Church Blog

Fasting and Feasting

Posted by Geoff Lee on Saturday, 1 March, 2014 @ 11:23 AM

The “Fast Diet”, or the 5:2 diet, is the latest nutritional number to top the weight-loss charts, encouraging us to eat more or less what we want for 5 days a week, and to “fast”, or eat less than 500 calories, on the other two days. It is the latest in a long line of diets and eating plans that promise us the path to svelteness, the hope of health and happiness and the means to gag our inner glutton.

Fasting is obviously not a new phenomenon and has been used for centuries for nutritional and spiritual ends. This week (Wednesday 5 March) marks the beginning of Lent, a forty-day period in the Christian calendar leading up to Easter, which mirrors Jesus’ 40 days without food in the wilderness, and is marked by some kind of fasting, whether it’s giving up chocolate, or alcohol, or, in the case of my children, brussel sprouts and cabbage (I’m not sure they have quite got the gist of it yet).

Lent offers us a space and time to reflect, to create margin, and to control our appetites. This may be an appetite for rich food, for that glass of wine (or two) that you need at the end of the working day to relax, or for other means of instant gratification and distraction with which we often fill our lives. Some people fast social media, for example, and forego their fixation with Facebook for forty days.

This fasting represents a kind of cleansing, a period of preparation leading up to the feasting of the Easter weekend, and the celebration of the centrepiece of the Christian faith, the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is a recognition that there is more to life than trying simply to satisfy our basic appetites and fill a physical hunger. It is the acknowledgment of a spiritual reality, expressed by Jesus’ words, that “man shall not live by bread alone”.

When we “feast” all the time, relentlessly feeding our appetites, we end up feeling strangely empty and dissatisfied. It’s not as new as the 5:2, but why not give the Lent diet a try – you may be surprised!   

A Man's Noblest Exercise

Posted by Richard Bunt on Wednesday, 22 January, 2014 @ 12:57 PM

‘Prayer is a man’s noblest exercise and the key to a dynamic Christian Life’ E. M. Bounds.

It has often been said by preachers and the like that prayer is the lifeblood of the church. That is certainly difficult to argue against when you consider the teaching of the New Testament in particular. But I would like to go one further, and suggest that prayer is not only the lifeblood of the church, but also for every single Christian. There is no doubting how important prayer was in the life of Jesus.

For instance, when Jesus took time to pray, he would go to a place by himself and spend considerable time in prayer (Matthew 14.23; Mark 1.35, 6.46; Luke 6.12, 9.18, 11.1). Indeed, Luke tells us that Jesus didn’t pray like this on the odd occasion, but that he “…often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5.16).

Further, Jesus taught his disciples to pray. In Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, the apostles come to him and ask Jesus to teach them to pray—not how to pray, but to pray. Then, after Jesus shares with them a model prayer, he goes on to teach how important it is to pray regularly and consistently (Luke 11).

When it came to prayer, Jesus took the subject very seriously. He can be found praying early in the morning, in the middle of the day, and, on at least one occasion, all night. He told several stories about the need for prayer and gave detailed instructions about the right and wrong way to pray (Matthew 6).

Jesus’ teachings on prayer were taken seriously by the early church, and Paul writes that we should pray without ceasing—that our whole life should be filled with constant communing with God and that we should give thanks for everything—even the tough lessons we have to endure (1 Thessalonians 5.17-18).

However, Jeff Lucas, in his book ‘Standing on my Knees’ comments that prayer is not just about us. He reminds us that we are blessed with the authority to say ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done’, and that we need to be praying for the kingdom of God to come today, tomorrow, and next Monday morning. It is all about bringing in the reign and rule of Jesus into our world, our situation, our homes, our neighbour-hoods, and God has chosen the church as the instrument through which He can bring this about in a response to the prayer Jesus taught us to pray.

In June 2013 a group came together stirred by God at Plymouth Christian Centre to wholeheartedly follow Jesus and dedicate themselves to prayer ministry which is rooted in the Isaiah 58. 

