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Archive for October, 2011

Come to Mumbai

October 28th, 2011

India!  What comes to mind when you read that word?

Curry – lots of it, people everywhere, beggars and eunuchs, rickshaws – hold your breath!, noise – it seems to never stop, slums (Mumbai has the biggest in Asia), heat, and don’t forget the humidity as well!, and on it goes!

India conjures up all sorts of thoughts, reactions and emotions.

What else? A thriving business community – banks and call centres,  millions of young people, some amazing sights – Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Golden Temple, Bollywood, and some of the richest people in the world …and some of the poorest too!

India is a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and colours, causing so many feelings and emotions to rise up and swirl around in the mind.

Oh … and don’t forget the churches.  Amazing groups of Christians, often in the minority, pressing forward against the odds and making an impact through their changed lives.  Their lively worship, growing churches and various projects in the community – AIDS sufferers, Leprosy Care, Senior Citizens Care, Education etc. are always a challenge to us.

Are you interested in knowing more?  Would you fancy a trip to have a look, get involved, and to be stretched and challenged, possibly as never before?

Then come with us to India next year.

We are planning a trip to Mumbai and Nasik, visiting the church led by Sydney Nevis (he preached at Churchcentral in the summer), meeting some of the believers there, as well as visiting some of the projects.

If you are interested in knowing more, then please do contact John & Mollie as soon as possible for all the details or email office@churchcentral.org.uk

India awaits you – dare you rise to the challenge?!

Treasure

October 21st, 2011

Some of you may have heard people claim that money is the root of all evil. It’s not. It’s also the root of all kinds of good things. So it’s not altogether bad. You can do good or bad things with your money. You could put it to good use and provide for single mums and widows and those in need; or you could use it badly and blow it all at the casino. It’s just an opportunity. And you can use it well or badly. So money isn’t evil. But the love of money, which leads to greed, is the root of all kinds of evil, just like Scripture says.

That’s perhaps why Scripture has a whole lot to say about money, wealth and possessions. It speaks of money on more than 800 occasions. And roughly 25 percent of the recorded teaching of Jesus was about what we do with our money.

One very illuminating passage of teaching from Jesus is found in Matthew chapter 6, where he says that you can’t serve both God and money. Now, for some of us, money is our functional god. It’s more important than the real God. You need to choose: Is Jesus my God; or is it money, possessions and wealth?

Jesus goes on to say that your treasure follows your heart; meaning if you want to see what you really love, value and esteem – then just look at where you spend your money. For example, I’m a dad. I can’t say to my kids, “I love you. I just don’t provide food.” They’d say, “No, you don’t love us because your money follows your heart.”

As we’ve been working through the Old Testament book of Nehemiah this term, we’ve seen how the people of God rose to the challenge facing them and were making phenomenal progress. However, as we’ll see this Sunday, the whole work was threatened by disputes among the people over money. The hearts of some were more devoted to money than God and people. And the consequences were potentially devastating. However, Nehemiah’s wise leadership pointed the way forward for them… and for us today.

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Happy Music

October 14th, 2011

Have you ever noticed the ‘happy music’ interludes in a movie? It’s the moment when music begins to play, and you begin to watch the characters in the film start to make positive forward progress. It’s the moment where things are going right: The couple’s falling in love; or the project is advancing in some way; or the sports team is learning to work together. It’s the happy music moment.

Now, if the story of Nehemiah was to be turned into a movie, I’m convinced that chapter 3 would be the happy music moment. Nehemiah has come back to Jerusalem. He’s come to inspire the people and lead them in rebuilding the walls. He gathers them all together and says, “Come let us rebuild the wall”. Everyone rises up in response to this and they believe that they can do it. And it’s at the moment when they say, “Let us start rebuilding” that the music would begin to build. This is the high point of the story so far. It’s the happy music moment of the book.

However, there’s another thing that I’ve noticed in films. Have you ever noticed that it’s always straight after the happy music moment that something goes really wrong in the story? That’s what builds the tension that makes you want to keep watching. But it also reflects something about real life. It reflects something in particular about the Christian life. The Bible describes how we have an enemy (the devil) who is furious when he sees the work of God advancing. He’s happy to see it in disarray and lacking in faith and purpose. But whenever he sees God’s people beginning to gain fresh impetus it strikes fear and fury into the enemy camp. And so he lashes out and attacks God’s work.

And that’s exactly what happens to Nehemiah. Straight after this exhilarating moment where everyone is working together and the project is advancing, we jump into chapter 4 and the people of God are hit with opposition and trouble in many different forms.

What we’re going to see as we work through this passage on Sunday are some pretty amazing parallels with our context. The tactics used to undermine Nehemiah are very similar to those used against us today. We can learn a tremendous amount not only from noting the different lines of attack that Nehemiah faced, but also from seeing how he overcame them.

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How to eat an Elephant

October 7th, 2011

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! It’s a principle that Nehemiah applies to the task of rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem. It was a mammoth task. You’re looking at a wall that’s 15 to 20 feet high, 3 to 4 feet wide, upwards of 2½ miles in circumference that has been broken for 141 years. Once it’s rebuilt, then the gates must be set in place. Once that’s completed and they could ensure safety, then they’d rebuild the houses and the businesses, and then people would move in.

It must have seemed an impossible task to Nehemiah. But lay this brick here and that brick there? That he could do. And so he broke down the project, gathered all the workers around him, and assigned them each a bite-sized task to complete.

Often the things God asks us to do seem huge, almost unmanageable. Take, for instance, Jesus’ commission to all of us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” How am I going to do that? I have to be at work tomorrow. And besides, airlines tickets are expensive!

If God said “Go into all of Birmingham and preach the gospel,” does that seem more manageable? No! It still seems huge, doesn’t it? But I did a little figuring, and if everyone who attended one of our sites last Sunday were to introduce just one person to Jesus every year (and those people did the same!) it would take a mere 12 years for the entire city to become Christians! Now, for the cynics among us, I do realize the “yeah, but…” weaknesses in the way I estimated and calculated this. But no matter how you slice it, it’s a whole lot more attainable!

We’re going to learn this Sunday how Nehemiah’s wise leadership got a seemingly impossible task done in record time. There are huge lessons (and encouragements) for us as we seek to do something great for God in our city.

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