Calling the faithful city back to the faithful God




God has been speaking very clearly to me recently. Things have happened which some people call co-incidence. However I have experienced too many to call them anything other than God-incidences. Sometimes they have been an answer to prayer, sometimes they have led me to pray in a particular way, or to see things from a different point of view.

My baby grandson was recently admitted to the liver unit in Birmingham Children’s Hospital for investigation. It is most likely he has an inherited metabolic disorder, for which there is currently no treatment. I asked for prayer for all kinds of practical things, but in church two weeks ago God said quite clearly “Why aren’t you praying for a healing miracle?”

Instead of attending a singing day, which I was looking forward to, I went to a healing service in the Cathedral. The lady who prayed with me came to find me after the service. She asked if my grandson had a metabolic disorder and had I heard of a support and research organisation called “Climb, (Children Living with Inherited MetaBolic disease)”. As we knew others with metabolic disease we were familiar with “Climb”. Of all the people who could have prayed with me God singled out someone who had had experience of a child with a metabolic disease.

This week the worship leader began the service by saying we can praise God in advance. The evening service was about waiting for God. As we wait for him to heal my grandson I can praise God that he has it all in hand. We do not know whether the healing will be through research into gene therapy, enzyme replacement or simply by him being healed in a way that will amaze the doctors, but God knows.

Forgiven, Loved, Free

Forgiven, Loved, Free

You are more than forgiven! 
I have not just covered your sin, I have filled you with my Spirit and given you abundant life.
 I have lavished my love upon you – my love is not bridled. Cast off restraint and live the Life I have given to you.

This was shared by Alison Boardman in the 9am service on Sunday 8th Dec.

Andy Browning had said this about Grace;

“God has given His grace freely to us to be freely received. The chains of sin are broken as we repent but our lack of self-forgiveness holds us back from receiving this wonderful gift of abundant grace. We take the gift but don’t open and use it as it was intended. This is a generous gift to be enjoyed to the max because of His love, not due to anything we have done or can ever do. We are all in some way the Lost Son coming home and being received by the Father. We are given a robe, a ring, sandals to wear and there is feasting in our name – that’s how much grace there is!”

So why use a picture of a elephant for this blog? A young elephant can be tamed by being shackled. The youngster strains against his chains and cannot break them, he hurts himself and learns not to struggle. Then as an adult he can be held by a rope or chain that he has more than enough strength to break, but he doesn’t even try.

Are you still living as though your chains were still there? Are there past hurts that make you fearful of trying for freedom now? God wants you to know that you are forgiven and that you can live in freedom, loving him and being loved by him.

‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!’

1 John 3:1

Free to Receive, Forgive, Love.



(to our Community with Love)

Being a long time fan of Jane Austen I also rated the movie Clueless, based loosely on the story of Emma, with Alicia Silverstone’s portrayal as the ditzy or ‘clueless’ matchmaker Cher. Alicia said some telling words about working together on a project, ‘creative collaboration is awesome’! Well, some of us at church decided to get together one Sunday afternoon recently to write a ‘love poem’ to our community. We had many ideas and possible approaches to consider (creative collaboration is also a challenge…) but arrived at a place we maybe could not have imagined when we began – ending up with a triptych of poems on the theme of security, value and freedom.

So, like Emma and Cher, we were much wiser and better for having spent time together and learnt from one another. Here’s what we came up with and I commend it to you, with love.

Part I: De-worried (by David and Robert)

Turn for help? Turn to whom?
Concerns re-start with waking,
Day long thoughts wormed through.
A full English breakfast feed,
Fuelling long-term doubts
With doom laden questions.
Questions! What ifs!
How do I know?
Is there a ‘Worry for Dummies’?
I’m driftwood, tossed wherever
Every unknown striking
Sledgehammer blows.
Who can give me a base
Anchored to a rock
Bigger than my troubles?
You know? How can you know?
Why should I trust you?
You don’t even fit in my shoes!

I am the all size sandal wearer.
Steadfast, Holdfast,
Peace maker, Hope bringer,
Goody news shoes,
The come to person.

Part II: Antonyms (by Dawn and Ann)

When life’s lacking in love, come find someone to love you as you are
Find joylessness exchanged for fulfilment
In a world where terrorism reigns its fiery fear, come find peace
When no one has time to stop and share, find patience
Experience generosity in a world which values acquisition above all else
Where the urge to do what feels easy meets integrity
When lives are wrecked by broken trusts, come find faithfulness
When harsh words and cruel actions have damaged mind and body, come find gentleness
That soothes
When behaviour drives actions, come find discretion and dignity.

Part III: Freedom (by Les, Roger and Helen)

Tied up in knots, from the hard won fight
The sacrifice of a broken heart he’ll not despise
So much more to discover, only ice-tip uncovered
Mouths filled with laughter, not famine, disaster
Peace in our time, peace in our in-tray, inbox
All-age liberation, family, freedom, release.

