22nd November 2020 - Weekly Reflection
Made in the Image of God
My thanks for all your prayers while I was on holiday last week. I did a few cycle rides, got one puncture and the Bike AA man came to my Rescue. Thank you, Michael. I also did some walking down the Greenway to Hackney Marshes, walking past the place I was born. No longer Hackney Mother’s Hospital but flats, it was a strange feeling walking past. I am sure it would be the same for all of you when you go back to your birth town, village or city.
Don’t we have an awesome God who made us all unique and yet in his image. I wonder what God looks like? As we are all so diverse, but all human and loved by him. Look at this Psalm
Psalm 8: 1-9
1 LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.
2 Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?[c ]
5 You have made them[d] a little lower than the angels[e]and crowned them[f] with glory and honour.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their[g] feet:
7 all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild,
8 the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.
9 LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Don’t we have an awesome God?
Over this holiday I have been reading a book by Ben Lindsay ‘We need to talk about Race’ written in 2019, about a black church leader who Pastors a white majority Church. It is so important that we talk about how our colour, race, traditions have so much impact on how we see the world. I was shocked by some of the things he pointed out and know that as a pastor in black majority Church I have felt uncomfortable at times being the person in power in some situations. It is important that we have this dialog, let’s look at ways of doing that.
God Loves us all and wants the best for all. We are all uniquely able to serve him. Sometimes culture, oppression and much more stops us from stepping forward. As Pilgrims Way hold its AGM today, I pray that all can be part of our Kingdom building here in East Ham.
Travelling back to your roots helps you to know who you are today.
God Bless your walk with him this week.
15th November 2020 - Weekly Reflection
How To Be Sure God Listens
To Your Prayers
There are certain requirements we must fulfil before God will listen to our prayers.
We Must Belong to God.
“There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus” (1Timothy 2:5). Because Jesus is the mediator between us and God, we must give Him our total allegiance. Before I yielded the control of my life to Jesus Christ, I would pray, but I was never sure if God was listening or would answer. After I asked Him to be the Lord of my life, I had confidence that God was hearing and answering my prayers.
We Must Pray to God the Father in the Name of His Son Jesus Christ.
Only the name of Jesus Christ gives us credibility with the Father — not our education, our wealth or poverty, our church, our background or our position — only Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14). Sometimes I use my husband’s name, or my church, or my work to gain credibility with people I meet. But only Jesus’ name gives us credibility with the Father.
We Must have a Clean Heart.
Psalm 66:18 says, “If I had known of any sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened to me. It is very important to keep a clean heart before God. Someone said, “I ‘fess them as I does them, I don’t bunch them.” Don’t wait until you go to church or a crisis arises in your life to confess your sins to God. As soon as you become aware of an attitude or action that is displeasing to God, admit that it is wrong and thank God for His forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We Must have a Forgiving Spirit.
In Mark 11:25, Jesus says, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven my forgive your transgressions.” Jesus makes it very clear that we can’t carry anger, hatred, or bitterness in our hearts toward anyone if we expect God to forgive us and/or hear our prayers.
We must Pray in Faith.
Jesus said in Matthew 21:22, “And everything you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.” The very fact that you are asking God for your needs demonstrates your faith. The answers come every time, but not always in the way we expect. There are times when God answers prayer as soon as we pray. Other times we have to wait for them to be answered. Sometimes His answer is “No”, like all good parents, He gives us what is good for us, but not what is harmful to us, but He always listens and answers.
Used by permission
8th November 2020 - Weekly Reflection
What is your story? We all have one and it would be great to hear yours. In the first lockdown, we did the Zoom Coffee morning and some weeks I posed a question and it was fascinating to hear different peoples stories. What it was like when they first moved to this country or experiences in other countries. The best meal people have had out and who with, or the best and most important present received and why.
I could tell you lots about my time in different countries and what I have had the chance to learn. All of these experiences are what makes us the people we are today.
Jesus was good at telling stories which help people to understand. In our ‘Questions about God’ this week someone told a story which illustrated what we were talking about. It made more sense and come alive.
1. Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear;
Things I would ask Him to tell me if He were here;
Scenes by the wayside, tales of the sea,
Stories of Jesus, tell them to me.
How does our story connect to Gods story? Because when we tell it, no one can say it did not happen because it is our story. Have you told your faith story to those who know you? Maybe in this time of second lockdown we will have the time to write down our story and pass it on to others.
