Wednesday, 12 December 2012

What is our focus?

Christmas is less than two weeks away. Yet again I have to ask, where has the year gone? I can't believe how quickly the last 12 months have gone. Yes I know it is a sign of growing older that time becomes compressed. The year or so has gone so quick yet so many events have taken place.

In the last 14 months we have seen two amazing young people leave this Earth to take their place with their saviour. Some lovely friends have left and returned to their homelands, taking a piece of our hearts with them. New people have come in and added themselves to our community, some because they have come to know the grace, love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ

This is our focus.

I have been so challenged lately by the apostle Paul's words in Romans 9:3 where he is basically saying that he is so desperate for his Jewish community to come to know Christ that he would be willing to accept separation himself if that were possible. Think of the impact and consequences of those words for a minute. Those are some pretty big feelings that Paul is pouring out there. This is the same Paul who can seem quite harsh and focused on the personal purity and growth of followers of Christ. He lets his feelings for his fellow Jews overflow with desperation as he sees them following the same legalistic road that he once travelled.

My challenge for us as NCLC is, are we more focused on our own personal walk with Christ (which IS essential) than we are to see our friends and our world saved from a life without Christ and a lost and dying eternity? Do we have a bit of Paul's desperation in us? We don't have to be alienated from Christ, but we may have to give up some of our "me" time.

This coming year our challenge as a church community is to keep our focus on the lost and to also grow more Christlike.

We will be making some changes in the new year that will allow us to move forward and see our communities impacted with Christ.

Over the past eighteen months we have bought our own office space and moved from doing everything in our dining room. We have also moved Sunday venue three times, ending up in our venue, the place we now call home. We have brought structure, policies and procedures to our staffing, finance and HR areas. This has all helped set a great foundation for the organisational side of our community. Despite the tragedies of lost loved ones, people leaving the community, "God has crowned the year with His favour."

Now it is time to continue our forward momentum.

The church leadership is being very intentional about looking at all aspects of our community to see what has stagnated and what is working. We will be reintroducing some things, leaving some things behind and starting some fresh initiatives. All done within the boundaries and culture of who we are as NCLC and with the question in mind...

"Will it MAKE and GROW healthy DISCIPLES?"

I am excited to see what God will bring in 2013.

But we still have a few more weeks to serve the purpose of God in 2012. Our Christmas presentation is not just a nice service at Christmas, it is an opportunity to present the good news of Jesus to those that don't know Him. On the 23rd December we have the Cottey's back with us from Tanzania. Then our last service of 2012 on 30th December at 5pm will be a great night of worship and baptisms. If you haven't been baptised, don't put it off any longer, obey what the word of God has told us to do. What better time to be baptised in water than as we end one year and head into the next.

Are we prepared, as Paul was, to give up something of ourselves in order to bring the lost to Christ. This is our challenge. Will you join me?

See you Sunday.
Teesside 11am
Newcastle 6pm.

Merry Christmas

Jon, Dee,Théa, Imani & Judah Cook
(not forgetting our newest addition to the family, Breck our black labrador puppy)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Christmas musings

Today I am taking part in my Tuesday ritual. Head to the Metrocentre in Gateshead, go to Starbucks, grab a coffee and study for my next preaching/ leadership night/ or whatever my next speaking engagement happens to be. I love sitting here reading, writing and watching the world go by. Today is no different, except for the fact that people seem to be walking a little quicker, carrying a few more bags and are probably slightly more hassled than usual.
Its the Christmas season.
I am watching the sales people on the stall in the middle of the walkway trying to attract potential customers and get them to stop. There are many refusals, some polite with a smile, some not so polite (usually pointing to their watch as they refuse) and some just completely ignore the attempts of the retail staff. How many refusals must they get in a day, yet they still continue on with a smile!
Christmas can get so busy with all the shopping, the parties and the preparation for the big day that we can forget the importance of this period that we, as followers of Christ, are in.
This is the time we celebrate His entering into the mess of humanity to put the finishing touches to God's master plan for our reconciliation back into the family in place. We are not just celebrating the birth of Christ but also, in the words of the carol
Born that we no more may die, Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth.
This plan wasn't an afterthought of God but it was put together before the foundations of the earth were laid. His intention for humanity has always been to bring us back to himself despite our rebellion and disobedience. Christmas reminds us that God is good and He thoughts toward us are good.
Christmas reminds us that we have an intricate part to play in this plan. God chose Mary to carry Jesus, Joseph to take care of Mary, shepherds to spread the good news, the Wise men to give credibility to His birth and us to be witnesses to why His birth is vital for mankind.
In the busyness of Christmas don't be too busy to share with you friends, family and work colleagues why we, as Christians, love Christmas. It is because it shows Jesus' amazing love, God's incredible grace and the all encompassing fellowship of the Holy Spirit towards us.
If a small group of sales people can keep asking, despite rejection after rejection, can we, who have the very words of eternal life in us, keep talking to people about this Jesus in a manger.
Have a blessed Christmas.
Remember, God has crowned your year with favour.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad