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Archive for February, 2011

…Life Live from Zimbabwe!

February 22nd, 2011

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At the end of February 2010, Phil and Claire along with their two daughters Hannah and Sophie moved from Birmingham and Churchcentral to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and New Creation church; part of the Newfrontiers family. Since arriving they’ve got fully involved in church life, and Phil has started building his own business. A year on from moving the family are now beginning to feel integrated and that Zimbabwe is their home.

If you want to find out more about what they have been up to, what it is like living in Zim and all the exciting things that God has been doing then come along to our Churchcentral ‘Life Live!’ event on the 12th of March where we have exclusive footage filmed by Jonathan from when he visited them at the end of January.

Categories: Events, Global Focus Tags:

Finding Joy… in Suffering

February 18th, 2011

Some people criticise Christianity because of its emphasis on suffering. Karl Marx is one noteworthy historical example. He said that, “Religion is the opiate of the masses”. In other words, when we suffer, we seek God in the same way that someone who is hurting physically might go to their doctor for a prescribed medication to alleviate their pain. Marx said that to mock Christianity. But as Christians, we would say, “No, the fact is that people really are continually suffering in various ways. And they truly do need some form of comfort and relief. At such times, God isn’t to be mocked; God’s to be pursued!”

The Bible takes our suffering very seriously. In fact, roughly one third of the Psalms (which are songs and Psalms sung by God’s people in praise and gratitude to him), include Psalms of lament, where God’s people are groaning, and struggling, and wrestling in the midst of suffering. Every prophet in the Bible, with the exception of Haggai, has at least one lament in their book. Additionally, Jesus himself lamented over Jerusalem and wept over the death of a close friend. And human suffering is so real, and so raw, that there are, occasionally, those in Scripture who, despite their great love for God, question why they were even born. Perhaps you can identify with this. If so, then Job and Jeremiah would echo your sentiment. Those two men in the Bible asked the question of God, “Why was I born? Why did I leave my mother’s womb to see nothing but sorrow, and shame, and strife, and suffering, all the days of my life?”

Suffering impacts all of our lives. To be human and alive is, by definition, to suffer. So, the question is not, “Will I suffer?” The question is, “Will I suffer in a way that is purposeful or purposeless?” Each of us is faced with a choice. Will we suffer in such a way that God might do something in us or through us; or will we suffer in a way that is purposeless – that nothing good would be accomplished in us or through us? This Sunday we’re going to learn from the Apostle Paul (who certainly experienced more than his fair share of suffering) how to suffer well.

Categories: Preaching Series Tags: ,

Joy in Loneliness

February 11th, 2011

A major report by the Mental Health Foundation suggests that more than 1 in 10 people in Britain feel lonely “often”. The same report also revealed that the percentage of households occupied by one person has doubled from 6% in 1972, to 12% in 2008; while the rising divorce rate also means the number of single-parent families is increasing rapidly. Overall, the survey found that 48% of respondents think that people are becoming increasingly isolated and detached from each other. This is backed up by the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics, which show that there are 7.5 million people living alone in the UK; compared with 4.3 million 15 years ago.

But while loneliness is common in middle-age, or retirement, or as people go through a divorce or bereavement – the problem isn’t just confined to older age groups. A recent report by the NSPCC found that ChildLine received nearly 10,000 calls last year from children saying they felt lonely. Commenting on this, David Rose (Health Correspondent for the Times) makes a link between technology and loneliness. He writes: “Technology and the pressures of modern life are today blamed for creating an epidemic of loneliness, as increasing numbers of people rely on the internet to communicate with friends and family. While the internet has changed the way people communicate, some experts argue that social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter undermine social skills and the ability to read body language, leaving people increasingly isolated.”

Now all of this simply illustrates the fact that people nowadays are increasingly disconnected. They’re isolated; they’re lonely; they’re hurting. And it’s an epidemic – it’s in the culture; it’s in the church; and for some of you, it’s in your life. So, this Sunday, as we continue our series on ‘Finding Joy’, we’re going to do a case study of someone who experienced profound loneliness – the Apostle Paul. But, as we’re going to discover, his attitude to loneliness is somewhat unexpected!

Categories: Preaching Series Tags: ,

‘KidzKlub’:

February 8th, 2011

Custard? Check. Ketchup? Check. Gravy granules? Check. Toothpaste? Check? And jelly worms? Check. This is pretty much an average shopping list for a Saturday morning ‘KidzKlub’. There aren’t many other places in Birmingham that on a Saturday morning offer a free foot spa complete with mussels and wet noodles or a complete flee check and facial cleanse for your monkey. However if you roll on down to ‘KidzKlub’ in Weoley Castle that is exactly what you will find and much more besides!

We have dressing up, games, pantos, prizes, stories, worship, and not forgetting the good old pie in the face! Every Saturday morning general hilarity, fun and chaos descends upon the small church hall hidden away in the depths of Weoley Castle.

The work of Megan and Paul Tucker and the ‘KidzKlub’ team over the last three years is clear to see when you look around at the engaged and excited faces, most of them from non-Christian backgrounds, as they listen to Bible stories, sing songs of praise and cheer as their favourite leaders get covered in slime and gunk.

KidzKlub is really working to serve the local community in providing a safe and fun environment for local kids to ‘hang out’ on a Saturday morning but also by showing them who Jesus is and how much he loves them.

God is clearly moving in Weoley Castle and is using ‘KidzKlub’ as a real instrument to do that. We are really excited as to where God will take us over the next term and over the next year, we are hoping to see an increase in numbers and God really using ‘KidzKlub’ to benefit families that live in and around Weoley Castle.

It is such a fun morning and if you want to get involved please talk to Megan or Paul Tucker.

Finding Joy

February 4th, 2011

“You may not be sure that you want your life to make a difference. Maybe you don’t care very much whether you make a lasting difference for the sake of something great. You just want people to like you. If people would just like being around you, you’d be satisfied. Or if you could just have a good job with a good wife, or husband, and a couple of good kids and a nice car and long weekends and a few good friends, a fun retirement, and a quick and easy death, and no hell – if you could have all that (even without God) – you would be satisfied. That is a tragedy in the making. A wasted Life” (Taken from John Piper’s excellent book: ‘Don’t Waste Your Life’).

So many people are wasting their lives chasing things that will never ultimately satisfy. Whether it’s a desire for friendship, or sex, or popularity, or wealth, or health, or simply accumulating more stuff – at the heart of it all is a quest for happiness. True happiness is a precious commodity that proves elusive to most. The tragedy is that although we were created to live a life of joy, many of us are looking for it in the wrong places.

This Sunday I’m going to be starting a brand new series entitled ‘Finding Joy’. Over the next four months we’re going to be working through the book of Philippians and unlocking the secret of finding joy, even in the most trying of circumstances – whether it’s loneliness, suffering, death, temptation, conflict, exhaustion, anxiety or poverty. For a society that’s failing so badly in its pursuit of happiness, this book has some revolutionary answers that, if followed, will save us from living a wasted life!

Categories: Preaching Series Tags: