Our Blog

Out thoughts and observations on life

Within our blog posts you will find wit and wisdom from our church ministers, department leaders and members of our churches. The views expressed by individuals within this blog are their own!

Our Blog Posts

  • Salvation is...

    25 June 2017

    For everyone (Acts 10:34-35) – God will accept all who repent and turn to Him.)

    From God (Acts 10:36) – God is the one who initiated this reconciliation between Himself and mankind. We could do nothing to change our fate.)

    Through Jesus (Acts 10:36) – Jesus is the Lamb which God promised to take away the sins of the world. There is no other way.)

    Evidenced by the Spirit (Acts 10:38) – The Holy Spirit empowered Jesus ministry in the flesh just as He empowers us to continue that ministry today.)

    Witnessed by the apostles (Acts 10:39) – The apostles saw the things which Jesus did up to and including His death and resurrection. We are witnesses to great things as well by giving testimony to the way He has changed our lives and the lives of those around us because of His death and resurrection.)

    Provided through crucifixion (Acts 10:39) – Our salvation comes through Christ’s death on the cross for our sin. God’s justice was satisfied completely.)

    Proved in resurrection (Acts 10:40) – While the work for salvation was finished on the cross, the proof that it was really finished is given in the resurrection. Death, the grave, and hell have no power over those who are in Christ. We have assurance and hope as a result.)

    Preached by believers (Acts 10:42) – We are commanded to proclaim the good news to all people just as the Apostles were.)

    The only way to receive forgiveness (Acts 10:42-43) – We are to accept the message of the Gospel and trust in Jesus.)

    In Jesus alone. Praise God “everyone who believes in Him will have their sins forgiven through His name.” (Acts 10:43)

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • The Heavenly Father’s love

    18 June 2017

    “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8)

    God the Father loves us more than we can imagine. Sin can lead us to places we should not go, or to do things we should not do, or encourage us to say things we should not say.

    Yet Father God’s love is so great for you that no matter what the sin, He sent His son to die for you so that you can be forgiven and made whole. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The price had to be paid, a perfect sacrifice was required and God the Father sent Jesus, the sinless one, to give His life as a ransom for our sins.

    The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:14, “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” We are all in a race. If we have asked Jesus, God’s Son, into our hearts and to forgive us our sins, then we are pressing on to win the prize and our Heavenly Father is running the race with us.

    God has showed His love for us, He has expressed His love for us. How do we express our love for God? I suggest the pursuit of excellence in our daily lives is an important expression of our love for God. 1 John 2:4-6, If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love Him. That is how we know we are living in Him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

    Following God’s commands, God’s precepts, God’s will and purpose for your life is an expression of your love.

    God’s love for you is amazing. He wants what is best for you. Your Father in heaven cares, He wants you to be healed and cleansed from your sins. God wants you to be in a right relationship with Him and others around you.

    May you experience His heart of love for you today, the heart of a true loving and kind Heavenly Father.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • The touch of the Master’s hand

    11 June 2017

    In 1921 Myra Brooks Welch wrote the poem “The touch of the Master’s hand” subtitled The old Violin. It tells the story of an old violin, lying in a dusty corner of an auction room. It is battered, scarred, forgotten, worthless in worldly eyes.

    Valued at only a few pounds, no more, the auctioneer works hard but the bidding is sparse and sporadic, there is little interest in the room. But then a master violinist picks up the humble instrument, lovingly caresses it, draws the bow across the strings and the room is filled with hauntingly sweet melody. In that moment the violin becomes an instrument of great beauty and value.

    Life can be difficult, it can wear us out.

    We grow older, more tired, perhaps we feel left out, cast aside, out of tune, perhaps even worthless. But the Master knows your true value, if you let Him He will call you out to be sweet music to others. God paid the ultimate price for you and for me, the highest price that can be paid, His Son.

    You are not worthless, abandoned, cast aside, you are a pearl of great price.Human life has divine value placed on it.

    “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

    Liz Chiesa

  • The Power of Pentecost

    4 June 2017

    Jesus said: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

    The word translated power is the Greek word dunamis. Dunamis is used 120 times in the New Testament. It is a word that refers to ‘strength, power, or ability’. Dunamis is not just any power it is miraculous power or marvellous works. Dunamis can also refer to ‘power and excellence of soul’. Dunamis is the root word of the English words dynamite, dynamo and dynamic.

    In John 14:15-17 Jesus said: “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you.”

    Advocate in Greek: Paraclete or paráklētos - the one who consoles; comforts; encourages; uplifts; refreshes; or intercedes. On the day of Pentecost the Advocate arrived in power. The Holy Spirit was poured out on the 120 disciples gathered together in the Upper Room and they were changed, they were transformed. Peter preached the Gospel and 3,000 people were saved that day.

    Power, boldness, to go out and speak truth and thousands were saved. Could that happen today? Yes it can! God has not changed, His power has not diminished. The Holy Spirit still operates in power in our lives. The truth of the Gospel still changes and transforms lives today and God uses ordinary people like you and me to share the truth of who Jesus is with others.

    The disciples were filled with dunamis power and today we, as disciples of Jesus, are filled with the same dunamis power as those first disciples.

    Remember, we do not live the Christian life in our own power, but in God’s. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • You can break free

    28 May 2017

    Did you know that if you tie a working elephant to a stake it will stay there? Even though the elephant is big and strong; even though he has a mind of his own; and even though he could easily uproot a tree – he will stay put. Why? Because he has been conditioned to do so. From birth, the elephant has been tied to a stake and had very limited freedom. But as he grows bigger and the stake stays the same size, his mindset still tells him he must stay by the stake. He still believes he cannot break free. He has been convinced that he has limited freedom so he does not even try.

    Likewise, we’ve all had experiences as we’ve developed which have caused us to be conditioned to certain ways of thinking; have caused us to be conditioned to limited expectations; and have made it difficult for us to know true freedom. These can be things that affect us mentally, physically and spiritually. They affect our expectations of what we can achieve so that we say, “O, I could never do that/be like that”. We can often be “tied to a stake” without realising it.

    The stake to the elephant was not necessarily a bad thing. It probably kept him and others from danger, and it was only small. It’s almost ridiculous to think that a large elephant should be hindered by such a small thing. Of course, it isn’t the stake that holds him, but what’s in the elephant’s mindset. Even the tiniest of things can hinder us and prevent us from knowing true freedom in Christ. But Jesus said it doesn’t have to be like that. We can be free if we act on God’s Word and not the word that someone spoke into our lives when we were young.

    It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and don’t be burdened by a yoke of slavery (to the past ways). (Galatians 5:1)

    If there’s a stake in your life, pray about it, speak to someone about it, stand on God’s Word and check out his will for your life.

    Anne O'Brien

  • Who can you invite to God’s family?

    21 May 2017

    For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28)

    The Bible tells us we are equal to each other in God’s family - He loves each of us the same. God does not have favourites. Together we are His house, His church, His body and God has called us together for a purpose. That purpose is to love and serve Him and to love and serve others. We are to proclaim that Jesus is Lord, to learn more about Him and to lead others to Him.

    Jesus calls all of His disciples, all of His followers, all who say they have been saved, all who say they love Him to be actively involved in sharing the message of salvation with others. It’s time to follow His Great Commission to us. Jesus didn’t die so we could feel good on a Sunday morning, He died to set the captive free, He died to bring salvation, He died to bring healing and wholeness and restoration to a fallen and sin sick world.

    When was the last time you told somebody about Jesus? When was the last time you told someone they needed to accept Jesus as their Saviour? When was the last time you invited someone to a church service? When was the last time you realised, that you have a God given responsibility to tell others about who is supposed to be the most important part of your life? The one you are meant to love with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind.

    This life is short don’t waste it. Look for the opportunity to get involved, focus on sharing Jesus with others. Do everything you can for the Lord, take advantage of every opportunity that comes to proclaim the truth of the Gospel. God can use everyone of us to bring glory to share the truth of the Gospel. God can use you, yes you to make a difference in this world.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • We are called to dream

    14 May 2017

    In The Old Testament, God promised a day would come when His people would be filled with His Spirit; when they were full of God, God Himself would give His people dreams and visions. This happened at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came and Peter reminded the people of the promise of God: This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: In the last days, God says, ‘I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.’ (Acts 2:16-17).

    When God pours Himself on us by His Spirit, He stirs up in us dreams and visions of His power, mercy, truth, holiness and ,greatness. When God pours Himself into an individual, the inner life is changed; it is filled with God. Do not think that this is something beyond your reach. Do not think that an experience of God is for the spiritual elite. The point of Joel’s prophecy is the Spirit will be poured on all people – man or woman, old or young the promise is for you if you are a disciple of Jesus.

    But, “all people” does not mean every human without exception. Joel said, “everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.” (Joel 2:32). There are those who do not call on the name of Jesus; they sense no need for Him and no joy in Him. All people means every sort of person in every nation.

    What we learn new from the New Testament is that the only way to receive the promise of the Holy Spirit is to repent and accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour so that we can receive forgiveness for our sins. Peter concludes his sermon in Acts 2:38 with these words: “Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

    The Holy Spirit helps us to follow the will and purposes of God the Father.

    The Holy Spirit helps us to be the people that God has called us to be.

    We have been filled with the Spirit of God, and we are living in the last days, because every day is one day closer to the return of Jesus. As disciples of Jesus, God has plans that involves making Himself known to the people of this World through us. May each of us be enabled by the Holy Spirit to share the truth of the Gospel with others.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Sabbath Time

    7 May 2017

    Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. (Exodus 20:8)

    Sunday is a day of rest, a day to worship God, and fellowship with other believers. A day to spend time with family and friends, to share food and friendship. It is a time to focus on the beauty of God’s creation, to thank God for all He has blessed us with in the past week, time to rest in thankfulness, free from multitasking, a day free from striving for perfection and productivity. A day to rest in God’s goodness. But busyness can creep up unawares, suddenly the Sabbath is gone, the sense of peace and rest dissipated.

    Sabbath is from the Hebrew word Shabbat, meaning to stop, to pause to cease, desist.

    Modern life is relentlessly busy and noisy, so just as important as physical rest, Sabbath is a time to take rest for the soul, heart rest and inner tranquillity.

    Sometimes we may need to take time out in the middle of a busy week, to gift ourselves a mini-Sabbath, which can be life enhancing, and can bring a sense of natural rhythm to a hectic lifestyle. God created a world of natural rhythms—the cycle of the seasons, the rhythm of night and day.

    The essence of Sabbath is rest and renewal for the soul.

    “My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him” (Psalm 65:1).

    Sabbath is a love gift from God.

    Liz Chiesa

  • The Tea-Set

    30 April 2017

    The tea-set, a very elegant Poole Pottery set, was given to us as a wedding present years ago. It was so nice (and expensive) that we didn’t dare to use it in case bits were broken. And so it lived in a display cabinet and gradually other pieces were added so that we had a full dinner service, a coffee set and serving dishes too. It was very impressive! But still it was rarely used – maybe just at Christmas and special occasions. And, since we moved into the bungalow, it has lived in a box in the loft. So, you could well ask, “What was the point of it”? There is no point.

    On the other hand, over the years, we have had a selection of mugs and plates and teapots etc. And I’ve always had my favourite mug. In this mug I am convinced the tea and coffee tastes much nicer. It’s nothing special, certainly not the ‘best looking’ mug. It’s not made from superior china. Occasionally my favourite mug has had a chip or a flaw in it. So, we could ask the same question “What’s the point of it”? The point is that this mug is loved and brings pleasure to me. The point is that this mug is functional and provides me with want I want.

    Sometimes we feel that we must be high-quality, attractive, perfect Christians who always look good like a best tea-set. But unless we are being used by God, what’s the point? God’s looking for people who want to be used by him, and often the people he chooses are the old ones, the ‘chipped’ or flawed ones, the plain ones, the poor ones, in other words - ordinary people, warts and all. Why? Because when we make ourselves available to him we bring pleasure to him and we glorify him. Even in our weakness he favours us over showy perfection because we can be far more useful and functional in His Kingdom. Yes, God wants us to be set apart. But not as in being stored in the loft! He calls us to be set apart like my favourite coffee mug, dedicated for one specific purpose – serving him and no other, so that we bring him pleasure and glory. That’s the whole point!.

    Anne O'Brien

  • God’s blank Canvas

    23 April 2017

    In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1) and God said “Let there be light” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:3-4).

    Imagine a huge blank and dark artist’s canvas, totally void of any detail, colour, life or light.

    Imagine the Master Artist laying down colour with careful, loving brush strokes, for the sky, the land and the sea.

    Gradually He fills the dark void with light and life.

    Finally, the Master Artist covers the 4 corners of His canvas.

    He finishes His ‘creation’ by using the smallest and most insignificant brushes to create the best effect possible for the painting He has created.

    With God as our Master Artist and Creator we can go forward with His work – as His brushes – whether we be huge, rough-bristled, or fine-sable.

    God can use each and every one of us to complete His work that He has laid on our paint pallet.

    As the Potter with his clay creates something from nothing, so does the Artist with his blank canvas.

    Lord, You are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter, we are all the work of your hand.

    Wally King

  • The Promise of the Cross

    16 April 2017

    The first Easter morning 2000 years ago must have began with sadness. I can imagine the followers of Jesus waking up and remembering what had happened, remembering the horror of Friday, remembering that their friend was dead and thinking their dreams were shattered. But then a shout, He’s alive, the tomb is empty. Then it happened, in the blink of an eye, they weren’t mourning Jesus death they were celebrating Jesus being alive. It wasn’t defeat it was victory. Because Jesus wasn’t dead He was alive and the tomb was empty.

    For us to fully grasp the Events of that first Easter Sunday, we need to take a moment to consider the Event that took place on the first Good Friday - the crucifixion of Jesus. The Crucifixion of Jesus is at the centre of the Message of the Gospel.

    The prophecies and predictions recorded in the Old Testament were fulfilled when Jesus hung on the cross. The events leading up to Christ’s death are filled with emotion, but it is when Jesus, the Spotless Lamb of God, becomes our substitute, when He takes the punishment for Sin that w e deserve, when He bears the full penalty of our Sin, that is when we really marvel at the amazing infinite grace and love of God.

    None of us will ever completely understand what Christ accomplished on the cross. It is beyond our human comprehension, but we can thank God this morning that the promise of redemption for all who trust in Jesus as Lord and Saviour was made reality at the cross.

    We look to the Cross in faith and say “I am a sinner, and the mercy of God is revealed to me in the death of Jesus,” then a miracle occurs in our lives. The Apostle Paul called it being “saved,” Jesus spoke of it as being “born again.” We are transformed when we know we are accepted by God, when we know we have been forgiven because of the saving work of Jesus Christ on the Cross.

    Christianity is a supernatural faith, but it has its basis firmly rooted in historical facts. Our faith depends on us believing the true historic facts that Jesus was crucified and that He rose from the grave. Either Jesus Christ rose from the dead or He did not. The Bible says He rose, the history of Christianity proves He arose. The personal experience of every born-again believer agrees with the biblical record.

    Jesus Christ is alive today.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Palm Sunday – And then what...?

    9 April 2017

    Jesus had travelled 80 miles south from Galilee, nearly as far as Bethany, wanting to be in Jerusalem for the Passover. Many pilgrims joined Jesus on the way and experienced Him performing miracles; healing the sick; teaching, and telling parables. His fame went before Him so that, as He left the Mount of Olives to approach Jerusalem, the crowds lined the streets and welcomed Him as they would a king. Many were expecting Him, as Messiah, to set up His Kingdom in Jerusalem.

    But their expectations were to fall flat. They had made the mistake of “putting Jesus in a box” of their own thinking. Instead of riding into Jerusalem on a white horse befitting a victorious king, He (in the eyes of many) humiliated Himself by arriving on an ass not yet broken in. Instead of fighting for the rights of the Jews, He slated them for their evil exploitation in the Temple. Instead of ruling as king … He died on a Cross … which was meant for Barabbas (we can put our name here too).

    What do we do when God doesn’t show up in the way that we wanted Him to? Sometimes, instead of showering us with blessings, He teaches us life lessons. Do we still love Him, worship Him, follow Him? Do we understand there may be a bigger picture? Jesus Christ is not just Baptizer, Healer and King. First and foremost, He became our suffering Saviour. There are many thousands of Christians in our world today who are not deceived by the blessings of Palm Sunday. Instead, they walk daily in the sufferings of Jesus. They are the persecuted church – our Christian brothers and sisters who experience anything from physical violence to having no rights – no right to a job or schooling or safe housing; no right to join the food queues in times of famine. They don’t have great expectations. But neither are they downcast. (Read what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12).

    We are very blessed in our country with freedom to worship and all that we need – and more (Easter eggs!). This Easter please remember 2 things:

      • God’s plans may be different to your expectations, but it doesn’t mean He has abandoned you. He has a better way for you in the long term.
      • Neither has God forsaken the persecuted church, whom He asks us to help in their time of need.

    This year we are raising money for both Barnabas and the Elim Relief Association to help people in Sudan, Kenya and Uganda who are suffering with famine in East Africa. If you can help, please put your money in an envelope marked East Africa appeal and place it in the offering bag, or hand it to Brian James or myself. Thank you.

    Anne O'Brien

  • What is in your hand?

    2 April 2017

    In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. (Romans 12:6–8)

    Paul emphasized that we are to actually use the gifts and abilities God has given us for the benefit of others. Some people say, “I don’t know what to do” or “I don’t really have any special talent to give”.

    In Exodus chapter 4, Moses said much the same thing when God spoke to him at the burning bush. “I can’t do what you want, Lord, because of this excuse and that excuse. People won’t accept me. I can’t speak well. Let somebody else do it I’m a nobody.

    How did God answer? “Moses, what is in your hand?” For Moses, it was a staff. It wasn’t a crown, sceptre, or sword. It was a simple stick. And it became one of the greatest supernatural weapons in human history. God showed Moses that He could use this ordinary staff to perform miracles as a sign for unbelieving people. As Moses’ trust in God grew, so did the magnitude of miracles God worked through His servant.

    Consider God’s question: “What is in your hand?” What do you already have in your possession? Speaking ability? Artistic ability? Money? Friendships? All of us have something we can use to accomplish our part in God’s work here on earth as we serve one another.

    God has given each of you a gift from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. (1 Peter 4:10).

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Mothering Sunday

    26 March 2017

    Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother standing there beside the disciple He loved, He said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And He said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27)

    Parents, have you every wished that your child was better behaved? Have you even thought something like, “If my child was better behaved it would make my life easier”? Mary had a perfect son, Jesus, and yet this caused her problems. Motherhood was not easy for Mary. Mary was young, inexperienced and ostracised because of His conception. Her baby was born far from home in difficult and dangerous surroundings. When Jesus was only a few days old, Mary took Him to the temple and Simeon’s prophecy for His future was both ominous and exciting. Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce Mary’s soul, then Mary had to live as a refugee in a foreign land because the King wanted to kill her child.

    Jesus was different as a child, at the age of 12 He discussed theology. When Jesus was older and His peers were getting married and having children, Jesus did not. Thirty-something, single and still living at home. His public ministry alienated Him from His family and the religious leaders. Mary had to learn to put her own feelings to one side to support Jesus in His mission. Mary suffered as she watched her son die a painful death on the Cross.

    For a Jew there was no more shameful way to die than on a cross. Men were crucified naked, something the Jews found shameful, yet Mary was there, supporting her son, no doubt with many emotions and thoughts racing around.

    Jesus endured the suffering of the cross and was watched by those who loved Him. When we suffer, we concentrate on ourselves, Jesus didn’t. Even in pain on the cross He thought of others. All those who He would die for and also two people in front of Him.

    Jesus asked Mary to adopt John as her son, and John to adopt Mary as his mother. They obeyed and John took Mary into his home. Through Jesus’ death new relationships are created. God has adopted us to be His children and to be part of His new, world wide family. The death of Christ is the moment of the birth of the church. Christ enters in to the reality of human suffering and makes life and love possible. Jesus conquered sin, injustice, violence, hatred and death on the cross through love. This is the foundation upon which His family, the Church is built upon. The church is a family in which we are all to care for one another.

    On this Mothering Sunday, as we thank our mothers for all that they have meant to us, let’s also remember there is a wider family to which we belong. To the members of this family Jesus said: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13.34)

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Musings

    19 March 2017

    The world is sleeping in the dark, that the church just can’t fight, because it’s asleep in the light! (Lyric: Asleep In The Light, Keith Green)

    We recently finished a study based on a book by Philip Yancey called “Vanishing Grace, Whatever Happened to the Good News?” It looked at the reasons for the hostility to Christianity and suggested ways to communicate the Gospel and why it is Good News. This is a subject quite close to my heart and I would like to share with you my own personal take on it.

    What does the world see when they look at the church today? Do they see a people full of love and sacrifice, considering others more important than themselves? No, the results of numerous surveys show that they see us as judgmental, hypocritical, insensitive and boring. They think of televangelists with perfect hair and makeup, full of smiles and promises as they ask for your money. You may feel this is grossly unfair; what about all the good things Christians do? The problem is, fair or not, this is the reality. Some of this is due to the way the media portrays all forms of religion, but the sad thing is these negative views can often be based on personal contact with Christians, which was how my own very negative opinion of Christians was formed.

    So, if they don’t go to church, what opportunity is there for people to see the other side of the coin? The only way is by seeing Jesus reflected in the lives of those already connected to Him, Christians like you and me. By reflecting in our lifestyle His light and the relationship we have with Him. And by demonstrating the love and obedience to the God we claim to serve in our dealings with others. Of course, that doesn’t mean we will never sin, but by admitting we do, we demonstrate our need for a Saviour, and in that we are just like everyone else.

    The thing is we can only reflect the light, not generate it. We have no natural light of our own so we must first truly receive the light of God before we can reflect it. We are like one of those solar powered garden lamps. If it doesn’t receive the light of the sun it has no power to shine that light into the darkness.

    Jesus was a master of grace, He spent time with sinners and moral outcasts even though that offended the religious leaders. We don’t need to beat people with our theology and doctrine but we do need to spend our lives alongside them, reflecting God’s love. And then maybe we might just see God’s Kingdom here on earth.

    Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1 NIV)

    Kevin Holmes

  • Wasting Time With God

    12 March 2017

    “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

    Are you ok with silence? Does it worry you, or energise you? Do you feel the need to fill the space with noise, words, music.

    Can you recall a time you spent with a friend, so comfortable, that you did not feel pressured to talk, to do, but just sit quietly together, enjoying the moment.

    Are you comfortable enough with God to do the same?

    Time passed in silence with God is time spent growing in relationship with Him, and time spent letting His love flow through you to others is an investment in eternity.

    The busyness of getting things done does not bring us closer to God or fill us with His grace and peace and love.

    Ask your Friend to slow you down and teach you the value of wasting time with Him.

    Take some time and meditate on how much God loves you and simply wants to be with you today.

    As we learn to become fully present with God, we learn to be fully present to the people God brings to us, friends, family, strangers.

    We need to find God and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness.

    God is the friend of silence.

    “He makes me lie down in green pastures,
    He leads me beside quiet waters,
    He refreshes my soul.”
    (Psalm 23:2-3)

    Liz Chiesa

  • Jesus - Master of the Storm

    12 March 2017

    Jesus got into the boat and His disciples followed Him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke Him saying, “Lord, save us. We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then He got up and rebuked the wind and the waves, and it was completely calm. (Matthew 8:23-26)

    Just as in this episode, stormy events in our lives can be:
    Sudden – they seem to come from nowhere, and not of our own making.
    Severe – they can make us feel ‘out of control’ and very frightened.
    Silenced – if Christ can control the weather He can bring calm into our situation too.

    Four things are clear in this story which can encourage us, Jesus is master:

      • Of the storm – Jesus allowed the storm (think about it);
      • In the storm – He was in the boat with them;
      • Through the storm – He brought them through safely;
      • Over the storm – He was in control all the time.

    Jesus allows the storms in our lives, uncomfortable though they may be. But He never expects us to weather the storm alone. When we rest in Him He will bring us through, He will develop our faith and increase our love for him.

    Brother Lawrence once wrote: Those who have the wind of the Holy Spirit in their souls glide ahead even while they sleep. If the vessel of our soul is still being tossed by winds or storms, we should wake the Lord who has been resting with us, and He will swiftly calm the sea.

    Anne O'Brien

  • Church Family

    26 February 2017

    Pastor Dave often begins a service with the words “HELLO CHURCH FAMILY” and I have now experienced this phrase in reality.

    A few Saturdays ago I was due to attend the Men’s Breakfast but I was suddenly taken ill and had to cancel.

    The group at breakfast were concerned that the condition I had developed may cause strangulation of a hernia which I am waiting to be operated on.

    After making numerous phone calls I finally contacted 111 and was given a same-day appointment to see a doctor at Southend Hospital.

    CHURCH FAMILY rallied round and I was collected from home and ferried to hospital where I saw a doctor who confirmed I was not in any immediate danger. He wrote me a prescription but by this time it was early evening which posed the problem of finding a pharmacy that was open. Again, I was driven around from chemist to chemist before getting the necessary tablets and finally being driven home again.

    THE CHURCH is the body of Christ and in that body THE FAMILY is the congregation and members which are the PULSE and HEART that makes the church move and grow.

    It was good to experience, first hand, the love and care shown to me, in accordance with the Word of God. I would like to thank all concerned.

    Ephesians 4:16, From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

    John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

    Wally King

  • Why are we here?

    19 February 2017

    I don’t know if you have seen like me, the battle for truth is so much in your face these days. But of late I believe it has much increased. We are seeing marches all over the world (spirit of rebellion?) against Donald Trump, love him or hate him, if you seek what lies under the surface you will see that many leaders have done what he has done without the fuss we see today, even on our own streets.

    Brexit has had a similar affect but not quite so extreme or on the surface and we have a new word today of “populism” which I find quite offensive as they just don’t get it. The crux of the matter is in Jeremiah 6:19b “and as for My law, they have rejected it also”. The problem today is that the global liberal secularists have for some time redefined the values of society, it is called “gradualism”. We are seeing alternative facts or redefined truth and yet there are basic standards of facts. Jeremiah 9:5-6 states “Everyone deceives his neighbour and does not speak the truth. They have taught their tongues to speak lies. They weary themselves committing iniquity. Your dwelling is in the midst of deceit; Through deceit they refuse to know Me”, declares the Lord. or Jeremiah 7:28b “truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth”. Isaiah 59:13–15 speaks in the same vein and particularly verse 14 “Justice is turned back and righteousness stands far away. For truth has stumble in the street and uprightness cannot enter”.

    The Christian life is all about making the right choices, life or death, Jesus is The Truth and in John 3:21 Jesus says “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God”. I find it quite amazing that if you seek to find what lies behind many of the lies today how God brings the truth into the light.

    How do we stand for truth? I believe we can do no better than: Thus says the Lord “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths. Where the good way is and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls”.

    As Christians today it is even more imperative that we boldly speak the Truth to those going to a lost eternity.

    Maddy Amey

  • Why are we here?

    12 February 2017

    We all know the Parable of the Sower. Or do we?

    Although I’ve heard it many times over the years, I’ve had another look at it recently.

    The gospel writers mention the parable at length in three places (Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:1-15) so it must be important. On hearing it, the disciples were initially baffled. Perhaps they needed time to get used to Jesus’ habit of teaching in parables.

    Helpfully, Jesus explains the parable and reveals to them, and us, the secret of a fruitful life. And the secret is to sow the Word, the Bible, in our lives.

    I’m trying to do this in a number of ways.

    1. Reading the Bible. I aim to make it a daily habit, and having this aim, even when I fail, I still end up reading it quite often.

    2. Memorising the Bible. I started with Psalm 23. It’s familiar (and short!). And I’m trying to memorise other passages which I think it might be helpful to have readily available (Matthew 6: 25-34 about not worrying is on my list!)

    3. Bring my Bible to church. When a sermon topic is mentioned, I try to find the relevant passage myself (before the Powerpoint comes up!) with the aim of becoming familiar with the whole layout of the Bible. I could use technology and carry a digital Bible, but I prefer the challenge of thumbing through a book!

    What’s the point of knowing the Bible for myself?

    I’ve just finished reading a book by Andrew Womack on the subject of the Parable of the Sower. He claims that the Bible contains the answers to all of the problems we face. We just need to know where to look. This involves getting to know the Bible for ourselves and allowing God to speak to us through it. If we want to produce fruit, whether sixty-fold or a hundred-fold, we first need to sow the seed.

    I’m looking forward to putting his theory to the test and seeing what happens…

    Wendy Barker

  • Why are we here?

    05 February 2017

    I guess in this year of thinking about our purpose and destiny that is a good question: WHY ARE WE HERE? Are we here to make the best we can of our life, to strive to live in comfort and do the best for ourselves or our family? Or are we here so that we can improve the lives of those around us? Do we have an obligation to others? Or do we leave that up to the ‘do-gooders’ in the world? As Christians we are encouraged to fulfil our destiny, but with a sense of purpose, which is: to make a difference – Jesus called it being salt and light – that we might help others come to faith in Him.

    How do we ‘be salt and light’ in the world? The spiritual answer is that when we become more like Jesus through spending time with him, then we naturally reflect his love and goodness to others. But there is a practical answer too. The world will know that we are Christians not just for who we are, but for what we do. So, what can we do to fulfil our destiny and reach our potential in Christ?

    If we take a moment to think about it we all have abilities, interests and resources that we can build on and which will help us towards our destiny.

      • We can read God’s word to help us grow, and maybe join a study group
      • We can pray and spend time in God’s presence, at home and in prayer meetings
      • Some of us can drive and give lifts
      • Others can make cups of tea and offer hospitality in a variety of ways
      • Some have surplus money, food, clothes that can be given to the homeless shelters or the women’s refuge (we are richer than we think)
      • Many people can write or use a computer and could perhaps write a piece for the bulletin sheet or write a letter of encouragement
      • Some of us warm to children, others to the elderly and could get involved in Ekids or visiting people at home when they can no longer get to church.
      • Some may be interested in politics and could write letters of encouragement to their MP
      • Many people have hobbies such as: music, art, fishing, cards and board games, keeping fit, having days out or meals out; and could invite non-Christians to participate in them. If your hobby is not catered for perhaps you could start a Meet ‘n Mix group or maybe help in an existing one.

    The list of abilities, interests and resources is as large as you want it to be. God has given all of us abilities and when we use them for his service we can be built up in Christ and work towards our potential – but at the same time we are helping others to do the same. Could I encourage you to prayerfully consider the above and discover what God would have you to do this year as you seek to grow in Him?

     

    Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4v10)

    Anne O'Brien

  • The Fragrance of Christ

    29 January 2017

    For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 2:14-15).

    The fragrance of Christ is expressed uniquely by each of his children through their individual personalities and gifts. Our lifestyle as Christians speaks to the world a testimony of Christ. Our lives lived in obedience to Christ and exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit is a pleasing aroma to God.

    How did you greet this new morning? Joyfully or grumpily? As we walk through our day, we can either choose to be a breath of fresh air or we can dampen the spirits of those we come in contact with.

    Living our lives to please and honour the Lord is important. A Christian without a pleasing aroma will not accomplish much for the Lord, we need to be more Christlike, we need to live our lives in a way where His love flows through us and causes us to be a sweet aroma.

    Wherever Jesus went there was a crowd following Him. He stood out, people were drawn to Him. Why? It was the anointing of His life, the fragrance of the presence of God that caused people to be attracted to Him. Jesus’ anointing was the years of preparation, living a sinless life and developing a deep and intimate relationship with the Father.

    So, what fragrance are you wearing today? The fragrance of self? The fragrance of irritation? The fragrance of impatience?

    Or are we wearing the fragrance of Christ, are we full of grace, and have an attitude of love. Are we kind, forgiving, joyful, content.

    Through us God diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.

    Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us, and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2).

    Liz Chiesa

  • A Word of Encouragement

    22 January 2017

    Pastor Dave called The Estuary Elim Church Group together at Ashingdon Church for prayer on 12th January 2017, which turned out to be the first day of Winter proper!! It snowed and was freezing cold.

    God met us in that Prayer time and I was led to write this to encourage all of us to go forward into 2017 with a renewed sense of excitement.

    Imagine if you are being faced with one or more of the following situations:

    A wedding, holiday, new baby in the family, a baptism, sports trophy, a scholarship or Graduation, you may catch the biggest fish ever, etc. etc.

    Would you feel excited about something that is going to happen; have you ever felt a great sense of anticipation? Or would you just go through the motion of “well I might be happy” and not feel excitement about anything ever. Whatever, a great adrenaline rush is in order as we await a Special event. It is OK to get excited and jump for joy and shout. Honest!

    Whenever we get excited about good things happening in our lives God rejoices with us. He delights in our happiness and joy.

    Similarly He wants us to serve Him joyfully and with gladness. This means not just going through the motions but getting that adrenaline rush; being excited. We need to give God the same energy and focus that we give to other things. That means we need to give God 100% as we serve Him. Seek His face, He will show you where and how He wants you to serve Him. Imagine Him being excited for you as He answers your prayers, as He brings fruition to the desires of your heart, as the gifts of the Holy Spirit become evident in your walk with Him and so on. Just imagine! The list is endless of the good things God is excited about for you in His Kingdom. Just imagine!!

    Why be half-hearted when you know you can give Him your whole self? If we believe that it is right to give God all the glory for what He does in our lives then we can approach every task with vigour, seeking to please God; giving Him 100%.

    Remember He is the Light of the World. May our lights shine brightly as we get excited giving thanks and praise to our Father in Heaven.

    Andrea James

  • God in the Desert

    15 January 2017

    Sarah saw that Hagar’s son Ishmael was mocking Isaac, and she wanted Abraham to get rid of them. The matter distressed Abraham because it concerned his son. But God told Abraham to send them away, and so he gave them food and water and, in obedience to God’s will, asked them to leave. And so, we see in Genesis chapter 12 how Hagar is wandering in the desert with her son. She has nowhere to go, nothing to eat or drink and no one to whom she can turn. The boy was weak so she placed him in some shade under a bush and sat down. Both mother and son were crying. They thought it was the end.

    Although Hagar was the wrong wife (she was Egyptian) and Ishmael was the wrong son (born of Abraham’s will but not of God’s), and although they had acted badly and brought this situation upon themselves, God still had compassion on them. What can we learn from this incident?

    - We notice is that God was there. He had not left them.

    - No one saw them or heard them, but God heard their cries.

    - God sent an angel to comfort them.

    - God gave them a promise of hope and a future.

    - There was a miraculous provision of water and refreshment.

    - God stayed with them, they had never been abandoned.

    Sometimes we find ourselves in the desert place for one reason or another. And it feels like we are so alone. But God never ever leaves us. He sees our plight and hears our cries. And he will open our eyes to see the angel and the place of refreshing if we call out to him; because God is a God of Grace and a God of love, full of mercy. We need never be like Hagar who was ready to give up. We are in a relationship with God our Father who has promised to see us through to the end, through good times and bad.

    To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you (who trust in Jesus Christ) before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore. (Jude verse 24)

    Anne O'Brien

  • Perceive your Potential

    08 January 2017

    Over Christmas I received a present which at first was a complete mystery to me. When I opened it up, it looked like a net for catching butterflies or for landing very small fish. However, on closer inspection I discovered it was something that was on my gift list. My new gift was a fruit picker. It enables me to pick apples from high up in my apple tree without the need of climbing the tree or hanging off a ladder (both of which Maureen tells me I shouldn’t be doing at my age). This item has been made in such a way that it is perfect for the job it has been created for.

    In the film ‘I Robot’ the robot who is central to the story behind the film says at one point, ‘This is what my father made me for’. As we begin our journey together this year in ‘Discovering our Destiny’, it is important we each realise that our Heavenly Father has created us for a specific purpose. Our personality, strengths, weaknesses, talents and all that makes us unique as individuals, is so that we might fulfil the plan and purpose to which He has called us. Like Gideon it is so easy for us to discount ourselves from accomplishing anything for God who has called us, but we need to realise that His power is made perfect in our weakness.

    Gideon was told Go in the strength you have – Am I not sending you. (Judges 6:14). How Gideon saw himself was very different to how God saw him. God had created him for the task he was being given and as we, as individuals and as the Estuary Elim Church group, begin to grasp how God sees us and the destiny that He wants us to discover, may we know and trust that “God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us”. (Ephesians 3:20).

    Pastor Dave Redbond

  • The Power of the Son

    01 January 2017

    “A bushfire is the power of the sun, stored in the plants over a period of time, released in a great surge of power.” David Attenborough

    I would like something like that said at my funeral! I’m not being morbid, but imagine if someone said “She had a fire for God, that was the power of the Son, stored over many years within her, and then released in a great surge of power when she talked, taught and lived his Name.” Wow!

    David Attenborough was describing a bush fire, how when it takes hold it’s like looking at the sun, and you could see what he meant. There is a power in fire that is mighty and all consuming, powerful, strong and draws you to it in fascination. That’s what I want people to think about me, that when they look at me, it was like looking at the Son, that his love, radiance and energy where reflected in me.

    What about you? What do you reflect? What do you take in from the World around you?

    Our fire should come for the power of the Son, stored in us over a period of time, then released to do great things for him, giving back the energy that’s built up.

    Samantha Murphy

  • Immanuel. God is with us!

    25 December 2016

    Joseph... did what the Lord’s angel had told him to do. (Matthew 1:24)

    The Bible gives us brief snapshots of what happened when people encountered God. Snapshots and glimpses in every chapter about every person. Do you ever read something in your Bible and wonder what happened next? Did Eve ever eat more fruit? Could Noah sleep well during a storm? Did Jonah like fish? Did Jeremiah ever have any friends? Did Moses avoid bushes? Did Jesus tell jokes? Did Peter ever try to walk on water again?

    Perhaps it is the events surrounding the birth of Jesus that provoke the most questions in your own mind. People are mentioned and we hear nothing more about them. Did the busy innkeeper ever learn who he turned away? Did the shepherds ever sing the song the angels sang? Where did the wise men who followed the star go next? What about Joseph, did Joseph ever look up from his prayers and see Jesus listening?

    We don’t know everything that happened to Joseph. He had a crucial part at the beginning and there is a short account of him with a twelve-year-old Jesus in Jerusalem, but nothing more. We speculate about the rest of his life and we are left with our questions: What was he thinking while Jesus was being born? What was on his mind while Mary was giving birth? Did he pray?

    One thing I do know about Joseph is he obeyed God. He obeyed when the angel called. He obeyed when Mary explained. He obeyed when God sent. He was obedient to God. What about you? Just like Joseph, your task is to see that Jesus is brought into your part of this world. Just like Joseph you have a choice: to obey or disobey. God still looks for people like Joseph today. Men and women who believe that God is not through with this world. Ordinary people who serve an extraordinary God. Will you be that kind of person?

    There are many questions about the Bible that we won’t be able to answer until God calls us home. There are some questions we never need to ask. Does God care? Do we matter to God? Does He still love His children? Because of the Messiah born in a stable, God says yes. Yes, your sins are forgiven. Yes, your name is written in heaven. Yes, death has been defeated. And yes, God has entered your world.

    Immanuel. God is with us!

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Let there be light

    18 December 2016

    A few weeks ago, we were informed that on a particular night there would be a ‘super-moon’. The position of the moon relative to the earth meant that it appeared to be bigger and brighter than usual, an event which would not occur again for decades. However, to see it at its best required two factors: a cloudless sky, and the absence of artificial light. Of course, on that one night, while the moon was shining so brightly, clouds covered the sky, obscuring it completely. Alas, I must live a lot longer if I am to see a super-moon!

    When the wise men were studying the stars and saw the special one which heralded the birth of Jesus, they would have had no problems with artificial light, as street lamps had yet to be invented, and we can only assume that the weather along the way remained cloudless as they followed that star. Then, eventually, they came to Jesus, the Light of the World. He came into a dark world, to bring us light, but sometimes we don’t appreciate that light as we should. This may be because we have become distracted by other lights that are constantly trying to draw us away from Him – the pursuit of wealth, or success, for example. Or perhaps we have allowed our circumstances to cloud our vision. All of us face challenges in our lives, whether it be sickness, bereavement, poverty, broken relationships, or a number of other problems. If we allow them to come between us and God, we deny ourselves the light that could brighten our journey and make those circumstances more bearable.

    “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2

    What is preventing you from appreciating the Light of the World this Christmas?

    Maureen Redbond

  • Theres no such as bad weather, only poor clothing

    11 December 2016

    Is the weather bad or are we just not prepared for it? How many people complain about the cold in the winter months? How many complained about the heat in the summer?

    You wouldn’t go out in a storm in shorts and flip flops. You would prepare for the onslaught. Coat, boots, umbrella, waterproofs.

    A life storm can hit at any time; redundancy, marriage breakdown, illness, death of a loved one, everyone’s storms are different. How prepared can we really be?

    Just as when a weather storm hits we have to change our clothing and prepare differently, so we have to with life storms. When things get bad we don’t turn from God because we need a break, or can’t cope with religion right now, we should put on Gods armour and go dance in the rain! Our strength comes from our battles, our hard times. Anyone can be a happy Christian in the sunshine, but it’s when the storms hit that we can show faith can withstand anything. Some storms last longer than others, but Gods strength and our perseverance can last the longest, even though it may not seem like it at the time.

    That simple eh?? No!

    It’s not easy to praise God when things go wrong. We can tend to blame Him. Why me? But Gods shoulders are broader than anyone else’s. Shout at Him, question Him, ask Him. You may not always get the answer you want, but He does listen and it’s always good to talk to someone who listens.

    Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7)

    Samantha Murphy

  • The Heartbeat of Christmas

    04 December 2016

    When the set time had fully come, God sent His Son. (Galatians 4:4)

    William Barclay, Scottish Pastor, Author and Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism, once wrote “The essential fact of Christianity is that God thought all humanity worth the sacrifice of His Son”.

    “The Gift of the Magi” is a short story, written by O. Henry (a pen name for William Sydney Porter). The classic story tells of Jim and Della, who are struggling financially, as Christmas approaches they want to give special gifts to each other, but their lack of money drives them to drastic measures. Jim’s prized possession is a gold watch, while Della’s is her long, beautiful hair. So, Jim sells his watch in order to buy combs for Della’s hair, while Della sells her hair to buy a chain for Jim’s watch.

    This story has deservedly become a favourite, for it reminds us that sacrifice is at the heart of true love, and sacrifice is love’s truest measure. This idea is particularly appropriate for Christmas, because sacrifice is the heartbeat of the story of the birth of Christ.

    Jesus Christ was born to die, and He was born to die for us. That is why the angel told Joseph, “You are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

    Long before Christ’s birth, it had been determined that He would come to rescue us from our sin and selfishness. This means that we can never fully appreciate the manger unless we see it in the shadow of the cross.

    Christmas is completely about Christ’s love, seen most clearly in His sacrifice for us.

    A question for you this Christmas, in what ways, would you like to say a personal thank you to Jesus for what He has done for you?

    Pastor Tony Tween

  • Are you missing Christmas?

    27 November 2016

    Now is the time of year when we all seem to go crazy. We are writing lists and writing cards, buying food and buying presents, meeting up with friends and eating with friends, making arrangements with relatives, and generally being twice as busy as we should be looking forward to a week of festivity and frivolity. But why do we do all this?

    In Australia they are much more laid back with the whole process, but nevertheless they still have their traditions. Barbeques on the beach and in the parks, plenty of food and drink and fun with friends and family; fairy lights, baubles and decorated Christmas trees all looking strangely out of place in bright sunlight and temperatures of 40 degrees. Why do they do it?

    In Russia Christmas is celebrated on 7th January. Some people fast on Christmas Eve, breaking the fast when the stars appear in the sky by sharing a common bowl of porridge enriched with fruit, seeds and nuts. If you’re lucky you will also get vegan soup or salad (!!) and sauerkraut, with figs and gingerbread for dessert. I wonder why.

    The thing is, if we are not careful we can get totally carried away with all our traditions and forget the real reason behind Christmas.

    Jesus is the reason for the season!

    John 1v12-14 says: (paraphrased) “The Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us. To those who believe in his Name he gives the right to become children of God.”

    What better reason to celebrate! Better than all the food and drink we can consume; better than parties; better than fairy lights and decorations – is Jesus, God’s gift to us. A gift not to be missed!

    Anne O'Brien

  • The Hope of Advent

    20 November 2016

    Have you ever thought Adam and Eve didn’t need hope because they had everything they needed? They had every reason to think that life would go on as pleasurably as it started—with every good thing that God had given them to enjoy. But they put it all in danger for the one thing the serpent said that God had withheld: the knowledge of good and evil. So when the serpent came with his tempting proposal, Eve was quick to accept Satan’s offer and Adam quick to follow. The two got what they wanted: knowledge. But they lost what they had: innocence. With the loss of innocence came the need for hope—hope that their guilt and shame could be removed and their relationship with God restored.

    Advent leading to Christmas is the season of hope. Children hope for the latest popular toy or game. Families hope that everyone can make it home for the holidays. But the hope that Christmas commemorates is much bigger than our holiday desires. Haggai, the Old Testament prophet wrote about Jesus, referring to Him as the “Desired of All Nations” (Haggai 2:7) The one who would “deliver us from the power of darkness,” bring us redemption, and the forgiveness of sins.

    Colossians 1:27 Paul reminds us that Christ IN us, “gives us the hope of glory”. The indwelling Christ gives believers assurance that they will one day share in his glory in his eternal Kingdom. As believers we are in Christ; and Christ is in us; so, we can look forward to sharing Christ’s glory.

    Praise God for the hope Advent and Christmas brings us!

    Pastor Tony Tween

  • Psalm 91

    13 November 2016

    Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
    This I declare about the Lord:
    He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    He is my God, and I trust Him.
    For He will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
    He will cover you with His feathers.
    He will shelter you with His wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
    Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
    Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
    Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
    Just open your eyes,
    and see how the wicked are punished.

    If you make the Lord your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
    no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.
    For He will order His angels
    to protect you wherever you go.
    They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
    You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

    The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
    When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
    I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

    Psalm 91 (New Living Translatation)

  • Notes from Australia: Praising God

    06 November 2016

    You may be in the outback several hundred kilometres from the nearest town, but you will never hear silence. Always there is a slight rustling of the dry leaves in the breeze; or the sound of nuts and seed pods and pandanas (palm) leaves falling from the trees. You hear the sound of lizards skittering on the dry ground and the occasional snake weaving its way through the undergrowth.

    The currawong practices its scales, joining all the other birds in song. The sulphur crested parrots and black parrots seem to think just making a racket is tuneful enough (but it’s not so great when they fly around in groups of about 50!). They all join in a paean of praise with the many insects – cicadas, bees, flies, various ants and beetles etc. A common sight is several dozen flying foxes or fruit bats all squeaking together in one tree.

    In the spring when you are near water the sound of frogs chirruping can be almost deafening (they sound like a piece of machinery). Add to this the quacking of ducks and the squawking of herons and other water birds and there are certain times when there is a whole cacophony of sound.

    Psalm 150v6 says: Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

    Revelation 5v13 says that one day all of creation will praise God and give glory to Jesus. I guess the animal world is ahead of the game, all singing to the Lord. Should we leave it up to nature, and be quiet ourselves? Should we wait until we’re in heaven? We have so much to praise God for here and now. Let’s not hold back, or worry about making a noise. Let’s just ‘go for it’ and PRAISE THE LORD.

    Anne O'Brien

  • How do you set your clock?

    30 October 2016

    There was a watchmaker in the early 1900’s who opened a shop in a small village. This village was unique in that eighty percent of the men were employed at the local mill. After the watchmaker opened his shop, he noticed that every day, a man would walk by, pause for a moment, take out his pocket watch, adjust it very carefully by the clock in the shop window, put it back in his pocket, and then go on his way.

    This went on for many weeks. Finally, out of curiosity, the watchmaker stopped him one morning and said, “I’ve noticed you always stop, adjust your watch, and then go on your way.” He continued, “I was wondering why you need to set your watch every day?”

    The man explained he was the foreman of the local mill, and it was his responsibility to blow a whistle at lunch time. He explained it was important he knew the correct time every day because not only did his whistle signify it was time for the men to stop work for an hour, but many people relied on his whistle to set their own clocks and watches.

    The watchmaker smiled and said, “That’s interesting, ever since I’ve been in this village, I have set my clock when I heard your whistle.”

    I think people tend to do this spiritually also. We look at others and compare ourselves. We adjust our way of thinking by their way of doing things, and the Bible says that if we do this, we are not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12). Have you ever considered that others may be setting their clocks by what they see in you life. God made you a unique individual. Remember that He views you from an Eternal perspective and He has a unique plan for your life.

    Do not be conformed to ways of this world that is passing away. Always make good use of your time for you do not know how much time you have. Psalm 90:12 (NKJV) says, “teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Set your clock to a higher calling in Jesus. the author and finisher of your faith.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Cry out to God

    23 October 2016

    “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. (Matt. 14:29-30)

    The phone rings, and you answer. A sullen voice informs you of a tragedy. Your heart is so heavy that you feel as though you could die. What do you do?

    Bad news, danger, and pain all cause us to look for help. As believers, we dwell with the almighty God, who is able to aid us. At those moments when we are sideswiped by life’s circumstances, we should cry out to Him.

    In the Bible, crying out refers to speaking audibly with great emotion concerning an urgent need. God invites us to use this form of prayer to communicate that we desperately need His mercy.

    It takes both faith and humility to share our heart’s concern aloud. Crying out, then, is a way for God’s children to express trust in the Lord’s ability and willingness to help. By calling upon Him with such urgency, wealso lay down our pride and any attitude of self-sufficiency.

    The Word of God assures us that our Father hears our cries and responds. In Psalm 3:4, for example, David wrote, “I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered from His holy mountain.” When we call aloud for help in Jesus’ name, we invite His power into the situation. Remember that there is strength in just speaking His name.

    When we cry out to God, He may remove the problem immediately, yet we often have to wait for His perfect timing. Harsh circumstances might even be allowed to remain for His good purposes. But we can always count on His comfort and presence, which enable us to live with joy and hope.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Please don't make me

    16 October 2016

    I was recently sat waiting for a blood test when I saw a woman walk in with a young boy aged about 8 or 9. The boys face was full of fear. He desperately wanted to cry, and the effort not to was written all over his face. His Mum was trying to reassure him, but every now and again I heard him whisper “Please don’t make me”.

