riversmeeting

a church in carrick-on-shannon

Archive for TALKS

The kingdom of God is a party!

Check out Luke 15: Three interweaving stories.

They were stories about precious things lost.
He told of a woman who had lost a small fortune, a shepherd who had lost a sheep and a father who had a runaway son.

Something precious was lost and warranted an all-out search.
When it was found, it was cause for unbridled celebration.

Then he said, “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

It is not a stretch, nor disrespectful, to say that heaven throws a huge party when lost people come home to God.
And if we know anything about the Jewish concept of feasts and banquets, we can be sure that there is a lot of singing, dancing and joyful noise in heaven’s banquet halls.

So why should church be dull and boring?
Why should we subject people to mind-numbing boredom and sameness when heaven is cutting down the nets in victory?
Our church is not a show, not a performance, and not very polished. As a whole, we’re a pretty messed-up gathering of people. But God is good, His mercy endures forever and He is opening His arms to lost, broken people like us…and like you.

Please check us out…your visit would be cause for celebration!

“We don’t do funerals…we’re into midwifery”

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Among the astonishing sayings of Jesus, comes this one: “Let the dead bury their own dead.” He said it in response to a man who was wavering about following him. The guy said: “First let me bury my father.” Either there was a family funeral he had to attend or -more likely, I think- he was talking about the general pull of family concerns: “I have family obligations. Surely you don’t wish me to shrug off my normal responsibilities?”

Jesus’ answer was an uncompromising YES. In one short remark he divided the world between those who followed him (characterised as those who had life) and those who didn’t (who were dead). It’s a Matrix-like distinction: those who really see the truth and those who don’t. And this difference is so utterly important that it takes precedence over everything. It’s the very first priority. Jesus “Seek FIRST the kingdom of God, and then all these things will be added unto you.” Get your priorities right, and everything in your life will find it’s proper place. (Check out Herman’s paper “One-way journey of endurance” on this).

I’m always fascinated by those church buildings surrounded by memorials to dead people. Why is that, do you think? In rather shocking contrast, I heard a preacher say: “We don’t do funerals. We are into midwifery.” “Let the dead bury their own dead….” “You [however] must be born again”!

John Piper – How Does a Person Make a World Wide Difference?

Carefully fall into the river

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On Sunday last we visited the African church near us. Pastor Ayo was speaking on Luke 5, on the call of the first disciples and the command of Jesus to “launch into the deep.” The disciples, you remember, had toiled all night and caught nothing. They were disconsolately washing their nets when Jesus commandeered one of the boats as a preaching platform. After the impromptu sermon, he encouraged the weary fishermen out into the lake to fish once more and Peter (probably) sighed “We’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing. Nevertheless, at your word…” They cast the nets and are astonished at the immediate and abundant catch. They signal to their partners in the other boat to come and help them with the catch.

This is where I got excited. I knew the story, of course, but I began to hear what God was saying to our church. In the face of weariness (“We have toiled“)  and discouragement (“and caught nothing“), we encounter Jesus and respond(“nevertheless, at your word…”). The harvest is plentiful…immediate… “pray the Lord of the harvest to send out more workers.” And then they “signalled to the partners in the other boat.” My friends, we are the partners. We are partners in the gospel. IGod is calling us to partner these other Christians in the town and help  with the harvest. Launch into the deep. Or, as in the Engrish picture “Carefully fall into the river.”

church without walls and the end of the one- man- band

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Checking out the Northumbria Community, we try to live by this rule.

Summary of the Rule of the Northumbria Community –
A Way for Living

This is the Rule we embrace. This is the Rule we will keep: we say YES to AVAILABILITY; we say YES to VULNERABILITY.

We are called to be AVAILABLE to God and to others:

Firstly to be available to God in the cell of our own heart when we can be turned towards Him, and seek His face;
then to be available to others in a call to exercise hospitality, recognising that in welcoming others we honour and welcome the Christ Himself;
then to be available to others through participation in His care and concern for them, by praying and interceding for their situations in the power of the Holy Spirit;
then to be available for participation in mission of various kinds according to the calling and initiatives of the Spirit.

We are called to intentional, deliberate VULNERABILITY:

We embrace the vulnerability of being teachable expressed in:
a discipline of prayer;
in exposure to Scripture;
a willingness to be accountable to others in ordering our ways and our heart in order to effect change.

We embrace the responsibility of taking the heretical imperative:
by speaking out when necessary or asking awkward questions that will often upset the status quo;
by making relationships the priority, and not reputation.

We embrace the challenge to live as church without walls, living openly amongst unbelievers and other believers in a way that the life of God in ours can be seen, challenged or questioned. This will involve us building friendships outside our Christian ghettos or club-mentality, not with ulterior evangelistic motives, but because we genuinely care.

Why do people come to church? Heating, seating and eating…

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After working in this church plant for the last year, and in six other churches in the region, as you guys know, Val and I are moving to take over a Baptist church in London. Before we leave, by way of legacy, we thought it appropriate now to give you our THREE IMMUTABLE RULES (is that the right word?) OF CHURCH DEVELOPMENT. If you follow these simple guidelines your church will invariably succeed.

HEATING

If your building is cold and uncomfortable, then even if people come, they will probably never return….

EATING

If you only offer me stale Rich Tea out of a grotty tin I will use that circumstance to form an opinion of the value you set on fellowship.

SEATING

If I have to sit on a hard wooden pew made for a 30cm gluteus maximus then please set a forty-five minute limit on the service.

Or on the other hand….

Make it comfortable. Make it cosy. Set a high value on fellowship. Strangers become less strange over a meal. Make it so that we can relax in the presence of God and one another. Could never quite see the point of seventeenth century Bible texts, eighteenth century hymns, nineteenth century buildings…. Get the heating, seating and eating right and at least the people who gather (and me) will be ready to listen.

The Door is open

“A wide door has been open to me and with it are many adversaries.” 1 Corinthians 16:9God is always giving us opportunities to move forward in life. It is God’s desire that you grow and reach your full potential. Anytime you take a step forward, the enemy will try to bring opposition and adversity against you. But God promises that through Him, you can overcome any opposition the enemy brings your way.When you step out in faith and the opposition comes, stand your ground and keep doing what you know to do. Keep on praying. Keep reading and speaking the Word. Keep going to church. Keep walking in love and forgiveness, and keep your heart tender. When the enemy sees that you are more determined than he is, he’ll back down and you will move forward to new levels of victory! Stay focused and full of joy no matter what comes against you. As you do, you will overcome opposition and discover the champion in you!