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry, and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter- when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the Glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say:- HERE AM I.  Isaiah 58: 6-14

The decision was made to open a Prayer Centre to:

1) 
Provide a place where people will come to pray
2) 
Wait on God
3) 
Receive prayer ministry

 The aims are to:

1)    Listen to God, to seek to do His will
2)    Free those in spiritual bondage
3)    Bring hope and healing to the broken-hearted and sick
4)    Lead the lost to salvation
5)    Work alongside the pastoral team and community groups in providing prayer support
6)    Facilitate practical support, guidance and signposting to other support services
7)    Nurture and develop the spiritual gifts of the team through team ministry and training

The vision for the Prayer Centre is of course in line with Plymouth Christian Centre’s vision:

“We exist to love and serve the people of Plymouth and beyond, enabling them to become wholehearted followers of Christ.”

Please support our prayer initiatives – our first Tuesday prayer meeting each month, our Wednesday morning prayer meeting at Ragamuffins and this exciting new ministry, the Prayer Centre. Let’s see what God can achieve through your prayers and mine as we work together to extend God’s Kingdom in Plymouth and beyond.

Lydia Oliver said...

Posted on Wednesday, 22 January, 2014 @ 10:56 PM -
Exciting!

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Advent – a time of waiting

Posted by Geoff Lee on Wednesday, 27 November, 2013 @ 12:09 PM


As a child, I remember feeling as if Christmas would never come. The period leading up to Christmas day seemed to move so slowly, and on Christmas Eve, it was as if time stopped altogether, or at least slipped into slow motion. The anticipation and excitement were immense; I remember willing myself to sleep so that time would speed up and I could wake up to Christmas morning.

The traditional name given for centuries to the period leading up to Christmas is “advent”. This period includes the four Sundays before Christmas and, this year, starts on 1 December. The word simply means “coming”, and looks forward to the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, and the celebration of his birth.

Advent marks a time of waiting and hope and has traditionally been celebrated in different ways. This might mean burning an advent candle during a meal each day, so that as it gets smaller, it reminds us that the time of waiting is coming to an end. Some people make a wreath of four candles, lighting one on each of the four Sundays of advent.

The concept of waiting in this context includes a strong dose of expectation. The Latin word for wait is “exspecto” and means “to look for, expect, await, wait for…”. In our waiting, there is hope and expectation that Jesus is coming.

It would be a good thing if we could use this advent time, this period of waiting leading up to Christmas, to “wait” on God, to expect his coming, his intervention, his activity in our life, our family, our neighbours, our workplaces – in answer to our prayers. As we sing “O Come, O Come Immanuel” we can “expect” his coming and wait in faith for our Messiah.

We could also be very “active” in our waiting. We might use each day of advent to send a message of kindness to someone, share a verse of scripture, pray for individuals in need, do an act of kindness – to raise our whole level of consciousness and gratitude for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus, to our world.

May you encounter God this advent as you wait and pray for his coming.

 

Coming Home

Posted by Geoff Lee on Monday, 2 September, 2013 @ 2:03 PM

Following a long period of preparation and planning, fundraising and giving, we moved out of our building on 14 April 2013 to begin phase 2 refurbishment works on our Embankment Road site. Our neighbours at St Jude’s very graciously allowed us to use their building for the duration of the work, and we will have been “camping” in their building for 5 months by the time we return home. We express our very real gratitude to Tim Smith and his team and congregation at St Jude’s for their kind and generous hospitality!

The move has not been without its challenges, with a change of venue and time - different spaces and places - but all in all, everything has gone extremely well. We have rolled up our sleeves and got on with it, and a number of people have worked hard to make everything look smoother than has sometimes been the case. Again, thanks to all involved for the hard work and behind-the-scenes graft.

