Feedback from Mars Hill in Seattle

Posted in Reflections on October 20th, 2009 by phil – Be the first to comment

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.

Feedback from Bethel in Redding

Posted in Reflections on October 20th, 2009 by phil – Be the first to comment

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.

Feedback from North Point Atlanta

Posted in Reflections on October 14th, 2009 by phil – 1 Comment

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.

Why Broken People are a Delight

Posted in Reflections on September 7th, 2009 by phil – 1 Comment

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.

I blinked and a month passed

Posted in Change, Red. Point, Reflections on July 20th, 2009 by phil – Be the first to comment

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.

What to do in a Storm…

Posted in Reflections on June 22nd, 2009 by phil – Be the first to comment

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.

Psa 4:8  In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.


Posted in Change, Reflections on June 15th, 2009 by phil – Be the first to comment

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.

The Gospel According to Esther

Posted in Reflections, Testimony on June 1st, 2009 by phil – Be the first to comment

Most Monday nights the Kendon family has some form of devotions together at the dinner table. At times we have read bible stories to our children, and at other times we have watched a christian DVD after supper, but lately we have being taking turns to choose a bible story and learn some lessons from it.

Tonight was Hannah’s turn and she chose the story of Esther. She read the portion of scripture relating to how Esther intervened to save her people from the extermination that Haman was planning and then we began to discuss what this story teaches us about God, Jesus and ourselves:

We concluded that the King is a type of God in this story. He is the one who has the power to rescue Esther’s people. If only the people could have the favour of the King, the threat to their lives could be removed.

We also agreed that Esther is a type of Jesus. She is the one who had to mediate between the people and the King, just as Jesus had to mediate between us and God. She was willing to lay down her life on behalf of her people by approaching the King without being summoned and Jesus did lay down his life on our behalf.

The Jewish nation in this story is a type of us. Through their mediator, Esther they were saved from certain death. Through our mediator, Jesus we also have been saved from certain death.

The gospel according to Esther is a great story and it is a reminder that all of history and all of the bible are pointing to the redemptive plan of God worked out through His incredible Son. To him be the glory forever and ever, Amen.

Base Church in Action

Posted in Apostolic, Reflections on May 25th, 2009 by phil – Be the first to comment

When we read through the New Testament and particularly the book of Acts we see the formation of Base Churches, which have the resources and leadership and capacity to advance the kingdom of God through spreading the gospel, raising up leaders, supporting other churches etc.

Over the last week we have had the privilege of advancing the kingdom in these ways:

  • Nick and Katie took a team to be with New Covenant Church Nelspruit where they ministered for the weekend. From leadership meetings, to business breakfasts to Sunday services - supporting and ministering to the local church.
  • Pascal left with the YOYL team for Botswana where they will participate in an outreach and then a leadership training time for the local Botswana churches.
  • Maude took a team into Tshelimnyama where they ministered to a number of orphans and also their “gogo’s” who are the primary care givers and often quite elderly.
  • We have a lady with us from Holland who has been hosted in VFC while she gets to know us a bit and explores opportunities to work together into rural African contexts in the future.
  • Francois takes a team to Mozambique this Thursday where they will minister into some of the local churches where we have built up relationship over many years.
  • In the last week, we have also done training internal to our local church (VFC) for new home group leaders and also eldership training.

This is the incredible privilege of what God has given us as a local church. It is a great joy and honour and I believe there is even more in store for us as we follow the ‘winds of the Spirit’ and remain faithful in what we have been called to.

An Essay

Posted in Personal Devotions, Reflections on May 18th, 2009 by phil – Be the first to comment

In this blog, I have attached a short essay about a man who has got stuck. He is frustrated with life in general and struggling to find his way through in God. I trust this story will be helpful to some who have started well, but have lost their momentum along the way.

From Frustration to Freedom

Frustrated! That’s how he felt as he opened his eyes in the morning. It was a feeling that never left him these days, an inner sense of restlessness and hopelessness. He could feel the blanket of depression settle on his shoulders as he showered and dressed and got ready for the day. ‘Here we go again,’ he thought to himself.

On the one hand he had everything he had ever dreamed of: a wife, a family, a good job, a house. He was a leader in the church – respected and valued by the team of which he was a part. What he had hoped for as a younger man, he had attained and yet he had never felt as unfulfilled as he did now. Instead of the feeling of deep emotional fulfilment he had expected would grow during this phase of his life, he only felt the emptiness of routine and repetition. Every day the same – somehow his life was counting and yet somehow it seemed so insignificant and he wondered what it would take for him to feel alive again.

