Daily message – 23 June 2020

Tim Stephenson,

True discernment means not only distinguishing the right from the wrong; it means distinguishing the primary from the secondary, the essential from the indifferent, and the permanent from the transient. And, yes, it means distinguishing between the good and the better, and even between the better and the best.

— Sinclair Ferguson, “In Christ Alone”

Dwelling in the Word: June 22nd

Alex Drew,

This post by Alex Drew was originally published at Seventy Two

1 Peter 3:13-22

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threatsa]; do not be frightened.”b] But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive,c] he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolises baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.d] It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

 

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Peter 3:14 Or fear what they fear
  2. 1 Peter 3:14 Isaiah 8:12
  3. 1 Peter 3:19 Or but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which also
  4. 1 Peter 3:21 Or but an appeal to God for a clear conscience

The post Dwelling in the Word: June 22nd appeared first on Seventy Two.

Daily message – 2020-06-21

Eddie,

Serving to impress God or others – these motivations lead to the same place: bitter with God, annoyed with others; disappointed with ourselves.

— John Hindley, “Serving without Sinking”

Daily message – 20 June 2020

Eddie,

Psalm 1 warns us not to “sit in the company of mockers” (v.1), but instead to “meditate” on God’s word “day and night” (v.2). Review your reading, viewing and surfing habits.

— Do you sit in front of the television or with your tablet in the company of people who mock the truth? What shapes your sense of what’s “normal”? Tim Chester, “Galatians: Rediscovering Joy”

Notices for 21st June 2020

Louise,

Church on the Green @ 10am

Rob will be leading interactive Bible Study and prayer as last week. You’ll be able to join online or via a standard phone call as follows:

Priory Street – joint service @ 10am

The ‘new normal’ continues with prayer and fellowship – contact your LIFE group leaders for when and how that is happening. Or use the contact form if you’re not part of one but would like to join in.

Evening prayer @ 8pm

Maybe it is easier to concentrate in the evening, after the children are in bed? If you’d like to join a small group, via Zoom, for a couple of Bible readings and to share and receive prayer reach out to Joey, Natalie or use the contact form.

Junior Church

Activities for various age groups will be live on the CBC Junior Church channel on Sunday morning.

A Souper Story

“The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.” starts Joan, quoting Psalm 126. In the short time this ministry has been running things have changed in ways the team never imagined. You can read all the LORD has been doing here.

Toddler group

Toddlers is another of the regular groups that cannot meet at the moment but singing time continues on the Facebook page.

Mission updates

Last week we brought you news from Compassion, this week Wendy provides a round up from several more of our mission partners. You can read it here.

Coming up…

Many activities happen even while we cannot meet together in person. If you or someone you know is feeling left out, please get in touch via the contact form or call the office.

  • Tuesday and Thursday afternoons: “Letter from ‘lockdown'” is Eddie’s devotional video. And as a bonus, on Fridays Nigel Coles publishes “Hope in uncertain times”. Everything is available on the CBC site here, with additional notifications via Facebook and Twitter.
  • Tuesday evenings at 7pm: Zoom Meetings for junior church children (school years 6,7,8). Please contact either Wendy R or John P (in the directory).
  • Each Wednesday and Sunday at 7pm, Lunn Green will be hosting a live prayer event. This is a great way to feel connected to the wider family at a time when many of us are isolated and under pressure.  Please use this link to connect to the event.
  • Wednesday 7.15 – 8.45pm. Rooted – An opportunity for young people (year 8+) to catch up virtually and dig into the Bible together.
  • Friday 6.30-7.45pm. Connect – An opportunity for year 7’s to connect virtually, play games and dig into the Bible together. 
  • Sunday 7.15 – 8.45pm. Impact – A virtual youth club (year 8+), where the young people can hang out, have fun, & deepen friendships through a range of interactive activities

