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Help
As I journey through my Christian life there are certain Bible verses ... More ...
I want your attention
Some years ago, my dad was walking in the woods near his home ... More ...
Act justly
As we approach the General Election in a few weeks’ time, we are ... More ...

Help

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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Becoming a Christian in 2016

windydayWhen I came to faith over 10 years ago, I did so because I fell head over heels in love with Jesus. I remember meeting him for the first time in 2006, on an April evening on the Isle of Wight, standing on the shores of the Solent, looking towards the mainland and the glittering lights of Portsmouth, knowing in my heart of hearts that my life would never be the same. It was a moment where time stops and the heart gets transported to the eternal place of ultimate assurance. I knew that in Jesus Christ I had found the very thing I didn't even know that I had lost. I knew Love for the first time, and everything in the entire universe was exactly as it should be. In Jesus I had found the fullness of God. The big scary concept of the transcendent, ultimate, almighty God suddenly became relatable. He became flesh, friend, tangible, real. I had spent most of my life afraid of God, perceiving him as a distant being who controlled the world with a wrathful vengeance, and yet here I found Jesus, who is love personified, relatable, and infinitely intimate. I became a Christian that night.
 
In 2007 I went on a weekend away with my youth group. 12 young people went to a crummy old youth hostel in Ivinghoe, and the theme of the weekend was the Holy Spirit. We spent hours reading the amazing things of the Spirit that the disciples experienced in Acts, and me and my friends Matt and Steve knew that there was something missing in our lives. The words we were reading were fundamentally juxtaposed to the lives we were leading. At Pentecost the disciples had tongues of fire descend upon them, and this changed their lives forever. Peter the coward became a hero of faith, and thousands were added to their number that day! Myself, Matt and Steve sneaked up to our bedroom without telling the youth worker and with naive faith asked the Holy Spirit to come and change us like he did the disciples. Within minutes the three of us were on the floor in fits of laughter as we experienced him with ridiculous grace. We laughed, quaked and cried, and I remember walking down the stairwell afterwards acting drunk, our youth worker utterly confused as to what had just happened; it wasn't part of the programme! That night I met the Holy Spirit, and I can say with confidence, this experience was so life changing that I believe I became a Christian that night.
 
Fast forward to the present! The past few months have been absolutely life changing for me. I recently had a conversation with my friend Tom where I described myself as feeling like I've just been converted, like I found a new faith. For someone who has professed Christ for the last 10 years, who has been in Church leadership for the past 6 years and who has partnered with God in the miraculous, the ridiculous and the extraordinary for most of that time, it's a huge statement to make. In 2014, on a cold Paris night, I prayed the most controversial prayer I have ever prayed, and probably the most revolutionary. After a night of struggle, I told God that "I'm not sure I believe in you anymore". Little did I know that I had just denied the religious god of my own projection any power in my life. The image of God for me had become distorted; I had lost the love that brought me to the coast of the Solent and the freedom of that Ivinghoe youth hostel had wandered into a place of absolute idolatry. I worshipped religion, not father, and that religion was wholly made in my image. Its tenets were my bigotry and its catechism was a litany of my own insecurities. God had brought me to a little flat overlooking the Rue Fabourg Saint-Honoré with its temples to consumerism to show me that I had become a consumer of religion, and not relationship.
 
I made my excuses and left that role, headed back to London and began a new job working outside of Church ministry. This was a precious season where God broke down my religion. I began to doubt my faith like never before, to doubt Jesus, to doubt the Holy Spirit, to doubt whether I believed in the Bible anymore. I had to reevaluate everything I thought I knew about God, myself and my relationship with him. This was the desert where springs of living water burst forth from. In my place of deepest doubt and wandering, I started approaching God again, messy, dirty, gritty, doubts and all. I asked him to come into the midst of my mess, and he set me on a trajectory that would utterly destroy my image of him. I slowly returned to a fruitful relationship with him, and by early 2016 I thought I was put back together, only to be once again completely wrecked by grace. I found myself on a patch of grass by the Grand Union Canal, in prayer, completely overwhelmed by Love, but this was different to any experience I had ever had. There was a new, deeper sense of Joy. I started singing a new song with nothing but the ducks to hear it, about my Father. I can't remember the exact words, but it went along the lines of:
 
You’re like a storm, and I'm like the coastline,
You’re like a tsunami and I'm standing on the beach,
You overwhelm me, but I'm at peace.
You’re like a storm in the sea, and I'm capsized into your grace,
You’re like the wind in the branches, and in the autumn leaves,
You’re like a fire and I'm the tinder, you burn me up.
You’re like the night sky, and I'm like a mountain peak, I disappear into your vastness.
You’re like the sun and I'm the snow, you melt me to a river, and I will flow.
You’re like a Father, and I'm like a son, you love me.

 
And at that moment, for the first time, I met the Father, and I can say that in fullness, I became a Christian that night. For a long time, I had perceived the Father as the person of the Trinity that was so holy that he was not relatable. You could experience Jesus in flesh, and the Holy Spirit dwelling within. But I had never imagined the incomparable joy of father God. He put a song on my lips and a new joy in my heart, and promised me intimacy. Later that year, I was at David's Tent, a festival in Sussex centred on 24 hour worship and prayer over three days, and I continued to receive revelation of the intimacy that my Father has for me. Then I broke my collarbone, and I have never felt closer to the fullness of God!
 
