Equip: Mental Health Awareness Week


This week in our Sunday Equip slot Amy mentioned 3 resources we think will do you good and give you life.

  1. Nicky & Pippa Gumbel interview the amazing Rick & Kay Warren about mental health awareness, grief and suicide. You can find the interview here: Interview with Rick Warren
  2. The Mind and Soul Foundation offers dozens of helpful articles and resources aimed at helping you understand and care for your mental health. Check out the website here: Mind and Soul Foundation
  3. PRAYER help. Download the amazing app Lectio 365 to help you find a rhythm of prayer that works for you: Lectio 365 app

That’s all folks.

Pray Often. Connect with others. Share your needs.

Giving to Kings

You’re able to give online by using Paypal. We have several funds within paypal that you can give to.

1) General Giving

If you’re a Christian and believe that worshipping God with your wealth is an important part of following Jesus, select this fund.

2) Love Seaford

We love to express generosity to the people in our town. All money given to the Love Seaford fund, will go toward supporting people in our local area; whether through Foodbank, meeting occasional needs or putting on community events that are free to attend.

Click here to give: http://www.kingsseaford.church/give

Kids Activities: Sunday 5th April

Hello wonderful people!

Join along with today’s service by visiting our YouTube channel: www.kingsseaford.church/video or click below for the extra special kids videos, made just for you.

There’s a video of Gerry with today’s teaching and activity here: Kids Work

There’s an animated video of Palm Sunday made by Riley, Zach & Toby Field here: Kids Fun – Palm Sunday

Here’s a video of some worship songs we normally sing along to here: Our God Is a Great Big God & here: Our God Is So Big

& lastly, here’s the animated video from Holy Moly on Palm Sunday here: Holy Moly

And finally, finally here’s a pdf of some colouring and activities you can print off and use at home here:

1) Palm Sunday: colouring sheet 1

2) Palm Sunday: colouring sheet 2

3) Wordsearch

Have a great time worshipping as a family,

God bless

Daily Bread

Beautiful people!
You are so dearly loved.

On Sunday I shared some encouragements to help us process anxiety in this time of uncertainty and trouble. In case you missed it the audio can be found here: www.kingsseaford.church/media or for a short video highlight click here: Highlight 

The sight of empty shelves in Morrisons today was alarming and, understandably, many of you are feeling quite concerned.

We’re so used to being able to access not just our ‘daily bread’ but our ‘weekly bread’ that this is perhaps a timely reminder that it is (and always has been) only ever Our Father in heaven who is our provider and sustainer.

Here’s a helpful and inspiring encouragement from Ross: (click on the words)

Daily Bread

With new government guidelines out today about social gatherings it’s now looking unlikely that we’ll be meeting this Sunday. For now we’re exploring the possibility of making some homes available for people to gather in, and/or perhaps sharing a message on video using the internet.

Last night a few of us met to pray and discuss the various options available to us at the moment. We are trusting God that in this time of need and crisis such, we can and will be there to support and pray for one another whilst also helping those who are seeking to find salvation in Jesus’ name.

After all: there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

My aim is to post regular encouragements for one another on our social media pages, so do keep checking in on them for fuel to stir your faith. My pray is that God would bind us all together in one heart and mind. If you don’t have access to them but would like to, please reply to this email and I’ll do what I can to help.


“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope”
Romans 15:13

God bless


Jez Field  |  Seaford Team Leader
Kings Church Eastbourne & Seaford

Tel: 01323 490896

God’s Faithfulness: Debora’s Story

Recently Debora Costa (mum to Benjamin and Izabella and Tiago’s wife) travelled to Brazil to be with and care for her mum who’d had a stroke. In this blog she recounts her experience, the difficulty of the trial and the ways in which she saw the faithfulness of God at work.

The whole experience was quite deep to me. I saw God’s hand in everything. In simple things as the timing for everything, for instance I had all of Benjamin uniform sorted by the end of July. I didn’t understand why I had this feeling to get it all sorted so in advance. Then when we had to go so quickly and we were returning the Friday before Benji started school, I realised how handy it was not having to worry about that. The fact that my brother happened to be here on holiday… It all was in a way just prepared for that quick last minute flight. It was a sad situation with my mum as I hadn’t seen her in 4 years, I felt it was so important to be there and God made it possible for us to go! But also it wasn’t easy the sudden change of plans, as initially we were planning to go in March and have a reunion after 6 years without being to Brazil. But when it all happened, all it came to my mind was “prov 16:1”. We had plans but ultimately God is control of our lives.

