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Verse for the Year: Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. 1 Chronicles 16:11

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During March 2020 all of our services and meetings were suspended due to the impact of and Governement response to the coronavirus pandemic. As part of my keeping in touch with everyone I began to write weekly letters. These blog posts are simply extracts from those letters.

By bridcf, Jul 12 2020 04:37PM

I have recently finished reading the book Tommy by British military historian Richard Holmes. This looks at the First World War through the eyes of the soldiers who were fighting in it and what they said at the time.


One part of the book was about the role of military chaplains. They were ministering to young men who regularly faced death and had a real spiritual need but sadly spiritual realities were not often addressed.




Many chaplains ministered from places of safety and did not join the troops in the hardships they faced in the trenches. One chaplain said this: ‘And now God go with you,’ he told a group of men bound for the front. ‘I will go with you as far as the station’.


The Bible tells us that when we were in our time of greatest spiritual need, the need for our sin to be dealt with, Jesus came into the world to save us. Here, He did far more than just standing in the trenches to fight the battle with us. He personally fought the battle of sin for us when He died on the cross. He was the only One who could do this and defeat sin once and for all time so that as we trust and follow Him we are made right with God.


Following Jesus does not mean an easy life, though. In fact there are new spiritual battles for us to face. But through His Holy Spirit Jesus’ personal presence remains with us in the trenches and as we fight these battles we are given this encouragement. The Bible says of Jesus: we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)


Our time of need is now as we fight daily spiritual battles, but we have the encouragement and assurance that we can call on Jesus in prayer. Jesus understands exactly what we are going through because He has lived a life as we live and experienced the spiritual battle from our perspective. So as we bring our prayers to Him we can have every confidence that He is fully understands what we are going through and that He is acceptable to God to present our prayers to Him because He pleased God His Father in every way.


Jesus does not abandon us to stand alone in the trenches to fight spiritual battles. He is personally present with us, leading, guiding and protecting us through them. He personally brings our prayers and petitions to God His Father knowing exactly what we are going through.


May we be encouraged in our walk with Him by His personal presence with us and may we be challenged to stand with others in the trenches of their trials, bearing testimony to what God has done for us in Jesus so that they may turn to Him, too.



By bridcf, Jul 5 2020 09:04AM

During these past few months we have all been on something of a ‘lockdown journey’. Thankfully there are signs that things are improving as lockdown is being gradually eased across the country. For us, though, the journey is not yet finished and we need God’s continued encouragement as we face the path ahead of us.


This is where Psalm 121 can help us. It is one of a number of psalms called the Songs of Ascent which are psalms that pilgrims would have sung on their way to one of the great festivals in Jerusalem, as they ascended up to the city. In the Book of Psalms the Songs of Ascent are grouped in threes with a beginning, middle and end to the journey.


Psalm 121 is one of the ‘middle’ psalms, when the pilgrims are engaged in the struggles of the journey. In difficult days, the pilgrims ask, where does our help and hope come from? The psalm’s writer answers in verses 2-4:


My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip –

he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.


As we read these verses we need to be as encouraged by them as those who first sang them were. They are as much a picture of how God fulfils His salvation as it is about the journey to Jerusalem. We know how God has saved us through Jesus and, because of this, we have confidence that as we continue with life’s journey, with all its difficulties, He is personally walking with us day by day. He is with us, leading and guiding us to the presence of God His Father in heaven, where we will be with Him forever.


Until that time, as we continue on in our ‘lockdown journey’ and, indeed on life’s journey itself, may we be encouraged to ever more trust and depend on Jesus alone and find our help and our hope in Him.


By bridcf, Jun 28 2020 08:52AM

On Friday evening Liverpool Football Club again became Champions of the English Premier League for the first time in thirty years. They had been well ahead of any contenders before coronavirus struck and the results from other teams means they have won the title comfortably.


Although the football season was suspended because of lockdown the work behind the scenes never stopped. It was important that players maintained high levels of physical fitness so that when the season restarted they would be match-ready and feel physically on top of their game.


