009 – No Empty Promises

You can’t separate your life into: the stuff you’ll follow through on, and the small stuff you won’t sweat.  When you’re shadowing me your word is your bond.  You say what you mean.  There’s no need to tack on add-ons, those allusions to higher authorities – your words have all the authority they need.  Hold back the hyperbole; refrain from the rarefied rhetoric and simply let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’.  Extra decorations are devilish – not from a good place. You’re shining now. Let that light spread, unadulterated. Attempts to enhance it only serve to dilute it.


Matthew 5:33-37 as part of the SAS Project

“God’s been doing stuff in my life too”

Went up to Leicestershire for the bank holiday weekend to get together with one of my best friends – Edd, along with his family.

20 years ago or so we were flung together by our parents on one of those excruciatingly awful arranged playdates the day before we were due to start at the same secondary school together.  We didn’t like each other.

Over the next couple of years we grew on each other, and living just round the corner we formed a friendship based on frequent 280 bus journeys, endless racks of pool, and slating it each other – it was great.  Perhaps our parents had some idea of what they were doing after all.

Around 97 / 98 the heat was being turned up on my discipleship.  Experiences were being had, and conclusions were being drawn.  I knew it was time to repent and believe, and to start walking with Jesus.  One big problem – despite being best mates, I had carefully kept from Edd that I even went to church, let alone was starting to take it all seriously.

I went round his house one day, nerves causing me to play some terrible pool, and came clean:  “God’s been doing some stuff in my life, and I’m going to follow Jesus.”

Incredibly, he looked back at me and said, “That’s amazing, God’s been doing stuff in my life as well”.  Turns out he’d been attending church on the sly as well, and that Jesus was calling both of us.

Individually we were changed, and our friendship was also transformed.  For the next few years we had an amazing time, walking together, with another Friend in the mix- leading the way.

We’ve lived geographically distant over the last number of years, but that foundational stuff remains…

God is into friendship, and he does stuff in people’s lives.

behold our god

Mr HappyA socially respectable (Mr.) pursuit of our own personal satisfaction (happy).

Sit yourself down, have a drink, we want you to be comfortable.

Today’s Service

Our hymn will be “Happy” by Pharrell

“Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do”

The readings today are from two new bestsellers from some of our favourite UK priestesses, touching on two key issues for us – diet and parenting:

“Truly Happy Baby” – by Holly Willoughby

“Cook Happy, Cook Healthy” – by Fearne Cotton.Cook Happy, Cook healthyTruly Happy Baby

The sermon and ministry time will be brought to you by Paul McKenna. By way of brief introduction, here is the blurb from his wonderfully titled book, “I Can Make You Happy”:

I can make you happy“Do you want to be happier? Do you want to stop feeling bad right now? Do you want to experience greater joy than ever before? What if it was possible to feel happier than you had ever imagined?”

Of course, children’s groups will be provided throughout the service, supporting every good parent’s primary goal – “I just want them to be happy”.


Coming This Week

Practical session on homemaking, using the new Kondo system “Spark Joy: the Japanese Art of Tidying”.

On Wednesday we will also continue our “tough questions” midweek series – this week, a real humdinger – “status anxiety, abuse of power, and abandonment of the elderly – could the unfettered pursuit of personal happiness in some way possibly be ‘selfish’ or even ‘harmful’?”  That will be followed next week with a session on a key figure from history, “Jesus Christ – man of sorrows or happy chappy?”


Happy today to you from the world’s fastest growing religion!


Politically you may be in or out.  As a disciple of Jesus I hope, whether out or in, you are for the people of Europe.

I met a guy ministering in Portugal when we were just over the border in Badajoz a few years ago.  He sent me an email last week.  It began:

“The latest, and more detailed, report from the Evangelical Alliance in the evolution of the evangelical community in Portugal, Southern Europe, makes sobering reading.  In the last 15 years 322 churches have been started but 1000 churches have been lost. We now have 964 churches in the country. The average size of churches is 49 people but this drops to an attendance of less than 25 for 86% of the few churches existing in the district of Vila Real – our neighbours. Added to that around 50% of churches nationwide have congregations that are predominantly in the above 45 age range with the average age of pastors being 52. With the percentage of evangelicals in the country now standing at 0.43% we have been in steady decline since the year 2000.”

Ok, add the caveats – evangelical church activity that shows up on a survey isn’t a fully comprehensive picture of the Kingdom of God’s activity. But read Mike’s last sentence again.  The church in Portugal is, humanly speaking, on its last legs.

And British Christians don’t go.  Because the level of poverty isn’t quite as obvious as in parts of Peru.  It doesn’t feel as all out radical as pitching up in Pakistan.  It isn’t as awesome as bible translation in Papua New Guinea. It just doesn’t preach as well for the sending pastor. It’s a place to go on holiday and build sand castles, not lay your life down and build people, isn’t it?

Going there has nearly all of the cost – family wise, financially, and foreignness-ness as any of those other places, but tell someone you’re moving there and they’ll reply with a breezy “Have a nice time”, not an earnest, “what are your bank details? We’ll be praying for you”. It just doesn’t have the prayer letter pazzazz, or future platform ministry possibilities. Maybe it’s the type of place only disciples go.

Mike and Jessica have seen growing churches planted, filled with portuguese people, since they pitched up with their young family in the 80’s.  The are exceptional people in more ways than one.  They’re asking for help – for prayer, and for people.

Mike and Jess

Vote on the 23rd.  But please do also pray for more workers to be sent into the european harvest field.



The Worst Day of Your Life

will happen.  So settle your response now.

Because you will have one.  And you will make a response.

Whilst the details will differ, it will probably feel similar to one of David’s terrible and tortuous twenty four hours: recent personal failure; home in ruins; family taken captive; friends turning foes; enemies gloating gladly. (1 Samuel 30:3-6)

David’s defiance that day disciples us well:

– Weep until you can’t weep any more.

– Find strength in Yahweh.

– Together with prophets, determine the next step and pursue it with all you’ve got.



Gillett & Brims – Podcast 09

Gillett and Brims podcast_09 (1)

This week we wade into preaching – what is it? Should we do it? What makes it good?

This week’s verse – “The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.” Mark 1:22

Question of the Episode – any speakers you’d recommend for us?

Missed any previous episodes?  Find them here – one, two, three, four, fivesixseven and eight.