It was a difficult time…  Being away from where now is my home, without Tiago, looking after the kids completely out of our routine, dealing with the demand of sharing with my brother and sister (who also had their work commitments) 24-7 care for my mum in the hospital as my dad wasn’t able to stay all day with her. The reality of the poor public health system in Brazil hit me. The A&E was unbelievable, people call it “the corridor of death” which is all it was – a corridor. We felt so vulnerable, as if we were in the “hands “ of that system. We saw so many in suffering. We were there waiting for my mum to be transferred to a hospital to proceed with more exams and the right treatment. But days were passing by and nothing was happening.

Technically they had 72 hours to move her but it was already way beyond that. I clearly remember the doctor talking to another patient next to my mum. He  asked when am I gonna get out of here?! The doctor simply replied that in the whole city that day there was only 2 beds released in all of the hospitals. My heart sunk, I looked to my mum without saying anything and she said with a very sad and tired voice “I feel like I’m in a prison, when am I going to get out of here?” Looking to the circumstances and to what the doctor said I felt really strong in my heart and said to my mum, let’s bring to mind what gives us hope (lamentations 3:21) and continued “The Lord has done so much for us until now, it won’t be different this time!! Next day was my brothers Nehmis birthday. It’s interesting the fact that out of the 4 siblings he’s the most Latino one haha, I mean he absolutely loves a party! And he was supposed to be celebrating with us in the uk his 30th birthday!

The day before his birthday I spent all afternoon with my mum and he stayed all night with her. Next morning we heard that he spent all night praying that God will give him as a birthday present that my mum would be removed from the corridor to at least a waiting room in the A&E while waiting for the bed in hospital. Actually my mum was in the worst spot to be, she saw and heard so many things that would make anyone even worse!) but bless her, yet she was whispering prayers for the people around her, as she couldn’t talk much in the days after the stroke. 

To our joy, my brother’s prayers were answered! On the morning of his birthday day my mum was transferred to a room with other 4 patients, it wasn’t the best but was far better than the corridor! 

In the early hours of the day my mum was transferred to hospital I woke up at 4am, lost my sleep. Started praying. I knew God is in control and he could just make things happen but is in those moments where He seems to be quiet that takes us to deeper levels of trusting Him and knowing His love above all and that He’s never late! So I just felt I needed to say out loud to Him that I knew He could provide a hospital bed but I would trust that it wasn’t happening just because He had the right time to make things happen. It was such a joy when we were told later that morning that a bed had become available in the hospital she needed to be transferred to :)!! 

Amongst all my mum’s situation, we were all with heavy colds and coughs, Izabella got a bad ear infection that only was healed after antibiotics here in the uk last week, so she had it for a  month. On top of it all, their old car broke down the night before mum was released from hospital. Which even though seemed a bad thing, considering it was such an old car, it was amazing that it was running the whole two weeks when we needed it the most to go in and out of hospital so many times a day! 

Even though there were days where I literally felt like everything was against us, the peace of God kept our hearts going. The constant presence of the Holy Spirit like pushing us reminding us to have a grateful heart even when there were times when it seemed to be no reason to be grateful in our human eyes. 

So looking back, it’s just amazing! My mum went from being left side paralysed, couldn’t lift her left arm or leg (considering she’s already disabled on her right leg as result of polio when a child) not being able to eat by herself, it just felt devastating to think after all the struggles she already had throughout her life that she would finish like this?! Also the first week and a half we were waiting for confirmation of her brain scan as they were not sure whether it could be a brain tumour. It was heart breaking for us. 

So we went from that initial situation to  actually having confirmation that there wasn’t a brain tumour, it was a stroke and my mum has pretty much gone back to normal within a month and a bit! As if she hadn’t had anything!! 

She managed to cut my dads hair which shows her mobility, strength and coordination of her hands have returned. She has been taking herself to the toilet, not needing any help! Her face just looks radiant and no signs of stroke left! 

Our hearts are just overflowing with gratitude for her extraordinary speedy recovery! 

The whole experience made us so much more aware of so many people around us going through so much suffering yet we had God to sustain us whereas so many didn’t/don’t. Which made us just so grateful for having God in our lives but also ache for those that don’t.

Finally, to return home (uk) I had the challenge of more than 24 hours journey with two little ones by myself. But again God gave us a safe journey and we made it! 

I felt humbled by God’s faithfulness through it all and just so grateful for all His goodness! 