While not everyone has loved the new afternoon service times, the level of commitment and the response of the congregation to the changes, and the continued fundraising for the building, with our really successful “buy a chair” appeal, has been truly encouraging and uplifting. Thank you to everyone who has given time and money to make our refurbishment and expansion work a possibility and who has contributed in any way during our time at St Jude’s.

But now, we are ready to move back home - back to our newly refurbished building, back to our morning services, back to our place! Many of us are very much looking forward to being back on familiar territory and getting on with the work and ministry at hand. We have an excellent building facility and a prime location and the opportunities to share the gospel and be a light on a hill are many and various.

When it comes down to it, the real building work at the Plymouth Christian Centre involves “living stones” that are being built together as a place where God dwells and works and transforms hearts and lives. As we move back “home”, we are presented with very real opportunities to become a spiritual home for many people who are spiritually lost and homeless, and who have a longing to find their way back home to God. Please continue to pray for these and consider whom you might invite to the upcoming opening services, Alpha courses, and other outreach opportunities over the coming months.

We will be taking the opportunity to thank God and each other in a couple of special services. We will have a “Welcome Home” service on our first Sunday back at PCC on 15 September, which will be a special time of thanksgiving and praise. We will then hold an “official” opening service on Sunday 6 October, when we will be joined by Rev. John Glass, the national leader of Elim, and a number of other invited guests.

As we return, may we truly become spiritual stones, built together; a place where God dwells.

Welcome home!

Pastor Geoff Lee and the leadership team  

Yvonne Egbuna said...

Posted on Sunday, 22 September, 2013 @ 10:20 AM -
So proud to have been a part of this church. Will be following until we find a new home church :-)

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Plodding is Underrated

Posted by Geoff Lee on Thursday, 25 July, 2013 @ 12:18 PM

Sometimes life is simply about keeping going. Doing the right things, in the right order, without seeing overly spectacular results. Character is built this way, children are raised this way, education and careers evolve this way, food is grown this way, the seasons pass this way. If you feel like you are going around in circles, and not much is happening, bear this in mind. 

I was reminded of the power of plodding when I went to the theatre last Christmas with my family. Things all started pleasantly enough. It was a crisp, cold Saturday afternoon in December and, as a family, we were going to see "The Hare and the Tortoise". We have been to this particular theatre on many an occasion. The productions are small, often with only two actors. It's warm, it's friendly, it's uplifting, it's light-hearted - classic children's stories are retold, often with a quirky twist. Everyone smiles, the children are happy and carried along in the moment, the mums look over at their sweet little ones with  a moist eye, the dads take the opportunity for a nap in the dark and, when it's all over, everyone drifts off into the cold December dusk, feeling enriched by this little dramatic distraction - this little pocket of warmth on a cold, wintery afternoon.

Only this time - this time was different. The afternoon started in much the same way. The chatter and the low hum of voices, the dimly lit theatre, the piped music, the rustling of sweet wrappers as we sat waiting for the performance to start.

The play started and progressed as normal, the children laughed, the mums smiled, the dads napped and made little grunting noises - and we slowly approached the end of the play.... You know the story - the hare and the tortoise. They have a race. The hare starts off the race at a lightning pace, the tortoise is soon left far behind.

The result of the race seems to be a foregone conclusion - the hare is going to win - he is going to thrash the little slow tortoise. He is so much faster. So much more talented. He gets complacent. He gets distracted.

All the while the tortoise carries on at a steady pace, plodding along, making slow and steady progress, until finally, he overtakes the hare and....and....

And this is where it all began to go wrong. The young actors built up to the crescendo moment: I was half-listening as I napped.

And the winner is....the winner is:

The Haretoise.

The….haretoise.

My left eye snapped open like a lizard.

The what? I must have misheard.

The Haretoise is the winner children!

My right eye snapped open now. I squinted and focused my hooded stare on the young exuberant actors as they jumped up and down.

The tortoise won children AND the hare won, because, because, we are all winners aren't we children! We all win in the end, don't we children.

"You have got to be kidding me" I muttered, a little too loudly. My wife glared at me and elbowed me. "Be nice" she said - "there are children around".