    That awful moment when you know you have to do something that is for your child’s best interest, but at the same time is terrifying them, but how do you make them understand?

    In the gospel we read about the night before Jesus was betrayed. He was scared, He went before His Father. “Please don’t make me”. Jesus asked if there was another way. His Father had to make Him go through with it, to full fill His destiny, to be punished, beaten, and crucified so that everything would turn out OK for us in the end.

    I don’t know why the little boy was there, he could have an illness that could ultimately make him very ill, but the blood test will help him on his road to recovery.

    If Jesus hadn’t gone through with Gods plan we wouldn’t know the peace and salvation that has saved us today.

    I know in my own life I have recently thought “Why are you doing this?”. But even before I ask, I know the answer. The perfect end result has to follow Gods plan, however much it hurts.

    There’s a quote by John Lennon, recently used in the film “The best Exotic Marigold Hotel” that says “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end”.

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

    Samantha Murphy

  • Notes from Australia: The water of life

    09 October 2016

    The Northern Territory in Australia has a monsoon climate, which effectively means that they have torrential rains which flood the land followed by a few months of hot, dry, arid weather. During the dry period the temperature is around 35 degrees every day, some leaves begin to fall off the trees, the rivers and creeks dry up, forest fires can take hold, the crocodiles retreat to the estuaries, the ants and other nasties increase, and everyone is perpetually hot and thirsty. Visitors are reminded to carry water everywhere they go, particularly as they could be 100 kilometres from the nearest tap! Apparently not everyone notices when they are thirsty.

    The conditions made me remember many of our missionaries who work in these kinds of difficult conditions every day, putting up with gnat bites, flies, ants, frogs and lizards indoors, the occasional snake, and always the unremitting heat - and never complaining. They are not as well off as we were, staying on campsites which had air conditioning and swimming pools. Having access to water was a blessing that we appreciated far more than we have ever done in England. The dryness of the land is like a metaphor for spiritual dryness. The land and everything on it suffers without water. And so do people who have never experienced the refreshing flow of the Holy Spirit in their lives. They too, do not always realise when they are thirsty. Just as people kept reminding us to drink in the physical sense, so we need to bring it to the attention of people in the spiritual sense.

    Jesus said: whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst ... it will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (John 4:14)

    Spring water is the only natural water pure enough to drink - it is good, thirst quenching and refreshing. (We discovered it’s also wonderful to swim in the natural pools it forms too!) While we were on holiday we went to a small church who were reaching out to the local Aborigines (displaced from their land) and it was a privilege to see them sharing food and water with them in both the physical and the spiritual sense. They were like an oasis in the desert. It was a challenge to me. How often do I share a cup of water with someone, how often do I tell a thirsty person about Jesus? As an Elim Church (remember Elim was a place of oases - 12 springs and 70 palms) let’s remember we are here to offer a place of refreshing and nourishment to the weary because of Jesus’ promise.

    Our theme for this month is Obedient Disciples. Most of us are not called to a hot climate to tell people about God’s love. God mostly calls us to do that wherever we are. But He also calls us to support our missionaries financially and in prayer as they bring the water that Jesus offers in the dry lands where they work. They cannot do what God has called them to do without prayerful support from their Christian family back home. If you want to know about all the amazing things our missionaries are doing, check out the website: www.elimmissions.co.uk

    Anne O'Brien

  • Eggs or Bacon?

    02 October 2016

    There are many countries in our World today where saying you are a Christian carries a heavy price tag. Being baptised could mean losing your family, your job, your home, everything you hold dear.

    Have you been baptised? Would you still do it if you could lose your life in the process?

    We have a relatively easy time of it in the West. Most people accept our religious beliefs, we are taught to accept everyone’s beliefs, even the less conventional. The worst that might happen is a little snigger and a lot of questions from those who don’t understand.

    But if our faith required a real commitment, to make a public stand that could cost everything, would we do it?

    Or put another way, what do you bring to the breakfast table? Are you the eggs or the bacon?

    The chicken has an easy role in the making or a full English breakfast. She simply lays an egg and she has played her part. The pig on the other hand is fully committed!

    In your Christian life do you simply play a part, or are you fully committed?

    What are you waiting for? Get up and be baptized. Have your sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord. (Acts 22:16)

    Samantha Murphy

  • Wax Work Christians

    25 September 2016

    Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned (Titus 2:7-8)

    Over the summer holiday we took the kids to Madame Tussauds. They loved seeing all their heroes up close and personal and we have about 300 photos to prove it.

    Some of the statues looked nothing like the person they were meant to be, in fact it was only the pose of the clothes that gave it away.

    Me? I loved seeing Morgan Freeman. The likeness was uncanny and I duly had my photo taken next to him. It looked like Morgan Freeman, the right height, colour, hair, clothes and from a distance the photo is quite convincing. So how do I know it wasn’t really him? For a start he never answered me. When I touched him he was cold and artificial. Finally, he’s still standing there, and will be for years to come, the same façade of a fake person.

    Have you ever met a Wax Work Christian? They wear the right clothes, really look the part, and are often found in church, but when you speak to them they don’t know how to answer, they’re empty and cold, just a façade. The difference between the real thing and a fake is easy to spot.

    In your life don’t be a Wax Work Christian. Don’t be in the right place, at the right time in the right clothes, saying what you think are the right words, but with a plastic feel. Keep it real. Believe in what you are doing, speak from the heart and act out what you say and believe. I would rather hug a real caring Christian that a replica any day.

    Samantha Murphy

  • Notes from Australia: Passing on the message

    18 September 2016

    The Northern Territory of Australia is far removed from the more populated south and is completely different. To fly from the north to the south takes 5 hours (as long as it takes to fly from England to Egypt). It has a very unforgiving climate with 3 months of humid heat followed by monsoon floods and then 3 months of drought. Visitors can only have access during the dry period because the few roads that exist are impassable during the rains, and crocodiles abound.

    It is in this location there are a greater number of indigenous Aborigines living in Australia. Aborigines have a unique lifestyle that involves hunting and outdoor living - a lifestyle with no writing or industry. But they do have a system of communication which they use in order to pass on their accumulated knowledge - Rock Art. It was a privilege to view some of the rock painting which has existed for many centuries. And it was interesting to learn that the purpose of Rock Painting is not art but passing on the knowledge, lest it gets forgotten: knowledge about family, provision, protection and the importance of stewarding the homeland.

    As Christians we don’t have to be good at Art, we don’t have to be good at reading and writing, but we are required to pass on the message of Jesus Christ - the message that can bring people into God’s family. The words ‘indigenous’ and ‘aboriginal’ mean original to that place. It’s where they belong, their homeland. Sadly, white men have so often displaced the aboriginal peoples. We all originally belonged to God, He created each one of us. But many of us have been ‘displaced’ and have lost our way.

    Jesus wants to draw all people into His kingdom and we can help by passing on the knowledge that we have of Him; knowledge about His great family, His provision, His protection and the eternal spiritual homeland He has prepared for us. As we think about evangelism this month may we strive to pass on the good news and may our lives be like a piece of Rock Art openly telling others about Jesus.

    Anne O'Brien

  • Why we share the Gospel

    11 September 2016

    Jesus said: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

    For many people evangelism does not come naturally, we can often feel awkward talking about spiritual things with other people, but as disciples of Jesus, He has commanded each of us to share our faith with others. The reason for each of us to be involved is the very same reason for our existence – we exist to bring glory to God.

    How do we bring glory to God? We live to declare the wonders of God; we love others with God’s love; we give Him thanks in all things; we sing His praise. When we choose not to sin, we declare to the world that God is more satisfying than sin – we declare His greatness. How does telling other people about Jesus bring God glory? 2 Corinthians 4:4 says, “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ.” This is the tragic, accurate, depiction of people who don’t know Jesus, Satan is holding them hostage, keeping them in prison, and blinding them to the Gospel. As Paul states in Ephesians, they are “in this world without God and without hope”.

    God has entrusted us with the responsibility of being His ambassadors: God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)

    Why do we share Christ with others? It completes our joy. If we are enjoying our walk with Christ, our Christian experience is still incomplete until we can share it with another. The apostle John wrote in 1 John 1: 8, “We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy”. When we truly delight in something, the way in which we complete our joy is to tell others.

    Perhaps the greatest thing we can do as dynamic disciples is to be engaged in sharing the Gospel and the joy of our salvation with those who need to know Jesus for themselves.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Musings - Salesman?

    4 September 2016

    Recently a salesman came to our home to talk to us about a heat management unit. He was very friendly, with lots of smiles and after the usual pleasantries he went into his sales pitch. During his pitch any questions we asked were answered quickly and without much thought and often by simply reading out short comments from a folder of news clippings he carried. It was as if he couldn’t understand why we would question him, why couldn’t we see that our lives were simply lacking without this product? To his mind there was simply no reason for questioning or doubt. We had a black or white choice – be blissfully happy with this product or be full of torturous regret without it.

    Why does that sound familiar?

    When Jesus was looking for disciples he went to where they were living and working. He called them by name. I’m guessing that he knew at least some of them since they were all living in a relatively small village. They left everything to follow him; not something they would likely do for a complete stranger with whom they had no prior relationship.

    For roughly three years Jesus hung out with his twelve disciples almost every day. It must have been frustrating at times for both Jesus and the disciples. He would teach them the same ideas over and over and more often than not they would fail to understand. And sometimes when they thought they understood, Jesus would scold them for their obvious lack of faith and understanding. Even after three years one of the twelve, Thomas, doubted until it was almost too late and another, Judas, never really “got it” and eventually betrayed him.

    Jesus doesn’t need salesmen pushing Christianity, he needs people lovingly and respectfully sharing him with the world. Evangelism is not selling, it is sharing. Connections with people should be entered into with a genuine desire to form loving relationships. Don’t treat people as a weekend project. We need to live our lives how Jesus wants us to, let people hear his words and see him reflected in our words and actions. If they see in our lives something they feel they want, they will ask questions.

    Don’t worry about results; just sow the seeds. Some will fall on rocky ground, some on the path but some will fall on fertile ground and grow.

    “Tell me, I’ll forget. Show me, I’ll remember. Involve me, I’ll understand” (Chinese Proverb)

    Kevin Holmes

  • The Bible is our guide

    26 August 2016

    Have you ever been on a journey and have become lost? You are not 100% sure where you are, so you stop to ask a few people for directions. Each of them give you different directions. You then realise you’re totally lost. Usually there is a shop or petrol station nearby that we ask for clear directions. The cashier not only knows the way, but they give you a map. The Bible is our guide book, our map, giving us directions in life.

    The Bible is our Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105). We need to make sure we are listening to the right voice and instructions and following the right direction. The only way we can do this is to read His Word more and increase our desire to know Him more. To build relationships with each other we need to spend time with one another. So it is with our relationship with Jesus.

    We will never be growing Christians without a knowledge of the Word of God. It’s not enough to know Bible facts, we must know the author of the Word, the Lord Himself. A study of the Bible gives you knowledge about God, but obedience gives you knowledge of God and makes God real to you. There will always be parts of the Bible where we are not sure what it is saying. If we’re unsure, we are to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal it to us. “He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.” (John 14:17)

    The best way to understand the part of the Bible you don’t understand, is to obey the part you do understand. Take the bit you understand. The bits you don’t understand will become clearer at some stage. “So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.” (Luke 8:18)

    In July, we looked at the whole subject of the Word of God. Let us be a people who desire to know Him more and understand Him more, by reading His word and asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the things we don’t understand.

    Pastor Andy Knight

  • "Which way now?"

    9 August 2016

    We have just returned from our latest trip to Ireland to visit our son and his family in Dublin. Last year they moved house, closer to Dublin city, and we had to find our way to a new destination.

    It’s not difficult route – if you know where you are going. I remembered most of it, and checked it out before we left, entering the details on my phone so I could follow the route on the phone when we picked up the hire car.

    The problem was that my phone decided to take its time adjusting to being in Ireland, with the result that I had no map to follow. I also had forgotten to pack the paper map!

    As we approached the exit from the motorway, not even sure which exit to take, I was frantically trying to get the phone to respond, without success. From memory and with a bit of guesswork, I managed to get within a couple of miles of our destination before finally giving in and phoning my daughter-in-law for help. That was of course when I clicked on the right button to free the phone!

    At the end of our trip we flew back to Stansted Airport, late at night, and began our journey back to Ashingdon. Of course, we knew the way home… or did we? Having decided to take a short cut, and somehow taking a wrong turning, we found ourselves hopelessly lost in the pitch-black wilds of Essex. And, yes, you guessed it, the phone was now taking its time getting used to being back in England!

    Once again, we were approaching junctions and asking, “Which way now?” while relying on signposts to remote villages that sounded vaguely familiar. At least there was no traffic on the route we took, and we found our way home in the end.

    Sometimes life can be a bit like that. We think we have everything planned out, then something unexpected happens to throw us off course into uncharted territory. That’s when it’s useful to have a guide of some description. The Bible has the answers to many situations we find ourselves in, but better still, through prayer, we have a hotline to Someone who knows all about us and our circumstances, and is always ready to guide us when we turn to Him for help.

    Maureen Redbond

  • The Traveller’s Psalm

    24 July 2016

    Travelling far from home involves some degree of risk, Psalm 121 can be used as a prayer to give comfort when traveling:

    I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the One who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord Himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. (Psalm 121:1-8)

    This Psalm is comforting. It speaks of both the challenges everyone will face, and also reminds those of us who trust in Jesus as Lord and Saviour that no matter where we go, or what we may experience, God is always watching over us.

    Life can feel like a challenging or dangerous journey, with no clear idea what is over the hill in front of you. At times we all need help getting over the hills or mountains.

    Knowing our “help comes from the Lord” gives us the faith to start climbing, because we know God is keeping a close watch and “He will not let you stumble” (when we keep our faith in Him!). We can be at peace knowing God is always with us day and night.

    Does your faith give you this kind of comfort? Do you know the One who is watching over you? Do you have the confidence that God will help you through challenge and difficulties?

    Place your faith and trust in God today and allow Him to help you to start climbing the hills and mountains in your life.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • The Rhema Word

    17 July 2016

    Through daily reading of the Bible, God’s Word which is referred to in Greek as logos we can grow in our knowledge of the truth of God. God wants to speak to His people and provide insight beyond our human understanding.

    Pastor Dave often speaks of hearing the rhema word of God - in Greek, the word rhema means “an utterance.” The rhema word in Biblical terms refers to a portion of scripture that “speaks” to a believer. In most cases, a rhema word received while reading the Bible applies to a current situation or need. In essence, the rhema word is timely and extremely valuable in a disciples daily walk with God.

    In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, the Apostle Paul writes: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

    Because God inspired the writers of the Bible to put words on paper as the Holy Spirit instructed them, we can trust the words contained in the Bible to have real meaning in our lives. It is the Holy Spirit who enlightens us when we read the Bible, He imparts wisdom, knowledge and understanding. God is with us as we read His word and He is able to make His words come alive in our hearts.

    Consider Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word [rhema] that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” In John 6:63, Jesus said, “The words [rhema] that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

    With the help of the Holy Spirit, logos words on a page can become rhema words and have great significance in our lives, by the work of the Holy Spirit we can receive supernatural guidance, comfort, answers and assurances from God.

    As dynamic disciples we should seek to spend time studying the logos word of God and pray that God will reveal His rhema word to us. May God guide each of us to a greater understanding of His word and it’s application in our daily lives.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Hear God speak to you

    10 July 2016

    Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, He has spoken to us through His Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son He created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honour at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. (Hebrews 1:1-3)

    From the very beginning, God wanted us to focus on Him; to love Him and be obedient to Him, but what did humanity do? We kept focusing on what we wanted; what we desired; and what we thought – all to the total exclusion of God. God started out by having a personal relationship with Adam and Eve. The Bible states that God would come down to the garden during the coolness of the day and walk with them. But what did Adam and Eve do? They ignored what God had told them, and instead, they concentrated on what they wanted.

    God spent the next several thousand years trying to get everyone’s attention back on Him, but the curse had already been instilled in us. Humanity became selfish and bitter against God. We ignored the prophets that God sent to warn us, and just went to war against one another. What did God do next? He did not just shake His head in disgust and walk off. He decided to take drastic steps. He sent His Son, to be our blood sacrifice. Why did God do this? Ephesians 2:4 tells us because God loves us so much, and because He is so rich in mercy, He made us live again through Jesus – even when we were spiritually dead in our sins. That is why God sent His Son for us – because of His great love for us. He sent His Son in response to our failure to communicate with God; our failure to listen when God speaks.

    Where are you in your relationship with God? Do you hear His voice in your life? Do you regularly open your heart to Him in prayer? When was the last time you spent quality time reading the Bible and praying that God would speak into your situation? Open your ears, your mind and your heart and hear God speak to you.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Bored?

    03 July 2016

    This week I was sorting through some old papers and came across this testimony written by one of our church members - Betty Hodson. Here is a testimony that she wrote over 30 years ago:

    A very dear friend kept telling me how bored she had been feeling and just could not snap out of it! I did feel sorry for her and could see how it was pulling her down, especially in her Christian life. I prayed about her situation and a few days later the Lord reminded me of a time in my life when I went through a stage of boredom and being fed up, and I found the best thing to do was to turn my thoughts away from myself and turn them to other people.

    I thought of people in the underprivileged countries who did not have sufficient to eat, people who had no roof over their heads, lonely people without family or friends etc. I remembered how I had a desire to visit an elderly lady who lived near to me – and so I went. She was so grateful for my visits and our friendship grew, and much of our conversation was about the goodness of God. I also helped on cake stalls at fund raising events as I was fond of baking. Another time I had a call from another lady who was suicidal. By this time I had become a registered blind person with a Guide Dog so I went with another Christian friend to visit this lady. I do thank God, because from that day she has never again been suicidal.

    I had my Guide Dog for five and a half years. Between us my lovely dog and I did a lot of work for the Lord and I give God all the glory. Now, because of my health, I am without a Guide Dog. But I can still do God’s work by phoning someone, or inviting someone in for tea and a chat.

    I pray that this testimony will help somebody – try turning to Jesus and ask Him how you should conduct your life and He will show you. You need never be bored again! God Bless You.

    Betty Hodson (written 16.3.1984)

    Betty, now in her nineties and in a nursing home, still regularly prays for the residents and staff and is happy to talk about Jesus. She is still not bored!

    Anne O'Brien

  • Commitment to Christ

    26 June 2016

    The following words were written by a young African leader and tacked on the wall of his house, days before he was brutally murdered because of his faith and preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

    “I’m a part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit Power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of His. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure.

    “I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colourless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded.

    “I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lifted by prayer, and labour by power. My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

    “I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problems recognizing me – my banner will be clear!”

    Rev Graham Knight

  • Regard with respect

    19 June 2016

    In the Bible in one of the Ten Commandments God gave Moses for the people of Israel was: “Honour your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” The dictionary defines “Honour” as ‘to regard with great respect.’ Sadly, for some, that is a very difficult thing to do. In the modern, mixed-up, sinful world we live in there are many children whose fathers are absent fathers, and there are many people whose experience of their earthly father has been negative.

    In my own life, I never really knew my biological father. Between birth and the age of nine, I only remember seeing him 3 or 4 times. I would love to be able to say that those times were good times but I honestly don’t remember much about them. I couldn’t tell you anything important about him. I couldn’t tell you anything nice about him and it is almost impossible for me to honour someone who I have never been in a real relationship with. Yet the Bible commands me, commands us to Honour our fathers. When I was nine my mum married a man called Richard and he became my step-father. He was not perfect, but he loved me. It’s easier for me to honour Him. My step-father brought me up, he corrected me in love, he looked after me, he cared for me. He taught me.

    When I was sixteen, I met another father for the first time, Father God. Father God was and is perfect, He loves me, He corrects me, He looks after me, He teaches me, He leads me, He cares for me, He has a perfect plan for me. Father God is someone I can fully honour every day of my life, Father God is someone I can respect every day of my life, Father God is someone I can be in relationship with everyday of my life.

    Every day we experience the presence of Father God, His Mercy and His Grace. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He is with us in the good times and the bad. He is Our Gracious Heavenly Father and He loves us and cares for us more than any human parent ever could. Father God is worthy of all our honour, all our praise, all our worship today and everyday.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Why did jesus pray?

    12 June 2016

    If Jesus is God, why did Jesus pray? Prayer was an important part of Jesus’ life. Many times the Gospels record that Jesus prayed or went alone to pray away from the disciples. Why did Jesus pray? Jesus prayed because of His relationship with the Father. In John chapter 17, is Jesus’ prayer of intercession for the disciples and all who would believe in Him because of their testimony, “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.” (John 17:20). In His prayer, we see Jesus’ relationship with the Father and the confidence He has in His Father’s perfect provision and plan. Jesus’ relationship with the Father was the power that brought salvation to man.

    Jesus laid aside His glory and took on flesh (Philippians 2:5-8) and became obedient to Father God. Why did Jesus pray? Jesus prayed because of His dependence upon and His obedience to the Father. Jesus said, “I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the One who sent me, not my own will.” (John 5:30). Jesus was in complete submission to the Father.

    Have you ever asked “What would Jesus do?” Perhaps a better question is, “What did Jesus do?” Asking what would Jesus do is subjective to what we think He did. Asking what Jesus did is objective because we have a record in the Gospels. What did Jesus do? Jesus prayed often and consistently. For us to maintain our relationship with the Father as dynamic disciples, consistent prayer is essential. It is the one piece of the armor that God provides us (Ephesians 6:11-18) that powers each of the other pieces.

    Why did Jesus pray? He prayed to teach us, as children of God, our obedient submission to the will of Father God will bring us spiritual blessing.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Body, Soul and Spirit - An Egg Shaped Lesson

    5 June 2016

    Some time ago I stared at my breakfast egg, and all became clear.

    So... imagine if you will, a raw egg – any egg will do, but a chicken’s egg is probably the most familiar. You have the yolk surrounded by the albumen and all encased in a shell. One egg made up of three necessary parts.

    The hard but sometimes brittle shell is like our body. It’s in contact with the dangerous, outside world. It’s likely to get dirty and occasionally cracks may appear. It’s a good design but sometimes it can get damaged. But the shell isn’t the egg – it’s just the cover.

    The viscous, jelly like albumen is like our soul, protected from the world by the shell. When the egg gets knocked the albumen shudders. Likewise our soul can be affected by difficulties in life. Our soul is that part of us that reasons, and determines who we are apart from other people. The knocks of life can to a degree affect our characteristics and the way we are. But there is more to us than body and soul. Just as the albumen is the perfect place for the yolk, so our soul is the perfect place for our spirit – the central part of our being.

    So, the yolk is like our spirit. It’s the central living part of the egg where a new chick will grow. It’s a safe place. Did you know the yolk of an egg is held in place by almost invisible strands called anchors, which hold it in the middle of the albumen so that it is protected if the egg gets shaken? Our spirit is the central part of us where God makes his home. And it is only in contact with God and with our soul. Our spirit cannot be touched by outside influences on our body. It is held safe with God, our anchor. Circumstances, illness, and even death cannot destroy our spirit. When we depart this world we leave behind our “shell”. When we know the Lord our indestructible soul (the essence of who we are) and our spirit rises to be in the Lord’s presence forever. Praise God!

    “Your life is hid with Christ in God” Colossians 3:3

    Anne O'Brien

  • Never say ‘Never’!

    29 May 2016

    ‘I’m never, ever going to take another music exam,’ was my heartfelt comment on leaving the examination room after taking Grade 4 piano about 30 years ago.

    It had been my first and only experience of grade exams, although I had entered my children for several such exams over the years. When it came to my turn, my brain turned to mush, my fingers to quivering wrecks, and I knew I had not performed anything like as well as I had previously done at home. I did, in fact, pass, but decided that on no account would I ever subject myself to such an experience again.

    Fast-forward 25 years to my first cello teacher’s first visit in January 2010. ‘I’m not intending to take exams, even if I do succeed in learning to play this instrument,’ I made clear to her straight away. Of course, that lesson marked the beginning of my passion for the cello, that has only proved to grow stronger as the years progressed. Four years later, and cello teacher number two came on the scene. ‘No exams for me,’ I insisted as we were getting to know each other. However, this teacher was more persuasive, and managed to convince me of my ability to cope with taking exams. Having been on several residential cello courses, and been part of a string ensemble for over 3 years, I finally gave in and agreed to enter for Grade 5. It was hard work, involving hours of practice and many lessons, but when the day came, I found that it wasn’t so bad after all! Yes, I had played the pieces better at home than I did in front of the examiner, but I did not fall apart or collapse in tears! And I passed!!!

    Over the years I can think of several times when I have indicated that there were certain things I would never do – and it almost seems as if God says, ‘Oh, really?’ then proceeds to make me eat my words! Is there something you have decided you would never attempt, or an experience you would never get involved in? Perhaps it’s time for a rethink and to see what God says about it. You could be missing out on something that will actually be a blessing to you, despite your reluctance. Never say ‘Never’.

    Maureen Redbond

  • The Triune God

    22 May 2016

    After His baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on Him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” (Matthew 3:16-17 NLT)

    Why is belief in the Trinity foundational to Christianity? Why can’t we just believe in God and leave it at that? Why do we need to know that God is Three in One? The simple answer is that without the Trinity, we lose the truth and power of the Gospel.

    Humanity, by our nature, is sinful and we deserve Father God’s wrath to be upon us. But, Jesus, the Son, came to Earth to take the punishment for our sins upon Himself. Jesus gives (imputes) His righteousness to all who believe in Him as Lord and Saviour.

    Because of what Jesus did at the Cross, reconciliation with Father God is possible. When Jesus ascended into Heaven after His resurrection, the Holy Spirit came and now empowers the disciples of Jesus to live for God’s honour and glory. If we lose any part of this plan, we lose all of it. Each person of the Trinity plays His role in our redemption. No Trinity, no salvation and no possibility of a restored relationship with God.

    Without the Trinity, the Bible makes little sense. God exists as three persons simultaneously. Jesus came to pay the price of man’s sins and to satisfy the wrath of God. God the Father spoke from Heaven as Jesus was being baptised and the Holy Spirit descend on Him like a dove.

    What every disciple needs to understand about the Trinity is that God is real and operates in our lives today. God is our Father, Jesus is our Mediator, and the Holy Spirit is our Helper. They are Three and they are One.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Pentecost Power

    15 May 2016

    After Jesus was resurrected He told His disciples to wait, He promised if they waited they would receive power. So they waited; actually they hid. On the day of Pentecost the disciples were waiting together in one place and the Holy Spirit came. They were given the power to speak in languages they didn’t know. Other people from many different countries and backgrounds heard the disciples speaking their own languages. Those who listened were amazed these disciples of Jesus were able to speak so many languages.

    Some scoffed, some mocked, but they all listened. As they listened, the Apostles who were in hiding, boldly came out among the crowds and Peter preached the Gospel. Peter’s sermon wasn’t a message on “how to get a better life” or a “Jesus loves you” speech. Peter simply spoke the truth about the events that had taken place and the Holy Spirit worked in the hearts and minds of the people.

    The people listened to the truth and the words pierced their hearts and they asked Peter and the other apostles, “What should we do?” (Acts 2:37). Peter told them how to respond, and they did. Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38).

    Over 3,000 people put their faith and trust in Jesus that day. The Holy Spirit works today with the same power as then. It takes only a moment for the Holy Spirit to transform a persons heart. Around the world, thousands of people are saved each and every day.

    The power of the Holy Spirit is real. You don’t have to speak in tongues or preach to a massive crowd, but be willing to allow Him to empower you to do God’s will and speak truth in whatever situation you find yourself in. Allow the Holy Spirit to work in you and through you, then you can be as bold as Peter was and speak the truth of the Gospel.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Are you carrying your cross?

    8 May 2016

    Then, calling the crowd to join His disciples, Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” Mark 8:34-36

    To become more like Jesus requires us to be willing to give God first place in our lives. There is a real requirement for us to ensure that our own will, way, and wants take second place to His. As we focus on His plan and purpose in our daily lives, as we “take up our cross and follow Him” we will become more like Christ.

    As disciples we have an apprenticeship to Jesus, He is our master and our teacher through the Holy Spirit. Jesus We walk as devoted disciples by being faithful to Him and obedient to His commands.

    The key truth we need to understand and accept is that true discipleship requires us to forsake selfish ambition and desires. Every true disciple must take up their cross and follow Jesus. Being a disciple of Christ has a cost, we must be willing to sacrifice our time, effort and energy to become more like Jesus. Why should we willingly do this? Because, Jesus laid down His life for us and He invites us to lay down ours for Him. It is not an equal exchange. Jesus died to do for us what we could never do for ourselves, to save us and give us eternal life.

    When we willingly serve God, it provides the opportunity for Him to reveal the glory of His purpose and will for us. As we serve our Lord and Saviour we can discover even deeper dimensions of His eternal love and the freedom we have in Christ.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Don't miss the bus!

    1 May 2016

    If you use public transport you will know how annoying it can be if you miss your bus, especially when you are just approaching the bus stop as it pulls away. After all, it could mean that you miss an appointment, or that you have to stand shivering in the cold for a further half hour waiting for the next bus. Those of us who are older can perhaps remember (when we were younger and fitter) running after the bus, and leaping on to the open platform at the back, as the bus was moving off. My first experience of Sunday School came about as the result of a bus journey. Leigh Elim Church started their own bus service to pick up children on a Sunday afternoon. And on my second week I was told about Jesus’ love, and how He would forgive me for all the wrong things that I did, if I said “sorry” and asked Him into my heart. I’m so glad I didn’t miss the bus that day!!!

    2 Corinthians 6:2 says: Now is the time of God’s favour (grace), now is the day of salvation. Tomorrow might never come. If God speaks into our heart, and asks us to trust in Him for forgiveness and salvation, we really should not procrastinate lest we miss the opportunity. It’s much more serious than just missing the bus – as it affects our eternal destiny.

    Galatians 6:10 says: As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. We are reminded that our Christian life is full of opportunities that we can either take or miss. Our usual reason for ‘missing the bus’ is that we are not prepared. But, in our morning prayer we can ask God by His Holy Spirit to make us prepared to help whomever we may meet each day.

    The consequence of literally missing the bus is that we can be full of regret that we didn’t act when we should have done. Metaphorically speaking, do we want to be like that in our Christian life? Let’s take Paul’s advice:

    Colossians 4:5 Make the most of every opportunity.

    Anne O'Brien

  • "Do you love me?"

    24 April 2016

    After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)

    Three times Jesus asked Peter “Do you love me?” Peter had denied Jesus three times. The man who had been boastful and over confident in his courage, is humbled by Jesus’ first question – “Do you love me more than these?” a subtle reminder of Peter’s boast to be more loyal than the other disciples (Matt 26:33). In reply Peter declares his love for Jesus and refuses to compare himself with anyone else.

    This was a painful but necessary moment, it is like a doctor cleaning a wound so that it can be properly healed. Jesus is removing Peter’s guilt and shame by dealing with it. Consider what Jesus does not do. He doesn’t try to make Peter feel guilty. He doesn’t ask him, “Are you sorry for what you did?” Jesus doesn’t make Peter promise to try harder. He just asks the question: “Do you love me?”

    If we have hurt someone we love, it is hard to look them in the face and it is harder still to be questioned about our true commitment. “How could you have done that? What were you thinking? Do you even love me at all?” The questions need to be asked and the answers need to be given.

    When Jesus asks the question a third time, Peter’s heart is grieved and he says, “Lord, you know all things” (v. 17). On that night in the Upper Room, Peter thought he knew himself but he didn’t. Now he’s not so sure. He doesn’t trust his own heart; instead he trusts in the Lord who knows all things. This is a big step forward in Christian growth. It is a great advance to come to the place where you can say with conviction, “My trust is in the Lord alone.” Sometimes we have to hit bottom and hit it hard before we can say those words and really mean them.

    There are three qualifications for those who want to serve the Lord: The first is love, the second is love, and the third is love. When we love we are willing to serve. Peter loved Jesus more after his fall than before. No one loves like the one who has experienced God’s grace firsthand.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Choices

    17 April 2016

    In Exodus chapter 32 we can read the sorry story of how the Israelites became dissatisfied and disgruntled in the wilderness. And while Moses was in God’s awesome presence on Mount Sinai the Israelites were complaining. Shamefully, they couldn’t wait for Moses to return from receiving God’s instructions for them. So they decided to pool all their jewellery and cast it into the shape of a calf. And the following day the people worshipped the golden calf and indulged in revelry. They had chosen to turn their backs on God to follow the practice of pagans, bringing judgment on themselves; the result of which was that 3,000 of them lost their lives.

    In Acts chapter 2 we can read the story of Pentecost. And, just as Moses had been in the presence of God, in a similar way Peter and the disciples were enjoying a mighty outpouring of God’s presence as the Holy Spirit descended on them in the Upper Room. Moses experienced the presence of God with thunder and lightning, smoke and fire; and God descended in the fire. Peter experienced God’s presence as a violent wind and tongues of fire which descended on them. And, as God’s presence came down they began to speak in other tongues or languages. As a result of this encounter God used Peter to speak to all the Jews who were gathered for the Feast of Pentecost. And that day 3,000 Jews believed – they received new life.

    What a contrast between these two stories! They just show us how important it is to make the right choices. There are choices that lead to death and choices that lead to life. God is a God of both justice and mercy; holiness and love; judgment and grace. Like a loving parent his desire is for us to be his children so that he can pour out his love and grace on us. But ultimately, it is our choice which determines our future – eternal light and life with Jesus, or eternal darkness without him. We must think carefully about the choices we make and heed Joshua’s wise words in Deuteronomy 30v19: “I have set before you life and death … now choose life”.

    Anne O'Brien

  • Roof beams and saw cuts

    10 April 2016

    Sid was new to the building trade so he was given a simple job. His job was to saw some roof beams to the required length, a simple job, anyone could do it. Joe started by measuring the first beam and cut it to length let’s say 5000 millimetres. After cutting 2 more beams he had a bright idea, it would be much quicker to use the cut beam as the measure of the next one rather than mess about moving both beams and measuring the length individually.

    This simple idea saved some time; unfortunately, it also saved some timber! The saw cut measured about 5mm wide. Thus the first beam was 5000mm less 5mm = 4995mm this beam was used to mark the second beam and when this was cut its length it was 4990mm. This went on until he had cut more 50 beams and stopped for a rest. He looked at the neat stack of beams with pride, but then a feeling of foreboding came over him. The last beam looked a lot shorter than the first beam, he measured it and it was 4755mm! How did that happen? The foreman appeared and noticed the same problem – most of the beams could not be used, his language was rather strong. Sid remembered this lesson for the rest of his life.

    This story was told to me by my Sunday School teacher a very long time ago! The point was that small sins have a habit of building up to be become big sins. Most of us are more forgiving of ourselves than we are of others, at least, I know I am. The Ten Commandments are recorded in the Bible for a very good reason, they are the basic measure for living in a God centred way. Ideally we should keep these rules as the minimum standard God requires of us. It is all too easy for me to think “No one will notice me using work time or equipment for my own use occasionally”. Or, I sometimes use language I would not use in church, or, I supported the Keep Sunday Special campaign but no one seems to bother with that now.

    I need to be honest with myself, small steps of disobedience add up. At some point I am going to have to recognise this to avoid drifting gradually further from the standard that Jesus expects of me. It might be worth us all reading Exodus chapter 20 occasionally as a check on where we are and how far we may have moved from His ideal.

    Yrret O’Neirb (Terry O'Brien)

  • ‘Clutter’ – over Christ

    3 April 2016

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

    Recently, after a very busy day of printing in my studio at home, I decided to ‘tidy-up’ a bit. Unfortunately, a lot of printing creates a lot of waste, such as discarded papers, packets, boxes, etc. Such things I refer to as CLUTTER.

    It was late in the evening, so I thought it better to leave clearing up until the morning.

    The following morning I returned to my room for my ‘Quiet Time’. I could not see my Bible and after a long time clearing through the reams of CLUTTER, I finally found it.

    This made me think of life and how we can unwittingly pile up our sins, cares and worries. These have to be dealt with and removed before we come to worship before the Lord.

    All I can gain from this ‘real life’ event is that we should always focus on GOD first and not cover His word or ourselves with worthless CLUTTER.

    Perhaps the headline should read: ‘CHRIST’ – OVER CLUTTER.

    Wally King

  • Jesus is risen!

    27 March 2016

    He is not here; for He has risen. (Matthew 28:6)

    Just a week had passed since the triumphant Palm Sunday entrance into Jerusalem, but what a difference a week can make. The cheering crowds are gone, no palm branches waving, no shouts of Hosanna. Just a few women setting out early in the morning to visit the tomb where Jesus body had been laid to rest.

    This was a day that would begin with tears, yet it would also be the day that changed human history for the better. When all seemed lost, that’s when the stone was rolled away and the angel speaks and “death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). On that Easter Sunday, long ago It seemed too good to be true as joy invaded the hearts of the women.

    Mary Magdalene could not believe what her eyes were telling her; she thought Jesus must be a gardener at work early among the graves. She was so preoccupied with loss, she barely glances at the person standing before her on the path. She had a mournful task to fulfill and then she hears her name spoken, “Mary.”

    There in the early morning light, Mary stands still. That voice, speaking her name, is Jesus calling her by name, and she feels like a sunrise is filling her heart. The risen Jesus calls out, and fills her heart with hope, and Mary cries out in recognition.

    The women drop their spices and ointments, the burden of their sad errand, and they rush to tell the disciples. These women were the first witnesses of the empty tomb and the resurrection that Easter Sunday morning. They met the risen Jesus and they took the good news to others. That’s our role too, to tell others that Jesus is risen!

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • PALM SUNDAY – Helping others to rejoice

    20 March 2016

    When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the Sunday before Passover He knew exactly where His chosen path was taking Him. He knew that the shouts of “Hosanna” would soon turn to cries of “Crucify him”. He knew that His journey was going to lead to the greatest moment in all history. He knew it would be unbearably difficult, and yet ultimately it would be a time of triumph and victory over evil. And, as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, He had each one of us in mind. As Christians we praise God that Jesus sets us free from sin and its consequences. We praise Him that we can know victory in our own lives and that God is with us at all times. Easter is a time when our thoughts turn even more so to the power of the Crucifixion and resurrection. It is a time that we can enjoy as we reflect, praise and worship together.

    But sadly, at this present time, there are many Christians around the world who know only persecution and suffering. They are literally, like the Apostle Paul, partakers of the sufferings of Jesus (see 2 Corinthians 1v5 and Colossians 1v24). But, their testimony is that Jesus is with them in their suffering. Praise God that they find spiritual solace in Him. However, they have physical needs too. They need food – and God chooses to use us, their Christian brothers and sisters, to be His outstretched hands of help and provision for them.

    This Easter, Barnabas Fund (specifically Christians helping Christians) are seeking to provide food for the thousands of Christians in Syria who are displaced from home and hungry. If you feel able to make a donation please could you put it in an envelope (marked Barnabas) and place it in the offering. While we rejoice over our freedom this Easter let us also remember our brothers and sisters in Christ, who at this present time are walking a more difficult path for the sake of the gospel. Thank you on their behalf.

    (A donation of £5 can buy 9kg of grain; £10 can buy baby milk for 1 month and £25 can buy food for a family for 3 weeks. Whatever you give can make a difference.)

    Anne O'Brien

  • True believers act

    13 March 2016

    ‘I’m a believer’ sang the Monkees in 1966. It’s a pity they were not talking about faith in God. But then many people claim to believe in God, but don’t know who He is. Becoming a Christian doesn’t stop once we are saved and baptized, that is just the beginning of discipleship.

    Luke records this event in Acts 19:13-20 (NIV), (Imagine this happening in Ashingdon, Rayleigh or Southend.)

    Some Jews were driving out evil spirits, they would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

    When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

    Note that it was believers who had practiced sorcery and bought their scrolls for burning. Despite being saved they had retained close links to their past life.

    Becoming a Christian doesn’t stop once we are saved and baptized, that is just the beginning. ‘I’m a believer’ but I still have a long way to go even just to keep some of the Lord’s commands and instructions, how about the rest of us? It may be worth looking back to see what we were like before we were saved and compare our lives now, have we really changed our attitudes, thoughts and actions since we were first saved?

    Terry O'Brien

  • Spiritual Warfare

    28 February 2016

    Put on all of God’s armour so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armour so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armour of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:11-17)

    We’re in a daily battle. We may not see it, we might forget it’s there. If you’re a disciple who is living as salt and light in this dark world, you will encounter obstacles and attacks along the way. God reminds us in His word to be aware of Satan’s schemes and to live alert in this world. We need to stay close to our Lord and Saviour.

    God arms us with the sword, the Word of God, to stand against the enemy’s lies. God equips us with strength, wisdom, and discernment through the Holy Spirit to stay strong in the battle. God invites us to spend time in His Presence, through prayer and worship, pressing in to know Him more.

    Satan would love nothing more than to fill us with discouragement and defeat, bringing fear and stress. Don’t let him think he is winning – he is already defeated, his fate is certain. As we grow to know God’s Truth and what is real, we also know more what is false, and we are stronger to stand against it in the powerful name of Jesus. He never leaves us to fend for ourselves in this dark world, He is constantly with us, fighting for us, even when we cannot see.

    Praying God’s words back to Him, is a powerful weapon against the forces of evil. It is Truth going out. It reminds us that God knows our way and understands what we face today. It builds our faith and our trust in God. It guards our hearts and focuses our minds back on Him.

    Remember: Prayer + God’s Word = Power

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Encouraging Discipleship

    21 February 2016

    I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation He accepts those who fear Him and do what is right. This is the message of Good News for the people–that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. (Acts 10:34-36)

    If we want to encourage discipleship we need to believe in people, as Jesus did. In Acts 10v34 Paul tells us that God does not show favouritism. He treats people equally – he was the inventor of equal opportunities! And we can see that Jesus put that into practice in the people he chose and befriended. We are all different with different strengths and weaknesses. Some of us have physical restrictions, some have mental illness, some may have degrees of learning difficulty. Certainly, none of us are perfect! And yet God chooses us to be his disciples.

    Steven who comes to stay with us for a couple of days each month, has Down’s Syndrome and when he was born the doctor told his parents that he would not be a great achiever.

    Two years ago someone spotted Steven in the drama group that he attends. They believed he was the right person to play the lead role in a film that was being produced. He played the role and far exceeded everyone’s expectations. The film has since been premiered in London and this month Steven is flying to California and New York to be at the premiers there! All because someone believed in him and gave him a chance.

    Don’t let’s prejudge what someone can do by what we see on the outside. Let us look at people as God sees them and believe in them and encourage them. God can use us all, warts and all. Steven got his part because he has Down’s Syndrome. And God can use us because he has made us the way we are (not despite the way we are – a subtle difference). So let’s be encouragers of each other and celebrate our differences.

    Anne O'Brien

  • What difference does faith make?

    14 February 2016

    Does it change anything? Read this poem:

    Today was the absolute worst day ever
    And don’t try to convince me that
    There’s something good in every day
    Because, when you take a closer look,
    This world is a pretty evil place
    Even if
    Some goodness does shine through once in a while
    Satisfaction and happiness don’t last.
    And it’s not true that
    It’s all in the mind and heart
    Because
    True happiness can be obtained
    Only if ones surroundings are good
    It’s not true that good exists
    I’m sure you can agree that
    The reality
    Creates
    My attitude
    It’s all beyond my control
    And you’ll never in a million years hear me say that
    Today was a good day

    So what difference does faith make? Does it change what happens, or does it allow you to see things differently? Does it stop the bad days? Or does it make the bad days more bearable? Does it change the words? No. But does it change the meaning? You decide….

    Read the poem again, but this time from bottom to top.

    Faith doesn’t change the words, nor does it change what may happen, but it does change how you see things, how you interpret them, and how you confront the bad days along the way. Life is just better with Jesus in it, than without.

    Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1)

    Samantha Murphy

  • Future General Superintendent elected

    10 February 2016

    Following nomination by Elim's National Leadership Team and a subsequent postal ballot by the Elim Conference, Chris Cartwright has been elected to lead the Movement as General Superintendent. He will assume his role at the forthcoming Elim Leaders Summit in May 2016.



    Chris began his ministry in the late 1980's at Kensington Temple where he was respectively Worship Pastor, Director of the IBIOL and Associate Minister. He was was ordained in 1993.

    In 1997, Chris became the senior pastor of the City Temple in Cardiff, and in 2010 he became the Regional Leader for Wales and the Southern Region. He is married to Annie and they have three children.

    Current General Superintendent, John Glass, commenting on the election said, "Chris is a high integrity spiritual leader, and he and Annie can be assured of my continual prayers, warmest wishes and fullest support as they seek to take Elim into everything that God has for our Movement in the years that lie ahead."

  • What is Discipleship?

    07 February 2016

    Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
    (John 8:31-32)

    Learning about the elements of the Christian faith is an essential part of our daily lives (we can’t live out what we don’t know and understand), but real discipleship goes much deeper than just learning about God and how a Christian should conduct their life. The core idea of discipleship relates to becoming the disciple of someone. True disciples seek to actually become like the master they are following. To become a disciple of Christ, we need to learn the things associated with the life and ways of Jesus, and actually work to conform our lives to Him. Discipleship is more about who we become than what we do. Doing emerges from being, not the other way around.

    Being a disciple of Jesus is an on-going process, evidenced by a deepening faith and a changed lifestyle. Disciples seek a stronger personal relationship with God and have a deep desire to live in fellowship with Him. True discipleship is demonstrated by putting aside sin and putting on Christlikeness. To grow in spiritual maturity, we must study the Bible to understand what God says is right and wrong. As disciples, we need to learn the ways of God and live by them.

    Do you strive for holiness in your daily life? Do you live in a way that demonstrates that you are truly a disciple of Christ? Discipleship takes effort. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ requires more than learning Christian things, it requires becoming like Jesus. What does becoming like Jesus mean? We can’t provide salvation for others, but we can, as Christ did, point people to God. We can witness to the lost, help the down and out, and make other disciples. Being a disciple is more than just going to church services. Of course, we need to worship and we need to learn. These cannot be neglected if we are going to learn the things we need to know to do God’s work in this world. To be a true disciple of Jesus Christ, you need to be a participant – not a passive observer. Your priority shoud be to become active in doing the work of God based on His leading.

    Are you faithful in developing your spiritual life? Are you willing to put more effort into your discipleship? What do you need to do to take it to the next level? Are you willing to share the truth of who Jesus is with those who need to know Him as their Lord and Saviour? What will you do from this point on in your life to become a dynamic disciple?

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Anyone for Fishing?

    31 January 2016

    One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed Him. A little farther up the shore He saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And He called them to come, too. They immediately followed Him, leaving the boat and their father behind. (Matthew 4:18-22)

    I love the fact that when Jesus called the disciples they didn’t hesitate. They left at once (immediately), left everything and followed him. They gave up their lives to follow Him. That’s the decision we made when Jesus met with us and we became followers of Him. Our lives were placed into His hands. His will becomes our priority.

    He told them to follow Him and He will show them how to fish for people. As good fishermen we must go to where the fish are. In John 21 we read the account of Simon Peter and those who went with him going out to fish. Unfortunately, they had no success. They caught nothing all night. Jesus asked them if they had caught anything? When he heard their reply He told them to throw their nets on the other side. They were obedient and as a result they couldn’t haul in the net as there were so many fish. As I preached this message recently it has stayed with me since. There is a lesson here for us not to do things in our own strength and to listen to His voice continually. Not only are we to listen to His voice, we are to trust Him and be obedient to His voice. When we are obedient, we will be amazed at the results.

    We don’t need exceptional skills, or years of experience to be effective fishers of people. Just the good news of the gospel and a willingness to ‘cast the net’… ‘throw it out there!’ Be willing to share the Gospel. We ourselves are saved, and if we know how we were saved then we know how to tell someone else how they can be saved too.

    There is a massive work for us to do. Many people still don’t know about Jesus. Let’s move forward as the Estuary Group of Churches and be the fishers of men that God has called us to be.

    Happy Fishing.

    Pastor Andy Knight

  • The Call to True Discipleship

    24 January 2016

    Discipleship is not our church “buzzword” for 2016, it is the life that Jesus calls those who truly believe in Him to follow.

    Accepting the personal call of Christ to discipleship, shapes and defines the believer’s daily life and practice. We cannot fully love our Lord and develop our knowledge and understanding of Him without embracing discipleship.

    Jesus came to proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God and also to take action to establish it. In Matthew chapter 4, Jesus is walking by the Sea of Galilee (4:18). He was not out for a casual stroll, His walk by the water was an intentional step in calling His first disciples to Him. The call to discipleship is a command: “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” Matthew 4:19 (NLT).

    Christ’s call is direct and personal. “You, follow Me!” This call cannot be blocked or terminated. It is not transferable due to personal preference or excusable due to other perceived obligations. “Follow Me” may appear to be a simple task, but, these two words contain the potent seed for exponentially growing and sustaining the kingdom of God.

    Following Jesus has a real cost so each of us must examine what Christ is calling us to do, and to be, as His disciples. “Follow Me” is more than just come after me. It is a call to imitate our Lord in life and word. It demands being like who Jesus was, and doing as Jesus did. It involves a paradigm shift in our thinking and practice.

    A true disciple has only two obligations: become like Jesus; and pass on the truth of His teaching and way of life to others.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Choose to listen!

    17 January 2016

    “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” The disciples came and said to Jesus, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
    ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’
    But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
    (Matthew 13:9-17)

    The other week I was at the checkout in a supermarket and there was a young man being served in front of me. The cashier said to him the amount required to pay for his shopping but he didn’t hear so he said “What?”

    So the cashier repeated the amount, to which he replied “What?” once again.

    At this point I looked up to see the young man removing earphones from his ears. Amazingly now he could hear!

    Recently we’ve heard a lot about ‘unstopping the wells’ – well maybe it’s time we unstopped our ears to listen to what God is telling us. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

    Alison Iley

  • The Plank

    10 January 2016

    "I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife" (Lyric from Take me to Church by Hozier)

    “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Have you heard this before? Of course you have, and on paper it even sounds biblical. Although it doesn’t actually appear in the Bible.

