Monday, 24 October 2011

What is trust?

Hello friends,

I wanted to take a  bit of time to look at the subject of trust.

Wikipedia describes trust as:


Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
Believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of.
noun.  confidence - faith - credit - reliance - belief
verb.  believe - confide - rely - credit - hope

Over recent years I have observed how trust can be built and fostered in many different situations and environments, but reversely I have also seen the negative effects of how trust can be eroded, damaged and sometimes even lost completely.

I wanted to raise four questions that I feel are massively important for us as Christians and as a Church in moving forward in this next season...

1.  Do we trust ourselves?

I have seen many times the negative effect that a lack of self-belief can have on the individual.  If you multiply that amongst a community of people, or perhaps even just a small section of them, you can imagine the negative impact that would have in trying to build any sense of inertia or momentum in pressing on to all that God has called that person, or the community into.

It's my firm belief that God has gifted each person to be an integral and fully functioning part of His body.  What that looks like would be unique to each one, but basically it means everyone has a place, a purpose and a destiny in the household of God.  Even those that at present are outside of the family of God because they haven't received Christ as their Lord and their Saviour, they have a specific and unique calling to fulfil the purposes of God in their life through entering into a life giving and world changing relationship with their Heavenly Father.

I've also seen how some people can be deceived by their own minds as to the sin in their own lives.  It says in the bible that our conscience's can become seared (1 Tim 4:2) through repeated patterns of sin and that we end up not being able to see or discern the negative things that we carry around that would prevent us from building firm, deep, solid and authentic Kingdom relationships with other people.  It's hard to build any sense of trust when people are deceived or blinded as they can then become an ideal tool of disharmony or mistrust in a Gospel community.  The enemy loves these sorts of situations!

As we look to Christ, spend time in the presence of the Holy Spirit and receive instruction from the Father we begin to understand more and more who we are, who we were designed and called to be.

The world for too long has tried to convince us that we are nobodies, a number in and amongst billions of others and that we are insignificant and that the problems around us in our families, our streets, our communities, our nation and the world are just too numerous and varied for us to make any meaningful impact.

God breaks that off as a lie of the enemy and it has no place in your thinking!

Look to Christ, He has uniquely called and gifted you to be a world changer, to be the sort of person that effects change and brings life in every dark situation.  To be a conduit of hope and love to a lost and broken world.

You are a representative of the Kingdom of Heaven, a regent, an ambassador, a co-heir with Christ.

You truly can trust in yourself today if you know Christ and you are open and obedient with other brothers and sisters, if you are accountable and teachable, because through His Spirit, the instruction of others, through the power of His word He is transforming you, day by day to be more like Him, and if you can't trust in the work of Christ, then who can you trust!

2.  Do we trust in each other?

The community, or household/family of God is described in an awesome way in Acts 2:42-47:

 42And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46And day by day,attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their foodwith glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

This seems like a community that was full of trust.  People were open handed, selling their possessions to provide for the poor and the needy, they opened their lives and their homes with one another to share meals and join with one another in a deep and intimate fellowship where there was quite clearly an authentic and heartfelt community of love and trust that was open to everyone to enter into and be a part of.

Many churches have a great sense of community within the walls of their buildings, or in the midst of their meetings, but sadly churches struggle to authentically replicate or receive this Spirit led life giving dynamic that reaches out to the lost and the broken in their surrounding communities.

I think this is partly down to trust.  Where there is trust there is life.  There is freedom to release people to be all that they can be, no restrictions, no limitations, but a release with encouragement and equipping that helps people walk into their calling, their destiny, as a unique part of the body of Christ, with each one finding their own place and purpose, yet not operating outside of the body but always staying connected and in healthy Gospel relationships with others in the body.

So it's clear that trust is a key element in a healthy Gospel community.

Lack of trust can be caused by so many things:  Hypocrisy, inauthenticity, immaturity, spiritual blindness, lack of self-control, past hurt, poor communication... (I'm sure you can think of many more!) 

We have got to be those that are quick to confront, quick to forgive, quick to equip and also have faith to release, but know that God is in control and we are called to bring Him glory, not to glorify ourselves.

I believe that as we all individually see and acknowledge Christ as the highest and most lifted up thing in our lives that other people will look on, they will see the life that this relationship and obedience to Christ brings and they will want in.  They will begin to trust, they will begin to listen, to follow, to want to know the source of this new you, this you that has been liberated and set free from the oppression and unhelpful habits that so easily hinder any sense of   authentic Gospel life being displayed in a meaningful way.  They will want to know Christ and your transformed life will be the personal invitation.

3.  Do we trust our leaders?
If you have read a bit of the Bible you should be aware that God has a tendency of raising and releasing leaders.
These leaders are never normally special people, in fact they are mostly just average people, people that have gone through life like everybody else and then God shows up, sets them apart and starts to display His nature and character through these people so that they can lead and speak hope and life to others.

In the Old testament there were many leaders, tall ones, short ones, ones that got angry, ones that felt insignificant, ones that couldn't communicate well, others that were very young, very old, some from humble settings, some from more regal, some that were imprisoned, some that were captured, some were tortured, some were held in high regard, some were he'd in no regard, some were faithful, some were unfaithful - But God chose them and used them all.

In the New Testament we see Gods heart in collecting a band of 12 very different men:  fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot and others.

This band of guys were all very different but Jesus used His time with the disciples to raise leaders, all with their own style, edge, gifting and flavour, but he raised them and taught them and released them when the time was right.

We then see the disciples develop into apostles - They then plant churches and raise and release elders to govern and lead local churches.  The apostolic gift raises and father leaders and motivates mission (see Dave Devenish's excellent book on this very subject) and it works in partnership with local elders to help local churches to grow and flourish.

In our local context as a Newfrontiers church in Medway we have local elders and leaders in our church.  We trust this team of brothers to lead us, to make effective decisions, to weigh up every eventuality in a time of crisis and to find the best way forward before God.

We are all called to be leaders, we are all called to be those that influence the world around us, but the elders in particular have a unique calling as they are called to be shepherds of Gods people.  God has entrusted them with His flock and it states in Hebrew 13:17 that one day they will have to give an account before God as to the way they looked after the people that God had entrusted to them.

 17Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

But we are also encouraged to obey our leaders, that we are to trust their sound judgement, and that we are to make our leaders life a joy! (where possible)

I can think of many situations and times when things could have been made a joy but instead it caused a sense of groaning.  When people rebel or have an unhealthy or unhelpful outlook on life this can exacerbate a situation.  This is often caused by a root of a lack of trust.

We have to work hard to know our leaders, to trust our leaders and to ensure that if we hear people discrediting and undermining the authority that God has placed on their shoulders that we are quick to defend and bring equilibrium where appropriate.

In saying this I am aware that there are many leaders that are like wolves amongst the sheep that God has given them.  Leaders should never be above criticism and as a leader myself I am always trying to live in a transparent and visible way, I make every effort to stay in accountable relationships with eaters both locally and outside of our local setting and am always encouraging people to come along side me and correct me, to rebuke me where necessary.

Leaders are never called to be overbearing but called to serve, to release and to encourage the flock to be healthy, well fed and instructed in the word and the ways of God.  As under-shepherds to the great High Shepherd they should look to Jesus for the way to lead.

I want to encourage you to trust your leaders.  Theirs is a heavy burden and where possible we should trust them, get behind them or alongside them and give them every encouragement and help in releasing them into all that God has called them to be so that they can set the pace and
the direction to the glory of God.

4.  Do we trust God?
For me fundamentally this is where it all hinges - Do we trust God?

I have seen countless numbers of friends hit hard in a crisis to the point where some have abandoned their faith, sometimes because of grief, sometimes because of a loss of hope, sometimes because they feel let down.

Sometimes it's not until a tree is shaken by a hard wind that you find out it's roots were only shallow and then the tree falls over.

Can I encourage you to trust God?  To go to Him with your worries and your concerns, to pour your heart out to Him rather than trying to figure everything out and get it al in a neat little box so you can understand the things that happen around you.

I love the exaltation that is given in Phillipians 4:4-7

 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 There is a peace that surpasses all understanding - Think about that...

