Archive blog entries 01 2018

 


 

28th January 2018

Good evening everyone


Prescription Medication Addictions

 

Prescription drug addiction has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. There are an estimated 20 million substance abuse addicts in the States, including a rapidly expanding number addicted to what the doctor prescribes. The rate of growth of drug dependency is skyrocketing - from 2010 to 2016, there were a 493% growth in addicts. The numbers dependent on prescription opioids, usually opium based pain suppressants, is truly astonishing. A report I listened to said that even small suburban towns that were never affected by illegal heroin use are now being decimated because of prescription opioids given out for years by doctors to largely middle-aged people. Trials show that heroin addicts find no withdrawal symptoms when put on these prescription medications – they are just as powerful as illegal heroin.

 

Some American States are beginning to limit the length of time a pain relief prescription can be given for. The opioid medications are important for pain relief after major trauma or surgery, but quickly lose their effectiveness until they actually begin to produce the opposite effect of increasing the sensation of pain. This raising of the awareness of the problem has led to many ordinary suburban Americans, men & women, those addicted to these medications, being up in arms lobbying for no change in the law in case they no longer have access to these powerful, legal drugs. Many have unsuccessfully tried to come off the drugs. Some 33,000 Americans died from opioids in 2015, more than died on the roads or by gun crime. Drug companies have spent fortunes since the mid 1990’s advertising these new wonder drugs claiming that each new branded drug is non-addictive & pushing them onto the medical practitioners. Sadly, after a number of years they are shown to be just as addictive as the previous drug, including opioid based drugs.

 

Here in the UK, I listened to one GP speaking about the fact that many patients are put on the relatively milder Co-Codamol for more severe pain relief, with many then becoming addicted & consuming 4,000 – 5,000 tablets per year. This is truly astonishing! We think of alcohol, illicit drug use, legal & illegal highs, pornography, gambling & other types of addiction, but rarely give any thought to that which occurs up & down our streets because people are in pain, physical, emotional or mental pain. I have not even mentioned those addicted to anti-depressants & sleeping tablets. The Pharmaceutical companies are now targeting other countries seeking to elevate the use of these drugs as the best remedy for many maladies & thus boosting their profits. The more people who are prescribed these powerful drugs, sadly, the more people who will then become addicted to them & the situation grow more desperate.

 

We live in the most over medicated & medically under monitored period in our history. Perhaps you are living in this terrible cycle thinking that either you are in control or knowing that you are out of control in your medication use. Perhaps we need to consider that we can actually weather some pain & learn to find God’s grace in our weaknesses. This is easy to say if I have no pain, whether, emotional, mental or physical – but it is an issue we in the Church need to speak about. As we bring this subject to light – may the light of Christ begin to penetrate this darkness, & the darkness that is shrouding this issue in our nation to the benefit of giant pharmaceutical companies. May subterfuge from these companies, & complicit acceptance by the medical profession be exposed & this issue begin to be tackled. May the freedom Christ offers become our goal in life, & may He enable us to embrace the empathy for others that develops through our experience of the suffering of the Cross where we put self to death & seek to live & walk in the Spirit. As we seek to journey with & disciple those who are caught in this trap – may God grant us empathy, compassion, wisdom & His power to see addicts set free, drug companies held to account, & the medical profession awakened to the need to tackle the issue. In Jesus’ name. Amen


God Bless
Pastor Leslie


21st January 2018

Good evening everyone

Month of Prayer 3: Leaders

 

Jesus modelled servant leadership & God calls all leaders to develop the same style. He also calls Church Leaders to servant ministry; this is leadership that is full of grace, rich in heaven’s anointing, integrity & Christian compassion. It is ministry that seeks to bring God’s nature, love, grace & Christ-honouring spirituality to people. It is leadership which is open to new methods while always seeking to lead with discernment & godly wisdom - it resists vanity & feelings of superiority. There is a responsibility to model a godly lifestyle so that others will want to follow the same pattern of life. Although skills, gifting & talents are important, possessing a rounded godly character is essential in order to allow the full expression of the leadership gifting to flourish. This is cross-centred disciple making leadership - men & women who are rounded & truly connected to Christ. May this be the hallmark of the leadership in our church.

