things in an effort to level up.  Later on I learned that my church was a Pokestop – a place to buy eggs and other stuff needed to play the game and it got me thinking.

What a great way to connect with the gaming community.  Our church now has a natural pull to these people which we could make use of.

So as a bit of spontaneous mission – tomorrow at 12noon we are going to open up the church as a free charging location (and maybe free wifi if I can sort the tech) and a chance to meet some people we have very little contact with as a church.  It will probably take a while for people to know what we are doing and this probably won’t be the last you hear about this from me.

If you are so inclined, please do pray that tomorrow goes well and we will be able to say hello to some new people.

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Bible for Minecrafters

Just recently I was at the Baptist Assembly and we were exploring the theme of Loving God and Loving our neighbour with the children at this event.

I was in a group of lads (8-11 year olds) and they were not particularly engaging in what we were trying to do – which was to ask the questions:

“Who is my neighbour?” and

“How can I love them?”

This was until I asked what does it mean to love our neighbours in minecraft?

Suddenly they were alive with ideas and questions about how they could be better people in the virtual world, projecting others, sharing resources and “not blowing up stuff” belonging to others.

It was wonderful to see them come alive and to engage with this idea of loving our neighbours in a virtual world.  It got me thinking and exploring about what was out there for christian children and their parents and I came across this, a really interesting attempt to take the main stories from the bible and translate them into the minecraft world.

I highly recommend this to anyone who loves minecraft.

You can find it here on Amazon just by clicking the link below

Making Room – Serving: Philippians 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1-4

Making Room - Serving.001So, I spent this week preparing to preach at Croxley Green Baptist Church on Isaiah 42v1-4.  However, it turn out 5 minutes before I was due to preach that I should have be preparing to preach from Isaiah 49v1-6.  Whoops!  And double whoops because Isaiah 42 was used last week!  However God was awesome and gave us a new take this passage.  These are the notes I preached from although I didn’t stick to them! There is an audio file link here if you want to listen.

Introduction:

Have you ever really wanted to do something? 

Have you ever had a dream in life that you really wanted to fulfil?

A place you wanted to visit?

Making Room - Serving.002I’ve had a couple.

As you know I occasionally run and as a child growing up I was always amazed at the London Marathon and really wanted to one day run it.  And I’ve now done that 6 – nearly 7 times now!

I also dreamed of one day writing a novel.  I have this idea for a story that I’ve had bouncing around my head since I was about 16 and have a box with scraps of paper with characters, maps, ideas, and a few 1000 words of the story.  But its no more than that and has been that way for probably about 15 or even 20 years!

One of my dreams is a reality (even if I am slow!) while the other has never been realised.  In both cases I can say that I dream about achieving these, and in both cases I can say that I have done something towards this.  But only with one can I truly say that I talked the talk and walked (well run) the walk.  Marathon running is a reality for me, writing a novel isn’t.

When have you talked the talk but failed to live it out?

When have you had a conviction or dream that you have not only spoken about but then lived out in full?

Jesus was full of believe and conviction.  Driven by purpose and seeking to transform us.  He fully talked the talk and walked the walk in terms of living out what God had called the people of Israel to do when He blessed Abram in Genesis 12.  God wanted a people who became what he always intended them to be – servants.  Paul writes in Philippians 2 that Jesus because a servant because he was made in human likeness.  When I was prepare it struck me that perhaps God always intended true humanity to be servant hearted and so it was only natural that when Jesus came as fully human he was a servant in nature.

Justice, Justice, Justice:

Did you notice that in these 4 verses from Isaiah the word justice is mentioned 3 times.  Out of 88 words 3 of them are justice.  To me that says this word must have been important to God and therefore important to us as we seek to follow Him.

This passage is a prophecy about Jesus – about the chosen one who God delights in.  The one that everyone hoped would come, but many did not recognised when he did. It speaks of one who doesn’t come with violence or force, but with love.  It speaks of one who will be faithful to the call of God to live differently and its speaks of one that will bring hope.

So for a brief moment I want to explore some of the injustices that Jesus not only challenged but turned upside down before moving on to what this means for us.

