Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Lee Get's Baptised

On Sunday evening we had the joy of baptising Lee at the church offices.  It was a fantastic occasion with tears wept and smiles beamed.  Here's his story:

Friday, 27 July 2012

Jess got baptised, and here's her story

So this Sunday just gone we baptised Jess. Here is her story:

I grew up in a Christian home, and attended church with my mum and sister. From a young age I was exposed to Christian teaching, but didn't really connect with it or apply it to my life.

Growing up, I never saw myself as a ‘Christian’, and stopped going church. I considered myself to be an ordinary teenager, doing things I thought were culturally normal and morally right, without even thinking of there being anything bigger besides the present.
I came to University in 2008, and felt a sense of belonging, being in a great group of friends, and living a typical student life.

By my 4th year however, I had completely lost my initial sense of belonging, and felt like there was something missing from my life. I knew I had started to consider that something was missing, but up until this point, I had explored every other avenue to try and fill it.

God kept on popping up in places I wasn’t expecting, at a time when I wasn’t really looking for Him. An ex-boyfriend became a Christian, my godmother sent me a prayer book, and I felt like
Christians kept being put in my path. After a while found that I couldn’t ignore it, and asked a friend if I could go to church with her.

As soon as I walked into RFC, I knew I was in the right place, and people were approaching me like I was the best part of their day. I felt overwhelmed with joy and was thankful that I had finally found a place where the hole in my heart could be filled.

During the worship, I couldn’t help but smile and cry. I didn’t know the words, and I wasn’t singing, but I sensed an overwhelming presence, and didn’t feel like an outsider. I felt like I was part of something.

I was invited along to Alpha, and after 3 weeks I knew that this was the truth, and found that I had run out of reasons not to believe in or follow Jesus. On May 8th I sat with my friend and gave my life to Jesus. I had found what I had been missing.

Since becoming a Christian I see things from a different perspective. I feel the feeling of being in love, of being in a relationship, but one that keeps on giving. I am happy, I smile and I no longer feel a pull towards things that I used to do to fill a gap. I am blown over by the grace that Jesus has poured over me, and that all the things I have done that are rebellious to God, my sin,  can be taken away, that I can be and have been washed clean, because of Jesus’ death on the cross.

I am now living as God’s witness, I want the things I do to reflect Jesus, and this amazing truth that is living in me. This is why I want to be baptised, so that I can publicly declare my love for Jesus and display that the wall of sin that was dividing us has been broken down, by Him.  I want to follow his example and be obedient to him.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Reading is important

I may not be preparing 2 or three sermons a week, but this quote taken from the Gospel Coalition Blog resonates in my soul:

John Piper  in his chapter “Fight for Your Life” in Brothers, We Are Not Professionals (new edition coming from B&H in February 2013):
I agree with Martyn Lloyd-Jones that the fight to find time to read is a fight for one’s life. “Let your wife or anyone else take messages for you, and inform the people telephoning that you are not available. One literally has to fight for one’s life in this sense!”
Most of our people have no idea what two or three new messages a week cost us in terms of intellectual and spiritual drain. Not to mention the depletions of family pain, church decisions, and imponderable theological and moral dilemmas. I, for one, am not a self-replenishing spring. My bucket leaks, even when it is not pouring. My spirit does not revive on the run. Without time of unhurried reading and reflection, beyond the press of sermon preparation, my soul shrinks, and the specter of ministerial death rises. Few things frighten me more than the beginnings of barrenness that come from frenzied activity with little spiritual food and meditation.
The great pressure on us today is to be productive managers. But the need of the church is for prayerful, spiritual poets. I don’t mean (necessarily) pastors who write poems. I mean pastors who feel the weight and glory of eternal reality even in the midst of a business meeting; who carry in their soul such a sense of God that they provide, by their very presence, a constant life-giving reorientation on the infinite God. For your own soul and for the life of your church, fight for time to feed your soul with rich reading.
 I'm currently reading 'The Practice of the Presence of God" by Brother Lawrence for 15 minutes a day - outstanding even in the old english

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The bell was rung and will be rung again

At the last first Thursday prayer meeting, we rang the bell for Jessica, who gave her life to Jesus back in June.  She now gets baptized this Sunday safe in the knowledge that Jesus died for her and that she has a living relationship with the creator.

The next time we gather for a First Thursday prayer meeting we will again be ringing the bell.  This time for Phil.  When he arrived at Alpha a few weeks ago, he was a self-confessed atheist.  Someone who thought being a Christian meant you had to conform to a set of rigid 1950's rules that held you back in life.  Someone who saw the teachings of Christianity to be something that was unreasonable against the back drop of "do what you like as long as it doesn't affect me", British Culture.

Over the course of the evenings that we gathered his opinion gradually changed as he heard what following Jesus actually means.  Although there are things that we do and don't do, it's as a response to grace not legality and it's based on love not judgement.  This Sunday just gone, he made the public confession that he is now a follower of Jesus and that he wants to live a life that reflects the love and grace and mercy of the Jesus who came and paid the price on our behalf because of love.

Phil is a great guy who has a heart of compassion.  I look forward to seeing him grow in his relationship with the living God and also to seeing more come to know Jesus as a result. (He's already got a couple of people potentially coming on the next Alpha course - what about you?)