Pastor’s Thoughts – October 2016

Dear friends,

Over the last month we have been thinking about the good news, the gospel message and what it means for us and the world. Our mission is to enable people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. That requires people to take a journey from disbelief to faith; from darkness to light; from sin to righteousness. And there is the problem: we cannot make ourselves righteous. We cannot just become people who do right; who do the things that God considers to be right. Even if we could, how would we wipe away the mess that our previous failure had caused? This is the glorious truth of the Good News: everyone needs to start again and through Jesus, everyone can. The cross offers us a way of forgiveness and the opportunity for new life. Jesus has paid our debt to God by dying in our place so that we might live with Him forever. Paul writes in Philippians 3:9:

I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

This is our message and it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can make it available to people. He has the power to use us to bring others into the Kingdom of God. He uses our actions and our words to do that but it is His work to move people’s hearts to repentance and faith.

At the last Church Meeting we agreed to seek a second Minister to succeed Garry. We now await candidates from the Regional Minister. The whole process could take some time and wisely, somebody asked the question: how are we going to maintain the growth that we have seen? Are we just waiting around for someone else to come? The answer is, no we’re not. We have excellent teams of people running our youth ministry and we will support them and encourage them as they lead our young people. We have new projects that we will bring to fruition in the weeks ahead and we will be considering on Sunday mornings how we share this good news with the people around us. But the number one answer to how we see the church continuing to move forward is that we pray and invite the Holy Spirit to use us. Prayer is the key to everything. Please make prayer a priority in your life. We will be looking at various ways to encourage prayer in the weeks ahead.

Francis of Assisi is claimed to have once said: ‘Preach the gospel always and if necessary use words.’ There’s actually no evidence that he did say that but it is a good way of suggesting that we can somehow bring people to know Christ just by our actions. That’s not true. At some point we have to explain the meaning of our lives so that people can understand that Christ is at the centre of who we are. In this last month we have very sadly said farewell to Ian Moreton. Ian was a man whose whole life was about pointing people to Jesus. He lived out the Gospel in every way possible. A man of deep humility and great passion, he gave value to others’ lives and treated everyone with respect (even Norwich supporters!). He lived and spoke the gospel and we will miss him very greatly. Our love and prayers are with Tracy, Philip and David. Our greatest tribute to his memory would be to imitate his humility and commitment to following Christ in every aspect of our lives. The Good News is that the investment of his life has paid off and he is with the Lord that he loved, safe for eternity.

Finally, can I remind you that this month we will launch the shoebox appeal for Operation Christmas Child. Please be generous as we seek to bring the love of Christ to children in great need.

Yours in Christ,
John