And by now the actors are bounding up and down the steps, telling us that we are all good at something, we are all winners really. And they start to ask, first children, and then mums and dads, what we are good at. Because we are all good at something. All this is done in a cheery, bouncy, Teletubbies kind of voice.

I find a sarcastic response forming inside my mind....fomenting and rumbling upwards... My wife has a scared look on her face, hoping they don't bounce over to me.

I don't know if I will be able to help myself. My response to the enthusiastic questioning of the actors forms in my mind: “I'm good at ... I'm good at smelling politically correct drivel and nonsense from a mile. I'm good at telling children's stories the way they are supposed to be told.... “

In my mind's eye I stand up and I tell all the children - the tortoise wins children. The tortoise wins!!! Not the hare. Not the haretoise. That's the whole point of the story! It's not how you start it's how you finish! You may be a plodder but if you keep going you will win in the end. Character counts - not just charisma! Lots of people start the race well, not many finish it well!

Fortunately for all involved, the actors bounce past me - the moment passes - everyone drifts out of the theatre - I at least tell my kids the truth. They won't be fooled. They know the truth. The tortoise wins. The hare is a loser.

 

Helen Casey said...

Posted on Sunday, 13 July, 2014 @ 11:42 PM -
I'm with Geoff, Aesop's fables were pretty brutal at times, but they were about REAL life. In real life we do lose out sometimes, but we have to deal with hardships and disappointments. In fact, sometimes it is what shakes us out of apathy and spurs us on. The story is about (the hare) being complacent and suffering the consequences and (the tortoise) winning by perseverance . If you want a story about us all being good at something, don't use the hare and the tortoise!

Anon said...

Posted on Tuesday, 6 May, 2014 @ 10:39 AM -
The aim of the story was to show the children that we are all winners in our own way... there are no losers.

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A Balancing Act

Posted by Liz Crudgington on Tuesday, 4 June, 2013 @ 11:08 AM

We are a family of five and this is our average week - Monday: choir, cricket and After-school Club.  Tuesday: Mosaic Club and Sailing Club. Wednesday: After-school Club followed by football in the evening.  Thursday is homework. Friday:  KidzKlub and Youth. Saturday off and then church on Sunday.  Phew! This is before we add in parties, having friends and family around and anything the adults might like to do! It’s tiring just thinking about it all, let alone actually doing it! Life has become a bit of a juggling act.

I’m sure life wasn’t this busy when I was a child. Perhaps it’s just part of getting older, of being the parent and not the child, but it feels like life is in fast forward. My husband and I both work full-time and the children seem so busy with their activities. Why are we so busy and how do we put the brakes on? 

Josh Levs (CNN, America, March 2013 - Overscheduled kids, anxious parents) suggests that we are making childhood too stressful. He questions if we’ve forgotten what childhood should and could be like. He says “I couldn't care less whether they can run an 8-minute mile, play the violin, or set up a tent. I care that they know they can achieve anything, that they understand big rewards come from perseverance and hard work, that they treat others as they'd want to be treated.

I care that they fill their lives with positivity, love and friendship, and take time for those things. I realized I had gotten caught up in the means, not the end.”  

Levs is saying that sometimes we can get too involved in the what without considering the why. The saying goes: ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’. How important that is in our role as parent.  We must stop and take time to consider what we want to teach our children about themselves and life and why we spend our time as we do.

The story is told of the stones in the jar. It goes like this. A jar is set in front of a group of students and filled with stones. The lecturer asks if it is full. “Yes” they say. “Really?” he answers. He picks up some gravel, puts it in the jar, shakes it, and the gravel makes its way through the stones to settle in the jar. He asks them again if it is full. “Yes” they say. So he picks up some sand, puts it in the jar and shakes it until the sand filters through the stones and gravel. “Now is it full?” he asks. “Yes!” they reply.  Then he pours water in. 