Local Community News

Whilst we appreciate these are not Corsham Baptist Church matters or activities, given the nature of current circumstances and the different situations in which people in the congregations find themselves, we thought these might be of help to some folk…

  • Allington Farm shop are doing deliveries if anyone is needing that.  They seem to have plenty of slots available.
  • AgeUk are doing regular phone calls to the elderly for a chat and to check up on people (‘assurance’ phone calls is what they call them!) on 0808 196 2424
    Email: enquiries@ageukwiltshire.org.uk  & you can phone up to refer people to them. 
  • There is also a new ‘Daily Hope’ free phone number created by our ‘Faith In Later Life’ project/Archbishop of Canterbury and others, for people to choose from hymns, prayers, talks etc whatever denomination or of no faith on 0800 804 8044
  • Corsham town council & other volunteers in Corsham to the extent of Wadswick Green location are willing to help with food shopping & deliveries, medication deliveries etc:
  • Town Council – 01249 702130 towncouncil@corsham.gov.uk
  • Corsham Connections – drcbaker@hotmail.com
  • Corsham Link (transport for medical appointments but will also delivery prescriptions etc) – 07884 887105
  • And there are others willing to volunteer to help people according to your location etc on the Wiltshire Council support directory – http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/downloads/22069  (This is updated regularly)
  • Wiltshire Council has provision for helping those who need deliveries or any other issues with isolation at the moment  – wellbeinghub@wiltshire.gov.uk 0300 003 4576
  • They’ve also set up a list of resources for people during lockdown (keeping active as well as for those who are disabled, mental health, creative ideas & activities, etc) – scroll down each section to get past the stuff for children!  http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/leisure-active-communities
  • The Richmond Fellowship (there’s a branch that meets at a church in Chippenham) has set up phone calls etc for people who want someone to talk to on Telephone: 01380 724833  Email: wiltshirereferrals@richmondfellowship.org.uk   

Covid Conundrums!

Steve and Ruth Lancaster,
Picture of Steve and Ruth

This post by Steve and Ruth Lancaster was originally published at Life in the Lancs Lane

Our last sunset view from Hotel Quarantine!

You may remember that our last blog update came at the end of March from the third floor of a hotel in Dar during our 15 day quarantine period.  Well, we survived our enforced captivity and were proudly presented with ‘corona-free’ certificates on our release, along with our confiscated passports!  That same morning the Tanzanian government decided to remove the hotel option for incoming passengers for quarantine due to the fact that a number of disgruntled lock-downers had escaped their hotels!  Instead, all incomers were being whisked off to some dingy university halls…. complete with shared bathrooms!  Not so ideal when you’re meant to be isolating!  It made us realise that our enforced hotel stay could have been so much worse!  To be honest, even though we were confined to one room, we actually enjoyed our stay there, although what did help was being able to escape into the corridor every night for some speed-walking exercise!  I (Steve) managed to clock up 30 miles over 14 nights – much to the amusement of the policeman posted at the end of the corridor!

So, what has the situation been like in Tanzania during these past few months?  In short, there has been no lockdown, much to the annoyance of the surrounding countries!  From the outset the President decided that serious lockdown would be too costly on the fragile economy of the country.  Schools, colleges and public gatherings were banned – but he did insist that the ban should not include gathering in church on a Sunday morning!  In fact he encouraged people to attend to pray against the virus – and just last week announced to worshippers in Dodoma that “the corona disease has been eliminated (from the country) thanks to God.”  We’re a tad sceptical about the elimination part of that sentence, although we’re very thankful to God that the virus does not seem to have caused the devastation that was feared.  It’s hard to know the real facts because data on the number of virus cases stopped being published on 29th April, at which point there were only 21 official deaths recorded.  Last month there were all sorts of rumours swirling around – of night-time burials in Dar, hospitals being overwhelmed, unreliable testing, and plane-loads of herbal remedies being flown in from Madagascar etc!
Social Distancing – what’s that?!  

