Jonah's mission to Ninevah was a success, yet this was not down to the effort of Jonah. God uses an imperfect person to turn a nation and he still uses imperfect people today. Lou wraps up our Jonah series and encourages us to consider what it is to know God, how we can bring our prayers to Him and how we can freely receive the grace He has for us.
I couldn’t possibly write an Elders’ letter this month without at least making reference to that amazing night in Madrid on June 1st and Liverpool FC’s historic sixth Champions League trophy. Non-football fans…please don’t switch off!
Revival is on the lips and hearts of many Christians in our day.
Jonah reluctantly preaches just eight words of doom to the Ninevites and all of them repent and cover themselves with sackcloth and sit down in the dust, from the highest to lowest (animals included!). What can we learn from the multitude of God's revival waves through history? What can we learn from bible revivals? What do revivals look like? Be filled with faith and expectation as we explore some key features of Christian revivals.
As Jonah finds himself washed up on dry land after his time in the belly of the fish, he is met not with judgement and rebuke but with a second chance. This time Jonah followed his calling and went to the city of Nineveh. In this talk Gavin unpacks what this might have meant for Jonah, and what we can take from this as individuals today as we go into the cities around us. What does it mean to 'go to the city'? How can we do that practically? Is this a calling just for individuals or a greater call for us as a church?;
Running away from God has brought Jonah to a low and desperate place. There can often be moments of despair in all our lives, yet it's often in these moments that we discover the depth of the love of God. Simon reminds us that it is the grace of God that we need to keep receiving as we walk through the highs and lows of life.
Why are there so many people outside the church who are seemingly 'better people' than churched people? Why haven't Christians got it more together than non-Christians? How can we believe in a faith that seems to have sanctioned war, violence, racism and injustice over the years? And what about those ‘religious fanatics’?
What do we say to these very valid questions.? How does the Jonah narrative help us critique Christianity and indeed ourselves? Let's delve deeper!
Birthdays usually mean presents and so as we approach Pentecost Sunday, the day many Christians would mark as the birth of the Church, do we see the Church as a gift to the world? What does this mean for Church unity and the mission God has called us to?
When we read the Bible, we can sometimes be quick to identify with heroes, like David or Joshua. Yet, how often do we identify with someone like Jonah? God planned to bless the whole world, yet when Jonah was called to play his part in this mission, he ran. We are like Jonah when we choose our way, instead of God's. However, God will have His way and when our identity is secure in Jesus Christ, we find we're enabled to live for him and even to bring our big questions to God, rather than simply running away.
As we move on in the story of Jonah we see Jonah caught in a great storm along with the rest of the people on his ship. As people, we often face various storms in our own lives as individuals; difficulties, illness or suffering. We also see great storms which face us as a society - the world can be full of storms! In this talk, Gavin looks at what the different reactions in this story can teach us about our reactions to some of the storms in life that we face. Should we deal with them in the same way that Jonah or the Sailors did or is there an even better way?
Jonah is, at its heart, a story about you and me. Pause to think about the immense implications of that for a moment. Too many people have focused on the big fish rather than the big God. In these opening verses we see the lavish grace of God as he speaks, as he is present, as he directs. This God pursues Jonah in the midst of his rebellion and pride. This God won't let go. This God is your God, the same God, the God of grace upon grace in the person of Jesus. If you want to watch the video that Raj refers to in his introduction you can find it here: Veggie Tales: Jonah was a prophet
There is no other book in the Bible like Jonah. Forget what you may have read in children’s books; the events of Jonah and his call to take a message to Nineveh is about God, about you and I and about our world. Simon gives an overview of the book, some background we'll need to know and the themes we'll encounter.
Ths month we asked our friend Michael Akotia to write our blog. Michael helps us to see why and how we can 'put things in the hands of Jesus'.
As we come to the end of our sermon series in the book of John, Gavin unpacks the final chapter looking at a miraculous catch of fish for the disciples. Having reverted back to their old life, as Jesus shows in this passage, that is often the place where he meets us. In this talk we look at teaching on mission, church and forgiveness...an action packed way to finish the book of John!
'Resurrection is the victory parade as Jesus the risen Champion comes out of his tomb fully alive to the amazement of earth and to the applause of heaven.' (Andrew Wilson). That's the Easter for you! The miraculous reappearances of Jesus after the cross witnessed by hundreds of people have been refuted for centuries. Yet the bottom line is that no one has been successful in explaining it all away as deception or lies. The reality is 'In its favour as living truth there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true.' (Lord Darling, former Lord Chief Justice of England)
The cross was a painful and gruesome instrument of execution however it became a symbol of hope for Jesus' followers. In John's account of Jesus' death on the cross, he wants to highlight particular things that are taking place; that Jesus is being rejected as a king, that he substitutes in our place and that he is victorious over sin and death. This is the event that all world history turns on and when Jesus cried out, 'It is finished', he was declaring that he had completed the work of salvation that he had come to earth for.
As Jesus is put on trial, we see him pointing to the kingdom that is to come. Soroush helps us to see that the advance of this kingdom is not like a drama that we take our seat to watch, but rather one in which we are drawn into and play our part.
Have you heard the phrase, 'What would Jesus do?' Maybe you have a bracelet with WWJD on it, or perhaps a pen? We can sometimes turn this into 'What would I like Jesus to do', which certainly isn't the same! In the light of that, what should our response be to world events and where can we reach out with the love and message of Jesus?
Richard Dawkins echoes in the extreme humanities disregard for God:
‘In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, and other people are going to get lucky; and you won't find any rhyme or reason to it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music.’
Do we really believe this? Is life so meaningless?
In this section of John’s Gospel we hear what the real Jesus claimed about himself, about the world’s plight and why He came. It’s a story of compassion and love and hope. It’s a story of wrath absorbed, justice payed and suffering joy. As we approach Easter let’s meditate on the real Jesus - what he said about himself and how his story shapes and transforms ours like no other faith, worldview or belief does. This Jesus really is unique!
In our western culture, suffering is often a reason used to rule out the existence of God. Christianity doesn't ignore suffering but rather helps us to know that in the midst of it, there is a God who sees us, cares for us and who entered into our world and suffered for us.
In the final hours before his arrest, Jesus prays for himself, his close friends and for everyone who will come to trust in him. On top of this, the writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus continues to pray and intercede for us. By looking at what Jesus prayed, we get an insight into his heart for his people and the plans and purposes he has for them.