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.

Guest Blogger – Jodie Prescott, Youth Worker

“Do what you love. Love what you do”, a few years ago I was given a lovely cushion with this phrase written on it and I am fortunate enough to say that this is exactly the case for me in my work.

2019 has so far been a brilliant year for the youth group. The XLR8 group have battled it out in ‘Broadmead Youth Come Dine with Me’ where in pairs they made a meal for the rest of the group and were rated on their food, entertainment and hosting abilities. Congratulations to Sam and Amy who were the winners!

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We have also visited Soul Survivor church in Watford. Soul Survivor offers brilliant opportunities for young people from across the UK (and often further) to come to their Saturday celebrations where there is worship, a talk and prayer time… a brilliant opportunity for our young people to connect with other young Christians and build on their faith. Of course, these trips require a McDonald’s stop too to make it a ‘proper’ youth event!

A few weekends ago we took a group of 24 of us to a centre in Hemel Hempstead for a weekend away. The weekend away was full of activities such as sports, wide games, silly ice breaker style games, campfire singing and toasting marshmallows, climbing and caving. As well as activities we also ran our own sessions throughout the weekend focussing on deepening our relationship with God. As part of this, we focussed on the parable of the prodigal son. “‘My son’, the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’” (Luke 15:31-32). I firmly believe that over this weekend young people opened their hearts afresh to Jesus again, as well as having young people coming to faith for the first time. It was an extremely spirit-filled time where it felt that many were coming home to their heavenly father, knowing that their identity was in Christ alone and having peace and joy in that.

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I can’t lie to you, I came away from the weekend away absolutely physically exhausted! I was welcomed by one child after the PM service on the Sunday we came back, asking why I had shadows under my eyes. The only response I could muster was… “I am very tired!”. Having said that, I was over the moon at how successful the weekend was that I actually had so much more enthusiasm and energy than I left with. We are so very blessed in this church to have such a wonderful group of young people and it is exciting to see them grow into who God created them to be.

Storylines continues to grow and run successfully with youth and children both bringing along friends from school who have fully got involved with the group. This is a brilliant taster of ‘church’ and is why this type of thing is so important for encountering faith.

Looking forward we have plenty coming up for young people. We have our own summer programme of events including a circus skills workshop at the park, a walk around Stanwick lakes, sports at the park, an evening at heavenly desserts and plenty more. We are praying that young people feel able to invite their friends to these events and have also invited other church youth groups to join us from across the town in the hope of building up those local networks.

Finally, we’re thrilled to be launching/relaunching a few different projects in the new academic year. TMX Youth Club will be starting again in September. We hope to attract those from the community into the church building, offering crafts, sports and other games and activities. Recently I have bumped into several ‘ex’ TMXers who are extremely excited to come back to youth club, as well as a few older ones being keen on coming back as leaders. The team cannot wait to get back to seeing these young people regularly, impacting positively in their lives. TMX has been a safe, nurturing, supportive and welcoming place to many young people with challenging backgrounds and we pray this will continue to be the case in the future.

The other project we’re starting is a ROC Café. ROC (Redeeming Our Communities) is a UK based initiative where people of ‘goodwill’ are called to come together to make a positive change in their local community. I am a part of the youth action group and we have decided that we will be hosting a café style hub for young people, year 10-13. This space will allow chilled out areas where young people can play card and board games as well as offering academic support and a place to focus on study after school.  

As you can see we have plenty as a youth team to keep us busy! I am extremely thankful for the leaders to continue to faithfully serve the groups on Sundays as well as those who support weekends away, socials and TMX. If you would like to hear more about what we get up to or would like to join our team, please come and see me.

You’ve Got To Serve Somebody

Last Sunday I spoke on our sixth holy habit – ‘SERVICE’. As with all the holy habits we want you to embrace them, to devote ourselves to them because we believe that they will lead to you becoming a better person and a better life.

But who to help? How can you serve people? Where to start?

When we look around at all the need that exists in this world, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. We think that making an impact is impossible. How can I possibly help?

How can God possibly use us for His good and glory? And, therefore, we do nothing.

But what if we’re thinking about this all wrong? What if instead of trying to create large-scale, elaborate change, we start with small, simple acts of kindness to those around us?

What if we just start by reaching out a hand to someone in need? Letting someone know they’re on our minds and that we care? What if we start giving our time, energy, and love more freely?

A simple word. A small gesture. A loving action.

God will use, bless, and multiply these beyond our wildest dreams.

All we have to do is act. Walk out our faith each and every day so that it is de-privatised.