 

One of the most important aspects of this style of leadership is accountability to Christ. Accountability is healthy warding off tendencies such as to control, manipulate or coerce people into doing what we want, & it acts as an important check as leaders make sure that they are not transgressing Christ’s Word or blueprint for leadership as they lead. One of the great privileges is equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. God wants a cohesive team made up of people whose combined effect is positive in leading the Church so that many are equipped for ministry, & the Church built up in its most holy faith in Christ. Paul states that leaders’ lives, including how they interact at home, fields of ministry & responsibilities are all to be scrutinised in deciding who should be a leader. Good leaders make the Church a better & more fruitful body of believers with a strong partnership in the Gospel.

 

Leaders are to lead with diligence, skill & love, & must be connected to God so that they are able to efficiently reflect His will & Kingdom values through their leadership of others. They need to be open to wise direction & guidance under the authority of God’s Holy Spirit. It is essential to have an attitude of continual learning not being afraid to sit at the Master’s feet. God’s leaders have to seek to remain servant hearted at all times, to live within biblical boundaries & remain accountable to Him & to each other in love. This discipline helps them stay on track, keep pure, guard their hearts & to walk humbly in the Spirit’s power. Anything that hinders, opposes or seeks to break apart this focus is an enemy to sound biblical leadership. Truthfully, some of these enemy strongholds can only be overcome through pray, applying the blood of Christ, sharing the word of their testimony, & seeking to live in the power of the higher life in the Spirit.

 

Leaders are to remain teachable & refrain from lauding it over people; to avoid becoming proud, especially when things go well. They also need to guard their hearts so that they are not robbed of faith when things are tough; being able to stay the course & hold true to the vision God imparts is a blessing. Christian leaders, whether women or men, in order to be effective, require a gracious & kingly anointing so that the true Kingship & Lordship of Christ can be clearly seen in & through their lives. This reliance on Christ, in true humility reflected in their dependence on Him, seeks to live & act in such a way so that it points many others to their own need for such a living relationship with Him, & is a noble aim. Creating a culture where leaders find ways to ‘give away’ what they know also allows the development of good future leaders.

 

Leaders need to avoid the tendency to control – while holding this in the tension with actually leading others. Retaining an attitude which helps people move forwards without the tendency to control is a difficult balance to keep, & a counter-balance to manipulative leadership styles. Sometimes taking a step back, rather than always being the person to be ‘heard,’ allows a healthy balance to develop. Hearing the ‘voice of the Shepherd’ is a sure way to create a safe place for the sheep to feed & water. Leaders’ motives should be pure; always seeking God’s wisdom, rather than just relying on head knowledge & their own experience; this is a way to keep connected to Christ & thus become pure in spirit.


God Bless
Pastor Leslie


15th January 2018

Good Morning Everyone


Elim Month of Prayer Focus – Week 2: CHURCH. The church is God’s idea! We are called to be more than a bunch of people who meet for a common purpose. We are brothers & sisters, with God as our Father! He lavishes His love on us in Christ, & then asks us to show that love to one another, & to the world around us. It is crucial we do so in a real way so that we point others to the Lord Jesus.

 

In the natural world, when a child is born it is dependent upon others to meet its needs. As the child grows it learns & progresses towards independence. However, socially, people do not think in independence terms, they belong to an area, to a nation to a people group. God’s word paints a picture of the Church as His family, Christ’s body, the Spirit’s building. It is a spiritual group of people where each is interdependent on each other. Anything that prevents that true interdependence, in Christ, is destructive to God’s purposes. There is to be a freedom & joy in our relationships together as we allow His love & power to penetrate our hearts & lives.

 

In the book of Acts we see the people in the Church living real lives. These were not perfect disciples but a community of believers worshipping, living & doing life together. Enabled & empowered by the Spirit who filled their lives so they could be Kingdom minded – a people who acted as transformational missionaries, for Christ, to their families & communities. This happened as the Jerusalem Church prayed together, praised God, give thanks in all things, preached Christ & served in a Christ-honouring way.

 

Acts 2:42-47, (CSB), A Generous & Growing Church, ‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, & to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe, & many wonders & signs were being performed through the apostles. Now all the believers were together & held all things in common. They sold their possessions & property & distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, & broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with joyful & sincere hearts, praising God & enjoying the favour of all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.’

 

It would be wonderful if our Church reflected the nature of the early Church as presented here. Interdependence is what the Church is called to. The local Church is to be a people, & place, to which we commit who we are & what we have to worship & serve Christ. In doing so we end up serving God’s purpose in others by: 1. offering our unique gifts to His cause; 2. giving our most precious commodity – our time; 3. working for the provision of that which is needed to help & support others; 4. living with a joyful attitude; 5. longing & praying to see righteous fruit from our common discipleship; 6. taking responsibility for loving & caring for one another.

