Celebrating what God has done


Dear friends 

Today we celebrate the re-opening of the balcony following the project to re-order it which began last year with the Gift Day. After endless consultations with various ‘interested parties’ permission was finally granted by the Diocese and the work commenced in October with the removal of the original pews. We give glory to God who alone has enabled us with His provision to undertake these two substantial projects this year: the new boiler and improved heating system and more usable space in the balcony.  I would like to extend my thanks to all of you who have given sacrificially to enable this work to proceed, to the Church Wardens for their oversight and to the small army of volunteers who have contributed in a practical way. 

At its heart, these two projects have always been about adapting our space so that we can welcome others to come and learn about the Gospel of God’s grace, without distraction. The church is the people and what a joy there is to be found in sharing in one another’s growth in faith. Similarly, to witness to others taking that first step of faith in Jesus reminds us that; ‘There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety nine righteous persons who do not need to repent’ Luke 15:7. We give thanks to God and pray for an increase of the ‘harvest’ as we approach the Season of Joy and the good news that it brings. 

A journey of ups and downs

Just as the journey for Mary and Joseph must have been fraught with difficulties and challenges, particularly on their arrival at Bethlehem, no less is the journey of our lives as we travel with Jesus into the future that he has for us. We are all aware of the ups and downs, joys and challenges that life brings. We demonstrated our commitment to standing together as brothers and sisters in Christ at our recent Prayer Gathering when we gathered around those in particular need and cried out to God for one another. Rick Warren the Pastor of  Saddleback Church in California and author of the ‘Purpose Driven Life’ which we studied together as a church some years ago made some interesting comments on the ‘purpose of life’. Life is a preparation for eternity. We were not made to last forever and God wants us to be with him in heaven. One day my heart is going to stop and that will be the end of my body – but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm up act – the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity. We were made by God and for God and until you figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense. Life is a series of problems: either you are in one right now, you’re just coming out of one or you’re ready to get into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness. You can focus on your purposes or focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you’re going into self-centredness, which is myproblem, myissues, my pain, myneeds. But one of the easiest ways you can get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others. 

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Self-centredness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God’s purposes for my life? When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, ‘God, if I don’t get anything else done today, I want to know you more and love you better’. God didn’t put me on earth to fulfil a ‘to do’ list. He’s more interested in what I am than what I do. That’s why we’re called human beings, not human doings. Happy moments, PRAISE GOD, Difficult moments, SEEK GOD, Quiet moments WORSHIP GOD,  Painful moments, TRUST GOD Every moment, THANK GOD” 

Some words of wisdom from Rick Warren which I commend to you, for whatever situation you find yourself in life. Perhaps you might like to discuss these thoughts in your cell group next week and see how they apply to your own life?                                                                                               Every blessing in Christ Stephen