No-one else could see his pain. Though at times it seemed like he was going to burst with the swells of frustration, somehow they were invisible to those around him. In contrast he was a pillar of strength to others. So many relied on him at some point or another to be a source of strength or even a beacon for them to get their bearings from. It seemed effortless for him to understand the journey of another and to speak into the heart of where they were at. He could do this for others, yet he was at sea in his own journey. He had lost his own moorings. He questioned even the basic truths of who he was and why he was here. Somehow deep inside he knew there had to be more, but what that was he felt helpless to discover and even more helpless to bring it to pass.

He had tried talking to his wife about it, but he could see that it had made her anxious. He could understand why – they were happy. They had worked hard to build their lives and now they had everything they wanted. She was afraid of where his journey would lead. She was afraid his frustration would lead to rash decisions – changing jobs or relocating to a different city. It would all be done in the name of God’s leading but actually just driven out of an inner emotional turmoil and instability. Anyway, she didn’t understand why he felt this way and the truth was he couldn’t even explain it himself. This was a journey he was going to have to walk alone.

As he drove into work that day, he contemplated for the thousandth time, whether this was a crisis to do with his career. Was it Black Economic Empowerment that was driving his inner world? He could argue that he had been overlooked recently for a key promotion opportunity in favour of a young black professional. But he knew that he would be pushing the boundaries of truth if he claimed that he had hit a ceiling in his career for that reason. His employer had frequently recognised his contribution and he was being recompensed at a level beyond many of his peers. It was not that simple. Even when he contemplated leaving his fixed employment to pursue a business venture, he had to admit that these dreams simply did not fill the void he was feeling. For sure, there was an appeal to being his own boss and a desire for financial freedom that a business venture could bring. But these dreams did not being about a sense of anticipation and peace that could overcome his frustration. No matter how big those dreams became they could not quell the inner storm.

He knew it was unthinkable, but lately he had even begun to wonder if his frustration was rooted in his marriage relationship. After 20 years of marriage there were aspects of their relationship which were dry and lacked life. Everything was ok but nothing was exceptional. Instead of an increasing sense of enjoyment and colour in their marriage they had settled for a mundane sense of friendship and peace that resembled the overcast grey clouds on a typical winter’s day. It wasn’t stormy, but it certainly lacked the colour and vibrancy of spring. He knew all the theory. He knew that if his marriage lacked anything at all, the responsibility lay on him to restore it. He was the head of the home. God had placed the responsibility of family leadership on him. Yet as much as he loved God and his wife he lacked the motivation or will to do anything about it. Was this the problem after all, or was this grey, dull reality of marriage just a symptom of the deeper problem in his heart?

He had not initially brought his heart to God in prayer – more out of an expectation that he would just snap out of it than out of a deliberate decision. But by now he was regularly pouring out his heart to God in prayer. Sometimes he would pace up and down the driveway expressing his deep frustration and his inability to diagnose why he felt the way he did. Other times he would break out in tongues, hoping that he was praying inspired by the Spirit of God but even as he was praying there were doubts lingering about the reality of what he was doing. Last night he had had a more lucid prayer time than most. He really felt that he had connected with God and almost had a sense that his prayer had been heard. He was hoping against hope that something would change but had woken up disappointed that he felt exactly the same.

As he walked through the office doors and headed down the passage to his workstation, he heard a familiar voice behind him calling his name. It was his boss, and he had a perplexed expression on his face as he asked. “Where are you going?”

It was as though he had been punched in the solar plexus as the question reverberated around his inner world. The question was only meant to remind him of a meeting that was happening first thing in the board room but instead it had cut to the heart of why he was feeling so much in turmoil. The truth was that he didn’t know where he was going.

In a moment it suddenly all became so clear. Somewhere along the journey he had got stuck He had lost the dream. The reason he was so frustrated was that he had nothing to look forward to. Biblical images began flooding through his mind as the Spirit impressed home to him the things he needed to receive and understand:

The Israelites waiting for revelation from Moses who took so long to come down the mountain. Eventually they took matter into their own hands, made an idol for a god and indulged in the ultimate self gratification. All because they had no revelation – they weren’t prepared to wait for instruction on where to go and what to do!

The Jerusalem church growing and growing and yet never getting out into the neighbouring regions to spread the word about Jesus until eventually persecution drove them into those regions and they found the dream again.

He was reminded of the proverb that says “Without prophetic vision the people cast off restraint…” That is exactly what had happened to him. He had lost a sense of God’s prophetic call on his life and his inner world had deteriorated into chaos. There was no sense of order and peace. He excused himself from the meeting, closed his office door and wept. He was so grateful to God for rescuing him from the prison – and now let the journey begin.