Ten Questions

Article by Don Whitney

Professor, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.
Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai: “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5). He urged them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.
Ten Questions
The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. A great time for us to “Consider our ways.” To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.
1. What’s one thing you can do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
Our enjoyment of God comes primarily through the means of grace he has given us. He has
promised to bless us most directly and consistently through means such as his word, prayer, and the church. One specific suggestion I’d offer would be to include some meditation on Scripture along with your daily reading. It’s better to read less — if necessary — and yet as the result of meditation remember something, than to read more and remember nothing.
2. What’s an impossible prayer you can pray?
There are more than a dozen “but God” statements in Scripture, such as in Romans 5:8, which reads, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Situations that were humanly impossible were transformed by “but God” (Ephesians 2:1–7). What’s a “but God” prayer you can pray for the coming year?
3. What’s the most important thing you could do to improve your family life?
If your family doesn’t practice family worship, beginning there is the single best recommendation I could make. Just ten minutes a day, simply reading the Bible, praying, and singing together — an event that requires no preparation — is all it takes. My little book titled Family Worship can tell you more.
4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year?
Would it be a personal spiritual discipline (that is, one you practice alone), or an interpersonal spiritual discipline (one you practice with other believers)? Once you decide, determine the next step to take and when you will take it.
5. What’s the single biggest time-waster in your life, and how can you redeem the time?
Social media? TV? Video games? Sports? Hobbies? It’s easy for any of these (or something else) to take too much of our hearts and time. Is repentance required? Trying to stop, by itself, is probably not the answer. Actively replacing it with something better helps us in “making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).
6. What’s the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
While we often stress the fact that individual believers are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:15), the New Testament actually says seven times to one that the church is the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:23). We mustn’t let our frequent emphasis on our personal relationship with Christ minimize the importance of our service to Jesus through his body. How can your church be stronger this year because of you? Serving? Giving? Praying?
7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
Praying frequently and fervently for someone’s salvation makes us more sensitive to opportunities to share the gospel with him or her. Will you commit to praying for at least one person’s salvation every day this new year?
8. What’s the most important way, by God’s grace, you will try to make this year different from last?
Obviously, God’s sovereignty rules over all things, and there is nothing we can do about much that he brings into our lives. On the other hand, under his sovereignty he gives us a measure of responsibility over many areas of life. In which of these would you most like to see a change from last year? You may find that your answer to this question is found in one of your answers above. To which of them do you sense the Holy Spirit calling your attention most urgently?
9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
For many, it might be as simple as designating a time exclusively for prayer instead of praying only “on the go” types of prayers. For others, it might be learning the simple, biblical practice of praying the Bible.
10. What single thing can you plan to do this year that will matter most in ten years? In eternity?
Short-term deadlines tend to dominate our attention. Busyness and fatigue often limit our vision to just getting through today. But don’t let the tyranny of the urgent distract you from something you’re neglecting that would have enormous long-term impact on your soul, your family, or your church.

Consider Your New Year
The value of many of these questions is not in their profundity, but in the simple fact that they bring an issue or commitment into focus. For example, just by making a goal to encourage one person in particular this year is more likely to help you remember to encourage that person than if you hadn’t set that goal.

If you’ve found these questions helpful, you might want to put them someplace — on your phone, computer, calendar, or wherever you put reminders — where you can review them frequently.
I hope this article will help you to “consider your ways,” to make plans and goals, and to live
this new year with biblical diligence, remembering the principle that “the plans of the diligent
lead surely to abundance” (Proverbs 21:5). But in all things, let’s also remember our
dependence on our King, who said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

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Christmas Message

In one of the readings for Christmas Day in the Prayer Book (Titus 2:11-14), we are told: ‘For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared for all men’.  This is how Christmas Day is described in the New Testament.  Here is hope in a Covid world of uncertainty, depression and sorrow.

In relation to mankind, Christmas means salvation.  There is hope for all of us; those weighed down by sin; those feeling unworthy of God; those who are despondent and are not looking forward to the future.  The coming of Jesus is the light in the darkness of all our fears and sorrows.  There is freedom from our sins, acceptance with God and hope for the future because of Christmas.