I was fascinated when I listened to my Mum tell her story alongside her brother, both in their 80’s at the time.
If you have a story to tell, do write it down and send it to me, maybe we can use it in the Newsletter.
God bless your two weeks and I will be back on 15th Nov
1st November 2020 - Weekly Reflection
What is Church?
I have the privilege of being part of a national team for the Congregational Federation looking at Pioneer ministries/ fresh expressions of Church. We are all used to traditional Church and that can look very different depending on your location and the mix of people. It is not down to the denomination, as there can be many different ways within the same denomination.
Many people go at a church today not because it is Methodist, Church of England, Catholic or Baptist, House of Faith or Elim or whatever. They go because they feel welcome, they like the style of worship, they like the singing and they get something or can contribute something.
But many people do not go to Church and do other stuff on Sundays. When was the last time you invited someone? Many of us are not brave enough and fear rejection. What would they say about our Church? Are we proud enough, feel it is good enough to get others to come? Does it have to be on Sunday. If people come to other activities, we do but don’t come on Sunday can they still be a member?
Sometimes I think we have got stuck. For me the group we run on Thursday nights for families was Church for them. We prayed, we sung, we danced, we ate together, we read the bible. Most of them never came on Sunday, but Thursday was church. Those who came to play at our Friday café, we talked and prayers with people, packed shoe boxes for others in needy countries , sung the ‘Wheels on the bus' and also ‘Great big God’ and told a bible story that was Church.
Sitting in a pub discussion and topical news item, and relating it to the Bible, could that be Church? Going around an art gallery, studying the biblical paintings and trying to understand the artist. Helping at a night shelter and listening to a mans story.
Your Homework for this week is to sit down and pray and write down for you what is essential for it to be church. If you could let me have your ideas it will be helpful to me. I wonder who will do it? Acts 2: 42-47
25th October 2020 - Weekly Reflection
Not long before we have our AGM on
22nd November 2020
For many the thought of attending an AGM is not an exciting one but I am looking forward to it as the people we elect to different roles are going to help shape our Church for the future. I am grateful to those who have been part of the Church council over the past years for all their input. These past months have demanded a lot of them as we have had to cope with Covid19 risk assessments and the transition of tenants on our first floor and much more.
Some of you will not see yourself in a leadership role in Church due to past experience. I found it difficult last year to approach people and ask them if they would consider a role as I did not know you then. This year I am in a slightly better position but there are still many I do not know and not knowing your skill and experiences.
God does know, some around you also know and if you have some idea that a friend in Church may be able to be part of this Council team then do speak to them or me. The role of treasure has grown over the years and needs to be split up. We will need a minute taker to free up the Secretarial role for all the other things that need doing. The Building is big and needs a lot of work and overseeing some of this is a big task.
So why am I using this as a reflection today? Our AGM is a month away and we do need extra people who have the time and ideas to be part of this leadership team to help our Church. But we also need others to back them up, support them and to be part of action groups in different areas of our Church life. Things like Pastoral support, Young people work, Administration, building maintenance, notice boards and publicity, collection counters, and much more. All of us have a role to play in the body of Christ in this place. Sometimes our own personal situation does not allow us to be in a role for a period. We can then be reenergised for the next part of the journey perhaps in a new role.
Ephesians 4:16 New International Version. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
We had 120 members a few years back but we are now about 60, the numbers are down and we all need to play our part in building the body of Christ in this place. What is your ideal role as we move into 2021?
Do pray about what God is leading you to do today.
18th October 2020 - Weekly Reflection
Looking After Our World
What a responsibility and we have not done so well, God made a place that had all we needed to sustain us all. I wonder what went wrong. I have been going through some of my old photos, which I had too many, and have been reducing them and putting many in the recycling bin. I came across some taken in the early nineties of a project I worked on with Scouts, collecting recycling from older people places and taking and sorting it at the tip. We did not have recycling collection at that stage but we had done some training on the importance of looking after resources. We did it for a number of years alongside helping with older peoples gardens.
Just the fact that I took too many photos and printed them off (which is what you did then). I did not need them all, what a waste of resources. But that is the sign of an affluent society. We waste and do not reuse. Something gets broken and we don’t repair any more but just replace and the object gets put into landfill. We buy food we end up not eating and wasting both money and the food. We buy disposable bottled water while the water coming out of the tap is fine.
21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!
One thing the Covid19 has taught us is that we do not need to travel so much, many of our meetings can be by phone Zoom or the like. Less flying has had a major impact on the travel industry, but must have been better for our environment. In order to keep safe, we have been using more disposable plastic and let us look at ways we can get around this. It is safer to walk or Cycle, but this can mean we use our cars more, being fearful on public transport. Using more local places mean we can walk and supports our local economy.
As we are forced to change some of our practices, let us consider our health, the economy and the environment. The Choice we make will impact generations to come.
God Bless your week and keep safe. Do ring me if you want to talk
11th October 2020 - Weekly Reflection
Getting the Balance
The first Funeral service I performed was of an older lady I had visited in a care home. She had been a faithful Member of the Church in Wimbledon for many years through its up and downs. At one stage it had closed for 6 months and then reopened. The lady had not married and so had little family, but what stood out was her caring for those around her and her faithfulness to God and the Church.
I like the story of Martha and Mary which comes just after the parable of the Good Samaritan in the gospel of Luke. (When reading the Bible, it is good to look at the passages on either side as it puts the passage your reading more into context) the passage that follows is about the disciples asking about prayer.
Luke 10:38-42At the Home of Martha and Mary
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.
39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.
40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,
42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
It is clear that Jesus is supporting Mary in her adoration of him. But I see it as thinking about having a balanced life. The lady I performed the funeral for had a good balance between worship, adoration, prayer and then on the other hand service and connection to those around her in the real world outside the bubble of the Church.
When we then look at the two passages side by side, we have one about who is our neighbour and the practical example of service and connection outside. Then the instruction on prayer so that we worship and adore and connect with our Living Saviour.
I hope that we all strive to get a good balance in our lives today.
4th October 2020 - Weekly Reflection
I wonder why you come to this Church?
In our Bible study on Tuesday there was lots of discussion about different types of Churches and in the UK, there are many different denominations. Methodist, URC, Anglican, Baptist, Elam, Catholic, Apostolic and then Hillsong, HTB, New Frontiers, we could go on.
It seemed that people stayed because they felt welcome and the style of worship suited them. Sometime people stay because they feel involved and that they have something to contribute.
The Denomination does not matter to many, but for some it is important. The denomination does not always dictate the stye of worship, but it does have an impact on the structures and decision making of the church. Are there external decisions which as a Church we have to follow or do the members of that Church decide?
As today we welcome new members into our Church, they have had the chance to find out about this Ecumenical partnership between the Methodist Church and the Congregational Church. It is exciting that two Churches have decided to work together.
For many of you will not notice any difference, but as members of this Church you have an important role to play and the Members meeting which again, we have today gives you and chance to ask questions and make suggestions.
This is your Church and your participation and contribution will be the missing piece in the Jigsaw puzzle
Why do you come to this Church? Do write something to Nigel and we can include it in your newsletter.
27th September 2020 - Weekly Reflection
I think that the experience of those people able to return to Church last Sunday was good getting used to a new way of worship services and keeping each other safe. As we move into new tighter government measures this week, we will continue to monitor what we do and get a balance between Online activity and Live activity which is as safe as possible.
Some of you who we are not reaching through our Online activity and if we can help you to be able to connect do make contact by phone and we will see how we can help. We will continue to stream the service from Church to ‘Pilgrims Way Church Facebook page and you do not have to sign in to Facebook to watch, but you do need a phone, computer of tablet.
As you see from this newsletter, we are still doing some activities on Zoom and when it gets colder and cannot meet outside, this will be some kind of new normal. Things are changing!
BUT the God we serve is faithful and never changes. He has a plan for each of us and for us collectively as a Church in East Ham.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields[a] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
11 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Maybe this is a time to be still and just get to know Our God/Your God.
To rest and trust in his faithfulness to all generations, but it is not a time for us to sit back and do nothing as a Church, I think we have done that for too long. We are God hands and feet on earth and we should not leave the action to others in our Church community. What is it that God has called you to do now? It may not be the same as what he called you do 5 years ago. But YOU have a role to play and being still today to decern what that is and get into action is important.
God bless your still quiet deliberations.
20th September 2020 - Weekly Reflection
Life is a struggle for many and some have lost their jobs and some are fearful as the Furlough scheme come to an end, many will have no jobs to go to. There is an organisation in Newham who are supporting young people into work if you need more information do contact Nigel. Do pray for people facing financial challenges. Christian against poverty run courses that can help with budgeting, but that won’t helpful if you are a low-income earner.
