Our thoughts and observations on life

Within our blog posts you will find wit and wisdom from our church ministers, department leaders and members of our churches. The views expressed by individuals within this blog are their own!

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

 19 November 2017

God has a plan for you

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Have you ever asked God to reveal the plan He has for your life? God knows the plan He has for you, His planning has already taken place, His plan for you is complete and perfect.

God is accomplishing His plans in your life today - even if those plans are not what you were expecting. If you could look at the big picture, you would see that God is working behind the scenes in your heart and in your life.

God’s plan isn’t always what you thought it was going to be. But God’s plan is always best. Even if we don’t understand it at the time. Even if we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even if we would never have chosen this path for ourselves. In all things, God works together for the good of those who love Him.

When God shuts a door, He opens another door. God is working through every event in your life to make you more and more dependent on Jesus for everything you need. God’s plan is not always the easiest plan, but it is the BEST plan.

If you knew everything that was going to happen to you ahead of time, perhaps you would do everything in your power to change things to make them go the way you would want them to go - that’s probably why God doesn’t tell you everything at once. Even though we don’t know all the plans for our lives, God knows the plan He has for you.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.“

Trust God and His perfect plan for you.

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

 12 November 2017

Remember God is with you

Remembrance Sunday is set aside to remember those who have given their lives for the freedom of others. We remember the reality of what actually happened.

We remember the dedication of those who fought and died. Remembering should stir within us a sense of gratitude and appreciation. Remembering the commitment and sacrifice of others should also strengthen our own resolve to do our part in serving God and others. Throughout the Bible, God’s people are instructed to stop and remember what He has done for us. How often do you take the time to remember what God has done in your life? How often do you just pause and thank Him for His presence and provision in your life? Do you find your self breaking into songs of worship and praise as you rejoice in His goodness to you? How often do you take the opportunity to tell others what God has done in your own life?

All of us have many things to be thankful for. All of us have experienced the love, mercy and grace of God at work in our own lives. All of us should be willing to tell others about His greatness. Maybe if we took more time to remember how God has had His hand upon our lives, then telling others about His love and goodness would come a little more naturally to us. Perhaps the key for us is not just being able to rejoice in what God has done in the past, we can also remember that in Jesus our future is also secure. Jesus is the promised Messiah. Jesus willingly left the glory of Heaven to come on a rescue mission to save us. Jesus came because of His love for us. Jesus came to restore our relationship with God the Father.

Jesus was incarnated into this world to do more than teach us and tell us how we should live - He came to die on the cross so that by the shedding of His own blood we could be forgiven. The perfect one died for the imperfect, for us. The shedding of His blood washed away our sins. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was sufficient to pay the price for the sins of everyone who repents and trusts in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. This morning remember: His sacrificial love for you has saved you; you are set free from the burden of your sin; you are now a forgiven child of God; and by trusting in Him, and Him alone, you are assured of a place in Heaven.

Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic. For the Lord your God will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Remember God is with you.

Rev. Dean Courtier

Anne O'Brien

Anne O'Brien

 5 November 2017

Discouragement and growth

When we go on holiday we take with us a jigsaw - something to do if the weather turns wet and cold. (Obviously, I’m talking about England!) Now, you don’t really do a jigsaw to see the picture, because usually that’s already on the box. It’s all about the challenge and the satisfaction of completing it. More often than not the easiest part of doing a jigsaw is getting the outer edges done, and then picking out one or two specifically outlined objects. After that, you’re left with the hard grind of filling in large areas of sky and foreground. But having got thus far you decide to persevere. (I can only once remember giving up!) Occasionally it can get very frustrating. You try every piece and none of them seem to fit! It seems like one or more pieces must be missing. It seems impossible. Drastic measures are necessary, and so you begin to disassemble the part you’re working on. And then slowly but surely it all comes together properly. The jigsaw – eventually - is complete.

Life can be rather like a jigsaw. There are those times of challenge and difficulty; times when things “all work together” well; times when it seems like something is missing or as if we are in the wrong place; times when we are taking two steps back instead of moving forwards; and times when we have the joy and satisfaction of seeing things working out.

When we trust in God, the One who creates the jigsaw of our life and the One who puts the pieces in place, we can know that he will never give up on us until we are complete. Just as I have a plan of how I will do my jigsaw, so too, God has a plan for our lives. And when we get discouraged, it may just be that God is taking apart something in our life because he wants to make that part of his jigsaw more perfect, more complete. So, even in difficult times, we can have the hope that comes from knowing that God will use those circumstances to grow us and bring us closer to himself.

Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Anne O'Brien

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

 29 October 2017

The significance of the Reformation

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
(Ephesians 2:8-9).

In 1517, the German monk Martin Luther, nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church, this act is recognised as the official starting point of the Protestant Reformation.

The impact of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation has been enormous on global Christianity. In contrast to the extra-biblical traditions and works-based practices of Roman Catholicism, Luther called the Church back to the good news of salvation by grace alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Luther believed the Word of God was the supreme authority for the Christian faith, not tradition or papal decrees. In the process of bringing the Word of God to the common person, Luther translated the Bible into German, published numerous books and sermons of biblical teachings, and composed numerous hymns based on biblical themes. Many of his hymns are still sung today.

Luther was brought to trial before the church, and the court attempted to force him to recant. Luther’s response is often quoted: “I cannot choose but adhere to the Word of God, which has possession of my conscience; nor can I possibly, nor will I even make any recantation, since it is neither safe nor honest to act contrary to conscience! Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God! Amen.”

From Germany, the Protestant Reformation expanded through Europe, influencing the work of John Calvin in Geneva, Ulrich Zwingli in Zurich, and John Knox in Scotland.

The Reformation Luther led also sparked the Anabaptist (free church) movement and the English Reformation. These movements, in turn, influenced the spread of Christianity to the Americas and throughout the world where European exploration took place. South Africa, India, Australia, and New Zealand all felt the impact of Luther’s hammer in Wittenberg.

500 years later, Luther’s legacy lives on in the creeds and confessions of Christian denominations around the world. May each of us, who choose to follow Christ by faith according to His Word, be knowledgeable proclaimers and defenders of biblical truth.

Luther was was willing to stand against the ideas of his day and to present God’s Word as the only guide for salvation and Christian living - may God help us to do the same, and as we share the truth of the Gospel of Jesus to the world may the Holy Spirit spark a new reformation of church and culture.

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

 22 October 2017

Wisdom

Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding.For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. She offers you long life in her right hand, and riches and honour in her left. She will guide you down delightful paths; all her ways are satisfying. Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly. (Proverbs 3:13-18)

Wisdom sounds like a wonderful thing to have. Broadly speaking, there are two types of wisdom that we all experience in our daily lives, worldly wisdom and Godly wisdom. Worldly is following the popular opinion of the world. Godly is following the precepts and commands of God. Are some of your choices, opinions, actions, based on what the world thinks is wise rather than on what God says is wise?

As disciples of Jesus we need to understand that we cannot be both worldly and godly; they do not mix. James 4:4 warns us, “Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4). Ouch! If we embrace the modern liberal thinking of the world, if we accept things that are against the will of God then we are turning our back on the truth of the wisdom of God.

1 John 2:15-17 also warns us, “do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)

The Bible, The Word of God is the Holy Spirit inspired Wisdom of God, the best wisdom to help each of us in our daily lives. May the Lord help each of us to truly demonstrate Godly wisdom in our daily lives as we seek to follow God’s will and purpose for us, and may we live according to the commands and precepts of God as we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us.

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

 15 October 2017

The secret to contentment

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11–13)

The secret to contentment is very simple. And it does not require heroic acts of piety. No, in fact it requires a childlike response from us. The secret is beautifully summed up in this phrase: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5). Is it really that simple? Just trust God? Yes. God designed us to trust Him in whatever knowledge, wisdom, and strength He provides us and to trust His knowledge, wisdom, and strength when ours reach their limits.

