The Women's Ministry Team at Carrubbers oversee women's ministry and Women in ministry in Carrubbers under the delegated authority of the elders. We aim to do this in many ways; supporting Karen in her role as Pastoral Assistant for Women, supporting the elders in their responsibility for pastoral care, encouraging and facilitating One to One discipleship and taking a lead role in the flagship women's bible teaching ministry - Women to Women.
The Women to Women ministry comprises of both Evening and Daytime groups all studying Gods word together, encouraing teaching and bible handling gifts, and praying for one another
The women currently serving in a variety of roles, leading groups, serving, writing studies and teaching include:
we'd love to invite you along ...
FRIDAY 4TH JANUARY 2019 @ CCC - 7pm for 7.32
Our heads tend to spin at this time of year as we rattle through responsibilities and delights. 2018 with all its drama is closing as we get set for the many expectations of another one! But before we jump in, there is a pretty special chance to begin 2019 with a bit of intention...
At significant points in their Sinai peninsula wanderings, the Hebrew people set up camp.
They stopped trekking.
They paused from pressing on to the next thing.
They pondered the mystery and majesty of the Holy One they followed.
They focused on a central tent and on the rhythm of their lives, represented there.
They were reset.
On 4th January at 7pm (for 7.32 pm start … coz it might stick in our heads better!) we are going to do likewise. The lower part of Carrubbers is being transformed into that central tent, the tabernacle. We will take time on our own to walk though each section of the tabernacle. To focus on connection with the Holy One we follow. To pause. And breathe. To give Him a chance to finish his sentences! To reset our hearts.
Am a little bit excited at this!
PS Just so you have a little bit of extra confidence, this has been run a number of times in different settings before. It’s been hugely beneficial for those who’ve engaged with it. It’s a little bit exciting too!!!
Good afternoon ladies...
We are REALLY looking forward to starting off our new series in Titus next Wednesday...
We'll be digging into God's word together to encourage each other to grow in godliness in the midst of the culture we live in and church family we belong to.
Come join us for dinner in the cafe at 6:30pm Wednesday 3rd October (email email@example.com to let us know you'll be there) or join us at 7:30pm in the lower hall as we get together around God's word. Please use the side door to access the cafe.
Looking forward to all God will teach us in the year ahead
love Karen x
Life can feel like a mess
Have you ever felt overwhelmed with the messiness of life?
The tensions of world politics, the differing views on gender and sexuality, the breakdown of relationships, health issues, family issues, the striving after money, happiness, grades, status…
... and then we look inside and see the mess our own lives are in… our frustration with people we love, our dissatisfaction with our identity, the mistakes we make and people we hurt… and then there’s guilt when we think about our relationship with God…
Life can feel like a mess…
Genesis three tells us exactly why life is such a mess and despite in some ways being the darkest chapter of the bible, it offers two incredible hopes
- God has a solution for the mess we are in
- God helps us live well despite the mess we are in
Do come and join us as we look at this remarkable chapter on Wednesday night. We’d love to encourage you and each other to see the hope we have no matter what the mess is that we are in right now.
Women to Women, Wednesday night, 7:15 for 7:30pm
Really looking forward to seeing you again on Wednesday coming when Debbie will be bringing us some throughts from Genesis 2 on the purpose of our lives... there is so much on that passage from what it means to rest, to work, and why God made men and women....
Do plan to come early - from 7:15 - for tea and coffee and some fellowship before we get into the word together... if you would like to get to know some people better still, or are coming from work and need to eat first... then a group of people are meeting before hand in Pizza Express for dinner. If you'd like to join them, email Eilidh and let her know you're coming.
Meantime, why not reflect on the passage so you'll get even more out of our time together:
Looking forward to seeing you, Karen x
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Adam and Eve
4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
5 Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, 6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. 7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.)13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animalsand all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature,that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
Discipleship is something we talk about in church a lot but what does it actually look like?
Here are some pointers about how you might get involved in discipleship from the “9Marks” people which I found helpful
- Join the church – sounds obvious but plugging in and being accountable, joining a homegroup and plug into Women to Women where you’ll meet Christians of other ages and varying maturity is a key way to get involved in discipling
- Arrive early at church gatherings and stay late. Intentionally make time to meet and connect with people.
- Practice hospitality with members of your church.
- Ask God for strategic friendships.
- If necessary, budget for the time you’ll spend with fellow Christians so you can afford to have people over or meet up with them in coffee shops or restaurants.
- Schedule regular breakfasts, lunches, or some other culturally-acceptable social engagement with teachable women. Depending on the person, you may decide to meet once, indefinitely, or for a set number of times. If you and the individual share a pastime, look for ways to share that pastime together.
- Ask them about themselves. Ask them about their parents, spouse, children, testimony, job, walk with Christ, and so on. In asking questions, however, do so in a manner that’s appropriate for your cultural context (don’t scare them!).
- Share about yourself.
- Look for ways to have spiritual conversations. Maybe decide to read the Bible or some other Christian literature together. Talk about the Sunday sermon and how you are applying that.
- Consider their physical or material needs. Would they benefit from your help?
- Pray with them.
- Depending on your home situation, invite the person to drop by your house or spend time with your family. Let them watch you live life.
Discipleship happens at many levels in many ways across many types of relationship but the more intentional you are about getting alongside someone, sharing the truth of God’s word together and walking with them as the Holy Spirit does his work in their lives, the more you will see God at work, growing you both into Christ likeness together.
“Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” 1 Thes 2:7-8
Andrea Morris writes...
"For where two or three are gather in my name, there am I with them" Matthew 18:20
I have had the joy and privilege to be involved in a prayer triplet for over ten years now.
We began as part of a larger group of about 8-10 praying women in Carrubbers. This group began following conversations in church and in our women to women ministry. As we spoke, we realised there were many issues to pray for that were common to our lives at the time. We met in flats around the city straight after work time, sharing our lives and praying for each other and our church. Precious times to stop, take stock and pray in the busy week.
Eventually seasons changed in this particular group, and we became our group of three. Three seems to work well for us in terms of accountability and balance of characters and life experience.
We meet when and where we can, often combining the occasion with food (scones are a unanimous favourite) Of course, over the years, our meeting together has fluctuated due to the seasons and rhythms of life. Times of life including work changes, study schedules, marriage, relationships, family, illness, travel (we have recently increased our skill set to involve Skype prayer meetings).
But, we have never stopped, we keep on meeting all these years later....
There are many aspects of the group which have made it a spiritual strength to me over the years. These include trust and confidentiality, compassion, honesty, accountability and unity of heart and purpose. We come together to pray just as we are. I feel these women are always there for me to fight the spiritual battle alongside me in prayer.
I have learnt many things from praying together over the years:- First of all, the absolute need for prayer, not just for help and guidance in my time of need, but for the relationship with our Father that comes from talking with Him. To hear another heart poured out to God beside me I find inspirational and it deeply touches me.
I have also learnt from the example of one of our group about coming to Him in worship first, before anything else...it grounds us, focuses us, humbles and quiets our hearts before Him.
We have grown a habit over the years of using His Word in prayer. Standing on it, clinging to it, acknowledging His Truths back to Him in all the circumstances and struggles we bring before Him.
Finally, the closeness and fellowship experienced through the deep bonds of prayer with these two sisters in Christ is precious, even more precious as the years go on. There is a deeper, eternal resonance to our friendship through praying together. I am so very thankful to God for our prayer triplet.
"Trust in Him at all times you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge"
In the image of God
On Wednesday night we explored how God has revealed himself to us as he intentionally and lovingly created the universe. In completing his work, he created mankind in his own image to rule over the world.
Gen 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
This is the start of a big theme in the bible which is core to us understanding who we are and why God made us. The image of God helps us think about what it is to be human and what it is to be Christian
All humanity is made in God’s image
All have dignity and value as all alike are made in His image
Male and Female both have a role in reflecting God’s image
As God is relational so we are made relational
All have capacity to reflect Gods characteristics in the world – to love, to create, to forgive, to be generous and merciful etc
All are given responsibility in the world to care for and rule over the planet as God’s delegated authority
Not all humanity is able to reflect God’s image
When Satan tempted Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit he said they would be like God… ironically that’s exactly what was lost as they sinned… As sinful human’s we can no longer perfectly reflect God’s image in the world.
Only one sinless human could bear the image of God to the world… Christ himself is the image of the invisible God…
When we confess our helpless sinful state, and trust that Christ died in our place on the cross, we can again bear his image and reflect God to the world around us.
1 Cor 5:21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God
We are now "In Christ" – the image of God in us is restored.... This is true now and will be even more clearly seen in us when we are made fully perfect in the new creation...
Take some time to think about the privilege of being created by God as his image bearers
If you'd like to hear the talk from Wednesday night do email me and I'll send you a link.
Unveil: Behold: Transform
As we prepare to begin our Women to Women journey back to the beginning – to God’s first words to us in Genesis 1 – I want to share with you a few thoughts;
- These are God’s first written words we will be looking at… familiar perhaps but also profound and foundational… so come ready to hear them again - as if for the first time.
- They were originally written to a group of refugees who had escaped an oppressive dictator, crossed through a treacherous river and were making their way to the promised land. How encouraging it would have been to have received these words from God himself as he tells them who he is, who they are, and what his plans are for them and the world.
- These words are equally meant for us as we get to know our creator and see where we fit in his world. They will help us make sense of the world we live in.
My prayer for us as we look at Genesis is that
- God will UNVEIL the truths from his word to our hearts
- We will BEHOLD God in his Glory
- And that we will be TRANSFORMED as a result
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 1Cor3:18
Have a wee look at this overview of Genesis 1-12 on you tube for a wee insight into what’s coming this term
And we’ll look forward to seeing you on Wednesday night- 7:15 for 7:30
Welcome to another year of the W2W blog
I am looking forward to sharing more interviews, articles, prayer prompts, and W2W insights through this weekly email.
