Fresh Hope – 31st July 2017

Here’s a fact – everyone does better with encouragement.
A child at school. A wife. A sportsman. A musician. An employee. We could go on. Whatever your walk in life, when you get encouraged, you will be better.

We will all succeed, if down the line, we all get the encouragement that we need.

We can get tired, feel like giving up, get confused, say “is it worth it?”, “nothing is going right. We can feel that all is against us.
We can give out a lot in life and not always get a lot back.

Some people sit around waiting to be encouraged. That’s not right.
Some people give up if they don’t get encouraged, that’s not right.
To encourage means to inspire with courage, to give hope to, to give help to.

Encouraging is powerful.

Whoever you meet today, encourage them. They will be better for it.
“You cooked a lovely meal” – means it will be even better next time.
“You preached great today” – means they’ll preach even better next time.
“You did a great job today” – means they’ll do an even better one tomorrow.

When you encourage, you’re making someone’s life better. You may even save them from giving up. You may be the answer to their prayers.
NEVER HOLD BACK on encouragement. You could be a life saver.

And guess what? Whatever you sow, you will reap.

So just you wait.. it will come back to you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th July 2017

Lots of people decide to quit when life gets hard. If the enemy has got you to quit, he has done a good job! Think about it.

I occasionally talk to people who think about quitting. Why? Because life is hard, stuff is hard, work can be hard, school/college, relationships – no one ever promised us that life would be easy.

Don’t you think it was hard for Michael Phelps the US record- holding Olympic gold medalist to win 23 golds? Or do we think that was somehow easy?
Don’t you think there were times when he wanted to quit?
When he wanted to stay out late with mates, instead of being in bed ridiculously early because of training the next day?
When he wanted to stay in bed on those winter mornings, when it would have been far easier to do so?
When he really wanted to eat loads of cheesecake, when that wasn’t on his diet sheet?
When he didn’t want to do any more laps because he was tired?

Of course it was hard and of course life is hard too.

Wasn’t it hard for Moses and Daniel and Noah and Esther and all the Bible greats?
Wasn’t it hard for Jesus to go to the cross for each one of us?

Sometimes me and you can be quite pathetic, when it comes to giving up too easily. Sometimes the slightest thing or distraction can take us off course.

Please don’t give up today. Stay the course. Go for gold. Push through.

I’m glad Jesus didn’t quit and neither should you. You can do it.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th July 2017

Whether you recognise it today or not, you need to know that you have an assignment from God. You’re not here by accident, your existence is not a mistake, but God has created you on purpose, for a purpose.

Because of this truth, the devil would love nothing more than to get you off of your assignment, and the way he does this is by getting you to believe that your assignment is insignificant.

Don’t believe the lie…

The call of God upon your life carries great significance, so much so, that people are counting on you to carry it out.

Maybe you’re heading to the same job today that you’ve been at for multiple decades – know that your faithfulness is significant. Maybe you’re a single Mom trying to raise your family – know that your commitment is significant. Maybe you’re a leader of an organisation – know that what you’re pioneering is significant!

Don’t allow the devil to get you to believe that who you are and what you do is insignificant, but realise today that who you are and what you do has eternal significance attached to it.

Don’t give up, keep on going… there’s a generation counting on you!

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 27th July 2017

On Tuesday of this week, I attended the funeral service of a very special lady. It was actually a thanksgiving service for her life.
So many wonderful thoughts were shared about her and there was a whole lot of love in the church that day for an amazing lady.

We can learn a lot of things from the ‘passing away’ of someone. One of the biggest things has to be this…

Don’t wait for someone to ‘pass away’ before you let them know how much you care and loved them. It’s actually too late then.
Your encouragement and love can make a WORLD of a difference to someone’s life, whilst they are still alive.

Here’s some of the excuses we give…
“They know I love them.” Do they? Maybe not?
Keep reminding them. It’s an amazing blessing you’re giving to someone’s life.

“I’m too busy to stop my busy life.” Don’t ever say that. Take time before it’s too late. None of us are promised tomorrow.

Often, someone’s passing makes us fully understand how we felt about that person. Isn’t that sad? Be thankful for them TODAY.

A word of love, a hug, an affirmation, an encouragement will make someone’s life so much richer. Have you ever wondered if someone really cares about you?
Start to sow care and love and encouragement and you will reap it back.

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY…Start your day, every day, being thankful to God.
Thankful for breath in your body and a life to live to the fullest.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th July 2017

Yesterday, I took the funeral of a dear friend who would have been just 44 on Sunday. Angie Morris was a vibrant Christian that lit up any room that she walked into. For the last two years she has battled with cancer that eventually spread throughout her body. She lost the battle a few days ago.

In the natural, it would appear that all has been lost, but for Angie no matter how many days she suffered she never lost her faith in Jesus.

Just two weeks before she passed away, my wife and I sat drinking coffee with her in our local coffee shop. We laughed, cried and held her hands across the table as we prayed one more time. The last thing she spoke to us about was the life changing event that happened some 16 years earlier. She had been walking through the shopping mall with her mom one Sunday afternoon and was stopped in her tracks as she heard the band and choir from our church performing at the amphitheatre that day. Tears rolled down her face as she listened. The following Sunday she came to church and has never looked back. She gave her life to Jesus and made a choice to serve him right up until her last breath.

She has touched so many lives since then.

Were it not for that moment, she would openly say that she had no idea how she would have got through the last couple of years. God has been her continual source of hope and strength, especially through her darkest days.

Literally hundreds of people have stood with her in prayer.

At times like these, we all are forced to think about our own lives and where we stand with Jesus. No matter what happened, Angie knew for sure that she would be safe with Jesus.

When the Bible translates the word ‘death’ in the New Testament, it uses a different word when relating it to a Christian. It uses a word that intimates that this is not the end for someone like Angie…it uses the word ‘sleep’. On every occasion that a Christian dies it says that they have simply ‘fallen asleep’.

Falling asleep is not a fearful thing as you fully expect to wake up! Isn’t it amazing that sleep takes you completely out of the normal world of time and space and can make 6 or 7 hours seem like but a few minutes? And so it is with Angie, she has fallen asleep only to wake again in a brand new world called Heaven, with seemingly no passing of time, straight into the presence of God forever.

Death to the Christian is not something to be feared as we know we will meet again.

Do you have that sure and certain hope that when death most certainly comes knocking at your door, that you will be with Jesus for eternity?

That assurance comes from simply acknowledging Him in your life. Why not pray a simple prayer right now asking Jesus to come into your heart? He is more than willing and able to forgive you for everything you’ve ever done wrong and make you right with God. When you do that you will be immediately flooded with His peace and you will know that He is alive.

Death doesn’t have to be ‘goodbye’, with Jesus it’s a case of ‘see you later’.

Angie knew it…do you?

John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th July 2017

There are two men in identical circumstances but with totally opposite experiences.

For months, they’re both kept in complete isolation from families, woken early every morning for forced labour and exercise. They’re both fed on plain tasteless food and water and forced to fight against their will.

One is the saddest man in the world but the other is the happiest. How is this possible?

Because one man is in a prisoner of war camp, and the other is the heavyweight champion of the world preparing for another fight.

What a difference it makes knowing the ‘meaning’ of what we’re doing.

When we have meaning and we live with it clearly before us, it can place perspective on all we do! We can then actually enjoy hardships and trials because we see them as training for a world changing battle that we know we have already won.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

The reality is, in all the challenges we face, we actually have the choice of either being a ‘prisoner of war’, a victim, or the ‘heavyweight champion of the world’, a victor! We decide which by choosing either ‘to see’ or ‘not to see’, the world changing significance of the battles we’re in.

I encourage you today in whatever you are facing, make a choice to see it as another gym session, another press up, one more stomach crunch in preparation for a glorious battle, a sensational victory and for that crown that will last forever. See any difficulty not as an obstacle to avoid or just get past, but elite training for a world changing mission! Don’t be a victim but a victor and run to win.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th July 2017

I recently joined the gym. I never expected it to be easy, but neither did I expect to enjoy it quite so much either. For probably the first time in my adult life, I have found something that not only keeps me fit, but also helps me shut off for an hour or so from all the challenges that I face daily in leading a church.

