TFTD 03.06.20

“Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’ ” So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.” Ezekiel 37:9-10

Here we are in the season of Pentecost, and it is worth remembering that ‘breath’ is a powerful metaphor for life and for the Holy Spirit. For example, we are told in Genesis 2:7 that God “breathed into Adam…the breath of life.”
And in John 20:21 where the disciples are in ‘lockdown’ (!) in the Upper Room, Jesus “breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” Ezekiel the prophet, meanwhile, is in a place of death and despair in a valley of dry bones.
But God says to him there is hope, there is life in a place that seems dead: “Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again… [and] They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army”! Wow! God is good! God is powerful!
Sometimes it feels like this long drawn out pandemic crisis is a place of despair and hopelessness…but God is with us in it. In this time, more people are turning to prayer. Many people are accessing online church services than would ever go physically to church. People all over the world are asking big questions about the meaning and purpose of life.
And so this is the time for us, the church, to ‘rise up’ in the power of the Holy Spirit…as St Peter says to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15) I think the power of blessing someone unexpectedly with a kind word or a kind action is especially significant because it leads people to ask that question: Why? Why have you done that kind thing for me?
Do you remember a couple of years ago I talked about us needing to live QUESTIONABLE LIVES…? By that I don’t mean dubious lives, lives that are somehow falling short of the Gospel; on the contrary, by living ‘questionable lives’ I mean living our lives in ways that provoke a gospel explanation, living our lives in step with the Spirit of God so that our lives naturally invite questions from others as to why we live the way we do.
Let me encourage you today to do something for someone else that provokes that ‘why’ question. And as we do that, notice how the Holy Spirit brings His life, His power and His breath into what may have seemed like a hopeless situation. The wonderful truth is the breath of the Spirit doesn’t bring a virus; He brings new life. Alleluia!
Remember you can send your prayer request to:
Prayer@baystonhillchurch.org
Or ring: (01743) 583215
And you can read these Thought for the Day articles on our website too at
www.baystonhillchurch.org
Peace be with you!
Rev Peter Hubbard (Vicar)

TFTD 01.06.20

In the old days today would have been Whit Monday and would be a Bank Holiday.  (Sadly we have lost the emphasis on Whitsuntide in our society.  Not all change is good change!)  It’s a special day for me because, 52 years ago at a youth weekend at Cliff College in Derbyshire, I gave my heart and life to Jesus.  It was, to say the least, an emotional and life changing moment. 

Reflecting that it has been 52 years on this journey of faith reminds me of a book by Eugene Peterson, the pastor who brought us the wonderful ‘Message’ paraphrase of the bible.  The book is called “A long obedience in the same direction”.  The clue is in the title.  Peterson reminds us that in a world where everything moves at breakneck speed and we want everything instantly, (order it now and have it delivered within 24 hours) following Jesus and building a relationship with Him is a long term undertaking.  Accepting Jesus as Saviour and Lord doesn’t make us instantly perfect, rather it’s just the beginning of God’s work in us.

Peterson talks of two biblical descriptions for people of faith which sit against the frantic impatience of the world.  The words are disciple and pilgrim.  ‘Disciple’ means a learner, not in the academic sense of absorbing knowledge, but as an apprentice learning the ways and skills of the master. ‘Pilgrim’ tells us we are on a journey, we spend our time going somewhere, following the one who said “I am the way”.  Both of these words speak of something which takes time and cannot be rushed.

Describing this as ‘a long obedience’ makes it sound like a tedious and onerous commitment.  But that is far from the truth.  As Peterson writes “Obedience is not a stodgy plodding in the ruts of religion, it is a hopeful race towards God’s promises.”  The life of faith, following Jesus, is an adventure.  Every day we put our faith, hope and love on the line.  We trust in a God who is invisible, omnipotent and whose ways are often beyond our understanding.  He is not a tame God, under our control. He takes us to places we would prefer not to go.  He encourages us to live by standards that are radically different to those around us. Peterson describes this as ‘hazardous work’ and it truly is an adventure, full of risk.  Of course we know that we have a God who is well able to see us through whatever we face and that we can never be separated from His great love for us.  But it’s still not an easy journey we are on.  The rewards though are spectacular; a life of knowing God, experiencing the peace and joy that His presence brings, living a life with meaning and purpose. Life which will never end.