 

These six points encourage us, & cause us to desire to see new churches pioneered & established to reach more people for Christ here in Telford. We want to see growing & thriving churches in our area, churches who really care & yet are also missional, seeking to Make New Disciples. Churches are to be composed of people who meet & worship as a community of believers full of God’s love, life & light. As a result they can live out the Christian faith proclaiming the Gospel Good News of Jesus. In order to help create this culture, churches are also called to help disciples grow in the unity of the Spirit allowing for the diversity of the Spirit’s gifts & operations to be a major part of their lives.

 

This type of Church has the power to redemptively transform the local communities; that is, seeing people coming to the foot of the cross of Jesus finding acceptance, forgiveness & security in Christ. As a Church witnesses & worships in such a way, people are attracted to Christ. The Holy Spirit is also the Lord who is present with God’s people; & I believe, He desires to empower us afresh for mission & evangelism today to open doors of opportunity, & to provide what is needed as we step out in faith.

 

For a church to thrive in its vision & mission – it needs clarity of purpose. What is it we want to achieve. Each church member is called to follow Christ, live in a Christ-honouring way, & be good news to the last, least & lost. We pray that our church would be made up of believers who are known as a people who love God, love Jesus, love one another, & love the communities He has placed us in. That our church would live out its mandate of being Christ’s body, His bride, His army & God’s family! The life of the Spirit & Word present amongst us; Christ’s church growing & flourishing as designed. As we do so, becoming more firmly established in Christ, & fruitful for Christ. Amen


God Bless
Pastor Leslie

 


 8th January 2018

Disciples.......

Elim, nationally, begins the New Year with a Month of Prayer focussing on some key issues. This year’s began with 1. DISCIPLES. The following is a reworking of the daily prayers from last week’s Church Prayer Diary which itself was developed from Elim’s national article on this subject - the initial part became this morning’s church sermon.
 
The ultimate goal of discipleship is to reproduce new disciples. God’s Spirit, Word & the example of mature believers are essential in developing people with a disciple-making focus. 2 Timothy 2:2 (NLT) ‘You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.’ The church was never intended to be an end in itself; rather, it is called to reproduce & fulfil the Great Commission to make disciples. Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV), “All authority has been given to Me in heaven & on earth. Go therefore & make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father & of the Son & of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” Jesus’ words are to be listened to, obeyed & acted upon.  May God fill us with His Word & Spirit so we can obediently, effectively, boldly & skilfully make disciples.
 
Reproduction is an important goal for every living thing. We see this throughout the pages of the Bible. The Bible is full of reproductive language. God created humankind after His own image, & animals & plants to reproduce each after its own kind.  Humankind reflects something of God’s image, character & communicable attributes such as Rationality, Personality & Morality. Reproducing disciples is the result of choosing, training, & empowering men & women who will in turn reproduce themselves in others. It begins locally with the church & then can take place on a larger scale through reproduction of church plants regionally & internationally. We can be a part of a 21st century disciple making movement that will change our postmodern world for Christ.
 
Fruitfulness is a key goal for believers also seen in the language that Jesus used throughout the Gospels. Mark 1:16-20 (CSB), ‘As Jesus passed alongside the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon & Andrew, Simon’s brother, casting a net into the sea - for they were fishermen. “Follow me,” Jesus told them, “& I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets & followed Him.’ Christ’s call created a band of disciple-making men & women who were taught how to make other disciples. We choose to look up & ask for God’s help & Spirit’s empowerment in order to learn from God how to be fruitful making many new & maturing disciples.
 
Pray for your own discipleship. Leaning on God in prayer, worship & reading the Bible, allows His grace & favour to keep growing & reshaping in the image of Christ. A Big Question: Who am I presently discipling? We can influence others positively in their walk of faith. Be intentional about discipling others, & may He guide us to those whom we can help. Those who’ve recently said yes to following Jesus - may they have more than a conversion experience; may they learn to follow Jesus wholeheartedly in all areas of their lives. The ultimate goal of Disciple-making is ushering in the reign of Christ, His Lordship, over all of our lives, our Church, & through us to the world around us. May it be that Elim, as a Movement, will increasingly develop a discipleship culture which creates mature, rounded & whole followers of Christ. In our fellowship here in Telford, may we inspire others to follow the pathway of the Cross & discipleship leading to lasting fruitfulness, to personal & church-wide growth.
 
