Checking Your Perspective

Guest Blogger – Jonathan Moore

How many times a day do we complain or grumble over trivial or minor points, things such as bad weather, or when we feel aggrieved by an unhelpful remark from a work colleague or acquaintance but fail to look at the wider picture.

In reality, the vast majority who will read this are more than blessed, in a decent job, own a car, have a roof over their heads, can afford a holiday each year and have some family who cares for them dearly. Yet despite the above, we always find time to moan to someone else yet we do not even realise how blessed we actually are.

Last week, when I was trailing through worship songs on YouTube as I do regularly, I came across a teenager from Northland church in the US called Christopher Duffley singing ” This is Amazing Grace”, he was born autistic and blind yet has been an inspiration to people worldwide and despite his disabilities has a passion for Jesus.

My best friend has lived in blindness for 79 years of his life and in the 20 years, I have known him has never once complained to me about his lack of sight.

So when you consider complaining about it been wet outside, take a perspective check, praise God for what you have and look at the bigger picture.  Whatever you are going through today, there are always people much less off than you. Remember, you are loved by God, and so blessed.  Take a perspective check. You don’t know how blessed you are!!

Children’s Ministry Update – Andrea Madden

How did you learn to discern the voice of God? This was a question I asked at the Children’s Ministry Breakfast a few weeks ago. I wonder what your response would be.  I truly believe supporting children to hear and encounter God is the very essence of why we need a solid children’s ministry. It’s the Ministry of Eli, who was woken up, rather inconveniently,several times during the night by a child trying to discern who was speaking. Within Broadmead Community Church’s ‘why’s’ we have a hunger to be a people ‘intentional about ‘seeking God and pursuing more of His presence’. God welcomes children into His presence and all of us have a role to play in inviting children along to hear and seek.

Over the last few months I have been reflecting on how we can move towards supporting children to encounter Jesus personally.  As a children’s ministry team, we are trialing the ‘Explore’ Scripture Union material.  We are starting to use questions of ‘wondering’, igniting curiosity and exploration. Children are invited to wonder what God is trying to say to them that day. Teaching becomes slightly more problematic; I cannot rehearse what I am going to say.  I can come with a story or framework, but not a prescription. I am challenged to respond and be fully present with both the child and God in the moment. Sit down for a minute and ask yourself what God is saying to you, if you’re like me, you don’t always get a clear response. It takes work and practice. In the children, I can see the cogs in their head begin to tick, like they’re in school and looking for the right answer.  We don’t want them to come up with ‘right’ answers, we want to encourage them to respond to the relationship. It’s a mutual process of learning and exploring together. A ministry that is not done to, but ministry with children. While it terrifies me because I’m out of control, I love it because we are facilitating a space for children to hear, speak, listen and respond.

Another of the Broadmead’s why’s is ‘embracing adventure’, yet for children this isn’t always easy terrain. There is a danger we can consider children’s ministry to be ‘fluffy’, filled with cheesy worship songs and discussions around ‘Jesus being my best friend’. Don’t hear what I’m not saying.These things aren’t necessary bad or wrong, but we are called into deeper waters. What happens when a child feels their ‘best friend’ has let them down? The emotions a child can experience can be powerful and even overwhelming. I believe God gave me a lesson in this years ago. At a holiday club, at a seemingly random time during worship, a child tugged at my shirt asking for prayer. The child interrupted my initial enthusiasm in an explanation I will carry in my heart forever. He said, ‘God doesn’t answer my prayers, mummy and daddy are still arguing’. My heart ached for him, for his perceptionof his circumstance, and for his disappointment in the God who had the power to shut the mouths of lions.

This is the child who is present in my memory as Broadmead hold a light party on the 25th Oct.  The theme of the Light Party is based on Psalm 23v4, ‘Even though I go to the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me’. We can acknowledge that the darkness is hard and scary, but, like a loving father or mother, we have a mighty God who never loosens His grip of our hand.  The following extract from the SU Light Party Pack encapsulates this truth:

As people who know the love of Jesus it’s tempting to frame all our conversations about darkness within the context of Jesus being the bringer of light, the one who dispels all darkness, the one who heals and restores all.  However, for children living with the darkness (and for adults too!) the promise that Jesus will bring light just doesn’t seem enough.  Imagine for a moment that you’re trapped in a pitch-blackcave, cold and alone with no idea if there is a way out.  Whileit might be comforting for a voice to promise that ‘someone who loves you is bringing a light soon and it will show you the exit’, if that doesn’t happen pretty quickly you’d end up feeling at best despondent and at worst unloved.  Wouldn’t you rather experience someone sitting with you in the darkness holding your hand, and letting you know that they will never leave your side?

