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Sabbath Rest

At a conference recently, a group of about 20 pastors had a discussion about the Sabbath. We looked at Exodus 20 v8-11 then Deuteronomy 5 v12-15.

Many of the pastors found it hard to take a day off for various reasons but overwork is a killer, both physically and spiritually. For those of us who work in church on a Sunday, this is not our Sabbath, but it is our job to facilitate the congregation to have one. To praise, worship and rest is the Lord should be our top priorities.

The Sunday service in our church is often described as an oasis in a busy week. It is (or should be) the place of refreshment to both body and soul, the place to be equipped and empowered to face the week ahead with its many joys and challenges.

God held a mirror to my face saying ‘so when is your day off Hilary?’      I have such a varied diary that the line between work and pleasure is blurred. My new definition of Sabbath is ‘me and God on our own’ time. I have put DAY OFF on all Fridays in my diary from now on.

If you give out a lot, you have to take in a lot and keep life in balance.

The conference at Hothorpe Hall, Leics (http://www.hothorpe.co.uk) I attended was specifically for tired leaders of all denominations and was a place of refreshing, both physically and spiritually. Check out the website (www.livingleadership.org) to book for the next one. The main speaker next year is Rev David Coffey.

When is your day off?

Messy Church

messy

 

Messy Church: Fresh Ideas for Building a Christ-Centred Community

By Mrs Lucy Moore

Many churches, in fact 2737 churches to date, are running ‘Messy Church’ across the UK and the world. Many small churches are successfully running this new version of church which is attended by families, many of whom would find a traditional Sunday service difficult.

The format is simple and includes:

  • Bible Story time with pictures, actions, noise, puppets etc
  • Prayer
  • Song
  • Craft Time
  • Food together

Most small churches run this activity once a month as it takes much preparation and people to be committed. However it seems to attract people from the community in numbers unseen at many other church based activities.

If the church is running other groups, such as a nursery or parents & tots, then Messy Church, is a natural progression for them to explore church.

It is also fantastic to get the church working together as people with many varied gifts are needed – story tellers, musicians, cooks, creative people etc so all can get involved. There is also the added opportunity of chatting to parents while doing craft or over dinner.

Check out the website www.messychurch.org.uk or buy the book from your local Christian bookshop or Amazon.

Do send in your comments and experiences of Messy Church to share around.

Have fun!

Spiritual Growth

‘Spiritual growth’ is one of those Christian phrases which is frequently said and yet not often defined. I think it means the process of getting to know God better, hearing His voice more often and seeing ‘God changes’ within everyday life. It is often easier to see growth in each other rather than yourself and it is not easily measured.

In church, we often have superficial conversations such as ‘How are you?’ ‘I’m fine, thanks’. This could be raised to a whole new level if instead you asked someone ‘What has God said to you recently?’

The answer may be positive and a story is shared, You could then ask ‘What are you doing about it?’.

If the answer is negative, there is an opportunity for prayer.

You could then share your answers to the same questions.

Brilliant in its simplicity, it immediately raises the level of conversation to intentional discipleship. As it says in Proverbs 27v17

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (NIV)

However, it does rather assume that

  1. God is speaking and

  2. We are not only listening, but hearing

In many cases, this is the snag.

God is always speaking, so the snag lies with us. Prayer and generally listening to God as He communicates in many ways daily, often seems to be where the church is weakest.

I invite you to reflect on your listening skills and make a promise to yourself and God to work on them, then this conversation becomes possible.

Let’s have enriching and life changing communication in our churches and grow faster and deeper spiritually.

The church in general is perceived, quite rightly, to be like a hospital, where broken, wounded people come to be ‘fixed.’

This is following the actions of Jesus, reaching out with compassion with His healing touch.

The minister, vicar, church leader is like a GP who heads up a team of specialists.

Each of us who have been healed, restored and forgiven can in turn help those who come seeking help. We each have our area of experience to equip us to come alongside and understand.

Many churches muddle along in terms of helping people, without a plan of how best to do this. A few people get heavily involved often to the point of exhaustion, as it is often an energy draining task.

In my experience, there is also a blurred line between loving people and helping them and knowing when they need specific, professional help.

