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13th November 2018

Good afternoon
 
Some Thoughts on Brexit:

Nearly every time I turn on the Radio or TV, all I hear is Brexit. At the moment it is about the rush to get prepared for 29 March, 2019 when the UK is supposed to officially leave. Of course, Brexit has stirred up a lot of emotion, division & uncertainty. It is by no means certain that the UK will leave. It has been clear since the shock referendum result in 2016 that there are a lot of powerful, vested interest groups whose whole focus is to overturn the vote, stop Brexit happening & keep the UK in the EU Empire. Many others, including many living here who were born in Europe, are greatly troubled about what Brexit says about the UK & its view of foreigners.
 
Throughout the EU Referendum campaign both sides of the debate played on people’s emotions & fears. On the Vote Leave side it was all about the emotion of freedom - the UK would regain its right to determine how it spent its own money & made its own decisions – on the Remain side it was all about how the UK economy would immediately be ruined & go into recession, & how it would put at risk all the progress, in their eyes, made since 1990 as the Uk further integrated with the Secular, Humanist & Rationalist driven & led EU.
 
Thinking about the Brexit negotiations - it is interesting to note that the greatest bargaining chip that the UK had was its money. The big question was to what extent the UK would continue to support the EU after Brexit. The EU negotiators insisted on sorting this out first as a precondition before negotiations could properly began. Once Theresa May yielded & bowed to the EU pressure over the UK’s money contributions to keep all those EU Institutions running, paying the big salaries of EU Civil Servants & protecting their pensions – I knew that the upcoming negotiations would be one sided, & so they have largely proven to be. The only thing that the EU leaders & negotiators feared was that the UK money would stop or be greatly reduced. As has been agreed, the UK will pay around £37.1bn to the EU – most in the first few years after Brexit, though there will be a smaller amount paid each year up to 2064 to support the EU officials’ pension fund. I am not saying that the negotiations would have been any easier; rather, they would have taken place perhaps with more parity between the two negotiation teams.
 
The day that Theresa May announced that the Irish border issue had been resolved, I also knew it hadn’t been & that she hadn’t consulted Unionists in Northern Ireland. What she said would happen – Custom checks happening on the Great Britain side of the Irish Sea - was against everything the Northern Ireland Unionist parties stood for. In essence, Northern Ireland was being added economically & politically to the EU Empire while being removed from the UK. At nearly every turn there have been missteps, miscalculations, & mistakes; yet, somehow or other we have arrived at a place where 95% of the negotiations are complete, & I am hopeful that they will find a way to resolve the Northern Ireland border issue.
 
However, we are now at the place where the likelihood that we will still be in the EU Empire after 29 March has increased. Why do I call it an Empire? For three reasons: 1. As the EU currently stands it reflects an Empire in how it seeks to rule the many by a small elite of largely unelected officials with the European Court of Justice able to impose the EU’s will on national governments; 2. It is seeking to impose its philosophy & ideology, which is largely Secular, Humanist, Rationalist & Centrist, on all the people within its borders making them think & believe the same; 3. The EU acts in the best interests of itself without regard to the best interests of particular groups within it – Greece is a prime example. In essence the Euro has had a profound & destructive effect on the Greek economy making Greece less competitive & facing years of ruin.
 
The basis for Uk’s form of government & the EU’s is completely different. The UK developed from the principles enshrined in the Magna Carta which sought to protect the UK Church from State interference, create a Charter of Liberties for the ordinary person in the streets, give the right to a trial by jury, & allow public representatives an important voice in the ruling of the nation. The EU Empire is built upon the principles of the French Napoleonic Code which seeks to drive the Church from the Public Square, its philosophical outlook is Humanist, Rationalist & Secularist in nature, seeks to rule the many through a small elite of people with vested interests, & elevates the status of a professional judiciary to the detriment of elected representatives.
 
May God guide & direct the negotiation teams on both sides to create a just, fair & equitable settlement. We proclaim His will to be done in all of this leading to either the UK outside the EU or still inside. We pray for courage, strength & humility to be a more united & prosperous country –whether someone who is a Leave supporter or a Remainer. In Jesus’ name. Amen

God Bless
Pastor Leslie

4th November 2018

Good evening everyone
 
Delivering Christian Ministry:

Today, as Christians reflect on their place in society, it is so easy to see ourselves as irrelevant & unimportant to the wider functioning of society. We have been so indoctrinated by the world with its secular & pluralist outlook, that we simply affirm the common view that the church no longer has a place in the centre of society. It was not always this way. In fact, the pillars of society were largely founded by the church or by inspired Christians who were motivated by their faith to make a difference including in: marriage, family, health provision, education, social care, care of the elderly, poor & foreigner, judiciary, business, arts & spirituality.
 
In the Lord’s Prayer we do pray: ‘May Your Kingdom come, & Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ These two phrases in this prayer: ‘Your Kingdom come – Your will be done’ are radical, revolutionary words. If Christ’s Kingdom is to come, then His Kingdom’s values, moral foundations & ethical outworking must supplant that which is already established. In our nation there are still traces of our Judeo-Christian heritage enshrined in our laws & government; yet, these have been dramatically weakened since the 1960’s. The speed of changing the basis of the laws & morality from biblically inspired to Evolutionary & Secularly driven – has undoubtedly increased since 1990. Therefore, if Christ’s Kingdom is to come & His will to be done in our nation – then that is going to require a total shift in thinking in the nation.
 
The way to do this includes: i. praying for godly local leaders & ministers to be in post in each local church to lead & teach His people in Christ-honouring ways – ii. to hunger for a godly reformation in our nation & to pray for our communities, rural areas, villages, towns, cities & regions to come to Christ – iii. to regain our confidence in the power of the Gospel as it is preached & taught to save the sinner & create disciple-making disciples. This requires a commitment to pray for, preach about, teach about how to live & practice a vibrant, Spirit-filled, Christ-honouring Christian life. Can this happen if the UK Church does not embrace whole-hearted devotion to Christ – probably not; can it happen if the UK Church submits to the Spirit’s lordship with the certain knowledge that as it does so then He, the Spirit, will enable Christ’s Church to truly glorify Christ & honour His lordship in its service of Him. God can only redeem our communities through Christ bringing the deep-rooted transformation we are praying, labouring & yearning for...
 
As a church we are seeking to invest in these areas. As such on Tuesday the 13th & 20th of November at 7pm we are holding a CAP (Christians Against Poverty) Money Course which teaches biblical stewardship principles which really do work in helping reshape our finances & outlook on money in a godly way. On Saturday 17th November, 10am – 3pm, we are holding a Parenting & the Bible day conference in church devoted to exploring what the Bible has to say about parenting. It will include teaching, interaction, & some practical tips that can be taken away & applied in the home.
 
On Sunday 2nd December, in the morning service, we are holding a Baptism service with two baptism classes beforehand. Baptism is an important event which helps separate the believer from the world publically confessing their commitment to Christ. On Sunday 9th December we will welcoming new members into Church Membership, with two membership classes beforehand. This act of becoming a local church member acts as an important moment when a person makes a significant declaration of commitment to a particular local church. Each of these events are examples of how we are seeking to transform our society by strengthening people in Christ & enabling them to live for Christ in the world.
 
If you would like more information or to join the CAP course, attend the Parenting conference, be baptised or become a church member – then please email liz.manley@telfordelim.com

God Bless
Pastor Leslie

 24th October 2018

Good morning

Jesus is Lord:
This is the first & greatest of the Church’s Confessions of Faith. These three words encompass the great truth which is at the heart of the Gospel message. This is not simply a statement of truth, although it is, it is also a statement of fact. It was part of the message at the heart of the Keswick Bible week which began in 1875 – the other two parts were victorious Christian living & practical holiness. There was a recognition that many were not living in the place of true surrender to Christ’s lordship & thus lacked God’s power in their lives, lacked assurance, & were subject to a spiritual rollercoaster of highs & lows. They believed that it is possible for God’s children to live the victorious Christian life - to live with the freedom Christ promised, & the victory our faith brings over the world. So they started a Bible week to focus on this. The Pentecostal Revival that began in the early 1900’s included this desire, but added to it introducing the concept of the Church moving in the power of the Spirit exercising the gifts of the Spirit.