There will be two main focuses throughout the year:
- Genesis 1-12: reflections on our exciting new series "UNVEIL. BEHOLD. TRANSFORM"
- Discipleship: How do we make Disciples? (as our church mission statements reads) i'll be asking some folks to share how they "live for God and intentionally love the people around them"
Coming up this month
W2W launch: "Who am I and Why do I Matter?" - Genesis 1 gives us some super reasons to praise God for who he has made us to be... 4th October @7:30
SW Bible Conference: "Faith Like This" - a whole day to meet with women from all over Scotland to see what God says about having faith in him in the world we live in... 7th October - tickets and more info here
If you would like to be part of the blog team or have suggestions about what you would like to see then do contact me
Loved beyond doubt
Last night David Nixon explored what we might do with doubts we have about God. It is sometimes the case that one of our doubts is about God's love for us. Can God really love us? Does God really love us? Last week I gave a short talk on one of my favourite scriptures about this very subject.... here it is... hope it's a blessing to you.
Anna had been married to Michael for 12 years when he left. Despite the vows they had taken the marriage hadn’t been easy and working at it had gotten too much for Michael. He wasn’t feeling the love anymore and wanted out.
It hadn’t been the first relationship where Anne had been left feeling alone or abandoned. Her dad died when she was young, she had friends who had drifted off, and even at church her pastor had been called to another congregation and left.
Separation… no matter what the circumstances… can leave us feeling alone, insecure, and fearful.
What might cause you to think God doesn't love you anymore?
In today’s passage we will see that God is completely and utterly different from any earthly relationship. We’ll see that because of God’s sovereignty, and Christ’s death, ABSOLULTELY NOTHING – NO EARLTHY OR HEAVENLY CIRCUMSTANCE – CAN SEPARATE US FROM GOD’S LOVE FOR US
Let’s read…Romans 8:28-39
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Here there are two reasons why we cant be separated from God’s love and a surprise outcome
Why can’t we be separated from God’s love?
- Because God’s sovereign over all circumstances
Romans 8 is been an incredible picture of all that God has done for us and is doing for us now that he has made us his own. The climax of the passage in verses 28 to 30 says that he has a plan for each of us to become like Jesus. God's victory is so vast reaching that there is no single circumstance in our lives which is not being used as part of this sovereign plan.... and Paul wants Christians to feel a deep assurance of their place in this plan.
To emphasise this further Paul asks 5 questions in v 31 to 35 which reflect the kind of battle we live in, as Satan accuses us and does all he can to make us doubt who we are in Christ.
This is not new and is to be expected:
Remember the garden of Eden when he whispered "did God really say..."
Remember Job, and the waves of trials he faced as satan wanted him to doubt God
Satan wants us to doubt God’s love, and doubt what God has done for us in Christ.
So here in Romans, Paul was keen to spell out to the church that nothing they faced would be or could be an indication that God loved them any less. The Roman church literally faced or were about to face tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and the sword…. under the reign of Emperor Nero. In such circumstances it would be a normal human response to ask why is this happening to me?… is this God’s punishment for sin?... Is he taking his love away from me?
Some of the persecution and distress they would endure would be directly because of their faith.
So Paul quotes psalm 44… “For your sake –God’s sake - we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
The Psalm describes faithful men and women of Israel being ill treated because they were God’s and crying out to a victorious and sovereign God for rescue.
He uses the imagery of a sheep being led to the slaughter which is used in Isaiah of Christ himself… As Paul said in verse 17… as God’s children we will enter into Christ’s sufferings… but this is a proof that we are his heirs and so we can look forward to sharing with him in glory.
What are the circumstances in your life that are difficult right now?
What things may satan have brought your way in an attempt to shake your faith and cause you to doubt God’s love? And his sovereign plan?
The attacks may be more subtle than they were in Rome … did God really say there are only two genders? Did God really say marriage is only between a man and a women? Did God really say that inward beauty is of more value than outward attractiveness? But not even the hostility that the world may show us can separate us from God’s love
In fact he goes on to say to conclude the whole section by reiterating again that nothing that could ever happen, neither in life or death, earth or heaven, in time or space, present or future … there is nothing in all creation could ever separate us from God’s love.
So we can have assurance that we will always be loved by God because God is absolutely sovereign over every thing in our lives and nothing can thwart his plan in making us his.
- Why can’t we be separated from God’s love?
because we are in Christ Jesus
We often think that love is dependent on circumstances and feelings. Humanly it often is. Marriage promises are too often abandoned because of changes in circumstances and feelings.
But God’s love for us is based on something else far more concrete… the unalterable fact that Christ has died for us. We see this in verse 37 and in verse 39 –
v 37… when Paul says "through him who loved us" – he’s not saying God used to love us… but rather through him who’s love for us was made permanent through at a particular point history – namely at the cross… in Romans 5 Paul says that God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The fact that Christ died for us cannot be undone or changed and this is what God’s love for us is based on.
And then in Verse 39 we read that “nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD”
It is Christ’s death in our place and our union with him that makes God’s love for us possible
So God’s love for us is based on two absolutely unchangeable facts… God’s sovereign plan to love us, and the historical event of Christ’s death and resurrection in our place
But here’s the wee surprise…
In verse 37, Paul says we are more than conquerors through him who loved us…
How can we be more than conquerors in the midst of our suffering?
Back in verse 28 we see what victory will look like… it is God’s sovereign plan for us is to be made like his son. This is the ultimate expression of the greatness of his love... he wants the best for us… he has saved us and now his love for us is gloriously restoring us to into the image of our saviour – Jesus Christ. We will reign with Christ in glory one day… and all of satans attempts to thwart this will just become tools in God’s hands to advance this good and perfect purpose in our lives.
So... back to Anne… she and we may well experience disappointment, rejection and hurt in relationships that are earthly… but if we are united to Christ, there is one relationship that will never disappoint us or let us down. We can be absolutely assured of God’s love in whatever we face because God has saved us in Christ and because he is working out his plan to make us like Christ.
Save the Date!!
Two great opportunities coming up for you to pop in your diaries
First: our next and last w2w of the term is a film night on June 7th in the café/lower hall. We’ll be watching War Room – a powerful, inspirational and thought provoking drama about the impact prayer can have in our lives.
Watch the trailer here
Second: Tickets have just gone on sale for the next Scottish Women’s Bible Convention on 7th October. This year Author Clare Heath-Whyte will be speaking from Luke chapter 7 where Jesus encounters various people. There will be seminars too. More details to follow. If you buy tickets before the end of July you get an early bird Discount. They sold out last year before the conference so don’t leave it too late! More information and tickets here
Home from home…..where is my home?
Over the past months we’ve featured in the W2W blog some interviews with women who are not originally from Edinburgh. While they’ve made Carrubbers their church “home” their roots are elsewhere. But for others, like Rachel Meadows, Edinburgh and Carrubbers are very much “home”. Recently Rachel has been thinking about this and has agreed to share some of her thoughts with us here. Feel free to connect with her if you’d like to chat with her about what she has written. Rachel.firstname.lastname@example.org
Where is your Home? How would you define Home? These are some of the questions I have been mulling over for quite some time now and it is clear to me the answer is not always a completely straight forward one. People have different experiences and views and come from all different types of backgrounds and cultures. I am aware I do not have all the answers as I have only ever known one type of experience. I cannot answer for those who have lived in a variety of places or do not have close family. I can however share with you what my personal experience of home has been so far and how I would define it.
Home is a place. I’ve always lived in Edinburgh. It has been a fantastic place to grow up in and I am immensely proud of coming from such a beautiful city, rich in things to see and do and people to socialise with. Edinburgh is very much the place I call my home. I always feel a real sense of pride when I look up at Edinburgh castle on (the occasional) sunny evening or hear the bagpipes as I walk through Princes Street or down the Royal Mile.
Home is family. I have grown up in a family where I have been shown constant love, support, security and acceptance. My parents have guided me wisely and as an adult I count them as my greatest friends. Our house was always an incredibly lively household. I am the eldest of four children and was permanently surrounded with constant noise and busyness. My mum was always there to greet us when we came home from school every day and my dad would read us exciting stories before bed when he came home every night. These were special times where I felt very safe and treasured. But like any normal family we have known our share of stresses and sorrows, but we have always come out the other end and worked together. To me, my family is what I would define as home.
Home is extended family. My Grandparents have always set a fine leading example and have been instrumental in showing us all examples of patience, kindness and gentleness throughout my life and how to instil these qualities into the home. I have also been richly blessed with a large extended family where get-togethers consist of family sing songs around the piano, dance offs in the living room as well as the kettle never being off. These times are loud, haphazard, fun, relaxing, cosy, joyful and full of love. These are times that I am truly grateful and thankful for.
Home is my church community. I have been blessed to grow up in a church (Carrubbers) where I can walk in on a Sunday morning and I am known and accepted. It is a place where I feel truly comfortable and supported. I know people understand me there and can see my worth. It is the place I feel encouraged to be nothing less than myself. The people that go there feel like one big family to me.
Friends also feel like home. Spending time with them often feels like getting into a comfy favourite pair of shoes. You can be silly, ditsy and funny, serious or sad and they will stand by you and love you through all the sunshine and the storms. And so.to me, a place, my family, extended family, church and friends all contribute to my understanding of what home means to me - and I know I am very blessed. . This is something that has become increasingly apparent to me the older I get.
Yet, home is more than the sum of all these things. Home is where peace, love and goodness reign. It is a place where you feel accepted no matter what, where you are secure with being who you are and are encouraged to be and do your very best with the gifts God has given. It is a place of familiarity, trust, laughter and joy.
And then, there’s our Heavenly Home! Heaven is a place which has always been talked about with great excitement in my family. Every time my Grandad leaves our home his parting words to us are "keep looking up, there's a better day coming". This has always inspired me to think with hope and live life with a joyful attitude, knowing there is something even better in store. One of the songs we sing together at family gatherings is an old hymn called "Meeting in the air". It is a song filled with great joy as we look forward to meeting people we read about in the bible, all sorrows gone on that glorious day when we will meet Jesus. One of my favourite parts of the song is
I am going to meet you, meet you there in that home beyond the sky,
Such singing you will hear never heard by mortal ear
'Twill be glorious, I do declare;
And God's own son will be the leading one at that meeting in the air".