Here are 16 small and simple random acts of kindness that you can do today:

• Make a list of the needs you see around you and start praying over them daily.
• If you have an elderly neighbour, check in to see how you can help him or her: Chores, food, lifting heavy things, yard work, conversation. Maybe take them a cup of coffee and settle in for a nice chat!
• Take dinner to a friend or neighbour. This is especially helpful for someone who is having difficulty cooking for themselves or is just overwhelmed at the moment.
• Send or drop off flowers or chocolates for a friend along with a note telling them you appreciate them.
• Send out a few “thinking of you” cards to friends or family members.
• Mow your neighbour’s lawn.
• When you get your morning coffee, pick up an extra for a co-worker, friend, or neighbour.
• Put together a few “blessing bags” with toiletries, non-perishable food items, and a small Bible. Include in each bag a handwritten note describing God’s love for us. Put them in your car and be ready to give them out when you see someone with an immediate need. You could do this as part of the bags offered by BMAC to their clients. Speak to Sally or Sandra for more details.
• Leave the server at a restaurant an extra-large tip and a sweet “thank you” message.
• Choose an encouraging Bible verse and share it on social media.
• Pay for the people behind you in the drive-thru.
• Donate food to a local homeless shelter or food bank.
• Make cookies for your co-workers.
• Send a care package to a long-distance friend.
• Babysit for a friend for free.
• Donate to a charity: Clothes, household items, or money.

Make a commitment to do one random act of kindness today! I’d love it if you’d let me know what you decide to do in the comment section of this blog.

Serving Others

The Good Samaritan: How to Love And Service Your Neighbour

The Good Samaritan – Luke 10: 30-37

Loving your neighbour as yourself is something we all want to do. It’s the second greatest commandment. And one of the most quoted verses in the Bible.

Mark 12:30-31: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.

But in a world full of need, it can feel like an overwhelming call. If I’m honest, I struggle to follow Jesus’ call to love my neighbour as much as I love myself.

What if my neighbour is someone I disagree with?

What if my neighbour is different to me?

What if my neighbour is antagonistic towards me?

Thankfully God is full of grace as we learn the lesson of how to love others again and again. Thankfully He gives us His word, including the Good Samaritan story, which gives us powerful and practical lessons about how to love our neighbour. Here are some thoughts on the parable.

1. He chose to see the need

The Good Samaritan was moved by the need in front of his eyes. When he saw the stranger, he took pity on him – he didn’t just look away. This is exactly what Jesus did – He saw the need of others:

Matthew 9:36 “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Luke 10:20 ‘While he was still a long way off his father saw him and had compassion on him’

Loving the Lord God with all our heart means allowing Him to touch our emotions and saturate our soul with compassion. This way, when we encounter brokenness, the love of Christ wells up in us and we respond rather than retreat.

When you encounter broken humanity, do you close your eyes out of fear or open your eyes in faith that God can use us to bring healing into someone’s life?

2. The Good Samaritan answered the cry

But it wasn’t enough to see the need and have pity, the Good Samaritan chose to answer the man’s cry and take action. The Samaritan was aware of the danger and the inconvenience of helping the robbed man, but he reached out anyway – the parable describes how “he went to him.” He got involved.

It’s one thing to have faith but The Bible tells us that, “faith without deeds is dead”. What simple and decisive action can you take to help the poor today?

3. The Good Samaritan refused to give up\

Verses 34-35 of the parable tell us that the Good Samaritan didn’t just patch up the injured man on the side of the road and move on.

Instead, he put him on his donkey and took him to an inn where he took care of him. What’s more, he was willing to pay the price by giving two day’s wages and then promising to pay for any further expenses when he came back.

So often when we seek to love people we start off with good intentions but we struggle to follow through. Instead of becoming half-hearted, we need God to do a work in our lives: when we love God with all our strength we will follow through in our commitment by doing whatever it takes.

Are you already serving people and loving your neighbour? Don’t give up, even when things get tough.

Our sixth holy habit is Service and we will be discovering more over this month. Do join us.

How much longer?

How much longer? That was the cry of our kids when they were younger after about ten minutes into a three-hour car journey!

However, it is not only kids in car journeys that cry out like that. King David was just the same. Here he is.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me. Psalm 13

This psalm is great for helping us to pray in difficult times. It starts by turning to God, then saying how we feel and asking for help. But what comes next is really important. David doesn’t just sit and talk about all that is wrong. Instead, he chooses to focus in on what he knows about God. He remembers that God is good and His love never ends, and he remembers that God is a fantastic rescuer! And that gets David so excited that he starts singing about it.

Prayer isn’t just getting words out. It’s talking with God, and when we do, it changes things in us. Telling God about our problems, asking for help and remembering everything we know about Him can change how we feel as God’s Holy Spirit brings us peace and joy. Prayer is powerful.

This Friday we have the opportunity to meet together for prayer as we are doing on the first Friday of the month. Do join us for a special occasion this Friday in G2, 7:30pm

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This song has been shared recently by Kath and seems to be timely for us.

 

 

Guest Blogger – Children’s and Family Worker – Andrea Madden

Months have a habit of flying by, don’t they? I’m starting to find my feet in my role as a ‘Children’s and Family Worker’, and I’m grateful to all those who have helped to support me in making the transition. There have been several people who have been incredibly patient as I have been getting my head around the administrative side of the role, and I have made my share of mistakes but we’re getting there!

