Posted by: Carey Memorial Baptist Church, Kettering | December 2, 2019

The Strong Word – December/January 2019

 

I was surprised recently with the number of people who went to Japan to support the English Rugby team when they found themselves in the final. Perhaps the best example was the player whose twin brother went to Tokyo to offer his support. He just had to be there.

This sort of thing happens most weekends, when supporters travel many miles to watch their team play and offer support and encouragement from the stands. Many would not consider watching the match on TV, despite it being warmer and cheaper! They must go.

They must show their support, in victory or in failure. They will be there.

We are just about to enter the Christmas season when we celebrate, the coming of “Emmanuel”, God with us. That is what, for me, it is all about. God chose to leave the warmth of heaven and come to live amongst us on earth, beginning in a cold stable, continuing in an insignificant town of Nazareth and ending on a lonely, exposed Cross- so he could support us and be with us. He just had to be with us, he could not stay away from our lives.

Jesus arriving on Earth meant the days of issuing commands on tablets of stone to Moses on a mountain top are over. Now the words of God are going to be written on our hearts by the presence of the spirit of Jesus in our lives if we invite him into our hearts, he is there to support and bless us.

Christmas is the sign things have changed. God is with us and that changes everything.

(If God is for us who can be against us?) So are we going to share the good news and welcome the support that comes to us in the form of a baby wrapped in strips of cloth?

This is the Good News that we share at this time of the year.

To me it is such a shame the Good News is so well hidden behind the tinsel, the wrapping and all the trappings of the season. Many will miss it altogether as presents and parties, food and drink obscure the real reason we stop the normal cycle of our lives to take a break.

But this is not just a Christmas message, it is one that we can take into all 366 days of 2020, as we celebrate the God who is with us, offering daily support, protection and advice. The Angels may well be heard singing:- Glory to God in the highest and peace to man on earth!

A Happy Christmas and peaceful New Year to all Carey friends.

 

Posted by: Carey Memorial Baptist Church, Kettering | November 2, 2019

The Strong Word – November 2019

 

Richard Of York Gained Battles In Vain…such a sentence enables me, and many others, to remember the colours of the rainbow. Maybe you have your own way? There are similar ways to remember the order and the number of planets between the Sun and Pluto! Useful jogs to our memory.

As we move into November, remembering is usually a significant factor in our nation and churches, culminating on the 11th with public Acts of Remembrance at 11.00am when silence is respected in many places.

All this, with the poppy worn by most during this time, is a help to us remembering the sacrifice made by many in two world wars of the last century, as well as other significant wars since. We recall men and women who gave their lives, and some their health, so that we can live in peace.

Remembering is important as it gives meaning and purpose to our today. I suppose like me, when you hear of the latest fighting in the world, or hear our Politicians speak, or note the behaviour of neighbours and friends, not forgetting our own attitudes and actions, we realise we do need to stop to remember the sacrifice of others.

As Christians we regularly remember the sacrifice of Jesus who counted his life as nothing but gave himself up to death on a cross so that our sins, our wrong thoughts and deeds can be forgiven and the community in which we live in has the chance and hope of a better future. A person once observed to me, it is necessary to become a Christian every day!

Every day we must remember what Jesus has done for us, what he is doing and align our lives with him through prayer, our Bible reading and fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It was Jesus who said, “greater love has no one than this, that they should lay down their life for their friend” John 15.13.

May we truly remember, and may it make a difference to our today, and the today’s of those around us.

 

Posted by: Carey Memorial Baptist Church, Kettering | October 13, 2019

The Strong Word – October 2019

 

Have you ever tried to buy a diary in August or early September? Let me tell you, it is almost impossible, unless you want an “Academic Diary” beginning with the new academic year in September/October. One realises just how orientated our lives are to new starts and new years beginning in the autumn. Since our school days it has always been thus.

So as we open our October Magazine, we too have a sense of New Year, new starts, new things. Our meetings are already back to “normal” again for a year, and our plans and hopes seem to fit the Academic year rather than the calendar one.

My mind turns to promises made in Scripture. Jesus tells us he is with us always even to the end of the age, while the famous Joshua Chapter One encourages us to be courageous and confident as we move into new territory.

