Wednesday, January 28, 2009

FREE Week Update....Gone!

Well...I think this blogging thing is out to do tis best to stop me!

I just wrote the beginnings of a blog update, and somehow, it has dissappeared. Yep, just gone and disappeared! Well, another time then. I need to go get food!

In short -Events week is going well, despite me finding leadership in the first few days very hard, God is doing some very cool stuff via our weakness :)

Keep praying!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

FREE: -2, -1, 0, 1.....

Well, I havent had time to update this properly surprise surprise. Tomorow I have only one short lecture so intend to get up to scratch updating the amazing stories of God's hand at work despite my weakness!

Just got back from one of the best Hall Events done at St Pats in a while, not just in terms of the many in depth, heartfelt conversations that were had, but a real encouragement to the first years to see Mark 4, which I have drilled into them in our small group times each week.

So, tomorow afternoon I shall recount:

-How the marquee almost had to be cancelled on friday; miracles; and general busyness!
-Saturday's miracles and marquee set up.
-The launch of sunday, the challenges of leading and in general one of my longest and toughest days!
-FREE day 1, where 10/15 non believers came to hear the first lunchbar on the reliability of the gospel, despite my disorganisation and general ovverwhelmed-ness at the task in hand. BUT GOD once again proved to be sovereign, and showed how he is in perfect control and can do great things through weak people. The CU and CUGs were great, and there were so many encouragments from individuals, which maybe I will expand upon tomorow.

But now...sleep is needed! Tomorow should go much smoother, and hopefully therefore more opportunities to share the gospel will come :)

Adios for now...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Good Idea...

Pray. This blog will still be here when you get back.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

FREE Videos....



And...found this too: Our Encouragment...

Nice one Parsons. Nice.

Finally.....FREE is here....

Hi again....

Check these out for the Vision and manifestation of this Vision in the videos posted in the next blog (having problems posting them in this one)

Unfortunatly, my pretty awful performance in front of a camera meant the vision is not expressed so clearly! It comes down to this: we want to be bolder than ever before in proclaiming the gospel in Reading. We want to be a tanglible presence on campus, not letting the truth of Jesus be hidden, but displayed for all to see. We want to take away as many of the barriers that get in the way of people hearing the gospel as possible.

To do these things, we are having all our events in a 200 seater marquee in the very centre of campus, between the four most used buildings on campus. We are doing the same evening gospel focused talks with added invitational-ness, culminating in a Curry night on friday plus a full gospel talk from Micheal Ots. Five apologetics based lunchbars will happen, followed by 'Question Cafe' where people can stay behind and have drinks and discuss the talk and have thier questions answered. We will (hopefully!) have a smaller gazebo near the marquee giving out Free Gospel, and tea and toast in the mornings for those coming out of lectures. Monday night is given over to hall events, so we as a CU can realise the importance of these and take them seriously.

We hope and pray that having such an open venue and noticable venue those who normally wouldnt go out of their way come instead of continuing on their way, and that our vision to take the gospel out to campus, rather than drawing people in, will work for His glory!

Please pray there would be no de-railing problems in these last few days of prep, and that many people would hear the gospel and respond....

Pre-FREE Week Confessions & Chapter 4's...

Well. That wasnt the kind of start I imagined when I wrote that last blog! My last few weeks have been well and truely hijacked by a fast approaching deadline for the biggest single peice of coursework I have ever done, and the boldest RUCU events week ever attempted.

Planning this events week has been a real challenge. Its coming up to 6 months since I took on this assignment, and many of my 'endless thoughts' have focussed around it. I thought and described earlier today how I am currently in an 'events week shaped crucible', in which I am slowly being refined and strengthened. Doing this job has seriously challenged my dependance on God, how much I trust Him, my leadership skills, organisation, shown me the importance and effectiveness of prayer, why we do an events week, why we do CU at all, and many more things that I havent yet noticed.

