A Sunday Observation

As I edit the weekly podcasts I’ve started noticing that there is always a cough at the end of the sermon.

As Andrew, Ian or anyone else says ‘amen’, or a similar word, it’s always followed by a cough.

I don’t have anything profound to say about this, it’s just an observation Smile.

The Well Being Reservoir

The same illustration has been used in a couple of Sunday Talks recently:

Both Andrew and Ian encouraged us to take some time to consider what the things were that drained us, and what the things were that filled us up using the following picture as a guide.

The Well Being Reservoir ready for you to complete (If you click on the picture you will get a larger version if you would prefer to print it out):

The Well Being Reservoir with some ideas of fillers and drainers:

The ideas on this picture are only ideas, the things that we place at the top or the bottom will be different for each of us.

Weekend Reflections: Before 10:00am

We get a perspective from where we sit that others might not. I was thinking about this as I sat at the visuals desk at the back of Cedar (the big room) around 9:30am this Sunday morning.

Abbeystead BluebellsI’m sure that there are many who would be surprised by the different people who are already milling about at that time.

The band are already there and practice is already well underway. This isn’t the only time that the band have practiced the songs, they’ve already spent time in the week.

The person who is leading the service is already there too. They are checking that everything is OK with everyone. They’ve already been thinking about this service for some time. They’ve made sure the band know the plan for the songs. They’ve checked with a few people about the notices that need highlighting. They’ve considered prayers, introductions, welcome, closing and all sorts of other things that make a service a place where people can come close to God.

The person on the sound desk is already there making adjustments so that the sound is at the right level for the singers, the vocalists, the speakers and those listening.

I’m there on the visuals desk lining up the songs, checking and rechecking that we’ve got the right ones and the right order. There’s a video and that’s been checked too (people have spent hours in the week getting it ready). The presentation for the sermon is also checked. The projector and televisions are all turned on and we are ready to go.

The signers are setting up. They’ve already looked through the material that they’ve been provided with from the leader and the preacher earlier in the week.

There are stewards around too. They’re putting the cones out at the front of church and making sure that everything is in order. They’re getting ready to greet people and hand out the notices (which someone has edited, reviewed, printed and folded). They’ve set up the stage with the screen for the signers and made sure that the front is clean and tidy.

The junior church team are already there setting up ready for the children to come through at the appropriate time. They’ve also been preparing in the week so that they can communicate in a way that is relevant to the children.

The team that are doing refreshments are also there making coffee ready to go into flasks for the early rush after the service. They’re setting up plates of biscuits, jugs of milk, tubs of sugar and mountains of cups.

On a normal Sunday the band for ignite would also be practicing in Cypress along with their visuals, sounds people and catering team. This week the young people are sitting in with the adults.

The preacher is also there making sure that the presentation is OK and getting a microphone fitted. They’ve prayed for and prepared the message that they believe God wants them to bring. On most weeks they’d be bringing a message in a series that itself has been prayed for and prepared.

Church is a community activity – a community of servants. We are very blessed to have so many willing servants.

Thank you servants. Thank you Lord.

Weekend Reflections: Life’s Healing Choices

This weekend we started a new series on Sunday mornings:

Life's Healing Choices

We make choices all the time; whether that’s the seemingly simple choice of what clothes to wear, or more significant choices that affect our futures.

This series looks at a set of choices that we can make that will lead us to healing and wholeness:

  • Choice 1: Admitting Need – The Reality Choice
  • Choice 2: Getting Help – The Hope Choice
  • Choice 3: Letting Go – The Commitment Choice
  • Choice 4: Coming Clean – The Housecleaning Choice
  • Choice 5: Making Changes – The Transformation Choice
  • Choice 6: Repairing Relationships – The Relationship Choice
  • Choice 7: Maintaining Momentum – The Growth Choice
  • Choice 8: Recycling Pain – The Sharing Choice

Andrew Gardner kicked off the series looking at what it takes for us to admit our need. We can spend much of our life denying our needs, it’s only when we hit a crisis point or we are confronted by our needs that we are forced to recognise that they exist. We like to tell ourselves that we are doing alright, but God, our loving Father, wants more than that for us, He wants to take us beyond “alright” into His abundance. He has more than enough for us. Those of us who have been Christians for a while can be the worst at this because we feel the need for everything to appear to be fine.

