Saturday, 1 December 2012

Rebecca's word - freedom

on Sunday 25th November Rebecca Burgess brought a word from God for us:- God is going to do huge things in OCF which we're all going to be a part of. Exodus 14 & 15 God wants to bring freedom to us (like He did to the Israelites). He guides us and protects us (13 v21) He is in front and behind. 14 v10 - God wants to move us out of safety (the places we've been in for years that we've got used to - our 'miseries') Lord set us free and we will move towards you! The next plan God has for us:- 14 v13 = key "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today." God doesn't want us to be afraid but wants us to stand firm because He will set you free. God fights for us. Engage with God. They walked through the sea!!! that's amazing! v28 Not one of the Egyptian pursuers survived. Not one part will survive from what we are being freed from. The people feared the Lord and put their trust in Him (15 v8) We must make ourselves accountable for this to be a turning point word. How will we respond?

Monday, 20 August 2012

OCF 2012-2013 worship

God is calling us to a season of worship - He called us to set this year aside to worship 4 years ago and over the last few months he has sent people to us who either love worship or have experience in worship leading. Coincidence? Why is God leading us into this worship season? Our Sunday talks will give some understanding so listen to the podcasts from September 2nd 2012 but here are a few key points:- - Closer to God: when we are worshipping all other things fade away and our perspective is renewed - we will experience a deeper and more vital union with the maker of the universe. It says of the wise men in Matthew 2 v10 that when they saw the star above the place where Jesus was (before they even met Jesus Himself) 'they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy'. Worship restores the forgotten altars and brings a union with God that submits our circumstances, fears, future and hopes to the one who knows our paths. - Closer together: when we are worshipping our union with each other gets closer because we see each other with God's eyes and love each other with God's heart. Worship is best as a corporate encounter with the living God - just as the apostles experienced Him in the upper room in Acts 2 together, God wants us to know the power of His transforming presence in homes, in Sunday morning events, in families, on campus and off campus. Worship brings us together because where the presence of God is then all bitterness and resentment and tiny quibbles with each other disappear. The wise men were rich and powerful and knowledgeable and yet when they saw Jesus in the stable 'they fell down and worshipped him' as one. - Closer to others: when we are worshipping our love for others increases and we capture the heart of God for those who are lost and in need. When we are connected to the compassionate One then we become compassionate ones and our eyes are lifted from our own circumstances to others around us that are crying out for an encounter with God (whether they know it or not) - worship turns us into missionaries and witnesses to the presence that we have experienced. Vital union fills us with His presence that spills over and radiates out to those we come into daily contact with. This coming year we will be worshipping in how we live our lives, in homes and in the Boiler Room (in the centre of the community God has called us to) and in our corporate gatherings and in those places the enemy says we cannot worship we will worship - this is a year of bold and brave encounters with God.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Donkeys or horses?

Are you riding on a donkey or are you riding on a horse?!? Yesterday my youngest daughter Grace went to Southport beach and went for a ride on a donkey called Toby. She had a good time but when she got off she said, in a slightly disappointed tone, "It's ALMOST a horse". It made me think about salvation and our walk with God. Are we on something that is 'almost salvation' or 'almost a walk with God' but not quite? If Grace was to shout out half way down the beach "Look at me riding on my horse" we'd shout back "No you're not! You're on a donkey". It's easy to see how younger children could possibly mistake a donkey for a horse - they have 4 legs, a tail and you sit on them. But those of us who are more knowledgable about the animal kingdom realise that a donkey is NOT a horse. So many people think they're going to heaven on something which is ALMOST salvation - but it isn't. And so many of us are going through our days on something which is ALMOST a walk with God but isn't. A donkey is only half way there - and being half way there is the same as not being there at all. Grace will ride on a horse at some point this holiday and she will be able to get off and say "Now that IS a horse!" In Acts 4 v11 Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, stood up and said "This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Saturday, 28 April 2012

I am what I am

John Newton once said, "I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world. But still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am." I have had a busy time (who hasn't? everyone seems to live at 90 miles an hour these days!). I went for a job interview this week and was successful. Within the space of 10 minutes of being told I had the job my emotions spun from elation to fear to determination to doubt to hope to overwhelming confusion to peace! Then I remembered a verse that had sunk into my heart that week Psalm 62 verse 1 'My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I shall never be shaken.' By the grace of God we carry on, by the grace of God we face our fears, by the grace of God we believe our beliefs, by the grace of God we are who we are. Our souls NEED to rest in God and I praise God that He is the rock, the fortress that will not be shaken. When the fortress of Jericho fell it was because God was on the outside. We will not fall because God is on the inside and He is our fortress that will not be shaken - no matter who is walking around the outside shouting and threatening. We are God's children and we can find rest in His arms - are you anxious? fearful? feeling shaken? Then find rest in nothing else except God - get into a place where His presence is as soon as you can. Worship Him so He is enthroned within, pray to Him and notice His attention, read His words and let them sink into your heart as an anchor and a truth that will challenge the lies and the doubts that jabber, fellowship with believers and find those who can connect you again to the one perspective that matters - closer to God.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Marj Conway

Memorial Service – 28.03.12
Romans 8 v31 to v39

Marj was an amazing person.

A devoted wife, a loving mum, a wonderful grandma, a good friend. Marj seemed to have the ability to love everyone.
All of us in this room and many more besides will have many wonderful memories of Marj because she was a wonderful person.

In the words Adrienne read out earlier on we see Paul saying to the church in Rome 'In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.'
Marj knew what it meant to be more than a conqueror – she was married to Dave for nearly 60 years!
And even in her last moments when she knew the end was close, she said to Sue and those around her - 'The Lord is my strength'

I personally had the privilege of knowing Marj, and her husband Dave, as part of Ormskirk Christian Fellowship and as neighbours for several years on Falkland in Birch Green.

Marj helped with the mums and toddlers at OCF for many years and turned up with Dave to make people feel welcome and chat to the many people who came along.

In the 1970s Marj had helped Dave to run the Monday club for children in Tuebrook in Liverpool with pastor Roy Hossack who was the man responsible for leading Dave and Marj into a personal relationship with Jesus.

In 2009, after nearly 60 years of marriage, it was discovered that Dave had liver cancer and amazingly Dave had 5 months of reasonable heath while Marj took care of him, making cooked breakfasts for him every morning and making garlic bread and pizza, which he suddenly took a liking to, last thing at night.

Dave went into Queens Street Hospice on the 27th August where he passed away peacefully in his sleep on the 1st September.

Marj lost a partner in evangelism at that time and yet it didn't stop her from witnessing and in the last weeks of her life she led a friend to the Lord in the home where she was staying.
Marj knew the good news of Jesus and wanted to share it with others just as she had done for years with Dave.

Earlier on in the passage we read from in Romans it says 'He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?'

For Marj and Dave the word 'all' meant everyone – everyone they met, everyone they had contact with, everyone in this room right now.

Jeremiah tells us that God has plans for us. Plans to proper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future & yet in Isaiah we also see that we all like sheep have gone astray, turned each one to his own way – we've done it ourselves and so often ignored God's plans and love.

When Dave gave his life to the Lord Marj was worried – she thought he'd gone off his rocker! Until she too found that same joy that Dave had found, the joy that Peter talks about in the Bible when he says 'Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade'

At the cross of Jesus Marj found a joy in knowing the freedom of new life in Jesus Christ and if she was here now she would be nodding and lifting up her hands and giving Him praise.

Marj was a determined and strong person and continued to go on holiday after Dave died including a trip to Malta with her good friend Thelma.

But I remember Marj as a dancer – she would perform dances at the clock tower in Ormskirk town centre with others from OCF as a witness to her saviour – a brave woman!

She loved to give God glory and had a strong prophetic voice in the church. Marj was a worshipper and Steve told me of how in the last few days he turned round to see his mother-in-law dancing and praising God with her hands in the air in a time of worship.

I loved Marj – she was a huge support and a wonderful friend to me and to so many others, and now she is dancing and worshipping face to face with her saviour,
but her biggest hope for those of us left behind would be that we ALL come into a living relationship with Jesus and find the strength that she found in Him.

Amazing Grace
How Sweet the Sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I'm found
Was blind but now I see

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Wendy's testimony

In OCF we are encouraging people to write out their stories of knowing Jesus and why they are Christians. Here is Wendy's testimony:-

'I started to lean on Jesus when I was 11. Starting at a huge and scary secondary school I was lonely, fearful and worried. I remember being given a Gideon’s bible, as all first years were, and the speaker suggested we read it every night. I always did as I was told then, so from that point on I started reading the bible nightly. In my worst times I would read and memorize the recommended verses for when ‘scared’ or ‘worried’ – they seemed to help.