The point of the story is that if you put the sand and gravel in first you’ll never get the big stones in. If the jar represents our life what are the big stones? They are our priorities, what we want to teach our children and what memories we want to create. Teaching them to treat others as they want to be treated, to persevere, to work hard, to love others and be loved, the value of friendship and faith. Big stones for us look like family holidays and celebrations, time with friends and time for hobbies.   

Gordon MacDonald (Ordering your Private World) talks about our soul being like a garden that needs tending. Like any garden the gardener needs to remove the weeds that have grown and give space to plants that he wants to grow. He suggests we regularly look at what has appeared in our life over the course of a year. What are we doing that we don’t want to be, what weeds have grown? To go back to the jar analogy, we need to make sure that we are not filling our jar up with sand and gravel first. A club too many, working too many hours, too much screen time?

And then we need to put the big stones in the jar, for if we don’t put the important things in the diary first, you can be sure that, in the busyness of life, they won’t just happen. I know that this summer holiday we’ll be looking back at the previous year, its highs and lows, and doing a bit of ‘weeding’. We’ll also make sure that we think about our priorities and get the big stones in the jar that is our family life.

Sobering Thoughts

Posted by Richard Bunt on Thursday, 2 May, 2013 @ 4:02 PM

Funerals are always a sobering reminder that life is indeed short. Where do the years go? Time just flies by! Each year seems to go quicker and quicker! These are comments which we often hear (and say), particularly the older one gets. I have just preached a  sermon on the life of King David where we reflected on the people he asked to see as he approached death, and the memories that each person would evoke in David’s mind as he saw their faces and remembered past times. In the face of Bathsheba David would be reminded of how sin alters a relationship with God, in the face of Zadok the Priest he would be reminded of loyalty, a trusted friend and mentor, in Nathan the Prophet’s face, mercy; courage in Benaiah’s face, a fellow warrior, and hope in the face of his son Solomon. Finally, the last face is the face of God (Psalm 17). As I prepared the message it provoked the question in myself, if I had only one week to live, who would I call to my bedside and what would I see in their faces? But also the question could be asked, what would they be reminded of when they saw my face?

Each of us makes an impact in life, no matter how short or long. That impact will be either positive or negative, but no one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue.

Think of times in your life when you've really made an impact somehow. Chances are your heart was really involved in what you were doing, and your actions were coming out of a positive approach. Attitude directly affects the quantity and quality of your influence. Throughout history, Christians have striven to be like Jesus. Philippians 2:5 says, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus"---but how do you do that?

Whilst ‘surfing the net’ I came across these five pieces of advice on how we can make that impact for Christ, and I think they are worth sharing with you.

1. Spend time each day in prayer.
The more time you spend talking with someone, the more you become like him. Even Jesus spent time daily with God the Father. Mark 1:35 says, "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." As you spend time with Jesus, your mindset will begin to mirror His.

2.     2. Know your identity and purpose.
If you've committed your life to Jesus, you must never doubt your identity as a child of God. Continue to ask God to reveal His purpose for your life until you are sure. Jesus was sure of His calling. In John 10:10, Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." When we know our mandate as Jesus did when He was on the earth, our impact will also be great.

3. Demonstrate genuine humility and servanthood.
In John 13, Jesus took the dirtiest job of that day by washing His disciples' feet. This was normally a task for the least valued slave. If Jesus, the King of all kings, valued serving one another with humility as much as this, so should you. In all the good works you do, you must be careful your motivation isn't pride. A good test is to ask yourself, "Would I be doing this good deed if no one would ever find out?"

4. Lead with boldness.
In Matthew 21, when the money changers were in the temple buying and selling, Jesus came with a whip and drove them out. He didn't risk offending anyone at the cost of disobeying God. He declared, "It is written, 'My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.'" The people needed to be rebuked because their focus in the temple was completely wrong. Don't allow timidity or the desire to please others to keep you from doing what is right.

