This blog has been moved to our new church website. You can find it on www.redpointchurch.org
This blog has been moved to our new church website. You can find it on www.redpointchurch.org
Mars Hill, Seattle - our last church visit on this trip. We were at first only going to be attending a service here, but through Rory Dyer we were able to make contact with some of the leaders and we were able to spend some time with a couple of leaders and get a bit deeper in terms of the way this church is being built and how God has led them on the journey.
Mark Driscoll preached from Mary’s song in the gospel of Luke, which was very helpful in terms of taking our eyes off ourselves and putting them on God. At the end of the service, he asked for anyone who wanted to be baptised to meet some of the pastors in the foyer, and then the baptisms were shown on the screen as we continued to worship.
In our time afterwards, we were able to ask Brad (one of the pastors) a number of questions about the way in which Mars Hill ministers to believers helping them to grow in their faith, and to those who are still exploring a relationship with Christ. We spoke about everything from preaching to home groups to leadership to involvement in the city and the communities. It was a very helpful time even to learn about their journey and things they have tried and changed over time.
We also got to go to one of their video campuses where they show Mark’s preaching by a video link and have their own campus pastor and home group structure. This again was very helpful and we continue to learn as we experience the way in which God is building his church in diverse ways through diverse gifting in all different places around the world.
It has been a huge privilege to come on this trip and to see and experience all that we have. We look forward to unpacking it in our own thinking as we continue to seek God for the ways in which he is leading us.
Well, we had quite a weather affected trip to Redding, after planning to land in San Francisco on Tuesday lunchtime and drive the 3 hours up to Redding that same day, we ended up landing at 6 pm as there were massive rain storms hitting the West Coast and we had to sleep over in San Francisco that night and drove up on the Wednesday morning. All part of the experience!
We attended the ‘Open Heaven’ conference at Bethel which was hosted by Bill Jonhson. Other speakers were Mahesh and Bonnie Chavda from North Carolina. The main emphasis of the time here was on the glory of God’s presence and His power to touch lives and change situations particularly in the area of healing.
I was struck again by the real passion here to see the power of Christ manifest and to have a christianity that reflects the presence and power of God. There were a number of ministry opportunities during the conference and Leigh and I were prayed for on 3 separate ocassions.
The worship over this week was wonderful. I think if we sang 1 or 2 songs that we recognised - that was a lot. Most of the songs were new and I would say there was a real sense of intimate worship that we experienced. It was good to experience more freedom in worship than we have in some of the other places we have visited.
Another joy for us here was bumping into Anitha Jaipal who spent about 10 days in Redding. She was deeply ministered to over the time we saw her and it was great to see a familiar face after being on the road for a while.
I am writing this blog from San Francisco on route to Redding where we will be attending the Open Heavens Conference at Bethel Church. Today’s trip from Atlanta took much longer than expected as our flight was delayed by over 2 hours due to bad weather.
We have had a great couple of days in Atlanta at North Point Church. We were hosted wonderfully by Barry and Nancy Brubaker while we attended the ‘Inside North Point Conference’. We were particularly involved in the Small Group Track of the conference.
On Sunday we were able to tour through all the different environments at North Point from their young children’s facilities through to their high school programs that they run. We also spent time with one of the pastors who talked us through the North Point philosophy of ministry. The resounding impression at North Point is one of a highly focussed team with a very clear vision and methodology for the church.
On Monday we spent time in a more focussed session particularly looking at how the small groups are led. This was very informative and interesting to note how things are done differently in different contexts. North Point establishes groups that remain together for a defined period and no new people join that group during the life of the group. The aim is rather to develop a deeper level of relationship within the group rather than use the group to reach out to others. Once the life of the group comes to an end, it is disbanded and the process starts again with groups often splitting and starting again as 2 separate groups.
A highlight for us was to be able to attend a small group with Barry and Nancy on Monday night where we were able to meet and get to know some of the people in the church.
We continue to learn new things all along this journey and count it a huge privilege to be here and to experience the way the church is being built in different places around the States.
Well, I can’t believe it but our first week in the States is over and we are on our way to Atlanta this morning for the next leg of our trip.
LA has been great. We have been staying with Gil and Elmarie Odendaal from Saddleback church. Gil is the Global director of their HIV / AIDS initiatives so we have had some great discussions around social upliftment projects and the work that Saddleback is doing in Rwanda. We also got to attend a midweek worship meeting here, which was also great to be a part of.
The main reason for our visit to Saddleback was the Children’s ministry conference, which was very well run. The theme was Ps 78:72 about shepherding people with a pure heart and skillful hands. The conference covered aspects from leadership through working with volunteers to the programming and structure of their ministry. We also got to tour through all their facilities which we took photo’s of and also Video. All in all a great week, which we can unpack with others as we process it once we are home. Some of the key things that stood out for me were:
Speak to you soon from Atlanta!
I am writing this blog from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. Leigh and I are sitting in Wimpy waiting for our flight to Washington Dulles - USA! We are on a whirl wind tour of 4 different churches in the States to learn, open ourselves wide to what God is doing and saying and enjoying the experiences and relationships along the way. Some of the words we have had in advance of this trip are to listen out for the still, small voice of God in the midst of the large and loud noises we will experience along the way, that God wants to enlarge us on this trip and that God blesses those who are a pilgrim people.
This is our agenda over the next few weeks:
Will try to keep this blog posted with our news as we go.
One of the amazing realities of the life of Christ is his determination to seek out those whose lives represented the very opposite of the kingdom of God. In fact Jesus describes his own ministry in Matt 9: 13 as one in which he came not seek the righteous but sinners.
Jesus was found reclining at a table with tax collectors and sinners (Matt 9). He was associated in peoples minds with drunkards and he was called a friend of sinners - meaning there was a sense of personal relationship that they had with Jesus (Luke 7). He had a sinful woman anoint his feet with perfume and wipe them with her hair (Luke 7). He sat down and spoke with a woman who had been married 5 times and was living with a man who she was not married to (John 4).
One of the most exciting signs of what God is doing among us in this season is the increasing number of broken people who we are coming into contact with. It could be through a marriage course, through a soup kitchen, through street evangelism or just personal friendship but more and more broken people are finding their way into contact with believers or into the church and God has blessed us with the opportunity to reach them and bring the gospel to them in the same way that Jesus did as he walked through the streets of Israel 2000 years ago.
May God continue to bless us in this way and may we be faithful to lead people to Christ and like Christ be comfortable to be found in the company of sinners who are desperate need to meet the saviour.
Well, it seems like I just blinked and then a month passed since the last time I updated this blog. It has been a pretty full month including a week of leave and a name change at the church from Victory Faith Church to Red. Point (Redemption Point Church). We have also had a visit from Rob Rufus and we are about to go on our leadership weekend away.
These are exciting times and there is a wonderful sense of anticipation for the future building in our hearts. At the launch of our new name there were about 40 people who responded to the gospel. The meaning of redemption and our mandate as a local church was really re-enforced through the response.
There are 2 specific initiatives that I am really excited about over the next few months. The first is a students camp happening 14 to 16 August. It has been wonderful to see how God has opened doors for us on the various campuses around Durban this year and we have 4 homegroups now that are based in different student residences. We have Purch and Jess coming up form Church on Main to help us with the camp and we are looking forward to what God will do with us over that time.
The other initiative is just in the planning stages but has the potential to make a massive impact on the community. We are planning a month called ‘Paint the Town Red’ - i.e. ‘Paint the Town with Redemption’. During the month we will be advertising into the community and picking up a number of projects aimed at blessing the community in which the church is based. Look out Pinetown - here we come.
In Matthew 8: 23-27 we are told about an event that happens while the disciples are living their lives with Jesus. As they are crossing a lake, a violent storm comes upon them.
Mat 8:24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves;
This storm was a physical event but we can use this story as an illustration of storms that come upon us in life circumstances. This storm was unanticipated - it caught the disciples by surprise. It was completely uncontrollable - it was not their fault that this storm had arisen and there was nothing they could do to cause the storm to die down. Storms can be violent. They can seem to be almost life threatening as the waves of the storm swamp our lives.
There are many circumstances that could come upon our lives like a storm. It could be that your child has taken some bad decisions (become addicted to drugs or been influenced by the wrong company). It could be sickness that comes upon your life unexpectedly. Maybe the financial crisis has had a particularly devastating effect on your income. All these and many other things can come upon the life of a Christian.
In the situation that the disciples were in, there were 2 vastly different reactions to the storm. The disciples allowed the storm to dominate their internal state. They began to panic and they became completely dominated by the storm and by its effects in their lives. Jesus on the other hand was asleep. It was as though the physical storm on the outside had completely no effect on his inner world. He refused to allow the storm to dominate his life and his thinking. He was in perfect peace in the midst of a raging storm. His peace came from God and from a life of faith (We know this because he rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith).
No matter what storm life throws at you. Let the peace of God and His rest govern your life.
Matthew 18: 3
And He said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’
One of the hardest things to do in the world is to change. The more advanced we get in years, the more set in our ways we become. We develop patterns of thinking and of behaviour that are not right or wrong in themselves, but they become rigid and predictable. We become comfortable when things are familiar to us, and we become irritable or flustered when things change and we are forced to adapt to something new.
Jesus cuts right across this human tendency to settle into a familiar way of doing things with an expectation - no, even a command, to change.
The posture of the adult is one of knowledge and understanding. An adult takes responsibility for their lives and their decisions. They assume a level of maturity and knowledge adequate to make almost any decision that confronts them. They are most times quite clear about their values and their principles. They are almost never unsure of themselves and therefore reliant on someone else.
The posture of a little child on the other hand is one of complete dependence on someone else. Their natural inclination is to take the hand of an older person and be led - even when they know where they want to go. Instead of rushing in, they will hesitate and look for a sign that everything is OK. They will look for a reassuring glance from a parent, or a gesture beckoning them to come. Their default point of view is that they don’t know the answers and are continuously asking questions. They are like a sponge absorbing knowledge. They are like clay - able to be molded and shaped. They are like a blind man - able to be led and receptive to the instructions of another.
Let us be a generation of believers who are able to change. Let us take the posture of a little child and place our hand in the hand of the Master submitting ourselves to every inclination of His leading and His will.