Thought for the month – March 2019

“SEE THE UNSEEN”

Some of you know that I am a birder. A “birder” might be defined as an enthusiastic “birdwatcher”, but not as extreme as a “twitcher” (but we’ll not get hung up over the definitions…). Anyway, this year, a few of us are aiming to see 200 bird species in a calendar year, or if not, then at least beat our personal best (I managed 143 in 2018, so I need to step it up a bit this year!). So far, I am on 110, not a bad start to the year, and there will be some more to see at Camp (including the cliff nesting sand martins). To help us with our birding, we need some kit: usually binoculars (“bins”), perhaps a telescope and tripod (“scope”), and some intelligence (I don’t mean brainpower, I mean “intel” – some way of knowing where rarer birds have been seen, to make it easier to find them).

There is plenty of intel inside “Bird Watching” magazine, which contains lots of articles, hints and tips to improve your birding. One recent edition advertised a new piece of kit: the “binocular spotting scope”. This new concept combines the two eye pieces of bins, with the range of a scope. The ad said: “SEE THE UNSEEN”. With any additions to your birding kit-bag, you aim to see birds you’ve never seen before, that had only previously existed on the pages of the Collins Birds of Britain & Europe. Of course, the birds were there, but you couldn’t see them for yourself. Once you can see them, then you can study them: observe their plumage patterns and colours, their behaviour and flight, their calls and songs, their ecology: how they interact with the environment around them.

The same holds true with God. We know from the Bible that God is Spirit – that is, He is not a physical, but spiritual being (note that “not physical”, does not mean “not real”). How can we “see” God, if He is not physical? John 1 v 18 says “no one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” And Colossians 1 v 15 says “He (the Lord Jesus) is the image of the invisible God”.

So God can be seen, even though He is invisible. But we need to “use the right kit” to see Him – when we read about the life of Jesus in the Bible, we are actually learning about God, who He is, and what He is like. How good is your vision? Can you “see God”? It is easy to live life in purely physical or material ways, because our lives are dominated by things we can touch and feel. But although the physical realm all ultimately comes from God anyway, such that we can understand Him “in the things that have been made” (Romans 1 v 20), this should make us look deeper, to see the unseen.

Maybe you need some better kit. Yes, start with the Guide Book, the Bible. Find out what God is like, what to look for, how does He interact with His people? But remember that it’s one thing knowing what a bird looks like from a book, but you need to experience it first-hand. Now the question has changed: not just have you seen God, but do you know Him? After all, “this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” John 17 v 3.

We ought not to think of God as something to tick-off on our bucket list though, and move on to the next thing. The point is – we need to see Him, and then we need to experience Him for ourselves.

Jon Bustard, Young Christians’ Camp Leader

Thought for the month – December 2018

The summer at Bible Camp seems a long time ago. December has arrived, and Christmas is in sight. Many of us are looking forward to time off to relax and enjoy with family. But there’s opportunity to think again about the wonderful message of God reaching out to mankind.

God was manifest in flesh
1 Timothy 3v16

The Bible teaches that in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, ‘God was manifest in flesh’. How wonderful that God revealed Himself to us in the Lord Jesus. The perfection, justice, power and love of God was all shown to us in a unique Man, the Son of God and He ‘lived among us’ that His glory could be witnessed and appreciated.

The wonderful thing for us is the purpose of it all. The Son of God was given so that He would suffer and die to pay the price for sin at the cross. God’s plan was that He would be ‘believed on in the world’ – that ordinary people would trust in Him in all His perfection as the One that can bring personal forgiveness through His death. He was ‘received up into glory’ accepted by God for all that He has accomplished and because He lives, we can know eternal life.

Have you received the eternal life that the Lord Jesus can give? Don’t leave it until Bible Camp next year but thank God for His Son now and ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved’ (Acts 16v31).