For you to receive that peace you have to give up your right to understand why the situation is where it is and trust in God, trust in His sovereign nature, trust that He is in control and will work it all out for good.

In saying that I am not at all implying that to be a Christian you have to disengage your brain and just believe everything, but trusting, or having faith in God is a different affair than just believing any old thing (gullibility).

We have much to trust and thank God for, we can look to the promises in His word, we can look to the common and specific grace that He pours into all of our lives and we can look to the death and resurrection of Christ and what that means for us in restoring us to a perfect and eternal relationship with the Father - We can trust Him!

The following point is borrowed from Matt Slick on the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry website...

Furthermore to that Jesus said,
  • Come to Me all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest (Matt. 11:28).
  • "I am with you always, even to the ends of the earth" (Matt. 28:20).
  • He said that His words will not pass away (Mark 13:31).
  • He said that He would raise you up on the last day (John 6:40).
  • He said that whatever you asked in His name would be give to you. (John 14:14).
  • He said He would disclose Himself to you (John 14:21).
  • He said that He would reveal the Father to you (Matt. 11:27)
  • And He said He would return in the clouds and that every eye will see Him (Mark 13:27).
Because of who God is and what He has already done for you, you can trust Him even more for the future and have no fear that He will continue to uphold you, love you, and continue His wonderful loving plan in your life.
Will you trust Him?  How much will you trust Him?  How much will you rest in Him?
Its up to you.

Be encouraged!

Gordon Watson

Monday, 3 October 2011

Considering the joy set before us!

As Christians we are called to be those that live in hope, walk by faith and demonstrate genuine love in all circumstances.

For me, and I'm sure it is for many others, this is a massive challenge!

How do you respond when those close to you let you down?

How do you confront wrong thinking and deconstruct false wisdom in your own life & in the lives of those around you?

Often we can fall into the trap of thinking we must have all the answers, that within our own strength we can solve every wrong and lift up every head.

The stark reality however is that we can't sustain it - All the goodwill & well meaning intention that we can muster up can only serve us so long until eventually we come to the end of ourselves, to the end if our capacity, and realize we just can't sustain a Christ-like lifestyle!

The great news is that we were never intended to try and reveal the nature of God on our own in the first place!

God designed each one of us with a destiny, a redemptive purpose, a mandate from God, one that would be backed up with everything needed for the task of affecting change in our own streets, towns, cities, our nation & beyond to the ends of the earth so that the world would look on and see the power of God demonstrated in and through your life.

"So why don't I see it?" we might ask, "why is the area where I live so oppressive?", "Why do I feel that I'm not effective?"

The answer, I believe (but don't brand me a heretic if you disagree!) is that perhaps you haven't fully grasped the work that God has accomplished in your life. Perhaps you have not fully understood the Lordship of Christ to the point where He has become your everything.

Sure, Jesus may very well be your Saviour - He performed the most selfless act in human history by laying His life down to free all those that would believe in Him from the snare of sin & death, but often that's where it stops.

Sometimes we never move on from the cross into resurrection life, a way of life that calls us to be devoted, described in Scripture in an almost slavish way, to following Christ and being obedient to His teaching.

Forgive me for using the word 'slavish' but there is a biblical precept of being obedient to the teaching of Christ, as a slave would do to a master!

One of the biggest pitfalls facing the church today is the failure of many Christians to understand the Lordship of Christ and how He has called them out of darkness (as their Saviour) to then be faithful and obedient and to pick up their cross and follow Him (as their Lord).

How can we fulfil the great commission of going to the ends of the earth to make disciples of all peoples unless we too know what it is to be authentic disciples ourselves?

It's my firm belief that many believers today are satisfied with the eternal hope they find in Christ - This is a good thing! But i also believe that many are living unaware and without any concept of the calling upon their life to die to themselves and to live for Christ. Unaware of the destiny of relational unity, joy, freedom and power that awaits them as they rise up from the cross at Calvary to receive and experience the wealth of spiritual blessing that comes from being united in both the death and the risen work of Christ.

There has to be a willingness to pursue God, to desire Him like nothing else, to choose Him above every other and to follow Him & trust Him as He calls us into a new life that looks very different than the one we lived in our own strength at the foot of the cross.

That's my prayer today; that God would open our eyes and our hearts to catch a glimpse of the prize of Christ in a new way. He is the one that will never spoil, falter or fail and has chosen a path that is based on genuine relationship that can only ever be made possible through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.

Consider the joy set before you, press on, persevere, truly lay hold of that which Christ has graced in your life and shine like a beacon in the darkness under the knowledge and power of divine Sonship.

God is for you! Lovingly choose Him just as He has chosen you. Lovingly lay your life down like He has done for you & the transformation that will be demonstrated as you become one with the Father will be undeniable.

Live in step with the Spirit & enter into your destiny as a co-heir of the Kingdom, understanding and revealing the governmental mandate of the King to tear down & destroy the works of the enemy, all to the Glory of God.

Be encouraged!


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Celebrating 25 Years of Marriage - Perry's

Hello friends,

What a great morning we had at church today!

We had the wonderful pleasure of Julian & Lena Perry celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary with the church family.

They had invited many guests and a special church lunch was arranged to follow on from the morning meeting.

The public testimony of how God has been with them, protected them and kept them close and united for so many years was an awesome witness to the love and power of God at work in their lives.

I love them as a couple, to see the way they are with one another, the Godly leading and deference that they so happily have worked out, yet all the time wishing to serve and empower one another is such a provoking and life giving model of how God feels about His church and is a great encouragement to us younger folks to see and follow their Godly example when sadly all around us marriages fail and falter.

Unashamedly we celebrate marriage, it is good, a gift from God, yet are so aware of the many challenges and struggles that we are faced with as we try to promote it in an age where it is seen as nothing more than an institution of convenience.

I pray to God that in 19 years time both myself and Natalie have the deep joy that was evident between Julian & Lena as we come to our 25 year anniversary! - It may seem a long way off now but I'm sure it will be upon us in a flash.

And I trust and hope that both Julian & Lena will be much closer to celebrating their 50th anniversary and will once again testify to the next generation that marriage is good, it is healthy and it gives life - Just as God intended!

Be encouraged!


Monday, 12 September 2011

Video Interview with Mike Betts & Goff Hope - Relational Mission

On Thursday, 8th September we held a Family Meeting at Medway Family Church.
These family meeting's are something that we normally try and do around 2 to 3 times a year, normally after the extended summer and winter breaks.

We see these meetings as a way of communicating family business, giving updates to ongoing situations, communicating key things to be aware of as we move into a new season and also an opportunity to relay any important governmental or trust/charity issues or changes that the family members really should be made aware of.

Earlier on that same day, Adam Voke, Julian Perry, Bernard Bentall & myself had all been together at the Relational Mission Prayer & Vision Day hosted by Hope Church, Ipswich.

The end of the last Newfrontiers Brighton Leaders Conference (2011) signalled the beginning of many changes right across Newfrontiers as a family of churches.
The moving away from a centralised organisational structure into what has been called by some as 'autonomous, inter-dependent apostolic spheres' (try saying that three times in a row!) has seen us in Medway start to explore apostolic partnership with Mike Betts & the RM team in Norfolk.

(If you have any questions regarding apostolic ministry then I'd recommend you read this excellent book on the subject - Fathering Leaders, Motivating Mission by David Devenish).

Whilst at the RM Prayer & Vision day we had opportunity to interview Mike Betts & Goff Hope as a means of introducing Medway Family Church to both of them as part of our Family Meeting.  (Adam Voke's doing the interviewing!)

Goff Hope is part of Mike's team and is in process of handing over the leadership of Kings Church, NorwichThis church has been grown, by the grace of God into a healthy, vibrant and engaging centre for worshipping God and serving the local/extended community.

Goff also heads up the Newfrontiers training base in Norwich - This will be where I'll be undertaking the next 2 years of leadership training, starting in October.  I'm excited to be staying with Goff & Angie and to be meeting the rest of the guys that are going to be on the course.

