Coming Soon…

Don’t forget we have the ‘Churches Together’ prayer meeting on Tuesday 17th October at 7:15 p.m. at GPCC. It’s been a real privilege to pray with Christians from other local churches this year and we are looking forward to joining together again to pray for our churches and communities. Join us if you can!

Next Sunday (22nd October) we have a Christian bookstall at church, so please come prepared to buy! There will be Christmas cards, calendars, diaries, gifts, books and CDs for sale, with CLC giving 10% of all takings back to the church. That’s not a bad deal and you don’t even have to venture far for these presents!

On Saturday 28th October we have a fundraising coffee morning for Barnsley Hospice (10 a.m. – 12 noon), so please do come along to this and support a very worthwhile charity.

We are very excited about the opportunities for outreach in November. ‘Churches Together’ will be involved in giving out goody bags and doing Advent activites at the Winter Wonderland event in Thurnscoe Flower Park on Saturday 18th November (12-5 p.m.)

and we will be hosting refreshments, craft activities, games, raffles, wrapping Christmas presents, family photos and much more at GPCC as part of the Goldthorpe Christmas Market on Friday 24th November from 4-8 p.m. Such events are great ways to chat with people and invite them to church meetings, so please do come along.

Prior to these events, you can help by:

  1. donating items for the food hamper which will be raffled (biscuits, chocolates, soft drinks, Christmas food items, tinned food etc.)
  2. donating items for the raffle or tombola
  3. making craft items to sell
  4. donating Poundland gifts for children or wrapped sweets/ lollies/ chocolates for the goody bags
  5. helping us to prepare the goody bags on Wednesday 8th November at 10:30 a.m. at the Salvation Army

On the day, we need people to come along and help with the different activities (e.g. providing home baking, serving on the stalls or serving refreshments), so please let us know if you’re available at all on those dates!

When Worship Is Genuine

Dave spoke this morning on 2 Samuel 6, the passage where David finally brings the ark back to Israel. The ark represented God’s presence and favour and blessing and was supremely important to Israel, but for many years, it had been held in foreign territory (see 1 Sam 4). David’s desire to see the ark restored to Israel demonstrated a heart that yearned for God’s presence.

Genuine worship will always flow from a desire to be with God; our God is known as ‘Immanuel’, God with us. Worship is not really about form or structure (the kind of music we use in worship or our position – standing, sitting, kneeling, dancing). It is a matter of the heart.

Genuine worship also has to be conducted in God’s way. Ex 25 and Num 4 gave precise instructions about how the ark was to be transported and by whom. When David disregarded these instructions and did things his own way, the result was disaster – Uzzah died when he reached out to steady the ark on a cart, struck down because he had dared to touch something holy. God defines how we should worship Him and we cannot simply do things our own way. For three months after Uzzah’s death, the ark stayed in the home of Obed-Edom because David was too afraid to move it again. Only after he saw the blessing on Obed-Edom’s house and learned of the true way of worship did he bring the ark back.

David’s excitement and exuberance in bringing the ark back (he danced before the Lord with all his might) give us a picture of whole-hearted worship which is nothing less than God deserves. The chief aim of mankind, according to the Westminster Catechism, is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Our worship and lives need to convey the joy, hope and passion which God brings to our lives. Genuine worship will frequently be misunderstood by people (Michal despised David for his worship, feeling he had behaved in a manner unbecoming to a king) but is the natural overflow of hearts that have been touched by God’s grace and love.

Telling Our Story

In concluding our studies on the psalms of thanksgiving, tonight we looked at the importance of story-telling our own lives and in witness. Psalm 107:2 says ‘Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story’, and it’s vital that we all understand the importance of testimony in reminding us of all God has done (redeemed us from the hand of the foe and gathered us from different lands, Ps 107:2-3). Our stories of all God has done for us can be powerful tools in keeping a right perspective and in evangelism.

Jesus told stories (parables) all the time, engaging his audience with stories that intrigued and drew them in to the larger story of God’s works. Stories are non-threatening and subversive, working their way into our imaginations and hearts, often changing us by allowing us to observe and then participate (think of Nathan’s story of the rich man and the lamb which penetrated David’s defences and brought him to repentance after committing murder and adultery.)

Psalm 107 lists four different scenarios which could be said to represent different situations and difficulties faced in life; all bear the common theme of God’s intervention and deliverance. The recurring refrain ‘then they cried out to the Lord in their troubles, and He delivered them from their distress’ (Ps 107:6, 13, 19, 28) shows us that whilst circumstances may differ, God does not! His deliverance may come in different ways, but His desire and ability to rescue never change.