Mark 12:41-44 The Widow’s Offering
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.
42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
The Old Testament talk about Tithe, which is giving 10% of your income before you start buying other stuff to the priest to maintain them. Many chose to continue that practice, some give regularly to different charities, some have big family responsibility. Each of you know your own situation however, do consider what you give to the Church. If you buy a cup of coffee for over £2.50 and the cinema for over £12 so if you have been given £5 to the church for the past 10 years, then it is time to think again.
I hope that you trust those who have been elected to the Council to use your money wisely for the growth of the Kingdom of God in this place.
At Pilgrims Way, we spent £3000 more this month than what we received. HSS is also struggling.
God bless your week and as we return to Church, I pray you keep safe and take all the necessary precautions for yourself and those around you.
13th July 2020 - Weekly Reflection
It has been interesting looking at the passages for last Sunday Ezekiel 33: 7-11, Romans 13: 8-14 and Matthew 18: 15-20. Do have a read again. When we are Christian family, we have an obligation to help each other on our Journeys. Sometimes we shy away from the responsibility to point out to someone when they are taking the wrong path. If we love them and care about them, we would step out and make that challenge in a sensitive and caring way.
It is important to check out that your challenge is appropriate and is done because you care and not because you are just angry with the person or you have some bias against them, this can grow your relationship and start a two-way support.
I am writing on Wed evening after the announcement last night that there should not be more than 6 people together. We will decide tomorrow if we will open for Worship service on Sunday at 10.30am. If we don’t reopen, we will resume at 2pm on Zoom. Whilst we practice social distancing during church gatherings we do gather and want to socialise for being a community is very much a part of our Christian Journey.
If we cannot come together maybe you could arrange to meet up with just one or two in your local park as we have been doing with walk and talk. To pray together, read a Bible passage and discuss, keeping your social distance. Maybe you could send a paragraph about what you explored together to Mary or myself and it can be included in the next newsletter.
We are trying to sort out the Youth Zoom group. We plan to restart again on 22nd 6 - 7pm. Do let us know if this time is OK and if not suggest another. Do let us know the kind of things you wish us to include.
God Bless your week as you walk together and challenge when friends go down the wrong path.
6th September 2020 - Weekly Reflection
Thank you for your prayers whilst I was away. This time around the weather was a bit wet at times and I slipped over twice, I again did walk and completed two days of 15 miles and one of 20. God is good at walking beside us on our Journeys. It is not the distance we travel or the destination we get to, but the experience on the way is what makes the memories. The conversations you have with people and with God as you walk. The time you take to stop and listen to peoples stories and listening to nature itself.
Sometimes we are just rushing to the destination and do not make time to take in the journey. I used to co-ordinate the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for the Scouts in Eastbourne. There were some young people who did it because their parents wanted them to, and encouragement is always good, but they needed to own the desire to do it. For some of you your Christian Journey may be a bit like that?
Others were doing it to get the piece of paper, the certificate which they could use to progress their career. Sometimes they would cut corners just to get it over with. Others were taking part for the journey, for the skills/experiences they would learn on the way and the people they would meet. Sometimes they would carry on doing the activity and help others out.
I know you are not doing the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award or walking for miles, but we are all on our own Christian journeys. How do we see that Journey? Are you just racing to get our obligation over with or are you savouring each moment? Where is God on your Journey?
Part of Psalm 23 He leads me beside quiet waters,3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,[a] I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
God Bless your week and may the journey of this week be blessing to you.
30th August 2020 - Weekly Reflection
My Siblings Died
And My Dad Sang this Song
The phone rang and my mum answered. She never imagined the horrific news my grandfather was about to share: My dad’s two children from his first marriage had died in a plane crash. Scottie and Rhonie Rogers (ages 10 and 14) were last seen with their mum and stepdad on July 5, 1981, when they took off in a light airplane en route to Florida for a vacation. The plane never made it there.
