Thought for the month – August 2016

When God Baffles You

I’m writing this with two weeks of camp already over and done with and the third about to start. Sadly there’s not going to be a Young Christians’ camp this year. Sometimes it’s hard to understand why some things happen and it baffles us. The plans were all made for the camp. Speakers were ready and leaders had taken holiday from work. The only people not there were campers. As Christians, and a committee, we know that God is not surprised by anything and He has a purpose for our lives. God knew there would be no final camp this year — and He has a purpose in that.

If you were to ask many Christians, I’m sure they would tell you of things that have happened in their lives that baffle them. Why would God allow it to happen? On the face of it, it doesn’t seem like the best — but God does have a purpose. As people we like things to be going well, but when they are we tend to forget that everything we have comes from God and we need to always rely on Him. Isaiah 55 v 8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We need to remember that God only wants the best for us and that best is a life following Him; learning more of Him.

Something else that baffles many people is the gift of the Lord Jesus as a sacrifice for their sin. Why would God the Father send God the Son to do that? A very well-known verse gives us the answer to that question. John 3 v 16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” There is a division between us and God; the division of sin, but John 3 v 16 tells us what’s at the heart of God’s dealings with us — LOVE. Just like parents who love their children and want the best for their children, God’s love means that He doesn’t give us what we want but what we need. Everyone needs to be reconciled to God through the Lord Jesus. For those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus as Saviour they need to live a life that is pleasing and honouring to God. Baffling circumstances can bring us to God for the first time or draw us closer to Him in our Christian life. If you have difficulties in your life, ask the Lord to help you. Keep trusting in Him no matter how hard. He loves you. Remember, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5 v 6-7

Carrie

Thought for the month – July 2016

Camp 2016 is scheduled to start this month (July) and is for set for four consecutive separate weeks. We hope many of you reading this will enjoy the experience of one of those weeks, or facilitate the attendance. We know that some young people are unable to come this year because of other commitments, but we trust you will still think of us and pray for us, and maybe have the opportunity to attend another year.

Repercussions. Life is full of decisions. Some seem relatively minor and appear to have few (if any) long-term consequences. What shall I wear today? What should I eat for my next meal? Other decisions clearly have significant implications for the future. How much shall I study for my exams? Whether to marry, and to whom? To which University (if any) do I apply? There is a decision that has the most far-reaching implications. That centres on the question: “Where will I spend eternity?” The alternatives are often summed up in the posed question: “Heaven or Hell?”

Restrictions. By now, decisions should have been made about whether to attend Camp this year. At the time of writing, there is still opportunity for some to enrol for this year’s Camp, but time is running out. With the best will in the world, you would not be able to attend Camp this year if you left the decision until the end of August. The opportunity will have passed. The ‘by-default’ decision would have been not to attend. Many of our decisions are similarly time-restricted. The decision regarding our eternal destination and current spiritual welfare is time-limited as the Bible says, “behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). We dare not leave the decision too late. To delay at all is a danger. “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1)

Regime. Many decisions have an effect on the way we live. The decision to attend a particular school or place of employment may affect what we should wear. A uniform may be required, and we have to obey the establishment’s regulations. If we chose to live in another country, we have to keep the laws of that land. The overall decision of the recent Referendum was that the UK should leave the European Union. One of the main arguments put forward to leave the EU was regarding sovereignty. Who should determine the way we live? A similar choice is made regarding our spiritual lives. Under what regime will I live? Those who are destined for heaven are described as heavenly citizens: “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20 NKJV). For the true Christian, there has been a change of rulership. “[God the Father] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13 NKJV). The decision for the UK to leave the EU has been made by majority of the voters, but the actual change has to be effected by those in power. It will also take two years to put into effect. The decision to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour is an individual personal decision. The change effected is by the power of God, but is done instantaneously.

Requirements. Apart from time restrictions, there are often particular requirements to be satisfied regarding decisions we make. Acceptance at a certain university may require achieving a particular level or grade of exam. School placements may depend on where you live. The requirement for the Kingdom of God is the New Birth “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). This comes about through repentance and faith. Repent: “[God] now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30). Believe: “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: … through faith in his blood” and “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).

Review. To quote from a song, “We’re reviewing the situation”. “Remain or Leave?” is a frequent choice. Maybe it is “Do I remain in my job, or do I leave for employment elsewhere?” For my holiday, “Do I remain in the UK or leave for a foreign location?” Recently the political choice has been “Remain in the EU or Leave”. Despite the warnings given, that choice is not the most important in a lifetime. The most important decision you will make is “Do I remain in the jurisdiction of darkness in my sin, or leave for the kingdom of God’s Son?” The consequences are not just for life; they are for eternity.

Barry Stoller composed the well-recognised “Match Of The Day” theme tune. A song that was sung to its first part for many years (with variations in lyrics) asked a very important personal question.

Why don’t you put your trust in Jesus
And ask Him to come in?
He saw your need from up in heaven
And came to die for sin.
So ask Him now to be Your Saviour;
Invite Him in today:
He will strengthen, guide and keep you
As you walk the narrow way;-
He will strengthen, guide and keep you
As you walk the narrow way.

Why don’t you put your trust in Jesus?
He’s more than just a friend,
For He will guide you and protect you
And will keep you to the end.
Why don’t you put your trust in Jesus
And let him take control?
He’s the Son of God who loves you
And He died to save your soul;
He’s the Son of God who loves you
And He died to save your soul.

(ANONYMOUS – COPYRIGHT CONTROL)

Michael Sparkes
Committee Member and Support Leader on Junior Camp (Week 1)

Thought for the month – March 2016

Welcome to 2016, although I confess it is already March (#howdidthathappen?). Astronomical Spring is upon us, even if meteorological winter has just arrived (which, being interpreted, means it’s cold when it should be warm!). My own 2016 got off to a worrying start, when I opened an email headed:

DART CHARGE WARNING LETTER – PENALTY CHARGE NOTICE

I had used the new toll-free M25 Dartford Crossing for work, and had forgotten to pay the toll. Perhaps my mistake was thinking it was toll-free, whereas in fact the new system is free-flow tolling where you just drive through and pay online by midnight the next day. Trouble was, I didn’t, and now I was in trouble!

I read with a deepening frown across my brow. The damage? £70! I could scarcely contain my rage. How much?! Uncertain whether I sounded more like John McEnroe (You cannot be serious!) or Victor Meldrew (I don’t belieeeve it!), I read on. “If you pay your outstanding crossing charge by X date we’ll cancel this penalty charge.” The Department for Transport were apparently lenient to first time offenders, it being a new system. How generous I thought as I penned my grovelling appeal letter.

Trouble was, I did forget to pay, I was guilty of the charge, and I should strictly speaking have had to pay up. Grovel I must, and grovel I did. As I signed my name to the letter, I suddenly realised that there is an obvious spiritual lesson here. The Bible puts it even more clearly than the Penalty Charge Notice:

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” — Romans 3 v 23

“For the wages of sin is death…” — Romans 6 v 23

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive…” — Ephesians 2 v 4

Just as I couldn’t argue with the number plate recognition cameras, I can’t argue with God that I’m morally accountable to Him and have failed His standards of perfection. I know the penalty — spiritual death is due to me, but remarkably God offers me an opportunity to waive the penalty! I didn’t have to pay the toll charge, and I don’t have to answer to God for my sin because He offers me mercy — I don’t receive what I deserve.

Unlike the Dartford Crossing, the penalty for my sins was not simply waived, “God might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” — Romans 3 v 26. God’s Son Jesus Christ paid the price of His life, so that God the just was satisfied to look on Him and pardon me.

One final reflection on my letter. I was given a period of grace, within which I could escape the fine. The human race is also given a day of grace where God extends His kindness to us. Paul put it this way: Behold now is the favourable time, now is the day of salvation — 2 Corinthians 6 v 2. Why do we wait to take advantage of it?

The gospel message is all around us if we care to look: the question is, are we taking any notice?

See you @ YPBC in the summer!

Jon – Young Christians’ Bible Study Camp Leader

Thought for the month – September 2015

New Beginnings

Back to school, back to college, back to work! All the routine activities that are not as nice as holiday experiences are back to normal. The summer holidays are now just a memory.

But though the month of September marks the end of the holiday season, it’s often a time for new beginnings; a time for new opportunities to start. From starting a new year at school to taking on a new course or job, it marks a time for new things to begin. This can be exciting and good for us.

