On the evening of 18 December we will be doing our annual lightning tour of West View Lodge and Sheraton Court, singing carols for the residents and hopefully bringing a little bit of the Christmas story to them. It is a real privilege to be able to do this for the residents of these homes. We’re not the world’s best singers but we hope that the love and enthusiasm we try to share will make the residents happy.
Conferences, workshops and courses
As promised we’re continuing the reflection of the themes that were explored when Ian and Terry attended the Xcel Mens conference in Bradford.
In 1 Chronicles we explored the idea of success and whether or not we all actually knew what it was we were fighting for. We were offered the story of a group of America’s most successful men from 1923 who were alleged to have met at the Edgeware Beach hotel in Chicago. Howard Hopson, Ivar Kreuger, and Richard Whitney were just some of the 8 or so attending. Whilst this meeting of the rich and famous seems to be in historical doubt, the names of the business leaders definitely show what happened as the American business and finance sectors went into decline. Within a few short years some of these men were poverty stricken, some had committed suicide, some were in prison for criminal acts committed trying to hold on to their “success”. They did not experience the peace that Jesus brings. They were measuring success in terms of financial riches. We’re all rich in Jesus. We need to unleash the lion of our faith and belief. We need to fight the uncommon fight that often flies in the face of how others measure success. God sends us brothers that become warriors along side you. They may not look like it at the time but they will be the ones who will stand shoulder to shoulder through the tough times. Understand what it is you are prepared to fight for. Make a list, family, friends, beliefs, principles, be clear in your own mind. Success depends on faithfulness to God but you also need to be wary. Success can breed complacency and lead you to try to rely on your owns strengths and talents. We see Saul deep in fear contrasted against David’s courage. So many strive for wrong success. Success is being a man after God’s own heart. In 1 Chronicles we see David on the threshold of a huge decision. This is the point at which Saul’s influence is over. Saul wanted all the trappings of richness. David on the other hand remembers his humble beginnings. Remember the simple things in life, serving at tables, washing dishes. Fill your life with great purposes and great things. Get things under control get rid of addictions. Remember that whatever Jesus is not Lord over is what the devil will try to break you with. Remember Jesus was raised as the son of a working man as well as being the son of God.
In Ephesians 6 we see Paul summing up the last of his four letters from prison. He probably wrote this around AD 60-62 and he’s painting a picture of the glorious power of Jesus. We get to God because of what Jesus did for us. Many people think Chrisitians are somehow doing God a favour by following him. Nothing could be further from the truth. We fall into the wrong hands if we get all righteous and self satisfied. Learn from each other and keep each other on the right path. The older folks in the church can warn the younger folks what the evil one will try. The enemy schemes to get you and C.S Lewis in his Screwtape Letters illustrates this well. Different things work on different people. Struggles with finances, addictions, sexual atttractions, these are old battles that will be faced by your children and their children. Be able to say “Get behind me Satan, I knew you were coming. My friends in my church community warned me.” Remember you will need to take your stand over and over. Visualise the scene from Braveheart. .. You will have to hold, hold, hold. Stand firm, stand honest and stand with integrity. Paul in describing the armour of God is probably writing, looking at the soldier he has been shackled to. He wasn’t discouraged at being in that situation. Far from it. He wrote and encouraged others. He kept serving. The shield of faith he describes is critical piece for all of us. A recent example of why this was needed was demonstrated at a civic reception where people were able to have 3 minutes telling their local official what they thought of their work. Over and over and over again people heaped abuse and complaint on the officials, not once pasing to reflect on the good stuff. This is what the enemy does, throwing venom and fire your way. You have the shield prepared and dampened to protect you from fire. You are a child of God, brand new in Jesus drawing on the strength of the word of God.
In 1 Timothy we looked at the importance of reading things in context, getting things right to teach and preach. Timothy did not see himself as a warrior but he fought with faith in his core. So many men have unhealthy interests in conflict and enjoy arguing. Don’t go picking fights. Save your energy for the fights that pick you. There will be plenty of them. Think about the uncommon things you are fighting for. Remember we just getting started, we’re beat up but we know how to build up. Take hold of eternal life. Unleash the lion for family for future generations. The enemy makes mileage from poor decisions, bad relationships and bad temper. We need to walk by what we know in our spirit. Love your wife and family like Christ loved the Church.
Terry and Ian took the opportunity to travel to Bradford to take part in the conference. Sadly the planned guest pastor was unable to attend due to his mother’s illness. Our prayers and best wishes are with him and his family. Replacements were drafted in at the last minute and they shared some very powerful thoughts on fighting the good fight of faith.,
Dave Niblock and Steve Gambill, joined by Earl McClellan preaching from midday on the Saturday after a frantic dash from the USA to the UK. His transport from London to Bradford didn’t go as planned so Pastor Niblock stepped in to lead the morning session.
Building on the days’ theme we had a real tour of the Bible. We visited 1 Kings to hear about Famous Last Words with David talking to Solomon, telling him to be strong, act like a man and walk in obedience to the Lord. God doesn’t call us to be men who don’t step up. He is calling us to come shouting and ready to engage the enemy. He doesn’t want us to be people who shout the war cries but then don’t engage with the enemies. David slew Goliath because he engaged when others would not. But God also wants honourable men. David had the chance to slay Saul in the cave whilst Saul was otherwise occupied (Check your bibles for why Saul was busy!)
Important lesson was that we cannot trust someone who is over us if we weren’t able to trust them when they were under us. Don’t let power go to your head as a leader. Don’t work to remove your leaders or undermine them. If God doesn’t want them there he’ll sort it out for you. Valuable lesson for all those who’s work or gifting requires them to lead and offer an example to others.
In Ecclesiastes 3 we looked at the seasons, acknowledging that we all have our favourites but that we needed to recognise that all the seasons are necessary and we don’t get to skip them. Importantly we’re not here by accident or chance. You are on purpose, your church is on purpose. The season you find yourself in right now is producing something for your life even if it doesn’t feel like it. Learn to appreciate the ebb and flow of life. Even though we only see what is on the surface, seeds are hidden away underground waiting for their season. Remember none like the word patience, but Paul showed us how to use that in his seasons of shipwreck and imprisonment.
In John 16:33 we were reminded that we were told we would, not we might, have troubles. Our victory is found always in Jesus. We need to remember that it is always cross, tomb and resurrection, always! The enemy wants you to believe you will always be in the tomb but that not true. Resurrection is on the way.
In Luke 4 we saw the enemy questioning the identity of Jesus and he will try to sow the same seed of doubt in your life.
Everywhere Terry turned he was prompted to Jeremiah 29:11 which is the verse he keeps on his desk at work. It was mentioned in 3 separate preaching sessions, and was even on the blackboard of the mock up of a school in the Compassionate Experience. If you get a chance to visit the Experience as it tours around the country, we would recommend it.
We also walked through 1 Chronicles, Ephesians 6 and 1 Timothy but we’ll save them for another day.
Saturday 3 June is the BMS Blast.
It’s a family fun day to raise funds for the BMS Action Teams. There will be food, fun and music by The Apple Tree.