Debora x

Blueprint: Beautiful Difference

We finished the series looking at the church as the joy of the whole earth, a place where beautiful differences are held and expressed. We looked at it through gender, gifts and generations. You can download the message here: Beautiful Difference or read on for a transcript. IMG_7017

Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised
    in the city of our God!
His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation,
    is the joy of all the earth,
Mount Zion, in the far north,
    the city of the great King.
Within her citadels God
    has made himself known as a fortress.
For behold, the kings assembled;
    they came on together.
As soon as they saw it, they were astounded;
    they were in panic; they took to flight.

— Psalm 48:1-5

The Blueprint of the church in scripture is of a people radically different from the wider world they live. For the past 3 months we’ve explored some of the sketches the Bible presents for us: city, family, bride, field, movement, buttress of truth and more (available to listen to/download here: Blueprint).

The city of God, the psalmist says, is the joy of the whole earth. This term we’ve been ‘walking around the city’ together and ‘thinking on the steadfast love of God.’ to quote psalm 48.

In the New Testament the marvelling and celebrating over the people of God continues:

Through the church the manifold wisdom of God might be made know to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.’

— Ephesians 3:10

It isn’t only the visitors to the city who marvel but the ‘rulers and authorities in heavenly places’ (angels, & demons).

What is the manifold wisdom of God that Paul’s announcing?

In Ephesians it is the uniting into one people from two peoples. Jew & gentile coming together as one to show how wise and powerful God is. But this uniting of hostile or different parties isn’t seen only in the uniting of different people groups. In Galatians Paul says that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free. The manifold wisdom of God on display in the church, the joy of the whole earth, is displayed in the beautiful difference on display.

Against that backdrop, let’s get into it and start by looking at the various approaches to difference and what Christianity’s answer to them is: Gender…


First of, the world is a divided world with many irreconcilable and distinct differences in it.

The creation poem in Genesis shows this:

Light / darkness,

Day / night,

Summer / winter,

Seas / sky,

Land / sea

Those things aren’t one and the same or interchangeable.

The atheist writer and social critic Camille Paglia points out more distinctions from her work on ancient civilisations and the art world:

Earth / sky

Land / Rain

Female / male (female association with mother earth; Job quote ‘naked I came from mother’s womb, naked I shall return there.’)

Body / Head (distinction between body magic and head magic)

Curves / Lines 

Cyclical / Linear

Internal / External

Invisible / Visible

Eastern / Western

Chaos / Order

Nature / Society

The fact that there  are differences/opposites in the world ought to be self-evident. It is often the case that these differences are set against one another, often in conflict. Female vs male, eastern vs western, nature vs society. In the beginning however the difference between the man and woman wasn’t a source of conflict but of joy.

In the creation account when God makes Adam he forms alone. Adam is placed in a garden and commissioned to keep it but early on it becomes clear that he isn’t complete, he cannot complete and carry out what God wants him to do on his own. Next, he declares his aloneness ‘not good’ and tries to find a partner/helper for him. He parades the animals in front of him to emphasise the difference between him and the animals.

(See: Jen Wilkins ‘not like me, not like me…’ here for more on this.)

But when God creates male and female, the first word spoken (despite obvious differences) is ‘same’.

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”

— Genesis 2:23

There is obvious difference but there is also an appreciation of similarity; there is a celebration of the other without competition.

We’re then told that it is ‘male and female’ together who reflect the image of God, not male alone and not female alone. Gen. 5:1 ‘When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them.’ Author Alastair Roberts puts it like this:

We tend to think of the standard unit of humanity as being the individual. But the unit of humanity in scripture is the man and woman made in the image of God. Male and female are akin to two magnetic poles structuring time always in reference to one another. Humanity is irreducibly two, it cannot be broken down.

— Alastair Roberts:

Male & female are different but beautifully so, and in order to fully express God’s image and complete God’s mission they need one another.

Sadly however the story doesn’t end there.

After the man and woman disobey God, their relationship changes as brokenness enters the world. The difference between men and women becomes a source of friction.


Gen. 3:16 ‘your desire will be for/against your husband, and he shall rule over you.’ So we end up with books likeMen are From Mars, Women are from Venus’ men say (as if to emphasise our difference) ‘you can’t understand a woman,’ and women say ‘if you want a job done right, get a woman to do it.’ And the conflict grows. And the conflict still grows.

In every society, owing in part to the man’s greater strength than the women but owing mostly to his sin nature, women have been oppressed and abused by men and it is far from over. As the recent scandals in government and Hollywood have shown and along with #metoo campaign and statistics that tell us that something like 1in4 women in the uk have been victims of sexual abuse. The conflict continues.

As Christians it’s our belief that men and women are each made in the image and likeness of God, that means that women ought to be treated with the honour and dignity that is theirs as co-image bearers with men. The laws of nature won’t lead us that sort of mutual honour. In fact the laws of nature are red in tooth and claw, it is a  dog eat dog, dominance hierarchy where the strong eat or rape the weak. One approach to the difference is to embrace conflict and look to establish who’s better than whom.

This other approach, the opposite problem, is that of denying that there are any differences at all.

Deny difference

In modern times we’ve done away with the ‘heaven and earth’ distinction, the ‘visible and invisible’, and increasingly any ‘spiritual’ things at all; that’s what atheism is.

Along with this (and as a result of this?), there is also a growing move to ‘do away’ with the differences between men and women as well. Gender is a social construct we’re told and our sex ought to have no bearing at all on our identity.

In the 1970s the social activist and radical feminist Shulamith Firestone wrote:

The end goal of the feminist revolution must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself… The reproduction of the species by one sex for the benefit of both would be replaced by (at least with the option of) artificial reproduction… The tyranny of the biological family would be broken.

When she wrote it in the 70s much of what she said must have seemed utterly bizarre, but now her ideas are much more mainstream.

More recently, writing in the Guardian newspaper in May, journalist Amy Westervelt points out that the topic of motherhood comes up in just 3% of all the recent papers, journal articles and textbooks on gender theory.

She also comments that for years women’s magazines have written articles on female sexuality promising ‘great sex’ whilst at the same time also being committed to a policy of ‘we don’t do motherhood’. The fact that sex could lead to motherhood for women is seen by many as oppressive. Just as sex differences are being slowly eradicated so is the value and importance of motherhood. Increasingly the state plays the role of the parent and if a young girl tells her careers advisor that she wants to be a mother when she grows up, she is likely given strange stares and offered counselling.

We devalue motherhood at our peril, we seek to do away with the differences between the sexes at our peril as well.

The Christian message, however is different. Rather than putting our differences against one another or denying them altogether, the Bible teaches that we need one another, that although different we complement one another; as gravy complements chips or as cheese complements wine, the two work to enhance and improve the other.

In the gospel God reconciles our differences by making the divided, united, the two, one. Jew, gentile, male, female, slave, free.

In his passage on how men and women ought to pray in church with the discussion on head coverings Paul concludes by saying:

Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.’

1 Corinthians 11:9

Men and women are meant to honour one another as men and as women, recognising the value and beauty of both. In churches there ought to be no derogatory joking or sexist remarks, just as there should be no chauvinism, belittling, racism, nor classism. There should be no statements about inferiority of any kind among God’s people

C.S. Lewis writing about the eventual destiny of men and women in Christ saw this, saw the value and significance of the people around him and he wrote:

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible Gods and Goddesses. To remember that the dullest, and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship.

In a society where women are not honoured as women, the society suffers and in a society where men are not honoured as men it also suffers. We live in a society where, as we’ve seen, motherhood is not honoured and valued as a high calling, and the same could be said of fatherhood. The image in popular culture of what a father is is Daddy Pig and Phil Dunfey from Modern Family.

I like Daddy Pig & Phil Dunfey(!) but if a grown up, slightly clumsy & goofy playmate for their kids is about all a man can hope for as a father it’s no wonder fatherhood in our society is in a crisis as well.

Fatherhood, needs protecting and honouring in part because of its difference from motherhood. A Father can much more easily avoid being a dad than a mother can avoid being a mum. When a child is born the midwife never says to the woman ‘who’s the mother?’(!) because she saw where the baby came from.

On the other hand, every time a couple take a child to register its birth the registrar always says ‘who’s the father?’ Because it isn’t obvious! And it’s at that moment a good man will step up and say ‘I am.’ – and it is a statement he will need to make again and again in that child’s life – I am his father, I am her father.’ But it’s a statement that fewer men are making:

In 1972 1in14 households in the UK were fatherless, now it would be 1in4.

What’s more; there 236 local authorities in England and Wales in which more then 50% of the families don’t have fathers. 

This is awful and catastrophic. That is what happens when a doesn’t honour men and women but instead when a society is bent on denying difference and devaluing distinctions between people.

It ought not to be the case in the church. It mustn’t be the case in the church.

The church

The New Testament teaches that the church, as the household and family of God, needs fathers it needs men who are going to take responsibility for and protect the church and it’s a requirement that God puts on men as early on as Genesis.

When the man and the woman disobey God and eat the fruit of the tree, it is the man that God speaks to and addresses. It is the man who is called to account, to take the responsibility and the blame for the actions of the entire human race; we are described as being ‘in Adam’ rather than Eve because a man was created as the representative head.

When the Bible calls the husband the head of his wife it is with this imagery in mind. To be the head doesn’t simply mean that he’s ‘the boss’ or ‘in charge’ any more than in a physical body the head is the boss of the heart; they work together. It is the man’s responsibility before God to be on the look out for trouble, to honour and protect his wife and family and to embody God’s fatherly authority.

God the Father is the model for fathers, the model for husbands and the model for elders in the church. God the Father glorifies and honours God the Son, and so it is the job of the head to honour the heart and ensure its flourishing and full expression.

The way this translates into the life of a local church (which is called the family of God) is that its male leaders are called elders. Paul lays out the requirements for eldership:

An overseer (in the church) must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household how will he care for God’s.

1 Timothy 3:1-3

The pattern is – to oversee or govern in the church, to be a father in the church, a man must be able to oversee and father effectively in his own home. Elders are men called by God and appointed to guard and lead the church, not exclusively (or independently of women it should be said) but nevertheless they are to do it distinctly and deliberately.

But, as with the other aspects of our difference, so here; the way an elder is to govern is as a servant, seeking to become less in order that the church’s members become more.

My friend and church leader Phil Moore says: eldership isn’t meant to monopolise leadership but to mobilise it. Elders are given in order for a church to release others into leadership and positions of authority; because that’s what fathers do.

Elders, are men who are told to take responsibility for the guarding of the church family. They are meant to take the rap for its shortcomings and failures, and it is men as elders who are meant to step up to the block first and offer their necks to the sword before anyone else. Christ offered his life for the church, and asks men to follow him in doing likewise. 

In the book of Acts Paul and Barnabas address a church to encourage them saying ‘it is through much hardship that we must enter the kingdom of heaven,’ and then immediately afterwards appoint elders. It is part of how a church prepares for and survives hardship, by appointing fathers who get hit first when trouble comes; because, again that’s what fathers do.

It is true also that churches need mothers, it’s just that that isn’t what’s being referred to when Paul speaks of elders and the governing structure in a church. Given that the man bears a name used by God ‘father’ it is God’s call on him that he be discouraged from sitting back passively on the sidelines, and embody God’s action in the world.

Families need men who engage in family life as an act of embodying God. Churches need men who step up, rather than step back and refuse to let others take the blame for the state of the church. Again, that isn’t to say that women shouldn’t or that they can’t; it’s just I’m here talking about eldership.

It should also be stressed again that eldership is distinct from leadership and the gift of leadership, as we’ll see when we come on to talking about gifts. Although not independent of leadership, it is distinct from it.

In this church we have men and women in leadership positions across the church, together using their gifts, together guiding the church and making decisions. Our senior leadership team (to use the language common in the world) is made up of men and women. It doesn’t surprise me when a woman has a stronger leadership gift than her husband nor does it surprise me if she’s a better preacher. Our difference isn’t a difference of ability but a difference of kind. Men, as fathers and potential fathers, are called to take account for the church even though it’s the men and women together who end up steering it.

There are women who are recognised as mothers within the church, and the church needs them.

We’ve not done so publicly but as we move forward together it’s going to become increasingly important that we do honour and recognise the various leadership roles people play in the church. The mothering that women like Jane and Ruth have taken on ought to be commended and honoured, the level of maternal care and concern that women like Polly and Amy feel for the church here needs valuing as well.

In the church there ought to be a recognition and honouring of the beautiful differences between the sexes, and not a toxic competitiveness or a blancmange of non-distinction. The church needs fathers and mothers.


And so we come to gifts. The church is a place where both men and women should flourish and is the place where part of that flourishing is a result of us using and honouring our various gifts. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit… faith, healing, miracles, prophecy,

NB: for the common good

V26 ‘if one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.’

And the instruction is given in Romans 12:

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness

NB: no gender restrictions are applied in any of this.

God has given you gifts that are to be used to help strengthen and build the body of believers you’re a part of. Here again we see the temptation to compete, to set our gifts against each other: that gift is better than my gift, or ‘I’m not valuable because I don’t have his/her gift.’ And also the temptation to deny any distinction at all: that we’re all superstars at everything. My friend went to his child’s parents evening recently where the teacher said something similar to that; and he had to try and insist that his son wasn’t good at everything, he said it was quite an amusing battle.