One of the biggest things I have and am still learning is to trust in God in all circumstances. I often feel that we Christians can know all about a situation and Biblical truths and encouragments theoretically -that is, we could easily give a perfect answer to a dilemma, or to someone else in the situation or when challenged by someone on that issue, but often when I find myself in the position where the Biblical truth that once so easily slipped from my lips is forgotten. Practically don't know how to react to a situation. This seems so simple, but the fact it does so shows it to be true. We know its true theorically, but practically, when we are in the think of it, we find it hard to live out.

With this in mind, one way I have been refined by God (and still am bit by bit) is in the aforementioned trusting in God at all times that He is in control of Events Week, knowing in practice that it is not RUCU's week, Josh Betts', but in fact it belongs to Jesus. Salvation comes from Him, not us.

This truth was really brought home to me in two passages of scripture. The second and most recent a simple but profund lesson for me, which I have now explained tens of times, but still is hard to explain to a computer rather than a person! Will give it ago anyway..... Looking at our amazing FREE gospels at a cell leaders training event on the Sunday before term, we read though Mark 4. We did not dwell upon it, but Mark 4:35-41 jumped out of the pages at me:

Mark 4:35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side." 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"

This perfectly sums up my own personal situation before God over Christmas, as I recieved the news we were not allowed to provide any food on campus that wasnt bought from them and had complete health and safety checks. This sort of screwed things up in my mind. Let me share with you how I have a problem in that I seem to need to be in total control of situations I am responsible for. And everything has to be perfect. So when my perfectly formed plans started to unravel, along with dreams of a massive public debate, bold first contact evanglism teams, big name testimonies falling through (that very phrase greatly encourages me now in hindsight as an image of God sifting through my plans to leave the ones that fit into his plans -with a plastic sieve like the one we seem to have lost in my house to my comparatively great annoyance! I just ruined that nice point with that insight into my imagination....dang) I was in a bit of a state.

Its hard to describe past thoughts and emotions, and convey them with the same weight they once had. Maybe if I got good at this blogging lark, I might capture them in the moment....Anyway, having worked this through, Mark 4 put the ball in the back of the net.

In those moments of frustration, I have called out almost exactly as the disciples did: "God! Do you not care that Events Week is about to fall to peices?!". For me, the situation reflected a whirlwind of decisions, impossibilities and chaos as I tried to hold down everything Events Week (EW). Here, the guys are in a situation much more tangible than the depths of my mind, a phycial storm. They should have been 'cool' with it, after all, Jesus was with them, and it was a safe bet that his 'time had not yet come'. But like me, they forgot in the 'practical' situation the truths they had learned thus far. To read verses 39 & 40 deeply challenged me. This is the same Giod. The same one here planning His glory through EW and beyond. Why was I afraid? Suddenly the clouds cleared and I saw so clearly, that He who has "delivered us from the domain of darkness" (Col 1:13) is so perfectly in control of my plans for EW and has not forgotten the task at hand. He is in control. Why did I ever doubt him? How great is that. That changes everything.

This put the icing on the cake of Philippians 4:4-20, which I had come across when wrestling these issues and more with my mentor-type, the amazing Keith Morgan, which is pretty self explanatory....

Phil 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
5 Let 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. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. 10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
So, EW is only a few days here. Please pray for the practical details that still need to come together, of which there are many; for Micheal Ots, the speaker and his enegy and health as we are somehting like the 6th or 7th mission he has done this year (academic year!); finance -this is the boldest and most expensive events week we ever have run, and things like food -for reasons mentioned above- are cost huge amounts more than previous years. (I will outline the actual plans for the week in my next post) God has already provided huge amounts of money for it, but we still have a little way to go to be confident of pulling it all off; and most importantly, that the CU would grasp the urgency of the situation and grow in thier passion for God's glory, and invite their friends, and finally that God would soften hearts, open eyes and unblock deaf ears so people hear the gospel, respond and be saved! That God would be glorified by and through this week.
Phew. Serious blog no2 done. Didnt end up writing what I intended, but its a start! Another post coming soon covering the details of EW, and then day by day reports of it as it happens -I guess the phrase "I'll believe it when you see it" comes to mind......