Who is to blame for Hurrricane Irma?

I keep seeing Facebook posts with pictures of ‘Christians’ who claim that the disasters caused by the weather are being caused by ‘The Gays.’

I would like to set the record straight.

It is caused by homosexuals and heterosexuals, abortionists and pro-lifers, paedophiles and the young, the old, the middle-aged, transsexuals, men, women, Donald Trump, Mexicans, bank robbers, Bankers, the unemployed, the employed, mothers who breastfeed, mothers who don’t…

non-Christians and Christians,

you and me.

It was my fault.

I’m sorry.

Romans 3: 23-24  … for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

When humans decided that they could make a better job of running the world than the God who created it, He gave us what we wanted; He gave us the opportunity to go it alone.

Even though we ruined His perfect creation, He gave us a way back, and the promise that one-day it would be all made new and perfect again.

The only difference between a non-Christian and a Christian is the fact that Christians have said sorry – we are the ones who recognise that we are the problem.

If you call yourself a Christian and you are pointing your finger at other people, I ask you to go back to the Bible and look for the part where it says, ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; (except you – insert your name here).’

If you find it, please let me know.

If you don’t consider yourself a Christian why don’t you come along to Starbucks Wanstead, on 9 November at 8pm? There will be a short talk called, Is there enough evidence for Atheism?, with the opportunity to ask questions afterwards. Best case scenario you leave with the free gift of eternal life, worst case scenario, you get to shelter from the terrible weather whilst enjoying a free cup of coffee and a slice of cake.

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How much money is enough? Just a little bit more.

A few years ago we had a really big shed built at the end of our garden.
That same weekend, the sermon at church was about the man who built a really big barn to store all his stuff.* (You can find it in Luke 12:16-21)

The irony was not missed.

Unlike the man in the parable I didn’t die the same night, (or if I did, I didn’t notice) I survived to ask myself a few questions:

Do I need all this ‘stuff’? (And I don’t just mean all the half empty tins of paint and left over bits from badly thought out DIY projects).
What am I working for?
What do I really value in life?

When we die our ‘stuff’ is left behind to sit in someone else’s big shed, or line the tax man’s pockets. Thankfully though, we don’t have to rely on our wealth to save us – after all we can be rich one day and the wind changes and it’s gone; stolen, paid out in medical bills, or as it goes in this house, vet bills, and shed roof repairs.

Jesus calls us to change our focus – to see the one thing that has lasting value, that can’t rot, be lost or stolen, that is not affected by the economy; our relationship with God. That’s the only thing that will last forever.

Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We don’t need to buy our way into heaven; Jesus has paid that price for us – it was far too costly for us to pay ourselves!
He paid with his life then offered us eternal life as a gift.

A funeral plan might be a sensible thing to buy, but why plan for your death when you haven’t planned for your life?

*Please note there is no treasure in my shed – we keep the gold bullion under the mattress.

I know that I know nothing…

I worry that I don’t really ‘know’ anything. There are so many people out there who are experts at stuff. Some people can cut open a human body and mend it, speak 2, 3 or 4 languages – (French, Spanish, Japanese and Elvish), play the piano, understand how aeroplanes fly and TV works. I don’t.
Well – I know I’m alive; ‘I think therefore I am’ (Descartes said that… or so we’re told. But did he really say it first? Maybe his mum said it at breakfast and he just wrote it down. We’ll never really know for sure will we!)
I know a lot of really bad jokes that I laugh at myself. (Well it saves there being an awkward silence after I’ve spoken).
I know I love my children.
I know I have a lot of cats, but even that is relative – I know people with more!

I also know I don’t need to worry about my limited knowledge.

God knows; he knows everything.

He’s revealed to me everything I need to know (not me alone! I’m really not THAT special!) and promised to reveal everything else to me in time.

1 Corinthans 13:12
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

He knows me intimately –

Psalm 139:13-14
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

And He has given us the opportunity to know Him through his Son.

John 17:3
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

That’s it.
All we need to know.
The good news of salvation is simple, accepting that it is that simple is what is hard for us.
Anything else we learn along the way is a bonus – or a distraction.
Focus your knowledge today.

Suggested reading

Hello, I’m God, I’m very pleased to meet you.

Hello, I’m Katherine, I’m 21 years old (Cough!), I’m married with 3 children, 5 cats, 1 rabbit and 3 Giant African Land Snails. My favourite meal involves sausages and I have no appendix.

What’s your name? No don’t tell me, I know – you like to be called Bob, your favourite colour is purple, you’re a ballerina, you like drinking Piña Coladas and getting caught in the rain.

No? Well I’m going to call you Bob anyway and I’ve already ordered you a cocktail at the bar, why don’t you dance over there and get it?!

You wouldn’t treat another human being like that, would you?
So why treat God like that?

So many times I’ve heard people talk about how they imagine God to be.
‘God is love – he wouldn’t send people to hell!’
‘I don’t think God would mind – he wants me to be happy.’
‘I think God is a woman.’
‘I like the God of the New Testament, but the God of the Old Testament is sooooo angry – my God isn’t like that.’

But we don’t have to guess what God is like – he has told us.

Exodus 34:5-7
Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

We don’t have to guess what God is like – he has shown us, and come down personally to shake us by the hand.

John 20:26-29
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

If you are worshipping God in any way other than the way he has asked to be worshipped, then you are not worshipping the God of the Bible.
God is the same from before page 1 until beyond the final page.

Have a read for yourself – it’s a great book.

If you would like help in knowing where to start please contact Grace Church and somebody will be happy to help.

Celebrating Grace Church’s

So, this September, Grace Church is 10 years old. To me, it paradoxically feels like it was only 5 minutes ago that we were praying and planning it into being, and at the same time, I can barely recall the time before it existed. I do have a very visual and energetic measuring rod though; my son was just a year old when it began and now he’s about to start secondary school – and those are years that feel as though they have whizzed by!

Psalm 90 verse 4 points out that this condition is magnified for God:

A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.

By that calculation Grace Church is just over 14 minutes old; our lives on earth are a mere blink of the eye to God. As a child, that stretch of time between breaking up from school and Christmas day was about a billion years for us and the equivalent of Usain Bolt’s 100 metres to the Almighty.

More than 2 thousand years ago Jesus told us that He would be coming back with power and glory, to judge the living and the dead, and rule over a new and perfect creation.

We’re still waiting.

At what point do we realise we’ve been stood up; go home, make a cup of tea and watch a box set on Netflix?

The Bible tells us that God isn’t being tardy:

2 Peter 3:9-10 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

I am torn between praying for Jesus to come back soon, because I really want to see Him, and praying for Him to delay His return so I can tell a few more people about Him.

One thing we can be sure about – He will come back when the time is right; He will return and we had better be ready.

If He comes back in September He’ll find us celebrating our 10 year anniversary. Why don’t you join us?

When we’ve been here 10,000 years bright shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing his praise than when we first began.
                                                    John Newton – ‘Amazing Grace.’

I’m a resident alien

Well, that’s it then, we’re leaving the EU, the Prime Minister has resigned, Donald Trump is in Scotland celebrating Scottish Independence, (‘Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back. No games!’- He’s a little confused methinks; Scotland voted to Remain), Fox News has reported we’ve left the UN, Morgan Stanley were going to move 2,000 jobs out of the country and now apparently they are not, the FTSE fell, the FTSE rose, and my son’s year 6 class sold out of the toffee apples that they were selling at lunchtime in order to learn business skills. We came home, had pizza for tea followed by a family pack of Haribo. (Judge me not – it’s a Friday night!)

Life goes on, albeit with an uncertain future – or so it seems.

Nearly 2000 years ago Jesus stood by the banks of the Sea of Galilee and shouted to the crowds, ‘The time has come… the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!’

The kingdom of God welcomes anybody, from any country; black, white, rich or poor. You don’t need a referendum to opt in or out, you don’t need a visa, lots of money, or to have a job waiting for when you arrive. You just need to accept the fact that you can’t get there by your own efforts and that Jesus himself, has prepared a place for you.

Christians have a guaranteed place in heaven but we still need to live in this world for the moment. We still need to be good stewards and live under the authority of the government.

We still need to ‘give back to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar,’ (whether you personally agree or disagree with Caesar’s latest action) ‘and give to God, that which belongs to God.’

The Bible describes us as aliens on earth; resident aliens. Please be a responsible alien.

Whether you voted Leave or Remain there can be a place in Heaven for you.

Choose wisely.

This country is just temporary, if you go to heaven or hell – that is forever. Out means out.

Philippians 3: 20-21But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.


Even atheists worship a god.

The news this week has been horrible; the massacre in Orlando and the murder of Jo Cox.

Nothing I can write will express the empty feeling in my stomach when I think about the waste of lives and the loss of loved ones.

I am also deeply saddened by the backlash against God.

Somehow – because the murderer in Orlando was Muslim and apparently did it in the name of Allah – this means that it’s God’s fault; he sanctioned it, he is powerless, he wasn’t there to stop it, he chose not to, or he simply doesn’t exist.

I keep seeing a cartoon on Facebook with 2 people talking.The first is asking ‘Why didn’t God stop the shooting?’ The other person replies, ‘Because God doesn’t exist, engage with reality and fix your ********* gun laws’

Can we please remind ourselves that all murder, theft, rape, war, hate, bullying, abuse, greed, envy, immorality etc. is due to the worship of one god or another.

Some people just choose to worship the god of ‘self’.

I think you’ll find more crime committed in the name of that ‘god’ than any other.

We are in this situation because we are selfish; we live to glorify ourselves and not the God that created us.

The reason for the mess is described in the Bible, in the book of Genesis. Human beings had everything they needed but we wanted more. We wanted ALL the power. God, in his goodness handed the ‘power’ over to us.

He said – ‘Go on then; run this creation your own way, it’s not going to be easy. When you’ve had enough, I’ll be right here with my arms open to welcome you home.’

John 3:16  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)

If somebody said they had committed a terrible act in my name, I would ask that you check with me that I actually told them to do it, before you blame me. If you’d like to know what God has actually said, please read it for yourself in the Bible.

Come along to Grace Church, we can point you in the right direction.

Why the Queen has 3 Birthdays

The Queen is 90 years old on April 21st this year. Apparently there is going to be an almighty street party on the Mall, lots of pomp and ceremony and a special lunch with President Obama. Then, in case any one forgets to send her a card, she has an official birthday on the 11th June. It’s apparently so that she can have a party that has a high probability of good weather.

It’s a bit like me being a bit rubbish and not quite getting around to doing my childrens’ birthday parties on the actual day because I can’t quite organise myself properly. Mind you, I’d probably be equally as rubbish if they had two birthdays – or would that be doubly as rubbish?

The speed my question popped up on Google shows it’s a question that’s been asked a lot. I simply typed ‘Why does the Queen…’ and the first option was ‘Have two birthdays?’

Nearly 2000 years ago a chap called Nicodemus asked a very similar question of Jesus. The conversation went something like this. (I’m going to paraphrase wildly here!)

N – You’re amazing Jesus, you must have come from God!
J – You can only see God’s Kingdom if you’ve been born again.
N – Huh!? I’m an old geezer, I can’t fit back inside my mum!
J – Don’t worry! That’s not what I mean. It’s your spirit that gets born again not your body.

At this my poor saggy belly breathes a sigh of relief – there is no way I could accommodate my 14 year old twins in there!

Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment that we deserve – if we accept this fact, this gift, it’s as if we died with him, and as he rose again 3 days later, so did we. We are new creations, unburdened by our old misdemeanours, viewed as clean and perfect by God. A clean start, just like the day we were born the first time, only this time it’s better, we know God. We then grow spiritually too; Paul describes it as being weaned; going from milk to solid food as we learn more and get to know God better.

At Grace Church Wanstead that is our main aim – to get to know God better and to tell others how they too can receive this new start. Please join us on a Sunday or at one of our midweek Bible studies to find out more.

… and if the Queen is a Christian, she has been born again through the Spirit, and that means she has a third birthday – I’m not buying her 3 presents! (You can buy me two though if you wish).

Happy Christmas Everyone!

I thought I’d get that in nice and early, after all, we all know that there will be Christmas stuff in the shops even before they’ve discounted all the unsold choccy eggs. Easter eggs were spotted for sale in the Highams Park Tescos on Dec 30th last year and I’m pretty sure (please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), that you can buy Hot Cross Buns all year round pretty much anywhere in Britain.

I am undecided as to whether this is a good or bad thing.
Here’s why –
We celebrate Jesus’ birth because he died and was resurrected. If he’d just dropped off this mortal coil and was never heard of again, he’d be just another travelling religious nut job.
We celebrate Jesus’ death because he was born a human being. Jesus gave up a cushy life in heaven to live a life of suffering and poverty. God himself, came down to earth to have an intimate relationship with us and died so that we can all experience that relationship.

The 2 events go hand in hand – like love and marriage, they go together like a horse and carriage…

This fact is so important that a day should not go by when we do not consider his birth, death and resurrection. It should become part of our daily lives, like drinking tea, cleaning our teeth, going to the toilet and eating dinner (not all at the same time). The Jews were told to write God’s words on their doorposts to remind them what he’d done for them; so it’s great to have a reminder of what Jesus has done – on the supermarket shelf and piped on the top of our currant buns.

But then what happens when it loses its impact? When the celebration of Jesus’ amazing sacrifice becomes reduced to a melted brown smear of chocolate on the face of a small child (and subsequently all over the sleeve of their mother’s nice new top…), when people wear it as a nice piece of jewellery because they like the design or just use it to ward off the vampires that hang around on street corners after dark?

The cross was a barbaric method of torture – physical and mental. If you were sentenced to death by crucifixion you were exposed, to all who saw you, as the worst sort of criminal. You hung there and slowly died of asphyxiation as your lungs were crushed by the weight of your own body.

That is what you are eating for your tea; an ancient method of torture and execution as your afternoon snack.

That is how much God loves us; that he himself would take the punishment that we deserve in order to have a relationship with us.
Jesus was no criminal – he’d committed no crime – yet he was sentenced to death.
We deserve that death.

For Easter this year we’ll be serving ‘Hot Electric Chair Buns’ or maybe cakes with an iced gallows on the top, that way they may do the job that they’re supposed to do – be a visual reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. We might even pull a cracker or two.

Happy Christmas Everyone.