Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I recently came across this African proverb:

‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’.

I reflected on this after going to an anniversary service of a local small church. They are part of a cluster of 4 small churches in West London who meet together on a regular basis. All 4 churches came to celebrate the anniversary with tea and worship. There was a great atmosphere as people met, exchanged news and renewed friendships. The largest of these churches has 25 members, the smallest has 5. However, we know that kingdom life is not about numbers, it’s about health. Each of the 4 churches could celebrate how God is moving and working in their churches and people in the community being reached.

Interdependence is the way of the Kingdom.

Psalm 133

 

 

On My Knees

Product DetailsPrayer is one of those things – we know it’s vital to our walk with God, but we still do not spend enough time talking and listening to God. I have recently read a great book called ‘On My Knees’ by Chris Band. It is a very honest look at prayer – why pray, how to balance prayer and doing and how prayer actually changes the world.

There is a lovely illustration of God’s patience with us – a child is helping Grandpa in the green house to plant seeds. It takes at least 3 times as long as if he did the job himself, but he enjoys his granddaughters company and they work together at her slow pace. This is our God – he is patient with us and allows us time to work things out. Our Christian life is a journey, more like a meandering river than a canal running from A to B. It’s like jazz music where composition and improvisation run side by side to create something unique. If you have a SATNAV, you know that it always gives you the fastest route to your destination. However, if you do head down a different road to the instruction, it re-routes to accommodate you. We have a great God who gives us a healthy mixture of stability and flexibility.

The opening lines of the Lord’s Prayer serves to focus us on God.

Our Father in heaven – our relationship (our), who He is (Father) and where He is (heaven).

Hallowed be Your name (He is worthy of our worship – the name above every name)

Your Kingdom come (therefore…my kingdom go…)

Your will be done (not mine) as it is in heaven (all commands carried out obediently).

Focusing on God fuels the revolution from self-centeredness to God-centeredness. God knows our hearts and thoughts. The Bible helps us to express these in prayer, there are twice as many psalms of lament than there are of praise! God is there with us in all of life’s messiness.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly to you.

It is always good to visit other churches so when I was abroad recently, I went to Mount Horeb Baptist Cathedral. The word was powerfully preached by a man who admitted that he would rather be preaching on God’s love, grace etc, but was compelled by the Holy Spirit to preach ‘Please don’t go to hell’.

It was a full gospel message based on Jesus’ parable in Luke 16 v19-31 about a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus. The rich man lacked nothing material in life, died and went to hell. The poor beggar Lazarus died and went to heaven.

The preachers main points were:

  • Life on earth is temporal
  • In death, all we have physically vanishes
  • Everyone dies
  • We have this life to decide where to spend eternity
  • What you do about Jesus and His free gift of salvation will determine your destination
  • Whether you believe it or not, heaven and hell exist

The preacher went on to quote Jesus as he taught much about hell (Matthew 13, 16, 25, Luke 16 etc). To conclude, he simply stated that the fact that only belief in Jesus as your saviour opens the way to heaven (John 14 v6). He then asked people where they stood before God, and to come forward if they knew they were not saved. 12 people responded that day to receive salvation.

When was the last time you heard / preached a sermon on heaven and hell?

24/7 Faith

Listening again to one of my favourite songs ‘God in my living’ by Tim Hughes, I am reminded that God is God of the small, the everyday, the deep sorrows and the great successes. All of life. The key is to praise and thank Him anyway, regardless of circumstances. He does not change. His love and faithfulness, strength and comfort see us through any situation. Be blessed by these beautiful pictures alongside the words on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dk4AuUbGWCE

God in my living, there in my breathing, God in my waking, God in my sleeping,

God in my resting, there in my working, God in my thinking, God in my speaking.

God in my hoping, there in my dreaming, God in my watching, God in my waiting,

God in my laughing, there in my weeping, God in my hurting, God in my healing.

Be my everything, Be my everything,

Christ in me, the hope of glory

You are everything.

 

 

Overcoming Hurdles

At a conference entitled ‘Missional Leadership’ Rev Anne Calver spoke about how to overcome those hurdles we face as Christian leaders. Below are my notes, reproduced with her permission.