Our response is to ‘give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for all mankind.’ (Ps 107:8, 15, 21, 31). Thanksgiving helps us to remember what God has done and to keep a right perspective in all situations; Paul reminds us to give thanks in all circumstances. (1 Thess 5:18)

Ps 107 concludes that the one who is wise needs to ‘heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.’ (Ps 107:43) Psalms of thanksgiving arise from the hearts of people who ponder what the Almighty can do and has already done. What has God done for you? What is your story? How can you best tell it?

Little packages…

There is a proverb that says ‘good things come in little packages’, which has often encouraged me since I’m not very tall! As a child, we tend to like the ‘big’ presents at Christmas; as adults, our presents tend to get smaller but cost even more! (Think of jewellery or computer equipment, for example…)

At the end of 1 Thessalonians, Paul gives us several commandments: sentences that are direct and to the point, but which contain a host of vital information. These ‘final instructions’ contain a wealth of guidance and direction, each wrapped in little packages:

  1. Acknowledge those who work hard among you
  2. Hold them in the highest regard in love
  3. Warn those who are idle and disruptive
  4. Encourage the disheartened
  5. Help the weak
  6. Be patient with everyone
  7. Don’t pay back wrong for wrong
  8. Strive to do what is good for others
  9. Rejoice always
  10. Pray continually
  11. Give thanks in all circumstances
  12. Don’t quench the Spirit
  13. Don’t treat prophecies with contempt, but test them all
  14. Hold on to what is good
  15. Reject every kind of evil

Phew! That’s a lot of little packages to unpack and ponder!

Living Worry-Free

Living ‘worry-free’ seems a pipe-dream to most of us (a pipe dream is an unrealistic hope or fantasy, a phrase alluding to the strange dreams experienced by smokers of opium pipes in the 18th and 19th centuries.) We spend our lives steeped in worry, to the extent that even a lack of worry can induce anxiety in us!

Yet worrying betrays a lack of trust in a benevolent God whose care for the lilies and sparrows should remind us that nothing is too small to escape His loving attention. (Matt 6:25-34) When we worry, we effectively say we don’t believe God cares enough to help us or is not powerful enough to help us… and so we take on to our shoulders responsibilities and burdens we were never designed to bear.

One way of overcoming worry is taking time out at regular intervals throughout the day to stop and consciously focus our attention on God. This helps us to allow God into our lives and gives us the opportunity to hand our worries over to Him. I frequently write down the worries, put them in an envelope and post them to God (via the dustbin.) They are then His problem, not mine!

Another antidote to worry is praise. It’s hard to remain anxious when we sing out the truth of God’s Word (‘over fear, over lies, we’re singing the truth/That nothing is impossible with You,’ as Rend Collective sing.) Singing is one of the best ways I know to dispel worry.

Ultimately, it’s a question of where we put our trust. We either trust God to take care of us (living ‘care-less’ because ‘He cares for us’ (1 Pet 5:7)), or we believe it’s all down to us (living like Atlas, with the world on our shoulders). As Matt Redman reminds us, God wants to ‘take the world off my shoulders , the weight of it all off my shoulders’ (‘Hope Is Marching On‘).

Living worry-free isn’t easy, but it is possible if we put our trust in a God who cares for us more than we can ever imagine.

Stop Mithering!

‘Stop mithering!‘ was a phrase I heard frequently in my childhood. For those of you not brought up in the Barnsley area of South Yorkshire, ‘mither’ (with a long ‘i’, as in ‘might’) may not be a familiar word. It means to fuss over something, usually with a negative connotation such as moaning or grumbling. It was a phrase I heard a lot because, sad to say, I’m an expert at mithering.

When I mither, I ‘sweat the details.’ As a pedantic control freak, I tend to see sweating the details as quite a virtue, a unique selling point, almost! I like to be organised and to work out the little details. For years I organised speaking tests at school which involved military precision timing and movement as one pupil had to be moved, under supervision, from a preparation room to the exam room without any chance of meeting another pupil en route. (Not as easy as it might sound in the building I  worked in!) There is, however, a fine line between organisation and mithering. My organisation frequently falls into the fussing category, and before I am even vaguely aware of the fact, tips into downright worry.

Jesus was unequivocal about the pointlessness of worry: ‘Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?’ He asked (Matt 6:27) Worry saps our energy and achieves nothing except our own loss of peace. Yet so often we fuss, worry, moan and complain as an alternative to trust.

Jesus told us not to worry, and for those of us whose initial reaction to that commandment is ‘easier said than done!’ offered us a practical alternative to worrying: ‘Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.’ (Matt 6:33) There truly is no need to mither, because God know our needs (Matt 6:32) and has promised to supply them (Phil 4:19). As Stephen reminded us last night, the antidote to living life in a worried lather (‘a mucksweat’, to keep to Yorkshire idioms!) is to trust the God who is able to do ‘immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.’ (Eph 3:20)