Mike Betts is one of the apostolic figures that was publicly acknowledged and released at the Newfrontiers Leaders Conference.  Mike has been leading Lowestoft Community Church up until recently but has now handed over the leadership of the church to Ben Parish (I met Ben at the Prayer & Vision day, we'll be doing training together!).

Mike has an apostolic ministry working with churches both in the UK and internationally, especially in Northern Europe.

As a strategic move looking to the future I really am expectant for all that God might do through these new relationships as we get to know each other and work together on developing the church in Medway and also get caught up in apostolic ministry across the nations with friends!

It's an exciting new day - Be encouraged!

Gordon Watson :)

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

My Testimony from Alpha Conference 2011

Taken at HTB Alpha Conference 2011 - Interview

Q: When and where were you born ?
A: I was born in Dartford in 1979, into a non-Christian family. My dad left my mum when she was pregnant with me, so I never got to meet my dad. I didn’t find out till I was about 11 that he took his own life. It was obviously a big shock at the time, because I thought I might get to meet him. I had a step dad who was around pretty much from as early as I can remember. He was a great friend to me rather than a father.

Q: So did you have brothers and sisters?
A: I’ve got a half brother and half sister, 10 and 11 years older than myself.

Q: What was life like growing up?
A: I was quite a good kid, my mum really mollycoddled me and mothered me a lot, my brother and sister always felt I was the favourite one, being the youngest and always being spoilt. I wasn’t overly academic, but I was okay, sort of just average really at a lot of stuff. I never really knew what I wanted to do, never had any sense of direction in what I wanted to do. I went on to do A Levels, but I chose really difficult ones, with a lot of coursework and stuff. It just wasn’t me, so I ended up leaving to go and get a job against everyone’s advice thinking that would be the best way. At 17 I got a car and started being a bit more mobile. I’d always smoked right through my teens and ended up smoking cannabis and stuff like that, just socially with friends. We weren’t a bad crowd it was just where it went. Over the years, that started to up into different things, so then all of a sudden we were taking pills on nights out, Ecstasy and stuff like that just to have a good time. And then that went onto cocaine as well, I never got involved in anything really heavy like meth or heroine but my friends seemed to be able to manage that to a point where it never really encroached into their life, but for me it became a weekend thing, it then became an everyday thing and then I was smoking puff (cannabis) to help me go asleep.

Q: What job were you doing?
A: I had lots of different jobs, I never really stayed anywhere but then I got a job at a golf club. I was a barman, sleeping around with a lot of the waitresses and stuff like that, leading quite promiscuous lifestyle. I went to Thailand and slept with prostitutes there as well, which I’m not obviously proud of. I was gambling as well, on the fruit machines, I’d be putting loads of money in thinking I had a system, watching how many people played it and then putting money in. It never worked. I ended up getting sacked from my barman job because I borrowed some money from the till and didn’t put an IOU in, the next day I said, ‘Oh look, that was me that borrowed the money that’s why it’s short’ and they just said, ‘Oh no, well you can’t be doing that, you’re sacked’,

Q: When did this happen?
A: This was when I was about 22 in 2002. All of a sudden everything was taken away from me and I just really started questioning who I was. I fell into a hole really rapidly, was drinking like a fish. I just became really unreliable and started getting paranoid about things as well. I felt like I had no value and started to lose hope. I crashed a car that I had, I’d taken a loan out to get a BMW, it was a really nice car, crashed it, got paid out on the insurance, it wasn’t my fault the accident. I got about £5,000 but it just went within a few months on drugs and drink. And at the end of that, I just had a complete crash. I wasn’t too sure exactly who I was. I was catatonic I think, hearing things and stuff like that. My mum had come in one night and I’d made a noose from a guitar cord you plug into the amp, and I was going to kill myself. Mum came in and freaked out screaming ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’ and I was like ‘I’ve had enough, I can’t go on like this anymore’. She called an ambulance and luckily I didn’t get sectioned, but they said, ‘You’ve got some problems, you’re going to need to see a doctor’. I never went to the appointment and they never followed me up, which is frightening really.

