Sunday, 18 February 2018

Don’t Get Distracted

We can have all the glitz and glam of church and make worship ‘cool’ but we’ve missed the point if we don’t have the presence of God. After all it’s the presence of God that changes lives and transforms us

Source: EvangelismHelp.com
I find myself writing this in the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool. I’m sat in one of the side chapels surrounded by such beautiful architecture, design and craftsmanship. There is such simplicity, yet the attention to detail is amazing. What I love though is that everything surrounding me does not distract me from what its intended purpose is. It’s a space which draws me into the presence of God.

Why do I share this? How is this relevant to us today? For me it’s simple, but something that even I sometimes get distracted from all too quickly, and it’s this… sometimes we focus so much of our time and energy into how things look in our church. In our worship times we have the lights, the smoke machine and maybe we’re even tempted to get a giant LED screen for the back of the stage. We want our singers to jump up and down, the band to at least sing along to the songs they are playing. All these are great and I love them and at times these things are really important, but the danger is that they can become our focus. Our job as worship teams is to create a space where people can come into the Presence of God, not create a space that replaces the Presence of God. Everything we do and bring, the surroundings we create and design should always have a purpose in helping to point people to Jesus.

Source: Patric Benziher - WordPress.com
Psalm 22:3 tells us; ‘But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel’. I love this verse as it reminds me that God’s presence dwells in us when we worship him. But our worship must come from a place of authenticity and not dressed up with bells and whistles!!! We can have all the glitz and glam of church and make worship ‘cool’ but we’ve missed the point if we don’t have the presence of God. After all it’s the presence of God that changes lives and transforms us.

As church leaders, worship pastors, worship leaders, creative freaks, let’s not get so caught up in how things look in the experience of worship that we forget the one true thing we should experience in our worship. The presence of Jesus. There is no substitute for that. I’m not against all the lights and technology, in fact it’s something I love, embrace and encourage my team to work hard at - but it has to have a purpose. As worship teams, our services are an opportunity for us to worship God and just as importantly help lead and encourage others to worship Him. Let’s lead from a place of authenticity without creating a distraction, keeping the main thing the main thing. Let’s create an environment which helps point people to Jesus.


Author: Simon Harper – AOG Worship Team

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Sunday, 11 February 2018

On Christ the Solid Rock, I’ll Stand

When we come into the presence of God we stand on Holy ground. Holy ground is immovable, it cannot be shaken, it is the most solid ground you will ever stand on

Source:SlideShare
During a recent time of worship at one of our Sunday Services we sang the wonderful worship song ‘I go to the Rock’.  For many days after the service the song kept going around in my head and particularly the following words; ‘When the earth all around is sinking sand on Christ the solid rock I’ll stand, when I need a shelter, when I need a friend I go to the rock’. I was really blessed to be continually reminded of what a magnificent God we serve who gave us Jesus, the Cornerstone that will never be shaken and who provides a firm foundation for those who know Him; Isaiah 28:16 ‘So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic’. I love the way in which the Holy Spirit just drops things into our minds because the words of the song also made me think of foundations and how important they are. I suppose the thought of foundations was not such a surprise for me as I’m a Building Surveyor and I teach about stability and structure to my University students. What is interesting is how God uses our everyday lives, activities and interactions etc. to communicate with us.

An important part of the design of any building is an assessment of the ground conditions to establish what the most appropriate foundation will be. This can be influenced by lots of different things, such as the type and nature of the ground (sandy ground, clay soil, or more solid ground etc.), the amount of water in the ground, contaminants in the ground, such as high levels of sulphates, nitrates etc. Basically, without getting too technical, there is a lot to think about. The whole purpose is to ensure that when built, the foundation will be strong and stable and the building will not move. This can also be related to our Christian journey.  We want to ensure that when times are tough and when our world is being shaken (because it will), when the world seems to be falling apart all around us, that our foundation is strong enough to support us. Praise God He shows us how to build a strong foundation; Matthew 7:24-25 'Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock'. Reading and hearing the words of God is important, however what is even more important is being obedient and putting them into practice.

Source: Nan Jones
I have often inspected buildings where cracking had occurred which was a result of ground movement (you may have heard the term subsidence). Some of the damage I have seen was superficial and only required minor repairs however some of the damage was so severe that it required extensive and very expensive remedial works to rectify. In some cases, a building may have been over 100 or 150 years old and had been perfectly stable, without any problems, until recently when something happened in the ground to weaken it to a point where it could no longer take the load of the building and it started moving. On other occasions the buildings were only a few years old but after a very short period of time they had started to move. God used this as an example to show me that even Christians who have been following Jesus for many year can allow the ground to be taken from under their feet as well as demonstrating how vulnerable new Christians are. Satan does not care whether we are a mature Christian or a new Christian, he is always trying to distract us and to take us away from God, however these are precisely the times we should stand on the Rock; Psalm 31:1-5 ‘In you, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, LORD, my faithful God’.

Following a building inspection it was sometimes necessary to provide additional support to a building’s foundations because the foundation and/or the ground underneath had weakened or failed. One way of doing this was to introduce a new deeper foundation directly underneath the failed foundation to ensure that the building transferred its load back onto solid ground. This is a technique known as ‘underpinning’. Sometimes we might find the ground under our feet is weakening as the challenges of life are continually thrown at us. However at any moment we can go to Jesus, the Rock, who will provide all of the support we need to strengthen us. Jesus is our ‘underpinning’, our Rock and stronghold who will ensure that our foundations will never fail if we call on His name; Psalm 18:2 ‘The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold’.

When we come into the presence of God we stand on Holy ground. Holy ground is immovable, it cannot be shaken, it is the most solid ground you will ever stand on. So, when our lives are being shaken when our world seems to be falling all around our feet then let’s enter the presence of God and stand on the Solid Rock of Christ. Let us protect ourselves by reading God’s Word and applying it in our lives, let us pray, let us seek the counsel of a trusted Christian brother or sister, let us worship and glorify God. All these things will help to bring us into the presence of God and to put our feet on Holy ground which will strengthen our foundation.Let us not build on the sandy foundation of human philosophies and ideas, let us build on the solid foundation of grace and righteousness which is to live by faith in Christ. Amen


Author: Gary O’Neill

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Sunday, 4 February 2018

What would Jesus think?

What do you think Jesus would say if He attended a church service and witnessed the declining attitudes towards God? Mobile phones being taken out during service and calls being taken is a common occurrence and an example of declining attitudes.

Source: PInterest
A book called ‘The Visit’ written by Adrian Plass, encourages the reader to ask the question in all situations ‘What would Jesus Do’? In summary the book is about Jesus Himself arriving in the flesh to attend a service at a local church and the author asks the reader this question ‘would your church be ready’? The answers to these questions can be no more than a guess however the messages that emerge from the pages of the book are very powerful. At times, it was almost embarrassing to read because in the story there are many different characters and the idea is that the reader will relate to one of those characters. I could see myself as the ‘organiser’, not the best character in the book. The ‘organiser’ is a bit religious and set in their ways, however this unveiling encouraged me to seek God in prayer. Reading this book coupled with a recent study at MCF Life Church on the seven churches (Revelation 2 and 3), led me to ask God for His guidance and direction for our fellowship to ensure that everything we did would bring Glory to God’s Holy name always.

During my time of prayer God led me to look at the church in the wider context and even though there is amazing work being accomplished in many churches there is still some areas of concern. Outside of the regenerated ‘born again’ Spirit there can be confusion where people of the world sometimes feel a ‘lack of love’ within the Christian Churches. I have witnessed on rare occasions seats not been given up because some attendees at the service have wanted a chair to keep their possessions on. Even though this behaviour does not happen often, I pray that it never happens at all.

A further question I asked is what would Jesus think if He attended a church service and witnessed the declining attitudes towards God? Mobile phones being taken out during service and calls being taken is a common occurrence and an example of declining attitudes. Mobile phones are being put before reverence to God Almighty the Creator of all the universe! There was a time when God was feared and worshipped and loved with a sincere heart of honour; Proverb 1:7 ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction’.

Source: Britton Christian Church
What do you think Jesus would say to a Church bearing his name with a large food bank refusing to feed a hungry family with young children because the family had the wrong postcode? When Jesus fed the five thousand He never asked for postcodes!  God’s Holy Word teaches us that everyone has a right to eat and drink in the name of the Lord. This also led me to ask in prayer what Jesus would think of churches charging an admission fee to get into a service? This financial cost may exclude the widows, the orphans, the poor, the needy, the disabled, the marginalised and all those that God loves and that Jesus Christ come on earth to save. (Read; Luke 14:13-14, James 1:27, Deuteronomy 10:18 and Psalm 68:5). Jesus Christ is our number one role model and He never charged for any of His teachings, Jesus welcomed everyone.

