FLOWER POWER- THE FLOWER MINISTRY OF CORSHAM BAPTIST CHURCH

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Wendy Prior, Guest Contributor for today’s blog post 

See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. (Matthew 6.28)

Its lovely to have flowers in church during our services, and people have sometimes testified as to the powerful impact that they have had. They are a vivid reminder of the beauty and wonder of God’s creation – something which most of us can enjoy in our gardens, in parks, and sometimes in the open fields – and something which can be brought in to our services as a reminder of what God can do. His creative power is infinite, and it follows that His power to heal, to calm us and to uplift our spirits is just as great. I know of an occasion when a lady came into a service in some distress – she was a visitor – and said afterwards that she remembered little of what went on or what was said, but was greatly affected by the flowers on display which spoke to her and calmed her.

03 flowers croppedThose who support the flower ministry are contributing to a further objective too. Not everyone is able to go out and enjoy the beauty of flowers in their natural environment. There are quite a number of people known to us who have become housebound, and often the flowers go to one or another of them during the week, and this is greatly welcomed. In addition, there are people recently bereaved, people recently out of hospital, new parents, people with special birthdays, who are greatly encouraged when flowers are brought to them. It’s a point of contact in which the love of God and Christian fellowship can be expressed, both to CBC members and sometimes to others too, for whom it can be an opportunity to bring into the conversation the subject of CBC and whom we worship. It’s a rewarding ministry and we’re thankful to all who are involved.

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JESUS IS THE COSMIC LORD

 

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Christine Coltman, contributor for today’s blog post 

In preparing for this year’s studies in Colossians, I was reading the recommended Mark Meynell book, ‘Colossians and Philemon For You’. In the opening pages the author describes Paul’s claims about Jesus as truly ‘outrageous’. I read it and thought how jarring that was with my Sunday experience of God. I’ve gone to church all my life, surrounded by people who love singing praises to him and learning more about him. We are comfortable, unshocked and perfectly happy. Surely nothing about Jesus is that outrageous?
Then I began to think. How much do I limit God by my comfortable familiarity? Why does the truth about Jesus not blow my mind on a more regular basis? Paul’s claims about Jesus in chapter one of Colossians are big. He is the ‘firstborn over all creation’, the sustainer of everything – God himself. If I was as brave as I should be and told my non-Christian friends exactly what I believe about Jesus, they would be straight-out shocked. Jesus is that cute baby on Christmas cards, right? Yes, and he’s also the cosmic-creating, terrifyingly powerful, fearless ultimate hero who gave his life for me.
You may not know this about me but I love fantasy. Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter (and many less well-known novels that I can recommend!). I like big; I like unbelievable – I like high concept fantasies where the incredible happens. Dragons fly, magic is real, one person can save the whole universe. Show me a crime drama, or a soap and I’m not interested. I don’t want to see something that could be happening down the road from me – I want my imagination to soar.
I know I’m not the only one. The success of superhero movies alone show that people have a longing for the incredible. Critics would call it wish-fulfilment; I’d call it our hearts crying out for something more: the inbuilt belief that there is a real superhero out there who really has saved us.
I was never quite sure why fantasy was so appealing to me until I read a quote from Tolkein. He said that myths and fantasies are ‘echoes or memories of the truths that God had originally made known to Adam and Eve’ and that the gospel is ‘the true myth, the great fairy story in which all the elements of the pagan myths find their fulfilment.’
Suddenly it clicked. I like ‘big stories’ because I am part of a big story; the greatest story ever told. I want more because I am built for more. I dream of an incredible land where the unbelievable happens because that is where I am headed; because a God – the one true God – sacrificed himself for me in a cosmic spiritual battle which he won.
Jesus is counter-cultural. He is not comfortable – in fact, he’s pretty unbelievable, and I’m glad of that. I don’t want to stake my life on something small. But there’s also a huge challenge in that. As Mark Meynell says, ‘If Jesus really is the cosmic Lord, then how can we not dedicate every fibre of our being to him and his service?’
‘The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together.’
Colossians Chapter 1 v 15-17

WHO ARE YOUR FRIENDS?