The newspaper reported that the plane was flying through a thunderstorm when it plunged from 11,000 feet to 4,000 feet. It dropped off the radar and crashed into the Gulf of Mexico, leaving no trace of wreckage. When my mom got off the phone and told my dad, he walked out of the room and found a cassette tape with the old hymn “It is Well with My Soul” on it. He play and sang the song, which was written in 1873 by Horatio Spafford, a prominent Chicago lawyer whose four daughters drowned in the Atlantic Ocean when their ship crashed into another vessel. The song starts with a verse that is fitting for a father who has lost his children at sea:
When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say ,It is well, it is well, with my soul
Spafford actually wrote the lyrics to the song while crossing the Atlantic to meet his grieving wife. He never dreamed that the song would bring comfort to a dad who was grieving a similar loss over 100 years later. Thirteen years after Rhonie and Scottie died, my dad spent a frigid day with my brother Caleb and me in Biloxi, Miss. After eating breakfast at Shoney's, we walked to the beach, stopped, and looked out onto the Gulf of Mexico -- that same, vast space where Dad's children had disappeared. We talked and sang old hymns together until suddenly my dad halted, unable to sing or speak anymore. He then put his short arms around our teenage frames and pulled us close to him, squeezing a little too tightly. And then I heard him gasp for air, with an achy cry coming from somewhere deep within him, like he was dying of a heart attack.
Tears streamed down his face and then they began streaming down ours as well. We somehow understood that we, his two remaining children, were standing next to our siblings' graveside, that we were hearing the sounds of a grown man's broken heart. Looking out onto the Gulf, Dad finally managed to sob the words, "Ain't God good, boys?" and wept some more. We shook our heads up and down and let him hold us tightly. Later on that night, Caleb was driving home with me and suddenly, he blurted out with a sob: "That's screwed up! His kids are dead and he's talking about how good God is." Caleb's outburst is the cry of so many people whose hearts who are breaking over their own losses. It might be the loss of innocence, the shame of unemployment, a devastating diagnosis, rejection by people you love, your failures as a parent, all kinds of open wounds that haven't healed. Whatever your loss may be, it will be a test of faith -- yours and mine -- as we ask ourselves:
Can God really be good if He will allow me to hurt this much?
When some of Jesus' disciples deserted him, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you also want to go away?” To this, Simon Peter responded, “'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:67-68, NKJV). And so we must ask ourselves: If there's no good answer for our pain, will we leave Christ behind? God forbid. Jesus is the only one who can speak authoritatively into our pain. He is "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" -- the one who willingly plunged into suffering, drowning in our sin in order to save us (Isaiah 53:3, ESV). Surely, we can wait with heartbroken anticipation, trusting that Jesus will return to make every sad story come untrue, that resurrection will finally be realized upon His return. Until then, we stand on the shore of our own grief, singing:
And Lord, haste the day when our faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so, it is well with my soul
With permission from Joshua Rogers website
23rd August 2020 - Weekly Reflection
I had a great holiday, it gave me a chance to relax, walk, read and reflect. We all need to do that from time to time when we step out of our familiar actions and environment, we experience something new. Sometimes God pushes us into that as we have had done over the past months and experience new things. Some ask when can we go back to keep doing what we have always done, the safe place we know and love. Others see this as a time for new things.
Revelation 21:5, And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
As I talk about it in the YouTube and our Zoom services this week, we are all on a journey and we should not stop travelling that Christian Journey. At first the Christians were described as following the way. Christianity is a journey and not a destination where we stop and we all have different roles at different times.
In our Church council meeting this week at HSS and PW, we have been talking about returning to our buildings and we want to make sure it is safe for those who will come. We will have done things differently but this time we need to look after each other so now is the time to think out of the box and this may help us reach out to more people in our community and making it more loving.
We all have our roles to play in the number of things that we do, so invite others to be part of that Journey with us. Our activities are for us to grow yes, but we grow as we get out of the boat, ask a friend to come or Zoom in as all we do is also for all.
God bless your week. I will be way from 24th back on 2nd Sept
16th August 2020 - Weekly Reflection
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask God The Questions Keeping You Up At Night
I recently had the opportunity to sit in on a lesson with beloved teacher and author Beth Moore as part of my friend Ainsley Earhardt’s Bible study. Beth centered her lesson on themes from her new book, “Chasing Vines,” which focuses on Jesus’ message of “The Vine and the Branches” in John 15.
While reading through the passage, Moore paused on the fifth verse, where Jesus states, “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” She asked our group to stop and truly consider what Jesus was saying and pointed out that if we take His statement that “apart from Him we can do nothing” at face value, it doesn’t fully make sense. “After all,” she said, “there have been many people over the course of history who have achieved great things who were not believers, so how does this make sense?” But, she highlighted, what Jesus is actually talking about here is whether or not someone can produce spiritual fruit. Unless someone has a relationship with Jesus and “abides” in Him, they have no chance of producing anything that God will see as truly good, no matter how talented they are or how hard they work.
