Thursday 21 September
7:30amPrayer Meeting @ Vicar's office
Friday 22 September
9:15amOasis - Women's Ministry @ Trinity Room
Friday 22 September
2:00pmPrayer for the Nations @ Christ Church Room
Saturday 23 September
1:30pmPrayer on the Streets @ Richmond Town Centre
He will quiet you with his love
We arrived in the mid-morning sun. Dumped the bags, pulled on the boots ... More ...
The Interior Adventure
After nearly 12 years of following Jesus I've learned a lot about the pursuit of God ... More ...
Mushrooms and red chilli
What do you think the biggest organism in the world is? A whale? ... More ...

He will quiet you with his love

dorsetcoastWe arrived in the mid-morning sun. Dumped the bags, pulled on the boots and set walking; destination: sea. We walked and talked, talked and walked, soft Dorset rock crunching dusty beneath our feet, wheat blowing beside us and a wide open sky above us. I felt like the further we walked, the more we climbed (up and up and up!); everything got stiller, quieter. How could it only be a few hours since we left London and her noisy flight paths?
And as we walked, hit the blue expanse of sea, we talked less and breathed it in deep.
Gentle. Quiet. We agreed, our souls were being stilled.
We come home 24 hours later, my friend and I, to busy lives, to broken hearts and a drowning world. To a clamour and a rage for attention – I’m sure I’m not alone. We all feel it. How we plunge headlong after a long summer into the dust and rage of this whole unholy world. How do we make our voice heard? How do we fight it? How do we live different to make a difference?
How do we stay stilled when we are moved every day by the battle for our attention, for our minds, for our allegiance? In the midst of the battle, how do we find the still that our souls so desperately need? 

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

 Let him quiet you with his love.
Would that we would be those who would still and listen.
I heard wisdom recently; that in the middle of the battle and the rage, for us to lie down before God is to stand up to the enemy. To lay down our agenda and our worries and all the ways we’ve built strong fortresses to keep us safe. To lay down all the ways that scream we don’t really trust Him.
And instead to lay down quiet. To know we’re loved. To know He’s here, at the end of the summer, in the middle of your battle, at the beginning of a new season. This love that brings quiet and peace, this is love that whispers louder than all the flight paths, breaks through the traffic of oncoming expectation and busyness. This is love given for you by a lamb who went quiet to a cross, who laid himself down in order to defeat the ultimate enemy … And won.
And this lying down we are called to is not giving up but giving in, trusting in His grace, His ways that aren’t our ways and thoughts that aren’t our thoughts. This quieting of our souls enables us to hear His heartbeat loud, beat loud for the poor and the abandoned, the outsider and the lonely, the lost and the suffering. It’s how we know more of Jesus, how we become more like Jesus, this stilling of our souls, this invitation to hear the Father sing over us so that we might join in the song and sing it over a world ,a city and a community so deeply in need.

Ellie Hughes (30 August 2017)

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The interior adventure

prayinghands2After nearly 12 years of following Jesus I've learned a lot about the pursuit of God. I've had so many seasons of prayer that have had so many different flavours, and the adventure never ceases to lead me to beautiful places. Prayer must be an adventure! It is the means by which we seek after God, in which we perceive the risen Christ within ourselves. The more I've studied who God is, the more I realise that his radical, transcendent accessibility is so inherently within myself, the more my prayer life has flourished without the pressure of external 'list giving' prayer (which can be helpful, especially earlier on in the adventure of discipleship!) and the more I've appreciated contemplation, meditation and soaking! I just thought I'd take an opportunity to share with you my own prayer life, highlighting my own favourite ways of exploring the depths of God, especially as sometimes prayer can become so superficial for me that I've had to explore the vaults of wisdom of those saints that have gone before me. Maybe you are in a difficult or stale place in your prayer adventure? Maybe you are just looking to expand the ways that you pray? I hope some of these might be helpful to you!

The Jesus Prayer
I know that for some of us, our faith means that we are free from repetitive styles of prayer, and for me this was a liberating truth in my own earlier discipleship. As time has passed however, I have realised that sometimes rambling on at God has been a superficial endeavour for me, and often I find myself talking at God just for the sake of it. Sometimes I also just don't know what to pray for, or I'm in a mood where I just don't want to pray (shock horror!). In these times I get the Jesus prayer out, which is less a piece of liturgy and more of an opportunity to centre on God. It's a traditional prayer of the eastern monastics, and it's very simple:

Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner

These monks will repeat this until they mean it. It allows for time and space to contemplate our own sin (those things that are not born from Love), and seek mercy from Christ. It doesn't stop there though, it develops. Once we have spent time meditating on our own shortcoming, we can reduce the prayer to:

Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy

Here we now have the opportunity to contemplate the places our universal life needs the mercy of God, whether global injustice or local poverty, and we can intercede for the mercy of God on our world. We can then reduce this to:

Jesus Christ, Son of God

In repeating this phrase, we can meditate on the function Jesus has in our life and in our world. I won't talk about this too much, because it's your adventure and not mine! However we can then reduce this prayer one more time to:


This allows us to just meditate and contemplate him in Love, with no other agenda but love.

Centering Prayer
The tradition of centering prayer is an ancient practice in the western monastic tradition that I have grown to love, and similar to the Jesus prayer in its practice. I will choose a sacred word, either a name or title of God, or one of his characteristics, and I will make this an anchor, repeating it, focusing on it, allowing God to speak to me about it. This may be 'Love' or even just my own breath (which is the unspoken pronunciation of the sacred YHWH name) and I will simple repeat this, offering it to God and allowing his divine action to take a hold of my mind and imagination. This opens doors and can lead to silence, but the word as an anchor allows us to return to the word if our mind wanders to the shopping list!

Apophatic Prayer
Another really exciting method that I use is Apophaticism, which is contemplating God through negation. Our language will always fall short of describing God, and anything we can say about him in language is beneath what God is actually like, so sometimes it's helpful to free ourselves from our own conceptual constraints of God in order to enter into a place of pure presence. This ancient practice has been employed from everyone to John Chrysostom to Thomas Merton to Richard Foster and is absolutely stunning in its profundity, but can be difficult and requires some time and discipline to become beneficial, but once I got it, it's been one of the most helpful ways of exploring God.

The idea of apophatic prayer is to begin by ascribing a characteristic to God. For example: 'God is Father'. You then allow your mind to build a picture of God as father, allowing your imagination to paint what this looks like for us and our own experience of God as father. After a while, we negate this by saying that 'God is not Father because God is more than Father', and equally allow our imagination to explore the implications of this negation. We finally negate the negation and can meditate on the idea that 'God is not 'not father'. In this we have reached the end of language and concept and can meditate on the mystery of God who is more than we can imagine! This can be complicated, but is better described here.

Lectio Divina
My final exercise in prayer is another ancient Benedictine practice that involves especially the Gospels. Sometimes we can view the Gospels as a text to dissect and retrieve theology from instead of the living word of God that can be experienced as a present reality. In Lectio Divina, we use our imagination to enter into the Bible as if we are experiencing it first hand. We read the stories bit by bit and try to live them out in our imagination. We can allow the narrative to speak into our lives today by not only living in the text, but then allowing the text to become incarnate in our own life and experience, speaking into our own situations. A full description can be found here.

I hope some of these are helpful to you! They have been for me, and of course I hold them loosely. Prayer is an adventure to embark on, and is not constricted to any of these! I hope that you will give some of these a go for yourself, although you may not enjoy them at all! But allow this to give you permission to explore prayer; it's a beautiful world of possibilities and experience that transforms us into mirroring his glory!

Georges Kesrouani (14 August 2017)