In relation to the Christian, Christmas means joy and new life.  Christ’s coming into the world has brought us into a new, living relationship with God, our Father.  No longer do we need to feel like outcasts – God has acted through the sending of his Son to bring us into his family.  Now we have a new way to live, with God’s Spirit within, enabling us to live lives of hope.

In relation to Christ, Christmas meant a cross.  For mankind to know the joy of sins forgiven, and the hope of a heavenly home, Christ came to this world; he died on the cross bearing our sins, so that through repentance and faith in him, we need not pay the penalty for our own sins.  Here is what Christmas points to – the child in the manger becoming the man on the cross.

What about Christmas in relation to you?  We’re all tired of Covid-19 and detest it for ruining our families, our settled way of life and bringing constant anxiety into our lives.  Well, let’s remedy that by looking at Jesus this Christmas.  Lets focus on the meaning of Jesus for us – salvation, hope, light, forgiveness, life and a future.

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Selfless service

As the nation mourns the passing of Her Majesty The Queen, we give thanks to God for her life of service, and recall some of her most powerful statements about her Christian faith.  The longest-reigning monarch in British history was born in 1926 and succeeded to the throne in 1952. She celebrated her Platinum Jubilee – 70 years as Monarch – earlier this year.

‘Selfless service’
She led a life of selfless service to the nation. We give thanks to God for her. Her Majesty was a force for stability in our society and had the respect of young and old, Christian, non-Christian and those of no faith at all.   She routinely spoke of her own faith. In 1952, in her first Christmas broadcast, she asked the nation to pray ‘that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life’.  God answered that prayer.
Uniqueness of Christ
Her Majesty delivered messages to the nation on almost every Christmas Day throughout her reign.
In 2011 she declared: “Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves—from our recklessness or our greed.  “God sent into the world a unique person — neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.”  ‘I believe his message’
Seven years later, she told 6.4 million viewers: “The Christmas story retains its appeal since it doesn’t provide theoretical explanations for the puzzles of Life. Instead, it’s about the birth of a child and the hope that birth 2000 years ago brought to the world.   In her Christmas message in 2002, she said: “I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel. 

Only a few people acknowledged Jesus when he was born. Now billions follow him. I believe his message of peace on earth and goodwill to all is never out of date. “It can be heeded by everyone. It’s needed as much as ever.”
Gospel of hope
However, such statements were not limited to Christmas. Her Majesty delivered her first Easter message in 2020, saying: “The discovery of the risen Christ on the first Easter Day gave his followers new hope and fresh purpose and we can all take heart from this”.
I have been – and remain – very grateful to you for your prayers and to God for his steadfast love. I have indeed seen his faithfulness. 

Writing on the occasion of her 90th birthday and only last year, in her role as head of the Church of England, The Queen spoke of the unchanging Gospel of Christ.

She acknowledged that, for many, the last few years had been “a time of anxiety, of grief, and of weariness”, but that in that time, “the Gospel has brought hope, as it has done throughout the ages”.
These words from the Christian Institute perfectly sum up what the Christian faith and Christ especially, meant to our late Queen.  We give thanks for her life of faithfulness and pray for our new King that the Lord may bless his reign over us.
God save the King.

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How to come to Church

How to come to church

Since we are thinking about how we revive our churches, we can first of all start with ourselves.  ‘How to come to church’ seems a bit like ‘teaching your granny to suck eggs’!   However, by thinking about some of the things below, we are playing our part in making the church gathering a place of encouragement and growth for everyone.  Sometimes it’s easy just to drift in to church without much thought and prayer.  But below is a way to encourage us to prayerfully play our part.   You might already be doing some or all of the things below.  If not, think about how these things can encourage and help others as well as yourself in growing disciples. You don’t have to do all of these things.  Think of one or two that you could do.