I was deeply moved by Beth’s keen insight into this verse, but what struck me, even more, was her direction for us to actively pause and ask this question. As Christians, we are taught that the Bible is the living Word of God, meant to instruct us — but I think it can be tempting for many of us to skim over things in Scripture that don’t quite make sense to us initially. I know I’ve done this before, and part of my hesitation to stop and question these things was guilt. I’d tell myself I was somehow questioning God’s authority if I didn’t fully understand or believe what I was reading. Beth’s lesson was a reassuring reminder of God’s character. He does not easily anger and actually encourages us to seek answers for the things that don’t make sense to us: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
We are all being reminded in this season of confusion and anxiety brought on by the coronavirus that the Bible isn’t the only place where we might question God and His plans. It’s been devastating to see the lives taken, jobs upended and financial chaos caused by this virus. We want to find hope in this seemingly hopeless situation, but it’s hard to make sense of any of it. In the midst of our confusion, let’s not be afraid to go to God and ask Him the questions burning on our hearts and keeping us awake at night. Rather than looking outward, seeking comfort or affirmation from the world and allowing our emotions to be driven by what we see and hear, let’s quietly pull our focus upward to the Creator.
It’s OK if you don’t feel hope. God would much rather you admit that to Him and seek His wisdom than ignore those feelings and miss out on an opportunity for Him to grow your faith. We can look to King David’s conversations with God in the Book of Psalms as an example of this type of prayer. In Chapter 13, David asks God, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death” (Psalm 13:2-3). Though these lines show David clearly felt anxiety and confusion, just a few verses later he would go on to praise God, saying, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me” (Psalm 13:5-6).
David’s prayer is a perfect example of the freedom God gives us in our conversations with Him. God didn’t strike David down for expressing His frustration and fears. In fact, He actually comforted David in real-time, which we can see by David’s expressions of gratitude toward the end of his prayer. Let’s be encouraged to be as honest and real with God as we are with our friends and family. Despite what we may feel, He understands our needs more than anyone else. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
Article posted with permission from Christen L. Bloom website
9th August 2020 - Weekly Reflection
Why True Beauty Does Not Come
“Where does true beauty actually come from?” Does it come from inside of us? How can that be true knowing we are sinful and broken on the inside?
After searching through my Bible it hit me-I don’t know why I never thought of it this way before. All true beauty comes from God. As James 1:17 tells us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” And, of course, Genesis 1:26-27 reveals, “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. “So God created mankind in his own image.”
Genesis helps us understand that every human being inherently possesses beauty not because of our own nature, but because of God’s perfect nature and the love He imprinted on us from the beginning of time. Psalm 139 celebrates the delicate care God takes to create each of one of us, saying, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
God’s love for us is what gives us our unique and irreplaceable value. In some ways, humans are like God’s precious gems, distinctive to the rest of nature because we are the only creatures made in His image. Unfortunately, we strayed from God’s perfect nature when Adam and Eve gave in to the temptation to sin. Theologians tell us that the Fall distorted God’s image in us but did not completely destroy it. Though the devil tried to strip it away, humans still bear God’s likeness and hold glimpses of His image. These remaining, precious glimmers are what give us the potential to be reformed through His Son Jesus.
Although we often think of God’s redemption plan simply as His means to save us from sin and death, it was more than that. God also sent Jesus for the purpose of restoration. By accepting Christ, mankind can get back to God’s original, beautiful design through the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts. Like uncut, precious stones, humans are born with potential to become breathtakingly beautiful; but it’s up to each of us to accept our Maker’s plans to cut and shape us into the stunning gems He designed us to be--to allow Him to make us look more like His perfect Son. This beautification process begins the day we accept Jesus into our hearts, but is not fully completed until we reach Heaven. So the point that brought me to the end of my search is that while true beauty does EXIST on the inside of us, it is not in the sense we tend to think about it.
As God says in 1 Samuel 16:7: “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Beauty is not something we can claim as our own. True beauty comes from God and is developed through God. We will become utterly radiant when God’s perfect nature is increased in our hearts through our dependence on Jesus. This is humbling, but beautiful.