I try to get there 3-4 times a week and have already noticed the change that is taking place in my general stamina levels. As my youngest son also goes to the same gym, I sometimes go at the same time that he does and hitch a lift with him. On Saturday afternoon we went together, and as he was driving I took a few moments to sit back and relax in the warm sunshine that was breaking through the rain clouds that had been with us all over the weekend. As we arrived on the gym car park, I felt so warm and comfortable that I didn’t want to get out of the car. ‘How ironic’, I thought to myself ‘that I’m on my way to the gym and I actually have so much enjoyed the five minute journey that I want to make my means of transport my resting place.’

How easy is it in life to get so comfortable on the way to where you are going that you actually fall in love with places along the journey more than the destination itself?

In the Old Testament, we see Abraham journeying with his whole family to the promised land. However, when he reached Haran he decided to settle there, forgetting that it was only a means to the end and only half way to where he was bound for. Interestingly, Haran means parched and dry and became the death of him.

He died never having reached the place he was meant to, in favour of the comfort, convenience and the seeming security of his stopping off place.

Ask yourself the question, ‘would you ever make a motorway service station your holiday home in favour of moving onto the place you were bound for?’ Exactly!!

If you feel tempted today to settle for anything less than God’s best for your life, then shake yourself right now and get moving before you make your resting place somewhere far away from the destination God has for you.

Don’t stop short.

Push through and never give up.

You’re closer to your destiny than you think right now.

Hebrews 10:36-39 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, ‘In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.’ And, ‘But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.’ But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd July 2017

A teacher was teaching her class one day about Lot’s wife. “The Bible says that Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt,” she said. One child responded, “that’s nothing, my Mom was driving home yesterday and she looked back and turned into a lamppost.”

Lot’s wife only appears briefly in one part of the Bible, so why does Jesus tell us to remember her? Two reasons:

1) She invested her life in something that had no future. God tried to get Lot’s wife out of Sodom, but He couldn’t get Sodom out of her. When she thought of what she was leaving behind, she looked back and turned into a cold, unresponsive monument. When God says it’s time to move, don’t hesitate. Don’t become like those who once walked with him, but now are cold and unresponsive. Don’t become a monument to the past.

2) Your decisions have consequences. If only she’d kept moving forward so that when her daughters got to the place ahead of her, she would’ve been there to protect them. Instead, they became victims of abuse and incest. Before you lose your children, poison your marriage and tear up your life by refusing to break with your past…’remember Lot’s wife’. She didn’t make it to safety, but she did make it into the Bible long enough to warn us about three things: a) Complacency b) involvement with wrong things and c) a divided heart.

Remember…memories take us back, dreams take us forwards.

Luke 17:32-33 Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st July 2017

Before God’s people could get out of Egypt, Pharaoh made them three different offers. To each one of the offers, Moses had the courage to turn them down, otherwise they would have never got free from slavery.

First, Pharaoh said, “go, and leave your children here.” Then he said, “go, and leave your business here.” Finally, he said, “go, but don’t go too far.” Moses told him in no uncertain terms, “we are taking everything with us.”

When confronted with the enemy, that’s exactly what you have got to do too – look the enemy in the eye and say…”I’m taking my family, my business and I’m going all the way with God.” That’s what it takes to get out of Egypt!

But what about getting into the Promised land? That happens only… One city at a time… One habit at a time… One attitude at a time… One step of faith at a time. It happens when you break the enemy’s hold on your finances and put God first. It happens when you take the remote control out of his hand and protect your family from a culture that corrupts. It happens when you refuse to contradict what God has said about you in his word. Never speak words that make the enemy think he is still in control-he’s not! The Bible says you have the authority to drive him out-and he’s got to go (Luke 10v17)

Rise up in faith today and announce, “I’m coming out of bondage and I’m going in to freedom.”

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th July 2017

We live in a world more and more environmentally aware, which is great; we hear a lot about the damage to the rainforest and Great Barrier reef, and endangered species like the Siberian tigers and pandas etc…

The problem is, it’s less and less God aware – the actual creator of the rainforest and the panda! And so what follows is as one of 7 billion humans on the planet we can feel expendable and we get the message that a panda’s life is worth more than ours.

This by the way isn’t true. The difference between us and all creation is that God breathed his spirit and likeness into us, meaning we’re of infinite worth to Him.

Isaiah 51:6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever,my righteousness will never fail.

This verse helps us in a world where we can feel second place to a Panda that actually there is an eternal plan for us that is way beyond that of any created rainforest or barrier reef. There is a significance to you that stretches beyond the limited universe – you are worth more than many Siberian tigers!