The Power of Quiet

The Power of Quiet

It’s over a decade since one of our politicians said notably in a conference speech, “... the quiet man is here to stay and he’s turning up the volume.” He may have been correct in his assertion but after reading an absolutely amazing book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain I feel relieved that we don’t always have to shout to be heard. A true and powerful message can speak for itself, after all we know the veracity of ‘at the length the truth will out’ as Shakespeare stated over four centuries ago. Indeed, over two thousand years ago Jesus said, “…you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

As a part-time poet it is not surprising that I take note of quotes about poets, of which there are many good and ill, but I took particular heart from Memphis Barker writing in a national newspaper, “It’s not the poets’ fault the people aren’t listening…” which encouraged me to carry on regardless, reminiscent of the time God said to Ezekiel, “Whether they listen or fail to listen…they will know that a prophet has been among them…You must speak my words to them.”

Talking of exceptional words and writing, have you read Mr Quiet by Roger Hargreaves lately? As my prose is not in his league I’ll leave you with a poem I penned yesterday, which draws all my themes together nicely (maybe, you be the judge of that!):

Mr Quiet

‘Can’t Hear You!’
‘Speak Up!’ ‘Pardon?’
‘You speak in
Such low tones’.

But it feels like I’m shouting
Already. Trumpeting, heralding
Like the strange, unpalatable
Prophets of old. Ezekiel et al:


Don’t you get it?
Don’t you see it?
Is it passing you by?
Falling on your deaf ears?

Lean in.: take time
to listen. Intently.
You might hear a pin

© Helen Dean

Waste not, want not

Waste not, want not

I am sure you hate food waste as much as I do so when I heard about a Gleaning Meeting being held at County Hall in April I decided to go along and find out more.

So, I hear you say, what is gleaning? Check out Leviticus 19: v9-10:

“Now when you reap the harvest of your land you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you glean the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger.”

So Elaine Davis and I went on a fact-finding mission and spent a very interesting morning listening to speakers from around the county talking about existing projects and plans to form a Worcestershire Gleaning Network. We heard about the National Gleaning Network, set up in 2012, which coordinates volunteers, farmers and food redistribution charities in order to salvage the thousands of tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables that are wasted on farms every year across the UK and Europe. This fresh, nutritious food us then distributed to people in need.

We also heard about FareShare which sends out volunteers to collect and then deliver good quality surplus food to community projects such as hostels, kids’ breakfast and after school clubs and day centres. The food is donated by growers, manufacturers and retailers across the food supply chain, rescuing good food that would otherwise go to waste. This, in turn, saves those charities a lot of money which they can then redirect to other support services.

We discovered how people and communities can be brought together through food – it’s not just about poverty. We heard about several initiatives where community ‘Thoughtful Feasts’ are held using food which would otherwise have gone to waste.

The way forward now is for Worcestershire to be part of the National Gleaning Network, working closely with FareShare to set up a registration system for gleaning volunteers in order to collect and distribute large quantities of gleaned fruit and vegetables. What an exciting project drawing together communities, reducing food waste and making healthy food available to people on low incomes. Not sure yet what part St. Peter’s can play in this but be sure we’ll let you know when we know!!



I stood outside Tesco with about 50 other people to observe the recent eclipse. The eerie darkness and noticeable drop in temperature left the gathered crowd in silence for a few moments until the light began to return. Everyone then dispersed and it was back to business as usual.

When I thought about it afterwards, it struck me a day will come for many people in our city and world where there will be a permanent eclipse from the light only Jesus can give.

In Matthew 9 v36 Jesus looked at a crowd and “had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” The people simply didn’t have answers to their needs or know the right way to turn – as if they were in the dark.

We need this same compassion for those on our frontlines and be actively seeking to draw our contacts towards the everlasting Light of the World. I believe our resolve to do this can best be sustained through the support of the communities and small groups we belong to and by using the resource Church Central provides.

Just a brick building?

Just a brick building?

Do you ever have that time, when you just can’t get a thought out of your mind? A problem, a tune, a movie, a conversation or in this case a concept?

I had been at the church service where Martin had spoken about the church not being a brick building but the people. I had thought about this and started to consider the other implications of us being like a building. The aspects of strength, warmth, function, shelter, identity and security – and the idea that we are the bricks. We are made from clay: taken and created, and fired by the circumstances of the life we lead. Each of us designed differently with a different place to work and serve in the whole building.

It takes many bricks to create the whole building and it is no good being left as clay or as an unfired moulded brick or even bricks stacked in the store yard. The best place is in the correct location, in use, in the architects plan.

The creation from clay (dirt) into bricks requires the life changing water from Jesus and His ‘makers hands’ to expertly fashion the ideal shape and size. All are useful and all have a place. There is no competition as all are needed to be together to make the beautiful whole – the identifiable building which is able to be put to its correct use. Yet even once made, used, placed and functioning, they still need something else. To be strong, long lasting, resilient and able to stand the tests of the weather and the building’s use, they need to be tied in, joined together by an unbreakable bond. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the cement that enables security and strength.

‘You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.’

1 Peter 2:5

Time in His hands!

Time in His hands!

Two months of the year are behind us! Somehow time seems to be flying by and often it feels like it is out of control. Some of the things that I’ve planned for this year I’ve managed to do but some of them are yet to even start. My New Year commitment to play more sport has got no further than phone calls and missed opportunities. Although it seems so important that everything gets done now and in my timing, this can often miss the point. Timing is not all about my agenda and preferences but should be in God’s hands. The things I want to happen, the things I’d like to achieve are only likely to be worthwhile and fruitful when my ambitions meet with His plans and perfect timing. Striving after things that are not His path for my life is likely to be exhausting and ultimately of little value.

In Isaiah 40 God tells us to wait on Him and that, as we do, our strength will be renewed and we will rise up with wings like eagles. In Ecclesiastes 3 we can read that for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under Heaven.

So no matter how you have started 2015, whether things have been good or bad, if your dreams and desires are being fulfilled or if your resolutions have been broken, continue to know that God is for you. For the things as yet unachieved, continue to wait with hope for the opportunity – and when it comes be ready to move. For all the many accomplished tasks, give thanks for progress made. In all these things God is good and His love endures forever!

Arriving Home From Russia

Arriving Home From Russia

It’s so easy to unpack the dirty washing after a monitoring trip in Russia. So easy to slip back into routine: wake up, feed the dogs, put the washing in machine then the drier. So easy to slip back into routine. I’ve done the monitoring so what’s next?
I’ll have to do the ironing after breakfast; feels odd as I’m still on Russian time – three hours ahead of UK time. I switch the television on: same presenters with the same news (just slight variations on a theme); watch the weather forecast, same weather more or less. So easy to slip into routine just a few hours after returning from Russia. Have I really been away?
There’s a crisis being reported on the BBC: ice and snow, be prepared to wrap up warm for that added protection. Oldham and Sheffield worst affected and traffic problems expected with a yellow weather warning but going onto red warning for some places. Ha! Weather – you need to see a warm Russian winter!

Crisis, crisis all around us – although Christmas sales were better than expected says the newscaster.
I await the questions from the house group members tonight. How was it? How did it go? How/what are things like over there?  My reply will be, “If you truly want to know, then go and experience it for yourself.”
Routine kicks in again as I must catch up on the emails, check the diary, take the daily papers to my mom! Mom asks did I have a good time?  I try to explain I wasn’t on holiday but yet I received a good measure of rest and joy, an uplifting of my spirit seeing the Lord at work in such difficult situations.

It would be more than easy to sensationalise every situation we experienced but the realities have to be recognised and grappled with, emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.
It would be very easy to become distressed, pessimistic, miserable. Yet I am not, for I have witnessed hope. I have witnessed faith under very trying conditions, and where there is faith there is hope. I have seen heartfelt joy, an openness to serve one another, a belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and a God that brings strength to the everyday hardships now being encountered. I have been humbled, enlightened, disturbed at being shown how superficial my faith seems to be.

Crisis? What crisis? I have been on the front line but not my own.  My front line is way back behind the front line our Christian brothers and sisters are having to hold and contend with in Russia. I have been humbled to see their joy in Christian ministry as they cope with the daily reality of a deepening financial crisis. Those in the state sector, paid by government, have had a wage freeze since September 2014. Others have had pay cuts, some as much as fifty per cent. Rents have also been increasing – I witnessed young adult women in distress that their rent had just been increased by £10 a month with an inability to know how they were going to fund and cope with this rise. Food prices are not going up by a few roubles but are doubling so that food has become a commodity that has to be cut from the daily routines of people’s lives, with meals becoming smaller and less frequent.  These are just a few of the realities of daily living in Russia now.
What were the few inconveniences that I had to put up with in comparison to this? A change of routine, no three meals a day, no regular meal time, no time for proper reflection as the trip was pressurized with meetings. Lots of moving involving car travel, metro or good old fashioned walking between meetings, plus the discomfort of a ‘warm’ Russian winter hovering mainly around the 0C temperature. It was -10C in Saint Petersburg on our final day but hardly worth getting the camera out for!
During the past few days I have met many Christian believers who are constantly relying upon their Lord, and my Lord also, far more than I am.  They are truly living by faith.  Would I be able to cope with the situation they find themselves in?  I doubt it very much!  Would I be willing to do what they do in helping each other?  The honest answer is I do not know.
What I do know is that in Russia, I have seen the love of God in action, Christians very much living New Testament Biblical principles, sharing what they have, even though it is little enough; looking after the widows and orphans in the knowledge that what Paul wrote in Ephesians 3 v 14–19 is true:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I have been filled with understanding that faith in God brings and gives hope. I have witnessed the miracle of God’s love at work.

Ian G

Let Your Light Shine

Let Your Light Shine

Our nocturnal puppy awoke at his usual time of 5:30am for his 40 minute walk around the St Peter’s Estate. At this hour it is still dark outside, but as we came past the church the cross light was shining brightly in the darkness all around.

Turning off lights may help save our planet, but for this particular light the reverse is true: it is lighting up the cross which represents the only way mankind can be saved from an eternity without God.

Our mission as Christians is described by Jesus in Matthew 5v16 as:

…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven

New International Version (NIV)

We must recognise that our stories of how we cope with the ups and downs of life will impact our neighbours, friends and work colleagues when we are prepared to tell them about our faith. Let us encourage one another in this task and ensure that our individual “little lights shine”.

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