I am the door

On Sunday 22nd February, I was able to speak at Oasis on a Sunday morning for the first time, a wonderful opportunity, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed! We’ve been going through a series in the gospel of John looking at all the times where Jesus says “I am…”, and then makes a big claim about himself, and my week was looking at Jesus’ claim to be “the door”. It might be the “I am” statement that’s most easily forgotten, but don’t knock it! Week on week, we’ve been discovering that what Jesus is saying is that he is enough for any time or circumstance of life; we can rest in him and his finished work on the cross, and draw close to find everything we could ever need in him.

I am the Door

Following this theme through in John 10:1-10, I sought to show how when Jesus refers to himself as “the door”, he’s showing that he is enough for our salvation, our security, and our surroundings. You can find the whole talk online by clicking here to head to the Oasis Website.

Advertisements

The Victory of the Cross

On Saturday 14th February, I had the privilege of speaking at Oasis Church’s Student and 20’s Weekend Away, at Cefn Lea in Wales. The weekend was themed around “The Cross Centred Life”, and my talk was the first of three – aiming to set the scene and lay a foundation for the next couple of days by looking at what the death of Jesus achieved by taking place as it did in history. To do that, I asked three questions, “Why is the cross necessary?”, “Who exactly is it on the cross?” and “What difference does it make?”, and tried to allow Romans 3:21-26 to answer them.

WeekendAway

Overall, the weekend was a fantastic experience for the 70 of us there, bolstered by a real sense of community, loads of fun, and the presence of God. Alongside the three main meetings, we tasted culinary excellence at The Great Cefn Lea Bake off, marvelled at different people’s secret skills during a talent show, experienced the countryside on walks, challenged one another at football, frisbee and wide games and shared time building friendships over meals and board games. You can find a link to my talk, The Victory of the Cross, by clicking here.

Freedom in Christ: Identity

Last Sunday evening, we held our first Student and 20’s Thirst of the term at Oasis Church, and it was a massive privilege to get to speak and kick off our new series looking at “Freedom in Christ”. The night centred around the theme of Identity – how our identity in the past has been that who were ‘slaves’ (not physically, but rather to ourselves; our emotions, desires, and other things), but now are those who have been set free. We looked at the question of why it feels uncomfortable to describe ourselves like that, some of the characteristics of this kind of slavery, how they are transformed through new life in Christ, and what happens when we mess things up. After starting with sung worship, a time hearing about Street Teams (an initiative Oasis runs to help the homeless), and the shorter, fifteen-minute talk, we broke up into discussion groups to chat things through and press deeper into what this truth might mean for us individually and as a community.

There’s no recording due to the nature of the event, but here’s a word cloud which gives an impression of the main focus!

Word Cloud for Freedom in Christ - Identity

All in all, it was a really enjoyable evening; and a great basis from which to build throughout the rest of the year. We have three more Thirst’s scheduled this term, once per fortnight, looking at how Freedom in Christ impacts our Purpose in the world, Decisions in daily life and Relationships with others. Lots to be excited for!

Regards,

Richard

A New Chapter

In just a couple of days time, I’ll be moving back to Birmingham to start a brand new chapter of my life. It’s a thought that thrills me and terrifies me in almost equal measure! Here’s a quick breakdown of what I’m doing as of September:

1) Taking on the role of Pastoral Trainee with Oasis Church Birmingham
– As this is a brand new role, it’s somewhat of a step into the unknown, but will include discipleship, speaking/preaching, working with Students, Alpha, Sunday morning logistics, and loads more.
– I’ll also be heading to Milton Keynes for a couple of days a month for the Leadership Foundations training course.

2) Working part-time for a well-known Supermarket

3) Moving to the beautiful city of Birmingham to live year-round!

As you might have noticed, I’ve not managed to get into a routine of regularly updating this blog over the past year or so. With the start of something totally new though, I’m going to give it another go, and try to make this a key way of communicating how the year is going to anyone who is interested in following or supporting me with prayer – which would be very greatly appreciated! Expect sermon summaries, book reviews, random musings, prayer requests and the like, and please do give me a nudge if I’ve been quiet for a while.

There’s so much to look forward to about the year ahead, and I honestly can’t wait to get stuck in and start encountering the challenges and opportunities for growth that are to come. As I start this new chapter, I’m reminded of a verse in 2 Corinthians:

For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

Right now, it feels like there’s so much ahead. So many things to get started on, so much to be hopeful for, and it’s all there just waiting for me to throw myself into. Yet, before any of that, comes the realisation that none of it is for me, or about me, or because of me. I’m a jar of clay. My best efforts in working for Oasis, in growing my character and giftings, in engaging with secular employment, in making this city properly home; each and every one is fragile pottery. It’s only ever about the One who lives inside me. Through my weakness, through my brokenness, let His light shine. Before I throw myself into the new adventure that lies before me: Pause. Centre on Him. And here we go!

Regards,

Richard

Reflections on Catalyst

Good evening!

It’s been a couple of weeks now since I was fortunate enough to attend the Catalyst festival at Stoneleigh, with my church, Oasis Church Birmingham. Now, a couple of weeks on, it’s had a little time to sink in and I can really take a step back and reflect on what was a wonderful few days.

I can think back to meeting so many new people for the first time, and properly getting to know some I’ve only met in passing at Church. It’s easy to find yourself in a student bubble sometimes, particularly at University and even at Church, and it’s easy to simply hang out with the same people and never branch out. But that’s not what we were designed for! When Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 12 about being part of a body of Christians, he makes it clear that in that body is a huge amount of diversity – differences as stark as a foot is different from an eye! Something that really struck me over the few days away is that the body of Christ really is beautiful because of its diversity, and not simply in spite of it. We are all part of a bigger whole, bigger than the student bubble at Oasis, bigger than Birmingham, bigger even than the newfrontiers family of Churches, a wonderfully varied assortment of unspectacular people running after a spectacular God.

I can think back to the thrill of worship with thousands of others lifting their voices to God; that same sense of being part of something bigger condensed into one moment as voices rise, singing new songs, old songs, non-songs and praises of all kinds. I never feel closer to heaven than when I look around at people as far as I can see lifting their hearts and eyes to Him and pouring out love. The realisation too, that the God who is so present in the room of 4000 is just as present in your prayer meeting of ten the week after, and hears every silent prayer spoken alone in your room at home. How astonishing it is that He would be interested in us!

I can think back to challenging talks and seminars, spending time considering bodily resurrection and predestination and ‘big theological stuff’ and also mulling over devastatingly simple, core-gospel talks which force you to re-evaluate what you are putting at the centre of your life. If it’s not Jesus, it’s not worth it! Reflecting back, it is much easier to see the lessons learned, to see a great time for stretching and building my faith.

I am looking forward to next year already, but also to building on what has begun at Catalyst, deeper friendships with those at Church, my brothers and sisters, a faith challenged and grown, and a renewed joy in the beauty of a broken people rescued by Grace and seen fit by the King of Kings to be welcomed into His courts, now and forever.

Regards,

Richard