God knows that our living in simple trust in Him will be hard for us, Jesus promised that it would be (Matthew 7:14). It’s hard because we’re called to trust Jesus in a world under the power of the evil one that rejects and hates Jesus (1 John 5:19; John 14:15; 15:18), while living in a body that has faithless impulses (Romans 7:23–24).

We do not need to understand the “why” to every command of God but we do need to trust God and therefore obey Him. Trusting God is the secret:
To forgiving those who have sinned against us (Ephesians 4:32).
To turning away from sexual temptation (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
To giving generously, even beyond your means (2 Corinthians 8:3).
To not allowing material abundance to choke the word in us (Matthew 13:22).
To rejoicing even when sorrowful (2 Corinthians 6:10).
To contentment even when experiencing deprivation (Philippians 4:12).
To boldness even in the face of fearful threats (Acts 4:29).
To peace even when facing pressured trials (Philippians 4:6–7).
To joy even when enduring affliction and illness (2 Corinthians 1:3–5).
To hope when all around our soul gives way (Psalm 42:11).
To blessing those who persecute us (Romans 12:14).
To overcoming discouragement due to adversity and weakness (2 Corinthians 12:10).
To not allowing indwelling sin to reign over or condemn us (Romans 6:12, 8:1).

God promises to give us peace and contentment if we trust Him (Philippians 4:6–7). He really wants us to experience them in increasing measure, even here in this troubled world (John 16:33). So He has given us the simple, hard secret: Trust God. It is the only way.

Rev. Dean Courtier

Anne O'Brien

Anne O'Brien

 8 October 2017

The Kingdom of Heaven?

On eleven occasions Jesus told parables describing the Kingdom of Heaven. The first is found in Matthew 13v24: The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping his enemy came and sowed weeds amongst the wheat, and went away.

God in three persons (the Holy Trinity) is the Sower, the Seed and the Harvester in this parable, and the field is the whole world. We read that the sower scattered good seed. Jesus is the source and the essence of goodness – therefore the seed he sows can only be good; and when it germinates in our hearts it can only bring forth a good harvest, both in quantity and quality. The seed is God’s Word, the truth of the good news of God’s love and grace and mercy. When we receive the good seed, we grow to maturity in God’s “field”, until we are ripe for harvest, at which point we are gathered into his eternal presence as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

BUT

In the parable, while everyone was sleeping, the enemy (Satan) came and sowed seeds to hamper the crop and thwart its growth. Jesus wants us to be aware that the enemy is there, sometimes when we least expect it, trying to hinder us in our spiritual growth, trying to make us stumble. We can’t put all the blame on the Devil, but neither can we put all the blame on ourselves. Jesus said opposition would happen. All the time, in the spiritual realm, there continues this battle for men and women’s souls. We’re surrounded by weeds – bad influences, and have to trust the Gardener to cultivate our growth.

So, why do we get only this warning? Why doesn’t God just zap the weeds with weed-killer and pull them up? Jesus gives us a further insight when he replies to this question in verse 29: Leave the weeds be, because you might disturb the wheat and destroy that as well. At the Harvest, they will be sorted out. Jesus is telling the servants (us) not to interfere! We are not to judge or intervene when the wheat and the weeds get mixed up, but we do have the recourse of prayer. Our heavenly Father is the Gardener and He is good, not willing that any should perish.

Praise God for His patience, love and grace in keeping us until that day when we fully receive our eternal inheritance in the Kingdom of Heaven!

Anne O'Brien

Liz Chiesa

Liz Chiesa

 1 October 2017

Practising the presence of God

Brother Lawrence was a 17th century French monk, practising the presence of God amongst the pots and pans of his monastery kitchen. A simple man, a humble man, he spent his days in menial tasks, but offering them up to God in service. He had the gift of bringing God into every aspect of his life.

He rejoiced in the ordinary, everyday humdrum tasks. He prayed constantly and had a reputation for kindness and a willingness to help others

What can we 21st century Christians learn from Brother Lawrence’s example?

Practising the presence of God is not some mystical experience, it is not working up an emotional state, it is not living in isolation and spending long hours on our knees.

Practising the presence of God is simply turning all of life’s experiences into prayer, every small triumph, every heartache, every irritation or annoyance.

We can turn the humdrum into a holy moment, every day can be routine and ordinary, invite God into your ordinary.

Everyday activities, from driving the car, to washing the kitchen floor can be suffused with prayer, surrendering ourselves to a real connection with the presence of God.

Begin each day with intentionality, our morning routine sets the tone for the day, rather than being stressed and rushed, begin your day with God,.

As Brother Lawrence advises, be diligent in cultivating a daily walk with God, find small things to be grateful for, turn suffering into surrender, suffering will always be part of life, draw close to God.

“Seek me and you will find me, when you seek me with all of your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13)

Liz Chiesa

Anne O'Brien

Anne O'Brien

 24 September 2017

Happiness, or real joy?

When was the last time you used the word “JOY” in conversation? It’s more common now to talk about happiness, self-fulfilment, elation or pleasure. But none of those words convey the same meaning as the word “JOY”.Joy is all those things, but with the added ingredients of contentment and satisfaction.

I doubt Jesus was happy knowing that he was headed for the Cross at Calvary. But, the Bible says these words in Hebrews 12:2, For the joy that was set before him, Jesus endured the Cross.

Why did it make him joyful? Because he was submitting to His Father’s will. And because, by doing it, He was preparing the way for all mankind to be reconciled to God. This is what gave him joy. The joy of salvation is also shared by the angels (Luke 15:10), There is joy amongst the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

The Apostle Peter in his first epistle (1:8-9) explains why we also can share this joy: Even though you do not see Jesus now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Sadly, those who have no faith have no hope of a future after death. They do not have the source of true and everlasting joy. There may be many circumstances and difficulties and even afflictions that cause us to be unhappy or exhausted. But God’s Word says to us (in Nehemiah 8:10), Do not grieve, the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Jesus knew joy through his most difficult ordeal, and he gives us his joy when we are in his will and at one with his purposes. And he says to us in Luke 10:20, Rejoice because your names are written in Heaven.

Anne O'Brien

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

 17 September 2017

No rain, NO RAINBOW!

Noah lived in troublesome times. People had become corrupt and every inclination of the human heart was selfish and evil. God decided to start over. The storm and the flood came and only eight people survived.In many ways Noah was just like you and me, he was an ordinary man with an extraordinary God. He was a man who learned that God could be trusted. Noah was a man of faith, he believed God existed, he believed God and trusted His words. Noah did what God commanded even though some things were unknown by personal experience. God told Noah to build an ark. It took years to build, and throughout the construction I am sure that many, many people kept asking him the question “Why?” And, Noah told the people about the coming judgment, he spoke about the coming flood. In the 600th year of Noah’s life, (his children were born when he was 500) it began to rain. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights. The floodgates of the deep opened up and the waters lifted the ark and it floated on the surface of the water.

You may feel like rain is falling all around you, without rain we would never see the rainbow. God gave Noah various promises. One of those promises involved the rainbow. One of the most beautiful things in all of creation is the rainbow. The arch of brilliant colours that appears in the sky when the sun shines after a shower of rain. There are seven colors of the rainbow: violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. They blend into each other so much that most people only see four or five colours.

Around the world, rainbows are known by many different names. Italians call it the “flashing arch”. The people of Vietnam call a rainbow “the little window in the sky”. North African tribes greet the rainbow as the “bride of the rain”. And in the various languages of central Europe, the rainbow is called “the arch of Saint Martin,” “the bridge of the Holy Spirit,” “the crown of Saint Bernard” and “the girdle of God.”

Whatever you call it, it is beautiful and wonderful. God said He would put a rainbow in the sky as an everlasting sign of His promise. The promise that God would no longer destroy the whole earth with a flood. Every time we see a rainbow fill the sky after the rain, we can be reminded of one of God’s awesome promises that have remained true throughout the ages of time.

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

 10 September 2017

Endurance and patience to persevere

The Christian life is not the easy option. If we are honest, we know that there are times when we struggle to live in the way that God has commanded us to live. Maybe in your life there have been times when you have encountered problems, when you have struggled or when you have felt like giving up.

Yet you persevered, in God’s strength you carried on, you let God’s love and mercy and grace carry you on. When there was no hope, God was your hope. When there seemed to be no way, God made a way. When your strength was gone, God was your strength. When you needed guidance and encouragement to persevere God was faithful. God guided you through those difficult times and you persevered, you endured, you overcame, you survived because God was with you.

We struggle because we try to do it in our own strength instead of in the power of God. Colossians 1:11, We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. Strengthened and empowered by God to endure, to persevere, to grow, to mature. Empowered by God to be strong. Empowered by God to have patience. Have you ever prayed “Lord, give me patience, give it to me now!” Spiritual maturity and patience are more connected than we realise.

Part of being spiritual mature is the ability to pray and then wait upon the Lord. To persevere, to endure, we turn to God for strength. In all of the challenges of life, in the bad days and in the good days, we are to live lives worthy of our Lord.

The path of sin is wide and easy, but as disciples of Jesus we are called to persevere in pursuing the narrow way, the path of obedience to our Lord and our God. Trusting His timing, trusting His will, trusting His plan, trusting His purpose, trusting Him!

Rev. Dean Courtier

Anne O'Brien

Anne O'Brien

 1 September 2017

What can we do about sin?

The Bible says that sin is like a sting. So, imagine being stung by one of the deadlier scorpions and dying in the desert with no hope. Or, think of other things that can sting you like tsetse flies, mosquitos and bees. Stings are never nice, they always harm you. Sin is the same. In the natural sense if we get stung, we would know the seriousness of it and hurry to do something about it, to cancel out the consequences. There are well-known antidotes to apply to stings. For example, bee venom contains acid and so we are told to apply bicarbonate of soda. And wasp stings contain an alkali, so the remedy is to apply something acidic like vinegar (that’s the theory, but I don’t know if it works!).

What we need then is an antidote for sin. Because without an antidote we will die.

I came across this quaint old poem in an old book that we found when tidying out our loft. It has the answer to our problem.

A bee flew in our kitchen door, a horrid angry bee,
But mother caught me in her arms, and tried to shelter me.
She pressed her hands against my head,
And oh, the bee stung them instead.
Although I am so very small I know the greatest truth of all:
That Jesus died on Calvary’s tree,
And bore death’s sting – to shelter me!

Jesus is the only antidote to sin. When we ask Jesus into our life, trusting in Him for our salvation, the very first thing He does (providing we repent) is to cancel out all of our sin. He literally neutralises it so that it no longer exists. And better still, He forgets all about it. How amazing is that? It’s amazing for two reasons. Firstly, it gives us the assurance that we can be free from sin and the effects of sin if we continue to trust in Him. And secondly, it means that He sees us as righteous and good enough to belong to His kingdom. “There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). The sting of sin is gone – forever, so that one day we will join Jesus in the place He has prepared for us in heaven.

“Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

Anne O'Brien

Rev. Graham Knight

Rev. Graham Knight

 25 August 2017

Just look up!

THE BUZZARD – If you put a buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet and is entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10 to 12 feet. Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.

THE BAT – The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkable nimble creature in the air,cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and,no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.

THE BUMBLEBEE – A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.

PEOPLE – In many ways, we are like the buzzard, the bat, and the bumblebee. We struggle about with all our problems and frustrations, never realizing that all we have to do is look up! That’s the answer, the escape route and the solution to any problem... just look up!

Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, but faith looks up!
Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly.

Share this with a friend... I just did.

Rev. Graham Knight

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

 23 July 2017

A season of change

Have you ever said, “I’ll never do that again!” only to do it again a few days later? There are seasons in our lives when we can feel stuck in a cycle of bad decisions or foolish mistakes. How do we get from where we are to the season where God wants us to be?

Maybe we don’t actually want to change or maybe something seems too pleasurable to give up. We know it is wrong, yet in our heart, we resist change and whatever it is can become more important than our being in a right relationship with God. There are also times when we really do want to change, and we struggle to be different. There are 4 words that can help us in our struggles to position our hearts closer to God.

CONSIDER: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23–24). The first step to change requires us to look intently into the mirror of God’s Word; ”For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.” (James 1:23-24).

CONFESS: When we consider what the Bible says about us, we can be tempted to ignore it, or soften it, by making excuses or shifting the blame. Change happens when we confess we are the primary problem like King David our prayer should be, “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10).

COMMITMENT: There needs to be a plan to move from where we are to where God wants us to be.

CONTINUE: We can talk about change, we can create a plan of action, but if we never follow through, or we give up with discouragement, change will not take place.

Jesus provides us with the hope and help we need to change the season we are in! Our Lord has given us everything we need. Be encouraged, and ask the Lord to bless you and change you as you continue to change and discover your destiny.

Rev. Dean Courtier

Anne O'Brien

Anne O'Brien

 16 July 2017

You can break free

Have you ever tried eating white self-raising flour out of the bag? Strangely enough, neither have I!! How about margarine or raw egg? Even the thought of it is not appealing, you might even say it’s revolting. So, are these things bad, should we stop having them in our cupboards? I guess sugar is quite nice, but a diet of sugar is likely to make us very ill. The thing is, these things separately are not good. But, when they are beaten and whipped and stirred together; when they are pressed down into a tin and placed into a very hot oven the result is... something amazingly good... cake!

In a similar way, God takes all the unpleasant things that happen to us; all the painful things, all the distasteful things, all the bad things, and even all the really nice things; and He uses them to make something good, something beautiful of our lives. Sometimes we do indeed feel beaten and whipped and thrown into the fire. But, just as a cook knows what a cake will ultimately look and taste like, God knows what we will turn out like. He is the perfect “baker” and His desire is to help us to become more like Him.

The Bible puts it this way (The Living Bible): And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into His plans. (Rom 8v28)

So, whether you like ginger cake, chocolate cake or fruit cake, I’m sure you will agree that they are all 100% nicer than the raw ingredients. In the same way, all the things that happen in our lives, good and bad, work together to make us the person God wants us to be, for His glory.

Anne O'Brien

Liz Chiesa

Liz Chiesa

 9 July 2017

Be Still

Stop for a moment, take a deep breath, try to take back a small moment of peace in a busy day. Everyone wants more peace, more time. The three major thieves of our peace today are, calendars, telephones and clocks.

The tyranny of the accelerated life. Do you ever feel that no matter what you do, you just never seem to catch up? In the fast-paced life we live today it is so difficult to achieve a balance, we have so much to do, so much to accomplish, so much to acquire! The tyranny of the urgent. Dallas Willard suggests a solution, “We must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives”, and he goes on to say. “Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day”.

The bible tells us “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). BE and not DO. What does it mean to be still and know that I am God? Firstly, God is asking me to be and not do, we are a DO society, and God has called us to BE. Be still, what does that mean? It doesn’t mean running on autopilot, multitasking, juggling a myriad of tasks. Stillness, is not just something physical. It is spiritual and emotional. There are many levels of stillness we need to practice. Be still and know what? What does the word know mean? It means to believe to the utmost.

God says, know that I AM, whatever you need in your situation: I am Comfort; I am Peace; I am Provision. Ultimately, I am God, I have your circumstances in the palm of my hand.