How then do we respond to this confession of faith, ‘Jesus is Lord?’ I think there are so many Bible passages which reflect on this including Philippians 2:5-11. In it Paul states that Jesus has the greatest name, & that every single person will have to bow in acknowledgement of & submission to Him. In the future, at the end of the Age, Jesus’ lordship will be recognised by all. He will be seen as He really is, & be known as King Jesus; although, sadly, many will do so in terror of the Christ, the One they rejected & scorned, & thus they will be destined for Hell, not Heaven. There are three parts to Christ’s ministry which are commonly acknowledged: Jesus is Prophet revealing God & His word to the world – Priest representing His people before God – King of the Kingdom of God reigning in Majesty at God’s right hand. Every one of us will see Him as He is on the Day of Judgement. Are you ready to face King Jesus the right & true Judge because you are in a living relationship with Him?

Not only is ‘Jesus is Lord’ about the Future, it is also about the Present. It was SM Zwemer who said that ‘if Jesus is not Lord of all, then He is not Lord at all.’ This challenges us to think about our own lives & to assess where we have, & have not, surrendered to the lordship of Christ. It was not only those who started the Keswick Bible week that yearned for a life of total surrender to Christ – at one point or another, every believer yearns for it. Often our experience is that the more we try to attain it, the further we find ourselves from it. The answer is not as hard as you may think.

It was Stephen Olford who said in response to 2 Corinthians 3:17, ‘For the Lord is the Spirit, & wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,’ these words, ‘but now I saw that the lordship of Christ could only be real to me as the Holy Spirit was made Lord in me’ https://www.uu.edu/centers/rglee/fellows/spring03/willmore.htm accessed 23-10-2018. God has not left us groping around in the dark constantly frustrated at our lack of progress. He has sent His Spirit to lead us into victory. As we develop the life of the Spirit & seek to submit to His lordship, the Spirit then enables us to glorify Christ & to surrender more & more to Christ’s lordship.

There is one more thing. Jesus is Lord is not just about the Present & Future – it is also about the Past. We know that when we become a new creation at the New Birth (2 Corinthians 5:17), God places Christ’s zoe life in us & brings our spirits alive in Him. We repent of our past lives & find forgiveness. His Spirit is made available to us in order to enable us to truly honour & serve Christ as Lord. Yet, how many Christians struggle afterwards with the emotions, memories, experiences & identity of the past life. We are a new creation in Christ, but our souls still carry the legacy of our previous lives.

As we mature in faith gradually the lordship of Christ begins to reign in our souls making our emotions, desires, mind & relationships more & more whole in Christ. However, unless we invite the Spirit to establish Christ’s lordship in our memories, emotional ties to the past, in how we think about our experiences & actions, & how our relationships have shaped us – we will be destined to yo-yo up & down fluctuating between spiritual passion & disappointment. Proclaim Jesus is Lord over your past, & invite the Spirit to make this an abiding reality in each of our lives.
God Bless
Pastor Leslie   

 

 

 14th October 2018

Thought for the Week

Wholeness:
This is an interesting question to consider, ‘am I a more whole person today than the person I was one year ago?’ Perhaps it is easier to say, ‘am I a better person today?’ Some will find this difficult to answer simply because they have never thought before about what wholeness means - for them life is too busy to be reflected upon. Others live without worrying about the need to change or become a better person because they do not care. Others will feel guilty because they do not believe that they have changed for the better & are stuck in a rut of hopelessness, & possibly brokenness.

Still others know they are more whole in Christ but will not want to blow their own trumpet – they have fully embraced the proverb, ‘let another praise you, not your own mouth; a stranger & not your own lips’ (Proverbs 27:2); in humility they will say, ‘ask someone I know if I am more whole today.’ Finally, there are those who recognise the importance of assessing their own character development, embracing such an assessment as a positive step towards creating the chance to learn how to become more whole or a better person in Christ, & will testify to others about the change in the hope of encouraging them to aim for more wholeness in Christ.

How do I measure how ‘whole’ I am or if I am a better person? Do I measure myself by the standard of other good people I know – those I believe who are really honest, good & caring? Do I take into account any mitigating factors when trying to assess where I stand on a scale between good & bad such as a difficult relationship, lots of pressure at work, health problems or financial worries? Or do I measure my wholeness by what the Bible teaches me: securely saved in Christ, filled to overflowing by the Holy Spirit, & worshipping God in Spirit & in truth?

I believe biblical wholeness also includes my emotions, if I am stable & not disturbed by fear, the fear of man or by the desires of others; it includes my mind, if I am rational, calm & clear headed, my thinking being renewed by God’s Word; my desires, If I am free from Materialism with its mindset that things or possessions make me whole, or from Idolatry which tries to get me to place something on the throne of my heart other than Christ - no matter how good, noble or laudable that thing or person may be; my relationships, if they are honouring to Christ, not co-dependent but open, honest & full of grace & peace.

Mark Greene, from the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity [LICC] teaches about being a ‘whole-life disciple-making church,’ in ‘eg’ Edition 32, March 2012, p.5. I want to use his thoughts to consider this further: 1. I need to see the need to become a more whole person in Christ. Without that ‘vision’ it is so easy to settle for something less than God determined. As I pray, study, read & ask for help from mature, balanced Christians – I learn how to be more whole. 2. Wholeness is not an end itself; rather, as I become more whole then I become more useful to the Master. Not only can He trust me not to dishonour Christ, I become more adept at spotting opportunities to be fruitful & to serve His purposes.

3. The steps to wholeness can be learned from other people. As I intentionally link with mature believers – so I am able to do as they say & practice applying the biblical truths they have learned. The exciting thing is that I can also begin to mentor others towards the wholeness I am now living with. 4. In fact, wholeness in Christ is such an exciting concept that I will want to partner with others to help bring it about at a greater scale than I can achieve on my own. As a core team of us live out our wholeness in Christ, we can then embrace praying for wholeness in Christ in our society, & work together to redeem the culture of brokenness all around us. Only Christ can pardon, & set people free to be whole in Himself, but He has purposed to do so through His people, including you & I.

5. As I recognise that this change can happen, I also realise that it happens one degree at a time. It may take 180 individual shifts before society is moving in the opposite direction towards wholeness in Christ, but each person who focuses on becoming whole in Jesus helps to move all of society towards Him. 6. We all need to hear the stories of wholeness. As people tell their stories of steps towards wholeness – it encourages us to take similar steps. The stories of radical transformation are inspiring, as are the stories of little victories & little steps towards wholeness in Christ.
God Bless
Pastor Leslie


7th October 2018 

Simplicity of Faith:
This morning in church I spoke on this heading. The Bible passage I used was 1 Corinthians 15:58, ‘Therefore, my dear brothers & sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, knowing that your work is never in vain [if it is] in the Lord.’ It is so easy to lose sight of the main points of our faith in the busyness of life, because of the encroachment of the world, & the pressure we put ourselves under to become a better, more productive Christian. If one adds the confusion that can come into our minds when we are not clear as to the best way forward, plus the darkness that can overwhelm & make us feel spiritually lethargic – it is difficult, with all or any of these pressures, to remain true to the Gospel & free in Christ.

The danger we face is that we try to improve our Christian walk & lives by following a programme without truly applying the key biblical principles that are crucial in creating a disciple-making disciple. There are three principles which are at the heart of a healthy faith: 1. A good theology. Theology is basically the study of God, His nature, word & His dealings with His creation. Theology gives us the foundations from which we build our faith, morality, spirituality & actions, & which teaches us what is the Lordship of Christ.

2. Spirituality. Christian spirituality is different from other forms in that it is derived from a full relationship with God, through a saving relationship with Christ, brought about by His Spirit bringing us alive & enabling us to walk in a living, loving relationship with Him. Christian spirituality is about living & practising the life of the Spirit. It enables us to submit to the Lordship of Christ.

3. Ethics – Practical Christian living. How do we obey God? How do we apply His word? How do we behave? How we are to think? How we are to build our relationships, & act in them? How we are to view ourselves? How we are to view work? How we are to act in society? These are the sort of questions which Christian ethics cover in helping us find answers & a platform from which to practically live out our faith day by day.

The Lord Jesus wants us to fully enjoy the blessing of submitting to His Lordship in our bodies, souls & spirits. i. Our Bodies: The body is that which unites us to our mortality. How we treat our bodies is important to God. The Bible deals with many things to do with our bodies including: a proper diet, rest, sleep, exercise, work, health & death. The Gnostics saw the body as unimportant to the Christian’s spiritual health; whereas, the New Testament writers recognised the wholeness of body, soul & spirit, & its importance to a healthy, vibrant Christian walk . To them the body needed disciplining in the Christian pathway including through fasting, & rejecting the body’s sinful urges for self-gratification & sinful pleasure. Yet, they also encouraged the believer to pray for the wholeness & health of the body, & to understand that a Christian’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit & should be treated as such.

