A Visit to La Jolla Christian Fellowship

Our Session Clerk, Tim, recently visited our brothers and sisters at La Jolla Christian Fellowship, San Diego. Here is His account of his adventures over the pond.

What went before: Many of you know Adam Stadtmiller already. He is the Senior Pastor at La Jolla Christian Fellowship (LJCF) in San Diego, USA. He has worshiped with us in Edinburgh a few times. Last October, he and Pastor Sean ran a Holy Spirit Workshop with us and sat in on a Kirk Session meeting.

Setting the Journey: I had a week of annual leave to use or lose. I had a standing invitation from LJCF (we all do!) and my lovely wife’s blessing for me to enjoy a week’s holiday in the sunshine. So off I went to San Diego.

First Impressions: The building is similar to ours: old wooden panelling and pews (light brown, not our dark stain), the rear ones replaced by a foyer and glass wall. And the LJCF church family themselves? They are us! I had a strong sense of not just a warm welcome, but of being amongst family. It wasn’t a smothering welcome, but a familiar one of genuine affection; as if we had always known each other even though some of us had only just met. It was lovely to meet people who have been praying for us and our church.

The First Sunday: I positively revelled in praising and adoring our Saviour, Jesus, surrounded by this family, drinking in new yet familiar surroundings. I have watched their services on-line for some years, choosing a pew at the back of their church and gradually being encouraged to move forward as I became more involved (on-line Scripture readings and devotionals for them). Now I was in that seat near the front, joining them in person as we praised God. Life is good! I delivered our gift – a communion cloth in Church tartan with a verse that was supposed just to represent our thrill at the link with LJCF, but which spoke a deeper note to them as it was the very verse they had chosen this year as part of a ‘unity response’ to civil unrest in the USA last year. The verse is at the end of this article. That alignment was an astonishing moment of blessing.

Through the Week: I sat in on a staff training day. Bathed in prayer and worship (the praise band leader was part of the training, so of course we had some praise songs!), we focussed on effective and efficient working – what must happen each week, what ideally happens and what (even though it has just ‘always been done’) is actually a bonus extra and should not be a priority. We had a Holy Spirit Workshop, similar to the one we held at SSCB. It was an amazing evening – the praise music not just an outpouring of worship but helping to set the tone. People came forward for prayer, connected with Holy Spirit, receiving healing, comfort and encouragement. Not a dry eye (of joy!) in the house.

The Second Sunday: Adam invited me to preach as it (a) allowed a different insight into the Word of God and (b) further introduced SSCB to LJCF. Despite the preaching, there was an amazing response of fellowship and simple interest in us. Prayer works, and I saw that to Pray Across the Pond yielded so many positive results beyond our own immediate requests of God.

The Follow-up: LJCF want to come and visit, and a group is looking at coming over, perhaps at the start of Advent. Are you interested? Can you help welcome them? They really are interested in us. They support us. They pray for us. They love us. Let’s return that through our own support, prayer and love. In unity, loving Jesus.

“How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)
[from Timothy Pitt]

We Are Hiring – Family Outreach Worker

We Are Hiring – Family Outreach Worker

We are looking to recruit a new staff member into our ministry team with the skills, experience and confidence to coordinate and lead Christian outreach work with families in our community.

Interested? Read on…

Read More »

Hymns We Love

One aspect of church family and church life is the singing of hymns we love. Very often we evaluate a

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Written Word: 6. Joshua

Appoint three men from each tribe. I will send them out to make a survey of the land and to write a description of it, according to the inheritance of each. Then they will return to me. (Joshua 18:4)

Joshua had led the Israelites into the Promised Land. They had conquered the land and most of it had been divided and claimed by the tribes of Israel. But some land had still not been taken; seven tribes had not yet claimed their allotted land and received their inheritance. In truth, they had become accustomed to resting where they were and did not push on to complete God’s mission for them. Joshua assembled all the Israelites and spoke out. He asked how long they would just wait, not even beginning to take possession of the land the Lord had given them.

