Posts Tagged ‘All Saints Preston’

I hope you enjoy fellowship with older Saints

I loved something Vaughan Roberts said at Forum this year. He said “I hope you enjoy fellowship with older Christians. If you don’t, you’re missing out.”

They are full of wisdom, grace, humility, experience, maturity, and well worth tapping into for life’s big issues and over doctrine. Aside from that, they are usually fun to be around, and generous in the giving of time and giving of themselves in prayer. This is one of the reasons I feel privileged to be a part of All Saints here in Preston, it’s a diverse church in age range as well as in many other ways.

Of course, it’s quite counter-cultural to be a student and to befriend older people but I’m convinced it’s one of the great benefits of being in Christ Jesus. There’s a man called Brian at church, extremely wise in important matters of cricket, but also full of pearls of wisdom about the Christian life (he’s known Jesus for more than 60 years), and I’ve enjoyed listening to him over men’s breakfasts and the like.

One time last year Brian took 4 of us student boys to watch a game of cricket at Old Trafford (where he is a lifetime member of Lancashire County Cricket Club). His lovely wife Kath made us a picnic and we made our way to the ground expecting to watch a great day’s cricket. Unfortunately, we are talking about a part of England that rains bucket loads all year round so we didn’t manage to see a ball being bowled, but nonetheless Brian’s kind gesture did not go unnoticed by us and it was the beginning of a friendship.

There are many older men who I have not spoken to at All Saints, and it is my prayer that I will endeavour to do so in the coming days, weeks and months.

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The Holy Spirit is a Person not a force!

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the Holy Spirit recently, and this has been helped by the first thematic preaching series I’ve experienced at church (Doctrine of the Holy Spirit). Daf, pastor of All Saints, has been preaching in three parts through the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit and it’s been eye-opening and God has made it much clearer to me the person and work of the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

I’ve been to my fair share of ‘charismatic’ events in the past and have never really thought the Holy Spirit played much of a part in life except during times of singing and so-called ‘ministry’, usually after the singing. In my experience, He is treated more as a force given by Jesus for doing seemingly weird things, rather than treated as a person, as I now see the Bible clearly presents Him as.

This is not to say that the Spirit isn’t capable of doing the extraordinary, of course He can, He is God! However, as Christians, it is absolutely paramount to keep what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit central to our thinking on Him.

And I am now confident that the Holy Spirit is not limited to working as a spiritual dose of Lucozade for the Christian. He is a person we know, like God the Father, or Jesus the Son.

It is exactly because the Holy Spirit is a person and not a force that Paul writes in Ephesians ‘Do not grieve the Holy Spirit’ (Eph 4:30). You can’t anger a force, but you can a person.

Don’t be a “Christian Rambo”

Lately I’ve become more aware of the importance of church in the life of a Christian. I guess I always knew it was important but this particular doctrine is starting to take root in my heart and mind. Church is a fundamental building block of spiritual growth and of daily and weekly encouragement. Church helps to sustain the Christian through the week ahead and prepares them for a lifetime of service.

Chris, the Ministree Trainee at my church in Preston, was preaching on Hebrews 10:19-39 last week as we’ve been going through the book in the evenings. I feel very encouraged by clearly seeing the necessity and joy of being part of the local church. I am always greatly encouraged by the church around me (Church = people not buildings), spurring one another on towards love and good deeds (v24).

The writer to the Hebrews writes;

‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.’ (v25)

Hebrews is a book full of warnings – warnings about drifting in the Christian life. The people of God coming together in praise, prayer, fellowship, all under the authority of God’s Word is a great source of encouragement. This is definitely my experience too.

Church Consumerism

If you live in the UK, you live in a culture of consumerism. It’s all about ‘Number One’, what can I get out of the deal?’ Everything is about me. Christ calls his church to be distinctive in this area;

‘Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8)

Yes we will be encouraged by meeting together on a Sunday, and it is the role of the pastor-teacher to preach the Word to prepare God’s people for works of service (Ephesians 4:11-12), therefore there is definite gain by going to Church on a Sunday or by going to a midweek Bible study, but this does not advocate a consumerist approach to church. We come to serve (that’s the Christian life), to become more like Christ, the ultimate servant – who laid his life down for His sheep. There is no greater show of love than this (John 15:13).

I need to repent. Even when the Word is being read or preached in church, I’m thinking “what is God saying to me?’.” There is nothing necessarily wrong with this; God does speak to us individually through His Word. But what about the other members of my church family – I should also be thinking “What is God to saying to ‘us’ as a church?” “And what about my friend sitting over there, what could I encourage or challenge them with afterwards?”. “And how about my friend who isn’t here tonight?”.

It’s a real challenge to rid ourselves of this consumerism. But by God’s grace it is possible and we’ve got God the Holy Spirit to wage war against the sinful nature! He gives us new desires and makes it possible to say “No” to sin, and “Yes” to righteousness; we CAN become more like Christ. But this is not an individual process, that’s why God gave us brothers and sisters. Praise be to God for the family He has given me. Amen.

Further Reading;

God’s New Community – Graham Beynon

Stop Dating the Church – Joshua Harris