Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Final blog before baby!

Well this is my last blog before I go on maternity leave! In all the business and the tiredness of the months ahead, I'm not sure how much I'll be 'getting done', but I do have one hope, and that is that during my time off I will get to spend some time with God.

I don't know what God is planning to do with Bures Baptist Church in the time that I'm away, but I do know that, whatever time of day or night it is, however tired or grouchy I am (or the baby), God will be there, and I can still speak with Him. And, when I get the chance, I intend to lift the church up to Him in prayer.

Because I know that, in some ways, my prayers of support for Bures might well turn out to be more important than my persistent beetling around working for it!

Here is a lovely video to inspire your own prayer life. Gotta love Bill Hybels.

God bless everyone, have a wonderful Christmas.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Jesus. Family. Friends. Tinsel. The Muppets. Eggnog. Turkey and cranberry sauce... .

If Facebook is anything to go by, a lot of people seem to be getting into the Christmas spirit. My parents were always ones for leaving the decorating until the last minute and certainly not getting the tree until the final week before Christmas. I seem to have married a man with similar inclinations, but yesterday I realised I needed to do some wrapping, and it wasn't going to be possible without some fairy lights up and a Christmas film on.

So we have decorated. A bit. And started an advent candle. We also had the first advent carols in our service on Sunday, the toddler group Christmas party, and our Christmas special assembly this morning. So I am feeling a bit festive.

But at the same time, I am niggled by a few concerns. The fact is, even though it's a celebratory season, challenging or difficult situations are still all around us.

It may be obvious to say, but let's face it, challenging circumstances are more difficult to deal with when you're trying to celebrate! 'Surely I'm due a bit of a break,' we think, 'It's CHRISTMAS!'

The bible (somewhat annoyingly, you might think) tells us to 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, [and] 18 give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18). Not just when everything is super. Easier said than done, isn't it?

Sometimes instead of rejoicing because of our circumstances, we have to rejoice in spite of our circumstances. And to be honest, if you are doing this, I really respect you. It takes a lot of bravery to look a challenging time in the face and say 'I will still rejoice'.

If you feel you need the strength to say that right now, my theory is, you will have more success asking God for it, than trying to work up the strength yourself. God has no pleasure in your being rinsed out and overwhelmed, and He can give you a supernatural ability to cope with your circumstances if you ask Him too.

So ask Jesus to help you to celebrate in spite of challenges this Christmas. It is right to celebrate the Son of God, coming to Earth. It is right to celebrate the birth of the greatest Saviour the world has ever known. And it is right to recognise Jesus' love for us caused Him to come to be with us. 

Remember, there will always be something to worry about if we look for it, but there are always reasons to rejoice too. Jesus. Family. Friends. Tinsel. The Muppet's Christmas Carol. Eggnog. Turkey and cranberry sauce... 


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php 

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Are we consuming too much 'filth'?

An interesting phenomenon in the news this week - after 9 years of being on the third biggest sitcom in America, the youngest regular actor on "Two and a Half Men" is renouncing it as 'filth' that people shouldn't watch.

This is a boy who has obviously found faith and decided that his day-job conflicts with his morals. Now perhaps it takes a bit more guts to renounce your day job on moral grounds if you haven't been earning $350,000 every episode, but nonetheless for a 19 year-old guy to make that kind of a stand is, I think, in some ways, admirable. 

Perhaps he ought to have spoken to his bosses before airing his views, but putting that aside, how many 19 year-olds do you know that are discerning about their media consumption in the interest of keeping their minds pure? In fact, how many people in general do you know who give it much thought?

Our media culture is so pervasive, it can be very difficult to censor ourselves, and for parents to try and keep tabs on what messages their children are taking in.

But everybody draws the line in different places and it is for us to settle prayerfully with our consciences and with the bible where that line should be. Some people will feel it is worthwhile putting up with a certain amount of language or content they don't agree with, if there are other merits to a programme/text. Other people simply won't watch/read anything where people are acting in a way they find immoral, and still more people probably very rarely find anything offensive enough to switch off or put down.

The thought has occurred to me several times recently. Why am I watching/reading this? How much am I condoning this behaviour? Is it compromising my values or am I successfully filtering out the bits I don't agree with?

These questions are tricky to answer, but I do have one good piece of advice on the subject. Instead of reacting against morally dubious content, perhaps we would have more success if we tried to be proactive and pursued more wholesome media to enjoy. Find a new favourite that you don't have any qualms about!

I've been listening to UCB radio more and more recently, and if nothing else, you know the messages you are feeding yourself aren't 'filth' (as Angus Jones might put it) when you have that on in the background!

I enjoyed the wholesomeness of Great British Bake-off (and cookery programmes in general, if you can avoid the temptation to gluttony) and it occurs to me that the presenters on Pointless are quite upbeat and pleasant too...

So do give it some thought and prayer. Can you choose and enjoy media with positive, wholesome messages rather than things which may be detracting from you spiritually? Afterall the bible does tell us: "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4: 8

And if you needed any more motivation, consider this difficult passage to the church-goers in Ephesus:
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. LIVE AS CHILDREN OF THE LIGHT." Ephesians 5: 3-8


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php 

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Tips for Listening to God

Since I was talking on Sunday about Peter not discerning God's plan very easily and this morning we taught the Primary School about Samuel struggling to hear God's voice, it seems like perhaps it's a good time to dish out some advice on how to listen to God!

It's one of those things preachers often seem to be saying - 'Listen to God, anyone can hear from God'. And yet when it comes down to it, lots of Christians feel like they struggle and very rarely hear God speaking to them. So let's get practical. How to hear from God and be fairly certain you're not just making it up...

1) Set aside some time and find a quiet place with no distractions. A comfy chair and a cup of coffee may assist with this! Jesus frequently took himself off to pray in places where He could be quiet and alone.

2) Actually listen. It's okay to pray to God without listing your requests/concerns. A simple "God, please speak to me during this time I have set aside," will do. And wait patiently.

3) Give God opportunity to speak to you through something. Very often listening to God means picking up your bible and having a little read. Or you could have a flick through a book of devotions, or some other Christian literature, or watch/listen to a Christian speaker online, whatever means you like. Just pray that God will help you select the right thing and speak to you through it.

(In general choose authors/speakers etc that come recommended by mature Christians you trust).

4) Write it down. If you feel you've heard something from God, it is very easy to back away from it later and start to doubt yourself. Just because you've written it down, doesn't mean you don't have to test out what you've heard, it just means you won't be so inclined to brush it aside and forget it!

5) Test it out. The bible tells us to 'weigh up' the things we hear, because it can be very difficult to separate our own thoughts from Gods. Testing involves:

a) Praying about it repeatedly and asking to feel 'at peace' about it if you've heard correctly. If it still feels right over a long period of praying and considering, that's a good sign.

b) Checking it's consistent with the bible. If what you think God is saying seems to contradict the bible, you should have serious doubts about it.

c) Asking a mature Christian to discuss it with you and pray it over too. If you're unsure, getting a second (or third or fourth!) opinion from sensible, mature, loving Christians can be really helpful.

d) Looking out for other signs of confirmation. Did the preacher on Sunday bring up the same point? Did you hear the very same issue discussed on the radio just the other day? Were you reading a bible verse that said something similar yesterday? These may not be coincidences...

If this all seems like a bit of an effort, just remember, it does get easier. You do start to get more accustomed to hearing God's voice and separating it from your own. In fact, you'll probably start to find it extremely exciting living with more and more of God's guidance - I still find it exciting every time He speaks to me!

Give it a go, you may well be amazed at the results.


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Be Prepared?

This time of year seems to be a season of expectancy. And I don't just say that from the perspective of it being 7 weeks until our baby is due. Everybody seems to be starting to prepare and look forward to Christmas already, including myself. In years gone by it has seemed like a faux pas to start planning and preparing much in November, but this year, it just seems sensible. And not only that, it seems like 'everyone is doing it'.

I don't know if this is a rural thing or maybe it's just that I'm spending less time with people my own age. Is it just students and people in their 20s who are more prone to do everything last minute and, quite probably, in the middle of the night?

I was both alarmed and, I'll admit, quite impressed, to discover that my husband has already bought me all my Christmas presents. Slightly concerned that I only just managed to scrape him together a couple of birthday presents, and they were late...

But I will say this, I have been getting prepared for the baby. Buying, collating, washing, reading, practising breathing techniques, organising people to cover my absence. I keep hearing stories of babies that have arrived significantly early and getting the feeling that I have to be ready for the baby to turn up any second. At least we know for sure when Christmas will happen!

Chances are, of course, that I'll still be twiddling my thumbs over the bump in January, but I am trying to be ready in case.

And that, perhaps is the problem. In seasons of expectation, our reaction is to try and get 'ready'. But is anybody ever properly ready for their first child? I've read so much information in the last couple of months and still keep coming up with more and more questions. They are small things, practicalities mostly, and I expect it will all become clear as it happens, but the fact is, no matter how well prepared we are, we have to keep learning as we go along.

I talked a bit on Sunday about trusting God in our blind vulnerability. We can never know fully what God is up to and where His plans are taking us. There is always an element of the unknown when we work with God. At a ministers' meeting recently we mused over how God seems to often use the things we do unintentionally much more than He uses the things we do intentionally! Offhand comments have changed lives. Sermons that went awry have often made the biggest impact.

So perhaps we shouldn't set so much store in preparation. Yes, be responsible, prayerfully make preparations that are necessary, but don't put too much value on feeling 'ready'. God will lead the unfolding of events and sometimes, no amount of work will prepare you for what is to come. And that's okay. Because wherever it is He takes you, He won't abandon you when you get there!


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php 

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Youthwork Got Harder This Year?

Anybody out there who works with young people will probably be able to attest that the start of a new academic year can be a tough time. Since September our youthwork has definitely got harder!

It's quite normal I think. Lots of the young people moved to different clubs this year because they grew too old for the one they were in, and this meant a lot of new groups forming. In new situations, making new friends, young people are often out to prove themselves and find their place, so they can act up. Those that were already attending the clubs can be unsettled by the influx of new faces on their territory, and the new members haven't necessarily built relationships with the leaders yet, so they can be less inclined to listen to them.

Well, while I'm glad that there's a logical reason for it all, the fact is, in practical terms, the Youthwork. Gets. Harder.

In nearly all our clubs we have experienced young people 'testing the waters' as it were, pushing boundaries, trying to see how much they can get away with. It's a time when they are testing you out, and if you don't have a lot of patience, and a robust system of support and discipline, you might struggle to get through.

But this IS what we're here for, so we all try our best. We try to get all the training we can on behaviour and class management and we leave the rest up to God. Who can control a hall full of rowdy teenagers if they all decide to rebel? No one I know. But God can. Who can teach a class of up to 30 children on a Friday after school and always make the right calls? No one I know. But God can.

Youth and children's work is messy. And that's not just because of the paint and the glue. It is messy because you are dealing with lots of little lives. Each one individual, with its own struggles, talents and background. It is messy because some of these little lives need help and they are acting out because of it.

Jesus didn't spend much time with the 'perfect' holy types. They were the Pharisees, and in fact He often disagreed with them. He said "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:17) And so He spent His time with the rough and ready in society. Those that didn't know to behave well, those that were going through tough times and needed a lot of grace. Tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers.

If our church and our youth and children's clubs attract some of the messy, or difficult or rowdy members of society, chances are we are right where Jesus would have us be. So do pray that we have the patience, and love to know how to manage it.


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Lovely Video

It's half term and I will be on holiday for a couple of days, so just a brief blog today.

Can I draw your attention to this lovely, tear-jerker?

A shoebox of gifts for an underprivileged child that may have nothing else for Christmas this year. You can't argue with that that.

We will be collecting Operation Christmas Child gift boxes at our church again this year, get in touch if you want a leaflet. The list of what to buy can be found here: http://www.operationchristmaschild.org.uk/what-to-pack Anyone who wants to make one up from in or outside the church is most welcome.

They need to be with us at the latest November 18th.

Have a blessed half-term week, especially if you are enjoying family time or a break.


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


Do you ever worry that you are spending your time distracting yourself and maybe life is passing you by? I heard someone on the radio this week theorising that we spend so much time distracting ourselves that we never really live. Facebook, TV, chores, 'keeping busy' is an art we seem to be perfecting in this country.

