From Heartache to Herald

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Think: remembering the main points

· From Heartache to Herald: John 20:11-18

· Jesus seeks her + sees her pain + speaks to her + sends her


Talk: questions that stimulate application

1. What impacted you from this passage?

2. Why is the resurrection so important for the Christian faith?

3. In what ways can you identify with Mary Magdalene?

4. Can you think of other examples in which Jesus reached out to ordinary people?

5. What amazes you in Jesus’ encounter with Mary?

6. If Jesus was so great at noticing others’ pain – how can he use us to reach out to them?

7. Can you remember how you encountered Christ for the first time? Tell us about it.

8. How does Mary’s worshipful reaction inspire your own worship of the Resurrected Jesus?

Task: actions speak louder than words

· Think of 4 practical outcomes of how this…

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Wake-up Call

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Still doing this…

Think: remembering the main points

· Wake-Up Call: Revelation 3:1-6: Rebuke & Remedy


Talk: questions that stimulate application

1. Have you ever visited a famous tourist or historical location or seen a much-lauded movie or read a much-praised book and was disappointed? Talk about what you felt?

2. Sardis, as a city was characterised by historically underestimating their enemies and lacking vigilance – how do you think that influenced their church?

3. What do you think are potential negative social/political traits of where we live – that could influence our mind-sets as disciples?

4. What was the problem in the Sardis church and what could that look like in CFM today?

5. How do you think they got to the stage of being nearly dead? What mistakes did they do? What good things did they not do?

6. What was Jesus solution for the revival of this church? Which of…

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Costly Compromise

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Think: remembering the main points

· Costly Compromise: Revelation 2:18-29

· Well Done & Wake up


Talk: questions that stimulate application

1. Has anyone paid you a compliment recently – how did it make you feel?

2. What has encouraged you at CFM since you have been here?

3. Why was Jesus so critical of the church at Thyatira?

4. Why was Jezebel (1 Kings 16: 31-33; 2 Kings 9:22) such a dangerous woman for the Israelites?

5. In what ways can a Jezebel spirit manifest itself in the church today?

6. What can hinder our repentance when we sin – and how can we overcome those hindrances?

7. Why is the final vision of the returning Jesus important for the church in Thyatira and CFM?

Task: actions speak louder than words

Talk together and identify several marks of healthy Biblical teaching and then pray together that those marks would…

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Toxic Theology

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Please lifegroup notes on really keeping me going at a time when I cannot get to my Church of preference. I have been going to a Church of England hearing in new town I am living in. Tell a certain aspects about C of E I really like some I find difficult.

Think: remembering the main points

· Toxic Theology | Revelation 2:12-17

· Praise for Resilience: 12-13

· Cause for Rebuke: 14-15

· Call to Repentance: 16

· Promise of Reward: 17


Talk: questions that stimulate application

1. Have you ever been conned – talk about your experience?

2. Why is theology (thinking about God) so important for our lifestyle?

3. Can you think of any Biblical examples of bad theology that led to bad decisions? (i.e. Adam & Eve, David, Samson, Judas)

4. What are the differences regarding sexuality where Bible-believing Christians could be at odds with our culture?

5. What are some heresies (false teaching) that can affect our sexual ethics?

6. How can we test if some teaching is Biblically accurate or heretical? Think of some tests you can apply.

7. Look at the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) and explain what repentance should look like…

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Resilient Faithfulness

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Think: remembering the main points
• Resilient Faithfulness: Revelation 2:8-11
• Life Hurts: 8-9 & Stay Strong: 10-11

Talk: questions that stimulate application
1. What has been the most difficult thing about following Jesus in your life?
2. How does Smyrna compare to our context today?
3. How did the early believers respond to persecution (Acts 4:3-22, 5:17-42 & 6:8-15)?
4. What forms can modern-day persecution take in our context?
5. What would be wrong ways to respond to persecution as a follower of Jesus?
6. Is there an antidote to discouragement and despair in this letter – identify 5 things from it!
7. In what ways does your perspective need to change in order to ‘run the race’ with resilience and not give up?