Another area of concern is the confusion around all the different denominations within the Christian Church and the ongoing disagreements between them. This can be especially confusing to those who are seeking a relationship with God. My prayer is that as a child of God my response to any questions around the different denominations will be clear and the answer will always be; ‘I love the triune God with all my heart, and when the living reality of the presence of the Holy Ghost sent by Jesus Christ comes upon me and within me I see no denominations but only the true believing soul to be the bride for His Beloved Son Jesus Christ’ Amen. The scripture that comes to mind is Acts 19:2 ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed ……….’.

In conclusion, let us be sure of one thing; Jesus Christ is coming back for one spotless Bride. Our earthly life is to prepare to be at the wedding feast as the Bride of our beloved Jesus Christ, our eyes fixed on the cross and our lamps overflowing with oil; Revelation 19:7 ‘Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready’. Our Prayer is that our life will be an accurate reflection of Jesus to others. Father, help us to die to ourselves (2 Corinthians 4:12 and Philippians 3:8-14). Holy Spirit help us to Glorify God in everything. We pray that our church has Jesus at the very centre of everything and we pray that everyone feels the overflowing love of God in their lives. Amen

‘Here we are Lord’, use us to bear fruit for your Kingdom on earth and to change the world. God have Mercy on us when we get things wrong, we know we are all a work in progress, as is your beloved church.

May God, bless you all in Jesus Christ’s name and through the Holy Spirit Amen.

Also, why not join us in reading three chapters of the bible a day? The chapters are posted on our website every day so that you can keep track of where we are in God’s amazing Word. (MCF Website link)


Author:Christina O’Neill

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Sunday, 28 January 2018

Why, Why, Why?

Being in heaven is to spend eternity with God whereas the other place referred to as hell or hades is a place that does not have God there. I cannot think of anything worse than not having God present in my life…

Source: PInterest
How many of us as adults have cringed when young children go through the 'why stage’, where they seem to want to know everything and we often don’t always know how to answer? Well here are a few ‘why questions’ that we as adults may ask or even be asked about our Christian journey, together with my attempt at answers:

Why is it is important to be in heaven? - The bible tells us there are just two places we will spend eternity (this is not just a short time like 50, 60 or 70 years, eternity is forever - something that will never stop); Romans 2:6-8 ‘God will repay each person according to what they have done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger’. Being in heaven is to spend eternity with God whereas the other place referred to as hell or hades is a place that does not have God there. I cannot think of anything worse than not having God present in my life and so for me heaven is my choice. What is yours?

Why should we choose the path that God tells us? - We often say that people are so good that they are bound to go to heaven, but that is not strictly true. Being good alone is not good enough. God says there is only one way to heaven and that is through Jesus Christ, the Son; John 14:6 ‘Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’. I believe that the bible is the Word of God, so I believe that is the only way, and the only option I have. What is your choice?

Source: PInterest
Why is it important that Jesus is coming again? - Jesus is coming back again, and when He gets here I want to be with Him. If I don’t pass from this earth before He comes, I want to be there on that resurrection morning, ready to meet him and my brothers and sisters in Jesus, in the air; 1 Thessalonians 4:17 ‘we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever’. Once Jesus returns there will be no more chances for us to accept this ‘free gift’ that He gives to us now. We have no way of knowing what tomorrow holds, so why risk putting it off? You could end up risking everything. Even at 6 years old I didn’t want to risk that and decided to give my life to Jesus. 

Why decide now? - Besides not knowing what the future holds I have lived daily with God at my side as part of everything I do/every decision I make and I want to continue to live with Him now. I want Him to continue to be part of my life now, not just when I get older and may appear to have lived life to the full (as people may see it). I want to live in His awesome presence all the time. Why would I want to deny myself knowing God right now? In fact, why would you?

I have shared with you some of my questions and I will leave you with a prayer that you can use if you want a relationship with Jesus for yourself. If you pray this or something similar please look for someone else that has been on this journey for a while so that they may come alongside you and help to answer some of the questions that you may have.

‘Dear God, thank you for making me and wanting me to be part of your family. I am sorry for the wrong things I have thought, said and done. Thank you that you sent Jesus as a baby, knowing He would die on the cross so that I could be forgiven and become part of your family. Please forgive me now’.

May you be blessed.


