When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent; I was not a communist. When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent; I was not a social democrat. When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist. When they came for the Jews, I remained silent; I wasn’t a Jew. When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.
Martin Niemöller (1892 – 1984
It struck me a few years ago just how much we tell each other about our beliefs through our everyday chat. Often in conversations I found myself telling my friends about my weekend and missing out that I had been to church.
It started me wondering why I did so. And then I started to notice just how often others would tell me their beliefs subliminally. “Touch wood,” “cross fingers,” “good luck,” they would say and I’d think, ‘God is all powerful; neither chance nor superstitions are in charge in our world.’
It was at this point that I decided that I would make a proactive effort to involve my Christian beliefs in my chit chat. So I’ll say, “When I prayed about this or that,” or “God bless”.
Has it made a difference to my friends? I don’t know, but what I do know is that now I tell people that I’ve been to church and I hope and pray that my words may form part of the pathway for someone to come to believe in Jesus as their Saviour and Lord.
It was for this reason that I felt it was so important to give out palm crosses with a scripture attached to them during our Easter act of witness. Do continue to pray for those who took the crosses; that they may be read and thought about and may form a small link in the chain of hope for those who received them. If we don’t chit chat about Jesus, who is going to?
It may be that person’s only chance to hear the Good News!
Be an Encourager
The best things in life are free! Well, that’s certainly true of encouragement. It’s one of those precious commodities that gets overlooked and disregarded at times when it may be really needed in someone’s life.
To encourage means “to give confidence or hope; hearten, try to persuade; urge; stimulate; help to develop.” A word of encouragement can really change a negative into a positive.
Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement in Acts 4:36) is one such example in the New Testament. In fact, when choosing baby names for our first child, Barnabas Buckley, was one of the boy’s names we liked. It has a nice ring to it! But I was more drawn to its meaning. Barnabas was the apostle who welcomed Saul, who later became Paul, when others were not so convinced in Acts 9:27.
When you encourage others, I find you encourage yourself! It comes back to you. I wish the world was a more encouraging and positive place to live, but on a day to day basis we can be a source of goodness to those around us and perhaps even change the environment we’re in. Whether it is in the home, workplace, our shopping or towards others on Facebook!
Ask God today to show you, and enable you to speak “Life” into those lives around you. Don’t withhold encouragement from others, when at one time or other a person may well have stepped out and spoken into your life.
It’s free to give, so be an encourager!!!
P.S. Prayer thought. As we approach the Diamond Jubilee this month it is encouraging to remember how blessed and privileged we are as a nation to have a steadfast, Christian Queen who acknowledges the truths of the Bible.
By Tiffany Buckley
Who is Jesus?
Jesus was born in an obscure Middle Eastern town called Bethlehem, over 2000 years ago, During His first 30 years He shared the daily life and work of an ordinary home. For the next three years He went about teaching people about God and healing sick people by the shores of Lake Galilee. He called 12 ordinary men to be His helpers.
He had no money. He wrote no books. He commanded no army. He wielded no political power. During His life He never travelled more than 200 miles in any direction. He was executed by being nailed to a cross at the age of 33.
Today nearly 2 billion people throughout the world worship Jesus as divine – the Son of God. Their experience has convinced them that in the wonders of nature we see God as our loving Father; in the person of Jesus we discover God as Son; and in our daily lives we encounter this same God as Spirit. Jesus is our way to finding God: we learn about Jesus by reading the Bible, particularly the New Testament, and we meet Him directly in our spiritual experience.
Jesus taught us to trust in a loving and merciful Father and to pray to Him in faith for all our needs. He taught us that we are all infinitely precious, children of one Heavenly Father, and that we should therefore treat one another with love, respect and forgiveness. He lived out what he taught by caring for those He met: by healing the sick – a sign of God’s love at work: and by forgiving those who put Him to death.
Jesus’ actions alone would not have led Him to a criminal’s death on the cross: but His teaching challenged the religious and moral beliefs of His day. Jesus claimed to be the only way to reach God. Above all, He pointed to His death as God’s appointed means to bringing self-centered people back to God. Jesus also foretold that He would be raised to life again three days after His death. When, three days after He had died on the cross, His followers did indeed meet Him alive again, frightened and defeated men became fearless and joyful messengers. Courtesy of Bath Abbey
I always find it amazing that new shoots are starting to appear from the ground in readiness for spring, despite the current cold weather we are experiencing.
