A good dunking!

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What a wonderful morning we had this morning!  One of the greatest privileges of being a Baptist Minister is that I get to conduct services of Believers Baptism, and that was what I was up to this morning – that’s the picture you can see above.

 

During the service, June (the lady being baptised) told us her story of how God has guided her to this point in her life.  I got to share with the congregation what I believe the Bible teaches us about God’s ongoing love for us.  We were reminded :-

God is aware :- We sometimes wonder if we really count for anything in the world.  But to God, you are not a number, you are a person of value

God is able :- It’s God’s presence in our lives that makes the difference.  He can give us the strength to  keep going and will never let us down.

God is available :- The promises of the Bible are not just for those people hundreds of years ago, they are also for us today.  We can know God’s presence in our lives, all we have to do is ask Him.

As we came to the moment of Baptism we shared with June a special verse from the Bible to remind her of God’s love for her.  I think this verse is for all those who place their trust in God;

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;  but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

(Isaiah 40 vs. 30 – 31)

 

 

 

 

The body beautiful

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Have you ever stopped to consider how amazing the human body is?  When the Psalmist tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139 vs.14), he certainly knew what he was talking about!

I have been really astounded by the Invictus Games that have been filling our news recently, wounded service personnel with amazing sports talent that just leaves me completely awestruck!  What astounds me is that, even after the trauma these human bodies have suffered, the “ability” to rise above “disability”. As one who is built more for comfort than speed, I have great admiration for any athlete!

The Apostle Paul uses the metaphor of the human body several times in the Bible (for example Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 & Ephesians 5).  It is a powerful image, one that we can easily grasp and understand;

All of you are Christ’s body, and each one is a part of it.

(1 Corinthians 12 vs. 27)

You think about it, the human body is unified yet it is also diverse, hands and feet are different, nose and eyes are different and yet, we need them.  The Christian church should be unified and yet, it is also diverse.  I believe that a healthy Church is one that is made up of all kinds of different people, who have different backgrounds, different life experiences, different skills and abilities placed by God in the ”one body” together. When each part of the body is functioning, the church is an amazing and beautiful body that looks like Christ.

But, as Paul writes to the Church at Corinth, he was writing to a body that was not functioning as well as it might.  That body was facing immense pressure from the world around it and was divided internally.  In short, this was an ill body!

The challenge is, how can the body of Christ be kept healthy?  There are lots of answers to that question but, in the recent church service where we focussed on this, we were offered three commitments

  • Commit to Love One Another

Love is foundational.  Paul goes on in 1 Corinthians 13 to say if I haven’t got love, if I am not motivated by love, if I am not committed to love, then I have nothing.  We become nothing more than a clanging bell and a resounding gong, all noise and nothing gained!

Oh Lord,

Help us to love one another

As Christ Loved the church

May we truly love one another

  • Commit to Forgive One Another

There isn’t one of us who is perfect.  There isn’t one of us who has never made a mistake.  I am sure I am not the only one who, from time to time, engages mouth before brain! (please tell me I am not the only one!!!!)

A book that has really helped me I called Hit by friendly fire – what to do when fellow believers hurt you (the author is Michael Milton).  I was so touched by this book, I bought every copy I could find and passed them out to others.  It helped me to move on in my journey of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not easy but, forgiveness leads to freedom

  • Commit to Encourage One Another

It’s easy to point the finger and it’s easy to find fault in others Paul writes in Philippians 4 vs. 8;

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

(Philippians 4 vs. 8)

At the risk of being declared ‘heretic’, I would go one step further than Paul, I believe we should not only think on these things but, should share and talk about these things.  I believe we need to do this for each other. Look for the things to encourage.

Look for the things that are a blessing and commit to encourage one another.

I believe if we took on these commitments, we would be moving toward the body beautiful!

 

 

Stand back!

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When I was a child (many many moons ago) there was a program called “Ask The Family”.  It was a quiz come general knowledge type program in which two family teams would compete against each other.  It had quite a distinctive theme tune and was presented by Robert Robinson (go on admit it – you remember it too).

There was always one round that interested me in particular.  A picture was shown of a household object taken from up close or, a strange angle and you would have to try and work out what it was.  It was only when the camera panned back, that the image would become clear.

I suppose most of us live our lives without appreciating fully that we are part of a bigger story.  We see our small part in the life of the world without appreciating we are part of much larger picture, we are part of God’s story.  We all have our part to play, we all have our gifts and talents that can be used for the help and for the benefit of others.  If I can mix my images for a moment, try and think of a jigsaw puzzle each of the individual pieces makes a whole picture.  If one piece is missing, the picture is incomplete

Today, God encouraged me to stand back a little and get a glimpse of the bigger picture and I was reminded of a verse in Proverbs that says;

Where there is no vision, the people perish

(Proverbs 29 vs. 18)

Why not ask God to help you see the bigger picture

ps. As for the image above? You would struggle to eat your dinner without it!

 

Smelly feet

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This morning I preached on one of the toughest topics, love.  Jesus said;

 

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

(John 13 vs. 34 – 35)

 Love is difficult because, let’s face it, people can be difficult.

The whole setting of the passage in John’s gospel is the last supper.  Jesus is demonstrating the full extent of His love.  He shows His humility by washing the disciples feet – as Adrian Rodgers once said

You cannot look down on somebody whilst washing their feet

(Adrian Rodgers)

He shows them, in the symbols of broken bread and poured out wine, the price that He paid for our salvation, how He is ready to give up His life for His friends.  Jesus standard of love is high and as our main verse says, Jesus calls His church to follow His example.  Tertullian is famously quoted as saying;

See how these Christian love one another

Earlier on this week, Nicky Gumbel posted this on his Twitter feed

The church should be famous for its love. Unconditional love breaks down barriers, puts people back on their feet, restores and heals.

(Nicky Gumbel)

So, how can we learn to love as Jesus wants us to love?

I think Christians will be at their best once they learn to wash feet.  After all, if it was good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for us.