Be Encouraged in Crisis

Throughout the Covid-19 crisis we are sending out encouragement via email to our congregation. Be Encouraged!

Wed 28/10/20

Good morning Church,

A Native American was once asked what it was like after becoming a Christian. He was still young in the faith and said that it was like having two dogs inside him, with both pulling in opposite directions – one to the good and the other to the bad. He was then asked which dog won. In replying he said, “whichever one I feed most.”
In the life of Elijah, we come across and incident occurring shortly after God’s amazing victory over the prophets of Baal on Carmel. Undoubtedly Elijah must have then thought that everything was now done and dusted – but then he heard that Jezebel was not fazed by what had happened and was coming for his life, and he ran.
Elijah drops off his servant and heads out into the desert, finally sitting down under a tree and praying that he would die, saying, “I’ve had enough” (1 Kings 19:3-5).
 
God could Have castigated this struggling prophet and challenged Elijah concerning his faith, yet instead reaches out to Elijah in a beautiful way. He feeds him, not once, but twice…
 
“…All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and rank and then lay down again.  The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he travelled forty days and forty nights util he reached Horeb, the mountain of God….”
 
We are in a spiritual battle, and sometimes may find ourselves struggling and wanting to give up. On these occasions I have always found it encouraging to slow down and remember this part of the story about Elijah. God understands us and even when we feel like giving up, is more than willing to come alongside us and feed us through His word. So, when you struggle, ask the Holy Spirit to help you as you sit down, flip through the Bible and ask God to feed and uplift you.
 
God Bless
Jem and Pete
 

______________

Mon 26/10/20

Good morning Church,
 
Have you ever been in a situation with technology where you forget your password for something important? Normally it will happen when you are busy and the thing that needs accessing needs accessing now. Having limited access to something important can be infuriating!
In fact in a 2013 survey of American adults, 36% reported that they had screamed, yelled, cursed, or physically assaulted their computers in the last six months.
 
Giving limited access to God is something I have definitely done and I would wager you have too. Either consciously or unconsciously saying I am going to give God limited access; these things in my life are not God’s things, but mine. To really and truly surrender all is an understandably frightening prospect and I sometimes catch myself when singing songs like ‘All to Jesus I surrender’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SW8EA7DEQ2M); I begin to sing and then I think, ‘do I really?’.
 
‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.’ Romans 12:1
 
God’s spirit can flow through the whole of your life unfettered; the fear of giving total, unrestricted access is groundless. In fact the mere idea that you can keep God out by your own force of will is an illusion. God is God of all, master of all he sees all.
 
When some personal fault or problem is uncovered we want to jump on the lid and hide it, ‘nothing to see here!‘ but it has never been hidden from God. We can however say thank goodness you have found this out Lord, how do we set it right?  
 
God wants to be known personally and walk intimately with you. He has always pursued relationship, that is the whole story of scripture, and His will is never frustrated or thwarted by our sin. He sent his own son to show us a sinless life, and then granted us life by His death.
 
We are saved! That is the Good News. Better news yet is that we are also being transformed by the Spirit throughout our lives.         
 
‘As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more’. 1 Thessalonians 4:1
 
You won't wake up one day and finish your Christianity like finishing the last chapter of a novel, because it is a marriage with God with no end, a great walk with the grandest company. Even those parts of your life that you think are the most mundane can be made pleasing to God.
 
‘So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.’ 1 Corinthians 10:31     
 
God already has unrestricted access to your whole life, just see what he will do if you personally and freely welcome him in to all of it.
 
God Bless
Pete and Jem

________________

Fri 23/10/20

Good morning Church,
 
Help!  I can’t see the wood for the trees is a common expression when we get so engrossed in the details of a situation and fail to see the big picture.  Life is complicated enough, we say, without having to deal with the extra restrictions and regulations connected to the Covid-19 pandemic.  We find ourselves having to cope with shopping and face masks, the inconvenience of queueing and leaving enough space for others, as well as continuing to deal with the normal things like working, childcare, doctors and hospital appointments and million and one other things that make up our humdrum daily existence.
 
It could be easy to forget that in the roundabout of life, the Christian has a different journey, a definite future and a distinctly glorious destination.  Through our faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord, we are set on a track that guarantees our eternal future.  He calls us to trust him but so often life seems to take centre-stage and steals away the joy and contentment we thought we had.
 
The good news is that Jesus’ presence in our lives gives us reasons to be joyful and thankful because he becomes the energy that drives us on. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy
I am not ashamed because I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. 2 Tim 1:12.
 
He wrote this when he was suffering for being a Christian.  He was fully persuaded that anything and everything that life might throw at him was no match for the security that Jesus’ presence gave him.  We should never feel ashamed when we trust God with our lives, however dysfunctional they may seem.  Paul was also convinced that nothing was going to distract him from trusting his whole life into God’s hands.
 
That’s what faith is.  He asks us to trust him when our plans don’t work out, when our health deteriorates and when life gets tough.  He guards us through the here and now because he holds our eternal future secure.
 
 
Lord Jesus, I am convinced that your promises are trustworthy.  Today I choose to commit my whole life to you as my guardian and rest in the security of your love. Amen
 
Kingsley

_______________

Wed 21/10/20

Good afternoon Church,

“To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ — their Lord and ours:  Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
                                                                                                                                                  1 Corinthians 1:1-3

The church in Corinth was going through many difficulties at the time that Paul wrote to them, yet he still begins by reminding them that they are the church of God in Corinth who have been  brought into close fellowship with God through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. In writing this way we see that Paul does not make the mistake of dwelling on the negative first and foremost or of thinking of people as simply objects that need to be fixed. As I write this I am reminded of the words of one psychotherapist who touched upon this problem when he said, “The mortal wound of psychotherapy occurred when it made objects-to-be- fixed of the people it was trying to help.”  Think about it!  In all Paul’s writing we see a man who genuinely cared for people, not seeing them as objects to be fixed but people to be loved and encouraged through the word of God.
 
Today, perhaps more than ever, we need to make the effort to befriend those around us and share our lives with them as Jesus shares life with us. Even if we are unable to reach out to others because of illness or being housebound, we can still pray for those around us. For example, you could pray for those who read the Christian newspapers that go out from this church and so many other churches around this country.
 
Recently Ann spoke to a woman who has just joined the Lighthouse Furniture Project as a volunteer. In getting to know Ann, this new volunteer began to open up and mentioned that she suffered from depression. Ann then asked if she could pray for her and this was gratefully received with the comment being made that she might try and get along to church. Praying for this woman was not an attempt to prove God exists or to get her fixed, but a simple act of love anointed and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
 
How do you see your friends, family and church, and society around you? Do you see everyone and everything as things that need fixing or as people with whom you can share your life with as Christ shares His with you? In having the wrong attitude, we create a them and us situation, whereas in sharing our lives and what Christ means to us, we find the power and presence of the Holy Spirit leading us.
 
You and I have never been seen by God as objects to be fixed but as sinners who are called home through the work of Jesus to be His sons and daughters. May we never lose sight of this as we support and encourage one another, not with recipes or prescriptions to get them fixed but through a genuine giving of self and a trust in the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Be encouraged.  As one Christian writer once said, “The church…. joins (people) together into an unbreakable communion and teaches the norms for all the relationships of life - even outside the church.”  Be encouraged.

God Bless
Jem and Pete

________________

Mon 19/10/20

Good morning Church,
 
Listening to Jem, last week he revealed that a camel can drink over thirty gallons of water at a time and I later read that the camel can do this in just a few minutes.
 
I was curious as my morning reading was about Rebekah in Genesis 24. The story told is of Abraham sending out his chief servant, Eliezer, on a 500 mile trip to his homeland to find a wife for Isaac from Abraham’s family who still lived there. Not a method that would go down well with most sons today but this was God’s will.
 
How would the servant find the family? How would he know the girl to be chosen? Would it please his master? He prayed for guidance.
 
He loaded up the ten camels with provisions and gifts and, of course, 300 gallons in the humps!
 
A few weeks later Eliezer arrived at a well in the vicinity of Nahor. As he arrived he immediately prayed for guidance and saw a beautiful young lady carrying an urn to collect water from the well. The urn filled, Rebekah walked past Eliezer and he asked for a drink of water. He was a stranger but she willingly offered him a drink. She then offered to fill the trough until all the camels finished drinking. He continued in prayer.
 
She was a true servant. You can work it out as well as me. 10 camels at 30+ gallons of water is 300 gallons weighing around 1350 kilos to get from the well and carry to the trough. A true and willing servant heart.
 
He prayed for a sign from God and God answered even before he had finished praying (Before they call, I will answer. Is.65.24).
Then after all her work was complete, they talked and he discovered that Rebekah was the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother. All the boxes ticked!
The rest of the story is in Gen 20.
 
I often pray and await an answer but how often do I pray when God has already answered because he already knew my needs.
 
Malcolm

___________________

Fri 16/10/20

Good morning Church,
 
There is humour in the Bible but we can easily miss it. One such place is Exodus 16:13-15 where God answered Israel’s prayer for food.
 
‘That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.’
 
That is how manna is introduced. ‘What is it?’ in Hebrew is ‘man-he’ or ‘man-na’ The Hebrew language has no question marks so a word for word translation of ‘manna’ would be ‘It is whatness’.
 
You can imagine the appearance of this strange substance and the rumours spreading around camp ‘what is it? what is it? what is it?’ … and then in 16:31 some bright spark comes up with a name for it, ‘The people of Israel called the bread What Is It? (Manna)’. It is funny sometimes how baffling God’s provision is. Sometimes God provides and answers our prayers but we are initially oblivious that our need has been met.
 
 
I remember once I was at an evening worship event in a field immediately before I was due to leave for Bible College. I was desperately praying for my next step, my future direction, my life plan. Praying that I would be useful and directed by Him, where would I go? What would I do? How would I do it?
 
The song ‘God of Justice’ by Tim Hughes was being played (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3NelRb1LY4) the middle section repeats the phrase ‘fill us up and send us out’. In my mind this increased the volume of my prayer ‘Yes Lord, send me out, where do I go?’ I had such an increasing sense of urgency, like trying to hold in a sneeze I had to be sent out right now, I had to exit the premises and leave immediately. So I started walking.
 
As I left the music and atmosphere behind, I suddenly felt very foolish but carried on walking, picking paths at random. I ended up in some woods and I could hear voices talking in the darkness. I could see a group of about 5 young lads having a serious discussion but they hadn’t seen me yet. I said a quick prayer that went something like ‘this is very odd Lord, I might be wrong but I think you have brought me here, I will go and offer to pray for these teenagers and see what happens after that’. So I trundled over and introduced myself, ‘Hi guys, this is very unusual and this has never happened to me but I really feel like I have been led here to pray for you is there anything I can pray for?’
 
These lads, none of whom, were Christian had been invited to the same event I was at. They had been tricked by a Christian friend who had told them it was a music concert, they had heard people praying and asking God for help in difficult situations and had found the whole thing weird and snuck off to the woods together to wait it out. One of these boys had a very difficult home life and had fallen out with his Mum, one of his friends had suggested asking for prayer back there, if God’s not real it wont do any harm but it seemed to have helped those people. He refused because it would be embarrassing and that was the moment a stranger walked over and offered to pray with them.
 
I sat with them for about 30 min talking and praying with them and I never saw them again. I walked back to the event laughing to myself at God’s humour. ‘Very good, here I am praying to see the map of my whole life but you Lord, can use me one step at a time and my next step is about trusting you.’
 
God provides for our needs and also knows our needs better than we do. The greatest of which is always to know and trust Him, the one who gave you life.
 
God Bless
Pete and Jem

______________

Wed 14/10/20

Good morning Church,
 
‘Should have gone to Specsavers’ is a line that conjures up amusing pictures of people not realising what has just happened to them.  This TV advert shows people, with defective eyesight, involved in unintended experiences that could have been avoided if they had spectacles.  Everyone, to a greater of lesser degree, has less than perfect eyesight and the vision industry has given us spectacles of amazing designs, contact lens of various colours and hi-tech lenses that have pictures and words projected into them that we can see and read.
 
Despite all the technological innovations and digital connectivity, humanity, as a whole, frequently fails to ‘see’ the consequences of our actions or the effect of our words.  We can so easily end up with war, isolation, illness, hate.  ‘That’s life’ we say as we view our own limitations and learn to live with imperfection and a weak hope that maybe tomorrow will be better.
 
But life doesn’t have to consist of settling for second best.  The Bible speaks about the hope of a better tomorrow AND a gloriously transformed today.  Our trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour changes our horizon from doom and gloom to joy and certainty – Yes, even though life is tough and the national outlook is bleak.  Our trust in Jesus enables to see through the immediate to the future, through the difficulty to the prize.  Heb 12:2 challenges us to focus on Jesus.  He is the author and perfecter of our faith, the designer and the builder, the beginning and the end.  Heb 2:9 reminds us to look at Jesus who went through the suffering of death and into the marvellous future of God’s eternity.
 
This makes the present for us who trust in Jesus so much more meaningful.  The difficulty will, one day, be superseded by the wonderful and the tough times are refinery that gets rid of the imperfections and allows the good to flourish in our lives.
 
Lord Jesus, today I raise my eyes to see the new horizon you have designed for me.  Come and be my strength and my purpose for living.  I choose not to let my circumstances rule my life but let your presence transform my daily experience. Amen.
 
Kingsley

_______________

Mon 12/10/20

Good morning Church,

“Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”
                                                     Psalm 32:6-7
 
For some strange reason, a fact that seems to have become stuck in my mind for the last few weeks is that a thirsty camel can drink over 200 litres of water in just over three minutes – I guess that this must have really impressed me! This got me thinking about other random pieces of information such as that a whale can produce a sound which can be detected over 800 kilometres away and that an elephants’ tooth can weight over 4.5 kilos.

According to science we have over 70,000 thoughts a day and our resting brain uses one-fifth of a calorie per minute and, when awake, can produce enough electricity to power a small light bulb. A more sobering fact concerning impact upon the mind is that violent homes have the same effect on children’s brains as combat does on soldiers.

We are incredibly complicated people in an incredibly complicated world and yet sometimes we lose sight of this and just breeze on through life in the best we can instead of slowing down and meditating on heavenly Father– the One who knows all things and has never given up on us.

His son is the One who wept with Mary and Martha, washed the disciple’s feet and after His resurrection made a meal by the shores of Galilee, whilst helping Peter see what forgiveness and love was about, all over again. God is absolutely amazing and has drawn close enough for us to “taste and see that the Lord is good” and experience the goodness of His presence. You and I may not always know what is going on, but we can rest in knowing that He does, and therein lies our security. Be encouraged; you have not been created to know all things, but you have been created to know Him!

God Bless
Jem and Pete

_______________

Fri 09/10/20

Good morning Church,
 
People are very strange aren’t they? God has made them, Sin has changed them, and Christ can remake them.
 
‘He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.0’
Ecclesiastes 3:11
 
In the previous 9 verses the author details a time for each activity ‘under the sun’ detailing our human fragility; nothing is certain with us, life can change quickly and there is beauty in that, we are an ever-changing landscape of emotions and circumstances. Within one year our world has changed and we have all responded to that change. But God has set eternity in the human heart, we live and breath in the moment but our hearts are not made for it or fulfilled by it. As the Rolling Stones sang ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’, there is a black hole in our hearts, it is possible to pour all the riches and experiences of the world into it and we will not be filled, we will always be lacking, we will always be craving because our hearts are not made for things but for relationship with eternity, the eternal one God.
 
‘What does this craving proclaim, that there was once in man a true happiness, which is now only a trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things the help he cannot find since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite object; in other words by God himself.’
Adapted from Blaise Pascal, Pensées VII
 
Jesus Christ is the eternal God made flesh to know us, love us and fill that longing and hunger in us.
 
‘Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’
John 6:35

God Bless
Pete and Jem

_______________

Wed 07/10/20

Good Morning Church,
 
Have you ever gone shopping with the intention of browsing but not buying?  Remember that?  Yes, I hear you say “In haven’t browsed for months, Covid-19 and all that!”  As you wander up and down the isles an annoying sales assistant comes alongside and asks if they can help.  You immediately reply “No I’m just looking” but on reflection you really would like some help but without the pressure to buy and then regret it afterwards.
 
I’ve never met Zack before but I think he had this problem once.  A self-employed guy who had an eye for a nice little earner, his debt collection business was so good that the government sub-contracted part of their revenue and customs operations to him and as long as he delivered on the contract, he was able to pocket any excess.  Why didn’t I think of that you could be thinking – silently of course!  But for all his wealth, there was an aching void that could not be filled with anything of value or satisfaction. 
 
He went browsing once but ended up with the most amazing bargain that you would never had imagined had you been there.  His safe spot, a tree, was no camouflage from the attractiveness of the offer and the person offering it.  He found himself face to face with Jesus who saw right through to Zack’s heart and showed him that his business was blinding him to the beautiful freedom of Jesus being the Lord of his life.  He could have walked away that day but he chose to let Jesus rearrange his thinking, his values and his lifestyle in such a way that he found himself wondering why he had not done this before.
 
When, like Zack we choose to expose our lives to the spotlight of Jesus’ challenge, we are on dangerous ground because things happen.  We not only see our lives with all their shortcomings but we also find our confession matched by his forgiveness.  Whether we have been trusting in Jesus for many years or have never really taken that step of faith before, the result is the same.  The struggle to confess is no match for the beautiful joy of forgiveness.  This opens the door to a restored relationship with Jesus that becomes the bedrock of our lives.
 
Lord, Jesus today I open my life to your scrutiny (again/for the first time).  Come and be the driving force that transforms my day and my life.  I don’t want to browse again but enter fully into your purposes for my life. Amen
 
Kingsley

_______________

Mon 05/10/20

Good morning Church
“Hasten, O God, to save me; O Lord, come quickly to help me.” 
Psalm 70:1 

All across the world there are Christians who continue to stand for their faith even though it may cost them their freedom or even their lives. This reminds me of a statement I once read which went along the lines of, “It has been said that true courage is not being fearless, it is being afraid and still moving forward without quitting.”  I pray that you and I and our fellowship may always move forward in the Lord and not be crippled by wrong thinking or a fear of the unknown. Fear leads to a slowing down and the building of our own walls of protection and ends up leaving us living a life that is more a siege mentality than a Spirit-empowered walk with the Shepherd King. 

In the words of Psalm seventy we see David being honest about his feelings. He is, in a very real sense, crying out “help.” He is not just asking for deliverance but asking the One he trusts most to reveal Himself in a way whereby David could experience God’s help amidst the difficulties that sought to overwhelm him. Like us, David knows that God is concerned about our lives and that He has committed Himself to reaching out to humanity and therein lies our hope – not in our own resources (later David confesses that he is poor, oppressed and needy-v5) but in the One who gives us His very best. 

When God sends us out into the world we are blessed. We are not sent out as if we were disposable tin soldiers, or orphans, or those who have to prove themselves in any way. We are sent out as those who are blessed, who are fuelled by the Word of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, there may be times when we struggle and as if the world is hemming us in, but we can always cry out “help” as so many do round our world and know, yet again, His sustaining presences. Be encouraged. 

God Bless
Jem and Pete
________________________________

Fri 02/10/20

Good morning Church,
We all have started carrying a new item with us alongside our keys, purse/wallet and phone, the new must have item of 2020 is the face covering. It is now very important to be covered when in public for your own protection and the protection of others. 

This new must have item got me thinking; there is a covering that the Bible speaks of that is more essential, life protecting and vital than any other if people would only realise their need for it.

Atonement is a scary sounding word, but its Old Testament meaning is very simple; covering, the root image is the pitch and tar added to the bottom of a boat. It seals, secures and protects the boat, this covering creates within the bows of the boat a space of safety and repels the raging sea outside of it. At the same time it becomes one with and takes the place of, the fragile wooden boat. That is the core image of atonement, at-one-ment, unity and oneness with God. The atoning work of the cross make us ready not just for an audience with God but equips us and changes us for life now, when it has been accepted you won’t ever leave home without it.

God Bless
Pete and Jem              
 

________________
 
Wed 30/09/20

Good morning Church,
 
The story is told of a group of people who had gathered in a shop for a sale of some antiques.  The auctioneer brought out a dirty, dusty violin.  He told the audience that it was a Stradivarius and was worth a lot of money.  No-one, however was impressed and only one bid of £5 was offered.  Meanwhile a very tall man entered the shop wearing a velvet coat.  He walked to the front of the shop, picked up the violin and blew some of the dust off it.  As he did so a murmur went round the room “Paganini!”  For the next few minutes the world-famous violinist held everyone spellbound with the most virtuoso performance.  After he had stopped others started clamouring for the instrument as the bidding rocketed to fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety pounds.  Eventually the violin was bought for £100 by Paganini (1782-1840AD).  That evening he held an audience of thousands in rapt attention as he played the dirty, dusty violin once again.
 
In a world where performance and success are often imagined as key factors in our personal significance, it can be difficult to realise that the instrument has no ability without the player.  In our Christian lives redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we are that non-descript dusty violin that has no ability until God chooses to play his wonderful music in and through us.  It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that his gifts and abilities in us are brought to life.  He implants them in us.  He empowers them within us.  He makes them significant in us and effective.  But that only happens when we allow him to pick us up and stroke his bow over our strings.  Only then do we find out what beautiful music is possible out of our lives.
 
