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What’s your Legacy?

I have recently been on an interesting ’journey’.

My 88 year old mother became seriously ill and after a month in hospital, sadly passed away. Visiting her daily over that time, I realised again how fragile life is. From enjoying a family holiday in June, here she was, just a month later, fading fast.

I was reminded of verse 7 in 1 Timothy 3, that we bring nothing into this world and take nothing out of it. It’s all about what we do with the time that we have between those 2 points. It is good to be faced with our own mortality and ask the deep questions. We have this life to decide where we will spend the next. We have only our soul, character and our response to Jesus. No riches, no possessions or property.

What is our legacy? What is left behind? Who have we impacted in our lives? How will we be remembered?

Hopefully we have lived in a way that illustrates God’s love, sharing the good news, encouraging people in faith, passing love and wisdom onto our children and grandchildren, friends, church.

And in the end, I hope that people will say of me, as I said of mum at her funeral, that our lives were richer for having known her.

You are Precious

I have just returned from a lovely holiday in Samos, Greece, with a Christian company called ‘Richmond Holidays’. www.richmondholidays.com (they also do winter skiing holidays too). The week was full of sun, sand and sea, watersports, trips (including Patmos and Ephesus) and fun.

But also, prayer, worship, a thought for the day and fellowship and…space. Everything is optional.

I went on holiday reeling from the death of my mother, who had been fading quite quickly over the previous month. On the first night, the scripture was Zechariah 3 v17

“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Saviour. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with singing.”

What a picture, that Father God sings over us. Not just me but all of His people, including YOU. It reminded me of the Matt Redman song https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=matt+redman+fathers+song  which tells me that God cares for me. There is an amazing line in that song ‘Heavens perfect mystery, the King of love has sent for me…’

God is always there through the ups and downs of life, sustaining and strengthening us. I need to listen to His voice above all others.

I just needed that verse in Zechariah to remind me that all things are held in His hand, He is in control and His timing is always perfect.

Great Resource

As a church, we have just completed a 6 week course called ‘Paraclesis’ by Trevor Partridge and published by CWR. (see www.paraclesis.org.uk) The Greek word means to come alongside and journey together.

The course is designed to lead small groups through a series of bible studies with great personal reflection built in. There are resources for sermons and small group leaders available online as well as a participants guide for everyday use. As the guide only costs £5, our groups were happy to buy a personal copy for study at home. There are useful communication tips to use everyday and also a set of Kindness Cards to nudge the group into actions they may not have thought of yet.

The idea is to intentionally love one another in the church more than we do and this will then spill over into life in the everyday, at home, school, work, college, gym and supermarket.

It also encourages us to look at our lives and see how we have journeyed since birth. Nothing is ever wasted in the Kingdom so all our experiences can be used to come alongside people who are struggling in those areas.

The church needs now more than ever to be a ‘paracletic’ community, to be a hospital for broken people to get well. The church has historically reached out to the broken and provided pastoral care. Think of the Salvation Army, the Samaritans, Relate, Alcoholics Anonymous, the hospice movement, YMCA, chaplaincy services etc etc ALL began with Christians getting involved in the community reaching out to broken people with the love of Christ.

Ephesians 4 v1-3 from the Message

‘I want you to get out there and walk – better yet, run – on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline – not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love’.

 

Have you noticed how character traits are passed down from parent to child? Some are good and some not so good.

I used the phrase ‘I am my father’s daughter’ recently when speaking to my brother about a situation which deeply frustrated me. He laughed, recalling how our dad was an intelligent and generous man, but one who did not suffer fools gladly.

The phrase stuck in my mind as I went about my day. I mused that although being true, how much more being a Christian, am I my heavenly Father’s daughter. I am loved and valued by Almighty God. I am accepted by Him, I am significant to Him and I am secure in Him.

He calls me to be faithful and He makes me fruitful. He encourages me to grow the fruit of the Spirit in my life, including patience (!) which I was lacking in my frustrating situation.

We need to remember that we are now children of the King, princes and princesses and show the world that indeed, we are our Father’s children by the way we live, speak and behave.

New Disciples

  • Join a church
  • Pray to be empowered by the Holy Spirit
  • Tell your family and friends about Jesus
  • Get Baptised in water
  • Be part of a small group for teaching, friendship and support
  • Read the Bible starting with a gospel
  • Use some daily Bible reading notes to help you – see resources chapter
  • Be a prayer partner or part of a triplet
  • Find a basic Christianity course – see resources chapter
  • Talk to the pastor or other mature Christian about being free from your past
  • Explore your gifts, talents and abilities
  • Discover your passions
  • Follow the guidelines on Christian living in the Bible
  • Find an opportunity to serve in your church – get involved!
  • Don’t worry when you have a bad day
  • Get involved with mission, at work, with your church, at school
  • Worship Him wherever you are and thank Him for all His provisions for you. This will become a daily routine
  • Ask yourself if you would do your usual things if Jesus was physically with you.
  • When a tough decision comes, ask what would Jesus do? (Remember, he did some pretty radical things!)
  • Ask God for His direction in all aspects of your life – involve Him in all decisions
  • Mix with Christians from other denominations and appreciate the breadth of his kingdom
  • Take an opportunity to go on a short-term mission abroad.

I was at a leadership conference recently where some deep, and searching questions were asked. See how you get on with answering them…

What sort of church do you want to lead?

What kind of leader do I want to be?

Do I desire intimacy with Jesus?

Do I cherish worship?

Do I enjoy serving?

Am I still amazed at the gospel?

Do I love what Jesus loves?

Reflect on Ephesians 3:17-19

Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. NLT

Be encouraged!

Chocolate and Brussel Sprouts!

I used the rather weird combination of chocolate and Brussel sprouts in church one day to illustrate that we often get surprises that we were not expecting! I wrapped up both round truffles and Brussel sprouts in wrapping paper. They looked identical as I gave them out to the children. I had a mixture of reactions!

          I asked the congregation what they were expecting as they came to church that day? I had a variety of answers.  There are Christians in many churches who go to church not expecting much. But what should we expect?

 1. Expect to participate – bring something to build the church

Worship is active, not passive as it says in 1 Cor 14:26

“What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church”.

Each of us can bring or do something – make the tea, welcome people, play the music, drive the technology, pray etc

  1. Expect God to move

I had the opportunity of visiting a church in India last year. Many people came to church from some distance ready for the 7am (!) service. They arrived with great expectation that God was going to do something. Many people have been converted from a faith where statue gods are worshipped but do not respond. Now they have discovered Jesus, a living God, who has touched their lives with deep forgiveness, His healing power, joy and eternal life. He changes lives and circumstances and answers prayer. No wonder they praise with passion and expectation!

So, why don’t all Christians go to church saying ‘What are You going to do today God?’ Maybe it’s because some haven’t seen God at work in power, so are not sure that He can or will…? Or maybe some are comfortable in their routine and are not used to expecting anything? Do not underestimate the power of praise and worship.

3. Expect the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin

We come to Him, confess our sin (not just saying sorry but saying I did it), receive forgiveness and be free.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Unforgiveness is a major problem for Christians, but forgiveness brings freedom

  1. Expect to be strengthened and challenged by God’s word

Colossians 1:3-6 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints — the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.

  1. Expect to have prayers answered

Share answers to prayer with each other and start each day as David did in Psalm 5 v1-3 “Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation”.

  1. Expect to be equipped for the week ahead

Gods promise threaded through the Bible ‘I will be with you’ (Ex 3v12) That’s HUGE. Also Heb 13v5 I will never leave you nor forsake you’

What are YOU expecting this Sunday?