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16 June 2013
Kathy told me!
I have invested in a Satnav! Firstly it helps when visiting – especially when people are in the country and their directions go something like this, ‘We are up a lane with two trees and you take the turning by the big tree which is sort of orangey in colour’ and secondly going to France for our holidays you only get one direction for a turn off - and missing one could mean you end up in Paris or Perpignon!
I quickly found that the trouble with ‘Kathy’ on the dashboard is that she keeps telling you when you’ve gone wrong and that you have to do a u-turn which isn’t always easy.
Jesus told a wonderful story about two brothers who had to make a u-turn. ‘The younger’ clearly had to – he’d been out there in the world and blown it big time in reckless living, his sins were obvious to everyone not least himself. ‘The elder one’ was so focused on his brother’s problems that he couldn’t see the jealousy and latent anger that filled his heart and embittered his life.
Although the father never said it to the older brother he was ‘just as dead’ and needed ‘to come alive’ as much as the younger brother!
That is the point Jesus is trying to make to his listeners, some of whom were sinners (Luke 15:1) and some who were regular religious attendees.
In the Father’s eyes sin goes a lot deeper than just ‘actions’, it’s also about ‘attitudes’. It was Harry Drummond who said ‘How many prodigals are kept out of the Kingdom by the unlovely actions of older brothers?’ which all goes to show it doesn’t matter if we are a young prodigal or older brother – we need to see afresh the love of our Heavenly Father and come back to him before we are completely lost.
Have a great week, John
9th June 2013
‘… a man of understanding keeps a straight course…’ Proverbs 15:21
There are a lot of similarities between sailing a boat and navigating life! You launch out and the weather’s beautiful, but before long the wind picks up and you can be in a storm. At points like that you’ve got to make a calculated decision, ‘do I head back’ or ‘do we press on’?
What’s interesting for me is that Solomon, one of the greatest kings of Israel and wisest commentators of his time must have faced the same decision as he travelled his way around the then known part of his globe. He recognised that a good captain has that unique wisdom that can only come from above and years of experience and with it decides to stay on course.
Perhaps as you read this you remember God giving you a vision of what you should be doing with your life, in your business and your family or in an area of ministry that God may called you. Also you might be experiencing the buffeting of strong winds or opposition or undercurrents of discouragement. At points like this you need to remember your course (Matthew 6:33), you need to check your charts (Psalm 119:1&5) and you need to press on (Philippians 13:12-14)
One of the challenges that the Tea Clippers of a former generation found as they plied their trade around the globe was at times even though they wanted to press on, they were be-calmed and they found themselves stationary sometimes for days in what were called the ‘doldrums’. At times like that all the crew could do was to remain faithful recognising the time would come to raise their sails and know fresh winds carrying them forward.
God rewards those who stay faithful to him even when they are going through spiritual ‘doldrums’ recognising the time will come when the wind of God’s Spirit will fill their sail. You’ve just to look at people like Elijah, Joseph, David, Moses and Jesus to see men who held their course.
Keep pressing on! John
2nd June 2013
There is an ancient Greek legend which tells the story of a man, Sisyphus who had to roll a huge boulder up a mountain only to get near to the top and find it rolling back down. The point of the story, so often that is what life is like, ie. exhausting!
It may be that as you read this you feel a little whacked or under strain? Can I bring you some encouraging word from Scripture that God wants to use to strengthen your life
Like Sisyphus, another modern day Rolling Stone penned the lyric that, despite all that he did and had, he couldn’t get any ‘satisfaction’. There are millions of people like that today who feel, despite all the energy they expend, they are getting nowhere. King David, shepherd turned freedom fighter, turned king and having made a few mistakes on the way could say ‘My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from him’. Psalm 62:1. Instead of endlessly pushing the rock up hill David found God to be his rock ‘He alone is my rock and my salvation’. Psalm 62:2.
As you read this today, is it time for you to find that true resting place? The words of an old hymn have it right when they say, ‘There is a place of quiet rest, Near to the heart of God.’
Have a great week, John
26th May 2013
‘Wish you were here’
This must be one of the most frequently asked questions in the hairdressers salon! I know I’m married to a hairdresser who tries purposefully not to ask it. I love that old Cliff film when a bunch of young people are climbing on an old double-decker and sing, ‘We’re all going on a Summer holiday’ and yet I know that not everyone likes or can afford to go on holiday. There are some people I have met who have never been on holiday and certainly would never dream of going abroad.
Can I suggest that having a holiday is not only good for you but biblical. The word ‘holiday’ is a Christian word a bit like ‘Christ-mas’. ‘Holy-day’ was used to describe days within the Church calendar when Christians would find time to reflect, pray and be renewed.
What we don’t realise when we read the Bible is the massive distances involved in getting from place to place in ancient times. Elijah went on a walk that took him 40 days. Jesus spent 40 days in the ‘outback’ before beginning ministry and certain journeys he took with his disciples would have taken 1 – 7 days, time to take in the beauty of creation and unwind as well as enjoy fresh air and exercise. That’s perhaps why a young Baptist named Thomas started arranging church holiday trips with a Cooks guide.
A holiday can mean a change of place and with that comes a change of ‘pace’ and a change of ‘perspective’ which can be so needful if we have been working hard and have got a bit bogged down with life.
Some people will love to get up into the mountains, some love being by the sea, some love to be on their own, others love company, some love to get away for a few weeks while others prefer occasional days. I guess the thing is to find what suits you. You may benefit from taking a good Christian book or visiting another church or even not going to church.
Jesus said, ‘Come ye apart and rest a while’ and as one helpful commentator once said ‘if we don’t come apart’ the odds are ‘we’ll come apart’.
In the words of the advert ‘don’t book it – Thomas Cook it’
Have a great holy-day or days. John
19th May 2013
Forward in Faith
‘Apart from me you can do nothing’ John 15:5
I find these words of Jesus a refreshing challenge to us as a community. It’s so easy to agree theologically with Jesus’ statement and pay practical lip service to his words but do we believe them?
‘… you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me …’ John 15:5TM
It doesn’t take long to find that you can’t live the Christian life in your own strength and that Christianity isn’t a ‘self-improvement plan’, it is instead a ‘Christ replacement plan’. As Paul found out, ‘it’s no longer I that lives … but Christ that lives in me’. Galatians 2:20JLT
Sadly though, when it comes to seeing the Church grow, we can so easily overlook this most important of all truths, that it is only the Holy Spirit’s power that will ignite the Spiritual breakthrough that we need to see Christ’s kingdom growing amongst us, and this a result of believing prayer. Acts 4:31.
When the early Christians prayed, the presence of God rested upon them and they didn’t need to invest clever strategies to reach people with the love of Christ. Their lives were transformed by the power of Christ so that day by day they shared the good news with those they came in contact with.
Throughout the Bible we see the link between believing prayer and outreach (Acts 1:14, 12:5). But are we convinced of it? The Scriptures say, ‘we have not because we ask not … and … as your faith be it unto you …’
I know it might make us feel uneasy but are we really prepared to pray for God to breakthrough into our society today? When Peter was in prison Acts 12:5 says that the ‘church’ ie. the ‘gathered community’ got together and prayed ‘earnestly for him’. Peter soon found himself on the end of what I call angel sounding, dungeon door opening, guard dodging, chain loosing prayer! As the church prayed God acted, the Holy Spirit moved and Peter was free.
We need God to move afresh in our increasingly secular society that is quickly drifting away from God and the Christian values that have undergirded us for years. Let’s realise that MidWeek Prayer and Personal Prayer is imperative. ‘apart from me you can do nothing’.
Have a great week, John
12th May 2013
The next step …
A couple of weeks ago I had to drop Josh off at Heathrow. We had a great drive up and chatted no end about the next leg of his journey to
In that moment I felt that God was near and all I could do was praise him for someone who was so special to me and all the faithfulness he’d shown to us through the years and, as Josh stepped out on another stage of his journey, I remembered that scripture, ‘all the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.’ Psalm 37:23. In that moment I took time to thank God for his faithfulness in Josh’s life and mine too.
In this wonderful Psalm 37, David is praising his Lord on his journey of faith and, as he takes the ‘next step’, he recognised how important it is to ‘Delight, commit and trust’ afresh in the Lord the Shepherd who led his life.
As you take the next step of your life maybe the Lord is saying just slow down, ‘stop and be still’ (37:7) and do just that.
‘Lord, you’ve called me to journey with you. Not just for the short haul but that great marathon faith. Help me to know grace and mercy to forgive me and help me to know the power of your Spirit to guide and strengthen me. Help me in the business to be still, to commit, to delight and to trust afresh in you.
Through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.’
Have a great week, John
5th May 2013
It’s too big, we don’t know everyone anymore!
It’s one of the things that I hear people often say when a church grows large. However, I’d like to challenge that view by saying ‘Isn’t that the point!’ Didn’t Jesus say, ‘I will build my church …’. The Message paraphrase says, ‘I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.’ Matthew 16:18. Jesus envisioned a church that was growing spiritually as well as numerically and Luke goes to great lengths to record that growth in his story of the expansion of the early church (Acts 4:4, 5:14, 6:1, 6:7, 9:31, 9:35, 9:42).