Today, the main streets of Morogoro are as busy as ever, and it’s very much business as usual.  It’s all hustle & bustle and there’s certainly little sign of social distancing!  Was there ever going to be in Africa?!  The traders continue to lay out their wares on the dusty pavements; the knife sharpener continues to sharpen machetes on his upturned bike; beggars continue to ask for a few shillings; the coffin-makers (situated near the hospital!) continue to bang up their coffins at the normal rate of production; the guy selling fresh coconuts from the back of his rickety old pushbike continues to peddle (and pedal!) for his living!   The only sign of a pandemic is that a few people are still wearing face masks, and outside every shop there is a variety of handwashing contraptions, some of which work better than others!

It seems a world away from what has happened elsewhere across the globe and the expected disaster appears not to have happened, and God willing it won’t.  In fact the WHO is now saying that there has been a slower rate of infection in Africa with lower mortality rates than elsewhere in the world.  One possible explanation is that Africa has a young population which has benefited from the control of diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis which has in turn reduced the vulnerabilities.  The experts are now saying that, whilst coronavirus likely won’t spread as fast in Africa, it may well linger on in transmission hotspots for some time.  The following link is a recent BBC article on the how the country (and president!) has handled Covid-19: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-52983563

Pastor Batano receives a sack of
flour for his family

Sanga & Seminars: Due to the ‘gatherings ban’ (April-May) life at IBM’s HQ has been rather quiet.  Kids camps and churches cancelled their bookings at Sanga, and this meant that income was virtually non-existent.  As a result we had to reduce the hours of our workers but thankfully haven’t had to lay anyone off. There’s no such thing as ‘furlough support’ here in Tanzania, and we’re very grateful to a number of IBM supporters who donated to the cause and enabled us to continue paying salaries.  With these donations we were also able to buy sacks of maize flour to support the families of our workers during these leaner times.  It is hoped, now that the ‘gathering ban’ has been lifted, that bookings will be re-booked and life at Sanga will return to some sort of normality!  Two incidents reported in the last few days remind us that life at Sanga is often not normal: reports of a neighbouring bush fire meant that our workers were on high alert to prevent it spreading onto our property; and just yesterday a few of our workers tried to harvest honey from our bee hives…. without a great deal of success!  People ended up running in all directions as the bees swarmed and vented their fury on whoever got in their path.  Our building maintenance guy, who was down a well at the time, didn’t even escape the stinging!

Our first scheduled IBM regional seminar of the year had to be postponed back in early June.  We’re hoping that the next one on the list will happen in July in Mtwara, way down in the south of the country. With an extended preparation time this year, all of the teaching material has now been prepared and is ready to print – all 64 pages of it, with a Swahili word count of 35,000 words!  The pastors and evangelists who attend will be given a full set of notes for two reasons: firstly, they can then use the material in their churches, and secondly, having my notes means they’re able to make sense of my Swahili pronunciation!  In terms of the English word count, the notes are 6,000 words longer due to fact that one word in written Swahili often comprises 3-5 English words!  Everything is thrown together: tense, pronoun, verb etc!  Let me give you a couple of examples so that you can marvel at the language that is Swahili!  These five words – “he did not concern himself” become one word in Swahili – “Hakujishugulisha”.  If I were to say to you “Let us humble ourselves”, I’d say this word: “Tujinyenyekeze”.  And finally the words “When it is preached” become “Itakapohubiriwa”.  You can understand why my teaching notes contain a lot of pen marks in an attempt to break up such words to make them easier to say!
IBM seminar dates:
 1.  6-11 July Mtwara seminar
 2.  5-7 Aug Coastal Diocese seminar at Sanga Sanga Retreat Centre
 3:  2-4 Sept Ifakara seminar
 4:  23-25  Sept Magambua seminar
 5:  28-30 Oct Songea seminar
 6:  ?? Monduli Arusha seminar
 7:  24-27 Nov Pastors’ seminar at Sanga Sanga Retreat Centre