Rather like our spiritual lives need preparing for seeds of fresh revelation to grow, so we need to physically prepare the soil. We start by digging, sewing, watering and nourishing if we want to have the best possible conditions to grow our plants and flowers throughout the warmer months ahead.
Our spiritual walk is much the same. God has been challenging me that as we take steps to get physically fit as we head into spring, so we need to be doing much the same with our spiritual lives. It is good to have natural goals at the beginning of the year such as more exercise, eating healthier food etc., but God is imploring us to spend more time with Him and particularly in His Word.
I felt very impressed to read through the Bible differently by using a One Year Living Translation of Old and New Testament readings in 365 daily portions. I did not want to do this as a legalistic exercise, but one that can bring fresh revelation into my life. I can harness things easier by writing things down in a notebook as I read and as God speaks to me through His Word.
I’m sure many people reading this have done it for years and have other successful methods, but God knows we are all different, just as plants need different requirements to grow, such as light or shade in the garden.
I enjoy keeping physically fit, but putting the same time into your personal spiritual walk can be that much harder, particularly with the pace of life we live in today and the amount of noise and distractions.
Even Jesus spent time to get away from the noise of the crowd. That’s why he had no problems in standing up to the Pharisees and always had a word in season. He was not only physically fit (with the amount of walking he must have done) but he maintained his spiritual fitness on a regular basis. It wasn’t a ‘have to’; it became a ‘want to’.
I find now that when I miss a day’s reading I look forward to it the next day because I know that God has something to say to me through His Word. I can now approach this precious time with Him expectantly, a habit that I’m “growing” to like very much!
By Tiffany Buckley
The Ultimate Valentine
As we head towards February 14th Valentine’s Day you may be interested that it was inspired by persecution for righteousness sake. St.Valentine was actually two people (that weren’t romantically involved) who were martyred on the same day (C.270). Feasts commemorating them were celebrated on February 14th. One was a priest and physician who died in Rome during the persecution of Christians by Claudius II Grothicus. The other was the bishop at Terni, Italy who was also martyred in Rome. Both have been buried at different places along the Flaminion Way. The origin of Valentines cards/gifts is not thought to have any connection with the Saint’s day. Rather it comes from an early European belief that the 2nd week of February was when the population of birds start their nesting season. The idea suggests that love and friendship should probably be celebrated on February 14th in conjunction with the coming of spring in March.
The greatest thing as Christians, we know that love originates from God and that God is unconditional love personified. The word ‘love’ is used 414 times in the Bible, 33 times in John, 30 in Psalms, 24 in Song of Solomon and 23 in 1 John. It shows us that love is the most important expression of God’s character. It sums up his mission towards us and us towards him like a continuous line that can be drawn to create a design of a heart. So His love towards us is all encompassing and never-ending. As we head towards February 14th perhaps we can be reminded of this wonderful truth and free gift that we can accept into our lives (better than any valentine’s card!) and can pass on to others. This favourite verse of mine sums it all from Romans 8:38. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
By Tiffany Buckley.
The Car which parked itself
A car reported as stolen from an Australian car park has been found 17 days later in the closed garage of a nearby home where it had apparently hidden itself. The station wagon disappeared in an Adelaide suburb on December 18th; two days after its owner bought it. Police believe the brake was left off, leaving it free to roll through the car park, across a street, down a driveway and into the garage, whose door obligingly closed behind it. The car was found neatly parked in the garage on Wednesday when the householders returned from holiday. It has now been returned to its owner, only slightly damaged.
My attention was drawn to this recent article from a national newspaper, and was it not for the police confirming the facts, it would seem unbelievable. However, for the vehicle owner and householders there will have been immense relief when thinking how different the outcome could have been. Bringing this incident into the spiritual realm, I am certain that all of us have had cause to thank God for the many times he has intervened, both known and unknown, to save us from the worst of our own actions or neglect.