5. Show compassion and great love toward others.
Jesus fed the 4,000 in Mark 8:2, saying, "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat." The climax of His love was when He died on the cross for the sins of all people. There is no greater love than to lay down your life for others, but showing love doesn't have to mean giving your blood. Love others by being generous with your time, energy, sweat, attention and heart. Easier said than done---but changing your attitude to be more like Jesus means putting others' needs before your own.

My prayer for every Christian at Plymouth Christian Centre is that each of us will see the face of God when we make our last journey to everlasting glory and hear the voice of Jesus saying ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’, because then we will know that our work for the Kingdom here on earth was not in vain. 

WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE TO THE RESURRECTION?

Posted by Geoff Lee on Wednesday, 27 March, 2013 @ 2:57 PM

At Easter we celebrate the greatest miracle that ever happened. The shocking and sudden death of Jesus at the hands of Roman executioners – crucified in agony on a cross. His burial in a tomb. And three days later – the day we celebrate as Easter Sunday – the miracle of his resurrection; not from the brink of death, but from death itself. This weekend of Easter is at the very epicentre of the Christian faith. The doctrine of the death and resurrection of Jesus is not an optional extra for a bespoke faith – or a make-your-own spirituality. Without Jesus’ resurrection there is no good news at all.

As John Stott once stated:
“Christianity is in its very essence a resurrection religion. The concept of resurrection lies at its heart. If you remove it, Christianity is destroyed.”

The absolute centrality of the resurrection to the Christian faith is echoed by C.S.Lewis:
“The Christian story is precisely the story of one grand miracle, the Christian assertion being that what is beyond all space and time, what is uncreated, eternal, came into nature, into human nature, descended into his own universe, and rose again, bringing nature up with Him. It is precisely one great miracle. If you take that away there is nothing specifically Christian left.”

If there is no resurrection – there is no gospel. There is no Christian faith. There is no life after death. But why is it so important? What does Easter mean? What is it all about?! And what is your personal response to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? What has it got to do with you? What has Jesus got to do with you?

In Jesus’ day, people responded very differently to the news of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Thomas, one of the followers of Jesus, doubted the resurrection. He had believed that Jesus was the Messiah, and then Jesus had died. Thomas was traumatised. Thomas was very much of the school: “I’ll believe it when I see it!” There was Cleopas, who was walking with a companion to Emmaus when Jesus turned up. Cleopas was disillusioned and disappointed with the way things had turned out – he had put his hope and faith in Jesus and could not understand why he had died. And of course, there was Peter, who denied Jesus vehemently three times. The risen Jesus gives a broken and failed Peter another chance and a fresh start.

In the three characters of Thomas, Cleopas and Peter, we see different responses to the resurrection of Jesus – from someone who is full of doubt, to someone who is dejected and disillusioned, to someone who has denied Jesus.

All of them were radically changed following an encounter with the risen Jesus.

And we can be too.

“If Jesus rose from the dead you have to accept all he said, if he didn’t rise from the dead then why worry about anything he said…If Jesus rose from the dead, it changes everything. (Tim Keller)

The Power of Choice

Posted by Richard Bunt on Wednesday, 13 February, 2013 @ 4:00 PM

‘Our greatest power is the power of choice; our greatest freedom lies in the exercise of our power of choice.’

William Curtis

 

How much power do we really have over our own lives? Recent events have shown that we are all at the mercy of circumstances outside of our control. We see this in the political world where decisions made, and policies and laws passed change the way we live our lives, and what was illegal years ago becomes legal, what was unacceptable practice becomes acceptable. We see it in nature, in the recent floods that have affected people all over the country, including people in our own church. We see this in the world of business and commerce where events beyond the control of even the world’s biggest banks affect us in terms of employment and what we can buy with the pound in our pocket. These are just some examples, and I am sure that you could add many more to the list.

So, the question remains, how much power do we really have over our own lives? The Bible makes it very clear from the Book of Genesis to Revelation that all of us have the power to choose, between right and wrong, good and evil, selfishness and other-people-centredness, God and Satan, the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world’s system. It also insists that we all make a choice, and that no-one will be able to offer any excuse for making the wrong choice when we stand before God to give an account for our lives, we cannot blame our circumstances, (Romans 1:19-20).

The church is to be seen as God’s answer to this world’s problems with a message that is radically different to the world’s system, and tells us that we do not have to be at the mercy of changing circumstances around us, that whatever we face in life, we can know contentedness and peace; and although there are aspects of our lives which we cannot control, we always have the power of choice before us, to choose between living as a child of God or as a citizen of the world.

I am so pleased to be in a church where serving Christ and serving others is central to what we do. John Kirkby’s visit to us served as yet another reminder of how a person, who had lost control of his life was radically changed the moment he trusted Christ to give him a new start in life, and how God used him to launch the very impressive ministry of Christians Against Poverty (CAP.) You can listen to his story here >

Many people in today’s society have lost control of their lives, whether through debt, family break-up, addiction or unemployment. Events seem to be beyond our control, yet, within all this mess we still have the power to choose our reaction and our destiny in life, and the church is the carrier of Good News – it does not have to remain that way. There is a person, to whom belongs ultimate power, a person who is working with all his heart, soul and might to do good for us. That person is Jesus Christ!

Let us continue to work to make his name and fame known among those who have lost control and power over their lives, those who feel helpless with no sense of hope; let’s make every effort to present to them Jesus Christ, that they can have the chance of making the most important choice of all, to give control of their lives to the power of the gospel Christ, so that they are no longer at the mercy of events in this world.

There is a song that we used to sing in church which sums up these thoughts:

I do not know what lies ahead,
The way I cannot see,
yet one stands near to be my guide,
He'll show the way to me.

I know who holds the future
And He'll guide me with His hand
With God things don't just happen,
Everything by Him is planned,
So as I face tomorrow,
With its problems large and small,
I'll trust the God of miracles,
Give to Him my all.

I do not know how many days
Of life are mine to spend,
But one who knows and cares for me
Will keep me to the end.

I do not know the course ahead,
What joys and griefs are there.
But one stands near who fully knows,
I'll trust His loving care.

May you continue to know God’s power and grace in your lives as you serve Him.

A new year…a fresh start

Posted by Geoff Lee on Monday, 7 January, 2013 @ 12:03 PM

This time of year gives us the opportunity to draw a line in the sand. Whether it was an annus horribilis, or an annus mirabilis, for good or bad, 2012 is behind us and a new year lies ahead. There is no going back – only forwards. This season provides us with a natural marker – an opportunity to look back and review and a sense of the potential for renewal and a fresh start. Like an old etch-a-sketch, or a new iPad, you can wipe the screen and start again. The Bible speaks of “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” – the changeover in the calendar is as good a time as any to do this.

I always get an itch around this time of year to declutter. I can’t help myself. I develop a visceral need to clean out cupboards and wardrobes and rooms – out with the old, in with the new. This applies spiritually as well as physically. This is a time for me to seek a renewed sense of God’s presence, to “draw near to God”, to go deeper. Often this desire comes from a sense of drifting, of a cluttered life that has placed God at the fringes. I need to centre on God again – to reorder my priorities, to declutter my soul. A beautiful poem by Eugene Peterson expresses this season for me:


The stark empty branches of the tree in winter are a “deciduous reminder to let it go.” This is a time to throw off the hindrances and bad habits of last year, and in my state of emptiness, to turn to God. It’s a time of examination and evaluation. A good tool in this respect is the Prayer of Examen, an ancient form of prayer introduced by Ignatius, which has four stages of reflecting on the presence of God, gratitude, review, and response. You can find more information on this here. Also, this is a good time to engage afresh with the Bible. There are a multitude of different ways to read the Bible, some of which are listed here. The main thing is to make a start – and keep going!

I wish you a Happy New Year and pray that in this coming year you will prosper, even as your soul prospers.

Warm regards

Geoff

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