There are particular needs, circumstances or barriers which are prevent us being the disciple-makers we are called to be. God calls us to holiness, especially in relation to sex & the way we look at other people.  1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, ‘God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body & live in holiness & honour - not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God & His ways. Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives His Holy Spirit to you.’ These are solemn & serious words – we choose to submit to them & believe their importance. Being holy in all our conduct & in our inner thought life is an important goal for our lives, & an important component of discipleship.

We need Spirit-inspired revelation in order to be effective & fruitful in creating the ministries & whole-life discipleship culture which will lead to a spiritual renewal inside & outside our church. May our church culture be one that develops mature disciples, & easily inspires others to make disciples in a Christ-honouring way. May our foundations be sure & clearly aligned to the cornerstone, our Lord Jesus Christ; & may we be fully committed to the commandment to make disciples. Amen


God Bless
Pastor Leslie

 

e that has accumulated during the year, & properly confess & repent of those easily besetting sins. Advent, actually, is all about the Second Coming of Jesus, not His first Incarnation, coming as a baby in Bethlehem.

 

The Second Coming of Christ as King of kings & Lord of lords is drawing near. In the midst of the world’s celebrations, fleshy focuses & nostalgia – Christians have the chance to really point to the reality of His soon coming by how they live & approach Christmas in the four weeks of Advent. Perhaps it is something to consider as we move forward into 2018, could we do Advent, individually & as a Church, differently in order to proclaim the certainty of Christ’s Second Coming? Could we come to Christmas Day 2018 so light & free in Christ becauise we have effectively dealt with a lot of the baggage that accumulates, & because we have properly searched for the sins under the guidance of God’s Word & Spirit & nailed them to His Cross?

 

This would be a difficult challenge because we are so conditioned by the world that we naturally conform to its pattern for the Christmas period, instead of being transformed & renewed by the Spirit & Word. Traditionally, the Church began its celebrations on Christmas Day & held 12 days of celebration up to January 5. January 6 then was Ephiany celebrating Christ’s revelation to the rest of the world, the visit of the Three Wise Men from the East, & His later baptism by John the Baptist. The twelve days were the darkest period outside in the Northern Hemisphere, but the brightest inside because of the rejoicing that the Saviour came as a babe at Bethlehem. Instead of the focus being so much on family & children, as the world pushes on us, it was on Christ & His salvation & how that then spoke to & influenced our families & children about faith & discipleship.

 

Finally, it may be because of the Prince who reigns in the world, Satan, a dark & destructive prince – that this period of the year after Christmas Day, for me, is often the hardest with the greatest spiritual battle. I remember a good Christian friend saying that, for him, it was so. I don’t know about you, but I find that the world’s pull is strongest at this time of year. It seems, again maybe only for me, that the powers of darkness are exalted & especially vicious as they seek to turn people’s attention away from Christ. May God sustain us, strengthen & give us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen


Pastor Leslie

 

 

 

 

 


Archive blog entries
Webpage icon Archive Blog Entries 06 2018
Webpage icon Archive blog entries 05 2018
Webpage icon Archive blog entries 04 2018
Webpage icon Archive blog entries 03 2018
Webpage icon Archive blog entries 02 2018
Webpage icon Archive blog entries 12 2017
Webpage icon Archive blog entries 11 2017
Webpage icon Archive blog entries 10 2017
Webpage icon Archive blog entries 09 2017
Webpage icon Archive blog entries 08 2017
Webpage icon Archive blog entries 07 2017
Webpage icon Archive blog entries 06 2017
Webpage icon Archive blog entries - 05 2017
Webpage icon Archive blog entries - 04 2017
Webpage icon Archive blog entries - 03 2017
Webpage icon Archive blog entries - 02 2017
Webpage icon Archive blog entries - 01 2017
Webpage icon Archive blog entries - 12 2016
Webpage icon Archive blog entries - 11 2016
Webpage icon Archive blog entries - 10 2016
Webpage icon Archive blog entries - 09 2016
Webpage icon Archive blog entries - 08 2016
Webpage icon Archive blog entries - 07 2016
Webpage icon Archive blog entries - 06 2016
Webpage icon Archive blog entries - 05 2016
Printer Printable Version