In a lecture I was watching this week on Genesis the teacher was talking about the moment when the serpent said to Eve "You will not surely die" if you eat from the forbidden tree. God had told Adam and Eve that they would surely die if they ate of it, but the serpent, knowing this effect would not be immediate, chose to deceive them. 

Those fatal words are whispered into our ears all the time by today's distraction culture, aren't they? Why worry about the consequences of your living? You will not surely die! And if you do, well, it's too far off to concern yourself with now. And what good does it do to think about it anyway?

And slowly but surely, to support our distraction from it, we try to eradicate the reality of death from our radar. Celebrities in the public eye hide signs of aging any way they can. TV and film directors choose not to use aging female actors or presenters for substantial roles. Emergency services and funeral directors deal with our dead and we need never even come into contact with them unless we choose to. We don't talk about it.

And yet, spending our lives denying the passing of time can prevent us from engaging with real issues and living purposefully. Do you have enough space in all the 'keeping busy' to consider your impact on the world? To consider whether you'll be happy with what you achieved when you look back? Did you do some good while you were here?
Do you have time to consider if God actually exists? Or in general what life might actually be about?

Nobody has time to waste, but we each can make time for a little contemplation. Reviewing your life, your priorities, and taking some time to search for purpose, could well be a good investment... 


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Emotional Rollercoaster

What does it take to knock you off your perch? I mean, if you're having a good day and you're getting along contentedly, how much does it take to bring you down and start making you feel anxious or tense?

Sometimes I think it doesn't take us very much. A careless remark from somebody, a bad decision that we feel guilty about afterwards, a bit of negativity of one sort or another. It's not that people set out to bring us down, or that we intend to do silly things and stew over them, but sometimes we can find our mood and our outlook has changed very suddenly and it's hard to get it back.

They say a good percentage of the things we worry about are unnecessary. When people say "Smile, it may never happen!" they're probably right. We show a lack of perspective when we let little upsets get us down. We need to remember that everyone makes mistakes, and we also need to understand that we can't do everything and we're not called to. When we try to do everything, and do it perfectly, we're bound to experience, in with our moments of triumph, a lot of disillusionment.

If you are feeling guilty about some minor grievance, or some good work you didn't do, maybe you need to give yourself a break. Jesus is perfect, you're not. It's not your job to display every virtue at every opportunity, or to solve every issue that arises. You need to ask God what He is expecting of you, and you can bet on it being more reasonable than your own or anyone else's expectations!

Of course, as I said on Sunday, what God asks won't always look reasonable (think Jesus telling Peter to get out of the boat to walk on the water with Him), and it can be extremely challenging. How much more important is it then, that we are not sidetracked with unnecessary worries and agendas that we've put on ourselves?

Look at these verses from James. Is there doubt in your life which is causing you to be unstable? Maybe you need to ask God to develop wise perspective and steadfastness in you. Ask and trust Him. Trust and do not worry.

"2 Count it all joy, my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness . . .
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."

1 James: 2-8 (ESV)


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

When you don't feel like a champion!

I hope you won't mind if I use my blog this week to ask for prayer.

As I think about my congregation today, particularly those who serve a lot in the church, I can think of a lot of people who could use a bit of extra strength at this time, something to cheer them and help them along.

God can refresh people in a way that nothing else can so if you could take a moment to pray for His help for the attendees of Bures Baptist Church that would be great.

I have spoken to various people recently who are either exhausted, grieving, ill, in difficult practical circumstances, feeling worn down, stressed at work, lacking direction or any combination of the above.

It does make me sad to see people like that, especially when those people are my church family, people I care about, serve alongside and see week in week out.

I've said it so much that I think it's probably a cliché in my sermons now, but being a Christian is not about having an easy life. I thought this the other day, as I was driving my car and singing along to "We Are The Champions" at the top of my voice! While it is a very gleefully arrogant song, there is something quite profound about it. Life is hard, and a little defiance in the face of it is probably quite helpful sometimes. So try belting out, "We'll keep on fiiiiighting to the eeeeeend," when you have the opportunity!

