Church Blog

DAY 5

Posted by Geoff Lee on Sunday, 22 February, 2015 @ 1:23 PM

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.” (Philippians 4:6 (NIV))

 

I hope you are getting on well with 40 days. Feel free to leave comments on this thread and to share your experiences.  Also remember not to worry if you miss a day, start afresh the next day and keep on going!

This verse from Philippians has long been a key verse for me. My life is not free of anxiety! And the worse times are the night times. So I have been chewing on this verse at night, repeating it in my mind, and bringing specific requests, anxious thoughts, worries, petitions to God my Father, and leaving them with him.

The subsequent promise of this scripture is not that everything will immediately be fixed and sorted, but it is that the peace of God will guard your heart (emotions) and your mind (thoughts).

 

I also find it helpful to journal (which is a little bit what we are doing during 40 Days with our workbooks). I have been journalling for many years and I write down my prayers, my thoughts, take notes on sermons, on books, write down good quotes, highlight great events in life, as well as reflect on the troubling times. Sometimes, on days like today, I make lists. Lists of prayer requests and petitions. People I have said I will pray for, people who need jobs, who are facing illness, experiencing loss and bereavement, slipping away from church and faith.

And then I make of list of things I am thankful and grateful for, some profound, some quite small and seemingly insignificant.

 

This is what this verse is all about – and we know that God hears us and answers us.

 

May you be filled with that confidence today – and the peace of God – as you bring your prayers and petitions, and praise to your Father in heaven.

jill said...

Posted on Sunday, 22 February, 2015 @ 12:47 AM -
I am enjoying 40 Days in the Word so much. Although I read my Bible I have not really meditated on Scripture very much...until this last week.
I am amazed at how beneficial and easy it is to use the Pronounce it method of meditation. On Saturday evening I meditated on Philippians for three hours and found it so encouraging!
Tomorrow I'm catching the train to Cardiff to visit my elderly mum and my dear sister who still live on the tough council estate where I grew up. When I get off the train I hop on the bus that takes me through the estate and I love to see the old familiar landmarks... the shops, the playing fields, my old school but especially my old Sunday school, Bethany Gospel Hall. It evokes feelings of comfort, consistency and security in me and gratitude.

It's where the seeds of my faith were sown, when my siblings and I were sent to Sunday school and Sunshine Corner on a Thursday evening, not because our parents were practising Christians, but rather because they wanted to get us out of the way!
I believe that it was the love of Jesus that was shown to me at Bethany, along with my dear Granny's love and modelling of genuine Christian faith that impacted me for good as I grew up. I am so grateful to God for them. And although my childhood left me, in some respects, ill - equipped to make good choices, in looking back, reflecting and meditating on Scripture, I see how the Lord has protected and rescued me from poor choices that I made and their consequences.
Now, at 57 with three great sons, two wonderful grandsons and a very dear daughter-in-law I am so thankful to God that I am divorced and so grateful for my lovely church, its authentic leadership and my warm and welcoming community group.

I love it that the whole church is studying 40 Days in the Word together and I love its simplicity and its cohesiveness.
As I plod through winter longing for spring, I find that this study quickens and enlivens my walk with the Lord.

God bless

Kathy Jarrett said...

Posted on Sunday, 22 February, 2015 @ 8:39 PM -
The learning of scripture is quite a challenge for me- at least to keep remembering it! But as David said today it is so important and can help to overcome anxieties. It was well illustrated in the daily video today.

Diane F said...

Posted on Sunday, 22 February, 2015 @ 6:27 PM -
It is reassuring to know that God knows our requests even before we ask. He will always provide us with what we NEED not what we may want. His ways are always perfect.

Lydia said...