 

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Sharon Durant, contributor for today’s blog

A few years ago, someone asked me that question. I mentally reviewed my friends — people who grew up on my street, people I was at school with, university, people I worked with, people I saw at the children’s play dates. I know a lot of people! But trying to think of a friend, a true friend, who walks shoulder to shoulder with me in Christ, who reliably keeps in touch and selflessly keeps on loving me and giving me truth? At that moment in my life, I had one.

To my shame, my list of ‘one’ didn’t even include the Lord Jesus! Since I was asked that question, God’s been taking me on a journey of what it means to HAVE friends and what it means to BE a friend. I’ve found two amazing places for friends:

1) Christ! Jesus himself commented that no one has greater love than
laying down their life for a friend (John 15:13). That is exactly what
he did. I offered nothing, there was no favour I could return, I
couldn’t even bring a pudding, but he kindly saw my need of a Saviour
and met it before I even asked. And then, even better, he has the Holy
Spirit is in my life. The Bible describes him as Comforter (John 14:26),
the Guide, the one who points to the Truth (John 16:13) and who walks
with me every day (Galatians 5:25). The hymn writer was right when he
wrote, “What a friend we have in Jesus!”

2) Church! The church is full of people walking in the same spiritual
direction as me, people who are also aware of their own sin but being
FRIENDSHIPchanged to be more holy, like Jesus. I picked up this little book “True
Friendship” (click on true friendship for link)  which gives excellent pointers for how to wisely make and keep friends in church, walking shoulder to shoulder. I have read, studied, re-read, bought and given away this book time and time again; I heartily recommend it! It has helped me to be realistic in what I expect of my friends, and what they can expect from me, and is overflowing with biblical wisdom to be blessed and be a blessing.

So. A question to think about over the summer: Who are your friends?

WOMEN’S BREAKFAST!

ENGLISH BREAKFASTHi ladies! This is just a reminder that we are having our second annual women’s breakfast. This is a perfect time to bring along your friends, and enjoy a time of food and friendship! If you haven’t signed up, no problem! Just let Anne Holmes know!

WHERE: Corsham Baptist Church Hall

WHEN: Saturday, 13 July

TIME: 9:30

SEE YOU THERE!

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KNOWING GOD

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I AM THE LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I DELIGHT in these things. I, the Lord, have spoken.'” Jeremiah 9:23-24 NLT

Knowing God-  Just. Righteous. Unfailing love. Not only is this blatantly countercultural, but is a direct word from God. He delights in our knowing and understanding Him;  Our Father God, Our Redeemer and merciful Saviour Jesus Christ, and our Counselor and Comforter, the Holy Spirit!

And, the more we understand and know God, then we will know and understand ourselves. Why? Because we are His image bearers; He is our identity.

He is our foundation for us to accept what God does even when we don’t understand it. When we’re confused, we can fall back on what we know about God from his Word.

Each aspect of His character is a window into His beauty, another chance to trust Him, and another reason to love Him.

 

 

IT’S HERE!

….Well almost! THE GATHERING TAKES PLACE BEGINNING FRIDAY through SUNDAY at CORSHAM SCHOOL off of Tynings Road.

If you haven’t already planned on coming to all or part, it isn’t too late. There will be much to share in together: the Word of God, worshipping in song, laughter, friendship over food, prayer, biblical insight, one-anothering, and much more!

I am reminded of the letter of Hebrews where the writer exhorts us:

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:23-25 NLT

church familyTHE GATHERING is a good place to do just that!

For details email us at office@corshambaptists.org or contact us by phone at 01249.701078.

See you there!

 

WOMEN OF THE WORD

God has brought across my path Jen Wilken, author and Bible study teacher. She is passionate about Bible literacy. God is using her to help women over the world to take hold of the importance of becoming a woman of the Word.

The following are some quotes from Jen Wilken which I found helpful to begin seeing the truth of knowing God through the Bible, and how it will help us grow in awe of God which will change us more every day! Look online for books she has written.

Jen Wilken

Jen Wilkin

“For years I viewed my interaction with the Bible as a debit account: I had a need, so I went to the Bible to withdraw an answer. But we do much better to view our interaction with the Bible as a savings account: I stretch my understanding daily, I deposit what I glean, and I patiently wait for it to accumulate in value, knowing that one day I will need to draw on it.”