Q: What happened then?
A: In that period, I was out of work, I’d been sacked and I didn’t believe in God but I just sort of prayed out to God, ‘If you’re there, please help me out, I can’t carry on like this’. Within about a month, I was just applying randomly for jobs in a newspaper, there was an advert for a car garage, I went along to that and the guy there during the interview said, ‘Oh we’re not nutcases but this is a Christian run garage, we don’t fiddle the books, we don’t charge people for things that aren’t wrong on their car’. And I got the job, did a trial and got the job and my first pay packet they put a track like ‘Do you know Jesus?’ I read it and I didn’t attach that back to the prayer that I prayed, and I wasn’t too sure what was going on, but I felt compelled to ask him what was all that about. He invited me along to a baptism service at the church that he went to in Wilmington, it’s like a free evangelical church. And I went along, and they did Alpha. I went to the baptism service and it was just really strange. I didn’t know quite what to make of it, but it was so appealing, people were friendly and just felt like a warm place.
Eventually my boss invited me on an Alpha course. I went along, I did half of that, wasn’t too sure, it was all a bit too much for me really. A guy called Dave Farrell who was a really good friend to me in the early days took me along to a worship service at Westminster Chapel. They did an alter call and I really didn’t want to respond, but it felt like there was a rope wrapped around my waist pulling me and I was sitting in the church trying not to move. I went up the front and just really met with God. I didn’t really know what that meant and it really freaked me and so for a couple of days I thought, this is great, but I didn’t really need it … so the shutters went back up, I went back into my old lifestyle and carried it on for a bit.
Then I did another Alpha course, which I did the back half of, ‘cause I hadn’t done the, sort of the back end of the first one, and again I wasn’t too sure –

Q: What was it like doing Alpha?
A: It was sort of a semi-traditional church, so it wasn’t stained glass windows and stuff like that, but it had a churchy feel to it and they had banners up and stuff like that. But it was great, I just went in there, people were really friendly, they didn’t judge me for who I was and they just genuinely wanted to know me. I felt like I could share my stuff and I remember being really uptight about sharing some stuff and then when I did, it was like, oh Wow, they still want to know me, which was amazing.

Q: So then what happened, what was the point where …
A: It’s really shameful, I actually haven’t shared this before, but I’d been going on the third Alpha and I knew I was going to make a commitment to God. And then I went on a holiday with with my mum and my step dad to Malta and I met a girl while I was there. I had like a one night stand with this girl and I just really remember thinking straight afterwards this is wrong, this is really wrong, whereas before that wouldn’t have meant a thing at all. I think it was the day after we got back, it was the Holy Spirit day and these two people, asked me to come into the separate room and the two of them just prayed for me. I didn’t have a powerful encounter, but I just knew that God was saying, ‘No, it’s alright, it’s alright, you know, don’t …’ some shame coming off and I just thought, this is it, this is the time and so since then, this life has changed completely, dramatically.

Q: How did you meet your wife?
A: I met my wife at church, they had one of those things, you know, they do in churches where it’s like get up and say hello to someone you don’t know. She made a beeline for me. She’d heard about this guy that had been going along to Alpha and they’d asked people to pray and so she came along just to say hello and we hit it off. We went out with each other for about six months. And then I ended up breaking up with her because it just wasn’t really working. I went away to a conference with Ken and with a couple of friends and I really felt like God had come upon me and said ‘You’ve got to ring her up and ask her back out,’ and I’d heard that another guy was sort of going to ask her out, so we got back together and about three or four months after that, I asked her to marry me. She said ‘Yes’ and we got married in 2006. Haven’t got any children yet, we’re trying and hopefully that’ll change soon. She’s from a Christian background, she went to church with her mum, but her dad’s not a Christian.
I asked Ken, my boss at the garage, if he’d be my best man because he was like a father to me, like spiritual father, he really persevered with me. But when I became a Christian, I think it was about two years before he died, Ken got cancer, he was diagnosed with Mesothelioma I think it is, it’s basically asbestosis, he got some asbestos from brake line in his lungs from the 60s or something and he passed away about a week before, or two weeks before my wedding.