We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing
power is from God and not from us. (2 Cor 4:7)
 
Can we resist him?  Can we be distracted by so many other things in life?  Do we miss out on so much when we try hard to be successful?  Yes, yes and yes, but nothing can beat the realisation that allowing God to have total access to every part of our lives is the most amazing and rewarding experience we can or will have in this life.  It also brings great joy to his heart when he sees us living and working as he has designed us.
 
Father God, today I surrender my life to your mastery and design. 
I want you to be honoured in everything I am and praised
because of everything I do.  Amen
 
Kingsley

________

Mon 28/09/20

Good morning Church,
“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”
                                                                       Isaiah 30:18
 
As a young schoolboy there were many things I really longed for, like a new racing bike and an air rifle, and until I earned enough money for them through working on a farm in the summer holidays I would often find myself thinking about them – they were always somewhere in my thoughts no matter what was going on.

The above verse is couched between two passages warning Israel about trusting in her own strength and that of others. Yet these warnings are not from a harsh tyrant but from the One who longs to be gracious towards His people. Have you ever thought about that? That God longs to be gracious towards you, that God waits patiently so that He can be gracious to you and will rise in mercy and compassion when you open your heart to Him – no matter how wrong you have been. He is the Lord of justice and He loves righteousness and justice and the earth is full of his unfailing love (Psalm 33:5).

The justice of God is that One who sees and hears the cry of the weak and oppressed and cares about all people and yes, that includes you and me. So, as we go out into this week lets slow down for a moment and recognise that God longs to be gracious to us and to show us His compassion and bless us. Don’t rush out in your own strength; instead slow down and seek Him yet again and recognise that no matter what is going on, God longs to bless us but perhaps our real problem is that, like Israel at times, we are just not in the right mindset to receive it? Be encouraged and choose to be blessed!
 
The story I’ll Tell:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVCsJaPkvug

God Bless
Jem and Pete

_________________

Fri 25/09/20

Good morning Church,
 
One of the great joys I have in life is looking at the wonderful world created by our Lord. The beautiful trees and flowers, the harmonious colours on earth, sky and sea. Then we look at a new-born baby and gaze in astonishment of the complexity and beauty of God’s wonderful creation.
 
This autumn, whilst picking apples, my mind wandered into the complexity of a tree growing fruit. Just how does water get extracted out of the ground, sucked up through a solid tree trunk to feed the leaves and the fruit? How does it remember the flavour and the familiar markings you get on different types of apple? Then there are the pears, the oranges, the plums, where do you stop? It is all part of God’s wonderful creation. Fruit to be enjoyed.
 
This in turn reminded me of John 15. I am the true vine says Jesus and he will tend the vine and those that remain close to him will bear much fruit to be enjoyed.
 
Being a man of a certain age and with a reasonable knowledge of vineyards I am encouraged that the best grapes that produce the best wine come from the oldest vines, some over one hundred years old. Therefore, I must pray for and expect the good fruit to continue albeit I might need a little more tender care in my old age. But I know that my Father is the gardener (John 15:1) and he will always look after me.
 
Malcolm

________________

Wed 23/09/20

Good morning Church,
 
My lovely sweet Christian grandparents used a phrase that confused me as a child, if they wanted to describe someone else who was a good Christian they would say ‘he is a God fearing man’. What does that mean? Surely God wants our love not our fear? What have I to be fearful of, I have been made right with God through Christ?

Lets explore this biblically

Fear of the Lord is not…

Fear of punishment: ‘There is no fear in love… because fear has to do with punishment’ 1 John 4:18

Fear for your own life: ‘The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?’ Psalm 27:1 ‘The fear of the Lord leads to life.’ Psalm 19:23

Fear of the future: ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11

Fear of the Lord IS…
A joy and delight: ‘O Lord, ‘let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name.’ Nehemiah 1:11

‘His delight shall be the fear of the Lord." Proverbs 9:10

‘Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.’ Psalm 2:11

Understanding his majesty: ‘Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!’ Psalm 33:8

Wise: ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom' Proverbs 9:10

Ultimately freeing because it usurps all other fears: ‘I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears’ Psalm 34:4.

‘Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.’ Deuteronomy 31:6

‘Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.’ Proverbs 14:26

So the fear of the Lord frees you from all other fear. Imagine all fear and trouble that could ever be against you personified, hulking giants of misery arrayed before you. You are frozen, petrified you are at the mercy of their darkness.

But then you see them blink, fear is on the face of fear itself and they turn to run, a greater presence is here. The power of fear is an imaginary illusion in comparison to this true power, a presence full of awe deserving of reverence. You feel both fear and love, this is your heavenly father, you know he cherishes you but he stands now with you glaring, frightening and bristling with anger at His enemy. Like watching a powerful storm from a place of security and safety you understand both your smallness and your immense worth. That is the fear of the Lord.
________________

Mon 21/09/2020

Good afternoon Church,

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 
1 Corinthians 1:3 
 
I think it was in one of Ann’s daily readings last year that I came across an article speaking of a chrysalis and a butterfly. It went something like this: - 

A man was watching a butterfly struggling to break out of the chrysalis cocoon where incredible transformation had occurred. The newly formed butterfly was struggling so much that the man helped it to escape, little realising that his help would cause irreparable damage. This is because in pushing itself out of the chrysalis the butterfly needed to squeeze fluid from its wings which then dry out. Without this process happening the butterfly would be unable to fly. 

Sometimes we want to rush through life and push on in our own strength, yet life is far too intricate to do this, and apart from this we rarely see the full picture. Only God sees the full picture and knows exactly what He is doing, and, as I have sometimes found out to my own cost, there are no short cuts with Him. But there is the promise of help with every step we take in walking through these dusty realms. 
As one man put it when viewing the suffering and difficulty that life can often bring, we remember that His voice calls us, His death redeems us, His word emboldens us, His life inspires us, His Spirit empowers us, His resurrection revives us, His wounded hands heal us, His grace remakes us, His peace surrounds us, His presence overcomes us, His love sustains us and so , His name be praised today, now an for ever.  

Life is not about striving for something first and foremost, but about resting in all that someone else has done and that someone is Jesus Christ. Then, when we do have to strive, as we inevitably will at times, we have that deep knowingness that somehow, in all that we go through, it is going to be alright. It may not be what we want, but it is going to be alright because there is no day that goes by when God’s unfolding grace and love is not present for us. Be encouraged. 

God of the impossible: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKBj457ILUo&list=RDhKBj457ILUo&start_radio=1

God Bless
Jem and Pete
________________

Fri 18/09/20

Good afternoon Church
 
The 26th American president Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) is credited with saying ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’.  He is rated by some as the fifth best US president so maybe this should give him some credibility although this does what he was saying we should not do!  Yet comparison is something we do every day; even many times each day.  Is this coffee better that that?  Do I look better in these clothes or those?  Should I take this job or that?  Some decisions we make are of little or no consequence but when we start to compare ourselves with other people we begin to value ourselves according to their apparent worth, ability, popularity, status or significance.  This is where we need to stop.  This can reveal arrogance or low self-esteem and both are damaging.  Arrogance can give us an exhilarating ride for a while and low-self-esteem will imprison us.   
 
Being thankful that we are not like someone because…  immediately shows that we value that person less and when we wish we could be like another person, we value ourselves less.  Social media gives the whole world a licence to compare.  We are able to edit our profiles so we look our best and we can check regularly to see how many ‘likes’ we have but this only helps to massage our ego which only continues to demand more attention. 
 
The two men in Luke 18:9-14 where Jesus is telling a vivid story, represent two ends of a spectrum that we can easily find ourselves on.  One was so sure of his significance and worth that he even bragged about it to God whereas the other had nothing to offer except his admission of guilt.  That is where Jesus was able to step in and respond to their respective conditions.  Arrogance can only lead eventually to disappointment and regret but opening up our lives to Jesus’ transforming touch will definitely allow our worth to blossom. 
 
Because he created you, he knows your worth and significance; he invested everything in you by sending his Son to the cross and now he calls you to live in the joy of his presence and plans.  Look up and feel the warmth of his smile on you as he tells you how much you are worth.  That surely will be the greatest joy you can ever have. 
 
Father God, today I discard my own faulty evaluations of myself and open up my life to enjoy your smile.  Come and be the source of my joy.  Amen 
 
Kingsley 

__________________

Wed 16/09/20

Good morning Church,
 
Walking along the beach, as always, I was looking for something to collect, a pebble, shell, a piece of driftwood, anything to add to my collection of memories of places I have been, walks I have taken.

I saw the feather, it was small and soggy, wet from the receding tide, but it caught my eye, and I knew this was coming home with me. The light brown stripes were unusual, I didn’t know what bird had shed this feather, but in the days since it has dried out and now lies on my kitchen shelf, adding to my collection, bringing back memories every time I stand at the sink.
 
The phrase ‘as light as a feather’ comes to mind. I know that isn’t a Biblical phrase, but isn’t there a truth behind it when put in the context of Jesus desire for us? To live our lives unburdened and light as we refuse to carry our hurts and worries, handing them over to the One who can carry them.
 
After researching I found the feather belonged to a type of seagull as I suspected, and that seagull was precious to God. I was reminded of the verse
 
‘Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.’ (Matthew 10:29)
 
Doesn’t that bring you comfort? Our Heavenly Father is aware of a small bird like a sparrow falling to the ground, it doesn’t go unnoticed. If this is truth, how much more does our Father care for us?  That verse of scripture goes on to say:
 
‘And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows’ (Matthew 10:30-31)
 
In the context of this passage Jesus disciples are being sent out to proclaim the gospel, aware that they will be ridiculed, persecuted, and possibly hurt. Jesus reassures them that whatever the reaction of their listeners, they are precious, so valuable to Him, and they are not to worry.
 
What makes you afraid, or heavy burdened? In these days, all over the world, nations are fearful of the virus that has had the power to change society as we know it. Or maybe, life is just hard, full of worries, sickness, or fear of standing up for your faith. Your Father knows, and sees, and longs to carry your heavy load.
 
Today another storm is sweeping over our country. Later I will walk along the beach again, watching the seagulls swooping and swirling catching the wind currents. Not a care in the world, even in the midst of the storm.
I will remember the feather and the lessons it has taught me, the visual illustration of the lightness of Spirit I crave for so much
We can all experience this, we only need ask, remembering that we are so precious and fully known by our Father who loves us intensely.
 
Mary T.
______________________

Mon 14/09/20

Good morning Church,

On this beautiful Monday morning I am reminded of the words in Psalm 8 which effectively say, “I marvel at the majestic universe, the amazing stars and infinite galaxies. But amidst the entire universe you pay special attention to insignificant humans. YOU breathed life into dust to make them your very image. You have exalted them - You crowned their heads with glory and honour.” As one man once put it (I cannot remember who!), “We are cradled as human creatures in God’s fantastic world…”
 
God has always been interested in us and gave His absolute best so that we could come to Him, free from all condemnation and welcomed as sons and daughters. However, there can be times when we drift and, in doing so allow the world to shape our thinking as problems begin to dominate our day and negative emotions creep in.
 
The simple truth in all of this may  be that we have lost sight of the majesty and wonder of God and this incredible world that we live in and how important our lives are to Him – the One who knows exactly what He is doing.
 
Every day is an invitation to hand our lives over to Him and every day there is the opportunity to take His victory in all that comes our way. This does not mean that the things we face will suddenly go away, but it does mean that we have freedom in our hearts and minds and are not like a horse or mule that is controlled by the bit and bridle (Psalm 32:9-10) and have no  understanding.  What then happens wrong thinking and emotions begin to cripple us in the place where right thinking and corresponding emotions should be empowering us! Incidentally, David, who wrote so many of the Psalms and had what could be termed a very  up-and-down life at times, came to realise God’s goodness and encouraged others to partake in saying, “Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8).
 
As we go into this week not everything is necessarily going to go right for us, yet, in Him, we can always taste freedom and experience His love no matter what is going on. Men and women who have been imprisoned for their faith testify to this goodness as can we, when we look back over our lives.
 
The choice is ours – we can feel uncomfortable because we feel that the world is crashing in on us as we are slowly hooked into negativity, or we can feel uncomfortable in a different way when difficulty arises.  This uncomfortableness could be likened to exercise; it may make us feel uncomfortable, but it will eventually do us good. So, on this beautiful Monday morning just pause and say to yourself, “God is good, I am known and loved and  that my heavenly Father wants to help me walk in His victory no matter what comes my way.”  Be blessed.

God Bless
Jem and Pete
____________________

Fri 11/09/20

Good morning Church,

If you drive along, or shop in, Ongar Road you may have noticed a shop called ‘Flawless Faces’.  It tempts us in with the hope of maintaining or improving our looks, bringing out the best ‘me’, helping me to feel better about myself or attracting a mate.  Yet for all the promise of perfection, we never reach the point where we are totally happy with who we think we are or look.  Maybe this drives us to constantly strive for better, hoping that sometime soon we will be happy.  

I recently heard a radio interview with a black man in the music or entertainment industry who was asked whether would like his daughter to follow him.  He hesitated and replied by saying that he never tells her she is pretty but that she is beautiful.  That struck me as a wise thing to say as beauty is not just how we look but rather seen in the character we portray.

Christians are participants in the heavenly beauty industry.  As we look at God, as we open our faces to him and allow his glory to radiate into us rather than hiding away, we are transformed with ever increasing glory into his likeness! (2Cor 3:18) Surely that’s a beauty salon that we would queue for but there is no queue!  It is something that God does to us when we allow our lives to be exposed to the full force of his truth and love.  It may be a painful process as he changes the contours of our lives, as he deals with the ingrained habits, as he exposes the parts of our lives we would rather keep hidden.  Perhaps we need to take off the mask and let him do his transforming work of making the changes that he sees need to be made so that we become more like Jesus.

Father, today I open my life to your transforming work. Take me as I am and clear out anything that is not honouring to you.  I fully surrender my life to you so that it radiates your presence and love.  Amen

Kingsley
________________________

Wed 09/09/20

Good morning Church,

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
                         Luke 11:13
 
The day was bright and sunny, the water glistening, catching the sun’s rays. It was a beautiful scene and I settled down in my chair to watch the world go by. As I sat there on the beach watching the boats sail by I noticed one boat that didn’t seem to be going anywhere. It was a windy day, and the incoming tide was causing the sea to move fast in many different directions. This particular boat had the sails up but was being buffeted by the strong wind, at times going around in circles, at other times drifting aimlessly. I watched the other sailing boats, some with sails up some with their sails down, but they were charting a course through the choppy sea, heading out of the channel into the open waters, seemingly with no difficulty.
 
I was wondering what was wrong with the boat, had it lost its power? Then I realised, these other boats had their motors running. They were powered up and therefore had no problems cutting through the water.
 
As I sat there watching, I felt the Spirit within me use this as a visionary aid to remind me about the power of the Holy Spirit within all those who love and serve the Lord.

We have His Holy Spirit always with us to guide us and strengthen us enabling us to live this life with His help, keeping us on His path. We can have the appearance and the knowledge of knowing God, we can even carry on our lives believing and knowing He is with us, but if we haven’t asked for the power of His Holy Spirit to fill us each day we can end up doing things in our own strength getting weary and heavy laden as we attempt to live this Christian life. We can be tossed around, just like that sailing boat, without direction or power just because we have not asked for God’s infilling of His Holy Spirit.
 
It seems such an easy thing to ask for each morning, asking God to fill us and enable us to live through the power of His Spirit, but in fact it is a very powerful request, and can make an enormous difference to our day in whatever we may face. It also reminds us of our reliance on God’s help, we can’t live well without His enabling and He promises to give us all we need. In fact, He is very eager to do so.
 
I was thankful for this reminder, and aware that I so often forget to pray for His Holy Spirit to fill me afresh each day.
 
I watched the sailing boat on and off for a few hours, and maybe it was intentional that the motor was not running. Maybe there was something they needed to learn through working with the sails. As I packed up to go home the boat had disappeared from view, the tide was in and I was leaving the beach with another teaching from My Father to think about and more importantly to put into practise.
 
Mary Thomas

____________________

Mon 07/09/20

Good morning Church
 
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3 
 
God’s supremacy over all life is seen in many ways throughout scripture. For example, look at how He had Moses brought up in the very household that had decreed Moses death. Pharaoh had sought the death of all Israelite infants, however his daughter ended up paying Moses’ birth month to breastfeed him (Exodus 2:9-10).  Then again, consider how God worked through Moses to bring Egypt to her knees and release Israel from the house of slavery into the rulership of the One who loves us most. In his own strength, Moses had ended up killing a man, fleeing from his life and, years later, using all manner of excuses as to why he could not go back into Egypt. Look at how God encouraged and strengthened Moses (Exodus 3:11-4:17) and be encouraged. In the strength and presence of the Lord Moses took the victory in Egypt because, to God, the might of Egypt was less than that of a snowball being dropped into a hot frying pan; Egypt could not survive.

God’s supremacy and love is also seen in how Jesus came as the second Adam (1 Cor 15:45) - in the weakness of the flesh - and conquered darkness. The first Adam had been placed in a world of beauty and order, with the availability of food and water at all times yet had fallen. The second Adam was led by the Spirit and, during forty days of hunger and thirst, was tempted by the devil but overcame all through resting in the word of God. Later, Satan had his hour (Luke 22:53), but was defeated by the Servant-King who rose victorious from the grave. Where human nature (first Adam) had failed, human nature (Jesus Christ) now triumphed.
 
As Isaiah writes in the verse we began with, God informs us that His presence will be with all who lean on Him – so how well are you leaning today? Be encouraged, it never was about you and what you can do, but about Him and all that He does with those who open their lives to Him. So why not ask God to encourage you today and be encouraged.
 
Here I am down on my knees again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgsqfjRslzA

God Bless
Jem and Pete
____________________

Fri 06/09/20

Good morning Church
 
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3 
 
God’s supremacy over all life is seen in many ways throughout scripture. For example, look at how He had Moses brought up in the very household that had decreed Moses death. Pharaoh had sought the death of all Israelite infants, however his daughter ended up paying Moses’ birth month to breastfeed him (Exodus 2:9-10).  Then again, consider how God worked through Moses to bring Egypt to her knees and release Israel from the house of slavery into the rulership of the One who loves us most. In his own strength, Moses had ended up killing a man, fleeing from his life and, years later, using all manner of excuses as to why he could not go back into Egypt. Look at how God encouraged and strengthened Moses (Exodus 3:11-4:17) and be encouraged. In the strength and presence of the Lord Moses took the victory in Egypt because, to God, the might of Egypt was less than that of a snowball being dropped into a hot frying pan; Egypt could not survive.

God’s supremacy and love is also seen in how Jesus came as the second Adam (1 Cor 15:45) - in the weakness of the flesh - and conquered darkness. The first Adam had been placed in a world of beauty and order, with the availability of food and water at all times yet had fallen. The second Adam was led by the Spirit and, during forty days of hunger and thirst, was tempted by the devil but overcame all through resting in the word of God. Later, Satan had his hour (Luke 22:53), but was defeated by the Servant-King who rose victorious from the grave. Where human nature (first Adam) had failed, human nature (Jesus Christ) now triumphed.
 
As Isaiah writes in the verse we began with, God informs us that His presence will be with all who lean on Him – so how well are you leaning today? Be encouraged, it never was about you and what you can do, but about Him and all that He does with those who open their lives to Him. So why not ask God to encourage you today and be encouraged.
 
Here I am down on my knees again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgsqfjRslzA
 
God bless
Jem and Pete

________________

Fri 04/09/20

Good morning Church,

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.”   
                                                                                                                                                        Psalm 119:9-11.
 
On August 28th Chadwick Boseman, who played King T’Challa in ‘Black Panther,’ died of colon cancer at the age of 43. However, to give the full picture we should say that that on August 28th Chadwick Boseman walked into the presence of the Lord because Chadwick is a committed Christian who, this side of eternity, often shared his faith with others; He did not allow success and fame to eclipse his relationship with God. 
 
When our relationship with God becomes weakened, we effectively give power to old ways which then rise up as we begin to depend on our own thinking without reference to God along with our own resources in a quest for security and satisfaction in life. Sadly, this weakening of one’s relationship with God can often come after times of victory as we gradually let things slip because everything seems OK and we forget that we are not called to be comfortable but to be obedient to God. Our obedience does not make God any bigger or better because He is already perfect it every way; neither does our obedience mean that God has to pay us as if we have earnt something from Him. Instead, obedience keeps to door open to receiving blessing that is already there for us and helps us share with those around us because we were always called to give out of what we have received. Chadwick’s testimony showed that he knew this and on one occasion, when addressing a group of students graduating from university he quoted scripture and said,
 
“When God has something for you, it doesn’t matter who stands against it.”  Chadwick then went on to say, “God will move someone that is holding you back away from the door and put someone there who will open it for you, if it’s meant for you. I don’t know what your future is. But if you’re willing to take the harder way, the more complicated one, the one with more failures at first than successes - the one that has ultimately proven to have more meaning, more victory, more glory - then you will not regret it.”
 
Be encouraged.
 
I wait for you (based on Psalm 130)   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8C3WQ1G1Uso
 
God Bless
Jem and Pete

____________________

Wed 02/09/20
 
Good morning Church,
 
Hedonism gets a bad reputation in Christian circles, that is pursuing pleasure. Whilst the Bible makes clear that if earthly pleasure is your only goal and you ignore all of God’s perimeters to pursue it then a destructive lifestyle for you and others is inevitable. However, if we react by attempting to contain all pleasure, we may give up on it entirely, ignoring God’s gifts for this life and draining enjoyment from it.
 
