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Sun, Jul 23, 2017

Does it matter what we do? Can those things we put real effort and substantial resources into save our souls? What should be top of the priorities – who we believe or how we express our faith?

Without dismissing the nature or the importance of the law, Paul makes it clear that only faith saves but a holy life (works) is the fruit of a life committed to God. In other words, works represent faith being the fruit of our belief, they do not produce it.

The evidence Paul presents is indisputable: he has history on his side (Abraham and God’s Covenant), as well the immediacy of the readers’ own experiences and faith stories. Above all, it is Christ’s work on the cross which frees us from the condemning of the law, whilst at the same time bringing us total freedom to live as God’s children.

Sun, Jul 23, 2017

The walls may be built and the doors in place but the work doesn’t finish when one job is complete. A rebuilt city is little use without a reconstructed nation.

Here, as elsewhere, the example has to begin at the top if God’s vision is to be fully realised. Nehemiah’s choice for two key posts isn’t simply a matter of administration – it reflects the ability of the individuals concerned as well as their character. It’s an approach we’d to well to follow in contemporary public life: what kind of people do we trust to lead us?

Sun, Jul 09, 2017
The church today engages on two fronts: bringing Good News to where we are as well as secondly, building a body that, characterised with connected variety and personal grace will be the foundation for taking the church beyond its walls and structures. When we’re put under intense pressure to toe a party line even the most single minded of us find it hard to resist. Peter was no exception to this but perhaps like many of us, he hadn’t stopped to consider the wider impact of his change of mind. It wasn’t as if it was a minor matter …. the issue the Galatian believers faced was a crisis of identity and understanding. For a leader of Peter’s pedigree to come down on one side or another, was a significant step indeed. How do we make sure that we come down on the “right” side?
Sun, Jul 09, 2017
The only thing that matters: …. I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace (Acts 20:24) Paul is nearing the end of his final missionary journey. Only one destination remains - Rome - where he will face the executioner’s axe. His last words to the church leaders in Ephesians (some of which are recorded above), emphasise the importance of wise government and gentle care as well as warning them that they will soon go through the same kind of persecution that will claim His life. Above all, the church is to continue in its God given task of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ. It’s a reminder that we shouldn’t stop when we’re tired or under pressure but when we’re done.
Sun, Jul 02, 2017
We hear a lot about it but what does “missional engagement“ really look like? Throughout this letter, written to a church struggling with identity, Paul sets out the credentials of his calling. This calling is set within the parameters of “grace” - that is, it does not happen and it is not shaped by who Paul is – it is set by who God is and what He has done and will do There’s clearly a battle going on. It’s not simply over the control of the fellowship, it also affects the unity of the believers because it affects the future of the church’s mission. Getting it wrong now – focusing on law not grace - will have significant consequences as it influences the way the church sees itself and the world around it
Sun, Jul 02, 2017
Conflict is never far away, especially when the church is growing and/or is making a difference in the life of the community. We may be doing all that’s necessary to ensure that we are on the right track with God but our faithfulness will inevitably confront the beliefs, practices and lifestyles of those who do not share our commitment to Christ. The result – as in Philippi - is often extreme and invariably personal. Paul and Silas are keen to join the small but growing group of people who are meeting at the place of prayer by the river. They are confronted by a spirit possessed slave girl who is being abused at every turn: the deliverance they bring to her results in them being chained up. The Christian life is not all plain sailing. We will have to chart our way through choppy waters from time to time particularly when we challenge those with something to lose. Even then, we are assured of God’s presence – and it’s amazing to see how He works even in the direst of circumstances.
Sun, Jun 25, 2017

Churches are places of harmony, acceptance and unity.

That may be God’s intention but it isn’t always what we find in real life. The smallest of issues can generate the widest of divisions , where “discussion” brings more heat than light to the table. It’s very easy to draw lines and erect barricades when that happens, rather than finding common ground on the things that really matter (there’s a big clue there).

The early church was far from immune to such problems. Human nature being what it is, some people found it hard to accept that they had to change (Acts 14); others thought that any practical changes to expected behaviour would be watering down the faith (Galatians 1).

It was serious stuff – did God want the gospel to go to all nations and was circumcision so important? Tune in today to two messages which develop the theme of freedom in Christ bringing harmony to the church.

Sun, Jun 25, 2017

Churches are places of harmony, acceptance and unity.

That may be God’s intention but it isn’t always what we find in real life. The smallest of issues can generate the widest of divisions , where “discussion” brings more heat than light to the table. It’s very easy to draw lines and erect barricades when that happens, rather than finding common ground on the things that really matter (there’s a big clue there).

The early church was far from immune to such problems. Human nature being what it is, some people found it hard to accept that they had to change (Acts 14); others thought that any practical changes to expected behaviour would be watering down the faith (Galatians 1).

It was serious stuff – did God want the gospel to go to all nations and was circumcision so important? Tune in today to two messages which develop the theme of freedom in Christ bringing harmony to the church.

Sun, Jun 18, 2017
Passage: Mark 4:35-41
Duration: 20 mins 14 secs
18-Jun AM; Mark 4:35-41
Sun, Jun 11, 2017
Passage: 1 Samuel 3
Duration: 32 mins 3 secs
11-Jun AM; 1 Samuel 3
Sun, Jun 11, 2017
Duration: 20 mins 53 secs
11-Jun PM; Matthew 28.16 - 20
Sun, Jun 04, 2017
Passage: Hosea 10
Duration: 28 mins 59 secs

You can throw seeds down on any old patch or earth but you can’t expect them to grow unless the conditions are absolutely right.

