Heart: Two


Author: Gareth Russell Date: Sunday, January 11, 2015 Campus:
Gareth shared with us the second part of the vision for GUV for 2015

This week was the second week of our Heart series. This series goes to the core of who we are as the Grand Union Vineyard Church. If you want to listen again to the talk, clickhere. The transcript is below.

What do you feel God challenging you about in this talk? How do you respond practically?

Heart: Two // Grand Union Vineyard Church

Sunday 11th February 2015

The start of a new year, marks the start of a new season.

At the start of a new year, you have a different mindset. An opportunity. A moment to define the year ahead.

In the Chinese new year, they often name the year after an animal and it may be the year of the cat or the year of the dragon.

But for us we have an opportunity to name the year, and as a result put things in place that will make that a reality.

We all have big events that have happened in our lives. One year may be the year you graduated, or the year you got married, or the year you had your first child, passed your driving test, lost a loved one, or discovered an illness.

Years are often defined by experience.

But at the start of a year, we have an opportunity to speak into what this coming year might be and then put practical things in place to make that happen.

I believe that God has been saying to me and to us as a church that this coming year will be the year of breakthrough.

I believe there will be breakthrough in our personal lives – it might be in your personal relationship with God, it might be healing, it might be meeting a partner, it might be getting pregnant, it might be a new job, it might simply be losing some of the fear that has dominated previous years.

But I believe for us individually that this year will be a year of breakthrough.

I also believe it will be a year of breakthrough for us as a church.

I believe that we will see breakthrough in spiritual gifts being used on Sundays, in Union Groups, and in friendship groups.

I believe their will be a breakthrough in numbers and that we will see more people moving into a life transforming relationship with Jesus.

I believe there will be a breakthrough in our relationships with local authorities, local businesses, community groups and government. And that we will see greater influence in this city and greater opportunity to serve the least, the last and the lost.

I believe this year we will see breakthrough.

But I can say these things from the front. I can get us all worked up. I can increase the volume of what I am saying and shout it from the rooftops, but unless we put practical things in place – that promised breakthrough will no happen.

There has to be a commitment to discipline before there is a breakthrough in circumstance.

Bill Hybels leads a church called Willow Creek based in Chicago. Each week that church has around 24,000 people attending its services.

He has written a book called Simplify and in it he quotes another Christian author, Dallas Willard – who when Hybels interviewed him said this….

“I’ll tell you what gets me down, it bothers me that Christ followers require so much prompting and cajoling to do God’s work in the world. I know many pastors who must beg people to show up to events, they must beg people to use their God-given spiritual gifts to further His kingdom. They must beg people to read their Bibles and pray and tithe. Churches spend thousands of dollars producing emotional videos to move people to care for the poor, because if they didn’t show those videos their congregation wouldn’t really care for the poor.

It just shouldn’t have to be this way. A Christ-followers motivation should come from within.”

What Dallas Willard is describing is probably true for many churches – but I do not want this to be true of us.

I believe that as a collective, we do want our motivation to come from within – I believe that as a group of Jesus followers, we do want to know him more, love him more, serve him more.

I believe that as disciples we do want to see the power of prayer working through us in our own lives, the lives of those around us and the lives of those we don’t yet know.

I believe that as Christians, we do want to increase our passion for the Bible and to have those words so close to us that they are written on our hearts and lived out on a daily basis.

I believe that as His church, we do want to be generous – giving financially, cooking meals, sacrificing time, energy, and possessions to show the love of God to those who desperately need it.

We will not be a church who settle for the pastor forcing them to do this or that. There is no point.

You are either an authentic follower of Jesus or you are not. You are either desperate for the presence of God in your life or you are not.

And we are a people who will not accept that a look warm faith is an authentic representation of the Christian life.

Our faith is living, our faith is growing, our faith is rooted in scripture and is expectant to see God move through us to build his kingdom here on earth.

This morning there are two things that I feel God is saying we need in order to see that breakthrough in our journey of faith with Him.

We need a Personal Commitment and we need Collective Purpose.

Individually, we need to be passionate, dedicated and faithful to our relationship with him.

And collectively we need to be unified, focused, and willing to sacrifice whatever it takes in order to see his Kingdom come.

So, let’s first focus on our personal commitment.

What does your diary look like? What is your routine?

Your calendar often reveals what your value in life.

In the Bible, Jesus never suggests that to be a Christian, to be a follower of Him is an easy thing to do.

It is difficult. It requires discipline. It needs commitment.

We recently bought a puppy, Archie. Whenever you hear the word puppy, you think “aw, so cute”.

I’ve got to tell you, in the first few weeks – the word “cute” did not often cross my mind or my lips. There were many other words, but not “cute”.

Archie was in new surroundings, he was only young, he had a lot to learn. There were early mornings, there will accidents in the kitchen, there was biting – and we were tired.

But over the last month or so, we have been disciplined, we have been focused and we have been consistent – and now he is a joy to be around. He has learned what is right and what is wrong. He is obedient. He is fun. And yes, he is cute.

When we start this journey of faith, and even for some of us who have been travelling a while – we are still puppies. We are doing what we want, when we want, no matter the consequences.

But we need discipline.

We need to prioritise personal, daily quiet time with God. Even if it is just 10 minutes to begin with, it gets you into a routine. Put it in your calendar – you would put a work meeting or a doctors appointment in the dairy – so why not put your time with God in there? Is it less important?