This should then help us to also see the infinite worth of people we come into contact with every day and the fantastic mission field God has placed us in.

When you struggle for meaning in a world that can only operate within the obvious visible realities, take courage in God’s infinite purpose and plan that will outlast everything you can see.

2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th July 2017

If you want results like you’ve never had before, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done before.

In Luke 5, the disciples had been fishing and caught nothing, Jesus said “push out into deep waters and let your nets down for a catch.”
They had been fishing all night and yet not pushed out far enough, or deep enough.

If you’ve ever had a baby, you’ll know you have to PUSH. It may feel like you’re going to die, yet you’ll push because you know the end result is what you truly desire. Women get amazing strength from God at this time to keep pushing!

The enemy of our soul will convince us to give up and stop the pushing before we see what we are believing for, because it’s too much like hard work.

Don’t listen! Instead be a PUSHER – get out a bit further into the deeper waters and you will receive all that God has for you.

Their catch was colossal, and so will yours be.

Do not be tempted to give up before the thing is born. Press on and PUSH my friend.
P pray
U until
S something
H happens.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th July 2017

Yesterday, we looked at how important it is to keep ‘pushing’ for
what we are believing for.

P. Pray
U. Until
S. Something
H. Happens

In the Bible, the persistent widow came to the judge and kept bothering him. She didn’t get what she wanted because she came, but because she was persistent. You see, the judge kept saying “NO”, but she kept asking. Not satisfied with his answer, she hung on in there. (Luke 18)

People who ‘shove’ in life, usually aren’t liked.
People who ‘shove’ their way to the front, instead of waiting to be asked.
People who ‘shove’ for selfish ambition are not usually our favourites.
YET, pushing is not the same as shoving.
Pushing reminds me that I will not give up until I see what I’m believing for.
People who ‘push through’ their circumstances and don’t settle for what life throws at them, are admired and respected.

Today, be a PUSHER. Believe God again for your breakthrough, your miracle, and like the persistent widow… you may just receive it.

 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th July 2017

Sometimes we really need to ‘push’ for things in our lives, yet we don’t get very far.
Sometimes when life is hard and the going gets tough, it’s easier to give up, rather than push through.

People can be interesting. If there is a clearance sale, or a long queue in the supermarket, we will ‘push’ forward rather than stand at the back.
In a queue of traffic, my husband will often go in the wrong lane, rather than queue in the correct one.

Yet there are times when God wants us to push through for things and we don’t. We say instead ‘whatever will be, will be.’

The Bible talks about us putting on our armour, taking up our weapons and going after the great things that God has for us. God never teaches us to just sit back and see what happens.

Today, I encourage you to push forward with that request, that dream or desire, that thing you are believing God for.

P.U.S.H – pray until something happens.

If life has given you a raw deal, if your marriage isn’t what it should be, if your health is not good…PUSH.
If your children are away from God, if your job is not your dream, if you are living a life that is not one to the full…PUSH.

Don’t give up. Pray until something happens.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th July 2017

One thing that you and I have in common is that we both have needs. My needs may be different than your needs, and your needs may be different than mine, but nevertheless, we’re both in need of something.

I want to encourage you today to see your need the way God sees your need. God doesn’t see your need as a problem, He sees your need as an opportunity.

God doesn’t see your financial struggle as a problem, He sees it as an opportunity to show you He’s a provider.

God doesn’t see your sickness as an issue, He sees it as an opportunity to show you He’s a healer.

God isn’t freaked out by your broken relationship, He sees it as an opportunity to show you He’s the God of restoration.

Consider this: if it wasn’t for your need today, how is it that God could demonstrate His power in your life?

Let’s change our prayer from, ‘God, get me out of this situation’, to, ‘God, reveal Yourself to me in this situation.’ And I believe once we do that, we’ll see Him like we’ve never seen Him before.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 14th July 2017

We all experience waiting, whether it’s in the queue for our morning Starbucks, our weekly shop or having to get some petrol at the last minute because you’ve realised you won’t make it to work!

Maybe you’re waiting for something more important, like exam results, or test results from the doctors. Either way, I’m sure we have and will all have to wait at some time in our life.
Be encouraged in your waiting, that you are not alone, in fact, allow your soul to draw ever closer to God in the waiting.

The Book of Psalms gives great insight and encouragement whilst we wait, as King David wrote multiple times how he waited on the Lord. During hard times, feeling alone or under attack, David knew that waiting on God would renew his strength and faith in God.

Remember today that whatever you are waiting for, whether in anticipation, excitement or even disillusionment – God is in the waiting.
Position your soul to receive His strength during this time. Be patient, be honourable and trust in Him.

Here are just threePsalms that can encourage you – 40, 128 & 130.

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living,

Fresh Hope – 13th July 2017

2 Corinthians 6 v 10. ‘…sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.’

One single man saved hard and bought himself a ticket for a luxury cruise.

He couldn’t afford to buy food whilst aboard his long awaited holiday, so he decided beforehand to pack his case with cheese and crackers for the whole 10 days. He was happy to live meagerly knowing that it was a small price to pay in order to be on board a luxury liner.

Each meal time, he would longingly glance through the restaurant windows and watch the passengers enjoying their fine dining experience. He would then retreat to his little cabin for yet again another simple meal of cheese and crackers.

As the holiday of a lifetime came to an end and the passengers disembarked, the captain shook his hand and enquired as to why he’d never seen him in the restaurant or indeed at the captain’s table. He embarrassingly explained to the captain that he had used all his money to pay for the cruise and therefore couldn’t afford the fine dining experience.

To the man’s horror, the captain explained that his ticket included all the fine dining whilst onboard, and he had every right to all the food he wanted, just like all the other passengers.

Imagine living the whole of your life and not realise that you could have everything when you had thought all along that you were entitled to nothing?

I read again today from the Bible verse above and it impacted me like never before…’having nothing, yet possessing everything.’

When Jesus died on the cross for you, He paid IN FULL for you to experience total forgiveness and a life to the FULL.

The question is: why are you living in economy class when you have a first class ticket that’s already been paid for?

You may ‘feel’ that you have nothing, but in reality because of Jesus, you ‘possess’ everything. Possessing means that you need to claim whats already yours.

Are you going to keep looking through the windows of your small life at those enjoying first class life, when all along you should be sitting there too?

Stop rehearsing over and over in your head the fact that you have nothing, when you should be enjoying all that God has purchased for you.

PAID IN FULL.

ALL INCLUSIVE.

John 10:10 Message
‘…I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th July 2017

My wife decided to surprise me, and herself I think, by buying some extra large strawberries and dipping them in chocolate.

I didn’t know what the fresh punnet of strawberries were for in the fridge, until I’d already eaten two of them and she wanted to know where they were. ‘I have special plans for them’ she explained, as I owned up to eating them. Later that night when I returned home from a meeting, she announced that the special strawberry surprise was waiting, however she quickly gave a disclaimer, as they hadn’t quite turned out as planned. In fact, what was presented to me was a plate of strawberries with a mound of nutty looking mess sitting on top.

I couldn’t help but laugh, as I enquired as to what could have gone so horribly wrong with such a simple procedure.

Gillian had got totally carried away with melting the chocolate in a bowl on top of a saucepan of boiling water. She thought that while she was at it she may as well throw any other kinds of left over chocolates from the cupboard in as well. There were nutty bars, fudge bars, dark and milk chocolate bars and you name it, it was in this mass. I explained calmly that you cant just randomly throw any old chocolatey ‘things’ in the bowl as they each have different properties and melting points. Suffice to say we each tried a couple and the rest are still in the fridge. Correction: they are now in the bin.

In life, in marriage, and in relationships of any kind, you have to know what ingredients will enhance and what will detract, otherwise you will turn your good intentions into one big ugly heap. Gillian’s lack of knowledge in the cooking department led to her strawberry disaster. It will be that way too in any area of your life, if you just have enthusiasm to do something but have no knowledge of how and what to do.

Knowledge can be learnt and it can be taught as well as caught.

We have now been married for 33 years in just two days time and the knowledge that we have gleaned over the years of what makes a happy a blessed marriage is something that we are committed to sharing with as many couples as possible.

If Gillian had simply asked, or learnt by looking it up, then I would have come home to perfectly coated chocolate strawberries.

How many of you reading this are coming home to a marriage or a relationship that’s in a complete mess? Could it be that it’s due not just to a lack of love, but more so to a lack of knowledge?

Why not Join Gillian and myself this coming Monday evening (17th) at Champions Church for part 1 of ‘Marriage matters’?

To register or for more info, simply click on then ‘contact us’ link on the app. or call our office on 01384 457923 between 9-4pm Monday to Thursday.

We look forward to welcoming you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th July 2017

‘MARRIAGE MATTERS’ is a 2 part course that is run by myself and my wife. The first part commences on this coming Monday (17th July) and is for all those who are married, those thinking of getting married, planning to get married, wish they were married and those that wish they weren’t.

Today’s inspiration is a glimpse into what we teach on the ‘marriage matters course’…

‘How many of you have outlived the honeymoon stage of your marriage and find yourself trapped in a mundane existence with someone that once excited you?’

Have you ever thought about what life together will be like after the children have grown up and left home?

Will you have anything left to say to each other, or will you have long since forgotten how to date each other again, with no hope of reigniting the passions that once burned within?

When was the last time you had a ‘date night’ together?

Make a plan to sit down together for a meal-  a ready meal, a microwave meal, liver and onions…any meal.

Go out occasionally just the two of you. No kids, no friends, no in-laws or out-laws allowed.

Have a bath, do your hair and make yourself look like you’ve bothered, just like in days gone by when you were dating.

Watch a movie, read magazines, chat and snuggle up, but don’t answer the phone or the door bell.

With divorce rates so high, recent statistics show that only 4% of married couples have a date night once a week.

21% plan a night together once a month, with a further 21% prioritising their time with each other just once in every 2-3 months.

Every 4-6 months is enough for 18% of marrieds, but the biggest group of all is stands at 36% of marrieds have one date night less than twice a year.

You could well say ‘that’s plenty for me with the way my spouse is’, but maybe the reason it’s like that is because you no longer cherish what you did when you first fell in love.

The top five things that cause marriages to break down are…

Chores

Money

Sex

Work

Children

No one on earth can solve all those problems for you but we can help you to fall in love all over again.

Stop treating each other just like some kind of inconvenient object that lives in the same house, and start to plan to fall back in love again by planning your next date night.

Someone once said, ‘ It’s easier to act your way into a feeling than to feel your way into an action’.

So, if you’ve lost those tingly feelings for each other, you’re normal; but now start to surprise each other by acting your way back into love again.

To register for ‘marriage matters’, or for more info, simply click on the ‘contact us’ link on the app or call our office on 01384 457923 between 9-4 Monday to Thursday.

We look forward to welcoming you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th July 2017

Aesop the Ancient Greek story teller observed “After all is said and done, more is said than done.”

How true this is.

Another saying is ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’

This sounds harsh, as though there’s something wrong with good intentions, but it’s saying that there’s nothing wrong with them but there’s nothing right with them either…if they don’t materialise into action.

At my place of work, we are always trying to move away from a ‘meeting culture’ where lots of people are involved in lots of discussion but there’s not always a lot of action resulting. A big danger to a business with a ‘meeting culture’ is a false sense of security that’s created as people feel something has been achieved but in reality nothing has changed. It’s the resulting actions being put into practice that makes progress.

The same can happen in our everyday life, we can feel better about ourselves and situations when we meet and talk with people about what we’re planning to do to move forward as if somehow by talking about it makes it feel like progress has been made. It hasn’t. We need to start moving, even if just little baby steps in the direction of what we want to achieve or do.

If you’ve been threatening to start a business venture for a long time I encourage you today to make preliminary calls, get quotes, scope out projects, create business plans, leaflet areas, make inroads, apply to banks, get the ball rolling and stop talking about it – just do it!

I’m not saying it will work, but you won’t know unless you try! Failure isn’t a problem, never trying is the problem. Failure leads to learning, lack of activity can’t lead to anything. If fear of failure is holding you back, let go, it’s better to have tried and failed than to have never tried.

Maybe you’ve been talking or thinking about putting some things right in your life, making a call to a family member you fell out with five years ago! Stop reading now and put a time in your diary to make that first move.

Maybe you know you need to start the day better creating time to read and pray but haven’t yet made a plan, stop reading right now and set your alarm.

Don’t procrastinate, plan, apply, apologise, move!

Jesus has done everything necessary for us to live an exciting life of authority, stepping out taking risks and making things happen! Let’s move today and see what great stories we can create for us to talk about, instead of talking about what stories we would like to create.

Just do it!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 8th July 2017

Jesus tells a story in Luke 15 in response to questions being asked as to why He hangs around with people of doubtful reputation.

He responds by saying, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Now I read this story and think to myself, what shepherd would leave his 99 sheep, leaderless, vulnerable and unprotected to go after one sheep who ran away.? This story makes no logical sense.

Yet the reason this story makes no logical sense is because the love of God is illogical. God is willing to leave the majority in pursuit of the minority, because He loves people that much. And if you desire to be someone who loves others the way Jesus does, you’re going to have to realise that it will be risky, it will be uncomfortable, and at times it may make no sense whatsoever.

This story is a representation of us and God… We are the sheep and He is the Shepherd. And if God displayed this kind of persistent love towards us, how much more should we display it towards others.

He’s the One who never leaves the one behind.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 7th July 2017

Adversity is just a great opportunity to a person with a great attitude. Consider a simple kite; it rises only when against the wind, not with it. The harder the wind blows, the more it rises. Take a complex, modern day passenger plane; it always takes off into the wind so that it will create more ‘lift’. If the wind changes direction on any given day, the control tower will inform all pilots that they must now take-off in a different direction in order to obtain what they need to lift the plane into the sky.

Today, your attitude will either lift you above your circumstances or bury you beneath them.

I heard about a small business owner whose store was threatened by a national chain. When he refused to sell, they said, “We’ll build on either side of you and put you out of business.” Soon he found himself hemmed in and a big sign surrounding him saying ‘GRAND OPENING’.

Not to be outdone, the little man with a big vision but up a banner over his doorway reading – ‘MAIN ENTRANCE’.

One of the most potentially frightening aspects of being a Christian is knowing that when you put your trust in Jesus, all of Hell takes arms against you intending evil upon your life. And yet, what trumps that fear and evil is knowing that no matter what comes, God is the Master Weaver. He takes what was intended for evil and reweaves it for good.

Feeling defeated by all that’s going on around you right now? Take heart…this is merely the main entrance to where God wants to enter your circumstances and turn them around to your benefit and His glory.

Genesis 50 v 20. ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th July 2017

In his great essay called ‘The Station’, Robert Hastings writes, “tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long train trip that spans the continent. Out of the windows we drink in the passing scenes-children waving, cattle grazing, rolling hillsides, city skylines, and village halls. But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day, will pull into the station, bands will play, and flags will wave. Once we arrive, so many wonderful dreams will all come true, and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle.”

“Restlessly we pace the aisles despising the minutes… waiting… waiting… waiting for the station. When we reach the station, we breathe a sigh of relief. At last we have arrived.”

‘When I’m 18, when I buy my first car, when I get married, when I buy a house, when I pay off the mortgage, when I get that promotion, when I reach retirement…waiting…waiting …waiting for the station. But sooner or later we realise that the true joy of life is not just in reaching the destination, but the journey itself.

If we are not careful, we can miss much of the amazing things that will happen along the way even today, simply because we are anxious to get to our dream place.

Make a decision today, to stop counting down the miles; life must be lived as you go along. The station will come soon enough.

Psalm 118 v 24. “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th July 2017

‘If anyone desires to be a leader, he desires a good thing’ 1 Timothy 3 v 1

So you want to be a leader…good!

Centuries ago, Jerusalem lay in ruins. Nehemiah felt called to do something about it and so he rallied, motivated and organised the people. 52 days later, they had finished the job. They had entirely rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in less than two months. How did he do it?

Here’s what it takes…

He had passion! He could hardly sleep at night for picturing the problem and seeing himself solving it.

He motivated others. What good is your leadership if you can’t move other people to action?

He had confidence in God. He may have doubted his own ability, but he never doubted Gods. His book is full of prayers-Silent ones, short ones, specific ones.

He refused to give up. From the time he started mixing the mortar until the day he laid the last brick, his critics never let up. But he took it-sarcasm, suspicion, gossip, threats, false accusations…you name it. Nothing could move him.

He was realistic. He had some of the workers build a wall, while others stood guard against attack. He acted without overreacting; he was gracious but unbending. Good leaders may seemingly have their head in the clouds, but they’ve got their feet on the ground.

He had the discipline to finish the job. Good leaders are finishers. When the job loses its lustre, they don’t go somewhere else, they stay at it through thick and thin. Still want to be a leader?

Leaders don’t look for badges and titles, they simply look for a job that needs doing and then get on and do it.

Find a need and fill it. When you can do that time and time again without any fuss or bother…you ARE a leader.

Recognition comes later.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th July 2017

My Mom and Dad have lived in the same house for all their married life.
One of the highlights of growing up there were the fields right opposite the house. We would go over there as kids almost everyday during the summer holidays and would be out for hours on end. Whenever we left the house to go there we would shout behind us that we were going over the ‘banks’, as that’s what they were. Banks of unkempt grass, trees and ponds on all levels. It was a pretty amazing place to spend your childhood.

The day arrived when the council decided to completely flatten the whole area and turn it into a beautiful flat playing area. Once again it became the perfect place for us as teenagers to then play football. Part of the excitement for me was watching from the window for months on end as excavators transformed the place that had played a big part in our young lives.

All these years later, the ‘Lister Road field’ as it is called to this day, is to be divided into two, with half of being turned into a car park for council workers at the adjacent incinerator plant.

The residents, including my parents, are up in arms about it and a few days ago have had the local MP come down for a residents meeting, which took place on the field. Reporters and photographers for the local newspapers turned out to capture a shot of the gathering so that the voice of the community could be heard.

When the photograph appeared last weekend in the papers for all to see, each of the residents had been asked to make an angry face for the camera. However, my Dad not being able to hear too well didn’t know what was being said, so imagine now the photo of all the angry residents, with my Dad right at the front with his usual beaming smile saying CHEESE for the camera!

It has caused great fun in our family especially as we could hear my Mom laying into him as to why he was smirking all over his face at such an angry meeting.

I have to say however that this picture is a great way of looking at life. You may have enough going on right now to make you concerned, annoyed and even angry, and the folk around you may be trying to pursue you to behave just like they are doing in the situation. Sometimes though we have to just go ‘deaf’ to what’s going on around us and make a decision to smile your way through it. It’s almost guaranteed that the focus of everyone’s attention when opening the newspaper is not on the angry faces of the residents, but on my Dad’s big smile.

Learn to smile through your storm today and you’ll not only change what’s happening inside of yourself, but you will positively effect everyone around you too.

Proverbs 15:13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd July 2017

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Have you ever watched a small child try to lift something that is clearly way too heavy for them? They put all their effort and energy into it and more often than not, they don’t succeed. What they don’t realise is that the adults around them are there to help; that they are stronger.

How many times are we like that small child? As human beings, we often become so sure of our own strength, that we forget who God is. We think we can leave God out, give Him a break, when in actuality, God wants to be our strength. He wants to be our provider.

I love this verse in 2 Corinthians. It’s a constant reminder that when we are at our weakest, God is at His strongest. There have been so many days that I have had to declare that over myself, and today you should too.

Don’t try and face today alone. Don’t try and face your battles alone. His grace is sufficient and when you are weak, He is strong.

Lucy Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st July 2017

I wonder how many ‘buts’ you have in your life?

Let me explain.
She’s financially blessed, but she has a unhappy marriage.
He has a good job, but he has just been diagnosed with cancer.
They have a happy marriage, but their children have major issues.

You see, we can be blessed in one area, yet have a ‘but’ in another.
Some of them we can do something about…
He is a great manager, but he always turns up late for work.
She has some great creative ideas, but she is very lazy.
She is such a lovely warm-hearted lady, but she has a tendency to gossip.
He has great potential to do something amazing, but he is so insecure.

Some ‘buts’ you may not be able to do much about, but most of them we can.

Naaman was a commander in the army, but he had leprosy. (Read the story in 2 Kings 5). He had a great responsible position, but he had a very nasty disease. When you read the story, you’ll learn that Naaman didn’t like what God was asking him to do, yet eventually he did and God dealt with it.
NO BUT is too big for God to deal with.

This is what I’ve learnt: don’t go through life with a ‘but’. They will hinder you and stop you being the person God intended for you to be.
Ask God to help you eliminate them today and live a life that is ‘but’ free.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion of a better way of living