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Mushrooms and red chilli

blogmushroomsredchilliWhat do you think the biggest organism in the world is?  A whale?  A dinosaur?  Maybe even an ancient Redwood tree?  Although these are very large compared to human sizes, the largest living thing in the world is a honey fungus in the Blue Mountains of the USA and you’ll hardly ever see it.
This fungus, apparently, is very tasty with spaghetti and red chilli, yet it is lethal to the trees it uses as a host (it’s a parasite).  How big is it you ask?  It covers about 3.7 square miles (an area slightly bigger than Richmond Park).  Due to its intricate network of rhizomorphs (something like roots, but not quite) that grow below the surface, it spreads throughout wooded areas without it being noticed or seen - unless you’re on the hunt for a tasty meal, of course.  Scientists only noticed it fairly recently when they observed large amounts of trees dying.  After studying aerial photographs and taking samples from dead and dying trees, they realised it was caused by a single organism: Armillaria solidipes (the honey fungus).
Why the Biology lesson, you may ask?  The thought occurred to me recently that the Kingdom of Heaven is (or should be) a lot like this fungus.  Not in the sense that it destroys whole forests, but in the way it spreads, relentless, without a big fanfare, without anyone noticing.  Each individual cell is just doing what it is supposed to do, linked up with the rest of its kin by the growing root system.  Every now and then you might notice a mushroom above ground and appreciate it, but it’s the unwavering growth of the unseen subterranean roots that makes it develop so well.
In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul writes that every one of us has something to offer.  All of us have a part to play in making God’s kingdom a reality in our time on earth.  It’s also not based on our own abilities, but rather on Christ, the True Vine, the Head of the Body of Christ.  The Spirit is the One who brings change, not us.  Our responsibility is to be and remain rooted in Christ (John 15) so that we may bear fruit and change our world for the glory of God.
May we all be so drenched and saturated with Christ and be so rooted in Him that all we do brings Him glory.  Whether that’s doing our best at work, volunteering our time at church, or making pasta with mushrooms and red chilli for our families at home.

Nico Marais (27 July 2017)

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helpAs I journey through my Christian life there are certain Bible verses that have stood out for me through all circumstances - times when I have celebrated, times when I’ve been worried and when making decisions.
In recent weeks, when hearing heartbreaking news unfold, I recalled hearing a conversation that our Youth and Children’s Minister had with one of my children some years ago when they were particularly anxious about something and couldn’t put into words what or how to pray.
“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers …” (Romans 8:26,27)
These verses, along with so many others as the years go by, are highlighted in my Bible. They show me that God hears my inadequate mumbling prayers, my scrambled thoughts and the cries of my heart and says “I hear you and you are not on your own.”
Psalm 55:17 says “Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the Lord hears my voice.” The answer given to my child, who was about 11 at the time, was “Sometimes my prayer is a simple ‘Help!’”
As we gathered this Sunday morning to worship God and cry out in prayer, I remembered from Matthew 18:20, “For when two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Not only does God hear our voices but Jesus promises by his Holy Spirit to be with us always - His Spirit, also known as Counsellor, Comforter and our Help. 
Sue Jackson (18 June 2017)

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I want your attention

attentionSome years ago, my dad was walking in the woods near his home and the Lord spoke clearly to him, “I want your attention.” What an extraordinary thing that the God of the universe should stoop down and speak to a speck of dust like you and me and say, “I want your attention.”
Today God wants your attention.
The problem is that there is so much competition for my attention! Whether I wake bright-eyed or bleary, there is usually a to-do list to greet me, and in my case there always seem to be things that I should have done the week before!
I switch on the radio and the media is desperate to hook me in. Last week the airwaves filled our minds with the horrors of the Manchester atrocity. Over the coming weeks, we could easily be completely absorbed with the next election and its impact on our lives. Of course we need to be engaged but how can we do it with God in mind, not without him?
So many things claim my attention! If it's not my to-do list or the headlines, there is all the internal noise. Worries jostle for prime position and trample joy underfoot. I meet lots of people whose minds are so filled with agonising concern for someone they love that they think of little else. For others, it’s a tricky relationship that sabotages their peace.
What claims your attention? Perhaps it's a battle with temptation. There are endless potential distractions - the apparently legitimate and the obviously illegitimate that can fill our minds. Sometimes it's the little frustrations that consume us. We get preoccupied with the buzzing mosquitoes of life and ignore God. You know the things which crowd your mind, the petty vanities which cloud your vision until you lose sight of what you were made for.
Even worthy aspirations can get in the way. Do you have a grand vision or a spectacular goal that has grown so huge in your thinking that God is forgotten? Many of our dreams are initially God-given, but then we push him out of the picture to take centre stage ourselves.
God wants to claim your attention. David said in Psalm 16 “I have set the Lord always before me.”
How do we do that? It definitely doesn't happen automatically. As Aristotle said, “Nature abhors a vacuum”; the empty space inside our heads gets filled with a trillion other things if we don't deliberately turn our attention to the Lord. We have to consciously decide to put him at the forefront of our thinking, to turn our love and affection towards him.
Mary Kissell has a lovely phrase that she shared with us last year - “It only takes a moment to turn.” It only takes a moment to turn your attention to the Lord, to acknowledge that he is near.
Setting the Lord before us is our intentional recognition that he is PRESENT.  The risen Jesus is here, now, in the room and in the words of Brother Lawrence, we are called to practice his presence.
But what if I actually have to concentrate on the matter at hand? What if I am an orthopaedic surgeon? It wouldn't be great if all my attention was on thinking about the presence of Jesus as I wielded my scalpel! We can't always keep our conscious thought on Jesus, but we can know he is with us. As I write this, I am in the same room as my family. My attention is on the writing while deep down I am comforted by knowing they are here with me. Yet if I never gave them concentrated attention, our relationships would fracture. It's ok to have times where we concentrate on other things exactly because we have times which are focused on each other.
Like most people, I get caught up with the stuff of life so I would love your practical suggestions about what might help us turn our attention to God. My mum used to pray for us while she ironed an item of our clothing. Another friend sets reminders on his phone to pray the Lord's Prayer in the middle of the day. I sometimes pray in tongues when I drive. What helps you? Please do add it in as a comment on this blog to help us.
The Lord claims your attention today. Will you set him before you? Precisely because he is the Lord, we can place everything under his feet - all our to-dos, all our worries, all our fears and temptations, all our hopes and my dreams. We can give the comforter our sadness. In return, we gain life and peace (Romans 8:6)
Today lots of things will be shouting at you, “I want your attention!” Will you listen for the still small voice of the one who loves you best of all, asking you to turn the eyes of your heart to him? Will you take a moment to turn to him right now?
Kate Patterson (2 June 2017)

