News from David

Talks, thoughts and stories from David Flowers
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STEPS #3 

So last Sunday we gathered to hear about the daunting but inspiring invitation we have been given. We realised that this is God’s plan for us, not simply our own wishful thinking. We were inspired to be part of the miracle and if you don’t give to Leeds Vineyard, here is your chance to be part of something special - we will be growing from a Sunday church to an every-day church.

We have also launched 40 days of prayer and fasting and you are warmly invited to participate in that too.

The talks, the stories, the vision, the background, everything you could wish for, is available on the website: www.leedsvineyard.org/steps2017. And you can follow the developments with Vineyard House on the “Vineyard House Blog” (just type that into the website).

On this coming Sunday there are two amazing things going on: the world triathlon championships are coming to Leeds again and we are baptising three of our people. Although the information tsunami about road closures could lead you to think access to Headingley was impossible it isn’t that bad at all. A little planning ahead and there should be little difficulty in getting to church and then to the baptism in Ilkley afterwards. Here are some notes to help you. Let’s make the effort and support the guys being baptised.

Finally, we get the chance to participate in a momentous event on Thursday when the country goes to the polls. I urge you to cast your vote if you possibly can. It is important. And then, afterwards, let us honour the result and let us honour one another, however we voted and however everyone else voted.

Alison and I will be taking some holiday from next week so we won’t be around for a little while. However, while we are away we are sorry to be foregoing an absolutely fascinating series of talks at weekly worship – you’ll be meeting some very interesting people talking about their experience of knowing Jesus. Don’t miss it!

Peace,

David
 


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STEPS #2 

At Leeds Vineyard we often talk about the Vineyard Person – about how he/she has two legs, one for compassion & mercy and one for worship & prayer.

So why have we started talking about buildings? Buildings are simply facilities. They provide a practical environment with which to identify the church and from which to do the stuff.

The Big Idea of STEPS2017 is to buy a building so that we will have two, St Michael’s Hall and Headingley Methodist Church, from which to release compassion and worship in Headingley and across Leeds. In one building (Headingley Methodist Church) we will focus on our core priorities of Worship and Bible. In the other (Vineyard House) we will focus on our core priorities of Equipping, Sending, Reach Out (Compassion) and Fellowship. Both will be places of Prayer.

This Sunday will see us launch STEPS2017 and an important day it is too. Not just because we are launching a big Ask and 40 days of prayer and fasting, but because it marks a shift in gear for the church. Three years ago we made the shift from a car-park church to a front-door church. This year we shift from a Sunday church to an every-day church. Don’t get me wrong, I know that we do lots during the week and that we each seek to live out our faith 24-7. What I mean is that our main physical expression and substantial resource is currently only available to us for a few hours on a Sunday.

In the future Leeds Vineyard will be open for business every day of the week!

So please join us on Sunday to hear the story, catch the Vision, to worship and pray and to commit yourself to taking a STEP too.  From Sunday onwards you’ll be able to make your pledges and join in the 40 days of prayer and fasting. We’ll meet in the morning for weekly worship as normal with input from leaders and trustees and then again in the evening for Engine Room with time specifically given over to prayer.

If you would like to read more please go to the website, click on “Join In” and then “STEPS2017”.

You can also read up on how Phil is getting on, on the Vineyard House Blog.

The Sunday after (11 June) promises to be complicated! There is the Triathlon and we are holding a baptism service. As we understand it (as far as the organisers have been able to explain it to us) there should not be too much disruption around HMC so we meet as normal. Please make the effort to come and support and honour the guys who are getting baptised and then, if you can, join us afterwards on the bank of the River Wharfe for the actual baptism!

Next Thursday the country goes to the polls. If you haven’t already voted you may find my sermon from last Sunday helpful to guide you through the experience:

  1. Decide to vote;
  2. Decide how to vote;
  3. Honour the result;
  4. Honour one another
 

Peace

David
 


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STEPS #1 

Over the years the Vineyard in Leeds has walked many steps along a journey following Jesus. But we sense Him calling us on to take further steps, steps of faith into the exciting unknown but into places we would love to go. Our imaginations are fired by projects: from his heart to our hearts; from our hearts to the hearts of those around us.

And when the time comes to make a big financial step of faith we call it STEPS. And we are now looking at a big step forward.

On journeys people and communities reach pivotal points: the 1st day at school; the 1st day driving a car; the day we leave home. People often start out in life by renting a flat and then maybe they buy their first house and as life gets busy and perhaps if they get married and have children they may buy a larger home. In life, once we begin to put down roots and begin to think of a particular area as home we tend to think in terms of investing in our own house. We talk about “stepping onto the property ladder”. We don’t want to pay “dead money” to a landlord; we see the potential for an investment return; we want to knock a place about a bit, redecorate, make it our own. We are saying, “this is my neighbourhood, this is where I live, this is my home now.”

A year ago we reached a pivotal point as the Holy Spirit spoke to us and said, “buy a building”. So our next major step is to obey and invest in a building which will help us establish a Kingdom presence in Headingley (which is we have been called to do). A building for resource, to provide a base from which to build, a transforming presence in the area. I’ll write with more background and more stories later this month. In the meantime we have, as instructed, taken the STEP of setting out to buy a building in Headingley – even if it is well outside our zone of comfort! Look out for the Vineyard House Blog which will be written by Phil and Hannah as things progress. It’s exciting reading!

Please put June 4 in your diaries. We will be launching STEPS formally in the morning at weekly worship and then again, to a lesser degree in the evening as we pray and worship together in the Engine Room. Clear your schedule, book your baby-sitter, do everything you can to join in with everyone as we launch into what is going to be an exhilarating STEP forward for the Leeds Vineyard.

Baptisms on 11 June
A week later we will have another thrilling day as we baptise several of our brothers and sisters. If you would like to be baptised or know someone who would like to be baptised please can you ensure that they speak to Liz Harden before Sunday – if at all possible - as we plan the day.

Sparkly New Webby Things - ChurchApp
As you should know we have added the really helpful ChurchApp to our suite of website functions. We hope that you are getting to grips with it now - you can login to 'mychurchapp' (www.login.churchapp.co.uk) either by using it on a website or by downloading the app itself. This is where you can now find the church address book, the calendar, details about small groups (including more information about who is in the group you've signed up to), rotas for the teams which you are on and see and update the information we hold about you and your children. When we have events which you need to sign up for (like small groups, training events, or shared lunches) this is where you'll be able to do this in the future. You will still be able to ring or email the office of course but we are trying to enable you to do this directly where possible.

Exciting times

Peace

David
 


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Cold hands warm hearts 

What is the ideal temperature in which to pray? If it is too warm it has been known that a tired person may doze off (yes really!). Whereas if it is cool the senses are kept alert and movement becomes both an expression of worship/prayer and helps keep us warm. So it will be ideal on Sunday evening:)

That is to say, please dress up warmly if you are joining us in a most important time of worship and prayer – the boiler has gone on a strike for a few days. But we won’t let that stop us will we? Our Engine Room will generate heat. Our hands may be cool but our hearts will be warm – and there will be hot drinks for you too. There is no weekly worship on Sunday morning but we are meeting at 7.30pm in the evening for Open Space Engine Room(!).

As we begin to get focussed on STEPS and the purchase of a building, as the Lord takes us into a formative stage in the life of our church, so allow me to jog your memory about some other events you may love to engage with:

Ashburnham

Many of us are going to Ashburnham for a week’s holiday in August. If you’ve never been before check out the video on this page. If you’d like to join us you can book here. There are a few places left.

HUB

This is for people who are contemplating church planting or other forms of pioneering leadership. If that’s you, this is a pre-requisite within the UK Vineyard. You can find out more and join the Leeds Hub from September if you check out this website. It’s a 3-year curriculum based around a monthly training event. If you would like to discuss it please talk to Ian & Hannah Ripping or Anne Button.

