Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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February 2018

January 25, 2018

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

I look out of the office windows and see the fields and the trees but my mind is drawn not to them per se but to the creator behind them, to God himself. I am reminded that God created everything for his pleasure and gave us this world to enjoy. He didn’t have to do it, but he did because of his immense love for us. Alongside this my mind went to the Westminster Shorter Catechism of 1646/7. This says that the main purpose of (hu)man(kind) is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever. So what does this all mean?

As Christians our duty, responsibility and joy is to point people towards God and to reflect him in our lives. Not for us is the desire to moan about the state of the world, indulge in gossip about other people or to encourage the cult of self-aggrandisement. For us our desire is to improve the state of the world, encourage and support other people and to remind people that all they have and all they are is given to them by God. This is underpinned by the knowledge that we serve the one and only true God and that anyone who accepts his son, Jesus Christ, as their Saviour can spend eternity with him.

Of course this is not something that happens because it seems like a good idea to us. It happens as the natural result of a deep relationship, and a life walked, with God. We cultivate this by prayer, worship, Bible study, time spent with other Christians and time spent in the presence of God without an agenda or prayer requests. Periodically I hear people say I couldn’t come to church, church meeting, or whatever because………. I wonder how often people say I couldn’t do so and so because I had to go to church, attend church meeting, pray, read my Bible?

In our life as a church do we get the balance right? At Church or Elders Meeting what proportion of time is spent in prayer, in waiting on God, in business? In worship how much time do we fill with words and how much with quiet waiting on God? If we don’t get the balance right in church we are not likely to get in right at other times and in other places.

It is vital that we have plans for the future and structures to help us function but more important than either of these is the need to spend time in prayer, praise and waiting on God. How else will we know his will for us?

It is our relationship with God that is the most important thing in our lives. We have plenty of opportunities for us to deepen our relationship with God both individually and corporately.

Maybe as Lent approaches we can commit ourselves to spending more time with God seeking his mind and see what difference it makes to us and our church.

Ian

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January 2018

January 16, 2018

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

January is the month of new beginnings with all its hopes. We enter a new year optimistically aware of all its possibilities, all its opportunities and all it might bring us. That optimistic outlook is not just for our personal lives but also for our life as a church.

Last New Year wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for. Apparently I looked so ill at the Christmas Communion that people thought I might not make it to the end of the service. When I finally went to the Doctor I was told that I was very ill and instead of a week in France I spent ten days in the Cardiac Care Unit at Worcester Royal Hospital. As I lay there in my hospital bed I said to God ‘I don’t want to die yet but if that is your will then so be it.’ I came out of hospital and with the help of pacemaker, medication and God I have re-gained my health, vitality, energy and enthusiasm. As I said at the time, if God has spared then it is because He has something for me to do.

What applies to me, applies to us all, both individually and as a church. So at the start of 2018 we look at the successes of 2017 and see how we can build on them, we look to the future and glimpse the possibilities that God has in store for us. Then we set about achieving them.

Messy Church has continued to develop and we look forward to this exciting initiative continuing to blossom and flourish. Having solved technical issues with the projection of worship videos we expect to see more and more use of video clips to enhance and enable our worship. Café Church has got off to a slow start after an initial burst of interest but with the input of further resources we look forward to it developing into a vital part of our programme.

In January we have two new, wonderful opportunities. Firstly Roger Jones is coming to run a Spirit Works day. Part of this approach is to spend time in prayer and worship waiting on God to see what His Spirit will do. It seems very appropriate to do this at the start of the year and it will no doubt set our agenda for the rest of the year. Also in January we are starting the Life Explored course which helps people to meet the Creator behind the universe. Whilst being ideal for those enquiring about the Christian faith it is equally relevant to Christians wanting to refresh their understanding and be inspired about God.

It really is going to be a wonderful 2018 as we travel through it with God.

Are you ready for an exciting time in 2018 with God?

Ian

 

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December 2017

January 16, 2018

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

The Christmas decorations are up in the street. Shops have their Christmas displays and adverts. Cards and presents have been bought. Christmas Dinner has been planned. The church has prepared its Christmas programme. Everything is in order. We have done it so often that we do not stop to ask what we are doing and why we are doing it. It happens like clockwork. So maybe we should step aside for a moment and ask those fundamental questions.