We need to honour and celebrate difference without being threatened by one another

Part of our brokenness shows itself in the way we often feel devalued when someone else is honoured rather than rejoicing in and sharing in their honour. When I compliment one of my kids and not the other when they’re together, the other always protests and so I have to teach them – I’m not devaluing you by honouring them, rejoice when they’re honoured and trust that there are times when you’ll be honoured and your brother won’t.

The chances are that if you don’t know what your weaknesses are or if you feel embarrassed or awkward that you have any weaknesses at all, you’re not through on this.

In the church we ought to work hard to ensure none of us derives our value, worth or identity from our gifts.

Instead we want to celebrate the beautiful differences at work among us and then we will be able to relate to what Paul says: when one is honoured, all rejoice together.


Lastly, and very briefly, this brings us to another aspect of beautiful difference, that of generational differences.

The church is the joy of the whole earth because it is the place that men and women recognise their beautiful difference, where each member recognises the beautiful difference of the gifts in use and also it is a family where the generations honour and respect one another’s differences.

Again this is counter-cultural. We live in a society and a time obsessed with youth and in a culture that pushes its elderly to the margins and discounts their opinions; demonising their choices, as was seen with the Brexit vote of two years ago.

I’ve heard of some people saying they don’t go to church prayer meetings because too many old people go, or certainly not enough young(!) and I met a visiting couple one Sunday say in a rather disgusted tone ‘there’s so many young people,’ – they’ve never come back.

Instead let’s seek to be a church that honours and celebrates the beautiful differences among us. The church BBQ last week, was a fantastic vision of family, to see older people and younger people together.

The church is a community of brothers and sisters (and not just potential sex partners), of mothers and fathers, grandads and grandmas; a place where people are honoured and nurtured to become all that God has called them to be.


My prayer and hope is that the church in this town and across the world lives up to the her potential and possibility.

My prayer is that one day the world will be caught aghast by the beauty of the church, that like a diamond lying in the muddy banks of a Congolese river and like a flower bursting through a dusty and dry African plain, so the church would be seen in our towns, against the backdrop of an increasingly godless society.

The joy of the whole earth is a community of people where the poor are honoured, and treated with the dignity and value they have, where the rich aren’t deceived into putting their hopes or identity in their wealth.

The joy of the whole earth is a community where our cultural backgrounds play second or third fiddle to our identity in Christ, that people wouldn’t say ‘I’m too English to understand these Africans, or I’m too American to get along with these Asians.’ But instead we’d see ourselves as one in Christ united by him. And we’d work through our misunderstandings. 

The joy of the whole is a community where men and women behave like brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers, where greatness is seen in terms of servanthood and the old make way for the young, cheering them on at every step and misstep and the young defer to the old and listen to and seek out for their advice.

That, and nothing less than that, is what God has called us to be. That is the Blueprint of the church, that is the joy of the whole earth, a community of beautiful difference expressed in gender, gifts and generations.

And all of that is possible because of what Jesus did on the cross. Jesus’ death was an act of destruction, He destroyed the dividing walls of hostility between people and genders, but hie death was also an act of creation; on the cross he was uniting all people under him the head over all things.

Death & Hope

To be a Christian is to trust Christ. It doesn’t mean for one moment that we are shielded from the pain and chaos of life under the sun, but it does mean that in it all we have a friend and a saviour to walk with.

Hope in the English language has come to be something of a ‘flimsy’ word. We talk of ‘hoping for the best’ or we say simply that ‘I hope so,’ meaning ‘I’m really not sure, but I’d like it to happen.’ This is different from how the word is used in the Bible. Biblically hope means ‘certain expectation’ rather like how, during advent, we hope for Christmas. We know it’s coming, we wait for it with anticipation and we prepare for it all the while expecting it to occur.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13 Paul writes to the church and says that we ‘do not grieve as others do, who have no hope.’ Christians grieve, but not as others do. We grieve but our grief is not disconnected from our hope. We are to enter into our grief, not ignore or it pretend it away but we do so knowing that a loved one who has died in Christ is not lost. The person may be ‘lost to us’ but they are not lost to God, he knows exactly where they are.

Paul describes death as ‘being with Christ’ and says that this is ‘better by far.’ When the thief on the cross put his hope in Jesus, the Lord said to him ‘today you will be with me in paradise’. Today, in that very instance, immediately without a delay.

Our culture doesn’t talk much about death, it pushes it to the margins and it likes to carry on with life pretending that death won’t occur. It does occur however and it will occur to each of us, that much is certain. As a result of the way our culture treats death, we can’t expect to be helped much by our upbringing when it comes to thinking about death.