Internship

We launch a one-year intern programme in September this year. If you have a break coming up in your career or studies and you want to invest in developing your calling, discipleship, ministry skills and gifts then maybe this is for you. Talk to Matt or Anne Button soon.

Baptism

Our next scheduled baptism is on June 11. Please let one of the pastoral staff know (or your small group leader) if you would like to take this step of obedience as you follow Jesus. If you can’t make 11 June let us know anyway so we can help you plan a later date.

Leaders

Our next Current Leaders’ meeting is at 11 Belvedere Avenue on 11 July.
 


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OSER - we need a new name!

OSER stands for Open Space Engine Room. We need a new name to describe an event that covers Open Space (worship) and Engine Room (prayer) because we are combining the two this coming Sunday evening. Anne Buchan and Helen Hicks are leading with me.

Remember, there is no weekly worship in the morning but it would be great if you could join in the Bring & Share lunch event. You do need to book it!
Instead, we are meeting in the evening from 7.30pm-9.00pm for what promises to be one of our most significant times of worship and prayer – for years.

What to expect:

  • Front doors open at 7.00pm, refreshments served inside. You can leave your shoes at the back if you wish.

  • At 7.30pm we will light a candle to symbolise the commencement of our time of worship and prayer.

  • After worship I will show a video of the building we are going to buy and tell you a little of the amazing story of how God has led us to this point and what is happening next!

  • Then we will spend the rest of the evening worshiping and praying in various forms: sometimes giving thanks, sometimes interceding and sometimes listening to God speaking to us.

  • Our theme for the evening is Isaiah 61, the year of the Lord’s favour and you may wish to read and reflect on this chapter before you come.

  • We will finish by listening to the Holy Spirit to speak to us about his plans for how we use this building. We’ll jot our thoughts down and pray over them. I expect these to be significant in our decision-making over the coming weeks.

  • At 9.00pm we will blow out the candle and commit our prayers and worship to the God.

  • It will be fun and active and not at all boring. You can join in as much or as little as you wish (but prayer meetings work best if we pray!).


If you would like to join the team running the evening you would be very welcome. There is room for help with PA, AV, refreshments, welcome, set up and set down. Please reply to this email and we’ll link you up with the team leader.


A couple of things to remind you about:
Firstly, if you would like to be baptised on 11 June, please let one of the pastoral staff or your small group leader know as soon as possible.
Secondly, we’re into the sign-up period for the new flurry of Small Groups. Find a group that works for you and get stuck in, there’s loads to choose from.

 
Peace,
 
David
 
 
 


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God's plan is bigger than Brexit 

The problem with living in Leeds and the problem with reading social media is that the world shrinks to a post code and my expectation of what God can do shrinks to a postage stamp. I’ve just spent a few days meeting with a steely crazy bunch of people who are serving God in inhospitable places all over the world where it would seem impossible for them to make a difference. In fact I had to learn some special terminology to understand what they were saying – because it wasn’t safe to speak freely.

But they tell stories of what Jesus is doing all over the world and especially in places where He’s not allowed to be spoken of. So what do they do? Well, nothing like all the activity that an Apprentice gets through in a single day when sent out by Lord Sugar. Mainly they pray, make friends, serve their communities – and then more prayer. They are being obedient to what the Lord (not Sugar) has called them to, and then, sure enough, He goes and does supernatural stuff which just blows your mind and cracks open a view of heaven’s wonders - seen on earth.

Back in Leeds it sometimes feels that we’re just pre-occupied with Brexit, the celebrity pages and seeking after happiness. But God has a plan which takes Brexit in its stride and provides an answer to our dilemmas on an eternal and cosmic scale and He’s also concerned about the detail of our Leeds lives.