Q: Was it hard to give up drugs after becoming a Christian?
A: It wasn’t that easy, some things went quite rapidly, but that was a bit of a struggle for a while. God didn’t break it overnight, but there was like a laying down of things. I just started to realise this isn’t right and it’s not doing me any good. Once I’d made my third commitment to God, everything was solid and strong and it was only sort of the socially acceptable things after that, like drinking that, you know, even now I’ve got to watch myself on.

Q: Who was Jesus to you before Alpha, and who is He to you now?
A: I always believed in a God. I had sort of been along to church as a young lad, just with friends who were part of Boys Brigade. I went along because they wanted someone to play in their football team, I was quite good at sport. Jesus to me was just this guy with long hair, a bit like John Lennon that talked to everyone about peace. I thought he was a person, maybe a mythical character, someone from a story, not a real person, certainly not God. But I didn’t have anything against him, I just thought he was like Ghandi or someone, you know, a good guy that went around saying good things. Now, it sounds cheesy to say it, and I’d have thought you were crazy if you’d have said I’d ever say this, but He is Lord of my life, He has completely transformed my life really. He’s God, and my best friend, He’s just awesome.

Q: Did you pray before Alpha and do you pray now?
A: The only prayer I prayed before Alpha was ‘God help me out’ now I do pray regularly. I worship regularly, I love spending time with God, reading his Word, it builds me up, it gives me life. God has answered my prayers in so many ways, I’d applied to work for the prison and got offered a job and then I turned it down for the fact that I couldn’t share my faith in a prison. Now I’m going into the very same prison that I got offered a job at, doing the Alpha course. So that’s just crazy. And we do some stuff like healing on the streets, it’s called Prayer on the Square, and we did treasure hunts for a bit, I don’t know if you know, but, and there’s been a couple of things, times where I’ve prayed for people on the streets and just like one person’s had their shoulder healed.

Q: Did you read the Bible before Alpha and do you read the Bible now?
A: Never read it before, well I might have, you know, maybe Christmas, maybe going to a carol service or something, so that was the only encounter really. Now I’m someone that reads the Bible, I have to preach and teach on a Sunday, so I have to read the Bible for that, otherwise it’ll be terrible!

Q: How did you get from the garage to working at the church?
A: My wife and I moved from Dartford to Strood, when we got married because we couldn’t afford a house where we were staying. We tried going to the church we were going to, which was about half an hour drive but it just didn’t work. So we ended up deciding to look for a church locally. The first church we went to, we just really felt a sense of like we’d come home. The guy that used to lead it, was sort of semi-employed ‘cause he’d handed it onto his son-in-law. But he knew a lot of the same people that we did, we were just like ‘This is freaky’ and me and my wife both felt the presence of God there so I ended up going there. I changed jobs as a result of that and then changed job again, I decided I wanted to work for the police, but I got so far with the application process, then they did my background checks and my brother had been put inside for drug trafficking, he got six years and I had a caution with the police for possession of cannabis from when I was about 18 I think, and they just said, ‘Look, there’s too much, we’re not going to be able to employ you’. And I’d been studying with the Open University to get a degree in Criminology and Psychology, so I’d done one year just so that would support my application. So I thought, well there’s no point in studying this if I can’t be a police officer.

So I went to my lead elder with a course that they were doing at the local university, a Theology course and just said, ‘Do you think this will be any good?’ and he was like ‘Oh you’ve always talked about working for the police, we never thought you’d be interested in doing this, we’ve actually got a space coming up on the staff’ ‘cause John the guy that used to lead … was going up to Birmingham and to be involved in work there, so there was now a space on the ministry team. So they said, ‘Would you like to come on?’ So I thought, ‘Yeah great’. I’d always wanted to go to Bible college, I’d looked at going at Kingdom Faith in Horsham and just couldn’t afford it when me and my wife were looking at getting married, it was either get married or go away. So that happened in October 2008, I was on a real fraction of what I’d been earning before and since then God’s just really made a way. I’m doing Alpha now a couple of times a year in our church and we do it in a local young offenders’ institute and stuff and in the prison. And we’ve linked up with Caring for Ex-Offenders now as well, we just had our first guy come along two weeks ago.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

Hi friends,

This morning I had the wonderful privilege of being part of Prayer on the Square (POTS).

POTS is where a team from MFC meets up for worship and prayer before heading down to Chatham High Street to erect a gazebo along with a couple of signs offering prayer & healing to those walking past us.

Rob Schulz, Kate and Paula from The River (a local church in Gillingham) joined us for the first time as they are prayerfully considering adopting a similar model of outreach for their local area - It was great to have some like minded folk with us and it was encouraging to see their faith in action as they stepped out in love to those around them.

We had many great conversations, many people were prayed for and there was a real sense of people being engaged with the 'good news' of the Gospel.

The highlight of the day for me was a young man that approached Lena Perry. He was a Scottish lad that was serving in the army (I think he was based at Chatham Barracks) and was due to be posted out to Afghanistan in approx 12 weeks time. He was full of fear for what lay ahead of him! Lena and a couple of the team took their time in listening, offering Godly advice, affirming him in his duties as a soldier and prayed Gods perfect love into all of the areas where he was experiencing fear. They then gave him the good news of the Gospel and he responded there and then and joyfully gave his life to God! - Thank you Jesus!

It was a great morning and there are many more stories of God revealing His love to people as they opened up to the possibility that there is a God that cares, a God that loves and a God that understands!

It's such a privilege to step into the gap and introduce the King of kings!

Be encouraged! :)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

MDF - A New Battalion

Hello friends,

I was so pleased this morning as we started the second battalion of our men's discipleship group for emerging leaders.

We have a group of 6 young guys that are all like colts; full of energy, full of motivation and full of desire to get involved and explore all that God has got for them!

We had the same group of men in a 13 week discipleship course at the end of last year and they all showed great promise and abilities as they met week on week and grew and bonded together as a team.

I'm really hopeful for the future as we look at each other and explore the gifting and natural abilities that God has graced to each one and find a way to utilise them more effectively within our church community. Whether they see it within themselves or not I am of the firm conviction that these guys are the next generation for our leadership in Medway. If people can't look to these guys and follow in their direction then we are going to find in a few years that we have hit a ceiling - We must develop more leaders and invest time and resources in encouraging and pushing them to follow Christ and establish themselves within their own spheres of influence and also inter-link them within the wider body.

As I look in the Gospel's and to the ministry of Jesus I see a man that was devoted to raising up a future generation of leaders (in the disciples) - He modelled a Godly lifestyle, He taught them from the scriptures and gave them practical on-the-job ministry opportunities with regular feedback and encouragement.

We too as leaders are called to model this lifestyle to those around us, like the apostle Paul we should each be able to say "follow me as I follow Christ" - That would be my challenge to you today...

Are you confident in being able to say "follow me as I follow Christ"?
What area's of your life need to be more open to the leading of the Spirit?
What thought patterns need to be made to fall in line with scripture?
Who is watching you? Are they following you? Where are you leading them?

We are all leaders in some way or another, whether it's a husband leading a family, a wife leading her children, an older person leading a younger person, or perhaps you are leading on a peer level, or are you leading those around you in the workplace step-by-step closer towards the glory of Christ? - We are all called to be leaders, to go and make disciples and to do so under the power of the Holy Spirit!

I pray for the 6 guys that we are investing in - That they will be encouraged and built up over the coming 6 months as we study the scriptures together, praise and worship God together, dedicate ourselves to praying for one another and the church and move out in new ways to spread good news to those God has placed around us - I trust they each will discover new depths in Christ and find greater identity in Him as we work with each other collectively under the Spirit's leading.

And I pray for you as you read this that you will joyfully examine yourself closely and ask God to highlight areas of your life that need refining, area's where more breakthrough is required, area's where you perhaps need to lay some things down and get to deeply know the fact that you are a child of God before you try to carry too much and slip into performance mode - God loves you and desires you, not what you do, just you and your heart, and from that place of knowing you are forgiven and accepted and fully qualified and loved as His child He will set you on a new course that will transform your life as you begin to have more influence upon the world around you - And it's all to reveal His glory!

Be encouraged!

Gordon :)