Liz Chiesa

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

 2 July 2017

Trust God in every season

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

The natural seasons are winter, spring, summer and autumn; there are also spiritual seasons in our lives. What spiritual season are you experiencing now?

Ecclesiastes reminds us that every season of life is purposeful. We will face times of great difficulty and times of great joy. We will experience seasons of hard work and seasons of plenty. God wants to use each of these seasons to teach us something about who He is and how much He loves us.

We may never fully understand what God has planned for us, but our attitude toward life changes when we learn to see good times and bad times as opportunities to grow closer to our Heavenly Father.

As we learn to trust Him, we can enjoy the good times and the bad times knowing God is with us and He will make everything beautiful in its time. Are you trusting God to help you in the season you are in?

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

 25 June 2017

Salvation is

For everyone (Acts 10:34-35) – God will accept all who repent and turn to Him.)

From God (Acts 10:36) – God is the one who initiated this reconciliation between Himself and mankind. We could do nothing to change our fate.)

Through Jesus (Acts 10:36) – Jesus is the Lamb which God promised to take away the sins of the world. There is no other way.)

Evidenced by the Spirit (Acts 10:38) – The Holy Spirit empowered Jesus ministry in the flesh just as He empowers us to continue that ministry today.)

Witnessed by the apostles (Acts 10:39) – The apostles saw the things which Jesus did up to and including His death and resurrection. We are witnesses to great things as well by giving testimony to the way He has changed our lives and the lives of those around us because of His death and resurrection.)

Provided through crucifixion (Acts 10:39) – Our salvation comes through Christ’s death on the cross for our sin. God’s justice was satisfied completely.)

Proved in resurrection (Acts 10:40) – While the work for salvation was finished on the cross, the proof that it was really finished is given in the resurrection. Death, the grave, and hell have no power over those who are in Christ. We have assurance and hope as a result.)

Preached by believers (Acts 10:42) – We are commanded to proclaim the good news to all people just as the Apostles were.)

The only way to receive forgiveness (Acts 10:42-43) – We are to accept the message of the Gospel and trust in Jesus.)

In Jesus alone. Praise God “everyone who believes in Him will have their sins forgiven through His name.” (Acts 10:43)

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

 18 June 2017

The Heavenly Father’s love

“God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8)

God the Father loves us more than we can imagine. Sin can lead us to places we should not go, or to do things we should not do, or encourage us to say things we should not say.

Yet Father God’s love is so great for you that no matter what the sin, He sent His son to die for you so that you can be forgiven and made whole. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The price had to be paid, a perfect sacrifice was required and God the Father sent Jesus, the sinless one, to give His life as a ransom for our sins.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:14, “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” We are all in a race. If we have asked Jesus, God’s Son, into our hearts and to forgive us our sins, then we are pressing on to win the prize and our Heavenly Father is running the race with us.

God has showed His love for us, He has expressed His love for us. How do we express our love for God? I suggest the pursuit of excellence in our daily lives is an important expression of our love for God. 1 John 2:4-6, If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love Him. That is how we know we are living in Him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

Following God’s commands, God’s precepts, God’s will and purpose for your life is an expression of your love.

God’s love for you is amazing. He wants what is best for you. Your Father in heaven cares, He wants you to be healed and cleansed from your sins. God wants you to be in a right relationship with Him and others around you.

May you experience His heart of love for you today, the heart of a true loving and kind Heavenly Father.

Rev. Dean Courtier

Liz Chiesa

Liz Chiesa

 11 June 2017

The touch of the Master’s hand

In 1921 Myra Brooks Welch wrote the poem “The touch of the Master’s hand” subtitled The old Violin. It tells the story of an old violin, lying in a dusty corner of an auction room. It is battered, scarred, forgotten, worthless in worldly eyes.

Valued at only a few pounds, no more, the auctioneer works hard but the bidding is sparse and sporadic, there is little interest in the room. But then a master violinist picks up the humble instrument, lovingly caresses it, draws the bow across the strings and the room is filled with hauntingly sweet melody. In that moment the violin becomes an instrument of great beauty and value.

Life can be difficult, it can wear us out.

We grow older, more tired, perhaps we feel left out, cast aside, out of tune, perhaps even worthless. But the Master knows your true value, if you let Him He will call you out to be sweet music to others. God paid the ultimate price for you and for me, the highest price that can be paid, His Son.

You are not worthless, abandoned, cast aside, you are a pearl of great price.Human life has divine value placed on it.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Liz Chiesa

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

 4 June 2017

The Power of Pentecost

Jesus said: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

The word translated power is the Greek word dunamis. Dunamis is used 120 times in the New Testament. It is a word that refers to ‘strength, power, or ability’. Dunamis is not just any power it is miraculous power or marvellous works. Dunamis can also refer to ‘power and excellence of soul’. Dunamis is the root word of the English words dynamite, dynamo and dynamic.

In John 14:15-17 Jesus said: “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you.”

Advocate in Greek: Paraclete or paráklētos - the one who consoles; comforts; encourages; uplifts; refreshes; or intercedes. On the day of Pentecost the Advocate arrived in power. The Holy Spirit was poured out on the 120 disciples gathered together in the Upper Room and they were changed, they were transformed. Peter preached the Gospel and 3,000 people were saved that day.

Power, boldness, to go out and speak truth and thousands were saved. Could that happen today? Yes it can! God has not changed, His power has not diminished. The Holy Spirit still operates in power in our lives. The truth of the Gospel still changes and transforms lives today and God uses ordinary people like you and me to share the truth of who Jesus is with others.

The disciples were filled with dunamis power and today we, as disciples of Jesus, are filled with the same dunamis power as those first disciples.

Remember, we do not live the Christian life in our own power, but in God’s. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Rev. Dean Courtier

Anne O'Brien

Anne O'Brien

 28 May 2017

You can break free

Did you know that if you tie a working elephant to a stake it will stay there? Even though the elephant is big and strong; even though he has a mind of his own; and even though he could easily uproot a tree – he will stay put. Why? Because he has been conditioned to do so. From birth, the elephant has been tied to a stake and had very limited freedom. But as he grows bigger and the stake stays the same size, his mindset still tells him he must stay by the stake. He still believes he cannot break free. He has been convinced that he has limited freedom so he does not even try.

Likewise, we’ve all had experiences as we’ve developed which have caused us to be conditioned to certain ways of thinking; have caused us to be conditioned to limited expectations; and have made it difficult for us to know true freedom. These can be things that affect us mentally, physically and spiritually. They affect our expectations of what we can achieve so that we say, “O, I could never do that/be like that”. We can often be “tied to a stake” without realising it.

The stake to the elephant was not necessarily a bad thing. It probably kept him and others from danger, and it was only small. It’s almost ridiculous to think that a large elephant should be hindered by such a small thing. Of course, it isn’t the stake that holds him, but what’s in the elephant’s mindset. Even the tiniest of things can hinder us and prevent us from knowing true freedom in Christ. But Jesus said it doesn’t have to be like that. We can be free if we act on God’s Word and not the word that someone spoke into our lives when we were young.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and don’t be burdened by a yoke of slavery (to the past ways). (Galatians 5:1)

If there’s a stake in your life, pray about it, speak to someone about it, stand on God’s Word and check out his will for your life.

Anne O'Brien

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

 21 May 2017

Who can you invite to God’s family?

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28)

The Bible tells us we are equal to each other in God’s family - He loves each of us the same. God does not have favourites. Together we are His house, His church, His body and God has called us together for a purpose. That purpose is to love and serve Him and to love and serve others. We are to proclaim that Jesus is Lord, to learn more about Him and to lead others to Him.

Jesus calls all of His disciples, all of His followers, all who say they have been saved, all who say they love Him to be actively involved in sharing the message of salvation with others. It’s time to follow His Great Commission to us. Jesus didn’t die so we could feel good on a Sunday morning, He died to set the captive free, He died to bring salvation, He died to bring healing and wholeness and restoration to a fallen and sin sick world.