Five things to think about and do before you come to Church

1. Think of others you can invite to come with you or to whom you can give a lift.
2. Pray (for the service and all those taking part, preacher, leader, pray-er, reader, musicians, Sunday school and crèche, welcomers at door, those attending church)
3. Read over the Bible passage that is going to be preached on Sunday.
4. Come a little bit earlier, if possible, to sit and pray in the church for the service, get to know others in church you don’t know, or help with some of the practical arrangements.
5. Say hello to visitors and strangers, when they arrive and make them feel welcome.

Five things to do during the meeting

1. Listen actively to the Word being read and preached, i.e, follow it in your Bible; have your Bible open during the sermon, take notes; display the fact that the Word of God is important.
2. Sing with enthusiasm – even if your singing voice isn’t good! Show that praising God matters to you.
3. Speak up, especially when we pray together, e.g., the Confession, the Lord’ Prayer, the Versicles and Responses & the creed.  Say it like we mean it!
4. Help with practicalities e.g., give up your seat if necessary for the convenience of a late comer or stranger. And pray for the service to impact people.
5. Look out for newcomers or late comers to make sure they have a service sheet or Bible or know what page in what book!

Five things to do after the meeting

1. Say hello to someone you haven’t met before and especially newcomers to welcome them.
2. Speak to someone, at service or afterwards about some aspect of the service/sermon.  Share what you learnt at church on Sunday.
3. Pray with others there and then if you think that would be appropriate.
4. Stay for tea and coffee if appropriate; stay late to chat and help;
5. If appropriate, with person of the same sex, follow up for coffee or chat.

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Thought For Easter

The Cross is the very centre of our faith.  Think of the letters of the cross:

 ‘C’ stands for conquest.  The cross is described in the NT as a great victory.  Jesus has defeated sin and Satan and won for us a place in heaven.  No-one else could have won such a victory – only the Son of God.

 ‘R’ stands for redemption.  Victory has come at a great cost.  Jesus paid the price to set us free.  He paid the ransom to redeem us and free us from captivity. 

‘O’ is for oblation.  This means offering.  Jesus has offered a perfect sacrifice for sin – his body on the cross.  We cannot offer our deeds to be an oblation, or offering for our sin. Christ, the sinless one, offered his perfect obedient life to be the offering that averts God’s just anger from us.

 ‘S’ is for satisfaction.  Nothing more needs to be done to take way our sin.  Christ’s death perfectly satisfies the justice of God against sin.  We can do nothing except believe and be thankful.

‘S’ is also for substitution.  We hear a lot about this in the Bible.  Substitution is Jesus dying in our place.  We should pay for our sins, but Jesus has taken the punishment for us and died in our place.  This penal (paying the price by death) substitution is the very centre of the cross.  It is the reason for the victory of the cross, the reason redemption is effective, and the reason why Jesus’s death is a perfect offering and satisfaction.

Let’s think deeply on the cross and reflect this Lent and Easter on what it means for us, giving praise to God for his mercies provided through it.

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What Does A Cross Mean

What Does A Cross Mean?
 
What does a cross mean? Well, it depends where and when it is used.

‘I Love you’
Look at the following crosses. X X X,  What does they mean?
We can all tell straight away what these crosses mean. A cross here stands for a kiss and it means ‘I Love you’.
When we think of Easter and the cross of Jesus, it means ‘l love you’ – God showing love for us in this, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The message of the Bible is that God loves us us and does not desire the death of a sinner, but rather that he may turn from his wickedness and live.
‘You are wrong’

A cross can stand as a picture of love, and also it can mean something is wrong. Imagine someone making a mistake in a maths calculation, e.g., 1+1-3. If the teacher puts a big cross through this, it wouldn’t stand for a kiss! it would say, ‘You are wrong’. In the same way, the cross of Jesus points to our sins and wrongs. It is because we are sinners, people who have rebelled against God and broken his laws that Christ went to the cross. We deserve to pay for our wrongs, but on the cross, Jesus paid it all!
‘Christ died for you’