Christians believe that life is a fight. A fight with forces of darkness to help bring about the goodness of God's plans on this Earth. And sometimes it can really feel like it too.

You can spend all your time trying to keep up with your commitments and being a good employee/family member/Christian etc, and find that life is getting you down.

You are in a fight.

Your strength is in God. Not in effort or busyness. Take time out to focus on Him and ask for refreshing, He will be there for you. Things won't always feel this way, but you will need to go back to Him time and again to ask for His help.  And as you do that, remember that I'm praying for you, and so are other readers of my blog now!  


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


With all the Harvest events in Bures this week (the school visiting the church to present their gifts, the Harvest supper, Harvest lunch for the elderly [which Chris and I get to go to – yum!], and the Harvest Festival on Sunday), it makes me wonder what there is for us to learn from harvest.

Like Christmas, it is a good time to remember all the blessings we have, and to seek to bless others - particularly those who need food. But harvest is specifically about the end of a growing process – and I think it can teach us a lesson about appreciating growth.

In anybody’s life, the end of a growing process is worth celebrating. God often allows us to go through challenging times because they are part of a growing process and getting to the end of that process is often a real achievement. I wonder how many people are in the midst of a ‘growing process’ right now. It could be trying to get to the end of a course, or an illness, persisting through a period of grief or unemployment or stress at work. I expect in one way or another most of us are in the middle of some sort of process we are working through. If you feel you are coming to the end of one, well done! Don’t forget to celebrate what you’ve achieved and learnt through that time of growth. You might also want to thank God for standing by you in it.

In the farming world, the whole point of the growing process is the fruit that is harvested in the end. What fruit has been developed in you by the growing process you’ve been going through? What is developing in you now? Perhaps it’s one of the fruits of the spirit, “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). If the process is developing any of those in you, it is helping you to become more like Jesus! And if that is the case, both for you and the people around you, it is growth worth having and will yield a harvest worth celebrating.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Encouragements at Bures Baptist

I sat having tea with a friend this week and we got to discussing the encouraging things that have happened recently at church. I actually discovered there were quite a few and I hadn’t really been counting my blessings as much as I could have been, so I thought I would share them with you!

Ø  Lots of new members at Youthclub. The last session we had 19 teenagers there, which is a record for us, and while it seems to pack the hall out, is still brilliant! Giving thanks to God that a good bunch have moved onto Youthclub from Tweens last year and seem to be settling in well.

Ø  New mums and babies at Footprints. We lost about 10 lovely kiddies this year from our toddler group because they have gone up to school/nursery, so it’s amazing that we still seem to be chocka on Tuesdays. Meeting some lovely people, new ones seem to be turning up all the while, and everybody has lots of great baby tips for a pregnant pastor!

Ø  One of our youthclubbers coming and helping lead at our brand new “More Club” for years 5-8 (what was Tweens) last week – three cheers for you - a young person being a total star!

Ø  Bures Churches football team materialising seemingly out of nowhere last week. Big thanks to all the men involved with getting that started – a great outreach rather than just a church club (looks a bit like a game of spot the church member) and a fun (if excruciating) match last Monday!

Ø  A lovely visit to the school the other day to organise the Harvest Services the children have at our church. It’s great to be able to work closely with the school and enable the children to give gifts to the hungry.

Ø  New housegroup in Wakes Colne seems to be taking off successfully, well done to everyone who had to make adjustments because of the change around! I’m really encouraged by the support and prayer and good conversations that I hear are happening in our small groups.

Ø  One of our members stepped into the breach and took on leading our coffee morning when it seemed we might have to stop it – all our regulars are back again this term and some great chats seem to be happening, so glad God continued to provide for them all in that way, and very grateful to that leader.

Ø  Generally good conversations about God seem to be happening unprovoked! I hear mum’s encouraging each other to church, children encouraging each other to Sunday school and asking what Jesus has been up to lately, house groups inviting their friends to come along, just because they want to.

So God seems to be moving at Bures. I think I could go on probably and I wish I could give you more specifics, because the stories of individuals are even more encouraging!

So my prayer at the minute is ‘Thank you Lord for opening our eyes to these blessings, help us to not get in the way of the things you are doing, but to get alongside you while you work here.’