    Some may point to Romans 12:9 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good”(NIV). The thing is you can’t make someone else’s love sincere or make them hold fast to good. You can only make yourself do that. So the passage cannot be giving you permission to hate other peoples sin but is requiring you to look to your own sin.

    To my mind it comes across as a rather arrogant and self-righteous statement, possibly used to justify some degree of prejudice. As a Christian, I know what is intended when the statement is used, but if you’re on the receiving end it says something totally different. The impression it gives is that the speaker is not a sinner, like you are, but is noble and gracious enough to tolerate you despite your imperfections.

    It doesn’t matter how many times they say, “We are all sinners.” As soon as that phrase is used it builds up a ‘them and us’ mentality. It’s very difficult to build a relationship when you start with that kind of separation.

    A great example of how Jesus treated people trapped in sin can be found in John 8:1-11. The Pharisees and Priests, with a great amount of zeal and righteousness, were condemning a woman for committing adultery. Jesus paid little attention to it; he didn’t condemn her, shame her or make a point of ‘loving her but not her actions’. He just loved her and then gently guided her towards a different kind of life.

    We aren’t responsible for fixing, removing or condemning someone else’s sin. Our responsibility is simply to Love. God takes care of the rest. So why waste time hating sin, when there are sinners (all of us) who need to be loved.

    “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” originally came from a letter written by St. Augustine who wrote “With love for mankind and hatred of sins”. It was paraphrased by Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi in his autobiography as “Hate the sin and not the sinner” which has now become “Love the sinner, hate the sin”.

    Kevin Holmes

  • Discipleship

    02 January 2016

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

    God has an amazing purpose for you and me, we have a two-fold mission, to be His disciples and to make other disciples. Jesus is our Lord and Saviour, we are meant to grow in our awareness of His presence in our daily lives. We are also called to help other people come into a real and living relationship with God, their eternal destiny depends on them connecting with Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour.

    Jesus’ atoning death on the cross dealt with our sin and brought salvation to all who trust in Him as Saviour. We fully embrace Jesus as Saviour but to allow Him to be fully Lord of our lives requires discipleship. Discipleship is a lifelong and heartfelt response to Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.

    True discipleship involves our deep commitment to our Lord and Saviour, allowing His life to infuse our own, so that we become more like Him. Following Christ must be the central purpose of our lives and that is why discipleship is so important for us. Discipleship is about Christ being formed in you and you being formed in Christ. Jesus is our Redeemer and He is also our Exemplar, God’s image of perfect human holiness. To become like Him we must submit ourselves to the truth of God’s Word, from beginning to end. Discipleship is a process that will last the whole of our lifetime and touch every part of our lives.

    Evangelism is an aspect of discipleship, and discipleship is an aspect of evangelism – and it’s all about Jesus. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book The Cost of Discipleship wrote:
    Discipleship means adherence to Christ and, because Christ is the object of that adherence, it must take the form of discipleship. An abstract theology, a doctrinal system, a general religious knowledge of the subject of grace or the forgiveness of sins, render discipleship superfluous, and in fact exclude any idea of discipleship whatsoever, and are essentially inimical to the whole conception of following Christ ... Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship, and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.

    The Gospel and life in Christ are all about discipleship and disciple making. Discipleship is the way we show that we take Jesus – His Incarnation, His works, His words, His person, His exemplary life, His commands and His commissions – seriously. A Christian who takes discipleship seriously is a Christian who takes Jesus and the Gospel seriously. Our ongoing walk with Jesus must be a priority in our lives. Disciple making lies at the core of our following Jesus; it is not an optional extra. Discipleship is a lifelong encounter and the privilege of those called to follow Jesus and love God.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Dynamic Disciples

    01 January 2016

    Our Theme for 2016

    Keynote messages on 3rd January 2016:
    10.30am Rayleigh Elim and 6.30pm Ashingdon Elim

  • The myth or the truth

    20 December 2015

    Some call him Father Christmas or Santa Claus, his real name was Nicholas. He was born in 280AD and orphaned at nine when his parents died of plague. Nicholas studied Greek philosophy and Christian doctrine and became Bishop of Myra in the fourth century. He died on December 6, 343AD. History calls him a saint, but he was a bit of a troublemaker - jailed twice, once by Emperor Diocletian for religious reasons, the other for hitting another bishop during a fiery debate.

    Nicholas is known for his kindness to a poor man who was unable to support his three daughters or provide the customary dowry so they could attract husbands. He crept up to the man’s house one night and dropped a few gold coins through the window so the eldest daughter could afford to get married. He did this twice more for the other daughters. His action on those nights, was the seed that grew into the Santa myth with people adding and embellishing the story. The gift grew from a few coins to bags of coins. The window, became a chimney. The bags of coins became the girls’ stockings, which were hanging over the fireplace to dry.

    Over the centuries his acts have been embellished, and his wardrobe and personality have been transformed too. As Bishop of Myra, he wore traditional ecclesiastical robes and a mitered hat, Nicholas was slim, with a dark beard and a serious personality. By 1300, his beard had become white. By the 1800s he had a round belly and a basket of food over his arm. Then the black boots, a red cape, and a cheery hat on his head. In the late 19th century the basket of food became a sack of toys. In 1866 he was small and gnomish, by 1930 he was six-foot tall with rosy cheeks and a Coca-Cola in his hand.

    Santa reflects the desires of people all over the world - he has become a composite of what we want: A friend who cares enough to travel a long way against all odds to bring good gifts to good people; A wise person, aware of each act a person performs, who rewards the good and overlooks the bad; A friend of children, who never gets sick and never grows old; A father who lets you sit on his lap and share your deepest desires. Santa, what we look for in a hero, personification of our passions, the expression of our yearnings, the fulfillment of our desires. Yet, Santa can’t provide what we really need. He’s only around once a year and when he comes, though he gives, he doesn’t take away anything. He doesn’t take away the riddle of the grave, the burden of sin, or the anxiety of life.

    There was One who claimed to come from a different place. There was One who, though He had the appearance of a man, claimed to have the origin of God. There was One who, while wearing the face of a man, was the image of the Creator. Those who saw Him knew there was something different. At His touch the blind could see, at His word crippled legs walked. At His embrace empty lives filled with vision. He fed thousands with one basket. He stilled a storm with one command. He raised the dead with one proclamation. He changed lives with one request. The One who was born in a stable, died on a hill and 3 days later rose from the grave, is the One who changes the destiny of all who trust in Him. He is not a figment of our imagination, He is the Son of God, He is Jesus Christ, He is the Saviour of the World, God became a man so we could trust Him. He became a sacrifice so we could know Him and He defeated death so we could follow Him.

    This Christmas proclaim the truth that Jesus is the true reason for the season!

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • An Advent Heart

    13 December 2015

    The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and He saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. Genesis 6:5

    If you watch the news or read a newspaper today, you will see something is deeply damaged with humanity. Even people who don’t believe the Bible would agree that something is wrong and people need help. But how do we fix the problem?

    There are two commons lies we believe. The first is: “I’m a good person.” It’s easy to read Genesis 6:5, look at the world and then remove ourselves from the problem. “I’m not as bad as those people - I try to be nice to others, I try to be good!” For the Christian, because of the sacrifice of Christ and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, the power of sin has been broken. A Christian has the ability to reject wickedness and embrace pure thoughts, pure motives, and pure intentions. But, purity is a result of God’s grace, not the natural condition of our own hearts. We must remember while the power of sin has been broken, the presence of sin remains. In Christ we are righteous before God, but we can still choose to commits sinful deeds, and our intentions are not always pure. We are still part of the problem.

    There’s a second lie we believe: a change of behaviour will clean up the mess. People may think the world needs a stronger legal system, faster police action, or elections to replace corrupt politicians. Maybe, there is some truth in that, God established law and order for the benefit of people, but the Bible never states the lasting solution for human sin is more law.

    The Bible teaches what humanity needs is radical change of heart.

    You and I can’t change our own heart, nor can any law or system put in place by man. The only way we can be rescued is by a transformed heart, created in us by God. The prayer of the Psalmist in Psalm 51:10 is “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.” That is what Advent is about - the arrival of Jesus Christ to fix what is broken: the human heart.

    This month we celebrate the work of The Messiah and the new heart we can have because of His birth, death, and resurrection. We can experience God’s promise to His people, “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

    We will wrestle with the presence of sin in our lives, what we need is not a set of rules and regulations to fix us. What we need is a heart that’s filled everyday with the love of God.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Jesus Christ is Lord

    06 December 2015

    The Lord Himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). Isaiah 7:14 (NLT)

    In Old Testament times, God’s people were waiting for someone special. Every situation, struggle, hardship and circumstance could be endured because they believed one day their Messiah would come. They looked forward to the day of His arrival when they would live in safety and freedom.

    But it seems some of the Israelites did not understand exactly what the coming of the Messiah would really mean. Many of them hoped for freedom from foreign oppression but God’s plan was to provide His people with freedom from their debt of sin.

    The Jews of Jesus’ time knew atonement for sin required a sacrifice, “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), the temple floor was red with the blood of offerings. The practice of making atonement was part of their culture.

    When Jesus suffered and died on the cross, He was the perfect sin offering. Jesus sacrifce was sufficient to pay the debt of sin for everyone who would believe in Him. Jesus single sacrifice was sufficient for everyone who accepts Him as their personal Lord and Saviour.

    Jesus was born into this world to be our Messiah. The first time He came, was with the gentleness of an infant. His return, His second coming will be different. It will be sudden and no one will miss it. Almighty God will open the gate of heaven, and Jesus will return as the triumphant king, with the armies of heaven following.

    To a world where many have rejected the truth of who He is, Jesus will reveal Himself as the King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus will be absolutely sovereign over all people, both the saved and the unsaved, at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in Heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)

    Jesus is The Messiah, use this Christmas season to share the truth about the free gift of salvation and eternal life He offers to all who trust Him as their Lord and Saviour.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • An Advent Message

    29 November 2015

    Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:13

    One of my favourite books in the New Testament is 1 Peter. The apostle Peter wrote this letter to encourage believers who would likely face trials and persecution under Emperor Nero. Although Peter penned his letter in the 1st century its content is still relevant for us this advent season.

    I believe that all Scripture is related and all Scripture is relevant. 1 Peter touches on all four themes of Advent—that period of time on the church calendar when many Christians prepare to celebrate the first coming of Christ while looking forward to His second coming.

    During Advent, we emphasize Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love, which God sent with Christ:

    HOPE. We have an inheritance reserved in heaven, a living hope through the resurrection of Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3-5).

    PEACE. We will love life and see good days if we turn from evil and do good and if we seek peace, for the Lord watches over the righteous and hears their prayers (3:10-12).

    JOY. We have inexpressible joy even though we have trials because our faith is being tested and proven genuine. The end of this faith is the salvation of our souls (1:6-9).

    LOVE. We can love one another with a pure heart because we have been born again through the Word of God which lives and abides forever (1:22-23).

    Because Christ came the first time, we can live with hope, peace, joy, and love till He comes again.

    The return of Christ should motivate us to live for Him, and ready to serve Him. This means being mentally alert (“having minds prepared for action”), disciplined (“exercising self-control”), and focused (“looking for Jesus’ second coming”).

    Why not make this your aim for Advent and for 2016.

    Pastor Tony Tween

  • Why bother going to church?

    22 November 2015

    Going to church doesn’t automatically make a person a Christian any more than going to a McDonalds makes a person a Big Mac. If there is no connection, why bother going to church at all? The church is not the building or the room where people meet, the church is the people - without people there is only an empty space.

    Hebrews 10:25 says, Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of Jesus return is drawing near. Church is not a social club, it is where we worship the God who loves us; where we encourage each other; where we learn together; where we care for each other; where we pray together; where we grow spiritual; where we serve God and each other; where we can impact the community; where the Gospel is preached - the list goes on...

    There are many people in this world who are individualistic, reluctant to commitment, or allow time in their schedules for everything except regularly being church. They prize their own personal agenda above following God’s will, calling or purpose for their lives. Simon Stylites was a Christian who chose to live for many years at the top of a very high pillar, he wanted to be away from others and the temptations and distractions of the world. Being a disciple of Jesus was never meant to be a solitary calling, private practice, philosophy of life or a hobby.

    Being church means we accept our responsibilities to God and each other. Being church helps us focus our attention on God and stops us from being self-focussed. Being church can make us better people, we can hear things we had not thought of before, we can learn from others, we can expand our mind, our faith and our spirit. Being church means for an hour and a half on a Sunday morning or evening (or both!), we have no excuse for thinking about anything other than God.

    Will we always enjoy being church? No. Sometimes we will bring our struggles, fears, hopes and dreams with us and focus on them instead of on our worship of God.

    Will we always enjoy worshiping together? No. Sometimes we won’t sing our favourite songs. Sometimes we will not be able to concentrate on the sermon. Sometimes there will be noise or distractions. Sometimes we will wonder why we bothered to get out of bed.

    Being church, together, is what God has called us to be - meeting together with other people who have committed themselves to being disciples of Jesus and living life for God’s honour and glory. Relationship is at the heart of our faith, it’s the essence of the nature of God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. By the power of the Holy Spirit we can do what God has called us to do.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • A bond with the Bible

    15 November 2015

    I am not a Bond fan but the fact that a new movie has just been released has not escaped me. Are there really 23 films preceding this one?

    Mention 007 and someone, somewhere will say “James Bond”. This character was created by Ian Fleming in 1952 (the dark ages!)He wanted a plain, simple, dull name for his hero. “Bond” may be a dull name but the word “bond” appears over 100 times in the Bible and like James Bond appears where the action is; see 2 TIM 2:9, Acts 8: 9-24 and Col 3: 14-17. We see in these verses that Jesus is the best “secret agent” ever.

    The latest Bond film is called Spectre. Even the title has frightening connotations but it is fiction. Why focus on something that is fiction and which could be frightening? The theme song to the film is called “The Writing on the Wall” and it grabbed my attention But where does that title take our thoughts?

    Daniel 5:5-6 says “Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king (Belshazzar) watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way.”

    The king was indeed frightened when he saw the hand actually writing on the wall. He could not understand what the writing said and no one else could either. The king became more terrified and baffled. In desperation he promised royal status to the person who could explain the message.

    Eventually Daniel was called for. The Queen knew he had God’s power in him.

    Daniel explained the “Writing on the Wall. He told the king the reason the writing had appeared. (See Daniel 5: 17-30 for full story)

    WOW! This could be a theme for a Bond film!

    The difference is that this story, frightening for king Belshazzar, was NOT fiction. It was real.

    007 appears where the action is when he is needed and he is the “goodie” and “hero” in all these stories that ARE just fiction and are not a permanent part of our lives. The difference is: God appears where the action is. He is the real “Goodie and Hero” for us all and He is permanently where the action is.

    Andrea James

  • Safe in His hands

    8 November 2015

    O.K. It’s time for me to confess. I have a guilty secret. It’s something some of you may have seen me doing; something my mum would have disapproved of and something which is probably a bit childish. This is what I do: When I need to remember something (it’s an age thing …) I get my biro out and scribble a note on the palm of my hand. And that way I don’t forget it until I have either written it down on one of my many lists, or have taken action on it. The marks on my hand act as a reminder. It works for me.

    In Isaiah 49v16 God says to his people: “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”

    God has spoken this word over His people to show them that He will never forget them. Our name is who we are, how we identify ourselves. Our name matters to us and it matters to God. We matter to God (verse 5 says we are honoured / esteemed in his sight), and He demonstrates this by telling us that we are permanently engraved (not merely written) on His hands.

    This chapter is all about God’s compassion and His desire to bring restoration and salvation. It conveys the thought that once we are engraved on God’s hands (like a tattoo) it is irreversible. God says in verse 15, “I will not forget you”. We can therefore rest in the knowledge that we are safe in His hands, and that we can trust Him for today, tomorrow, and always. As we sing –

    My name is graven on His hands,
    my name is written on His heart.
    I know that while in heaven He stands
    no tongue can bid me thence depart …
    No tongue can bid me thence depart.

    Anne O'Brien

  • Ethics

    1 November 2015

    When I spoke at Ashingdon recently about the parable of the ‘treasure in the field’, some of you realised that I had missed out a point due to time constraints. I promised that I would explain it for your blog, so here it is.

    The real story of these parables start with the discovery of the treasure that has been hidden in a field. When I spoke about ethics, what about the honesty of the man who finds the treasure in the field? At first glance, the man seems to be dishonest. Surely he should tell the owner of the field about the treasure, since it was on his property and rightfully belonged to him.

    I mentioned that my son in law is a ‘detectorist’ and uses a metal detector to find interesting things in fields. Today if a detectorist finds something valuable in a field, then ownership depends on a previously agreed contract. If there is a significant find which has to go through the treasure process, and permission to be on land in the first place is an important issue. It’s all about trust really, as the landowner depends on any detectorists allowed on his land to tell him what they have found and work according to the agreement they’ve made.”

    But in those days the law was entirely different. In fact Jewish rabbinic law states “If a man finds scattered fruit or money, it belongs to the finder.” So the people listening to the parable would not have thought that the man’s actions at all as unethical.

    Therefore, the man had a right by law to what he found. It is obvious that the treasure did not actually belong to the man who owned the field. If it did, then he would have dug up the treasure before he sold the piece of ground. So, according to law and to culture, the man who found the treasure was being completely honest. In fact he was being more than fair because he did not have to buy the field. He could have just taken the treasure, but he didn’t. In fact, he did not even use the treasure to provide him enough money to make the purchase. Instead, the Scriptures state, he sold everything he owned to come up with the full asking price, so actually the man did not do anything unethical at all.

    Rev Dave Pickett

  • Hallowing Halloween

    25 October 2015

    The word hallow isn’t used much anymore, and when it is, the uses have a broad range of meaning. Christians use the word when we say the Lord’s Prayer, as in “Hallowed be Thy Name.” Often the word is associated with the 31st October, which in the UK is referred to as Halloween, a shortened form of All Hallows’ Eve.

    In Scripture, the word hallow is a synonym for the word sanctify. When we hallow or sanctify something, we set it apart as being holy. The name of God is not the only thing that we are to hallow. We too are to be hallowed. Paul urged Timothy to be a vessel sanctified and useful for God by “fleeing the evil desires of youth and pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace, out of a pure heart”. He added “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” (2 Timothy 2:21-23).

    On Saturday, many children in our streets will be knocking on doors carrying bags which they hope to fill with sweets. Thinking of them can remind us to question: “What am I filling my life with? Do I carry a bitter, critical attitude that often leads to arguments and strife, or do I carry a sweet spirit that leads to righteousness, faith, love, and peace?

    We can hallow today, and every day, by setting ourselves apart for God and to be used by Him. One of our greatest joys as a Christian is to be used by God, so this week seek to be an instrument in the hand of God – for we are all “Saved to Serve”.

    Pastor Tony Tween

  • Forgiveness is not foolishness

    18 October 2015

    God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. Colossians 3:12-15 NLT

    Years ago, some missionaries felt that God wanted them to take the message of the Gospel to a group of Eskimos. When speaking to the Eskimos the missionaries struggled to find a word in Inuinnaq (the language of the Eskimo) for forgiveness. The word that came closest had twenty-four-letters issumagijoujungnainermik and can be literally translated “not being able to think about it anymore.

    Only God has the power to fully forgive us. God forgives, and chooses to forget our Sins. In Hebrews 8:12 God says “I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” When God forgives us, it’s not like He is pretending that nothing happened, to forgive requires an acknowledgement that something wrong has been done that requires forgiveness. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, when we come to Him in repentance our sins are forgiven.

    How can we who have been forgiven refuse to forgive? Dare we ask God for forgiveness if we refuse to forgive?

    What is our motivation to forgive? We are simply demonstrating what God has done, and continues to do for us. Because of Jesus sacrifice for us, God looks beyond our sin and sees someone worth forgiving. And that’s what we’ve been called to do as well.

    Because we are forgiven, we are called to forgive. If we want to be obedient disciples of Jesus then we must choose to forgive.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • How many times do we forgive?

    11 October 2015

    Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:21-22)

    Did Jesus mean we should forgive someone 490 times? To understand what Jesus meant, we need to look at the context of Matthew 18. Jesus was speaking about forgiving one another and also about Christian character and conduct.

    The Jewish rabbis of the time taught forgiving someone more than three times was unnecessary because in Amos 1:3-13 God forgave Israel’s enemies three times, then punished them. Peter suggests seven times, more than double the amount other rabbis thought sufficient. Jesus responded that forgiveness should be offered seventy times seven! Jesus response was a response of unlimited grace.

    Jesus was not limiting forgiveness to 490 times, a number that is, for all practical purposes, beyond counting. As Christians, we have been forgiven much, and we should not limit the number of times we forgive. We are only capable of this type of forgiving spirit because the Holy Spirit lives within us, and it is He who provides us the ability to offer forgiveness over and over, just as God forgives us over and over.

    Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving servant follows directly after His “seventy times seven” speech, emphasising the point that if we are forgiven the enormous debt of sin against a holy God, how much more should we be eager to forgive those who sin against us, who are just as sinful as they? Jesus words in Matthew 6:14-15 are strong, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Paul parallels this example in Ephesians 4:32 where he says “be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

    Clearly, forgiveness is not to be given in a limited way but is to be abundant, overflowing, and available to all, just as the measureless grace of God is abundantly poured out upon us.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Everyone needs forgiveness

    4 October 2015

    (This is an excerpt from 30 days of Prayer Network)

    Elias was an East African missionary living in the crowded Somali refugee camps of a large city in the Horn of Africa. One night he was startled by the unexpected arrival of a Somali sheikh named Abdul-Ahad. Elias wondered if this would be the night that Somali militant group Al-Shabaab would choose to extract their revenge on yet another Christian.

    As Elias opened the door, the sheik abruptly demanded, “Yes or No. Jesus’ blood paid for the sins of everyone?” Elias nervously replied, “Yes”. The sheik responded adamantly, “You’re lying!” Then he hesitated before saying, “The blood of Jesus cannot forgive my sins”. Abdul-Ahad told Elias of the violence he’d committed in war-torn Mogadishu. Then the old sheik began to tremble and weep. ”I need relief from that,” he said. Elias told him, “If you and I agree tonight, then God will forgive you.” The old sheik prayed with Elias, and Abdul-Ahad was saved that night. Before he left he said to Elias, “When you look at me on the street, you see my Muslim hat and my beard, and you are afraid of me. But you need to know that inside we are empty. Don’t be afraid of us. We need the gospel.”

    Everyone has a need for forgiveness, whether they are guilty of major crimes or whether they have simply been unkind or uncaring. People in our world are struggling because of things that have happened to them in the past and the ways that they have reacted to those things. Only through the sacrificial blood of Jesus can they find forgiveness and move on. When we look at them in the street we have no way of knowing what they are feeling inside. Most probably, like Abdul-Ahad, they are empty and are searching for something to make their lives right. The gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to set them free! Most probably, like Elias, we are often afraid to say anything to them. But let’s be encouraged by his story. You never know what God can do!

    Anne O'Brien

  • The Fesitval of Final Harvest

    27 September 2015

    Each year you must celebrate three festivals in my honour. First, celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. For seven days the bread you eat must be made without yeast, just as I commanded you. Celebrate this festival annually at the appointed time in early spring, in the month of Abib, [the first month of the Hebrew lunar calendar usually occurs within the months of March and April] for that is the anniversary of your departure from Egypt. No one may appear before me without an offering. Second, celebrate the Festival of Harvest, [later called the Festival of Pentecost or Shavuot] when you bring me the first crops of your harvest. “Finally, celebrate the Festival of the Final Harvest [Festival of Tabernacles or Sukkot] at the end of the harvest season, when you have harvested all the crops from your fields. As you harvest your crops, bring the very best of the first harvest to the house of the Lord your God. (Exodus 23:14-16,19)

    There is no part of our lives that God is not interested in. God wants to guide our thinking and actions in terms of our relationships with others and with Him. God has plans for our lives. Plans to bless us and make us fruitful. We gain a lot of insight about God’s plan for us from the promises and plans God has revealed to us in The Bible.

    In Exodus 22 & 23 there are numerous laws of restitution and justice for all - rich or poor, friend or enemy. Sabbaths and feasts are appointed. Every seventh day we are commanded to rest. Every seven years the land is remain fallow. God promises angelic assistance. God speaks about His covenant, the promised land, healing, victory, fruitfulness and the festivals of unleavened bread, Harvest and Final Harvest.

    The Festival of Final Harvest (Sukkot) is one of the three biblically based pilgrimage holidays known as the shalosh regalim (שלוש רגלים). It is an agricultural festival that originally was considered a thanksgiving for the fruit harvest. Sukkot are hut-like structures that the Jews lived in during the 40 years of travel through the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt. As a temporary dwelling, Sukkot represent the fact that all existence is fragile, and are a reminder to appreciate the shelter of our homes and our bodies.

    In the Bible, God has given us insight into His heart for us as He spells out His purpose for His people. This should impact the way we live our lives, daily expressing thankfulnesss for His presence, provision and blessing.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Preparation, Care & Patience

    20 September 2015

    Don’t be misled you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith. (Galatians 6:7-10)

    I have never been a farmer, or much of a gardener but I understand that to harvest a good crop it requires a lot of preparation, care and patience. Preparation, the ground must be prepared and the seed properly sown. Care, the seed must be watered and nurtured by the light. Patience, crops do not grow overnight. Maybe you are not waiting for wheat to grow in a field, but I would guess that you are hoping for a harvest of some kind.

    The harvest is the consequence of what you sow. When you sow wheat seeds your with reap a wheat harvest. Sow to satisfy sinful desires and you will harvest the consequences of decay and death. Sow to please God and the consequences will be eternal life and daily blessings. In 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 Paul wrote, Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

    We need to know the quality and quantity of the seed we sow for the harvest we are looking for. The most common seeds we sow every day are the ‘words’ we speak. Do you ever ask yourself, what kind of word seeds am I sowing? Are my words a blessing to others? Does my speech bring glory to God? How often do I speak when I should be silent and how often am I silent when I should speak?

    Harvest is not just a farming principle, it a law of life and if we ignore it, or disobey it, then we can not expect to reap the benefits of it. Daily, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we need to plant high quality and high quantity seed to produce a fruitful harvest for Jesus.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Are you yielding Fruit?

    13 September 2015

    “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers. ” Psalm 1:1-3

    In Psalm 1, because the tree is well located, well planted, and well watered, it thrives, and bears fruit ‘in season’. There will be times when the tree does not bear fruit but, it does not wither. Planting and growing trees is a long-term project. Those the Lord ‘plants’ often need many seasons to mature – even when growing in good soil with well-watered roots.

    In John 15, Jesus spoke of His Father as the gardener, Himself as the vine, and His disciples as the branches. In order to be fruitful, He said, pruning is sometimes necessary. Bearing fruit requires abiding in the vine, obeying Jesus’ commands and loving God and each other.

    To be rooted in a source of abundant fresh water is a necessary provision for trees, particularly in a hot and drought-prone land. The same is true of us. In this barren and sin sick world we need to be rooted in Christ. Jesus said in John 14:4, “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

    When we, as disciples of Jesus, are rooted in His living water we will bear fruit in season. As we grow and mature in Christ, the Holy Spirit works with us and in us to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of Christian character, the fruit of service and love – like a tree whose leaves do not wither, and is not anxious in the year of drought we are blessed and refreshed in our daily walk and service to our Lord and Saviour.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Guilty or Innocent?

    6 September 2015

    God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

    The charged man stands in the dock. The jury return from their deliberating and the judge asks them whether they found the accused guilty or not guilty. “Guilty” comes the reply. The man must be punished for his crime and the judge duly pronounces his sentence or his fine. There wasn’t much hope for him.

    Paul said in Romans 3:23 that we are all guilty. We all break God’s laws and fall short of His standards. And Jesus explained that what accuses us of being guilty is not necessarily what people see of us on the outside; but it is also that which is in our heart. Because, if we are honest, we know we are all guilty of wrong thoughts as well as wrong deeds and therefore deserving of punishment.

    BUT … PRAISE GOD! … we don’t have to say, “there’s not much hope for us” because Paul reminds us in Thessalonians that, whilst we are not perfect, God sees us as blameless – free from guilt. How can that be? Miraculously, the Judge has paid the penalty for us! He sent His own son to pay for our sin. It doesn’t make us innocent – but it takes away our guilt and it sets us free, Praise God.

    And what’s more, the loving, compassionate, merciful God who wants us to live a pure life gives us someone to live alongside us to help us – like a support worker, a mentor, a guide – someone who can help us to be strong and upright. He is, of course, the Holy Spirit. How amazing is that? Forgiveness, atonement, freedom, companionship, strength and joy! What do we have to do to receive our freedom? We have to be truly sorry – repentant – it’s as easy as that.

    Anne O'Brien

  • The Stream of God’s Peace

    30 August 2015

    “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

    Shalom the Jewish word for peace occurs about 250 times in the Old Testament. Shalom comes from the root verb shalam, meaning “to be complete, perfect, and full.” Such peace can be experienced from God’s presence in our lives even in difficult circumstances.

    Worry can damage the peace in our lives. It prevents us from lying down and sleeping in peace at night and it can keep us on edge during the day. It’s true that each day has enough trouble of its own but, through our faith in Jesus, we can find peace and remain in control. This peace comes only from God and is wholly different from the peace offered by the world.

    The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers at Philippi, and spoke about how to obtain a peace that transcends all understanding; Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4–9)

    Just as the saving power of Jesus death and resurrection makes it possible for us to have peace with God (being made right with Him, Romans 5:1), the indwelling of His life and character through the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives is intended to help us learn to abide in the peace of God.

    Perfect peace is available when your heart and mind keep focused on God’s promise, power, and presence. Trust Him.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Surprise!

    23 August 2015

    It was 2005 when I first joined my sister to help with a children’s camp in Bulgaria. Since then I have visited the country at least once every year. Over time, the camp has been held in various locations, and I have also toured other areas to observe the great work that Star of Hope are doing among disadvantaged people. I was therefore not expecting any new experiences on my recent trip. Wrong! The first surprise came when we were informed that there were camels in the area of the hotel where the camp was to be held. In Bulgaria? Halfway up a mountain? It had to be a joke, especially when we were also told that the camels were in payment of a debt to a local hotel! However, the next morning 3 rather dismal looking camels turned up in our hotel car park! The camel theme became the joke of the week after that.

    Then we took the children, mostly teenagers this year, for a strenuous walk through the forest, up the mountain towards a waterfall. Imagine my surprise as we emerged from the forest to find ourselves facing a field of snow. It’s certainly the first time I have played snowballs in July!

    It turned out to be a week of amazing and humbling experiences, as we sought to ensure the children had an enjoyable time, while also being taught some basic principles around staying safe, in a country where people-trafficking, prostitution, drugs and alcoholism all present huge problems for young people.

    It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how long you have been a Christian. God still has a few surprises for you. Just dare to say, ‘Surprise me, God!’ and see what happens next!

    Maureen Redbond

  • The Presence of God

    12 July 2015

    Brother Lawrence in his book “The Practice of the Presence of God” says these words:
    Offer God your problems unceasingly, and ask Him for the strength to overcome them. Talk to Him often. Forget Him as seldom as possible. Praise Him. When the difficulties are at their worst, go to Him humbly and lovingly – as a child goes to a loving father – and ask for the help you need from His grace.

    I’m fairly confident that I’m speaking on behalf of most of us when I say that the memory gets worse as you get older! So it’s not surprising that we are told to “forget God as seldom as possible”. In other words, we need to remember that His presence is always with us, He never leaves us. And so it’s a case of training ourselves to be more constantly aware of His presence and more sensitive to his presence in every aspect of our daily lives, so that we can live every moment of each day in the reality of that knowledge.

    Why does Brother Lawrence tell us to praise God when we have problems? It is because we cannot praise God without becoming aware of His presence. And when we have that awareness, everything else should fall into place. So that we can simply come to Him as a loving father who has the wherewithal to provide all that we need. Praise His Name.

    Anne O'Brien

  • The Stream of God’s Presence

    5 July 2015

    Do you ever feel discouraged because it seems like God just isn’t around?

    Unanswered prayer or disappointing events, can cause us to think that God is not concerned with our lives. God has promised He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), we can be assured of His constant presence.

    Do you need a greater sense of His presence in your life? Is there something in your life blocking communication with Him? Could your sensitivity to His presence be affected by unconfessed sin in your life? Confess to God what’s on your heart and mind and ask Him to give you an ear to hear His voice again. 1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

    When was the last time you read The Bible aloud? When we audibly speak God’s inspired Word, we can sense its power and His presence. The Bible says God’s Word is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12).

    Have you ever wondered why you feel closer to God when you’re in a church service, singing hymns or praise songs? God inhabits the praises of His people. When we praise Him, regardless of where we are, we can sense His presence.

    People in the world may use God’s name as a swear word in anger, or as a thoughtless expression, but The Bible tells us there is power in the name of Jesus because “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Speak His name aloud as the Answer to all you seek, as the Source to calm your soul, as the One whose presence you long for and you will sense the power of His presence and His peace.

    Sometimes we can’t sense God’s presence because there’s too much of everything else going on. Too much noise. Too much traffic. Too much confusion. Too many thoughts running through our minds. Too much anxiety. Centre your thoughts on Him and pause.

    Pause and sense His presence. Pause and know that you’re in His arms. There’s a reason His Word says “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10).

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Saving Grace

    28 June 2015

    Jesus already knows the cost of grace. He already knows the price of forgiveness. But He offers it anyway. God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8). God didn’t look at our frazzled lives and say, “I’ll die for you when you deserve it.” No, despite our sin, in the face of our rebellion, He chose to adopt us. Jesus Died for Our Sins.

    As a young boy, I read a Russian fable about a master and a servant who went on a journey to a city. Many of the details I’ve forgotten, but the ending I remember. Before the two men could reach the destination, they were caught in a blinding blizzard. They lost their direction and were unable to reach the city before nightfall.

    The next morning concerned friends went searching for the two men. They finally found the master, frozen to death, face down in the snow. When they lifted him they found the servant — cold but alive. He survived and told how the master had voluntarily placed himself on top of the servant so the servant could live.

    I hadn’t thought of that story in years. But when I read what Christ said He would do for us, the story surfaced — for Jesus is the Master who died for the servants.

    I was given mercy so that in me, the worst of all sinners, Christ Jesus could show that He has patience without limit.
    (1 Timothy 1:16)

    Our Saviour kneels down and gazes upon the darkest acts of our lives. But rather than recoil in horror, He reaches out in kindness and says, “I can clean that if you want.” And from the basin of His grace, He scoops a palm full of mercy and washes away our sin.

    Our faith does not earn God’s love any more than our stupidity jeopardises it. The cross was heavy, the blood was real, and the price was extravagant. It would have bankrupted you or me, so He paid it for us.

    Call it simple. Call it a gift. But don’t call it easy. Call it what it is. Call it grace.

    Max Lucado
    Excerpted with permission from Grace Happens Here by Max Lucado, Copyright Thomas Nelson.

  • Live as Children of Light

    21 June 2015

    Coming back on a night flight from New Zealand some years ago, I had a window seat level with the leading edge of the wing. Looking out of the window I could see nothing, then the powerful landing lights were turned on. These are situated in the leading edge of the wing, yet the only way I knew it was switched on was by the engine cowling becoming visible in the darkness.

    Ahead the darkness was just as dark as it would have been without the light. Observing this I was reminded of that verse in John’s gospel (John 1:5) “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

    Then suddenly there was a flash of light as we flew into a cloud. It was then that I could see just how powerful and penetrating the light was. Light, I’m told, is actually invisible. We only see it when it strikes a solid object or is reflected from the myriads of dust particles in the atmosphere or tiny droplets of moisture as in the cloud. We see the light of the sun here on earth but space so I’m told is in complete darkness. It is only when the light of the sun penetrates our atmosphere that the sun’s rays become visible.

    This brings me to some scriptures: John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” The Light can’t be seen in a vacuum but only as it is reflected in the lives of believers.

    Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

    Matthew 6:22-24 Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness. No-one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

    Ephesians 5:8 “Live as children of LIGHT.”

    Rev Graham Knight

  • The Amazing Stream of Grace

    14 June 2015

    We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. (Romans 3:22-24)

    What makes Christianity different from all other religions in the world? C.S. Lewis, once said, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.” When the grace of God is active in our lives it brings change and transformation. Consider the difference that grace made in the life of John Newton, author of the hymn, Amazing Grace. Newton commanded a slave ship in the 1700’s and transported thousands of slaves during his lifetime. Newton showed no compassion for his cargo and he chained them below the decks to prevent suicides. 600 slaves were laid side‑by‑side to save space, row after row, one after another, and if a slave became ill during the voyage, he was thrown overboard to prevent any infection from spreading. Everything changed one night when Newton’s ship almost sunk. He gave his life to Christ and spent the rest of his days amazed by the grace of God. At the age of 82, it is recorded that he said, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things, that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour.”

    The Bible says that without Jesus, we are dead to sin. Our only hope is the grace of God. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But, When God our Saviour revealed His kindness and love, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Saviour... Because of His grace He declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-7)

    Grace is the unmerited favour of God. As one writer puts it, “The very heart of the gospel is the supreme truth that God accepts us with no conditions whatever when we put our trust in the atoning sacrifice of His incarnate Son.” That’s why it has long been said that the best way to describe grace is by using the very letters that make up the word: G-R-A-C-E, God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

    Our faith teaches us that grace can only come from God. Did you know that grace has a unique purpose of its own? “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God.” (Titus 2:11-12)

    Newton’s song Amazing Grace, reminds us all about how blessed we are. It reminds us there is only one thing that distinguishes one sinner from another: Grace. And when you think about that, it really is amazing!

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • The Vumba Tragedy

    7 June 2015

    Friday 23 June 1978 is remembered as being the darkest day in Elim history. On that day, twelve people were slaughtered at the Elim Mission station in the Vumba Mountains, Northern Zimbabwe. Another would die a week later. The sheer brutality of this massacre shocked the world.

    21 Guerrillas came over the border from Mozambique and attacked the missionaries with axes and other weapons. The inquest revealed the terrible punishment and mutilation that they suffered. One guerrilla later said that the “executions” were in retaliation for a Rhodesian Army attack on a guerrilla camp two years earlier, which the Elim missionaries knew nothing about.

    All the deceased, including a three week old baby, had been brutally ill-treated, abused and murdered. The bodies were almost unrecognisable. Altogether there were three men, five women and four children: Peter and Sandra McCann, Philip (6) and Joy (4); Philip and Susanne Evans and Rebecca (5); Roy and Joyce Lynn and Pamela Grace (3 weeks old); Wendy White; Mary Fisher and Catherine Picken from Southend Elim.

    There was worldwide condemnation of the needless slaughter. Politicians, churchmen and journalists all joined in the chorus. It was an especially difficult time for Elim Missions. The news rocked the whole Elim movement. On Sunday 25 June special services were held in Elim churches all over Britain. The Cheltenham Elim Church was packed for the Sunday morning service. Many representatives of the media were there. Some went into the service and came out astonished. They could not get over the fact that the congregation, led by their minister Rev Lionel Currie, were praying for the very people who had committed the murders as well as for relatives and friends of the deceased. The media gave special attention to the prayer offered at Cheltenham Elim. The Daily Mail of 26 June carried the heading, ‘Father…forgive them’.

    We now know that the same prayer of forgiveness was prayed by some of the missionaries as they were being killed. It also came to light that this prayer was beginning to be answered - rumours began to circulate in the early 1980’s that several of the men personally responsible for the killings had been dramatically converted. Eight of them experienced a vision in which they saw the cross and the hand of God coming against them in judgment. Seven of them immediately left the country and enrolled in Bible Schools in West and East Africa. Another went to a Bible School in Harare. Following the massacre, many people gave funds for a church to be bought as a memorial tribute and the Mutare Memorial church was purchased. The church continues to flourish and services are full to overflowing.

    What happened in Zimbabwe is not something that any of us would ever wish to see again, but heaven must have rejoiced at the dedication, faithfulness and loyalty of the devoted missionaries. In the plan and purposes of God, He saw fit to take these workers home to Himself. It is also clear that the principles of sowing and reaping are eminently worked out in each human life, that as we die, so we live.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Jesus Heals

    31 May 2015

    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for He has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favour has come” Luke 4:18-19 (NLT)

    When we grasp the power of Jesus words in Luke 4:18, this truth brings change and transformation. The power of the cross is not found in what we do, but in what has already been done for us.

    Jesus came so that we might, through Him, be made whole. Not by following the rules or meeting expectations of man, but by resting and trusting in the power of our Almighty God. It’s not our strength or power that transforms us. Yes, we can make some changes in our lives, but real change only occurs when we open our heart to His tender touch, that is when real transformation occurs.

    There is nothing we can do to earn God’s love. Jesus’ statement proclaims His love to us today. We come to Him with baggage and hurting hearts and His love changes us and compels us to trust Jesus to heal and transform us. We can sense when He is active in our lives, teaching us, redirecting us, healing us.

    A hurting heart can send us down paths we may regret, searching for something or someone to ease our pain. Jesus invites us to stop running and rest in Him, expectant of His healing touch. When we allow The Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us He can move us in new directions and He can lead us along new paths.

    The truth of Luke 4:18 is ours today to hold close, for Jesus came to heal our hurting hearts, Jesus came to set us free, Jesus came to bring Healing and Wholeness. Trust your Saviour, He is willing and able to do the miraculous in your life today.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Lord and Messiah

    24 May 2015

    God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. Now He is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as He had promised, gave Him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today. So let everyone know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah! (Acts 2:32-33, 36 NLT)

    Peter explained the significance of the events unfolding before the eyes and ears of those gathered in Jerusalem. God the Father has raised Jesus and enthroned Him as Lord of all. Now seated at the Father’s right hand, He has given the Holy Spirit to His people, just as He promised. The coming of the Holy Spirit began God’s countdown to the second-coming of Jesus.

    In this time before the end, what are we, God’s people to do? Jesus has already told us in Acts 1:8 “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to tell people about Jesus, we are empowered to be His witnesses, we are empowered for mission.

    The Holy Spirit is not a superficial burst of energy and excitement, He is not an injection of spiritual adrenaline to give us a boost when we’re feeling low. The Pentecost gift is the power to witness for Jesus. All of God’s people receive the Spirit – men and women, old and young – as part of God’s end-time renewal of all things. By God’s grace and the power of His Spirit, all of us are made a part of His mission to reach all the world with the message that Jesus is Lord and Messiah, Jesus is the ONLY one who can save.

    The book of Acts is clear that God calls some, like Paul, to plant churches. But it is equally clear that the work was carried out by ‘ordinary’ believers, who spread the good news of Jesus wherever they went. The same gracious God, the same exalted Christ, the same powerful Spirit, and the same amazing plan means we too play a part in the continual unfolding of this story – witnessing to a renewed relationship with God and living a changed and transformed life under the lordship of Christ. and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Are you switched on?

    17 May 2015

    The Light was out in our loo at home.

      1st Test the bulb.
      2nd Test the power to switch.
      3rd Check the function of the switch.
      - Failure!

    The bulb that should light up was dark and dead. The power supply was there but it would not switch on.

    Where am I going with this? Many live in darkness either by choice or by ignorance because they are not switched on to the power source of the universe Jesus Christ. Some were switched on but due to the stresses of life have switched off.

    Two examples from my work as a Chaplain:
    1) Elderly man, went to Sunday school as a child, and for many years attended church but now no longer a believer. He had nursed his wife through a long and sad illness, he had seen others in his family suffer and die, plus the news of wars and atrocities in the name of religion had led him to the conclusion that there was no God, for if there is why did he not do some thing ? He had switched off.

    2) Elderly lady, she had a face like an angel, smooth skin no wrinkles. Very weak and sick, she excuses her self by saying she was Jewish. Then she explains that she has passed through lots of times of pain and suffering in her life. But, some time ago by praying and calling out to Jesus, He had always helped her through. She was switched on and connected to the power source.

    Conclusion:

      - Going to Church helps.
      - Reading the Bible helps.
      - Meeting with other Christians helps.
      - But putting your faith and trust in Jesus is the only answer.

    Jesus said, I am the way and the truth and the life. John 14: 6.

    Pastor Keith Maynard

  • In Word and Deed

    10 May 2015

    Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king. 1 Peter 2:17 5 (NLT)

    1 Peter 2v17 instructs us to love the family of believers. And Jesus himself told us to love one another as he loves us. He reduced the Ten Commandments down to two which encapsulate all of them: Love the Lord your God and love your neighbour as yourself. Who is my neighbour? The parable of the Good Samaritan reminds us that our neighbour can be anyone, but especially those in need. In other words, Jesus was making the point that we can show our love to God when we show our love to others.

    How can we show our love? In the case of the Samaritan, love was practical. He stopped and cared; he ministered to the man; he gave of his time; he gave up his comfort by allowing the injured man to ride on his donkey; and he gave of his money, paying for his hospital care. He didn’t just say, “I will pray for you” and then walk on without stopping or getting involved.

    God wants us to get involved with one another. We are all His family. And the commandment, seen in the light of the parable, means that we should also be caring about people who we don’t know, but who are suffering – especially our brothers and sisters who are ill or who are being persecuted. It is a privilege to be part of God’s family; to have the right to call ourselves children of God. But rights carry responsibility - to those we know and love and to those we don’t know also.

    Some are called to be in the fray, on the front line; but all of us, even if we can do nothing else can give, and we can pray and show our love in this way.

    Anne O'Brien

  • Are you listening?

    3 May 2015

    He who has ears to hear, let him hear! Matthew 11:15 (NKJV)

    Michael used to go to church with his mother, but one day after they got home he asked why people had to go to church. His mother explained that it was to hear God speak to them. But how does God speak, he asked. His mother said it was through the words of the hymns, or scripture or through the minister. In different ways God speaks to different people. Then she said if she told him a story it may help him to understand.

    An advertisement was in the paper for a telegraphist which said that all applicants should go to a certain office at a certain time for an interview. One young man was very interested and turned up at the said office only to find lots of other applicants there too. They were all sitting around and in the next room someone was tapping out Morse code, tap, tap, tap. Suddenly the young man got up, knocked on the door of the interviewer and entered. Soon he came out and said to the other applicants, “You can all go home, I have the job.” They all expressed their consternation as they had not even had an interview, when he said, ”You all had the same chance as I did. That Morse code tapped out in the other room said, The applicant who hears this message and comes into this room for an interview will get the job. So I have got it. You just heard the tap, tap, tap but I heard the message.”

    And so it is when God speaks. Some don’t have ears to hear, but those who hear God’s voice are the ones who are blessed. Maybe in Sunday school, or during the service, through the message, the reading of scripture or through the singing of a hymn, God will speak to you. May you have ears to hear what the Lord would say to you.

    Rev Graham Knight

  • What kind of example are we?

    26 April 2015

    The following is an extract taken from a Max Lucado book: The ugly part of me showed his beastly face the other night. I was driving on a two-lane road that was about to become a single lane. A woman in a car beside me was in the lane that continued. I was in the one that stopped. I needed to be ahead of her. My schedule was, no doubt, more important than hers. After all, am I not a man of the cloth? Am I not a courier of compassion? An ambassador of peace? So I floored it.

    Guess what? She did, too. When my lane ended, she was a fender ahead of me. I growled and slowed and let her go ahead. Over her shoulder she gave me a sweet little bye-bye wave. Grrr. I started to dim my headlights. Then I paused. The beastly part of me said, “Wait a minute.” Am I not called to shed light on dark places? Illuminate the shadows? So I put a little high beam in her rearview mirror.

    She retaliated by slowing down. To a crawl. This woman was mean. She couldn’t have cared less if the whole city of San Antonio was late; she wasn’t going to go beyond fifteen miles per hour. And I wasn’t going to take my lights out of her rearview mirror. Like two stubborn donkeys, she kept it slow and I kept it bright. After more unkind thoughts than I dare confess, the road widened and I started to pass.

    Wouldn’t you know it? A red light left the two of us side by side at an intersection. What happened next contains both good news and bad. The good news is, she waved at me. The bad news is, her wave was not one you’d want to imitate. Moments later, conviction surfaced. “Why did I do that?” I’m typically a calm guy, but for 15 minutes I was a beast! Only two facts comforted me: One, I don’t have a fish symbol on my car, and two, the apostle Paul had similar struggles. “I do not do what I want to do, and I do the things I hate.” (Romans 7.15)


    Ever felt like saying those words?

    [He Chose the Nails, Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 2000) Max Lucado, Used by permission]

    A very funny story, and at the same time one that most of us, if not all of us can relate to. We may not all be like that when we are driving but I’m sure there are other incidents that occur which cause us to show our humanity. We must remember that we are all ambassadors for Him and that whether in words or actions, as God’s people we are to be examples to all of those around us.

    Pastor Andy Knight

  • The Miracle of Spring

    19 April 2015

    My wife Lyn and I were in our garden recently and were both thankful that spring was once again here.

    We marvelled that after the short, dark days of winter, the once bare trees, shrubs and plants etc. were now beginning to show signs of new life. The birds were singing happily and the whole garden seemed to be coming alive - how this lifted our spirits.

    I was particularly blessed by a Robin who was singing his little heart out to anyone who would listen. He was broadcasting his message of Good News and sending it to the 4 corners of his small world.

    This little Robin was not intimidated by any other bird, or anything else that would try and silence him. He stood his ground whilst he loudly continued to spread his word.

    I was thankful to witness God’s work in this small bird. Even though tiny and insignificant, in relation to his world, he sent his message loud and clear with increasing vigour. Ephesians 5:19b-20 “...singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Can we, as believers in the Lord, as small and insignificant as we may sometimes feel, spread our Good News as loudly as my little Robin.

    Wally King

  • Grounded in The Lord

    15 April 2015

    Recently when I was at my exercise class we had to do a position where you stood upright with your feet together and with your hands together as if you were praying, but then came the tricky bit, you had to close your eyes and stand still. The whole position was to test your balance, normally mine is not very good but the idea was to ground your balance into your feet. So as I concentrated on my feet I thought of the Lord and ground myself in that way and I was able to do it, I had perfected my balance for those few seconds.