I started with the question ‘how did you learn to discern the voice of God?’ What a difference it would make if we helped to teach a child so that even in the times of deepest darkness, they have the ability to shut their eyes and smile, hearing the stirrings of a whisper and the All Mighty hand protective overtheir own soft fingers. In the security of God’s protective hand, children can learn to lean into His strength and embrace the call to adventure.

Dealing with Disappointment

Last Sunday I spoke on Dealing with Disappointment and how to cope with unmet expectations.

Here are some further thoughts on the subject looking at the story of Jacob.

The first thing we see Jacob doing is taking things into his own hands by stealing his brother’s inheritance through deceit. You may know the story. His dad has poor eye sight and Jacob dresses up like his older twin brother to trick his dad into giving him the inheritance that should have belonged to Esau.

Jacob has to run away to escape his brother clutches and when he finally rests he has a dream. In the dream he sees a stairway to heaven (also inspiring the development of rock music in the 1970s – different story, sorry). The Lord says ‘I am with you and I will not leave you until I have done what I promise.’

Jacob says ‘surely the Lord is in this place and I was not aware of it.’

He moves on from there looking for a place to stay and finds his relatives. He falls in love with his uncle’s daughter Rachel. Now according to scripture she is a total babe. The NIV version describe her as having a lovely figure and beautiful. See, total babe!!! Rachel had an older sister, Leah and she is described as having either weak eyes or delicate eyes. We are not sure of the original Hebrew here but I hope for her sake that it was delicate eyes!

It was Rachel that Jacob was bonkers for and so he agrees to do seven years work for nothing other than marrying. On the wedding night a couple do what a couple do on their wedding night. However, the lights must have been off because when Jacob wakes up it is Leah laying next to him in bed. He has been tricked and so he works another seven years. Fourteen years of working and waiting and finally he can marry Rachel.

Now putting aside the slightly dodgy ethnics here of Jacob being tricked into marrying Leah. We must remember Old Testament is descriptive not prescriptive. What can we learn from Jacob?

1. Jacob had an expectation of his life and how it would work out. Nothing wrong with that but to achieve it he took things into his own hands. We can so often be tempted to do the same. We are told to pray as if everything depends on God and act as if everything depends on you. There is a sweet spot somewhere in the middle of that where we are resting/waiting trusting in God while making the most of every opportunity. Seek God for that sweet spot rather than doing nothing or doing everything on your own without God.

2. Even in our disappointment God is here with us. God used the dream that Jacob had to remind him that God is with him. Can I remind you that God is with you in your disappointment. I pray you like Jacob can recognise the presence of God.

3. We may be doing everything right like Jacob working for seven years to marry Rachel. However, our timings are not always Gods timings and we have to learn to wait in peace and stand trusting in God.

As you do this prayer maybe helpful.

Father in Heaven,

I come before you with my heart filled with so many different thoughts and feelings. I am tense and uncertain about what I should be doing and where I should go. I feel weak and helpless. Powerless. I am worried about what happens next and whether I have the strength to handle it. Deep down I wonder, how long will I be here? Will I be stuck in this place of waiting forever? And why am I here to begin with? What’s happening, Lord? But most of all, I wonder, where are you? Why haven’t you responded to my cries for help?

But even as I pray that, I know you are right where you’ve always said you would be. You’ve never left me and you will never forsake me. You are not deaf to my cries. In fact, you know the thoughts in my heart before I even think them. You know exactly what is happening, why I am here, and what is going to happen next. All things are in your sovereign care and control. Nothing happens outside your knowledge and will. Not even a hair falls from my head without your willing it to happen. Nothing surprises you or takes you off guard. Including this issue right here, right now. You know why I am here waiting and you have promised to use it for your glory and my good.

Forgive me for all my doubts, worries, and fears. Forgive me for my impatience as I wait in this place. Forgive me for questioning the story you’ve written for me. Forgive me for not seeking your face and allowing the struggles before me to seem greater and stronger than your grace and mercy for me. Cleanse my heart of all that keeps me from you. Help me to see the ways I have tried to be my own god and my own savior. Help me to see the false idols I have erected to worship and serve instead of you. Help me to see the things I am clinging to right now that I think I must have to make me happy and help me to repent and turn from them.

I believe, help me in my unbelief! Help me to remember that it is good to wait for you. As the prophet wrote in Lamentations, “It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (3:26). As I wait, help me to remember and dwell on the salvation you’ve provided for me through Christ. Help me to remember that the same grace that saved me at the cross is the same grace that sustains me today. And that same grace is at work in me even now, shaping me into the image of your Son. And no matter what happens, no matter my current circumstances, I am safe in the shelter of your wings. There is nothing that can separate me from your love. Nothing and no one can snatch me from your hands.

Grant me the joy that comes from knowing you and being known by you. Fill my heart with gospel joy. Strengthen me by your word. May the words of the Psalmist be true of me, “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope” (Psalm 130:5).