When I was little Pastor Wayne Sutton used to say to my Dad about myself and my siblings "you have such treasures man!" This has always made me view other people as precious treasure. People are what make my life truly rich.
I have always liked to imagine that one day all my family and friends will be in heaven with me. I pray that they will be the treasure God has stored for me and we will all live together at peace in our everlasting home with Jesus reigning as the one true king.
Some of my favourite verses are in Revelation 21: 4-8. "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away". Over the last few years I have seen friends and family face many hardships and suffering. The reality is that this life is far from easy and that verse always makes me feel relieved that one day we shall no longer endure the hardships of this life. This is the heavenly home I look forward to. Let’s encourage one another to "keep looking up" because "the sky not the grave is our goal."
W2W Blog: Praying for our teens
I think teenage years are one of the hardest stages of our lives… yesterday we saw the teens God has given our church family at Carrubbers stand up and declare that like Daniel they want to put God above other things in life. The reality is far harder to live out as we well know. So today, lets pray for them (and their parents who need God’s wisdom to guide them through these years).
If you don’t know any by name to pray for that’s ok… God knows each one… each is fearfully and wonderfully made (psalm 139)… he knows how to answer your prayers in each of their lives…
(Prayers are taken from Daniel chapter 1… from the book each of them was given yesterday: Rachel Jones “5 Things to Pray for the People you Love”)
1. Pray that each of our teens would have citizenship in heaven (Dan1:3)
First, lets pray that each of them makes, or continues to hold fast to the decision they’ve made to trust God for salvation. That they would have a keen sense of their identity in Christ. Just as God’s people were aliens in Babylon, pray that these teens would see themselves as a foreigner in this world but a citizen in heaven. As they begin to make decisions that affect the direction of their lives, pray that they would want to spend it working for the kingdom of heaven before any earthly employer
2. Pray that our teens would have firm resolve (Dan 1:8)
Pray that each one wold have the same firm resolve as Daniel, resisting the pressure to do what is wrong. As their peers and the media call on them to conform to “normal” teenage behaviour – gossip, sex, drunkenness etc – pray that this teenager would be prepared to stand up for what is right and be prepared to live a life that’s distinctively different.
3. Pray that they would have good health (Dan 1:15)
Whether its changing bodies, changing hormones, changing sleep patterns, changing work pressures, changing peer pressures or changing appetites… pray that God would keep these precious teens healthy physically, mentally and emotionally
4. Pray that our teens would have good knowledge and understanding (Dan 1:17)
Pray for these young people in their studies that they would have a good attitude which honours God, being eager and willing to learn. Pray that they would respect their teachers in the way they behave and that they would work hard to make the most of the gifts God has given them.
5. Pray that God would give them true wisdom (Dan1:20)
Ask God to give these teens a deep love for God’s word and a real desire to apply it to their lives. Wherever they stand in their faith right now, pray that God would increase their wisdom “ten times over”. Pray for their parents, Christian friends, bible class leaders, exodus leaders and all of us as their older sisters/ aunties in Christ that we would encourage them in their faith, and have wisdom to know how best to guide them and to model godliness to them.
Praise God he has given us these precious teens in our church family
W2W Blog: Wisdom in the secret heart
(adapted from Helen Azzopadri’s W2W talk on Psalm 51)
Over this past year we have been looking together at the different ways we pray and tonight we finish off with confessional prayer. Confession meaning acknowledging the wrong actions, words or thoughts (or our sin) before God and not only recognising them but saying sorry for them and asking for forgiveness. And we are in for a treat because Psalm 51 not only gives us a great framework for our own confessional prayers but also reveals to us why it is so important.
David was in a mess here. (see 2 Sam 11 and 12 for the background story) Lying, deceiving, an adulterer and a murderer. But what we will read here in Psalm 51 is David’s response to his wrongdoing and perhaps it will help us to learn how we can respond to our own.
‘Have mercy on me’ – (vs 1-2)
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
What we see in this first section is David appealing to God for forgiveness. And this forgiveness for his sins will come only through God’s ‘abundant mercy’ and nothing else and I think David knows this full well. There a few different words for sin here in these opening verses; transgressions, iniquity, sin and evil down in verse 4 and interestingly they actually all have slightly different meanings.
- Sin – is to completely act against God’s law and rebel against Him
- Transgression – is like to ‘cross the line’
- Evil – a wicked or immoral act
- Iniquity – is to twist or act unjustly
So we can see that sin takes many guises. Sometimes we twist the truth about a situation to make us look better or to avoid blame. Or we out-rightly decide we want to ignore God’s laws for example being the place of sex in marriage. I am sure that we are guilty of at least one if not all of these at one stage in our lives and that is why we, and David here in the Psalm, are so in need of God’s mercy.
‘I confess’ – (vs 3-6)
3For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret heart.
This is the part where David recognises his wrongdoing. Based on what we know from 2 Samuel 11&12 it doesn’t seem as if David fully grasped the extent of his sin until the prophet Nathan pointed it out to him. Now we don’t know what was going on in David’s head prior to that but I think its certainly true of me that sometimes it takes someone close to me to graciously point out where I am going wrong and guide me towards an attitude or action that is pleasing to God. Sometimes it is hard to see all the sin within us but we can learn here that when we are aware of it we need to take it straight to the Lord and confess it. Now David knows that the sin is his own and that God would be fully justified to bring judgement upon him. Because it is only against God that he has sinned (vs4). This isn’t to suggest that others haven’t been hurt through the consequences of David’s wrongful actions; Bathsheba left a widower and Uriah dead. But David acknowledges that God is the ultimate judge for sin and therefore He is the one we must confess to.
‘Renew me and restore me’ – (vs 7-12)
7Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
This is the moment in the Psalm where the mood changes. We move away from talking about sin and judgement and see many references of being made new and made clean. David has made his request and has confessed his sin before God with faith in what God will do next. And I think it’s in these verses where we really see Jesus in this Psalm. David knows it is only God who can make him ‘whiter than snow’. Now Art is one of the things at school I was worst at. I was the pupil who when the teacher walked past they would say ‘That’s interesting Helen…what is it supposed to be?’ But one thing I do remember is about primary colours. Yellow, Blue and Red and how you can mix these colours to make lots of other ones. So lets imagine the sin within us is represented as black paint, and the blood shed by Jesus on the cross is red. If we were to actually mix those colours we would end up with some sort of dark red or brown. But what this passage is in fact saying is that your sin, covered by Jesus’ blood actually makes a really pure white, a white that is whiter than snow. Bright, new and clean. In verse 9 David asks God to ‘blot out his iniquities’ which literally means to have them removed from the record book. And we know that this is what Jesus has done for us on the cross, he has wiped that slate clean and because of that sacrifice we can have that clean heart. So we are renewed but also restored. Our relationship with God is restored and so is our joy in the salvation that God has graciously given.
‘Then I will worship…’ – (vs 13-19)
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17My sacrifice, O God, is17 Or The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
18May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
This final section shows David’s response to God’s restorative work in him. He is a new person with a new testimony to share with others. Not only is he thankful for God forgiving him but also he sees it will make him encourage others to turn away from sin and back to God.
Verse 14 says something important here which I want to highlight briefly. In the midst of David’s thankful response he asks to be ‘delivered from bloodguiltiness’. He recognised that as time went by he may go back to feeling guilty over the blood that was shed because of his wrongdoing and he wants God to continue to deliver or rescue him from that. How often do we deny ourselves the opportunity to move forward and enjoy the full restoration process that God gives because of our guilt? We should almost ask how dare we not forgive ourselves when God has? How can we hold back forgiveness of ourselves when God so freely gives it? I know sometimes it can seem easier to accept God’s forgiveness but not our own, which seems crazy when you say it out loud. Our sin can leave us feeling unqualified and worthless. Perhaps that’s because this what Satan wants, he doesn’t want us to feel released form that burden. But it can also be because we haven’t allowed God to do that full restoration process in us. We should not allow sin to condemn us because it makes us hopeless and keeps us from change. Romans 8:1+2 says, ‘Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of Spirit of life set [us] free from the law of sin and death” So yes we should allow ourselves to be convicted by sin, but not condemned. Because conviction should lead to repentance, enable inner change and bring us closer to God. Condemnation drives us away from God and that’s why I think David asks to be delivered from his guilt, so that he can experience the freedom from guilt and the joy and peace there is in being brought near to God once more.
Being this new person with this new testimony David can now be a true worshipper of God because he does not have that sin holding him back or burdening him. And all of this testifies to God’s mercy in forgiving David his sins and his restorative power in making David this new man, the man we know to be a man after God’s own heart.
So why is it so important?
So now we have looked at the passage and been on that journey with David lets reflect for a moment on why prayers of confession are so important.
Firstly because it restores our broken relationship with God. Now it is interesting to note at the stop of the Psalm that this Psalm was written to the choirmaster. So in fact its been written as a song to be sung by the people of Israel. So this wasn’t exclusively David’s response to his own sin but actually was intended to be for all people to use to cry out to God for forgiveness, which includes us today. I think David had recognised something crucial here – for every single one of us it is sin that creates a barrier between us and God. And the only way for us all to restore that right relationship with God is for us to truly, and I mean truly, recognise the extent of our wrongdoing and come to His feet and repent.
Have you ever had a big falling out with a friend or family member over something? I know I have, and how much it can tear you apart and make you feel very distant from each other. But how when you can come to a place of reconciliation, say sorry and begin to restore that relationship again how freeing and relieving it feels?! Well sadly sin is just like a big argument in our relationship with God, it wrecks it and makes us feel far apart from him. Barbara Hughes says
“Unconfessed sin makes us avoid prayer because God seems distant but confession restores our relationship with Him and brings us back into his favour”.