Task: actions speak louder than words
• Chose one person from your group (put names in a hat) and commit to be their encourager. Talk…

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Fruitless Theory

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Think: remembering the main points

· Fruitless Theory: Revelation 2:1-7: the message & the Author


Talk: questions that stimulate application

1. What is the most encouraging thing someone said to you and how had that affected you?

2. If you were to describe the qualities of the church in Ephesus, using a tag line, what could it be?

3. What some of dangerous doctrinal heresies (false teachings) that can affect the modern day church?

4. Do you remember what the ‘first love’ looked like in your own faith experience?

5. What are the steps we can take to experience a restoration of ‘first love’ again?

6. Can you describe the difference between destructive and constructive criticism?

7. Why is the loss of a ‘first love’ so dangerous for a disciple and a congregation?

Task: actions speak louder than words

· Take time personally to evaluate your own heart and the…

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No X Files

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Working my way through this series even though I am not able to get to the church itself much

Think: remembering the main points

· No X Files: Revelation1

· Who sends mail? Who delivers mail? Who receives mail?


Talk: questions that stimulate application

1. What is the most unusual letter/email/message that you got?

2. When you think of the book of Revelation you feel….

3. Try to imagine what it was like to live as a disciple of Jesus in the 1st century…. Was it easy or hard?

4. Can you think of pressures in society today that discourage you as a Christ follower?

5. Why did Jesus bring this message to John and the churches?

6. If Jesus could bring a message to the Church in the UK – what do you think He would say?

7. What discourages you most as you try to live for God?

8. Do you identify yourself with the description of what a Christian is from v 5-6?

9. If the…

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WHEN PEOPLE JUST WANT TO BE TEXT FRIENDS

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When people just want to be text friends

What is it with friends who give great text/messaging but who never make the effort to see you in real life? I am not talking about my fellow ill people here, who are really good at keeping in touch as and when they are able, nor those with major life challenges – or even introverts, by the way. I mean the ‘average’ person who leads a seemingly normal life.

I’ve been trying to work out their purposes. Perhaps they just want to keep you as an option, or maybe you are a habit, someone to pass the time of day with.  Instead of nipping out for a for cigarette break they decide text you .

Maybe I should be pleased that they think about me at all!  But sometimes their behaviour makes me think that there are mind games going on. Some kind of passive aggressive behaviour, manipulation that they are not even aware of.

For example, you receive what seems to be a warm text message inquiry after your health or wellbeing. You reply and then receive nothing back. I don’t expect an essay but a simple, “Thanks For the update”, or “That’s good to hear”, or “That’s a shame”, would is welcome and then you know that the conversation is over.

I think people hide behind technology. I am probably guilty of this sometimes myself.

However I have decided there is only one answer to these frustrating texters: To go NC.  In other words, no contact.

Best Supporting Act

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Think: remembering the main points

  • Best Supporting Act: John 1:6-23
  • Explain context & Read passage
  • John’s obedience in ministry
  • Jesus’ obedience in baptism

 Talk: questions that stimulate application

  1. Have you ever taken part in a daring challenge – how was that?
  2. What is the most difficult thing that God has asked you to do?
  3. Why was John the Baptist able to humble himself?
  4. Is there a link here between humility and obedience? In what way?
  5. Thinking of the Fall (Genesis 3) – why is obedience such a challenge to us?
  6. In what areas of your life do you struggle to obey God?
  7. Can you think of Biblical examples of obedience that can inspire you?
  8. What does obedience look like in your workplace? In your family life?

 Task: actions speak louder than words

  • Personal exercise – take time to think individually about this: Are there issues of disobedience that…

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Resting B**** Face in the Church of the Poison Mind

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said I find it hard to move on yet I have decided today to purge some of my ‘friends’ on Facebook and to simply not engage with horror people IRL. 

This has come  from the realisation that I am surrounded at times by women who can best be described as having ‘resting b**** face’  syndrome. (RBF). No matter how hard I try to be friendly I get nowhere.  And they call themselves Christians!

I don’t really know why they don’t like me but there it is!  They make me feel like the white, blonde/ginger bitchy girls at school did or used to. Yeah, you know the ones… The shiny people! 

Actually some of the men are as bad.  There’s a couple I can think of right now – arrogance personified!

I really don’t need this stuff in my life.  Be gone!

