Saturday, 22 October 2016

Encounters with God

"Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth."…
Genesis 1:26-28

We've just begun a new sermon series in our Sunday morning services called "Encounters with God". You can listen to it in the audio section at Bridgeman Downs Baptist Church, link on this page. What make the Christian God, the God of the Bible, so distinctively unique to gods of other religious faiths is the fact of His desire for a loving relationship with the people that He created to live on this earth. We are told that we are created in the image of God - when He says in "Our" image, that word refers to the Trinity- God our Father, Jesus Christ His Son, and His indwelling Holy Spirit. We are human, not gods, yet through Christ we have the capability of assuming His likeness and receiving His Spirit. This is always empowering and life-giving, a source of capability, comfort and witness. It is never ignorant or blind as some non-believers would attest.

This relationship is epitomized by the fact that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to assume earthly identity and live among mankind. Jesus was "despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain." (Isaiah 53:3). He was ultimately falsely accused, tried and executed. At the exact time of His death the earth shook with a tremendous earthquake and the symbolic curtain which hung in the temple, signifying the separation of God and mankind, was ripped in two from top to bottom. Jesus had made a way to God. After three days in the tomb, Jesus rose again and was seen by many thousands before His disciples witnessed his ascension to Heaven. The disciples wrote inspired accounts of his life and witnessed throughout many lands, forming the early church.

The Bible, God's inspired words to mankind, tells us that Jesus is still interceding in Heaven to God for each one of us.

There are many, many, accounts throughout the Bible of encounters that people had with Jesus. Jesus showed love and compassion and understanding to everyone that He met. Today at Bridgeman Church we looked at the story of Zacchaeus, a tax collector, a many despised and ostracized, yet singled out for friendship by Jesus. The story is found in the Bible book of Luke, chapter 19. Jesus befriended the rich and poor, sick and disabled, learned scholars, outcasts, simple working folk, zealots, prostitutes, criminals, mentally ill, religious leaders, soldiers and so many others beside. In every story where Jesus meets someone, that person is always changed for the better.

Why not read some of the gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke or John (found in the New Testament of the Bible) and encounter Jesus today? He wants to have a personal relationship with you.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Operation Christmas Child

Opertion Christmas Child - shoebox packed. Hundreds of shoeboxes at church this morning ready to be sent to children who have little throughout the world. It's fun to do.
For details on how you can be involved next year…/operation-christmas-c…/

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Changing the world

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”   Margaret Mead

This famous quote by anthropologist Margaret Mead is often used to inspire individuals to seek success in their areas of involvement. It's certainly true that small numbers of people can influence the majority and instigate change. This may or may not always be a good thing.

Sometimes a small group can promote interesting cultural changes, as in the case of a group of artists in mid-nineteenth century France who shocked the established artistic scene with their revolutionary style of painting. Controversial in their own time, Renoir, Monet, Manet and others who established the Impressionist style are now household names and lasting icons of the art world.

Yet all it took was a very small group of people to gain political power and control in one of Europe's most civilized and cultured nations and within two decades this small group of militants used the resources at their disposal to wreak havoc on the nations which surrounded them. The Nazi party was responsible for some of the worst atrocities ever known to mankind: the holocaust and deaths of millions of innocent civilians.

We must tread carefully then, when being asked to commit to movements, political projects, agencies for social and cultural change. Sometimes a small group can be extremely vocal, harness media support and try to convince the general populace that everyone supports their cause, when this may not actually be the case.

As Christians, we follow the original perfect small group. Christ and his group of twelve disciples really did change the world.  Following Christ's death and resurrection the twelve apostles (Judas Iscariot having been replaced by Matthias) obeyed Christ's final commission to go into the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). The Christian gospel has endured over twenty centuries and has spread throughout the world, gaining millions of converts of every nation, ethnic group and language. The work of the disciples goes on.

Studies have demonstrated that it is by fellow-shipping in small groups that Christians grow and develop a strong church community as well as developing personal skills and knowledge. Coming together in small groups allows an intimacy not found in the wider church community, particularly in a large congregation. Participants have the chance to pray for one another, learn together and support each other through difficult experiences.

In the western world church communities are often viewed as irrelevant. Yet the church still has the opportunity to be what it was always designed to be- a source of both conviction and hope for the wider community. We in the church should be challenged to live so differently to the world in which we live that the love, peace and hope which is central to the Christian life cannot fail to be attractive to those around us. 

I am not sure of Margaret Mead's religious views. Yet whenever I hear or read her famous quote, I immediately think of Christ and his ragtag bunch of twelve hand-picked followers, who, in the face of the mighty Roman empire, proclaimed a message that changed the world.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Something fun to pack in a shoebox

Made my first ever balloon ball today- it's to go in my Samaritan's Purse shoebox (Operation Christmas Child) The balls are easy to make and fold flat to pack or post. You simply put a  balloon through the opening before inflating it, twist the neck of the balloon and tuck under the flap, no need to tie off the balloon. It can then be easily deflated.

 Many thanks to Emma Jones for posting this useful charity resource.

Pattern from

If you are interested in the Samaritan's purse shoebox appeal details, including what to pack and drop off points, can be found at…/operation-christmas-c…/