In my day, we spent a long time in O Level Biology, studying the growth of seeds: it was an all Boys’ school, after all. I seem to recall that seeds wouldn’t grow correctly without light, water or gravity (the last being very tough to prove). Above all, nothing would happen unless there was an effective growing medium even if it was simply cotton wool or paper, on which we sowed cress seeds.

I won’t grow unless I have the right conditions … and I’m not talking quality pies here either. You and I need nourishment and light as well as the right growing medium. God feeds us through His Word (the Bible) and brings light into darkness in Christ but how ready am I to grow?

For Hosea and the people of His time the real stumbling block was an inadequate seed bed. Nothing could take root in the kind of hard heart that had closed itself off from God, however persuasive the message might be. How might the church today need to change to break down our tough ground that faith may be rekindled and the fire of mission might burn?

Sun, Jun 04, 2017
Duration: 35 mins 41 secs

Six Mile Bottom. Grunty Fen. Nasty. Ugley.

You can’t make it up: every single one of these names is the real life location of someone’s home. Like it or not – whether it’s a wry smile or notoriety you’re after – if you live here you are stuck with the name of your hometown or village.

To everyone else these names really mean little if nothing at all. The same goes for pretty much every village or place in the UK and further afield. Unless you’ve been there or read about them, most places simply don’t figure on our radar even if they appear fleetingly on a road sign, as a reference point on a map or in an atlas.

Iconium, Lystra and Derbe are a world away from 21st century Britain. Acts is written about the 1st century church and its spread from the very first believers in Jerusalem. All the same, the church then has so much in common with us today – it faced its challenges head on and grew through the Grace of God and the faithful witness of ordinary people. As today, power came from and through the Holy Spirit – an event we celebrate today at Pentecost.

Sun, May 28, 2017
Passage: Hosea 2:1-3:5
Duration: 25 mins 50 secs

There isn’t really a good day to bury bad news. It always gets out sooner or later

Hosea has a responsibility that few of us would welcome or would wish to share. Bad news is one thing, outlining the negative consequences of people’s behaviour is quite another. Relaying God’s judgement to a self obsessed and self righteous nation is neither commonplace nor likely to boost you in the popularity stakes.

The positive outcome – and it’s a real message not political spin – is that there is still hope. Circumstances outcomes and people can change. Even though we reject God, he is willing us to sort it and ready to welcome us when we turn round to rejoin him.

Sun, May 28, 2017
Duration: 29 mins 11 secs

Ever wanted to be part of something special? Now here’s your chance.

From voting in elections to volunteering in community groups, there’s always something you can do to be part of something much bigger. It may not feel like it at the time but your contribution is always vital, even if it might not always be appreciated.

“If not me, who? If not now, when?” On the 4th June 1989, these words appeared on a banner in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. They represented the commitment of those who were rebelling against the repressions of communist regime that had been in power since 1947. Many of those who took this on board lost their lives in the battles that followed, others were imprisoned but, their legacy remains.

Conversion is not just an intellectual assent to welcome ideas. It is a commitment to a new way of living and to rolling our sleeves up, getting involved when the need arises. If you want to be part of something really special, get deeply involved with God and His church today.

Sun, May 21, 2017
Passage: Hosea 1
Duration: 26 mins 25 secs

As dysfunctional families go, Hosea’s takes the biscuit.

His new wife has a very insalubrious past and will have a racy future. God tells him to name his children in such a way that they reflect the state of the nation: imagine being called “God scatters;” “not loved;” not my people. It puts some of today’s celebrity choices like “Bear” well into the shade.

There’s a real point to all of this. Poor leadership and selfish personal choices have left the nation divided and on the brink of ruin. How can it ever recover?

Sun, May 21, 2017
Passage: Acts 9:20-31
Duration: 27 mins 40 secs

There’s a lot of talk around at the moment about “alternative truth” – circumstances where it seems as if everybody apart from one person knows what’s right but the power broker is able to weave a very different web. It’s hardly surprising that more and more people are increasingly sceptical at what may or may not be real life events.

Saul’s conversion didn’t get the Antioch church pulling out the hymn books for a praise and worship service. They were, perhaps understandably given his history, rather suspicious of this one time Pharisee who was now claiming a close encounter with God.

The proof is in the pudding. Saul’s commitment to the cause of Christ is amply demonstrated by his readiness to tell a story and to give all the glory to God.

Sun, May 14, 2017
Passage: Jeremiah 1
Duration: 28 mins 13 secs

Learning to ride a bike is a lot harder than some people make out. Many of us only learned to stay upright because we had the stability of two training wheels, giving the confidence and balance necessary to ride off into the sunset. I still have training wheels. A strange confession you might think but perhaps it's not so unusual after all. I've a lot to learn about my life - it's called discipleship - and I don't think I'm that unusual in that respect. Today's reading tells us the story of Jeremiah's call from God. His reservations and excuses overcome, he embarks on a prophetic ministry which will speak to the nation at a time of uncertainty and which will, ultimately, lead them back to God. His training wheels may still be on but his challenge to His time and ours remains a potent call to holiness.

Sun, Apr 30, 2017
Passage: Mark 5:21-43
Duration: 21 mins 25 secs
30-Apr AM; Mark 5:21-43
Sun, Apr 23, 2017
Duration: 29 mins 13 secs

It can be a pretty lonely place especially if you are on your own. It’s tougher still if the reasons for your isolation are misinterpreted or misunderstood.

The church isn’t the world but unless it is part of the world then faith will never impact the lives of ordinary people. It’s not easy to work this out and remain true to our calling as, from time to time, churches have compromised by being too intimate or have created conflict by being too other worldly. Sharing God’s love with the world isn’t just about spreading wider – it demands we grow deeper as well.