No Peace in Jerusalem

This is not a political statement, though it could be, and we are reminded to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  No, my thoughts are upon a recent conversation I had with Martyn in Solihull.  

We have spent three Friday’s in quick succession in Solihull, due to March having a fifth Friday.  This particular day in early April, the sun was out and the weather was warm.  This encouraged folks to sit around and listen to the preaching.  One such was Martyn, who listened to a number of us preach.  After I had finished I approached him and engaged him in conversation.  We had quite a lengthy conversation, all in all, but at one point Martyn mentioned a visit he had made to Jerusalem.

He said that he found it rather significant that at one point during his visit, while he meditated in a Jerusalem church, he felt lonelier than he has ever felt.  I replied that it reminded me of the Bible story of the Ethiopian, who also came visiting that glorious city, looking for an answer, but went away empty.  We know that because on his return journey he was still searching through the prophetic Scriptures, and only when it was pointed out to him that they spoke of Jesus Christ, did he find the fulfilment that he sought.

I suggested to Martyn that his situation was similar, and that his experience shows us clearly that the answer we seek in not found in a physical place, not even that blessed city of Jerusalem.  How wonderful that we have something far better, we have a living Saviour.  It is in him we find salvation and peace with God.

There will never be peace in Jerusalem, either of the political or spiritual kind until Christ’s return.  Until the Prince of Peace takes up the throne of David.  But praise God, we do not have to wait for that day but can know today that we …

Being Justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

From Darkness to Light

It has been of great joy to recently hear from a number of dear souls; who grew up in Muslim families; who have found the life-giving Saviour; and have come to know the significant change Jesus Christ brings into a life, as the Gospel comes …

“To open their eyes, [and] to turn [them] from darkness to light, and [from] the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” (Acts 26)

One brother in Christ we met in Solihull.  F could not speak English well, but through interpretation we heard how he grew up in Iran, but has recently come to follow Christ.  We took some details and were able to send him some Christian literature in Farsi.

A few weeks later, one of our Reaching Muslims summer team from last year, again made contact with a young woman.  We had met her in the City Centre last summer, and had a good discussion.  Contact since has been very limited, but this time she opened up to say she was now following Christ, and though the journey had been difficult, Jesus Christ had been with her.  Unfortunately, she is suffering persecution from her family and friends, and has to be very careful.  She said she now realises that her choice is either Christ or her family, and is not going to give up her Saviour.  Pray for this young sister in Christ in the difficult steps she will face in coming months.

However, we remember we have a great Saviour, and we praise His name for the blessing of salvation.  

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Students Consider Christ

Last September, Thomas joined the assembly, arriving over from India to complete his PhD.  He has been a very helpful addition to the assembly, and has been exercised over the last few months about reaching out to his fellow students.

And so, on the 18th March, we invited students in for a Gospel presentation.  Only five showed up, and Thomas was slightly discouraged, but I felt it was an encouraging start, and we hope to hold another in a few months time.

We began with a buffet meal so we could get to know each other a bit, and then I made a presentation of John 14:6.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No man cometh to the Father but by me.”

Being Irish, I took the verse backwards!  We began we setting out the evidence for Jesus Christ being the only, necessary source of life.  For this we leant heavily on the work of Dr Stephen Meyer, who argues fully and convincingly that the genetic material that underpins life is in essence information, and that the only source of information is an intelligent mind.

From this, we examined the nature of truth, in particular divine truth, as being that which is objectively verifiable; that which has the mark of the divine; and that which is consistent with reality.

We focused on establishing the truth of the Bible through a brief examination of archeological evidence as our objective verification.  Then we considered prophetic fulfilment as the mark of the divine.  Finally, we examined in more detail how the message of the Bible answers perfectly the reality we know and live in, particularly the problem of evil and the hope of redemption.

This led us to conclude with a challenge regarding Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation.

Do pray for those that came along.  In particular, Thomas’ friend, Lalith, and Jonny’s friend, Ian.  It was lovely to meet them, and we hope to do so again soon.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SEEK – Follow & Forgive

On the 11th March, we held our quarterly combined Sunday School’s SEEK afternoon.  Numbers were a bit down on last year, but we had representation from five assemblies, and had an encouraging time together.

We have these young people for 3 hours, so we try to keep it varied and interesting.  This year, our theme is the life of Peter, and so we began focusing on Luke 5:1-11, and as well as presenting the Gospel, we challenged the children about the importance of being obedient to Christ and His Word, doing the right thing even when it seems hard, or doesn’t make any sense to us.
This point was touchingly emphasised through the amazing story of Corrie ten Boom, in particular the ending when her one time captor asks for her forgiveness.  All of us left feeling challenged, for it is a situation we all have to face at one point or another in our lives.

Perhaps, as you read this it these your heart too, for you know there is one who has wronged you, that you have not yet forgiven.  My dear fellow saint, how can we gather to worship our Lord, who has died for all, when we harbour a grudge?  Let us put the words of Matthew 5:24 into practice.

“Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Noah’s Testimony

From the beginning of January Peter has been teaching the Sunday School, Acts 2:41: ‘And they that gladly received His Word were baptised …‘.

Noah, who has for a number of years now, shown clear evidence of spiritual life and of a love for the Lord Jesus, took these words to heart.  It was, in fact, on the opening morning mentioned in an earlier post that Noah spoke with Joe, one of our elders, and asked to be baptised.

What a thrill, not only for Janelle and myself, but for the whole assembly, and indeed the saints across the city, to gather on the 4th March around an open baptistery, and witness our dear Noah testify publicly to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour.

His simple, no nonsense attitude: ‘Trust and Obey’, is an example and a challenge to all of us.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Midweek Joy

As February came to an end, so did our midweek study through Daniel.  This has been encouraging both in terms of the content – a most relevant study in the days in which we live – but also by the growth in the number who attend.

It is a joy to see these dear believer’s in the Lord Jesus, who attend other churches, coming along on a Wednesday evening because they know they are going to get some good food, spiritually speaking.

Sadly, their longing to be fed by the Word and desire to come out on a midweek evening is not reciprocated by all who are in the assembly.

Nevertheless, we have enjoyed some precious times together, and are thankful for capable brethren locally who are able to give help in ministering God’s Word from time to time.

Now that Daniel is finished, we have commenced into the magnificent book of Romans.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bible Explorers

During the February half term, Mike Jackson joined us for four days of Bible Explorers.  Historically, this has always taken place over the Easter holiday, but we felt that as numbers had been shrinking, and the Easter holiday a busy time for everyone involved, we ought to move in to this new time slot.

It was wonderful to take a back seat this year.  Peter and Becky Manning, who joined us at Hope in the Autumn 2015, took on the responsibility for this work, and with other helpers put together a good program for the children for the first hour.  Then after some refreshments, Mike led the meeting time in his own inimitable way.

Numbers were up his year with just over 20 each day and this was a great encouragement in itself.  However, the majority of these were children brought by believers from outside the area.  Though we advertised widely around the area, and I have to thank Ted and Janet for their efforts and help in that, we only had one family from the locality who came along.

Do continue to pray for the local children’s and young people’s work, and in particular for the nearby schools that the Lord may open a door among the parents and children who pass by the hall daily.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment