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Church

Proverbs Day Fourteen | Graveyard or labour ward?

By | Blog, Church, Church Planting, Death, Discipleship, Foundational, Holy living, Holy Spirit, Life change, Wisdom

I often think that the place the church meets should be regarded as less 'temple' and more 'mountainside' or 'public square'.

The reason is that the more I read the New Testament the more I read about crowds, noise and mess.

Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest. Proverbs 14v4 (NLT)

If we want a good efficient and effective harvest, then we need a strong large oxen. Does anybody seriously imagine that the stable where the oxen is kept will be clean! The mess is an indicator for an abundant harvest.

Graveyards are quiet, tidy and dead! Everybody stays where they and does what they are suppose to do. Everything is neatly labelled and the flowers are beautiful! But it is dead. Whereas the labour ward is full of blood, poo, screaming, pain, pain relief and joy! Whilst it is packed with noise, mess, it is also overflowing with new life!

1 Corinthians 14 verse 40 encourages the spiritual togetherness of the church to be done in a fitting and orderly way, but that is more about ensuring the "oxen" are all pulling in the same direction than anything else. So don't let that instruction rob us of a harvest reaping church!

Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. Proverbs 14v4 (ESV)

Proverbs Day Thirteen | How to get rich?

By | Band of Brothers, Bible memorisation, Blog, Character, Church, Connection Groups, Discipleship, Foundational, Holy living, Life change, Membership, Preaching, Revelation, The gospel, Wisdom

This afternoon I spoke on how we keep growing in maturity – emotional and spiritual. Things like:

Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time. Proverbs 13v11 (NLT)

Some people want to grow fit, rich and important. We want to grow in wisdom, stature and grace. The principle from Proverbs 13v11 applies to both.

In the talk I mentioned a little survey that I have used, and found helpful, to help me take a snapshot of my overall emotional maturity. You can access it here. How am I (Emotional and Spiritual Health.

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it. Proverbs 13v11 (ESV)

Just some of the reasons we are called The Hill?

By | Blog, Church, Witnessing

At the men’s prayer breakfast this morning somebody asked me why the church was called The Hill. This was an excellent question, and it reminded me this week of a similar question when I was asked why Matthew’s House was to be called as such. The interesting thing about the Matthew’s House question was that it afforded me the opportunity to share our vision, purpose and gospel through the story of Matthew’s party at his house.  I learnt something valuable this week – questions about names provide me with an opportunity to answer with a story that features the good news of Jesus.
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Why scatter?

By | Church, Doctrine, Holy living, Leadership, Salt, The gospel, Witnessing

I was so encouraged this week to hear how one of the Connection groups met to pray for North Korea, particularly our brothers and sisters living there.

Using brilliant creativity they were able to simulate something of what it might be like for disciples of Jesus living under the North Korean communist regime – a country where the church is forced to scatter.

The gift of creativity provides many benefits. If one of these is that it stirs us to prayer and good works, then I say more!

For a while now I have wanted to take the opportunity to outline some reasons why we do not always meet together as a church on a Sunday. We call these occasions The Hill Scattered.

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A helpful conversation on oaths!

By | Church, Holy living, Love, Preaching, Provoked Within, The Bible

A few days ago a loving and very supportive brother in the church contacted me to query some of the content of my talk ‘It’s yes Jim, but not as we know it’. Firstly, I am thrilled to bits that somebody in the church would be willing to do this. The Bible is without error, whereas anyone who knows me, or listens to me, for a while will know that I stumble in many ways! I am therefore genuinely grateful that the church is listening, thinking and challenging what is said. Secondly, the manner in which it was done was full of love, genuine support and encouragement.

The query centred on me seeming to take a very pragmatic stance on whether Christians have a choice to swear or make an oath, or simply to let their yes be yes or their no be no. In response, this brother understandably commented that in Matthew chapter 5 Jesus says almost identical words to James:

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Band of Brothers update

By | Band of Brothers, Blog, Church, Holy living, Life change, Prayer, Worship

Trading Card clip 11.31.43
We had a great evening together. We worshipped, prayed for one another and had some extremely helpful biblical insight and encouragement from JT. There was a sense of calling, purpose and, most of all, some courageous honesty in the room. Thank you guys.

The first application was that we, ourselves, be proactive in meeting up with another guy or two and perhaps pray together for The Hill and other situations in our lives.

The second application was that we consider finishing the following sentence in front of those guys: If you really knew me then you would know that I…

Until next time let us keep praying for more men, more of God and more honesty!

Negative

Catalyst 2014

By | Apostolic, Blog, Catalyst Festival, Church

We are having a great time here at Catalyst – meeting with God and one another – and already looking forward to Catalyst Festival 2014. The dates next year are Saturday 24 May to Tuesday 27 May 2014. Delegates depart on Wednesday morning of 28 May 2014. More details to follow, but why not get it prioritised in your diary now. Link to Festival website.

Why we scatter…

By | Church, Provoked Within, The gospel, Witnessing

I was in a conversation with someone the other day and we discussed the concept of keeping the church focused on its purpose to reach people with the good news of Jesus Christ. In the course of that conversation I was able to explain the reasons behind our decision to not meet every Sunday… We call this expression of life in the church as The Hill scattered.

We believe that we are the church wherever we are. Whilst meeting together is extremely important to us, it is not the only expression of the church. History has taught us that a real risk for any church is that it gradually ceases to exist at all for those outside, and simply becomes a weekly meeting for those within.

As a church we we are keen for that not to happen to us. Therefore, we want to be proactive in keeping our eyes on the purpose to which we have been called. We believe that anything which helps keep that focus is a good idea, because it will help keep us close to the heart of God.

One practical step is occasionally choosing not to meet on a Sunday. We have found significant benefit in occasionally ‘pausing’ The Hill Together in order to remind us that we exist for those who do not know Jesus. This time allows us further opportunity to spend or plan time with others outside of God’s family. This expression consistently reminds us that we are called to be the church wherever we are.

Naturally, to be part of a church that chooses to live like this, means that we have to be aware of what the plans are as to when we do and don’t meet – and good at communicating that. This is why we work hard to keep the diary as up to date as possible.

Being a church that responds to a prophetic message

By | Church, Church Planting, Provoked Within

Over the past few weeks we have been focusing on a powerful prophetic encounter in the Old Testament, where a man named Ezekiel is shown a vision by God as to what God intends to do with His people. We have then been applying that prophetic message to our present situation:

Bones “Connect”

Bones “Cross the Room”

Here is the story from the book of Ezekiel:

1 The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. 2 He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. 3 Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?” “O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.” 4 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! 6 I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” 7 So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. 8 Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’” 10 So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army. 11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ 12 Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. 14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!’” Ezekiel 37