Sunday Night at Church of Christ the King, Brighton!
Anyone who saw my "Top 50 Churches in the UK" may remember that I placed Church of Christ the King, Brighton at Number 1. Therefore it was with some degree of excitement that Scott and I visited CCK tonight as a special treat as we were in Brighton. I must admit we did offer up a few prayers in the car that Terry Virgo would be preaching and Kate Simmonds just might be leading worship ... but that was just us being bad. It was indeed a powerful time where God was most powerfully manifest.
Our prayers were not answered, and as usual God did much better and more than had He answered. Worship was led by a young guy who I had not seen before but he was outstandingly sensative to the Presence of the Spirit. We only sang four songs; "From the Highest of Heights", "Holy, Holy (All the heavens)", "How Great is our God" and "Here I am to Worship" - but the Spirit's Presence made that time linger for what seemed like ages! Joel Virgo, the senior pastor brought an exortation/prophecy/prayer focusing on the greatness of God and somehow managed to span the whole of time and space from Genesis to the Coming of Christ! The most moving thing was that they were baptising six people that night and it was so moving to hear the testimonies and be reminded of the zeal and passion of "First Love". It was indeed a time to see the power of the Gospel at work and hear how Jesus Christ can set people free - for freedom!
Mike Sandeman brought the sermon and spoke from a parable that is very familiar - that of the men who built houses on foundations of sand and of rock. His text was Matthew 7:24-28. His first point was that: 1. The Storm Will Come. Storms can be anything from illness to redundancies to abuse of any sort. These storms will cause us major pain but they are unfortunately guaranteed. The question is - when the storm comes, will you cope? Will you stand? The ultimate storm of course is death and are we prepared for the fact that we must face a Creator and give an account of what we have done? Will we stand?
2. The Foundation of Sand. Sand was defined as anything that we rely on outside of God. One of the most common foundations is money. Mike quoted the "Money Week" magazine that said that the pensions crisis in the UK is almost second to the crisis of global warming. Pensions are running out - and our generation is going to have to support our parents. Money, it seems, is not quite as stable and secure as we hoped. The sandy foundations could also be relationships, careers, hobbies or sports. These things won't stand!
3. The Foundation of Rock. What does the rock represent? Jesus Christ is the Rock. Adam and Eve blew it because they thought that they knew better than God. Everyone of us has sinned. There are things we have done that we regret. "All have sinned" and no amount of struggling can bridge the gap. But! Where the first Adam failed, the second Adam will succeed. He hates sin - but hates the sinner! His ultimate act of love was His death. Heaven's wrath was released on the spotless Son of God and His physical sufferings (though terrible) were nothing compared to the agony of being made sin for us. A loving God did that to His only Son so that we could be purchased back! When God looks at me, He doesn't see the rubbish of my sand - but His Son! I am no longer culpable for my sin! "It is finished" meant ... it is finished! The deed is done! But it didn't end at the Cross. Death could only hold Him for two days! He is alive! He lives forever - that is why He is the rock on which we can stand firm.
Ministry Time: Mike called people forward for two things - firstly a response to the Gospel. But secondly he shared a very moving picture that God had showed him. It was off a clip of the TV programme "Little Angels" and of a troubled child who just kept saying, "I am rubbish, I am rubbish". He felt that there were many there tonight who felt the pain and agony of rejection from early childhood. (He was in tears as he shared this, which made it even more moving). And God wanted to come to break that! I haven't seen a ministry time that was made so welcoming and safe and warm. Twice two of the elders (Dave Fellingham being one) got up and emphasised how welcome anyone was to come foreward and receive blessing from the Holy Spirit.
Night of Prayer!: The elders spoke about a WHOLE (yes whole) night of prayer this coming Friday that they will be holding as a church. As you will see from the notice, the items for prayer are hugely exciting. And you've guessed it ... we will be going! I have never been to a whole night of prayer where there was such an emphasis on crying out to God for the nation and for the city but also for making room to hear Him speak and Him direct what He wants to do.
The elders spoke about how Jesus of course stayed up for a whole night to speak with His Father, and something in me got tremendously excited (I don't know quite why) at the thought of how we will be praying for revival when the sun rises. I really believe it is going to be a "Now" moment and I pray that we can bring something back to Bristol as to what God is doing. Watch this space!