At the end of this month, we have the privilege of celebrating “Mothering Sunday” or should it be “Mother’s Day”?
“Mothering Sunday” originated in the United Kingdom as a Christian Festival. It occurs on the 4th Sunday in Lent and has been celebrated since the 16th Century. When children were in Service, it was a day that was allowed for them to return home to see their Mothers and to spend time sharing a meal with them and the rest of the family.
“Mother’s Day” is an American term and occurs on the 2nd Sunday in May and is celebrated in the same way, with gifts and cards for Mothers.
Whichever you like to call it (and the phrases are often used interchangeably in the United Kingdom), it is a time to remember and to thank our Mothers. We thank them for all that they have done throughout the previous year for us. This is often done with cards, gifts and visits.
This reminds me of another time that is important to us. The greatest gift that we could be given, was the Lord Jesus dying on the cross. Not long ago, we remembered His birth at Christmas, and next month we will remember His dying on the cross at Easter.
Because of our sinful and rebellious nature, we are unable to communicate with God. This was not what God had envisioned in the beginning of the World. He wanted to be able to commune with man (Genesis 3v18), but because Adam had disobeyed God, sin was in the way.
When Adam sinned, Genesis records the beginning of a series of promises about a coming deliverer. That person is revealed to us in the New Testament as The Lord Jesus. He is presented to us as God’s gift to this world and as the only one who can take away our sin. We discover that he was a perfect Man. He was unable to sin, He didn’t have sinful thoughts, do sinful deeds, or speak wrong or hurtful words. He didn’t lie, speak in anger, or plot against those who wanted Him dead (1 Pet 2v22).
He gave His life at Calvary so that our sins can be taken away and we can have a close relationship with God. This can be achieved by asking for His forgiveness and asking Him to be our Saviour. We can, therefore, be assured that when we die, we will go to be with Him and not face a life in Hell, a place of eternal judgement.
This is the Gift that is freely given for us. We didn’t deserve it, in contrast to our Mothers who make many sacrifices for us.
What will you do with this Gift?
David & Mary Honeyball
Junior Camp 2
I wonder how many of you have made New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of this new year. The beginning of a week/month/year can be a convenient starting point for something different or new. However, if we place too much emphasis on the timing we are going to be disappointed because nine times out of ten we fail with our efforts but there is someone who never fails us and doesn’t wait for the beginning of a year, week, etc.
Galatians 4 v 4 says that when the time was right Christ was born. We don’t know the date – but in all likelihood not 25 December. The purpose of His coming was to draw people in true repentance to Himself and back into a right relationship with God the Father. When this happens 2 Corinthians 5 v 17 tells us we are a new creation in Christ. Forget your resolutions and attempts to do things in your own strength. This passage also tells us that in Christ ‘the old is gone, all things are made new’ and Philippians 4 v 13 says ‘I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.’
As 2017 begins think about where you stand before God. Whether you’ve been a Christian for many years, just a few years or you’re considering what Christ has done for you, He can and will be with you throughout the year – if you ask. Why not ask Him for it to be a year where you grow closer to Him and more like Him day by day.
Committee member and cook, Senior Camp
Several months ago, when visiting a local supermarket, it was clear that they were encouraging you to prepare for Christmas early by displaying a variety of Christmas products.
But I wonder if you have prepared for eternity?
There was a man the Lord Jesus spoke of (Luke 12v16) who had everything he thought he would ever need, but he failed to think upon his soul (the part of us that lives for ever – all eternity). You may feel you have everything you need; a nice house, family, friends, toys, gadgets, education etc. but do you have eternal life?
Jesus Christ, God’s Son went to the cross of Calvary and died for you, bearing the punishment for sin, which He did not deserve. God was satisfied with His Son’s death on the cross, and on the third day, God raised Him from the dead. If we turn from our sin to God, and put our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, believing that He died on the cross for us, then we can be saved and have eternal life.
“The soul that sinneth, it shall die” Ezekiel 18v20
Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” John 10v10
You may be preparing, and looking forward to Christmas, which only lasts for a day, but are you prepared and ready for eternity, which lasts forever.
Senior Camp leader
We are all back in the normal routine of school or college or work and will be confronted by people who ridicule the idea of God. I read this real life story recently.
A taxi driver discovered he was carrying a Christian minister and thought he would have some fun.
‘I feel sorry for people like you’ he said. ‘There you are with your Bibles and churches,and looking forward to some comfort and reward at the end of all your effort – only to find out at the end there was nothing there at all!’
He had a good laugh and I let him enjoy his joke. Then I had my own laugh.
‘Just suppose you are right and that I am deluded – I still have the advantage over you. I am convinced – in my delusion – that life isn’t a product of chance; believing – in my delusion – that I’m here for a purpose and that a man called Jesus has overcome evil and death and had forgiven my sins and given me eternal life. And then if you are right and I go out like a light I won’t even have the disappointment of knowing I was deluded!’
‘But if I’m right and you are wrong you are the real loser! There you are living trying to make sense of this short life keeping cheerful as possible until your energy gives out and you die. You are in for a dreadful shock as you are confronted by the person you have denied all your life and realise all you have lived for has been wasted!’
‘Supposing these things could make you think!’
We don’t have to suppose as we know there is enough evidence from the life and death of Jesus. He came into our world just because there is a life to prepare for and He is the only one who can open the way to heaven. If you know Jesus as saviour you know your future in heaven is secure. That is better than any ‘just suppose……..’
John wrote this in his first letter (1 John ch5 v13)
‘I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life’.
John Leftley (J1 Commie)
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
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)
Committee Member and Support Leader on Junior Camp (Week 1)
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
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?’
Speaker, Senior camp 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.
Committee Member and Support Leader on Junior Camp (Week 1)
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.