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

40 Years in the Jungle

My friend was describing a book she was reading to me. It was about a missionary God sent to one of the most fearsome tribes in the Amazon. He couldn’t find any Mission Boards to send him and when he arrived independently, none of the missionary groups would support him. And so, alone, he headed off into the jungle. Apparently the book describes weeks of staggering lost in the Amazon, getting shot with arrows, deliriously waiting for wounds to heal, sitting around in various tribal settlements unable to communicate, until finally, after 30 or 40 YEARS away, God uses him to convert the entire tribe he went out to see.

It’s a thought-provoking story for us, in our high-paced society. I’m always amazed by how much ‘journeying’ time God allows people. In bible times journeys that we would do in a few hours in the car, would take days and days on foot. And yet the Israelites, Jesus, the disciples, the early church, they all travelled a lot. God thought it was a worthwhile use of their time to travel and spread the word, in spite of its slowness.

We know Jesus stopped in some towns along the way, teaching and healing people when He was journeying, and that the Israelites spent their time whinging while they were travelling through the desert, but really, there’s a lot of ‘travel time’ in the bible the details of which are not described. We don’t know what their daily routine was, what they discussed over hours and hours of travelling, whether they got ill, how they travelled, what they ate and where. The silence on this minutiae seems to suggest life simply ticking over. What were they doing? Just plodding on, getting on with it, as we all must.

Realistically, living the Christian life probably has a great deal more to do with plodding on, than it does actually arriving at significant places or moments. When that missionary was prostrate in the jungle, wounded and delirious, how effective do you think he considered his mission to be? And yet God was working His purpose out. It was a long term plan, with some serious, plodding ‘travel time’ involved.

Remaining faithful to God in the quiet, ordinary times, when chances of revival seem remote, when faith seems routine and when outreach seems slow, develops real persistence and trust. If you are praying regularly, reading your bible and growing spiritually, then you are not idling, in spite of how things may feel. Ask God to give you patience to trust in His plan, even if it seems to be unfolding very slowly!   


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

If You’re Ever Going to Start Praying, Now’s a Good Time!

This Sunday some of us stayed on after church to pray for our Baptist Union Day of Prayer. After a yummy bring and share lunch together we went back into the church to pray for the changes that are being considered in our denomination. The union are hoping these discussions will end up not just with ways of addressing our financial deficit but also the renewal of the way we do church as a union.

It can be quite difficult to understand the ins and outs of all these meetings and proposals but what we do understand is that if we want God to heal our land, and reinvigorate our churches we have to ‘humble ourselves and pray’ (2 Chronicles 7:14). It was great to know that we were joining with other Baptists from across the nation to pray on that day.

On top of this, on 29th September Christians from all different backgrounds and denominations are meeting at Wembley Stadium to pray and worship together on another (aptly named) National Day of Prayer and Worship. Just as I feel that our prayer meetings for Bures are a real assurance that we will see change in our village, these national prayer initiatives encourage me that we will see change across our country.

I think a lot of people, Christian or otherwise, would concede that our country is in need of a moral and spiritual overhaul and I personally long to see it, for our own sake and for the sake of the generations to come.  The meeting in Wembley is a good start, but we must all be prepared to join in if we want to see real change.

The church has to ask itself, are we, across the nation, prepared to get down on our knees and pray? Even in churches prayer sometimes still seems taboo, uncomfortable or boring. ‘It’s an added bonus if I can make it to the occasional prayer meeting – brownie points for me!’ I suppose this is one of the devil’s greatest successes, making Christians unwilling to pray. We have been fooled into considering prayer dispensable and a low-priority, when actually it is our lifeline. If we want God’s help, we need to ask for it. If we want a relationship with God, we have to work at it. And if we want change, we can’t do it without Him.

Will you be joining in and praying on September 29th and beyond? As a moustachioed ancestor of my husband’s once said (yes, I married a descendent of Lord Kitchener – impressed?), Your Country Needs You!


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Persevering - Year on Year

It was great to be back at our toddler group, Footprints, this morning. Sad to see the place a little quieter because some of the toddlers have now moved up to school, but also nice to see a couple of new mums and babies there.