Now we can see from this Psalm how well David knew and understood God’s character and his ‘abundant mercy’, he believed God was able to forgive all the terrible things he had done. Now what is even more amazing for us as Christians on this side of the cross is that we can have complete and unwavering confidence in God’s mercy and forgiveness because we know that Jesus took the punishment for all our sins, transgressions, iniquity and evil there on the cross. And there is nothing that he won’t forgive. We see in verse 16 that David knew that animal sacrifices would not be enough to cover his sin. But we know that Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can be made ‘whiter than snow’ and we can again have joy in His presence and enjoy that restored relationship with Him once more.
‘Wisdom in the secret heart’
Another reason this type of prayer is so significant is because it paves the way for the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts and begin to start that inner change in us. And this consequence of confessional prayer has almost been a revelation for me as I have studied this passage. In verse 5 David points out that we are all born under the curse of sin and enslaved by it and that no one is an exception to that. So this sin is not superficial, if we want to turn from our sinful ways and live the way God wants us to its not an outward change that needs to take place. The inner change that takes place within us is deep, because the sin runs deep. When Samuel anointed David back in 1 Samuel he said, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7) It is important to remember that when the Bible talks about heart, its not about love and emotions as it is seen is society. But the Bible says the heart is the wellspring of all our actions, the place we store God’s wisdom and make all our choices. So if we want God to teach us this ‘wisdom in the secret heart’ then we need to allow the spirit to do its transforming work within us. The way to allow that process to take place is to spend time in God’s presence, asking for forgiveness to be less like us and to be more like Him. The more we see how good God is and how broken we are the more we will want Him to teach us that ‘truth in the inward being’, that ‘wisdom in the secret heart’ so that our spiritual lives can grow and flourish and have that new testimony that David talks about.
Of course we will still fail, time and again, these confessional prayers don’t make us instantly perfect. Yes, we do mess up and do things that go against what God has said to us in His word. But God has provided us an incredible way, through his Son Jesus, to come to Him and repent from these things so that we can be restored that right relationship with Him and we can allow the spirit to do its transforming work in our hearts.
I think this quote sums up what we have looked at quite nicely
“The goal of confession is not self-abasement (meaning degrading yourself or putting yourself down) but a renewal of the joy and gladness that the faithful have in God’s presence”.
For reflection why not listen to this song written with the words of Psalm 51:
Shane and Shane “Psalm 51” Wisdom in the Secret Heart on Spotify or itunes.
Questions to think about:
- ‘Have mercy on me’ (v1-2) How does God’s character contrast with the nature of sin?
- ‘I confess’ (v3-6) Is it always easy to recognise our own sinful behaviour? Why/why not?
- ‘Renew me and Restore me’ (v7-12) Look at Ephesians 1:7-8. David asks God for a ‘clean heart’ and to be made ‘whiter than snow’. How does what Paul says reiterate the significance of Jesus’ work on the cross that makes us new?
- ‘Then I will worship’ (v13-19) When might it be good to share with others about the times we have known God’s forgiveness for our sins?
- How can our own guilt of sin hold us back from that restored relationship with God?
- Practically how does confessional prayer fit in with our daily prayers so that that inner change can take place in our hearts?
Tomorrow night we will be looking at one of the most powerful psalms of David as he pours out his soul to God. What's the story behind Psalm 51? It's none other than the lowest point of David's life; the story of David and Bathsheba...
if you've time before coming to women to women do read 1 Samuel 11 and 12 and remind yourself of David's adultery, the premeditated murder of Uriah and the endless lies as he tries to cover up the mess. No sign of remorse is mentioned until, months later when Nathan challenged him. And then he writes Psalm 51
We'd love you to join us as we look at the Psalm together tomorrow night to see how we can know forgiveness and restoration in our own lives.
We are… the Body of Christ
Recently I have been so struck as I’ve been reading through 1 Corinthians and Ephesians that we are the Body of Christ… the Body of Christ!!! This is part of our identity as God's people.
Here are a few things that have really blown my mind. I pray they will encourage you too and cause you to praise God as you consider what this wonderful aspect of who we are.
1 Cor 12: 12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many....
18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be....
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Being the body of Christ means:
- We are under Christ’s headship – It is the risen Christ who is our head, and God has placed all things under his feet and given him supremacy over all things (Col 1:18) The head is the place in the body that directs every part. He knows the way we are going and what the best way to get there is Eph 1:22-23 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
- We are all ONE body – forget the way we think about students and workers, male and female, internationals and locals or whatever other categories we put people into... whoever you are, wherever you're from, whatever you do... whether in Carrubbers, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, SE Asia, Syria, or wherever the church gathers… we are all ONE… we have the same Spirit in us... we are all brothers and sisters, in Carrubbers and across the world and one day will all be gathered together around the throne… We have one incredible hope, but while we are here on earth we need to care for each other as we would care for our own bodies: 1Cor 12 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Who do we need to be rejoicing or suffering with today?