Author: Julie Roach

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Sunday, 21 January 2018

I have set before you an open door that no man can shut

When God guides He provides! Don’t listen to the wrong voices! Start listening to the voice of God! Receive it by faith; step out and obey it, for the promise to us all is ‘I am with you’

Source: i.ytimg.com
Has God ever given you a vision for your future, and put that vision firmly in your heart only for you to be discouraged by friends, family or even brothers and sisters in Christ? I suspect that this has happened to most of us at some point in our lives, however if God gives us a vision we should keep praying and in addition, ask others to pray with us as well.  God will then begin to work in us and to prepare us for what he has called us to do; He will open the right doors at the right time. We can be encouraged by two great women; Gladys Aylward and Jacki Pullinger who were both rejected by the Missionary Societies of their day, but they refused to let go of their calling and God’s promises; Philippians 4:13 ‘I can do all things through Him who strengthens me’ and Romans 8:30 ‘And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified’.

Source: ywamfrontiers.com
Gladys Aylward (1902-1970) - was one of the most well-known missionaries of her time. A working-class girl with a strong calling from God for China. She was discouraged by the Missionary Society but undeterred she worked as a house maid and used her life savings on a train passage to Yuncheng in China where she assisted a missionary named Jennie Lawson, providing hospitality and sharing stories about Jesus. Later Gladys went on to assist the Chinese government as a ‘foot inspector’ which required travelling the countryside to enforce the new law against foot binding of young Chinese girls. She became a Chinese citizen in 1936 and she was loved by the local people, Gladys looked after orphaned children and took in several herself. In 1938 the region was invaded by Japanese forces and she led 100 orphans to safety over the mountains, it was a hard and dangerous journey. Gladys cared for the orphans personally and converted many to Christianity. She spent her last days in an orphanage in Taiwan, until the Lord called her home in 1970; 1 Peter 2:21 ‘To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps’.

Source: followingafterjesus.wordpress.com
Jackie Pullenger MBE -  Born in 1944 and at the age of 22 Jackie decided that she wanted to be a missionary and contacted various missionary organisations, but was unable to find support. Undeterred she brought a one-way ticket for a boat trip to go as far as she could. Jackie got off the boat in Hong Kong with just £10 in her pocket where she found work as a Primary School Teacher in Kowloon walled city. In the 1960’s Kowloon was not policed and so crime, opium and street gangs flourished. Jackie started a youth club in Kowloon where she began to win the trust of the local youths. One night while she was binding the wound of a triad gang member in a urine soaked alleyway she came to realise that saying; ‘Jesus loves you’ was not enough. She realised the people responded to Jesus in action and thought; ‘How can they understand that Jesus loves them when they have never been loved or shown any love’? At that moment Jackie decided to be Jesus to them in practical ways when she realised that words were not enough. In 1981 she started the St. Stevens Society, a charity that would provide rehabilitation for recovering drug addicts, prostitutes and gang members. The Hong Kong government of that day donated land for the Society’s work for which prayer and ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit was part of what they did. This resulted in miracles and changed lives which came about when they met Jesus Christ in a powerful way. Many decided to give their life to following Jesus Christ their saviour.

Jackie was awarded an MBE in 1988 and today she says; ‘I feel Blessed to have lived my life to do God’s work’. She also said; ‘churches tend to look after nice people but I do my work with the nasty ones like addicts and prostitutes who feel despised and excluded’. Jackie recognised that these people won’t go near churches, so she made it her job to go out and find them. The sad reality is that Jackie and Gladys were not seen as suitable for mission work, however, God had other plans for their lives. Amen.

In Jeremiah 1:5 God explains His calling to Jeremiah ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations’. God foresaw Jeremiah ministering to nations. Discernment (to recognise or find out) is so important because it is not us who decide our calling, we need to discern it! If you haven’t discerned your calling yet, then get into God’s presence and stay there until He reveals it to you. Jeremiah’s response to God in Jeremiah 1:6 was to doubt his calling; ‘Alas, Sovereign LORD, I said, I do not know how to speak; I am too young’. Are we all guilty of this sometimes? Saying ‘I cannot’, or ‘I’m too young’, ‘too poor’, ‘too old’, ‘not had the right training’, ‘the wrong nationality’ etc. God’s response was to change what was coming out of Jeremiah’s mouth; Jeremiah 1:7 ‘But the LORD said to me, Do not say, I am too young. You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you’.

If we keep contradicting what God says to us we are effectively ‘pulling the plug’ on everything He wants to do for us. Listen again to God’s words in Jeremiah 1:8-9 ‘Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the LORD. Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, I have put my words in your mouth’.

When God guides He provides! Don’t listen to the wrong voices! Start listening to the voice of God! Receive it by faith; step out and obey it, for the promise to us all is ‘I am with you’.


Author: Eileen Greaves

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