We are celebrating the birth of the Son of God, the Saviour of the World, the King of the Universe, the One through whom everything was created, Jesus Christ our Lord and our God. This is a monumental, marvellous occasion and deserves the best we can give it. And the best is not defined by monetary value. It is defined by an attitude of heart, soul and mind.

When a family member or friend has a birthday we give them a card, a gift and our time. When it is Jesus birthday it often seems that everyone else except him get a card, a gift and our time.  In one sense that is great because Jesus wants us to give to others. On the other hand it might all be a smokescreen to avoid the thinking about what Jesus wants from us.

We often ask people what they would like for their birthday or Christmas. When did we last ask Jesus the same question. We may not need to ask the question because he has already told us. In Micah we find these words ‘What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ (Micah 6 v 8). In several places Jesus says to people ‘follow me’. He also tells us to obey his commandments, stop sinning, love our neighbour, proclaim the Gospel message and to make disciples.

We live in a world full of problems and Jesus has told us we are to be salt and light bringing joy and hope to the world. What do we have to say to immigrants who have fled their home to find safety, sanctuary and security? What about those who will lose their universal credit at Christmas simply because the government scheme is based on calendar months and they are paid weekly? What about those living in war zones and places of violence and destruction? What about those who cannot find work or a decent home or food for their families? What about those who cannot get vital health care when they need it? What about the people of Bethlehem and other Palestinian towns this Christmas, what do we as Christians say to them?

What will you give Jesus this Christmas?

Ian

 

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November 2017

January 16, 2018

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

In the new year we will be starting to use the Life Explored course so I thought I would tell you about it now so we can all begin to pray for it.

Life Explored is a seven session series featuring a combination of short films – shot around the world – and Bible interaction. We all want to be happy. Why is lasting happiness so hard to find? Life Explored is an exposé of the little gods that promise us so much happiness, yet deliver so little. As it explores the Bible story (creation, fall, redemption, new creation), Life Explored shows how our deepest desires for happiness can only be satisfied in one person, Jesus Christ. The best gift God can give us is himself.

At a time in the Western world when basic knowledge of the Bible is increasingly rare, it is a pleasure to recommend Life Explored. Here is an introduction to the good news found in Jesus Christ, sweeping through some of the “big pictures” in the Bible. As far as a short series can, Life Explored outlines what the Bible is about, exposes our idolatry, and makes clear where forgiveness and hope lie. This is one of the best of the rising number of evangelistic tools addressing men and women in the twenty-first century.” (D. A. Carson)

LE has been designed to speak powerfully to those who don’t consider themselves to be religious and have never read the Bible. But it will also provoke good discussions among followers of Christ, too.

LE is distinctive
  • Because in the West, particularly among the millennial generation, we can no longer take any level of biblical literacy for granted, LE gives people the context they need to be able to understand who Jesus is and why he came. A panoramic view of the Bible is given – creation, fall, redemption and new creation – rather than just a narrow slice of the picture.

    • Because we can no longer assume that the God many have rejected is actually the triune God revealed in Scripture, each session emphasises a different aspect of God’s wondrous character and work.

    • Because it’s more readily acknowledged among postmoderns than the concept of law-breaking, LE explains sin as idolatry. People begin to see that they are worshipers of something, whatever that may be, and if it is not the living God who made them and gives them every good thing they enjoy, their chosen god will (to use David Foster Wallace’s phrase) “eat them alive”.

    • Because of the way Nathan brings David to repentance in 2 Samuel 12 – telling him a story which “catches the conscience of the King” – LE includes a series of short films which help people to grasp biblical truth in a deeper, more convicting way.

A typical LE session works like this:
  • Film 1 (10 minutes)
    • Discussion 1 (5 minutes)
    • Bible Reading (2 minutes)
    • Film 2 (15 minutes)
    • Bible Reading (3 minutes)
    • Discussion 2 (25 minutes)

Session 1: The Good God
Overture part 1: A preview of the six stories to come on Life Explored, and an introduction to the opening question: what’s the best gift God could give you?
Overture part 2: Explores Genesis 1.

Session 2: The Trustworthy God.
Hotel part 1: Colonial India. A girl’s view of her best friend is changed unexpectedly, and forever. Have we been deceived into believing lies about God?
Hotel part 2: Explores Genesis 3.

Session 3: The Generous God.
Gold part 1: The Californian gold rush. A prospector risks his life in the quest for gold. How far would you go for what you love most?
Gold part 2: Explores Genesis 12.

Session 4: The Liberating God.
Lawn part 1: Suburbia. A man is hooked by a late night infomercial and feels his life would be complete if only he could have the perfect garden. Have your desires ever left you feeling trapped?
Lawn part 2: Explores Exodus 12.

Session 5: The Fulfilling God.
Geisha part 1: Edo-Period Japan. A woman is drawn away from her husband and family in pursuit of what she hopes will be a more exciting life. What are you hoping will bring you fulfilment in life?
Geisha part 2: Explores John 4.

Session 6. The Life-Giving God. 
Celebrity part 1: Los Angeles. A Hollywood actress has everything, but something isn’t right. What, if you lost it, would make you feel that life wasn’t worth living?
Celebrity part 2: Explores 1 Corinthians 15.

Session 7: The Joyful God.
Space part 1: In orbit above the earth. As his space station disintegrates around him, an astronaut reflects on those he loves. What’s the best gift God could give you?
Space part 2: Explores Revelation 21.
The success of the course depends upon us coming along and bringing friends, family and neighbours with us. Watch out for details in the new year but pray about it now.

Ian

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October 2017

January 16, 2018

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

We had a wonderful Church Anniversary celebrating our 160 years with worship led by Kevin Watson, URC National Moderator and Moderator of Yorkshire Synod. His sermons were truly inspirational and spoken from the heart. I was also encouraged by my all too brief private conversations with him. All in all it gave me real hope for the URC and strengthened my hope for the Beacon. My only sadness is that more people did not avail themselves of the opportunity to hear him and celebrate with their fellow members. Having said that I am not going to dwell on it but rather I shall focus on the positives. It was a truly wonderful day.

As a church we have an excellent infrastructure. The buildings are in good repair and are bright and attractive giving a welcoming feel. We have excellent people in key roles giving tirelessly of their time and energy. In essence we are in safe hands. We have a range of activities to invite people to which give an excellent opportunity for sharing the Gospel in both formal and informal ways. These include Sunday worship, morning and evening; Messy Church; Café Church; Coffee Morning; Tuesday Tasters; Lunch Club; Book Club. Of course there are also many more opportunities to share our faith informally through the activities we participate in, both at the Beacon and elsewhere, our leisure pursuits and our family life. We are extraordinarily fortunate and God has truly blessed us. It is up to us how we use all this.

Of course we are not perfect, we would not be human if we were. It seems to me that we and very good at structures and plans and less good at prayer and invitation. Now what I mean by this is that in our meetings, such as Church Life, Elders, Pastoral Support Group, Visiting Group etc we are very business-like but devote little time to prayer. Equally we are good at arranging events and producing publicity but poor at personally inviting people. It is as if we have lost confidence. I believe we have no option but to change the balance if we want to see God at work in our fellowship and in Rubery

I firmly believe that we should begin each meeting with an opportunity for people to share about themselves and then we should pray for each other. We should also pray for others, both in our fellowship and in the wider community, who are in particular need. Depending on the day and the meeting this could take thirty or forty minutes or more. Only then should we offer the Agenda to God and move onto the business. We will find that the business meeting flows and decisions reached. I also believe that we need to focus much more on invitation and develop a culture of personally inviting friends, neighbours and even family to our activities and special events. I can’t invite your friends, neighbours and family only you can do that.

So to return to the beginning, our 160th Anniversary was truly inspirational and gave us great hope for the future. Together we can realise that future. On the next page is a prayer we used during worship that day. Can you make it your prayer as well.

Ian

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September 2017

September 19, 2017

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

This Autumn we continue to use Holy Habits as the basis of most of our preaching in worship. Some find it easy to adopt habits, others find it difficult. A sportsman in any field adopts habits of training, diet, fitness and the like all of which combine to create a lifestyle. However, it is not the individual habits nor the lifestyle that are the most important element it is the goal. In other words, it is the prize of winning Olympic gold, the Wimbledon singles title, the Cricket Ashes or whatever that is the driving force that leads the athlete to make sacrifices and undergo a strict regime in order to achieve their goal.