- We are all different – sometimes I struggle with comparing myself to others, and sometimes I want to gravitate to people like me… or people I like… but God has made each of us different because it is in this diversity He is reflected and glorified. We can see something of Him in each other. He has given different gifts to each of us for the edification of one another … so I need to be the best ME I can be, to encourage you to be who God made you to be, and to celebrate the differences we have. If we were all the same, we wouldn’t be a body 1 Cor 12:14-20
- We need each other – we are all indispensable in the body of Christ… every single one of us is given gifts to serve and build up the church so that together we grow in maturity. Ephesians 4 : 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
- We have gifts that are given to bless and build one another up – Ephesians 4 and 1 Cor 12 talks about the leadership we have been given - we need to pray for these folks as they use their gifts among us - but they re not the only ones who are gifted in church. Each one of us has been given gifts and are empowered by the spirit to use them (1 Cor 12:11). Using our gifts we all enable the body work properly so that we will all be build up. Eph 4 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Now imagine attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ…
Praise God for making us the body of Christ!
Praying like Paul
Do you ever feel like you just don’t know what to pray for someone? Maybe it’s because you don’t know them too well - a missionary perhaps – or someone at prayer meeting or homegroup you haven’t known long. Or perhaps you find it hard because the situation they are in is so desperate you just don’t know what God’s will is for them - it’s hard to know what to ask for in such circumstances.
Paul’s prayers are a great way of praying for people, knowing confidently that you are praying in line with God’s will. The incredible fact is, as you pray scripture for them, God’s word will nourish your own heart too. There was Paul in prison after all, his circumstances were not looking good but his mind and heart are far from his own situation as he lifted up his brothers and sisters in Philippi. Paul’s prayers so often focus on knowing God more intimately, and becoming like Christ. There is often a note of rejoicing in what God has done and in what God will do as he brings to completion his plan of salvation for mankind. Such a focus in our prayer life helps us remember the bigger picture doesn't it?
In Philippians 1:8 Paul says, as he prays for the church, that he “long(s) for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.”
What did Paul mean when he said he longed for the Philippian Christians with the affection of Christ Jesus? I don’t think it was that he knew each person intimately in the way we might know family or close friends… I think this longing had more to do with the way God had helped Paul develop a heart like His own; seeing the Philippian believers as brothers and sisters, precious family members, all growing and reflecting God's glory.
This was one of the things we explored together as we met last time at Women to Women… Eilidh took us to a few passages that talked about the heart Jesus had for people… his compassion, his sacrificial love, his care for the people’s physical as well as their spiritual needs. And Jesus' love and affection is abundantly on offer to each one of us too. Even the fact that he lived on earth and experienced things like pain, emotion, temptation, frustration means that as well as dying for us, he is completely able to empathise with us as he intercedes at God’s right hand side.
As we pray for others, we'll be reflecting God's own heart as we lift them up, and through our prayers will grow to know Jesus more intimately.
Why not catch up with Eilidh’s talk from Philippians 1:1-11 (click here)
I’d also thoroughly recommend a book which has profoundly helped me think about Prayer. It’s Don Carson’s “Call to Spiritual Reformation” which looks at each of Paul’s prayers in turn.
Sue Rose writes...
At the last Missions Update evening Steve Packwood was heard to say something like ‘serving tea could be mission’ - and of course it must be, as Jesus said something like ‘giving a cup of water to the least of these’ would earn His blessing. As it happened, that evening I was just back from a weekend serving lots of cups of tea at Forum Scotland (new CU committee members’ training), so it got me thinking.
My thoughts went a bit like this: There’s no doubt that students on the frontline witnessing to their friends are ‘on mission’. So those selected to serve and organise them (committees) are on mission too. Then the team of older folk (UCCF staff) enabling, teaching and encouraging them (at forum and throughout the year) are on mission too. So the person in the kitchen feeding them all for the training weekend is on mission too - it won’t happen without her. But wait - I didn’t speak to anyone new about Jesus, so is that really ‘mission’?
I prefer to think of each level as ‘service’ - loving response to the love of God, in whatever form it takes. Each playing his/her own part willingly and sacrificially. There is no hierarchy of service; just one God, one body and one Spirit in us all. Whatever you are doing today, do it to the glory of God and as if serving Jesus directly. Does God want those students fed? Yes, - then it’s worth doing. Does God want you to do a good job in your place of employment? Yes, - then it’s worth doing.
Now I’m at SU Easter camp - sitting down pretty much for the first time in 3 days! I’m the background support but without me they couldn’t be reaching these children with Jesus’ love. And boy do they need it - a third of the 48 youngsters here have ‘additional needs’. One child for example is adopted, but is not living with her adoptive parents but with foster parents - who are on holiday so she is living with a friend of theirs who brought her to camp. Can you imagine how much she needs to know how precious and loved she is to God?
Pray for us! Pray for the young leaders on the team - and pray for the children who are learning that they are special and valuable to the God who created them. And give thanks for those who have contributed financially to allow many of these kids to be here!
Prayer for the Philippians
Having looked at the role of Jesus and the Spirit in our prayers, having thought about praying privately and publically, we are now going to spend some time looking at examples we have been given in God’s word of prayer… this one from Paul, and next month, we’ll look at a prayer of David’s…
Take some time to read through this prayer before we meet on Wednesday…
Phil 1: 3-11
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Do come and join us as we look at this incredible prayer and allow God’s word to challenge and encourage us.