When was the last time you told somebody about Jesus? When was the last time you told someone they needed to accept Jesus as their Saviour? When was the last time you invited someone to a church service? When was the last time you realised, that you have a God given responsibility to tell others about who is supposed to be the most important part of your life? The one you are meant to love with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind.

This life is short don’t waste it. Look for the opportunity to get involved, focus on sharing Jesus with others. Do everything you can for the Lord, take advantage of every opportunity that comes to proclaim the truth of the Gospel. God can use everyone of us to bring glory to share the truth of the Gospel. God can use you, yes you to make a difference in this world.

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

 14 May 2017

We are called to dream

In The Old Testament, God promised a day would come when His people would be filled with His Spirit; when they were full of God, God Himself would give His people dreams and visions. This happened at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came and Peter reminded the people of the promise of God: This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: In the last days, God says, ‘I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.’ (Acts 2:16-17).

When God pours Himself on us by His Spirit, He stirs up in us dreams and visions of His power, mercy, truth, holiness and ,greatness. When God pours Himself into an individual, the inner life is changed; it is filled with God. Do not think that this is something beyond your reach. Do not think that an experience of God is for the spiritual elite. The point of Joel’s prophecy is the Spirit will be poured on all people – man or woman, old or young the promise is for you if you are a disciple of Jesus.

But, “all people” does not mean every human without exception. Joel said, “everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.” (Joel 2:32). There are those who do not call on the name of Jesus; they sense no need for Him and no joy in Him. All people means every sort of person in every nation.

What we learn new from the New Testament is that the only way to receive the promise of the Holy Spirit is to repent and accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour so that we can receive forgiveness for our sins. Peter concludes his sermon in Acts 2:38 with these words: “Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit helps us to follow the will and purposes of God the Father.

The Holy Spirit helps us to be the people that God has called us to be.

We have been filled with the Spirit of God, and we are living in the last days, because every day is one day closer to the return of Jesus. As disciples of Jesus, God has plans that involves making Himself known to the people of this World through us. May each of us be enabled by the Holy Spirit to share the truth of the Gospel with others.

Rev. Dean Courtier

Liz Chiesa

Liz Chiesa

 7 May 2017

Sabbath Time

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. (Exodus 20:8)

Sunday is a day of rest, a day to worship God, and fellowship with other believers. A day to spend time with family and friends, to share food and friendship. It is a time to focus on the beauty of God’s creation, to thank God for all He has blessed us with in the past week, time to rest in thankfulness, free from multitasking, a day free from striving for perfection and productivity. A day to rest in God’s goodness. But busyness can creep up unawares, suddenly the Sabbath is gone, the sense of peace and rest dissipated.

Sabbath is from the Hebrew word Shabbat, meaning to stop, to pause to cease, desist.

Modern life is relentlessly busy and noisy, so just as important as physical rest, Sabbath is a time to take rest for the soul, heart rest and inner tranquillity.

Sometimes we may need to take time out in the middle of a busy week, to gift ourselves a mini-Sabbath, which can be life enhancing, and can bring a sense of natural rhythm to a hectic lifestyle. God created a world of natural rhythms—the cycle of the seasons, the rhythm of night and day.

The essence of Sabbath is rest and renewal for the soul.

“My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him” (Psalm 65:1).

Sabbath is a love gift from God.

Liz Chiesa

Anne O'Brien

Anne O'Brien

 30 April 2017

The Tea-Set

The tea-set, a very elegant Poole Pottery set, was given to us as a wedding present years ago. It was so nice (and expensive) that we didn’t dare to use it in case bits were broken. And so it lived in a display cabinet and gradually other pieces were added so that we had a full dinner service, a coffee set and serving dishes too. It was very impressive! But still it was rarely used – maybe just at Christmas and special occasions. And, since we moved into the bungalow, it has lived in a box in the loft. So, you could well ask, “What was the point of it”? There is no point.

On the other hand, over the years, we have had a selection of mugs and plates and teapots etc. And I’ve always had my favourite mug. In this mug I am convinced the tea and coffee tastes much nicer. It’s nothing special, certainly not the ‘best looking’ mug. It’s not made from superior china. Occasionally my favourite mug has had a chip or a flaw in it. So, we could ask the same question “What’s the point of it”? The point is that this mug is loved and brings pleasure to me. The point is that this mug is functional and provides me with want I want.

Sometimes we feel that we must be high-quality, attractive, perfect Christians who always look good like a best tea-set. But unless we are being used by God, what’s the point? God’s looking for people who want to be used by him, and often the people he chooses are the old ones, the ‘chipped’ or flawed ones, the plain ones, the poor ones, in other words - ordinary people, warts and all. Why? Because when we make ourselves available to him we bring pleasure to him and we glorify him. Even in our weakness he favours us over showy perfection because we can be far more useful and functional in His Kingdom. Yes, God wants us to be set apart. But not as in being stored in the loft! He calls us to be set apart like my favourite coffee mug, dedicated for one specific purpose – serving him and no other, so that we bring him pleasure and glory. That’s the whole point!.

Anne O'Brien

Wally King

Wally King

 23 April 2017

God’s blank Canvas

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1) and God said “Let there be light” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:3-4).

Imagine a huge blank and dark artist’s canvas, totally void of any detail, colour, life or light.

Imagine the Master Artist laying down colour with careful, loving brush strokes, for the sky, the land and the sea.

Gradually He fills the dark void with light and life.

Finally, the Master Artist covers the 4 corners of His canvas.

He finishes His ‘creation’ by using the smallest and most insignificant brushes to create the best effect possible for the painting He has created.

With God as our Master Artist and Creator we can go forward with His work – as His brushes – whether we be huge, rough-bristled, or fine-sable.

God can use each and every one of us to complete His work that He has laid on our paint pallet.

As the Potter with his clay creates something from nothing, so does the Artist with his blank canvas.

Lord, You are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter, we are all the work of your hand.

Wally King

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

 16 April 2017

The Promise of the Cross

The first Easter morning 2000 years ago must have began with sadness. I can imagine the followers of Jesus waking up and remembering what had happened, remembering the horror of Friday, remembering that their friend was dead and thinking their dreams were shattered. But then a shout, He’s alive, the tomb is empty. Then it happened, in the blink of an eye, they weren’t mourning Jesus death they were celebrating Jesus being alive. It wasn’t defeat it was victory. Because Jesus wasn’t dead He was alive and the tomb was empty.

For us to fully grasp the Events of that first Easter Sunday, we need to take a moment to consider the Event that took place on the first Good Friday - the crucifixion of Jesus. The Crucifixion of Jesus is at the centre of the Message of the Gospel.

The prophecies and predictions recorded in the Old Testament were fulfilled when Jesus hung on the cross. The events leading up to Christ’s death are filled with emotion, but it is when Jesus, the Spotless Lamb of God, becomes our substitute, when He takes the punishment for Sin that w e deserve, when He bears the full penalty of our Sin, that is when we really marvel at the amazing infinite grace and love of God.

None of us will ever completely understand what Christ accomplished on the cross. It is beyond our human comprehension, but we can thank God this morning that the promise of redemption for all who trust in Jesus as Lord and Saviour was made reality at the cross.

We look to the Cross in faith and say “I am a sinner, and the mercy of God is revealed to me in the death of Jesus,” then a miracle occurs in our lives. The Apostle Paul called it being “saved,” Jesus spoke of it as being “born again.” We are transformed when we know we are accepted by God, when we know we have been forgiven because of the saving work of Jesus Christ on the Cross.