When we face hurdles, our first instinct is to shy away, ignore them or run! Remember the children’s story ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ by Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury? When faced with obstacles they said we can’t go under it, can’t go over it, we’ve got to go through it! In Exodus 3-5, Moses is faced with a big challenge, yet God says ‘I will be with you.’

Encounter – Exodus 3 v3. Moses made a decision to check out the bush that was burning. He chose to encounter God. We too need to choose to encounter God or not.

Who am I? – Ex 3 v11. Moses asked God the question that we too ask. When God commissions us to do a job for Him, all of our life experience comes to the fore. The work God has done in you, He now wants to do through you. Nothing in your life up to this point will be wasted. He has chosen us for a reason.

Suppose I do go? – Ex 3 v13. If I do go, what will actually happen? Moses wanted to know, just as we do. We want it all taped down: the what, why, how, where and who, before we begin. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for trust…

What if…? – Ex 4 v1. These two words hold us back and bring anxiety, the opposite of trust. Our minds race ahead to various scenarios, most of which won’t actually happen. However, if God has set a task for you, it cannot fail. He does not set us up to fail, He brings success to those who are faithful. We must not crush God’s word with fear or insecurity.

Excuses – Ex 4 v10. Moses essentially says ‘you know my baggage and my faults, choose someone else!’ Moses pours out a list of negatives. When tempted to do this, we need to grasp again with confidence that God is in control (v12).

Chosen – Ex 4 v13. Moses is still pleading with God to send someone else, but he was the right man for the job so was chosen by God. However, God graciously gave him his brother, Aaron to work alongside him. He was a support and encourager on their long and difficult journey to free the Israelites from Egypt. Who is alongside you in your work? We are not designed to work alone, we need the body of Christ.

We read in chapter 5 v1 that Moses and Aaron went to Egypt, confronted Pharoah and demanded that the Israelites be set free from slavery. Moses albeit reluctantly at first, overcame his very human hurdles and God granted him success.

During 2017, Rural Ministries are holding 4 day conferences to encourage and build up the church across the UK. Each day contains 4 workshops based on pastoral care being an effective tool to reach people for Christ.

Workshop 1, entitled ‘Why Care?’ asks what the Bible has to say about pastoral care, how we define ‘need’ and identifies some skills and tools which need to be developed in our congregations.

Workshop 2, entitled ‘Building a Community of Carers’ asks how a local church can identify, train and release new people into caring roles across the generations. It also addresses the question of burnout in the busy frontliners of the church.

Workshop 3, entitled ‘Pastoral Care as an Outreach Model’ uses scripture to explore a Biblical model of pastoral care which brings about personal and community transformation.

Workshop 4, entitled ‘Pastoral Care across the Generations’ acknowledges that rural churches are growing and ageing faster than urban churches, putting them at the forefront of tackling the challenges and opportunities of an ageing society. It also looks at how to effectively minister to those who are elderly.

Dates and Locations of Conferences – cost £15

4th February in Huntingdon, 4th March in Taunton, 16th September in Berwickshire, 14th October in Oswestry

To book, go to http://www.ruralministries.org.uk/events

I am currently reading ’Explore’ daily bible notes from ‘The Good Book Company’. I’d like to share the opening days describing one way to check on your spiritual health as the new year begins.

They ask the following questions:

  1. Are you in love with Jesus? (Revelation 2 v1-7, 1 Corinthians 13 v4-7)
  2. Are you grateful for the cross? (1 Timothy 1 v15, Mark 15 v1-39)
  3. Are you excited about your eternal life? (Romans 8 v18-25)
  4. Are you committed to God’s people? (John 15 v9-15, Romans 12 v9-16)
  5. Are you pursuing godliness? (2 Peter 1 v1-8)

Another good question is to ask ‘How healthy is my church spiritually?’ Colossians 3 v5-17 has some pointers on how this may work in practice.

Make a point of encouraging each other regularly, sending notes of thanks to build one another up. Stand shoulder to shoulder as you journey together through this new year.

May you thrive in the new adventure God has for you in 2017.