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Act justly

election2017As we approach the General Election in a few weeks’ time, we are being inundated with soundbites and promises from the various political parties.  Can you match the following vision statements with the three major parties in this election? - ‘Change Britain’s Future,’ ‘Strong, stable leadership,’ ‘For the many not the few.’
At Holy Trinity this year we have a phrase that we aspire to - it is ‘Live for Jesus.’  I believe that this is what God is calling us to.  But what does it mean?  There are so many answers, but for a moment I want to focus on one from Micah 6:8:

He has shown you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Here we have a summary of how God wants us to live.  To walk humbly with God is to be close to him and to be attentive to what he wants and loves.  And God wants us to ‘act justly and to love mercy.’  These could seem to be two different things, but when we look at the original Hebrew words for ‘justly’ and ‘mercy’ we see that they are not;  the word for ‘justly’ puts the emphasis on the action, and the word for ‘mercy’ puts the emphasis on the motive behind the action.  To walk humbly with God means we act justly out of merciful love to everyone.
Also, in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for ‘justly’ repeatedly describes taking up the cause and care of widows, orphans, immigrants and the poor.  God is concerned about them.  This is clear in Psalm 146:7,9:

He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry …  The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow.

This is not just a message from the Old Testament.  Jesus identified himself with the poor.  Born in a stable, introduced to the agony of refugees as a child, raised in the economic backwater of Galilee, Jesus, the wandering teacher had no house of his own. The poor flocked to him.  He fed and healed the needy.
In his first statement in the Synagogue after emerging from the desert, Jesus not only identifies himself as the Messiah, but that the good news he has to share is for the poor. Luke 4:18,19 says

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,  to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.

So, to ‘Live for Jesus’ means to walk humbly with God and to take up the cause and care of the most vulnerable in society. It’s an important challenge which, if our hearts are set on giving our all to the One who gave everything for us, will affect how we use our time our money and our vote.    

Trevor Patterson (19 May 2017)

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Ashtonishing gratefulness

twickgreen04If I’m ever asked to say which season of the year I enjoy the most, I really struggle to give an answer - or at least a short one! Is it summer, with trees in full bloom, ripening fields and long days to appreciate them? Is it winter, with crisp frosts, the stark beauty of leafless trees and the magical world of snow? Is it autumn, with its early morning mists, fruitfulness and wonderful displays of reds, oranges and browns? Well, on balance it’s probably spring, with a little bit of winter thrown in!
I particularly love the progression through the months from snowdrops to crocuses to daffodils to tulips to bluebells. Each change seems to announce more loudly that winter is ending and something new is coming. But the defining moment of springtime for me for many years has been the row of lime trees on Twickenham Green near where I live, whose tiny leaves start with a delicate, vibrant green before darkening as they reach maturity.
The words of the second verse of the hymn Great is your faithfulness spring (sorry!) to mind: 