There is a vital lesson for Christians here, too. Just because we are not ‘in church’ at the moment doesn’t mean that the work God has called us to has stopped. Even in the current lockdown situation, we must be prepared for opportunities to point others to Jesus.


The Apostle Paul encourages Christians to keep on working at their faith as he says: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25) Paul is calling us, here, to make sure that our lives are in order so that we are able to work hard for God and provide a consistent witness, whatever the situation is that we face.


We do this because we have the blessing of a tremendous salvation to enjoy. Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp is a Christian and he explained to an interviewer from his native Germany that Jesus’ death on the cross “was the greatest act that has ever been achieved, because it changed everything. We don’t have to do it [paying for our sins] and this is a huge comfort”.


Jürgen Klopp also said of his response to what Jesus had done for him: “To be a believer, but not to want to talk about it - I do not know how it would work!” Sharing with others what God has done for us is a vital part of our work for Him.


May we be encouraged to keep training and to keep on running to win day by day. Our reward is not the cup for winning the English Premier League but it is the crown of life from God which means being in His presence for an eternity because of what Jesus has done for us. May we continue to keep our eyes on Him as we head for heaven.




By bridcf, Jun 22 2020 10:10AM

Most of us are now fed up of being under lockdown and so we need to have a focus of hope to get us through it. For some this has been being able to see friends and family or visit a garden centre. For others it is looking forward to enjoying a meal in a café or restaurant, visiting museums and places of interest when they re-open or going away on holiday. These are hopes that are well worth seeing fulfilled.


It is wonderful when our hopes are fulfilled and this is what the Christian life is all about – having a hope in an inheritance in heaven that Jesus has won for us and promises us is ours in Him. The Bible says:


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)


Here is God’s wonderful hope that Jesus guarantees for us. We don’t have to worry about when it might be fulfilled or if it might happen because Jesus has made sure that it will. It is a sure and certain hope and it is a living hope because it is alive in Jesus. This is something we can hold on to in all of life’s struggles.


But Peter also points out that not only is Jesus giving us that living hope of an inheritance in heaven, but God is also shielding us and making sure that we get there to enjoy it! We need to be encouraged that our hope and trust in Jesus is one day going to be wonderfully fulfilled.


I pray that this living hope will help us to keep on going in our present situation and in whatever the future holds until the time when it is gloriously fulfilled and we are with the Lord forever.


By bridcf, Jun 14 2020 10:04AM

Every Wednesday, along with about 140 other church leaders, I attend a training session called ‘Leadership in Lockdown’. Of course, we can’t physically meet together, but technology allows us to meet online and communicate with one another.


This week the leader who hosts the meetings was looking to see who was there and commented on the backgrounds that they were sitting in front of. Some (like me) were sitting in front of bookcases, some in front of mantelpieces filled with family photographs and one person even appeared to be sitting in front of a chandelier. Technology had allowed the leader (as well as the rest of us) to gain a small insight into people’s homes and lives.


Seeing into others’ lives is the theme of one of my favourite psalms: Psalm 139. Whilst technology can only give us a small snapshot into the lives of others, this psalm shows us that God knows and sees the full picture of our lives. The opening verses say: O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. (verses 1-3)


David wrote this psalm. He found the thought that God knew everything about him very comforting because it showed that God loved him and cared for every detail of his life. David trusted God and knew that as he sought to be faithful to Him in life’s difficulties that God would be with him to lead and guide him in right ways.


David also knew that God could see his heart. So he asks this of God: Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (verses 23-24) He wants God to lead him in His right ways of salvation so that he can honour Him from his heart and with his life.


In our current lockdown situation this psalm should encourage us that God is with us. He sees and knows everything about us and about the situation we are in. We can be comforted by this knowledge and bring all things that trouble us and cause us anxiety to Him in prayer and be sure of His help and guiding through the current crisis, throughout life and to our place with our Saviour in heaven.


THE PASTOR'S 

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