A Season Of Change

Sitting working at home today it looks like Spring has arrived in our garden at last! Long may the sunshine continue!

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I love this quote from Song of Songs:

“See! The winter is past; the rains (and snow) are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” (Songs of Songs 2v11-13)

Jesus loves his church

We are Jesus’ bride, and He calls us to arise and follow him. He is the one who brings us growth and fruitfulness, and we’ve certainly seen some fruit recently, for example last weekend we had the joy of 12 baptisms. This included people from eight different nations: Nigeria, South Africa, Cyprus, Spain, China, Brazil, South Korea and the UK. Jesus is at work in our church!

A new season

As a church we’re about to embark on a significant new season, full of of change, to help us become even more effective and fruitful:

  • On Sunday April 22nd we announce the new name for our church at our Vision Focus Evening (6.30pm at The Coign Building)
  • After that we will have Gift Days towards the New Building Project
  • In May our new name will go live and we will relaunch ourselves in Woking

These are significant changes and will impact us all in various ways. As we go through these changes, we would be naive to think that it will all be smooth sailing or that we don’t have to be both watchful and prayerful.

Let’s keep watch on ourselves

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith …” 1 Peter 5v8-9

Our enemy would love to spoil our beautiful new season and halt the growth that God is bringing us, so let’s pray and let’s be watchful … and let’s not do his job for him!

Let’s each keep a close watch on our own hearts as we go through these changes.

Five things to watch our hearts for

These changes are positive and exciting, yet change can also be challenging for some people, so let’s make sure we each handle things well.

Here are five possible challenges we might face, which could damage our church if not handled well! Also, here are some links to helpful resources for each situation.

Watch out for fear: excellent link here

Watch out for gossip: check out this excellent article

Watch out for negativity: excellent resource here

Watch out for ungodly criticism: try this link

Watch out for disappointment: this article is particularly helpful

And finally, let’s keep on praying as we move forward together into our future as a church.

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The Challenges Of Being Somewhere New

We’re enjoying living in Woking, and not only because of starting at The Coign Church. Of course there are lots of challenges moving somewhere new, though most of mine appear to be food related – for example:

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It’s all a bit alien to me!

  • Finding my way round a new supermarket (harder work than it should be)
  • Deciding where to go out for a meal (Pizza Express – it’s literally next door to the Coign building)
  • Deciding where to buy a sandwich (had a calzone from a street vendor in Market Walk – nice!!!)
  • Understanding the food waste recycling system (a new concept for us)
  • Almost creating an ‘international incident’ when trying to buy goat (yes, really) for some Indian visitors after Westpoint (we ended up with lamb and we liked it)
  • And finally (non-food related) trying to find a post office … and then trying to negotiate the queue …

It feels odd not knowing where everything is, especially when the road layout seems to change almost daily!

So praise God for the church!

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Let the preaching commence!

We’re absolutely loving getting to know The Coign and, although we’re new, so many things already feel very familiar to us.

I’ve enjoyed starting our new preaching series: “Why I Love The Church”. Do get the free download of week 1 if you missed it; part 2 this Sunday.

I’ve enjoyed seeing ‘normal church life’ taking place all around me: worship, community groups, prayer meetings, pastoral care, youth work, kids work, team meetings, elders meetings, planning for alpha and so much more.

I even enjoyed getting my car washed as part of a fund raiser for three young people  setting off to do year teams, although I think the cars weren’t the only thing that got soaked …

 

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And talking of getting soaked …

What a joy to see people being baptised on Sunday evening

Sharon, Marcus, Clara and Karam each made the step of being baptised. The testimonies were great, with Karam’s even reducing grown men to tears. Dub then preached excellently and we ended up praying for lots of people too. Apologies for the quality of the photos:

 

 

Baptisms are a  sign that God has been at work in our church, and I believe he will carry on blessing us as we go into the future too.

So let’s pray for many more baptisms in the months ahead!

Enjoying God’s Presence

The Bible is clear that God is with us at all times: “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13v5). That’s pretty good news for Christians everywhere!

God’s number one promise:

The number one promise in the Bible, the thing God promises most often is, “I am with you” or “I will be with you” (or various other versions of the same thing.) He says it often because he wants us to know its true, whether we feel it or not.

Special moments

Sometimes there are moments when we draw especially close to God – and those are pretty special times:

  • Like spending time with Richard and Wendy last Saturday afternoon. Being there with Chris and Sandy, who are their life group leaders, as some practical issues were taken care of and a gift was given to them both from their Life Group. God’s presence was there14713506_211754975916257_2922616688999397217_n
  • Like when we have church members being baptised – incredible moments of God’s closeness and blessing for his people. God’s presence is there
  • Like sometimes when we gather together to worship and pray and hear God’s word taught. He’s always there when we meet, but sometimes we just feel his presence in a special way

Sunday Evening

image-03-11-2016-at-19-29This Sunday evening will be one of those times as we enjoy our Grace Church “Worship and Holy Spirit Evening”. We are going to gather together simply to worship, wait on God and see what he wants to say to us.

 

 

We’ve done a couple of these evenings before and God’s presence has always been so tangible. So come ready to meet with God and to enjoy his presence; come with faith and expectation; come ready to contribute; come ready to worship and to give praise and glory to God … and come expecting to encounter his presence.

 

Spontaneous Baptisms!

I was really thrilled that we had baptisms planned for our recent Grace Church 10th birthday party. I love it when we baptise people; it’s a great sign that God is at work in both them as individuals and in us as a church!

A watershed moment

If you’ll pardon the pun, baptism is a watershed moment:

  • It’s a public declaration that we belong to Jesus and our life is now in him. “If anyone is in Christ they are a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Cor 5v17)
  • It’s a sign that our old life has died with Jesus and that we have a new life in him now, “We were buried with Jesus by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Rom 6v4)

Lots of fun, lots of water and the thrill of a life changed forever!

Extra trunks…

In the run up to the party David Thompson made a suggestion: “Why don’t you publicly ask on the day, after you’ve spoken, if there are any other people who want to get baptised right now?”

I’d never done that before, but I don’t mind taking a risk so we came up with a plan: spare towels, extra swimming shorts and some Grace Church t-shirts … and I would make the ask at the end of the talk. Would there be that extra person who would respond right there and then?

On the day I was delighted with the response. Two baptisms became six baptisms in the space of three minutes. God must clearly be doing something among us.

So here are some photos of those baptisms:

Going under

And Rob’s was more eventful than the others (bottom left photo). As David and Andy baptised Rob, David somehow slipped down the slope towards the deep end. Rob came back up fine, but David somehow disappeared under the water … which got the biggest cheer of the whole day!

I’m sure it was nothing personal, and I’m pleased to say we now have David back safe and dry!

And if you want to get baptised next time, just let us know! We’ll try not to follow you under …