"Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time."
James 4: 6 The Message
As we open the door and embrace 2018 we welcome new opportunities that the new year and its fresh start affords us. One thing we are certain of is that, whatever 2018 holds, Father God is with us, mountain high or valley low. The Bible is full of God's promises to all of humanity and the entirety of his creation but we find a promise in the letter from James in the New Testament that we want to draw your attention to through 2018. James 4:6 says that as we take steps to draw close to God, He will draw near to us. It is a heaven-made guarantee that, as we 'lean in' to Father God, he will be close to us.
As you will note from James this incredible offer of intimacy between humanity and God is an intentional act that also requires our initiation. We get to activate God's closeness to us by simply setting our focus on him. As we approach He notes our movement and comes running to us.
Over the last year as a Leaders Team, we have made an obvious but radical decision to focus our time and work first by drawing close to God. It has inevitably had a knock on with how we do things requiring reprioritisation. The change has been tangible and hugely beneficial as Father God's economy kicks in. This was the way we have approached pursuing other more permanent building options for the church with a time of listening before any action was taken. The Quaker tradition frame this sort of discernment process as leaders in this way; 'a meeting for worship where business is conducted.’
We are keen to encourage this re-ordering across the whole church family in 2018. There will be an opportunity to do this together as we run 24-7 Prayer Spaces, Biblical Reflection Groups, and NT60 launching again after Easter. As much as we do things together we also need to be a people that 'lean in' to his presence in private and then everything else will find its right place and be well.
"Where was God?" Clearly many struggle to reconcile their belief in a loving God with recent tragedies. I respond simply, "God did not cause this." Then I ask the key question underlying every question concerning God's relationship to suffering, "What is our image of God?"
The answer in the New Testament is simple: God is love. And the most dramatic sign of God's love for us is Jesus. With Jesus, God has demonstrated the greatest possible love and given us the greatest possible gift, a gift that can sustain us in every circumstance, yes, even in suffering.
When believers turn to God to deal with suffering the first question we usually ask is why: Why did this happen? Often implied in the question: Why, God, did you do this to us?
But God doesn't answer this question. I believe it is the wrong question.
We have walked through the Christmas season and into a new year. John the Baptist exhorted us to "Prepare the way of the Lord and make straight his paths." We wanted to "make straight" our hearts so the Lord would enter without resistance - so we would really experience him.
If, like John the Baptist, we can let go and simply open our hearts to Jesus as our friend and Saviour something happens: we know God’s presence in a new year.
The prophet Isaiah gives us hope that the light can continue to shine in our lives even in darkness, the darkness we may experience in the start of a new year. "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing" (Isaiah. 9:1-2).
So the best I can offer to us for handling tragedies is to humbly seek the sign of God’s love – Jesus - and ask for his help. Jesus always is present to us when we call upon him in faith - indeed even more present when we call upon him in need, "Come to me all you who labour and are burdened and I will give rest."
God of love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth has given way to the bright dawn of your Word made flesh. Make us a people of this light. Make us faithful to your Word, that we may bring your life to the waiting world.
"And the light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (John. 1:5)
Last night was our third Leaders Community gathering since we launched in September. As an elders team we really felt this was an area God was prompting us to prioritise and be intentional about, that is an integral part of what is needed if we are to move forward into everything God has for us as a church family.
In light of our theme “Lean In” this year, we connected, worshipped, discussed and prayed around what leaning in meant for our leadership and how we help those we lead and do life with to lean in as well. As I was preparing for the evening, God gave me a picture that I’d love to share with you.
The picture was of a rugby field, with players running around with the same end goal in mind - to win - but operating in their individual roles. They all had specific jobs to do but at certain points there was a need to all come together as a scrum to drive the game forward.
We, you and I, are like those players. We all have individual roles and spaces but our goal, I hope, is the same. Our God given mission is to BUILD the church. Whether you are sharing the gospel, raising children to love God, being salt and light in your work places or taking someone out for coffee. Whether you are evangelising, making disciples, serving, encouraging, worshipping, teaching, learning or resting - it is all for one reason. To build His Church, the Bride.
The times where we have to all come together to lean in and push forward are when we form a scrum. Every member of the team is needed. You are needed. No matter your experience, your gift, whether you are on the rota or whether you feel like you will make any difference - everyone is needed. And all of them is needed. In a scrum, the players pushing forward are using their whole selves, every ounce of energy and strength. And there are those on the outside, ready waiting to anticipate, support and run when needed. Not one person is a spare part.
You are not a spare part.
I have felt God challenging to me to be all in - to use everything at my disposal to build his church. To not be passive but to engage, to lean in with all I have. He’s been showing me the times I am sitting on the sidelines opting out, where I am not offering all I am and all I have. I don’t think this is necessarily about doing more and giving more - but just being willing to give what we have and if that looks like measly scraps then that’s enough and God can multiply it into being more than enough.
I wonder what a Sunday morning would feel like, what our homes, the school gates, our workplaces, our relationships would be like if we lent in with our whole selves..
I think it would feel like we were building the church and bringing His kingdom to earth.
City Angels is FIVE years old!
We're thrilled at the success and transformation we have seen through this project and are excited about the future developments and ongoing partnerships across the city.
Life Centre – Supporting Survivors of rape and sexual abuse
Salary - £6,864 pa (already pro-rated) for 12 hours work per week
(4 hours Saturday morning and 8 hrs, 3-7pm 2 days during the week)
Life Centre is a Reg Charity (No 1127779) with a Christian foundation, providing specialist therapeutic services to survivors of sexual violation: www.lifecentre.uk.com.
We are looking for a self-motivated and organised individual to manage and keep up to date the centre’s database. Successful candidates will need to have experience in working on databases, good word & excel skills in order to produce reports on service level statistics for trustees and fundraisers as requested, good attention to detail is essential. The Data officer will also welcome clients on arrival, so a warm and friendly manner is essential.
Due to the nature of the support Lifecentre provides for female clients, the Data Officer must be female. This criterion is justified under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. Lifecentre is an equal opportunities employer.
and the job application form here:-
Closing date for applications: 5th August 2016
Interviews: 10th August 2016