“When women grow increasingly lax in their pursuit of Bible literacy, everyone in their circle of influence is affected. Rather than acting as salt and light, we become bland contributions to the environment we inhabit and shape, indistinguishable from those who have never been changed by the gospel. Home, church, community, and country desperately need the influence of women who know why they believe what they believe, grounded in the Word of God. They desperately need the influence of women who love deeply and actively the God proclaimed in the Bible.”

“If we want to feel a deeper love for God, we must learn to see him more clearly for who he is. If we want to feel deeply about God, we must learn to think deeply about God.”

“Sanctification is the process of learning increasing dependence, not autonomy.”

“The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.”

“The Bible does tell us who we are and what we should do, but it does so through the lens of who God is. The knowledge of God and the knowledge of self always go hand in hand.”

“The second thing I got backwards in my approach to the Bible was the belief that my heart should guide my study. The heart, as it is spoken of in Scripture, is the seat of the will and emotions. It is our “feeler” and our “decision-maker.” Letting my heart guide my study meant that I looked for the Bible to make me feel a certain way when I read it. I wanted it to give me peace, comfort, or hope. I wanted it to make me feel closer to God.”

HIS GRACE IS TRAINING US

CHRISTINE COLTMAN, CONTRIBUTOR FOR TODAY’S BLOG POST

They say that when you become a parent, everything changes. That is definitely true. Your own wants and desires are put behind those of the child you bring into this world. The one thing that I have found most unexpected upon having children is how they are absolutely and completely their own person. In some ways this is wonderful; in others, terrifying. Particularly when you realise that they are totally in control of their relationship with God.

For the first few years I was calm about this (they were, after all, tiny, sweet and mostly well-behaved). Then their speech and bad behaviour kicked in. Well-meaning Christian friends told me that I should use every example of bad behaviour as a teaching opportunity to tell them about Jesus. Try doing that as your three year old throws a truck at your head. I felt panicked, worried and upset by the ‘monsters’ I could see rising up in my children’s eyes as the bad behaviour kicked in.
I realised then that nothing terrifies me as much as the thought of my children choosing not to love Jesus. Yet God does not want us to be terrified of anything and gives us tools for these situations – prayer, and his Word. Bible verses are, and always have been, my peace in these moments. Nathan’s youth pastor and his wife wrote this verse on Arya’s dedication tree, and it has given me both comfort and direction:
‘Those who are planted in the house of the Lord will flourish in the courts of our God.’ Psalm 92 v 13

God has not promised that my children will become Christians. That decision belongs to them alone. But he has given us an abundance of promises – to be with me as I try to teach them about Jesus, that he will give me the words to say through his Holy Spirit, and most importantly that their Redeemer is strong, and that he will ‘thoroughly plead their case’ (Jeremiah 50).

God has given me the children I have for a reason. He has revealed himself to me for his glory. So I take heart that my Redeemer, who has overcome the world, will use the feeble efforts I make on his behalf to increase his kingdom, however that may be. I hope these verses below will encourage you in whatever field you are working, or for whoever you are praying desperately for. Our God is with us, his grace is training us, so let us fix our eyes on Jesus.
‘My sheep hear my voice,’ John 10 27
‘Men ought always to pray and not to lose heart.’ Luke 18 v 1
‘You have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.’ Psalm 61 v 5

NONE LIKE HIM

Kathy Larkman

I have recently read(and re-reading) a book called None Like Him by Jen Wilken. I came across Jen on The Gospel Coalition and have found a great gospel resource in learning how to know God better! I highly recommend this book. The following is Jen’s own words as to the reason she wrote this book. Take time. You will be blessed. Lots of love, Kathy

