Sunday, 29 November 2009


This weekend, Dubai is in the headlines. Its amazing rise to fame with all its staggering buildings – the Burj Dubai, the highest building in the world having just been completed – looks like it is stalling, as the government fails to cover its bad debts. Angie & I arrived in Dubai last Wednesday evening on perhaps our last visit to Gateway Church after almost 5 years, in which we have worked closely together with Clive & Heather Cernik and the church.

On Thursday Clive & Heather took us to see ‘Atlantis on the Palm – Where wonder meets water’ as the website puts it, and it was quite spectacular: an amazing complex at the top of the famous palm-shaped development in Dubai that is visible from space, reaching out into the blue waters of the Gulf.

On Friday I got to see a spectacle even more marvellous – the wonderful sight of many nations worship as one. ‘Jesus I put you first, you above all else.. You are Number 1’. Evan Rogers was leading worship, and it was special. Here and there, a line in a different language underlining the beautiful mix of people present from very different backgrounds and nations united in Jesus. A touch of heaven!
This is what we live, work and pray for – and that Jesus is coming back for – the church, a company of people, a family, a bride, made up of people from every nation and made one in Him. And as I looked out over Gateway Church last Friday morning I saw just a little of the dazzling beauty of what Jesus is doing in our day; He is gathering and building His church and it is very special. The words prophesied by Isaiah concerning the Church came to mind:
"O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of agate, your gates of carbuncles, and all your wall of precious stones. All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children..” Isaiah 54:11

In a couple of weeks, after approaching 5 years in Dubai, Clive and Heather will be returning to the UK, awaiting God’s direction as to where they should go next! Meanwhile they leave behind in Dubai a very special church now numbering close to 400 people, that we at Kings have had the privilege to serve and support. Please do pray for them, and for Steve & Heather Oliver and family as they leave Clarens, South Africa to pick up where Clive & Heather left off.



Sunday, 8 November 2009


What a memorable weekend! It started off with an early morning flight to Copenhagen on Friday to spend the day in Copenhagen Community Church’s new building, exploring how we can develop it for all that we want to do there. Last Sunday was CCC’s first Sunday in the new building and David Bjerre tells me that it was a very special occasion, with a great sense of God’s presence.

Friday evening we enjoyed a great meal with all the leadership team and their wives, celebrating God’s goodness and reflecting on plans for the future. I do so enjoy ‘doing church’ like this, taking bold steps of faith together in the context of great friendship. If you were at Pakefield for our ‘Together’ event a few weeks ago you will have heard of our Relational Mission initiative, that is, our desire to keep these 2 key values of mission and relationship clearly in view in all that we do. We are friends on a mission together, and isn’t that very New Testament? We think it is – and it is a very enjoyable way to work, as we witnessed Friday evening in Copenhagen around Alun and Joanna’s meal table. Special!

Speaking of special, mid way through Friday evening I received a very special text – no, not a verse, but a message on my phone! It was from Ali my daughter, announcing her engagement to Dan – he had come and asked my permission a week or so ago so it wasn’t a total surprise, but it was special, sharing her joy.
So Saturday it was back home to Norwich to join in the family celebrations, and then to preach this morning on (you’ll never believe this!) Adam & Eve: All you need is…? That just happened to be where we’ve got to in our series from Genesis! Doesn’t our God do things so very well – and I’m grateful!

Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. Psalm 63:3



Sunday, 1 November 2009

Too easily pleased?

I am really enjoying our current preaching series on the first chapters of Genesis. For too long this key section of the Bible has been lost to controversy and so I’m delighted that Sunday by Sunday we are hearing God’s words loud and clear on the big questions of life that are addressed there. Marcus did a great job this morning on the implications of our having been made in God’s image: You are special! Next week Simon’s subject will be Sex in Eden, or something like that!

How refreshing to be getting God’s perspective on how our lives were purposed and planned to be lived, because all too often in our generation it seems that any other voice is permitted and preferable, no matter how outrageous, and God is gagged.
And here’s the irony – God’s voice is outlawed because the common notion is that he is a kill-joy out to that rob us of any pleasures that we may find for ourselves, when in fact God’s design is to do us more good than we can imagine!
CS Lewis in his book The Weight of Glory wrote the following: Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. . We are far too easily pleased.

Alister McGrath tells the parable of the moth. The moth is made to be attracted to the light, probably to help it navigate by the fixed point of the moon on a dark night. But with the arrival of artificial light, candles and floodlights, the moth got confused and ended up crashing & burning. Isn’t there a parallel with our situation? We’re made with an attraction to God and his ways for us, but we get attached to lesser lights that promise much but end up causing us to crash & burn. ’But suppose there is something that we are really meant to desire, that will not destroy us but bring us fulfilment & joy? This is the heart of the Christian hope.’

Have a great week