Message for December
So a teenager says to me the other day, ‘do you think that Jesus gets two presents on Christmas Day or do you think that people fob him off with a joint one?’ We sometimes forget that it is His birthday we are celebrating! But what can you give Jesus as a present for His Birthday and for Christmas? Surely it is the definitive nightmare of, ‘what to give someone who already has everything’. However, the third verse of ‘In the Bleak Mid-Winter’ starts “what can I give him”, and concludes “give my heart”.
What does it mean to give your heart to Jesus at Christmas? Recently in our series on Ruth, we saw the love, devotion, faithfulness and kindness that Ruth showed to Naomi. She was humble but determined. She stayed true to God. She gave her heart.
It’s a beautiful thing to give your heart to Jesus, and only you can give him that present. If we give our heart to Jesus, it affects the way that we do things (how we are) as well as who we are and what we do. We’ll have choices to make this Christmas about whether to let others go first (prefer others to ourselves), whether to smile or be grumpy, whether to make time for others in our schedule – remembering that many people find Christmas-time difficult. Giving our heart to Jesus shapes ‘How’ we do Christmas, and how we do Christmas shows people who Jesus is.
Love came down at Christmas – so rejoice, enjoy, celebrate and let it shine.
“We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1v14b
Message for November: The Big Questions
I’ve been considering some of the big questions of life recently, like “Which phone or laptop or tablet should I get?!?!” So I pore over specs, I read reviews, I make comparison lists, I stay up at night, I pray, I speak to friends and experts. Finally, I make a decision.
But how do we investigate and decide about the deeper and more important questions of life? Questions about purpose and meaning. Questions about the origins of love. These are the questions that we are exploring on our Alpha course.
In his new book, ‘Making sense of God’, Tim Keller maps the shift in today’s society away from thinking that ‘science has all the answers’ to ‘each person making themselves the spiritual authority for their own gathered religion’ without thinking why. He then shows how Jesus meets the needs of today’s society and provides more than enough answers for us to journey into faith and life with him.
We have a wonderful faith that is about the God who reveals himself to us in history and ultimately, reveals himself beautifully and perfectly in the divine person of Jesus Christ. We have a wonderful faith that is firmly grounded in the authoritative, divinely-inspired, life-giving Word of God, the Bible. And we have an amazing God who meets us and others in a real way in our spiritual experience and in the events of our daily lives by his Holy Spirit. He is with us through good or bad.
So let’s humbly, but confidently hold out Jesus in truth and grace and love to a world that is actually yearning for Jesus.
Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life”. John 14v6
Message for October: A posture of Grace
We’re inviting everyone to find out about Jesus at our Alpha course. In the Bible, we see Jesus transforming the lives of thousands of people across all walks of life. Whoever they were and whatever they’d done, they knew that they could approach Jesus in repentance and faith. That they would be received and renewed, rather than being condemned. The Grace of Jesus says, “There’s something beautiful about you” as well as saying, “There’s something better for you”. Jesus spoke the truth with authority but only ever in the context of a perfect and pure love. He adopted a posture of Grace.
The Bible says in Ephesians 2v7 that we have the ‘riches of God’s Grace’ through the price that Jesus paid for us on the cross. We too have this amazing offer of Jesus who presents to us in this posture of Grace. He gently bids us in truth and in love to come and to know our loving God and to be transformed.
We ourselves also choose a posture in which to present ourselves to others. So in humility, recognising that we have received the Grace of Jesus too, let’s present to all whether inside or outside of the church in a posture of Grace. Let’s present Jesus.
Peace and Blessings, John
Eph 2v7: in him we have redemption … in accordance with the riches of God’s Grace.
1st September 2018
Message for September
SQUAARRK! The start of a new term can make us run around like headless chickens. But we need to be ducks. At this time perhaps the most important thing for us to remember is who we are and why we are doing the things that we were doing. Our identity and our purpose. It’s so easy to get caught up in the things that we do. If we’re not careful, these things begin to define us, and before long we are miserable slaves to the relentlessly demanding master of success, achievement and progress.
Jesus offers us a different identity. This identity is not based on what we do, or even on who we are. It is based on who God is, as revealed in scripture, and on what Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross. God is (i) Perfect Loving Father, (ii) Merciful King, (iii) Eternal God and (iv) Omnipotent Lord. That makes us (i) Dearly loved children and inheritors, (ii) Forgiven subjects of his kingdom, (iii) Mortal – like flowers in a field but also Secure in His eternal future, and (iv) Ambassadors of His gospel of grace, love and truth.
These things don’t change based on what we are doing or on our feelings. So whatever we are doing, we can launch into a new term at peace. Floating serenely in our Spirits like ducks even if still furiously paddling underneath.
Peace and Blessings,
1st July 2018
Message for July
What a relief! I was among the 18 million people watching live on TV. In time-added-on England scored the winner in their opening match of World Cup.
But it was my perception that surprised me the most. I saw half the match live and the other half on iPlayer. While I was watching the match live, I felt frustrated with every attack that failed to bear fruit. I felt disappointed and disillusioned. However, watching highlights later when I knew the result, I was far more positive. I saw encouraging signs and moments of brilliance. People getting into good positions and team coherence even if the end result didn’t come immediately.
At a theology conference recently, I had a session focussing on the end result: God’s certain future plan for the cosmic regeneration of us and our world. But in a similar way to knowing the football result, this radically altered my perception of the present. Confidently focussing on the end result enables us to focus on the difference that we are already making and can make for good and to glorify God. Everything we do together and individually can bring a bit of God’s kingdom today and is a valuable sign of hope even if it doesn’t bear fruit until the heavenly result is realised.
