From the pastor’s pen: Be strong, not strong-headed!
As you know, at the start of the year, the Lord gave me a word that summarises the season that God is ushering us in as a Church – STRENGTHEN. For, according to his word, this is going to be a season of resource-strengthening that will enable us to stretch further both geographically and ministerially [you can catch up on the message on Vision Sunday on our website, ChurchSuite and SoundCloud]
However, as I considered this promise, I was reminded that whereas God’s plans are to make us strong, they certainly leave no room for us to become strong-headed or hard-hearted before him. For his strengthening comes to enable us to fulfil his purposes, not our own; and whatever we receive from him is only given that it might be poured out for his higher goals. I say this not because I am concerned about anything specifically but because I acknowledge how easy it is to allow a season of plenty to dampen our spirituality and mission, to develop a religiosity of complacency and comfort that only serves God with the left-overs – a “hole” that the people of Israel often fell into.
The elders of Israel once approached the prophet Zechariah with a question about fasting and whether or not they should continue to practice it since the Lord had answered their prayers and made a way for prosperity to return to Jerusalem. God’s response through the prophet was not only direct but deeper than the original question itself. For God had detected that the question was motivated by a spirit of convenience rather than one of genuine worship – seeing prayer and fasting only as a tool to get God to bless them, rather than as a means of intimacy. The prophet went on to declare that prayer and fasting are only powerful and meaningful when they stand on a foundation of obedience and alignment to his will, reminding those elders of what brought disaster upon their nation in the first place. Speaking of their fathers, he said: “They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore, great anger came from the Lord of hosts. ‘As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear’, says the Lord of hosts.”
Over the years I have known a lot of prayers and cries that went unanswered precisely because of this reason. For the Lord knows the motives of our hearts. He will not allow his grace to be abused nor his power to be exploited. When we cry out to him, we should ask ourselves “Why should he answer my prayer? Why should he help me? Do I live my life both hearing and obeying his call?”
As the Lord leads us as a Church into a season of favour and abundance, let us never forget that He is our greatest desire and treasure. Let us not allow the Lord’s blessing to become a curse – one that that tempts us into believing that we don’t need him as much, one that robs him of our worship and service. As he makes us strong, may we not become strong-headed toward him nor hard-hearted toward his will. For the ultimate test of our faithfulness isn’t the season of lack, but the season of plenty.
Annual General Meeting (AGM)
On Wednesday 18th of March at 7.30pm, our members will get together for our Church’s Annual General Meeting. The AGM reports are now available in the foyer (please only pick up one per household – remembering to bring it on the day). If you have any questions or comments for the AGM, please make sure to submit them in writing by no later than Thursday 12th of March. Only those submitted within that deadline will be considered at the AGM.
This year, we will update the Church on a number of items, including an upcoming constitution review and the ongoing building project. We will also make room for an initial debate regarding our official charity name. Emmanuel Ofosu is also up for re-election as both Church Leader and Charity Trustee.
This is a very important meeting for anyone calling our Church their spiritual home. Please make sure to attend.
From the 22nd to the 25th May, our young people will be returning to the “Undaunted” youth-camp at Hollybush (North Yorkshire). Hollybush is fun and there are plenty games and activities to be excited about, but the youth camp is much more than that! Hollybush is also a place for our young people to encounter God for themselves and fellowship with other Christian youth from different church realities. During last year's camp, we saw some of the young people coming to faith, accepting Christ for the very first time and a teenager even experienced healing in the middle one of the worship sessions
Consent forms are available and must be returned to Caroline with full payment by no later than Sunday 3rd of May.
Also, if you would like to sponsor a child that couldn’t otherwise afford going, please include £30 in the giving envelopes and mark them “Hollybush”
For more info about the camp, please speak with our youth and children’s work coordinator Caroline.
The 22nd of March marks Mother’s Sunday. For the occasion, our children will be preparing something special in what is going to be a lively family service. There will be a mothers’ giveaway draw, games, challenges and activities alongside a children’s talk and children’s participation in the service. Make sure to put this date in your diary!
7 nights of intercession
God’s promise to strengthen our Church is certainly an exciting one and we should look forward to its fulfilment with excitement – as his promises are sure! However, such promises are often “birthed” out of prayer and intercession. A clear biblical example of this is the prophet Elijah. God had given him authority over the rain, shutting and opening the heavens at his word (1Kings 17:1). After shutting the heavens for 3 years and having brought Israel back to their God, Elijah approached king Ahab and told him to hurry home because there was “a sound of rushing rain” (18:41). That sound was something he had heard in his spirit and it was a sign from God that the land was ready to receive rain again. However, the prophet didn’t just wait for it. He went up Mount Carmel and bowed down to pray. He did so 7 times – until his servant was able to see a small cloud appear on the horizon. In a similar way, I feel prompted by the Spirit to do the same as a Church with regards to God’s promise to strengthen our resources.
Following the AGM, we will get together for 7 mid-week nights of intercession on the 2020 theme “Strengthen” (from Wednesday 25th of March to Wednesday 6th of May). Each night will be focused on one specific area of Church life and mission that needs to see a strengthening. Areas of particular focus will be:
The Beacon Darwen
The Beacon Shadsworth
The Beacon Café
Love Shadsworth Fun Day
The Beacon Central (Building project)
New leaders and workers
More information will be released closer to those dates and will be made available on our Church calendar on both our website and ChurchSuite.