Help me to remain faithful in this place of waiting. Help me to serve you and live for you even in this crossroad of my life. Help me to wait as long as it takes.

I pray all these things because of Jesus and in his name,

Amen.

 

CIRCLES are BETTER than ROWS’

Five Reasons to join a CIRCLE at Broadmead

At Broadmead we believe CIRCLES are BETTER than ROWS.

Not convinced then please read this short article blog on the idea.

Have you ever wondered what the big deal is about circles (Huddles, Small Groups, Connect Groups and teams)?

Here are five reasons you should consider joining one of our circles at Broadmead.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

Let’s be honest here. We all know there is a gap between who we are today and who we want to be. Maybe you want to develop a new skill, improve a relationship, or get in shape. But we all want to grow into that better version of ourselves.

Christians aren’t immune from this desire. In fact, the entire Jesus movement has focused on learning and growing.

One of the primary places where growth occurs is within circles, where people gather together to learn about and practice the teachings of Jesus.

The first Christian small group was made up of Jesus and the twelve men he invited to follow him. Many of the first churches included small groups of disciples that met in each other’s homes; in the second and third century, many devout Christians even moved to the desert to explore new versions of Christian community in small groups. During the Middle Ages, small bands of Celtic missionaries would travel through the cities of Europe, stopping just long enough to start a new church.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, churches began to organize small groups specifically to help Christians grow. Phillip Jacob Spener, a Lutheran pastor, organized small groups in which Christians discussed the practical implications of their faith. When the Methodist Church began, it was made up of small groups that came together to share stories of how God had been at work in their lives. These models provide the inspiration for the small groups that help Christians grow today.

In sum, Christians have been using circles for almost two thousand years. What exactly is it about circles that helps Christians grow?

1. Jesus’ Way of Life Cannot Be Learned Alone.

Jesus’ teachings fall into two categories: how to develop yourself spiritually, and how to treat other people. Neither of these can be learned alone. They require practice partners who can provide insight, advice, and encouragement. Circles are tried-and-true places to find such support.

2. Support Encourages Change.

We each have damaging, even immature ways that if are honest, we need to change. Change comes as we practice the teachings of Jesus. But it’s hard work, and it is nearly impossible if we’re trying to do it alone.

James, one of the first church leaders, addressed this issue by encouraging those who were learning the way of Jesus to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Confession is the act of articulating what is wrong. A circle is a safe place to confess and receive encouragement. We come to know the hopes and dreams and struggles of the other group members. With their support, we can grow into healthier actions that are more in line with the teachings of Jesus.

3. Relationships Lead to Sharing.

One of the biggest barriers to growth is “ our stuff.” Much of modern-day culture seems obsessed with accumulating new things. For many, there is no greater fear than losing all of their possessions. A tangible sign of growth is when a Jesus-follower learns to trust God more than they trust stuff.

When we share, we are trusting that God will continue to provide for us. When we receive what others have shared with us, we recognize that we have been given an unearned gift from God. Slowly but surely, sharing helps us to move beyond our self-focused obsession with stuff. Circles provide a place to make meaningful relationships where such sharing can take place.

4. Mission Happens in Circles.

What if Luke had tried to rescue Leia without Obi-Wan, Han, and Chewbacca? Or Captain America had no Hulk, Thor or Ironman , let alone the rest of the Avengers! Or Bill had attempted to go on an excellent adventure without Ted? These stories are great because they demonstrate the relationships that develop when groups go on mission together.

One powerful way that Christians grow from circles is by working toward shared goals and common causes. A group might work together to decorate a room for someone or meals for a new parent. They might band together to serve a fellow group member with a serious health issue. Or they may bond over pursuing similar goals, like developing a spiritual discipline.

When circles unite to accomplish a meaningful mission, growth is the unavoidable result.

5. Circles Take Church Beyond Sunday.

Imagine you went to the gym for one hour a week. While it’s better than nothing, you’d probably just end up sore, tired, and sweaty without enjoying many long-term effects. Losing weight and gaining muscle require a good diet and regular exercise.

If a person’s spirituality is limited to one hour a week, it will be difficult for them to grow. A circle leads to growth by creating more opportunities to come to know God, to practice the teachings of Jesus, and to grow spiritually.

How to Join a Circle?

Perhaps you want to grow as a person and are intrigued by the idea of sharing life with others. Are you hungry for the deep relationships that grow out of a shared mission?

Join a Circle at Broadmead. Here is how.

Huddle – To join a Huddle (3 or 4 people meeting at an agreed time to share life, pray and learn) email your details to myself.

Small Groups – These are groups that run without a time limit or for a year. These can be booked onto by clicking here.

Connect Groups – These are groups that run for a term (10 weeks normally) covering a variety of subjects. These can be booked onto by clicking here.

Teams – Learning and Serving together can be so helpful and you can join a team within the life of the church by clicking here.