At 14, confirmation classes helped to fill in some gaps and I made a decision to become a ‘LFC’ supporter – to Live For Christ with Love, Faith and Courage. Always the conformist I spent most of the next 20 years asking myself ‘what would Jesus do’ when faced with difficult or painful situations. The bible was always there for support, although whenever I turned to Jesus it was in times of trouble. Prayers were answered and comfort given, but Jesus for me, was on a pedestal and I turned to him only when really necessary – I didn’t like to bother him really!

It was when I started going to OCF that I began to realise Jesus was more than just a rescue package. He was with me 24/7 through good times as well as bad. He was someone to fall in love with, share my life with and adore. He was fast becoming a good friend as well as my saviour and I think Mark started to notice a change in me.
Ten years ago our marriage was in a bad place. A cross-roads. God stepped in and saved it. At the time Mark was an atheist but he became curious and offered himself up as a blank page – challenging the church to convince him we had a living God who wanted a full and loving relationship with him. The Fellowship came alongside, and one Alpha course later, Mark stood up in church and declared his faith. The transformation I witnessed in Mark, and the rescue of what had been a fragile marriage, spoke more to me about God’s love than any other life experience.

I have always believed in a God who protects and guides me; that has never been an issue. In my younger days He was the shaft of pure, brilliant light in what was often a very dark place. As time has passed His light has spread out – broadened and strengthened. It now flows over and covers every aspect of my life. There are still dark days and bad things will still happen, but I know Jesus will not let me go. He loves me. I am safe.'

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Trusting God Job 42 v12

By Samantha Reed from Proverbs 31 Ministries (sent to me by a friend so I'm publishing it here for all who read this blog as it encouraged me)

“Then Job replied to the LORD: ‘I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.’ …My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Job 42:12, 5 (NIV 1984)

Sometimes I don’t fully trust God has prepared good things. For me, for family, for friends, for others.

This past year was riddled with home foreclosures, loss of businesses, empty cupboards and gas tanks for those I love. They’ve faced suicide attempts, drug overdoses, passing of loved ones. Family and friends alike have endured marital affairs, children sentenced to jail, a second year of unemployment, cars breaking down, churches falling apart and the list goes on.

I’m not sure He can redeem the pain, recover what’s lost, heal all that’s broken. Can He truly fit the pieces of this past year into a hopeful future?

Right now, circumstances suggest otherwise. And if I rely on what circumstances currently imply, I’m apt to believe the answer is no, the Lord is not able.

But circumstances tell tales that are prone to change in a moment.

And the truth of the matter is: God never changes. His power to give a future and hope never change. His Word never changes. So when life weaves stories of doubt and hopelessness in God’s authority over circumstances, I reread accounts of His faithfulness and redemption. I refer back to the Truth…

All the while Job’s family, home, crops and health demolished…God was preparing to give him double of what was killed, stolen, lost and damaged.

The time Joseph was a slave and prisoner…God was planning for him to be second in command over Egypt.

When Ruth was a homeless, barren widow…God was creating a home in Boaz’s heart for her to be a wife, and mother, and great, great, great-grandmother to His Son.

As Lazarus was bound in grave clothes…God was forming the breath that’d give him new life.

The moment David laid down in adultery…God was laying the groundwork for him to rise up in repentance.

Every time Saul crucified Christians…God saw Paul preaching the crucified Christ.

With each strike that Sarai beat Hagar with…God saw Sarah beating her jealousy, pride and doubt with the birth of Isaac.

When Esther was an orphaned girl shaking in fear for her life…God made a way for His daughter to shake a kingdom and save His people.

As Rahab welcomed men into the shelter of her bed…God saw her sheltering the spies on her roof.

When Peter lost faith and denied Christ…God saw him bringing many to faith as he proclaimed Christ.

As Moses killed an Egyptian with his hands…God saw him chiseling the Ten Commandments with those same hands.

At the time Mary saw Jesus die…God saw Jesus resurrected and seated on His heavenly throne!

No matter what the dire, dreary circumstances, God turned each into a hopeful future.

Our key verse assures us, none of His plans can be thwarted. Despite what is happening in life, these stories of redemption and hope speak the truth. God can and will reverse, restore, revive and renew. He sees beyond the present troubles and is sparking a fire to light up the future with hope.

As we begin this New Year, let’s be on the lookout for His plans to come to pass. And trust Him that He can take any circumstance and use it for our good and His glory.

Dear Lord, I’m so grateful You not only see my future, but You’ve planned it. Thank You for Your faithfulness last year. And for recording these stories of lives You turned dreary pasts into hopeful futures. I ask that You do the same for my circumstances this New Year please. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.