There is a challenge here for all of us as we ask ourselves, “How are we getting along on our pilgrim journey?”  Have we stopped beside the way?  Settling, as Peterson puts it, “for ritually obeying a few commandments that are congenial to our temperament  and convenient to our standard of living”, stuck in the ruts of religion, living a life which is safe and unchallenging, worthy but unsatisfying and horribly dull.  Or are we on an adventure with God, open and willing to be lead by the Spirit into whatever God has planned for us?

The writer to the Hebrews spends some time recounting the great adventures of faith of God’s heroes in the past (cht 11) and then says; “Let’s get involved in this adventure too.  Strip off anything that stops you from receiving God’s best and journey with perseverance on the path of adventure the Father has marked out for you”. Heb 12:1,2 (Langridge translation!)  You won’t regret it, I promise you. I have 52 years of experience.

                                                                                                          John Langridge

Remember, you can send your prayer request to: Prayer@baystonhillchurch.org                               Or ring: (01743) 583215   And you can read these Thought for the Day articles on our website too at www.baystonhillchurch.org

TFTD 29.05.20

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit (John 3:8)

Last week was windy (you might have forgotten as we bask in sunshine this week). I attempted to play tennis in 40mph gusts – it did not go well! I also watched the birds attempting to fly and wondered how they still ended up at their destination with that strength of wind against them.
Conveniently, the thought of the wind got me thinking about the Holy Spirit, as evidenced by today’s verse, and what better time to think about the Holy Spirit than now with Pentecost coming up?

We can think of the wind in many ways, it is annoying when it messes up your hair, or when it sends your ball flying out the tennis court (nothing to do with he person wielding a tennis racquet of course), it is helpful if you are sailing and we can harness its power for electricity. The wind can be that gentle breeze on a hot day that cools the air or it can be that howling gale that sends other peoples paddling pools flying into your garden!

Much like the wind, we experience the Holy Spirit in different ways. Sometimes it’s annoying – He asks us to do something we don’t want to do or visit somewhere we don’t want to go. Sometimes He supports us as we face problems. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit is just what we need to comfort us as we face another day stuck within the same four walls.

However you are feeling (or not feeling) the Holy Spirit at this time, He is still there. It feels a bit like we have been in lockdown forever and it is hard.

Like the birds though, we need to be focused on our destination, no matter what the storm is blowing at us. It might take up more energy, we might be tired when we get there, but it’s going to be worth it!

Remember, you can send your prayer request to: Prayer@baystonhillchurch.org Or ring: (01743) 583215
May the Holy Spirit guide you all your days.

Rachael

TFTD 27.05.20

Be encouraged!

 “You can be sure that the more we undergo sufferings for Christ, the more he will shower us with his comfort and encouragement.”

 2 Corinthians 1:5 (TLB)

I expect many of us have got into a routine each week with probably little variation, and even with this routine there may be times when we say to ourselves, “what can I do now?”. We may be struck by an idea and set to it only to find that we have not got everything we need to complete it. The moment is lost, and we can feel a little deflated and disappointed.

 What a contrast when we consider our walk with Jesus; he will never ask us to do anything that is not possible, as Matthew 11:30 says “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”. All the resources we will require for the tasks he has planned for us, he will provide, and on top of that he provides his Holy Spirit to lead and guide us every step of the way.

 So next time we ask the question “what can I do next” why not find a quiet space and ask the Lord that question, and the really good news is that through obedience to our Lord we can complete the task and be encouraged by so doing, rather than being deflated and disappointed.

 I shared some prayer time recently via Zoom with a Street Pastor from Telford. And as we shared our stories of shifts on the street it was evident to us both how much God was with us and a real blessing to those we came across. His divine hand led us to where we needed to be, and we always had everything we needed to do his will in the situation presented to us.

 So please be encouraged that we have a good and gracious Lord who is always in the moment with us even when we may not always realize it at the time.

 Love and blessings to you all,

 Mark Underwood

 Remember you can send your prayer request to:

Prayer@baystonhillchurch.org

Or ring: (01743) 583215
And you can read these Thought for the Day articles on our website too at www.baystonhillchurch.org