    It then got me thinking about our own spiritual lives and asking the question how grounded are we in the Lord? (Eph 3:17) Are we able to hold our balance when we are blown about with life's trials and difficulties? Do we take time to stand still in our busy world with so much happening not only in our lives but maybe in the lives of our friends and families? Do we trust the Lord when we are blown of balance? Is our grounding firm enough to not move or are we moved by the slightest problem and difficulty? (Psalm 25:2)

    Jesus came so we could lean on Him and maybe when we do feel off balance we could put our hope and trust in Him and with His help He would put us on balance again. He is there, He is always there, all we have to do is reach out and cling onto Him and He will be there waiting (John 12:4).

    Lin Millar

  • Egypt

    12 April 2015

    A brother of 2 of the Christians (one 25 and the other 23) that were brutally murdered by IS recently has been on Egyptian TV to say he thanks IS for the video showing the last words of these Christians as it had “Strengthened our faith”. He also said “Since the Roman era, Christians have been martyred and have learned to handle everything that comes our way” He also prayed on TV “Dear God, please open their eyes to be saved and to quit their ignorance and the wrong teachings they were taught.”

    These killings shocked Egypt and the Bible Society of Egypt produced 1.65 million Scripture leaflets entitled “Two Rows by the Sea” (which is very moving) and it has been widely distributed. It is as follows:

    Two rows of men walked the shore of the sea, on a day when the world’s tears would run free. One a row of assassins, who thought they did right, the other of innocents, true sons of the light. One holding knives in hands held high, the other with hands empty, defenceless and tied. One row of slits to conceal glaring dead eyes, the other with living eyes raised to the skies. One row stood steady, pall-bearers of death, the other knelt ready, welcoming heaven’s breath. One row spewed wretched, contemptible threats, the other spread God-given peace and rest. A Question… Who fears the other? The row in orange, watching paradise open? Or the row in black with minds evil and broken?

    This leaflet also contained 5 scripture passages, reminding us that there will be times of trial but that God’s love for us is everlasting.

    Reports are coming in of Muslims coming to Christ in other parts of the world where people have been victims of IS brutality. Tent churches are springing up in makeshift camps and many are turning to Christ. Please pray for Christians in the Middle East that during this time of sadness there will be unprecedented openness to the Gospel and that western governments will be prepared to be active in supporting Christians.

    The challenge to us is, could we say the same as that young brother who spoke to Egyptian TV. Also as has been reported when young children have been asked to renounce their faith in Christ have refused knowing that they will die. It sure has challenged me.

    Maddy Amey

  • Why is The Cross so important?

    5 April 2015

    At the Cross the crucial claims of the Christian faith about God, humanity and sin come into sharp focus. The Cross is a symbol of hope and glory; it is a declaration of the free gift of salvation to all who believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

    Jesus disciples experienced His public ministry, they heard Him talk about God the Father, sensed Jesus intimacy with Him, heard Him teach, watched Him perform miracles, then they saw Jesus die on the Cross and three days later they saw the resurrected Jesus after He rose from the tomb.

    The disciples knew Jesus was not an ordinary person. His power, His knowledge, His holiness, His death and resurrection, all demonstrated that Jesus was the Son of God. Fully God yet also fully man. The disciples knew his mother and his half-brothers. They saw Jesus eat, sleep, get weary, pray, worship, and die. All of these things, and particularly the name by which He most commonly identified himself, “Son of Man” made it evident for them that He was human like them. God and humanity in one person. They knew God had come among us as one of us.

    Jesus came to meet a need and to solve the problem that humans cannot solve; in love Jesus came to save us from our sin and restore our relationship with God.

    Martyn Luther defined sin as “a heart curved in on itself, one that refuses to accept in trusting love God as Source and Centre of one’s existence.” At the Cross we see how far Jesus was willing to go so that He could save us. Only God can save. He alone is the Saviour. There is nothing in us that can either forgive our own sins or break sin’s control. The Cross was the answer to our need for salvation, the Apostle Paul said, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

    If Jesus had not cared enough to take our sins into Himself, there would have been no healing for our sin-sick souls. But He did. The Cross is a symbol of God’s love to you, to me and to all who believe that Jesus Christ is their personal Lord and Saviour.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Barnabas Fund Easter Appeal

    29 March 2015

    In the late 19th century, God began pouring out his Holy Spirit on a group of Armenians (who lived in an area between Turkey and Russia). They were speaking in tongues and experiencing other manifestations of the Spirit. A prophecy was given about forthcoming persecution, and as a result many of them emigrated to America and a few to Ireland, where the Pentecostal experience grew and numbers of people found salvation in Jesus Christ. This movement of the Spirit was the driving force behind the Foursquare Gospel (Elim), which also began in 1915.

    And also in April 1915, exactly one hundred years ago, a fatwa was issued against non-Muslims in the Ottoman Empire (fulfilling the prophecy), the result of which (over 30 years) was the death of over 3 million Christians from Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian ethnicities. They were given the ultimatum to convert to Islam or die (or suffer worse than death). Sadly, their dire sufferings have largely been forgotten – it was a devastating period in history too painful to think about.

    For the Armenian Christians the Cross of Jesus Christ was both the way of blessing, and the path of suffering. It’s hard to believe that just one hundred years later, in a fresh onslaught, Christians are still being persecuted - by Islamic State fighters. Surely, as their brothers and sisters in Christ, there is an onus on us to help them wherever possible, to try and avoid a repeat of 1915. With an estimated 17,000 people already killed by ISIS in their “convert or die” policy, and hundreds of thousands of others sold into slavery or displaced as they flee to other countries, we have to do something.

    There are three things we can do:
    1. Most importantly – PRAY – prayer always makes a difference
    2. Secondly – PAY – give donations to provide badly needed help
    3. Thirdly – PETITION – sign petitions, or write to your MP

    This year, the Easter Appeal for Barnabas Fund will be designated to helping provide for the suffering church in the Middle East. If you would like to make a donation, please put it in a marked envelope in the offering bag or, alternatively pass it to me, and I will send it off at the end of April. Thank you.

    Anne O'Brien

  • Just Ask!

    22 March 2015

    ‘Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.’ John 16:24 NIV

    Copyright law is a complicated subject, which is constantly evolving as new technologies necessitate new regulations to protect those who make a living by writing books, poetry, music etc. Churches are not exempt; we have to purchase licences to permit us to use many of the songs we enjoy in our worship, and there are quite strict rules we have to follow. It also affects Simply Strings, the strings group I attend. It’s fine if we play classical music which is more than 100 years old, as that is not covered by copyright. The problem arises when we wish to play music written more recently. A few months ago I thought it would be good if we could play ‘Eye Level’, the theme music from the 70’s Van der Valk series. I managed to track down a copy of the music and set about arranging it for our string orchestra. I was very pleased with the result, but then I spotted the note at the bottom of the music: “Warning - Any arrangement, alteration or duplication of this composition without the consent of the owner is an infringement of copyright.” It could be argued that no-one is going to be interested in prosecuting a small outfit like Simply Strings, and many music groups do such things on a regular basis. However, I was not comfortable knowing it would be breaking the law, especially as the group uses our church premises, so I reluctantly dropped the idea.

    Recently I thought about it again and wondered if it would be possible to make contact with the copyright owner and ask for permission to use my arrangement. After all, the worst that could happen was a refusal, or a request for an exorbitant fee! It was not difficult to find the contact information online, and I sent off my request by email. Within a couple of days I had a very pleasant reply granting me full permission for our group to use the music free of charge! All I had to do was ask, and ‘my joy was complete’!

    How much of God’s blessing on our lives are we missing because we simply don’t ask? As I was writing this, a song from the ‘old days’ came to mind. Part of it goes like this:-

    “No good will He withhold from children of His care,
    A thousand ways has Jesus to answer every prayer.”

    Just ask!

    Maureen Redbond

  • What are we celebrating?

    15 March 2015

    In 1913, Constance Penswick Smith (a vicar’s daughter from Nottinghamshire) read about the American Mother’s Day, celebrated on the second Sunday of May. She decided something similar with a more Christian basis was needed in Britain.

    Her plan was to relaunch the Mothering Sunday of the liturgical church calendar, which had fallen out of wider observance and the ‘Movement for Mothering Sunday’ was born. By the late 1930s, services celebrating motherhood were being held in almost every parish church in the country.

    The historical Mothering Sunday had very little to do with mothers. It had probably been observed since pre-Reformation times, on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Its purpose was to draw the congregations of ‘daughter churches’ of a specific area back to their ‘mother church’, a large church or cathedral. Constance thought that the celebration of church unity should still be an important part of the day. She felt that if Christians are members of one family, then the ‘church’ is logically viewed as the mother.

    The idea of ‘mother church’ convey the notion of a spiritual home. Churches are places for nurturing followers of Christ, providing teaching, discipleship, and opportunities for growth. Jesus spoke of his disciples as ‘my mother and my brothers’ and of them having priority over his biological family.

    This view of mothering could make services more significant for those who might otherwise stay away from church today: those who’ve lost their mothers, or who would dearly love to be mothers but can’t. For them, Mothering Sunday can be excruciating.

    Constance’s aim to honour mothers was laudable – but the original meaning of Mothering Sunday can help us to reflect on how our church is a place where we radically care for and minister to one another, whatever our age, gender or role.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • God wants your heart whole

    8 March 2015

    Jacob said to his sons... “Indeed I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down to that place and buy for us there, that we may live and not die.” So Joseph’s ten brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. Now Joseph was governor over the land; and it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the earth. Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he acted as a stranger to them and spoke roughly to them. (Genesis 42:1–3; 42:6–7)

    Joseph chose not to face his past and when he saw his brothers he had been governor for nearly ten years. Joseph had been content to leave his past in the past, no message sent home to tell them he was still alive, no attempt at reconciliation or restoration. Restoration matters to God and the healing of the heart may involve the healing of the past.

    Joseph heard his family before he saw them. He was talking to a servant when he heard Hebrew being spoken. He turned and looked and there stood his brothers. Maybe some were greyer, some balder, perhaps more rough skinned, but pale and gaunt with hunger. When their time came to ask Joseph for grain, they didn’t recognize him. His beard was shaved, his robe was royal and he spoke Egyptian. Black makeup at the sides of his eyes and a black wig on his head helped hide the identity of their baby brother.

    Joseph acted like a stranger and called for a Hebrew-speaking servant to translate. The brothers told the story of where they were from, a family of twelve brothers, at least there used to be, “The youngest is now with our father, and one is no longer living”. This was the first report on his family Joseph had heard in twenty years. Jacob was alive. Benjamin was alive. And they thought he was dead. Joseph tells them “I will let one of you go back and get your brother and bring him here. The rest of you I’ll throw in prison.” Long ago, they had thrown Joseph in a hole and ignored his cries for help. Now he chose to turn the tables. Perhaps this was the toughest challenge of his life. By comparison the famine was easy. Mrs. Potiphar he could resist. Pharaoh’s assignments he could manage. He reacted with a mixture of hurt and hate that surged when he saw his brothers.

    Maybe you feel like your family failed you in some way. Maybe your early years were hard. Maybe the people who should have cared for you didn’t. But, like Joseph, you made the best of it. You made a life for yourself. Maybe you are happy to leave your ‘Canaan’ far behind but what if God isn’t? God gives us more than we request and goes deeper than we ask. God wants not only your whole heart; he wants your heart whole. Why? Hurt people hurt people. Do you fly off the handle? Do you avoid conflict? Do you seek to please everyone? Could your behaviour have anything to do with an unhealed hurt in your heart? God wants to help you for your sake, ask Him to bring wholeness to your life today.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • Blood Brothers (and Sisters!!)

    1 March 2015

    If you are as old as me you will remember the Westerns - programmes on the television such as: The Lone Ranger, Bronco Lane, The Cisco Kid, Roy Rogers, Wagon Train, Bonanza and Rawhide – to name but a few. They were action packed stories which nowadays are not considered politically correct, probably because the cowboys always beat the Red Indians (as they were called then) and took their land.

    Often, there would be one good Cheyenne, Apache, Sioux or Cherokee Native American who would step in at the eleventh hour and help to save the cowboy star of the story. And there was a reason for this. The native tribes had a custom of making blood brothers. Two people would draw blood and mix it to make a covenant between them, an everlasting promise whereby, as blood brothers, they would always be family, they would always look out for each other. They were honour bound to do so.

    1 Corinthians chapter 11v 25 (NIV) says: “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood”.

    We are “blood brothers” - and sisters - of Jesus. He has made us family and sealed that agreement by the shedding of his blood. He has covenanted that when we come to him for salvation (our part of the agreement) we will always be part of his family, and he will always look out for us. He is bound to do so because he has confirmed it by the shedding of his blood, and he has promised it in his word. It is an everlasting promise to the glory of God.

    Anne O'Brien

  • What is Worship?

    22 February 2015

    Worship is ascribing worth to something or someone. True worship is also a matter of the heart. It must be felt. It can’t be ritualistic. It can’t be just an external going through the motions. True worship is a heartfelt expression of love, adoration, admiration, fascination, wonder, and celebration. It’s something that happens in our heart and soul when we begin to praise God for who He is and thank Him for what He has done.

    God calls us to worship Him. He commands it, He desires it, He pursues it, He deserves it, and He will reward it. For God bestows His provision, grace, sovereignty, and power on those who worship Him in spirit and in truth. Perhaps the best way to illustrate what happens when we worship is to look at the worship experience of one of God’s prophets recorded in Isaiah 6.

    In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke (v.1–4).

    First, worship brings an upward look, a glance at God on His throne in all His glory. It refocuses our view of God. It causes us to remember how good He is, how big, kind, powerful, and loving He is, and how holy He is. Second, worship brings an inward look. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (v. 5–7).

    When we see God for who He really is, as Isaiah did, we start to see ourselves for who we really are. We start seeing things in our hearts and in your lives that really didn’t bother us before. After Isaiah saw and confessed his sinfulness, he also experienced the mercy, grace, and forgiveness of God. That’s what happens when we really worship. But worship doesn’t end there. Notice that Isaiah’s inward look is followed by an outward look. Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (v. 8)

    Genuine worship always leads to an outward look—a personal response or action—a desire to be obedient to whatever God calls you to do. Genuine worship isn’t just singing songs and getting a good feeling in your heart. Genuine worship is seeing God for who He really is—His power, His greatness, His holiness, His sovereignty, His love, and His compassion—and then giving Him what He’s worth—the best of your time, your talents, your thoughts, your words, and your deeds. True worship is seeing afresh the tremendous worth of God and, in response, giving Him the best of everything you have.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • The Presence of God

    15 February 2015

    “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here .... what else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth”, so said Moses in the wilderness as he led the Israelite nation to the promised land. (Exodus 33:15-16)

    Moses was pleading to God, on behalf of his nation, God’s nation - the Israelites, not to leave them. Their acceptance by God, their recognition as God’s people, the very source of their existence was in the real Presence (capital ‘P’) of God among them. Without this Presence, they were just a bunch of people scrabbling about in the desert, hiding from their enemies with no direction, purpose or hope to their lives. Moses recognised that having God’s Presence with them wasn’t an optional extra for God’s people, but essential for their ongoing survival and for their continued existence and recognition by others as having the stamp of God on their lives.

    The Apostle Peter, many years later, made the same connection when he saw the fulfilment of Joel’s prophetic word to pour out God’s Presence (his Holy Spirit), on those who call out to God, young, old, socially deprived, female or male. Without the Holy Spirit in our lives, God’s very Presence, we are just walking shells, with nothing to distinguish us from the communities, the nations around us. However, with God’s Presence in our lives, real change takes place. For Moses, even his face glowed with seeing God – people could not ignore the impact of the Presence of God in his life.

    For Peter, and those that have encountered Jesus throughout the ages, the Presence of God, the Holy Spirit, has transformed not only individual lives, but the lives of those around us. We are to be God’s marmite, God’s chilli peppers – we may not be loved by all, but God’s Presence in us cannot be ignored! To continue the analogy, our ‘tastiness’, comes from allowing God’s Holy Spirit to salt our lives thoroughly, that God’s very Presence, His love, peace, gentleness, humility, mercy and compassion, seep through the pores of our body. Who is this available to? EVERYONE who calls on the name of Jesus!

    Pastor Simon Law

  • Church, Worship, Service

    8 February 2015

    These words should remind us of three things. First, it is the people not the building that are God’s church, there is a distinct difference between “going to church” and “being church”. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). The church exists within each of us because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; not structures made of bricks and concrete.

    Second, worship is an encounter with almighty God. There is a difference between “going to church” and “worshipping God”. We can be present in the “building” but absent from the “temple”, just because we turn up at a certain time on a Sunday and spend time with other people does not necessarily mean we actually worship God. In fact, worship should be an integral part of our everyday lives. Each day we should seek to spend time worshipping God, speaking to Him, listening to His voice, seeking His presence, knowing His touch, experiencing His love, grace and mercy.

    Third, service is the attitude of being a servant. When we meet together as church, we meet to worship God, we meet to honour Him and praise Him, but as we meet together there are many opportunities to serve Him and each other. Each of us needs to examine ourselves and ask “Do I have a servant heart? How can I serve God? What is God calling me to do for His glory?” Maybe you don’t feel qualified to serve but each of us can serve God in some way!

    There are many activities in the life of “our church” that you could use as opportunities for worship and service. Greeting people as they arrive with a smile does not take great theological knowledge, nor does being on the rota to provide refreshments after a service. Could you arrive early to help put out chairs or stay behind to help clear up? Can you make time to chat with visitors? Could you assist with Sunday School or Youth work? Could you bring a friend to the Coffee morning?

    Worship and service needs to be part of our daily lives. When we give God the central place in our lives He takes us to a deeper dimension in our relationship with Him, a deeper dimension that all of us can experience. Daily God grants us His extravagant grace and daily we should offer Him sincere worship and heartfelt service that flows from a heart filled with gratitude for His awesome power and presence in our lives.

    Pastor Dean Courtier

  • From Springs to Rivers

    1 February 2015

    Mighty rivers begin from tiny springs. My husband Terry and I have been watching a TV series, following the steps of someone who is walking from the source of the mighty River Nile all the way until it reaches the Mediterranean Sea – all 4,200 miles of its length! To begin his trek he went deep into the forest in Rwanda, where he found the source of the river. It was just a small spring of water bubbling up from the ground and running out into a tiny stream – not much to write home about!! However, many other springs spread over a few hundred miles, were also discharging water and together they all flowed into Lake Victoria – making a huge reservoir of water - which spilled out into the mighty River Nile.

    A spring is simply the result of an underground aquifer (like an underground reservoir) being full, to the point that it overflows to the earth above. When Terry and I have seen springs in the Peak District, they are literally bubbling over with pure, drinkable water – such a blessing to the weary traveller.

    God wants us to be like springs, bubbling up with his Holy Spirit, bringing his refreshment and renewal to all who need it in this world. We might not feel as though we are a very big spring but, working together, drawing from the everlasting reservoir of God’s Spirit, we can have the effect of a mighty river. We can make a difference when we allow God’s Spirit to flow through us.

    Like a river, glorious, is God’s perfect peace,
    Over all victorious in its bright increase;
    Perfect, yet it floweth fuller every day,
    Perfect, yet it growth deeper all the way.

    Anne O'Brien

  • What does the word baptism mean to you?

    25 January 2015

    The definition in the dictionary reads: the Christian rite of sprinkling a person with water or immersing them in it, symbolising purification and admission to the Christian church. As a Pentecostal church we believe in immersing a person when they are baptised.

    Looking back, I was baptised in October 1986. It was such a joyful time and a decision I have never regretted. Jesus Himself went through the waters of baptism, so we are being obedient in following Him by doing the same. In Matthew 3:17 it says “this is my son, whom I love, with Him I Am well pleased”. Jesus was fully immersed as well because it says that in Matthew 3v16 (He went up out of the water).

    Baptism is a step to show that our old life is gone and a new life in Christ has begun. You may have heard that Aaron Durant is going to be baptised at Ashingdon Elim on Sunday 1st February, he is being faithful and obedient to the Lord, and perhaps his decision has made you think about being baptised too.

    I would encourage you to be challenged and consider being baptised yourself. It was one of the happiest days of my life and it is something I wish I could do all over again.

    Lin Millar

  • What’s left?

    18 January 2015

    It’s all over! It was a great time, starting with numerous meals with different groups of people in December. The house was decorated, inside and out, with lights and tinsel (it was David’s year this year, so plenty of those!). Then there were the Carol Services, when many people who don’t usually attend church came to be part of the celebration. The family arrived – our daughter and son-in-law and 3 very excited children. Christmas day finally dawned, and Father Christmas had done his job, much to the delight of the children. There was food in abundance, presents galore, sweets and nuts, games and fun. For the next few days there were other family visits and parties. It was great to be with everyone over the holiday period – but also exhausting!

    The children went home after a few days; the last visitors left; the remaining food was all dealt with and stored in the freezer; the decorations are stored away ready for next year; the house is cleaned and back to normal.

    So, what’s left when Christmas is over? There is one very obvious answer: - JESUS! The baby who was born at that first Christmas did not disappear, but grew up to become a wonderful teacher, who healed sick people and performed miracles. Then He died a cruel death to take the punishment for our sins, but rose from death and ascended to heaven. He is still alive today, ready to provide peace and forgiveness to anyone who will come to Him. Sadly, for many people, once Christmas is over, it’s almost as if Jesus is put away with the decorations, to be forgotten until next Christmas. For them, all that is left is January, with its cold dark days and the bills that all seem to come at once, which soon obliterates the festive atmosphere. The baby Jesus has no significance for them and is quickly forgotten. But for those who put their trust in Him, Jesus is a constant companion – in a sense, it’s Christmas every day!

    Maureen Redbond

  • Does your well need cleaning?

    11 January 2015

    “Our lives are like wells,” was the subject God had given me when preparing to preach one Sunday years ago. When we get saved God puts His life into our well. Over the years we get hurt, disappointed etc and these things are like stones thrown into our well. His life is still in us but well and truly hidden by the trials of life. We lose our enthusiasm and joy but God wants to clean our well.

    On the Friday before I was due to preach this message, I went to a ladies meeting in Colchester. After one of the three women speakers had preached, another began to give words from God for some of those in the congregation. I had never experienced anything like this before, then imagine my surprise when she pointed straight at me and asked me to stand. She began with the words, God has told me to tell you that your life is like a well then she went on to repeat all of the above, word for word. I still have goose-bumps when I tell of this happening. Whoops! Guess what? The message I was preparing was for me first. Although I related this message to others, it took a long time before I realised what God meant by, “the cleaning of my well.”

    Graham and I went to Toronto at the time of a powerful move of the Holy Spirit. (Toronto means meeting place). In the first few days three different people prayed for me, each one saying, “Lord clean her well,” and they knew nothing about me. The Lord said to me, “This is the time for the cleaning of your well.” I wonder if you can guess what was needed for that cleaning to take place? It was forgiveness. So Graham and I sat for hours asking God to show us who we needed to forgive then as he showed us we would name them out loud, saying we forgive you and we rip up the IOU. You owe us nothing. Seems simplistic and perhaps silly to some but we just kept doing it until no further name or situation came to us. All I know is that I felt clean. The proof that it worked was when the folks in Braintree Elim saw the difference in me. The life of Jesus shining through. It was said that I had been born again, again. That’s how I felt.

    How’s your well? Does it need cleaning? Have you lost your joy and your zest for life? You don’t have to go digging around in your memories just ask the Lord to show you what needs dealing with and He will.

    In Genesis 26 is the story of how the Philistines, out of jealousy, filled in the wells dug by Abraham. Isaac had to clean them out in order to find water. Jesus speaking to the Samaritan women, said anyone who drinks water from this well, will thirst again but the water I give is a well of life, springing up within you. That speaks of a life which is vibrant, satisfying and attractive to others.

    Yvonne Knight

  • Seek the source

    12 May 2015

    On our narrow boat trip on the Llangollen Canal this year we decided to visit the point where the canal begins. The canal is fed by water from the river Dee and in order for this to become possible a waterfall was built, known as Horseshoe Falls. Telford was responsible for the design of this distinctively shaped weir, which is 460 feet (140 m) long, and helps create a pool of water that can enter (via an adjacent valve house and flow meter) the Llangollen Canal. Without this continuous controlled supply, the canal would have no water and could not be used for the purpose for which it was built.

    On their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, the Israelites arrive at an oasis in the wilderness. Here, at Elim, they discover a constant source of blessing. It was a place to rest and be refreshed. It is significant that we are told there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, indicating the abundance available for the people of God on their journey. Our denomination was appropriately named after this place of refreshing.

    This year Elim celebrates 100 years since its foundation as a church denomination. Its early formative years saw God’s abundance in many ways, with thousands finding Jesus as Saviour, and miracles in evidence.

    As we continue on our journey to the destiny God has for each of us, there are times of testing but also times of blessing and overflow. On our journey we need to seek for the source of the blessing we can enjoy, which is only found in our willingness to walk with God and submit to His authority in our lives. Jesus promised to all who followed Him that the water He gives will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

    Our theme for this year is ‘Supernatural Springs’ and we will look at the variety of springs we discover as followers of Jesus, including the spring of salvation, the spring of the Spirit, the spring of supernatural supply and the spring of sovereign promises.

    Let’s journey together and find the abundant overflow from the supernatural springs that will well up in our lives, and in our churches.

    Pastor David Redbond

28
dec

‘Management Speak’

The chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee to MP’s recently said “If I was to identify the first risk, it is that this work is stovepiped”!!!

An MP described this as impenetrable Management Speak.

If the book of Genesis were written in Management Speak, Genesis 1 might read a bit like this: At the Alpha test stage of development, God actioned the Heaven and the Earth. And the Earth lacked granualarity and was insufficiently consumer facing. And the Spirit of God whiteboarded a dynamic solution strategy. And God said. “ On a go forward basis let there be 360 degree vision enhancement”; and on a go forward basis there was a 360 degree vision enhancement. And God saw the 360 degree vision enhancement. And from an end‑user perspective, He was empowered to confirm that it was optimal. (Extract from a Michael Deacon article).

If this made no sense to you try reading Genesis 1:1–3.

A group of young people turned up at church one Sunday evening, the church young people invited them to stay for drinks and biscuits. The visitors knew little about Christianity and asked questions. Jan, a keen 16 year old Christian girl started to explain about Jesus and how to be saved, “You must be born again and then be washed in the blood of the lamb before you’re baptised” is roughly how she started. The rather older visitor, a bearded young man looked at her in astonishment. Then he looked around at the rest of us and said words to the effect of “What on earth is she talking about… Saved? Lambs? Blood? I don’t understand”

Though well meant, Jan had not learnt that using ‘Christian Speak’ to people who know nothing of our faith is not the best way to help them.

We unwittingly pick up Christian jargon but when talking to others about our faith we need to be thoughtful and think about their background and experience before we choose which words to use. It is very worthwhile having some simple training in how to talk about our faith in an easy to understand way. One example is the Evangelism Explosion course. I found this really helpful, perhaps you would to.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:5-6)

Terry O'Brien

21
dec

The greatest gift of all

Do you enjoy shopping for Christmas gifts? How many shops do you search so that you can give gifts to those you love? But you don’t mind, do you?

You would do it all again. Every Christmas, every birthday, we can find ourselves in foreign territory. Adults are in toy stores. Wives are in the men’s department, and husbands are in the perfume department. We are at our best when we are giving. In fact, we are most like God when we are giving. Have you ever wondered why God gives so much? We could exist on far less.

He could have left the world flat and gray; we wouldn’t have known the difference. But He didn’t. He splashed orange in the sunrise and cast the sky in blue.
And if you love to see geese as they gather, chances are you’ll see that too.
Did He have to make the squirrel’s tail furry?
Was He obliged to make the birds sing?
And the funny way that chickens scurry or the majesty of thunder when it rings?
Why give a flower fragrance? Why give food its taste?
Could it be He loves to see that look upon your face?
If we give gifts to show our love, how much more would He?

If we love to give gifts, how much more does God, pure and perfect God, enjoy giving gifts to us?

Jesus asked, “If you hardhearted, sinful men know how to give good gifts to your children, won’t your Father in heaven even more certainly give good gifts to those who ask Him for them?” (Matthew 7:11).

God’s gifts shed light on God’s heart, God’s good and generous heart. James tells us: “Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light” (James 1:17 MSG).

Every gift reveals God’s love but no gift reveals His love more than the gifts of the cross. They came, not wrapped in paper, but in passion. Not placed around a tree, but a cross. And not covered with ribbons, but sprinkled with blood.

Pastor Dean

14
dec

Christmas love and peace

Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11)

In the final weeks of 1914, German and British troops were engaged off and on in battle, as they were stationed a few hundred yards apart. With Christmas approaching, the young soldiers were ready for relief. It began on the night of Christmas Eve, when German soldiers lit candles on their Christmas trees -- not a good wartime move, since the enemy could easily spot their position. British soldiers responded by shooting off rockets and building bonfires.

The Germans began singing Christmas carols, inviting the British to join in. One British soldier called out, “We would rather die than sing in German.” A German soldier responded, “If we had to listen to you sing in German, it would kill us too.” Throughout the night, each camp listened to the other sing.

The next morning, hundreds of soldiers left their trenches to meet the enemy in no‑man’s land, where they shook hands and exchanged gifts of food, candy, and tobacco. Some traded names and addresses. Meanwhile, a football game was played between the shell holes and barbed wire. Both German and British generals spoke out against the truce, fearing that such fraternisation could sap the troops’ will to fight.

Of course, it didn’t. Fighting resumed the following day. Eventually ten million people would lose their lives in World War I. But on this single day two enemies put aside their differences long enough to practice peace.

What a place to begin. What if we called a truce, at least for this season? Imagine if husbands and wives would do this. And brothers and sisters. And in-laws. And neighbours. And co-workers. And church members. What if we made a determined effort to live in peace with one another, even the most contentious among us, just for the season? If we would try it, we might begin to experience long-term what those embattled soldiers experienced for one day, and what the angels promised the shepherds on that first Christmas night: Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, goodwill towards men.

May God, who gives patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)

Pastor Dean

07
dec

Why is Advent important?

While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. Luke 1:11-13 (NLT)

Advent is about God entering this world in person. In a way that we will never be able to understand, the Creator and Ruler of the universe, humbles himself in order to become one of Earth’s citizens. Given the significance of this, it is not surprising that Jesus’ birth is surrounded by supernatural events, particularly the appearance of angels.

This first happens in the centre of the great Temple in Jerusalem. The aged Zechariah is terrified by Gabriel’s appearance. He is told that his wife will bear a child, that the infant is to be called John and that he will be a blessing both to his parents and to God’s people. The child will bring people back to God and – most importantly – make a people who are prepared for the Lord. It is an awesome promise, but Zechariah queries the angel’s pronouncement. ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well on in years.’

This is not the wisest response, and the angel pronounces God’s discipline on unbelief, Zechariah will be silent until John is born. I think there are two lessons here:

Zechariah goes to serve God but instead God serves him.
With God we always receive more than we give.

Zechariah is ‘righteous in the sight of God’, yet when it comes to trusting God, he wavers. Zechariah and his wife may have been praying for years for a child. Yet when Zechariah is told by an angel that his prayer is going to be answered what he in effect says is, ‘Now, it’s all very well of you to say that but I’m really not convinced.’

Zechariah and Elizabeth have prayed for a child, but over the years he has allowed doubt to wear away the promise. What makes Zechariah’s lack of faith worse, is that - as every Jew knew - there were precedents for God giving a child to the elderly and childless, most notably to Abraham and Sarah, who were the ancestors of all the Jewish people. Zechariah had forgotten both his own prayers and what God had done in the past. We can often do exactly the same thing.

But God does use very ordinary people, with all their flaws and deficiencies.

I find that encouraging and hope you do too.

Pastor Dean

30
nov

BE STILL. God is in control!

Be still, and know that I am God! I will be praised among the nations, I will be praised in the earth. Psalm 46:10

In the Gospel of John, Mary and Martha come to Jesus and ask Him to heal Lazarus, who was critically ill. Since Lazarus was a good friend of Jesus, I’m sure Mary and Martha were expecting Jesus to come immediately to his aid. But the Bible says Jesus stayed two more days in the place where He was. It was in those two days that Lazarus died.

When we are in the midst of a difficult circumstance or situation we can forget that God is in control. It’s hard for us to understand God’s timing. We want Him to act, we need Him to act, but God’s timing is always perfect even if it seems we have to wait for Him to answer our prayer. With Lazarus, God was about to teach everyone involved a much deeper truth. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He made sure they all understood that He is the resurrection and the life for all who believe.

God has His perfect timing for everything under heaven. You may be waiting for God to intervene in some area of your life. You may have been begging and pleading with God for years about a particular thing. Trust Him, God’s timing is perfect, have faith in Him. He knows best what He is doing and He is working all things for those of us who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

Be still. God is in control! He has greater blessings for you than what you could ask or think!

Pastor Dean

23
nov

How do you view the Bible?

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

The Bible is the written Word of God. How we view the truth recorded in the Bible is crucial for us today. In the Bible, God has chosen to unfold for us His nature, character, plan and purposes.

The Bible reveals where we have come from, our purpose in life and our ultimate destiny. Billy Graham said, “Millions of people today are searching for a reliable voice of authority. The Word of God is the only real authority we have. His Word sheds light on human nature, world problems and human suffering. But beyond that, it clearly reveals the way to God”.

The message of the bible in 4 points:
- God created you
- God loves you
- God sent Jesus to die for you.
- God is going to send Jesus again to bring believers back to Him.

The Bible provides the believer with practical instruction, encouragement, warning and wisdom. God has chosen to unveil His power, integrity and love in His inspired Word. Some of the many descriptions used by the prophets, writers and psalmists recorded in the Bible describe God’s Word as:
“honey in my mouth” Ezekiel 3:3
“spiritual food for the hungry” Job 23:12
“perfect and trustworthy” Psalm 19:7
“more precious than gold” Psalm 19:10
“a lamp for my feet” Psalm 119:105
“true and righteous” Psalm 119:160
“a joy and delight to my heart” Jeremiah 15:16
“a fire that burns in my heart” Jeremiah 20:9
“renewing my mind” Romans 12:12
“Sharper than a two-edged sword” Hebrews 4:12

We need to apply God’s Word to our lives daily. The Bible is life changing, and while the truth of God’s Word does not change, our understanding of the truth does. Martin Luther said “I use Scripture as a lighter to kindle the fire in my heart”. Often a verse or a passage becomes clearer when lit by the light of other verses or passages on the same subject.

When The Holy Spirit opens our hearts and minds to the Word we experience it as a living Word. Our faith is based on the truth revealed in the Bible and every thought, word or action needs to be in line with God’s Word.

Pastor Dean

16
nov

Unconditional Love

Do you remember the words of this old song:

Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water
Put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea
Take a look at yourself and you can look at others differently
By putting your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee

Aren’t these words amazing? They are saying, of course, that we are to trust God in all things, great and small. I expect, now, you are singing it too.

During half-term I made a day trip to London with my two 6 year old grandchildren to see the Poppies at the Tower of London. To get a close up view was not an easy task as we encountered the vast crowds that seemed to be going in all directions. I lifted the children onto a wall where they could see without having to peer through bodies and cameras. What an amazing sight! It was worth all the problems we had encountered.

As we turned to leave and continue with our adventure in London I asked Orla to hold my hand, which she did immediately and Adam responded likewise as he held my bag with me. “Don’t let go” were my instructions and they “didn’t”. So all joined together we moved slowly away from the crowds, crossed a major road and sat down in a grassy place near the river where it was quieter and had some refreshments.

The children trusted me to lead them to safety: they put their hands in mine and knew it would be OK.

How easy it would be for us if we just took hold of God’s hand and allowed Him to lead us away from the things that cause us to be anxious or in doubt to a quieter place and be refreshed in His care. Psalm 23 v2 : He makes me lie down in green pastures
He leads me beside still waters
He restores my soul

Children just trust those that love them without question. We have the responsibility of keeping them safe, showing them our unconditional love. God desires the responsibility of keeping us safe. He wants to hold our hands and care for us as He puts His loving arms around us.

He loves us unconditionally. Will you allow Him to?

Andrea James

09
nov

Hand made and unique

David and I recently met up with our daughter and family in London, to visit the amazing display of poppies at the Tower. It was half-term, the sun was shining, and it seemed as if half the world had the same idea! Progress around the area was difficult and extremely slow, but nothing could detract from the awesome sight of the thousands of ceramic poppies that have been planted in the area surrounding the tower. As each poppy represents a British serviceman who died during World War 1, the message was very clear: victory was gained at a very high cost in terms of human life. It was a very moving spectacle, but what really impressed me was the fact that each poppy was individually hand-made. No mass-production, no machinery, just painstaking work by potters at the studio of the artist who designed the display. By November 11th they will have created 888,246 unique poppies. That set me thinking – each person represented by those poppies was unique, ‘hand-made’ by God Himself. Psalm 139:13 states: “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” And He knew and cared about each one, knew about their suffering, and their ultimate sacrifice.

Now, 100 years later, God knows and cares about every individual person in the world, whether they acknowledge him or not. We are all “hand-made” by the Master Potter, each one unique, special and loved by Him.

Maureen Redbond

02
nov

Battling Warriors

Do you know that every day we are all in Battle!

Recently I attended a Conference which was to be entitled WARRIORS. Various speakers had been chosen to speak on this subject and the sub-titles were Worshipping Warriors, Prayer Warriors, Joy Filled Warriors and Praise Warriors.

God showed me that all of us are Warriors and are constantly in a Battle. I was challenged. God says in His Word “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” Ephesians 6:12 Corrie Ten Boom once said “It’s a poor soldier indeed who does not recognise the enemy”

So the key to victory in both natural and spiritual warfare is to identify the enemy, and to understand his character and his methods.

So who is the real enemy... Satan. He comes in many disguises and uses different names. He is cunning and sly and will catch you unawares. We all need to understand we “Are in a Battle” We need to: “Identify the real enemy”; “Know the enemy’s names”; “Recognise the enemy’s tactics” and “To be alert” at all times”

It is wise to “Recognise the Battlefield” and be reassured that “Blessings follow obedience”

There is “A strategy for warfare” whereby “We need to “Put on our Spiritual Armour” so that we can “Walk in Triumph wearing ‘The whole Armour of God’”

I was given some news that I recognised as being an attack from Satan. I am trusting in my God and believe that this news won’t be anything other than Satan trying to catch me off guard. If a soldier is caught off guard he can be defeated easily, but with God on our side: WE HAVE THE VICTORY.

To be encouraged read Ephesians 6:10-18 and stand firm in the name of Jesus dressed and ready for Service for the Lord I can provide a list of the names of God, the names of Jesus, which bless us, and one which gives names the enemy chooses, to trick us.

Please contact me at aj@ashingdonelim.co.uk if this would be helpful.

Andrea James

26
oct

Exciting New Venture:
Sunday Night Live!
Making the Most of Every Opportunity

Yesterday, I was talking to a friend who excitedly showed me a posted message on Facebook. “Look at this!” he urged me. I looked at the Facebook posts, something about being pregnant? “No, not that!” he said. It took a while, but after several false starts I managed to finally locate the post that he was so excited about (you’ll have to speak to me to find out what it said!).

Thinking about this afterwards I reflected that maybe this is part of the challenge of being a man, not seeing what is right in front of you! To my shame, I often need Karen to locate items of clothing, tins of food, and items in cupboards that miraculously appear right in front of me – after she has pointed them out!

I’ve been challenged this week by Paul, encouraging us in Ephesians 5:15-16 to “be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” I’m becoming aware of the way God brings opportunities before me that I simply don’t recognize until after the event.

One of the opportunities we have on our doorstep. This morning, look around you for adults in the congregation under 50 years of age. If this is a typical Sunday, we’d expect approximately 80% of our congregation to be over 50 years of age. What then can we do to reach the lost generations of those in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s?

On the first Sunday evening over the next 12 months, at Costa’s in Rayleigh we will begin a new (ad)venture to connect with this generation – Sunday Night Live (SNL). SNL provides live entertainment with a twist of faith.

What opportunities has God placed before you to invite your friends, family, neighbours and colleagues for a great night out, free (apart from the cost of a cup of coffee)? We start on the 2nd November at 6pm with a great vocal duo! Let’s pick up some invitation cards and ask God to help us see the opportunities we have around us to invite others.

Visit http://twistoffaith.estuaryelim.uk for more details.

Pastor Simon

19
oct

Things we get wrong about Worship

It’s Sunday morning, the service has ended, the tea and coffee has been served and people start heading toward the car park. In every church, in every location where there has been a service, listen closely near the exit doors and you will hear it, “I didn’t get anything out of the sermon.” “I didn’t get anything out of that service.” “I guess the worship was all right, but I didn’t get anything out of it.” Have you heard that sound? Have you said it a few times yourself? Let me remind you, we are not supposed to ‘Get anything out of the service’. Worship is not about you and me, not about getting our needs met, not about a good performance from the pastor or the singers or the musicians. The focus of our worship is the Lord, “Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name.” (Psalm 29:2)

God calls us to be church to worship Him - our focus is to be on what we give Him - not what we get. We are here not there to ‘get’ we are here to ‘give’. We are here to give glory to God. We know that, we should know that, we say we do that. How many times have we said, “...for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory”? How often have we sung, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow...”? Glory is His right. He is worthy of worship. This is the theme of the final book of the Bible. “Who is worthy?” (Rev. 5:2) “You are worthy...for you were slain, and have redeemed us” (Rev. 5:9). “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain” (Rev. 5:12).

Jesus told the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, “Those who worship God must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). That is, with their inner being, the totality of themselves, their spirit, not just their lips or their bodies going through the motions. And in truth, the revealed truth of how God has prescribed worship to take place. He is not pleased with ‘just anything’ that we claim as worship. If my focus is on myself, getting my needs met, my learning something, hearing a sermon that blesses me, my being lifted by the singing - then Christ has no part in it. It’s all about me and I am ignoring the biblical concept of worship - giving God His due in all the ways He has commanded.

We must balance our worship between spirit (the subjective part: body, soul, emotions) and truth (the objective aspect: all that God has revealed in His word). Worship is something we do, not something done to us. Don’t leave church blaming your failure to worship on the singing or the sermon, you are in charge of the decision whether you will worship, no one else. Bow before the Lord, offer Him your praise, and give Him your all.

Pastor Dean

12
oct

The cautionary tale of Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty was just an ordinary egg, but he had a vision. He talked to his family and friends and prayed earnestly. He explained, “If you help me climb this wall, I will be seen for miles and the people will be amazed. They will want to listen to me and I can tell them about the good news. Think of those I’ll bring into the Kingdom.” So, with the help of his family and friends and constant prayer, he climbed the wall. As his vision had shown him, the people marvelled at him and his fame spread throughout the world. But the fame went to his head and he just sat on the wall full of pride, forgetting what he’d promised.

Sitting high on his wall, Humpty Dumpty looked down at all those who had helped him. And one by one they let him go, until there was no one left to keep Humpty Dumpty secure on the wall. It was then he discovered that his power and popularity was a very fragile thing, easily lost.

‘Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.’ (Proverbs 16:18)

Maybe somebody should have told King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26) about Humpty Dumpty. ‘As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success.’ (v5) He won wars, amassed land and led a growing kingdom. He built towers, controlled a vast well-trained army, and enjoyed great fame.

‘But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall.’ (v16). As a result of his pride, Uzziah entered the place within the temple reserved for the priests. When he was confronted with his sin, he responded with anger. The Lord struck him down with leprosy, and he lived in isolation the rest of his life.

Uzziah was someone who worshipped God, who held an honourable position and knew he was receiving God’s blessing. However, like Humpty Dumpty, his pride made him feel he was special and above God’s plan for his life.

The truth is that pride is a sin many of us will struggle with.

(Humpty Dumpty was first depicted as an egg in 1872 in the book ‘Through the Looking Glass’ by Lewis Carroll. No one is sure of the origin of Humpty Dumpty; it could refer to a gun used in the siege of Colchester in 1648 or Richard III at the battle of Bosworth in 1485 or the downfall of Wolsey who lost the favour of Henry VIII in 1529 – or maybe it was just intended as a riddle!)

Kevin Holmes

05
oct

Harvesting the Fruit of The Spirit

Autumn harvests laden our table with fresh fruits and vegetables as reminders of the abundance of God’s blessings in our lives. The apostle Paul speaks of another kind of fruit – the fruit of the Spirit. He writes in Galatians 5:22-23, “The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

To harvest the fruit of Spirit we must sow it in our lives. Galatians 5:25 tells us, “Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Just as a farmer chooses to work to produce his crop, we must also choose to allow God to work in us and through us. When we allow the Holy Spirit to fill our lives, we choose to react in a godly manner when people annoy us or circumstances move beyond our control. We must choose to keep in step with God and surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit instead of allowing our human nature to control us.

There are many circumstances in our lives when we should allow the Holy Spirit to take control of our attitudes and emotions: a disagreement with our spouse; parenting teenagers; annoying people; an unappreciative boss; ·bad driving; the dishwasher overflowing... What would you add to the list? Whatever creates irritability, impatience, or discontent could be added. The key to any type of adversity is to allow the Holy Spirit to help us. He will help us produce the fruit of the Spirit if we allow it.

With the Spirit’s help, we can obtain an overflowing abundance of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and of course, self-control.

Will you join me in seeking a harvest of the Fruit of the Spirit?

Dear Lord, teach me to walk in Your Spirit. I want to harvest all the aspects of Your Spirit. Infuse me with Your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When I find myself in adverse circumstances, remind me to keep in step with Your Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Pastor Dean

28
sep

Seek the face of God in prayer

We live in a difficult world. It seems every day brings issues and problems. Look at the news, a struggling economy, zero-hour contracts, Ebola, Iraq, energy prices, etc. The question we are often asked these troubled times is ‘Do we have a good God?’ The resounding response of the Bible is yes! You are good, Lord. (Psalm 25:7) Good and upright is the Lord. (Psalm 25:8) You, Lord, are forgiving and good. (Psalm 86:5) God is good – good in skill and good in heart.

Do you suffer from small thoughts about God? In an effort to see Him as your friend, have you lost His immensity? In your desire to understand Him, have you sought to contain Him? The God of the Bible cannot be contained. He created order out of chaos. With a word He called Adam out of dust and Eve out of a bone. He consulted no committee. He sought no counsel. He has no peer. I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me (Isaiah 46:9).

From the tiniest microbe to the mightiest mountain, He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command (Hebrews 1:3). He has authority over the world and He has authority over YOUR world: Your sleep patterns. Your eating habits. Your salary. Traffic on your commute. The arthritis in your joints. God reigns over everything. He is never surprised and He has never, ever said “How did that happen?”

God’s power is unsurpassed and His heart is unblemished. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle (James 1:17 MSG). God is merciful and mighty, God has no hidden agenda or selfish motive. His love is perfect and He forgives with a perfect forgiveness. God’s goodness is a major theme in the Bible. A glimpse of God’s goodness changes us. God’s unrivalled goodness undergirds everything we say about prayer. No wonder the psalmist said, Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).

We may try and fail in our own strength but our toughest challenges are simple to God. Before you face the world each day, turn your face to Father God. When the alarm clock goes off. Roll over and sit up. It does not matter if your face is pillow creased and your hair is messy. You haven’t come to look at you. You have come to look at God. Don’t underestimate the power of this moment. At the start of your day, open the door to God in prayer and welcome His strength, His truth, His love into your heart.

Father, You are always good. You love me and care for me, and you will be with me in all I do today. You are good! An arch of Your eyebrow, and a million angels will pivot and salute. Every throne is a footstool to yours. Every crown is papier-mâché to Yours. You have no questions, second thoughts, or backward glances. You consult no clock. You keep no calendar. You report to no one. You are good all the time! (Max Lucado)

Is the world different because you prayed? In one sense, no. Wars still rage, traffic still jams, and problems will still happen around the world. But you are different. You have peace. You’ve spent time with your Heavenly Father and you know He is good!

Pastor Dean

21
sep

Sometimes Prayer Alone is not enough

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. Francis Bernadone (1181-1226) (St Francis of Assisi)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37) begins with a scribe, an expert in Jewish law, asking Jesus, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replies with the question, “What is written in the Law?, How do you read it?”. The scribe naturally gives a scripturally proper answer: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbour as yourself.”

“Who is my neighbour?”

I have no doubt the Priest and the Levite in this parable were experts in the law, prayed, tithed and knew the scriptures as all good spiritual / religious leaders should. They may even have offered up a prayer for the man as they passed him by.

But Jesus makes it clear that “Love your neighbour as yourself” means to show mercy and kindness to everyone you come across, giving to others from yourself. Love is not just a feeling. Love is also an action.

The Samaritan didn’t just stop and pray for this man, although he may well have also prayed; he stopped to actually minister to him, something that exceeded prayer alone.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18)

The actions of the Samaritan, paying attention to the man’s frailty and need, perfectly demonstrates “Love your neighbour as yourself”.

We need to pray, but we also need to demonstrate practical love in tangible ways.

Kevin Holmes

14
sep

Times of change

We are living in times of tremendous change – its like living on shifting sands, Sand Dunes in fact, that are constantly on the move. Working practices change, job contents change, mobility of labour, flexibility of staff working hours, most of the changeable are changing simultaneously – that’s part of life I suppose in this computer age at the beginning of the 21st century, where more has changed in the last 25 years than in the previous 200 years.

So help me cope in an ever-changing world and workplace? I recall an old “Sankey’s” hymn “In times like these you need a Saviour, in times like these you need an anchor. Be very sure. Be very sure. Your anchor holds within the solid rock.”

Jesus spoke of two men, one who built his house on the sand and another who built his house on the rock (Matthew 7:24-27). When the storm came the house on the sand collapsed because it had no firm foundation. How sure is your foundation? There is only one solid rock and that’s Jesus Christ – are you fastened to Jesus the rock?

The Rev Toplady whilst sheltering from a storm in Cheddar Gorge wrote these words which became a well known hymn “Rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.”