For me there is something very reassuring about coming back together in September and seeing the same friendly faces again. Sometimes the realisation that the ministry God has for you is long term can be a frustrating thing, things never seem to happen fast enough. But when it comes to building genuine relationships with people in the community, you can’t beat long-term investment, and that’s why I’m so happy to come back and see everyone again.

I don’t want to fly into people’s lives, get to know them just long enough to win their trust a bit, hit them with the gospel, hope they make a speedy conversion and then move onto the next victim. And I don’t think that’s what God wants from us either. As Christians we have a duty to love and support people in the community regardless of their religious beliefs. After all, Jesus died for us “while we were sinners”, and doesn’t ever force us to accept His sacrifice, so how can we put strings and ulterior motives onto the love we offer, if Christ doesn’t?

Christ loves unconditionally and so must we. That is why I find it reassuring to come back to ministries and continue to see friends from the community again after the summer, because these people aren’t projects, they are genuine friends, and as Christians we’re here to ‘do life’ with them, year after year.

Part of genuine friendship is that people get to see the way your faith works out in your life and sometimes you will have the privilege of sharing your faith with those people, particularly when you ask God for the opportunity too. But regardless of these elements, the bible tells us we must love.

“Steadfast love” is a phrase used over and over again in the bible (try typing it into the keyword search on www.biblegateway.com - ESV version) to describe God’s love for us and the way in which we should love God and others. So don’t be impatient if you are settled and in a ministry for the long-haul, “steadfast love” is a powerful and Godly thing to persevere in, year after year.


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Summer Advice

Just a quick update for you all. I hope you are all enjoying the holidays. No blog last week because I was on holiday and none next week because I will be at Greenbelt Festival! All fun and frolicks in the sun.

Chris and I enjoyed a relaxed break away visiting friends and family last week, I hope you're all getting the chance to rest a bit this summer. Apparently our speaker last week did a good talk about compassion for burnt out Christians, so in keeping with his theme, I too encourage you to take some rest and let others do likewise!

I am hoping Greenbelt Festival will be a good source of spiritual refreshment for me. There should be lots of challenging talks, great music and ridiculous comedy, usually in a laid back, friendly atmosphere, so I'm really looking forward to it. Let me encourage you all to do a bit of this yourselves if you can. It may not be a festival, it may be an inspirational book, a conference or a retreat, it may be a trip to a different church. Whatever the method is, treat yourself to a little spiritual refreshment, some spiritual food which is different to your usual diet. Particularly if you are serving and 'giving out' a lot, it's really important to make sure you're still 'taking in' too. Get some nourishment!

The day after Greenbelt I have my interview for ministerial training at Spurgeon's College, so please do keep me in your prayers as I prepare for that. I am deferring my entry to September 2013 (a little time to get our heads around our new arrival in December!). Please pray that I respond as best as I can to their questions/tasks and that the college arrive at the right decision, whatever it may be.

Lastly, I advise enjoying the weather while it lasts and, as the song said, always remember to wear sunscreen...


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Where did all my friends go?

Today Spartacus (our cat), bought me a present. It was a tiny, little, shivering mouse. He was so sweet, and when I’d put him in a box, he ate his cheese so enthusiastically that I half thought about keeping him. The impracticality of this aside, I seem to have this problem. When I take a liking to a new friend (animal or human apparently!), I want to keep them.

I hate it when friends have to leave (or when I have to leave friends)! I’m still not quite sure I’ve fully recovered from all my friends swanning off at the end of Uni, let alone my own swanning off after 7 years in Norwich.

In some ways it’s easy enough to adjust, and day by day, life is good. After all, there are new friends to be made and God always provides us with company for the journey wherever we are. But what of all those relationships that were? What of all the people you knew so well, who you shared your life with day to day before, and now you rarely, if ever, see?

I’ve yet to find someone who knows what to do with those relationships except to say, “It’s okay, because I know that the next time I see them, everything will be exactly the same as it always was.” And that seems to be our only option. “When and if I do see you, at least it won’t be awkward...”

But do you ever leave those reunion encounters thinking, “Why, if we still get on so well, do we live so far apart/meet up so seldom/talk so little?”