Article posted with permission from Christen Limbaugh Bloom website
2nd August 2020 - Weekly Reflection
3 Ways to Carry Each Other's Burdens
How can we help “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) even when we are stuck at home ourselves? Here are some ways:
1. The Ministry of Consolation: The path of life is littered with losses. Job cried out in his agony, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall depart” (Job 1:21). This implies that life’s journey is about losing everything we have picked up! The things we shall lose include our health, our wealth and our loved ones. Suffering together means whenever any community member suffers a loss, we do not make light of their season of pain. We give our brothers and sisters ample time for grieving. We do not tell them to move on while they are still grappling with their losses. Instead we stay by them, offering a ready, listening ear and a virtual shoulder to cry on. Just as God comforted us, we extend His comfort to one another (2 Corinthians 1:3–4).
2. The Ministry of Sharing Burdens: Burdens are the constants in life. Either we pick them up or they will be dropped upon us. The approach to handling all these burdens is the same: we carry them together. In situations where our brothers or sisters are laden with emotional burdens, we invite them to unload their burdens by offering our listening ears. There are also other burdens like relational strains, health problems and financial difficulties. We ought to share in these burdens too. The community may be roped in to reconcile members in conflict, look after the sick and offer financial assistance to the poor. It is always a great comfort to those who are suffering when the community does not shun them and their troubles, but comes alongside them instead. In fact, hardened members have been known to soften their hearts after encountering the love of the community, when they have experienced unconditional care from their brothers and sisters in the days of their troubles.
3. The Ministry of Travailing in Prayer: Travailing in prayer as a community is also a way of facing hardships together. We carry each other’s burdens by petitioning to God with those in need. We conduct prayer chains, we synchronise our prayers and we fast together, in order to maintain solidarity with those who desperately need a breakthrough in their lives. Corporately, we take on a posture of waiting upon the Lord until He comes to our brother or sister’s aid. There has never been another time in human history when the world is so fearful of suffering. Just as our Lord entered the gateway of resurrection through suffering, may we follow in His footsteps, embracing hardship as a community, knowing that the glory of God lies beyond our afflictions. May the world discover hope from heaven as it witnesses the people in our faith communities drawing near to one another and loving even more deeply during times of adversity.
Adapted from: Living in God’s Family.
Used by permission of Lam K. Yung.
God bless your week - Nigel
26th July 2020 - Weekly Reflection
Loving Relationships – Love
Love according to Biblical teaching is not just warm feelings, but something that manifest itself in action. It’s not so easy.
This is my final week looking at the 8 Characteristics of a Healthy Church. Love nowadays has mixed meanings as we watch things like Love Island, Big Brother and other shows on TV. It has become more about short term attraction and people are judged today by the outer appearance more than inner hence we photoshop to look better. But God looks on the inside and the actions that come from the person and the love they show to God and the neighbour.
The Bible is full of Quotes and teaching about Love. 1 Corinthians 13 is used at wedding so much, do check it out. 1 John 4: 7- 12 is good to read, study and digest. But loving others in Church can be difficult, loving some in our Families can also be a challenge. Sometimes it is easier to love someone you don’t have much to do with as you can easily walk away and choose to join a different group.
Love does not come easy and we need to pray and work at it. Forgiveness and grace have a vital part to play.
I wonder what loving relationships means to you in the Church context? Send your answers on a postcard please.
That reminds me I will be on holiday from 28th July – 12th August and then back and away again from 24th August – 2nd Sept. This means some of you will not be receiving newsletters for a few weeks. I plan to do a 15+ Miles Sponsored walk to support the Lift Fund and your sponsorship will be greatly appreciated. Do phone or email me with your donation amounts or you can donate after the Walk.
Have a great God inspired few weeks - Nigel
19th July 2020 - Weekly Reflection
Committed to meeting the needs of non-Christians in order to help them experience the love of God. Over the years there has been much discussion about how we serve our local community. In the early Church they would look after the needy in their own community people who were following the Way (later to be called Christians). It is important that we look after our fellow church members, but Jesus also want us to have an impact on those around us. Showing Jesus’ love in different ways. Acts 4: 32- 37
The question for me and many around is; are you doing it to show love to people regardless of the outcome or are you doing it to get them to follow Jesus or come to your Church? What is your motivation? I know that in Kenya people would join the Church and come regularly to the Church that Pastor Jack ran because he had access to an Education project that could fund their children’s schooling. Yet the project was there to serve the whole community for families who were poor.
