"Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time."
James 4: 6 The Message
As we open the door and embrace 2018 we welcome new opportunities that the new year and its fresh start affords us. One thing we are certain of is that, whatever 2018 holds, Father God is with us, mountain high or valley low. The Bible is full of God's promises to all of humanity and the entirety of his creation but we find a promise in the letter from James in the New Testament that we want to draw your attention to through 2018. James 4:6 says that as we take steps to draw close to God, He will draw near to us. It is a heaven-made guarantee that, as we 'lean in' to Father God, he will be close to us.
As you will note from James this incredible offer of intimacy between humanity and God is an intentional act that also requires our initiation. We get to activate God's closeness to us by simply setting our focus on him. As we approach He notes our movement and comes running to us.
Over the last year as a Leaders Team, we have made an obvious but radical decision to focus our time and work first by drawing close to God. It has inevitably had a knock on with how we do things requiring reprioritisation. The change has been tangible and hugely beneficial as Father God's economy kicks in. This was the way we have approached pursuing other more permanent building options for the church with a time of listening before any action was taken. The Quaker tradition frame this sort of discernment process as leaders in this way; 'a meeting for worship where business is conducted.’
We are keen to encourage this re-ordering across the whole church family in 2018. There will be an opportunity to do this together as we run 24-7 Prayer Spaces, Biblical Reflection Groups, and NT60 launching again after Easter. As much as we do things together we also need to be a people that 'lean in' to his presence in private and then everything else will find its right place and be well.
Gabrielle Smith needs to raise £1500 to take part in a mission trip to Tanzania. She is going with Grassroots (www.grassroots.org.uk) with Bishop Luffa Sixth Form. They are taking water filters and teaching people how to use them. They will cook meals, serve people, give them mattresses and chickens. She may also be able to visit a hospital and an HIV project. Please come and support Gabrielle at this Open House to help her raise funds!
Revelation Church is looking for an experienced and reliable bookkeeper who is able to work on a number of different projects we run. The right person will have an eye for detail and thrive in problem solving. They will be relational and keen to play their part on the team, supporting the work of the church.
This is a part time role at 10-12 hours per week.
Salary £19,000-20,000 (FTE)
Application closing date: 26th October 2015
Interviews will be held the week beginning 2nd November 2015.
During the week of 11-18 October we will be fasting and praying as a church in the run up to the Commitment Sunday Feast on the 18th (click here for more details about this event). If you are a member at Revelation Church we would love for you to be involved as we unite together to thank God for all He is doing at Revelation and pray into the life of the church. Please find the Prayer & Fasting Guide below and keep checking back each day for more information on how we are going to go about praying and fasting together.
I read last week online that the Statue of Liberty in New York is struck by lightning 600 times a year. For those not so hot at mental arithmetic (like me) that is nearly 12 strikes a week! I was so surprised I decided to invest another 2 minutes online research! This revealed a lower yet still surprising estimate of 3 strikes a week. Either way this is a lot more than I suspected. I knew it would be susceptible but I would have guessed once or twice a year!
The reason for this prolific strike rate is obvious if you think about it. The first and main reason is simply how it was made. Its very structure is the metal copper that gives it a distinct green look. Secondly, its size and finally its posture.
God used this simple fact to speak to me as I pondered this. My reflections and conversation with God went like this…..
Father God is desperate to connect us. It’s in the very way he made us to be. God’s eyes are focused on us. His gaze is upon and love is for all of us through Jesus Christ. John in the New Testament describes us not just as something the Father has affection for but that we are his children. As both a dad and a son I know some of what a huge statement this is. We are giants in his sight.
God made us to regularly connect with him like the lightning with the Statue of Liberty because of how he made us and our stature in his sight.
So what about our posture and position? Well the first two parts of this metaphor are not about us. They are about how we are made and how we are seen, neither of which we have control over. However, we are in control of our posture. What posture will you choose to adopt this year, which will allow Father God to connect with you daily? Is your heart, mind and body open to him? I find that my conscious body posture often opens the door for my heart and mind to follow suit.