Let’s make sure we don’t only sing when we’re winning. We know the result!
Peace and Blessings, John
1st June 2018
Message for June
When Jesus called people to be transformed He very often called them to be different. When Jesus transforms us into his love, Jesus calls us to a different way of thinking, a different way of being and a different way of living. This can be hard. It’s difficult to be the odd-one-out. It can be isolating. It can affect our self-esteem and sometimes our opportunities.
But Jesus gives us His Holy Spirit to empower us and to comfort us. And Jesus also gives us one-another – the Church. In the Church around the world we find role-models of His love throughout history and in contemporary life to inspire us. We find friends who journey with us and genuinely want the best for us. We find people to listen to us, to encourage us, to advise us, to teach us and to mentor us.
In the Baptist Basics pamphlet called ‘Radical Dissent’. Dr Nigel Wright, a Baptist Scholar and former principal of Spurgeon’s college writes:
“The first Christians were being shaped by different forces from those which shaped the surrounding culture. Jesus and His kingdom made them different and it was their very difference from the rest that gave them their potential to transform people and communities. This was what Jesus meant by calling His Church ‘salt’ and ‘light’ (Matthew 5:13-16)”
So let your light shine in His love!
Peace and Blessings, John
1st May 2018
Message for May
Jesus transforms people like me and you. In our Sunday morning services in May we’re looking at accounts of ordinary people who met Jesus and were transformed by him. They had their lives re-ordered into something more beautiful by God’s amazing power. We also remember how the disciples were transformed by the Holy Spirit. Where there was despair, they found hope and strength. They responded to God’s call to ‘go out’, seeking to tell others and transform the world together. The church was born and Christians today are also called to respond to that call, together.
Jesus promises to transform our own lives too. If we turn to him, trust in him and live in him, the love of Jesus transforms our hearts. If we walk with him and listen to him we see with his eyes. We see the good and the potential for good. We see the opportunities of life, opportunities to share in his love and truth even through times of difficulty. Opportunities to encourage, forgive, bless and nurture. Today’s partial transformations in us, and most of all the transformational resurrection of Jesus, remind us that one day our transformation will be complete in heaven.
Peace and Blessings,
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”
1st April 2018
Happy Easter! You cradle your Chocolate egg in your hands with eager anticipation, but you only know it’s the ‘real thing’ when you smell it and eat it. After Jesus rose and he met the disciples they knew Jesus was the ‘real thing’. They ate with him and they felt his hands and feet. He was real! The resurrection (says one writer) is the hinge on which the story of the world pivots. His resurrection is the ultimate authentication. God raised him from death.
So he is the ‘real thing’ for us too: His teaching is the real way, Trusting in His death is the real antidote to our inability to find God. The peace and power of His Spirit is the spiritual source that we need. Chocolate is undeniably helpful, but what we actually need is the reality of His presence to live free and fulfilled lives. Seeking to walk humbly, but adventurously with God, blessing others, forgiving and being forgiven.
Jesus really has conquered death and evil. He provides a way for us to really defeat death too. To any who believe and accept him as Lord He gives eternal hope and certainty for a real future. Good will ultimately prevail.
Do come and join us at LLCC as we celebrate the Easter season and “Taste and see that the Lord is Good!” (Ps 34v8).
22nd Feb 2017
A Picture for our Community
We’re collaborating together as a community of faith to create a picture which we believe is from God for us at this time. This is simply a tool to express a desire, but we’re hoping it will help our reflections and be an opportunity and a springboard for us to draw closer together and build one-another up in love and service. The picture includes an Ark, a Dove and a Cross. The craft will be installed at the Church at the Church meeting and people can participate in a brief slot at that meeting. It will then remain at the church to enable folk who are unable to be there at the meeting to take part in their own time.
It was started by the youngest members of the community at Open House on Tues 7th Feb:
… it was then developed and the Sunday School added some pebbles at the foot of the cross. Here it is on 12th Feb:
Then at the church community on 15th Feb we added squares of colour to the cross, and the dove and the rainbow as we felt led to help with our reflections…
It’s available at the church. Please contact us if you’d like to add to it too.
29th Jan 2017
Who are we?
Final slide from sermon on 1 Peter 2 v 4-10
- A Dynamic Team: A Spiritual House
- A Temple: Where God dwells
- A Holy Priesthood: Offering spiritual sacrifices of love, service and praise
- A Faith Movement built on Jesus: not a religion
- The people of God: His special possession
- God’s means for fulfilling His purposes: a declaration
What is the Church?
It’s great to be working with LLCC – I’ve now been here for a month. As we launch into this new season, we’re looking at the question ‘What is the Church’. Scripture gives us 3 images:
1) The Church is ‘Living Stones made into a Spiritual House where the very presence of God dewlls’ (1 Peter 2, 1 Cor 3, Eph 2).
2) The Church is the Body of Christ – continuing the works that he calls us to and building one another up with Christ as the Head of the Body (Eph 4, 1 Cor 12).
3) The Church is the Bride of Jesus Christ (Eph 5, John 3, Rev 21).
Others are also coming to speak to our community – bringing God’s word on other topics to build us up and commission us for mission and service. If you’ve missed a sermon you can download it from the ‘Sermon audio’ page. It’s an exciting time for the church. We look forward to seeing you on Sundays and other times – see our calendar and events pages for details.
Rev John Thompson, BUGB Minister