Christians are not called to be dour, miserable and unhappy people, in fact it is just the opposite, there is one central and defining pleasure, revelling in God himself.
 
Psalm 16:11, You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
 
Nehemiah 8:10, The joy of the Lord is your strength
 
In this single pleasure alone is fulfilment and security but other kind of pleasures God has put into the world and in his grace and loves give us perimeters for their enjoyment
 
C.S Lewis wrote about a Christian’s pleasure.
‘The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.’ The Problem of Pain, C.S Lewis
 
God Bless
Pete and Jem

____________________

Fri 28/08/20 

Good morning Church!
 
Some of you will know I (John B) had minor surgery on my left eye last month. A cataract had almost totally blocked my vision in the left eye. I could see shapes and outlines but only through a heavy mist. I could not read with that eye and what is more it was getting worse almost literary by the day. It reminded me of the blind man in Mark*. Then finally the notice came through and the operation took place. The difference in my sight is almost magical and I praise Father for the skill of the surgeon and of course for the NHS and its staff. I can now praise Father for the beauty of His creation and for the way He looked after me throughout the whole process.
*Mark 8 vs 22-26
 
Then He (Jesus) came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.” Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. Then He sent him away to his house, saying, “Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town”.
 
We never hear of the man again, we don’t know why Jesus took him outside the town and why it took two attempts to restore the man’s sight. What we do know is that Jesus meet this man right at his point of need. The two touches were for the mans own benefit Jesus only needed one touch but our Saviour knows our every need and always wants what is best for us. If today you are needing that individual touch of the Master - He will give it and restore you to full fellowship with Him you just have to ask and don’t worry He knows just the right course of action for you.
It’s a beautiful world and it was made just for us to enjoy so don’t hold back!
 
John B

____________________

Wed 26/08/20

Good afternoon Church
 
"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10
 
God is close to those who call on Him.
How do we see our relationship with God? Is he a distant God or one that is so close to hand at any time of day or night?
 
We are all experiencing a different way of life, some are struggling with the isolation, others coming to terms with the lack of communication with friends and family. Yet God is a God who never leaves us or forsakes us, a constant God and is always near to those who reach out and talk to him each day. Psalm 46:10. In times of trouble and discourse, it is easy to try and deal with issues alone and yet we never need be alone, because God is close at hand. Psalm 73:23.
God is our heavenly Father, a friend, a councillor, a comforter, so close to those of us His children.
 
Be blessed and rest in Him.
Julie.

_________________

Mon 24/08/20

Good afternoon Church,

Whilst on holiday we were reading Mat 14. 31.. “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Is this a challenge to our lack of faith or a challenge as to why we doubt?

Peter was with the other disciples in the middle of a storm when Christ called him to walk on the water. This was a time of great faith for Peter to believe that Christ would uphold him and did.

Yet what was happening to Peter, in the chaos of the world around him, was that he took his eyes off Jesus and all that Jesus wanted for him; began to melt into the water below their feet.

He doubted. The world around him caused him to doubt. When he fixed his eyes back on Jesus and shouted for help, the help was there, the doubt diminished and his close "walk" with Jesus was back on track. Jesus is a very present help at all times and especially in these difficult times.

Don’t doubt, fulfil your faith.

God Bless

Malcolm.

________________

Fri 21/08/20

Good Morning,
 
Winston Churchill’s friend Pamela Plowden once said, “The first time you meet Winston you see all his faults, and the rest of your life you spend in discovering his virtues.”
 
When God reached out to us He was fully aware of all our faults yet this did not stop Him reaching out. When God looked at our lives He was already fully aware of all the times we would fail Him and let Him down, yet He still reached out to us. 
 
When God reached out to us He was fully aware of what it would cost Him – the limitation of flesh and blood, the abuse, the ridicule, the pain, and the humiliation heaped on Him by those He came to save. In reaching out to He would experience what it is like to be let down by those closest to Him and know what it feels like to be smashed to a cross whilst some looked on and others started to mock Him  God had always known about this – and yet still He came for us as the Son of God underwent judgment in our place.
 
As Ephesians 2:1-3 clearly states, we were dead in transgression and sin. In other words, we were not living but existing having overstepped the law given to protect us and ending up in a downward spiral; yet God still came for us. We were enslaved to wrong thinking and the power of darkness and were objects of wrath because God is totally against what we have become by way of the world. Yet God still came for us because He is totally for the sinner.
 
Because the Son of God was prepared to feel uncomfortable, limited and often looked down on, we are alive in Him and with Him (Ephesians 2:4-6).  Because Jesus gave His life we have been raised up from darkness to life and seated in heavenly realms. This is our position right now, although not yet fully our experience.
 
Because of Jesus we are on a journey of exploration and blessing through good days and bad and every living, breathing moment is important because there is nothing trivial about what God does and we are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).
 
Because God chose to walk these dusty realms of earth, Jesus is the head of the church (Ephesians 5:23), the king of kings and Lord or Lords and, “Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don't need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything” (Colossians 2:9-10).
 
We serve the All-Powerful King of Kings who more than anyone knows what being limited is all about; so be encouraged. You may feel limited through all that has gone on over the last few months but God is never limited. You may not be able to do things the way we used to, but that is no problem to Him. The only real problem is going to be if we forget this and try and end up with some sort of status-quo with the world in an attempt to get some peace. So be encouraged, refocus, break free, stand tall, reach out, pray, and engage with His amazing work of redemption that is ongoing right now. Surrender afresh to the One who loves you most and ask the Holy Spirit to draw you deeper into all that He is doing and be blessed.
 
I surrender: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgsqfjRslzA

God Bless
Jem and Pete
____________________

Wed 19/08/20

Good afternoon Church,
 
In Africa, near Mount Kilimanjaro, there is a small farm surrounded by a fence of beehives which are all suspended from one continuous length of wire. If the wire is knocked there is a ripple effect as a line of hives start to sway and bees are alerted to possible danger.
 
However, the farmer did not construct the fence of beehives to collect honey but to protect his crop from elephants. When elephants approach the fence, they hear the honeybees and move off in a different direction. If they knock the fence then swarms of bees soon send them packing. In this incredibly well thought out plan the farmer protects his crops with small bees that see off elephants with an average weight of seven tonnes each.
 
If you feel small then that’s ok – we all do at times. But don’t let your smallness eclipse your view of the greatness of God and the truth that God wants to work with you and through you in ways that  will stretch you and help you do far more than is humanely possible. All He asks is that you remain open to Him and available.
 
In Luke 17 we read of Jesus saying, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you. (v 6). A mulberry tree has roots that are spread out, making it difficult to uproot. A few months ago, I spent time in my son’s gardens digging up tree roots and anyone who has done this knows how difficult it can be!
 
Many of us face difficulties that can be deep rooted in self, or our families, or the society we live in. Yet in placing our faith in the nature and character of God we are then focused on and tuned in to the One who sees all things as they really are and helps us walk in the victory that Jesus has taken over sin and darkness. So let’s focus, first and foremost, not on our smallness or our plans but on who He is, what He has done and our calling to serve Him because faith is not  faith in faith but in His nature and character and the fact that He does want to work with us. And who knows – perhaps a mountain will be moved today (Mt 17:21). Be encouraged and be blessed.

God Bless
Jem and Pete

___________________

Mon 17/08/20

Good morning Church,
 
"…Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him...”
                                                         Proverbs 30:5
 
In a world of slick-advertising and promises that are so easily broken it is important to recognise that God is perfect in every way. His word is flawless, living, and active and as the writer to Hebrews states, “God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defence, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God's Word. We can't get away from it — no matter what” (Hebrews 4:12-13).
 
God’s word states that He is a shield to those who take refuge in him – so our part is to come to Him on a regular basis, with hearts that are open to His leading and guidance. A heart that is open to God does not just read scripture but enters into the world of scripture.
 
The word ‘shield’ does not speak so much of an inanimate object like a metal shield as it does of God’s protection and guardianship.  For example, in a time of crisis, Isaiah told King Hezekiah that God would care for Jerusalem like a mother bird hovering with wings spread over her young in the nest (Isaiah 31:5). We could also think of a vineyard or garden protected by a wall or hedge or an army protecting a nation, yet there is more.
 
The Hebrew word for ‘shield’ is also a play on another Hebrew word but before looking at this we could ask, “What is a play on words? “
A modern-day example of a play on words can be found in a cartoon picture of two beef steaks with one saying to the other, “So we meat again.” Another well-known word play is the caption under a picture of a toad sitting at a bus-stop which reads: “I’m waiting for a bus because my car just got toad.”
 
The word ‘shield’ is a play on the Hebrew word for a gardener and, in the context of the verse we began with, this makes sense. God’s word is perfect in every way and is planted in our lives. He tends the ‘garden’ of our hearts and minds and refines and nurtures our lives as we move from being centred on self to being rooted and established in Him. In doing so the love, wisdom, strength, and power that we gain in transformed minds and hearts helps shield us from wrong thinking and emotions. In all of this we also find the help and presence of the Holy Spirit who encourages us as we go through this refining process with the One who loves us most.
 
At this point I am reminded of Jesus speaking of streams of living water (the Holy Spirit) in John 7:38 and also think of the Psalmist speaking of believers as trees planted by streams of water (Psalm 1:3) which is then able to function properly (produce fruit), and so we could go on!
 
Be encouraged, slow down and enter the world of scripture and allow God to shape and mould your life, restoring you to your true identity in Him in a life-long journey of love and encouragement!
 
PROMISES:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5m09rqOoxE
 
God Bless
Jem and Pete
________________

Fri 14/08/20

Good afternoon Church,
 
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."   
                      Psalms 91:1-2
 
In my final year at Primary School I went on a school holiday to the Isle of Wight. In the grounds of the large country house where we stayed there was a long rope-slide (known as a death-slide) which no one attempted to use – except me. I decided to have a go and was soon travelling at what, to an eleven-year-old, seemed an incredible speed. All too quickly the end of the rope slide came into view and it was then that I found there was no way of stopping myself as I slammed into a tree. A couple of seconds before swinging into the tree I was fully aware of what was going to happen – but totally powerless to do anything about it. And, by the way, yes it did hurt.

Sometimes we can rush into life and end up crashing into all sorts of difficulty and none of us, (King David included) are immune to this. However, in all that we go through there is the opportunity to learn and grow and David came to realise more and more of what it meant to rest in the shadow of the Almighty and to lean on the strength of another.
 
In Genesis 1:26 we read, “…Let us make man in our image…” with the word ‘image’ coming from a root word meaning, “to shade.”  In other words, it carries many more flavours than are seen at first glance. Think about meeting someone for the first time and then learning so much more about them over the next few weeks and you get the idea! 
 
We were never created to walk alone but to walk in close fellowship with God, hence ‘in the shadow of the Almighty’.  It can be easy to forget this need for close fellowship when we are rushing through life and, equally so, it can also be easy to lose sight of who we really are in Him when we find our own refuge from the troubles of the world. However in doing so we don’t so much shut ourselves into a place of safety as shut God out, and sometimes the fruit of this is seen in lethargy, a lack of willingness to engage with others, heaviness of heart, negativity, and a whole host of other unwanted guests. Life becomes mundane and there is little willingness or power to do anything. We can’t be bothered to do anything or are too scared to get involved and make all sorts of excuses to justify ourselves.
 
Whether rushing around or battening down the hatches, the fruit of this is going to be the same: we lose the freedom we were created for and distance ourselves from God, having also lost sight of the fact that there is a spiritual battle going on and an enemy who wants to separate and destroy.  Have you ever considered this or prayed about this?
 
It is in God alone that we find our true security and it is in Him alone that we can grow, even in the midst of the storm which does not always go away when we want it to. Take the challenge, slay negative thinking, and stand in the power of Jesus.
 
Stand in your love: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGvZ79nSNL8

God Bless
Jem and Pete
________________

Mon 10/08/2020

Good morning Church,

Prayer is important, we especially feel the need for prayer in crisis. But it is as essential in the good times as well as the bad. God is our counsellor in times of trouble and provider in difficulty. The bible encourages us to actively seek his help in difficulty.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

And yet he is our Heavenly Father; imagine a family where the children entirely ignored the existence of the parents, never answering questions, engaging in conversation, or spending time together. Until something goes wrong. Suddenly the children talk daily with the parents throughout their crisis seeking help and guidance to navigate their difficulties. Then when the crisis subsides and help has been given, slowly the children return to ignoring the parents again, help is no longer required so conversation is no longer required. 

That is a tragic family life. God is our Heavenly Father that delights in you and delights in engaging with you in prayer.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances...
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

God Bless
Peter and Jem

_________________

Fri 07/08/2020

Good Afternoon Church

"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.” Luke 15:22

In returning to his Father, the first prodigal son was on a walk towards restoration, healing, and authority from another – the one he had insulted and walked away from. In Hebrew, the word for ‘healing’ (raphe) speaks of healing as a restoring of something or someone to a normal state; of renewing and making fresh. This is the opposite of being heavy burdened and ‘out of joint’ so to speak, like a jigsaw puzzle that has worn edges and with individual pieces being forced together. The strength, power and healing that comes from God is from the One who knows how all things should fit together and contains both physical and spiritual elements.

In Genesis 3:21 we read that God made garments of skin for Adam and Eve. The word garment (‘kuttoenet’) speaks of clothing worn by one in authority. When God is present and we acknowledge Him, we can walk in authority. We are clothed in the work of Christ (Galatians 3:27) and clothed in power from on high (Luke 24:49, 1 Cor 3:16), and clothed in that which is imperishable (1 Cor 15:54).  So, don’t go through this year naked, isolated, and trapped by your circumstances: there really is no need to. And if you want to know how well you are doing in the Lord, one way is to look at how you treat everyone around you and how you think about and pray for others.  It really is all about kingdom living – about a relationship with God reflected in love for others.  So, be encouraged and walk with your head held high and in the power, authority, and blessing of one who has been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Walk as a son or daughter in your calling as part of the body of Christ, as church (called out ones) working together for His glory.

This is amazing grace:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBINwfOE5VQ

God Bless
Jem and Pete
____________________

Mon 03/07/20

Good morning Church,
 
When I was a student me and my Christian flatmates had a phrase whenever we were worried about bills, future jobs or any other thousands of things we are prone to worry about. If one of us was fretting we would say “oi Pete,  consider the lilies.”  Matthew 6 is a powerful and diverse chapter of the bible, I would encourage you to read it through. After Jesus gives an example of authentic prayer, the Lord’s prayer he goes onto look at two ways of approaching life, humanity’s way and God’s way.
 
We can hoard, rely on money, make life about me and my needs and nod the head to performing spiritually or we can do things God’s way outlined in the Lord’s prayer.

'And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?... But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’

Anxiety and fear is rife at the moment both about the state of our world and our own personal futures there is so much uncertainty. The powerfully uplifting thing about Matthew 6 when we consider the lilies is acknowledging you are entirely ill equipped for you own future, you can never build enough, be rich enough, own enough to be safe and free from anxiety.

This world will rust and we are dust but God’s provision is enough.

God knows your needs more fully than you do, and ultimately all security is found in Him alone, so seek Him first, the other things are not unimportant but do not be led by fear of tomorrow when we have been gifted today.

God Bless
Pete and Jem
________________

Mon 31/07/20

Good morning Church,
 
“You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you.  Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
                                           Psalm 118:28-29 

On one occasion when I was a student, I went for a three-day break at a large house run by Methodist Nuns. It was a place where meals were provided for you and you were able to rest without having to talk to anyone. There was a donation box for gifts because there was no specific charge for staying at the house. As a student I could not afford to put much in the box so I asked if there were any jobs I could do to help the nuns and ended up chopping wood early each morning as a means of saying ‘thank you’  

Psalm 118 speaks of thanking God and underlines our need to trust in the Lord, later going on to speak of the coming of Christ in His kingdom. Through Christ you and I have been brought into covenant-living with our heavenly Father, and for this I am always thankful as He continues to help me in so many ways. 

The heart of Gods covenant is His love (1 John 4:8), with covenant speaking of an on-going relationship with no appointed end. In this respect it is nothing like a legal document such as a tenancy agreement which has a fixed term as do most legal documents. Covenant speaks of a giving of self and continuing relationships between two parties – there is no end.  
 
You and I are greatly loved and one way that we the door of our hearts remain open to God’s leading and guidance is by remembering to say thank you. Yet in doing so we also recognise that ‘thank you’ is not just a verbal expression. After all, many of us have sent a thank you card or small gift to others in appreciation for what they have done. 
 
One ‘thank you’ story that I have never forgotten is that of a retired S. Korean fisherman. In his retirement he puts on a smart suit and goes out in his fishing boat late in the evening, just after dark. He then throws glass bottles containing bible verses into the sea and prays that they would wash up along the N. Korean coastline and help people to learn about Jesus. On being asked why he wore a suit the retired fisherman replied, “because I am about my Father’s business.” 
 
I believe in a God who sees and blesses the ‘thank you’ work of a retired fisherman in his new business of ‘gospel bottles.’  How are you going about the business of saying ‘thank you’ to God today? No matter what is going on in our lives we can say thank you to God in so many ways – even in the storms of life. 

God Bless
Jem and Pete
__________

Fri 29/07/20

Good afternoon Church,
 
There are many scenes in the bible that I would love to have witnessed first-hand. One such moment is baby Jesus, only 8 days old, meeting Simeon and Anna. Two elderly righteous people that looked for the "the consolation of Israel" and "the redemption of Jerusalem" they did so with extraordinary patience and fervent expectancy. (Luke 2:25-38) God answered them in His own timing with His Messiah. Simeon seems to have clung to life specifically to see this salvation born. 
 
There are so many lessons here, the immense treasure and worth of Christ and the power of relying on God's timing. 
 
Isaiah 40:1-2 reads  
'Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for...'
 
That is precisely what Christ does, He pays what we cannot. The price of consolation and the gift of redemption!   
 
One additional lesson for when we are impatient, is to seek God first. Isaiah was written 700 years before Christ and many of the prayers uttered there are answered by this child Messiah. How many prayers have I prayed that I have completely forgotten about? But God has not forgotten them.  As we seek God's will the expectancy and patience of Anna and Simoen is an encouragement.  
 
God Bless
Pete and Jem
___________________

Wed 27/07/20

Good afternoon Church,
 
Grace (Ephesians 2:8, Titus 2:11) speaks of receiving what we do not deserve in any way and points to the forgiveness we have received through Christ and reconciliation with God, our heavenly Father. However, grace goes beyond this in that it also speaks of the fruit and gifting of the Holy Spirit who helps us manifest the true character and nature of God through our lives as His image-bearers: His sons, and daughters. Therefore, grace is about forgiveness, reconciliation and also about God’s power at work in our lives. But what about peace?
 
Peace (John 14:27, Ephesians 2:17-18) speaks of the reconciliation of relationships between man and God and the ongoing work of Jesus Christ: the restoration of harmony between heaven and earth in a broken world. In light of this, peace is not so much the absence of trouble but the presence of a Person, the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16) who helps us live out our new lives as God’s sons and daughters. 
 
Everything that God does for us is motivated by His incredible love and Paul continually reminds churches of this throughout his ministry. No matter what was going on in the churches or what else Paul had to say, the underlying truth is that all God does is out of His love, grace and mercy towards us all. This is why grace and peace became part of the traditional greeting in the early church…
 
Rome: “To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”                                                                 Romans 1:7
 
Corinth: “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ — their Lord and ours. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”        1 Corinthians 1:2-3
                                                                                                                                          
Ephesus: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 1:2
                                                                                                                             
Philippi: “To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: 
 
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”                    Philippians 1:1-2
                                                                                                                                     
      
Colossae “To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.”                                                                                                                          Colossians 1:2                    
 
Thessalonica: “Paul, Silas, and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you.”                                                           1 Thessalonians 1: 1-2
 
Why not slow down and think about all the things that God has done for you, recognising that everything is because of His grace and desire to be with you – yes, you!
 
If you have time, please listen to ‘Because He Lives’ by Crowder and like me, recognise that Jesus is with us right now and that His grace, mercy, love and peace are the reason we can live this day in His power and blessing. Be encouraged!          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNEnd0nGiDI
 
God Bless
Jem and Pete
 
___________________

Mon 24/07/20

Good morning Church,
 
“Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So, the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” Jeremiah 20:8-9.

In the above verses we catch a glimpse of the heart of a struggling man. Jeremiah was known for his honesty and for speaking the word of God during a difficult time in Israel’s history. His message was not popular with those around him who had try to make God in their image and clearly forgotten all that He had done for them. Jeremiah had tried so hard to reach them yet was ignored, mocked, and imprisoned and it was during this time that he spews out all his frustration and even considers withholding God’s word to avoid more difficulty. But God does not give up on Jeremiah and so Jeremiah can testify that God’s word is a fire in his heart, like a fire that is shut up in his bones and intensely felt. In this context, fire is a metaphor for passion. Even though Jeremiah wanted to give up, he was so aware of the power and passion of God for life and ultimately it was God’s word and presence that kept this troubled, stumbling man from going under. He felt weary holding God’s word it but realised that He just could not.