The Lord Jesus spoke of a new beginning, but it was much more than a new start, or even a second chance. The Lord Jesus was speaking to a man called Nicodemus about being ‘born again’. We can read the story in John chapter 3.

“Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God” the Lord Jesus explained. Nicodemus must have had a look of confusion on his face. He just could not understand. “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Nicodemus questioned. The Lord went on to explain to Nicodemus that He wasn’t speaking about natural birth, but spiritual birth. This was something different to what Nicodemus had first imagined. It involved cleansing; it involved receiving life from above. After all, birth is the start of life and the Lord Jesus explained that new birth was receiving life ‘from above’; life from God.

But as the conversation between the Lord Jesus and Nicodemus developed, matters were to become more personal. You “must be born again,” the Lord Jesus said. This was addressed directly to Nicodemus. Nicodemus clearly obeyed the command of the Lord Jesus since he followed Him as a disciple. It was the greatest new beginning for Nicodemus; it was new life that he received. This was much more than a new start, or new opportunity!

So as you are starting new activities this September, think about Nicodemus and the new birth; the everlasting life that he received from God.

It is important that each one of us receives the cleansing and the new life that God offers. It comes through being sorry to God for sin and believing in the Lord Jesus, God’s Son, who died to pay the price sin deserved. Are you ‘born again?’

Andrew Dutton
Speaker, Senior camp 2015

Thought for the month – August 2015

It is August, and the Camps have started. The Senior Camp took place in the last week of July, and the Junior and Young Christians Camps are due during the first three weeks of August. If you are a camper, I hope that you will be able to look back on an enjoyable time. I hope too that you will not forget the teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Two recent sporting achievements caught my attention. The first was the England women’s football team gaining bronze in the Women’s World Cup. It was the best achievement for an English football team in 25 years. The second was the tennis success of Serena Williams at Wimbledon. She was not only a grand slam winner by being the Ladies Singles Champion. She also completed the ‘Serena Slam‘ as the holder of all four major titles at the same time, and moved closer to the calendar-year grand slam.

The Christian life has parallels with the sporting arena. It is compared to athletics by the writer to the Hebrews “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 NKJV) and by the apostle Paul: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” (1 Corinthians 9:24 NKJV). The sportswomen who gained recognition by their trophies were rewarded for their devotion and dedication, not their claims and costume. Looking and talking the part of a winner was not enough. However, very often there are awards other than for the main event. For instance, USA’s Carli Lloyd won FIFA Women’s World Cup ‘Goal of the Tournament’ accolade.

Each area of sport has its rules and boundaries, and means of measuring success. ‘Entry requirements’ are associated with each tournament. There is no chance of winning an award if you do not satisfy those basic criteria. For both the quoted events, you had to be born female. But to enter the Christian race “you must be born again” (John 3:7 NKJV) – a new creation. Whereas for those sporting events, a level of achievement was necessary, for the Christian race, entrance is by faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice alone. It is all by free grace; it is not gained by effort. Nevertheless, rewards granted (or lost) will be based on our behaviour as Christians.

The ancient judgement seat at the Games was the tribunal for evaluating athletes’ performances, and the ‘laurel-wreath’ crowned the assessed winner. “Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty.” (1 Corinthians 9:25-26 NKJV). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10 NKJV)

C. T. Studd, born in 1860, became an outstanding County and All-England Cricketer. He was one of the best cricket players in the world. But suddenly he walked away from a promising athletic career and became a Christian missionary. He served the Lord in China, India and Africa for over 40 years. A verse from a poem he composed says:

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

James wrote, “You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14 NKJV)

In the Northern Hemisphere, August 7th is approximately the mid-point of summer. ‘Mid-point’ can be a time for reflection. It reminds us that time is running out. The prophet cried, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (Jeremiah 8:20). If you have not yet trusted Christ as your Saviour, why not do so now? “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2). If you have, then aim for the winner’s crown.

Michael Sparkes
Committee Member and Support Leader on Junior Camp (Week 1)

Thought for the month – July 2015

V.E. Day

Earlier this year we celebrated V.E. day.

Victory in Europe Day, generally known as V.E. Day, was the public holiday celebrated on 8 May 1945 to mark the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces.

I want us to think about V.E. Day from another perspective, Victory for Everyone. It is possible for everyone to have victory over sin. We can have eternal life by putting our faith in Jesus Christ and accepting him as our personal saviour.