Andrew Dutton

Thought for the month – October 2018

Well it’s October and it’s time for the thought of the month, but how important will this thought be to you? Will it be a thought that will change your life?
Will it be a thought that will bring you hope?
Will it be a thought that will lift your heart?
Or will it be a thought that will not touch you at all?

I was 18 years old when I sat in church one Tuesday evening. I remember that night over 32 years ago, how sad and how far from the Lord I was, going my own way and doing my own thing. Then it happened! The Lord intervened in my life in such a powerful way and changed my life forever. Now what about you? Have you had that change within?

Let me ask you a question. Are you saved? Have you asked the Lord Jesus Christ into your life? The Bible says in Romans 10v13 ‘For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
You may have come to camp this year and you wanted so desperately to call, but you didn’t. Then call upon Him now!
‘Lord save me!’ is all it takes. I believe if those words come from your heart then that’s enough and you will receive salvation.

The Lord Jesus is a wonderful saviour. One who will help you in every aspect of your life, at school, at College, at University, at work. In every situation you find yourself in He will be there helping and guiding you. He is so able to help you in your every need.
‘Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us’ Ephesians 3v20.
I will be honest with you, I have always found my Christian life hard. But deep down in my heart there is a longing to love and serve The Lord, to know Him more and to walk close with Him.

May you and all who read this simple thought have a longing like this, and may The Lord use this for His glory and honour.

Paul Fox

Thought for the month – September 2018

Can you believe it! Camp is over again for another year, and as fast as the camp site was put up it has to come down again. It’s all over so quickly! September is here, and very soon it will be back to school, college or work. But don’t forget what you learnt at Camp, will you? We do so much at Camp, don’t we? You’ll have lots of memories, maybe some photos, or a even a stick of rock from Sheringham (do people still do that these days?!). What did you enjoy – some good food, exciting sports, fun activities, walks up the Bump, trips to Cromer, all these are good things for us to enjoy.

But if that’s all you can remember, then you’ve forgotten the heart of Camp – it is a place where God is present and working among each of the groups at Camp. Sometimes perhaps we do forget for a moment – the sessions where the speakers and leaders guide us through the Bible, and teach us what it means for us today.

In Genesis 28 v 10-22 a man called Jacob realised that where he was camping was also more than just a camp site. He didn’t have much kit with him, no marquee or bell tent, definitely no cookhouse! Verse 11 says:

“And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep.”

Jacob might not have had a pillow, but he must have had an amazing view of the stars, with no light pollution to interfere, a bit like Camp. That night Jacob had a dream, which God used to tell him things that would shape his life for years to come. The promises God made to him to give him and his offspring a land, that he would be a blessing to countless others, to bring him back after years of wanderings, and to be with him, made such an impression upon him that he said:

Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And later “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

What an incredible experience! Jacob was a changed man as a result, and knew that the place was significant – and not just for stargazing. He set up that “pillow-stone” as a pillar, naming the place Bethel – the house of God.

Do we think of Camp in the same way? Enjoying lots of things without realising that “the Lord is in this place” – that He has something to say to us. He has spoken at Camp – but were we listening? God has promises for us too, a home in heaven, work to do for Him to help others, and the fulfilment of His presence with us. If you realise these things as many others have done over the years, you too can “set up a pillar” so to speak – by taking that decision to accept Him and His message for yourself, and begin a journey to follow Him. Don’t be at the house of God and stay outside. Don’t be at the gate of heaven and not go in.

Jon Bustard (Young Christians’ Camp Leader)

Thought for the month – July 2018

You have probably noticed that we are in the middle of the football World Cup finals. Depending on when you read this, one of several things could have happened:

  • England won the World Cup
  • England were knocked out of the World Cup
  • A team faced penalties and won
  • A team faced penalties and lost

Football is dominating the headlines, the tv and the radio at the moment. Some people, like me, will love that, others, like my wife, will not. Whatever your thoughts on the “beautiful game” please bear with me for a little while as we consider some of the phrases and terms you might associate with a football match, but also can be applied to our lives too.

A game going to penalties is probably one of the most nerve-wracking experiences for a fan and probably for the players too. We don’t know what the outcome will be. You hope that your team will score and the other team will miss, that your goalkeeper will be the hero having saved at least one. There are two words that are important to the Christian there, penalty and saved.

In life we go through many different experiences, some good, some not so good, some of our choosing, some not. We make our own decisions and sometime we make bad choices, we get ourselves into trouble; doing things, saying things we know we shouldn’t. The Bible tells us that we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. In other words we all do wrong. Importantly, the Bible also tells us the result of that sin; the wages of sin is death. The penalty we face for the wrongdoing, the sin in our life is to be separated from God forever, an eternity facing the consequences of the actions of our life; the wages for our sin.

However, we can be saved. Saved from this lost eternity, reconciled with God and welcomed one day into a wonderful place he has prepared for us in heaven.

How? Simply by putting our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, his son. The Bible tells us that whilst we were still sinners Christ died for us. He died in order that our sins could be punished, but he rose again to overcome the penalty of sin; death. He came to give us eternal life. He gives the greatest gift you could ever receive; your salvation.

So as the World Cup continues, look at the cross on the flag of England and think of the work that the Lord Jesus did for you on a cross at Calvary and ask yourself “am I saved from the penalty of my sins?”

There are still spaces left on camp this year, so if you haven’t already, get your application form in now.

Nick Lincoln

Thought for the month – June 2018

Royal Celebrations

Last month the world was presented with a spectacular event. On Saturday 19 May 2018, attention was focused on the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, which was held in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. On the morning of the wedding it was announced that the Queen had conferred a Dukedom on Prince Henry of Wales. Consequently, Prince Harry is His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex, and Meghan Markle has become Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex. After the wedding ceremony, they commenced a procession in the Ascot Landau carriage pulled by two Windsor Grey horses.

This reminded me of a far more stunning sequence of Royal events that will occur in the future, but the precise timing has not been revealed. The first event is the marriage of the Lamb (Jesus Christ) to his wife, the Church (all real Christians). A marriage supper is then prepared to celebrate this occasion[1]. Prior to all this, the Lord Jesus will have rescued Christians away from the impending 7-year Tribulation on earth[2]. We are not granted a Dukedom, but are made “unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10). Jesus Christ will be established as the King of Kings, universally seen returning from heaven to the Mount Olivet[3] in Israel. He is established as the victorious Sovereign to reign on earth for 1,000 years from Jerusalem, and we will reign with Him. He will arrive riding a white horse, and his entourage will be armies on white horses. All His enemies (those who do not accept Him as Lord and Saviour) will be instantaneously defeated by Him[4]. The apostle Paul informs Christians “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4).

The apostle John is the only New Testament writer to use the Lord Jesus’ title “the Lamb”, firstly reporting Him being announced by John the Baptist as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The Lord Jesus is the sacrifice and His blood, which was shed when He died on the cross, secures our freedom from the penalty and power of sin.[5] Emphasising the importance of faith, the apostle Paul refers to Jesus Christ as the One “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation” (Ephesians 1:13). Have you trusted the Lord Jesus as your Lord and Saviour? If so, you can look forward with great anticipation to the marriage of the Lamb celebrations and those ensuing glorious and victorious events. If not, only judgement awaits. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Therefore “being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:8, 9).

Michael Sparkes (Committee member & Junior Camp Support worker)

[1] Revelation 19:6-9

[2] 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 4:16-17

[3] Revelation 1:7;  Zechariah 14:4

[4] Revelation 19:11-21

[5] 1 Peter 1:18-19; Ephesians 1:7

Thought for the month – May 2018

For some people, this time of year is the final revision period for GCSE exams – when all the learning and work eventually equates to a grade. The key to a good grade is to be prepared.