Posted on Sunday, 22 February, 2015 @ 1:58 PM -
With thanksgiving.... This always cracks me up.
At times In my prayer life I have got to the point when there are no gentle 'hallelujah' pleases but a deep groaning to see God move instantly and all that will suffice for me at these times is a thunderbolt with the solution. After my tantrums are over I sit and, like Pastor Geoff write a list of thankfulness. When i was younger we used to sing the song "Count your blessings, name them one by one... And it will surprise what the Lord has done.". Whatever we are politely asking for or begging God for today we need to come to God with thankfulness for all that his word says he has done for us.

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DAY 4

Posted by Geoff Lee on Saturday, 21 February, 2015 @ 8:26 AM

“… I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12b (NIV))

It’s been good to read your thoughts and comments on 40 days so far. Thanks to everyone who has contributed.

 

In his book on prayer, Tim Keller identifies four changes that he made after studying and wrestling with prayer, following a major crisis in his life.

 

  1. He took several months going through the Psalms, summarising and paraphrasing them and using them as the basis of his prayer life.

  2. He always put in a time of meditation between reading the Bible and praying – scripture was the foundation for his prayer life

  3. He began praying morning and evening, not just in the morning

  4. He began praying with greater expectation

 

I think, in light of 40 days, his second point is particularly relevant. We are reading the Bible, meditating on one line, word by word, pronouncing it and rolling it around in our mind, emphasising different aspects of the verse as we go. And then we are considering how to apply it before praying. The Bible is informing our prayer.

 

This is a great way to combine the Word of God and prayer.

I am also noticing how this affects me during the day. On Day 2 of 40 Days, I was crossing the road with Beth, my daughter, using a zebra crossing. As we stepped out, a car failed to stop and drove right through the crossing. I muttered several angry words, calling the driver a complete idiot…. As I did so, the words from that morning’s reading….”Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel…” wafted into my consciousness…

 

This Bible reading, meditation and prayer may have a serious effect on my behaviour….. And I think that might just be the point?

Have a God-blessed day.

Ronny Manyowa said...

Posted on Wednesday, 25 February, 2015 @ 6:53 PM -
I press on to take hold of that which Christ took hold of me...
While I meditated on this word I found myself turning to the story of Saul who later became Paul as we read in the book of Acts. Before his conversion Paul led a life that opposed God's plan for our salvation. We know how he led the persecution of the church starting at Jerusalem before casting his net wide to cover other cities. Then Christ took hold of him on the road to Damascus. We then hear in Acts 9:15-16 ...the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man (referring to Paul) is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Now that was Paul's calling. Christ took hold of him for the greatest cause for mankind. And we have all at some stage in our lives wandered off in a direction which was not in line with God's plan and then Christ got hold of us and we responded. He called us in different capacities to proclaim the Name of the Lord and to enable the advancement of the kingdom of heaven within and outside of our immediate world of influence. So as I meditated on Philippians 3:12 I became more aware that I still haven't taken hold of that which Christ took hold of me (called me to do). There is much more work to be done for heaven. My prayer then is that the Holy Spirit will strengthen me and that I will not faint as I run the race marked for me.

Kathy Jarrett said...

Posted on Saturday, 21 February, 2015 @ 9:19 PM -
After yesterday's "whatever happens" this passage is very reassuring. We can't do this in our strength but God is working in us to help us to please him. What a gift!

Sue Grigg said...

Posted on Saturday, 21 February, 2015 @ 7:22 PM -
Well I'm pressing on, as in the words of the Bob Dylan song "Pressing On", I'm pressing on to the higher calling of my Lord. Often it feels like a struggle but, perhaps, it's meant to be like that. I'm not giving up.

Amanda Moore said...