Perhaps this is an instruction to us today that the Word of God to us is not necessarily “This is what I want for you … and here it is on a plate.” Perhaps, rather, “This is what I want for you … now are you prepared for your actions to show your faith in my plan for you? Are you prepared to act; to claim what I have made ready for you?”

Joshua was perhaps alert to the likely response of a people who had grown accustomed to inactivity: the active response may not be whole-hearted. Have you ever been tempted to short-cut? To take a guess, even an educated one, and then present it as if it is your personal experience? Joshua wanted them to claim ownership of the land and to claim ownership of its Godly provenance. So he instructed them to appoint representatives who would walk the boundaries and survey it, writing it all down so that there would be no doubt or argument. No person or tribe could guess at their land boundary and claim, even innocently, what they were not entitled.

The people would, through their writing, provide evidence that they had carried out the task and actually seen the land in order to claim it; seen and claimed their own land and not another tribe’s.

And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. (Joshua 24:26)

After the land was allotted, Joshua summarised the Israelites’ history, showing God was always there with them. He asked them to decide if they followed the gods of the Egyptians they had left behind, the gods of the Amorites whose land they had taken over, or God, who was – and is – with them. He made that famous statement: “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”(Joshua 24:15). They reaffirmed their choice and promise to serve God, so Joshua made a covenant for them, reaffirming decrees and laws: you don’t just follow God in name only. God has given a way to live, and this is the way to be followed. We know that Jesus is the way (and the truth and the life). The Israelites chose the way of God. And it was important for them that, having made this choice, they would hold each other accountable to this choice. It really mattered to them that they had made this covenant, this promise renewed. So it was written down, and a stone memorial was set up as a witness to the promise. The law was written by Joshua and written in stone for us all. Salvation was won by Jesus and written in love of us all. Write that on your heart.

[from Timothy Pitt]

We Are Hiring – Family Outreach Worker

We Are Hiring – Family Outreach Worker

We are looking to recruit a new staff member into our ministry team with the skills, experience and confidence to coordinate and lead Christian outreach work with families in our community.

Interested? Read on…

Read More »

Hymns We Love

One aspect of church family and church life is the singing of hymns we love. Very often we evaluate a

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Revival Challenge

Lord, I have heard of your fame;
    I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
    in our time make them known;
    in wrath remember mercy.
” Habakkuk 3:2

As we continued our sermon series ‘Shaping Our Story’ last Lord’s Day, we reflected, with the help of Isaiah 6:1-8, on how a revival starts. Isaiah saw and personally experienced the awesomeness, holiness, and glory of God.

In Scripture we find countless stories about the majesty and greatness of God, the power and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the sweeping, purging might of the Holy Spirit transforming lives and changing history. Habakkuk, living and prophesying about a century after Isaiah, longed to have the experience and vision of Isaiah in his own time. This was not a selfish desire, just for himself, but for the people of God.

When we read passages like Isaiah 6, we also kindle similar yearnings like Habakkuk to see God acting mightily in our lives as he did in the past when He stirred up people and His church to revival. When we hear of revivals of the past or at other parts of the world we long to be par to it, hungering for God’s presence, peace in our hearts and in our world, thirsting for His justice, and just having more of God in our lives.

We need more of God in our lives and in the church! But how can one start a revival? How can I be part of it, or experience it? It is not us who start a revival! It is the Lord God Almighty! He starts it and completes it! But He never forces it upon you or on His church! He moves when His people seek His face and ask for revival! In His time he responds to their prayer!

That’s how it began on the Isle of Lewis and that’s what we saw in Isaiah 6. At a time of crisis God’s people called out to Him. God revealed Himself in fullness and Isaiah met Him as He was, in His holiness, glory, and might. In the presence of holy God Isaiah met himself as he, Isaiah was, sinful and unclean, just like the people among whom he lived! In his brokenness and repentance, he met God full of mercy, his guilt was taken away and his sin was atoned for! Being revived Isaiah was ready and willing to go and meet God’s people with God’s message for revival, spreading it across the land.

When we long for revival the revival must start with us before it will spread across the land.

 

When we long for revival the revival must start with us before it will spread across the land. The question is, are you willing to get it rolling? Do you want revival here at SSCB? Will you pray for revival? Will you ask God to revive you first, then His people here at SSCB, and across the city and beyond? Will you pray as Isaiah and Habakkuk did? Will you pray as the old, housebound sisters prayed at Barvas, Isle of Lewis! Will you pray for revival as the minister and the elders, challenged by those sisters, did?

I challenge you to pray and fast for revival. Pray that God will send His Holy Spirit to cleanse us, wash us clean, making us ready and strong for His service. Pray that Holy Spirit will revive our church family, visit us with His fire and power. Pray for more of God in your life, in our church, in our community and city!

If you heard of God’s fame and you stand in awe of His deeds of the past – will you pray that He will renew them in our day?

[from GV]

We Are Hiring – Family Outreach Worker

We Are Hiring – Family Outreach Worker

We are looking to recruit a new staff member into our ministry team with the skills, experience and confidence to coordinate and lead Christian outreach work with families in our community.

Interested? Read on…

Read More »

Hymns We Love

One aspect of church family and church life is the singing of hymns we love. Very often we evaluate a

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Enviro-Lent Review

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted. John 6:12

The Enviro Lent challenge is over – for this year!  What a blessing to try new things to care for God’s creation.  Now the challenges are over, here are what the participants thought.

Sholto

Sholto attempted to take on all the challenges! “Most of the challenges are what I try to do anyway, but this stopped me getting complacent, it made me keep plugging away at making small changes. Except the meat-free, I’m an unashamed carnivore, so that was the hardest one for me, but for ethical and practical reasons I wanted to try it out. Individually we can’t make a huge difference, but collectively all our small changes make a huge difference. It’s like John Lennon said – imagine – well imagine all we can do to help our planet. It’s easy if you try.” 

Diana

“At first glance eating local seemed a fairly straightforward challenge and on the whole it was. Shopping locally and visiting local farm shops was interesting.  What we were finding is that we became aware of some of the other challenges facing us.  I think we are now more aware of where our food comes from, where we can buy loose fruit and vegetables, and how we can support local shops.”

Cat

“A small group decided that we would attempt to go through the whole of Lent without buying anything new. Food, medicines, and second-hand purchases were allowed. For me it was a fabulous conversation piece, I was able to tell people what I was doing and why.”

Emma

Emma attempted to reduce household energy use. “It was amazing to see how normal it became to use less energy and be more conscious of what we were using and why. I found it inspiring to remember even little changes could honour the Lord and his planet.”

Grant

Grant led the group attempting to ditch single use plastics. “Our group was very mixed from those who had already gone some way along this journey to those of us who were just taking our first baby steps. We now have the pleasure of – fresh milk delivered to our door; homemade yoghurt; taking tupperware to the supermarket for our fish and meat.  We now regularly visit the Refillery in Corstorphine which is excellent.  There were some nuts we failed to crack, but every little helps. We are thankful that we shared this experience and hopefully made some permanent changes.”

Elspeth

“Folk who joined the meat-free challenge had a varied time. Whilst some found that it was hard to make vegetables interesting, others found that simply cutting down meat meals or bulking up their standard dishes was more veg successful. A number agreed that it was an achievable lifestyle step in their contribution towards fighting the climate emergency.”

Pray

Father God, we give thanks for our church family who participated in Enviro-Lent.  Help us to remember this world is Your creation and we are trusted to care for it. Show us how You wish us to do this. In Jesus name. Amen.

Keep an eye on E-pistle for updates on All Things Eco and their progress. If you have any comments or queries please email eco@comelybankchurch.com

[from the Eco Group]

We Are Hiring – Family Outreach Worker

We Are Hiring – Family Outreach Worker

We are looking to recruit a new staff member into our ministry team with the skills, experience and confidence to coordinate and lead Christian outreach work with families in our community.

