As 2016 draws to a close we can only respond with deep gratitude and praise to our Lord as we reflect on His goodness to us as a church family throughout the past year. For some it has been a challenging year of uncertainty – in the workplace, family life, failing health, financially and in many other ways. For others, it has been a time of rejoicing at the Lord`s miraculous provision of secure employment, a new born child, restored relationships and the like. Regardless of circumstances however it has been the constant testimony of God`s people that our Sovereign God is Faithful as He continues to “work all things for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose!” (Rom 8:28). I want to take this opportunity of honouring all those who have worked so hard behind the scenes to make this a special year yet again. As Elders, we especially want to thank our Deacons who have served faithfully throughout the year and also our various Ministry Leaders. God has given us a special church family, and we are deeply grateful to each one of you for your various roles that you fulfil. My prayer is that you and your families will enjoy a blessed Christmas may you know and lovingly serve our wonderful God and Saviour all the more passionately throughout 2107.
Yours in His Service,
We were reminded last Sunday at the carol service of the angels visit to the shepherds at the time of our Saviour’s birth and of their proclamation “Fear Not”. However, some 2000+ years since then man still lives in fear. When observing the news and what sometimes appears to be mis-reporting, both with positive spin or over emphasising the negative, I sometimes wonder if keeping the general population in this unsettled state is beneficial to a section of the world community – I leave the reader to ponder that unsettling thought. But I do honestly believe that without Jesus as Lord of their lives the peoples of the world must feel like life is set on moving sands. The “Fear Not” was followed by “Tidings of Great Joy” many people are still searching for joy in their lives. However, they are looking in all the wrong places. As I mentioned in one of my sermons, I am of the opinion that ‘Happiness happens but the joy of the Lord is from within’. People today struggle with many issues including loneliness and I am a firm believer that being content with one’s own company is actually being content in the presence of the Living God. What we need to focus on is not the lack of human companionship for a season but the unique position we Christians are in to be constantly in God’s presence and to make the most of the moment in heartfelt prayer. “For unto you is born A Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” what joy that is. No one can save themselves from the seriousness of sin before the Almighty God but he provided a ‘scapegoat’, just as was indicative of His coming in the rituals of OT Judaism, and if we trust in Him alone our salvation is assured.
The past year for us as a church has been a time of great blessing from the Lord, answered prayers, including some real acts of healing, completion of the new children’s ministry rooms, blessings of new friendships formed particularly over various occasions for taking meals together in fellowship and the commitment of us all to support the continued long term missions we have been involved with and the new undertaking to support the church in Lebanon working with the multitude of displaced people they are host to. I am sure the coming year, will again furnish us with many opportunities to share the Christian Gospel with folk from near and far.
For Carol and myself the year was again a mix of joy and sadness. Carol was saddened by the passing of her father as was her sister and they are both now involved in caring for her mother who suffers from a short term memory problem. We both then rejoiced in the birth of our second grandson Arthur William to our younger son Phillip & wife Sophie who are progressing as expected whilst our other grandson Harry Edward continues to grow, develop and delight us. My nephew Dafydd, who lives in Australia, announced his engagement and then promptly married a lovely Christian lady from his local church Danielle, but timing, work, and funerals all conspired to mean we were unable to attend. I could go on but this was meant to be a short jotting, so I will conclude by wishing all our church fellowship a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year and finish with the refrain from a famous old hymn by Daniel W Whittle and trust those who are convinced will echo with me and those maybe who still wonder will come to true union with Jesus in 2017.
But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the season, may we not lose sight of the reason for the season. The One we’re celebrating is God Himself – the Son of Man (Daniel 7:13-14), the Son of God!
By his Grace,
As we approach Christmas, we are reminded of the most important event and person in human history. But unless the good news proclaimed at Christmas is the most important news in our personal history – Christmas is just the start of our calendar- and not the start of eternity. We greet you with Colossians1: 18 “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
André & Priska
As deacons, we gratefully look back on a year of many blessings in our common ministry for our Lord’s body and together with all of you, our brothers and sisters in Christ. He has been faithful to His word and guided us with His spirit – to Him alone be the glory.
Yours in the Master`s Service,
Finally, we asked our Seminary student currently studying in the USA to send us a word of greeting as well, we ask you to pray for Andreas over this festive season as he will be away from his family at this time as he prepares for the ministry:
“Having landed in LA after summer this year, I was picked up by a fellow student’s family, whom I am staying with in an apartment right now. San Fernando Valley, the place where moved to, is an urbanized valley and lies in Los Angeles County. The first days at seminary were brilliant. John MacArthur and Steve Lawson introduced us to the fundamentals of preaching. My other courses include hermeneutics (biblical interpretation), Old Testament studies, philosophy of ministry and Greek. The amount of reading, writing and studying are a huge challenge to me, but the chapel services bring a wonderful devotional balance twice a week. The students are all very brotherly and caring towards each other and it is a real pleasure to be surrounded by many loving and Christ-centered believers. I have definitely been enjoying seminary so far and I am looking forward, with a deep hunger for God`s precious Word, to the next semester. Thank you for your prayers and support as a church family, God is good!”
Greetings from Masters Seminary, LA
Join us this coming weekend, amidst your wonderful family celebrations for our special Christmas Services on Saturday at 16:30 (Christmas Eve) and on Sunday at 10:30 (Christmas Day), as we together give glory to our great God in the highest! For those who will be around for New Year`s Day, don’t forget to book for the special Breakfast Service.