One of the things that you won’t pick up from the podcast is the visual nature of Andrew’s opening illustration. If you listen in you’ll find him talking about moving things from a briefcase to a rucksack to help his back. While he is talking about moving physical things, the things that he showed as he moved were some of the needs that he recognises in his own life. It’s a great illustration of what God wants to do for us, He doesn’t want to strip us of our identity, but He does want to change those things that have defined us. We’ll talk some more about that in the coming weeks.

This series is based on a book of the same name – Life’s Healing Choices – by John Baker. A number of people are also working through the book as we work through the sermon series. While each one of these messages has value in it’s own right the set of choices also work together to lead us along a journey of discovery, so please take the time and effort to listen to all eight. The podcasts for these series are here.

We’d also love to hear from you and how God is impacting you – you can leave a comment against this blog, but if you’d like a more personal conversation then please contact us at the church office.

To leave a comment on this blog click on “Leave a comment” at the bottom of this section.

Weekend Reflections: Did you hear that?

Are you listening? Did you perceive what was spoken? God is speaking, can you hear is?
Orrest Head
You only have to look at the titles of the talks over the last few weeks to see a thread, a link, a coupling:

I’m sure there are all sorts of threads and couplings, but the one that keeps coming back to me is a picture that I have of God whispering into our ear:

“Come with me. Let’s go on an adventure. I want to take you to places you haven’t seen before, deep places, exciting places.”

What’s your reaction to those words?

My sister and her family were visiting at the weekend, she has two young boys who are full of life. Given the glorious weather we decided to take a walk in the Lake District from Windermere up to the top of Orrest Head. Nothing too strenuous for the little ones, but a place for tremendous views.

As we started out the smallest of the two wanted carrying, so I said to him “shall we go on an adventure?” His eyes lit up and we were off, up and over rocks, through short-cuts, turning old sticks into walking sticks, exploring. Bit by bit the walk became an adventure for everyone else too.

At one point we turned a corner and there in a clearing in the full sunlight stood a young deer, looking up at us – I’m sure it was smiling at us. There were lots of people out on the walk that day, but I’m sure that none of them saw the deer, but we did because we were on an adventure.
Orrest Head
How are you going to react to Jesus whisper? Are you going to be an adult who looks at all of the options and weighs them up so that they choose the least risk option? Or are you going to be a child who chooses an adventure?

Are you willing to let him take you on an adventure to new places, deep places, exciting places?

At that, Jesus rejoiced, exuberant in the Holy Spirit. “I thank you, Father, Master of heaven and earth, that you hid these things from the know-it-alls and showed them to these innocent newcomers. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.

Luke 10:21

Weekend Reflections: Relationships, Relationships, Relationships

Anyone else notice that there has been a bit of a theme to the Sunday Talks over the last few weeks?

An Evening at the Side (and in)  of ButtermereSometimes we go through seasons when the underlying theme for Sunday talks is planned, at others we leave it open to the Holy Spirit to move the people bringing the talk. This time it’s a bit of both. Ian Higginbotham has planned for a while to do a set of three talks on relationships: making, maintaining and ending. We’ve had two so far:

These are both excellent practical talks about how we interact with people on a day-by-day basis. But beyond Ian’s planned talks we’ve also been asked to think again about our attitude towards relationships in the evening in messages from Mark Sleet and Paul Jackson:

Sometimes I, for one, can get wrapped up in the programme of things, the activity, the doing. These talks remind us of the things that are important to God, and God is a God of relationship.

God is love.

1 John 4:16

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

Ephesians 2:4

In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:45

Working on the technical side of things means that I see all sorts of things when we meet on a Sunday morning – I notice problems, things that shouldn’t be the way they are, gremlins. If we were there for a performance this would be a problem, but we aren’t there for a performance we are there as a family to meet our father. I try to imagine our meeting a bit like an old time gathering around the fire, there’s no TV so everyone brings a song, or a poem, or a story. While the event is entertaining, it’s real purpose is to bind everyone together and cement everyone into the family. It’s about the relationships.

We should take note of the themes in the Bible that reoccur, and you can’t read far in the Bible without coming across a section on relationships – people to people, people to God, God to people.

When God repeats a theme to a body of people we should, likewise, sit up and listen.

What is God saying to you about the relationships that you keep?

  • Are you a relationship builder?
  • Are you a relationship bleeder?
  • Are you a relationship maintainer?
  • Are you a relationship destroyer?
  • Are you enthusiastic in your relationships?
  • Are you passive in your relationships?

Taking the challenge from Paul Jackson – what would it mean for you to lead a one-plus-one life?