Interested? Read on…

Read More »

Written Word: 5. Deuteronomy

You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:9)

Write them, show them in public, understand them and claim them as your own. But what are ‘they’? Verse 4 onwards reveals this is the Sh’ma, a prayer to be recited daily. It begins “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” Sh’ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad or the LORD our (plural ‘us’) God (plural ‘God’) is one God, the LORD: our Lord is Father, Son and Holy Spirit; three in one. It says we are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and strength (all our muchness!), to impress these commandments on our children, talk about them in daily conversation, and write them on our door-frames and gates. Never forget; never stop being reminded.

“Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.” (Deuteronomy 17:18)

Thrones and kingdoms? Some 400 years before Saul was crowned, it was recorded (in Deuteronomy 17:14) that the people would call for a king:When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, ‘Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,’ (Deuteronomy 17:14). The king was told expressly how to behave, how to reign. He must not take many wives, he must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. And when on his throne, he was to write out his copy of that law. Again: learn it, understand it; take ownership of it. Saul and all the other kings failed. But they can’t say they didn’t know. Either follow God or disobey Him – it is your responsibility to choose.

“When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favour in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house, (Deuteronomy 24:1)

Everyone must take responsibility. In those days, only the man had the power to divorce, but he was commanded not to abuse that power. A man should not just evict her, ignoring that they were ever married. He would have to take responsibility for the act, providing the certificate, telling the story. Sadly, man abused the power, ducked the responsibility and failed to love woman as he was commanded.

So it shall be on the day when you cross the Jordan to the land which the Lord your God gives you, that you shall set up for yourself large stones and coat them with lime and write on them all the words of this law, when you cross over, so that you may enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, promised you. (Deuteronomy 27:2-3)

Make an effort to remember the events of your life; of God being present with you. Make the effort of preparing stones and writing on them; a cairn memorial. Or do as Mary did many years later, and treasure them, pondering them in her heart. Remember, treasure and ponder all that God does for you. Write that on your heart.

[from Timothy Pitt]

We Are Hiring – Family Outreach Worker

We Are Hiring – Family Outreach Worker

We are looking to recruit a new staff member into our ministry team with the skills, experience and confidence to coordinate and lead Christian outreach work with families in our community.

Interested? Read on…

Read More »

Hymns We Love

One aspect of church family and church life is the singing of hymns we love. Very often we evaluate a

Read More »

Believe

Last Lord’s Day we explored at our service what we see. Do we see things, people, the church as God sees them? We might see only scattered very dry bones without hope, and yet God sees there a Vast Army!

If you missed the service, I would love you to read prayerfully Ezekiel 37:1-10, and engage in the exercise here, please, befeor4 you would read on this post! Thank you. When you are done with the reading –perhaps you want to read it a few times, I often need to do that and find it helpful, myself– spend time to answer the following questions for your own personal benefit:

  • What do you see when you have an honest look at your church and community?
  • Do you need to be revived personally in order to have faith for the future?
  • Do you believe in God’s sovereignty and the power of His Word and Holy Spirit to revive a person, a church, a nation?
  • What ‘dry bones’ situations are in your life (church, community) where God’s life-giving Word needs to be prophesied into? Are you willing to do that?
  • Are you open to God’s calling and commissioning you to play your part in His Vast Army?

Thank you for engaging in the above exercise. Here is the reason I asked you to do this:

  • Did you find it easy to see things differently – to see things from God’s perspective?

Perhaps you did not. There is nothing wrong there. I doubt Ezekiel found it easy and natural to see a vast army instead of a valley of scattered dry bones!

This is the million-dollar question:What kind of ‘spectacles’ do I need to see things as God sees them?

Or to put it differently, what kind of vision do I need to have to see the world, people, the church as God sees them? The prescription for those special spectacles are to be found in the Bible.

In the story of ‘The Rising of Lazarus’ (John 11:1-44) Jesus makes a profound and encouraging statement: “‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’”

In this passage we find eight (!) examples for what it means to believe! The Bible does not give us an encyclopaedic definition of what BELIEVING means. Rather it reveals the dynamics of a believing life!

