THANK GOD IT’S MONDAY

I invited a friend from my previous church family along to the evening service last week. When we found ourselves in conversation with someone on staff, my friend began recounting some of my past experiences – accomplishments? – and skills in “Christian ministry”.

That made sense, as we had shared experiences which were relevant to this staff member. Nothing that was said could be doubted, but I was left saddened that this was the focus of me at that point.

What about my accomplishments outside of ‘Church’ over the years? (I was commissioned to impact it just 15 minutes before!) I’ve also, as it happens, written a scheme of work making psychometric profiling accessible to teenagers. I’m proud of that. I’m also proud of facilitating 11 year-olds cooking their first ever meal and come to realise they’re creative and can make something.

I realised I hadn’t shared with this friend my many achievements outside of a Church building. I’ve made church ministry more easily recognisable to them than it by keeping my day job in its box.

As for now, I’m “only” a volunteer, seeking my way into paid (“real”) employment after years of incapacitation and Incapacity Benefit. I don’t actually like what I do for now and am just making my C.V. more full for the future. On Friday I was entrusted with a Basic Skills class of “only” four adults to facilitate myself: my Line Manager was away.

One of them didn’t shout at the voices in her head as they were silent that day and was appreciative of the fruit I provided after I prayed about what snacks to bring. Might this be the Presence of Christ going with me into a place of oppression to bring freedom?

Another has been re-inspired to dream again of writing a book, and opened up about how he feels he’s wasted years in addiction. Might this be a realisation that hope can re-appear after desolation?

Yet another was encouraged to submit to governing authorities: diagnostic tests have to be taken by him and marked by me, and they’re not fun for either of us.

For the first time ever, we finished on time: boundaries have been enforced firmly with gentleness, with love. Blessing was spoken over students as they left, to have a great week. (Blessing is wanting good things for others and speaking out that this will come to pass.)

Of course God is in what I do with people isn’t He?

Over the past six weeks I’ve tidied up really tedious data in pretty spreadsheets to appease some funding scheme of the Government. God is also in the business of bringing order out of chaos.

I’m sorry for not sharing this more readily. This is the Holy Spirit making an impact through me in my working week. This is his ‘Kingdom Come’ that we pray for.

I wonder what God has been doing through you in your marketplace.

Oh, and those ministry “accomplishments” – they’re not important to mention.


by Jay

//New Series starts in November, ‘Thank God it’s Monday’.


PRAYER IS A WASTE OF TIME

Living overwhelmed with things to do, anxious of committing and losing out, living so used to instant results and gratification, prayer seems such a waste of time. Why on earth would we pray?!

But the earth isn’t like that. In a flaky world, we bear the image of the one who commits with steadfast love, partnering with him in the renewing of all things. We’re in it for the long run. Our choices to speak and act have consequences. Including the way we speak with the Renewer. Why wouldn’t we pray?!


CLIMBING THE MOUNTAIN

There’s a picture of our church community: we are halfway up a mountain, sitting resting after our climb, enjoying the view. God is pleased with the progress we have made and congratulates us. We have come a long way, and have done well. 

But we are not at the summit yet! It is high above us. God has much more for us, much more to see, even more spectacular views. Let us not be content with where we are. Let us not stay in a comfortable, inward-looking puddle but lift our eyes to the MORE - knowing God’s love more, seeing His power more, being more intimate with God.

So how do we get to the summit? How do we know God more in our lives, individually and corporately?

Well, climbers do not reach the summit by relying on their feelings. If they wait until they feel as if they can get there, they’ll probably never set out. Being close to God is not about our feelings. God is as close to us as we will let Him be, always, whatever we feel and whatever our circumstances. He is constantly helping us to draw near to Him by His Spirit, whether or not we feel it.

Neither do climbers reach the summit by thinking about it! Yes, they may need to plan ahead as far as they can, but thinking alone will not advance them one inch. Growing closer to God is not an intellectual exercise, or an academic exercise demanding we understand fully before we can progress to the next level. No, climbers only get to the top by putting one foot after the other, following the path as it reveals itself to them, continually checking where the summit is to make sure they’re heading in the right direction. 

Similarly, our life journey to God is a practical one. We speak rightly of ‘steps of faith’. It is by taking small practical steps of faith that our trust in God will grow and we will discover more of Him. I believe we over-complicate our life with God often. Let’s simplify them instead! Jesus said, “…except you become like little children…”! It isn’t an option, except we become like unsophisticated children we will not enter the Kingdom.

So in a child-like way, let’s take tiny steps each day to grow nearer God - ask a small prayer: “God, please help me speak a kind word to someone today.” Rejoice when God answers your prayer, and the next day ask another…and another… and another. Allow God to show you how much you can trust Him and how faithful He is. Allow your trust to grow. Give testimony- telling someone else about your answered prayer!

How do we respond to the call onwards? Pick up our climbing gear and get on with it.

Our faith is nothing unless it it shows itself practically! So what are you going to trust God for today? Let’s come back each Sunday and encourage one another with the new views we’re seeing as we take baby steps up the mountain!


Psalm 24

Who can possibly ascend the mountain of the Eternal?
Who can stand before Him in sacred spaces?
Only those whose hands have been washed and hearts made pure,
men and women who don’t settle for worshipping anything other than God as he is.
The Eternal will stand close to them with blessing and mercy at hand,
and the God who redeems will right what has been wrong.
These are the generation who chase after Him;
[like Jacob, they look for the face of God].


Jennifer Rowlands


The Power of Like

Like your neighbour as yourself.

When Jesus says ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ we say yes, we are big into loving.
If we changed that to ‘like your neighbour as yourself’ that would be weaker wouldn’t it?

I dare say it might not be, given how casually we throw about the depth of the word ‘love’.

Words are important. The Church at large can get confused and distracted because of the power narrative we talk in. We like ‘love’. We like the power of ‘calling’ and ‘love’ and ‘heart for’ and ‘big transformational prayers’. We like impressive, transformational, spirit-rising ideas. But perhaps we don’t like ‘like’.

Maybe we need more ‘like’. Maybe more ‘like’ would humbly make a dramatic difference to the mood and culture of church.

I love my neighbour so I… commit to run healing on the streets; care about their relationship with God; invite them to church/ carol services/ mums and tots/ community lunches/ alpha; prayerfully consider what way God is calling me to say to them….? (All good things).

I like my neighbour so I… make friends with them; feel I can share the tough stuff going on with my life with them; hear what is going on with them, can honour the fact that they have lived here longer than me; go fishing with them as that’s what they like doing; look after their 2 kids cause the 3rd kid is ill and they are a single parent family; learn what my neighbour likes and how they do friendship; receive gifts of fresh mango from them!…

Less noble, more humble. Less mighty, more gradual. Less spoken, more acted.

I say this as someone who started with calling, love, a heart for…, and big prayers… and I’m just finally learning how unhelpful some of those phrases can be for us all!

In Easter 2009 whilst in my third year at Oxford, I emailed Mike, church leader of a wonderful small church, and asked if “his church ran projects on council estates, ‘cause I feel called to move to a council estate in East London”. He responded firmly and told me that the church doesn’t do ‘projects’ to the local estates as he and the church live in the local estates. So when I arrived to meet him he then asked me if, in years to come, I would send my kids to local schools, or if I would move to the suburbs? And then would I stay living here if I was raped? I decided to stay (not knowing the answers to those questions!) and I learnt an awful lot from Mike and he was wonderfully welcoming. I’m grateful for his bluntness at the start.

Six years on. I have made friends. I call this home. I like my neighbours.


From http://piercepatter.net


ISOLATION | A TESTIMONY

Beki’s talk on Isolation will be up here soon. In the meantime, John H offers this testimony to encourage us on the subject.

There have been several times in my life when God has shown me barriers in my life. These are the sort of isolating barriers that Beki spoke of in her Sunday sermon.

For me, each time it has felt like a major mountain, almost impossible to climb. What’s more, although I knew the barriers were hiding personal imperfections that God didn’t want me to have, it seemed more comfortable to stay as I was rather than move into an unknown and different future.

I felt I could cope with what I had become rather than risk exposure to a different way of living. Yet each time, with the help of good friends and church leaders, God has brought me through.

Afterwards, I have felt that what seemed like a mountain was really only a mole hill as far as God was concerned. It was rather silly that I had made such a big thing out of something that God helped me through.”

Thanks John!

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