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Archive for August, 2008

The Church

This morning I am attending a Church service which will be the final one in that building.  The maintenance costs have reached a point where it is no longer viable to continue.

So often we say glibly that the Church is not the building, it is the people and of course that is true but to witness the emotions which that congregation has to come to terms with makes one realise that the building is a very important part of their experience of God and for many of them it has witnessed milestones in their Christian lives.  Many have been baptised and married in the building and have held funeral services for members of the family.  Some will have come to faith during a service in the Church and for almost all of them it contains memories of all kinds of special events which have remained treasured memories.  To say that it is only a building is, for them, to deny its importance in their Christian experience.   It is the task of the surrounding Churches to make sure that the needs of these people continue to be met by providing a place of welcome and friendship and a place where they can start to build for themselves a new spiritual home.

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Where has the time gone – can you believe it is almost September already and the school kids will be returning to their studies.

At New Longton Methodist we are celebrating our centenary year – the church building has been in position sharing God’s love in the village for 100 years.  During September we are concentrating our celebrations.  The first is a “Come and Sing Messiah” with a guest conductor and soloists.  As a musical church we will also have a musical extraganza weekend, a youth weekend, a local preacer and worship leader weekend, a special celebration meal – well you get the idea!  I feel honoured to be a part of all these in my role as First Named Steward of the church.

We will try and keep you updated on things and any thoughts we may have a long the way but if there is a gap in our musings then that is why.  Please keep us in your prayers and we also hope we can continue being a presence within our community for many more years to come.

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What does it mean to be a member of the Church, or of any organisation for that matter.

It seems to me that there are benefits and obligations. 

If I wish to become a member of a choral society then I would expect to be auditioned; not to see how good I am but to confirm that I am a singer, as I claim.  Then I would expect to be given a list of the choir rules which would include my duties as regards attendance and my financial contribution to the choir funds.  This done I would then become a member of the society and would have all the benefits which that membership provided.  I would enjoy the great pleasure of singing in choir concerts but would have to understand that only by the diligence and commitment of all the members of the society is this possible.  If my commitment is not a total one and I allow other things to take precedence over the choir then my ability to play a full part in the performance becomes less because I have not gained all that I need from regular practices.  If my membership fee is not paid in full and by the due date then the burden of meeting the financial commitments falls on the remaining choir members.

Of course, if I am prevented from attending choir practices by sickness or unavoidable circumstance then the choir would fully understand this and would offer any support needed during my absence and would look forward to the day when I could return.  The ability of the choir to achieve a high standard of musical performance would be dependant on every member playing their part in every aspect of the life of the choir; regular attendance, accepting the duties of committee membership, mundane matters like putting out chairs, setting up staging, collecting music etc.  Without this total commitment the whole choir would be prevented from achieving it’s full potential and every member would suffer because of this.

Much of this could equally apply to membership of the local Church.  First one must be sure that one’s desire to be committed to the life of the Church is matched by a commitment to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.  One cannot properly be a member of a society without being fully committed to the aims and objectives of that society.  Being a member of a Church is not the door to becoming a Christian but a desire to live out your Christian faith within the fellowship of the Denomination to which you join, gaining strength and support from the other members of the body of Christ.

Having become a member, you need to constantly remind yourself that your contribution to that Church is valuable and important, whatever that contribution might be, and that without your contribution other members are unable to reach their full potential as Christians.  Also you need to remember that your full commitment can only be sustained week by week by taking help, support and encouragement from the other Church members.  As the body of Christ every person has a vital part to play and unless every part is present and doing what God intended then the body cannot function properly and might even weaken and die.

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As some of you may be aware I have been attending a course for people with low self-esteem.  This week we had to think of two things that we were good at and write it up on the board.  You wouldn’t believe how difficult this is for someone who has low self esteem.  In the end I came up with caring and card making but then it is so automatic to try and justify yourself and the reasons for the choices made.

My homework is going to be difficult too – I have questions that I have to answer:

  • What do I like about myself however small and fleeting?
  • What positive qualities do I possess?
  • What have I achieved in my life, however small?
  • What challenges have I faced in my life?
  • What gifts or talents do i have, however modest?
  • What skills have I acquired?
  • What do other people like or value in me?
  • What qualities and actions that I value in other people do I share?
  • What aspects of myself would I appreciate if they were aspects of another person?
  • What small positives am I discounting?
  • What bad qualities do I not have?
  • How might another person, who cares about me, describe me?

I’m not asking for answers I just thought I would share these thoughts. 

Why don’t you answer the questions about yourself?  Do you look for the negative or positive points in a person?  It is amazing how such a small bad word or wrong thing can have such an influence on people.  Maybe it is a good time for you to try and change the way you think about yourself and others, and I am talking to myself here too!

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Jonathan Edwards

The newspapers have reported widely that Jonathan Edwards is no-longer a Christian.  I have come across the following blog which finishes by saying that Jonathan needs our prayers.

www.lordsday.co.uk/Jonathan%20Edwards.htm

 If there is anyone out there who believes in the power of prayer and is willing to pray for Jonathan they might like to add their support to this blog.  We believe that God never abandons the lost but seeks them out and longs to welcome them back.  We pray that Jonathan will find the faith that he once had, with all its questions and doubts and will once again proclaim Jesus as his Lord and Saviour.

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Well this time last week the Holiday Bible Club was about to start.  There was anticipation, expectation, terror, excitement and all the other emotions that are flying around when something new is about to start.  I say new but our church has been holding Holiday Bible Clubs for many years but each year brings something new, new children, new theme, new leaders, new technology etc etc

We had been frantically preparing for activities – my role was the craft preparation and now it is over.  Part of me is relieved but part of me is sad.  I am relieved because I have been busy and have spent most of my waking moments at church preparing or at home preparing and there has been lots of early mornings and I am DEFINITELY not a morning person.  I am sad because I have enjoyed having something to work towards and something to focus upon,  I have spent time with people who accept me for who I am and who are positive and I have been able to share with friends whilst getting things ready.  And what’s next I ask?

Ok there is tidying up to be done and craft equipment to be sorted but when that is done what am I going to do with myself?  How am I going to spend the evenings?  Do I just go back to being alone and being with people who don’t accept me for me?  These are just my thoughts and don’t necessarily need answering. 

I have been reminded that there are people who I can talk to and people who understand how I think.  They are always there and can be called upon when needed and for this I thank the Lord.  So if you are one of those people who has been there during the last few weeks, thank you very much and may God continue to Bless you!

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So far we are having a great time at the Holiday Bible Club.  About 37 children attend each morning with Craft, Teaching, Games, Singing, and eating.  Even the weather has notdampened their enthusiasm.  No one really knows the total amount of preparation time which is spent beforehand and in afternoons and evenings between the day’s activities.  What looks simple and easy when it is finished can take hours of cutting, painting, gluing and assembling, not to mention running through music, drama, technology such as amplification, sound, projector, and the preparing of the food, which is always made to match the theme for the day.  When the dust settles there will be some photos to show you.

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