Posted on Saturday, 21 February, 2015 @ 3:56 PM -
....I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
When I took part in the 40 DITW pilot group I remember that at the time I really did not understand this verse,I meditated on it but it still didn't seem a lot clearer to me.This morning I spent more time looking at it,researching,meditating and reading the whole chapter again to get some context. Paul is also using the analogy of running a race like an athlete,we must keep pressing on towards the goal/finish line,perserveering,Paul understood that The Lord took hold of his life with a goal in mind,God's desire is that we grow to be like Christ,he is working in us to transform us,we need to grow.Everything I have read this week keeps coming back to the fact that our Heavenly Father chose us,he is continuously transforming us.God has called us to DO something as well-he has a plan for our life.He wants us to press on,to keep stretching forward,even when it's difficult.
He took hold of us,he REACHED out to us,we must do the same.

Kathy Jarrett said...

Posted on Saturday, 21 February, 2015 @ 1:04 PM -
Christ Jesus took hold of me - when I spent time thinking and meditating on this I was more and more amazed that He did this for me.

Janice Franklin said...

Posted on Saturday, 21 February, 2015 @ 11:42 AM -
Working through the 40 days, I realise that there is nothing passive about our walk; leaning in, pushing through, keep going!
Really enjoyed John Ortberg today, particularly when he said: 'The goal of prayer is to learn to say every word in joyous consciousness of God's presence.'

Lydia O said...

Posted on Saturday, 21 February, 2015 @ 9:13 AM -
Love what John Ortberg says, "Prayer is talking to God about what we are doing together." That's beautiful.

The words “press on” means pursue.
The message puts it
"But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me."

Jesus took hold of me.
When Hannah was little I took Hannah outside in the garden, but she refused to put her shoes on. When she stood on a slug she grasped me in desperation to lift her up and save her. In the same way through challenging times I have grasped onto God through prayer. Each time He has taken hold of me and picked me up.

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DAY 3

Posted by Geoff Lee on Friday, 20 February, 2015 @ 10:43 AM

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him (Phil 2:13 NLT)”

I pray that this will be the case for us during 40 days. That God will work into us the desire and the power to do what pleases him, in this case letting the word of Christ dwell in us and change us every day.

I really liked what the pastor on the video devotional said yesterday about the difference between “having to” read his bible at youth camp for 10 minutes a day, which he perceived to be just another chore, and the approach of the young students who were taught by their Rabbi to lick honey from their tablet, and to see the scriptures as something wonderful and delightful, sweet to the taste like honey.

 

Even on DAY 2, I thought: “Oh no! I haven’t done my reading! I need to fit it in!” It felt like homework!

As we proceed through 40 days, we can choose one route or the other! We can see each daily reading as something to fit in to our busy schedules, a bit of homework to do as quickly as possible, or we can savour the daily time with God, like looking forward to a gourmet meal, asking: “What are you going to say to me today Lord, what delights am I going to taste in your presence.”

This cannot be done in a hurry.

It’s important that we create a space and place  in our days to take our time, to read slowly, to meditate on each word of the verse, and to pray in response. Be creative in creating that time and place. Make it special. Let’s expect each day to reveal a new treat, something delicious, the presence of the living God. 

“The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes….They are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb” (Psalm 19)

Lydia O said...

Posted on Friday, 20 February, 2015 @ 11:49 PM -
God is working in me.
"Good changes caterpillars into butterflies, sand into pearls and coal into diamonds using Time and Pressure. He is working on you too.”

Stuart Moore said...

Posted on Friday, 20 February, 2015 @ 7:12 PM -
I read an excerpt from Bill Hybels' book Simplify today where he tells a story about a new church member reciting Matthew 6:33 as his first memory verse.

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you."

Bill challenges him to put it into practice by redrafting his schedule and filling it up the way God would fill it if He were in charge of his time, his schedule and his calendar.
We should endeavour to make God's time our priority and seek the rewards from his kingdom. I pray that 40DITW will give us all the ability to achieve this.

Kathy Jarrett said...

Posted on Friday, 20 February, 2015 @ 1:54 PM -
After yesterday's "whatever happens" this passage is very reassuring. We can't do this in our strength but God is working in us to help us to please him. What a gift!

Nath K said...

