God does not NEED our money but He WANTS our hearts!

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“Everyone who was willing and whose heart moved them came and brought an offering to the Lord.” (Ex 35:21)

Dear Winchester Vineyard Family,

Over the last couple of weeks we have been sharing some of the challenges currently facing us as a church.  Financially, there is a significant shortfall in our general income for 2019 as well as an urgent need to replace our flat roof, ideally before the Winter, to avoid further damage.

Through the summer as leaders we have been praying and listening to God about this situation.  As well as the obvious financial needs, we feel challenged to respond by strengthening our prayer life and by investing in relationships and community.  We fully intend to press into both of these areas over the next few months.

But specifically in response to the financial challenge, we are holding a special ‘Heart Offering’ on Sunday 29 September.  This is a one-off opportunity for the church family to give over and above regular tithes to help alleviate the current situation. We obviously don’t know how much will come in, but for your guidance, our plan is to firstly give away 10% to Mission, and then after that;

  • £30K will replace the deficit in 2019 budget
  • £60K will replace the roof
  • £75K will finish phase 2 & 3 of the building project (kitchen & sanctuary)

The trustees will decide how best to allocate the money early in October, when we have a clearer picture of what has been given.

How you can give:

  1. Give by cash or cheque on the day – use the envelopes available
  2. Give by bank transfer to our account – use the ref: HEARTOFFERING+your surname
  3.  Pledge to give before Christmas – fill in the pledge forms available

Please note:

  • If you are a tax payer, then adding Gift Aid significantly increases your gift.
  • If you are NOT already a registered giver with the church, please fill in a GA form.
  • If you are not around on Sun 29th, please send any gifts or pledge forms into the office this next week.

God does not NEED our money but he WANTS our hearts!

We know that God is a God of provision with access to all the resources we could ever need! We strongly believe that this journey as about more than just finances.  We want to press into everything God has for us as a church in the next season and partner with him to see his Kingdom come & lives transformed.  Please do pray about how you might be part of this adventure, and if you have any questions, feel free to be in touch.

With our love and blessing

Nigel & Jo Hemming

 

 

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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Holes in the Roof

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In a recent Sunday talk I shared the story of how God has been speaking to us as we’ve tried to respond to some of the challenges we are currently facing as a church.  Leading into the summer, a significant shortfall in our general income, and the urgent need to replace our flat roof caused the leadership community to earnestly pray and seek God.  We sensed him challenging us that ‘the holes in the roof’ are more than just physical but spiritual too.  We sensed a need to come before God in prayer & fasting, to spend time being close to him, listening for his voice & bringing to him the various concerns which are troubling us around prayer, finance and relationships.

You can hear the full talk here

As I prepared for this week’s follow up talk, I was drawn back to this reading from “Our Daily Bread”.  The author quotes a beautiful passage by Thomas Watson (a Puritan preacher from the 1600s) and encourages believers to embrace times of affliction as an opportunity to grow in our faith.

We can learn from the challenges by deliberately pressing in closer to our Father and choosing to trust in the strength of his ‘everlasting arms’.  I pray that the words of this devotional encourage us as we reflect on what God is doing in this season and listen for his guiding voice;-

Does Your Roof Leak?
(reproduced from Our Daily Bread, 14 April 1999 by Henry G. Bosch)

In a book written in 1696, I found these statements:

“Sharp afflictions are to the soul as a soaking rain to the house. We know not there are such holes in the roof till the shower comes, and then we see it drop down here and there. Perhaps we did not know that there were such unmortified cuts in our soul till the storms of affliction came, then we found unbelief, impatience, and fear dropping down in many places.”

How true! Affliction tests us and proves what sort of Christians we are. If there are defects in our spiritual armour, they will show up under the strain and pressure of trouble.

When the floodgates of distress are opened, it is then we echo with understanding the words of the psalmist, who exclaimed, “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck” (Ps. 69:1). Yet we need not fear, for it is our loving Father who allows the waters to come, not to drown us but to cleanse us and help us to see where our life needs repairing.

Have you been through a storm? Have you been disturbed, irritated, faithless, fearful, or rebellious? Consider that God may have put you through this difficulty to reveal your spiritual needs. By prayer, faith, and yielding to the Holy Spirit, repair the “leaky roof.”

God takes us into deep waters not to drown us but to cleanse us.

Wrestling with the Big Stuff

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Recently I preached a couple of sermons on the subject of ‘How to Suffer’ – looking at the ancient book of Job as part of our Year of Biblical Literacy.  

Job is probably one of the harder Old Testament books to figure out but it’s so worth the effort for the treasure contain within.  It suggests that there will always be an element of mystery, and that we may not get answers to all our questions in this life.  It encourages us to embrace lament, and bring our very real complaints directly to God who is more than big enough to cope with our raw & messy emotions. 

To be honest I’ve been a bit blown away by the response to these talks, which seem to have resonated with so many people.  Suffering is part of everyone’s experience at some point in their lives no matter how hard we try to avoid it, plan around it or medicate against it.  

The key question is not whether we’ll experience pain but how we’ll actually cope with it when it comes!

The bible invites us to embrace these times as important seasons through which our character can grow, rather than just times to ‘get through’ while our life is ‘on hold’. Job invites us, particularly when things are tough, into a deeper level of trust with a heavenly father who, while upholding the whole universe, loves & cares for each individual.  