We like ROWS but we want to see everyone at Broadmead in a CIRCLE.

Nice Day for a White Wedding

We all love a good wedding and how exciting that this Saturday we get to celebrate the wedding of John and Loreto. I do hope you are able to join them in celebrating this significant day. It is also a significant day for us as a whole church, as it will be the first lawful marriage held in the new church building (just to say we haven’t done any unlawful ones either!)

One of the reasons we love a good wedding, besides the getting dressed up, the food, the photos, the dress and the cake, is that it is so good to see a couple so obviously in love. On their special day they commit their lives to each other and it reminds us of those we love and who love us.

I, also believe, it gives us a picture of Jesus and His Church. It points us to this amazing truth that just as a man and woman become one, so we His Church are one with Christ.

You may have read the many chapters of the bible filled with the instructions given to Solomon – you may have skipped it! You may also have wondered why all those details, with all the measurements and different stones/materials were given.

Hebrew 9:24 gives us a clue when it suggests that the earthly temple was a picture of something in heaven. A copy of a greater true one in heaven. The earthly temple and all it’s grand design points towards a heavenly one.

It is just the same with marriage. That is why we read this in Eph 5:31-32.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

The marriage, the man and woman becoming one, points to or shows us this incredible truth about Christ and The Church. The profound mystery mentioned is not marriage but it draws us a picture of a greater unity which is between Christ and us. We are one with Him and one day Christ will come for his bride when we will be truly one with Jesus beyond anything we can understand now.

So that is why we love a good wedding and to see love so much on show. It reminds us of greater truth and gives us a glimpse of this profound mystery that unites us with Jesus.

So, come along on Saturday and enjoy a special day but remember it’s much more than a nice dress, rings, suits, photos, food and cake. It’s points to a profound mystery and an amazing truth. We are one with Christ.

Try Alpha

Early next month, we are offering a chance for you to invite people to attend the alpha course or attend yourself.

The course this year is again being run by Jim and Sue Winning and they will provide an excellent opportunity for people to listen, discuss and ask questions about life, faith and so much more.

The course has been run at Broadmead for many years and we have seen people come to faith through it. However, it does require us to invite people to come along. This is part we can all play in this by prayerfully considering who we can invite and encourage them to book via the church website.

If you are not sure about what happens at Alpha here is a short video which tells you all you need.

So, get inviting using the postcards which will be available this Sunday and on social media using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Look for the invites on our pages and share. Why not send an email invitation which will be available from Saturday this week.

And if you are not sure that Jesus can change lives then please watch this testimony of Shane Taylor.

 

Dinner Dates

Most of us eat three meals a day. Over the span of a year, that’s 1,095 meals. That seems quite a lot – I have no idea what it might be over a lifetime?

I am sure some of those meals have been very memorable – whether it was the meal served at our wedding, a birthday celebration or just a really good meal with great company.

A few years ago, before we had children Karen and I took a last-minute holiday one summer to Kefalonia. About a ten-minute walk from our hotel was the beach and along the beach were about ten restaurants. Each night we would try the next one in the row and each one served the most wonderful Greek food. It was here that we discovered our love for Olives, Feta, Tzatziki and Muscat!! Each night we had the sun setting over the ocean as our backdrop eating wonderful food with Karen. What was not to like? By the way, it was not quite like the picture in this blog but one day hey!!

Most significant events happen around food. Birthdays, weddings, celebrations and even funerals all have food as part of the event. Food brings us together like nothing else.

Jesus knew this and often used meals to engage with people and teach important lessons. Today, he continues to call us to his table to feast on who he is and learn more about him through his Word. Jesus’ example provides an opportunity to invite friends, outsiders and even enemies to know God’s story of love and salvation.

In the book of Luke alone, there are 10 stories of Jesus dining with various people.

Here is one.

Just like us, Jesus had friends. Siblings Lazarus, Mary and Martha were dear to him and no doubt he enjoyed getting together with them. Martha — the hostess with the mostest — was working hard to prepare a good meal for Jesus.

When Martha complained about her sister, who was just sitting and listening to Jesus, she was probably surprised when Jesus rebuked her. Essentially, he said that Mary’s choice to sit and listen to him was better than all the work she was doing.
The problem wasn’t the work. It was that she was so busy she was going to miss the purpose: spending time with Jesus.

Whether you’re having friends over for dinner or serving at church, make time to enjoy the people you’re serving. Consider taking that five-course meal down a notch, because it’s the laughs and the meaningful moments that are most memorable.

When did you last invite people round for a meal and were you too busy cooking and serving them to spend time with them?

Sometimes, what makes the meal so special isn’t the quality of the food, but the time spent together, laughing, crying, talking and praying. Jesus loves to be part of those kinds of meals.

This is our seventh holy habit – Eating Together. We will be exploring that this month starting this Sunday. See you there.