The hard work of prayer sometimes seems too much when it’s hard enough trying to figure out how to stay healthy, pay our bills, sort out our relationships and try and enjoy life. But if we can lift our heads a little higher, think about making a difference in the world around us and go to God in prayer we too can experience the startling activity of the Holy Spirit in our lives!

I think the main thing I learnt from time with these crazy Christians is how much God wants to do, how little we can do on our own and therefore how important it is for us to pray.

So do pray! Pray on your own, pray in your small group, pray at weekly worship - and come along to Open Space on April 30 – where will worship and pray and wait for the Holy Spirit to come and do his supernatural stuff amongst us and amongst those we minister to.

It’s Easter week and the scale of what Easter represents across the world is wide: ranging from a re-ordering of the universe as Jesus defeats the power of death to the personal but sensational freedom each of us can experience as we receive His forgiveness granted at the cost of His life.

Here is a prayer of thanks for Easter which you can use if you wish:
Lord, give me grace unceasingly to return thanks to your Word and only Son,
as the purifier of our nature by his conception and nativity,
the deliverer of our persons, by his sufferings, cross and death,
the conqueror of hell, by his descent, of death by his resurrection,
our forerunner, in his ascension,
our advocate, in his sitting in glory,
the perfecter of our faith in his second advent.

(Bishop Lancelot Andrewes)

When we hear stories about what the Spirit of God is doing in hostile countries far, far away it sparks our imagination. But He is also at work in no less a fashion, right here, in Leeds. All around us and amongst us people are being forgiven, set free, repaired, inspired, transformed and healed. Let us not fall into the trap of thinking that the Spirit of God only works his wonders in faraway places but let us pray for and seek his activity right here, right now – in me, in us, in our communities, and in our country as well.

PLEASE NOTE: for your diary, there are extra fun things going on this coming Easter weekend and then on 30 April there is NO WEEKLY WORSHIP but there is Lunch and Open Space in the evening. Check the calendar at the bottom of the website homepage and the newssheets for up to date information.

Peace

David
 


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From Westminster to West Yorkshire 

 

The trauma in Westminster this week has happened quite faraway, and yet it is a national agony which we feel even in the “North”. The Apostle Paul used the metaphor of a body to describe the church family when he said, “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it…” And so, in the same way that a wound to the abdomen inflicts sharp pain there - but awareness of pain everywhere, so the immediate piercing damage done in London is also felt in Leeds.

 

Familiarity exacerbates the fear and distress. Many of us have walked Parliament Square and I still remember the shiver down my spine, waiting for a train at Kings Cross 12 years ago, and reading the headline, “bombers from Leeds” just a couple of days after that particular horror.

 

Leeds has, so far, escaped direct involvement in this attack but London is not so far away and we must not anaesthetise the pain. What can we do? One thing we can do is to pray. If you are not sure how to pray, here is how I am praying. I hope it may help you:

 

Sovereign God, hear my cry of “Why, why, why?” I know it is the work of the enemy but still the answers never really satisfy.

 

Lord, accept my questions.

 

Sovereign God, I don’t want to forgive but you have been merciful first and foremost so release forgiveness in my heart too.

 

Lord, accept my intent.

 

Sovereign God, comfort the broken-hearted. Those who, without warning have lost severely and are thrown into unprepared grief.

 

Lord, accept my plea.

 

Sovereign God, repair and heal the injured, in mind, body and spirit. Foil the plan of the enemy to destroy these lives and bring sweet miraculous restoration.

 

Lord, accept my portion of faith.

 

Sovereign God, enable the authorities to pursue righteousness and justice, uncovering the danger and thwarting further atrocities.

 

Lord, accept their efforts.

 

Sovereign God, for the sake of those who praise you and seek your face, sustain your overwhelming protection of this land.

 

Lord, accept our worship.

 

Sovereign God, cast light into the darkness so all may find a way to hope and freedom.

 

Lord, accept all of our stumbling.

 

Sovereign God, forgive my preoccupation with the pain that is nearest to home when, not so far away across the seas, many are in constant fear and hunger and many, many more have died. Grant them your mercy and comfort too.