Josh 1.9 for instance says:-“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and Courageous, do not be afraid and do not be discouraged, for the Lord is with you wherever you go”.

Surely, even more than December/January this is the time of the year when we recommit ourselves to another year of service to our Lord who has called us to work in Carey Church. It is a time when we prayerfully look forward and seek the guidance and blessing on the future here in Carey Church.

Like the Israelites heading to the Promised Land we recognise we are at a crossroads, seeking the ways of God amongst us. A famous verse of faith and hope is found in Jeremiah 29.11 when God says:- For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future.

These are God’s words to us in these days as we move forward in faith and trust, to see and taste the salvation of the Lord. May we expect great things from God as we attempt great things for him. Happy New Year!

 

Posted by: Carey Memorial Baptist Church, Kettering | August 4, 2019

The Strong Word Augus/September 2019

 

Anxiety and stress are issues many people are dealing with these days. I have seen it suggested a quarter of all doctors appointments are about such issues. So it is not surprising to find the scriptures to be ready for such an epidemic with good advice.

The phrase:- “do not be afraid”, or “fear not” appears in the Bible 365 times, one for each day of the year. (I do wonder who counted them and why, and are we allowed to be more worried in a leap year?) Jesus himself in the Sermon on the Mount is good to us when he tells us:- Do not to be anxious about anything……for your heavenly Father knows…..

These are encouraging words to us all, adding to such famous words from the familiar Psalm 23, that even in the valley of the shadow of death we should fear no evil for the Lord is with us…Or Ps 31, my times are in your hands O Lord …

In some ways it is not surprising anxiety has risen as God has been slowly excluded from our world. There is no longer the weekly respite of Sundays being special and different when families gel. Shops are open and the biggest sporting events always take place on a Sunday leaving many with little chance to be still, to step aside and find rest, to enjoy the still waters and the green pastures the Lord wishes to lead us and bless us in.

We cannot save the world, but over these next few weeks, before the busyness of the autumn season kicks in we can begin to practice what we believe. To trust in God for those things we cannot change and take time out, to know his peace and presence in our lives. Maybe delete an engagement so we have some space to seek first God’s Kingdom, to enjoy Sunday worship and fellowship at Carey, or wherever we may be, to see our stress levels reduce and to be those people others want be.

The doctors tell us to reduce our blood pressure we have to change our diet and behaviour, it is no different in the spiritual realm, to change our behaviours and prayer lives will reduce the pressure. As with a diet there is no quick fix.

May we taste and see the Lord is Good.

A Happy August and September to all readers.

 

Posted by: Carey Memorial Baptist Church, Kettering | June 2, 2019

The Strong Word – June 2019

 

A friend of mine was emailed the other day by his boss asking a simple question, “Why did you fill your company car up with petrol on a Sunday?” My friend’s response was blunt, pointing out he had an early start on Monday, and as he is not as young as he was, pushing the company car down the M11 is not as easy for him these days, he finds a tank of petrol to be so much better!

For me such a story sums up the message of Pentecost, a Christian festival we celebrate this year on Sunday 9th June. We are reminded of the day the early church received God’s Spirit for the first time. The disciples were warned to wait in Jerusalem for the spirit to arrive, and not go out on their own without the Spirit. They would not be safe in the world or as effective if they did not have God’s Spirit.

We are not called to push, pull or carry the church, though sometimes it can feel like it! We are called instead, like the early disciples, to be filled with the Spirit, even though we can leak like a colander, we can and must seek God’s Spirit to do God’s work. Because we need the power and protection the Spirit offers to us, we also need the fellowship with God that prevents us from ever feeling alone, and the confidence that comes from knowing we are doing his will.

I was out and about last Autumn, when I noticed a group of people struggling to push the family car down the main road, the youngest and smallest of them was doing the steering, obviously made sense. It looked hard work and many were overtaking, and smiling at them!

I do hope we never find ourselves in that position at Carey, trying to keep the church on the move with our own ideas, strength and resources and for others to be smiling at us! Let us ask God for his spirit, his presence and his power, the God who answers such prayers. See in Luke 11, after the parable of the man going to his friend at midnight for some food, Jesus says, we should Ask, Seek and Knock, for God will certainly give his Holy Spirit to those who ask.

Especially now we have heard from Colin Pye, may we have the power and presence of the spirit amongst us on Pentecost Sunday and every day at Carey. May the Lord bless us indeed with the presence and the wisdom of his Spirit.

Posted by: Carey Memorial Baptist Church, Kettering | May 3, 2019

The Strong Word – May 2019

 

As Christians we live in the light of the blessing of the resurrection of Jesus. No longer is Jesus limited to one place but is available as Lord and friend to all 8 billion people alive today, in every place on the earth. (Even on the moon or Mars should you choose to go there!)

This is a miracle indeed, Jesus has conquered death and now walks with us and talks with us along life’s narrow way, so the chorus tells us! He has done his bit, the heavy lifting, and given his life as a sacrifice for our sin. He calls us to respond, to believe and trust in him.

This quarter’s magazine from Operation Agri has a note from a young person who struggles with the pressure of exams in early summer. She quotes the verse from Proverbs 3.5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding… and he will make your paths strait.”

It is a verse we have mentioned before. The student goes on to remind us of the value of such a promise. She may not know or understand, but she can trust in the God who conquers sin and death. She will believe in his love and goodness for the small as well as the big issues in life, to discover by sheer experience, a trust in the Lord that does work for our best interests. He is the one who makes all things work together for good for those who love and trust in him.

Surely this is what putting the truth of the resurrection into practice involves, allowing God to be God, abandoning our life and times to him, confident he will lead, guide and make things work for our ultimate good and his everlasting purpose. It is certainly not easy and does not just “happen”, but it is a daily exercise we must do if we are to live the victorious lives promised in his word.

We often take on new activities and eating habits to improve our physical health, why would we not lean, rely and trust in God as spiritual exercises to increase our faith, hope and trust in him? We will see our spiritual lives change shape for the better just as those who join weightwatchers see a change. Like any slimmer others will also note the change! They will comment and perhaps even be a little bit jealous!

The truth of Easter is for us and for everyday, may it be so in us.

 

Posted by: Carey Memorial Baptist Church, Kettering | April 1, 2019

The Strong Word – April 2019

 

A few years ago, in the 1960’s, a scientist called Stephen Morrison became quite annoyed with the Christian Church particularly its confidence over the Resurrection of Jesus.

Morrison decided to conduct a thorough scientific investigation of the resurrection stories, to prove once and for all the Christian faith is a sham. If he could disprove the Easter story, he would cause the whole Christian message to unravel. He felt he would have done the human race a great favour!

So he began his investigation, looking at issues like who could have moved the stone in front of the tomb and looked at the disciples with their new found confidence after Easter Sunday, with all the risks they took in the Acts of the Apostles preaching the good news of Jesus rising from the dead, and forgiving sin.

Instead of proving the Bible was wrong he ended up believing it, becoming a Christian himself, the evidence he amassed was too great to deny the resurrection was true. Morrison called his book “Who moved the Stone” because he came to see that the only reasonable explanation of all that happened on the first Easter Sunday and beyond is that it is all indeed true!

As I say he became a Christian, joined the church and never found any reason over the rest of his life to disprove his conclusions. He had what we would call a relationship with Jesus himself.

As we come to Easter this year, read again the stories of Holy Week, the events of Good Friday and Easter Day, as we follow through with the resurrection appearances, we owe it to ourselves to seriously consider the truth or otherwise of such accounts.

We can then discount it all as rubbish, go our own way, making up our own beliefs as we see fit, OR we must believe it which puts us in the position of having to act accordingly by putting our faith in Jesus Christ, following and serving him all our days as did Stephen Morrison.

I believe the story of Easter as set out in the Gospels. Do you?

 

Posted by: Carey Memorial Baptist Church, Kettering | February 28, 2019

The Strong Word – March 2019

 

We are about to enter the 40 days of Lent, on the 6th of March. For Many Christians this is a time of serious reflection and a time of personal austerity. If you enter a Catholic or High Anglican church during the Lent season all Icons will be covered up and the church will look quite austere!

Many Christians will eat less meat, drink less, miss meals and pray more.

They will aim to follow in the footsteps of Jesus as he moves towards Good Friday, seeking to serve rather than be served, and listening more to the quiet voice of God.