In my old English classroom there used to be a phrase on the wall, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”.
…could I suggest that this applies spiritually too. God gives us this life time, whether long or short, to prepare for eternity. “Prepare to meet thy God (Amos 4v12)” “God… commandeth all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17v30)”

Are you prepared for eternity? Heaven or hell are the only two outcomes. We are all sinners and do not meet God’s holy standards. But, through repentance (turning from sin to God) and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the one who died on the cross for sinners, and rose again, we can have eternal life as a gift. “The gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6v23)”

I wish all those who are taking exams in the coming days all the best. But I trust all who are reading this are prepared for eternity. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16v31)”.

Looking forward to seeing all those who will be at the camp rally in June and at the camps this summer God willing (get your forms in quick)!

Andy

Thought for the month – April 2018

Chocolate eggs. Bunnies. Spring flowers. These are the things many people think of when it comes to Easter time – and indeed they are all things I am fond of too! However, the real meaning of Easter is often hidden away – the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

A recent news story told of a police officer in France who was prepared to swap places with a hostage in a supermarket, and ultimately lost his life. The Lord Jesus did so much more than this for us when he took our place on the cross, taking on himself the punishment for our sins so that we can be forgiven. ‘”He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”‘ 2 Peter 2:24

The story doesn’t end there. Jesus rose from the dead the third day and is now a living Saviour, seated at the right hand of God and awaiting the day when he will call his people to himself.

Jesus gave so much for us. Have you ever accepted for yourself what he has done, asking him to be your Saviour and committing your life to live for and serve Him? Then you will know what it is to ‘have life, and have it to the full.’ John 10:10

Jo Leftley

Thought for the month – March 2018

The 1st of March in 2018 is the meteorological first day of spring. However, the arrival of the “Beast from the East” weather will ensure that it will be more like winter than spring.

Did you know our cycle of winter and summer, cold and heat, sowing and reaping is one of the earliest promises God made to men and women? After the flood in Genesis, God said this to Noah “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen 8:22).

Spring is, however, just around the corner. The days are getting longer and, as the sun rises earlier and sets later, its warmth will begin to disperse the cold and cause the daffodils and other spring flowers to blossom. The birds will start singing and the leaves will begin to grow on the trees. These are all the evidence of the new life in our natural world.

As we watch the new life unfold all around us, it reminds of the new life that God wants each person in His world to have. The Bible says that because of our sin we are under the judgment and penalty of death. The apostle Paul tells us in Romans that “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3v23). He also tells is that “The wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). If we have not believed that the Lord Jesus died for our sin and asked His forgiveness, then this is our position before God.

Just like the advent of spring, brings hope for warmer brighter weather, so the Apostle Paul has words of hope for us regarding our sins. I have only quoted the first part of the Romans 6 v23, listen to what the second part tells us – “The gift of God is eternal life”. This gift is possible because of the death of the Lord Jesus upon the Cross. Paul tells us that “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).

In 2 Corinthians 5 verse 17 we read this, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”. Have you believed in the Lord Jesus? If not, believe in Him today and not only will you enjoy the new life of spring, but you will also enjoy God’s new life, a life that begins now and will be enjoyed throughout eternity.

David & Mary Honeyball

Thought for the month – February 2018

I want to share a little piece I read recently – does it ring a bell?

Connection To?

Do you ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our mobile phone?

What if we carried it around in our bag or pocket?
What if we flipped through it several times a day?
What if we turned back to get it if we forgot it?
What if we used it to receive messages from the text?
What if we treated it like we couldn’t manage without it?
What if we used it when we travelled, to show us the way?
What if we used it in case of emergency?

This is something to make you go… hmm… where is my Bible?

Oh, and two more things…
You never have to worry about the battery dying because it has eternal life.
And, unlike our mobile phone, we don’t have to worry about our Bible being disconnected because GOD has already paid the bill!

Makes you stop and think ‘where are my priorities?’
And no missed calls!

“How can a young man (or woman) keep his/her way pure? By guarding it according to your word” Ps 119 v 9 ESV
“I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” Ps 119 v 11 ESV

John Leftley