I have loved getting to know the children and families who regularly come through our door. As I’m writing, a picture has come into my mind of families who enter through our doors being welcomed into a place of rest. I think of those who regularly attend Coffee Morning. As is our prayer every Thursday morning, most of those who attend will openly share their heart. Coffee Morning is living, breathing testimony of people ‘doing life together’, and I can testify to the team’s heart to lift one another’s burdens in times of difficulty and rejoice when there is cause for celebration. We also have plenty of fun together. The kids love the crafts brought by Gwen every week and we have just reintroduced a time for songs and stories. Felicity has given me a reason to be well versed in different Parent and Tots groups! Coffee Morning, however, has a distinctly Christian feel, as the team are open about their faith and will often pray with those that attend. Summer holidays can be particularly difficult for these families. Many activities are term time only therefore, some the Broadmead Summer Holiday Activities were designed with these families in mind.

There is a lovely connection between Coffee Morning and Samuel’s Nursery, both jointly serve the other and support families with young children. Animals have been Samuel’s most recent theme, and we’ve greeted rabbits, mice and a snake (thankfully, no live spiders or I would have run a mile). Last weekend, it was amazing to see Samuel’s fun day take place and see Samuel’s staff and families working together and enjoy craft, games and face painting. The Summer Holiday Activities again can be an opportunity to engage more with families who form part of our wider church community. We are also looking at providing parents with extra play sessions and supporting English language development. Once again, Samuel’s remains distinctly Christian and there is a sense of the joy and love of God overflowing to fill up the lives those whom we come into contact.

More children came into a church home as two classes Kingsley Primary School gave us a visit. Adam became a tour guide for the morning, as he took the one group pupils around the building. I don’t think some of the children could quite believe that they were in a ‘church’. It was a perfect moment to use the building to break down stereotypes of how a church building ‘should’ look. We were instead able to explain, the building belongs to the church, but the church is a people, not a building. I took the second group and shared with them God’s father heart, that God has an unbreakable, always-forgiving, never-ending love. It was a great morning, the children engaged and had plenty of questions.

Finally, the Children’s Ministry team have contributed their time to put one Children’s socials once a month. To kick off, we held a pizza and film night. The children had a great time and I was told by some parents that they slept very well that night (It’s a Win-Win). Social evenings aren’t only great fun, we’ve also had several children attend whom wouldn’t otherwise have a connection. We do play games, but the team also has an opportunity to listen and speak into what’s going to in their world. This Friday we have a party theme. Please pray that my voice returns, we had a great time at Storylines on Monday, but I got slightly over-enthusiastic with the games and need to find my voice again!
If you ever fancy joining in the fun then let me know, I’m sure the children would love to see you during the week or on a Sunday.

I only had a penny to put in the offering

I recently read this story of amazing provision from God. It reminded me of the story of the poor widow used last Sunday.

My family moved to the UK from Zimbabwe when I was 17, and there were limits on how much I could work as I didn’t have indefinite leave to remain. As an international student I didn’t qualify for student loans. My mum gave me enough for my tuition, but after paying that, I didn’t have much left. It was really difficult. I’d cover my rent as a bare minimum but would have to ask my housemates to cover me for bills until I got paid.

One week, I was down to 7p in my bank account. You read the story of the widow’s mite, but I found myself quite literally with a penny to give in the offering. I remember putting it in an envelope because I was so ashamed about putting it in the bucket on its own.

That same day, I’d been waiting for 15 or 20 minutes in prayer. Then I had this picture in my mind’s eye of a NatWest name badge with the word ‘Sarah’ on it. God just said: “Your money is coming tomorrow.” I thought: “What money? What are you talking about?” I heard: “Go in tomorrow afternoon to the bank and collect it. Take half of it and give the rest to Sarah.” I did not know what to think or feel. I was scared stiff, but there was also an element of excitement, to see if this was real.

I went to the bank the next day and was shocked to find £800 had been deposited in my account just before I got there, with no reference of where it came from. I don’t think I’d seen £800 in the three months before that. So at first I felt this real rush of excitement. I realised: “This is actually happening.”

Sarah wasn’t working at the bank that day so I couldn’t give her the £400. The next day, I waited in her queue, got to the front, and said: “Sarah, this is going to sound strange but I need to give this to you.” She said: “Do you want to deposit it?” Then I realised that I was giving her money in a bank, how was I going to explain that?

I just said: “There’s a note inside that explains everything. Just read that, it’s for you. I just want you to know, God loves you, God bless you.” She was shaking her head and her face was in complete disbelief when I left.

That experience made my faith grow. I’m not concerned by hardship. I don’t spend time worrying about what might go wrong, because I’ve seen it and I’ve been there, and I was fine. God was with me. I always draw on that experience in encouragement to step out, to do things out of the norm, that require you to believe that God can do something impossible.

If you wish to read other stories like this you can do so by clicking here.