LISTENING TO GOD IN HIS WORD…DID HE REALLY SAY THAT?

kathylarkman,
lesley-grindrod

Lesley Grindrod, contributor for today’s blog post

You may have noticed that I sometimes quote scripture from translations of the Bible other than our beloved NIV. There’s a very simple reason for this …. I believe it’s possible that over-familiarity with certain verses of scripture can cause them to lose their impact and relevance in our lives.
Many of you, like me, were brought up in Christian families. At our parent’s knee or in Sunday school we learnt to recite certain verses by heart. If I suggest ‘John 3:16’ ‘Psalm 23’or ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ – I’m sure we could launch immediately into pretty accurate memorised responses. (In my case these would be from the old King James Version – the only Bible ever used in my parents’ home!) But oh how easily the words trip off our tongues.
So here’s my challenge – has familiarity caused the essence, power and divine purpose of His Word to lose its impact? Do we honestly meditate on what these precious words of life mean as we expertly regurgitate them like a student who’s memorised a Shakespeare quote for an English exam?
Here’s a little tip that has honestly revolutionised my relationship with the written Word of God. When your daily reading brings you to a passage that you already know ‘off by heart’ – try looking it up in a version you don’t often use. You don’t need to purchase expensive ‘hard copies’ – they’re almost all available on the internet via various free Bible ‘aps.’
Of course it’s important to check that a version you’re unfamiliar with is reliable and accurate –chat with church leadership to put your mind at rest! Two versions I highly recommend are the Amplified Bible and The Passion Translation. Both of these expand meanings and draw out wonderful nuances from the original Hebrew and Greek texts. I’m not suggesting we set aside the version we feel most comfortable with. But it’s a wonderful way of breathing ‘new life’ into a passage of scripture that over-familiarity may have caused to become ‘stale.’
For example, here’s The Lord’s Prayer from the Passion Translation (Matt 6:9-13)
“Our Father, dwelling in the heavenly realms, may the glory of your Name be the centre on which our lives turn. Manifest your kingdom realm and cause your every purpose to be fulfilled on earth, just as it is fulfilled in heaven. We acknowledge you as our Provider of all we need each day. Forgive us the wrongs we have done as we ourselves release forgiveness to those who have wronged us. Rescue us every time we face tribulation and set us free from evil. For you are the King who rules with power and glory forever, Amen.”
And Hebrews 13:5 from the Amplified Bible
“For He, God Himself has said ‘I will not in any way fail you, nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake nor let you down or relax my hold on you. Assuredly not!’”

Wow! Did He really say that?

Steve Bryant’s visit to Senegal Jan/Feb 2018

Steve and Gill Bryant,
School hall

Thanks to the many people who prayed for me in Senegal and also prayed for Gill while I was away. The visit went very well with two main purposes.

The first one was to visit our school for missionaries’ children, Bourofaye Christian School (BCS) where 7 of the group who were with us back in July 2017 are now working. Anne-Cathy from France was back there for surgery on a benign growth – David and Anne-Cathy’s early time in BCS has been difficult with Anne-Cathy’s father dying a few months ago and now this surgery. The others in our group last summer – Lydia, Eva, Hannah, Philip and Ivens – are all doing very well with the possibility that one or two of them may stay on for another year. Inevitably the staff there are looking to see who will replace the ones leaving so specific prayer would be appreciated for house parents, teachers and a school counsellor, and in the longer term a new director to replace Michelle who is willingly standing in but has had to leave field ministry to do so.

Senegal, Gambia and Guinea Bissau

The school is an integral part of evangelism and church planting in Senegal, Gambia and Guinea Bissau and supports around 30 families in that work. Given this, they would love to have your prayer support to not only have the staff they need, but also to consistently model Christian living to the children and to know God’s power at work in and through their lives and ministry.

While there Steve was able to talk through many issues facing the school such as the minimum age of boarding, English as an Additional Language (EAL) teaching, recruitment and the transfer of children to other school systems.

EAL is a huge challenge as many of the children are not native speakers – coming from places like Brazil, Nigeria, other European countries, and Korea. In addition to this the EAL teacher is due to retire in July making this one of the school’s most obvious staff needs.

Steve also did a seminar on LGBT+ issues which the science and PSHE teachers will use as part of preparation for ‘re-entry’ (the ‘return’ to the passport country for home leave or at the end of overseas service). The context of this is that these are issues which are hardly discussed in West Africa with very few LGB people and non-existent transgender visibility. Children leaving that environment face an enormous cultural adjustment when returning to the West or Latin America where the media are giving huge publicity to these issues.

The school’s main hall and chapel – the photo at the top of this post – was just a brown earth site a few years ago. Since then the school has had anything between 60 and 90 children of missionaries studying there.

After leaving BCS Steve travelled the 560km (350 miles) south-east from Dakar to Vélingara.

Dakar to Vélingara bus
Dakar to Vélingara bus

Thanks to those who prayed for my journey. I was braced for the usual experience of a seriously cramped ride in a battered old minibus or 7-seater bush taxi, but was pleasantly surprised to travel in a much newer bus shown in the photograph. That got me most of the way there then it was back to normal in a really dilapidated bush-taxi (on the back row of seats intended originally for small children) which made the one in the picture look good – just the last 2 hours thankfully! On the way back it was the new bus for the whole journey….much better.

Battered 7 seater Peugeot estate - a typical bush taxi

A typical bush taxi

Once in Vélingara close to the border with Gambia I was able to start on the second purpose of the visit which was to work with national churches on safeguarding. The WEC-related church, although still very small, has grown since our first arrival back in 1990 when there were just 4 congregations. Now there are 15+ churches which are growing numerically and seeking to spread the gospel and plant new churches.

Part of the church outreach involves school and nursery ministry; there are already two centres and clear plans to set up another one, and a vision for more after that. Both schools are in the south-east of the country – one in Vélingara and the other in a village nearby. These schools did not exist when we left Senegal in 2001, but now there are already around 650 children enrolled with huge potential beyond that. This kind of ministry is crucial bearing in mind that 50% of the population is 16 or under which means that the population is doubling every 20-25 years. Church leaders are convinced that they have the right people to staff any new schools as there are many well-educated church members looking for jobs who would welcome working there.

The school ministry is impressive. The children are being taught the full curriculum from a Christian perspective. The classes are around 40, but are very well organised and disciplined and it is clear that the teachers love teaching and the children enjoy being at school. This is already a huge advantage over the extremely stretched state sector. The children come from a mixture of Christianised backgrounds from minority tribes and Muslim ones from the local majority tribe. All of them value the school’s commitment to learning and its supportive and child-friendly Christian ethos.

Existing school room made of three fence panels
New school building ‘Senegalese style’

I was able to deliver a French-language equivalent of the Baptist Union Level 2 training that was adapted to Senegal and covered major local issues such as forced marriage and FGM. Encouragingly, all 30 of the school staff and church leaders who took part were very clear that these are evils to be eliminated. The course ended with the presentation of certificates; it is very important in Senegal to have them as proof of study.

As the photograph above show the school’s resources are minimal with classrooms made of local fence panels or in the quarter-finished building. The building is planned to be 3 storeys with 9 classrooms, not just the one storey already built. This will be done in standard Senegalese style when enough money comes in to continue. There was not a murmur of complaint from any source.

Vélingara school’s new classroom
Mural in new class room
Vélingara school’s new classroom

In the one classroom that has been built there is the brightening effect of decoration and murals. There was also time and effort taken for at least a simple celebration of one little girl’s birthday.

On the last day there I spoke with leaders of the overall group of WEC-related churches about safeguarding policies and their concerns and perceived needs. Church members face many huge challenges, mostly related to poverty, that make them vulnerable so any safeguarding policy and training will need to recognise these dangers and how the church at least can be a safe haven.

Notice sheet for 4th March 2018

Louise,
CBC news logo

Men’s Curry Night with Renton Baker – Tuesday 13th March

Cost £7:50; time: 7:30 for 8pm; please contact Paul Kelly, Ian Holmes, Tim Mills or Tim Harding if you would like to attend.

Women’s Retreat 20th-22nd April, Lox Lane, Shaftesbury

There are still a few places left!  Please speak to Anne Holmes if you would like to go.

Evening Teas

If you are willing/able to help occasionally with evening teas for the next few months, please contact Louise in the office.

Craft Club

Please note the next Craft Club will be held on Saturday 24th March at 10:00am.  Please chat to Pam Mitchell or Hazel Hammett if you would like more information about this group.