Seeking permanence in friendships can sometimes be too much to ask. Friends can’t easily commit to be by your side permanently, much as they might like to. Who knows when a family member or a job opportunity or even a call from God might demand they uproot their life and move on to pastures new.

Perhaps this is why Jesus is known as the “bridegroom” in the bible. He is the husband to his bride, the people of the church. Marriage – the one ordained relationship which affords us some permanence, and that is our relationship with Christ! Jesus friendship with us is not like a normal friendship. It is not a friendship which might today be close and tomorrow be distant, it is a marriage. A promise to always be by our side.

And not only that but it transcends the permanence of even the happiest of marriages – because Jesus is our faithful companion into eternity. There is no “Til death do us part” with Christ. There is only “I love you, forever.” Now that’s what I call good news for anyone who, like me, longs for a bit of permanence with their companions.


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Supporting Your Evangelism

I’ve been enjoying helping out at Bures Holiday Club this week. It is a joint venture between the 2 churches, but it is largely run by the Anglican Church in the village. They are doing a really brilliant job, the children are having a ball as well as learning more about Jesus!

It’s Olympic themed this year and the teaching so far has been about being on Jesus’ ‘team’, like the disciples were. Since some of the disciples were fishermen, they were probably quite used to working as a team. I was reading this week about net fishing and how it is a team effort, taking several men to haul nets back into the boat after a catch.

Even though we are meant to be "fishers of men" I don’t think we think of evangelism as a team effort very much. We put pressure on ourselves to draw people to Christ, because we want them to share the happiness we have in our relationship with God, but perhaps we don't realise we would be more effective if we worked together.

I am really keen for people in our house groups to support one another in their evangelism, as a team. Having a little group of people around you, discussing it and praying about it regularly can keep your outreach on the straight and narrow.

Often evangelism can suffer from being either too aggressive (trying to push or manipulate people into new beliefs) or too passive (just getting to know people and hoping your faith will impact them somehow). With a team you can help each other to find that proactive middle ground - evangelism characterised by regular prayer, listening to God, respect and genuine love for those we evangelise to, and both patience and courage.

It’s a tall order – wouldn’t it be useful to have some people around you to share the challenge with?


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons (recently updated!) at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Is it okay to be ordinary?

They say in your 20s you start to realise all the things you could do with your life and everything that you could be, but then in your 30s you start to realise all the things that you’ll never be. Seems like a sad thought doesn’t it?

Well I turned 27 this month, and I wonder if that’s why I’ve started thinking about ordinariness. If I never achieve any level of fame or renown as an international speaker/Christian author/rock star or anything else for that matter, will I feel like I’ve failed? Like I squandered my potential and never really achieved anything?

Of course ‘potential’ is a biblical concept. God has given you gifts and talents, it says, make the most of them.

But potential for what? Culturally it’s very difficult for us to get away from the idea that our potential to succeed is measured in pound signs and celebrity. Who does the media see as successful? People who have ‘done well for themselves’. Tidy earners and popular stars. Slender, well-dressed people. I’m sure in times gone by, if you’d grafted hard and maybe raised a family, you’d lived a good life. But now it's about getting wealthy, having career success and being well thought of – are these the important achievements in life?

Is that the potential God sees in us? I’m fairly sure that in other cultures people’s idea of what constitutes success are quite different. I picture old, grey-haired tribal leaders in distant hot places, who are respected elders, and yet their life must surely have consisted mostly of looking after their family, and working for a harvest.

Perhaps the main difference between their culture and ours is that we have become fiercely individualistic in the West, when elsewhere (and certainly more biblically), people view their lives in terms of community.

There is no ‘If I don’t make my mark, I won’t have achieved anything’. Instead it’s ‘If I play my part, we will achieve something together’. Maybe in tribal places when they all work together they achieve good crops to sustain themselves. In the Western church when we all pull together our achievement is seeing God’s Kingdom coming to Earth. Little by little, and whatever our contribution might be, that is what is important to work towards in this life.

In that respect, a life can seem perfectly ordinary, not marked by fame or wealth or recognition, but in fact be quietly contributing to the most extraordinary and important mission there is. What are you hoping to have achieved when you reach your latter days?


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons (recently updated!) at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php