Make it regular. Make it consistent. Make it focused.

Spend time with God – praying, reading the Bible, and listening to what you think He is saying. If you are not sure how to listen, ask Him. Just say “God, I am new to all this” or “God, I struggle to hear your voice, please speak to me clearly”

This is important.

Many people when a decision comes their way, or a emergency maybe, they often revert to their own strength, their own thoughts, opinions and understanding – but when we spend time with God, regular, focused time we are shaped into His thinking.

Let’s make this year a year where we are committed to these regular times with God.

But, it’s not only the times alone with God that are important to our personal commitment. We also must be committed to those around us.

In Union Groups, we have an opportunity to meet together, build relationships, journey together through the highs and the lows, but also to pray together, read the Bible together and the experience the presence of God together.

And Sunday mornings, as we gather as a larger group, we have the opportunity to meet, worship, and be equipped through teaching on a weekly basis.

Again, with Union Groups and Sunday mornings they both serve an important purpose – one that, if we are not regular, we will see a negative effect.

We are built for community and built for relationship with God – commitment to personal time with God, and gathering regularly in Union Groups and Sunday mornings will all contribute to helping us know God deeper, experience his Spirit working through us and understanding the purposes He has for us.

So, personal commitment will help us see breakthrough this year.

But as well as personal commitment, we must have collective purpose.

In that Dallas Willard quote earlier, he says “it bothers me that Christ followers require so much prompting and cajoling to do God’s work in the world”

If we are personally committed, the output of that can only be collective purpose.

When we spend time with God, our hearts begin to break for what breaks his heart.

And what breaks his heart?

Greed, lies, exploitation, injustice, fear, loneliness, lust, selfishness, gossip, sexual immorality.

God’s heart breaks for those who are not living in a true, freeing, and loving relationship with him.

And that should break our hearts too.

If it doesn’t, pray that it does.

If you think of people in your estate, across the city, in the four counties region and in this country living outside of a relationship with God and that doesn’t break your heart, pray that God breaks your heart for those people.

You see that is why we are here on this earth.

Our collective purpose is to go into our estates, our families, our workplaces, our prisons, our hospitals, our YMCAs, our friendship groups and to show them the love of Jesus Christ.

Our collective purpose is to serve those people. Love those people. And introduce Jesus to those people.

We are not called to judge. We are not called to convert. We are not called to manipulate.

We are called to love.

We are beginning to create some church-led initiatives like the MK Storehouse, but just as important is who you are on a day-to-day basis to those around you.

You see the vision for the church is not just a vision for who we are collectively, outside of work or family, in our spare time – this is a vision for who we are individually, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

This is about our character. Shaped by God. Guided by the Holy Spirit. Inspired by Jesus. Active in every day that we are given on this earth.

We believe that with the opening of the MK Storehouse, we are making a marker in the sand. We are saying, here we are – the church, the bride of Christ – we see that there is a need and we want to love those who need love.

If you are keen to be involved in volunteering for the MK Storehouse, this Tuesday afternoon and evening and then next Saturday there are three training sessions led by Alan.

If you would like to attend any of those sessions, then please speak to Alan after the service.

But as I have said before, this is just the beginning. I believe that we will look back and see the MK Storehouse as a first step on what will be a far bigger journey to loving the least, the last and the lost of our great city.

I believe that we need to influence media, I believe we need to influence the business world, I believe we need to influence local authorities and government, I believe we need to influence the MK Dons, and our prisons and hospitals, I believe we need to influence the arts, theatre and music scenes, I believe we need to influence our schools.

I believe that we need to show the love of Jesus in every facet of this city’s society in order to see his kingdom come – and I believe it will happen.

How do we influence these areas. We love them and we serve them.

We have often had a word given to us as a church that we will be a church of influence.

I believe that will be a reality. I believe that we will have opportunity to speak into some very significant conversations and to shape the culture of Milton Keynes.

But we are starting with the MK Storehouse and with this group of people.

And we are going to listen to God’s guiding.

Next week we will finish this series, and I am going to give you the opportunity to consider how you support this vision with your finance and with your time.

As we have mentioned, we have had a safe period over the last few years financially, God has given us more money than we needed – but now things are tighter because we are more active. We are setting up a ministry base here, we are establishing the MK Storehouse, and we have other plans. But it all needs to be supported sustainably through regular giving.

It may be that you already give monthly to the church, but we would like you to pray over the coming weeks whether that remains the right amount or whether it needs to be reviewed.

It may be you don’t currently give to the church, and as we have said previously only the local church gives to the local church – but more than that, giving is an element of what it means to be a disciple and the see God’s kingdom grow.

When you choose to live generously, God gives you opportunities to give generously.

Over the next week we also want you to be praying into how you serve in the church. You may already be on a team or you may be looking to get involved.

Serving on a team is not only a great way to get to know people, but it is an opportunity to practically show love to those who are either part of the church family or are here for the first time.

This is a significant year for you and for me. Together we are the church and together God is promising breakthrough for us.

The question is are we willing to commit ourselves personally to our relationship with God and share a collective purpose to see his kingdom come in our city.

If the answer is yes, then hold onto your hats – this is going to be an exciting ride.

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