A very fruitful and happy 2015 to you and yours! We look forward to all that the Lord has for us as we journey on.
At the outset of this New Year we have some changes in personnel to let you know about and to seek your prayer for.
Youth: We are delighted that Mark Watson has joined the staff team and it was so good to have the opportunity of introducing and welcoming him at the services on 11th January. Please pray for Mark especially in these early days and weeks as he takes up his duties.
Toddlers: Kate Diwakar is now leading the Toddler Team. Please pray for her and all the team as they get back into gear with the busyness and opportunity that Toddlers brings.
Students: At Christmas Nod and Angie Bhatia stood down as leaders of the Student Ministry. We are so grateful for Nod and Angie’s passion and care for the students and we honour them for all their good work. From January Martin and Gina Graham have taken on the leadership of the Student Ministry so please pray for them and all the students as a new term unfolds. Ruth Hassall will be the staff contact for Student Ministry.
Looking further forward, over the holiday period I was thinking and asking the Lord about the year ahead and His priorities for us as a church. I gave thanks for the ways that we have seen the Lord working in the last year. Though 2014 was difficult, we saw the Lord working amongst us in the work and ministry of the church. This was especially so in bringing a greater sense of wholeness and unity amongst us following a fractured and shocking start to the year.
Recently for example, several people commented very positively on the creativity, the sense of togetherness and of God’s presence in Christmas Services. We were pleased to welcome many visitors who joined us as we worshipped the Lord who has broken into a fractured world.
I thanked God for His goodness to us as a church community; and with a sense of expectation asked him what His plans were for us in the future.
We know that these purposes include the need for us to give attention to many practical things in the year ahead. We are clear about those and have set them out in the letter to the church community published just before Christmas (Where are we now?). As I was thinking I was more concerned though for God’s planned spiritual agenda … what does the Lord want to do amongst us and what should our kingdom priorities be?
As I pondered and prayed I felt the Lord change my perspective. Rather than answering my questions directly, I felt that the Lord invited me to think about His expectations of each of us as we come to worship. I felt a challenge against coming to church as consumers of what He gives us … an expectation and motivation that says in effect, ‘what’s in it for me?’ Instead I thought ‘what does the Lord require of me … of each of us … as we come to worship?’
It’s no great stretch to get from there to Micah chapter 6 where the same question is answered. So I read …
8He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Three simple yet profound challenges;
- Act Justly. Do what’s right.
- Love mercy. Be kind, gentle and forgiving when others don’t do right by you.
- Walk humbly with your God. Acknowledge that God is your God – and make sure that you keep in step with Him.
I felt that the implication of this verse, against the question I had started with – asking the Lord about the year ahead and His priorities for us as a church – was God saying, ‘You major on your heart attitude and your input into worship and serving and leave the outcome to me.’
I carried on with my reading in the Prophet Micah and read in Micah 7,
15“As in the days when you came out of Egypt, I will show them my wonders.”
Again I thought … that’s what we need Lord, we need to see your wonders afresh … perhaps an overwhelming sense of your glory. We’ve seen many good things Lord, but we want to see more of your power and signs and wonders at work among us. What do we need to do? We long to see this more and more so that we are held in awe and wonder at your greatness.
Then the thought came back … ‘You major on your heart attitude and your input into worship and serving and leave the outcome to me.’
And that’s how it was for a few days until I was reading some notes I made from a talk given by an amazing prophetic woman several years ago. My notes record her saying,
‘Anointing (the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit) in a meeting comes because of the hunger of the people not the anointing of the speaker’ ‘If people are hungry He will come.’
So I ask myself– if I’m responsible for my attitude and input and God is responsible for the outcome – how hungry am I? How justly do I act? How much do I love mercy? Am I walking humbly with my God?
I believe God says to us, for the year ahead, don’t major on the outcome (what I will do) … major on your heart attitude and your input (what you will bring to me).
May we heed this and may the words of Ephesians 3:20 be worked out among us. ‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.