When Pastors Reach The Divided Path

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1-divided-path-tracie-kiernan.jpgWe said goodbye to the best pastor today as he and his wife are moving onto pastures new. I’ve been really upset about this for a few months – Both of these people have had a very significant impact on my life and I think of him as a nephew that I never had – but I’ve come to terms with it now as it is right for them.  He will be a real loss to us, as will she, but I also know that we reach ‘the divided path’ many times on our journey through life.  

Pastor B and his wife  need to be in the new place and I also am taking steps towards a different kind of life. Whether I will stay with this church or not I do not know. I am not somebody who moves on easily. However I know that eventually I will want somewhere which is nearer to New Home as the journey to and fro is quite time consuming and tiring and also I am not a member of the community where my present church is.  I will stay with them for the time being until I feel more secure and settled in my new life.

MEEKNESS

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Pride = “it’s-all-about-me syndrome” – Tina Woof
Numbers 12

CFM LIFEGROUPS
DISCUSSION NOTES

Think: remembering the main points

· Aaron – what Meekness isn’t (Weakness)

· Miriam – the opposite of Meekness (Pride)

· Moses – what Meekness is (Strength in Submission)

· Our Greater Moses (Jesus) – How we become Meek

Talk: questions that stimulate application

• What comes into your mind when you hear the word ‘Meek’?

AARON (Meekness is not weakness)

Bible Scholars show evidence to suggest that Mirjam was the ring leader and Aaron the follower in their rebellion against Moses (this is why Mirjam was judged and not Aaron). Like in Exodus 32 Aaron showed that he was a weak man who was easily led into sin.

• What evidence in the Bible is there to suggest that meekness is not weakness?

• What sorts of things might we need to say no to as Christians? (Titus 2:12)

• Consider Paul’s encouragement to Timothy…

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Aftermath

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ON THE WAY

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We have all been shaken by the tragic events in Manchester, a few days ago. The nearer death gets to us – the more real it becomes. We seem still vaguely immune to the distant tragedies of other places in the world, where similar events occur weekly – remember this?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-39613313

The combination of the young age of the victims, the immediacy, the senseless damage done by one individual and the long-term effect on families and communities – all bring a huge emotional turmoil to all of us.

What can we do with all of this? How do we react? How do we process this mentally? How do we address our feelings?

Here are some of my humble suggestions:

  • we stay silent: social media is such a frustrating place at times like this. People went their hatred and scapegoat indiscriminately or parade simplistic naive solutions. Better to stop and follow…

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Close to You – Why Divorce is One Flesh ‘Rent Asunder’

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IMG_1226 1.JPGIt’s no secret that it has taken me longer to get over my marriage breakdown than it has for some other people.

This time, the season, is the first time in 30 years that I have not seen Ex regularly. We co-parented our dog for six or seven years after The Separation and she died at Christmas 2016.  Although we have been in touch a little bit by text and email we have not seen each other.  I think this is a good thing.  They say that no contact (NC) is the way forward.

I was talking to my mother about this the other day. I said, “Ex is the person that I have been closest to in the whole of my life.”  Now this may have been a little hurtful for my mother to hear but it is true.

We are meant to separate from our parents.  When we marry we expect to travel through the decades with our spouse.  Also, there is the sexual connection which binds us to our spouse; something that, hopefully, we do not share with our parents.

It seems strange but it was only this realisation that my ex is the person that I have been closest to in my whole life that made me realise why it has taken me such a long time to get over him and the marriage.  I don’t think I necessarily miss him as much as being married,  though I am not entirely sure that I would choose to remarry.  The thought of never being in love or being loved again in return, however, during my remaining life is pretty grim!

 

The tyranny of the ‘Fat’ Brigade

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vintage-1107700_960_720One of the most distressing symptoms of my prolonged health relapse is that I am very underweight. I’m 5ft 1″ and under 7 stone. I eat like a starving donkey, take supplements, including whey protein powder, I am having tests on my repeated GP visits.  I hate being this thin.  It makes me feel unfeminine, weak and insubstantial.

Yet people feel free to tell me,  most  emphatically, that I am too thin… in a concerned voice.  It seems never ending.  I find it patronising and hurtful. It is socially acceptable to tell me I am too thin  but how would they feel if I said: “Hi! Still fat, then?” or “Crikey, you’ve put weight on. Bit of a porker!”