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever. In times of change how does one cope? By trusting in an unchanging God. As another hymn writer said “Change and decay in all around I see, O Thou who changest not abide with me.”

Pastor Keith

07
sep

What is real Biblical forgiveness?

The concept of forgiveness is pretty simple for some people, the reality of forgiving someone can be much more difficult. There are misconceptions about forgiveness - what it is, what it is not and how to do it, so let’s consider what God has told us in the Bible.

Forgiveness is a command not a suggestion. Colossians 3:13 says, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Luke 6:37 says, “Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” and Matthew 6:15 warns us, “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” God does not take forgiveness lightly. As followers of Christ, we have been forgiven by God, and we are without exception commanded to forgive.

Forgiveness is a gift. Forgiveness can be painful, but everything God commands us to do is for our benefit. Forgiveness sets us free. It is a gift given to us by our all-knowing, loving God for our good and His glory.

Forgiveness begins with prayer. True forgiveness cannot take place without prayer and guidance from the Holy Spirit. We are told “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16). Prayer is an essential part of every area of our lives, to be able to really forgive we spend time in prayer.

Forgiveness is a decision not a feeling. It’s a decision that we may need to make many times until we receive the grace needed to forgive.

Forgiveness is a process. Forgiveness can take time and it may not happen instantly. We need to allow Jesus to heal our emotions and align them with His will and purpose.

Forgiveness requires a close relationship with God. We need to seek His will and pray for His guidance to show us the “how” of forgiveness. Draw close to God and seek His help in each step toward forgiveness.

Forgiveness allows God to be the judge. God is judge. We are not. When we refuse to forgive, we take the place of God as judge over those who wronged us. Ultimately, we must understand that justice will prevail. God is a good God––a just God who ensures justice is done. Romans 12:19-21 tells us, Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

Forgiveness is unconditional. Forgiveness is not reserved for "acceptable offenses." Just as God forgives all sins, we are called to forgive every offense committed against us regardless of how terrible it was. No sin is unforgivable. It may take a while but forgiveness is not complete until it is unconditional. Jesus is our example of forgiveness, on that cross dying a death He did not deserve he said “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34). Jesus prayed for the forgiveness of those who were in the process of murdering Him, and that is the example we all must follow when we’re called to forgive. It’s not easy but His response compels us to forgive as He forgave. Forgiveness is quite possibly one of the most difficult and painful things you will ever do.

Turn to God. Lay your burdens down. Pray for guidance and the grace needed to forgive.

Pursue forgiveness and you will experience the real blessing real forgiveness brings.

Pastor Dean

31
aug

Faith is more than a feeling

Jesus said: "I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27)

Have you ever thought about how many feelings we can have? God has created us with the capacity for an incredibly wide range of feelings. We can feel happy, playful, calm, confident, courageous, peaceful, joyful, comfortable, optimistic, delighted, encouraged, satisfied, jubilant. We can also feel angry, afraid, depressed, hopeless, confused, hurt, sad.

Feelings are a gift from God. Feelings are real – we truly experience them. We don’t imagine them. They are real, they may be the truth but they are not always the truth. If we believe in Jesus Christ and feel like God loves us and accepts us that is the truth. If we feel condemned or that God has abandoned us that is not the truth.

Feelings are a poor measure of the truth. As believers we are to live by faith, not by sight. Our circumstances may appear to indicate that God is not for us or that He is giving us too much to handle. Yet we live by faith in God’s word which says despite our circumstances God is for us and is not giving us too much to handle.

We need to live by faith in God’s word not what our feelings tell us. We may feel hopeless, we may feel like we can’t go on another day and the challenge for us is what are we going to believe – our feelings or God’s word?

We must believe and obey God’s word no matter how we feel. We may feel like we can’t go on. We may feel like it is impossible to forgive someone. We probably won’t feel like rejoicing in the midst of affliction or giving thanks in everything but we can and we must obey God’s word.

To be able to live by faith in God’s word we need to know God’s word. If we regularly read the Bible and think about God’s promises, our faith will increase and we won’t be dependent on our feelings.

I hope that you feel good today. I hope you feel God’s love and presence today. I pray you feel happy and joyful and thankful. But if these feelings elude you, don’t be discouraged. Thank God anyway. Praise Him. Ask Him for peace of mind and heart, believe, trust and obey Him. Have faith in the God who loves you, whether you feel like it or not.

Pastor Dean

24
aug

Never Stop Praying

I recently had to take a family member to the hospital, A&E to be precise. We were seen very quickly and in no time we were in a cubicle awaiting the doctors. Whilst waiting I could hear the conversation next door. An elderly gentleman had been taken in by his nephew after a fall. However, whilst he had the doctors attention he proceeded to tell him of every ailment he had over the last 5 years that he felt no one had taken any notice of.

The poor doctor! He didn’t know where to start or what to answer first. It was funny, but at the same time not funny. This poor man was taking advantage of a bad situation to get everything off his chest, and I wondered who he actually saw day to day to talk to normally. Are you like that with God? Do you not speak to Him for days, or weeks, on end, then flood Him with every care, worry, problem or illness you can think of? Do you let it build up then throw the lot at Him and expect an immediate diagnosis or answer?

I know I have been guilty of that. Instead of praying as something happens, I save it up and boom! He gets the lot in one go.

Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5 :17)

We can pray to our God anytime, any place and about anything. We don’t need an audience, or wait till we fall, before getting His attention.

Samantha Murphy

20
jul

Showing compassion

If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. (1 John 3:16-19)

I was in Iceland (the shop not the country!) and I was in the queue waiting to pay. I was bored, and couldn’t help hearing the young woman in front of me chatting to the cashier. She wasn’t complaining, just telling the woman to hold back on the last items as she may not have the money to pay. She got out all she had, placed it on the counter, and asked the woman serving her not to go beyond that, as it’s all she had left.

After everything went through it was over by £1.00, so the young woman asked the cashier to remove the chocolate treat for her kids, which she did. At this point I leaned in and quietly asked the cashier to ring it through and I would pay the extra. The young woman burst into tears and hugged me, she said no one had been that kind to her in ages. Of course I felt good about myself, but it wasn’t why I did it.

There was I, thinking in my head how miffed I was at not having booked a holiday yet, and this woman was saying she had to choose between food and buying clothes, how quickly that pulled me up and made me grateful for what I do have.

We have a God who has no sin, no need for forgiveness, and nothing to prove. Yet he gave us the one thing we needed, his Son. When we get to the cash desk our bill has been paid, no one else need pay the extra for us.

Anon

13
jul

Godly Living

Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)

The Apostle Paul lived at a time when sensuality, the pursuit of pleasure, and rebellion against God were prevalent. In response, Paul wrote letters urging Christians not to follow the ways of the world. Like those early believers, we are to pursue godliness by:

Presenting our bodies to God. Submitting ourselves to God requires a definite decision to give Him control and a daily commitment to remain under His authority. Our mind, will, emotions, personality, and physical body are to be turned over to our heavenly Father (James 4:7). To truly live a holy and godly life we must willing surrender to Him.

Becoming living sacrifices. The Christian life is built around the concept of sacrifice. Jesus left the perfection of heaven to live among sinful people to reconcile us to God. He offered up His life as payment for our sins (1 John 3:16) and brought us into His family. As Christians, we must follow His example. Paul called it a living sacrifice, because it is an ongoing act of daily commitment to God.

Life is full of options. Many decisions involve a choice between following God’s way or our own. As Christians we must be willing to sacrifice our own desires and embrace His will. A life of godliness is characterised by a heart and mind focussed on the things of God. Although we will live imperfectly, we should seek to obey His will and please Him. Today, commit to becoming more like Jesus, the One who willingly gave Himself as a sacrifice for you.

Pastor Dean

06
jul

Prodigy or Prodigal?

Are you a prodigy or a prodigal? What do the words mean?<p> A prodigy is someone who has a particular gift or talent that they use to the best of their ability. God says we are the ‘apple of his eye’ (Psalm 17v8) and that He wants to give us gifts (1 Corinthians 7v7). We all have at least one gift that we can use for Him. Not to do so would be displeasing to Him (see the parable of the talents in Matthew 25v24-27).

A prodigal is a person who is wasteful with what they have been given. Prodigals are people who waste their time and their money and their talents in pleasing themselves. When we waste what God has given us, it grieves God.

The prodigal son in the parable squandered his inheritance on a ‘good time’, but when that good time became a bad time he came to his senses. When he repented and asked his father for forgiveness he was welcomed, not only back into the family, but also as a worker on his father’s farm.

So often this parable is used in a gospel outreach service, but it is every bit as applicable to Christians as well as to backsliders; because being prodigal does not mean being away from God – it means being wasteful with the gifts God has given us. It means using them for our own pleasure instead of using them to grow and multiply our Father’s Estate (Kingdom).

We have an obligation, as sons and daughters of the Kingdom, to help in the harvest by inviting people to hear the gospel; to water the ground with tears and prayers; to grow the plants by caring for them; to feed the flock with the Word of God; to make the cheese; to weave and sew and provide etc. by sharing God’s bounty with them. There are many, many ways we can be fruitful for God with what He has given us. He has blessed us so abundantly – let us not be wasteful or prodigal.

Anne O'Brien

29
jun

God is at work

Throughout the Bible, we observe God at work in people’s lives. Sometimes He acts in dramatic fashion, as in parting the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to escape the Egyptian army. At other times it may appear as if He’s not taking any action. Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother needed His help, but Christ delayed before travelling to their home (John 11:3-6).

Our Father has given us the Holy Spirit to help us recognize His presence and handiwork. The Spirit cultivates spiritual discernment in us so we can understand when and where He’s at work.

In addition to spiritual discernment, we must develop patience because the Lord operates according to His timetable, not ours. After being promised numerous descendants, Abraham had to wait until he and Sarah were beyond childbearing years before she conceived. Impatience can cause us to take matters into our own hands and make mistakes.

The Lord’s efforts can bring delight, as was the case when Hannah bore a child (1 Sam. 1:27-2:1). His plan can also lead through painful times, which was Joseph’s experience. Before the Lord elevated him to a position of authority to help his family, Joseph was sold into slavery and unjustly imprisoned.

Jesus told the disciples that His Father was always at work and so was He (John 5:16-19). We will be encouraged and strengthened in our faith when we recognise the ways in which God is operating. These glimpses of His handiwork will motivate us to stay the course and help us maintain a godly perspective on life.

Pastor Dean

22
jun

Whisper in his ear

When I was much younger than I am now, I had a Saturday job working in a greengrocers. One Saturday I really wanted to go to a Southend United game with some friends, so I asked the Boss if I could leave early. Unfortunately he felt the shop was too busy to let me go, so he said no. As I walked away I saw his wife go over to him and whisper something in his ear. I have no idea what she said, but five minutes later I was off to the game and very happy.

Because of their relationship he was open to her thoughts. Obviously she would not always get the result she wanted, but in this case, her intercession with her husband on my behalf resulted in a happy outcome for me.

What if you had the ear of someone with real power?

Mary and Jesus were at a wedding in Cana. (John 2:1-11) Somehow she finds out that the hosts have run out of wine. So she tells Jesus, “They have no more wine.” She didn’t make any specific request or offer a solution, she simply stated the problem. Jesus replies with what seems like a rebuff : “Woman, why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come.” But Mary, who knew she had His heart, goes with perfect trust to the servants and tells them, “Do whatever He tells you.” There was no doubt in her mind that He would somehow provide more wine, which, of course, He did.

The miracle of turning water into wine came about from a simple statement from someone who had Jesus’ ear and had a real hope He would step in and act.

The Lord longs for us to have a close and intimate relationship with Him.

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8)

The more time you spend with Him the closer the relationship becomes. We can be close enough so that, through prayer, we can lean over and whisper in His ear. Prayer born of a really close relationship could lead to water becoming wine, a truly powerful prayer and surely something worth pursuing.

Kevin Holmes

15
jun

Disconnect to reconnect

The research has been conducted and the verdict is in – we’re hopelessly addicted to the Internet and our digital devices. Some psychologists want to have “Internet Addiction” classified as a clinical disorder. But is it actually affirmation that we can’t get enough of? We want people to acknowledge us, interact with us, consider our opinions, laugh at our jokes, and take part in our conversations. These are all legitimate, natural wants and needs. Maybe we would seek the approval and affirmation of Facebook friends, Twitter acquaintances, Linked‑in colleagues or Friends Reunited classmates less if we received it from our families more.

Apparently, 65% of people spend more time with their computer, tablet or phone than with their spouse. 45% of workers say they can’t go more than 15 minutes without an interruption. Over 70% of people leave their mobile phones on when they go to bed, in the cinema or during church.

Mobile devices, computers and social media can be wonderful things, they’ve transformed many lives around the world in positive ways. But while we’re more connected than ever (and maybe because we’re more “connected” than ever), we’re more disconnected than ever from our families. Ever texted your child in his or her room to tell them that dinner is ready? Are instant messages replacing conversations at the dinner table? Are you talking to your kids about their “status”? Or, reading about it on Facebook?

Let me challenge you to do something different for a day, disconnect to reconnect! Pick a day and disconnect from the virtual digital world for 24 hours and reconnect with God and your physical family and friends - I promise you will survive! Here are two simple things you can do to make it happen:

1. Before going to bed the night before your chosen day, check your e-mail, check your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linked-in, etc one final time, then turn off your computer, tablet or mobile phone and put it in another room. You may get the shakes, but you’ll get over it.

2. Plan your day well. Plan time with God, plan activities with your family or friends. Don’t check your email or go online. Do you remember those days when we actually left home without a phone? If you go out, take your phone in case of an emergency but leave it switched off.

Remember – kids watch your behaviour more than they listen to your words. And when they see you unable to disconnect from email, text messages and Twitter? You’re telling them that what’s on your phone is more important to you than they are. So, think about how much time you spend online versus how much time you spend with God or face-to-face with the people you love you the most. And, at the very least, for 24 hours, think about which connections are the most important to you: The one to the world? Or the one to God and your family?

Pastor Dean

08
jun

God's order

“Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40 NKJV)

God is a God of order, beauty and variety. He could have created a world in monochrome, but chose instead to bestow on His creation a cornucopia of colour and thousands of species of plant and animal life.

God is a generous God. This magnanimity is also seen in the expression of the Person of the Holy Spirit. There is no narrow parameter to which He is limited, or box to which He can be confined. As Jesus said to Nicodemus, “The wind blows where it pleases.”

But of course it does not end there, as the six symbols of this third Person of the Godhead reveal. He is equated with wind bringing us breath and life. He is seen as wine evoking joy. He is revealed as fire providing energy, as water bringing refreshing, as a dove eliciting peace and purity, and as oil conveying the anointing. Every symbol– with the exception of the dove –however, carries with it the potential for damage as well as blessing, for loss as well as gain.

There are few things more glorious than a meeting where the Holy Spirit has His way. There are few matters more destructive than a context in which things are not done decently and in order. This “order” however, is not a control calibrated by personal or denominational preference; neither is it shaped by class or culture. It is an order prescribed by a life in tune with the mind and heart of God––the spirit of the prophet being subject to the prophet.

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you? Search the Bible for examples of God’s order. Spend time thanking Him for His ways of order in the world and in your life. Reflect on the six symbols of the Holy Spirit and how He has been each of those to you. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal more of Himself to you. Pray for heavenly wisdom, that you will be able to host God’s presence according to His divine order.

Rev John Glass

01
jun

The lost earring

About 4 years ago I lost an earring. I took it off one day and put it away, but a few days later it was gone. I knew I hadn’t dropped it, I knew I had put it away, yet it was gone. I was more upset than usual, as this was a favourite pair. Not of any monetary value, not of any sentimental value, I just really liked them. Sadly I put the remaining earring away in my jewellery case. Every now and then I would sort out my earrings and find the remaining earring, a reminder of what I had lost, but I could never bring myself to throw it away, just in case.

Last month I was looking for a particular necklace in my jewellery box, in the draw below my earrings, I got everything out, and there, wrapped inside a long since worn piece of jewellery, barely visible, was my lost earring. I can’t begin to explain the joy I felt. The pair were now complete, and in my ears on Sunday morning. I told everyone about my once lost, but now found earring.

God feels a greater disappointment, a greater loss, when we disappear from His side. He will try to keep us near, but He will always allow us to walk away, if that’s our choice. But He never gives up on us, He never throws us away, and when we return He celebrates.

If you’ve stopped your walk with God, why not cause a party in Heaven and return to Gods side.

“Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:8-10)

Samantha Murphy

25
may

Worth the effort

Samantha wrote last week about our abseil adventure at Harlow Water Tower, and the requirement that we trust the people who were instructing us.

It was a great experience, but before we could come down – we had to go up! That involved climbing the 134 steep steps to the top of the tower. The first section is like a spiral staircase, but the last section is a series of vertical metal ladders. For that section we had to have a rope attached for safety. It was hard work, but well worth the effort as we took in the amazing view from the top, and then had the exhilarating sensation of the abseil down.

Much is said these days about ‘rights’, to the extent that sometimes it seems that people believe they are entitled to everything without any effort on their part. It even creeps into church life, with some expecting everyone else to carry out the necessary tasks to keep the church running, but unwilling to play any part themselves. Even more sadly, some are reluctant to put any effort into their personal spiritual lives. If only they realised the blessings and benefits they are missing by neglecting to spend time getting to know God’s Word and exploring their relationship with Him. James 1:8 says, ‘Come near to God and He will come near to you.’ The promise of his closeness to us is there – but so is the requirement that we first turn our steps to approach Him. Why not resolve to do just that? It will be well worth the effort.

Maureen Redbond

18
may

Trust

As many of you know, Maureen Redbond and I recently abseiled down Harlow Water Tower. I must say, the view from the top of that tower was amazing; I could have stayed up there all day. However, when the time came to descend, I approached two complete strangers, whose qualifications I didn’t know, whose reputations I didn’t know, and put my trust, and my life, in their hands (theirs and a piece of rope no wider than a centimetre!). I listened to what they told me, then had to decide for myself.... Do I do it? Do I trust them?

Life is the same. There are many different lifestyle choices available today. God is the best of them. When we approach Him we have the advantage of knowing His qualifications and His reputation, as the Bible tells us what He has already done. However, we still have to choose... To trust Him or not?

After my initial trepid steps over the edge, and off the safety ledge, I really enjoyed myself. The experience was amazing and one I am glad I did.

If you take the first trepid steps with God you won’t be sorry. The experience is amazing! There are times when the rope feels just as thin... but He never lets go, and is with you on the whole journey.

I will say of the Lord “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:2)

Samantha Murphy

11
may

Dear Friend...

This may make me sound like I’m either complaining or not good at my job. Neither is the case. The truth is, I’m not a mind reader. Now I know that some ministers seem to have a ‘Bat-phone’ connection with God and with one look at your face they know your niece’s goldfish died. I don’t have that gift, I wish I did.

It may be that I’m just not as holy as some of the ministers you see on television who can tell you what God’s will is for your life (for a nominal fee.) I have to rely on a different source. You.

Now I understand you might think I should know all the things that are happening in your life. I really do want to. My fellow pastors would also agree; we like to know the things that are going on in your life. We want to hear all about it. But there’s a good chance that we won’t know if you never tell us.

If you don’t tell me that your third cousin who lives on the other side of the country passed away, there’s a chance that I won’t know unless it works its way through the grapevine of the church. Or if you’re in the hospital for a minor procedure and didn’t tell anyone, and you’re upset with us for not checking up on you, it’s probably because we just didn’t know.

I know this sounds like an excuse (it is) but there are other people in the church that, God bless them, tell me if they need me for something. You may be thinking, “Why does Pastor Dean spend so much time with them and not much with me?” Well, it’s not because I don’t like you, it’s because the other people are probably letting me know when they need to talk to me.

Contrary to popular belief, there’s a lot a pastors need to do throughout the week. We can’t always go through the church directory to call folks one by one to see how they’re doing. We’d like to be able to do this, but sometimes things happen that keep us from doing what we would like to do.

Don’t think you’re being a burden if you’re struggling and need to talk. We want to have conversations about your faith, God, and your life’s journey. Sharing life is one of the best things about ministry, and something we feel honoured and privileged to do. But sometimes, we need your help to let us know what’s going on in your life.

Don’t assume we know everything. We don’t. So let us know. Call, text or email one of the ministry team to share what’s going on. We are here for you.

Pastor Dean

04
may

Son of a king?

On the 23th of April 1014 Brian Boru, the first high king of all Ireland led his Irish army against the Vikings in Dublin. The battle took place just outside Dublin at Clontarf. Records state it was a bloody battle as it lasted all day and the Vikings were a powerful enemy armed with battle axes, swords, spears and javelins. The Irish were less well armed but had more men. Brian Boru now aged over 70 spent his time in his tent praying for the success of his forces, his son and grandson aged 15 were on the front line. The Vikings were thoroughly defeated but in the turmoil of battle some retreating Vikings stumbled across Brian’s tent and he was killed. Worse still his son and grandson were also killed but the Vikings would never again dictate to the Irish or rule them. King Brian Boru was the ancestor of all the O’Briens and people with similar surnames. (O’Brien means descendent of Brien).

I have tried to trace my surname back to see if there is any connection between my ancestors and Brian Boru’s descendents. I have a book that describes the genealogy of Brians Boru’s family from 1002 to 1860. My oldest relative was born in 1821 but I have found no records that might connect the two so far. It seems unlikely as there are now hundreds of thousands of O’Brien all over the world!

The one thousandth anniversary of this event was celebrated on 23rd April this year at Clontarf and in Dublin. O’Briens from all over the world met to celebrate a great victory and a sad death. I am unlikely to be the descendent of a king…..or am I. Easter has just passed but this also is a time to celebrate both a victory and a death. Only this time it is a death followed by a victory and an infinitely more important event than anything happening in Ireland this year. Jesus died and that was sad but, He rose to life again demonstrating His victory over death and sin.

This event changes our relationship with God: He said in 2 Cor. 6 v 18 ‘I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’

So, I am a son of a king after all and no need to search the records to prove it.

How about you? Do you know you have been born again as a son of God? If not talk to one of the church leaders soon to find out how to be born again.

Terry O'Brien

27
apr

Fix your eyes on HIM

Do you ever feel as if you’ve “gone through the mill” emotionally or spiritually, so that it leaves you feeling a bit crushed and bruised? Maybe you feel that God has let you down and you can’t share these feelings with anyone. Maybe it has left you feeling that you are not quite the brilliant Christian that you want to be – or that you feel is expected of you? God understands. This is what He says in Proverbs 18v14: The human spirit can endure in times of illness, but a crushed spirit – who can bear?

Jesus knew what it was to be crushed. He understands. That is why He promised to send the Holy Spirit; because it is only the soothing oil of the Holy Spirit that can bring deep down healing for the crushed spirit. In 2 Corinthians 4 it tells us that when we have the Holy Spirit in our lives we can be: Hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.

Therefore we are encouraged not to lose heart because although we may be under attack, we can be inwardly renewed day by day by the power of the Holy Spirit if we would only ask Him – if we would only fix our eyes on Him.

Thank You Lord that you understand my deepest need. Please anoint me with the oil of your Holy Spirit today. Amen.

Anne O'Brien

20
apr

Hope and Victory

He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen. Matthew 28:6

In only three days Jesus’ followers went from heartbroken sadness to triumphant jubilation. The cross had screamed, “The End,” making them feel hopeless and helpless. But the resurrection shouted, “The Beginning,” bringing confidence and courage. The cloud of doubt and despair that had shrouded them melted away and was replaced with unshakeable faith.

Can you imagine how they felt when they realised Jesus had risen from the dead? Suddenly hope came alive; everything He had said was validated as truth. They had not believed a lie. His victory over death was a reality that proved Jesus was the Messiah.

We remember Jesus’ death on the cross with solemnity, but the resurrection calls for thunderous applause, praise, and song. All the blessings that come our way through the Saviour’s cross are confirmed by the resurrection. It proved that the Father was satisfied with the Son’s payment for our sins. Now we can know that our transgressions are forgiven and we’re eternally secure.

What’s more, Jesus promises that we, too, will be resurrected and given new bodies. Physical death could not hold Him, nor will it overpower us. Because Jesus overcame the grave, His followers have the same kind of life He has — eternal and indestructible.

As Christians, we have the right to celebrate Easter with great rejoicing. Because of this event, our lives have been forever changed. We’ve been transformed and given new life. With faith, we trust the Bible because Christ’s power over the grave proves He can and will fulfil every word.

Pastor Dean

13
apr

Power is everything - powerful prayers

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak (Isaiah 40:29)

I recently had to send my PC for repair. It was gone nearly two weeks while a new Hard Drive was installed. Finally, after what seemed ages to my children, it was returned. All I had to do was reconnect everything and install certain programmes, even I could do that!

Now knowing what I am like, I took a photo on my phone of the back of the PC before sending it off. This way I would know I had reconnected everything correctly without the need to get the manual out. On its return I checked the photo, put all the wires in the right holes, and eagerly pressed the power button…. Nothing! I pulled it out and checked again, definitely connected right, tried again…..nothing! I couldn’t believe it, it wasn’t working. I checked the photo more closely and discovered a lead at the top, hardly visible on the edge of the photo. I couldn’t see anything missing, then I spotted the power supply connection on the floor. I plugged it in and hey presto... It powered up. Oh the joy!!

Faith can be like that. We can join groups, attend church, read the Bible, have everything in place to technically be a good Christian, but if we are not connected to the power source then we don’t get the response we want. That one small element can make all the difference between having something sitting there ready, waiting and looking good, to actually working and powering up for God.

Make sure you are connected to the power source. Talk to God, listen to God, get powered up every day.

Samantha Murphy

06
apr

Living in the stream of Resurrection Life

This month sees the time when “Christianity” takes the “Easter” message out of mothballs, dusts it down and puts it on display, almost like a Christmas pantomime. Then when all the special services and activities are over, it is carefully and reverently “buried” for another year.

If the Easter message is nothing but an annual religious tradition, then it IS nothing, and can do nothing for our sick, sinful and desperately needy generation. But Jesus Christ crucified and risen again from the dead, is not simply an excuse for a religious festival; it is the only power today that can liberate us from the shackles of sin and its curse. It is a daily fundamental of true Christian living. The apostle Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the POWER OF GOD unto salvation to everyone that believes.” (Romans 1:16)

The message of Easter is not simply that Jesus died upon a cross some 2,000 years ago, but that by his death and His and triumphant resurrection over death and hell, He has become the source of a mighty stream of resurrection life. A stream that flows as strongly and effectively today to all who believe and receive as it did 2,000 years ago. It’s a stream in which we need to continually dwell.

We are not saved by a dead man but by a LIVING LORD. Hallelujah! Jesus is alive and because He lives, He is able today to minister to all those who put their trust in Him, the blessings accomplished by His death. This Easter let us take time to contemplate what Jesus has saved us from and the life He has made possible for us as we live in the stream of Resurrection Life.

Remember, the life Jesus lived qualified Him for the death He died and the death He died qualifies us for the life He lived.

Graham Knight

30
mar

God is faithful

To you who have been called by God to be His own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as He did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts He has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Through Him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for He is faithful to do what He says, and He has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:2-9)

Have you ever asked “why hasn’t God answered my prayer?” When our plans are frustrated or our life seems to fall apart, we wonder if God has deserted us. The Bible offers encouragement by assuring us of the Father’s faithfulness: “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps His covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes His unfailing love on those who love Him and obey His commands.” (Deuteronomy 7:9).

Five attributes of God make this possible:

- He is omniscient - God knows everything, including our every need, thought, frailty, desire, and life situation in the past, present, and future.

- He is omnipotent - God is all-powerful, nothing is too hard for Him (Jeremiah 32:17).

- He is omnipresent - God exists everywhere at once, He is never beyond reach.

- He is not a liar - everything God says is true and reliable.

- He is unchanging - our circumstances and the world around us may seem to be in a constant state of change, and God may modify the way He chooses to interact with people in different generations. But His character is always the same. So when the Bible tells us that God is faithful, we can confidently trust that promise.

Circumstances can be painful. But even if situations seem overwhelming, we can trust our sovereign Lord knows all, is in control, and is lovingly working everything for His children’s good. We can be confident that the unchanging God of all creation is taking care of us

Pastor Dean

23
mar

In the name of Jesus

In John 14:14 Jesus said, “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” Jesus did not say “Ask me anything in my name, and you will get some sort of response” He said, “I will do it!”

When we pray, often we close our prayers with a phrase like, “in Jesus’ name. Amen,” but praying in the name of Jesus, is not the ‘Abracadabra’ of Christianity; simply saying the words does not mean what we have asked for will suddenly appear (or disappear). There is more to it than that.

Praying in the name of Jesus is not about saying the right words, it is about having the right relationship and true friendship with Christ is the key to answered prayer.

In John 15:7 Jesus says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." (John 15:7).

How do we ‘abide’ in Jesus? “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.” (John 15:10).

What are his commandments? “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

How did Christ love us? “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Jesus laid down His life for us, and His command is that we follow His example. In prayer, that means we put aside our worldly desires and focus on God’s glory instead. That is what it really means to pray in the name of Jesus.

Are we becoming like John the Baptist who joyfully proclaimed that Christ must become more while he became less (John 3:29-30)? Or, is our friendship with the world getting in the way of our friendship with God?

When you truly pray in the name of Jesus, as His friend, He has promised to do all that you ask of Him.

Pastor Dean

16
mar

A different dimension

I wonder whether you have ever gone pond dipping. As an alternative, how about delving into a compost heap? What you discover in both cases is that there exists a different world, which is usually unseen but is very real. Once a year we transfer some of the compost on to the garden. As we dig below the surface, we find wriggling red worms, centipedes scampering for safety on their many legs, a variety of other creepy crawlies, and even a slow worm or two (these are actually legless lizards). For most of the year our eyes do not see any of this activity going on in our compost heap, or the many creatures that live there.

This week we begin our LIFT UP week of prayer. This Sunday I want to talk about a ‘Different Dimension’, and look at the occasion when Elisha prayed for his servant, “O Lord, open his eyes so that he may see.” (2 Kings 6:17). When God answered this prayer, the servant saw into another world where God’s angelic armies were operating.

As we pray as a church, let us ask God to open our eyes and ears, so we may see and hear what He has to reveal and say to us. May we know that, through Him, as He operates in a supernatural dimension which we cannot see, we can know victory, and experience the power of His kingdom at work in His church and in our communities.

God bless

Pastor Dave

09
mar

Be still and know He is God

Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10

BE - God, I say ‘yes’ to You. I choose to allow Your way to shape me and Your will to direct me in what is best. I surrender instead of resist, I yield instead of fight, I believe instead of doubt.

STILL - Father, may Your rest abide and Your peace abound within me. Quiet all anxiety that troubles my thoughts and unsettles my emotions. I bring my soul under the control of the Holy Spirit; I stand steady upon the unmovable foundations of Your kingdom; I receive the sufficiency of Your grace and the encouragement of Your promises as you calm my soul.

AND KNOW - Lord, thank you that Your word is sure, unchanging, and indisputable. Your word is true. I am certain. You have saved me from guessing, wondering, wishing, or pretending. I know! I believe!

I AM GOD - You are who You say You are. You do what You say You do. There is no other! You are the highest, the greatest, the best. You have no weakness, no lack, and no equal. You are my God, and my Heavenly Father. I find comfort in Your nearness, security in Your voice, courage in Your strength, hope in Your promises. You are enough. More than enough! You are with me. You are my refuge. I am safe in Your care.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Pastor Dean

02
mar

Servant Heart

Do you equate success with wealth, acclaim, and power? If we measured by these standards, then Jesus, who was rejected by His community and didn’t even have a house of His own, was a failure. But, of course, we know that’s not the case. So God must use something other than these worldly goals to define success. In fact, the Bible is clear that Jesus Christ is our example - we should strive to be like Him.

So, what exactly was our Saviour’s mission? We see the answer through His actions: He came to serve. The disciples, wanting recognition and reward, were arguing about who’d be the greatest in heaven. In contrast, Jesus took off His outer garment and performed the task of the lowliest servant: He washed the dirty feet of His followers. The next day, Almighty God was crucified by His own creation. In allowing this, He offered salvation to all--even those who nailed Him to a cross.

Jesus deserved glory but chose sacrifice and pain. And He asks that we follow His example of service. With the exception of Judas, His disciples obeyed. In fact, they all faced great difficulty and most died brutal deaths because of their faith. But they willingly walked the path of humility because of what Jesus had taught them: “The last shall be first, and the first last” (Matt. 20:16).

How do you spend your resources and time? And which topics dominate your thoughts and conversation? These are a few indicators of the driving goals in your life. You may long for worldly recognition, but God has a higher calling for His children. Ask Him to create a servant’s attitude in your heart.

Pastor Dean

23
feb

Has our clock stopped ticking?

Because the LORD had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. 1 Samuel 1: 6-7 (NIV)

Hannah though childless, had a wonderful husband who said that he was worth ten kids; however, she felt hopeless and kept weeping all the time because the other woman Peninnah kept nagging about her barren situation.

One day something spectacular happened, Hannah arose from her usual place and walked into the presence of God and wept bitterly at His feet. She just fixed a fresh piece of battery in her life. She got so charged that the priest thought that she was drunk. Have we ever prayed that way? Hard prayer! She not only prayed and poured out her heart to the Lord, but she woke up whistling, quickly grabbed some food and went away peacefully. This is what ‘battery of prayer’ does in our life! It gets us ticking for God. It gets us singing.

Hannah goes on to further pray and rejoice. 1 Samuel 2:1 “My heart rejoices in the LORD; My horn is exalted in the LORD. I smile at my enemies, Because I rejoice in Your salvation.” We later read that the Lord blessed Hannah and and she gave birth to a son, Samuel.

Whatever our circumstances, relationships, finance, health, let us kneel down before the Lord our maker, enter into His presence and pray hard. Pray like Hannah. Rise up from our circumstances and rejoice in the Lord and be amazed at the results.

Andy Knight

16
feb

The Broad or Narrow Gate

"You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)

Have you ever been accused of being a narrow-minded Christian? Those who level such accusations against us certainly mean it as an insult. According to Jesus, that’s the only way to walk if we want to experience abundant life now and eternal life with Him in Heaven. But it will require a deliberate choice on our part, because no one automatically drifts onto this pathway.

The broad way is easy to find. In fact, unless you make a conscious choice to avoid it, you’ll find yourself on it. Most people like this wide path because it encompasses all philosophies and belief systems. Everything is acceptable, and everyone’s “truth” is valid. It even seems like the loving path because no one is left out. There are no restrictions, and freedom is unlimited. Or is it?

What those who travel this road fail to realize is that it’s a downward descent into destruction. All the promises it gives of satisfaction and fulfilment end in disappointment because it’s a path without God. But those who enter by the narrow gate of faith in Christ find the peace and joy of a relationship with Him that satisfies the heart. The gate is small because truth guards the entrance. The way is narrow because the Lord protects us with wise boundaries.

Which path are you travelling? You can’t have one foot on each, because they’re going in opposite directions. When you tolerate everything, you’re headed for destruction. But when you choose the narrow way, you're following God's path for your life.

Pastor Dean

09
feb

Seeking Guidance?

Show me the path where I should walk, O LORD; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Remember, O LORD, your unfailing love and compassion, which you have shown from long ages past. Forgive the rebellious sins of my youth; look instead through the eyes of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O LORD. The LORD is good and does what is right; He shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in what is right, teaching them His way. The LORD leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all those who keep His covenant and obey His decrees. For the honour of your name, O LORD, forgive my many, many sins. Who are those who fear the LORD? He will show them the path they should choose. (Psalm 25:4-12)

Do you ever worry about making the right decision? Sometimes when we pray, it may feel like God is playing hide and seek, but that’s not the way He operates. He wants to give us clear direction.

The problem is sometime we do not wait to hear Him answer; we rush ahead and do what we want to do when we want to do it. Perhaps we need to be more willing to wait and listen. What can we do to hear His voice?

Clear the pathway. An obstacle that may hinder us hearing God is our own desires about the situation. To really receive God’s guidance, we must make our desires secondary to His.

Exercise patience. It can take a great deal of strength to stand still when everything within you is shouting, “Quick! Time is running out!” Remember God’s timing is perfect, we can not rush ahead of God and His perfect plan.

Persist in prayer. The Bible clearly instructs us to pray, to keep coming to the Lord with our concerns. As we continue to pray, He will continue to work.

Read the Bible. The Word of God has an answer for every need, and the Holy Spirit knows just how to point us in the right direction. Read the Bible and allow God to lead you to the exact answer you need to make an important decision.

Often when we’re faced with an important choice, all we want from the Lord is a quick answer. But take the time to draw near to God, deepen your relationship with Him. Don’t let the urgency of your need keep you from enjoying the intimacy of His presence as you persist in prayer and seek His will.

Pastor Dean

02
feb

‘Doing Church’ or ‘Being Church’

It’s Sunday morning; you arrive at church as usual. You say hello to the people at the door, grab a notice sheet and take your seat. You sing, you listen, maybe you are prayed for. The offering bag is passed round, you sing the final song, go and grab a tea or coffee, have a brief chat with someone you know and then head home.

Maybe you were expecting more. Maybe you feel a little empty; church should be more than this shouldn’t it? There is a real difference between ‘doing church’ and ‘being church.’ ‘Being church’ requires active involvement not passive participation. ‘Being church’ should involve blessing and serving other, not just expecting others to bless and serve you.

So, what could you do differently next time? Here are seven suggestions:

1. Arrive early. Church doesn’t begin when the music starts playing – it starts as soon as God’s people gather together! If you arrive early there is more time for friendship and fellowship. If you arrive early you could even help with some of the things that need to happen before the service starts.

2. Speak to someone you don’t often speak to. Don’t miss out on opportunities to build new friendships. Think about the people who come to church every week that you never have an opportunity to speak to then go and say hello!

3. Sit in a different seat. Try a different seat. Sit with someone you don’t normally sit with. If you see a visitor sitting on their own, introduce yourself and sit with them.

4. Share something. When the time comes why not share a prayer or praise God for something He has done in your life.

5. Treat church more like a home than a hotel. Take responsibility for doing things instead of expect others to do it all for you.

6. Thank people who serve you (and your children). At church each week, we’re served by people who set up the equipment and chairs, play music, give the kids talk, preach, pray, welcome, serve the refreshments, teach the children and the teens, pack everything away – you get the idea! Don’t take others for granted, take every opportunity to encourage one another and build each other up.

7. Talk about the sermon after the service. After the last song, take the opportunity to chat with others about the sermon. Reflect on how you were challenged. Share how God has encouraged you through His word. If it’s appropriate, spend a few minutes praying – on your own, or with the people sitting nearby.

Pastor Dean

26
jan

Magnify the Lord

Someone recently gave us a very powerful telescope (or to use the correct terminology – a monocular) to use with our grandchildren; and naturally, we were very pleased with this gift. What does the lens of a telescope do? Whether it is large or small, its function is to magnify the thing on which it is focussed; so that, for example, you can see all the tiny intricacies of a butterfly’s wing or the details of the Blue Tit’s feathers.

Warren W Wiersbe said, “Each of us is a lens that magnifies what we live for.” In other words, we are like a telescope that will enhance and show off the things we love the most. So for example, perhaps Joe gives us an idea of what it is to be a committed footballer. And maybe Maureen conveys to us an appreciation of the cello’s sound. Their enthusiasm is like a lens and consequently we all know about their interest.

In the same way, we should all be magnifying the Lord, so that people can see his greatness. John the Baptist, who was sent to make people aware of the Messiahship of the Lord Jesus Christ said of Him, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (KJV). John saw that his life’s work was to magnify Jesus – he saw himself as the lens through which people could see Jesus better. When Jesus walked the earth people could see him for themselves. But now he relies on us to show people what he is like. We are the lens they look through – the onus is on us to magnify him. Fear God...and extol His greatness (Revelation 14:7 Living Bible)

Anne O'Brien

19
jan

Praying the way Jesus taught

Many people are familiar with the comforting words of the Lord’s Prayer. But the words of the Lord’s Prayer can seem a little impenetrable or archaic to the modern ear. How many of us actually know what “hallowed be thy name” means? When was the last time any of us talked about food as our “daily bread”? Or used the word “trespasses”?

The Lord’s Prayer is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, a sermon packed full of practical teaching and illustrations lifted from His listeners’ daily lives — Galilean farmers and fishermen. Jesus spoke about relationships, lust, money, worrying about the future and much more. In the middle of this practical, relevant sermon, Jesus spoke about prayer.

Jesus invited His listeners into a prayer life as solid and practical as His Sermon. He wanted their prayers to be integrated into their regular daily lives so Jesus taught them a different way to pray. He said, “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him!” (Matthew 6:7-8)

Jesus knew that how we learn to pray matters. The language we use to talk to or about God can help shape our faith into an integral part of our daily life.

When Jesus spoke to the people that day, He did not use King James English, He used the language of the day–plain, simple, everyday words­­–to show the people how to connect with a loving God who is working in normal, everyday lives.

If Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount today I wonder if the Lord’s Prayer would sound like this:

Holy God, Creator of all, holy is Your name.
May Your kingdom come and Your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today all we need for life,
and forgive us for doing wrong to You and to others,
as we forgive others for doing wrong to us.
Keep us from being tempted by the evils of the world.
All power and honour are yours, almighty God, now and forever. Amen.

Pastor Dean

12
jan

The Parable of the Carrots,
the Egg & the Coffee Beans...

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up; she was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

In a few minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ‘”Tell me what you see.” ‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, ‘What does it mean, mother?’

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

‘Which are you?’ she asked her daughter. ‘When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain.

When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavour. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest - do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May we all be coffee.

Samantha Murphy

05
jan

Watch and Pray

All is peaceful and quiet in our garden. The birds are enjoying the free food that has been put out for them and it is an idyllic scene. Suddenly the raucous call of the blackbird is heard, which immediately alerts all the other birds in the vicinity. Something is wrong, and then the culprit is spotted. A marauding cat is on the prowl and is likely to catch any bird, which is not on the look-out. My reaction is to evict the trespasser as soon as possible and, once it has been chased away, peace once again returns to the garden.

As we come to the start of 2014 I believe God is calling us to ‘Watch and Pray’. Our theme for the year is ‘Powerful Prayers’ and as we unite together in prayer, both corporately and individually, then I believe we will touch heaven and change earth. In Acts 12 : 5 we read, ‘So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.’ Through the people of God praying, God intervened and freedom came to an imprisoned man.

We are called to pray in order that we might be on our guard against the marauding enemy who ‘Seeks to devour’ and to come against his influence in our lives, the church and the community. We also are called to pray for those he has imprisoned that they might encounter a God who comes to set them free.

May we all in this coming year touch heaven and see as a result the impact of our prayers being manifested here on earth.

God bless

Pastor Dave

22
dec

Good News Bad News

Who among us likes to receive BAD NEWS? Who among gets excited when we hear GOOD NEWS? Who never gets either BAD NEWS or GOOD NEWS? Who hears both and who feels they get more than their fair share of BAD NEWS and not enough GOOD NEWS?

Can you imagine over 2000 years ago Joseph hearing that Mary was to have a baby and the angel putting his mind at rest. Joseph had mixed up news. The question “do we?” does not need to be asked because we can all relate to hearing mixed up news too.

Joseph then did get BAD NEWS: “Bad news” Joseph said to Mary. “The rulers of our country want to count us, to see how many of us there are. We need to go to Bethlehem, our home town. A long journey with the baby due so soon.”

“Bad news” said the Innkeeper. “There’s not one room left in Bethlehem. But you could stay in my stable”.

“Good news” said Joseph. “It’s a boy, just as God promised. His name is Jesus.

“Good news” said the angel to the shepherds. “God has sent someone special into the world. Hurry to Bethlehem and see Him for yourselves. He is a baby wrapped up warm and lying in a manger. But one day He will save you from all that is wrong”.

Then the angels filled the sky with a Good News song. The shepherds went to Bethlehem and made A Good News visit.

We hear that the Wise men in the east were aware of GOOD NEWS by seeing a star and they set off to find the new King. King Herod said it was BAD NEWS and made secret plans to kill Jesus and all baby boys. GOOD NEWS the wise men did not go back to Herod but having visited Jesus went home a different way.

The GOOD NEWS is that Jesus’ birth was GOOD NEWS. His life and later His death on the cross is still GOOD NEWS today. Jesus came into the world to take away all that is bad and fill us with His Goodness. The BAD NEWS is washed away by the GOOD NEWS that Jesus is our Saviour.

When we hear BAD NEWS we can come to Jesus and lay our fears at the foot of the cross.

When we hear GOOD NEWS we can rejoice, be happy and be thankful at the cross. When life seems dull and we are down in the dumps we can come to the cross. When we are mixed up. There is the cross.

Mary watched her baby She looked at Jesus on that very first Christmas Day. The GOOD NEWS is we can do as Mary did as we focus on Jesus too.

Andrea James

15
dec

Call Him "Jesus"

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

It was about to begin – God’s plan for humanity, crafted in the halls of heaven and carried out on the plains of earth. Only holiness could have imagined it. Only divinity could have enacted it. Only righteousness could have endured it.

When the plan began, there would be no turning back. The Creator knew it. The Son knew it. And soon, earth itself would witness heaven’s majesty alighting on the planet.

When God chose to reveal Himself to humanity, what did He use? A book? No, that was secondary. A church? No, that was consequential. A moral code? No. When God chose to reveal Himself, he did so through a human body. The hand that touched the leper had dirt under its nails. The feet upon which the woman wept were calloused and dusty. And His tears, don’t forget He wept, they came from a heart as broken as yours or mine could ever be.

The people came to Him. They came at night; they touched Him as He walked along; they followed Him around the sea; they invited Him into their homes and placed their children at His feet. Why? Because He refused to be a statue in a cathedral or a priest in an elevated pulpit. He chose instead to be Jesus.

There was not a hint of one person who was afraid to draw near Him. There were those who mocked Him, were envious of Him, and misunderstood Him. There were those who revered Him. But no one considered Him too holy or too divine to touch.

There was not one person who was reluctant to approach Him for fear of being rejected. Remember that the next time you find yourself amazed at your own failures. Or the next time accusations burn holes in your soul.

Remember. It is man who creates the distance. It is Jesus who builds the bridge. Will you cross that bridge and move closer to Him today?

Pastor Dean

08
dec

What will YOU give this Christmas?

And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ (Matthew 25:40)

A recent survey showed that people plan to spend more this Christmas season on gifts than they did last year, but give less to charities, local churches, or ministries that help the poor. Many say they are unlikely to even consider giving a charitable gift as a holiday present. So while more Christmas presents may be sold this year, less help will be given to those who really need it.

Retailers, economists, and politicians may rejoice at the news about higher consumer spending this year, but the lower levels of support for the ones Jesus called “the least of these” must encourage us to do what we can to bless those in need.

Matthew 25:35-40 is one of the most judgmental passages in the New Testament, it clearly says that how we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the prisoner, is how we treat Jesus.

But rather than just being judgmental of others, why don’t you do something about it?

Why not give a “Christmas Tithe” this year? Let’s keep it simple: Keep track of all your Christmas spending this year, and then tithe a percentage of that amount to a charity or organisation that directly serves those in need. A tithe is traditionally 10 percent, but you could decide to do less or even more. Christmas is is a time to give more -- not less.

Why not encourage your family and friends to do the same? Together you could bring an incredible blessing to the lives of families, children or individuals in need. You could help provide food to the hungry or shelter to the homeless. This Christmas, instead of just giving more things to each other, all of us can counter the results of the survey and tithe a percentage of all that we give to those who need it the most.

Pastor Dean

01
dec

Advent

According to the church calendar we are in the period of Advent. The word Advent simply means an arrival of a person, or thing or happening. As Christians we celebrate the Advent of Jesus – his coming into the world as a baby over 2000 years ago.

Looking at the dictionary definition I see that the words advent and adventurer are the same in Latin. An adventure is an exciting event, often with an unknown outcome. An adventure opens up opportunities for new and thrilling experiences.

When Jesus came into the world it was an adventure above and beyond all others. The very Son of God came down to earth to live amongst mankind; to teach us, to love us, to heal us – and ultimately, to die for us.

But his promise is that we can have an advent experience too. When we meet Jesus it is an exciting experience that thrills our souls. And as we trust in him and follow him he promises adventure and new experiences – although not always without risk or danger – sometimes we have to be brave and step out in faith like a true adventurer.

But our lives can be fulfilled and all the richer for meeting Jesus because he has promised that his advent was not just for Christmas, but for life!

Let’s make this Christmas time an advent like no other. Let’s be adventurers with Jesus and for Jesus!

Anne O'Brien

24
nov

Preparation

At our Meet and Mix Group, Inspiration Station, we are looking at the Book of Esther from the Bible together with a DVD.

The section we focused on in one study has always intrigued me, but yet again more and more of what God wants us (or me) to grasp is being revealed.

When the King asked Esther to come into his presence, she knew she needed to look her best. She began to prepare herself. It took a whole year to achieve “perfection”. The King would settle for nothing less. That was the custom in those days.

How is that relevant now?

We have a King who invites us into His presence, but we don’t need oils, lotions and other beauty treatments to come into His presence. However do we need to prepare ourselves?

Yes we do. Our beauty, the beauty God sees is inside us. So whether we are guys or girls, we need to prepare to come before God. When we come to Worship Him, hear His Word, meet with the Family of God or take Communion, we can receive more of God if we come having prepared our hearts.

Our ultimate aim, as a Christian, is to be like Him and our journey with the Lord is taking us nearer and nearer to the day when we will be perfect in His sight.

Esther was aware of the time it would take her to be perfect in the presence of King Xerxes, but we have no idea of the length of our journey. That is not for us to know, so whilst we are on the journey, we can become more beautiful as we are being transformed. The beauty we have inside us will shine from us.

Everyone in the Court could see Esther’s beauty on the outside, but that was temporary as later the lotions etc would fade away and would need to be applied again to restore her beauty.

Will our beauty that shines from us fade away or will our beauty shine out from us as a witness to God’s presence being in our lives.

This incredible God who transforms us (who applies His unique beauty treatments) invites us to be in His presence for ever and as we journey with Him we know He is pleased.

May God’s Word continue to inspire us.

Andrea James

17
nov

Confidence

FAITH IS THE CONFIDENCE OF THINGS HOPED FOR (Hebrews 11:1)

Some people are more confident drivers than others. And many enjoy driving more than others. Maybe the two things are related. Consequently some just use their car for familiar and necessary runs, while the more confident enjoy traveling around the country on holiday – or even abroad. For them, driving opens up new opportunities and experiences.

Likewise, and probably for the same reasons, some people use their personal computers or ipads more than others. Consequently some are used just for games, whereas others might be used to speak to friends and family abroad, to shop on-line or to accomplish any number of difficult tasks; opening up opportunities which would otherwise not be enjoyed. Admittedly, I have only learnt the bits I need to know on the computer and nothing more.

Do we live our Christian lives like we drive our cars or use our computers? Do we miss out because we are not confident enough? Do we limit our vision and enjoyment because we won’t move out of our comfort zone? Would we rather ‘play’ at church and be on the fringe rather than speaking to our friends and family about Jesus? Do we limit our vision because we lack confidence? Unlike our car or our computer Jesus is 100% reliable and we can have confidence in him because he gives us the Holy Spirit to be our ‘driving companion’ and our guide through life; so that we can step out in faith and boldness to do those things for him that we wish we were brave enough to do.

We can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid”. (Hebrews 13:6)

Do not throw away (or waste) your confidence. It will be richly rewarded. (Hebrews 10:35)

Anne O’Brien

10
nov

Be still, my soul

The longest Psalm in the Bible is Psalm. 119. The introduction to this Psalm in my Bible, encourages us as readers to stay true to God and His Word no matter how bad conditions may become.

So have you been feeling low? Struggling with difficult circumstances? Finding it hard to cope with illness -- You’re not alone, we all have to face them. Wouldn't it be fantastic if we could recite some spiritually charged words and make all of our problems go away, but that’s just not going to happen. Life is not all smiles and happy hearts—even for the people of God.

However even from the darkest experience of sadness can come the hope of help. The despair of the psalmist, recorded in Psalm 119, leads to the promise of comfort and mercy. Out of tribulation can arise new understanding and strength. The psalmist freely expressed his feelings and his trust that God would take care of him.

“My soul clings to the dust” (v.25). Then a plea to God: “Revive me according to Your Word.” “My soul melts from heaviness” (v.28). Then the hope in God’s provision: “Strengthen me according to Your Word.”

“I will run the course of Your commandments” (v.32). Even in the midst of deep trials, the psalmist was committed to obeying God.

Yes, express your despair to the Lord—but don’t stop there. Ask Him for mercy and strength. Commit to obeying Him. Cling to His promises in the Scriptures. He will be faithful to see you through any trial.

An old hymn I love is ……

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Pastor Tony

03
nov

Is God Good When Life Isn’t?

Is God good when the outcome is not? During the hard times as well as the easy? At some point we all ask these questions. Do you want to know heaven’s clearest answer to the question of suffering? Look at Jesus, He is the definitive answer.

Jesus wept at the death of a friend. He stopped his work to tend to the needs of a grieving mother. He felt the tears of the sinful woman who wept. He listened to the cry of the hungry. He doesn’t recoil, run, or retreat at the sight of pain. Just the opposite. He didn’t walk the earth in an insulated bubble or preach from an isolated, germ-free, pain-free island. He took his own medicine. He played by his own rules. Trivial irritations of family life? Jesus felt them. Cruel accusations of jealous men? Jesus knew their sting. A seemingly senseless death? Just look at the cross. He experienced it all Himself.

Why? Because He is good. God owes us no more explanation than this. Even if He gave one, would we really understand it? Perhaps the main problem is our limited perspective of God’s plan. We are only looking through a small keyhole. Out of all His creation, how much have we seen? Of all His work, how much do we understand? Only a fraction.

What is the promise of heaven compared to difficulties we face in life? This was Paul’s opinion. “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV).

What if I invited you to experience the day of your dreams? Twenty-four hours on an island paradise with your favorite people, food, and activities. The only condition: one second of discomfort. For reasons I choose not to explain, you will need to begin the day with one second of distress.

Would you accept the offer? I know you would. A second is nothing compared to twenty-four hours. On God’s clock you’re in the middle of your second. Compared to eternity, what is seventy, eighty, ninety years? Just a vapor. Just a blink of an eye compared to heaven.

Your pain won’t last forever, but you will. “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.” (Romans 8:18, NLT).

What is coming will make sense of what is happening now. Let God finish His work. Let the composer complete His symphony. The forecast is simple. Good days. Bad days. God is in all days. He is the Lord of the famine and the feast, and He uses both to accomplish His will and purposes.

Pastor Dean

27
oct

Hallowing Halloween

The word hallow isn’t used much anymore, and when it is, the uses have a broad range of meaning. Christians use the word when we say the Lord’s Prayer, as in “Hallowed be Thy Name.” Often the word is associated with the 31st October, which in the UK is referred to as Halloween, a shortened form of All Hallows’ Eve.

In Scripture, the word hallow is a synonym for the word sanctify. When we hallow or sanctify something, we set it apart as being holy.

The name of God is not the only thing that we are to hallow. We too are to be hallowed. Paul urged Timothy to be a vessel sanctified and useful for God by “fleeing the evil desires of youth and pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace, out of a pure heart”. He added “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” (2 Timothy 2:21-23).

On Thursday, many children in our streets will be knocking on doors carrying bags which they hope to fill with sweets. Thinking of them can remind us to question: “What am I filling my life with? Do I carry a bitter, critical attitude that often leads to arguments and strife, or do I carry a sweet spirit that leads to righteousness, faith, love, and peace?”

We can hallow today, and every day, by setting ourselves apart for God and to be used by Him. One of our greatest joys as a Christian is to be used by God, so this week seek to be an instrument in the hand of God – for we are all “Saved to Serve”

Pastor Tony

20
oct

Temptation

Eve wanted what she couldn’t have and that resulted in disobedience and sin. The word sin isn’t used much these days. It means the propensity we all have to do wrong. And whilst we might not use the word sin, we are all born with the predisposition towards it. And, if we are honest, we all know what it is and can recognise it in ourselves at times, especially when it gets the better of us.

Why is it that when I declare that I will give up chocolate for Lent, or because I am on a diet, the one thing I desire most is ... chocolate? Why do I want it? Why do I inevitably give in to the desire to have it?
- Because I can’t have it
- Because it is tempting me
- Because I’m not contented
- Because I think it will make me happy.

The rewards of yielding to temptation are nice, but short-lived. And when I’ve had some chocolate I want more! The results are not so good:
- I feel a failure for yielding to temptation
- I’m still not contented
- Chocolate will make me fat
- It doesn’t do anything for my long-term happiness.

The world tells us that happiness is found in attaining things – a new partner, a bigger car, a three piece suite, good food, alcohol, etc. But happiness comes from being satisfied and contented with what we have. And it’s not about things. A poor person who lives in a mud hut in Africa may well be happier than a millionaire who has everything.

The result of Eve’s sin was catastrophic for the human race. Adam and Eve were separated from God. We are all born in sin, and sin separates us from God. But, Praise God, He provided a way through Jesus Christ to bring us back to himself, and to free us from sin. Because of what Jesus has done for us we strive to do what is right. But, if we fail John says: If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:9-10)

Anne O'Brien

13
oct

In all things give thanks

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV)

We were recently invited to a 50th birthday party. Nothing unusual in that I hear you say. It was for one of my students who was born in Nigeria. She told us to expect a full on African style party. I must admit I was excited as I love seeing how other cultures celebrate. So how was it different? Timings was the first thing. The party was from 2pm till 10pm. We arrived at 3.00pm and were the first guests to get there! The birthday girl arrived at 4.00pm and then spent an hour out the back getting ready. Everyone kept saying “sorry for the delay, its African time” which means times are all guestimated! However, we weren’t bored. Watching all the ladies and gentleman in their best and brightest outfits arriving and dancing around, chatting loudly, was enthralling.

The next thing I noticed was the music. You may be surprised to hear that I knew most the songs being played. Not because they were chart songs, as not one of them was, but they were jazzed up hymns or choruses we sing in our services. I was singing along happily. They were proclaiming, very loudly, very heartily, that Jesus was king, for the whole estate surrounding the hall to hear.

Once the party started (about 5pm!) the birthday girl and her family danced in, with everyone clapping and dancing along, this time to African gospel music. Then a speech was given by the lady in charge of proceedings. She explained that God tells us we should give thanks to him in all things. So we all sang a hymn, then she invited another friend to lead a time of prayer, then members of her friends and family stood up to say how great God was in this womans life. This was followed by loud music (still gospel) and lots of dancing. It was fantastic!

Now, I’m not sure about you, but if I was having a party for my birthday I probably wouldn’t be planning to tell everyone how great God was all day and night. Not because I didn’t agree, but because it wouldn’t occur to me. Yet amongst these people, most of whom were African, it was the norm. They were alive and glad for it, so praised God. Maybe we should spend more time praising God for the life we have, and in All Things Praise Him!

Samantha Murphy

6
oct

You What???

I recently asked Simon if he would be attending Lunch Bunch. This is the rather cryptic reply I received by text, "Sorry Kevin. It looks like I’m going to have to dial into an audio for work on Wednesday. :("

When a number of like minded people come together for work or any other common activity, they invariably invent and use terms that, while perfectly understandable to them, make it difficult for those outside the group to understand.

Christians have an abundance of this kind of terminology and often use it when talking to people about the relevance of Jesus and Christianity. But talking to someone in what is essentially a foreign language means you will not be understood.

Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. (1 Corinthians 14:8-11, NIV)

Obviously, for someone to fully “get” the Christian faith there is a requirement for God to intervene. However, if we are to be effective in connecting with people, we need to talk to them using language they can understand.

Kevin Holmes

29
sep

Spiritual maturity

God has made everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV)

How beautiful is a rose bud? But, can you open a rosebud to make it into a full bloom? Can you force the process? No, because you would do more harm than good. For the bud on the rosebush to open the bush continues to need wind, rain and sun. Wind to strengthen it, rain to water it and enable it to feed, and sun to build it up and bring growth. It cannot be forced; it is a process that takes time and God does the work of maturing it.

In the same way we cannot force spiritual maturity. We cannot get from bud to blossom in one easy stage. We actually need the winds of adversity, the difficult times, to strengthen us. We need the rain, the showers of the Holy Spirit, to feed us on the Word of God. And we need the sunshine of God’s love and grace to help us grow. It cannot be forced. We cannot change from a young Christian to a mature Christian in one easy stage. But if we stay in the right conditions, we will grow into maturity.

Meanwhile, despite adverse conditions, the rosebud is as beautiful as a full-blown rose. And God, our Heavenly Father, takes pleasure in those who belong to him, whether they are new Christians or whether they have walked the Christian path for a lifetime. And He sees us all as beautiful because we are precious to Him.

The Lord takes pleasure in his people; he will beautify the meek with his salvation. (Psalm 149:4, KJV)

Anne O'Brien

22
sep

Harvest Thoughts

The hymn “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”; is an old hymn which was often sung at a Harvest service. Written in 1844 by Henry Alford, it begins with thanks to God for crops safely gathered in before winter. But it is more than gratefulness for the bounty of the harvested crops, the hymn ends by focusing on God’s “harvest” of His people when Christ returns:

Even so, Lord, quickly come,

To Thy final harvest-home:

Gather Thou Thy people in,

Free from sorrow, free from sin;

There, forever purified,

In Thy presence to abide:

Come, with all Thine angels, come

Raise the glorious harvest-home.

As we give thanks for material needs supplied, it’s essential to remember that our plans are uncertain and our lives are a vapour that quickly disappear. James 4:14 says “You don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James encourages us to be like a farmer waiting for his crops to grow and mature. “You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (5:8).

As we thank God for His faithful provision for our physical needs, let’s turn our thoughts to the promised return of Jesus Christ. In patient expectation, let’s seek to live effectively for Him, move forward in Faith and look for the day when He will come to gather His glorious harvest home.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus! —Revelation 22:20Mp>

Pastor Tony

15
sep

Shallow or deep?

Jesus said,“Listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” (Matthew 13:18-23)

If you were to describe what your faith looks like, what kind of picture comes to mind? When it comes to faith in Christ, are you paddling at the shallow end of the pool, are you treading water in the middle, or are diving deep?

Many people who respond to the message of Jesus have travelled deeper into Christ and really grown in their faith and relationship with God. But for some, regardless of how relevant, inspiring or deep the message they hear on a Sunday is, they choose to stay comfortable at the shallow end and won’t travel deeper in faith. These people are not the hard soil Jesus speaks of in Matthew 13, they are the shallow soil.

‘Doris’ (not her real name) says she is a Christian, but she has no real commitment to God other than an occasional prayer when she ‘wants something’. She will only visit church when she ‘feels like it’. Doris has no desire to let Christ lead her life, read her Bible or grow spiritually. If you listen to her speak or consider how she responds to life, there is no real difference between her and those without saving faith in Christ. She is happy paddling in the shallows.

What has the deepest roots in your life - your problems or your faith in Christ?

What governs how you respond to life? Do your circumstances determine the level of your faith? Do you fall away if “problems” or “persecution” come? Does your faith produce endurance and perseverance?

The challenge is, as God speaks to us through His Word to go deeper in faith.

Don’t receive God’s message in a shallow, makes-no-difference-to-my-life kind of way, allow God to change your life radically and completely.

Move forward and grow into a deeper faith in Christ!

Pastor Dean

8
sep

If only!

Many years ago I was given a second hand TV to put in the bedroom. I found a small table to put it on and placed it at the foot of the bed. It was all wired up to the cable TV box downstairs and we were ready to go.

Unfortunately, the only way to change the channel on the cable box was to get out of bed and go downstairs; no channel hopping for me! So I designed a little circuit to convert the remote control signal into something I could send down the wire to another little circuit, which would turn the signal back and change the channel. Fantastic! I could now use the remote control from the bed.

At the time there was nothing on the market like this gizmo, and several people told me I should patent the idea or try and sell it. Of course, I was all for it, but I didn’t really know where to start and there was always something else that needed doing. After all, there was always tomorrow. As the days went by it lost its urgency and in the end it was forgotten. Today you can buy gizmo’s like this in shops across the world. If only!!

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity Colossians 4:5 (NIV)

God often opens doors; we have opportunities to speak, to help someone who is hurting or in need, or to make a difference, however small, to the world around us.

Do not say to your neighbour, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”— when you already have it with you. Proverbs 3:28 (NIV)

If we allow these opportunities to pass by we may miss them altogether. God will still accomplish His will; He will just use someone else to do it, so the real tragedy of a missed opportunity is that we miss out in participating.

Kevin Holmes

01
sep

One generation from extinction!

When we have holidays on our shared narrowboat in winter, the evenings are quite long as it gets dark early. One thing we often do at such times is to watch some of the old recordings that David has taken on his various camcorders over the years. Often we have no idea what is on the DVD’s that we set out to watch. This last time was no exception. We found ourselves watching, amongst other things, several church social events dating back to about 2002.

Some of the clips were quite amusing, but as we watched, we found ourselves constantly commenting on the people filmed. ‘There’s my dad!’ ‘There’s Terry Stevens!’ ‘There’s Roger!’ and so on, as we watched friends who have since passed away. There were also people who have moved away, such as Mike and Beryl, or who are now ministering at other churches eg Derrick and Ann, Andy and Vanessa.

By the end of the evening we had counted about 20 people who were in the church 10 years ago, who are now no longer with us for various reasons. Taken as a proportion of our church at the time, that is a huge loss. We are very grateful for all those who have since come into the church to make up those losses, so that we now have as many, if not more, attending than there were then. But it just served to emphasise how important it is to continue being a place where people can find their place in God’s family.

If we become complacent, or decide that evangelism is too much effort, or is likely to cost too much in terms of the changes that may be necessary in order to accommodate the next generation, our churches will very quickly dwindle, and eventually die. If the human race decided to cease reproduction completely, it would be extinct after a generation. So, too, with churches.

Whatever it takes, we must be prepared to use every opportunity to reach people who don’t yet know Jesus, and to make sure our churches are welcoming, so that people will want to come back again after their first visit.

Maureen Redbond

21
jul

The thankfulness of one

I heard about an episode of the Simpsons, where the family was sitting down for supper and Homer asked Bart to give thanks before the meal. Bart bowed his head and said, “Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves… so thanks for nothing.”

Now to some people that’s funny, but I think it’s sad. It reveals a real problem a lot of us may have. We live our lives enjoying the blessings of God but forget to stop and say, “Thanks”.

In the Bible in Luke 17:11-19, there is an account of when ten men with leprosy, saw Jesus at a distance and called out “Jesus, Master, have pity on us”. Jesus said: “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. Only one who was healed came back praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus and thanked Him.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this Samaritan?” He then told the Samaritan to “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Sometimes in life we are very quick to ask God for help in areas of our lives and not so quick to say thanks. God is a God who loves us, cares for us, wants to bless us and is always there to listen. Let us be like the one that returned and always remember to thank God.

Andy Knight

14
jul

Real Relationship!

I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with Him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God’s way of making us right with Himself depends on faith. As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead. I can learn what it means to suffer with Him, sharing in His death (Philippians 3:7-10, NLT)

God created men and women to be in a relationship with Him. The relationship Adam and Eve first had with God was perfect. Unfortunately, when sin entered the world, God’s intended intimate relationship with mankind was damaged and everything changed. Thankfully that was not the end of the story!

God sent His Son, Jesus to die in our place so our sins might be forgiven and our relationship with Him restored. Through faith in Christ, we are adopted into God’s family and belong to Him forever—just as He originally meant for it to be. He has provided us with everything we need to experience a real relationship with Him.

Why is it that some who say they are in a relationship with God are actually choosing to avoid a real relationship with Him? Some people just drift along, their initial zeal for the Lord has become only a distant memory and Bible reading or church attendance only happens when they feel like it. Others may try to focus on the Lord but allow earthly things to distract them. Over time, some Christians settle for the comfortable and familiar and they miss out on a deep relationship with God. But those who make Jesus the number one priority of their life will continually develop a stronger faith and a deeper relationship with the God who loves them.

Paul viewed his accomplishments as nothing in comparison with “the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:8). Let me encourage you to regularly and actively draw near to God and fully experience the blessings of knowing Him as Lord and Saviour

Pastor Dean

07
jul

Musing of an Ex Agnostic

A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.” (Luke 18:18-19 also in Mark 10:17-18)

Many years ago I would have used this verse to prove that Jesus denied He was God. The logic works like this: Jesus is saying, “Only God deserves to be called good, and it is wrong to call anyone else good.”

So, by saying, “Do not call me good,” Jesus denies He is God.

It was, of course, inevitable that at some point in my new Christian life someone would pose that same question to me.

Sometimes the word you stress in a sentence can alter the whole meaning of that sentence. The old me, as did my questioner, would read it as, “Why do you call ME good?” But if you read this passage in context of the whole of that incident (Luke 18:16-24), it should read, WHY do you call me good?”

Jesus is not denying He is good; He is challenging the man to think more seriously about His identity. He is asking the man, “Do you understand who I really am? Only call me good if you are prepared to fully submit to what I tell you.

“How can I get eternal life?” is the question. “Follow ME,” is the answer that Jesus gives. (Luke 18:22)

Unfortunately the man’s wealth and position was more important than God. And he went away sad. (Luke 18:23)

Of course, as Christians, it’s easy to read that and think, “Silly man!” But if Jesus invited us to follow Him today, is there anything in our hearts that might also stop us from saying yes?

Kevin Holmes

30
jun

Our God of Comfort

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT)

God’s care for us extends to every detail of our lives. He knows when His children are hurting and need His comfort and compassion (Isaiah 49:13).

Our Lord’s compassion is personal, continuous, and always available. We receive His comfort through the Holy Spirit, and there is no circumstance, situation or time when He is inaccessible to the believer—we can be comforted, consoled and reassured every moment of every day.

The compassion of God was demonstrated through Jesus’ life. He interacted with everyone even the “untouchables”—people whose bodies were infected with a contagious disease (Luke 17:11-14). And no sickness of ours will prevent Him from caring for us.

Jesus had compassion on people with medical conditions (Matthew 14:14). He not only healed them physically but also gave an even greater comfort—new life through the forgiveness of sins. And while our infirmities may remain, the Lord lovingly strengthens us to persevere (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

What about the situations we get ourselves into? Peter’s betrayal of Christ was met with forgiveness (John 21:15-17). Thomas’s doubts were answered by Jesus Himself (John 20:27). Our mistakes won’t stop Him from loving us. Even to His enemies, Jesus left the way open for repentance.

God’s comfort and care are available for anything we face, whether it’s declining health, insufficient finances, or family trouble. Then, once we’ve experienced His comfort, we are to support and comfort to others (2 Corinthains 1:4).

Everyone everywhere needs His comfort and compassion.

Pastor Dean

23
jun

Transformation

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. (Ezekiel 36:25-27 NIV)

Are you amazed by the metamorphosis of a caterpillar? A crawling spiky bug disappears into a chrysalis spun from its own body, and before long, a delicate and graceful winged butterfly emerges. It is amazing and magnificent.

Our change at the moment of salvation is just as radical and miraculous. From a death-bound, sinful, and depraved heart, God brings about a brand-new creation—one that is forgiven, made righteous, and designed to be the place where He Himself resides (2 Corinthians 5:21; John 14:17).

Have you ever wondered why, we continue to struggle with sin after trusting Christ as Saviour? Shouldn’t all the habits and tendencies of our old heart have vanished? The answer is that the term “new creation” refers to our position in Christ. It is true that believers are forgiven and eternally secure as children of the heavenly Father. But we remain in fleshly bodies, and as long as we are on earth, there will be an ongoing battle between spirit and flesh.

Throughout our life, God is transforming us to be increasingly like Jesus—His Spirit within us helps us to combat sin and teaches us how to live. This process, called sanctification, is a journey that will last until we are called home to heaven.

Salvation is a one-time event, sanctification is a life-long adventure. And though the Lord sees believers as righteous, we still have the capacity to sin. Thankfully, The Holy Spirit guides and empowers us to become more like Jesus, and as we yield to Him, our behaviour and thoughts will change.

Pastor Dean

16
jun

Father's Example

Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. “Honour your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, “so you will live well and have a long life.” Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.(Ephesians 6:1-4 The Message)

As a parent what image of the Lord are you portraying to your children?

The way we first think about God can be influenced by how we were parented—especially by our father.

Some men struggle in their role as dads because their own fathers were either absent—physically or emotionally— or poor examples. But regardless of what a person experienced in the past, the best thing any person can do is imitate God the Father. But how do we know who He really is?

We get our best glimpse of what the heavenly Father is like by looking at His Son. Speaking with the disciples, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me... He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:6, 9). Christ is our path to a relationship with God the Father; He is also the way we come to know the Father’s true character.

When we look at the life of Jesus what do we see? He was merciful, patient, gentle, compassionate, kind, and full of goodness toward all people (Matt. 9:10-13). The Saviour healed the sick, provided for needs, and offered forgiveness—regardless of the offense (Matt. 14:14-21; Luke 23:34). But in love, He didn’t hesitate to discipline or correct others when required.

More than a solid education or material possessions, a child’s greatest need is a role model of devotion to God through prayer, Bible reading, and holy living. If you make knowing and following the heavenly Father your first priority, you won’t have to worry about what kind of parent or role model you will be.

Pastor Dean

09
jun

It was by faith...

Have you ever said, “I wish I had more faith”? Our faith often increases as a result of our obedience to God in the little things. We all marvel at Abraham’s willingness to offer up Isaac at the Lord’s command. But have you ever stopped to consider all of his smaller steps of submission that prepared the way for this enormous test?

Throughout his lifetime, Abraham obeyed God. At the Lord’s command, he left his country (Genesis 12:1-4), was circumcised (17:10, 26), conceived Isaac in his old age (21:1-3), and sent his son Ishmael away (21:9-14). By the time he was asked to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, Abraham already knew that his God would always be faithful to His promises. His previous experiences had taught Him to trust the Lord.

In the same way, every small step of obedience we take helps solidify our confidence in God. Then, when He challenges us with a more difficult assignment, a firm foundation of assurance enables us to trust and obey Him. Great acts of faith can flow from our past interactions with the Lord. By neglecting His simple commands, we miss priceless opportunities to witness His faithfulness.

Are you having trouble trusting God for something big? Have you ignored those “small” and “insignificant” promptings of the Holy Spirit? The Lord considers each of His commands important and promises to reward every act of obedience, regardless of size.

Remember great faith begins with little steps.

Pastor Dean

02
jun

Impossible Possible

When a lawyer asked Jesus which commandment was the greatest, He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and “the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’” (Matt. 22:37, 39).

In our own strength, none of us can live up to this obligation, but the Lord has provided a way for Christians to do the impossible. The indwelling Holy Spirit works to produce His fruit in us, and first on the list is love (Gal. 5:22). In fact, the other eight qualities are really just descriptions of its expression.

The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23)

Whenever we demonstrate kindness, patience, or gentleness, we see the Lord’s love at work through us, especially when the other person has been unkind and doesn’t deserve such pleasant treatment. This fruit is not produced by trying harder to have good will toward someone who is irritating or hard to get along with. Instead, think of the process more like sap running through a branch on a grape-vine. The branch doesn’t make grapes; the sap does. In the same way, the Spirit flows through us, producing God’s love in us, so that we can pass it on to Him and others.

Agape love is the reason we are able to care for someone who mistreats us—it’s God’s doing, not ours. Even the adoration we offer the Lord is not something that we can produce in our own heart apart from His assistance. Though the command to love is enormous, God’s grace makes it possible.

Pastor Dean

26
may

Responsibility and a weeping prophet

Responsibility can be enjoyable and exhilarating, it can also be onerous and distressing. A police officer is asked to pass the message to parents that their lost child is alive. The same police officer is later asked to pass on the message to other parents that their lost child is dead. The policeman’s responsibility is the same in each case - to pass on information, it is exactly the same job; but one is desperately more difficult than the other. When a person joins the police force they take on responsibility, part of that may be informing parents about their lost children, it has to be done and they have to do it.

It would not be very fair to give one police officer the easy job every time and another officer the sad job every time. Which is why it seems rather unfair for God to give Jeremiah only one message to preach. For forty years his message was constant, consistent and cogent - The nation of Israel was destined for Doom, Gloom and Disaster. A writer described Israel as follows - ‘Society was deteriorating economically, politically and spiritually. There were wars and captivity. God’s word was deemed offensive. Repentance was one of the greatest needs in an immoral world.’

These words described Israel in Jeremiah’s time but could easily apply to nations today including Israel and our country.

Jeremiah’ responsibility was to preach that without repentance for their sin, disaster would over take the Israelites. The over-riding message was Israel has neglected the Lord who saved them and gone after foreign gods that are not gods. God’s word was neglected so warning and judgement must come. He was known as the weeping prophet. Jeremiah had to preach this message to all from the lowest to the highest. Still no one repented.

Was Jeremiah successful? What do you think?

He was very successful - he said what God told him to say, he did what God told him to do, he saw it come true, what more could he have done? I am sure we would all like to be ‘successful’ but are we prepared to be ‘successful’ in the way that Jeremiah was? (Jeremiah 1:4-19)

Terry O’Brien

12
may

Spiritual Gifts

Do you allow yourself to be hindered from fully serving the Lord?

Every Christian has been given at least one spiritual gift with which to serve the Lord and build up the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:7). But some believers neglect this special empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:12,16)

No matter how young or old you are, the Lord wants you to use your spiritual gifts. Timothy was young, he could easily have been intimidated by those with more experience. However, youth isn’t our only excuse. Some believers think they’re too old to serve the Lord. Even though our areas of ministry may change over the years, we’re never called into spiritual retirement.

Do you avoid opportunities to serve the Lord because you feel unqualified?

That’s probably how Timothy felt about leading the church at Ephesus. Our spiritual gifts rarely come to us fully developed. God often wants us to step out in faith and trust Him to work in and through us. Over time, as we obey and serve Him in our areas of gifting, He increases the effectiveness of our ministry.

Is anything keeping you from using your spiritual gifts?

Though given to us, these abilities aren’t for us; they’re for the church body.

To neglect them would deprive fellow believers and also rob ourselves: there is joy and blessing in serving others and doing the work God has called us to do.

Pastor Dean

05
may

Musings of an ex agnostic

Annie and I have a pair of whippets; they make wonderful pets but, as is the way with whippets, their skin tends to tear very easily. With this and regular shots etc. it means we make several visits to the vet each year.

A visit to the vet begins in the same way as any other walk. We get the dog’s lead, which invariably causes both dogs to bounce around in their typical pre-walk excited dancing. But this time one of them is to be disappointed and gets left at home. As we walk up the road the chosen one starts to suspect something is different, so the tail droops slightly and instead of forging ahead they stay very close. After all, whatever is going on, they know we’ll protect them. Then, as we approach the vet’s door, they realise what is about to happen and start to turn around trying to go the other way until we force them through the door. As we sit waiting to be seen, their sad brown eyes look at us pitifully, and you can almost hear the accusation: “I loved and trusted you; how could you let this happen to me?” But we know it has to be done. There is just no way we can explain to either dog that what is happening to them is all for their own ultimate good.

We all at some point fail to understand why God allows things to happen, or doesn’t do something that we clearly see needs to be done. We know God never makes mistakes, so maybe the problem is more our lack of all the information. If we could only see things from His perspective I’m sure we would agree everything is being done exactly as it should be.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12, NIV)

And until that time, that is where faith comes in. We have to trust even if we don’t understand.

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. (Ecclesiastes 7:14, NIV)

Kevin Holmes

28
apr

Overcoming Obstacles

In life we all face all kinds of obstacles - looking at it negatively, we get discouraged and may decide to turn around. With God, we must take life’s obstacles as challenges and overcome them in His strength. I believe they become stepping stones for us, opportunities where we experience God’s power, helping us develop a stronger faith in Him.

We can sometimes feel like we’re being put through fire. Yet God has in His hand on the thermostat. He knows the heat required to burn away the impurities that would hinder His purposes in our life. He teaches us patience, forgiveness, faith, etc. This is how He wants to mould and shape us. He is the potter and we are the clay. We may not like the way He is moulding us, but He does this for our good, shaping us into the people He wants us to be.

A daughter brought a caterpillar home from school one day. The father promptly found a shoe box and put some leaves and grass into the box. The daughter gently placed the little insect into its new home. They punched holes in clear wrap and placed it over the top of the box, so they could watch their little friend in action. The next morning the daughter ran into the room in tears. “Daddy, Daddy, there is a spider in the box with my caterpillar and he’s wrapped it up!” The father calmed her down and proceeded to unwrap the insect. They killed the dreaded spider, and cleaned out the box. They went to the back yard and began pulling up fresh grass and leaves, making sure there were no spiders in the caterpillar’s new home. The next morning was a repeat of the previous day. They searched for the dreaded spider in the box, but there was none. Then the father realised, the caterpillar was making a cocoon.

Sometimes things can seem pretty bad. It’s as if a spider has invaded our little box and wants to bind us in his web. However, if we’ll take the time and look a little closer we’ll find that God is at work transforming us into something beautiful.

Andy Knight

21
apr

‘It will be as He said.’

‘It will be as He said.’

That phrase was impressed on us very strongly by the Holy Spirit at last week’s Encounter Night. For many at the service, it reinforced personal words from the Lord, or prophetic words that applied particularly to their circumstances. For all of us it confirmed that we can trust God to do what He says He will do. This means that when we read the Bible and discover the many promises and statements God has made, we can rely on their fulfilment. When God says ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away,’ (Matthew 24:35), that means we do not have to be concerned by those who predict the end of Christianity. When He says, ‘I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it,’ (Matthew 16:18) that relieves us of the burden concerning the future of His Church. His promise never to leave us or forsake us holds good, however we may be feeling.

So...

...if you have been given a direct word of knowledge concerning your circumstances...

...if you have been prompted by the Holy Spirit to take prophetic words as applying to you...

...if you have been waiting so long for the fulfilment of a particular promise from God that you are feeling like giving up hope...

...if you have read promises in His Word that you would really like to believe but they seem too good to be true...

...you can be assured that,

‘It will be as He said.’

Maureen Redbond

14
apr

I really want to... But!

As Christians, we know we are supposed to share our faith. Almost every person who follows Christ, and almost every church, says the same thing: “We want to reach the world for Christ.” Yet most don’t. The command to follow Christ as a disciple, as an ambassador, as a proclaimer of the good news is a command. Yet most of the time we treat our mission in this world as something optional. We look at the calling of a Christian, to die to ourselves, to take up the cross, as something we should do, if we have time. We don’t take our mission seriously or we think this mission was given to select specialists, like the pastor or the missionary. We can be so preoccupied with our own well-being, our own survival or success, that we ignore the mission of God.

So what is the problem? Why don’t we share the good news of the Gospel? It’s not strategy. It’s not theology. It’s not leadership. So what is the problem? Jesus knew. When challenged about His own emphasis toward those on the outside of faith, He responded, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what the Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders’” (Matthew 9:12-13, The Message).

The problem seems to be us, those already on the “inside” because reaching the lost requires sacrifice or inconvenience - “Of course I want to reach lost people. But...”

I don’t want to use my spare time to reach others...

I don’t want to tithe regularly...

I don’t want to park far away...

I don’t want to change the time or location of the service...

I don’t want to change the format of the service...

I don’t want to be part of a large church...

I don’t want to give up my favourite seat...

I don’t want to __________ (fill in the blank!)

Building a relationship with someone, engaging in spiritual conversations, inviting others to come and see, come and hear, come and experience, is resisted by the very people who say they want unsaved people to find Jesus. Maybe refusal to evangelise is tied to a desire to be liked by the people who may not like Jesus. We don’t want to lose friendships or alienate people. So we stay silent.

It’s a question of what we value. Do we value the limitless grace of the gospel that brought us from the enslavement of sin to the arms of the Father, or do we value the approval of others? The way to get motivated to share the good news is not by guilt or manipulation, but by returning to the heart of the very Gospel itself.

Dean Courtier

07
apr

Together Everyone Achieves More

Within the body of Christ we need each other. In 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27 we read that the human body has many parts, but all its many parts form one body. And so it is with us, the Church, the body of Christ.

Everyone within the church fellowship has a role/ministry to play. Whether your ministry is up-front or behind the scenes is irrelevant. Both ministries are as important as each other and enables the church of Christ to function as it should. I heard a true story of a lady who lost one of her big toes. This caused her body to be out of balance. You may think that your ministry is small and insignificant and perhaps you even feel like a big toe. But we know that in the Physical and Spiritual Body, every part is important.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:15-16)

Let us never say that because I can’t stand at the front, play a musical instrument or welcome people on the door that I don’t belong to the body. God has given that ministry to others. He has another area of ministry with YOUR name on it for you to be involved with. This is the beauty of the body of Christ and this is why we need each other.

Within the Estuary Elim group of churches there are ministries you can be involved with. Begin asking God and seeking after Him as to what ministry He is calling you to be involved with, and then step out in obedience to His calling. I know as you step out you’ll be amazed at what He accomplishes in and through you.

Andy Knight

31
mar

Resurrection: Saviour, Salvation, Celebration

“These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)

In a direct addressing of his readership, the Fourth Evangelist asserts his authorial charge: to proclaim Jesus as the Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah of the Old Testament; so that his readers may, by believing in Him, receive His free gift of salvation.

Yet, whilst the Crucifixion marks the moment where universal salvation is made available to all through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice (“When I am lifted up, I will gather the world to me.” (John 12:35)), Jesus’ Resurrection is indisputably the most important event in all time: past, present and future.

Primarily, the Resurrection proves Jesus as God. Had the gospels ended on the crucifixion, Jesus’ sacrifice would have been futile, even tragic. Through the Resurrection, Jesus demonstrates His supreme power and final triumph over sin and death: “He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:6)

Yet, what does Jesus’ Resurrection mean for us? In short, Jesus’ Resurrection is the means of our salvation. In conquering sin and death, Jesus redeems us from the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:13) and the bondage of sin; in His unconditional grace, He offers mankind to rebuild our broken intimacy with God. In accepting this free gift of grace and belief in Jesus as our Saviour, we receive eternal life: the assurance of an eternity with the omnipotent, omni-benevolent God Himself!

As Paul writes in Romans 10, “if you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” What’s more, Jesus’ Resurrection is the promise, not only of our own rebirth as Christians sanctified before God, but also of our own resurrection at the end of time: “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15: 21-22)

Thus, Jesus’ Resurrection represents the very foundation of our faith; and indeed, without it Christianity is rendered to no more than the blind exaltation of a dead redeemer: “if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15:14)

So, during this Easter weekend, let us not forget the true meaning of the Resurrection: our Saviour and our Salvation. In fact, Jesus’ Resurrection is a celebration! In our Messiah, sin and death are defeated (forever!); through Him we are offered the free gift of salvation, the promise of an eternal life in Heaven: “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” (1 John 5:11).

How can we but rejoice at our new freedom and salvation in Jesus?.

Bex Courtier

20
mar

The Cross of Christ

The Bible tells us that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. But why did He have to endure such an awful death? Couldn’t He have redeemed humanity in some easier way?

To answer this question, we must first consider the righteousness of God. Because He is holy, no one has ever seen Him and lived. Our sinful nature cannot exist in the presence of pure holiness. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and we know that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This reality leaves us in a lost condition, eternally separated from God.

When sin entered the world, Adam and Eve fell into a state of mortality. Their transgressions created a barrier between them and the Lord, with the result that mankind became depraved, rebellious, and a natural enemy of God. Our sinful nature couldn’t redeem itself; but, it had to be redeemed by something greater and purer. A sacrifice was required - one that was spotless and without blemish.

Because our Heavenly Father created us for Himself--to bring Him glory and to spend eternity with Him (1 Timothy 2:4)--He provided the only offering powerful enough to reverse the effects of sin and restore us to our original purpose.

When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the price for all sin, beginning with Adam and spanning the ages. His awesome love and mercy applies to you as well (Ephesians 1:5-6). He sealed you with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), and you are forever His child, saved by grace for all eternity.

Pastor Dean

17
mar

The Bullies

One sunny summer afternoon Terry, Sid, Gary and Jamie were ‘over the fields’ This was all the information proffered to parents when they asked “And where are you boys going?” They were big boys now (9-11) and ‘Over the fields’ meant no adults, no limits, no timekeeping, no posh clothes, just exploring, climbing, chasing, hiding, hunting for newts, lizards, slow worms and any thing else small that moved. In short, all the things that adults interfered with.

They went when they were ready, they came back when they were hungry, none had a watch. It must have been August as the haystack at Sutton farm was nearly complete. Sliding down a haystack into loose straw was great fun unless a farm worker shouted at them and they ran away fast.

On this occasion they met some older boys from Cromwell Road, Ronnie, Michael and Terry S. All were 3 or 4 years older and a lot bigger. These three decided to make the four younger boys prisoners and forced them into a farm building where they made them sit on a long bench and tied them with their hands behind their backs, using baling string, which hurt.

The older boys then discussed what should be done to the helpless captives. They talked about torture, they mentioned cigarette burns, burning the building down and many other ideas. At this point Sid the ‘bravest’ of the 4 youngsters burst into tears. The others said things like ‘You wait till my dad finds out’ or ‘It’s against the law to do that’ or ‘We’ll get you back’. Ronnie and Michael had most of the nasty ideas but then neither had a mum or dad, they lived with aunts. Terry S looked kinder but did not stop the talk.

Eventually the older boys left with strict instructions not to follow them or talk about what happened. Somehow the younger ones freed themselves from the string and went home unhurt and never spoke of this again ‘til now! Bullying happens, it should not but some people enjoy having power over others especially those who are weaker and can’t or won’t fight back. Jesus experienced extreme’s of bullying by people in apparent authority yet no one can say he was weak or couldn’t fight back if needed. He chose the cross out of love for us. His resurrection shows He has the final authority.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (Revelation 22:13)

Terry O'Brien

10
mar

CARPET CLEANER = CLEAN CARPETS?

About 4 years ago I bought a carpet cleaner. I had every intention of regularly washing my carpets. However, it sat, looking pristine, in my hall for a month as I never had time to use it. Then my sister had a flood. She needed to clean all her carpets. I could help! So I lent her my cleaner. She did her whole house, several times, during the 12 months she had it. I regularly visited my cleaner at her house, but always forgot to take it home.

My parents offered to collect it for me. Good idea. They then cleaned their whole house during the 18 months they looked after it. Finally, fed up with it being in the way, my Dad delivered it to me last May. My neighbours happened to mention the state their rug was in after their daughter’s wedding. So, yep, you’ve guessed it, I lent it to them as well. All 3 couples reported how fantastic it was, how much dirt it got out of the carpet, dirt they couldn’t even see. I still hadn’t even turned it on!

Finally, just before Christmas I took action and cleaned my lounge carpet. I was amazed, and energised, and enthusiastic, so I cleaned my whole house. Hurrah! Now my house was clean and everything everyone said was true.

It was no good me owning the cleaner, it was no good everyone else using it and telling me whole fabulous it was. I had to experience it for myself and make the decision to actually turn it on.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7)

It’s no good just going to church, it’s no good just knowing other Christians. If you want to be cleansed by Christ’s blood, feel fresh and renewed, you need to connect yourself. We can tell you how amazing it is, but its far better to find out for yourself.

Samantha Murphy

03
mar

The Coffee Morning

It was a sunny Sunday in Cromwell Road and Terry was in the front garden playing with a teaspoon and a cup pretending he was making coffee. He was not supposed to get dirty. But the dry earth looked very much like the powdered coffee mum used on special occasions so Terry dug the spoon in the earth.

Sindery (really Sidney but Terry could not pronounce Sidney) walked up and they started playing together. Sid was a very tough little boy always grinning and legs covered in bruises and scratches from various adventures. Terry looked different today as he had his best Sunday clothes on. For those who remember typically a white shirt and a suit of wool shorts and jacket , the wool makes your skin itch where it touched you. He was dressed like this probably because an older girl cousin was to take him to Sunday school at The Strict Providence Baptist Chapel.

Terry offered Sid a teaspoon of ‘coffee’ and another of ‘brown sugar’, Sid joined in the game and accepted it. He started to eat it but immediately spat out the dirt and started crying. What a shock to Terry! Tough little Sid cried! As usual parents became involved (they always turn up at the wrong time don’t they).

After the investigation Terry was unfairly admonished despite claiming it was not his fault as they were only pretending it was coffee! How was he to know Sid would really eat it?

Many of us have a person or persons we look up to, a role model, an example of what we would like to be. We put people on pedestals and then wonder why they fall off. Sadly Christians are not immune as we will all have read of some high profile Christian leaders who have failed very publicly.

Peter, while filled with the Holy Spirit said; “Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one.” Acts 4 v 12 The Message

Peter was pointing out there was only one Savior and that was Jesus. He alone was a sufficient role model, one who is never going to fail.

It is OK to have a good role model but don’t endow them with more ability or wisdom than they really have. We are, after all, human!

Terry O'Brien

24
feb

Freedom!!

Praise God for the freedom we currently still have in our country to openly meet together for worship. Many Christians are denied the privilege to do this. Worldwide, there are thousands, or even millions, of Christians who meet in secret or in ‘state registered’ churches where they are subject to rules and regulations which conflict with their faith and beliefs. These Christians, including Pastors, wives and children often live in constant danger of harassment and arrest; and in more extreme cases – martyrdom. We call them the suffering church, the persecuted church; and they mainly live in Muslim/Buddhist/Communist majority countries.

These are our brothers and sisters in Christ, whose love for the Lord drives their faith, their perseverance and courage. They have a great testimony and witness but, because they are often barred from good jobs, and because they can be fined exorbitantly for practising evangelism they are often poor. And many have had to leave their homes to escape persecution (for example in Nigeria, Sudan, Iraq and Syria). But despite hardship and testing they stand firm in their faith and amazingly the church in these countries is growing.

We are coming up to Easter when we particularly remember Christ’s suffering. Some Christians ‘give up’ something for Lent to focus on this aspect of Christianity. Even if we don’t do this, it is good to remember that the victory of the Cross comes via suffering. And it is good to remember, at this time of year, those who give up so much to be Christians.

Please remember the persecuted church in your prayers – reports show that they really appreciate this most of all. Last Easter, as a church, we were able to send money to help financially, too. The recipient of our gift was a Pastor’s teenage daughter who was severely beaten up. With the money we sent she was able to receive desperately needed hospital treatment (and we hear she is now doing well).

As a church we intend to make a donation once again – to Barnabas Fund, the Agency for the Persecuted Church. If you would like to add to this please see Anne O’Brien. Thank you – please keep praying!

Anne O'Brien

17
feb

Can you see me?

I recently took a group of 6 girls to London (I`ll give you a minute to get over that shock and wonder why oh why anyone would do that!).

We were going to watch a recording at the BBC of a popular teens show “Friday Download”. When we arrived the children were all split into groups, and taken to studio in stages. Once in the studio they were sorted according to height and placed around the presenters. Of my 6 girls, three were very prominent, in camera shot a lot of the time, with Charlotte being directly behind one presenter. However, the other three could only be spotted now and again, and only if you were very quick and observant.

All the children were important, as a crowd was required to give atmosphere and to join in clapping and cheering. If only the children in clear view were there the end result would not have been the same.

Do you feel like that in life? You do everything God asks of you, but you never seem to get noticed? While the person next to you gets all the attention or has the job that get more praise and attention from other people.

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24)

All our jobs in Gods name are important. Whether others know of them or not. There are people in our congregation who do good deeds that none of us know about because they do not shout about it for all to hear. Do your best, for His Glory, and no one can ask anymore than that.

Samantha Murphy

10
feb

Musings of an ex agnostic

Recently I was talking to a colleague at work and he told me about the time his girlfriend took him to her church. The two things he remembered about that experience were amusement at the creative ways some of the congregation found to not notice him and amazement at how catty and judgmental some of the conversations he overheard could be. I don’t know the details of what he heard, but I’m sure we’ve all listened to similar conversations and maybe even participated.

The casual contact you have with people may seem to be unimportant and have nothing to do with your Christian life. And if you’ve had a bad day, that little bit of rudeness can easily be dismissed – after all, you’ll probably never see that person again.

But then again, my first encounter with “Christians” influenced my behaviour towards any organised religion for over 30 years. If Christianity required me to be like them, I was certainly not going to have anything to do with it.

Thankfully, one day Annie dragged me to a service at Ashingdon Elim, where my perceptions were slowly changed. Because I didn’t do or believe in the same things “Church” people did, and because of my previous experiences, I fully expected to be rejected in some way. Instead I found acceptance, a spirit of belonging and so much patience. And that allowed me time to start thinking about God, instead of concentrating on religion.

As I was putting pen to paper, Steve Murray came to Ashingdon Elim to preach. He also mentioned negative experiences he and his mother had with Christians and Church. Thankfully the story didn’t end there; the positive effects of being shown love and acceptance eventually won both Steve and his mother and, of course, it worked for me as well.

“If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.” I’ve seen this quote, which I believe to be from Catherine Aird, several times recently. The question is, which one will you be today?

Kevin Holmes

03
feb

Transformation

This is a drab time of year in the countryside. The trees are bare and colourless; damp brown leaves litter the ground; the footpaths are so muddy (especially this year) that it is sometimes dangerous to attempt to look around at the scenery when out walking; cloudy damp weather just makes everything grey and dismal. However, for a few hours one day in December, that all changed. The overnight temperature went down well below freezing and there was no wind – perfect conditions to produce a thick hoar-frost. That morning I went walking with the Ramblers Association in Hockley, (led, incidentally, by Elaine from our Rayleigh church), to discover that the entire landscape had been transformed into a spectacular winter wonderland. Underfoot, the mud had frozen solid, making walking much easier, so we were able to take in the amazing scenery. Every blade of grass, every twig, every cobweb was encased in ice crystals which glittered in the morning sunlight. On close inspection, some of these crystals were seen to be more than a centimetre in length. Even single horse hairs caught on barbed wire had become thick white ropes. Wherever we looked, the grey had been transformed into glistening white. It was stunning!

Long ago, a hymn-writer penned these words:

‘Heaven above is softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green;

Something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen.

Birds with gladder songs o’erflow, Flowers with deeper beauties shine,

Since I know, as now I know, I am His and He is mine.’

Poetic lines, of course, but he was attempting to describe the transformation that takes place when people allow Jesus Christ to take control of their lives. He really does make a difference to so many aspects of life, and, unlike the hoar-frost, which lasted just a few hours, this is a lasting change which lasts a lifetime, and beyond into eternity.

Maureen Redbond

27
jan

Tel n Sid’s adventure

One sunny Sunday afternoon Terry and Sindery (really Sidney but Terry could not pronounce Sidney) were by the front gate. Sid described some giant birds he had seen, ‘they had wings which could break your arm’ or so his dad had said and Sid knew where they were. Terry was impressed by the story but not sure if it were true so Sid suggested they went to see the giant birds. Neither thought to ask an adult if they could go!

Sid and Terry walked along Eastern Avenue (before it was a dual carriage way) until they reached the railway bridge. At this point Sid lost his bearings and decided they should cross the main road, climb through the broken fence and walk down to the railway line. Terry saw no problem with this and followed Sid down. They walked along the track a bit before Sid began to cross the rails. Terry was scared because an enormous black thing belching smoke and steam was coming towards them very fast. Terry would not cross and started crying, Sid ran back just before the steam engine passed, (you could say it was ‘terryfying’). They abandoned the giant bird hunt and started for home.

Crossing the main road again they reached the Victory playing field and chose to take a short cut home across the field. As they ambled along they saw a group of adults shouting and waving … apparently at them! One of them was using binoculars; Terry realized it was his dad and the other parents! What on earth were all the parents doing, shouting and waving for all they were worth, had something serious happened? The boys waved back innocently!

Apparently it was not allowed to cross main roads or go hunting for wild animals on your own when you were only 3 or 4 years old! They did not do it again.

Hebrews 5:11-14 in The Message says, I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong. The boys were innocent of the danger of their actions but by God’s grace they were not injured. We all make errors of judgment, we cannot always tell right from wrong. The point is, we should learn from these experiences, but some people don’t and this was Hebrews message to its readers - Listen and learn.

Terry O'Brien

18
jan

Experience

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find the more you think about things and engage your intellect and reason, the less enjoyment you get out of life.

Being Pentecostal isn’t about knowledge of what the Scriptures say, or understanding how the Trinity functions. It isn’t about reasoning how God can or may work and it isn’t always about being rational. Being Pentecostal is about experiencing God’s Holy Spirit at work in our lives. Pentecostalism isn’t doctrine, it’s an experience, an experience which God wants all his people to know and enjoy.

The other day I came across this list of things we can learn from a dog – yes, I know it’s a strange analogy! But the thing is, dogs don’t do much thinking. They just get on and enjoy life. So maybe we could learn a few things from them .... my additions are in italics.

- Allow the experience of the wind of the Spirit in your face to be pure ecstasy

- Take delight in the simple joy of walking with the Master

- Be joyful in greeting those you love in the Lord

- When you are happy dance around and wag your tail – let the Spirit move you!

- Feel loved for being who you are

- When someone is down, sit by them and be their comforter

- Eat with gusto and enthusiasm (from God’s Word)

- Don’t forget to drink enough daily, of the Spirit

- Just be yourself

Wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, discernment, tongues and interpretation – these are all the things that are promised to those who say “Jesus is my Master” (paraphrase 1 Corinthians chapter 12 v 3, 8-10). Of course the Bible doesn’t say we should be more ‘doglike’ – it says we should be more childlike. Either way, it’s about having a simple trust and enjoying our experience with God.

Anne O'Brien

13
jan

God has plans for you

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. (Jeremiah 29:11-13 NLT)

It’s very easy when thinking about God’s plan for your life to have the attitude: “it’s all about me.” Yes, it’s true that God cares about every intricate detail in your life - Jesus said that even the hairs on our heads are numbered! We can mistakenly think that God’s plan is always going to be a “feel good” plan with the intent to make us happy. The message in these verses is actually very different. These words are for a group of people who are being held captive in exile far from their homeland. These words are to let them know that although they’re not where they would have expected, nor where they would have asked God to place them, God has not forgotten them and He still has a plan for their lives. Even in the midst of a difficult situation, God wants them to know and have faith in His plans.

In the preceding verses we see that a big part of God’s plan is for them to “work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile” (Jeremiah 29:7). God wants His people to know that His plans are not just to benefit them personally. God also tells them that He’s not removing them from the situation immediately, but He does promise to restore them in the future. God’s wants them to know they can move forward in faith, because in the eternal picture, God’s plans and purposes will prevail.

Today, in the midst of difficult circumstances and situations, God wants us to know He has a plan. He also wants us to know that when we submit in faith to His plan, He will use us to bless the world around us. The key still remains during both good and difficult times: If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Pastor Dean

06
jan

An Amazing Adventure

I love adventure stories. Amongst my favourite books as a child were the ‘Famous Five Books by Enid Blyton. As an adult I really enjoyed both the books and the films of ‘The Lord of the Rings’. At the end of the story of the Return of the King, Bilbo wakes up and says, ‘Hullo Frodo! I think I am quite ready to go on another journey. Are you coming?’ ‘Yes, I am coming,’ replies Frodo. And together they sail away on another adventure.

As we come to the start of 2013 I believe God is calling us to go on an adventure with him. ‘Forward in Faith’ will take us into unexplored territory. There will be times when we are spiritually stretched, challenged and amazed. The key text for this year is the cry of Peter to Jesus: ‘Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.’ (Matthew 14 : 28). Jesus responds, ‘Come!’ For Peter, it took him on an amazing adventure as he experienced water walking and found that he was participating in a supernatural act. He had never been on this journey before and it was a new experience, but how exciting it must have been.

As individuals and as a group of churches, God wants to take us on an amazing journey. Spiritually we may not have travelled this way. We may be amazed or challenged by where he takes us, but he wants us to have the same spirit for adventure that Peter had, which cries out, ‘Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you.’ The question Bilbo asks Frodo is the challenge I put to you all: ‘Are you coming?’

Pastor Dave

01
jan

The direction of your life

Your life is like an untraveled trail with complex twists and turns. Appealing activities can be detours that lead to the quicksand of sin. Engaging philosophies may have cul-de-sacs and dead ends that end in a mire of muddled thinking. Even the best route isn’t all sunshine, meadows and quiet riverside paths. At times we have to journey over hard ground or through shadowed valleys. The only way to be sure we’re walking right is to follow The One who knows the way perfectly.

God is the perfect Guide. No one can go wrong by keeping to the pathways He selects. Consider that He lovingly and intentionally created you for this time and this place. The Lord watches over your steps because He desires to see your purpose fulfilled and His plan come to fruition through you (Proverbs 3:5-6). Therefore, He promises to counsel those who follow Him (Psalm 25:12). When God warns His children away from a tempting sideroad, it is because He knows the dangers that lurk on that road.

There’s a correlation between ignoring God’s guidance and ending up in trouble: the person who stumbles off course has trusted their own “sense of direction”—their emotions, desires, or personal version of morality. They have been pursuing what feels good or looks right instead of seeking the Lord’s will.

Walk in faith. God has mapped out the path before you. He is aware of every obstacle and pit, and He knows exactly which alleys and paths will tempt you. He has committed to walk beside you as a Guide and Comforter so that you never face the twists and turns of this life alone.

Pastor Dean

02
dec

The Holy Spirit - God in us

God’s presence with mankind has become progressively more intimate—from a cloud of glory in the temple, to the incarnate Son of God living with men, and now to the indwelling presence of His Spirit within the hearts of Christians.

While on earth, Christ was limited by His humanity. He could be in only one place at a time. But after His ascension, the Holy Spirit came to live within His followers, imparting divine wisdom, insight, and power. If you want to see the difference this made, just compare the disciples’ lives before and after Pentecost. They were transformed from fearful men hiding in a locked room to bold preachers ready to suffer for the gospel of Christ.

The Lord wants to do more than just live among men in the person of His Son; He desires to accomplish His will in our lives. But without His supernatural indwelling presence, we can never become the people He wants us to be or accomplish the tasks He’s called us to do.

We have spent the year thinking about the Fresh Fire that the Holy Spirit can bring into our every aspect of our lives. Through His Spirit, God works in us, producing His fruit and empowering His work. I pray that your knowledge and understanding of who the Holy Spirit is and what He does will have expanded.

My prayer is that each of us will allow the power of the Holy Spirit to fully flow in our lives and that each of us will become the person God has called us to be.

Think about the amazing opportunity and blessing that is yours: If you are a believer, even when you feel helpless to change or inadequate for a task, God’s power resides within you. No challenge is insurmountable, because the Holy Spirit is greater than any obstacle you’ll ever face.

May you continue to experience the blessings and joy of the Fresh Fire of a Spirit-filled life.

Pastor Dean

25
nov

The Day I Met Jesus

In our lives we are presented with many opportunities, we have freewill to choose whether we act on them or ignore them. Over sixteen years ago, an opportunity presented itself to me that was unlike anything else that had ever happened to me before; I had an encounter with God.

In the Bible we read that Moses had an encounter with God, Moses wanted to see God, but God said to him, “Moses no one can see Me and live, stay in the clef of the rock and My Glory will pass you by and I will shield you with My hand.” So the Glory of God passed Moses, Wouldn’t we all love an encounter like that? Not only did Moses hear the voice of God audibly, he could see the glory of God pass him by, and he was never the same again, coming into the prescence of God has this effect on us.

All through God’s word we read about wonderful men and woman of God who like Moses and like you and me had an encounter with God that changed their lives. If you know Jesus as your personal saviour then Jesus must have revealed Himself to you in some way, for each one of us this is different and we all have our own story to tell, each one of these testimonies are to the glory of God, and we have never been the same since. When we have an encounter with God it has a dramatic effect on our lives, we may have had a dramatic dazzling mind blowing encounter with God, but this doesn’t mean we live a perfect life and never get things wrong.

Like Moses and so many others, we read in the Bible that they messed up from time to time, sound familiar? They were not that different to us. But thankfully we have the Holy Spirit and each other, to help us through times of weakness. It’s encouraging to read Hebrews 12:1 which says, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

It is so easy to fall back in to our old ways, Jesus says “For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14. Who said this wonderful relationship we have with Jesus would be easy? If this strikes a note with you, remember, if you love Jesus He will never leave you nor forsake you. He will never let you go through more than you can bear, He will reveal Himself to you, because He loves you and cares for you. (John 14:21, 1 Peter 5:7)

There is a wonderful passage in 1 Peter 5:10 which sums things up wonderfully it says, but may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Pastor Paul

18
nov

Comings and Goings

Do you ever have one of those days when you don’t know whether you are coming or going? I guess we all have those times when we are busy and when we have a lot on our mind; times when the clock seems to go faster than usual; times when we feel like saying, “Stop the world, I want to get off”; times when we just want to opt out and be on permanent holiday.

But whilst the thought of opting out and having a “duvet day” is very tempting, our calling in Christ is to “opt in” to his work. Jesus told us to “go and preach the gospel and make disciples”; he told us to use our talents for the kingdom and to “work today in his vineyard”. So we are to GO. However, that’s not the end of the story; because Jesus also says, “COME”.

Matthew 11v28 in The Message Translation of the Bible says:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly”.

So let’s not forget to include Jesus as part of our comings and goings because then it doesn’t matter where we are – he has promised to help us live freely and lightly; as long as we keep coming to him he will help us to keep going for him!

Anne O'Brien

11
nov

Remember

Search for the Lord and for His strength; continually seek Him. Remember the wonders He has performed, His miracles, and the rulings He has given, He always stands by His covenant—the commitment He made to a thousand generations. (Psalm 105:4,5,8)

Remembrance Day is set aside to remember those who have given their lives for the freedom of others. Sadly for many the day will pass without them even giving any thought to the real meaning of the day.

Remembering does many things. It brings us back to the reality of what actually happened. It encourages us to see the dedication of those who fought and died. Remembering should stir within us a sense of gratitude and appreciation, and it should strengthen our own resolve to do our part in serving God and others.

Throughout the Bible, God’s people are instructed to stop and recall what He did for them. Psalm 105 is a song of remembrance of God’s goodness to His beloved ones. It traces His direction, provision and protection through their history and the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. As believers in the 21st century, we can look back over a much longer history and see how God’s plan has and is unfolding, and observe His incredible goodness to us.

Psalm 105:1-5 shows the natural progression of what happens when we pause to remember—we give thanks to Him and continue calling on Him. We sing of Him, and talk with other believers of all He has done. Then we must go tell others of His greatness. When you stop to trace the work of God’s hand in your life and in the world around you, these things should just come naturally.

But the key to being able to rejoice in the past is not found in counting the number of good things that have happened, but in remembering that God remembers! You can rejoice because He never forgets His plan and He never forsakes His promises. Even when life is tough and things don’t seem to make sense to you, rest assured that He is in control and He is working out His plan. He has your best interest at heart. Knowing this should encourage and strengthen you to do your best to live for Him.

Pastor Dean

04
nov

Giving

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)

In our churches we don’t talk about giving very often, but giving is a concept that runs through the Bible. I’m not talking about giving of time or giving to charity, I’m talking about giving consistently, faithfully and cheerfully to your local church. I’m talking about your tithe. Yes, I know we are not under the law and we don’t have to tithe. But for a Christian, redeemed, rescued, sanctified, and called - tithing is important.

Giving was required under the Old Testament law, and long before Moses recorded God’s laws, Abraham tithed (Gen 14:16). Returning 10% to God was essentially the “minimum” that was required in Old Testament times.

In the New Testament, we are told to give our lives as a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). We no longer have to offer physical sacrifice for our sins because Jesus is the perfect and final sacrifice that satisfies God’s wrath against sin. Instead, we are told to offer ourselves, our time, our resources, our talents, our lives as the sacrifices. Giving back to God a portion of what He has given to us one way we do this. We’ve been saved by God’s generous grace, and we should be people of generosity toward God. Giving and tithing reflects a consistent commitment to God’s work.

There are many opportunities to give gifts to charities or Christian organisations but are you faithfully and consistently giving to your local church? For a local church to fully function there must be regular, consistent giving. You will never look back at a life of consistent giving and tithing and say, “I should have given less to my local church.”

By giving to your local church, you are demonstrating that you are committed to supporting the ongoing work, in effect you are saying, “I support God’s work in MY church.” If you only give, when you feel good or if there is a special fund raising event, you’re not demonstrating commitment, you’re showing that you are not interested in being as committed to the Lord’s work locally as Christ is to you.

Real sacrifice, real obedience, real commitment involves long-term, consistent, faithful giving. Don’t miss out on the joy of regular, consistent giving to your local church. It’s an act of worship you won’t regret.

Pastor Dean

28
oct

What do you think about when you wake up?

Are your thoughts instantly focused on the day ahead, or are they centered on the Lord? Most of us have busy lives that consume our time and attention, but the most important and time-saving part of each day is time spent with God.

Many Christians feel so rushed that they don’t think there’s time for the Lord. They immediately jump onto the treadmill of life and then wonder why they’re so frustrated, confused, and dissatisfied. Even if their desire is to follow God, they don’t know where He’s going since they haven’t stopped to get directions for the day. There’s also a disconnect because they’ve ignored their relationship with Him. No one can have intimacy with Christ without daily communication.

Perhaps the problem is our own human logic. Maybe you think spending time reading the Bible and praying each morning will result in having less time and lower your productivity. When we seek Christ’s direction and wisdom for the day and invite Him to control our lives, He’ll accomplish more through us than we can do by ourselves. He’ll give us wisdom for good decisions, increase our strength and energy, and free us from time-wasting anxiety.

Are you too busy for the Lord? If so, you’re denying yourself the blessing of an intimate relationship with Christ. Make time for Him, let Him fill you with peace and joy, guide your decisions, grant you wisdom, empower you to obey, make you more productive, and comfort you with His love.

Pastor Dean

20
oct

Are you sure?

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1 NLT)

I recently purchased some software for my PC that needed to be downloaded. As soon as the purchase was confirmed I went to the web site to get the programme that I had been wanting for some time.

Then a warning popped up from my virus software “Are you sure?”

It appeared that although a few people had purchased the software, I was the first one to actually download it. My computer was saying “no one else has used this, can you be sure its right?”

Sometimes, entering into a relationship with Jesus can be like that. We want it, maybe have done for some time, but our friends and family may ask “Are you sure? None of us are Christian, is it really right for you?”

I loaded my software and have been using it ever since. It does everything I wanted it to do, and has bought me joy not problems. I ignored the “well meant” warning to stop me, as I knew it was what I needed.

Samantha Murphy

14
oct

Musings of an ex agnostic: What does Calvary mean to you?

For many Christians the word Calvary is representative of the loving Saviour who died on the cross so we could be made righteous with God. It is a word used in songs, sermons and prayers and it’s assumed everyone knows its significance.

When I first became a Christian, having previously had no real contact with Christianity, the use of the word Calvary totally confused me. I could find no reference to it in the Bible. Jesus was crucified in Golgotha so why were people going on about Calvary? It was totally meaningless to me. (I’ve since found the one reference to Calvary in the original King James version Luke 23:33)

Even before I became a believer I often found myself quite perplexed when speaking to Christians. They would use Christian Buzzwords, which meant nothing to me, and they just assumed I knew and understood what they were talking about. It seems to me Christian evangelism can sometimes come across like a teenager trying to impress his first girlfriend. When your personal agenda is more important than the person you’re talking to it very rarely ends well.

Maybe we should start by throwing away all the assumptions that we may have about what people do or don’t believe, keep an open mind and let a real conversation take place. It’s important to keep the conversation balanced, it has to be a two way street. Finally, avoid using ‘Christianese’ because you may find that what you think you said is not what they heard. Some examples from my experience:

Christian says: I heard:
“That’s not my spiritual gift.” “Find someone else, I can’t be bothered.”
“The Lord works in mysterious ways.” “I don’t have a clue”
“I don’t feel led.” “Don’t want to do it and you can’t make me.”
“Open Prayer” “Gossip”
“You just have to put it in God’s hands.” “Don’t expect me to help.”
“I really feel that God is telling me to say this to you...” “I am going to say something nasty to you now...“
“I’ll pray for you” “This conversation is over, I’ve run out of ideas.”

Kevin Holmes

07
oct

Healing Hands

Last Sunday evening Pastor Dave spoke on Healing Hands and he encouraged us to realise that God can use US in this ministry if we are willing to be used by Him; because often, we are the channels that God chooses to bring blessing to each other.

This is summed up in the words of an old chorus:

Just to be His hand extended reaching out to the oppressed

Let me touch Him, Let me touch Jesus

So that others might know and be blessed

 

  • The secret isn’t in how much we want someone to be healed; or how much faith we can generate; or how much Scripture we can quote or nice things we can say. The secret to bringing God’s healing and wholeness into people’s lives is in us touching Jesus, being close to Jesus and being in tune with Jesus.

When we are in close communion with Jesus and are surrendered to Him, it is then that He can use us to reach out and bring blessing to others. It is then that we can become channels for him to work through. There are many different ways that healing can be administered, but it is not about what we do or how we do it. It is more about where we are. Are we in the presence of Jesus?

In Luke 5v17 it says that (wherever Jesus was) the power of the Lord was present to heal. Pastor Dave reminded us that our ministry is outside the church. And the challenge to each of us is to take Jesus with us into every situation and to be channels for his blessing.

Anne O'Brien

28
sep

God is able to lead you through

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. (Psalm 84:5-8)

In Hebrew, Baca means weeping. The Valley of Baca literally means the “Valley of Tears”. The Valley of Baca, takes its name from the Balsam tree. The Balsam tree, at a certain time, weeps its sap, and no doubt, this reminded the travelers of the tears that they themselves shed while on the journey.

Baca was part of the desert country, the valley was filled with thorns, wild animals, pitfalls, snakes and many other dangers. There were wells of water there, but they were far apart and hard to get to. It was nearly impossible to travel this valley without facing extreme hardship and suffering.

Everyone in this world has to walk through valleys. As Christians we also encounter our own valleys of Baca that we must pass through on our journey. But, for us as Christians, when we walk through the valley, we walk through it as a child of the Living God. There are times when we must walk in the Valley of Tears - but we do not walk it alone.

When we are in the valley, Jesus is with us.

When we are in the valley, Jesus walks with us.

When we are in the valley, Jesus talks to us.

When we are in the valley, Jesus heals us.

When we are in the valley, Jesus carries us.

When we are in the valley, Jesus sustains us.

When we are in the valley, Jesus blesses us.

There are times when there is no way around the valley, only through it. While we don’t like valleys, it is in the valley that our faith is exercised, and we grow in strength. Whatever valley you find yourself in God is able and willing to lead you through. When we are in the valley, Jesus is everything we need Him to be and more.

Pastor Dean

23
sep

Trust and obey

There is an old hymn called “Trust and Obey” and it sums up God’s purpose for our lives. When we practice these two commands, a beautiful cycle begins. Trusting the Lord makes obedience easier, and obedience produces ever-increasing trust.

Can you recall facing a challenge that was difficult or perplexing? If so, you know how important these two commands are.

When God calls you to a task that seems unreasonable, you have two options. You can obey Him even though you don’t understand what will happen, or you can become fearful and attempt to find a way out.

The way we respond to God’s challenging assignments reveals our level of commitment. We may feel as if we’re right in step with Him, until He proposes a change of direction. That’s when our resistance kicks in, and with it, the realisation we aren’t as close to Him as we thought. At that point, our decision determines whether the Lord will be able to use us as He desires.

At times obedience is a struggle, as your mind runs through all the reasons God’s path is illogical. Fear dominates and your will battles to comply when everything within is screaming to run the other way.

Obedience to God’s will and purposes is always the best choice, because God is trustworthy and wise.

Pastor Dean

16
sep

Unconditional Love?

A lawyer once asked Jesus which commandment was the greatest, Jesus told him, “You shall unconditionally love the Lord your God with all you heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and “the second is like it, ‘You shall l unconditionally love your neighbour as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37,39)

In our own strength, none of us can fully obey this command, but God has provided a way for Christians to do the impossible. The Holy Spirit works to produce His fruit in us, and first on the list is love (Gal. 5:22). In fact, the other eight qualities are descriptions of how we can express real love to others.

The fruit of the Spirit is not what we do, but who we are, and it is primarily on display in us when circumstances are unfavorable. When we demonstrate kindness, patience, or gentleness, we see God’s love at work through us, especially when we show love to someone who has been unkind or, humanly speaking, doesn’t deserve it. Unconditional love is the reason we are able to care for someone who mistreats us—it’s God’s doing, not ours.

Fruitful believers are not controlled by their environment. Everyone experiences trials and pain, but those who are filled with the Spirit do not lose His fruit because of their situations. They keep their joy even when difficulties overwhelm. If someone speaks harshly, they respond with kindness. Because the Holy Spirit is in control, He is free to produce His fruit no matter what the circumstances are. Even though Christians may feel pain, anger, or a desire for revenge, they choose to trust the Lord to protect them and direct the outcome.

Trying harder to be loving will never work. We need to submit to God, giving Him complete control of our lives. Though the command to love is enormous, God’s grace makes it possible.

Pastor Dean

09
sep

Will you take a risk?

Who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong (Hebrews 11:33, 34)

Is faith a risk? Of course. But failing to step out in faith is to risk missing real life. Someone once wrote:

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out for another is to risk involvement.

To place our ideas, our dreams, before a crowd is to risk their loss.

To love is to risk not being loved in return.

To live is to risk dying.

To hope is to risk despair.

To try is to risk failure.

Risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. People who risk nothing do nothing, have nothing, feel nothing. They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love . . . live.

What a privilege for us to be able to walk by faith in God Himself, armed with all the promises of His Word. I suppose we all desire the security of the solid tree trunk, but the fruit is out on the limb. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The timid soul asks, “What do I stand to lose if I do it?”

The fruit-bearing Christians asks, “What do I stand to lose if I don’t do it?”

Real life is lived on the cutting edge.

Prayerfully ask God to help you stand up for what is right, to reach out and love others, and to dare to believe.

Pastor Dean

31
aug

Behold the Lamb of God

Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.

These were the prophetic words spoken by John the Baptist (John 1v29) at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry on earth. These words are so unique and significant that no-one on earth has ever claimed them about anybody else – before or since.

They are unique because Jesus is called The Lamb. By using this unlikely title John described Jesus’ role and purpose on earth. He was to become the sacrificial Lamb. Just as the Jews repeatedly offered a spotless lamb as a sacrifice to atone for their sins, so Jesus was to offer himself – the spotless, perfect Lamb of God – to atone for our sins. This was his mission: to take away the sins of the world once and for all. It was for all time and for all people, including you and me.

This theme is continued in heaven for all eternity. Jesus is pictured as “The Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13v8). And John tells us that in his vision he sees the hosts of heaven singing to the Lamb: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain”.

We might picture Jesus as a saintly man. The Bible calls him the Lion of Judah, portraying victory. But in Heaven, in Revelation, he is portrayed as a Lamb – not even a spotless, perfect Lamb – but a Lamb who has been marred and killed. Why does this painful image pervade the Book of Revelation, especially as we know that Jesus rose again victorious over death? It is because mankind still keeps sinning and sinners still need forgiveness. When God looks upon the slain Lamb he sees the punishment that has been paid – is always paid. It is as the slain Lamb of God that Jesus mediates for us.

If you can take the time to read again Revelation chapter 5 I think you, like me, will feel constrained to worship in a deeper way our Saviour – Jesus – the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Anne O'Brien

26
aug

How often do we ignore the warning signs?

Does the obvious need to be shouted at us before we listen?

I was recently in a queue for a car park in Brighton. Nothing new, I do like to go shopping! The queue was long, and there was a stream of cars behind me. The queue split between two barriers, and I continued, the point of no return! I heard a tinkling noise, but ignored it, as one does when you don’t know what it is! I suddenly became aware of a car full of foreign visitors next to me laughing and pointing, obviously gaining great amusement at something. Should I also ignore them? I decided not and opened my window. They advised me with great merriment that I was “not going to make it”. Then the sinking feeling as my Mum said “have you still got the roof box on?” Oh yes, it was a Height Restricted car park, and I did still have the roof box on, but as I hadn’t used it I forgot about it. The “tinkling” was the warning sign as I entered.

I couldn’t reverse out as 6 other cars had pulled in behind me (at this point I can only imagine the heated and angry words being sent in my direction). So I went through the barrier, and my sister got out to asses my options. There were none, she stood laughing and shaking her head, there was no way forward. So we did what all resourceful women do in these circumstances. We smiled sweetly at the drivers behind and proceeded to climb on the roof to take the box off, then park the car and carry the box to it, somehow repacking the car and wedging it inside until we could leave the car park and re affix it to the roof. (Yes, of course we still went shopping!)

Do you ignore the signs God is trying to send you, because it’s not what you want to hear? Do you have a talent or a gift that is not being used, so has been forgotten about? Is God trying to tell you something, but you still need to stop and take another look, just in case there is another option of doing things your own way? Sometimes the only answer is to dismantle everything you thought was perfect, and repack your life in a different and uncomfortable way. But Gods plans do have a purpose. How many signs will He need to send you before you take the action He wants you to take? Hebrews Ch2 vs1: We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.

Samantha Murphy

22
jul

Treasure in Jars of Clay

Paul says in 2 Cor.4v7 that “we have this treasure in jars of clay”. We, as believers, are called “jars of clay” and Paul is saying that we are like everyday pots, useful pots, common pots, and quite likely fragile pots. He doesn’t refer to us as hard, strong, iron or shiny stainless steel pots, but jars that are fragile and vulnerable. Neither does he refer to us as best china or pretty pots, but jars of clay that can serve a purpose. A few chips around the rim of my mixing bowl do not make it become useless. I can still make a good sponge cake in it. The chips just show that the mixing bowl has been well-used and loved, so they are not necessarily a bad thing.

Paul goes on to describe how we are sometimes “hard pressed” and knocked around in use. As Christians we can get stressed out, be under pressure, be perplexed, confused, worried, persecuted or ridiculed. And Paul certainly knew about these things. But he was able to sort out the treasure from the container. And Paul tells us in verse 6 that the treasure is “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ”. The treasure is the glory or presence of God dwelling in us. The treasure is the resource that God has given us to “be under pressure but not crushed”, to be “worried but not in despair”, “struck down but not destroyed” (v.8 & 9). And why have treasure in jars of clay – why not in perfect, strong boxes? Paul gives us the answer in the second part of the verse: We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

Shouldn’t it make us feel special and humble, jars of clay that we are, to know that God chooses us to be vessels of his power and glory?

Anne O'Brien

15
jul

Drifting

At school I learnt that the drifter was a fishing boat that let out long nets hanging from floats on the surface. The boat drifted with the current until the net was hauled on board in the hope that plenty of fish were caught in the net. The method was probably used in Bible times on a much smaller scale. But drifter has other meanings as well. We use it to describe a vagrant, some one who wanders around from place to place or someone who drifts from one job to another.

In Hebrews 2 v 1 there is a warning: We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. “What we have heard” means what the prophets and Jesus the Son had taught them. (See Hebrews 1 v 1). The history of the kings of Israel has numerous examples of drifting away time and time again, read - Samuel & Kings. The Israelites had the Old Testament and the prophets to guide them in everything they did. There was no excuse for not knowing the right thing to do; even children learnt the books of Moses at synagogue and home. But the Israelites drifted away from God by slowly but surely changing their beliefs and practices.

It probably seemed a small thing to miss the odd Passover or skip the reading from the Pentateuch now and then, take a friendly drink with a Canaanite neighbour. Nothing terribly wrong but each action a little step away from “What we have heard”. Individuals, churches and whole denominations can drift away. It happens so slowly we don’t notice until some one goes back to the Bible and thinks, “Hey, how did we get here? We need to go back to what Jesus taught us!”

Church history repeats itself with churches drifting away from Bible teaching and then reviving them selves or starting new denominations. Take a minute to consider “What did I learn and believe from the Bible when first saved and what do I believe and do now?” Drift netting is a haphazard way of fishing and allowing our beliefs to drift away from what Jesus taught us will never increase our faith but rather reduce it.

Terry O'Brien

07
jul

Everyone faces challenges in life

Whether our struggles are financial, vocational, relational, or physical, we can be certain that nobody is exempt. Fortunately, we serve a God who is both interested in our problems and able to take care of them.

When trouble looms, prayer is always a good first step to take. But having a foundation upon which to build our prayers also makes a difference. Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah, faced an enormous challenge. Three different tribes--the Moabites, Amonites, and Meunites--simultaneously waged war against him. Most leaders would have crumbled under such pressure, or at the very least taken drastic measures, but Jehoshaphat was a wise king. Though afraid, he did not strike out against his enemies.Instead, knowing that God was interested in his dilemma, he “turned his attention to seek the Lord” and proclaimed a fast throughout the land (2 Chron. 20:1-3).

Jehoshaphat also knew that God, who was greater than any earthly problem, had done miraculous things for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Daniel. That same God would help him, too, in his hour of need. We should never underestimate the Lord’s interest in our affairs. He helped our ancestors in the Bible, and He can and will help His children today.

It’s easy to think our problems are unimportant in the eyes of God, but He doesn’t feel that way at all. Whatever concerns us concerns Him. If we, like Jehoshaphat, turn right to God and proclaim His power, He will intervene. And no matter how great our challenges are, God is greater.

Pastor Dean

01
jul

Go and be fruitful

In my garden are over 50 trees, apple, oak, ash, damson, pine, cypress, sycamore, horse chestnut, hawthorn, hazel, elm, willow, and some unknown species. You are probably thinking ‘He must have a big garden for all those trees’.

My garden is only about 60ft by 36ft and most of it is grass! How does that work then you may ask? Well as I don’t have room for 49 full size trees I make sure the trees stay very small, in fact 45 of them though 20 or more years old are less than 2 ft tall!

Yes, they are bonsai or sort of bonsai, (I’m not an expert). What is very pleasing though is that some of them are mature enough to produce fruit, damsons, hazel nuts and pine cones so far. These trees are kept small by limiting their food and water and trimming their roots and branches. Despite this mistreatment they never give up trying to be fruitful.

In Genesis 1 - God blessed Adam and Eve and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number” and they did.

After the flood in Genesis 9 - God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth” and they did. This is how we came to be here today!

In John 15 v 16-17 before his death and resurrection Jesus said to his disciples: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit —fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other”.

Today God says the same thing to us “Go bear fruit that will last” this isn’t damsons or hazel nuts it is new believers, new disciples.

We all have different characters and skills, some of us may feel a bit ‘bonsai’d’ from experiencing the difficulties of life but even so never give up looking for opportunities to be fruitful and leading some one to Christ.

Terry O'Brien

22
jun

Faltering Faith?

I wonder if you ever find yourself in the same frame of mind as I sometimes do? You see, I believe that God is creator of all things. I believe that He inspired the writing of all the Scriptures. And I believe that Salvation and Eternal Life is mine as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross and His resurrection. My belief does not falter.

And yet ... sometimes my faith falters. Sometimes I find myself worrying when I should be putting my faith in the Lord. Sometimes (I am being honest here) when I’m praying for those who are ill my expectations of a miracle are not very high. And there are other times when a series of knock-backs and disappointments make a severe dent in my faith.

My problem, of course, is that I expect the faith to come from within myself. Therefore it follows that it is I who am letting myself down. I can never generate enough faith, however hard I try. But the good news is – I don’t have to! Jesus is happy for me to say, “Lord, I believe. Help my weakness of faith” (Mark 9v24).

I have found he always answers that prayer. And added to this is the Gift of Faith – one of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12v9. If our faith is lacking we can ask God for the Gift of Faith – faith that doesn’t come from within us, but faith that comes from the Holy Spirit. This is the faith that can move mountains, heal the sick and help us to trust in all circumstances.

Anne O'Brien

17
jun

A Child’s World

A popular pizza restaurant that caters to children once advertised itself as “a place where a kid can be a kid.”

But creating a child’s world goes beyond letting a “kid be a kid”. Parents must understand their responsibilities in guiding that child. And for that we need to look at what the Bible says about parenting.

Years ago the music group, Crosby, Stills and Nash had a hit song with the words “teach your children well, - they need a code to live by” Indeed there is no higher calling for parents.

The best thing Mums and Dads can teach their children is the “fear of the Lord,” for Proverbs 1:7 tells us this is “the beginning of knowledge.”

We live in an age of information, knowledge is plentiful, but wisdom is scarce. Wisdom means far more than simply knowing a lot. It is a basic attitude that affects every aspect of life. The foundation of knowledge is to fear the Lord—to honour and respect God, and to obey His Word.

When Jesus was here on earth, He said “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them…. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God, like a little child will never enter it” and He took the children in His arms put His hands on them and blessed them.

Today in our Rayleigh church we welcome two families who are bringing their children for a dedication blessing, please pray for the children Evie and Harrison Dix; and Autumn McGonigle. Pray for them and their parents that they may know God’s blessing, protection and guidance on their lives.

And let us all remember that to create a child’s world, our homes need to be a place where we serve one another through God’s love.

P.S. And it doesn’t hurt to have some pizza now and then too!

Pastor Tony

09
jun

Being there

“Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14

In everyday life we encounter people who are hurting. Maybe there have been times when you just didn’t know what to say or do to help someone in their pain. Comforting others is easier said than done, but here are some suggestions:

Be there. Sometimes the best way of helping is simply to be there. In our darkest hours, we don’t need someone to try to fix everything; we just need a friend.

Listen. Hurting people often need a listening ear so they can express what’s on their mind. Don’t attempt to give answers or tell people what to do next, just listen.

Share. Your own pain and failures can help others but don’t pretend to be someone who has all the right answers.

Pray. There is power in prayer. Offer to pray for them and let them hear you talk to Jesus on their behalf.

Give. How sincere are you in your desire to help another person? Helping others may involve more than a handshake or a hug. Are you willing to give your time? Are you able o help someone with a material or financial need? Or maybe you know someone who cares for someone else. Would you step in and take their place for a while?

Look for opportunities this week to be there for someone. Show them the love of God by your words and actions. Allow God to work in you and through you for His glory and purposes.

Pastor Dean

01
jun

The fisherman’s tale!

Our church holds an annual fishing competition. Surprisingly fishing is only mentioned once in the Bible, in the King James version it is in John 21 v 3 Simon Peter saith unto them ‘I go a fishing’. Now if you wanted to give a talk about fishing and the Bible with just this verse you might find it quite difficult.

The word fishing may occur once but the activity we know as fishing occurs many times and the word fish as a noun or a verb occurs frequently. Most of us will know that Jesus often used fish or fishermen in illustrations.

The trouble with leisure fishermen is they have a reputation for exaggeration. People who hunt bring home the pheasant, deer, or whatever they were hunting, people who hunt for antiques or rare stamps or plants bring home the evidence, even professional fishermen bring home their catch but our leisure fishermen put the fish back and then expect to be believed when describing their catch - but where is the evidence?

Some of us may find it difficult to believe all the miraculous things that Jesus did. However the evidence was seen by eye-witnesses. The huge catch of fish when Peter and John were fishing unsuccessfully, the fish with a coin in its mouth when a tax needed paying, the 1000’s of people fed with a few small fishes and bread not once but twice, the catch of 153 big fish when Jesus called to them after his resurrection. Was this not enough evidence for the disciples to believe that Jesus really was God? For most it was but Thomas had missed the times Jesus met the disciples after his resurrection and he was not convinced.

Jesus said to Thomas after he had seen the wounds in Jesus hands and feet “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” That is you and I, we did not see those miracles or the wounds in Jesus body but we believe because we accept the Bible was written by eye-witnesses of these things and the Holy Spirit confirms this with our spirit.

Terry O’Brien

27
may

Catch the flame!

Last Sunday I had the privilege of watching my sister Sharon carry the Olympic Torch through the streets of Stoke Fleming in Devon. The promotional bus described it as ‘A moment to shine!’ What a fantastic occasion, well worth the 590 mile round trip! It was all the more amazing because a week previously she had been unable to walk or even stand because of a back problem. Thank you, all who prayed for her – she managed the event using just a crutch. I have a photo of her just after the take-over, which shows both torches flaming. Shortly afterwards, the previous flame was extinguished, as was Sharon’s at the end of her course. Just suppose that all the torches had been kept burning after the bearers had passed on the flame. By the start of the Olympics, there would be 8000 torches flaming around the country, instead of the single one in London.

Today is Pentecost Sunday. In this year when we are looking at the Fresh Fire of the Holy Spirit, and its effect on our lives, we have the opportunity to pass our enthusiasm and vision to others. As they see what the Holy Spirit has done for us, they will want to experience it for themselves – but there is no need for our own flame to be extinguished. As others catch the flame, the fire of the Holy Spirit will become more and more evident in our churches and our communities. It will not just be ‘A moment to shine’, but a growing beacon of light to those around us

Maureen Redbond

18
may

Converts or Disciples?

It’s a wonderful experience to become a Christian, to know that Jesus has atoned for all our sins, and to be aware that God’s Holy Spirit is actually living within us. It’s thrilling to realise that God is always with us and in relationship with us. And, as children of God, we now have the privilege of praying to the Father, just as Jesus did.

However, as children, we are expected to grow and mature; because Jesus didn’t just call us to be converts, he called us to be his disciples too. How do we become Jesus’ disciples? By walking in his steps, and by learning from him, and by doing what he did.

1 John 2v6 says: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

We are called to follow in Jesus’ steps by being a committed apprentice or disciple. This means that we will put the claims of Jesus first in our lives and have a desire to be like him – which includes spending time with God in prayer; being willing to show unconditional and even sacrificial love towards others (no-one said it would be easy!); and telling others about the good news of Jesus. It will probably also mean a change in our attitude towards people, money, business and social responsibility.

Are we passive converts or active disciples? Is there something more we could be doing to show our love and commitment to the Lord and to each other? Are we self-centred or Christ-centred?

Are we walking in His steps?

Anne O'Brien

10
may

Are We Going For Gold ?

Can we possibly escape all the plans and arrangements being made for the Olympics this year? No I don’t think we can. There is something every day now in the Media about what is happening, who has qualified to take part etc etc.To the athletes it is the highlight of their career and to take part in the competition in their own country is the icing on the cake.

They are literally Going for Gold. Are we Going for Gold?

I have had the privilege of attending two Conferences where the subjects were “Treasure” and “In His Presence”. The world would probably see Gold as Treasure and interpret Presence as Gifts maybe We have a great God who gives us Gold ie: the best all the time and certainly His Presence is with us at all times. Unlike the Athletes we don’t need to train, strive or put any physical effort into receiving God’s best for us. We don’t need to compete for His Love, His Grace, His Mercy. He has no favourites, His Holy Spirit encompasses us all.Let us never forget that God chose us in the very beginning: we did not choose Him

The greatest gift God has given us is Jesus Christ himself. If we have received Christ and know His presence and we are in His presence, we have received every other spiritual blessing as well. To be in Christ Jesus means to be joined like branches are joined to a tree. Whenever we are in Christ it means Christ is in us. His power and Wisdom; indeed all the fullness of God.

As those athletes from all over the world have been chosen to come to the Sports Field ,so we have been called, by God to the Mission Field. Like the Athletes we encourage and support one another to do our best. The Athletes train to win Gold. God is training us to Go for Gold-----that is to bring His Treasure into the Kingdom. What is His Treasure? We are!! Even more exciting, so are those we are reaching out to. We are on the Mission Field.

Let’s Go for Gold Let’s Go For God

Andrea James

06
may

To Cheat or not to Cheat.

I love my iPhone! It has games on there that I can dip in and out of whenever I get a spare moment. My latest craze is Draw Free. A sort of ping pong drawing game where you draw a picture and send it to another smart phone or iPod, they guess what it is and send another picture back. You get coins along the way you can swap for extra colours or clues. It’s very addictive, and I have 8 games on the go at the moment! If the picture is not very easy, or my drawing not very good (my zebra was a classic!) then I add word clues (such as stripy horse). Is that cheating?

Sometimes the message isn’t clear.

Ever wondered what God is trying to say? The message just isn’t clear; you just aren’t sure what to do? Wouldn’t you just love a few words to pop up in front of you to guide you what to do or where to go?

The Psalms are full of songs telling us how God will guide us.

Psalm 23:3 He guides me in paths of righteousness.

Psalm 25:5 Guide me in your truth and teach me.

Psalm 25:9 He guides the humble in what is right.

And so it goes on. He GUIDES us in the way He finds most effective for us. He might tell us direct or He might use another person or a Bible scripture, but he will get the message across. It won’t cost me any extra coins and I won’t gain any extra colours, but if I sit and listen, he will tell me.

Samantha Murphy

28
apr

How big is the Vision? How big is your heart?

Do our goals and dreams fail because we place limitations upon ourselves?

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

Jesus gave us the command to tell all nations about His salvation, and as His followers, we should make this our vision. Are you working to fulfil this “Great Commission”? Fervently? Purposefully?

Often, what holds us back are the boundaries we place upon ourselves. Fear is one of our biggest barriers. We may feel concern about how family and friends will react to us sharing Jesus with them. We may even say nothing at all, assuming that people will react negatively to the truth.

Do you suffer from conditional obedience? Do you have a willingness to serve God as long as it is in a particular location, with a specific group of people, in a specific way? Do you only serve God at your convenience? Sadly, some people will always find ways to avoid doing that which Jesus has commanded us to do and use the “inconvenience” of time, effort or money as an obstacle to prevents service for the Lord. You can create many barriers to keep you from sharing the Gospel, but when you are willing to tear those down, you will be amazed at what God can accomplish through you.

Are you passionately sharing the gospel? If not, identify the obstruction that stands in your way, and pray God will help you remove it. Read the Word and remembering the mission that Jesus gave you. God’s love covers the whole world, and He intends that everyone hear the good news - and He has chosen you to tell others!

Pastor Dean

19
apr

‘One generation from extinction!’

When we have holidays on our shared narrowboat in winter, the evenings are quite long as it gets dark early. One thing we often do at such times is to watch some of the old recordings that David has taken on his various camcorders over the years. Often we have no idea what is on the DVD’s that we set out to watch. This last time was no exception. We found ourselves watching, amongst other things, several church social events dating back to about 2002. Some of the clips were quite amusing, but as we watched, we found ourselves constantly commenting on the people filmed. ‘There’s my dad!’ ‘There’s Terry Stevens!’ ‘There’s Roger!’ and so on, as we watched friends who have since passed away. There were also people who have moved away, such as Mike and Beryl, or who are now ministering at other churches eg Derrick and Ann, Andy and Vanessa. By the end of the evening we had counted about 20 people who were in the church 10 years ago, who are now no longer with us for various reasons. Taken as a proportion of our church at the time, that is a huge loss. We are very grateful for all those who have since come into the church to make up those losses, so that we now have as many, if not more, attending than there were then. But it just served to emphasise how important it is to continue being a place where people can find their place in God’s family. If we become complacent, or decide that evangelism is too much effort, or is likely to cost too much in terms of the changes that may be necessary in order to accommodate the next generation, our churches will very quickly dwindle, and eventually die. If the human race decided to cease reproduction completely, it would be extinct after a generation. So, too, with churches. Whatever it takes, we must be prepared to use every opportunity to reach people who don’t yet know Jesus, and to make sure our churches are welcoming, so that people will want to come back again after their first visit.

Maureen Redbond

13
apr

Praise!

It’s great now that Spring is here and the mornings are getting lighter. It’s lovely to hear the birdsong – it really lifts my spirits – it’s almost as if creation is praising God for another day. As well as the birds singing, the wind whistles gently in the trees; the plants and trees turn their leaves and flowers towards the light; the bees buzz; and in some countries the bullfrogs croak and the cicadas sing. All around the world nature awakes and glorifies God.

Two lines of an old hymn used to say:
Shall all nature be vocal and sing,
yet no psalm of rejoicing from me?

So, is there a psalm of rejoicing from us? Do we respond to God at the beginning of each new day voicing our praises? Psalm 150 has something to say about this:

Who should praise God?
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

Why should we praise God?
The Sovereign Lord reigns in heaven and all is well.

How can we praise Him?
With instruments of all kinds, and with our voices – even noisy ones!

When should we praise Him?
Every day, without fail.

And guess what – just as the birdsong lifts my spirits, so also do my own praises to God. By thanking God that He is with me and He is Sovereign, I can face whatever the day holds in the knowledge that I can trust in Him. Praise the Lord!

Anne O'Brien

06
apr

What does the cross mean to you?

Many people in the world today view it as a symbol of Christianity, but stop and think about what it represented in Christ’s day. Nobody wore a miniature cross around the neck or displayed one in a place of worship. The cross was a torturous means of execution, and the mere thought of it was repulsive.

Yet believers throughout the ages have chosen this as the sign of their faith. In fact, to remove the cross from our teaching and theology would leave nothing but an empty, powerless religion. The subjects of death, blood, and sacrifice have become unpopular in many churches because they’re unpleasant and uncomfortable topics. We’d prefer to hear about the love of God, not the suffering of Jesus.

How could anyone be saved if Christ had not been crucified?

God would cease to be holy and just if no penalty was imposed for sin. According to the Bible, there can be no forgiveness without the shedding of blood (Hebrews. 9:22). Christ had to bear the punishment for our sin in order for God to grant us forgiveness.

Every time you see a cross, remember what it really was, an instrument of execution. Then thank Jesus that He was willing to be crucified so the Father could forgive you of sin. Though the scene of your redemption was horrendous, Christ turned the cross into a place of great triumph.

Pastor Dean

06
apr

Who is Jesus?


http://www.godstuffexplained.com/

01
apr

Expect the unexpected

I was so pleased with myself! Despite having had a late night, and the clocks going forward, I was up on time, had done most my jobs, and was out walking the dog, drinking tea from a travel cup, and texting my friend at the same time. Normally this is fine, us women are masters of multi tasking if nothing else! However, throw a cat into the mix ……

I wasn’t expecting my dog to come face to face with a cat, I wasn’t expecting her to decide to give chase, I wasn’t expecting the hand holding the mug of tea to suddenly shoot off at 40 mph, I wasn’t expecting the tea to fly into the air and land all down my coat, or for my phone to go in the same direction. I stood there for a few seconds, wet, dripping, in shock and remembered someone telling me this week how I am actually Super Woman, always in control of everything, and I laughed. If they could see me now!

In Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 we are told “The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favour to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come: as fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them”.

None of us knows what is around the corner, difficult times, financial hardship, illness, death or a CAT! All we can do is try to prepare our hearts to be in line with Gods, and ask him to stand by us with what the world throws at us. We may not always realise it, but he is there, always.

Samantha Murphy

22
mar

People Watching

Have you ever sat outside a busy café in a busy town? This is something Apryl and I did in France some years ago whilst on holiday with some friends from Westcliff Elim.

When you are on holiday you have all the time in the world to relax, we were just sitting outside this little café and watching people as they passed by. One thing we noticed was everyone seemed to be in a rush, men and women in suits rushing passed young people, old people, mums with children, a lot of people all rushing pass, nobody seemed to even notice us sitting and watching.

Sitting outside this little café sipping our lovely cup of coffee it was as though we were frozen in time just watching the world go past. Who are all these people and are they any different from us?

They all look just like you or me in appearance after all we are all human and I would like to think that most of these people were very nice people. So what makes us different from a lot of people in the world? We are Christians but how would anyone know this unless you told them, I suppose we could write, I am a Christian on our forehead but that would be a bit silly, we could walk around wearing one of those sandwich boards with a big sign saying, I’m a Christian, perhaps not, seriously how would anyone know you are a Christian?

In Mark 12:28-31. Jesus was asked, “What commandment is the most important of all? “Jesus answered, Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, The Lord is One. Loved the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” “The second is: Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Makes you think doesn’t it, being nice to the ones we love in our family’s and in our church is easy, if we want people to know we are different we must love our neighbour, that’s not just the people who live next door to you that’s everyone, Oh boy that’s hard, we need help.

How can we do this? Here’s a thought, if we all carried out just one act of kindness each day, we will be well on our way to doing what Jesus has asked us to do.

There’s an old saying, if you look like a duck, sound like a duck, you probably are a duck.

Remember a forest fire can be started by one tiny little match, one act of kindness will be noticed, believe me people will probably ask why are you doing this? Then you can tell them.

Pastor Paul

15
mar

Why? Why? Why?

As a parent, I hate it when my daughter shouts at me, and I fume when I get the “What Ever!” reply. So why do they do it? To annoy us? To test us?

One day we were having our regular daily discussion on why she couldn’t do things her way, and I just couldn’t get through to her. Suddenly I said it “What ever! Do it your way”. There it was. She says it because I do.

Our children learn from those around them, their friends, their TV heros, and most of all us, the parents.

Proverbs 22:6 says “Train a child in the way he should go”

So will I stop shouting at my daughter? Unlikely, I`m not perfect and am never likely to be, but I`m her Mother, the only one she has, so I owe it to her, myself and God to at least try and be a better role model. To think before I lose my temper, to listen to the words in my head before they leave my mouth, and to show her how to live a life according to His word, not just by words but by actions.

Samantha Murphy

11
mar

Musings of an ex agnostic.

I recently bought an album called “Playing in the Shadows” by Example. That information is probably meaningless to most of you, but the chorus to one of the songs called “The Way” goes as follows:

Cause we’re starving,

We’re hungry for more of the good stuff,

Thirsty for more of the bad stuff.

When you gonna show us the way?

When you gonna show us the way?

Show me the way to go home.

This got me thinking, what a great analogy this is for today’s world. People are craving something in their lives, but are they hungry for the good stuff or thirsty for the bad stuff, and how can they decide? As Christians, we are the light of the world and as such shouldn’t we be showing the way?

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”. Matthew 5: 14-16 (NIV)

So how are we supposed to shine? The best way is by example. Demonstrate love, show kindness and deal honestly with everyone; in other words live your life as Jesus lived his. Often people are not interested in what you say, but are more influenced by how Christianity works in your life.

Predominantly God has chosen to reach people through people, so it’s down to us to connect with them. We can make a difference in our society today. Smile, serve unselfishly, encourage always, show respect, give generously of yourself and shine brightly.

