Living Faith: Praying For Others

posted in: Bible, Hope Church, Living Faith 0

One of the most fundamental ways we live out our faith as Christians is to pray. By bringing our requests to our Heavenly Father we demonstrate our belief that He is God and Jesus Christ is His son, by our action in coming to Him we deepen our relationship with Him.

In James letter to the early Christians he encourages them with these words :-

ch 5 13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Just as muscles in our body need to be exercised and used to be strong and healthy we need to exercise our faith by using it. Our faith is exercised when we pray for others and expect God to hear and answer us. As we receive answers to our prayers our faith grows, we trust and rely on our Heavenly Father more and we become bolder in offering to pray for others inside and outside of the Church. Living out our faith in this way we can bless those around us. As I work in open house our community drop in during the week, there are many opportunities to pray for people, it is a way to show our love and care for them, I cannot remember anyone being other than positive about the experience. We can offer to pray for people wherever we are, It is one of the ways we bring the kingdom of God in the now.

At Hope church we believe we are all able to pray for each other, it is not a job for experts or just for church leaders. We offer training sessions to increase our  confidence in our ability to pray and we have some guidelines to help us, and the people asking for prayer to feel safe.

In Matthew 18 we are told to be like children. Little children are often not backward in asking for things, in a secure family environment they can be sure they will receive good things when they ask.(although maybe not everything they demand). We can be the same way with our requests of our Heavenly Father He loves us to share our needs with him. Although He is all knowing and all powerful He chooses to work through our prayers as He loves us to come and ask Him for the things we need.(See Matt ch7 v7)

As we meet together as God’s family many different issues may be helped by prayer ministry, we are not meant to be alone but God has placed us in His church so that we can help each other. During our services or meetings we may be challenged to act on something, need to forgive someone, need to repent, need to receive healing or be struggling with fear, or would just like The Holy Spirit to refresh us, whatever it is as we pray for each other in Jesus name the Holy Spirit works to bless heal and restore.

Jesus said we would do all the things He did. So let’s grow in faith as we use this precious gift.

Written by Theresa Middleton – Pastoral Lead, Hope Church Luton

Living Faith

posted in: Bible, Living Faith 0

I have been struck recently by the insistence of James in his letter that faith without deeds is dead. (James 2v14-26). Living faith does things, it doesn’t just believe things. Our beliefs should result in actions, and our actions show what we believe.

It is very interesting to apply this principle to our lives as individuals and as a church.

On Easter Sunday, we showed a video produced by our kids work team. I asked myself the question, what did the video say about what we believe? The answers I came up with was that kids work should be fun, that it should be inclusive (kids from all backgrounds having fun together), that it is important as demonstrated by the gifting of those who lead our kids work.

Over the next while we will be asking the same questions about other activities of Hope Church, who do they demonstrate our living faith as per James 2v14-26

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

 

Written by Tony Thompson

 

Things people from other cultures find difficult or offensive about British culture

posted in: In The News, Tony Thompson 0

I asked friends who were new to British culture what they found most difficult, below are some of their answers.

  • British people do not talk much
  • Hospitality is different – you don’t just pop in, you wait until invited
  • Different standards of hygiene
    • Dogs and cats are allowed in the house
    • Plates etc. are dried using dirty tea towels
  • Members of churches drink alcohol
  • People shake hands with members of the opposite sex, even hug
  • The word family is used of the church but it is not the type of family you expect
    • I was not invited to the wedding of the ministers son, would be if you were family!
    • Can’t just pop into people’s homes, let alone eat with them unannounced
  • The way some girls dressed with short skirts and cleavage. I was surprised by how much (almost) nudity there was around on the streets.
  • I found instant coffee difficult!

Written by Tony Thompson

Thoughts on being a church with people from many different backgrounds

posted in: Hope Church, Tony Thompson 0

One of the joys, as well as challenges, of living, working and building church in Luton is its ethnic diversity. Luton is 3rd behind London and Slough as the most ethnically diverse place in the UK.

Being in a multi-ethnic context doesn’t mean that we will be a multi-ethnic church. As Martin Luther King said, 11am on a Sunday is the most segregated hour in America, only 7.5% of churches in America are multiracial, having 80% or less of the majority race. We are a multiracial church, we have not always been, but we are now. It is something we have had to work hard to achieve and something we value highly. It is not something we want to take for granted.

I am therefore writing a series of blogs on being a church with people from many different backgrounds, seeking to celebrate this!

Some initial thoughts on culture.

Culture can be described as “how we do things around here.”

Every group will have their own culture, e.g. Families have their own culture, such as having meals together, rather than in front of the TV. Churches will also have their own culture, e.g. style of music, standard dress code. Nations can have their own cultures but lots of variations within them.

There are advantages and disadvantages of generalisations, but we can’t avoid them!

People living in a new country can experience “culture shock”, my son experienced this when living for several years in India.

Stages in culture shock.

  1. Honeymoon – excitement of a tourist, identity still back home
  2. Disorientation – overwhelmed, sense of inadequacy
  3. Irritability and hostility – blame new culture for difficulties
  4. Adjustment and integration – increased ability to function and understand good and bad in both cultures
  5. Biculturaility – fluent and comfortable in both cultures

It is important we understand these stages when seeking to build relationships with people from different cultures. It is not surprising that people from the UK living overseas tend to live in their own communities, hardly integrating at all. It is not surprising that people arriving in the UK from other nations also have the desire to spend time with others from their own indigenous community.