Sound familiar??

On March 21st, I have invited Carolyn Bramhall to speak to a day conference in London. She heads up a team called ‘Heart 4 Truth’ based in Newbury, Berkshire. Having been liberated from Dissociative Identity Disorder and is a survivor of satanic ritual abuse, she teaches churches how to support needy people in a Christ centered way, sharing the responsibility of care between a group called a Truth Team.

It is a simple idea, but very effective and many people have been restored to fullness of life through this process.

For more information:

www.heartfortruth.org.uk

Carolyn Bramhall’s book ‘Am I a good girl yet?’

Please make a comment if you wish to attend the conference

 

There is celebration in our house this week as my husband has his 60th birthday!

Birthdays are always a good time to look back at life’s journey with its ups and downs, its twists and turns, and to appreciate the path God has directed you along.

As the years go by, there is a difference between being an old Christian and being a mature one. Many people in our churches have been there faithfully for many years and are old in years but not necessarily mature in faith.

The writer to the Hebrews puts this very succinctly:

Hebrews 5:11-6:2

You are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgement.

So, how do you measure maturity? What are the life signs?

Some suggestions:

1. How peaceful is your life? Do you have peace and pray or panic?

2. Do you trust God in the small things, the big things and all decisions?

3. Have you a desire to worship? God is worthy of our praise no matter how you feel.

4. Do others so Jesus reflected in our lives? Are we different to not yet Christians?

5. Do you allow the Holy Spirit to flow through you and out to others?

I keep a journal, a collection of ‘God moments’ and have done so since 1995. It is fascinating to read my journey and the things I learnt on the way. There is still a long way to go, but God is in control and He graciously reveals only one step at a time.

For 2015, how about starting a journal of God moments and in your church, following Hebrews 10

verses 23 – 25.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Happy new year!

January is always a good time to reflect on life, our past, present and future and who we are in Christ.

There is a great verse in Jude who is writing his letter:

“To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ” NIV

This short verse encompasses the past:

‘we have been called’

…and the present:

‘we are loved by God the Father’

…and the future:

‘we are kept by Jesus Christ’

We are accepted by God, secure in God and significant to God. This is our status. These things that Adam lost, have been restored to us through Christ. This enables us to stand firm when life happens, and it will…

I encourage you take a few moments to reflect on these 3 aspects.

Your role of serving Christ flows from your status In Christ.

Another great passage to reflect on these things is Ephesians chapter 1.

May this year be full of ‘God moments’ as you serve Him,

Happy New Year ?!

Well actually, I’m 2 weeks late! November 30 is ‘New Years Day’ for the church.

Advent in the first season of the Church year, a season to celebrate and to prepare for the arrival. It is a time to look back at the past, celebrate the present and look forward to the future. During advent, Church leaders often wear purple, a royal colour, to signify that a King has come, yet is coming again.

In church, we often have 4 advent candles

Candle 1 Hope – God speaks hope to the world through the church

Eph 3:10-11 God’s purpose was to show his wisdom in all its rich variety to all the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. They will see this when Jews and Gentiles are joined together in his church. This was his plan from all eternity, and it has now been carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Candle 2 Peace – the Prince of Peace, the Messiah was promised – at least 400 times in the Old Testmament. Isaiah, 700 years BC, wrote this:

Isa 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Candle 3 Love – the God of love was on his way. John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for Jesus. When John was only 8 days old, his father Zechariah prayed over him, saying: And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.

This fulfilled the words of Isaiah 40 ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'”

Candle 4 Joy – celebrates Mary’s joy and faith

After life changing news from the angel, she totally trusts God and declares in Luke 1:38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.”

Candle 5 Birth of Jesus – the King has arrived

Luke 2:6-7 While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And he gave him the name Jesus.

So in Advent, we need to prepare, not only our homes but our hearts for celebration. To share the good news that Jesus has come, that Christmas points to Easter and our lives can be changed forever.

Invite people to come to your church this week to sing carols and to hear the truth about Christmas. Many people said that last year more visitors came to their carol services than for a long time. People are searching. Pray that they come.

At Christmas time, when we receive presents we don’t really need, God offers us a gift we cannot do without.

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