Christianity is a supernatural faith, but it has its basis firmly rooted in historical facts. Our faith depends on us believing the true historic facts that Jesus was crucified and that He rose from the grave. Either Jesus Christ rose from the dead or He did not. The Bible says He rose, the history of Christianity proves He arose. The personal experience of every born-again believer agrees with the biblical record.

Jesus Christ is alive today.

Rev. Dean Courtier

Anne O'Brien

Anne O'Brien

 9 April 2017

Palm Sunday – And then what...?

Jesus had travelled 80 miles south from Galilee, nearly as far as Bethany, wanting to be in Jerusalem for the Passover. Many pilgrims joined Jesus on the way and experienced Him performing miracles; healing the sick; teaching, and telling parables. His fame went before Him so that, as He left the Mount of Olives to approach Jerusalem, the crowds lined the streets and welcomed Him as they would a king. Many were expecting Him, as Messiah, to set up His Kingdom in Jerusalem.

But their expectations were to fall flat. They had made the mistake of “putting Jesus in a box” of their own thinking. Instead of riding into Jerusalem on a white horse befitting a victorious king, He (in the eyes of many) humiliated Himself by arriving on an ass not yet broken in. Instead of fighting for the rights of the Jews, He slated them for their evil exploitation in the Temple. Instead of ruling as king … He died on a Cross … which was meant for Barabbas (we can put our name here too).

What do we do when God doesn’t show up in the way that we wanted Him to? Sometimes, instead of showering us with blessings, He teaches us life lessons. Do we still love Him, worship Him, follow Him? Do we understand there may be a bigger picture? Jesus Christ is not just Baptizer, Healer and King. First and foremost, He became our suffering Saviour. There are many thousands of Christians in our world today who are not deceived by the blessings of Palm Sunday. Instead, they walk daily in the sufferings of Jesus. They are the persecuted church – our Christian brothers and sisters who experience anything from physical violence to having no rights – no right to a job or schooling or safe housing; no right to join the food queues in times of famine. They don’t have great expectations. But neither are they downcast. (Read what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12).

We are very blessed in our country with freedom to worship and all that we need – and more (Easter eggs!). This Easter please remember 2 things:

    • God’s plans may be different to your expectations, but it doesn’t mean He has abandoned you. He has a better way for you in the long term.
    • Neither has God forsaken the persecuted church, whom He asks us to help in their time of need.

This year we are raising money for both Barnabas and the Elim Relief Association to help people in Sudan, Kenya and Uganda who are suffering with famine in East Africa. If you can help, please put your money in an envelope marked East Africa appeal and place it in the offering bag, or hand it to Brian James or myself. Thank you.

Anne O'Brien

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

 2 April 2017

What is in your hand?

In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. (Romans 12:6–8)

Paul emphasized that we are to actually use the gifts and abilities God has given us for the benefit of others. Some people say, “I don’t know what to do” or “I don’t really have any special talent to give”.

In Exodus chapter 4, Moses said much the same thing when God spoke to him at the burning bush. “I can’t do what you want, Lord, because of this excuse and that excuse. People won’t accept me. I can’t speak well. Let somebody else do it I’m a nobody.

How did God answer? “Moses, what is in your hand?” For Moses, it was a staff. It wasn’t a crown, sceptre, or sword. It was a simple stick. And it became one of the greatest supernatural weapons in human history. God showed Moses that He could use this ordinary staff to perform miracles as a sign for unbelieving people. As Moses’ trust in God grew, so did the magnitude of miracles God worked through His servant.

Consider God’s question: “What is in your hand?” What do you already have in your possession? Speaking ability? Artistic ability? Money? Friendships? All of us have something we can use to accomplish our part in God’s work here on earth as we serve one another.

God has given each of you a gift from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. (1 Peter 4:10).

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

Rev. Dean Courtier

 26 March 2017

Mothering Sunday

Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother standing there beside the disciple He loved, He said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And He said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27)

Parents, have you every wished that your child was better behaved? Have you even thought something like, “If my child was better behaved it would make my life easier”? Mary had a perfect son, Jesus, and yet this caused her problems. Motherhood was not easy for Mary. Mary was young, inexperienced and ostracised because of His conception. Her baby was born far from home in difficult and dangerous surroundings. When Jesus was only a few days old, Mary took Him to the temple and Simeon’s prophecy for His future was both ominous and exciting. Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce Mary’s soul, then Mary had to live as a refugee in a foreign land because the King wanted to kill her child.

Jesus was different as a child, at the age of 12 He discussed theology. When Jesus was older and His peers were getting married and having children, Jesus did not. Thirty-something, single and still living at home. His public ministry alienated Him from His family and the religious leaders. Mary had to learn to put her own feelings to one side to support Jesus in His mission. Mary suffered as she watched her son die a painful death on the Cross.

For a Jew there was no more shameful way to die than on a cross. Men were crucified naked, something the Jews found shameful, yet Mary was there, supporting her son, no doubt with many emotions and thoughts racing around.

Jesus endured the suffering of the cross and was watched by those who loved Him. When we suffer, we concentrate on ourselves, Jesus didn’t. Even in pain on the cross He thought of others. All those who He would die for and also two people in front of Him.

Jesus asked Mary to adopt John as her son, and John to adopt Mary as his mother. They obeyed and John took Mary into his home. Through Jesus’ death new relationships are created. God has adopted us to be His children and to be part of His new, world wide family. The death of Christ is the moment of the birth of the church. Christ enters in to the reality of human suffering and makes life and love possible. Jesus conquered sin, injustice, violence, hatred and death on the cross through love. This is the foundation upon which His family, the Church is built upon. The church is a family in which we are all to care for one another.

On this Mothering Sunday, as we thank our mothers for all that they have meant to us, let’s also remember there is a wider family to which we belong. To the members of this family Jesus said: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13.34)

Rev. Dean Courtier

Kevin Holmes

Kevin Holme

 19 March 2017

Musings

The world is sleeping in the dark, that the church just can’t fight, because it’s asleep in the light! (Lyric: Asleep In The Light, Keith Green)

We recently finished a study based on a book by Philip Yancey called “Vanishing Grace, Whatever Happened to the Good News?” It looked at the reasons for the hostility to Christianity and suggested ways to communicate the Gospel and why it is Good News. This is a subject quite close to my heart and I would like to share with you my own personal take on it.

What does the world see when they look at the church today? Do they see a people full of love and sacrifice, considering others more important than themselves? No, the results of numerous surveys show that they see us as judgmental, hypocritical, insensitive and boring. They think of televangelists with perfect hair and makeup, full of smiles and promises as they ask for your money. You may feel this is grossly unfair; what about all the good things Christians do? The problem is, fair or not, this is the reality. Some of this is due to the way the media portrays all forms of religion, but the sad thing is these negative views can often be based on personal contact with Christians, which was how my own very negative opinion of Christians was formed.

So, if they don’t go to church, what opportunity is there for people to see the other side of the coin? The only way is by seeing Jesus reflected in the lives of those already connected to Him, Christians like you and me. By reflecting in our lifestyle His light and the relationship we have with Him. And by demonstrating the love and obedience to the God we claim to serve in our dealings with others. Of course, that doesn’t mean we will never sin, but by admitting we do, we demonstrate our need for a Saviour, and in that we are just like everyone else.

The thing is we can only reflect the light, not generate it. We have no natural light of our own so we must first truly receive the light of God before we can reflect it. We are like one of those solar powered garden lamps. If it doesn’t receive the light of the sun it has no power to shine that light into the darkness.

Jesus was a master of grace, He spent time with sinners and moral outcasts even though that offended the religious leaders. We don’t need to beat people with our theology and doctrine but we do need to spend our lives alongside them, reflecting God’s love. And then maybe we might just see God’s Kingdom here on earth.