A labour of love!  Steve poses with his
finished teaching materials

This year I’ll be preaching through the gospel of Mark, although with only eleven teaching sessions, we’ll only be scratching the surface.  There is no particular theme or agenda, no strategies or ‘how to do….’ methods, just good old-fashioned preaching from God’s Word!  In studying Mark’s gospel I’m inspired by the fact that the writer was, in his early days, quite possibly a failed missionary whose best friend was our favourite disciple, Peter – who was also known for his slip-ups and failures!  I’m encouraged by the fact that these two ‘failures’ were used mightily by God in the early church and beyond.  It’s thought that Mark used much of Peter’s preaching material and shaped it into the gospel that we have today.  Little did they know what an impact this material would have down through the ages.  Praise God that he chooses to use ordinary bods like Mark and Peter, with their foibles and faults, in the growth of His kingdom!  Whilst I’m certainly not expecting my teaching to have as much impact, I am hoping and praying that God would use my material on Mark’s gospel to inspire, strengthen and deepen the faith of all the AICT men and women we work with.

These last two months have continued to be busy ones for Ruth.  Whilst her monthly ladies prayer breakfast and fortnightly Book Club have been temporarily suspended, there has been plenty to do at Sanga Sanga.  The audit of the books in March has led to implementing some new and improved processes, the finance manual has been updated, a new bank account opened (a long-winded process here!) and various reports written for the Diocese.  There are always personnel issues to deal with and the usual administration and maintenance that goes with running a conference and retreat centre, even without guests!
One of Ruth’s goals for this term was to find a good person to employ as an Accountant.  Praise God that we have been able to appoint a young man who is a believer and seems suitably qualified.  God willing, he will start on 1st July and Ruth will spend several weeks training him in our systems and processes.
The choir of a local Baptist church came to Sanga Sanga
recently to shoot a video for their new DVD 

An update from Souper Fridays

Tim Stephenson,

The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.

Psalm 126

This ministry has now been up and running for five months and in this time has greatly expanded throughout Corsham, and surrounding area. What started with four of us opening up on Friday lunch times at CBC Priory Street to provide free soup, bread roll and hot drink is now very different with three cars delivering food parcels on Friday mornings, with follow up pastoral care as necessary.

  • 17th January Souper Fridays started in church hall – 12 – 18 attending.
  • 27th March Food deliveries started after lockdown
  • 2nd April 17 deliveries to 22 people
  • 30th April 22 deliveries to 34 people (and one extra bag for residents where Pat B lives)
  • 28th May 25 bags to 45 people (and another extra bag for residents of Jargeau Court)
  • 11th June 27 deliveries to 47 people (plus the two extra bags for residential homes)

Such has been the expansion of both people and food supplies that we now have two of us (Joan and Jo) telephoning through the list of recipients on Thursday to find out what folk may be wanting. Colin collects food from the Coop in Corsham, Esther from the mini Sainsburys in Chippenham, and Cathy D from Allington Farm Shop. During the day on Thursday lovely photos of the goods are sent for us to update our distribution lists!

I hope you know that we now have a freezer donated by Jude in the church hall for this season, and Colin has this week been given a grant of £150 towards the purchase of a new freezer.

Whilst delivering on Friday mornings, we deliver a print out of Eddie’s sermon for the forthcoming Sunday, and pray (at the correct distance) “on the doorstep”. The recipients are a mixture of church and community folk, probably about 50/50. Many pastoral needs become evident, and if we can help, we do so. We have a pool of ten folk who are willing to deliver the food (5 stepped forward this week Tim) and another team of 7 who will help out with any pastoral needs, in addition to ourselves. (lifts to doctors, hospital, large print books, etc.)

Everyone is very appreciative of this service and we are receiving letters of thanks – and phone calls.

We are so grateful for the very many church folk who have stepped up to help. I think there will be a need for this ministry for some time to come.

Joan