Posted on Friday, 20 February, 2015 @ 1:49 PM -
Yeah, it goes back to that analogy that Rick highlighted on the session dvd, about how a cow chews the cud. One of my pet hates is when I cook a good meal for a friend, and they inhale the food rather than savouring it. I really want to savour God's food for the soul.

Debbie T said...

Posted on Friday, 20 February, 2015 @ 12:13 PM -
one word for this mornings lesson ... YUM :)

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DAY 2

Posted by Geoff Lee on Thursday, 19 February, 2015 @ 8:16 AM

DAY 2:

“WHATEVER happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (Phil 1:27 a NIV)”

 

Whatever?!

Someone cutting in front of me in traffic? That woman beeping her horn incessantly and infuriating me? My kids squabbling and fighting over breakfast? The press of work and the tightness of time?

 

No matter what comes my way, no matter what people say, no matter what happens in my day….When provoked, maligned, mistreated, stressed, distressed, distracted….

 

Whatever happens…..

 

I need to watch my life and lips….and not only contain and restrain reaction, but LIVE a life, a proactive and joy-filled life that is worthy, that lines up with and matches up to the gospel good and transforming news that has changed my life.

 

God has been kind and gracious to me. Am I going to be kind and gracious to others?

Am I going to live worthy today?

 

Father, whatever ….WHATEVER….happens today, help us, each one of us, to live a life that is truly worthy of the amazing gospel that has broken into our lives.

In Jesus’ name

Amen

Great to read people's posts yesterday!

 

Ronny Manyowa said...

Posted on Sunday, 22 February, 2015 @ 10:03 AM -
I have also noted that this scripture is telling us to be intentional in our actions or reactions to situations. The instruction is in "conducting" myself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. And James 1: 19b -20 has some critical advice "Everyone should be quick to listen,slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires". Holy Spirit please help!

Mark B said...

Posted on Friday, 20 February, 2015 @ 6:05 PM -
I really liked what the pastor said in that video today....'it's wise to learn from your mistakes but even wiser to learn from others mistakes'

Debbie T said...

Posted on Friday, 20 February, 2015 @ 12:11 PM -
Yes this is a challenging verse and easy to fall into condemnation over if you let it. I Have been thinking about the times when I was able to cope better with rough days and the days when I lost it and was seeking to see what made the difference and I realised it was dependent a lot on how much time I spent with Jesus and being near and sensitive to His Spirit. Being closer made me more like Christ ... :) a rushed time with Jesus and I was running on empty and easily provoked.

Ric Ward said...

Posted on Thursday, 19 February, 2015 @ 10:11 PM -
when I wake up (on my days off) I read my daily devotion and feel the Lord's peace. Then I go down stairs and face my daughter shouting because there's no milk for breakfast and my peace explodes in a million pieces!
My reaction needs to be worthy of Jesus, no matter what the circumstances - I'm still working on it! Thank God for grace

Kathy Jarrett said...

Posted on Thursday, 19 February, 2015 @ 5:56 PM -
Yes that's what came to me - God's gift of grace. It just looks an impossible task - "whatever happens" - without Grace.

Isabel H said...

Posted on Thursday, 19 February, 2015 @ 5:50 PM -
Dwelling in the word. "Whatever happens", "Worthy", "Gospel". Sometimes life challenges us; it has definitely challenged me. Sometimes through bad choices, at times circumstances beyond my control. However the Lord says, no matter what happens, behave in a way that is worthy and glorifies God. Being judgmental impatient, anxious and worried. Is this being worthy of the Gospel? I follow Jesus, I am a Christian. I talk about Jesus to unbelievers. Actions are perhaps more important than words. Therefor it is so important to conduct ourselves in a manner that is Christ like. My prayer today is that the Lord will help me to be worthy of the Gospel. Is to thank Him for His wonderful, encouraging, uplifting Word, that strengthens me every day. Is to ask the Lord to help me to be more Christ like.
Amen

Lydia O said...