Traditional can be fine but does the Spirit flow into you? People connect both to God and fellow believers in an intimate way.
Before the Welfare State in the UK, Churches provided education, healthcare, welfare support and people sometimes felt an obligation to attend Church and therefore hear the Christian teaching. In the UK some parents will attend a certain church and get their child baptised in order to access a church school with a good reputation.
As Christians, I am sure we want to share the relationship we have with Jesus with those who do not know Him yet. We know the benefit of that relationship ourselves. We also live in a needy world and Maslow’s hierarchy of need show us that food, shelter, warmth and health are basicity needed, before people can interact with belonging and possibly spiritual connection. Showing we care and demonstrating love to those around us to meet their needs can open a door for them to have a relationship with Jesus. But we have to allow God to work through our partnership with him. We should not take advantage of a person’s vulnerability.
In our East Ham community there are many needs, loneliness, poverty, understanding language, relationship breakdown, mental health Challenges, family issues etc. and we need to work out how we engage with these. It is important that we are open and honest about our motivations and that will impact on how we engage.
Pilgrims Way are in discussion with a Community organisation which will open our doors to opportunity to show love to some in East Ham. How do we do this and what will be the impact?
Just one more week of the 8 Characteristics of a Healthy Church to go. Do give me some feedback about what you think. Maybe we should have an Away Day to look at what we do well and what we can do about it.
God bless your week - Nigel
12th July 2020 - Weekly Reflection
Holistic Small Groups – Community
Holistic small groups impact your Heart (Emotions and Spirit), Head (intellect) and Hands (action) Different focus: - Choir, Youth Group, Decorating, Mechanics and New Mums.
As already mentioned, we are all different and connect in different ways with different spiritual and practical gifts. It is good to build on this and having small groups for people to feel at home and cared for is important. It is my understanding that John Wesley encouraged this and was part of a small group himself.
Some Churches run Bible studies and have different activities like Knitting groups, Craft clubs, Scale electric cars racing groups. You name it, you could have group. The Holistic part of it is about not being just spiritual like a prayer group and Bible study. Not being just practical like a Craft club, but integrating the different elements of life. Sometimes this happens informally, but some other times it gets missed.
So, when we come together you may have an interest to focus, but you include prayer, a chance for people to talk about their week, opportunity to refer to a Bible passage, check out how we can support someone in need in our group. Perhaps they are unwell and would benefit from shopping or a hot meal. How we provide pastoral care could work around these groups.
During the upcoming months we will be looking at how we do Pastoral care and groups for people to grow in. There will be question sheet for you to give your views. Do we do it by interests, by location or by availability. At the Methodist Conference, they spoke about the new normal as we go forward and the use of small groups maybe the way forward given restrictions on larger gatherings. Let’s pray about how we do this.
Jesus had a small Holistic group of 12
God bless your week - Nigel
5th July 2020 - Weekly Reflection
Inspiring Worship Services – Inspiration
The Natural Church Development organisation reckons that there are 8 characteristics of a Healthy Church. They need a mix of people to allow them to work Loving Relationships, Need- Orientated Evangelism, Holistic Small Groups, Inspiring Worship Services, Effective, Passionate Spirituality, Gift-Based Ministry and Empowering Leadership.
This week we look at: Inspiring Worship Services – Inspiration
Traditional can be fine but does the Spirit flow into you? People connect both to God and fellow believers in an intimate way.
There are so many Churches out there worshiping in different ways. I know in all the three ministerial posts I have been in the expectation has been different. Together those leading worship have met to evaluate, to challenge each other and help all of us to grow. It is clear that for some they will leave disappointed, you cannot please everyone all the time.
It is however important to try to meet the needs of those who come, both young, young adults and older people and age will not dictate the style of worship they like. Culture and nationality will have an impact, and sometimes what you remember from your place of birth when you return may have also moved on in style. Those who have come for some time, years and years may be like things as they have always been, but that may not help if your trying to grow the congregation. Feedback is important and will help people feel part of how we move forward in worship.
I think having different preachers each week brings in variety, but is difficult when those people are not part of your church reflection on how you want to worship and structure worship.
Psalm 150 1 Praise the LORD.[a] Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,4 praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.
People should leave more connected with their God, inspired to get on with task God has given them this week, filled up and comforted, challenged and energised. If that is not you then talk to me about what needs to be different.
God bless your week - Nigel
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