So, ultimately the cross that really matters for us is the cross of Jesus, for as we’ve been seeing, here, on this cross, out of love for us, Christ paid for all our wrongs. Here is God’s solution to man’s sin. Here is God’s love bringing us back to himself. Here is a message that changes lives and changes the world. And of course death could not hold him., On the third day he rose again. The tomb is empty, and Christ reigns in heaven to give eternal life to those who come in repentance and faith to the cross.
‘You must choose’

And there’s one more thing we can say about a cross. It can also stand for the cross we often put in a Ballot box when we are voting. That cross means acceptance of someone for office. There must come a time in our lives when we have heard the Gospel message that we respond to it. Ask God to give you the ability and power to come to him, to come to Christ and seek the forgiveness of your sins. Do not put this off. Now is the day of salvation the Scriptures tell us. This is the proper response to make the message of Christ crucified and risen.

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Sunday Services

NO ‘IN-PERSON’ SUNDAY SERVICES IN LAMBEG UNTIL MARCH. BUT THERE WILL BE A FACEBOOK SERVICE EACH SUNDAY AT 10.45AM

Hi folks,

The Church of Ireland authorities along with the other mainline denominations have directed that we should cease all Sunday in-person gatherings in church until March 5th.

We will continue with a Facebook broadcast at 10.45am each Sunday until we can get back to our church building.

Please pass on this message by phone or text to those of our parishioners, who do not use social media.

Please do keep safe and well and contact others who may be isolated by this recent lockdown.

Trust in the Lord and acknowledge Him in all your ways.’

regards

Rector

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Free Will Offering 2021

Dear all,
As mentioned in our December magazine we were happy to receive contributions for 2020 up to and including 3rd January 2021. As we have recently updated our records the envelopes you have received for 2021 may have a  different number from 2020. It is therefore important that all 2020 envelopes are destroyed and only 2021 envelopes are used for this year .It is also necessary that your envelope is enclosed with any contributions delivered to the Rectory or posted to the Treasurer.
Regards
Angela

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Christmas and New Year Services

Because of the uncertainty caused by Covid-19, unfortunately we have not been able to prepare for our normal Christmas services. However, below is our hoped for services over Christmas and the New Year.

Christmas Day

8.30am Holy Communion in Lambeg

10.00am Christmas Morning Prayer via Facebook

Sunday 27th December

9.30am Morning Prayer via Facebook

19.45am Morning Prayer in Lambeg

New Year’s Day

10.30am Holy Communion in Lambeg

Online Children’s Nativity

Together with the Connor diocese, we are putting together an on-line Children’s nativity, featuring boys and girls from our Sunday schools. Keep an eye out for this on our Facebook page later in December. Contact Aimee, our youth and family worker, for further details.

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Christmas in 3 Words

Christmas in 3 Words

When many people think of Christmas, they think of Santa Claus and Rudolf the red nose reindeer. There’s a temptation to put the birth of Jesus into the same category- not really real, but sort of part of the fun of Christmas.

But Christmas is historical. It really happened. The Son of God truly came into this world. Born in a unique way, he truly took on our flesh, lived and died for us.

Secondly, Christmas is joyful. God really cares for us. The question is why did the Son of God come into this world in the first place? The angels described the birth of Jesus to the shepherds as ‘…good news of great joy… for all the people’ (Luke 2:10)

He has come to bring us the joy of salvation, of a new beginning, of becoming a new creation, the joy of being accepted by God, the joy of forgiveness.

In a miserable Covid-19 world, joy is in short supply. However,  God truly cares for us and has provided for our deepest joy in the person and work of his Son.

And thirdly, Christmas is essential.  Yes we know that Christmas shopping this year is essential for our retailers; we know that Christmas this year is essential for our mental health – just to have some normality in a very hard year.  But there’s another, deeper, way in which it is essential. The first Christmas was essential because it is essential that we have a Saviour, someone to pay the price we deserve to pay for our sins.  It is essential that we find forgiveness. All this is ours in Christ.

May you and all whom you love know the truth of Christmas and discover the joy of knowing the one who gave us Christmas.

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