Out of this world

September 13, 2019

Stop the world, I want to get off!

What with all the political shenanigans here in the UK and Europe, and with the general parlous state of the world, I’ve felt often like that in the past few weeks.

And now there appears to be somewhere I could go to. It’s called K2-18b, and, according to scientists, it may be able to support life. And it’s only 110 light years away, meaning it’d take a million or so years to get to.

It’s been argued that, if life is found outside our blue jewel of a planet, then Christianity becomes irrelevant because it’s only about God and human beings. Wrong, actually! The Bible explains that Jesus came and will come again to restore and reconcile all things, not just humanity. Even those dead places where life is unlikely or where life might exist but not as we know it.

A renewed universe, wouldn’t that be great? Then maybe we could stop the world to go explore somewhere new and exciting.

Fancy a trip to K2-18b?

About the Author:
James Henderson is an Elder and the European Superintendent for Grace Communion International.

T.H.I.N.K.

September 6, 2019

This week the last remnants of civility between the rival political factions in the UK parliament seemed to be lost. Parliamentary privilege means that MPs are free to say whatever they want during parliamentary procedure without fear of prosecution for slander. Yet the toxic language and personal attacks does not help and only serves to exacerbate the existing divisions.

It’s easy to open our mouths in anger. Our words are powerful, as a biblical writer noted, ‘The tongue has the power of life and death.’[1] One saying I was taught when I was young was, ‘Think before you speak’. Regretfully it is not one that I have always followed, but I have found that it pays dividends when applied. If we pause to think before speaking, we can ask ourselves if what we are going to say is:

 

 

 T – true?

H – helpful?

I – inspiring?

N – necessary?

K – kind?

I’ve found through experience that if it does not meet these criteria it is often better left unsaid. Perhaps if we pause to t.h.i.n.k. when we are angry our words can heal wounds instead of inflicting them.

 

About the Author:
Barry Robinson
is an Elder and the Ombudsman of the National Ministry Team of Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland. He is also a Pastoral Worker for Grace Communion International in Southern England (including the Greater London area).

 

[1] Proverbs 18:21

 

 

 

No ships ahead

August 30, 2019

“I see no ships”, said Horatio Nelson as he held his spy-glass to his blind eye while facing the enemy fleet, and within hours he had won a decisive victory at sea.

Turning a blind eye to undesirable news and carrying on regardless is seen often as a sign of strength in leadership, although it is not always a strategy that pays off. Leaders often have more faith in themselves than anything else.

Christians view faith in God as more important than our faith in ourselves. Faith in God involves a giving up or a sacrifice of self-trust. It’s a letting go of relying solely on oneself. When everything seems out of control and I don’t know who to believe or where to turn to, I turn to God.

I’d love it if more of the world’s leaders had faith in something other than in themselves or in their political persuasion, wouldn’t you?

A place to start, not just for them but for all of us, would be to have faith in God.

Put your trust in God.

About the Author:
James Henderson is an Elder and the European Superintendent for Grace Communion International.

Pending Deadline

August 23, 2019

First it was cold calls and now a flood of media adverts telling us the deadline on 29 August to claim because of the PPI scandal. The various leading institutions have set aside billions over the years to cover the compensation for their mis-selling.  It is a sad story of greed by sellers and misinformation given to customers who were not aware they were paying for something they neither asked for nor needed.

Is Christianity just another scandal? Is there any need for church beyond hatch, match and dispatch?

In a world run by money, it is easy to see the church as just another institution trying to make a profit, yet if you speak to Christians the reason we want people to know about Jesus Christ isn’t financial, but personal. Jesus has changed our lives for the better and given us hope in a world that often seems hopeless.

Unlike with PPI there is no pending deadline for you to call on your local church and experience the benefits it may bring.

About the Author:

David Gibbs in an Elder and Pastoral Worker for Grace Communion International in Northern England, the Midlands and Wales.

 

For goodness’ sake

August 16, 2019

If you were robbed or attacked in a public place, would anyone stop to help you? Until recently, the commonly held view was, it would be unlikely.

The so-called Bystander Effect demonstrated by psychologists in the 1960s states that individuals are less likely to offer help to a victim when other people are present.

But a group of researchers at Lancaster university have called this theory into question. After analysing hundreds of hours of CCTV footage of violent situations in the UK, Netherlands and South Africa, they saw that in 90% of cases, one or more bystanders stepped in to help. The more bystanders there were, the greater the likelihood that someone would intervene.

I find this puzzling. In an increasingly selfish and dangerous world, where does this outpouring of altruistic goodness come from? As a Christian, I find the answer to this and many other questions in the ancient wisdom of the Bible, which simply says “whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God”. [1]

Where does human goodness come from? The answer is, it’s a gift from God.

Don’t keep it to yourself.