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1 NIV)

Kevin Holmes

Liz Chiesa

Liz Chiesa

 12 March 2017

Wasting Time With God

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

Are you ok with silence? Does it worry you, or energise you? Do you feel the need to fill the space with noise, words, music.

Can you recall a time you spent with a friend, so comfortable, that you did not feel pressured to talk, to do, but just sit quietly together, enjoying the moment.

Are you comfortable enough with God to do the same?

Time passed in silence with God is time spent growing in relationship with Him, and time spent letting His love flow through you to others is an investment in eternity.

The busyness of getting things done does not bring us closer to God or fill us with His grace and peace and love.

Ask your Friend to slow you down and teach you the value of wasting time with Him.

Take some time and meditate on how much God loves you and simply wants to be with you today.

As we learn to become fully present with God, we learn to be fully present to the people God brings to us, friends, family, strangers.

We need to find God and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness.

God is the friend of silence.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.”
(Psalm 23:2-3)

Liz Chiesa

Anne O'Brien

Anne O'Brien

 5 March 2017

Jesus - Master of the Storm

Jesus got into the boat and His disciples followed Him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke Him saying, “Lord, save us. We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then He got up and rebuked the wind and the waves, and it was completely calm. (Matthew 8:23-26)

Just as in this episode, stormy events in our lives can be:
Sudden – they seem to come from nowhere, and not of our own making.
Severe – they can make us feel ‘out of control’ and very frightened.
Silenced – if Christ can control the weather He can bring calm into our situation too.

Four things are clear in this story which can encourage us, Jesus is master:

    • Of the storm – Jesus allowed the storm (think about it);
    • In the storm – He was in the boat with them;
    • Through the storm – He brought them through safely;
    • Over the storm – He was in control all the time.

Jesus allows the storms in our lives, uncomfortable though they may be. But He never expects us to weather the storm alone. When we rest in Him He will bring us through, He will develop our faith and increase our love for him.

Brother Lawrence once wrote: Those who have the wind of the Holy Spirit in their souls glide ahead even while they sleep. If the vessel of our soul is still being tossed by winds or storms, we should wake the Lord who has been resting with us, and He will swiftly calm the sea.

Anne O'Brien

Wally King

Wally King

 26 February 2017

Church Family

Pastor Dave often begins a service with the words “HELLO CHURCH FAMILY” and I have now experienced this phrase in reality.

A few Saturdays ago I was due to attend the Men’s Breakfast but I was suddenly taken ill and had to cancel.

The group at breakfast were concerned that the condition I had developed may cause strangulation of a hernia which I am waiting to be operated on.

After making numerous phone calls I finally contacted 111 and was given a same-day appointment to see a doctor at Southend Hospital.

CHURCH FAMILY rallied round and I was collected from home and ferried to hospital where I saw a doctor who confirmed I was not in any immediate danger. He wrote me a prescription but by this time it was early evening which posed the problem of finding a pharmacy that was open. Again, I was driven around from chemist to chemist before getting the necessary tablets and finally being driven home again.

THE CHURCH is the body of Christ and in that body THE FAMILY is the congregation and members which are the PULSE and HEART that makes the church move and grow.

It was good to experience, first hand, the love and care shown to me, in accordance with the Word of God. I would like to thank all concerned.

Ephesians 4:16, From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Wally King

Maddy Amey

Maddy Amey

 19 February 2017

Why are we here?

I don’t know if you have seen like me, the battle for truth is so much in your face these days. But of late I believe it has much increased. We are seeing marches all over the world (spirit of rebellion?) against Donald Trump, love him or hate him, if you seek what lies under the surface you will see that many leaders have done what he has done without the fuss we see today, even on our own streets.

Brexit has had a similar affect but not quite so extreme or on the surface and we have a new word today of “populism” which I find quite offensive as they just don’t get it. The crux of the matter is in Jeremiah 6:19b “and as for My law, they have rejected it also”. The problem today is that the global liberal secularists have for some time redefined the values of society, it is called “gradualism”. We are seeing alternative facts or redefined truth and yet there are basic standards of facts. Jeremiah 9:5-6 states “Everyone deceives his neighbour and does not speak the truth. They have taught their tongues to speak lies. They weary themselves committing iniquity. Your dwelling is in the midst of deceit; Through deceit they refuse to know Me”, declares the Lord. or Jeremiah 7:28b “truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth”. Isaiah 59:13–15 speaks in the same vein and particularly verse 14 “Justice is turned back and righteousness stands far away. For truth has stumble in the street and uprightness cannot enter”.

The Christian life is all about making the right choices, life or death, Jesus is The Truth and in John 3:21 Jesus says “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God”. I find it quite amazing that if you seek to find what lies behind many of the lies today how God brings the truth into the light.

How do we stand for truth? I believe we can do no better than: Thus says the Lord “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths. Where the good way is and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls”.

As Christians today it is even more imperative that we boldly speak the Truth to those going to a lost eternity.

Maddy Amey

Wendy Barker

Wendy Barker

 12 February 2017

The Parable of the Sower

We all know the Parable of the Sower. Or do we?

Although I’ve heard it many times over the years, I’ve had another look at it recently.

The gospel writers mention the parable at length in three places (Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:1-15) so it must be important. On hearing it, the disciples were initially baffled. Perhaps they needed time to get used to Jesus’ habit of teaching in parables.

Helpfully, Jesus explains the parable and reveals to them, and us, the secret of a fruitful life. And the secret is to sow the Word, the Bible, in our lives.

I’m trying to do this in a number of ways.

1. Reading the Bible. I aim to make it a daily habit, and having this aim, even when I fail, I still end up reading it quite often.

2. Memorising the Bible. I started with Psalm 23. It’s familiar (and short!). And I’m trying to memorise other passages which I think it might be helpful to have readily available (Matthew 6: 25-34 about not worrying is on my list!)

3. Bring my Bible to church. When a sermon topic is mentioned, I try to find the relevant passage myself (before the Powerpoint comes up!) with the aim of becoming familiar with the whole layout of the Bible. I could use technology and carry a digital Bible, but I prefer the challenge of thumbing through a book!

What’s the point of knowing the Bible for myself?

I’ve just finished reading a book by Andrew Womack on the subject of the Parable of the Sower. He claims that the Bible contains the answers to all of the problems we face. We just need to know where to look. This involves getting to know the Bible for ourselves and allowing God to speak to us through it. If we want to produce fruit, whether sixty-fold or a hundred-fold, we first need to sow the seed.

I’m looking forward to putting his theory to the test and seeing what happens…

Wendy Barker

Anne O'Brien

Anne O'Brien

 5 February 2017

Why are we here?

I guess in this year of thinking about our purpose and destiny that is a good question: WHY ARE WE HERE? Are we here to make the best we can of our life, to strive to live in comfort and do the best for ourselves or our family? Or are we here so that we can improve the lives of those around us? Do we have an obligation to others? Or do we leave that up to the ‘do-gooders’ in the world? As Christians we are encouraged to fulfil our destiny, but with a sense of purpose, which is: to make a difference – Jesus called it being salt and light – that we might help others come to faith in Him.

How do we ‘be salt and light’ in the world? The spiritual answer is that when we become more like Jesus through spending time with him, then we naturally reflect his love and goodness to others. But there is a practical answer too. The world will know that we are Christians not just for who we are, but for what we do. So, what can we do to fulfil our destiny and reach our potential in Christ?

If we take a moment to think about it we all have abilities, interests and resources that we can build on and which will help us towards our destiny.