Constantly telling someone they are too thin seems to imply that you’re starving yourself, (you’re anorexic) or just plain difficult!

I think some people genuinely are concerned but it does make me wonder if some are they’re doing it to make themselves feel better about themselves and THEIR bodies. To be fair, no-one at church has said this; it’s my secular friends! Go figure! 

I’m going to have to think of a good riposte next time somebody pipes up!

 

Valentine’s Day Prayer

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“We pray today for those in love, those off love, those in between. And for those who are lonelier today than other days.
We pray today for those whose frozen hearts cannot love & those who feel so unlovely that they can’t love themselves.
We pray for the elderly man gazing today at a black and white photograph in a silver frame of a wedding in another time.
We pray for the the mum, who quietly bought herself flowers yesterday. And the boy who dared to send a card but didn’t get one back.
King of love come comfort and forgive us this cheap, gaudy, desperate, isolating thing we have made of you. Amen.”
Pete Greig – Valentine’s Prayer

One of our pastors shared this on Facebook. It’s awesome.

Still Part of the Fellowship

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abstract-fine-color-waves-910x300A church friend contacted me yesterday and I wanted to share how encouraging she was.
I was explaining how sad I was that I haven’t been able to get to church as much, although I have made it to life group a few times and the Christmas concert.

She said: “But you’re still part of the fellowship. Every single person who can’t get to church for one reason or another is still part of the fellowship.”

This is such a powerful thing for me to hear and I realised that the fellowship IS all still going on: texts, letters, visits, support, prayer, music, podcasts and reading.

There are lots of people who can’t always get to the services, through ill health or distance.

I just wanted to say it’s true: “We are all still part of the fellowship.”

A Lover’s Story: Crookes Valley Park, Sheffield, 1988.

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“Will you stay in our lover’s story?” Kooks, David Bowie.

Back in 1988 I saw our time in Sheffield as a sad and lonely period yet in retrospect I see it differently. We were young, not yet fully formed, and very much in love.

My job was hard, physically and mentally, and I felt pulled in many directions. At work, I was the ‘newbie’, before that word was invented, who had to make her mark, a graduate among school leavers, viewed with a little suspicion. I wasn’t part of any clique and was frequently homesick for my birth town and my parents. Gray was out-of-work and lonely too. As I had dragged him to this landlocked city I felt I had to make everything alright for him. Exhausted after my day at the office I felt obliged to go out at night, to pubs or to the cinema, when really I would have preferred to stay in and just talk or be.

Sundays became special though.

Mostly we walked in Weston Park, sometimes visiting the art gallery there, and often in Crookes Valley Park, which was often swathed in mist.  He would wear his Joe Orton-style leather jacket and I would be in my blue coat with its real fur collar, which I’d picked up in Oxfam in Broomhill. It looked like something straight out of a Tissot painting. I kept that coat for years.

Crookes Valley Park comprised sloping greens and a flat lake and was peaceful in a melancholic sort of way. Gray was often sad and we were frequently tired. What we talked about I can’t recall but conversation always flowed between us as the leaves came tumbling down around us. There was this utter sense of togetherness, of being with the right one. If I’d have known my Bible back then I would have identified with the verse from Song of Solomon:

“I have found the one whom my soul loves.”

Sometimes we would walk down to Hunter’s Bar and end up in Pizza Hut. Having been on the dole for a few months before I got this job this seemed to us quite decadent! I relished seeing the anticipation in his eyes and we’d laugh as the soft, doughy pizza would melt in our fingers – and then in our mouths. I loved to see him happy like that.

Sundays were doubly precious because I never looked forward to rejoining the world of office politics in a department that was sinking fast in an era of privatisation. Many people in the office were having affairs with each other as if it was the last few  days of pre-war Berlin. This was the very antithesis of my world of “pure love”, monogamous, hopeful and magical.

These memories can pierce my heart, as if they were happening right now. I wonder at this, bemused, that he, in his new life with new wife, doesn’t feel it too, at the very same moment as I do.

The subconscious mind, I read, doesn’t understand past and present, but sees everything as if it IS occurring right now. And it is happening.  I’m walking in Crookes Park, Sheffield, with the man I love.

I am loved, valued, wanted.