Kayla Jean Mueller was born on August 14, 1988. She was an American human rights activist and humanitarian aid worker from Prescott, Arizona. She was also a Christian. In just a few short years she worked in India with Tibetan refugees, worked with the international solidarity movement in Palestine and helped African refugees in Israel.
Last month we looked at what it means to pray “Your kingdom come” from the book of Nehemiah. Seeing God’s kingdom come is right at the heart of God’s agenda for us as a church. It begins with prayer, but it also moves us to action. So where do we start? Nehemiah prays, but then he moves straight on to asking.
The prayer Jesus taught us to pray says famously, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done”. By our prayers we can be part of God building His Kingdom – seeing God’s people, in God’s place, enjoying God’s blessing and rule.
The beginning of a New Year makes many of us look to the future with hopes and dreams. With Christ we have the most incredible tomorrow which transforms our view of today. I want to share about a change of title of our building fund to reflect our hopes and what we build for today and tomorrow, picking up a theme from Nehemiah. I believe there are some deep truths that God wants to teach us about his kingdom.
It may surprise you that I still wrestle with what it means to be a church.
I’m not sure I ever will stop wrestling. However, recently we’ve discussed our steady growth and how can we have a big front door (to allow people to come in and become part of us) and yet keep a small back door (so people want to stay with us rather than leave).
One thing I am aware of is how easy it is to be in a crowd and feel utterly alone, our church needs to be a place where no-one stands alone.
As a leadership team, we are passionate about equipping believers for their mission to the world, their ministry in the church, and above all, their maturity in Christ.
As Paul says, our calling is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12-13, NRSV)
God led me some time ago to this simple vision statement ‘Engaging with God, His People and His World'. It unites us not only in our direction and aim as a Church, but also is for every individual and ministry within the Church.
When God knitted you together in your mother’s womb, designing and moulding you with wonderful complexity, beauty and uniqueness, He had more in mind for your life than simply filling a gap. We are not gap fillers as if our design doesn’t matter. We are moulded for a purpose.
For my wife’s recent birthday treat we visited Manchester Art Gallery, a wonderful place. There are a lot of Pre-Raphaelite paintings on display, including some by Holman Hunt, the artist famous for his picture of ‘The Light of the world’. On this visit another of his paintings, 'The Scapegoat', caught my eye.
In the last few weeks plant pots have appeared on the window sills of our house. In each one a seed was planted, and now infant plants have pushed up through the compost. The beginnings of tomatoes, cucumbers and leeks, amongst others. I look forward to eating the fruit of my gardening-wife’s labours later in the year.