Posted on Thursday, 19 February, 2015 @ 4:10 PM -
Our words, our dealings with others and our reactions to lifes ups and downs should be in response to what God has done for us. We are so quick to say, act or react. As we soak ourselves in the word our reactions too should be more Christ like. For the days we mess up thankfully we have Gods gift of grace. (Ephesians 2:8)

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40 Days in the WORD - DAY 1

Posted by Geoff Lee on Wednesday, 18 February, 2015 @ 10:49 AM

 

And so our journey begins: 40 days in the word! It also happens to be the beginning of Lent! What a great way to spend Lent and prepare for Easter!

During these next 40 days, I am going to write a short blog each day to share some of my thoughts and reflections on my own daily devotion, and our collective experiences as a church.

In the comments section under each blog, you are very welcome to add your own reflections and experiences as you engage with this campaign.

Together, as individuals, families, small groups, young and old, I am hopeful and confident that these 40 days will have a significant impact on our love for God’s word and our ability to read it, understand it and APPLY IT.

 

What I have done so far….

I have watched the first small group session on bible study methods and the PRONOUNCE IT method. I have done my first daily reading, looking at and meditating on the verse:

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6)

And I have signed up to daily devotions on the website www.40daysintheword.com. Today I listened to (the video wouldn’t work on my ipad!) the first talk on how to clothe myself with Godly qualities, putting on love which binds them all together.

 

I think the material is great, accessible, practical, easy to follow, and you can do a little bit every day without it being overwhelming!

God has not finished with us yet – he has started something really good in our life, and he will finish the job! Be patient with yourself and others…

God can do an awful lot in 40 days! God bless you in your journey.

 

Aimee Doidge said...

Posted on Thursday, 19 February, 2015 @ 2:57 PM -
With the house empty (half term clubs, and my husband on errands) it was a real blessing to start the first day of 40 days today- and I have already discovered that 'Being confident' was a challenge to me to trust God completely, with surety and conviction that He will help me, and provide for the me the right times and opportunities to pursue His word in the right way when the distractions of life kick back in! So I'm confident that He is with me to complete the 40 Days and so much more!

Lydia O said...

Posted on Wednesday, 18 February, 2015 @ 12:11 AM -
The Word dwells richly in us as we consistently and constantly apply it to our everyday lives. Not just the bits that are easy to swallow. I feel a challenge coming on!

Neil Kitto said...

Posted on Wednesday, 18 February, 2015 @ 7:34 PM -
Great start! In out small group last night we broke down the verse and I found this very useful, it made so much more sense to me, really don't want to let myself slip in meditating in his word and studies daily..we shall see! :)

Kathy Jarrett said...

Posted on Wednesday, 18 February, 2015 @ 1:43 PM -
How great it is that He has started this work in us and He WILL complete it ! What a promise.

Amanda Moore said...

Posted on Wednesday, 18 February, 2015 @ 1:27 PM -
Great start to the day,watched the devotional in which Rick delivered some great truths and tips for daily living,clothing myself in compassion,patience,kindness etc before we leave the house is great advice for us all,I was also really encouraged to really think about the fact that we can do this by letting God's word make a home in us to really help me live this out on a daily basis,I know it's not going to be easy but I'm really excited about this and that I can be confident as well that God is continuing to work in me by his Grace !

Gill Williams said...

Posted on Wednesday, 18 February, 2015 @ 12:16 PM -
Thank you, Geof, for introducing us to 40 days in the word. I have really enjoyed the first session - it has helped me to think more deeply about God's word and I am looking forward to the rest.
God Bless,
Gill

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40 Days in the Word...coming soon!

Posted by Natalie Fish on Monday, 12 January, 2015 @ 6:22 PM

We are really looking forward to launching our "40 Days in the Word" campaign on Sun 8th February. 40 Days is a church-wide weekly study of six principles of the Word of God: the authenticity, reliability, power, comfort, interpretation and doing of God’s Word.

We are encouraging everyone to join Community Group during the 40 Days...even if you can only go to a group for that time period. 

Geoff Lee, our Senior Pastor, will be using this blog to write daily reports on his experience during the 40 Days...it would be great if everyone could add comments and share their own experience too!

 

What we will be doing:

08/02 – Kick-Off Week
Sunday Message: Building my life on the Bible.
Community Group: Social evening.

15/02 – Week 1
Sunday Message: Inspiration – Why can I trust the Bible?
Memory Verse: Colossians 3:16.
Community Group: Pronounce it.
Daily Bible Meditation: Philippians 1:6, 1:27, 2:13, 3:12, 4:6, 4:13, 4:19

22/02 – Week 2
Sunday Message: Transformation – How can the Bible change us?
Memory Verse: Ps 119:18.
Community Group: Picture it.
Daily Bible Meditation: Mark 1:40-45, 3:1-6, 4:35-41, 5:21-43, 6:35-44, 6:45-51, 7:31-37

01/03 – Week 3
Sunday Message: Illumination – How can I see what God wants me to see?
Memory Verse: Jam 1:22.
Community Group: Probe it.
Daily Bible Meditation: Mark 8:34-38, 9:33-35, 10:17-31, 11:25, 14:3-9, 15:33-39, 16:1-20

08/03 – Week 4
Sunday Message: Observation – How do I study the Bible?
Memory Verse: Psalm 119:11.
Community Group: Paraphrase it.
Daily Bible Meditation: James 1:19-20, 1:22-25, 2:17-18, 3:13, 4:10, 5:19-20

15/03 – Week 5
Sunday Message: Interpretation – How do I know what it means?
Memory Verse: Matthew 7:24.
Community Group: Personalise it/Pray it.
Daily Bible Meditation: John 3:16, Philippians 1:6, Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 23:1-3

22/03 – Week 6
Sunday Message: Integration – How do I integrate God’s word into my life?
Memory Verse: Psalm 119:105.
Community Group: Principles of Bible interpretation.
Daily Bible Meditation: Psalm 1:1-6 (Using one of the new methods each day)


We hope you will join us as we commit to loving, learning and living the Word for 40 days. Find out more >

 

 

Changing seasons

Posted by Geoff Lee on Wednesday, 3 September, 2014 @ 5:22 PM

So Summer draws to a close. Autumn is in the air. Colours change, temperatures fall, darkness draws in earlier.

Seasons are always changing, it’s what seasons do, with perennial predictability and inescapable inevitability.

You may or may not have your favourite season, depending on your temperament and type.

We returned last week from our holiday in Italy, where it was hot and sunny. When we landed at Heathrow, it was grey and cold and raining. Isaac, our son, stepped on to the tarmac, raised his hands to the air and sighed with contentment: “Rain” he said, “glorious rain.”

My wife, Jenny, and I did not share in his moment of contentment.

Yet, in the changing seasons, God, in his goodness, satisfies our twin desires for change and for permanence.

This is expressed by C.S.Lewis in the Screwtape Letters, as a senior devil called Screwtape instructs a junior:

“[GOD] has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme. He gives them in His Church a spiritual year; they change from a fast to a feast, but it is the same feast as before.”

Screwtape, in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

The beginning of September is a natural point of change and transition, the start of a new season. It is part of God’s rhythm of change and permanence, feast and famine.

I walked past a field this last week that lay empty following a summer harvest. Ploughed over and ready for the next season. Ready for new seed, for renewed growth.

Its stark emptiness spoke to me. Just a short while ago it had been full of crops, waving in the breeze, now it was just soil and stubble.

Sounds like Cockney rhyming slanging for toil and trouble.  

Famine rather than feast. Emptiness rather than fullness.

On my walk, I also passed fields that had been left empty for a little while. Fallow ground. Ground and soil left alone without seed and crop to restore nutrients and life to the soil. The farmer knows, in his wisdom, that such land will produce greater harvests in the future, following a period of barrenness and emptiness. Such ground is ripe for harvest.

But at the moment, it is fallow and full of weeds.

Two of the Old Testament prophets, Jeremiah and Hosea, use a picture of a fallow, hardened, weed-filled field, to speak to God’s people about the condition of their hearts and God’s desire to make them fruitful – to bring them to harvest time, to restore their relationship with God.

We can use the beginning of a new season to heed the words of the prophet:

“Sow for yourself righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unploughed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12)

 

 

Hope in suffering

Posted by Natalie Fish on Monday, 7 July, 2014 @ 3:14 PM

Yesterday morning Geoff preached the first message in our series on Ruth - hope in suffering. During the message he quoted from an essay by Eric Liddell called 'Victory over Circumstances.' Here is the full article...

 

Victory over Circumstances, by Eric Liddell

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee. (Isaiah 43.2)
 

God does not say that because you believe in Him, he will keep you from hardship and suffering. He says, if you trust him, he will strengthen you to meet all the experiences of life in a conquering spirit. You will have secret resources of power to call on when they are needed.
 

Life is full of hard experiences, bitter disappointments, unexpected losses, grim tragedies. How do Christians face these? Here are several thoughts that may be of help.
 

1. Evil does not come from God but comes through the sin, malice, callousness, passions, selfishness, and neglect of man. God is not responsible for these.
 

There are also disasters, calamities and accidents which are the other side of the privilege and joy of living in such a world as this. If there were no spice of risk, there would be no zest of adventure.
 

2. Sometimes evil comes through the direct malice of man. It is easy to harbour feelings of hate, a desire to be God’s instrument of vengeance. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of a hate like that. For hate desolates both the wronged and the wrongdoer. This work of punishment is not ours but God’s.
 

It is a perilous position for any man to take up that he is the instrument of the judgement of God. God is working in the hearts of those who have wronged us as well as in our hearts. His mills are grinding out resistlessly the judgements of righteousness. Leave all to God. The justice of God is far more sure and unerring, for it is the justice of love, a love that will not let men go, but follows them still through all the mazes of their flight from it, till it brings them to redemption. It is this vision of God behind the scenes that calms the heart and takes away the restless heat of rancour and revenge. It is this that helps one to face all in a magnanimous spirit.
 

3. Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins. Our broken lives are not lost or useless. God’s love is still working. He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously, working out his wonderful plan of love. ‘All things work together for good to them that love God.’ He is always master of the situation. There is infinite resourcefulness in the almighty love. Many a man has become great in spite of, as well as because of, disaster. This is the victory of God’s love, but it does not come to all. It comes to those who keep their faith clear, and their lives clean towards God. It comes to those who keep in touch with the divine love, are linked to the divine will, and look for chances of helping on the purposes they are sure God still has for them. ‘This is the victory that overcomes the world, [the world of disaster] even our faith.'

[Thoughts based on The Victory of God by James Reid.]
Taken from Eric Liddell’s book, The Disciplines of the Christian Life,
SPCK Publishing, London, 2009. Reprinted by permission.
http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/Victory_Over_Circumstance_FullArticle [6th July 2014]

 

God in My Everything – Developing a Rule of Life

Posted by Geoff Lee on Tuesday, 17 June, 2014 @ 1:35 PM

Based on the book by Ken Shigematsu.

Have you ever yearned for a deeper, richer, more fulfilling relationship with Jesus? But somehow this seems elusive or even impossible…

For many Christians, there is certainly a desire to walk more closely with God and to be transformed into the likeness of Christ – but we struggle to line up our life accordingly.

Our new Sunday evening series, God in my Everything, is looking at God being central to every area of our life – our work, our rest, our play. We are basing this series on the eponymous book by Ken Shigematsu.

