Wednesday, 25 May 2016

BR-IN or BR-OUT - Guidance for Christians on the upcoming EU referendum

On June 23rd this year, we in the UK are going to take part in the most important referendum for a generation.  The upcoming EU referendum rightly sparked huge debate and seems to have our nation divided right down the middle.  What is perhaps most shocking is that the debate headlines revolve around fear mongering from both sides.  Apparently, no matter which way we vote, we will be in recession, lose our homes, spark a civil war and probably finish off the polar ice caps while we're at it!  

With so much debate based on fear, contradictory statistics and even lies and misinformation, how are we are Christians (or anyone for that matter) supposed to know how to vote?  This blog is a response

to this question.

How should Christians use their vote in the EU referendum?

Firstly, let me be clear that CEC (Chessington Evangelical Church) does not take an official position either way.  As Christians, we must vote according to our conscience while seeking to maintain our "unity in the Spirit in the bond of peace".  We may have individual strong opinions but that is what they are, opinions.  We must love and respect those whose views differ from ours.

Remembering that what we share in the Gospel, is far greater than our different views on this issue.  Church unity is far more important than this issue.  After all, all human institutions (EU, UK, UN) are temporary, but the church will remain for eternity!

That all being said here are a few pointers to help guide you along the way to your decision.

So, a Christian voting in the EU referendum should use their vote:

1. Prayerfully.

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests." Ephesians 6:18
I'll keep this obvious point quick and simple.  Whatever you do, pray about your vote.  Pray to the God who promises to give wisdom about anything (that includes referendums) to all, without finding fault.

2. Not being swayed by fear.

“O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.” 2 Chronicles 20:6
It's not easy to do with a debate as heated as the EU referendum, but trusting God is important.  Read the next sentence and let it sink in for a few moments before you read on.  God is Sovereign over this referendum.

Yes, we have to pray, research and use our vote well.  However, in the end, our God is in the Heaven's and He does whatever he pleases.  We must trust that whichever way the final tally swings, God is King and nothing happens outside of His will.

That simple truth is a burden lifting, peace bringing truth for every believer.  Even if the doomsayers on both sides are right, King Jesus is in control.  And King Jesus works all things together (including referendums) for the good of those who love Him.

3. Researching carefully.

"The heart of the righteous weighs its answers." Proverbs 15:28a
In order to use our votes as Christians rightly, we must understand the issues and what is at stake on both sides of the debate.  In order to do this, we must research carefully.  Here are a few useful places to get information from both sides.   Please feel free to add more in the comments below.

Here are two speeches that were given by people on either side of the debate (selected because they are more measured and less heated than a lot of speeches on the subject).

BREXIT - Ian Duncan Smith

REMAIN - John Major

On this BBC page there are a series of videos explaining how different parts of the EU actually work:

Care (Christian Action Research and Education) have put together a page with various information on both sides of the debate with a specific Christian focus:

And finally here is a public debate that was organised by The Guardian newspaper:

4. Remembering, salvation cannot be found either inside or outside of the EU.

"Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12

At the end of the day IN or OUT, Europe still needs the Gospel.  According to the latest statistics, there are more atheist, agnostics than ever before in England and Wales.  So whatever our view of BREXIT, we must remember, whoever wins the majority of people in our country are lost and in desperate need of the Saviour.

I wonder how often we have asked ourselves as we've wondered which way to vote, which outcome is best for reaching Europe with the Gospel?  Is it to maintain open borders with the EU, so we can freely send missionaries and plant churches all over the Europe?  Or is coming out of Brussel's tightly secular grip, going to free us to evangelise more openly?  I don't know the answer to those questions (or even if they are the right ones to ask), but I am praying God would give me the wisdom to vote wisely in light of the great need of the Gospel.

At the end of the day, if our mortgages go up, our currency collapses, the polar ice caps melt or whatever the consequence might be in the latest headline, in the light of eternity it doesn't matter all that much.  In fact, all those disasters pale into insignificance compared to the outcome of this referendum, somehow closing our opportunities to reach the lost with the life-saving message of Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, pray, trust, think, vote and keep preaching the Gospel!

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Easter Outreach Video Blog

For the Easter Experience and to book tickets go to:
For the Risen Movie Trailer:

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Christian, are you ready for Halloween?