All of us can find it difficult at times and can end up losing sight of God and striving in our own strength. Yet as Paul writes,: “I'm absolutely convinced that nothing — nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable — absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us” (Rom 8:38-9). However, as we all know, it is one thing to read these words from Paul but quite another thing to experience Jesus’ victory when life is tough! So, when we go through a tough time let’s be honest with God and tell Him all about it instead of bottling it up inside. And instead of giving up or trying to get ourselves out of difficulty, let’s ask God to come close and put the fire of His word in our lives again through the touch of the Holy Spirit. No one said life was going to be easy all the time, but with Him, it will be possible and it will be life. Be encouraged and don’t give up; things may not always go the way we think they should but God is the same yesterday, today and forever – the God of the impossible! Jeremiah ended up singing praises to God so maybe the same can happen for us, even if things have not changed much, as we focus on Him.

The God of the Impossible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKBj457ILUo
 
God Bless
Jem and Pete
___________________

Mon 20/07/20

Good morning Church

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:…” 
Ecclesiastes 3:1 
 
Many years ago, I owned a Morris Minor (they are now collectors’ items!) and needed to do some work on it. I drove the car to a friend who was a mechanic and he allowed me to use his pit to drop the gearbox and change the clutch. It was a horrible job because I also had to lift part of the floor plan to get to some of the bolts and found that the floor plan was held in place with brass screws (soft metal!) to prevent rusting. Although the job was eventually successful, I soon came to realise that my future renovation ideas were just not going to work! The overall structure was just not good enough. 

We often have an idea as to what should happen to our lives and some of the things that need to change, but if we do not involve God in this we can soon become more of a do-it-yourself renovation programme, working with the old us, rather than working with God as a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). God did not come to give me my better version of my life – but to root and establish me in new soil as His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).  

In Hebrew thinking it is often past events that end up being in front of us and so the future was often perceived as the past as what is behind a person often ‘jumps’ in front and becomes part of the future. Think of how bad experiences with a dentist can cause someone to avoid dentists in the future and you get the idea; the past can be in front of us.  

Throughout scripture we see God continuously reminding His people about who He is and their identity in Him as opposed to what they had become due to personal sin and that of those around them. Our history starts in Genesis and continues past Revelation, so be encouraged, and recognise that God is not all about empowering our renovation businesses but restoring us to our true position and calling in Him.  

As the writer to Ecclesiastes states, there is a season for everything, yet God is above all things and seeks to be in all that we do, as a parent with a son or daughter. So be encouraged, slow down and allow Him to take charge of your life again. Remember whose you are and just who it is that is with you. 


I pray that the following song blesses you. It is, ‘I Will Trust’ by Red Rock Worship.…. 
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaBQlM2dzrU&list=RDYbzIp0r8z1Q&index=6

God Bless
Jem and Pete
____________________

Fri 17/07/2020

Good morning Church, 
 
The tiny mustard seed is alluded too twice by Jesus. Firstly, he said the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, when sown it is incredibly small but grows to be the grandest of herbs that supports surrounding wildlife. (Matthew 13:32, Mark 4:31, Luke 13:19). The kingdom of God indeed has grown into a global family that grows still and we are part of it! 
 
The other instance is when faith is described as a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20, Luke 17:6). Something tiny that can move mountains and make the impossible possible. This is not God giving us all superpowers, remember this 'faith' that redefines what is possible and moves mountains is a relational thing. It is a total reliance on God, a conviction for what God is doing and confidence in your heavenly Father. When you have this faith even the smallest amount, you realise it is not you that moves mountain but God. Your assessment of an impossible situation is false, it is His that counts.

God Bless
Pete and Jem

____________________

Wed 15/07/20

Good morning Church,
 
A large brooch was brought into the Antiques Road Show, many jewellers had looked at it and determined it was worthless coloured glass because sapphires aren't 'this big'. It was thought to be costume jewellery, valueless, the family that inherited it nicknamed it the big blue blob. 
 
But they were wrong, it was in fact a large 25 carat sapphire set over 130 years ago in Sri Lanka, famous for cornflower blue stones, surrounded by diamonds and mounted in silver and gold. It's true worth had been forgotten and ignored but had now been rediscovered.       
 
Psalm 139 reads...
'For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was? made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.'  

So many people live obliviously ignoring and forgetting the worth of a human being and it can be so destructive. Your own immense worth and value is so much more than an old shiny rock, you are a son or daughter of the living God (Romans 8:16). God deemed you worth dying for.

All those around you, every man, women, and child, no matter what has been done to them or what they have done, no matter what they do or don't believe in every human being is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). So many people don't know their own true worth, but we do! 

God Bless
Pete and Jem
___________________

Mon 13/03/20

Good Afternoon Church!
 
 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”                        Galatians 5:22-24

 The fruit of the Spirit is joy precisely because it is God’s work both within us and through us, with joy speaking of an inner attitude of mind that comes from His presence (1 Cor 3:16). Because of God’s intervention in our lives, we know that we are not an accident or simply a number or part of someone else’s agenda. We are known and accepted; we are understood and loved and we have a future – His future for us.

Something of the   freedom and joy that can be ours, even in difficulty, is seen in the following words by Allen Boesak who lived through apartheid in S. Africa and remembers how students would sing to God even in the face of opposition. Allen writes…

“…..Prison wardens, policemen, and heavily armed soldiers cannot understand how people can sing under such circumstances. The more joyful the singing the more aggressive they become. And so over the last few years we have learned another valuable lesson: The joy of the oppressed is a source of fear for the oppressor. But we sing because we believe, we sing because we hope we sing because we know that it is only a little while, and the tyrant shall cease to exist…”

The Hebrew word for joy (chedwat) is a word full of movement and speaks of rejoicing from the heart as if we were dancing round in a circle.  Perhaps this is what David experienced when he danced before God with all His might as the Ark of the Covenant was brought back into Jerusalem (2 Sam 6:14). Elsewhere David writes, “Whoever feels at home in the presence of the Most Glorious God shall be able to pass the night in the shadow of the Almighty One. For that person can say to the LORD God, “My sanctuary! My place-to-stand! My God in whom I am trusting!” (Psalm 91:1-2, Seerveld translation). 

May we all know His freedom in increasing measure as we meet with Him and walk into this week in the power of the Holy Spirit. Be encouraged.

Run to the Father:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KzpOYeyUuUV

God Bless
Jem and Pete



____________________

Fri 10/07/20

Good Morning Church!
 
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
                                                      Psalm 107:1
 
In Genesis, the word ‘good’ is used in relation to the purpose of creation and helps us understand why we are here: God created this world for us to live in and did so because He wants to share His love with us, therefore it is good.  God created a world of beauty and order, of amazing sunrises and sunsets, incredible colours, and breath-taking scenery. Having created the world, God then created man (Gen 1:27-8) and placed man in His creation as an incredibly powerful being who is able to have fellowship with God and benefit from His love. Therefore, good and goodness speaks of that which is in relation to God and in accordance with His purposes. In considering this we recognise that at the beginning of Psalm 107 David is saying, “Give thanks to the One who raises us up and brings us into fellowship with Himself in an incredible act of love, grace and mercy – a love that endures forever.

Psalm 107 speaks of God’s care for His people at all times, whether they have been dispersed across nations, held up captivity, caught up in sickness or in danger, His power and presence can be known and experienced because He chooses to reach into our lives. As the Psalm continues we are reminded that God is the One who can turn rivers into deserts, and springs into thirsty ground, yet can also turn the desert into pools of water and parched ground into flowing springs (v35).

In Ancient Israel trees would be planted in dry ground where there was a known watercourse at a deeper level. So how did the sapling’s roots get to the water?
A hollow tube would be driven into the ground near the sapling and water poured in. Then every few weeks the tube would be driven deeper with water again being poured in. This would draw the roots downwards and they would eventually engage with the watercourse.

God is good and His love endures forever and in Jesus we can know the presence of the Holy Spirit spoken of as ‘streams of living water (John 7:37-9);’ Living water flows up from the ground.

May the Lord encourage us to put our roots more deeply into Him and may we be encouraged to recognise His presence with us as we engage with Him, expressing our thanks in how in how we reach out to and engage with others. I remember when the Coronavirus first came to our attention (and experienced it first-hand!). Yet what I remember more than this is reading of Chinese Christians who were going out in Wuhan and giving out face coverings to the locals.  They were rooted in the Lord and in the presence of the Spirit allowing His blessing to flow from their lives to that of others.

Christianity knows no siege mentality. The Lord is good and no matter what we go through, His love endures forever. So, let us continue to say ‘thank you’ to Him, not just in words but expressing our thanks in how we reach beyond our struggles and hardship to touch the lives of others. And, by the way, a big thank you to Margaret Dent for making face masks which blessed so many last Sunday!

The following clip is ‘Way Maker.’ Look at the expressions on people’s faces as they prepare to cross the Jordan. Pray that God helps us to be encouraged and so awed by His presence that we even take ourselves by surprise at what we are able to do in Him.  Our faith knows no siege mentality.  Every blessing.
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKRUWHHeL2o
 
God Bless 
Jem and Pete

____________________

Wed 08/07/20

Good afternoon Church,
 
“I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”                                                                                               Psalm 121:1-2
 
A lecturer was once approached by a woman whose husband was not a Christian. She had continuously bombarded her husband with books and constantly told him to come along to her church.  Eventually he said to her, “You’ve got your belief and that’s fine, but I am not interested.” The woman then asked the lecturer how to reach her non-believing husband and in replying he told her the testimony of how a young woman had come to Christ.  The young woman had grown up as a rebel, eventually running away to Hollywood to become an actress. After having very minor roles for a few years she ended up on her own and with a small child. The child became ill and the doctors did not hold much hope for survival. It was at this particularly low point in her life that the young mother ran out of her home into some scrublandone day and started screaming out at God and cursing Him at the top of her voice with every word she could think of. She finally ran out of energy and slumped down to the ground. It was then that she heard an audible voice saying, “This is the first time you have spoken to me; I love you.”  This, the lecturer said, was the beginning of her journey to Christ. 
 
The woman who had approached him was so touched by the story that she could not stop thinking about it and went home and told her husband. His response to this was, “Now that is the sort of God I want to believe in.”
 
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what we think we should be praying about concerning those around us that we forget that God sees and knows all things. In considering this, let’s learn to slow down at times and ask Him to show us what to pray for those around us and how to pray. Sometimes we may literally just hand a person over to the Lord and at other times He may give us insight which we then bring back to Him in prayer and show us what He is doing. We are not called to work it all out on our own and this includes reaching the lost; God is here to help us in all that we do for Him.
 
As David wrote in Psalm 121, our help comes from the Lord. I know that this is a psalm which is primarily about safety for those who belong to God, but sometimes I think there are times that we need to be kept safe from the way we so easily rush into prayer and end up doing things in ourown strength. Think about it!
The following song is called, ‘Graves into Gardens,’ I hope it encourages you.
Graves into Gardens:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTvv-9zosPs
 
God Bless
Jem and Pete
 
_______________________________

Mon 5/07/20

Good morning Church,
I love the book of Proverbs, short punchy enclosed advice that is immediately applicable to the ancient world and the modern. Two verse stick out to me...

Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.
Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

The theme of encouraging and praising one another in community is so important. As 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says encourage one another and build each other up. Whilst God can and does carry us through difficulty, he also implores us to carry and support one another! 

God Bless
Pete and Jem

____________________

Fri 03/07/20 

Good morning Church

“Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.”
Gal 6:2

At the time Jesus was born, the first Roman Emperor (Augustus (27BC-AD14) was busy building an empire he thought would last for ever. He did this on the backs of slaves who had no stake in the empire whatsoever and whose contribution often cost many of them their lives.  In complete contrast to this we have the King of Kings who came to carry our burdens, paying the price for our wrongdoing and doing so in order to bring us into His eternal kingdom.

When the Roman Empire finally collapsed there was one group that continued to stand in its ruins: The Church. You and I are part of this church, His church, a church which spans all history and all the nations. 

Many years ago, I heard a story about a church building in India that had been constructed from misshaped and rejected pieces of marble. It is a story that has often encouraged me because it reminds me of how different we all are, along with the backgrounds (good and bad) that have often misshaped and wrongly moulded us down through the years. The story of this building made from broken pieces reminds me of how God can bring us all together and make something beautiful out of broken lives as He restores us to what it means to be made in the image of God. In our world empires will come and go and present-day movements will continue to rise and fall yet His church will always remain because He says so.

Life will not always be easy for us and at times it will be hard, but we can make it even harder if we forget that being God’s community involves a willingness to  rub shoulders with those who are not like us and, in doing so, carry each other’s burdens.

Life is not easy, and we can often feel small and inadequate, but remember that the early church was not made up of perfect people or top politicians or rich and powerful men and women. More often than not it was made up of oppressed people who found a power amongst believers that reached out to them regardless of race, colour or religion and treated them with care and respect whilst challenging beliefs that all to easily misshape life and trap people. This power is the presence of a person – the Holy Spirit and He is with you right now, not to fulfil your agenda but to help you find true fulfilment in His.

May the following song be of great encouragement to you. It is called, ‘This we know.’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sq233lM3k9w
_________________________

Wed 01/07/2020

Good afternoon Church,
 
The book of Jonah is an interesting book with only two named characters. Jonah: the curmudgeonly unwilling prophet who did not want to deliver a message of repentance because 'it did not seem right to him' (Jonah 4:2) and the Lord God who pursues; pursuing the evil city by sending a prophet and pursuing the prophet who flees his task.  
 
God still pursues and confronts evil today and he uses us to do so. Yet he is ever compassionate in his justice, ever loving. People take on this mantle of justice warrior, who want to see vengeance done as Jonah did. God still calls us to love mercy and do justice (Micah 6:8) and yet to avenge is for God's timing not ours, all evil will be confronted and either forgiven and forgotten or smashed and irradiated. (Deuteronomy 32:35)   
 
I want to encourage you to confront evil in both in voice and deed, stand up for those that have no voice. Sign petitions, write to M.P's and seek change alongside doing justice as an act of worship for the least (Matthew 25:40).
 
To that end, here is just one example of a tower of injustice an 'evil city'; MindGeek is an innocuous sounding company that owns the largest global pornography sites. It has been shown that they profit from content that includes real rape and abuse. 
An online petition to hold mind geek accountable: https://www.change.org/p/shut-down-pornhub-and-hold-its-executives-accountable-for-aiding-trafficking/sign   
The campaign behind the petition including details of the investigation of MindGeek: A trigger warning that this site includes graphic stories relating to abuse and pornography https://traffickinghub.com/
 
God Bless
Pete and Jem
_________________________________

Mon 29/06/2020

Good Morning Church
 
“Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
                                                                                                                                                    Romans 12:2 Message
 
When trouble and hardship come, as it invariably will from time to time, I find it helpful to stop and recognise that I have been created for growth and that if a weed can grow through concrete, then surely I can grow with Him, no matter how hard life may seem. I also take to heart what the Psalmist wrote when he said, “He restores my soul” (Ps 23:3), that is, “He brings me back to my true self.”  I have found that I need to remember this more and more in this present day and age so that I don’t react so much by way of the world but act in accordance with what I have learnt from God’s word and in the power of the Holy Spirit. In doing so I    am remembering yet again that God is in control and that He wants me to be in control of my life where it is lived first and foremost – in the heart and mind. It is then that I find peace, even in the storm. Please primarily comes from learning and not feeling and speaks of His presence and not ease of passage through the world.
 
As Ravi Zacharias writes in his book, ‘The Grand Weaver’, “Faith is a thing of the mind. If you do not believe that God is in control and has formed you for a purpose, then you will flounder on the high sea of purposelessness, drowning in the currents and drifting further into nothingness.”
 
Because of Jesus there will be a day when all suffering comes to an end (Rev 7:16-17). There will be a resurrection where all that is evil will not only fall away (taken away as if wrapped up like old robe (Heb 1:10-12)) but be completely destroyed as the world is renewed (Romans 8:19-21)and morphed into its full glory as heaven and earth meet (Rev 21:1-5).  Yet all of this does not mean that today is just another day heading towards a final destination. Today is a day for growth because God loves you and is with you and never in a hurry, so be encouraged.
 
God Bless you all
Jem and Pete

______________________

Fri 26/06/20

Good afternoon Church,
 
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" 1 John 4:11

Pandemics are tragic but they are not new, in the year 1653AD and then again in 251AD pandemics that were very likely smallpox spread across the Roman world along its vast trade networks.  At the time sick people were seen as cursed, they were rejected and avoided at all costs, many deaths could have been prevented by the basic care of a community providing food and water to one another. 
 
On both occasions it was the Church; God's kingdom that rallied to care and support the sick both inside and outside of the Christian community.
 
Dionysius, a contemporary, writes …Most of our Christian brothers and sisters showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbours and cheerfully accepting their pains. Many, in nursing and curing others, transferred their death to themselves and died in their stead…’

I am immensely encouraged by the actions of God's kingdom then and now, that said I think two qualifications are important. Firstly, it is vitally important to continue to follow the governments advice on keeping yourself and others safe and prevent spreading Covid-19, be wise as well as servant hearted. Secondly, we live in a context that has been transformed by the Christian faith and we do not need to compete with the NHS or medical profession that was non-existent in Rome (historical accounts tell how doctors fled to the country!). You are part of God's community and can be Christ-like during a time of Corona virus even simple actions like calling up someone who might be alone and saying 'hi' or volunteering in your community. 



At Dodd Road Church and Foodbank we were sent a letter from Brentwood council a few months back as they sought out networks of support across Brentwood, I am encouraged at the high number of churches that featured on that letter. I am praying for you all, that you and your household prayerfully strike the difficult balance between wisdom and servant heartedness at this time. 

God Bless
Pete and Jem       
____________________

Wed 24/06/20

Good morning Church,
 
2 Corinthians 4:6 'For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.'
 
Praise and worship is so versatile that the simplest and smallest action can be full of praise. Charles Spurgeon tells the story of a maid who when asked what evidence is there in her life that she is a child of God responded, 'I always sweep under the mats now'. 
 
When you come to God it's like your life's priorities have changed on an axis. Every person has value and is made in God's image, that has always been true but coming to God that truth is revealed and felt. Your relationship with your Heavenly Father changes your actions, that may seem overwhelming and daunting, but this, the largest of changes can be displayed in the smallest actions, simply and humbly plodding in God's grace. 
 
Imagine the little boy who offered his lunch, in the face of the problem of a hungry crowd his contribution his laughable. 
 
John 6:9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?”
 
But see what God does with it! I pray that God will use my simple plodding and yours too!
 
God Bless
Pete and Jem
  
Mon 22/06/20

Good morning Church,
 
“…..Our Father in heaven” Matthew 6:9.
 
In scripture the term ‘father’ is used two ways. It is used to speak of God as the source of all good things (the reason they exist) and also as being like a father who provides for and looks after loved ones. In Romans 8:15 Paul speaks of God as ‘Abba Father’ with the word ‘Abba’ speaking of, ‘The strong One who is the true foundation of the home.’
 
God is a “father to the fatherless” and “a defender of widows” (Ps 68:5) and the person who sets the lonely in families and leads forth prisoners with singing (Ps 68:6). He is a father who seeks to draw near and yet is also the father of heavenly lights (James 1:17) who is Lord of heaven and earth (Mt 11:25). He is the all-powerful One yet is also depicted as the one who runs to greet the prodigal son and as the merchant who sells all in order to make us His very own.
 
When we look at Jesus feeding the crowd and weeping over Jerusalem we see what our heavenly Father is really like because Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). In these words, Jesus points out to the disciples that everything He does is what the Father also does (John 5:19). 
 
Perhaps there have been times when you think that God is too busy to take notice of you or is somewhat unreliable because you did not get the answers to prayer that you expected or perhaps, like all of us, there are times when you’ve looked at the mistakes you have made and think that God has now given up on you. This is not true because God never gives up on us, willingly forgives and keeps no record of wrong (1 Cor 13:5). 
 
God cares for us and He wants to be known and experienced as a Father. He is the One who flung stars into space, designed spider’s webs and the One who has adopted us into His family through the work of Christ. He is in the ultimate restoration business and in Psalm 68 we read of Him bearing the burdens of His people…
 
 “Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds — his name is the Lord — and rejoice before him. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.”                                                                                                     Psalm 68:4-6
 
As we move into this new week be encouraged: you and I have a heavenly Father.
 
Please sit quietly and listen to the following song, “Our Father” and hand all that troubles you over to Him.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eIVSWdBaTE
 
_________________________________________________
 
Thank you to Jonathan for encouraging us all with the following information about what God is doing through Mission Aviation Fellowship
 
“MAF comes to the rescue!”
As we here in the UK have been living through our own Coronavirus situation, I’m sure you will pray a prayer for those in other countries where their economy and health services are not so able to deal with Covid 19.
Here are just three situations where MAF has been able to help in the current Covid 19 crisis…..
Kasese district, Uganda….after a long 2 months, MAF has been able to commence aid flights again.  173,000 people have been displaced due to major flooding, a swarm of locusts, and having to live through 10 weeks of coronavirus lockdown. Four fully loaded planes have been able to bring urgent food and hygiene supplies to the area. Pray the flood waters will recede to allow further distribution of the supplies.
Morehead district, Papua New Guinea….low on medical supplies, especially anti-venom (snake) and  despite a low number of Covid 19 cases, the health workers could not protect themselves from the coronavirus when treating patients with snake bites, as they lacked sufficient PPE. MAF was able to bring both anti-venom and PPE, and train health staff about its use. Now they can continue their life saving role!

 
The picture above is of a MAF plane being deep-cleaned.
Finally, remember the 68,000 people of Oecusse district, part of Timor-Leste (East Timor), an island enclave within West Timor (Indonesia). Together with Oxfam, MAF was able to deliver 430kg of soap and buckets to these isolated people……clean hands saves lives?
“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” Psalm 24 v 1

God Bless
Jem and Pete
 

____________________

Fri 19/06/2020

Good morning Church,
 
"He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." Matthew 10:40-42
 
We are in a world where it is too easy to put up artificial barriers and divisions between individuals, groups of people or nations in such a way that others are marginalised and looked down on, being perceived as the enemy or as of no value. Yet as Nelson Mandela once said, “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.” God teaches us to love.
 
God is not obligated to love us or to reward us for anything we do, but, like a father wanting to bless His children, He rewards our obedience as a means of encouragement to us all. We were created for growth and the Holy Spirit is here to help bring this about, but it also requires effort on our part. God has given us His best and He asks that we do the same, which is what is expected in a family.
 
In the above verses Jesus does not say, ‘water,’ but ‘cold water.’ When a person draws water he or she immediately takes a drink so as to benefit from cool water in a hot climate where it quickly becomes lukewarm. After drinking you would then share the water with others. The only exception to this would be to give a cup of cold water to a highly esteemed guest. However, Jesus speaks about giving the absolute best to those who to many appear small and even insignificant because in the above verse the phrase ‘little ones’ refers to those who have little or no standing as was the case with Jesus’ disciples. The phrase can also refer to the elderly or sick who don’t have the ability to respond in kind due to age or infirmity.
 
God does not have to reward us as if we earn from Him and can then demand payment and so what is being said by Jesus is that if we accept His teaching – seen in the way we share with others (even lowly disciples in the case of those listening) then we will be blessed. So no matter how small you may think you are or how small you may think the things are that you do for God, please recognise that He sees that you understand His nature and teaching and knows you are doing the best with what you have. You are noticed and you will be blessed.
 
So, let’s remember that we do not help others in order to gain something from them but because of what we have already received and are receiving and in order to open their eyes to the One who is there for them. He is the One who notices all that we do – even the smallest things which we so often trivialise! It is not about how much we give or even what we do as long as all that is done is from the heart which means it will be done because of Him and therefore with the presence of the Holy Spirit. So be encouraged.
 
Please consider this and be blessed as you listen to the following song by Vertical Worship, called, ‘This We Know.’
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sq233lM3k9w
 
God Bless
Jem and Pete
 

____________

Wed 17/06/2020

Good Morning Church,
 
I want to take the opportunity to encourage you to worship. King Josiah is an unusual king from the Old Testament, he reigns after several generations of Judah turning away from God, he grew up in a context where God was not worshipped or delighted in. 

And yet whilst he was still a child, he found God, he was a child king crowned at the age of 8 and by 12 he had demolished altars and images of idolatry. My favourite part of his story is in 2 Chronicles 34:14-21 when during renovations to the Temple a book is discovered ‘ The Book of the Law of the Lord that had been given through Moses’, that is the Torah. 

Josiah reads it and reads of God’s covenant with His people and realises how badly they have had it wrong and then in verse 31 he renewed his covenant with His God. Then in the next chapter Josiah he encourages worship.

I can only imagine rediscovering God’s word, rediscovering his promises and covenant, then rediscovering worship and delight in God. For many this is an ideal time to do just that, rediscovers God's word, promises and delight in worship.

God Bless
Pete and Jem       
 
____________________

Mon 15/06/20

Good Morning Church,
 
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

Steven Wells, a racist Muslim who turned to Jesus through the witness of a young man he played basketball with, once wrote: -
 
“The Jesus I came to know was human and closer to me. He came to earth to seek me, to show me compassion, to show me God’s love. That view of God was foreign to me because the Muslim god is far away. He has no real contact with you on a personal level. But I began to see that Jesus is the one who comes down and touches you, he talks to you, and he is precious to you. He feels what you are feeling and is touched by your infirmities. And that was what drew me and caught me and won my heart.”
                                      
The kindest and most loving thing that has ever happened to you or me is that we have been rescued from death and given new life, this being the sole reason David could write,  “In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath; My arms wave like banners of praise to you” (Ps 63:3-4; The Message).

As Christians we are called to reach out and help others find their identity and calling in Christ who clearly revealed what it is to be made in the image of God. This is an incredibly high calling as image-bearers and a challenge to us all, because how we live our lives will impact the lives of those around us and the world, we live in.

This ability to impact others is seen in the following words by a schoolteacher and psychologist who had experienced great trauma in his life. He writes…

“It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humour, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or de-humanized.”

In seeking the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit let us open our hearts afresh by: -
Acknowledging all that God has done for us, even though He is nothing like us.
Acknowledging afresh that standing alone is not of God – we are called to be a community of believers together.

Asking God to convict us of all wrong thoughts and attitudes and know the power of His Spirit in all that we do for Him.

Asking God to help us see others through His eyes and not our own thoughts and experiences.

Remembering that we are His. 

This is an old song but has been very encouraging to many. Maybe God will touch you through it as you slow down and relax.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYJ4xDwUd_0

Sometimes Alleluia
www.youtube.com
 
 
God Bless
Jem and Pete

____________________

Fri 10/06/20

Good Morning Church,
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
 
Its Pete here rather than a single encouraging thought I would like to share with you a reservoir of them! The writings of C.S Lewis have had a huge impact on my life, he is a specialist of one liner encouragements. He continues to challenge intellectuals and enthral children, a storyteller and encourager. Whilst obviously there is a lot more to faith than fridge magnet quotes sometimes having someone articulate a thought can provide hope in dark times.
 
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
 
"Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less."
 
“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
 
“Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth 'thrown in': aim at Earth and you will get neither.”
 
 
“You cannot love a fellow creature fully till you love God.” 
 
 
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
 
“Don’t shine so others can see you. Shine so that through you others can see Him.”
 
“There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.”
 
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
 
“You are never too old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream.”
 
“We meet no ordinary people in our lives.”

God bless
Pete and Jem

__________________________________________

Wed 08/06/20

Good morning Church!!
 
"And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through Christians like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels! All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus.  When we trust in him, we're free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don't let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud!" 
                                                                                                                                                      Ephesians 3:8-13 Message
 
At the beginning of June every year since 1989 many in China remember the pro-democracy movement which culminated in the spring of 1989 in Tiananmen Square when students occupied the Square for seven weeks calling for human rights, freedom of the press and government accountability. Years later one of the student founders said, “There was a lot of celebration. For the first time, you see this freedom in the air that inspired people to celebrate, to be hopeful and joyful in Tiananmen Square, the symbol of power in China.”
 
At the end of the seven weeks government troops and tanks entered Tiananmen and during the night of the 3rd to 4th of June thousands of students were mercilessly killed. One of the leaders who managed to escape was Chai Ling who eventually made it to America and years later, in 2009, asked Jesus Christ into her life. In her book, ‘A Heart for Freedom’ she writes,
 
“I now see that the thirst I had is the longing for freedom placed in our hearts by God. Only when I came to know God could I truly begin to comprehend his unique purpose for my life.”

When giving her testimony Chai often speaks of her compassion for the leaders responsible for the massacre and how she wished they had heard about Jesus Christ and had the opportunity to repent and find true freedom.
 
But what about those students who died in Tiananmen Square; did they ever have a chance to hear the gospel in a communist nation? The answer is an unequivocal “yes.”  A few days before the atrocities a Christian University Professor from Taiwan was in amongst the students sharing the love of Christ and pointing students to true freedom in Him. Tiananmen means, ‘Gate of Heavenly Peace’ having initially been an entrance into the Forbidden City during the Ming Dynasty.  Through the preaching of the gospel many turned their lives to Jesus. I am aware of this because my mother, a widow in her mid-fifties at that time was in China and only thirty miles from Tiananmen Square.

God works in amazing ways, so be encouraged; He is always reaching out, no matter what is going on. You are His workmanship (Eph 2:10) and the goodness that you and I can share with others comes from being adopted into His family (Eph 1:5); from His gift of life through Jesus. 

We are secure in the One who is always reaching out and in Him can continue to pray into all that goes on in our world no matter what is going on. Be encouraged.

God Bless
Jem and Pete
 

__________________________________________

Mon 6/06/20

Good morning Church,
 
 
“God is love.”
1 John 4:8.
 
I recently read some words from a biblical scholar who has Asperger’s Syndrome and who wrote about how he struggled with church most of his life. He said he was desperate to find a church where someone did not care that he did not like to be touched, could not look them in the eye and struggled to speak  - but just accepted him or asked him what they could do to help him. He said if they had asked, he would have told them he was on the autism spectrum and that he found it hard to walk from his car into church. He also said that he would be willing to turn up to church at exactly the same time every week if someone would just come out to the carpark and help him in.
 
God does not only welcome us into His family, He accepts us, helps us get to know Him and encourages us in all the issues we face, not because we are not good enough for Him but because He wants us to get the very best out of life. God is love and you and I are recipients of that love.  God did not start loving us because of the things we did for Him and neither does God stop loving us when things go wrong; what ceases is our ability to receive His love. God is love.
 
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”                                                                 1 John 4:9-10
 
The bible does not say that love is God because our view of God would then be defined by our concept of love, and this is always going to be flawed. Instead we see that God is love and that love is seen in what it does for others.
 
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
        1 John 4:11-12
 
In this season of grace and mercy we recognise afresh that our life is not about our comfort first and foremost but about our character and the leading of the Holy Spirit who helps us share the love of God. So, let us pray for our government, those around us and those who are nothing like us both here and across our world for this is our high calling in Him.

As one man puts it, “I don’t think we need to agree with anyone in order to love the person. The command for Christians to love the other person, to be benevolent and beneficent toward them, is independent of what the other believes. …..”

Check this: Amazing Grace across the world:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BA7pdABvpnc God is love.


God Bless
Jem and Pete

__________________________________________

Mon 25/05/2020

Good morning church.

Some verses stick with you. Colossians 1:15-23 is on such verse for me. I remember my mind boggling when I first read it. How irrefutable Jesus' mastery of the universe is. He is in control, when all else seems to be spinning out of control we known God is doing something. We may not know what it is he is doing, we may never know. I encourage you to fetch your bible and have your own mind boggled in reading it!

Ravi Zacharias went home his Heavenly Father this week he was a prominent Christian author and apologist. He told the following story based on middle eastern folklore...

'A man’s horse ran away. His neighbour came to him and said, “Bad luck that your horse has run away.”
 
The man said, “What do I know of these things?”
 
But a week later, the horse came back, with 20 wild horses in his wake.
 
The neighbour said, “Good luck – you now have many more horses.”
 
The man said, “What do I know about it?”
 
Trying to tame one of the new horses, the man's son was kicked, and his leg was broken.
 
The neighbour said, “Bad luck, your son’s leg being broken.”
 
The man said, “What do I know about good luck and bad luck?”
 
A few days later a bunch of thugs came by in search of able-bodied young men for their gang. They were about to kidnap the man's son. But when they found out that his leg was broken, they left him behind and moved on to the next house.
 
The neighbour said, “What good luck that your son’s leg is broken!”

We cannot grasp the magnitude and mystery of what God does. But we can trust in Him more than our current circumstances. We have access to only a very small temporal window of our current circumstances. Whereas our God who is always faithful sees our story and all stories from beginning to end.

God bless
Pete and Jem

______________________________

Wed 20/05/2020

Good Morning Church!!

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.'  But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."                                                                                                                                Matt 5:43-48

At first glance the verse I have highlighted can seem so insurmountable that we just breeze over it. After all, how can we be perfect?  For some of the religious leaders in Jesus’ day it meant strenuously holding to their interpretation of the law in an attempt to hasten the arrival of the Messiah. However, their lack of understanding is seen in how many avoided and looked down on gentiles and Samaritans and assumed others were ill because of sin or the sin of their parents.

Trying to be perfect often degenerates into becoming legalistic and bigoted and separates people. It can easily become the excuse for not mixing and forgets that Jesus came for you and I and that we were nothing like Him!

In scripture the word ‘perfect’ means to be complete and in Judaism referred to a learned person. Taking this into consideration and looking at the context we see that Jesus is instructing His disciples to have understanding concerning the Kingdom of God which is inclusive and not exclusive.

Jesus entered a world of social exclusion with a ministry of social inclusion despite being the most offended person who has ever walked in history. All were welcome and Jesus often sat and ate with men and women from incredibly diverse backgrounds whom others did their best to avoid. In seeing the way Jesus lived and how He reached out to all we see the prophetic in action and a foretaste of the world to come, a world with no oppression and no oppressed, where people support rather than ignore and where agape love is experienced at every level.

You and I are nothing like God, yet He still came for us even though many others would have turned away and even though He was fully aware of the number of times we would let Him down, He still came. We understand His love, grace, mercy and compassion and in understanding this and reaching out to others in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit we are fulfilling what it means when Jesus says, “Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.” Be encouraged.

The following is the testimony of a Jewish professional man and how he found Jesus – or rather how Jesus found him!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eu4BaZyweuE

Thank you to every one who is sharing what has been happening with them... 

Thank you Robin for sharing your encouraging devotional which I have attached. 

Bonnie has asked for prayer for a young Christian called Corrie who was just so excited to see what the church is doing with Christ as a foundation and felt like he was meant to meet with Bonnie and Jerry on that day.

God Bless

Jem and Pete

__________________________________________

Mon 18/05/2020

Good morning Church,

King David had a fascinating and tumultuous life even by biblical standards

David is…

The youngest son with few prospects, a shepherd boy living in wild places, a musician and poet elevated to the king’s armour bearer, an unexpected hero, a commander, son in law to the king, best friend of the prince. A criminal, outlaw, mercenary. A victorious general, King, ruler of the state, one who dances for God, temple planner, the one who is promised an eternal kingly line. An adulterer, murderer, sinner, a mourning father. Father of a fratricidal son, a refugee fleeing from his own son’s plot. A mourning father. One who unites peoples. A victim of a second usurpation from a different son. A dying man with regrets.

David the poet king who loved God described as 'a man after Gods own heart' wrote many of the Psalms that people cling to for hope. When you realise the depths of the lows and highs of this man you realise this is not a poet offering platitudes from an ivory tower. This is someone with a hard life who did terrible things and had terrible things done to him. Someone who had lived most of his life on a razors edge, a fragile existence yet watched over and protected. This man is the author of many hope songs that bring hope to me and can to you too.

Psalm 91

1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”…

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

I have discovered two albums by group called Shane and Shane; Psalm I and Psalm II they are a retelling of many of these hope songs in contemporary music. I love this album and use it to reflect regularly I share with you a few songs from it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOzf0VrDNGU Psalm 34

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9JfJw6Wf-4 Psalm 91

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoojA0cLPWY Psalm 23

Every Blessing

Pete and Jem
_________________________________________

Fri 15/05/2020

Good morning to all my dear brothers and sisters. It Ann and Jem here, I just wanted to share a few thoughts with you from God’s Word.

Proverbs 3:6 is such an important guidepost for our lives. When the world overwhelms us and pulls our thinking in so many different directions our Father says: -

“Acknowledge me in all your ways and I will make your paths straight.”

When the pressures and uncertainties of life fill our minds and hearts with restlessness and confusion our Father says: -

“Acknowledge me in all your ways and I will make your paths straight.”

We are God’s children. You wouldn’t expect a child to go off alone without the parents and walk through life unaided and God doesn’t want us to struggle on our own, left to our own devices. He wants to walk with us every step of the way and sometimes, when the need is great, He will carry us.  Proverbs 3:26 says, “The Lord will be the source of your confidence.”

When I feel unsure about life and all its twists and turns I know my Father is beside me and He is my confidence. 

I love the song, “I need thee, O I need thee, every hour I need thee,” because it expresses how much we need to depend upon God, the one who gives us everything we need for every situation.

Praise His name! In an ever-changing world His love and faithfulness always remain the same. God bless you all.    

Ann. T

“Lord I need you” – Chris Tomlin: -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WK1tq1QT7g&pbjreload=10

“Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Col 3:12-14

In reading scripture, I find that I, a rebel, and disturber of peace in God’s world, am loved and although I often used His world as a playground for my amusement, I have always been of great concern to Him. When I really look at God, I find that the love of the One who is so holy that I couldn’t stand in His presence in my own merits, has always been there for me because the unseen cross - that incredible supreme sacrifice made by the perfect One – was already in the heart of God from the beginning of time as angels looked on in amazement at the creation of a world - the world where I live. I also see that the One present at creation and at Calvary will be there at the end and recognise that the Holy Spirit is here with me right now.  And as He reveals Himself to me through His word and leads me by the Spirit, I begin to realise yet again that this amazing person is not some sort of imposition on my life, or a curtailer of true freedom. Instead, He is at the very heart of life because He is life: He is the Holy One who loves me.

As Christians we are called to love those around us and to be compassionate, considerate, and caring regardless of who they are or what they believe. In doing so we come alongside others as Jesus came alongside us and we reach out in the power of the Holy Spirit rather than standing like a journalist at a distance and pointing out everyone’s faults.

Jem T.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

1 Thess 5:11

Please listen to the following song and remember all God has done for you and ask Him to help you pray for others and encourage them. The song really expresses the heart of the one singing it, and its infectious, a real encouragement.

Thank you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbzIp0r8z1Q
__________________________________

Wed 13/05/2020

Good afternoon Church!

Do you realise how amazing your faith is, Abraham was promised that through him all the world will be blessed and that is exactly what we see in the global church. A global family, utterly different yet united in Christ. 

Ephesians 2:17-22 says

'He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit'

Here Paul is writing to the church at Ephesus; to both gentiles and Jew who are one family under Christ. Because of His love and what He has done for ALL in laying down His life, we can be called sons and daughter of the Most High. God hasn't allowed some to come to him and not others, instead the invitation is for everyone; no matter your circumstances, where you are from, or your past.

I am always in awe when I am reminded of the brothers and sisters we have around the world. It's so easy to forget and to not see beyond your own Church, town or country but we are a small part of an incredible global family all praising an Almighty King; all able to come to Him.

I love to see and hear people pray and worship in their own language and culture. God has created a diverse and magnificent world full of beautiful people that sing out His praises in their own personal way. I may not understand the words of our family in India when we have seen videos of them worshipping but I can see the love they have for the Father we share. I am so encouraged to know that they are praying for me also. I have been sponsoring a young girl in Indonesia for 8 years and am always humbled when she writes that she is praying for me and my family. A 13 year old girl I have never met but we share a Heavenly Father and are family.
All can worship, all can pray and all are loved. One body of believers.

A favourite song of mine is by Alex Boyé and BYU Men's Chrous/Philharmonic; it is the Lord's Prayer in Swahili. Two cultures coming together in praise and worship. As you listen I encourage you firstly to thank God that no matter the circumstances, our past, or who we are, He has allowed us all to come to Him if we believe and secondly to thank God for our amazing brothers and sisters around this world, each dealing with this crisis in whatever way they can but still praising Him who makes all things perfect and in whom we can find peace.

https://youtu.be/vsINANZ6Riw

These are the translated words of Baba Yetu:

English translation  
Our, our Father who is
In heaven, our, our, amen
Our, our Father, who is
Let's glorify your name

Our, our Father who is
In heaven, our, our, amen
Our, our Father, who is
Let's glorify your name

Give us today our food
We need you to forgive us
Our errors, hey
As we do forgive those
Who did us wrong, don't put us
Into trials, but
Save us, with him, for ever and ever

Our, our Father who is
In heaven, our, our, amen
Our, our Father, who is
Let's glorify your name

Our, our Father who is
In heaven, our, our, amen
Our, our Father, who are
Let's glorify your name

Your kingdom come that it be
done on earth as in heaven, amen

Our, our Father who is
In heaven, our, our, amen
Our, our Father, who is
Let's glorify your name

Our, our Father who is
In heaven, our, our, amen
Our, our Father, who is
Let's glorify your name

Give us today our food
We need you to forgive us
Our errors, hey
As we do forgive those
Who did us wrong, don't put us
Into trials, but
Save us from this distress for ever

Our, our Father who is
Let's glorify your name

Our, our Father who is
Let's glorify your name
 

God Bless

Rosie
________________________________________

Mon 11/05/2020

Good morning Church, 

“The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Ps 118:14

Israel was brought out of Egypt as God worked with a failed hero to deliver His people from the house of slavery (Ex 15:2-5), the 'shut in' life of oppression. It is because of God reaching in that Israel could not only experience physical freedom but also freedom in their hearts and minds. In Psalm 118, a Psalm that speaks of trusting in God through finding refuge in Him, David says, “The Lord is my strength and my song.”

The word ‘song’ can seem a little strange when we look at the root it comes from because it means ‘to trim’ speaking of pruning vines with Israel often being likened to a vine (e.g. Psalm 80:8-9). So how does this fit in with singing a song?

David recognised that whilst He was learning to trust in the Lord and seek His guidance in defeating the enemy, God was also pruning him – taking away the areas of his life that were wrong and enabling him to experience freedom of heart and mind and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes we sing a song because we like it and to a certain extent there is nothing wrong with this. But I have always found the greatest blessing is in singing a song that helps me really focus on God – becoming more and more aware of all that He has done for me. I also become more aware of my inadequacies and failures as the Holy Spirit encourages me to let down barriers. He prunes my life and helps me acknowledge my failures, hand all things over to Him and proclaim God’s greatness and the victory we have in Christ. 

