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When visiting a church recently, I was powerfully reminded again by the word about God’s love for mankind in general (how Jesus came to earth, a radical and extreme action by God to bring us back into a relationship with Him) and Christians in particular.

We all live lives which are a mixture of highs and lows and plateaus. The mountain top experiences of God are awesome – to celebrate with great joy, to be overwhelmed by love and bubbling over with the gospel.

Most of our lives, to be honest, are walking along the plateau, in a daily routine where we know His reassuring presence, to hear His voice in the everyday stuff of life and faithfulness to His word.

However, there are those valley moments that seem dark and you wonder where God is. Valleys are often a place of battle, isolation, no sun, no warmth. BUT it is in the valley where the most fertile soil is. It is a place of growth, a place where we have to rely on God because we are at the end of ourselves.  In Psalm 23, it speaks of walking through the valley, but with no fear and knowing Gods protection. We are not to stay in the valley, to set up camp and stay there, we are to walk through and out the other side. We need to keep moving, we are on a pilgrimage with heaven as our goal.

Enjoy God on the mountain, but depend on Him in the valley.

I commend this song to you – Walking around these walls (Do it Again) by Elevation Worship (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0B_lnQIITxU)

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Global Family

I have recently returned from touring New Zealand, an awesome adventure in an amazing country. There was a sense of liberation as we toured with a campervan and map. No plans. No responsibility to be anyone and do anything, just to escape for a while. I heartily recommend this to anyone!

Stunning scenery and breathtaking views each day, with a sense of God’s power and eye for detail. Wild dolphins, seals, kiwis and penguins, waterfalls, mountain ranges and glaciers all featured in our trip. Delightful was the sense of family as we visited different churches along the way. Baptist, Anglican, Presbyterian and Equippers churches all gave us a lovely welcome. Our God is global and wherever we find ourselves, we find family in His church.

God is good – all the time!

Additional Needs

Last night I attended a meeting with local churches to hear about Additional Needs and how churches can be inclusive and helpful. So often we have people with additional needs and are not sure what to say, how to react and how to help them grow.

Lynnette Peckett is Additional Needs Co-ordinator at Teddington Baptist Church and she told us a huge percentage of people with additional needs children do not go to church and a shocking 300-400 people who no longer attend church, having been treated unhelpfully. People of all ages have a variety of additional needs and as churches, we need to be welcoming, accommodating and inclusive.

If this is an area in your church which needs more work and research, here are some helpful contacts and resources:

Additional Needs Alliance http://additionalneedsalliance.org.uk/

Energize https://www.energize.uk.net/

Livability https://www.livability.org.uk/

BOOKS

Making Church Accessible by Tony Phelps-Jones

Enabling Church by Gordon Temple

Multi-Sensory Ideas for Worship by Irene Smale

If you have questions you would like ask Lynnette, her email is lynnette@teddingtonbaptist.org.uk

Bible in 50 words

I came across this recently and thought it was pretty good at summing up the Bible. I wonder which words you would choose? Try it out!

God made, Adam bit, Noah arked, Abraham split

Joseph ruled, Jacob fooled, Bush talked, Moses balked

Pharaoh plagued, People walked, Sea divided, Tablets guided

Promise landed, Saul freaked, David peaked, Prophets warned

Jesus born, God walked, Love talked, Anger crucified, Hope died

Love rose, Spirit flamed, Word spread, God remained.

Anon.

Mission Challenges

Try these out in your church!

(A) You have £50 to spend. You have 2 able-bodied workers besides yourself, and another 4 members who are elderly, two of whom have limited mobility.

Plan an outreach activity, either as a one-off event or a weekly meeting, to reach:

  • over 65’s
  • children under 12
  • working couples

(B) You have £150 to spend. You have 4 able-bodied workers besides yourself and another 10 members who are either elderly and disabled or not very willing to be involved.

Plan an outreach activity, either as a one-off event or a weekly meeting to reach:

  • teenagers
  • young families
  • people with learning difficulties

(C) You have £500 to spend. You have 1 able-bodied worker besides yourself and 2 reasonably mobile and active elderly ladies.

Plan an event or activity which will reach out to the community immediately surrounding the church.

 

Many people look at how many people come to church and judge the ‘success’ on that. But church is not about numbers – it’s about health. Healthy things grow, unhealthy things wither and die.

How do we measure health? Here is one idea.

A TRIANGLE that has 3 equal sides – UP, IN and OUT.

Matt 28:18-20 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. (UP) Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. (OUT) Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. (IN) And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (UP)

UP – relate to God – worship, prayer, reading the Bible, listening, obeying, relying on God John 3 v16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

IN – relate to God’s people in the church – meet, share life, love, support, use gifts & talents, serve, study, eat, laugh together, meet with other churches, joint projects

OUT – relate to the world – reach out, love, talk, serve, be friends, share the good news of Jesus

How many people do you come into contact within a week? Quite a number probably. Who is God calling you to speak to, serve, be a friend to?

HEALTH equals the 3 in balance – The triangle is one with 3 sides – all affect each other

Micah 6:8 The Lord has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you: To act justly (OUT), and to love mercy (IN), and to walk humbly with God (UP)

On my recent holiday to Cyprus, I was on a beach on a windy day and observed the following:

The Lifeguard – up in the tower, red flag flying yet a teenage girl ventures out into the crashing waves. Another person stands on a slim jetty enjoying the constant spray. One is taking the risk of being sucked under by the back wash and the other thinks she is safe on the flimsy jetty. The lifeguard is sitting in his tower next to the red flag but is concentrating on his mobile phone! He spends much time looking down at the screen, seemingly oblivious to the plight of the risk takers. He eventually looks up and looks a little concerned when the teenage girl brings her small brother into the water.

The Lighthouse – firmly built on a rock, steady for years, the light shines out every day and night protecting the ships from the rocks below. Never moves, never falters, never distracted by a mobile phone. Light seen for miles around.

My reflections:

Man has a purpose in life but is flawed, easily distracted, diverted from the job of warning and saving people. Me too.

God is always there, shining light into our lives, showing us the way, firm and steady through the years, dependable. I have a picture of a lighthouse at night with the caption “Sleep in peace, God is awake”.

Reminded me of Psalm 4 v8 ‘I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone O Lord, make me dwell in safety’. May you know His peace today and commit again to fulfil your purpose of warning people of the dangers of life without a Saviour.