"Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time."
James 4: 6 The Message
As we open the door and embrace 2018 we welcome new opportunities that the new year and its fresh start affords us. One thing we are certain of is that, whatever 2018 holds, Father God is with us, mountain high or valley low. The Bible is full of God's promises to all of humanity and the entirety of his creation but we find a promise in the letter from James in the New Testament that we want to draw your attention to through 2018. James 4:6 says that as we take steps to draw close to God, He will draw near to us. It is a heaven-made guarantee that, as we 'lean in' to Father God, he will be close to us.
As you will note from James this incredible offer of intimacy between humanity and God is an intentional act that also requires our initiation. We get to activate God's closeness to us by simply setting our focus on him. As we approach He notes our movement and comes running to us.
Over the last year as a Leaders Team, we have made an obvious but radical decision to focus our time and work first by drawing close to God. It has inevitably had a knock on with how we do things requiring reprioritisation. The change has been tangible and hugely beneficial as Father God's economy kicks in. This was the way we have approached pursuing other more permanent building options for the church with a time of listening before any action was taken. The Quaker tradition frame this sort of discernment process as leaders in this way; 'a meeting for worship where business is conducted.’
We are keen to encourage this re-ordering across the whole church family in 2018. There will be an opportunity to do this together as we run 24-7 Prayer Spaces, Biblical Reflection Groups, and NT60 launching again after Easter. As much as we do things together we also need to be a people that 'lean in' to his presence in private and then everything else will find its right place and be well.
"Where was God?" Clearly many struggle to reconcile their belief in a loving God with recent tragedies. I respond simply, "God did not cause this." Then I ask the key question underlying every question concerning God's relationship to suffering, "What is our image of God?"
The answer in the New Testament is simple: God is love. And the most dramatic sign of God's love for us is Jesus. With Jesus, God has demonstrated the greatest possible love and given us the greatest possible gift, a gift that can sustain us in every circumstance, yes, even in suffering.
When believers turn to God to deal with suffering the first question we usually ask is why: Why did this happen? Often implied in the question: Why, God, did you do this to us?
But God doesn't answer this question. I believe it is the wrong question.
We have walked through the Christmas season and into a new year. John the Baptist exhorted us to "Prepare the way of the Lord and make straight his paths." We wanted to "make straight" our hearts so the Lord would enter without resistance - so we would really experience him.
If, like John the Baptist, we can let go and simply open our hearts to Jesus as our friend and Saviour something happens: we know God’s presence in a new year.
The prophet Isaiah gives us hope that the light can continue to shine in our lives even in darkness, the darkness we may experience in the start of a new year. "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing" (Isaiah. 9:1-2).
So the best I can offer to us for handling tragedies is to humbly seek the sign of God’s love – Jesus - and ask for his help. Jesus always is present to us when we call upon him in faith - indeed even more present when we call upon him in need, "Come to me all you who labour and are burdened and I will give rest."
God of love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth has given way to the bright dawn of your Word made flesh. Make us a people of this light. Make us faithful to your Word, that we may bring your life to the waiting world.
"And the light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (John. 1:5)
This morning was a fairly typical morning in the Moore household. I sat down to do a 10 minute devotional from IF:Equip and got about half way through before Martha wanted a story and/or Rupert needed feeding. This is what life is like with two little ones. There isn't much time. Life is hectic, fast, messy and also brilliant fun. It is hard to remember let alone find time to do a quiet time. It is tricky to engage in church whilst keeping an eye on toddlers running around or keeping babies quiet. It would be easier to disengage and feel guilty that church and faith sometimes doesn't "feel" like it used to. Something has changed and it can be easy to think it is God rather than the season we are in.
I relayed this story to a friend and she replied, "yup, they don't call it the black years for nothing!" and I instantly wanted to reject that name. The black years. How many times do we name a season negatively and then live as if there is truth in that name?
Friends, I don't know what life is throwing at you during this time. Maybe you are tired. Perhaps you are grieving. Disillusioned? Disappointed? Doubting? Whatever it is you are going through at the moment, God is still God. He is BIG enough for all the emotions, all the turbulence, all the surprises we are dealt. And He can still move. Whether it feels like He is or not. We can trust Him to be God in the good times and the bad. The happy and sad. The colourful and the black.
There is a beautiful chorus in the "Desert song" by Hillsong that goes...
"All of my life, in every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship"
What ever the colour of your season, we still have reasons to worship. So let's not sit back, let's stand up. Let's not back off but lean in. Let's remind ourselves that He is still God and big enough for where we find ourselves.
City Angels is FIVE years old!
We're thrilled at the success and transformation we have seen through this project and are excited about the future developments and ongoing partnerships across the city.
The renewal movement of the 1960’s and 70’s gave rise to the emergence of the New Churches. In one sense they were ‘planted’, however these Churches had little intentional strategy at first, but ‘fellowships’ and new Churches emerged in most cities, towns and some village settings during this period and into the 80’s as Apostolic Networks were built.
The 80’s and 90’s saw the Dawn Church Planting movement and also the emergence of other networks both in and outside of the historical denominations. At this stage intentional strategized church planting became the norm and most historical denominations, new churches and emergent groups are still talking around this issue even if the models employed are diverse and the current language is ‘missional’.
Throughout this period the predominant model has been congregational planting. Initially this was broadly successful both evangelistically and in the establishment of new groups, however in recent years this model has become much less effective. There are still great groups being established at a high cost to those taking part, however, I think our problem is that evangelism and real growth for the Kingdom of God is lessening as each stream or denomination focuses on planting it’s ‘brand’ in key locations already well served by similar expressions of Church.
The common scenario is as follows:
Group locates into new city or town, begins meetings, a great programme is set up. People are drawn from existing churches, a few people who are de churched return, a small number are converted initially. During this process existing Churches lose people, resources and suffer as a result. Some Churches actually shut permanently. When the statistics are compiled we realize that the real number of active Christians in the town or city have not increased, they have just been redistributed as people choose their Church around consumer values and not in line with missional commitments. Years go by and another ‘stream’ comes to the city and the whole thing happens over again. This scenario is being repeated again and again across our nation.
I think the time has come to wake up and invest in fresh approaches to reaching our towns and cities. Approaches built on evangelism, breaking new ground, building discipling communities and cooperation and partnership between existing groups. ‘Brand planting’ needs to give way to ‘Mission Planting’, communities that begin with mission, clusters, projects, businesses, not for profits and people groups. It’s time to start thinking and acting out of our boxes.
Life Centre – Supporting Survivors of rape and sexual abuse
Salary - £6,864 pa (already pro-rated) for 12 hours work per week
(4 hours Saturday morning and 8 hrs, 3-7pm 2 days during the week)
Life Centre is a Reg Charity (No 1127779) with a Christian foundation, providing specialist therapeutic services to survivors of sexual violation: www.lifecentre.uk.com.
We are looking for a self-motivated and organised individual to manage and keep up to date the centre’s database. Successful candidates will need to have experience in working on databases, good word & excel skills in order to produce reports on service level statistics for trustees and fundraisers as requested, good attention to detail is essential. The Data officer will also welcome clients on arrival, so a warm and friendly manner is essential.
Due to the nature of the support Lifecentre provides for female clients, the Data Officer must be female. This criterion is justified under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. Lifecentre is an equal opportunities employer.
and the job application form here:-
Closing date for applications: 5th August 2016
Interviews: 10th August 2016