As Jim Morrison and his band, the Doors sang almost 50 years ago, Summer’s Almost Gone. Ok, so it’s not the most culturally relevant reference for Teesside in 2017, but at least it’s factually correct!
Sometimes we can look back at Summer and wish it wasn’t changing to Autumn; long days, trips away, sitting outside in the sun (when it makes an appearance!). It seems to come and go so quickly. But as I think back over the Summer, I really want it to be with thankfulness and excitement for the next season. So here goes!
In early July we had another visit from our good friends John and Sue Hosier. The audio will be available soon and his teaching morning on Heaven, as well as his talk for leaders, are so worth listening to.
It also saw the return of Summer Sundays, where we heard from 8 different people over 5 Sundays. With an amazing mix of ages, backgrounds, nationalities and gifts, it was great to listen as people spoke on who God is and what He is like. These Sundays also meant going for lunch somewhere in Teesside (or breakfast in one case!). Ropner Park in Stockton is always one of my favourites, simply to listen to the whichever local music group is playing from the bandstand!
A group of 35 went to Newday in August to worship, pray and grow in God, with some 7,000 other young people. If you haven’t heard of Newday this short video will show you more. Each morning I was impressed by all our young people, who wanted to gather to worship and pray together in our marquee before any of the Newday meetings actually started. We also had time at the end of week, led so helpfully by Rob Earl, to share about what God had spoken to us personally in the week and how He had changed us. We wanted to share some of those, so they’re included at the end of this article.
Of course, there was no Devoted festival this August bank holiday for our churches in the Christ Central family, but don’t worry, it will be returning in 2018!
On top of all these activities, it’s also been encouraging just to talk with people in Jubilee over the Summer and hear of God’s faithfulness in their lives, whether that is in things to celebrate together or whether it’s in some of the difficulties of life.
So as we begin a new season and Summer makes way for Autumn, let’s approach it full of faith. A new sermon series looking at how the gospel transforms every area of our lives (Life to the Full), a new Alpha course, new students, but more importantly, a God who is faithful in all His ways and in whom we can always trust.
Newday comments from our young people...
Jake: 'I feel like God wants to use me, to make his Kingdom bigger and to do this by telling people about God'.
Ben: 'I feel like this week, I have gained courage to speak the gospel to people. I also feel I have learnt to trust God more during Newday and I feel now that I can go back to my daily life and become more aware of him.'
Yoel: 'On the Wednesday morning meeting during a worship time, a guy that I never met before came up to me and asked how long I have been a Christian, so I told him I have been a Christian for 3 years. Then he asked me if I was baptised and I replied by telling him that I have been baptised. Then he said that God told him that I needed to make a commitment (but he didn't know what it was that I needed to commit to) so he prayed for me and went. However, I really didn't know what it is that God wants me to commit to. So I need to continue to pray about this so I can find out. I would also be very grateful if people at Jubilee prayed about this for me too!'
Isaac: 'A while ago, I was feeling pretty low and my faith was quite weak. I prayed quite unenthusiastically asking God basically "What's the point of all this?". I then got a picture of just the word 'LOVE'. The words were a sort of shining silver colour in full capitals on this bright white background. As the picture became clearer, any doubt that was simply in my mind faded and were replaced with the strongest and most powerful feeling I've ever experienced. It was a paradoxical mix of intense comfort and a sort of terror. For the first time, I felt like I got a glimpse of God's glory and I've been reminded that being a Christian does not mean just following rules. I also learnt that love for God, others and myself is really important. I have been reminded about the Greatest commandment that Jesus talks about in Matthew 22:37-39 where he says “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
Sophie: 'Some time ago I was diagnosed with dyslexia and I had a bad back. So on Thursday I prayed and in 'The Big Top' we were asked to test and see if the pain is still there. I was testing it out and my back pains had gone. When I came back to the camp, I tested my dyslexia on reading a full page of writing and could read perfectly!'
Nehmia: 'God has spoken to me in many ways and Newday has taught me a lot. However, there are two things that stood out the most. First one was while a song was playing and a lot of people were dancing with joy (People were even running and dancing in the walkways!). There were people lifting their hands to people and getting high fives. Between them there was a young kid that lifted his hands for high fives from people and was getting really happy when people did what he desired. That showed me that you do not have to do a big thing to make someone's day a better day. This spoke to me especially towards people who were serving - just a high five or thanking them would make them feel loved and noticed. Second thing was that I learnt how big, amazing and great our God is and how small he finds our problems. For this, God deserves praise and fear when we pray out to him!'
Shalom: 'On Wednesday God revealed to me how to worship. Before when I was praying and worshipping God, I did not realise that he was SO great and big. Then on Wednesday, I learned how great our God was and is. This helped me with my prayer life and worship too. God also challenged me to get on my knees and pray, in a way to show I am submitting to Him and considering how big He is!'
As I think about 2018, one of my prayers is that we continue to be a people who are filled with the Holy Spirit and who draw ever closer to God through reading, understanding and putting into practice all He has revealed to us in the Bible.
It’s usually this time of year when people reflect on the past year, their successes and challenges, and everything else that comes with them. However, this article is not going to be that.