But remember, people can spot a fraud a mile away. The worst thing we can do is to say one thing and do another. If we don’t apply our Christian principles in our own lives, then we will not only be ineffective, but will be seen as insincere and hypocritical.

Kevin Holmes

04
mar

Is your smile real or just a disguise?

As you walk down the street do you ever look at people’s faces?

Maybe you see people who frown, people who smile or people who are devoid of expression. Often we make judgements based on what we see, if someone has a smile on their face we assume they are happy.

Smiles, makeup, and clothing can create an appearance of inner peace. Internally, though, a person may be very different on the inside, they may be sad, or screaming or feel chained by circumstance.

There are many things that try to steal our joy or distract us from our relationship with the Lord. But Christ’s death and resurrection free us when we accept His gift of forgiveness and place our trust in Him.

The Holy Spirit lives within each believer and provides the power to overcome wrong choices that seemed to “own” us. God enables us to do what He desires—by bringing immediate healing or by giving guidance and strength in the ongoing battle.

The Creator of mankind made us with a void in our hearts for Jesus to fill. Everything we put there—whether it seems like a good thing at the time or an obvious bad choice—will ultimately leave us empty and we will remain unsatisfied until we allow God to free us. A real living relationship with God is the only thing that can provide true satisfaction.

Are you one of those people who appear happy and seem to have life figured out, and yet inside feel uneasy and empty? Jesus Christ is the only One who can redeem you, forgive your sins, and fill the vacant place in your heart. Allow Him to fill you with joy today.

Pastor Dean

26
feb

Our Good Shepherd and our Great High Priest

Sometimes we, like sheep, lose our way and go astray. This might be the consequence of hardship, pain, difficulty, stress, relational problems or any number of things. And sadly when this happens we drift away from God, and we can miss out on the blessings that He has for us. But here is the wonderful thing: Jesus, our Good Shepherd, actively seeks us out so that He can bring us back into a place of protection and provision; a place of safety and green pastures – home.

Luke 15v5 (NIV) says: When He finds the sheep He joyfully puts it on His shoulders and goes home.

Jesus isn’t annoyed with us, He doesn’t say, “It serves you right”. He has been looking for us and waiting for us and He is pleased to gather us back into the safety of the fold. He doesn’t tell us where to go, or expect us to limp back home in our suffering state. He picks us up and puts us on His shoulders! He carries us and rejoices over us and protects us from any harm.

Exodus 28v9-12 (Paraphrase) says: Take two stones and engrave on them the names of the tribes of (the kingdom of) Israel – six on each stone. Fasten the two upon the shoulder straps of the ephod so that the High Priest will carry the names before the Lord in the Tabernacle.

Jesus is not just our Good Shepherd He is also our High Priest. He can never forget us and will never let us go. He carries the names of all who are in His Kingdom upon his shoulders even now in the heavenly Tabernacle. So we can be assured that we are His sheep, He knows each of us by name and He watches over us.

Anne O'Brien

17
feb

Unconditional Love

How does God love you? The Bible tells us that love is the very essence of who God is (1 John 4:7). So if you don’t believe that He loves you unconditionally, you’ll never really know Him or have genuine peace about your relationship with Him.

How do you define “love”? It is Jesus unselfishly reaching out to mankind, giving Himself to us and bringing good into our life regardless of whether or not we accept Him. Romans 5:8 tells us that His care and concern are so immeasurable that He laid down His life for us while we were still His enemies. In fact, the Bible says that He first began to express His love toward us before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-5). That means your actions had absolutely nothing to do with His love for you!

God’s commitment to us has absolutely no conditions or restrictions and isn’t based on whether we love Him back. Nor does He have more love for “good” people who may strike us as more worthy. He loves us even in our sin, even when we don’t repent. Does that give us license to disobey? No. It gives us power to live holy lives, walk obediently with Him, and learn to love Him the way He deserves. To follow Him is to receive the love He has been offering all along.

Every single moment, whether awake or asleep, we all live under the canopy of the Lord’s wondrous, absolute love for us. But to fully experience that love, you must receive it. Say yes to this amazing gift that God wants to pour out on you. Bask in it, and let it overflow to those around you.

Pastor Dean

11
feb

Have you ever been accused of being a narrow-minded Christian

Those who level such accusations certainly mean it as an insult. According to Jesus that’s the only way to walk if we want to experience abundant life now and eternal life with Him in heaven. It requires a deliberate choice on our part no one automatically drifts onto this pathway.

The broad way is easy to find. In fact, unless you make a conscious choice to avoid it, you’ll find yourself on it. Most people like this wide path because it encompasses all philosophies and belief systems. Everything is acceptable, and everyone’s “truth” is valid. It even seems like the loving path because no one is left out. There are no restrictions, and freedom is unlimited. Or is it?

What those who travel this road fail to realise is that it’s a downward descent into destruction. All the promises it gives of satisfaction and fulfilment end in disappointment because it’s a path without God. But those who enter by the narrow gate of faith in Christ find the peace and joy of a relationship with Him that satisfies the heart. The gate is small because truth guards the entrance. The way is narrow because the Lord protects us with wise boundaries.

Which path are you travelling? You can’t have one foot on each path because they’re going in opposite directions. When you tolerate everything, you’re headed for destruction. But when you choose the narrow way, your life truly begins. You’ll walk with Christ day by day until He walks you home to heaven.

Pastor Dean

05
feb

Wearing the Right Shoes

Some shoes can be a bit of a problem. Take trainers for instance. Most of them have a deep tread which gives you a good grip when running. But they also have a habit of picking up small stones and depositing them in your house. And then there are those work shoes with black rubber soles and heels. But sometimes, these innocent looking shoes leave black scuff marks on your nice new laminate flooring. And what about stilettos which look so beautiful and yet make nasty indentations in everything except carpet?

But consider what it would be like if we all had to wear sensible leather-soled, flat lace-up shoes ... or no shoes at all? Bare feet would be no good for running; or working on a building site; or for going out to a posh dinner. So we need more than one pair of shoes because each pair of shoes needs to be suited to its purpose. They are all important in their own way.

People are like shoes – all different and all with a purpose – and each of us is important. Do you know what your purpose or ministry is in the church? We don’t need everyone in the church to be exactly the same or to all do the same tasks and ministries. It wouldn’t work. It would be like the church only having one pair of shoes. Each person needs to be guided by the Holy Spirit into the work that is right for them. Because we are all unique we all have different things we can offer.

Ephesians 6v15 says: your feet should be fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Let’s understand that Paul was encouraging us to wear the right shoes – shoes that are ready to help spread the gospel. We all have our place in the scheme of things and together we can encourage each other and build the church up as we use our individual talents.

Anne O'Brien

26
jan

Do you look perfect?

There is a common misconception that believers should be perfect. Pretending to have our lives in order, many of us wear happy faces and speak words that sound acceptable. At times we’re ashamed to admit our shortcomings, as if they should not exist. Salvation through Jesus, however, doesn’t change the fact that sin is present in our life. When we’re born again, God forgives us and sees us as righteous. Yet our battle with sin continues till we arrive in Heaven.

In fact, striving for perfection actually can be a trap that pulls us away from living a godly life. Functioning in this way is a form of relying on our own capability. Jesus said that He came to heal the spiritually sick because they recognised their weakness. With an awareness of our inadequacy comes the realisation of our need for Him.

The world sees successful individuals as powerful and self-sufficient, but Jesus didn’t care about these qualities. Instead, He wants people to be aware of their own brokenness. This is the foundation for godliness.

We should accept our neediness and seek God passionately. Doing so allows the following attributes to develop: a hunger for God’s Word, faithful service, deepening trust, and decision-making based upon principle rather than preference. Patiently and mercifully, God matures us.

Be careful not to cover up your sins in order to look like a “good Christian.” Without recognition and confession of our sinfulness, we are unable to rely fully on God. It is only with this awareness that we can passionately seek Him, obey in His strength, and confess with repentance when we miss the mark.

Dean Courtier

22
jan

Risk Assessment

Let me tell you a few of the things that happened to me as a child: I was born at home, in a house with no inside toilet; I was frequently left outside shops in my pram while mum went inside to get her shopping; I walked to school from the age of 5, unaccompanied, along a busy main road; I climbed trees; I wandered alone in the fields near our house; I travelled in a minibus intended for 12, with about 20 other children, without a seatbelt; I rode a bicycle without a helmet; I helped the farmworkers with the harvest, and was driving a tractor at the age of 13; I ate food that had been bought from rather unhygienic market stalls. I could add many other instances of activities which would not now be permitted in our current risk-averse culture. I’m sure many of you can identify with these, and could add other reminiscences.

I survived!! I also enjoyed many exciting adventures during my potentially lethal childhood. It is not my intention to discuss the values or drawbacks of health and safety legislation; I simply want to point out that living is a dangerous business! If it were possible to eliminate all risk, we would be left with a very dull existence, and there would be no possibility of adventure.

Becoming a Christian is an adventure. Jesus offers us forgiveness, and the assurance of eternal life in God’s presence, completely free of charge, and all we have to do is ask him. However, there are many who are too afraid to take the risk. ‘What would my friends say?’ ‘How would it affect my social life?’ ‘What if I find it doesn’t suit me after all?’ They know it would be the best decision they could ever make, but are so worried about side issues that they keep putting it off. Accepting Jesus into your life is a step of faith, and the Bible tells us that, ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God.’ (Hebrews 11 : 6). It involves saying, ‘Okay, God, I’m in your hands now; I trust you with my life and future.’ You will survive, not only now, but for eternity. It is an exciting life, but don’t expect it to be dull, because, as it has often been pointed out, ‘faith’ is spelt ‘R-I-S-K’!

Maureen Redbond

13
jan

A Good Start to the Day

When I get up in the morning the first thing I enjoy is a nice cup of tea. Eight hours sleep may well be good for my mind and body so that I wake refreshed, but my dry mouth tells me that refreshment of a different kind is needed. Just a few hours without liquid has an effect on me. I may be rested, but without a hot drink I’m not ready to face the day.

Biologically, we are all made up largely of water. All the processes in our bodies require it. Lack of water – dehydration – can have a marked effect on our ability to function properly. How long can we go without water? The fact is, if we had no water for several days we would gradually cease to function altogether.

The Holy Spirit is as vital to our Christian lives as water is to our bodies. We need him every day and throughout each day in order to function well spiritually, because our spiritual life gets dry and suffers if we don’t frequently ask God to fill us anew. Being aware of being filled with the Holy Spirit enables us to cope with whatever the day throws at us. It enables us to be bold in our Christian witness, it enables us to resist temptation, it enables us to be used for God’s purposes.

And just as a nice cup of tea or coffee brings pleasure, or a long cool drink of water on a hot day brings refreshment, so the Holy Spirit fills us with joy, keeps us renewed and helps us to know that God’s presence is with us. So, when you have your morning cuppa, why not take a few minutes to ask the Holy Spirit to fill you and refresh you so that you will know his presence as you start your day.

Anne O'Brien

07
jan

Fresh Fire

FreshFire2012

As we enter this new year, we will be looking at the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and the prayer of the ministry team is that we will all know the impact of the Holy Spirit’s anointing upon our lives. Each month we will cover a different theme, as we look together at the work of the Holy Spirit revealed throughout the Bible. We will cover from the moment of creation in Genesis 1 when the Holy Spirit hovered over the waters and was involved in the creation of life, to the call of the Holy Spirit in Revelation 22 when he bids those who are thirsty to come.

On our narrow boat we have a solid fuel burner and it is always my delight in the cold weather to light the fire. Sometimes this is easier said than done. There have been times when, due to either damp wood or coal, the fire has sprung briefly into life only to be extinguished. On other occasions too much paper has been used and it has choked the life out of the fire. In cold weather we try to keep the fire in overnight, but if too much ash builds up then it cuts off the oxygen supply and the fire dies down and goes out. Also, if the coals become separated from one another, slowly each one cools and loses its flame.

This all illustrates how important it is to maintain the fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives and how easily we can quench the Spirit. When we allow things into our lives which take priority over the things of God the fire is dampened down and may go out; when our relationships are not right with each other the fire will die down; when we are no longer open to the wind of the Spirit blowing through our lives and the church, the fire can be extinguished.

However, when the fire burns brightly there is warmth as the love of God is seen and felt; there is life as the Holy Spirit speaks, inspires and impacts people’s lives; and there is the revelation of God’s power and glory as the kingdom is revealed, not in words spoken, but in the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit.

In the words of the hymn writer: God of Elijah, hear our cry: "Send the Fire!"

Pastor Dave

25
dec

Willing to wait

I hate waiting for things to happen. Whether it is a traffic jam or a queue at the supermarket checkout, it always leads me to feeling frustrated and thinking what a waste of time it is. And whoever came up with the idea of a ‘Waiting Room’? I don’t want to wait at all! I was only thinking how, as a child, it seemed that Christmas would never arrive. Preparations began in December, with the house being decorated and the list written to Father Christmas, letting him know the things I would like him to bring when he visited on Christmas Eve. It seemed to me that time just dragged by and that the great day of celebration would never arrive. Let me say that it is very different now and there never seems to be enough time to do everything! I remember how, early on Christmas morning, I would wake up and look at the bottom of my bed where my empty pillow case had been placed, to see if I had been good enough for a visit from Father Christmas, and the excitement of finding out what he had brought. The wait was finally over and it had been worth it all.

The Bible tells us of people who had been waiting for the fulfilment of God’s promise to send a Saviour into the world. Some had been waiting many years, but when they finally saw Jesus they were filled with joy and excitement. They understood that the promise had been fulfilled; the waiting had been worth it all. Here was the baby who would grow up to become the Saviour who would offer those who receive Him the gift of forgiveness and salvation.

At this Christmas time I do not know what you may be hoping for, but I trust it will be worth the wait. However, I do hope that you won’t wait to take the opportunity to receive the gift that God offers of forgiveness and eternal life, because I do know that He, in His love, is waiting for you.

Pastor Dave

18
dec

My Christmas Wish List

About September I make a Wish List of things I want to do by Christmas. Lose enough weight to get in the little black dress (you will know if I succeeded by what I am wearing today!), to clean the house inside out, to make my cake, pudding and mincemeat etc etc etc. It’s all the things I want to do, and should do, but life gets in the way!

Then, finally, December the 1st gets here and I panic, all those plans now seem impossible under the stress of shopping, packing, wrapping and planning our Christmas celebrations. So they get put off till New Year. Then we start again, and on it goes.

God doesn’t ask us to be the perfect housewife, husband, cleaner, parent, carer, friend or party planner. He does tell us to have fun! That’s right... The Bible tells says “Eat your food with gladness” and “Enjoy Life” (Ecclesiastes Ch 9).

I don’t remember my children ever saying “I remember how wonderful the house was when it was clean” or “Didn’t we have a lovely Christmas when you wore that dress”. They do laugh and tell me about the snowball fights in the lounge, or the people we have shared our Christmas Dinner with.

This year let’s get our heads straight. It’s about celebrating the coming of our King with those we love and care about, family, friends and neighbours. Not the impossible lists of chores we can never actually get done. So you are all let off the cleaning till January!!

Samantha Murphy

11
dec

Gifts

Do you enjoy shopping for Christmas gifts? How many shops do we search so that we can give gifts to those we love? But we don’t mind, do we? We would do it all again. Fact is, we do it all again. Every Christmas, every birthday, every so often we find ourselves in foreign territory. Adults are in toy stores. Wives are in the men’s department, and husbands are in the perfume department.

And we’d do it all again. We are at our best when we are giving. In fact, we are most like God when we are giving. Have you ever wondered why God gives so much? We could exist on far less. He could have left the world flat and gray; we wouldn’t have known the difference. But he didn’t.

He splashed orange in the sunrise and cast the sky in blue.

And if you love to see geese as they gather, chances are you’ll see that too.

Did he have to make the squirrel’s tail furry?

Was he obliged to make the birds sing?

And the funny way that chickens scurry or the majesty of thunder when it rings?

Why give a flower fragrance? Why give food its taste?

Could it be he loves to see that look upon your face?

If we give gifts to show our love, how much more would He?

If we love to give gifts, how much more does God, pure and perfect God, enjoy giving gifts to us? Jesus asked, “If you hardhearted, sinful men know how to give good gifts to your children, won’t your Father in heaven even more certainly give good gifts to those who ask him for them?” (Matthew 7:11 TLB).

God’s gifts shed light on God’s heart, God’s good and generous heart. James tells us: “Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light” (James 1:17 MSG). Every gift reveals God’s love but no gift reveals his love more than the gifts of the cross. They came, not wrapped in paper, but in passion. Not placed around a tree, but a cross. And not covered with ribbons, but sprinkled with blood.

Pastor Dean

02
dec

Reflection

Whether we like it or not, the years roll by and we all find ourselves at the next milestone in life. I can remember vividly being 10 and getting excited to be in “double figures” then 13 (a real teenager);18 now able to vote and pass my Driving Test.

20, 30, 40, 50 more milestones and celebrations too. 60 now the new 50; 65, the age we have always considered to mean retirement - but not for all!

John Clayton is 100 years old. He has lived through 2 World Wars. Having been in Ministry for 75 years, he has preached more than 4000 Sermons. Some of the many changes in this nation he has seen are : Benefit System introduced; Education reform; Politics!; Housing; Recession and its repercussions. So many changes, but Jesus never changes.

In the 1930’s times were so bad that one Christmas John himself purchased a gift for every child in his Parish and then delivered them to the local Schools. This is true faith expressing God’s love to people needing to know they are not forgotten.

John says we need to be salt and light in our Communities. Today, he says, the biggest challenge to the Church is for people to realise that this life matters, for there is another life for which we are in training. Has he any regrets? “Only that it would have been to be bolder in speaking out when it comes to the Good News of Jesus Christ”, he said.

This story encouraged me to keep going, I hope it encourages you too, for what is Retirement?—Just a word? And the age we are is really only a number.

As I reflect on John’s amazing story I am reminded of Jesus’s words in Matthew 28:18—20 “Go, therefore, and make Disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I will be with you always to the close of the age”

Andrea James

27
nov

Advent

Today marks the beginning of Advent – a period of four weeks (beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas through to Christmas Eve), during which we can focus on the hope brought to our world through the coming Jesus, and the effect that has had on us.

When Christians first started practicing an Advent time in the fourth century, they viewed it not only as preparation for celebrating Jesus’ birth but also as a time of looking forward to His second coming. They found hope and cheer in the sure promise of His return.

The gospel of Luke describes “the glory of the Lord” that shone around the shepherds when the angel announced the Saviour’s birth (2:9). Luke also records Jesus’ promise that He will return “with power and great glory” (21:27). These two events frame the purpose for which the Son of God came into the world.

In Latin “Advent” means “a coming.” The weeks before Christmas can be a wonderful season of repentance and expectation as we celebrate our Lord’s first advent in Bethlehem and anticipate His second advent when He returns in glory. Remember Christ has come! Christ is coming again!

A Christian songwriter include these words in one of his songs:

The first time Jesus came to earth,

Humble was His story;

But He has promised to return,

With power and great glory.

Take time this Advent season to reflect the wonder of Christ’s first coming, thank God for sending His Son to our Saviour, but live also in the expectation of His glorious second coming

Pastor Tony

17
nov

When life gets tough

In general people don’t like to be out of control of their lives. As Christians, we don’t like being out of control of our lives.

But in life we are not always in control of everything, for instance we are not in control of the weather, as I was writing this Devotional Southend Elim nursery called me on the phone, they were in a panic, there was a burst water pipe leaking water everywhere. Sometimes things don’t always go how we would like them to.

If you are a Christian, sometime in the past you would have made a commitment to Jesus whether this was many years ago or just last week. When we make this decision we are saying to God, “Please forgive me for all the things that I have done that offend YOU, I want YOU to come into my life, mould me, melt me, help me to be more like YOU. I give my life to YOU.” Well something like that.

So we are supposed to hand everything over to God!

But do we really hand everything over to God? If we really have handed everything over to God then we wouldn’t want to be in control of our lives.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight (Proverbs 3: 5-6 NIV)

This is wise advice from our heavenly Father, like children we do not always listen.

God sometimes allows life to get tough for us; the Bible calls this adversity (when various trials come our way.) In James 1: 2-3 it says consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

In layman’s language God knows how to gets our attention.

You see God loves us so much that He corrects us when we need correcting:

It will make us grow spiritually.

It will bring us closer to Him.

It will assure us of His Love.

So next time something happens to you which is totally out of your control, hand it all over to your heavenly Father. Because He cares for you.

Pastor Paul

11
nov

Remember

Seek the LORD, and His strength: seek His face evermore. Remember His marvelous works that He hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of His mouth... He hath remembered His covenant for ever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations.

(Psalm 105:4,5,8)

Remembrance Day is set aside to remember those who have given their lives for the freedom of others. Sadly for many the day will pass without them even giving any thought to the real meaning of the day.

Remembering does many things. It brings us back to the reality of what actually happened. It encourages us to see the dedication of those who fought and died. Remembering should stir within us a sense of gratitude and appreciation, and it should strengthen our own resolve to do our part in serving God and others.

Throughout the Bible, God’s people are instructed to stop and recall what He did for them. Psalm 105 is a song of remembrance of God’s goodness to His beloved ones. It traces His direction, provision and protection through their history and the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. As believers in the 21st century, we can look back over a much longer history and see how God’s plan has and is unfolding, and observe His incredible goodness to us.

Psalm 105:1-5 shows the natural progression of what happens when we pause to remember—we give thanks to Him and continue calling on Him. We sing of Him, and talk with other believers of all He has done. Then we must go tell others of His greatness. When you stop to trace the work of God’s hand in your life and in the world around you, these things should just come naturally.

But the key to being able to rejoice in the past is not found in counting the number of good things that have happened, but in remembering that God remembers! You can rejoice because He never forgets His plan and He never forsakes His promises. Even when life is tough and things don’t seem to make sense to you, rest assured that He is in control and He is working out His plan. He has your best interest at heart. Knowing this should encourage and strengthen you to do your best to live for Him.

Pastor Dean

03
nov

Change! What is change? Do we like it?

Maybe we don’t want to face change, but change is inevitable. Just as we think we have cracked a challenge, or mastered a skill, or we are comfortable in our skin, something new comes along. Does this sort of thing just happen to me? Or is that your experience too?

Does change, change who we are? No I don’t think it does. It is all part of growing in God. Recently I read “Learn to build your life around your person, not your role, otherwise when you make changes your will lose your sense of worth”

In chapter 1 of the book of Ruth we read about the circumstances Naomi found herself in. She had lost her husband and her two sons and so she changed her name to Mara, which means bitterness. Naomi was sad too, her role in life had gone.

But God still had a lot for Naomi to do. She would in due course mentor Ruth, her daughter-in-law. Later Ruth’s son would grow up to be part of the lineage of King David and our Lord Jesus.

What is your next assignment? Discover it and gather up your assets. Keep living and giving. However young or old we are we can never say “I have seen it all”

Naomi’s story is so encouraging, as she proved God can do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.

We don’t know what God will do with our lives in the future, but He has a way of saving the best for the last. Remember the new role He blessed Naomi with?

CHANGE IS EXCITING !.

Andrea James

29
oct

When life happens...

As we all know too well, life often confronts us with unexpected or painful circumstances. Sometimes these situations leave us feeling fearful, discouraged, and frustrated. Consequently, we may question whether the Lord truly is reliable.

During such troubling moments, we can rest on this essential truth: The Lord is perfect in His love. Consider verse 5 from 1 John 1: "God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all." In other words, everything our heavenly Father does is righteous. And if He is a God of love, then it is impossible for Him to mistreat any of His children. We can be assured that whatever He places or permits in our lives is good and that His motives are perfectly pure.

Jesus demonstrated this deep care for us when He offered His blood on the cross—there exists no greater display of love than giving one's life for someone else (John 15:13). Our sin debt could be paid only with a flawless sacrifice (Deut. 17:1). Christ, the perfect lamb, was willing to die in our place so that we could have an eternal relationship with the Father. If God gave us His Son—the most precious and amazing gift possible—to take care of our greatest need, then we can trust Him to provide for all areas of our life.

When difficulty arises, remember how much God loves you. He proved this by willingly giving His Son to take the penalty for your sin. Even when circumstances are painful, you can be confident that you are held in the capable and caring hands of your heavenly Father, because of His love.

Pastor Dean

21
oct

Joy equals Jesus first

We listen to many people as we go about our daily life, and we are often ready to pass comment or judge them for what they have said. But do we ever listen to ourselves? I wonder what our verdict would be if someone recorded everything we said for a day and then played it back to us. I think I might find that a very uncomfortable experience! Here’s a checklist we might use on ourselves:

• How often did we talk about ourselves and our needs?

• How often did we identify the needs of others?

• How often did we refer to the Lord?

• How much time did we spend talking to the Lord?

• How many kind words did we speak?

• How many judgmental things did we say?

• Was our speech full of thankfulness ...

• ... or were we complaining and ungrateful?

If we think about these points we can probably identify our priorities in life, the people or things that are most important to us. Do our thoughts and speech revolve around ourselves, or others, or the Lord? When I was very much younger we were taught that the way to know joy in your life was to make an acronym of that word JOY. So that JOY equals:

JESUS

OTHERS

YOURSELVES

– in that order. It is not always easy, especially if we have a lot of pain and trouble in our lives, but it is true. Look at some of the joyful Christians in our fellowship and work it out!

Anne O'Brien

13
oct

What are you holding?

I recently was reading an account of two of God’s servants who thought they hadn’t the correct skills to use for God.

Often people think there must be a large financial resource , talented manpower and boundless ideas, however God does not see it like this But look at these two men how God used them. Shamgar (found in Judges 3) delivered Israel from the philistines single handed. Killing 600 Philistines with only his ox goad( a stick sharpen on one end to drive slow moving animals).

Moses was afraid that people wouldn’t listen to him or follow him when God asked him to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt What’s in your hand asked God A rod came the reply God used that rod to turn the Nile into blood, to bring plagues on Egypt , part the Red sea and to perform miracles in the wilderness.

When the rod and ox goad was given over to God they became mighty tools. So what is in your hand, what can you give over to God to become that mighty tool for Him to use. Not many walk around with a goad or a rod but we do have pens to write letters, phones to use and bring encouragement to someone, we could bake a cake or mow a lawn. We could use our home for hospitality.

Whatever God is asking of you he will have given you the means to do it, we just need to be obedient. Believe that He can though you.

Brenda Tween

06
oct

Musings of an ex-agnostic.

An agnostic does not deny the existence of God and heaven but holds that one cannot know for certain whether or not they exist. By definition therefore, as an agnostic, sitting on the fence was a natural state for me. But now, as a Christian, should I sit on the sidelines watching but not wanting to get involved?

I have often heard Christians talk about how things should be, how we need to reach out to people. Unfortunately, sometimes the biggest obstacle to people finding God is Christians, who have so much to say with their mouths and yet so little to show with their lives.

The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of my favourites. Essentially, a man is beaten and left for dead by the side of the road; a Priest and a Levite walk by; then a Samaritan stops and takes care of the beaten man. As far as the religious leaders were concerned, Samaritans didn’t keep the laws and their doctrine was unsound. Because the good man in the story was a Samaritan, Jesus is drawing a strong contrast between those who knew the law and those who actually followed the law in their lifestyle and conduct.

God is just as likely to work through a Samaritan or a prostitute as a Priest. There are many examples in the Bible of God using very ordinary people like the prostitute Rahab or an adulterous king named David. God even speaks to Balaam through his donkey.

God can make use of the simplest situations. Had it not been for a cup of coffee and chat one Tuesday morning Annie and I may never have become members of this Church.

Kevin Holmes

29
sep

It's not fair!

How many times have you heard those words, or perhaps used them yourself? Having worked in the Health Service for many years, I heard it a lot from people who, although doing similar jobs, were paid differently based on years of service or additional qualifications etc.

In Matthew chapter 20, Jesus relates a parable, which at first sight could cause us to cry “It’s not fair!” A landowner goes out early in the morning and hires workers for his vineyard offering them a normal day’s wage. During the course of the day, as the sundial moves through 9am, 12 noon, 3pm, he continues to engage extra workers. He agrees to pay them whatever is right at the end of the day. Finally, at 5pm, he sees some more people standing around and offers them work for the remainder of that day.

That evening the landowner instructs the foreman to assemble the workers and pay them, starting with those hired last. Although they had only worked a very short shift they received a full day’s wages.

When those workers, who had slaved away in the hot sun all day, received their wages they expected to receive much more. They only received the same amount (which is what they had agreed to).I’m sure they felt and probably said, “It’s not fair!”

So what can we learn from this. God’s gift of eternal life, through Jesus’ death on the cross is for everyone. Maybe you’ve been on the Christian road, slaving away year after year, like the first workers in the story. If you have, praise God for keeping you over the years. However, when someone new comes along, gives their life to God and He starts blessing them, don’t say “It’s not fair,” rejoice with them. They may have only recently found The Lord, but God wants to pour out His blessings on all of us, young and old, new convert or long time Christian. That’s fair isn’t it?

Dave Berrington

25
sep

Waiting for God to answer

"I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry." Psalm 40:1

Practicing patience is hard work! This is especially true when we are waiting upon the Lord, who keeps to His own timetable. But believers who trust God to deliver are richly rewarded with the desires of their heart.

A person’s willingness to wait reveals the value of what he or she desires. No one goes wrong waiting for the Lord to send His best in His perfect timing. Of course, believers don’t receive everything they request. At times God simply says no. In other cases, He adjusts our desire to match His own.

In our humanness, we can’t possibly know all the details of a situation. So we ask for what we think we need, based on our limited information. A submissive heart accepts the omnipotent Father’s gentle redirection. When the awaited object of desire comes, it may not look like what the believer originally requested, but it will be exactly what he or she needs.

Waiting patiently on the Lord is an awesome witness. When He responds, others see the reality of God, His faithfulness, and the wisdom of our commitment. In addition, our own faith is strengthened. Fools rush to seize their prize. But wise believers know that blessing will come in God’s good time.

Pastor Dean

18
sep

Free Popcorn!

‘Buy one, get one free!’ ‘Free dinosaur keyring with every purchase!’ When I spot a sign advertising something that is free, I tend to think, ‘Can’t be worth much,’ or, ‘So, what’s the catch?’ David, on the other hand, cannot resist anything that is free. He may not want a dinosaur keyring, but it’s free, so he mustn’t miss out. We recently took our daughter Linda to the cinema. Having purchased our tickets, David discovered that we were each entitled to a free soft drink and a large bucket of popcorn. Now, I can’t stand popcorn – it never ceases to amaze me that something so smelly and messy has become the standard food to eat in cinemas – and Linda doesn’t like it either. David will eat it, but I have never known him buy any. I also dislike fizzy drinks. However, David was adamant that he was not going to miss something that was free, and proceeded to request the three buckets of popcorn and the three large cardboard cups of Pepsi to which we were entitled. At this point, Linda and I, very embarrassed, decided we were having nothing to do with it, and went to find our seats in the cinema. If you ask him nicely, he might tell you the rest of the story – with appropriate exaggeration. Shall we just say that now, nearly three weeks later, David is still eating stale popcorn!

The salvation that Jesus offers us, the forgiveness and peace of heart and mind, the assurance of eternal life, and all the joy of belonging to the family of God – it is all completely free! The price was paid when Jesus died on the cross, taking the punishment for our sin. So, why are people not queueing up to take advantage of it? For many people, there is the suspicion that anything that is free must be of little value, or that there is some catch involved. In fact, many people would much rather pay for their salvation, or earn it in some way by doing good deeds. But the Bible says, ‘It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no-one can boast.’ (Ephesians 2 : 8-9) In fact, it is not worthless, but priceless. We could never earn or buy our salvation. So don’t miss out – it really is free!

Maureen Redbond

09
sep

Springs!

When we were walking in the Peak District several years ago, we arrived at a place where it began to get distinctly wet underfoot. Wondering why, we consulted our Ordnance Survey Map. We found we were standing in a place marked “springs”! And sure enough, when we looked around, there were places where we could see the water literally bubbling up out of the earth. We had stumbled across the source of a river. And it struck me that the river’s source seemed very small compared to its outflow into the sea. As a spring feeds a stream (which naturally widens into a river as other streams and tributaries flow into it) so the amount of water increases. Together, the accumulation of water can become a mighty force: cleansing, refreshing and sustaining everything in its path.

The Holy Spirit is like a spring, bubbling up in each of us. As we allow it to flow out from us it touches the “ground” around us. It is noticeable to any who come near. And as we worship and work together in unity, so our small stream joins with others to become a rushing river, which can bring cleansing and refreshing to everyone it touches. The river of God’s Holy Spirit is the place of life and sustenance, not just for Christians but for all the areas it touches. Are we a part of that glorious river? All we have to do is to be willing for the Holy Spirit to “bubble up” in us, and then simply let it flow out from us. Jesus tells us in John chapter 4 verse 14 that the water he gives us will become in us a spring of water welling up to eternal life. Don’t let us bottle it up – as some do with spring water to make money – but may it be a continuous outpouring that we enjoy, and that we freely and generously share with others.

Anne O'Brien

01
sep

Heart to Heart

It was the first week at my new job in the city. I’d never worked in London before and was getting used to the hustle and bustle of the City of London. Even the train journey was exciting – a whole hour to sit down and read a book, and the best bit, you got to do it all over again on the way back. It was heaven for me (well, pretty close anyway!). Work was ok, and I got on well with most of my team. I even had a namesake, another Simon in the team, but he was nothing like me. He had waist length hair, an earring and very different tastes in music. It was just a shame that there weren’t any other Christians in the team. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Simon, like me, followed Jesus. Over time we became good friends, our love for Jesus overcoming the differences that I’d initially focused on. It taught me a lesson that when we say ‘Yes!’ to God, he’s looking at what’s in our heart, what’s inside, not how we look, what music we like or how long our hair is!

“Accept one another then just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:5-7)

Pastor Simon

26
aug

Satisfied?

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.” (Isaiah 55:1-2)

Have you ever found yourself standing in front of the fridge, trying to find something to satisfy a vague sense of emptiness or discontent? You aren’t looking for anything specific, but you know you want to fill a longing. Whatever you choose will probably not do the trick, because the empty spot is not in your stomach but in your soul.

Whether the substance is food, career, possessions, or relationships, our souls are continually trying to find satisfaction. But nothing in this world will fill the void. Since we were created for relationship with God, He placed deep within us a yearning for Him. Though we may not recognise it as such, everyone knows the feeling of dissatisfaction that at time seeps into our souls. Whenever we attempt to find fulfilment with worldly substitutes, disappointment and disillusionment are sure to follow.

There are two possible menus from which we can choose to fill our empty souls. The world’s menu is long and full of enticing things that seem to promise fulfilment and pleasure. These could include relationships, prominence, acceptance, riches, or recognition. But God’s menu is quite small. In fact, it lists just one “item”—Jesus. He is the only one who can fill the void.

What are you pursuing in life? Have you found the satisfaction you seek, or is there always a vague sense of discontent in your soul? If you will allow Jesus a bigger place in your life and spend focused, quality time with Him, He’ll satisfy you as nothing else can.

Pastor Dean

21
aug

A heart that pleases God

Our calling as Christians is to imitate Jesus Christ, but what big footsteps He left! The heavenly Father attested several times in the Scriptures, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:17). How can we live up to that?

God does not expect us to be perfect like Jesus. He sees us as children who are still learning. Just like a parent who rejoices over baby’s first steps, so our heavenly Father delights in our steps of obedience as we seek to walk with Him.

The goal is growth. Once a toddler masters walking, his parents’ delight shifts to more mature achievements like running. As long as we keep growing in our faith, we will never cease learning new ways to please our Father. He loves us and patiently cheers us on at each new level of maturity.

What’s important to the Lord is our hearts. Amidst all our frailties, failures, and temptations, He sees the desires of our hearts and knows how much we love Him and want to be obedient. Even in our stumbling, He helps us up and encourages us with His Word.

You are far more pleasing to the Lord than you think. Learn to see yourself through His eyes. He’s waiting to help you develop into the person He designed you to be.

Pastor Dean

14
aug

Fruit and Gifts

What is the relationship between the Fruit of the Spirit and the Gift of the Spirit?

The fruit of the Spirit is your character. Your character is defined “habitually doing the right thing in the right way.” “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance (self control)” (Galatians 5:22, 23).

The gift of the Spirit is your ability to serve the Lord in His strength. I like the way the Living Bible explains it: “Now God gives us many kinds of special abilities, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service to God, but it is the same Lord we are serving. There are many ways in which God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work in all through all of us who are His. The Holy Spirit displays God’s power through each of us as a means of helping the entire church” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).

God will and does use your character (spiritual fruit) even when you serve God where you are not gifted. God will and does use your spiritual gift, even when you lack character. God’s blessing is on those whose gifts and character are a perfect match.

Pastor Dean

07
aug

Keep on going!

Did you know that the A-Z street map books are all down to the work of one person? A certain lady, called Phyllis Pearsall, got lost in London one day back in 1935 when she was trying to find her way around using only an outdated street map. Borne out of her frustration was the determination to design and create a newer, better one. Her father, who coincidentally owned a mapping business, lent her the wherewithal to embark on what turned out to be a massive undertaking.

With commendable endeavour she walked every street in London, rising at 5a.m. every morning in order to fit in an 18 hour day. To achieve her goal she steadfastly walked, little by little, a total of 3,000 miles. When she had listed every single street, she proof-read the book herself and had 10,000 copies printed. What an achievement! This initial success has been replicated over the years and has been extended to cover many other towns and cities, too.

We may feel that the little we do doesn’t amount to much, but all the little bits add up. Ethel West used to painstakingly soak stamps off envelopes so that they could be sold to help our Elim missionaries. She may have only made a few pence in a day. But over the years, she made hundreds of pounds for the work of God. Maureen now continues this valuable work in a different format by selling people’s unwanted goods on Ebay. Sometimes the amount raised is small compared to the amount of work involved. But over the last few years, little by little, she has raised a total amount of £9,873!! (£5,835 to Elim Missions and £4,038 to Bulgaria)

In the book of Zechariah it tells us we should “not despise the day of small things”, because when we are working for God he can, and will, help us achieve great things for him. This was in relation to the rebuilding of the Temple. Be encouraged because the little things you do – offering friendship, caring, sharing a word from the Lord, praying for one another – are the small things that God will use to build his Temple, his church today. So don’t give up. Be like Phyllis Pearsall and Maureen – keep going until your work is done!

Anne O'Brien

31
jul

Our kinsman redeemer

Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel. So when the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal. Ruth 4:7-8

In Ruth 4, we are presented with an interesting custom from the days of the Old Testament. If a man’s brother died childless, it was the responsibility of a near kinsman… a brother or another close relative… to redeem the wife. That is, to purchase the land that her husband would have enjoyed and to become her husband and carry on the line of that man.

Boaz was a near kinsman and wanted to redeem Ruth. He loved Ruth… and he wanted to take her as his bride. But according to Jewish law, there was a nearer kinsman, someone who was closer to Ruth, so Boaz had to deal with this nearer kinsman. He had to make sure that this man signed off in order that he could marry Ruth.

This is part of the scene we see in the verses above. When a redeemer was unwilling to redeem or to transact business, it was the custom of the man to take off his sandal and give it to the man who would redeem; and the man who would redeem would slip on that sandal as a sign of his willingness to stand in that man’s shoes and to redeem and purchase what was rightfully his.

What Boaz did for Ruth is a vivid illustration of what Jesus Christ did for you and me on the cross. We, the near kinsman, cannot save ourselves, so we take off our shoe and give it to Christ. Praise God for the salvation we have as believers: Jesus standing in our shoes and us standing in His!

Pastor Dean

24
jul

Go for it!

When I travelled to Bulgaria a couple of weeks ago, I and the other volunteers had been given a programme. We knew where we were going, which children we would be entertaining, and what each day’s schedule would be. Within minutes of meeting with the Director of Star of Hope at Sofia airport, we knew it would all be changed. At first it was just that we would be dealing with a different group of children, but as the week progressed, more and more of our programme had to be abandoned, as we had to adjust to constantly changing situations. At the end of it, we were all convinced that God had been at work, and that our visit had achieved what he had decided needed to be done.

Many Christians wait for some direct indication of God’s guidance before they step out to do anything for Him. I would argue that, just as it is impossible to steer a stationary ship, the best way to experience God’s guidance is to start doing something! God is quite able to redirect us, to close doors, or to open different opportunities, if we are genuinely wishing to serve him. As a church group, we are involved in several outreach projects. These are sometimes successful in reaching people who are not yet Christians. However, some of the people who are coming into our fellowships at the moment are making contact of their own accord, and we are just amazed at how God is leading them to us. I am convinced that, as long as we are doing our best to reach out to people, even if our own ideas do not bear fruit, he can steer us in some way to the people who are seeking for him.

The worst thing we can do is nothing. Have dreams and ideas, go for it, then be flexible!

Maureen Redbond

17
jul

Spreading the Good News (Acts 14:21-23)

Saul of Tarsus underwent a radical transformation—the zealous persecutor of Christians became a passionate follower of Christ. Later known as Paul, he dedicated his time, energy, and talent to spreading the gospel message.

What motivated him to surrender his life wholeheartedly to Jesus?

Jesus’ sacrifice of love. Before salvation, Paul had opposed all who believed in Jesus as the Messiah. At his conversion, this persecutor of Christians realised that Christ willingly died on the cross because of His love for mankind. Jesus left His heavenly home, suffered, and died so we might be reconciled to God. The Lord’s sacrifice on the cross motivated the apostle to tell others about His all-encompassing love (Eph. 3:18).

Gratitude for salvation. On the road to Damascus, Christ’s enemy became a member of His family. Paul called himself the worst of sinners, acknowledging that he was unworthy of salvation and undeserving of mercy or favour (1 Tim. 1:15-16). It was gratitude for salvation that fuelled his devotion and dedication to the cause of Christ.

The power of the gospel to transform lives. The apostle’s own experience made him long to see others rescued from slavery to sin so they might experience God’s grace. He wanted many to benefit from the saving and transforming power of the gospel

We’ve been entrusted with the responsibility of spreading the gospel. When inadequacy, doubt, or complacency keeps us silent, let’s remember what motivated Paul. Then imagine a day when loved ones will experience the peace of God, the love of Christ, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

Pastor Dean

10
jul

What is your story?

Recently I met a man who had been addicted to drugs and was leading a hopeless life when he had a coversation with a friend about Jesus. He said that one conversation led him to place his trust in Jesus. The man was saved, and God transformed his life.

Every believer has a story. The more we surrender to God, the greater our ability to see His hand in our life. And the more we watch Him work, the stronger our desire to share with others all that He has done.

The same was true of the early disciples. A small crowd gathered around Jesus before His ascension. They heard His command to spread the gospel around the globe, making disciples and baptising people from all nations. Surely this seemed like an overwhelming task for a handful of followers, but they obeyed. Their personal experiences with Christ undoubtedly motivated them to share the good news, and they also must have gained confidence from Jesus’ promise of His presence and power.

We, too, should be taking Christ’s command seriously. One of our highest responsibilities as believers is to tell others about Him. As was true for the early Christians, our own experience with the Saviour is the most exciting and convincing story to share.

Are you passionately telling others about Christ? Loving God involves not just having a personal relationship with Jesus but also sharing Him with others. The world around you needs the power of Christ. Let the Holy Spirit guide and enable you to share effectively with those around you.

Pastor Dean

03
jul

Actions speak louder than words

The people served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel. After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:7,10)

God has handed to each of us a torch to carry for him. That torch is the light of the Gospel, the knowledge of God and His ways, and the Word of God. It is put into our hands and our hearts by the Holy Ghost and the fire is ignited so that we may burn as lights in a sin darkened world. Each of us are to let our light shine that all men can see Jesus in us and then we are told to run with it and to pass it on to the next generation so that we will not forget God.

How could a nation that had experienced all of the miracles that God had done for Israel, and had seen the presence of God in the pillar of fire and cloud, and had known the power of God in such greatness, not pass along the torch of the knowledge and love of God to their children?

It seems so impossible that the very next generation after Joshua’s generation, would completely forget God and not know about anything that God had done in the past. Could it be that Israel failed to talk about God in the home? Were they so worldly minded that they failed to even teach their children that God existed?

I believe that Joshua’s generation tried to turn around. God honoured them, but the damage to their children was already done. Though the words of their parents praised and honoured God, the children saw their actions. Actions speak louder than words.

We can talk about Jesus, claim to know and love him, and say that we are serving him, but are our actions proving it to be true. The next generation will learn from what we do more than from what we say. Are we passing the torch?

We can’t allow the light of the gospel to be extinguished. We must do everything we can to be a torchbearer and then to try to pass that light on to the next generation as well.

Pastor Dean

26
jun

Salvation is…

For everyone (Acts 10:34-35) – God will accept all who repent and turn to Him.

From God (Acts 10:36) – God is the one who initiated this reconciliation between Himself and mankind. We could do nothing to change our fate.

Through Jesus (Acts 10:36) – Jesus is the Lamb which God promised to take away the sins of the world. There is no other way.

Evidenced by the Spirit (Acts 10:38) – The Holy Spirit empowered Jesus ministry in the flesh just as He empowers us to continue that ministry today.

Witnessed by the apostles (Acts 10:39) – The apostles saw the things which Jesus did up to and including His death and resurrection. We are witnesses to great things as well by giving testimony to the way He has changed our lives and the lives of those around us because of His death and resurrection.

Provided through crucifixion (Acts 10:39) – Our salvation comes through Christ’s death on the cross for our sin. God’s justice was satisfied completely.

Proved in resurrection (Acts 10:40) – While the work for salvation was finished on the cross, the proof that it was really finished is given in the resurrection. Death, the grave, and hell have no power over those who are in Christ. We have assurance and hope as a result.

Preached by believers (Acts 10:42) – We are commanded to proclaim this good news to all people just as the apostles were.

The only way to receive forgiveness (Acts 10:42-43) – We are to accept the message of the gospel and trust in Jesus.

In Jesus alone. Praise God “that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43)

Pastor Dean

19
jun

What is 'passion'?

‘Consuming Fire, fan into flame a passion for your Name.’

These are some of the words we sing in one of the newer songs we have learnt. As I was singing it recently, I started to think about what it would actually mean to have a ‘passion’ for the Name of Jesus. Perhaps I already know – because, quite unexpectedly, at the age of 60, I developed a passion for the cello! Let me tell you what that means:

1. I will spend as much time as I possibly can practising and playing the cello. Sometimes that means choosing not to do other things that I enjoy.

2. When I am not playing it, I am very often thinking about it, working out fingering and harmonies.

3. I will go out of my way to hear others play the cello, and find myself listening specifically for it if I’m listening to orchestral music.

4. I’m prepared to spend money on cello equipment, music, and lessons.

5. Even physical discomfort is acceptable – sore fingers being an example!

6. I just love talking about it & will try to steer a conversation around to it if I can.

7. Even though I know I will never be a virtuoso cellist, I will take any opportunity to demonstrate the skill I have so far achieved.

Do you get the picture? That is what passion looks like, and even as I write this, I am challenged about how my passion for Jesus matches up with this description. But this article is not intended to send anyone on a guilt-trip. If you feel that your enthusiasm for God and what He means to you has waned – or has never been particularly strong – the answer is found later in the song. It is a prayer which, if prayed with sincerity, will be answered, as the Holy Spirit comes to:-

‘Stir it up in our hearts, Lord, A passion for your Name’

Maureen Redbond

12
jun

Disastrous Drought

The pictures on the television showed vividly the effect of the drought. The farmer tried to push his spade into the soil but it was rock hard. The crops were stunted and would not produce the expected yield and in some cases were dying from the lack of water. In my garden cracks have appeared in the lawns and to keep the pots from drying out I need to keep watering them.

We are celebrating Pentecost which reminds us of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Christians gathered in the upper room. The Apostle Paul reminds us that being filled with the Holy Spirit should be an ongoing experience. The Holy Spirit refreshes us and renews us. Our lives are impacted when the Holy Spirit comes and fills us. If we do not continue to receive the Holy Spirits filling we enter a spiritual drought. We find that our spiritual growth is stunted, our fruitfulness is limited and our lives fail to reflect the image of Jesus as we become hardened to the move of God. Failing to be open to the Holy Spirit over time can lead to our spiritual life shrivelling away.

God longs for us to be a well watered garden where He as the Gardner tends to us, waters our lives with His Spirit and enables us to grow and mature so we might reflect His glory.

Today come again and be filled with Gods Holy Spirit and if this has never been your experience like the Christians waiting in the upper room request God to come and fill you with the Holy Spirits refreshing life.

God bless you

Pastor Dave

05
jun

A Whitewash?

We recently had a window installed in the ceiling over our staircase. It is wonderful, providing much needed light to the dining end of our main room downstairs. However, that extra light also showed up all the imperfections in the surface of the wall by the staircase. We hadn’t worried about it before because it was hardly noticeable in the dim light, but now, it was obvious something had to be done. We had a choice: either we could go to considerable expense and upheaval to have the entire wall replastered, or we could compromise by papering over it with a good textured wallpaper to hide the uneven bits before painting it. Yes, we decided to take the cheaper option, and that is how I have been occupied this week, wallpapering and painting the stairwell, with quite a good result, I have to say. However, we know that the irregularities are still there, hidden under the surface.

When we meet up with Jesus, who described himself as the ‘Light of the world’, it shows up our imperfections. We think we are not too bad until we compare our sinful lives with his absolute perfection. Then we realise that something needs to be done. It’s a radical step to take, allowing Jesus to come into our lives and completely remove our sin so that God will consider us suitable to enter his Kingdom. The alternative is to be like the Pharisees. In Matthew 23:27-28 Jesus describes them as, ‘Like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.’ Strong words! Jesus was not interested in how people pretended to be, by putting on a show of good works. He was more interested in those who showed genuine repentance, and asked him for the real forgiveness and deep cleansing that only he could give.

Don’t settle for a coat of whitewash! Remember, ‘The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’ (1 Samuel 16:7).

Maureen Redbond

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The Ashingdon, Rayleigh and Southend Elim Pentecostal Churches are branches of The Elim Foursquare Gospel Alliance (Registered Charity No. 251549)