About the Author:

Peter Mill is an Elder and the Missions Developer for the National Ministry Team of Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland.  He and his wife Jackie are the Pastoral Workers for GCI in Scotland and Ireland.

[1] James 1:17 (TLB)
Picture credit: ‘Beach tragedy bystanders’ by Greg Neate, licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

Is there hope?

August 9, 2019

A Cracked And Fragile Great Britain Flag

What are we supposed to do in a world gone crazy?

In the wake of the terrible tragedy of the shootings in Texas and Ohio the two main political parties in the US barely paused to mourn before attacking each other, the divisions between them now so deep that they cannot even be shocked into dialogue. In the UK, Parliament has never seemed so divided, and the institutions of democracy seem unable to cope with the challenges we face. Both countries are seemingly becoming less and less deserving of having the word ‘united’ in their names.

As someone who is a citizen of both countries, their current strife fills me with sadness. Where are we to find hope and salvation? Another Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill perhaps? For me, it is in Jesus Christ that I find hope: the answer to the world’s problems is not another political leader, but in finding our true spiritual leader.

If you despair at the state of the world, put your hope in God.

About the Author:

Gavin Henderson is an Elder and the Operations Manager of the National Ministry Team of Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland.

 

All year round

August 2, 2019

Did you see in the news this week that Christmas has come early, 149 days early, as Selfridges in London opened its Christmas shop claiming to be the first in the world to have a Christmas section? I thought it was bad enough having all the Christmas paraphernalia in the shops at the end October never mind the end of July! Soon, it seems, Christmas will be in our stores all year round, and the pop group Wizard, who belt out their song every year, will get their wish for Christmas to be every day.

This got me thinking about the reason Christians celebrate Christmas. It’s not for the parties, the presents, or engaging in some kind of pagan winter solstice ritual. It’s to celebrate and rejoice in the coming of Jesus into this world in order to show us the love of God and demonstrate that love to us. That’s a message that is relevant all year round and not just at Christmas.

Sadly many people, if they go to church at all, only go at Christmas time to hear some carols and enjoy a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine. But why not be revolutionary and take a leaf out Selfridges’ book and go to church months before Christmas to hear the message of Jesus? In fact if you went to church all year round you might just see that Jesus isn’t just for Christmas.

Barry Robinson

barry.robinson@gracecom.church

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/christmas/selfridges-christmas-shop-2019-open-day-world-record-department-store-london-a9025151.html

 

Empowered to serve or be served?

July 26, 2019

Is power for personal gain and prestige?

You’d think it was if you listened to the popular press, and, sadly, history is full of examples of those who used power for their own advantage and acted more as if they were God and not the servants of the people.

Actually, the comparison to God doesn’t work. Contrary to what we might think, God is for us, for the people. That’s the message Jesus Christ, the Son of God, brought. “I am among you as one who serves”, he says. Power is not about lording it over others, rather it’s about serving them and loving them, even to the point of self-sacrifice.

Politicians, presidents, prime ministers, kings and queens can take the lead from Jesus. Not just them, but all of us because, let’s face it, we all have power on some level be it in the family, in the workplace or through the influence we have on those we meet.

Let’s serve others and be willing to sacrifice for them.

Follow Jesus.

James Henderson

james.henderson@gracecom.church

A little respect

July 19, 2019

How honest are you? Would you return a lost wallet you found?

A recent scientific study examined which countries around the world were most likely to return a lost wallet. The research discovered a surprising fact: the more money that was in a wallet, the more likely it was to be returned. They explained this result by suggesting that most people do not want to view themselves as a thief, and the more money that was in the wallet the harder it became to justify not returning the wallet to its owner.

What we think of ourselves can have a big impact on our confidence and mental health. We all want to think positively about ourselves, but for many of us, we struggle to view ourselves in a good light.

The biblical writer Paul struggled with this same concept. He found that despite his best efforts, he often let himself down and that he did what he did not want to do. Yet for Paul there was hope, because he had discovered in Jesus Christ that his identity was defined more by the love of God, then by the mistakes he made.

Maybe in our search for self-respect we need to be honest about our need for God’s love.

Gavin Henderson

gavin.henderson@gracecom.church

Face value

July 12, 2019

An article about automated facial recognition caught my eye this morning. Apparently, the Home Secretary has backed trials by police forces in the UK using the technology to spot suspected criminals in public spaces.

But civil rights campaigners warn this latest development is a grave threat to privacy, claiming the system has the potential to turn us all into suspects. What do you think?

Of course, we humans have our very own facial recognition system built into our brains and we use it all the time. It works so well that often we remember faces better than names. For Christians like me this points to something beyond ourselves. A God who created each of us with unique faces that can be immediately recognised by family and friends must surely be a personal God who knows every one of us and cares for us all wherever we are.

 

All the very best,

Peter Mill

peter.mill@gracecom.church

Image via www.vpnsrus.com

 

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