“To believe means that we do not expect anything from God that He did not promise us. But we are looking forward with great belief to everything He has promised us!” – Kálmán Cseri –

I love the description of Kálmán Cseri (a Hungarian pastor, who is in glory already): “To believe means that we do not expect anything from God that He did not promise us. But we are looking forward with great belief to everything He has promised us!” The Lord did not promise that we will not meet suffering in life, so I am not disappointed when it comes my way. But God has promised that the believer will remain in God’s presence even in the most adverse circumstances. He will not leave him/her or forsake him/her! (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5)

To believe means that whatever happens to me I turn to Jesus first.  When Lazarus got ill, his sisters sent for Jesus straight away: “Lord, the one you love is sick.” (John 11:3). Mary and Martha did not appeal to their or to Lazarus’ merits, but to Jesus’ love and completely entrusted into His grace and love the timing and the method of help!

To believe means I take seriously and accept what Jesus said – even if I find it hard to comprehend it with my mind, or it is not supported by my personal experiences so far.

Believing is an attitude, it is the basis of the life I live, the foundation of the things I do, the structure of the things I say. The one who believes sees things differently to those who don’t believe. Many of the people who were with Mary and Martha criticised Jesus, saying: “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” (John 11:37). But Martha and Mary do what Jesus told them to do, even moving the stone from the tomb. The request does not seem to make much sense, as Lazarus has been dead for days, the decomposition of the body has begun and the smell must have been pretty bad (John 11:39-41), but they did it, nevertheless. They perceived it only afterwards why Jesus asked them to move the stone!

Believing means I stick with Jesus (I follow Him, obey Him, confess Him) even if I get into trouble because of this. The raised Lazarus became a living and walking testimony of Jesus’ divine power and identity. Therefore, the chief priests wanted to kill not only Jesus but Lazarus too (John 12:9-11). Living faith, true belief is, I share with Jesus in everything – in suffering here in this life, and in glory in His Kingdom.

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!” (Luke 1:45)

To see things as God sees them you just need to believe in Him and the One He sent for your salvation: Jesus Christ, the living Lord!

[from GV]

We Are Hiring – Family Outreach Worker

We Are Hiring – Family Outreach Worker

We are looking to recruit a new staff member into our ministry team with the skills, experience and confidence to coordinate and lead Christian outreach work with families in our community.

Interested? Read on…

Read More »

Written Word: 4. Numbers

The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. (Numbers 5:23)

Explaining this writing requires facts and context. A woman, suspected by her husband of adultery, would be taken to a priest who would recite explicit curses. If she had committed adultery, she would be cursed. He would write them down, wash the ink into bitter water and the woman would drink it. If she were guilty, she would become sick and would ‘become a curse.’ If nothing happened, she would be cleared of guilt. Pretty stark and pretty one-sided.

The context is complex. This was in a time when the Israelites needed order and discipline to survive in the wilderness. It referenced the close relationship of a husband and wife – to be open and transparent, not tainted by infidelity or suspicion and lies. It was in a time when a man could divorce his wife, but she could not divorce him. It was harsh on the wife, yet in that context, it limited the husband.

It was a deterrent: I have not found a single narrative of a wife actually being condemned in this manner. If she were to be a curse, she would be labelled as that; like the curse of calling someone a ‘Jezebel’ or ‘Lady Muck’ or being labelled a ‘Quisling’ as a collaborator. The punishment was the curse, not death. The husband would pause: she was his wife! Did he really want to cause her pain on the basis of a mere suspicion? If he continued, then guilty or innocent, he himself would suffer the shame (in a society where honour was everything) of this all being in public.

Why was there not an opportunity for a wife to do the same? In those days, a woman could not divorce a husband. But there is more to it. Hebrews 13:4 holds a man accountable directly to God and a woman accountable to her husband and thence to God. But remember: they were created equal. It was awful that a woman would face the judgement of this ritual. But her husband would face the judgement of God. In design and practice this was a deterrent against a husband accusing out of mere suspicion. Caught in the act, two would be stoned, but if only the woman, she should not be stoned. Jesus knew that. In John 8 we read that the woman had been caught in the act of adultery (and ‘caught in the act’ means they must also have seen the man), yet only she was to be killed, not the man. Not only was it unfair, it was against Jewish law to condemn the one to a punishment that was reserved for two. Jesus showed the crowd of men for who they were, but then he turned to the woman and said, “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11)

Speak to the Israelites and get twelve staffs from them, one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes. Write the name of each man on his staff. On the staff of Levi write Aaron’s name, for there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral tribe. (Numbers 17:2-3)

This is much more straightforward! It confirms origins, recording the symbolism and relationship of leadership. It reminds us of who we are and the basis of our authority. We are God’s people through the authority of Jesus who loves us. In researching Numbers 5:23, I found a Scripture Union summary headed: ‘Relationships matter.’ Write that on your heart.