    • We can read God’s word to help us grow, and maybe join a study group
    • We can pray and spend time in God’s presence, at home and in prayer meetings
    • Some of us can drive and give lifts
    • Others can make cups of tea and offer hospitality in a variety of ways
    • Some have surplus money, food, clothes that can be given to the homeless shelters or the women’s refuge (we are richer than we think)
    • Many people can write or use a computer and could perhaps write a piece for the bulletin sheet or write a letter of encouragement
    • Some of us warm to children, others to the elderly and could get involved in Ekids or visiting people at home when they can no longer get to church.
    • Some may be interested in politics and could write letters of encouragement to their MP
    • Many people have hobbies such as: music, art, fishing, cards and board games, keeping fit, having days out or meals out; and could invite non-Christians to participate in them. If your hobby is not catered for perhaps you could start a Meet ‘n Mix group or maybe help in an existing one.

The list of abilities, interests and resources is as large as you want it to be. God has given all of us abilities and when we use them for his service we can be built up in Christ and work towards our potential – but at the same time we are helping others to do the same. Could I encourage you to prayerfully consider the above and discover what God would have you to do this year as you seek to grow in Him?

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4v10)

Anne O'Brien

Liz Chiesa

Liz Chiesa

 29 January 2017

The Fragrance of Christ

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 2:14-15).

The fragrance of Christ is expressed uniquely by each of his children through their individual personalities and gifts. Our lifestyle as Christians speaks to the world a testimony of Christ. Our lives lived in obedience to Christ and exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit is a pleasing aroma to God.

How did you greet this new morning? Joyfully or grumpily? As we walk through our day, we can either choose to be a breath of fresh air or we can dampen the spirits of those we come in contact with.

Living our lives to please and honour the Lord is important. A Christian without a pleasing aroma will not accomplish much for the Lord, we need to be more Christlike, we need to live our lives in a way where His love flows through us and causes us to be a sweet aroma.

Wherever Jesus went there was a crowd following Him. He stood out, people were drawn to Him. Why? It was the anointing of His life, the fragrance of the presence of God that caused people to be attracted to Him. Jesus’ anointing was the years of preparation, living a sinless life and developing a deep and intimate relationship with the Father.

So, what fragrance are you wearing today? The fragrance of self? The fragrance of irritation? The fragrance of impatience?

Or are we wearing the fragrance of Christ, are we full of grace, and have an attitude of love. Are we kind, forgiving, joyful, content.

Through us God diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us, and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2).

Liz Chiesa

Andrea James

Andrea James

 22 January 2017

A Word of Encouragement

Pastor Dave called The Estuary Elim Church Group together at Ashingdon Church for prayer on 12th January 2017, which turned out to be the first day of Winter proper!! It snowed and was freezing cold.

God met us in that Prayer time and I was led to write this to encourage all of us to go forward into 2017 with a renewed sense of excitement.

Imagine if you are being faced with one or more of the following situations:

A wedding, holiday, new baby in the family, a baptism, sports trophy, a scholarship or Graduation, you may catch the biggest fish ever, etc. etc.

Would you feel excited about something that is going to happen; have you ever felt a great sense of anticipation? Or would you just go through the motion of “well I might be happy” and not feel excitement about anything ever. Whatever, a great adrenaline rush is in order as we await a Special event. It is OK to get excited and jump for joy and shout. Honest!

Whenever we get excited about good things happening in our lives God rejoices with us. He delights in our happiness and joy.

Similarly He wants us to serve Him joyfully and with gladness. This means not just going through the motions but getting that adrenaline rush; being excited. We need to give God the same energy and focus that we give to other things. That means we need to give God 100% as we serve Him. Seek His face, He will show you where and how He wants you to serve Him. Imagine Him being excited for you as He answers your prayers, as He brings fruition to the desires of your heart, as the gifts of the Holy Spirit become evident in your walk with Him and so on. Just imagine! The list is endless of the good things God is excited about for you in His Kingdom. Just imagine!!

Why be half-hearted when you know you can give Him your whole self? If we believe that it is right to give God all the glory for what He does in our lives then we can approach every task with vigour, seeking to please God; giving Him 100%.

Remember He is the Light of the World. May our lights shine brightly as we get excited giving thanks and praise to our Father in Heaven.

Andrea James

Anne O'Brien

Anne O'Brien

 15 January 2017

God in the Desert

Sarah saw that Hagar’s son Ishmael was mocking Isaac, and she wanted Abraham to get rid of them. The matter distressed Abraham because it concerned his son. But God told Abraham to send them away, and so he gave them food and water and, in obedience to God’s will, asked them to leave. And so, we see in Genesis chapter 12 how Hagar is wandering in the desert with her son. She has nowhere to go, nothing to eat or drink and no one to whom she can turn. The boy was weak so she placed him in some shade under a bush and sat down. Both mother and son were crying. They thought it was the end.

Although Hagar was the wrong wife (she was Egyptian) and Ishmael was the wrong son (born of Abraham’s will but not of God’s), and although they had acted badly and brought this situation upon themselves, God still had compassion on them. What can we learn from this incident?

- We notice is that God was there. He had not left them.

- No one saw them or heard them, but God heard their cries.

- God sent an angel to comfort them.

- God gave them a promise of hope and a future.

- There was a miraculous provision of water and refreshment.

- God stayed with them, they had never been abandoned.

Sometimes we find ourselves in the desert place for one reason or another. And it feels like we are so alone. But God never ever leaves us. He sees our plight and hears our cries. And he will open our eyes to see the angel and the place of refreshing if we call out to him; because God is a God of Grace and a God of love, full of mercy. We need never be like Hagar who was ready to give up. We are in a relationship with God our Father who has promised to see us through to the end, through good times and bad.

To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you (who trust in Jesus Christ) before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore. (Jude verse 24)

Anne O'Brien

Dave Redbond

Rev. David Redbond

 8 January 2017

Perceive your Potential

Over Christmas I received a present which at first was a complete mystery to me. When I opened it up, it looked like a net for catching butterflies or for landing very small fish. However, on closer inspection I discovered it was something that was on my gift list. My new gift was a fruit picker. It enables me to pick apples from high up in my apple tree without the need of climbing the tree or hanging off a ladder (both of which Maureen tells me I shouldn’t be doing at my age). This item has been made in such a way that it is perfect for the job it has been created for.

In the film ‘I Robot’ the robot who is central to the story behind the film says at one point, ‘This is what my father made me for’. As we begin our journey together this year in ‘Discovering our Destiny’, it is important we each realise that our Heavenly Father has created us for a specific purpose. Our personality, strengths, weaknesses, talents and all that makes us unique as individuals, is so that we might fulfil the plan and purpose to which He has called us. Like Gideon it is so easy for us to discount ourselves from accomplishing anything for God who has called us, but we need to realise that His power is made perfect in our weakness.

Gideon was told Go in the strength you have – Am I not sending you. (Judges 6:14). How Gideon saw himself was very different to how God saw him. God had created him for the task he was being given and as we, as individuals and as the Estuary Elim Church group, begin to grasp how God sees us and the destiny that He wants us to discover, may we know and trust that “God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us”. (Ephesians 3:20).

Rev. David Redbond

Samantha Murphy

Samantha Murphy

 8 January 2017

The Power of the Son

“A bushfire is the power of the sun, stored in the plants over a period of time, released in a great surge of power.” David Attenborough

I would like something like that said at my funeral! I’m not being morbid, but imagine if someone said “She had a fire for God, that was the power of the Son, stored over many years within her, and then released in a great surge of power when she talked, taught and lived his Name.” Wow!

David Attenborough was describing a bush fire, how when it takes hold it’s like looking at the sun, and you could see what he meant. There is a power in fire that is mighty and all consuming, powerful, strong and draws you to it in fascination. That’s what I want people to think about me, that when they look at me, it was like looking at the Son, that his love, radiance and energy where reflected in me.

What about you? What do you reflect? What do you take in from the World around you?

Our fire should come for the power of the Son, stored in us over a period of time, then released to do great things for him, giving back the energy that’s built up.

Samantha Murphy

If you would like to contact us please email:
info @ estuaryelim.church