You see, religious Christianity teaches us that 'The Father' is a title, an honorific noun that describes God's function as creator and ultimate authority. But I've come to believe that this is never what Jesus intended. Father isn't a noun, it's a nominalised adjective, it denotes an active function, not an irrelevant history. He is father now, he is intimate, he is loving, he is in the midst of our mess, he is Love. Jesus only even uses the titular 'The Father' when He is in a theological discourse. I've realised more and more that when he is talking of the father in the context of relationship and discipleship he uses 'My Father', 'Your Father' and 'Our Father'. Our father isn't a theological concept; he is a mighty warrior God who is so deeply, overwhelmingly loving in his intimacy that you can't come into his presence without completely falling apart. In the way that Jesus carries the scars of grace on his palms, your father carries them on his heart. I spent years depriving myself of the fatherhood of God, and it's so good.
 
Our journeys are different, and God's plans for you are different from his plans for me, but just maybe, reading this blog post might be his calling on your lives to explore the indescribable intimacy of your father, who loves you intimately, infinitely. It isn't enough to relate to part of the Trinity. There is so much relationship that God has for us. When he welcomes us to the table of fellowship, we aren't on a two people dinner date, there's four at the table. Relationship with God isn't a date, it's a dinner party with lots of wine and lots of laughing. The joy of being in fellowship with the fullness of God is like nothing else. This may be your invitation to the best party of your life - take it!

Georges Kesrouani (24 February 2017)


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One life rescued brings hope to many

alphalogoaug13I was so intrigued by this comment that I heard recently in a small documentary which has been nominated for an academy award and I was eager to find out more for myself.
 
Although harrowing to watch, the comment refers to a voluntary organisation that rescues people from the fall out of bombs being dropped. Part of this film shows a week old baby being pulled from a huge pile of rubble. To me it felt like that baby was being born again … another chance at life. The ripples of joy, tearful joy, were obvious. The news spread that one life had been rescued.
 
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone, a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17, New Living Translation)
 
As the Alpha Course is starting at HTR this week, I can’t help reflecting on the number of people who have taken the opportunity to ask important questions about the Christian faith, whether new to faith, rediscovering their faith, or just interested in learning more about God. Many have experienced God’s love so profoundly that it looks like they have been given a new life … they’ve been rescued. As a result these people have discovered that God has a plan for their life:
 
For I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you … (Jeremiah 29:11)
 
with the promise that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). All it took was that first step of finding out for themselves. Like in the documentary, good news spreads and brings encouragement and a new hope to those who hear it.
 
Paraphrased from The Jesus Storybook Bible - “I’m going to send my Messenger - The Promised One. The One you have been waiting for. The Rescuer.”
 
My prayer is that you will hear the testimony of “one rescued life”, whether that’s at Alpha or coming to a Service, and that it would bring a new hope to you, in Jesus’ name.
 

Sue Jackson (30 January 2017)


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Trust in Him at all times

Trust in him at all times!
Pour out your heart before him
For God is our refuge

(Psalm 62:8)
 
blog120117One of my favourite games as a kid was rigging up old curtains across the sofa to make a den.  It was my place where I hid away, played games and felt safe.
 
Where’s your refuge? This week, I spoke to a little girl at the school where I am chaplain. She told me about her hiding place under a table at home where she goes when there is shouting. It’s her refuge. She liked this verse from Psalm 36:
 
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

 
Imagine a little chick hiding under an eagle’s wings - utterly secure. That’s us.
 
Where’s your refuge? It’s important we pick a trustworthy refuge.  Another top childhood game of mine was “It” which I played for hours with my younger brother. One day we decided to make the window seat into “Home”. It’s a flawed plan to view an upstairs window seat as a safe place. As I chased my brother, he raced towards the window seat at full pelt and I vividly remember my horror as I watched him go straight through the window.  Amazingly he survived but we found a new “Home” for our game!
 
We have a much better refuge - one that we can “trust at all times”. Our loving God is so trustworthy that we can pour out our hearts to him and know that they won’t go flying through a first-floor window and hit the ground.
 
What does it look like for you to pour out your heart to God? Have you ever done it? It is a bit scary, rather demanding because it entails being real with him. One of my favourite moments this last Christmas was when Dave from our church told his story of coming back to God after decades away.  The short version is that everything changed when he prayed a heart-felt prayer to God.
 
That’s stuck in my mind. It’s too easy to go through the motions, not to deeply trust ourselves to God, to barricade our hearts. God invites us to pour out our hearts, our hopes and fears and dreams, our love for him and as we are known by him, he will be known by us.
 
I wonder what holds you back from pouring out your heart to God? Sometimes I don’t like what’s in my heart and I am not sure that God will. Here is reassurance:
 
“Those who take refuge in you will never be condemned” (Psalm 34:22)
 
Our hiding place is no less than Christ himself, Christ who was condemned so that I might not be.
 
So I can pour out my heart to the Almighty who loves me, who cares about the deepest secrets and hidden longings of my heart. He knows me so well that he alone can unearth the buried pains and set free soaring joy.
 
I will trust you Lord today for you are my refuge.
 

Kate Patterson (12 January 2017)


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