Sometimes we are led to believe that parts of our life are for God – the holy bits – church, Bible reading, quiet time, ministry…

And the rest of our life is just the secular stuff – work, money, family, friends, hobbies..

Sometimes we think that becoming more like Jesus just means we need to do more of the spiritual stuff and less of the secular stuff.

We speak of our ministry at church and then our everyday jobs…

But what if God were really in our everything – our waking and sleeping, our working and resting, our hobbies and our praying…?

And what if this were to apply for every Christian – not just the super spiritual ones, the specially anointed and gifted ones…

What if this applies to the busy mum with young kids, the pressured businessman, the student, the young person at school, the single person, the married person, the young, the old – every vocation, every walk of life….

The term “Rule of Life” goes back to an ancient pattern of monastic living that was introduced and outlined by Benedict in the 6th Century.

The word “Rule” comes from the Greek word that means “trellis”. A trellis is a support system for a vine or plant that enables it to grow upward and bear fruit.

Like a trellis, a rule of life supports and strengthens our relationship with God so that we can become more fruitful. The life is not in the trellis, it is in the vine – but the trellis helps the vine to grow well and to become fruitful!

 

(Source: God in My Everything – Ken Shigematsu)

For busy people, a rule of life can seem like another thing “to do”. More responsibility, more effort….

But the rule can be flexible, and it also involves not doing certain things, developing a healthy rhythm, saying no as well as yes.

As you consider building a rule of life, here are some things to remember:

1. Start simply
Change does not happen overnight.
Introduce simple and achievable practices.
Whatever we do repeatedly – even if it’s simple – has the power to shape us.

2. Build slowly
This is a life-long process!

3. Prune regularly
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-2)

If you are going to add something to your plate – consider taking something off it.

4. Be energy conscious
When are you at your best? When do you have the most energy?
Early morning – late at night.
Recognise the rhythm of your day, your week and even your year…

5. Consider your life stage
Different seasons of life equals different patterns and rhythms.

6. Stay flexible
The rule is to help us and strengthen us – it is not to rule over us.

7. Make time for fun
Do things that bring you joy.

8. Include community
Vitally important for spiritual growth and health.

Follow our sermon series on God in my everything >

 

A message from the Macdonalds

Posted by Natalie Fish on Wednesday, 16 April, 2014 @ 7:38 PM

Rachel and Hamish Macdonald are our Youth Pastors here at Plymouth Christian Centre. They are currently in Honduras combining a missions with holiday. Here's the latest from them...

"We were very thankful to arrive safely ,and it's been so lovely to catch up with old friends, it feels like we have not been away from them. We are helping in a church project in the afternoons run by the local church and supported by Compassion.

We have taken our 5 day holiday to Roatan and after an arduous journey are enjoying the benefits of Island life! Sun, sea, sunburn, mosquito bites, no electricity or water, and the relaxed vibe that means no one is bothered by such things! It's lovely. The kids have been diving, Flora and Hamish saw a large barracuda whilst snorkelling. There is so much sea life and turtles; it's very beautiful. We are enjoying time to read and reflect which is doing us good. We got talking to an older lady who was riding a horse. It turns out she was born in Plymouth and now lives in the states! On our return we are going to visit her friend. We also got talking to a missionary on the beach who is doing workshops on worship for the churches in Tegucigalpa! so had a very interesting chat with him.

We are really looking forward to getting back to valley of the angels where we will be doing lots of fun things for the kids over the Easter holidays - for the kids that don't visit families at that time. Rachel will also be involved in some musical items for a special service .We will update with pictures of the projects when we can (internet it scarce where we are.) Missing the young people and wish they could be with us,we went to a small black baptist church on the island and it was great even though the style of worship was like England 40 years ago. There was much joy and moving around! Liz crudge would have been smiling! Love to you all at the Plymouth Christian Centre.

We miss you x Rachel and Hamish."

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