In Christianity, it is similar but with one profound difference. The profound difference is that the prize has already been obtained. When we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour we were given the prize of a free ticket to eternal life with God, in other words a guarantee of a place in heaven. The Christian habits that we pursue are not in order that we might achieve a place in heaven but rather they are a sign of our gratitude to the loving God who in his immense grace has guaranteed us life eternal with Him. This is the ultimate prize, a gift beyond compare that means the fear of hell has been taken from us and the joy of heaven guaranteed.

Of course we could take all this for granted and live life as we like knowing that at the end we will be with God. In other words we take God’s love for granted but most people choose a different response to immense love. They want to please the giver of love and do what pleases that person. So it is with us and God. The great saint, Augustine of Hippo, famously said ‘love God and do what you please’. Of course this was not permission to ignore the commandments, to be cruel and to hurt others. He was profoundly saying that if someone truly loves God then they will only want to do those things God would approve of. That may be easier said than done!

In his book Holy Habits, Andrew Roberts says ‘Jesus called his first followers into community; to be with him and to be sent out by him. To eat with him, pray with him, learn with him, to be challenged, transformed and guided; and when life and faith failed to be forgiven , restored and sent out again. Together they fed the hungry, proclaimed Good News and opened people’s eyes to the much longed for Kingdom of God. They also lived sacrificially, suffered and were granted glimpses of glory.’ (chapter 6 Page 93).

Jesus calls us to the same lifestyle and we respond willingly out of our love for him. Dietrich Bonhoeffer identified five ministries that are essential in any intentional Christian Community namely; Holding one’s tongue, Meekness, Listening, Helpfulness, Bearing with others individuality, weaknesses and oddities. He also said ‘when the church stops talking about Jesus it has nothing left to say’. This is what underpins our Holy Habits of Biblical Teaching, Fellowship, Breaking of Bread, Prayer, Giving, Service, Eating Together, Gladness and Generosity, Worship and Making More Disciples.

Ian


WORSHIP ROTA for SEPTEMBER 2017

Sunday 3rd  in CTB45 we pray for St Chad’s Church

The flowers are a gift from Linda Griffiths

11.00am      Worship with Communion led by Ian Ring

Theme: Right Back To The Beginning – Introducing Holy Habits
Readings: Micah 6 vv 6-8, Acts 2 vv 42-47, Revelation 1 vv 1-11

Duty Elder:  Yvonne                             Communion: Yvonne & Phil

Readers:      Yvonne & Phil                   Stewards: Shirley & Phil

Powerpoint:  Preparation: Ian              Delivery & Sound: Yvonne

Music: Frank

Refreshments: Joan & Jean                 Counting: Pat & Phil

 

6.00pm        Café Church led by Ian Ring

Theme: Promises
Duty Elder: tba                                   Refreshments:

 

Sunday 10th In CTB45 we pray for Longbridge Methodist Church

The flowers are a gift from

11.00am      Worship led by Terry Thompson

Theme: The Bible For Today

Readings: Amos 8 vv 1-6 & 2 Timothy 2 vv 1-13

Duty Elder:  Bob

Readers:      Bob & Angela                   Stewards: Robert & Linda

Powerpoint:  Preparation: Terry           Delivery & Sound: Darron

Music: Digital

Refreshments: Doreen & Eileen           Counting: Angela & Robert

 

6.30pm        Worship, Prayer & Discussion led by Ian Ring
Theme: Discussion following morning service
Elder: Yvonne

 

Sunday 17th In CTB45 we pray for St Stephen’s Church

The flowers are a gift from

11.00am      Worship led by Ian Ring

Theme: The Holy Habit of Fellowship

Readings: Romans 12 vv 9-21

Duty Elder:  Terry C

Readers:      Terry C & Bel                  Stewards: Doreen & Frank

Powerpoint:  Preparation: Ian              Delivery & Sound: Phil

Organist: Frank

Refreshments: Tracy & Linda               Counting: Eileen & Yvonne

 

2.00pm        Messy Church

 