I was staggered and shocked to read recently online that the biggest airport in Venezuela has started to levy a fee to have the right to breathe clean air. Now we are all used to paying taxes and sometimes for odd things, but Maiquetia International Airport in Caracas has taken this a step further! Passengers flying out now have to pay 127 bolivars tax (£12) for the very air they breathe.
This is to cover the cost of a newly installed system that uses ozone to purify the building's air conditioning system. It has been received with an equal mixture of anger and amusement. Breathing air is an essential element to sustaining life for humankind. The thought of someone owning the air in the atmosphere is crazy at best.
As I read this report, the prophetic vision of Ezekiel sprang to mind, as recorded in the Bible in chapter 37 of the book recording his God story, thoughts and visions;
“Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’ So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.” Ezekiel 37:8-10
It is Father God whose breath breathes life into our lives. Two billion followers of Christ around the globe would testify to God’s breath on our lives being the real deal. His breath comes into our lives and we truly live again. It is pure air and way more life giving and transforming than any flashy, state of the art filter system. More than that though, is that there is no cost attached; in fact, he is pursuing you, wanting to give it to all. Allow his breath to fill your bones today. Come alive and stand to your feet. This is his promise for you.
I read a shocking story this week online of a man called Nathaniel Bolwell who was more than alarmed when he saw his bank account balance. It was overdrawn by a mere £179,000 when he was expecting it to be in credit by £400! He innocently ordered a pizza for delivery and paid with a debit card. Domino’s proceeded to draw £179,923.32 from his account instead of the £17.99 it should have been. What was even more surprising was that the bank authorized the payment! Thankfully Lloyds and Domino’s got together and put it right within two days. He even received £100 by way of apology.
In a few weeks time, as we continue through ‘The Red Letters’ theme in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life, we step through some difficult sections on the journey. There are parts that make for uncomfortable reading as it disturbs our western desires of an easy, peaceful life. In Matthew 8 Jesus reminds us that there is a large cost attached to being a follower of Christ. As disciples we should not be surprised, unlike Nathaniel.
Like many followers of Jesus I often do battle and wrestle with the ungodly aspects of my life. Usually these matchups are little old me trying to get a giant pinned to the floor and submit. This used to be a huge focus for me as I sought to be more like Christ. Often I would momentarily glace at the smaller issues and quickly return my sights to the bigger battles. The smaller annoying things seemed to not offer enough win for the contest that was needed. So all my energies went to the grudge matches with the giants.
I recently read an article online about Sir Dave Brailsford, which made me readjust my sights somewhat. Sir Dave (love that title and name combo btw) is the former Director of British Cycling and current manager of Team Sky. Sir Dave has been instrumental in the rise of British cycling’s world domination over the past 5 years.
He oversaw team GB as they bagged 8 Gold medals at the Bejing 2008 games. He continued in his role at London 2012 where Team GB took 12 medals in the London Velopark and on the roads of the capital. This was an impressive doubling of the number of medals secured by the second placed Team Germany.
Sir Dave in 2010 stepped into the management role of the newly formed British based professional cycling team Sky. He oversaw the new team in its quick rise to the top of professional cycling. The pinnacle of this so far has seen Team Sky secure back-to-back Tour de France victories in the last two years with Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.
My errant assumption was that his success was down to huge leaps in sport science, psychology and technology. I was truly mistaken. Of course they seek developments in these key big areas along with all their rivals. They started by optimizing the things you might expect: the nutrition of riders, their weekly training program, the ergonomics of the bike seat, and the weight of the tires.
However, Sir Dave has taken on a different strategy of trying to accrue as many small improvements of 1% as possible, which inevitably add up to more significant overall gains. He says,
"The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together."
But Brailsford and his team didn’t stop there with the obvious areas of development. They searched for 1 percent improvements in tiny areas that were overlooked by almost everyone else: discovering the pillow that offered the best sleep and taking it with them to hotels, testing for the most effective type of massage gel, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection. They searched for 1 percent improvements everywhere.
Brailsford believed that if they could successfully execute this strategy, then Team Sky would be in a position to win the Tour de France in five years time. He was wrong. They won it in three years.
Everything I choose, even the small little things, can create the possibility to bring gains in the Kingdom of Heaven. Just because they are small does not mean they are insignificant or irrelevant. If you do not believe me ask Sir Dave!