The Gathering Weekend

This exciting weekend is taking place on 7th and 8th July 2018.  Meetings on the Saturday will be at Priory Street and on the Sunday at the Springfield Campus. Tickets at £5 per person are available through your congregational leader.  Jenny Gaisford at 9:15am; John Godwin at the 11:15am service; Norman Fuggle at the midweek service & Adrian Pillinger at Church on the Green.

Lancaster Newsletter

Copies of Ruth and Steve’s latest newsletter is on the table at the back.  Alternatively you can go online https://lancsintanz.aimsites.org/flexing-the-sinews-and-ligaments/

Ministry Report Annual Booklet

If you are a ministry leader, please would you prepare your report for inclusion in the ministry booklet which is produced for the Annual Church Meeting.  Please include information on activity for the past year and prayer requests. Please send the report, electronically, by 30th March to the church office.  Contact Louise in the office if you are unsure of anything.  Thank you very much.

Notice of Elder Election

Notice is hereby given that the appointment of an Elder will take place at the Annual General Meeting on the 16th April 2018.  Alan Christie’s current three year term will come to an end; Alan has said that he is happy to be nominated as Elder for another term. The paperwork for nominations will be available from 25th March and nominations will close on the 8th April 2018.

 

…This week…

PLEASE NOTE THERE ARE NO AFTER SCHOOL FRIDAY CLUBS THIS FRIDAY

Monday: mums’ bible study, 10am

Wednesday: Midweek service, 2pm

Thursday: Toddler Group, 10am; CMDAC 7:30pm

Friday: CMDAC 9:30am

Saturday: Prayer for gospel expansion 8.30am

 

…Coming up…

7th March: Midweek service, 2pm

13th March: Men’s curry night with Renton Baker, 7:30pm

13th-28th March: Eddie and Kathy – trip to USA

19th March: Prayer for Missions and the Persecuted Church, 7:45pm

21st March: Midweek service, 2pm

24th March: Craft Club, 10:00am

25th March: Nominations for Elder open

26th March: Women’s bible study, 7:30pm

30th March: Good Friday service 9:30am @ Priory Street followed by Walk of Witness in town at 10:30am

31st March: The Ark, 10:00am (Easter Saturday)

4th April: Midweek service, 2pm

Please note there is no Craft Club meeting in April.

8th April: Nominations for Elder close, 6pm

16th April: Annual Church Meeting, 8pm

18th April: Midweek service, 2pm (Baptism)

20th-22nd April: women’s retreat, Lox Lane

23rd April: Prayer for Missions and the Persecuted Church, 7:45pm

28th April: The Ark, 10:00am

30th April: Women’s bible study, 7:30pm

2nd May: Midweek service, 2pm

5th May: Craft Club

6th May: “The Gathering” on Sunday evenings starts

IMPORTANT CANCELLATION NOTICE

kathylarkman,

This is from Anne Holmes, our Women’s Ministry leader at Corsham Baptist Church:
“Good morning, due to the severe weather conditions we are experiencing we are cancelling the Women’s Day of Prayer this evening. Thank you to all those who had offered to read and take part and come along. You have been a blessing and encouragement to me.”

As we spend time around the warmth of hearth and home, let’s take time to pray for our world.

On Christ the solid rock we stand, ALL other ground is sinking sand.

 

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

kathylarkman,

1cc19207f9a7be506aef9a6dac205b3bWe had a great time at our bible study on Monday focusing on 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The notes are now on this blog under the heading of Living Out God’s Grace bible study/notes.

While studying and reading for Living Out God’s Grace Bible study series, I have found great treasure in two books which I highly recommend.

habits-of-graceThe first is called Habits of Grace by David Mathis. It also has a study guide to accompany the book. David says this: “Three seemingly unremarkable principles shape and strengthen the Christian life: listening to God’s voice, speaking to him in prayer, and joining together with his people as the church. Though seemingly normal and routine, the everyday “habits of grace” we cultivate give us access to these God-designed channels through which his love and power flow — including the greatest joy of all: knowing and enjoying Jesus.”

It is an engaging and realistic focus on the grace channels God gives us to grow in Him.  You can download it free or to purchase a hard copy at:   https://www.desiringgod.org/books/habits-of-grace

 

Imperfect DiscipleThe second book is The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together by Jared Wilson. His writing style is witty, punchy, and real. I have found it to be very helpful to getting to the heart of my heart in following Christ more faithfully and realizing His joy. It can be purchased on Amazon or other similar websites.