ii. Our Souls: The soul is that which unites us to humanity. It is made up of our emotions, mind, will & relationships. It is not so easy to divide the soul into these parts because each impacts upon the other, but it is helpful for us to understand that the Bible deals with each of these parts of us in relation to our common humanity. If my emotions are not whole - this affects how I think, the decisions I make, & how I relate to other people. If my thinking is in error – then I will make bad choices which possibly bring guilt or shame which can make me hard-hearted which in turn affects my future choices, how I feel about myself & I treat others. As we walk with Christ day by day, in His truth, with His freedom, among His people – then my soul is brought more & more under His Lordship. My thinking becomes more godly, my emotions more animated by the Spirit, my choices [will] more submissive to God’s word, & my relationships better reflecting the nature of God.

iii. Our Spirits: The spirit is that which connects me to God. Outside of Christ it is dead & subject to the control of Self, Sin, Society & Satan; in Christ, it is brought alive by the Spirit & is that piece of me most connected with God. As I grow as a true worshipper who lives & serves Christ & His purposes – then my spirit becomes the greater, larger channel through which God pours His power, love & grace, in Christ, through me to the world. May we all develop a deep, profound & effective simplicity of faith which includes a sound theological basis, a deep Christian spirituality, & fruitful Christian lifestyle. May these principles lead to a more disciplined body, a more Christ-like soul, & to a greater, larger spirit. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Many blessings
Pastor Leslie

 

4th October 2018

Being Understood:
Coming from outside an area with a different accent to the local dialect makes it more difficult to be understood. I came from Northern Ireland with a strong, borderland’s accent – after 16 years in England - most local people in Telford still claim I have a strong, different accent. Some struggle to understand me while others just love my accent. It is funny though because when I go back to Northern Ireland, some people consider me to have a very, to their ears, ‘English accent.’ My accent has been a hindrance at times & also a blessing; a hindrance as it can be more difficult to get my point across; a blessing when people remember me because of the accent helping me to connect & network with them in my role as a pastor.

Not only does the accent have a bearing, but there are also loads of colloquialisms & words which are unique to each region or nation. For instance in Northern Ireland lots use ‘wee’ in nearly every sentence: ‘do you want a wee cup of tea,’ or ‘I am going for a wee drive in the car.’ The wee drive could be 100 miles or more & wee cup of tea a large mug of tea. There are so many words & phrases we use which identify us as either a local or someone who has moved into the area at some point. Sometimes it can seem that we speak a different language entirely. Being misunderstood is part of life. However, it is one thing being misunderstood when ordering breakfast at a cafe, you may get a fried egg instead of a poached egg – quite another thing when trying to reduce the cost of your dual fuel electricity & gas package, or when trying to book an appointment with the doctor or dentist.

Jesus was brilliant at connecting with His audience while telling them a message which was new & difficult for many to understand. The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 is a good example. He took godly themes which the people knew were part of God’s word, such as mercy & purity, & added a new dimension. Some of His listeners would have considered their religious leaders to be the blessed ones – after all, they spent most of their lives trying to understand & please God. However, Jesus makes God’s blessing much more democratic stating that whoever practised such godly behaviour would be blessed. ‘Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy; blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.’ He also then explored eight of the Ten Commandments (Matthew 5:17 - 7:6), developing the people’s understanding of them. He could also speak in terms which were very hard to understand leading to misunderstanding & many disciples turning away from Him (John 6). This teaches us that speaking about Christ & the things of God are spiritual things, only properly being understood by those open to or alive in the Holy Spirit. May God open many more people in our communities to His spiritual message. Amen

A big part of being good at communication – is being able to connect. There are people who are very good at connecting with others. Even one conversation leads to a deep relational bond, or, in the public square, one public talk or preach & the audience or congregation are largely connected to the speaker. It is both a gift & an art. The gift means that such people find it easy to be understood & connect with others – the art means that they read & research how to be a better communicator learning how to engage & convey their message in a clear, accessible & easily understood manner. It is a shame when a person is ignored or overlooked simply because they are difficult to understand. Like everything in life, recognising we have an issue in an area is the first step in the process of improvement & development. May God help us to present ourselves in such a way so many others are able to connect with us & clearly understand us. Amen. Not everyone we speak to will connect with us – but we could be much more effective communicators if we put some thought & effort into learning how to become more clear, accessible & easily understood.

God Bless
Pastor Leslie

 

 

 


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