Rise of Halloween:
Halloween is a challenging topic of discussion among Christians today.  Christian views range from seeing it as harmless fun or as occultist paganism growing at an alarming rate.  Some people see it as an opportunity for ministry, others as something best avoided at all cost.  Whatever your view, it’s growing popularity is undeniable.  Here in the UK the trick-or-treat phenomenon is growing fast.  New research in the UK suggests that up to 70% of under 25’s now celebrate it in some way!

To Halloween or not to Halloween?
So what are we to make of it as Christians?  The Bible clearly tells us to “cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light!” and to “Abhor what is evil and hold fast to what is good!” But it also says “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good!”

The Christian debate also involves different narratives of how Halloween began.  Some say it was started by Pagans to worship evil spirits.  Others suggest that it began as a Christian festival about overcoming death.  To be honest, I do not know which it is, and personally, I don’t think it matters all that much.

You may be surprised by which Christians fall on what side of the debate as well.  I remember watching an “Ask Pastor John” video where John Piper had no problems with kids taking part in Halloween.  And as many of you know our loved Pastor Bobby used to be partial to a bit of trick-or-treating himself.  But of course, that doesn’t mean it’s right, though.

For me, I guess I believe that we should not celebrate Halloween.  I just can’t see how it can be right to make light of Satanic evil.  But at the same time, I’m not convinced by the usual alternative Christian responses.  There are four that I have come across:

1. Pretend your not at home and don’t answer the door!
2. Answer the door but make sure the people know you’re a Christian and that they shouldn’t knock next year!
3. Have alternative light parties for our kids and hope we can get a few non-Christian kids out of trick-or-treating.
4. Hand out Gospel tracts along with candy warning against the danger of Halloween.

Are these the only Christian responses possible?  I don’t think so.  I will address some of these directly below and offer my own alternative.

Don’t live in fear of Halloween:
When I was a child, it was obvious that as a Christian family we were supposed to hate Halloween.  But it went even further that that.  In fact, we were scared of it. Every year as a family we would turn off the lights and hide in our back room, dreading every knock at the door.

When the eventual knocks did come, we’d hold our breaths, hoping they would assume we were not at home.  And breathe a sigh of relief as they moved on (perhaps after throwing a few eggs at the door).  Hiding was our Halloween Tradition.  On October the 31st every year we felt “Overcome by Evil”.

But in my more recent years, I began to think, “why should we live in fear of evil?”  We have a mighty Saviour who defeated death, Hell and the Devil at Calvary.  Our Light -Jesus Christ- came into a world of darkness and shone a light so bright that evil fled.  Jesus wasn’t afraid that His light might be dimmed, by mingling with people in the dark.  That’s not how light and darkness work.  Darkness always flees from the light, especially the Light of the World!  As John puts it “The light (Jesus) shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

As Christians -we more than anyone- don’t need to be afraid of the dark! Halloween can’t hurt us.  Opening the door to trick-or-treaters won’t infect us.  In fact, the Bible tells us that our light, when shown in love, might affect them!

On the other side of the door:
During my time as a London City Missionary, I discovered what it felt like to be on the other side of the door.  I would regularly go door knocking, hoping to chat with people about Jesus.  I realised that you do know when people are in and trying to avoid you and how it feels to be ignored.  I dreaded seeing the “No religious callers” signs too.  Even though I had sympathy for the reasons people had those signs, I still felt rejected.  Did it stop me doing door to door?  No, but it did make me think; “What impression am I making when families knock on my door, and I hide from them?”

Another thing struck me as I thought more about it (while hiding behind my couch one October 31st).  All year round I was knocking on the doors of my neighbours and struggling to engage them in conversation.  But for one night a year they knocked on mine, and I was the one hiding away!  I didn’t want to “celebrate” Halloween, but I didn’t want to waste the opportunity it brings anymore.  And in East London, it was a great opportunity.

See the opportunity:
During my last couple of years of working in East London, we had some amazing Canadian neighbours who loved Halloween. This couple took every opportunity they could to bring the community together.  For them, Halloween was one of those opportunities.  And when I say loved Halloween I mean they loved it!  One year they covered their three-floored house with fake webbing and placed on it a 6ft giant Spider!  The next year they spent three months building a giant flying saucer.  They then attached it to the side of their house to make it look like it crashed.  On Halloween night they opened up their garage to hundreds of children to see an alien autopsy done by Men in Black of the dead pilot!  And the piles of sweets they gave away, you wouldn’t believe!  As you might imagine our street became popular with trick-or-treaters.

So the same year the Aliens invaded our neighbour’s house, I started a new strategy.  I bought loads of sweets and a pile of John’s Gospels to give away.  John’s gospel seemed like the most appropriate Gospel for the occasion with its strong imagery of darkness and light.  On the night we put on a sci-fi movie in our lounge to watch with our kids and left the light on and the curtains open!  And I waited with eager anticipation (instead of fear) for the first knocks.  For the first time, I felt free at Halloween as a Christian!  I was not overcome by the fear of evil.   Instead, I felt I was overcoming evil with good!

And when they came I ran to the door with a great big smile on my face!  We gave sweets to the children and Gospels to the parents.  It wasn’t always easy, but we did it.

Halloween fruit:
I remember one family came to the door the first night we tried it.  The children dressed as witches and ghosts, the dad wasn’t dressed up but was twice as scary!  He had tattoos on his tattoos and had a Staffordshire bull terrier on a lead.  Not the kind of guy you mess with.  I remember thinking, “am I really going to offer him a Gospel?”

I took a big gulp and walked up to him and said: “Hi, I’m from the church down the road and I’d like to give you this.”  He frowned.  Looked at the gospel.  Then he smiled and said “you’re a Christian! Great we just moved into the area, and I’ve thought about finding a church but didn’t know where to start!”  The next Sunday he brought his whole family to our church.  He wasn’t a Christian, but God was obviously at work in his life.

Light parties:
The next year we added yet another dimension.  We decided to hold a light party a week later.  This meant it landed around bonfire night, which works well as a theme for a light party.  And along with the sweets and gospels, we gave out invites to the light party to the kids who were trick-or-treating.  After all weren’t they the kids we are praying would come to a light party?

What I don’t say:
I am always careful never to say “Happy Halloween” and when asked I do try to give my honest answer to how I feel about it. Neither do I feel the need to say that it's all bad.  I just want to give them the gospel with a smile and let Jesus sort it out.

So you don’t need to “celebrate” Halloween or condemn those who do.  You don’t need to say “Happy Halloween.”  Instead, I prefer to say; “It’s so great to meet you, thank you for knocking. Please knock again anytime you like!"

Don’t go against your conscience:
One last thing I want to say.  It is important that you don’t go against your conscience on this issue.  I am not saying you must change your views on Halloween, or that you must open your doors and start giving our sweets, or that I am absolutely right on this issue.  The Bible is clear in Romans 14 that we should each be clear in our minds and that if we doubt we should not do something because anything not done in faith in sin.

What I am saying is whatever you do this Halloween, do it prayerfully, thoughtfully and freed from fear by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

My prayer is that this Halloween the Devil will be very disappointed.  Because instead of souls falling further into darkness, people will be shown the Light of Christ and be set free!

Isaiah 9:2 “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

What is in your hand?

Moses answered, ‘What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say,“The Lord did not appear to you”?'  Then the Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’  

Exodus 4:1-2

When Moses was called by God to free His people from slavery in Egypt, his first thought was, that he was not up to the task.  The first words out of his mouth after hearing God's rescue plan are "What if..?"  Well we all know that is not the right way to respond to the King of the universe when he asks us to do something.  Even so... we can relate with Moses right?  

Jesus says "Go into ALL the world and make disciples of ALL nations!"  In other words, "Share the gospel, every one of you!" Like Moses our natural and first response is often to say "What if..?"

What if people don't believe me?
What if I don't know what to say?
What if look stupid?
What if... (fill in your own here)?

Well God's reply to Moses is "What is in your hand?"  In other words, "Don't worry about what you haven't got, be ready with what you have!"  As the story of God's rescue of the Israelites progresses, God does some pretty impressive stuff by using the staff that was in Moses hand.  Not because the staff or the one holding it is impressive but because the God behind them is impressive!

Jesus has called ALL of us to share our faith.  So lets not worry about what we can't do (we don't all have to be professional evangelist), but we can be ready with something in our hands!  

