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