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To your great faithfulness, mercy and love.

twickgreen01These words were written by Thomas Chisholm, as a testament to God’s faithfulness through his very ordinary life. Born in a log cabin in Kentucky, USA, Chisholm became a Christian when he was 27 and entered the ministry when he was 36, although poor health forced him to retire after just a year. During the rest of his life, he spent many years living in New Jersey and working as a life insurance agent. Towards the end of his life he said 

My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.

He knew with absolute confidence that God is faithful, and he particularly recognised this through the world around him. He penned this hymn out of the truth of Lamentations 3:22,23: 

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

The cycle of the seasons speaks loudly to me of God’s faithfulness, of someone who’s always doing something new, who brings life out of what seems dead, who gives hope when all seems lost. But the cycle turns so quickly, and it’s easy to miss this continuing, annual reminder of what God is like. I need to make sure I have enough time regularly to be out and about to experience my own times of astonishing gratefulness. And I encourage you to do the same!

Keith Nurse (5 May 2017)

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Taking God at His word

titanicOn 10 April, 1912 the ocean liner Titanic, with 2,224 passengers and crew on board, set sail from Southampton to New York. The ship was considered by those responsible for its construction as ‘unsinkable’. Four days later, on the evening of 14 April, the ship was struck by an iceberg. News of this development was wired to the White Star Line shipping company (which owned the Titanic and which was based in the US) and later that evening at around 22.30, the Vice President of WSL returned to his company’s office. He issued a statement to the press who, having heard the news, had gathered outside the WSL office. He said this:
"There is no danger that Titanic will sink. The boat is unsinkable.”
It was a bold prediction but it was made with all the understanding and all the limitations that one might expect from a human source. Yet, in spite of this, the Vice President was taken at his word.
Sadly, a few hours later the ship sank with the loss of over 1,500 lives. The news was received, throughout the US in particular, with a combination of disbelief, anger and confusion. Questions were asked in the public enquiry conducted by the US Senate, which followed days later. How could they … how could we have got this so badly wrong? 1,500 dead on an ‘unsinkable’ ship now buried … in the ocean?
Someone once said, that ‘In the theatre of confusion, knowing the location of the exit is what counts.’ If this is correct, then let us consider the following questions: To what or to whom do we turn, when confusion reigns? Where do we go, when our hopes or expectations have been shattered?
This Easter, we are reminded that there was also confusion and deep disappointment amongst Jesus’ followers and friends, after His execution on the Friday. Yet, prior to this, Scripture (and Jesus’ own words to His disciples) stated clearly that His death would be a temporary thing. Yet, in spite of this, these assurances were largely ignored and God was not taken at His word.
This Easter, the risen Lord Jesus reminds us again that, in all the uncertainty and unpredictability of life, we can trust Him with every area of our lives and with every concern. The crucified Saviour spoke ‘peace’ into the lives of His disciples when He appeared to them on the Sunday. He had earned the right to do so - when He rose from the dead.
Today, with great love, He reassures us that we can trust Him with the present and the future, and we can take Him at His word.
Alwyn Webb (24 April 2017)