Exploring the Gospels you will probably discover lots of ways Jesus fulfilled this prophesy and I’ve grouped them into 4 headings

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Let me show you how Jesus did this

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Jesus showed compassion towards those who everyone else pushed away, the social outsiders.  In Matthew 8v1-3 Jesus healed a man with Leprosy by TOUCHING him! (also see Luke 17:11-19 and Mark 1:40-44

Jesus stood agains gender inequality in the way he treated women.  In Matthew 9:19-26 Jesus showed that women mattered and should not be excluded because of the nature order of things. (also see Luke 10:38-42 and John 20:11-18)

Jesus embraced those who were excluded when he welcomed the children that everyone else was pushing away Luke 18:15-17 and Matthew 18:1-7

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At the time of Jesus, just as it is today – Racism was rife.  Jesus completely rejects this with the way he treated the samaritan woman in John 4:1-42

So often in life we group people into sections of society and place a value you them and so some become “second class citizens”.  Jesus rejects this idea and raise a “second class” citizen to the highest honour when he tells the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-27

Sometimes we are so concerned with what people might think of us we fail to help those in greatest need.  Jesus risked his reputation time again meeting with Drunkards and Prostitutes (see Matthew 9:9-13, Luke 7:36-50 or Matthew 21:28-32)

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Jesus was not afraid to challenge or oppose those considered powerful in our world –

Unjust behaviour or Tax Collector: Luke 19:1-10

Spiritually arrogant Pharisees: Luke 6:1-11; Matthew 23:1-3, 23-28

Political power abusers Governments Mark 12:13-17; Matthew 20:20-28

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Jesus spent much of his time helping those with the greatest need.  And he said that he came to save the lost not those who were already in.  This meant that the justice he sort was for the oppressed and he advocated for them in many ways:

For the poor – (hungry, sick, imprisoned) Luke 14:12-14; Matthew 25:31-46

For the privileged- (Rich ruler and Nicodemus) Luke 18:18-27, John 3:1-16

And releasing the oppressed (Demons of the soul) Mark 1:21-34; Luke 4:16-21

Words and Deeds:

We can talk about justice until we are blue in the face, and some people make a living off talking about this kind of stuff.  But unless we do something about it then what good is it?

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Salvation:

You may be thinking that I am saying that in order to be saved you need to “do” something.  And one way of reading this could be that.

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Live Free – Doing Good to All

Live Free – Doing Good to All

It has been a while since I’ve got around to posting and I need to get back into it.  But here is my talk from Croxley Green Baptist Church today…

You can listen to it here

Live Free – Doing Good to All
Galatians 6:1-10
9:15am (and a shorter version at 11am)
24 January 2016

The Text:
1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Introduction
I want to begin with a question:

Doing Good to All.002.jpegWhat do you think the difference is between the 1966 England Football Team and 2014 England Football Team?

Or between the 2003 England Rugby Team and the 2015 one?

There are probably many factors between a team that “wins” and one that doesn’t.
The attitude of the players, work load, team dynamics, tactics, the coach, external pressures, family commitments… the list can go on and on, but at some point the difference between a “successful” team and an unsuccessful one boils down to whether they work together as a team – or are out for their own interests.
We can see this happening in almost every walk of life where people come together. Whether its work, social clubs, families, classrooms, or boardrooms when people focus on their own interests, on what they can get rather than give – the collective whole suffers.

There is – if you like sporting films – a great film about america football called “Any Given Sunday” It’s not for the faint hearted and it shows much of the reality to the sport and the celebrity side of things. It picks up a team that used to be successful that was lead by an inspirational quarter back and a brilliant coach. But things have taken a turn for the worse. Money has twisted people, changed people and polluted people so much that they are all – coach, players, staff, owners – everyone is doing what is best for them. There is no respect for one another, no looking out for one another, helping one another or any sense of team. And it showed. They were going for bad to worse.
At a critical moment in the season, just before their biggest and most important game the coach final sees they have many problems and he tells them like it is. This is just the very end of that speech. (if you go looking for it on you tube later, please be aware that its not suitable for everyone).

This is the unedited clip from the film and it contains some STRONG language some views might find offensive.

 

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What makes a difference? Its the attitude of the players – seeking to work together, to sacrifice themselves for the great good of the team, for those around them for their purpose.

So what about us as a church – we have a higher purpose than a game of football. Our goal is to see the Kingdom of God here on earth. Our aim is to see people transformed by the love of Jesus. Our mission is to reach out to the lost and welcome the home.

And so Paul who wrote this letter to the Galatians, advice that church – and every church since, on how we ought to be living for this purpose. He gives us some simple steps that help orientate our lives in such a way that we will be a good team – working together for the good of not just that team (church) but to see God Glorified.
And these are them
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Thats football – thats life, that is church. Doing Good for all – seeking to serve others to sacrifice for others.

At the end of the day all of Paul’s advice can be summed up very very simple with just two words, so if you are going to take anything from this morning – take this:

Do good

Plain and simple.

Remember we must heal as a church otherwise we will die as individuals.  We are called to live together in our freedom.  But do you know what, in God’s upside-down way of looking at things, we are healed as a church by the death of an individual – Jesus.