6.30pm        Worship with Communion & Prayers for Healing led by Ian Ring

Theme: Divine Healing                         Reading: 2 Kings 5 vv 1-19

Duty Elder: Angela                              Communion: Bob

 

Sunday 24th In CTB45 we pray for Grace Community Church

The flowers are a gift from

11.00am      Family Worship led by Kevin Watson, Moderator of the URC

Theme: Sir We Want To See Jesus

Readings: John 12 vv 20-36

Duty Elder:  Jim

Readers:      Jim & Shirley                  Stewards: Pat & Mick

Powerpoint:  Preparation: Ian              Delivery & Sound: Ian

Organist: John

Refreshments: Pat P & Beryl                Counting: Pat & Shirley M

 

4.00pm        Worship led by Kevin Watson, Moderator of the URC

Theme: Neither Promise or Threat – It’d Up To You And Jesus

Readings: Genesis 4 vv 1-12, Isaiah 65 vv 17-25 & John 21 vv 13-19

Duty Elder:  Terry T

Readers:      Terry T & Yvonne            Stewards:

Powerpoint:  Preparation: Ian              Delivery & Sound: Ian

Organist: Frank

Refreshments:                                    Counting:

 

 

DIARY for SEPTEMBER

Friday 1st 9am Messy Holiday Club
Saturday 2nd 7pm-9pm Cheese & Wine at Barnes Close
Tuesday 5th 10am-12nn Coffee Morning
12.15pm-1pm Tuesday Tasters
Tuesday 12th 10am-12nn Coffee Morning
7pm Powerhouse
7.30pm Church Life Meeting
Saturday 16th 7.30pm Quiz
Tuesday 19th 10am-12nn Coffee Morning
12.15pm-1pm Tuesday Tasters
Monday 25th 2.30pm Cracker Planning
7.30pm Ctb45 Lay Prayer Group
Tuesday 26th 10am-12nn Coffee Morning
Thursday 28th 2.30pm Book Club

 

Tuesday Coffee Rota

5th     Yvonne

12th    Linda & Robert

19th    Yvonne

26th   Gillian & Mark

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August 2017

September 19, 2017

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

Two years ago, in July 2015, we agreed unanimously to revitalise the Beacon Church Centre, recognising that that would inevitably mean changes to our life and a greater commitment from us all. We willingly and happily committed ourselves to the task.

Since then there has been some good progress. We have begun Messy Church & Café Church as well as appointing Louise as Mission & Outreach Worker. Terry has taken on the role of Associate Minister and Frank has become an Elder again. We have begun experimenting with new technology in worship and with worship format. A Visiting Team and the Pastoral Support Group have come into being. Naturally some of these things have worked well others will need longer to assess their impact. More new initiatives are in the pipeline with midweek worship and the Life Explored course due to start in the Autumn. Between Easter and Pentecost 2018 we hope to run an evangelistic campaign.

All this has happened because people have committed considerable time, resources, energy and finance to the church but as is often the case much of the work has fallen on a few willing volunteers. None of these have limitless reserves and it needs the commitment of us all if we are to see the Beacon grow and flourish for future generations.

We are all human so things will go wrong, get forgotten, not be properly checked and we will run out of energy and oomph! Not all changes will be those we like and not all the changes we would like will happen. Some changes have been resisted. The test of our well-being as a church is how we cope with such things and rise above them in order to achieve our main purposes of worshipping God, sharing his love in practical action and the good news with those who do not yet know it.

There are some practical issues we need to address now.  All our rotas for such things as Door Steward, Coffee, Sound & Projection are short of people. We need to encourage more people to share in worship and Church Life Meeting and we all need to make these things a priority.

We are fortunate to a have a good suite of buildings that are well maintained and well used by the community. However, there is expensive work required to ensure that this continues. In addition, being good stewards of our resources may alter the way we do some things, one possibility being having winter Sunday morning worship in the Small Hall to save on heating costs.

The next three years promises to be an exciting time as we try new initiatives and discover what God has in store for us. Growth will come but it will not happen overnight. It will require hard work, finance, commitment and prayer from us all. It is not my project, not the Elders project, it is our project as members of the Beacon Church Centre. To be successful we all have a part to play. My prayer is that we will journey together to a successful future. Can we count on your support?

Ian