Sometimes we may think we know how nice it would be if God would switch us onto some sort of ‘auto-mode’ when things begin to go wrong, but that is not the nature of the Christian walk. Yes, God does generously intervene at times in an amazing way, as that is His role as a Father, but equally He has given us the awesome capacity of freewill, so that our maturity comes through experience and a deeper understanding of what it means to live our lives in a closer intimacy with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, so that we can know the mind of the Father in our daily living. Satan’s aim is to constantly challenge and seek to undermine our faith and assurance in God’s promises and our intimacy with Him, by questioning the very basis of our faith. “Does God really love you, knowing the person you really are?” “Surely He must be disappointed in you, and are you really known to Him?” Paul the apostle answered that by stating in 2 Timothy verse 12: “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.” What is good enough for Paul is good enough for me!
The driver of the station wagon may not have secured the handbrake, but what about those passengers on the cruise ship Costa Concordia faced with the terrible situation following the captain seems neglect in navigation? Fleeing a sinking ship in a life or death situation is not the best of circumstances to review one’s relationship with God, but I’m certain for many it will be a turning point in their lives. Our destination is not a garage down a slope, however secure, but Heaven itself. Amen!
By Ed Squires
“Creation Sunday”- Reviewed by Tabitha Buckley
In November 2011 we had a wonderful guest speaker from Creation Ministries come to speak to us on some very interesting topics. Philip Bell delivered three talks on Creation topics which the Shoreham Free Church congregation really enjoyed. Below is a review that I asked my eldest daughter to write from her perspective. I hope this will encourage and bless you!
Dad asked me to write a short piece about the “Creation Sunday” we had in November from my perspective and foolishly, I said yes! So here goes! As some of you may know Abigail, Philip’s daughter, has been a pen-pal of mine for the past 3 or so years. Dad has always had a mutual friendship with Philip through Creation ministries and I came across Abigail through a great Christian woman magazine called “Daughters of the King”. I recently received a letter from her amongst our Christmas post telling me how much she enjoyed visiting our church and meeting everyone as did Philip!
I don’t know about you, but I found my brain buzzing with lots of information after Philips thought provoking messages. My brain went into overdrive the next day as I processed all the data! For my generation I think it can be one of the hardest subjects to approach… ”Creation.” That’s why I am so thankful to my parents for giving me such a firm foundation in this area. It was so interesting to see how all that I’ve learnt in my (home-school) workbooks compliments all the truths that Philip was talking about. It’s sad to think this might not be the same for others of my age. Especially with the compulsory one world theory of evolution that is slowly taking over our schools, that were all once built by Christian pioneers. How sad it must be if they were to know that majority of our youth are no longer attending church due to the ill teachings in our classrooms. If we can’t trust that God created the world then why would we trust him through to Revelation?? I’ve recently been watching a very good programme on the Amish called “Living with the Amish”. Although some of us may think they take their beliefs a little too literally, I think they’ve got their core values spot on! It’s the belief that God is the Author of Creation which is a vital part of the jigsaw into understanding the whole of his word. This is one thing that Philip made very clear in his message. It’s all about which pair of glasses you decide to put on! Just make sure you pick up the right pair!
To find out more about Creation ministries visit their website at www.creation.com or alternatively contact them on 0845 6800264.
If you are interested in receiving Daughters of the King magazine which comes out 6 monthly please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Parc Gwyn Farm, Glandwr, Whitland, Pembrokeshire, SA34 0YH.
Visit to St. Ives “Zion Community Church”
Whilst holidaying in the small town of St. Ives recently, we got the chance to visit one of our Connexion churches. It was nice to meet to Pastor Robert and his wife and congregation who were all very welcoming. The church is situated in the heart of St. Ives shopping district and as well as the Church has very well stocked Christian bookshop and a very popular coffee shop which we enjoyed looking around. Me and my family enjoyed sitting in on one of their Sunday services which was led by Pastor Robert who preached a really good sermon from the book of Romans. His message title was “We are not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God unto Salvation”, and I felt it very poignant for our generation and lives. It was really nice to meet a congregating like ours, very loyal and faithful people who’ve attended services at this church for many, many years. I wanted to include this article in our monthly newsletter to encourage everyone that we are all part of a larger body of Christ and that through the Countess of Huntington Connexions have many other brothers and sisters in Christ. When you’re next down in Cornwall, please go along and attend one of Pastor Roberts powerful services. I feel you would be truly blessed! By Tim Buckley