David was aware of this happening in his life and as he went through difficulty and saw God’s victory he also found increasing freedom deep within his heart. In considering this we see why the word ‘sing’ here speaks of trimming, of pruning and thus allowing the absolute best to come forth; we can grow, even in the toughest of situations.

In singing we are declaring that we are His and that it is His victory that sustains us and  recognise that we are a work in progress as we engage with the Holy Spirit through the victory that is ours in Jesus. So be encouraged, be very encouraged and, as you listen to songs, think of who it is that you are engaging with and allow Him to shape and mould you as His son or daughter.

Please listen to the following song that was originally sent to me with Farsi subtitles.  It is filmed in Brazil and is ‘Because He Lives’ in Portuguese. Many churches have been singing this song through the pandemic. I have also included the same song with English subtitles. Please listen to both and allow God to capture your heart afresh.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywXUh1rKXAg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7muHDCjkz4g

Be Blessed
Jem and Pete

_______________________________________

Friday 08/05/2020

Good morning Church!

“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”                                                                                                                             Psalm 33:20-22. 

This week we provided food for over ninety people as well as supporting others in our community and offering words of encouragement and occasionally prayer to those who are struggling. As you will see from this email we also received a certificate from the High Sheriff of Essex (it came through on Tuesday) in recognition for what we have been able to do over the last few weeks. All glory goes to God for we are passing on what God has provided and helping people to find some security and hope. A big thank you to those who have been working so hard behind the scenes to help so many.

One of the interesting Hebrew roots that the word ‘hope’ comes from is one that speaks of a reservoir.  In the Middle East water is precious and when collected in a reservoir gave the community confidence and peace of mind knowing there would always be enough water for everyone. For us as Christians God has a huge reservoir of blessing for those who seek Him and walk in the Spirit.

In Israel when the corn wine and oil had been gathered there was a feast (tabernacles) lasting seven days. Every day leading up to the last day of the feast the priests would go to the Gihon spring and fill a pitcher with water as people sang “With you we will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say: "Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world” (Isaiah 12:3-5).

It was on the last day of this Feast, that Jesus stood up and said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:37-8). Living water is water that flows up from the ground and, for us, speaks of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. God is a reservoir of blessing and His Spirit flows out through our lives as He helps those who cannot help themselves and empowers us as we seek Him and share with others. Be encouraged.

Finally, just sit down and listen to the following song which is a combination of healing rain/let it rain and majesty. Ask God to cleanse you from all the damage you have done to yourself over the years and seek His blessing. The song is deliberately repetitive in places because this encourages us to open up more to God and receive from Him with the desire to know blessing and be a blessing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpSgrn5hFiA

Thanks to everyone who is sharing their thoughts, below is something Mary has written to encourage us
Matthew 8:23-27, Jesus calms the Storm. 

When life situations and our thoughts are in chaos, it can feel as if we are being swirled round and around, never settling and resting, unable to be still.

I was worrying, living with fear and I craved to know the stillness of God. Our house move was delayed again, and news was spreading of the Coronavirus around the world.

God showed me a picture in my mind of a tornado, I could see the force of the wind swirling around, but as I watched I found myself focussing on the eye of the storm. That completely still place in the middle of a tornado where the wind dies down and all is still.
‘This is where I want You to rest’, I felt My father whisper to me. ‘This is My safe place, the place of Peace where all is calm’.

I longed to be in that place where my Father was. He was in the midst of the storm, resting, everything under His control. I remembered the story in the Bible where Jesus and His disciples were in the boat whilst a storm raged around them. Jesus was asleep! In their panic and terror, the disciples called out to Jesus asking if He didn’t care that they might drown.

Do you relate to this? Are you like one of the disciples in the boat, questioning if God really cares or even knows the storm you are experiencing in your life?

In the Bible story Jesus stood up and spoke to the storm saying, ‘Be still!’ And the storm died down demonstrating His sovereignty over chaos.

Now, we may not physically be on stormy seas, but life can feel like we are. Jesus may not immediately stand up and still our storm, but He can be our safe place in the midst of the howling winds.

That’s exactly where He wants us to be, unaffected by all that is around us. Totally safe in His Presence, trusting that He is more than able to lead us beside still waters, to rest.

Does your heart cry out for peace? Real peace only comes with the Presence of our Saviour, who promises to give us His Peace that is beyond understanding. (Philippians 4:7)
Ask Him, He knows where you are, He knows exactly what is going on in your life, and He delights to draw near and still your restless heart.

‘Father, draw us into Your place of Peace, in the midst of our storms. That still quiet place where Your Presence is tangibly felt. You love to draw us near, help us to shelter in You even when the winds of fear and trouble are surrounding us. Thank You Lord, You are the Master of chaos, nothing is outside of Your control. Help us to lean into You and trust You more. Amen’

Mary.

_________________________________

Wed 06/05/2020 

Good Morning Church!

“He was supreme in the beginning and — leading the resurrection parade — he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he's there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe — people and things, animals and atoms — get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the Cross.” Col 1:18-20 The Message
 
Over the years I have read hundreds of books and found many encouraging stories which help me see some of the ways the power and grace of God touch our lives through others. One story that has always made me stand back and go “wow” concerns Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned for twenty-seven years on Robben Island. During his incarceration he struck up a friendship with a young prison officer, Christo Brand, despite there being a forty-year age gap between the two.

Mandela eventually became President of South Africa yet never looked down on or gave up on those around him. He kept in contact with Christo Brand and when Christo’s oldest son Riaan was tragically killed in a car accident, he rang him whilst Christo was on the way to identity his son’s body.  Mandela said, “I heard about your boy. It is a terrible thing when a parent has to bury his child. I understand how it feels because I lost my own son in the same way. I wish I could give you some strength to bear this.” Christo pulled over in his car and Mandela then continued to speak with him for over twenty minutes. 

Nelson Mandela could have sent condolences through one of his aides but didn’t. Neither did he just speak to Christo for a couple of minutes. Instead the President of South Africa got alongside a now retired prison guard and spoke with him for twenty whole minutes and it is this that speaks to me of the love, grace, and power of God in the life of another.  God has come alongside us. He didn’t send a secretary and He didn’t send a postcard; He sent His Son. In Jesus we see God with us, so be encouraged and spend time with the One who holds this world in His hands and has always had time for you so  don’t let your view of life change because of the circumstances you are in. Someone much bigger is with you.

There is an old African Proverb which says, “If you want to go far, go together.”  If we want to move forward in all that God has done for us and in the power of the Holy Spirit then we must need to recognise that even in the smallest of conversations the power of God can be present to bless us and others.

Paul Day sent in something that encouraged him and hopes will encourage you...

I wanted to share with you something I found really encouraging in an article in the latest magazine from the Evangelical Alliance, (hope to be able to forward a copy to you sometime!).

The article was headed ‘Show yourself some compassion’ and its principle thought was – If God is not asking us for perfection how can we ask that of ourselves?  It was written by the founder of Kintsugi Hope who support people with mental health & social isolation a matter now affecting many people.

So I looked up ‘Kintsugi’ not a word I had previously come across and found it was the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage using lacquer mixed with powered gold, silver or platinum. The lovely thought that came to mind was that because the precious metals used stand out in the repaired item mean that as a philosophy it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of the object rather than something to disguise when it goes back into service.

So when God repairs our broken selves using the precious blood of Jesus we should resemble the pottery repaired by Kintsugi so that our history and the work of Christ in us shows forth for all to see! We therefore live out our lives in service for God not as perfect beings but wonderfully repaired ones.

Every blessing
Paul
_________________________________________

Mon 04/05/2020

God is bigger than you can know. His majesty and power are so beyond comparison that metaphors fail. Our Sun is 14 million degrees Celsius at its centre and burns through around 700 million tons of fuel a second; the most powerful energy source in our solar system.  The mathematics that govern the Sun are not dissimilar from how a thermonuclear bomb works, an example of how humanity uses a tiny fraction of the suns power. God uses this violently explosive object to nurture, grow and give life. Our God is powerful.

For scale, if the earth was the size of a grain of sand, then the Sun would be the size of a pool ball 6 metres away and 232 metres away would be Pluto. Whilst Proxima Centauri; our nearest neighbouring star, in this scale, would be 977 miles away. That means if we were going to make a scaled model with our grain of sand earth in the church hall in Brentwood the nearest star would need to be in southern Spain. Look at the nights sky all the uncountable stars, that is God’s tapestry something he imagined and had the power to create, and the wisdom to put into order. Our God is big.

'Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.'

Isaiah 40:26

If that makes you feel small, then you are in good company because King David felt the same way.

'Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honour... Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!' Psalm 8

This unfathomably powerful creator God crowned humanity with glory and honour, because of love. When we don’t understand what is going on we can bring it to God in prayer but we can know that God is vastly bigger, more powerful and wise than us and all our problems. Whilst we will not always know what is going on, we can know with certainty God has it in hand.   

Thanks again to all who have shared, please continue to do so. Several people have found this video a tremendous blessing, thank you for Ian to sending it to us.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUtll3mNj5U

God bless

Pete and Jem    
_________________________________________

Fri 01/05/2020

Good afternoon Church,

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”                                                                                                                       Rom 12:2

Think of a stained-glass window as sunlight begins to stream through it, highlighting the many-coloured pieces of glass and the picture represented in how the different colours were carefully placed together by the artist. Without sunlight neither the incredible depth of colour nor the picture they paint could be fully appreciated, but with the arrival of sunlight a transformation takes place as what is already present is revealed.

In keeping in step with the Holy Spirit our true colours (humanity as it should be with God) being revealed as darkness is overcome and the light of His presence brings restoration healing and wholeness. In genuinely seeking God, as opposed to having a ‘pit-stop ‘ prayer and glance at scripture every so often,  we embark on an incredible journey of transformation and continually discover what it means to be His son or daughter in the life we now lead.

All around our world men, women and children are being transformed through the love of God impacting their lives and then shine His light as they reach out to others. Businessmen are no longer driven by money or fear but share their knowledge and what they have with those around them. Others, who have been controlled by substance abuse, find His power releasing them from the roots of addiction and turn to help free those around them. Slaves are rescued from bonded labour and seek to rescue others, whilst those who struggled to find meaning or purpose in life find a home in Jesus. Young people find security in the Shepherd King and in understanding their identity share with others, whilst incredible Christian organisations rise out of the rubble of life and seek to free the oppressed who, in so many cases, then refuse to live as victims but turn to help release others. All of this is amazing.

But then isn’t Jesus the One who takes people like Matthew a tax collector and changes his life forever?

As I write this I am reminded of the time when Ann and I drove home from hospital with our new-born baby daughter Rosie. As we drove into Kilburn on that hot day at the end of May I saw a couple of local homeless alcoholics I knew sitting in a doorway. One of them was John, a man in mid-fifties who, for whatever reason, was a hard, vitriolic and sometimes very bitter man. He would call into the church at least twice a week for a coffee and chat, if that is what you could call it! I didn’t know much of his background and occasionally he would rile up and get incredibly angry, but we had a friendship of sorts.

In seeing him as I drove home with baby Rosie, I stopped the car, got out and placed our new-born daughter in John’s dirty hands. John froze and looked at both myself and my baby daughter in utter surprise. I looked into his eyes and, through this act of allowing him to hold my daughter; it was as if all the rubbish and filth disappeared from his life for a few brief seconds. I saw John as he could be, I saw his humanity, and could see a man trapped through wrong decisions but made in the image of God non-the-less,  a man who was precious to God peering out of the carnage of the existence that he had found himself living. Even now, as I write this, I find myself almost overwhelmed with compassion for this damaged man who often caused so much trouble and wish I had been able to do more for him. However, what I can do right now, is ask God to touch me, to continue to transform and empower me, but not so I can be some sort of superman and help everyone to change because that is not going to happen. I desire to be transformed so that I am the son I have been called to be, walking in the power and leading of the Holy Spirit and helping others.

After speaking of the many difficulties and troubles he had gone through, Paul reminds us that we are rooted in Christ and goes on to say….
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”              2 Cor 4:16-18

No day goes by without God’s unfolding grace and all that He asks is that we are open to receiving from Him, and it is in desiring Him above all else that we are able to gain that which we never deserved but which is freely given. Be uplifted and be encouraged. Stand with your head held high in the presence and blessing of the Holy Spirit because, no matter the storm, you can stand, and you can bless others and no matter how small what you are doing may seem to you, it is important and accepted by God.

Watch Zach Williams: ‘Survivor’ filmed in Harding Prison and be encouraged.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtX2dat1UVQ

God Bless
Jem and Pete

___________________________________

Wed 29/04/2020 

Rosie and I like food, and we like eating together as a family. Although we have been busy during lockdown we have had more time to eat together. Similarly a lot of people are spending much more time with their family units or video calling them and mealtimes should be a big part of that (even having a meal over video call!). One of the amazing and encouraging symbols that recur throughout scripture is the offer of a place at God’s table. 

To ‘dine with the king’ shows proximity as well as intimacy with the annuls of power, it is also a symbol of the provision of the King.

'The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, And refined, aged wine.' Isaiah 25:6

Our place at the King’s table goes further, we are not merely royal subjects at a banquet but part of a global community and family. 'And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.' Luke 13:29
Our place at God’s table is assured, for those that are in Christ nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:38) There will always be a place for you at His table.

A final image of God’s table is that it is a place of peace, even midst difficulties. The community of God, His provision, the Kings protection and His intimacy are sustenance of themselves. That is why David said ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (Psalm 23:5). 

Open your Bible and read Isaiah 55, it is an invitation on the doormat to you, your family and all nations.

I love this song that centres on the restoration that is possible at God's table, I hope it encourages you as much as it has me.

Josh Garrels, At Your Table. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7L87sCyCjrE

God Bless
Pete and Jem

_____________________________________________________

Monday 27/04/2020 

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”
             Ps 103:13-14


Grace is a nineteen-year-old girl born with parts of three limbs missing and into a village community in Rwanda where many saw her disability as a curse with family members quickly pressurising her parents to kill her. Grace’s father was later murdered because he refused to kill his daughter and her mother, Beransiira, who then had to escape across the border to Uganda with Grace and her other children.

In Uganda Beransiira turned to Betty, a local Ugandan village leader for help. Speaking of that time Betty said, “When I heard Beransiira’s story, my heart was filled with compassion towards her and I offered to help. Grace came to live with me when she was just 4 years old.”  Because of this woman’s love and compassion, Grace was brought up in a village where she was protected and treated as just as important as anybody else. As a young woman, Grace’s motto is “Disability is not inability. With God, all things are possible.”

As mentioned on a previous occasion, the main purpose of study in the ancient near east was to see God as He really is because being in awe (fear) of the Lord would outweigh everything. However, we must not make the mistake of thinking that this was only about seeing the power of God; it was so much more than this.  It involved being captured and amazed at His love, grace, mercy and compassion, as well as His holiness and justice. It is being taken up with the wonder concerning who God really is, awed by His presence with a harvest of then never being overawed by the powers or problems of the world. No matter what we are going through God is loving and compassionate; He really cares for us.

Compassion speaks of loving deeply and is pictured, for example, as the womb that surrounds life and inner chamber of water surrounding and protecting a helpless baby. It also speaks of an incredibly deepfelt desire to get alongside and uplift others; God wants to get alongside us.

God knows how we are formed, and He is deeply loving and compassionate towards us; and yet, almost unbelievably, we can go further than this because compassion speaks of loving deeply and having mercy. For example, in scripture we see the master who had compassion on a servant who was unable to pay his debt (Mt 18:23-26). This does not mean that God does not exercise justice, but it does mean that, in compassion, He gives all an opportunity to turn to Him. We also see incredibly deep love, compassion and mercy in the father who welcomes home his prodigal son (Luke 15: 20) with a hug, and in the Samaritan who goes to the aid of a wounded traveller at great cost to himself (Luke 10:33).

In the gospels we see that Jesus was moved with compassion when he saw a crowd like sheep without a shepherd (Mt 9:36, Mk 6:34) and  He was also moved with compassion when aware of the hunger in those who had followed him out to the desert place (Mt 14;14, 15:32, Mk 8:2). In Jesus, God Incarnate, we see compassion for the leper, (Mark 1:41), the two blind men (Mat 20:34) the widow of Nain (Luke 7:13) and a man who had a demon –possessed son (Mark 9:22).

God’s compassion is an open heart and willingness to walk with you and I right now and for this I am incredibly grateful. There are so many times when I feel so helpless and saddened when I see the suffering in this world and at times it can almost overwhelm. But then the One who is so compassionate helps me as He quietens my heart, helps me articulate my prayers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and reminds me that, through Him, I really can touch people elsewhere in our world. Be encouraged, you are not alone; you are never alone. 

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose."                                                                                                                                                    Phil 2:1-2

https://1drv.ms/v/s!AjMeg0K-OjSMkARqOmvcLL6a7uGr?e=ZEtsxy 

I encourage you to watch the link above which is a clip from, ‘The Chosen’ showing Jesus healing a paralytic. It is a very moving scene and, I think, captures something of the love and compassion of God.  Then, in light of what we have been saying and looking at, spend time in prayer, not only for yourself but also for all that is going on at present and all the families who have lost loved ones. Your prayers may seem small to you, but they are heard by God, the One who is deeply loving, compassionate and merciful towards you right now.

Thank you to everyone who continues to pray and share. Below is some encouragement that has been sent in.

Julie sent this in: -

Love your neighbour as yourself, the second commandment that Jesus told His disciples. During this difficult time, I have been in tears many times as I read, hear, and see this commandment carried out. Communities have come together, neighbours have time to talk, people in the street, pass you by on the other side, yet still make a comment, or give a nod of the head. My prayer is that after this virus, we will still cherish the times we have spent with each other and will obey the commandment, to love one another and continue to do so when things revert  back to a semblance of normal.(John 15: 12).

Paul Day sent this in: -

After Easter week my mind often goes back to the words of the thief on the cross next to Jesus; ‘Jesus remember me when you come into your Kingdom’ (Luke 23:42) and Jesus’ reply ‘ Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise’ (Luke 23:43).

The thief was a man who acknowledged his guilt, had possibly no previous bible knowledge, teaching, theology- all things we place much importance on today. He may never have seen or heard of Jesus before, yet he saw in the man dying next to him the King of Kings and his simple acknowledgement of who Jesus was just a statement of nine words was sufficient for him to be saved and receive Jesus’ promise of eternal life.                                            

Gemma sent this in: -

I’ve been encouraged by how many opportunities there have been to offer prayer for those people I work for and with, and excitingly, how willingly people are accepting it. I was able to pray with a parent that I tutor for, just before the lockdown kicked in- her 90-year-old mother had been admitted into hospital- a hospital which had covid19 patients. Her mother was released home this week. I’m amazed that even though we are locked down and barely able to go out, I am still given the opportunities by God to love and serve Him and those around me

Malcolm sent this in: -

There has been so much to be thankful for over the past weeks especially seeing a glimmer of the world as it used to be.  The beautiful skies not masked by fumes, the birds singing not masked by a sky full of aeroplanes, the early spring flowers enjoying the full warmth and colour that it used to give. O how beautiful Eden was before man began to destroy it.

I have also seen the re-awaking of the love and kindness of one human being for another albeit there are still those who want to criticise the efforts of others.

And what a joy to see churches helping those in need and rejoicing in the ever-present Lord, supporting each other. Hallelujah.

These three still remain, faith hope and love. Faith grows as you commune closer, hope never ceases and love abounds in God's children. 

John sent this in: - 

I’ve been going through the O/T Kings of Israel and Judah and how our Father just spoke and intervened at significant times. In 2 Chron 15, God spoke to King Asa through Asariah about holding close to him. “God will stick with you as long as you stick with him. If you look for him he will let himself be found” and later “be strong, take heart, Payday is coming” At which point Asa, “took a deep breath, then rolled up his sleeves and went to work”.  (Message Bible) And the Kings’ actions proved to be a significant testimony to a number of people in the surrounding territories in their walk with the Lord.

It is also more of an encouragement to each of us to stay close to our Father as we hear of the tragedies and difficulties happening all around us. Keep on Praying

Ken sent this in: - 

I am encouraged particularly at this time of year by the the wonder and beauty of God's creation, the extent of which Paul highlights in Romans 1:19,20, so no one has reason to doubt our God. Jesus points to God's sovereign reign over all creation in Matthew 6:25 and tells us not to worry but seek God's kingdom and righteousness above all things. These things are enormous and mostly too difficult to truly comprehend. I am then reminded that we are living in the legacy of Easter, l am humbled and yet encouraged and cannot help but to worship and praise my gracious, caring, loving God outside of whom nothing matters.

Be Blessed by our compassionate God

Jem and Pete 
____________________________________

Friday 24/04/2020 
Good Evening Church,

“This is what the Lord says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the Lord.”                                                                                                                                          Jeremiah 9:23-24.

Captain Tom Moore has just won a Pride of Britain award at the age of 99 having raised well over twenty-eight million pounds by walking round his garden each day to raise money for NHS Charities Together. I doubt whether, in his wildest thoughts he could ever have imagined that the first steps he took in his garden for this challenge would lead to so much money being raised and a national award. Yet Tom did not do it for recognition or awards but as an act of kindness and support of others, not allowing his great age to limit him.

Tom reminds me of a man called John Baker in my first pastorate. John had worked in an Ice cream factory for most of his working life and when I met him was in his mid-seventies. I wanted to start an early morning breakfast for the homeless and John was instantly there asking if he could make the breakfasts. Those simple breakfasts and a desire to help others eventually morphed into a purpose-built hostel and was the impetus for two others being opened in London by a group we were associated with.

It is a great blessing to see so many good things going on across the country at this time and as Christians we need to be encouraged to plant small seeds of kindness wherever we can, knowing that however small they may be, God will use them to speak to others.

God notices even a cup of water given in His name, (Mk 9:41), but what does this look like today? It speaks of ordinary everyday acts which are often exceedingly small, that are done in love and with a desire to share God’s loving-kindness with those around us in thoughtful and practical ways.

In Jesus we see a Saviour who came to show kindness to the most undeserving, difficult and frustrating people you could possibly imagine – you and I.

We were like the naked, beaten man in the story of the good Samaritan – a man totally unrecognisable in a society where you were often identified by the clothes you wore or your accent. In the parable, the most unlikely person stoops down to tend his wounds and carry him to a place of safety – a marginalised, looked down on, often despised Samaritan.

In Jesus we see the One whose world we have trashed, and whose law of love we have broken on countless occasions,  bending down to look at us (kindness speaks of bending the neck), looking at that which must have appeared unrecognisable compared to our high calling.  He tended our wounds, some of which were self-inflicted, and stood in our place so that we could receive forgiveness, blessing, and loving-kindness in increasing measure.

“But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”                                           Titus 3:4-5

We are the recipients of great kindness and, in the power of the Spirit (fruit of the Spirit: Gal 5:22) can plant seeds of loving-kindness that can produce an incredible harvest because they are Spirit-empowered. So, don’t despise the small things you do for others, or assume that they are not good enough or as good as those of others. Recognise His great love and kindness for you and that nothing done in His name is ever trivial or insignificant, but a seed that can produce great blessing for others and for ourselves.

“I am only one but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can still do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”
                                    Helen Keller, who was born blind and deaf.

Be encouraged, you and I can give out to others and grow in Him no matter what comes our way.

“Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don't go back until they've watered the earth, Doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,   So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They'll do the work I sent them to do, they'll complete the assignment I gave them.”                                                                                                                                         Isaiah 55:10-11

Why not listen to Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace) and think about God’s kindness to you and be refreshed and encouraged by Him as you do so. https://youtu.be/Ao818R3h_Nc

Please continue to send in things that have encouraged you.
Thanks to to Terry who sent in this funny video showing what bored engineers stuck at home do!

_____________________________________________________________

Wednesday 22/04/2020
Good Morning Church,

A well-known Professor of Psychology once wrote about bumping into a man he’d helped a few years previously during a series of counselling sessions. The ex-patient thanked the professor for the help he’d received and remarked that there had been one meeting which had impacted him more than all the others and really changed his thinking. The professor was inquisitive as to which of their sessions it was and was surprised to find out that it was none. Instead it had been the time when the professor had come across his patient sitting outside with friends and had sat down, talked, and laughed with them for a while. It was this time that had impacted the young man more than any of the sessions he had been through and had helped him on the road to recovery. Sometimes just sitting down quietly and meditating on the fact that we are in God’s world and are noticed and loved is all that it takes to begin to experience what Nehemiah speaks of when he writes, “…The joy of the Lord is your strength….” (Neh 8:10).

Sometimes we lose sight of the simple and amazing truth that God wants to be with us because, if we hare honest, reading His word at times and praying seems to get us nowhere. Yet maybe this is because we spend too much time using God’s word as a means of getting out of present situations instead of genuinely seeking His presence in the situations we find ourselves in, and for no other reason than wanting to know Him more. Perhaps David recognised this as he wrote, “God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Ps 63:1)

Being honest about how we allow things to dominate our thinking, and asking God to help us refocus on Him, makes us available and open to receiving the help of the Holy Spirit as we begin to see life afresh -from His perspective - and walk in His power as we do so.

In his book, ‘I asked for a Wonder’ Abraham Heschel captures something of this refocusing as he wrote about prayer, saying,  “We do not step out of the world when we pray; we merely see the world in a different setting. The self is not the hub, but the spoke of a revolving wheel. In prayer we shift the centre of living from self-consciousness to self -surrender.”

In surrendering our lives to Him day by day we conquer wrong thinking and emotions that seek to dominate, along with present situations that scream out and distract us. Therefore, let’s ask God to capture our hearts afresh, open our eyes, and help us move forward in the power of the Holy Spirit who enables us to do far more than is possible in our own strength. Let us seek His presence, not for the sake of ease of passage through life but that we may do great things for Him.

In concluding today, slow down and read the following verses from Paul, who clearly realised the importance of experiencing the presence of God and in doing so recognise that the reason Paul prays on this occasion is so that the church may be strengthened and more fully understand the love of God that surpasses measure and be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. May we all be strengthened by His presence in such a way that we continue to grow stronger during this season of lockdown.
 
“…My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit — not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength —   that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”                                                                                 Ephesians 3:14-19 The Message.

Please find a space where you can be on your own, slow down and listen to ‘Way maker’ asking God to draw you close and help you reach out in new ways. Above all, be encouraged.

Way maker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SE_M9noEhNE

Please be encouraged and share songs or a scripture that has spoken to you along with any testimony that has encouraged you. Let's make these encouragement emails a 'noticeboard' of good news for the fellowship.

Thank you to everyone that has sent things in already.

Siohban Watson has found comfort in this song by Whitney Houston https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Pze_mdbOK8&feature=youtu.be

Paul Day's care group includes Filip who lives in Poland and has visited us numerous times, he shared this song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISPdRmYkBMc&feature=youtu.be

For Prayer, please pray for Rachel who is Pete's sister she is a paediatric nurse who has returned to work for the first time in over a year and due to senior nurses having virus symptoms has rapidly had to take a leadership role.

Continue to pray for Jonathan who is recovering from virus symptoms and awaiting test results.

God Bless 

Jem and Pete
_____________________________________________________________
Sunday 19/04/2020

Good morning church,
May you know great blessing as we look at our security in Him today. After reading this small offering please listen to the song by Jeremy Riddle called, ‘Let it Rain.’ Rain is a symbol of God’s blessing, so as you listen meditate on His greatness and ask the Holy Spirit to wash over your life with His love, grace and mercy and strengthen you as a son or daughter. Then be encouraged to spend a few minutes thinking about others in our fellowship and bringing them to the Lord in prayer.

He is the Rock.
“God, the one and only — I'll wait as long as he says. Everything I need comes from him, so why not? He's solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle: I'm set for life.”                                                                                                    Ps 62:1-2 The Message.

During the dehumanising issues of social apartheid in America in the 1960’s, Martin Luther King Junior wrote the following words that clearly speak of the presence of God with him and subsequently an incredible stability of heart and mind amidst all that was going on. He writes…

“…to our most bitter opponents we say, ‘We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you…Throw us in jail, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory...”

In Psalm 62 we find the words of another man who, despite his many ups and downs in life, his successes and failures, kept his focus on God: David.

Psalm 62 is about confidence in the Lord and is set between a prayer for those who are overwhelmed (Ps 61:  “From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”) and one that speaks of thirsting for God (Ps 63: “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge”).

David was no ivory-tower theologian, but a man who had at times plumbed the depths of despair and, like us, certainly did not always get it right. He wrote the above words at a time when God delivered him from his enemies including King Saul who was determined to kill him. Elsewhere David writes of his experiences with God in the difficult times and says…

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn (strength) of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my saviour — from violent men you save me.  I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”                                                                                                  2 Sam 22:2-4

A refuge ultimately speaks of safety and scripturally speaking carries the picture of being raised up to the Lord. David was aware that in life’s difficulties it was always the Lord who raised him up. Surely this is why he writes, “I’ll wait because everything I need comes from Him.”

His words can remind us of an often-quoted verse from Isaiah (Isaiah 40:31) where we read, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar (be lifted up) on wings like eagles…..”

The word hope/wait is a word also used for making rope and therefore speaks of binding together. Unlike modern-day nylon rope, the rope in Isaiah’s day would sometimes come lose and need to be rebound and, I guess, that is a little like us at times. Like King David and so many others, we can find that we have begun to drift and need to return and bind ourselves again to the Lord becoming stronger as we do so. The good news is that God always encourages us to do this. David knew that his ultimate place of safety, his refuge, was in the Lord and although circumstances and situations limited him at times, he was secure in Him.

This morning Robin was listening to the radio and heard about a prisoner who said that although he is physically in a small cell and is not free, he is free in his mind because of Jesus. Please pray for prisoners who are not having visitors at present and are in their cells for many more hours than usual.

Towards the end of Psalm 62 we find the same words repeated from the beginning of the psalm in verse six, with repetition being God’s highlighter pen emphasising a truth for us. King David, Martin Luther King Jr and an unknown prisoner in his cell today were all able to experience this truth: God is our rock, breathing room for our soul and a place where we will not be shaken.

God has promised to bring all things to their rightful fulfilment, sunrise and sunset, day and night, summer and winter, seedtime and harvest and you and me. In the wilderness He was with His people and so the wilderness became a place of hearing and blessing to Israel. Our security is in the One spoken of as the rock in the desert: Jesus (1 Cor 10:3-4). 

A friend of mine told me of a time when he was really struggling with life. He was at an all-time low and his job was one that he never thought he’d end up doing. He used to drive into London at night with a small car that had a camera fitted to the top of it to photograph all the parked cars late at night. The data collected would then go to a database where the relevant authorities would be able to see if the cars were taxed and insured.

In the early hours of one summer morning, just as dawn was breaking, he was driving home wondering where God was, if anywhere, in his life. He felt a failure, totally useless and wanted to give up on everything. As he drove along, he saw what initially appeared to be a pile of rags at the side of the road. He slowed down and it turned out to be a woman who needed a lift. After a few miles she asked to be dropped off although they were still in the middle of nowhere. As she got out of his car the woman turned to him and said, “God is with you.” As my friend drove off the words resounded in his mind and he looked in his rearview mirror to find that the woman had just disappeared.  He told me that this was a major changing point in his life. 

The mistake we can make is forgetting that God is with us and calls us to trust in Him. Sometimes He takes the initiative in reaching out to us, as with my friend above. As you pray for those around you maybe God will take you by surprise.

You are important and part of a global family as well as a local community and all are on a journey with Him. Take hold of your birthright in Him, seek the engagement of the Holy Spirit and ask Him to open your eyes to the greatness of God and help you know what He requires of you this day. Be blessed.


“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Ps 100:5

SONG:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ont0QkrRjE


_____________________________________________________________

Good afternoon Dodd Road.

What does a congregation that cannot congregate do?  I have been pondering a verse that on first reading seems to contradict our governments advice. 

‘Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.’ Hebrews 10:23-25.

Today I want to encourage you, the congregation and community of Dodd Road Church to heed and obey the lockdown as well as reflect on and follow the truths of Hebrews 10. Our hope in God is utterly unique it is different from our hope for good weather or for West Ham or that the shop will have enough toilet paper. Be hope-filled with certainty because ‘he who promised is faithful’. 

Our firm foundation is not found in a Sunday service, or one another or anything that circumstances can take away. Our firm foundation is God, the eternal promise giver. Out of those promises springs God’s Kingdom; a community of the hope-filled people. 

Whilst the last word in hope is God alone, the hope in you is contagious, so share it. Spur on and encourage. To that end we must treasure the most vulnerable among our community by maintaining physical distance, but my heartfelt prayer is that we ‘do not neglect meeting together’.

Text, email, phone call, Whatsapp. Share prayer, be prayed for.

Consider the New Testament books, we have the gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, then we have Acts. These are accounts of what Jesus and His church did, written for people who were not present at events. After Acts the remainder of the New Testament is the communication of individuals to God’s community, to people who, through distance or circumstances could not be physically present. Most of the New Testament therefore is written by a hope-filled person refusing to give up meeting another because of circumstances.

God Bless 
Pete and Jem
_____________________________________________________________

Monday 13/04/2020 

“…and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Cor 13:13

Sometimes when I wake up early on a sunny morning, I can almost imagine what a renewed Earth (at one with heaven), might be like as I look across creation. On these occasions it is as if the freshness of early-morning air and peace and tranquillity of a new summer’s day has lifted my heart and mind, helping me ‘see’ heaven and earth intertwined in a future that awaits us all (Isaiah 65:17, 55:22) and is promised by the One who knows and loves us most.

On these early summer mornings, it is as if God has walked through His world during the night and renewed the faded grass, reinvigorated the colours of the flowers, leaves and trees and purified the air I breathe. 

As I think along these lines, I am reminded that this world is important to my heavenly Father and so are all of us. I am reminded that He has not let go of this world and will not let go of us and that the here and now of this moment in time is important to God. Although this world bears little resemblance to the wonder of creation in its first days, there will be a renewed heaven and Earth one day, because He says so, and you and I will be part of it.

This world has never been ignored by God and neither have we. It has never been pushed to one side as if it were no longer of any consequence to the One who created it in such love. This is our heavenly Father’s world and therefore there is nothing trivial or insignificant about it, and He is about His work of transformative grace right now and you and I are part of His work.  Although the meaning, purpose and origins of our being are couched in a distant past, we are part of a story that is happening right now, the oldest story in history and the most up to date, and we serve a living saviour who rose from the grave and continues to reach out in incredible love to us all.

Faith speaks of leaning on another and of their strength and ability intertwining with ours. In faith we trust in God’s nature and character no matter what is going on and become firm and established in His strength through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. No wonder one of the pictures concerning faith is that of a tent peg firmly fixed in the ground.  Faith understands that the invisible governs the visible, that what we see is not all that there is and that He is in control, and so we have hope.

Hope is not about striving for something but being rooted in someone who challenges us to look to Him. It is not about our plans and agendas but being focused on our destiny and not having the things of the world eclipse our view of all that God is and does. It is the calmness that comes from wisdom, knowledge and understanding that is rooted and established in Him. And now to love…..

God’s love is a sacrificial love which we need to continually open our hearts to. This is why Paul tells the Ephesian church that he is praying that God would strengthen them with power through the Spirit in their inner being so that Christ would dwell in their hearts through faith. As a result, they would increasingly know and experience God’s love which surpasses knowledge, so that they would be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Eph 3:16-19). 
 
The simple, deep and profound truth is that you and I have been placed here in order to be loved. Life is not about achievements, recognition, money or worldly success. Life is about being loved and we are loved and called to love others and you and I can be great in this life because, in one way, being great is about loving others who, like us, were created to know God’s love.  

I finish with a recent story from the International Justice Mission. It is about Nahdini who, along with her husband was rescued from bonded labour. She wanted to help her community despite having no money and so, over the last few weeks, has been making face masks from donated saris in order to help families in need. In this we see the power of the resurrection at work today in a beautiful way. 

Be encouraged.
Jem and Pete
______________________________________________________________
Good Friday 10/04/2020 

The Passover The Passover was a celebration of how God broke into the illegitimate rulership of Egypt and rescued His people from the house of slavery, releasing them into their true position in His household. For this to happen the enemy was completely defeated yet sin also had to be dealt with. Initially this was through the blood daubed on Israelite doorposts (the Passover Lamb) yet ultimately it was to be through the Lamb of God (John 1:29-30); God stooping low and standing in our place of judgement.   


At this time of national and international difficulty we do well to remind ourselves that in Egypt God showed His power through His mastery over the elements as well as over all forms of demonic and military power. Let us also remember that there has never been a time when God is not in power and in Jerusalem, almost two thousand years ago God showed His power in servanthood and the weakness of a human body (Mark 10:45).  As the perfect man Jesus stood in our place (1 Cor 15:47) and conquered sin, death (1 Cor 15:55-57), and all the powers of darkness (1 John 3:8).  Therefore, because of Jesus you and I need never lose a battle for all things are ours in Christ (2 Cor 1:20). Yes, we may struggle and feel as if the whole world is against us at times, but the truth remains that we are His and He has taken the victory (Rom 8:37-9).  This is amazing love.

No matter what we go through, the unknowingness of our future is known to Him and the blessing of our lives is a certainty through the One who has always been so very aware of us – our comings and goings, failures and successes, our ups and downs, our hopes and aspirations. All life is an open book to Him, and He is our Father (Mt 6:9). 

And now let’s turn to ‘Good Friday.’

As I have written on many occasions, the word ‘good’ is a primarily a covenant word in that it speaks of a relationship with God and living in accordance to the covenant.  It is good to be with our father, good to allow Him to mould and shape our lives, good to know His love and compassion for us and good to know that He is supremely in control of all things.

Good Friday is Good Friday because on this day we see the clearest most breath-taking sacrificial giving of covenant love – the offended party standing in the place of the lawbreaker, willingly giving His life and willingly undergoing judgement so that we could find forgiveness and come home. Let us remember that in all that Jesus went through in the lead up to the crucifixion and events surrounding it we see a perfect Son opening the door to heaven to you and me.  

One thing that has always amazed me in the lead up to Calvary is how God continued to reach out to people in love, even as events came together to bring about the death of the One who had shown nothing but grace and mercy.

When you and I go through difficulty or face challenges it is easy to withdraw and become consumed by the problems we face. Yet not Jesus – He was always in control and He always reached out and He is always there for us.

For example, shortly before Jesus’ arrest Jesus said to Peter, “I tell you Peter, before the cock crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” Luke 22:34. This prophecy was fulfilled when Peter was seen inside the High Priest’s courtyard (a place he was not allowed to go). One of the high priest’s servants saw him and said, “Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove?” (John 18:26-7). This was the third time Peter had been challenged and the third time that he denied knowing Jesus. I wonder how Jesus felt at this time.

How would you feel if a friend who had walked with you for three years suddenly deserted you and even denied knowing you? Think of the heartache and pain this would cause, for there is always going to be great pain in being let down by a close friend whom you have shown nothing but love.

In a worldly sense, we probably would not have blamed Jesus if He gave up on Peter from this point onwards, but thankfully God is not like us. Peter had not wanted to deny Christ but had found the strength and power of the enemy too much for him. Yes, he had made some mistakes but would probably have been just as shocked as the other disciples with his denial. Yet God does not give up; God understands us. He might not agree with us all the time, but He does understand us.

Jesus knew that most of the disciples were going to desert Him in His hour of need and yet instead of castigating them as many castigate others when facing difficulty, He continued to love them. Even before they deserted Him, Jesus had said to them, “In my father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).  I doubt very much whether any of us would have encouraged the disciples and spoken like this in the face of looming torture, death and judgment, yet Jesus did and in Him we find great hope. Even when we get it wrong and trip and stumble and fall, He does not write us off and He never stops loving us.

After the shock of spewing out his words of denial, Peter must have felt completely different – as if he were on the outside and no longer part of anything. He must have felt that he had crossed the line and gone way past the point of no return and undoubtedly, his failure would have greeted him afresh each morning and with equal vigour in the evening when he was tired and needed sleep. He was now a ‘not-real’ disciple - a mockery and laughingstock as one who had promised to protect Jesus yet had denied even knowing Him. What sort of friend acts like that? However, God’s love is not weakened by man’s failure; it is never weakened. What is weakened is our ability to receive love, but God still reaches out. Jesus never stopped loving Peter and would later go on to challenge him in such a way as to bring healing and restoration to his tormented heart and mind. This is amazing love.

Another incident revealing incredible love in the lead up to Calvary is the last healing Jesus did before His trial and crucifixion. He touched Malchus’ the high priest’s servant and restored his ear (Luke 22:51) that Peter had cut off with a swipe of his sword. I wonder how Malchus must have felt about his wound and instant healing? I’m sure that he would go home and really contemplate what had happened. Perhaps this was part of his journey to place his life in the hands of Jesus as Lord and Saviour; and what about Jesus?

 I wonder how Jesus must have felt as soldiers and religious leaders approached Him led by Judas, a disciple He had cared for. The pain of desertion is sometimes more painful than physical pain, yet Jesus still reaches out to heal an enemy (Luke 22:51) which is incredible. If Jesus can do this whilst undergoing great suffering and hardship, then how much more as the ascended King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Is there not great wonder and hope in all of this?

When we go through hardship, we often shut in on ourselves, especially if we are deserted by friends at a time of great need, but not Jesus.  No matter the incredible pressure on His life including looming death and judgement, Jesus remained perfectly in control of His emotions and His love was never weakened. He could have called on twelve legions of angels (Mt 26:52-4) but didn’t because He was present to fulfil scripture and there was nothing on earth that was going to prevent this from happening.  Just pause and think about this for a few seconds.

Next we see God reaching into Pilate’s wife, who suffered through having a dream about Jesus (Mat 29:19).  I am certain this is no accident but something that God deliberately brought about. No matter the events of the day and the power of darkness, God still reaches into the household of a powerful enemy and gives dreams, an, “I want you to think moment.” Here I am reminded of how God reached into Babylon in dreams and visions and wrote on a pagan king’s dream wall. God is supremely in control – He always has been, and He always will be, and the incredible truth is that even at Calvary, God continued to give love.

For example, whilst enduring the agony of the cross Jesus entrusted Mary to the care of John (John 19:25-6) and later reached out to a thief/terrorist with the words, “Today you will be with me in Paradise (Luke 23:42-43).  Then, from the sixth hour to the ninth hour darkness came over the land (Mat 27:45-6), reminiscent of the presence of God at the time when Israel was brought out of Egypt (Ex 10:21-23). Then Finally, when Jesus gave His life an experienced Roman executioner said, “Surely he was the Son of God!” (Mat 27:54) a term usually reserved for the emperor and no one else.

Finally, when Jesus died we must recognise that He gave His life, it was not taken from Him, for none had the power to do so. He cried out in a loud voice and gave up his spirit (Mt 27:50) and then the curtain of the temple was torn from top to bottom because the way into the holy of holies was now through the blood of Christ. We later read that the earth shook, and rocks split; tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” (Matthew 27:51-52).  

So, my brothers and sisters, on this beautiful Good Friday let’s remember and celebrate God’s victory at Calvary and wonder yet again at His incredible love.  Let’s also remember that God in intensely aware of us right now and that in the ‘big’ events of this world, does not lose sight of us for even one second.  In the events surrounding the crucifixion Peter is encouraged, Malchus is healed, Pilate’s wife is challenged, Mary is taken care of, thousands are made aware of God’s presence through darkness, a terrorist finds life in an unexpected place and will be with Jesus in Paradise and a Roman Centurion confesses the truth that Jesus is the Son of God. Dead people come back to life and witness is given to the religious class as the temple veil is torn in two.  

The master is about His work and you and I are part of that work on this Good Friday morning. The world is not the same as it is a few weeks ago, but then it has never been the same on any two days anyway. But One thing remains absolutely certain. You are His and no one can take you from His hands.  

Enjoy this glorious day that he has made and join us in prayer today at 3pm on your own doorstep. 

It is finished.

Jem and Pete    
______________________________________________________________
Wed 08/04/2020 16:20

In the Shantung Compound during the Second World War there were interns from many countries who had been working in China at the time war was declared and who were now prisoners of the Japanese.

In January 1945 there was the unexpected arrival of food parcels from the American Red Cross and the whole camp of just under fifteen-hundred internees (men, women and children) gathered in excitement to see how they would be distributed. There were just over two-hundred Americans in the camp, and some of them worked out that they would get at least seven parcels each because they were American Red Cross parcels and not for others. Can you imagine how the rest of the camp felt? Hostilities soon rose between the internees and fighting broke out with the Japanese then refusing to distribute the parcels for just over two weeks whilst they asked Tokyo what to do.

In the week leading up to His crucifixion, Jesus never held back in any way whatsoever and all that He did was willingly done for all of us. Through Him we can always receive because all the promises to us are “Yes in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:20). So, during this time of difficulty when life is certainly a little different, let’s pause, and recognise afresh that we are in Christ and part of an unshakeable kingdom: His kingdom.

In Christ (en Christo) is mentioned ninety-one times in the N.T. letters and speaks of Christ being the enabling power – the sole reason we can enter into new life in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.  Both the church (1 Thess 1:1; Gal 1:22) and the individual (Phil 4:21) are spoken of as “In Christ.” In Christ we are a new creation (2 Cor 5:17) and find freedom (Gal 2:3-5) to live, with all the promises that God makes being confirmed and guaranteed in and because of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 1:20). 

Our heavenly Father knows us personally and we are loved with an everlasting love. He is the One who hears every ‘Hagar’ in the desert (Gen 16:7, 10-11; 21:17-20), does not forget the small bird sold for pennies and knows the number of hairs on our head (Luke 12:6-7). His presence is with us because of Jesus (Heb 7:22), the ‘No one can take them from my hands’ One (John 10:28) and His power is experienced in our lives through the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16), who is described as ‘another counsellor’ (John 14:16). The word ‘another’ speaks of one who is exactly the same by way of nature and character as Jesus, with the word ‘counsellor’ revealing the Holy Spirit as another advocate. He defends us against the work and accusations of darkness and empowers us to live out the truth and His work is perfect in every way.

In Jesus we see just how much we are loved and living from His presence means that we accept who we are in Him (2 Cor 5:17, Col 3:12, 1 Pet 2:9) no matter the circumstances we find ourselves in. We accept that we are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27) and, through Christ, adopted into His family (Eph 1:5). We are the ‘twice born ones’ and are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30) who is spoken of as a deposit (Eph 1:14) guaranteeing the life to come.

We are empowered by His Spirit (1 Cor 3:16, 2 Cor 3:18) insofar as we are open to His guidance. In Christ and Christ alone, we are strengthened by His power in our inner being (Eph 3:16-20). We are kingdom people who are called to love one another in and by the Spirit (Col 1:18) whose fruit (Gal 5:22f) and gifting (eg 1 Cor 12) are given to edify, encourage, uplift and support us as we reach out to others with all that has been done by God.

“My Lord, you have been our At-home in every generation. Before mountains got born, before earth, this earth was begun, from ever and forever you are GOD!”  Psalm 90:1-2.

Every blessing

Jem and Pete
______________________________________________________________
Monday 06/04/2020 

In January, when Coronavirus was a far-off problem effecting far off people we distributed a postcard around the subject of worship. It started with the following sentences:

‘The concept of worship is often relegated to a short time of singing during a church service, yet worship is more than a specific activity; it is a life defining thing. Real worship is to truly know God and to response with love, wherever we are.’

More than ever it is essential that worship of the one true God is not bound to Sunday services, church buildings, hymn sheets and large congregations. Let your worship be unbound, a present companion, an outlook as well as an activity.

We the church, God’s people, can and will always worship. Sometimes that worship will be something that overflows from our heart; emotive and passionate. However sometimes it is an act of will, praising in the certain knowledge that God is in control and transcends our current misery, fear and anxiety. We can and will worship in lock-down, in the way we serve our families, in the way we pray, in the way we see and respond to the needs others. Even if that need means we do not physically meet up with one another.

What a beautiful gift music is, in the age of online streaming you can flood your home with sweet songs of praise from across the world. Raising your mood and lifting praise to the Most High. Turn the humdrum of dishwashing, laundry and gardening into a space and time of praise.

Whilst the world is going through difficulty the worshipping heart is uncrushable, resolute in difficulty. Many examples of people defying the spirit of anxiety with praise have appeared on social media.   

https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-NXbjXgqmZ/ A vicar in Portabello London leads a block of flats in singing along to Amazing Grace.   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jI1DF-g-ur0 Italian Christians singing out their windows ‘How Great is Our God’

'Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him — his name is the Lord. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.' Psalm 68:4-8

'Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.' Psalm 42:11

God does not earn our worship with his performance, or how closely he acts as we would want. We are made for worship, which is our first love. True worship creates a selfless love after God’s own heart. Real worship transforms and orientates towards love. 

'A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.' John 13:34-35.


Be Blessed
Pete and Jem 
______________________________________________________________
Palm Sunday 05/04/2020 11:44

Matthew 21:1-11

Palm Sunday: Do you have manufactured Peace – or does the Prince of Peace have you?

Last night I dreamt of my dear friend Malcom Geffin. He used to stand at the back of the church leaning on his crutches. He would arrive late and leave early, wanting so badly to get involved but not quite having the ability to do so. Malcolm was a battered and bruised man and a lot of it was self-inflicted, but he trusted in Jesus Christ and we would spend hours talking through the philosophy of the world and the wonder of Jesus who does not fit into anyone’s mould of thinking – He is just too big, too amazing, too awesomely wonderful. And then we would pray, and Malcolm would always pray from the very depths of his heart with tears rolling down his face.

On New Years’ Eve a few years ago, Malcolm texted me to wish my family a happy New Year and every blessing in the Lord. He was reconciling himself with his family and we hoped for a good year. But Malcolm did not wake up on New Year’s day. Instead, his heavenly father gently bent down and scooped this battered friend of mine into his arms and took him into heaven.

At Malcolm’s funeral there were so many of his friends and acquaintances from Narcotics Anonymous present and I have never seen such incredible respect and love shown by those who know how difficult life can be and so genuinely wanted to pay respect.

At the end of the service one of his friends came up to me and looked me in the eye and said, “You know Jem, I think you are right. Someone much bigger came and wiped his slate clean, didn’t he?”

Rome always got jittery at the time of year when thousands and thousands of Jewish people would come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover; but why? Because the Passover spoke of Israel’s foundational history – it spoke of the sacrificial blood on the doorposts of the Israelites protecting them as the angel passed over and brought judgement on the oldest sons of Egypt.  Passover spoke of freedom from the oppressor and encapsulates judgement and deliverance from Egypt -   the tyranny of a false King (Pharaoh) and blessing from God who brings His people to Himself. Considering this, Passover was a potentially dangerous time in the eyes of Rome – they dominated a nation that was, at Passover, celebrating freedom from domination!

So, Rome gets jittery and flexes her military muscles. Each year, at the time of the Passover she would send a column of Imperial Calvary and soldiers to Jerusalem from Caesarea which was about sixty miles away. This extra large contingent of soldiers and cavalry conscripts would squeeze into the Fortress Antonia overlooking the temple and its courts. The fortress had been built and named by Herod in honour of Mark Antony, a famous politician and Roman General.

However here, in this gentle, incredible, powerful, beautiful man riding on a donkey, you have the Incarnate Son coming to wipe our slate clean, yet so many did not like Him because He was a direct challenge to the religious leaders who had lost sight of the heart of God.

People were following Jesus and, on one occasion, he had fed over five thousand men at one sitting – a potential instant-army in the eyes of many. In the arrival of the Passover and, in some minds, a rise in nationalism, the religious leaders could have a major problem on their hands. If the crowds rose up with Jesus or caused too much of a stir, then Rome would march into the neighbourhood in even greater strength, as they had done during a previous anti-Roman demonstration in 4BC, when part of the Temple had been destroyed. Considering this it is hardly surprising that those with their eyes on themselves ended up saying…

"Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."                                                                                            John 11:47-48

The High Priest understood the political situation and along with his team wanted to keep the peace at any cost. Yet this was a manufactured peace, a status quo: with no real power.  Jesus was a threat to this manufactured power and so they thought that executing Him would prevent people dying at the hands of Rome and get rid of someone who turned their ideas of God upside down.  In light of all this they sought to kill the One who raises the dead! Now that really does not make sense,  but they were getting agitated!!

However, Jesus came into Jerusalem to pay the price for all we had ever done wrong and to wipe the slate clean so that we could start again with Him.

As Jesus entered Jerusalem crowds took Palm branches and went out to meet Him shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel.”

It used to be said in the Ancient World that man depended on the presence of Palm trees which spoke of sustenance and survival in times of drought and hardship. When other vegetation died off the Palm tree would still be there.

Thus a key word associated with the Palm was victory and the ability to persevere in life no matter what situation you found yourself in. No wonder David says in Psalm 92: “The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree.” 

Jerusalem was in turmoil with all the goings-on and on top of this when Jesus approached Jerusalem the crowds went out to greet Him. This sort of thing only happened when visiting dignitaries were on the scene and so it was just all too unacceptable to the Jewish council. In addition to this, the crowd was using words that would rattle the cage of Rome in quoting Psalm 118:26 which said: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you.” It also rattled the cages, so to speak, of many of the religious ruling classes of the day because everyone knew that what was being quoted was part of a messianic psalm and therefore Jesus was being seen by many as the Messiah.

The crowds would have been full of well-meaning people, yet many had their own version of what peace was all about. They wanted a political Messiah who would overthrow the might of Rome – yet their picture of how peace is secured was way too small. The crowd was right in seeing Jesus as a King – and yes Jesus is a warrior King who defeats all the powers of darkness – but not through endorsing their plans!

In bringing this together we see that on the one side you have Rome and their would-be gods, and the might of their army flexing muscles as they imposed their brand of peace on life. On the side of pseudo-peace you also have the Jewish Council seeking to keep their brand of peace in play and elsewhere, in another corner, a man called Barabbas who sought to manufacture his brand of peace and get rid of Rome and all opposition through violence. Then, in yet another area, we have some of those in the crowds who were undoubtedly excited for all the wrong reasons. In contrast you have the Prince of Peace – the One who consumes all evil and restores right relationships with God: Jesus Christ of whom the Father said, “This is my Son whom I love.”

In all that Jesus faced on that journey into Jerusalem and the lead up to His death He never deviated from His task. He was coming to bring earth and heaven together, to wipe our slate clean, to give us new beginnings. So be encouraged bothers and sisters, we are battered and bruised some of the time, we trip and stumble, we fall over and get picked up. Yet our slate has been wiped clean and one day we will be with Him forever and we will see old friends again like dear Malcolm Geffin. So, don’t get so caught up in your plans that you lose sight of your destiny and remember that wiping the slate clean is just the beginning.”

“He holds the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

God Bless

Jem and Pete
______________________________________________________________
Friday 03/04/2020 

Good morning Dodd Road Church,
At the beginning of this week I spoke about God’s peace when everything falls apart. Primarily peace is restoration to fellowship with God through the work of another. It is then ongoing peace in and through the work of the Holy Spirit.  In bringing this large Christian charity back into the area after such tragedy I was helped by two very good and highly qualified friends (John and Pete) who were God’s provision at a time of great hardship. Their grace, humility and love was a clear reflection of God’s amazing presence with us all. Together we were able to do what one of us on our own could never do.
“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor 3:18.  

Living according to God’s teaching and the presence of the Holy Spirit means that we know whose we are. No matter the circumstances we find ourselves going through, we belong to Him. We accept that we are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27), are adopted into His family (Eph 1:5), and sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30), spoken of as a deposit (Eph 1:14) guaranteeing the life to come. Therefore, no matter what may come our way, we recognise that, ultimately, our security is in Him alone. He is the One who says that the nations are like a drop in a bucket (Isaiah 40:15) and that the hairs on our head are numbered (Luke 12:7). In this we see incredible power and intimacy.

In all that we may be going through it is so helpful to recognise that the first thing God wants us to do is to receive from Him each day and that in doing so (through the written word and the Spirit), we find strength of mind and emotional wellbeing. 

As sons and daughters of heaven  we are empowered by His Spirit (1 Cor 3:16, 2 Cor 3:18) and strengthened in our inner being (Eph 3:16-20) so let us continue to seek His face (nature and character) and reach out with His blessings in all that we do. Pray for others and text them or give them a call to see how they are doing, but don’t get so busy that you forget how important you are to Him!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”                                              Proverbs 3:5-6.


God Bless
Jem and Pete

______________________________________________________________
Friday 27/03/2020 

Hi Church,

“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”    Matthew 6:34

For the majority of Dodd Road Community Church the pressure of our normal busy schedules has been removed. Because of crisis we have been given a chance to take stock and get closer to God. We have been forced to spend time alone or in our family units. What will you do with this time? Everyday that God grants us can be flooded with purpose and this time of partial lockdown is no different. We have been given an abundance of free time at home but also a weight of anxiety and fear of the future and yet we know who holds the future. Matthew 6:25-34 encourages us to look out the window, look at the birds and the lilies and see God’s provision, see the world breathing in and out, consider all that God gives. Matthew 6:30 reminds us that the pinnacle of His creation is you, a human being, made in God’s image, worthy and capable of love and relationship, a being that can know and be known, be blessed and be a blessing. These are things that no calamity or crisis can take away. The instruction to not worry in Matthew 6:34 is often unhelpfully taken alone, ‘the bible say do not worry so don’t’. But this instruction is part of a story of God’s care, creation and kingdom, full of God’s good promises that the good God reigns and he is not surprised, he is not in self-isolation, he is present.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” Psalm 46:1-3

If you are at home self-isolating God is there, if you are contributing to the national effort by continuing essential work no matter how difficult God is there. If you are working from home trying to balance home and work, God is there. What will you do with this time we have been given? If you have always felt too busy to engage with God, seize this unique time and give it to Him. Garry Caine, one of our worship leaders has been blessed in his worship at home by this song and hopes it blesses others.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwc2d1Xt8gM

God Bless

Jem and Pete

______________________________________________________________
Wednesday 25/03/2020
Hi Church,

There are many times during our lives when we can feel isolated and on our own, yet we are never in a minority. Instead we are part of a kingdom that spans eternity and serve the One known as “our Father” (Mat 6:9) and therein lies our hope and as Paul reminds us: 

“… hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us”.                                                                                  Romans 5:5.

Hope is not something we wish for such as a financial windfall or new job which may or may not come about. Instead hope is rooted in the nature and character of the Lord Jesus Christ in whom we find our security.  In considering this we see that hope is not about striving for something but being rooted in someone who challenges us to look to Him, the One who has all things in His hands. Through His incredible grace and mercy, we are the ‘brought home ones; established in the love of the One who gave His life so that we could live and in Him we find the strength and power to overcome all things.

As Isaiah writes, “Those who hope (wait) on the Lord will renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31)  with the picture here being that of slowing down and focusing on the Lord who then takes our weakness and replaces it with His strength. He does this, not because of anything good in ourselves, but because of His incredible grace, mercy and loving-kindness.  

Today has not taken God by surprise in anyway and, like all others, is a day when He is in control. Our activities may be curtailed in this season of difficulty, but the way is always open to God and if you and everyone reading this pray for ten more people than usual, we have reached over a thousand more people in prayer.  Catch the vision, be encouraged and root your hope in the One who loves you most.

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”  2 Cor 1:21-22


God Bless

Pete and Jem
______________________________________________________________
Monday 23/03/2020

Hi Church

Its Jem and Pete here with your dose of encouragement. 

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”                                                                                                                              Hebrews 12:2-3

Stanley Jones was a psychiatrist and missionary in India up until his departure for heaven in January 1973 and although I never met him, his life and words have always been an encouragement to me.

One day, at the age of eighty-seven, Stanley woke to find he’d had a stroke. Looking back on this time he wrote - 

“I was a completely helpless person with my left arm and leg useless, the right side of my face numb and sagging, sight and speech badly impaired.”

Stanley went on to say that he had always expected to slowly descend into his nineties and one day wake up in the presence of the Lord; he had not expected to wake up old and crippled, and he panicked. However, the peace of God’s presence and security in Him through the power of the Spirit returned to him immediately when he realised one simple truth, this being that  God could use him just as powerfully as an eighty-seven-year-old cripple as he could a man in his forties preaching three times a day.  The difficulties Stanley faced, and his inabilities were no match for God. My prayer is that the following words he wrote will encourage you in all you are doing…

“By prayer, I am still communicating with the same Person. I belong to the same unshakeable Kingdom and the same unchanging Person. Nothing has really changed except my means of communication with the outside world”             

Life will sometimes be difficult and it’s ok to feel small.   What’s not ok is to assume we are alone or that God can’t work with and through our lives.

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”   John 10:11

God is the same God with the same life giving promises even when everything else changes including as Stanley said when our means of communication change. As many of you will have seen in the news, the most medically vulnerable in Britain are being told to isolate for 12 weeks. Those that are required to do so have been contacted by the NHS. This includes people in our beloved congregation please pray for them and everyone who will be self-isolating. Local governments are forming community hubs to help serve this group. We, God's global Church are all about service and this is an opportunity to do that, we will be assisting Brentwood council ion this. Please pray for the essential work of Brentwood Foodbank and its increase in pressure, pray for its volunteers and users.   

Last Sunday will be our last service for sometime, whilst church services are not 'on'. Church is always 'on', even when we are isolated we are together in Christ.  

God Bless

Pete and Jem      
______________________________________________________________

Friday 20/03/2020 

Hi Dodd Road Community Church,

Its Pete here, I hope you are all keeping well whatever your current circumstances. We will be regularly sending out encouragement to you all at this time when so many of our beloved brothers and sisters can't be physically present meeting together. As you know Church is more than meetings and buildings, in fact you are Church, God's congregation, God's global kingdom expressed locally in the extraordinary everyday. We can and will continue to encourage one another, to bless one another and lift one another up in prayer. As it currently stands there will be a prayer service this Sunday 22nd March at the regular time however if you are in an at risk category or have a close family member that is we encourage you to stay at home. We are certain Christ's sufficiency and victory but we must look before crossing a road, be wise in God's victory, one way we can bless our wider community is to help combat this virus by stopping it being spread.     

Thirty-seven miles off the coast of Asia Minor is what we could call the ‘Alcatraz’ of the ancient world - the island of Patmos. During the days of the Roman Empire, political prisoners and many who were perceived as a threat to ‘Pax Romana,’ were imprisoned on the island due to its isolated position. This island (twenty-five miles in circumference) was the one John was banished to by the Emperor, Domitian. Yet someone far more powerful than all the emperors of Rome combined – the King of kings – was about to speak into John’s life in such a way that millions of people were going to be encouraged down through the centuries being reminded that God is in control no matter what is going on.

John was a very small man in a very big empire, yet what we find with John, and with all  who seek the Lord is that God really is the “I will never leave you nor forsake you” One (Deut 31:6;  Mat 28:20, Eph 6:10). 

God worked through John in an incredible way and is with us now in all we go through. In this time of difficulty and possible isolation, remember that you are noticed and loved and just as important to Him as anyone else. Remember that you can talk to the One who reaches beyond all walls, social barriers, geographic boundaries and even death if He so wishes. Use this time to pray more for others (without forgetting yourself) under the leading of the Holy Spirit. The Lord is watching over you and despite any restrictions you may be facing, you might find yourself being freer than ever. Use this time to pray and be prayed for, send in prayer requests. Please pass this on to your family members and spouses, everyone who is part of our loved church family.

God Bless
Pete and Jem
 

Jem, Pete, Ann, Rosie, Malcolm, Kingsley, Mary, 12/05/2020