For us Baptists, we have not been as strict over the Lent season as others. Often it is Pancake Tuesday we celebrate then pay little attention to the season until Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday.

A Bible verse that I think sums up Lent for the busy world of 2019 is found in Mark 8v34, when Jesus is considering the ultimate sacrifice he is going to have to make.

Jesus says:-

“If anyone would follow me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it and whoever loses their life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel will save it, what good is it to gain the whole world but forfeit ones soul?”

I think this puts Lent in context as we consider once again what is truly important and where our real values lie. I think it does take the full 40 days to come to terms with such words and to apply them in our lives.

Maybe one of the house groups held this month might help us be more serious in our thinking and praying?

May God Bless us as we follow Jesus, not the world!

 

Posted by: Carey Memorial Baptist Church, Kettering | February 16, 2019

The Strong Word – February 2019

 

Firstly a belated happy New Year to all readers of Carey News!

I suppose any New Year resolutions we made are well behind us by now! After all it is February and they reckon by the 3rd week in January most give up on their high hopes of less drink, less food and more exercise or are you one of the good ones?

It is the time of year when many consider a wider detox, a spring clean of homes and garages. I was reading of a number of people who have had an enforced “detox” over the New Year. Over 100 people lost all their possessions in a fire in a storage unit in South London.

Helen Chandler-White was one such person, when she could no longer afford her house. Helen put everything into storage, keeping just a few clothes to wear until she could get sorted. She went to live with mum and dad, but on 31st December 2018 the storage unit burnt down, everything went. Everything!

She speaks for many when she says she is totally shocked and realises how her stuff, her things, including many childhood trinkets and old school things, family heirlooms and the like, give her an identity. She feels they make up who she is. With just a few clothes to her name she has to start again. It has been traumatic. Much cannot be replaced, only a small amount of her stuff was insured, but insurance cannot bring back a memento. She says she feels less of a person.

But Scripture tells us we are worth more than our possessions, our lives are what has value to God not our “stuff” or the extent of who we are and what we own. Matthew 6 v25 tells us our life is more than the food we eat and the clothes we wear. Jesus reminds us we should not let worry and concern about such things cause us undue stress. God is our Father and he really does care for us as much as he cares for the birds of the air, do we not pray – give us this day our daily bread?

I hope as we continue our journey through 2019 we shall renew our confidence in our heavenly Father, and put our trust in him for the known and unknown cares and issues we may face. He promised:- “I am with you, even to the end of the age”, may we know that is true as we experience and know his grace and mercy in our lives and families. Perhaps we will even be able to manage with a bit less stuff too!

 

Posted by: Carey Memorial Baptist Church, Kettering | November 3, 2018

The Strong Word – November 2018

 

It is November, it is 2018 – we must remember. One hundred years have passed since the War to end all Wars finally finished, after four long, difficult years for many in Europe and beyond.

Like you, I was not present 100 years ago, but I have heard stories from those who were. The TV has also been busy telling us more tales of heroism and sadness.

I may not have been present during the 1939-45 War, but again I have heard stories from parents and grandparents and seen the results of warfare. There were bombed out buildings in Birmingham right into the1960’s, and I remember in 1965 going to see the new Coventry Cathedral. Then entering into the shell of the old Cathedral and imagining the destruction that must have come upon that whole city as bombs dropped from above.

It is good the destroyed Cathedral remains for all to see and for all to remember. But I do ask myself how could this be? It was all only a few years ago, in familiar places, and from people who were our near neighbours.

The danger is when we do not remember, when we do not pass on the stories and so open the way for it to all happen again. But we must acknowledge War remains a familiar experience for many in the 21st Century and that should not be so.

Jesus always told us not to hate our brother (or sister) and to love our enemies. It is not easy we need His help to do so. We must each be channels of peace so that war remains in the past for as many people as possible in 2018.

Is this the sort of prayer we should pray?

Loving God, you sent your Son to bring your peace to the world. Help us to work for your peace in our home, our schools, our towns and our world. Protect, we ask, all who experience War and the effects of War. We pray for protection for those sent to war zones and we ask Lord that those families whose loved ones have been lost to War may know your consolation and your peace, a peace that passes understanding. We pray our prayers though Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace and who is our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

 

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