 

Lord, accept the many prayers of those close to their own tragedies and my prayers for them too.

 

New People on Staff

 

In case you weren’t with us last Sunday morning: I was glad to introduce Phil Hicks as the person we have invited to take on the role of Project Manager as we set about the Project of buying a new building, refurbishing it and putting it to good use. Phil has a passion for buildings and as a property developer has great experience in managing projects like this. We are absolutely delighted that he has accepted this challenge!

 

If you have ideas about what you think God is calling us to do in this building drop him an email (phil.hicks@leedsvineyard.org). If you would like to offer skills and energy he would love to hear from you too. In due course I will be coming to you to explain how to give financially towards this project. But please be thinking and praying about it now.

 

As you will know Molly Ovenden, our finance administrator, is returning to her homeland in Minnesota (with her husband Max!). We are taking the opportunity to redefine the staffing needs within the financial governance of the church (and for Harrogate and Sheffield Vineyards). Therefore we have appointed an excellently qualified Business Manager. Adrian Howe worships at South Parade Baptist Church and is committed to Headingley and a friend of the Vineyard. You may not meet him on Sunday but you will see his face on the website and his name on financial documents!

 

New People for Dinner

 

Our next Welcome Dinner for new(ish) people is on Monday evening. If you or any of your friends in the church haven’t joined us before please extend a warm invitation to them and ask them to sign up on-line or on Sunday.

 

Peace

 

David

 


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Digging Up The Treasure 

This is turning into one of those important months in the life of Leeds Vineyard - and therefore in your and my life and in the lives of all those to whom we minister today and to whom we will minister in the years to come.  We are called to win Headingley for the Kingdom and the Project upon which we are embarking is a big step toward enabling the fulfilment of this vision.

Please do join us on Sunday morning at weekly worship where I will make a short announcement about our new staff appointments – key positions to get us into a place where we can start to “dig out the treasure” which God has shown us (Matthew 13:44-46).

Sally Wallace has a wonderful message continuing our series on “Who is Jesus?” in which she asks the question “And who do you say that I am?” And it is Picnic in the Church as well (so do bring your supplies!).

Mothers’ Day

Sunday 26 March is Mothers’ Day (or Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday). We will take the opportunity to bless and pray for women and mothers and offer them a small gift. It is a good opportunity to make an invitation to your friends, colleagues and family.

Our practice is to honour mothers (because we all had one) but also to honour all women whether or not they have biological children of their own. This is not a patronising male thing (Fathers' Day looms in a few weeks' time and we get our turn) but a recogition that women are an absolutely equal part of God's creation alongside men. Religious language tends to emphasis the masculine - for various grammatical and cultural reasons - but I don't believe God emphasises either gender. Genesis 1:27 says,

So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.


Both male and female are reflected in who God is. He is not gender-neutral - he is full of gender, male and female. So women and mothers reflect as much of who God is as men and fathers do.

Mothers' Day Sunday is also our monthly celebration of communion.  Sarah Byde will be teaching another in our “Who is Jesus?” series and showing how he identifies with us and we with him (whether we are men or women!). It’s a great message.

Fifth Sunday

Sunday 30 April is a 5th Sunday and we’re going to try something different. We will move weekly worship from the morning to the evening. It will take the form of Open Space, i.e. with more of a focus on worship and prayer (but there won’t be any provision for young children).

In the morning we are encouraging people who can to offer lunch in their home – for people who are relatively new to the church. We’ll provide more information soon but it would be great if you could make a note of this in your diary.

Baptisms

Our next baptism service is on 11 June up at Ilkley in the River Wharfe, as is our tradition. If you have not yet been baptised but you are a follower of Jesus then here is your chance! In Acts 2 when the people ask Peter how they could be saved he sums it up by instructing them to do three things: repent; be filled with the Holy Spirit; and be baptised. If you want to know more please ask your small group leader or one of the pastoral staff.

Peace

David
 


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