When I was first saved and felt the weight of Jesus command be serious about evangelism, I was worried I would mess it all up.  So I asked my Dad for advice.  He told me to always carry a Gospel tract in my pocket or bag.  Then I would always be ready to read it with or give it to someone, when they asked about my faith.  

So I did it.  I picked a tract, I went for "Two ways to live".  Sure enough one day the opportunity came up and I shared the Gospel for the first time with a young guy, simply by reading him that tract.  When the opportunity came I was ready with a something 'in my hand!'  Today I still try to carry at least one tract with me, everywhere I go.
"Let each one of us, if we have done nothing for Christ, begin to do something now. The distribution of tracts is the first thing!" 
C H Spurgeon
So let me ask you a question.  What is in your hand?  Are you ready to share your faith with the next person who asks?  Why not pick up a tract this Sunday at CEC from the welcome desk, put it in your bag, wallet or whatever.  So that next time God asks you to share your faith and you are tempted to think "What if..?" instead you are ready with something in your hand.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

He who knew NO sin... (Good Friday talk with addition)

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The mystery in these verses are beyond our comprehension. To grasp what they are leading us to understand we have to understand three things.

1. The height of the glory of Christ
2. The depth of the misery of our sin
3. The weight of being the righteousness of God

To say "He who knew NO sin" is not simply saying that Jesus was A good man. Like the kind of guy who helps old ladies across the road, or you could trust with your house keys when you go on holiday, or who runs the marathon to raise money for some good cause. No this is saying that Jesus is THE only and truly good man. He knew NO sin...

Else where in the NT Jesus is referred to as the Alpha and Omega. Which is Bible shorthand for saying something like this:
He is Boundless and the Beginning of all BeautyHe is the Creator of the CosmosHe is Delightful and Dignity itselfHe is the Eternal and Exciting EnigmaHe is a Faithful and Forgiving FriendHe is as Great as He is Good. He is absolutely Glorious because He alone is God!He is Holy, Holy, Holy and Honored by Angels above the Highest HeavensHe is Indescribable, Irresistible and InescapableTo have Him is to have complete Joy, and He will one day return to be the Judge of ultimate JusticeHe is all Knowing and the King of KingsHe is the Lion and the Lamb and is Love Who Loves beyond all measureHe is the Magnificent Majesty of MajestiesHe is Noble and Never, Never, NeglectfulHe is Omniscient, Omnipresent and Over allHe is the Prince of Peace who is to be PraisedHe Quakes mountains and is the Quieter of our SoulsHe is the Righteous and Radiant RulerHe is the Sinless Son and the Sovereign Sustainer of everything, everywhere...He is Triune and completely Trustworthy because He is TruthHe is Unimaginable, Unchanging and UnfathomableHe is of ultimate Value and is (and will be) the Valiant Victor over ALL His enemiesHe is of ultimate Worth, He alone is Worthy of all our Worship forever and ever!!

While my imagination runs out at W the glory and majesty of our God Jesus Christ will never run out! And in these few words we barely even begin to scratch the surface of how truly beautiful and good He is.

Yet He is the one God "made to be sin for us!" Again this isn't just talking about a few sins, it's talking about the entirety of all human evil and rebellion. If we were to try and capture the depth to which Jesus stooped for us, when He died on the cross, it might look something like this:
He died for all our Anger, Arrogance, Anorexia, Abortions and AnxietyAll the worlds Brokenness, Break-ups and Break-downs, Bitterness and BullyingTo take on Cancer, Corruption, Carelessness and CrueltyBecause of Deception, Disease, Disrespectfulness and DisgraceBecause of my Envy, Evil and Egotism
For all our Fighting, Fraud and FoolishnessFor the nations Greed, Gluttony and everything GrotesqueBecause of the churches Hatred, Hostility and HeresyTo take on the worlds Idolatry, Injustice and Infidelity
Because of unloving Jealousy, Judgmentalism and Jihad
Because of the Killing fields of history and London Knife crimeFor all Loneliness, Laziness, Lust and LawlessnessFor Malice, Materialism, Murder, Mayhem and all the Me firstNarcissism the world ever came up with!! For all our Neglect of this Needy worldFor every Oppressive system and for every Offense that Overflows out from usHe sees our hidden Pride and Pornography and the devastation of our PollutionFor all my/your Quiet sins, and for all our Questioning of His thoughtsHe sees every instance of Rage, Revenge, Rape, Rebellion and RuthlessnessFor Swearing, Slavery and Selfishness
For all our Thoughtlessness and all our Twisted ThoughtsFor all Usury, Ugliness and the Ungratefulness in all our heartsFor every single act of Violence and all the Vicious and VenomousWords that come from our mouths, For all Witchcraft and all devastating Wars of history

And again my mind fails me with the XYZ but the truth is human depravity doesn't end there does it. If our human brains can conjure any particular evil up, someone somewhere is doing it!

How can the good and glorious Jesus have anything todo with us in our wickedness? We often doubt that a good God could ever create a place like Hell, but as I ponder this list I wonder how God could be good without it. When we compare these lists we begin to glimpse how far Jesus was willing to go to save us.

But notice in the verse doesn't just say "Jesus became sin for us", it goes on to say that He did it so "that we could be THE righteousness of God!" What could that possibly mean. Not that we are forgiven and made righteous but that we are THE righteousness of God. Mind blowing...

Let me try on more list to try and capture the wonders that which Christ died for us to receive in Him:
In Christ we are Adopted, fully Accepted, and Adored by our Heavenly FatherIn Him we are completely Beloved, we Belong, are Beautiful, Brave and BoldWe are Cared for as His Children, we are Complete, Called, Connected and Crowned, with Delight and are DignifiedWe are Eternal, fully Embraced
And Fully Forgiven, Filled up, and Full of Him, we are Found, and Forever Faithful and Finally FixedIn Him we are Great and Glorious and are God'sWe are Holy, Honest, Hoped in, Hopeful and Happy!He makes us Irresistible...Finally we are Justified and actually Just,
We are fully Known as we fully Know Himand are Lovely because we are Loved, but not just Loved -but actually believe it or not- we are Liked!!We are Made MajesticAlways New, and Noble,
Open (meaning no more secrets)Made Perfect, Pure, a Pleasure to be aroundFully Qualified
Real, Righteous, Robust!
We find our Strength. And are His Sons (and Daughters), Saved forever, totally SecureTriumphant over the grave, and TrustworthyWe are UnitedAre Victorious, Vivid and ValidatedCompletely Whole, we have Won, are winners, always well, and always and forever Welcome with Him!

And that is just a glimpse of what the cross has done for us! OK, OK, we may not be there yet but we are on the way. And one day this we will remember this list and laugh at how pale it's realities were compared to the glorious truth we find ourselves in.

That is why Good Friday is Good!
Romans 8:18-21(NIV)I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Explore: Reasons to Believe (SOLVE)

Is it still reasonable to believe in one all powerful God today?  Or has our modern, rational, scientific thinking brought us to a point where “God” is no longer needed?

Over  five Thursday evenings  we will explore five solid reasons why believing in the God of the Bible is not only reasonable but also compelling.

This course is designed for those asking genuine questions about the Christian faith and those wanting to better understand and share their own faith. There will be time for questions and discussion in an informal, relaxed and welcoming environment.
There is no commitment to come to all five evenings. Come to all, or pick the subjects that interest you.

If you would like to attend, know of anyone who would be interested or if you need  more information please contact Ben Clark or Simon Forshaw.

Phone: 0773 60 70 061        


Dates:   5 Thursday Evenings Sept 26th to Oct 24th

Time & Venue:   To be confirmed

Thursday, 25 July 2013

More than "Jesus Loves You!" by S.Timmis

A great practical and challenging seminar by Steven Timmis from Crowded House Church in Sheffield on how to live and share the Gospel in hard to reach areas.  If you have 15 minutes spare, watch this and dare to dream a vision for the Woodgate-type Estate's scattered around Chessington!

For the Gospel to be heard in the inner city: 
  1. You need to live there (2:44)
  2. You need to live in a way that exposes people to the message of the cross (5:36)
  3. You need to know the Gospel (9:20)
  4. You need to know how to apply it to peoples lives (11:45)
"Contextualisation is not about making the Gospel relevant.  
The Gospel is about demonstrating it's relevance."
S Timmis
This is directly aimed at inner city estates.  How do you think it is relevant to our situations in Chessington?