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Freedom in identity

janhoogendykWe all want to matter.  We all yearn to belong, to be loved, to be accepted.  We all want our existence acknowledged by someone, somehow, and when we don't get that acknowledgement, we tend to try and earn it.  When we do get it, we try to guard it at all cost, sometimes even with our fists …
Some people are very good at drawing recognition out of the people around them.  Others less so.  And then you get the kind of people who don’t seem to need acknowledgement at all.  Like my friend Jan back in South Africa.
Jan was the worship pastor at my local church.  I was one of the volunteer worship leaders and electric guitarists in the worship team.  We became good friends shortly after he joined the church and I had the greatest of respect for him as a musician, as a person, as a follower of Jesus.  He was so sincere, so talented, so completely free from the need of human acknowledgement that it showed without him even trying.  He was a real joy to be around: friendly to everyone, welcoming in every way.
We decided to do a combined show at a small, 250-seat theatre in our town once.  We spread the word, got publicity in the local paper, etc.  On the night 15 people showed up (including us and the band).  I was devastated, discouraged.  Jan performed his songs with as much gusto as if it was a sell-out crowd at Wembley Stadium.  If he was discouraged, he didn’t show it.
A couple of months later, on the afternoon before Christmas Eve, we were rehearsing for our Christmas Day service.  When we finished, Jan asked me if I had any plans.  I said no.  He told me to grab my guitar and follow him in my car.  We drove to a hospice for terminally ill and severely disabled people, and we sang carols for the staff and patients.  After that we went to his house, had a beer and watched cricket highlights.  His wife made burgers.  It was an amazing afternoon.
Jan knew he was accepted and loved by God Himself.  That’s why he didn’t need recognition from big crowds at his show.  That’s why he wanted to share love with those who would be alone and mostly forgotten at Christmas time.  That’s why he is still the same kind of person after winning the South African Pop Idol competition in 2010 and plays sell-out stadium shows and festivals all over South Africa.  Jan’s identity is firmly rooted in the knowledge of God’s love for him, not in human acknowledgement or recognition.
I want to be someone like that.  I want the people of this church, this community, to be like that.  I’m already seeing it happen:  people I admire for their courage, their faith, their unconditional love.  Imagine the impact we as a church can have when we lay our fears and insecurities down at the foot of the cross of Christ, and take up our true identity: child of God.  How much more generous will we be with whatever we have?  How many more people will we invite to an Alpha Course or a Sunday Service?  How much more courageous will we be about our faith at our place of work?  How much more love will we be willing to share with a world in desperate need of love?  How much more freedom will we experience by not being weighed down by fear, anxiety and discouragement when things don’t work out the way we planned?  How much more will we get done to make the Kingdom of Heaven a reality in this world without expectations of parades, accolades and awards getting in the way?  How much more freely will we be able to love without expecting anything in return, because God loves us?  How much more generous will our prayer-life be when we realise we have the ear of the King?
Now imagine how difficult it will be to attain that kind of freedom …  Actually, it’s not hard at all.  It’s only a prayer away.  And another one.  And another …  The truth of our identity becomes more apparent as we actively pursue Christ’s presence and let the Spirit do His will in and around us.  We can’t make this happen for ourselves.  We need God’s help and power.  Fortunately He freely offers it to anyone willing to take up His cross daily.  It’s as simple as turning the eyes of my heart towards Jesus every day instead of to myself.  Trevor Hudson once said: “To believe something involves a readiness to act as if what is believed were so.”  Do you believe you’re a child of God?
May we become a community of Christ followers who know Jesus intimately and follow Him courageously because we know and believe who we are in Him.

Nico Marais (24 March 2017)

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Words, words, words

wordshavepowerWords, words, words. There's so many words out there and it's not always very easy to know which to listen to, look at, take in. It's all so confusing.

Words can be made in to 'alternative facts' or 'fake news'. There are words which have new meanings. My Granny would have thought of a 'gay man' in a very different way to what we understand that to mean today. Even nowadays, words have different meanings to different people. When I describe a person as 'sick' (ill, not well) I mean something very different to other people when they use the word 'sick' (crazy, cool). It's all very confusing, but not perhaps for Humpty Dumpty who said, "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more or less." Alice (in Wonderland) replied, "The question is, whether you can make words mean so many different things."

The words we use can build up or they can be destructive. They can convey truth or they can mislead. We can use a lot of words or just a few. Every time we use words we should be careful and use them wisely, especially in our digital device age when words are so easy to communicate.

I believe in Jesus and try to follow him. He used words a lot; he even said he is The Word. His words are worth listening to. I invite you to go straight to the source - read (in the Bible) what Jesus said. Sometimes Christians or 'the church' don't quite get it right when they use words. Listen to what Jesus actually said. His words had and still have impact. Jesus embodied his words. I listen to Jesus because he backed up his words with actions and his words have integrity.

We need to pay attention to what we listen to, read and take in. Words can build up or they can destroy. Words can mislead or they can convey truth. If we know the person (and we know the person has integrity and backs up words with action and character) then we know we can trust what they are saying. Jesus is someone who we can trust and listen to. I invite you to listen to what he has to say.

Mark Anderson (10 March 2017)

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