TFTD 25.05.20
As the weeks go by I miss seeing church family so much – but the TFDs from others and the services on-line are a real blessing – not the same as face to face – but it is great to have the technology, expertise and time that so many put into it. CCBH is a great team. We can see daily examples in wonderful videos from Rachael and Jeanette, service and love overflowing to those connected with Coffee in the Living Room, good and consistent pastoral care – and so much more that I probably don’t know anything about. It’s great and comes from the Father of Light.
What a weekend this has been for our nation. Rumours, spitefulness, unkindness, rudeness – it all seems to abound. We may be losing our confidence in establishments and rules. There will be so many different viewpoints on all this in the coming days. It is a confusing time – and I have been reminded again that when confusion comes the enemy is the author of it.
What is God saying to us in these times?
Last night I listened to Psalm 18 (read by David Suchet!) If you have time – take a look today or listen to it on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HwEp56BCew&t=29s
It’s a long Psalm but bears reading/listening all in one go! To be honest my listening to it started in quite a casual way – but I was arrested by the words. They were true to my own experience of being rescued by Him so many years ago. But it is more than my past experience – if we love the Lord Jesus – this is our experience now. I needed the reminder and it put me in a better place – but I needed the reminder so that I could use these words and pray it for friends, neighbours, family, work colleagues – governments and authorities all around us. He trains our hands for war, He is the shield of salvation – He has supported me. I could go on. Listen to it and let your spirit be stirred again.
Please use this and the High Priestly prayer which Debbie preached on from John 17. Rejoice again in your salvation and pray for those around you who as yet don’t know the hope we have within us. Ask the Lord to give you opportunities to talk in a real and personal way to those peoplel
Let’s remember to pray for those around us and perhaps also for
• Our own Rachel (Karrach) leading the mission hospital in Nepal – remember that that team has nowhere near the medical resources available here
• Our own hospital – there are still many patients in hospital with Covid – please remember the clinical teams – especially the doctors who have to wear full PPE which is basically being dressed from head to toe in plastic – they dread the hot days
• For those working in chaplaincy at the hospice and the hospitals
• Those in our Government – that they may lead well with humility and scientific excellence
You will have your own concerns – the challenge is not to be overwhelmed by them – but to bring them to the Lord – coming from a place of authority
May you have a blessed week
Sarah
Remember, you can send your prayer request to: Prayer@baystonhillchurch.org
Or ring: (01743) 583215

TFTD 22.05.20

The Lord God said, ’It is not good for the man to be alone’.     (Genesis 2.18)

How long do you spend out in the street on Thursday evenings clapping the NHS? I am not aware of any recommended length of time, but I suspect that these occasions are serving an additional purpose: talking to our neighbours, even though it means shouting across the road. Here is the one spontaneous social event which can replace chatting at the school gates or catching up over a coffee after the church service. Indeed, I would not be surprised if people have started talking to each other who, although neighbours, have hardly exchanged more than an occasional greeting since they moved in.

My text today reveals that God has not made us to be solitary creatures. Even though in Genesis it refers specifically to God creating Eve as a companion and helpmeet for Adam, we can see that generally as humans we do not thrive without friends and company, which many of us are now deprived of, albeit temporarily. Even those who are used to living alone are now unable to invite someone to tea, or to meet up with a friend for a meal, or to go into town for some retail therapy. Being ‘in solitary’ is a severe form of punishment in prison.

In these circumstances it is a welcome resource that we have digital social networking to turn to. New online publications are appearing, such as our own Christ Church Connections, and services can now be streamed live into our homes with the amazing facility of seeing each other while the service is in progress. Only a few years ago no such devices were available. Just as in wartime new technologies are developed which can also be applied to peacetime use, so I suspect that facilities like zoom will become much more familiar as a result of this pandemic keeping us physically apart. (Which means old folk like me will either have to catch up or be left behind!)

It also means that many of those who have got used to working from home might continue to do so in greater numbers now they have the resources for it, which will in turn relieve the commuter crush twice a day and at the same time benefit the environment. Thus most of us will have more control over the use of our time, and if we learn self-discipline there will be more time to spend in communion with God, who is always with us and is seeking to enter ever more deeply into our lives. This pandemic may yet become the means by which we find how to live in greater harmony with our Maker and our fellow human beings.

 

John Tiller

Remember, you can send your prayer request to: Prayer@baystonhillchurch.org
 Or ring: (01743) 583215
May you rest on the firmest of foundations

And you can read these Thought for the Day articles on our website too at www.baystonhillchurch.org

 

 

TFTD 19.05.20 

“Through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy, the praises of my God and King shall still my heart and tongue employ.”

 

As John and I were taking our daily walk yesterday and, dare I say it, sitting on a bench with our backs to Bayston Hill Quarry and soaking in the view, this lovely old hymn came to mind and, as per usual for me, I started singing it!

As we have walked over the last few weeks on a variety of lovely footpaths around Bayston Hill, we have observed the changes in the scenery – leaves now on the trees, the fields are now ploughed and mostly planted with either potatoes, cereal crops  or broad beans, the oilseed rape fields have been beautifully yellow and glistening in the sunlight, there are many lambs jumping around and other live stock to see, e.g. rabbits, butterflies – and the footpaths are now sufficiently dry for enjoying a good walk.

Isn’t our God so very good to have given us such a beautiful, colourful, creation for us to enjoy which for us in the U.K. changes with the seasons?  Some other countries are not so privileged as we are as they face barren landscapes.  It doesn’t do to moan about the weather, our God knows what we need and when we need it, even the rain!

This also reminded me of the Scripture verse, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  The preceding verses from Verse 5 are also worth reading, too (which include “I will never leave you and the Lord is my helper”).  We certainly need these reassurances nowadays in the light of the corona virus and all that we are individually facing – whether good or bad, easy or difficult – so we must keep our focus on Jesus ……. and so the quotes from Scripture could go on but I will leave that up to you to ponder over.

The final verse of the hymn I quoted above says:

“Fear Him, ye saints, and you will then, have nothing else to fear;

Make but His service your delight; your wants shall be His care.”

 

 

Joyce.Malins.

 

Remember, you can send your prayer request to: Prayer@baystonhillchurch.org
 Or ring: (01743) 583215
May you rest on the firmest of foundations

And you can read these Thought for the Day articles on our website too at www.baystonhillchurch.org

 

TFTD 18.05.20
At breakfast time every day I read a Christian book (not a whole book obviously – I don’t eat that much breakfast!). As I munch my weetabix I like to think I’m feeding my spirit as well. Currently I am reading a little book by one of my favourite authors A.W. Tozer. It’s called The Knowledge of the Holy. A little tome with 23 short chapters exploring 20 attributes of God. Tozer is not the easiest read, partly because his language is from the 1950’s and 60’s and partly because it’s very challenging stuff.
The premise of the book is that God is far greater than we imagine. In fact God is incomprehensible. Tozer suggests that much about God is difficult for us to grasp and so we tend to cope by thinking of Him in manageable terms. That is, in ways we can describe Him from our own experience. He becomes a composite of all the best people we have known or heard about and all the sublime ideas we have entertained. That’s nice for us, because we end up with a God who is to some extent definable, measurable and hence in some measure controllable. Tozer says having a God we think we fully understand is a moral calamity for Christians and the church.
There are 20 attributes of God Tozer looks at in this book. But he reminds us that these are just the ones we can understand. There are many more attributes beyond our experience and therefore our comprehension. Each attribute, is complete, perfect, constant and of infinite capacity. So that means God’s love is complete, perfect, constant and infinite; His grace is complete, perfect, constant and infinite; His knowledge is complete, perfect, constant and infinite. I won’t go on, you get the picture. It all takes a bit of getting your head around. In fact it is impossible to get your head around. It’s like a mouse trying to hug an elephant – it’s not going to happen.
‘What’s the point?’ you may ask, if we can’t get our head around it. If it’s beyond our understanding why should we bother? Well a ‘God in a Box’, that we can define, explain, understand and is made up of the very best of everything good we can imagine, is not much use to us. Our trust and faith in what we expect from Him will be limited by the way we have defined Him. But if we accept that He cannot be explained or fully understood then He has no limits and what we can expect from Him is limitless too. Our God is love without limits, grace without limits, knowledge without limits, mercy without limits and so on – wow!
There will always be much about God that remains a mystery, inaccessible to us. But there is still much, much more of Him than we already know that is accessible for us to discover and experience. We are like someone paddling on the seashore with an ocean in front of us to be explored. The greater the effort we put in to finding out more about God, the greater our wonder love and praise.
I am reminded of the young lad experiencing a thunderstorm at night. His mother rushed upstairs to see if he was frightened and found him at the window shouting ‘Do it again Lord’. Not limited by the science or frightened by the unknown, the lad simply rejoiced in another facet of God’s wonderful creation.
So the challenge for each us in today’s thought is – in the words of J B Phillips – Is our God too small? Hint – the answer is always ‘Yes’. Our understanding of God is always too limited, because we can never grasp the fullness of our amazing God. But stretching our hearts and minds to know more of Him will always be wonderfully rewarded.
Why not find time today to read Isaiah 40:12-31, perhaps in The Message version if you can. John Langridge
Remember, you can send your prayer request to: Prayer@baystonhillchurch.org Or ring: (01743) 583215
And you can read these Thought for the Day articles on our website too at www.baystonhillchurch.org