1 Corinthians Chapter 15 verse 55 talks about victory and says “Where, O death, is your victory? Where O death is your sting?”
We can also live victoriously with the help of the Holy Spirit by praying, reading the Bible and having fellowship with other Christians.

V.E. could also stand for Victory over the Enemy. Our enemy is Satan. As Christians we can thank the Lord that he loved us enough to die for us and that the victory in our life has been won over the enemy.

As mentioned above V.E. day was a celebration to mark the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces. We also need to have unconditional surrender to the Lord’s will for our life to live as victorious Christians.

As we come to camp this year may we thank the Lord for the victory he has won for us and spend time considering how best to live in his will as Christians.

Chris
Treasurer

Thought for the month – June 2015

If you’ve seen any news on TV at all over the last few weeks you’ll have picked up that the nation has chosen its leaders in the general election. People had to make their minds up about who to vote for, or whether to vote at all! All this election talk prompts us to think about decision making in life, and who we should choose to make our allegiance with.

Decision making is a strong Bible theme, and this invites both the Christian and non-Christian to make their minds up. Each of us must make our minds up as to whether we shall trust in God, to follow Him or reject Him. Several Bible passages help to illustrate this.

DEUTERONOMY 30 V 11-20 therefore choose life, that you may live – v19

Moses challenged God’s earthly people the children of Israel to follow God, so that they would prosper in the “promised land”. It was a stark choice: life or death, blessing or cursing. Moses has spent the rest of the book of Deuteronomy setting out God’s law for His people at that time, and now he asks the people to decide: will they follow or not? It was almost God’s manifesto! What Moses looked for, and what God looks for, is a conscious decision to follow Him. And he wasn’t asking too much! Read vs 11-14 again: the word is very near you… that you may do it – v14.

JOSHUA 24 V 14-28 choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve – v15

Now it’s Joshua’s turn to rally the people (remember Joshua led the people of Israel after Moses died). The people are now over the Jordon, well on their way to possess the promised land. The people were up for it, see v16-18. But Joshua does a strange thing, he says “you cannot serve the Lord” in v19. Why not? “For He is a holy God.” The point was, that they couldn’t say they would follow the Lord, unless their behaviour was consistent with that claim. They had to “incline your heart to the Lord” v23. So there are implications in following God, it must affect the way we live.

The people of Israel thought they had chosen God, but in fact it was the other way round – we read Deuteronomy 7 v 1-8 “the Lord your God has chosen you”. This is an important Bible truth: although it is true that we are all accountable to God for our decision to choose Him or not, it is also equally true that He has chosen us! John 15v16 says “you did not choose Me, I chose you” and Ephesians 1v4 tells us that “He chose us before the foundation of the world.”

Why is that important? Because it means that we had no opportunity to influence God’s decision to choose us – we weren’t even born! He also knew what we would be like, and had ample reason not to choose us. He chose us simply because He loves us – it’s as simple as that.

SO – you need to make a choice (one far more important than which political party is in Government). Will you choose to follow God and become a Christian? And if you are already a Christian, will you choose to commit to His way for your life, and live a distinctive Christian life?

Thought for the month – February 2015

The leaders of YPBC unsurprisingly believe the Bible to be God’s word to us, and many of you have come to recognise this. Most people realise that the gospels tell us about the life and death of Jesus. Have you sat down recently and read through one of the gospels?

I would like to share with you something that I read recently about the way in which God reveals himself and his plan of salvation. You notice that the Bible teaching is conveyed largely in the ‘symbolic and intuitive thought forms of the East’ rather than the ‘logical and didactic forms beloved by the West’. It is useful to trace the way that we are led to understand God through Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah and Jesus Christ.

Abraham found God in a pagan culture in Mesopotamia about 2000 years before Christ, and was known for his faith. Faith comes first because ‘anyone who comes to God must believe that he exists and he rewards those who earnestly seek him’. Heb 11 v 6

Moses is one who brought God’s laws to men, but when Jesus summed up the law, he said, ‘You must love the Lord your God … and your neighbour as yourself’. Mark 12 v 30 – 31 This shows that a relationship with God requires a love of God and for God.

Jeremiah lived at the end of the time of the nation of Israel before the people were deported to Babylon. Prophets from Elijah to Jeremiah called men to repent and return to God, but Jeremiah reveals a new promise from God: ‘I will put my law in their inward parts and write it on their hearts … I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more’. Jer 31 v 33 – 34 A new way was promised, a new covenant or testament.

We call the second part of our Bible the New Testament, where we read of the way that Jesus made this possible. That bit of the story we know quite well.

How wonderful that we have in our hands God’s word!

Lee Mack, a comedian, said at the end of ‘Desert Island Discs’ on Sunday 29 Sept 2013:
“I’m glad I’m getting the Bible because I would read the Bible.”

“I always think, if an alien came down and you were the only person he’d met, and he said, ‘What’s life about, what’s earth about? Tell us everything’ and you say, ‘Well there’s a book here that purports to tell you everything – some people believe it to be true, some people don’t believe it’s true’ and they say ‘Wow! What’s it like?’ and you go, ‘Well, I don’t know, I haven’t read it,’ ”

“It would be an odd thing, wouldn’t it? At the very least, read it!”

John Leftley
Junior 1 leader

Thought for the month – January 2015

A New Year

It hardly seems possible that 2015 is here! A New Year brings with it fresh hope, challenges, perhaps sorrows and difficulties. How good it is, that Christians have a faithful unchanging God.

A New Year reminds us of an event that took place in the Bible. The Children of Israel were captives in Egypt but God had a wonderful plan for them to be delivered out of Egypt. It involved the death of a lamb and applying the blood to the doorposts and lintels of their houses. They were then able to enjoy roast lamb inside their houses knowing with assurance that they were safe sheltering under the blood of the lamb. God said to them “It shall be the first month of the year to you”, what a wonderful way to start a year, delivered from bondage and free.

This event is only a picture of a greater event that was still in their future when God would give His Son. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God would lay down His life and shed His precious blood so that we could be free from the bondage and penalty of sin, which the Bible says is death.

The Lord Jesus died and was buried but praise God He was raised from the dead on the third day. The Bible says “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” Acts 16 v 31.

I wonder as we start this New Year, it is like the New Year of Exodus 12 when after following God’s instructions the people were saved, are you saved?

As we start the New Year preparation is already underway for the Camps in July and August. We trust that you will be able to come and perhaps bring other friends as well.

We would like to wish you all God’s richest blessings for the New Year and trust and pray that if you don’t know the Lord as your Saviour then this will be the year you come to know Him personally.

Andy Meek (Senior Camp Leader)

Thought for the month – December 2014

I have a confession to make! Sometimes I watch the cheesy Christmas movies they put on TV at this time of year. They help to while away an hour or so if I need to sit and do something. The films are full of discovering the ‘Christmas spirit’, helping the Christmas scrooges enjoy the festive season, helping Santa to deliver his presents and so on. The one thing that strikes me about these films, though, is their almost complete lack of mention of the Lord Jesus.

The holiday time that we enjoy at Christmas came from a desire of the church to remember the birth of the Lord Jesus (so they tagged it on to a pre-existing festival). We don’t know, and aren’t told, when the Lord Jesus was born and in all likelihood it wasn’t December 25th but it is a good time to speak about the Lord Jesus and why He came to earth as a baby. So many people don’t see past the tiny baby in a manger, all cute and lovely and wrapped in swaddling clothes. All babies are lovely but this baby laid in a manger had a very special purpose. Galatians 4 v4 says,

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (ESV)

Mary was told not to be afraid, but that the child she would have would be a son and,

“… you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High …” Luke 1 v 31,32 (ESV)

Joseph was also told that Mary would have a son and,

“you shall call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins.” Matt 1 v 21 (ESV)

The purpose for Jesus’ coming was not to be remembered as a cute, gurgling baby but to be recognised as the Saviour of the world – the God-Man, who can reconcile us to God. Some of the lines in a Christmas carol express this so well –

  • God and sinners reconciled
  • Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
  • Pleased, as Man, with man to dwell
  • Born that man no more may die
  • Born to give them second birth

It’s good to have a time when you think about others and for many people that time is Christmas time. The greatest act of sacrifice, and thought for others, and the greatest gift was that of the Lord Jesus. Through all the fun and laughter and family time remember this amazing gift of the Son of God who came to be the Saviour of the world.

Happy Christmas

(Carrie Skelly, Cook)