We need to reach out and help people from other cultures than our own to overcome culture to shock, to move towards seeing the good and bad in both cultures. This is the great benefit of being a community of people from many different backgrounds, but it is hard work. We need to celebrate those from other cultures who are brave enough to resist the temptation to stay exclusively within their own culture and join with us. We need to listen to them as they bring critique of our culture, we need to learn from each other.

 

Written by Tony Thompson

Report on Levante Conference in Spain

posted in: Events, Tony Thompson 0

31st March to 2nd April 2017.

Tony has been working with churches in Spain now for over 10 years. He helped to start the El Faro church in the heart of Valencia, which has become truly international having a mix of locals and ex-pats in its worshipping community. For several years, we have supported this church to host weekend conferences with other churches in the area, by sending people from the UK to teach and participate in the conference. On this occasion Mike and Jane Reynolds joined Tony along with leaders from three other UK churches. Previously Linda Geevanathan has been part of visiting teams.

Nearly 50 people were part of the conference, coming from different churches across this part of Spain. Half the speakers were from Spanish churches, the others from the UK. We were then able to further support by having the UK church leaders speak in the participating churches on Sunday morning.

The worship was good, led by ladies from Poland and Italy in Spanish and English. Everything was translated either from Spanish to English or the other way around. It is certainly fun having the congregation singing in both English and Spanish at the same time.

A Spanish church leader from further down the coast spoke about how he had started a church by feeding and housing the poor and destitute in his town. We met many other church leaders from across the area, all keen for friendship and mutual support.

It was hard work, but worth it, meeting many Christians from across the world all serving God in Spain. We met a Spanish lady in her 20s from a Catholic background who, just a few weeks ago, met with Jesus for the first-time, whilst visiting London. Now back home in Spain, she is baptised in the spirit, speaks in tongues and is hungry to learn more about Christ. Old friendships were renewed and new ones made: a Columbian family who are part El Faro speaking only Spanish, they travel into the centre from an outlying town and are keen to plant a church where they live; a Romanian family who want to plant in another nearby town; a YWAM couple from New Zealand who are in Spain to learn the language as part of their preparation to serve God across the world.

It is great to be part of a worldwide family, serving and being served by wonderful people who have gathered together in Spain. What a privilege.

 

Written by Tony Thompson

Why did Jesus rise on Sunday rather than Saturday?

posted in: Bible, Tony Thompson 2

Two years ago, I began to ponder on this question, why did Jesus rise on Sunday rather than Saturday? It doesn’t enhance the story? Why a day between the events of Jesus death and resurrection? Saturday is without name, is it also without meaning?

I didn’t feel I had the definitive answer, but I had some thoughts which I shared on Good Friday that year. I share them again in this to help you prepare for this year’s Easter weekend and because I have some further thoughts I will be sharing on Easter Sunday.

Christ rose on the 3rd day “according to scripture”.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15v3-4.

It was according to scripture, but what scripture? I do not know of any verse that says the Messiah will rise from the dead, let alone on the 3rd day! However Old Testament is full of 3 day stories.

e.g.  Josephs brothers released from prison on 3rd day, Abraham 3rd day sees sacrifice, Rahab and spies. Sign of Jonah.

3 day stories have the following in common.

  • Day 1 trouble, 2nd day more trouble, 3rd day deliverance from God.
  • Don’t know it is a 3rd day story until 3rd day. May be 1 or 2 day story……..

So a student of Scripture wouldn’t be surprised that Jesus rose on the 3rd day – there is a tradition of 3 day stories.

What is so special about the 2nd day and what do you do on Saturday?

Saturday is the day after a prayer gets prayed, the day before it gets answered, the day life doesn’t work out as you expect.

It is a day of reflection, rather than action.

For the disciples, their best dreams have died but at least they are still alive.

They have not slept for a long time, they woke up on Saturday – what do they do? Reflect that they thought they would change the world. Reflect on what went wrong. Jesus failed. How could we have done things differently?  If that happens to Jesus, what about them? What about Judas?

When we are in the same position as the disciples, between Friday and Sunday, we have several different options.

Despair – decide always Friday, resurrection will not happen. Some Christians live like that.

Denial – simplistic explanation, forced optimism, live on surface veneer of faith, pretend already Sunday.

Can wait on the Lord – not just passivity, fatalistic, I wait on Sunday with Him.

Can be with God on Saturday in a unique way – he is your only hope.

Why is Saturday so important?

I think there is a miracle of Saturday as well as Sunday. The miracle of Saturday is that the eternal son of God dies, and is in the grave, in death, in hell. Therefore, where can you not find him? Whatever pain, disappointment we face we know Jesus is there. We also know it is only Saturday, Sunday and deliverance are coming.

We live in a Saturday world. God is at work on Saturday.

Our hope is about resurrection, but don’t give up on Saturday. God is Lord of Saturday. Ours is a 3 day story.

 

Written by Tony Thompson

1 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 39