In the Bible death is a departure, it is a defeated enemy that has been and is being placed under Jesus’ feet. Death for the Christian is described as being ‘gain‘ and is talked of as being a servant that takes us into the presence of our saviour. People in Christ who die don’t ‘pass away’ as though they slip into some shadowland. Biblically speaking a Christian who dies has ‘fallen asleep‘ and is awaiting the final resurrection and restoration of all things.

In the Old Testament when King David experiences disaster it says of him that he ‘strengthened himself in the Lord.’ When loved ones die and when we experience disaster we must do likewise. We are so used to listening to ourselves and listening to our circumstances that we could all do with a healthy dosage of speaking to ourselves and our circumstances from time to time. To strengthen yourself in the Lord looks like declaring aloud the truth of God’s word and the theological reality of death for the Christian.

Try reading the following aloud as a way of strengthening yourself:

Father I renounce the lie that this life is the end and that my friend is lost. Instead I declare the truth that they are with you and delighting in your presence. I renounce the lie of doubt that wants me to spiral into despair, instead I declare the truth that you defeated the power of the grave when you rose again on Easter Sunday. I choose to stand on these truths that you are a Father who loves us, a general with a clear plan in his mind, a King with absolute authority and a shepherd who leads us through disaster. Thank you that you identify with us in our grief and pain. You’re the only God ‘out there’ to whom we cannot say ‘you don’t know what it’s like,’ since you do know. You visited the funeral of a friend and you entered the grave yourself, triumphing over it for us. Thank you Lord. Please help me to trust you at this difficult time. 

In Jesus’ name.


FIGHT: tigers & puppies


Read Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to not think about something, especially something you’re worried about? I well remember a few years ago when I was speaking at church on the subject of anxiety. The Bible passage said ‘do not be anxious about anything…’ and my message, it followed, was on ‘freedom from anxiety’. Well, I was a mess. I was so nervous about it that I couldn’t prepare for the sermon. Anxious thoughts about ‘how not to be anxious’ flew round and round my head. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t pray, couldn’t escape thinking about it. The irony wasn’t lost on me ‘physician heal thy self’ was all I could hear spinning back and forth around my brain, it was horrible.

Where worry is concerned our thought life can behave badly can’t it? We don’t try to obsess about missing that flight or not completing that essay in time, it just happens. And of course worry is a very reasonable virus, it uses all the right logic and explanations. Anxiety convinces us that it’s not only permitted to consume our thought life, but that it’s entirely appropriate and commendable that it does so!

Paul’s answer to anxiety, as he explains it in the above Bible reading, isn’t to use reason and persuasive argument. He doesn’t try to out argue anxiety, he knows that’s a lost battle. Reasoning against anxiety isn’t a fair fight since we’re emotionally compromised from the start. Anxiety, you see, has a head start on us and anxiety has access to the arsenal of our emotional life making it a very powerful foe indeed. If it was only a question of explaining politely to worry why it is that we’re not going to go where it wants us to go then I’m sure many a worry would be stopped dead in its tracks. But it doesn’t work like that does it?

‘Goodness did you hear yourself just then?’ Anxiety says ‘you made a complete fool of yourself. Is it any wonder why NO ONE wants to be your friend?! I’m amazed you have any friends at all, or do you? I can’t see those supposed friends of yours hanging around too long after they find out exactly what you’re like. Can you see that happening?’ 

After that comes the hot flushes and clammy palms, followed by the loss of all colour from our face, an ice cold forehead and then that all too familiar knot in the stomach – the permanent resident in the body of serial worrier. Sound familiar?

So what’s the answer to anxiety? Sadly for us there isn’t a pill to fix it. It isn’t a case of praying a particular prayer (perhaps five times a day), or singing a particular song. Anxiety is tiger that needs taming rather than a puppy that needs training. Puppies aren’t too ferocious, they can be quite cute and (after much effort) they can be house trained. We’re bigger and stronger and more powerful than puppies and so in the end, they will obey us. Not so with a tiger. Tiger’s are ferocious and strong and move at a lightning quick pace. They will run rings around us and destroy us if we’re not careful. Taming a tiger isn’t just a matter of persistence, it requires courage, strength and nerves of steel (I speak from experience of course).

Getting our thought life in order involves more energy and effort than puppy training (and even that can be pretty full on). Getting our thought life in order requires determination and courage, and supernatural power.

Just prior to the above Bible passage Paul explains that he’s ‘learned the secret of being content whatever his circumstances’ something I’m sure many of us would like to know.

In our Bible reading three big clues are offered, three things that will aid us in our fight against anxiety: Rejoicing, asking and thanking.

Celebrating what God has done in the past and asking (petitioning) God to help us in the present. Mixed with a helpful amount of thankfulness, creates quite a powerful concoction. It enables us to stand our ground against anxiety and positions us to receive peace from God in the midst of worry.

Celebrate, ask, thank.

It isn’t easy (tigers don’t give up without a fight), but it is possible. With the help of the Holy Spirit we can be free from life crippling worry.

Weekly Challenge

Read Philippians 4:8-9:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practise these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

The first step toward enjoying your status as a forgiven, loved, adopted and empowered child of God is to start taking seriously what you think about. Do your thoughts past the Philippians 4 test? 

  • True
  • Honourable 
  • Just
  • Pure
  • Lovely
  • Commendable
  • Excellent
  • Worshipful 
Take some time this week to write down as many things as you can that meet the above criteria. List areas of your life, perhaps things you’re consistently worried about, and write things that might pass the Philippians 4 test. Do it over a few days and see what the Holy Spirit brings to mind each time:
For example:

Myself: What’s true is that I’m a Christian, I’m loved by God, I’ve been adopted into his family…

Difficult circumstances: What’s true is that my Father promises to be with me throughout every difficulty I face. What’s worshipful is that he’s always got me through things in the past, he’s worthy of my worship

Others: What’s commendable is that I’m grateful for my wife, for how she loves me and cares for me. I’m thankful I’ve got friends who, despite knowing the worst bits about me, have stuck by me and pray for me…

I might also list: my future, my job, my kids, my self image, my past, my money… Adding to this list daily will force your mind to think about and dwell on true and good things as opposed to the destructive and anxiety laden things we often think about.

Have fun!

FIGHT: a sword for the fight

Scripture : Today’s full reading can be found here

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might… 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. 


Paul concludes his letter to the Ephesians with an instruction to put on spiritual armour. After all he’s communicated to the church about the Christian life, about their position in Christ, about their need to be filled with the Spirit and about how they are to prize unity he concludes by saying, essentially ‘…and don’t forget, it’s a fight!’ 

In this fight we’re given metaphorical armour to help us: Faith is like a shield, righteousness becomes like a breastplate, salvation a helmet. It has often be pointed out that all of the equipment we’re given to help us in this struggle is defensive and protective; all of it that is apart from one item, the sword of the Spirit. The sword of the Spirit, we’re told, is the word of God. The one thing that can help us gain ground and not simply stand it, is scripture; the Bible, the good Book, God’s word.  

I was reminded of this recently when praying through something I was struggling with. I have become quite good at trying to reason with my anxiety. I’ll analyse facts in cold blood, I’ll discuss what I’m worrying about with others, and I’ll attempt to pick apart negative thought patterns and reduce them in size. All the while failing at actually picking them apart and reducing them in size. While praying (or worrying aloud as it often becomes) it struck me how little I was using the truth of scripture to help me in my struggle. I was essentially trying to break apart a mountain using only plastic hammer and chisel. It wasn’t working and neither could I expect it to. Reason doesn’t have anything like the power that scripture does. 

Jesus when tested and tempted by the Devil in the wilderness (here) didn’t try to win the argument or reason the Enemy into a corner. Instead he leaned on and trusted in the power of scripture to help him. Read it for yourself and you’ll notice the repeating statement of Jesus ‘it is written.’ The devil tempted him with self sufficiency and independence from God and he replied with ‘it is written…’. The enemy offered him success over his enemies, fame and glory and he replied ‘it is written…’.

If Jesus leant on scripture this way, then I need to as well – and so do you. You cannot flourish as a believer without it, you cannot withstand the onslaught of the enemy or even the onslaught of your own sinful desires without it. We need to lean on and trust in the same truth that Jesus trusted in. And the promise comes that as we draw near to God ‘he will draw near to us’ and as we resist the devil ‘he will flee from us.’

Weekly Challenge

Since scripture is so essential it makes sense that we give ourselves to learning it and being shaped by it. Becoming familiar with truth doesn’t happen accidentally. Spend this week reciting daily the following statements that relate to our identity in Christ:

In Christ I am God’s child (John 1:12)
In Christ I belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:20)
In Christ I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self control (2 Timothy 1:7)
In Christ I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me (1 John 5:18)
In Christ I am holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4)
In Christ I am forgiven (Ephesians 1:8)
In Christ I am a saint (Col. 1:1)