We Are Hiring – Family Outreach Worker

We Are Hiring – Family Outreach Worker

We are looking to recruit a new staff member into our ministry team with the skills, experience and confidence to coordinate and lead Christian outreach work with families in our community.

Interested? Read on…

Read More »

Holiday Club 2022 & The Flying Eggs

Surely the greatest challenge of our recent Holiday Club is choosing a single highlight to expand upon. We welcomed 27 bright and wonderful children, enjoyed loads of lovely chats with grateful parents, and witnessed about 20 from our congregation serving the Lord for a full exhausting week. We delighted in Tim showing off his thespian talents, ate plenty of delectable homemade cakes, and endured sore cheeks from all the laughs each day. Amid Holy Week we shared the Good News with children and with each other, finishing each day with full and joyful hearts.

There were unforgettable individual moments, too. One P4, when asked what he prays for, proclaimed that he prayed for

  1. the homeless,
  2. endangered animals,
  3. thanks for the NHS,
  4. that people would sleep well.

One wee man who usually struggles to fully engage with us at a weekly Stockbridge SU Club vividly came to life, his demeanour full of smiles and laughter.

We witnessed the fruits of children clearly paying close attention to the message. One child told us how she was thankful that God gives us the Holy Spirit. After hearing of the Good Samaritan, one child told us he was very keen to be a good neighbour so he would share all his craft supplies. More than one child, after hearing about “fishing for people” would proclaim they were doing just that by inviting their siblings and parents to our outreach night.

If I had to choose one thing to expand upon, I must share how moved I was by three of our SSCB teenagers. They served every day of the club with eager and joyful attitudes, without hesitation and without showing signs of slowing down. They never complained about the myriad of tasks we gave them and never lost their patience with the children. They were truly inspirational.

There was one afternoon that stood out head and shoulders above a remarkable week of service. In a debriefing meeting, they spontaneously offered to assist a summer holiday club (4-6 July) run by one of our neighbouring churches – Bristo Baptist.

Their willingness to take the message that they have received from others and share it with younger ones reminded me of when Paul encouraged Timothy: “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” They were a key part of the work of training up the next generation of good-news sharers.

After most of the adults had left for the afternoon, those teenagers were still there finishing up one last task – hiding over 300 solid chocolate Easter eggs in the Church Sanctuary for the evening hunt. The Session Clerk and I popped in to witness them having more fun than is often had in a Sanctuary – they were certainly hiding some in a meticulous fashion, but some others were being hidden with a more… *aerial* method of placement.

It was an amusing moment. We all stopped and grinned to each other. But more importantly, they noticed that their methods weren’t criticised but rather their joyous service happily commended. I can’t think of a better way to encapsulate a Holiday Club – serving the Lord together, praising his name to all, and having a whole lot of fun in the process.

[from Kenny McCartney, Youth Pastor]

Event Posts

Holiday Club 2022 – Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession

Our time of prayers of thanksgiving and intercession is a time to consider just some of the many blessings we enjoy and to give thanks to God because He gives us good things. We can look around us and at ourselves and see that we need God. So often this is all from our own perspective – what WE are thankful for that affects US; where WE see an immediate need for godly intervention and help. These prayers represent gratitude in the hearts of 5 – 12 year olds; need as seen from the eyes of the young. They were written by the young people at Holiday Club. Hear them, align your spirit with them, and approach God through them. With that, let’s pray:

Father God,

  • There are many things we want to say thank you for. We have been shown that everything good starts with you and so if it‘s good, it comes from you – you made it, you allow it, you help it. So even for that, we say thank you.
  • We say thank you for food. We had cakes and biscuits and snacks at Holiday Club. Some people don’t have anything. Thank you, God, for food.
  • Thank you for grandparents and everyone in our families. We all get looked after, no matter how old we are, and it’s a lot of fun playing with different people. Our Leaders told us that Church is a family. So thank you, God, for family.
  • Thank you, God, for Jesus. Thank you, Jesus, that you died for us and that you did not stay dead. Thank you that you are alive and because you are alive, we can be alive. Thank you for us being alive – REALLY alive with you.
  • Thank you, God, for the Holy Spirit. Thank you that you want to be with us so much that you give your Holy Spirit to be in our hearts all the time, so we are never alone.
  • Thank you, God, for Holiday Club, for the fun and the games, the singing and the silly stuff, and our leaders and all our friends.
  • Thank you, God, for things around us which help keep us well and keep us safe – for the house we live in and for the NHS.
  • Thank you, God, for making us unique. Each one of us is different. You love each one of us. Thank you, especially, God, for always loving us.

Dear God,

  • Please help us to get on with our brothers and sisters and to be a helping family together, even when we want to go and play with our toys.
  • Please help us to stop fighting with each other – stop the bombing in Ukraine.
  • Please help us to get to the end of Covid, and to end all sickness and disease.
  • Help us all – everyone in the whole world – to have enough food and water, and please help the homeless people.
  • Dear God, please help our friends with what they need to be happy and to stay friends with us.
  • Please help us all to have a good Easter and to know what it means that you are here with us.
  • Please help us all to live a good life.
  • We pray for our own family, for families in Ukraine and for all our friends.
  • Please, God, help endangered animals all over the world.
  • We pray that everyone will know God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
  • And please, God, help everyone to have a good sleep.

Amen

[collected by Timothy Pitt]

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Written Word: 3. Exodus

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” (Exodus 17:14)

God tells Moses to write it down and to read out what he has written. This is a foretelling by God of what He is going to do, so He wants it to be clear. “Write this in a book.” It is going to be set down for all to see; no doubt as to what is there. “Recite it.” Make sure the word gets out; don’t just leave it forgotten in the book. Broadcast it. Everyone will know what is going to happen. And then I will make it happen. This asks for our faith. We cannot deny that the writing is there and we cannot deny what is written.

When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God. (Exodus 31:18)

Moses comes down from the mountain with two tablets of carved stone which the LORD has given to him – the covenant law. Meantime, the people have grumbled and Aaron has gathered their offerings to make a golden calf that they worshipped. Enraged at their rebellion against God, Moses smashes the tablets, but then intercedes for the people and seeks to atone for their sin.

The Ten Commandments were clearly God’s will for us; His instructions to us. The first tablets were a passive revelation: God gave Moses completed tablets, with the Commandments inscribed on them. He Himself had written them: ‘inscribed by the finger of God.’ The second set carried the same message, but it can argued from Exodus 34 that this was participatory revelation: God chose to work with Moses to produce them. This time, He told Moses to “chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones” and said, “I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.” We are told Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.” The ‘he’ in this instance, can be strongly argued to be Moses. This has exercised scholars for hundreds of years. But if they are focussing on that question, are they missing the point? Two points, actually:

  • (1) Perhaps God was showing how He would work with all prophets in creating His divine revelation for us. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We tend to say that William the Conqueror built Winchester Cathedral. We might even say that in fact his appointee, Bishop Walkelin, built it. Or we could drill down a bit and point out that surely the stonemasons and ordinary labourers actually built it. All are correct. And more so the Bible: God-breathed; God-inspired; God-written.
  • (2) The message of the Commandments was so important for us that God ensured they were recreated and set as a permanent reminder; evidence to be seen and read of God’s standard for us all. A reminder, if we choose to consider ourselves, that we cannot meet that standard, no matter what we do. We cannot earn our way into God’s righteousness. It would take a miracle for us to be worthy of God. The miracle of Jesus. Write THAT on your heart.

[from Timothy Pitt]

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