“I wrote this book because of two convictions I hold regarding the importance of knowing what the Bible says about God’s character. 
Meditating on God’s character enriches our understanding of Scripture.
When I write my Bible studies, I ask my students to look first for what the text says is true about God. I have found this can be a hard question for them to answer. I know it was for me for many years. The more I learned of God’s character, the clearer it became that the Bible was first and foremost a book about who God was before it had anything to say about who I was. Once I began reading to discover God’s character I was able to see my own in relation to His, rather than independent of His. 
We don’t often take time to meditate on God’s attributes beyond just a passing acknowledgment, but when we do, our time in the Word is enriched.
My prayer is that None Like Him would help us become more fluent in our vocabulary of those truths, and that we would see God and ourselves more clearly as a result.
Meditating on God’s character is intensely practical.
Our daily lives would look very different if we took God’s character into consideration. God’s incommunicable attributes, in particular, should elicit a worshipful awe from us that causes us to see and embrace our limitedness in light of His limitlessness. Without that reference point, we can become convinced of our own awesomeness and work tirelessly to sustain it. We begin striving to take on the attributes that are not ours to possess, thus committing the idolatry the serpent offered Eve: “you will become like Him.” Once we recognize our desire for limitlessness as destructive, we are better able to submit willingly and joyfully to the God-ordained limits we have been given. And we are better able to worship Him.
If you’re looking for a book to use for a small group discussion time, or just for personal reflection or growth, I’ve structured the book with that in mind. Each of the ten short chapters explores one attribute, and then concludes with verses for meditation, four application questions, and a prayer. I hope you’ll keep a journal as you read, copying out the verses and writing your reflections and personal prayers in response to the questions. But however you use the book, I hope you’ll see God’s character emerge from the scriptures with greater clarity, and that you’ll be drawn to worship Him anew as you meditate on His perfections.
Happy reading!” -Jen Wilken 

GOD IS WORKING ALL FOR OUR ULTIMATE GOOD

Kathy Larkman

Kathy Larkman, contributor for today’s blog post

I consider myself to be a late bloomer in my journey with the Lord. I floundered for many difficult, disobedient years. I didn’t really get the gospel and I became numb and swept away by false teaching and the ways of our society. Thankfully, over the years, the Lord has been sifting, purifying and healing my heart and mind. I have had to unlearn some unhelpful unbiblical theology and unhelpful thought patterns; to replace them with God’s word and Godly resources and people in my life. I am growing to love God’s Word. I have realized that when I am applying God’s word to my life,  I am walking in full obedience. Over time, I am seeing that my obedience to God is bringing me freedom and joy! There is a greater pleasure in full surrender to Christ.
A scripture that has come to mean a lot to me and has given me comfort and hope in my messiness is Romans 8:28:
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”NLT

It is a promise I have clung to through the good, the bad, and the ugly; much of it brought on by my own disobedience, confusion, my rebellion.

But there are certainly still some days that I am wobbly. So every day I have the opportunity to test this anchor of my soul, especially when I think about the unknown of the future, my family, my church family, when difficult circumstances come my way.

Notice that Paul says “all things work together for good. “Not, all things are good. Because I am a follower of Christ doesn’t make me immune from awful things happening or experiencing painful heartache. It does mean that in God’s economy nothing is wasted; that I can’t escape his perfect purposes for me as his redeemed child. Of course we have seen the ultimate example of working all for good, in the death of our Lord Jesus.

God is teaching me that He is always good! The past few months have had some painful wobbles. May I ask you? Have you had some challenging times too? I want to encourage us that this is God’s word to us about this past year. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” And it will be true in 2019- and 2020-and 2021! Every day and in every way, God is working things out for our ultimate good. And God in his mercy doesn’t have us stop at verse 28. Verse 29 supports and gives the reason for verse 28: “For God knew his people in advance and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. “Rom 8:29 NLT

transformedThis is the good to which all things in our lives as his children are working; that we become like Jesus! Our hearts will slowly realize God’s thinking, ways, and purposes are so far above and beyond our natural understanding. OUR view of what good is, is so far from God’s.

You see, these verses teach us that God knows what is ultimately best for us than we do; to trust God, His heart and character IN His word. I of course have my L plates on all the way to heaven. But I am thankful to God He will not let me go! If you are His child, Christ will not let you go either! I encourage you to take hold of this as well. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Rom 8:28-29

They are God’s word to us. God’s will for us is not to be necessarily healthy, wealthy, and wise; but God is working all things so that we will become more and more like His Son. There is nothing better. Let’s encourage one another to hold on to these promises, to cooperate with the Spirit as we grow to become more like our Lord Jesus Christ.