I know it’s a bit obvious, but churches that are preaching the gospel and are warm and friendly should grow. But then some would say, ‘Well, it means I don’t know everybody anymore.’ I suppose my answer to that is, ‘Isn’t that a good problem to have … that there are so many people in my church I don’t know everyone’. One thing I can do is make sure that I am in a small group or ministry group or prayer group where I can grow in fellowship with other Christians and get to know them. I would never allow my pre-conceived ideas on how large or small a church should be hinder what God wants to bless because in the end Jesus promises to be wherever ‘two or three’ are gathered or wherever ‘two’ or ‘three thousand’ are gathered!
The Scriptures are clear, (Romans 12:4-8) that the Lord has given us all a special gift and that the Church will grow only as each of us gets involved using those gifts to serve and to do that with ‘fervour and zeal as serving the Lord’ (Romans 12:11).
It’s great that you come to this church on a Sunday but is God calling you to use those gifts he has given you. There are so many areas where we need help in various ministries right across the church.
Lord, help us to grow in our passion to know you.
Lord, help us to grow in our willingness to serve you.
And Lord, help us to grow in our care and love for each other,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Have a great week, John
28th April 2013
I was reading an article recently about the sinking of the Titanic just over 100 years ago. Loads of research has been done in the last number of years and they put it down to a number of possibilities, ‘No one thing sent the Titanic to the bottom of the North Atlantic’, Richard Corfield writes on the disaster that caused 1,514 deaths on 14th-15th April 1912.
‘Rather, the ship was ensnared by a perfect storm of circumstances that conspired to send her to her doom. Such a chain is familiar to those who study disasters, it is called an 'event cascade’.’
What we learn from this disaster is that it wasn't just one thing that caused the ship to sink - there was a 'cascade of problems'. Sometimes life can have that effect on us and we can end up being fatally holed beneath the water line. That's why Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount took time to talk about above-deck stuff like our relationships with people, but also below-deck stuff like our relationship with him (Matt.6:1-18) - and three times he says don't give, don't fast, and don't pray 'just' to be seen by others ... but instead out of hearts that are filled with his grace, his goodness and incredible gratitude; keep close to God in everything you do and by doing that you will not sink!
Have a great week, John
GORSLEY FESTIVAL 2013 – UPDATE March 2013
Warm Christian Greetings ! In the Autumn of last year we sensed as a Leadership that the Lord was calling us as a Church to a period of ‘fallowness’ (Ex25: 18-22). Gorsley is a country Church and this word resonated with us, as for many years we have been busy with Leaders’ Days and the Festival which has grown tremendously over the last thirty years with over 1,000 visitors per day.
During the last four months we have sensed that the decision was right as it has given us more time to wait upon the Lord and ‘rest. reflect and refocus’. We also made the conscious decision as a Fellowship to be prepared to lay down the Festival in its current form.
What is interesting is that during this time the adjacent field which we ‘borrow’ for the children’s and youth ministry and camping has been placed on the market by informal tender on the 26th February. This site
is a key facility and at the heart of the infrastructure of the Festival. The Fellowship took the decision to allow the Leadership to bid for this, as it would be a tremendous resource for the work of God’s Kingdom in the future. As you can imagine this has meant a lot of prayer and listening to God, as well as a willingness to make mid-course alterations to our previous course and direction. To that end we, like Glastonbury Festival, are taking a year out with a prayer that God will guide us in the future and through all that this may entail.
As you can imagine this is a big decision to have made as so often our identity as a Church and individuals can be tied up in what we do for God – and so we would value your prayers that we may continue to ‘hear what the Spirit is saying’ to this part of His Church. We would also appreciate your prayers that we may have the courage to obey His prompting for the future.
Also please be in prayer for us as we seek His guidance in putting together what would be a considerable bid for the adjacent field – and that the Lord would supply the resources we need to pay for it. It would be a tremendous resource for local outreach.
As a Church we sense that our vision has always been local, focal, and global – this year we are having to focus on the ‘local’ and we will endeavour through our website to keep you informed of any future news on the Festival and other events.
Our thanks to all of those who have supported us in the past and for how you have enriched our lives here at Gorsley
Yours in a Wonderful Saviour
10th March 2013
We are delighted to let you know that our bid for the field adjacent to the chapel has been successful.
In the preparation for the bid we were mindful of the place of prayer and openness to the Lord to guide and direct our steps. Likewise we were mindful of the prayers of people for us at this time. For that, we thank you.
There is much to give thanks to God for, and to commit the next steps in securing the funding and completing the purchase of the field.
Do continue to pray for this mater and that God will clearly reveal to us His will and purpose for the use of the field in the future, and in particular, during this time of fallowness.
In Christ’s Service,
The Leadership Team