As the Apostle James wrote:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4) 

If you are in the middle of one of these seasons, sometimes there simply isn’t much to say except ‘ I’m sorry’.  Tough as it is to hear,  experiencing hard times is normal, and many others have been there first including Job! 

Why not reflect on some of these questions and talk through your responses with a trusted friend or leader:-

  1. Think about a previous time when you faced difficulty / pain / suffering?
  2. How did you grow in that season of your life?
  3. What helped you get through?
  4. What are you struggling with now?
  5. How are you processing that pain in your life with God?
  6. What do you think you are learning in this difficult time?
  7. How might you able to use this experience to help someone else in the future?

You can catch up with my talks on Job here  (look for 7 & 14 July 2019)

More Bible Project resources on Job here

 

Coming up in August…. ‘Live Different’ 

Our next YOBL series is based on the book of Daniel.  

While its supernatural rescue stories are some of the best known in the bible, Daniel has plenty to say into our current situation.  The book explores what it means to ‘Live Different’ – to literally live a life of faith and spiritual practises which are vastly different from the surrounding culture.  

This series runs from the end of July through August and in preparation, please do read through the Book of Daniel if you haven’t already (there are only 12 chapters!).  

Lastly, you might also want to watch this Daniel Overview Video from the Bible Project which contains a helpful intro & overview to the whole book.

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More resources on the book of Daniel here.

Don’t Give Up!

17-Job-FNLI have a confession to make!

I’m a long way behind in my reading through the Old Testament.

As part of our Year of Biblical Literacy (YOBL), we’re trying to read through the whole bible together, but in the busyness of life, I’ve not been able to be very consistent.  So where many of us are now exploring the major prophets, I’m still working my way through the narrative stories of 2 Kings. 

But I’m loving it!

I’m absolutely loving the challenge of reading through the whole of the bible, with the help of videos and podcasts from The Bible Project, sermon series in church and discussions in Life Group.  Actually, this it the first time that I have ever tried to understand how the whole bible narrative strings together, and difficult as it it sometimes, it’s helping me get a much better handle on the nature and character of the God who I love and serve.

So I’m sticking with it, and even if you’re really behind like me, I would encourage you to do the same.  We said at the start of 2019 that it was important to focus more on the ‘BIBLICAL LITERACY’ and less on the ‘YEAR’, and we really meant it!

If you feel like you’ve lost heart, or given up, it is really not too late to carry on.  You don’t need to wait for 2020 to start again, just watchmen of the videos to remind yourself where you are, and jump back in.  There’s no deadline!  

The most important thing is to read a bit of the bible regularly, think about it, pray about it and learn from it.  It doesn’t matter how big or small – but don’t give up.

2 Tim 3:14-17

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Exploring the Book of Job:

On Sundays, having looked at some of the challenging themes that run through the Old Testament, we’re now dipping into certain books. We’ve already covered Proverbs & Song of Songs, and our next two series look in more depth at Job and Daniel. 

The two week Job series starts in July and in preparation, you might want to watch this Read Scripture video to remind yourself of the overall narrative:-

Overview of the Book of Job (11 mins)

More info & resources on Job here

More on The Year of Biblical Literacy here

 

Easter Reflections

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With the Easter season approaching, we in Winchester Vineyard Church are a quarter of the way through our Year of Biblical Literacy (YOBL).  

THE JOURNEY SO FAR

So far we have read through Creation, the Fall, the Flood, Abraham & his descendants, Israel’s miraculous rescue from slavery in Egypt and the details of their covenant with God at Mount Sinai.  Things didn’t go so well for God’s people, but after several twists and turns, and 40 years in the wilderness, the next generation finally crossed the River Jordan to entered the promised land under Joshua’s leadership and start to build their nation.

There’s still plenty of Israel’s story to explore, and in our Sunday talks, we’ll be circling back into the Old Testament in much more depth after Easter.

It’s not too late to join in with YOBL!

Through our recent Big Story of God sermon series we saw how despite the difficult times, God did not abandon his people, and their hopes began to be fulfilled through Jesus’ kingdom ministry and then through the early church.  As followers of Jesus today, we are still living in that story, empowered by the Spirit to bring his hope and life to individuals, institutions, communities and nations.

Check out our Scattered Servants Training this weekend.

EASTER CONNECTIONS

Our teaching focus in April will be on the events leading up to Easter and their significance in the overall narrative of the bible.  Taking time to reflect on Jesus death and celebrate his resurrection will not just deepen our personal faith, but will also enrich our community life together.  There a number of exciting ways to do this over the next few weeks:-

Our Soulfulness Evening with Brian Draper will help us take quality time out of the busyness to connect with ourselves, the world & God. 

Our Easter Labyrinth will be open for contemplation and reflection throughout Holy week. 

At the Jesus Life Story event we’ll immerse ourselves in the gospel story by simply reading through the book of Mark together out loud. 

And our Easter Sunday Celebration promises to be fun and lively as we head over to the water meadows for baptisms, egg hunt, picnic and games.

All of these events are open to anyone – please do consider who you might invite along. Postcards are available from this Sunday to give away.

We look forward to reflecting on Jesus’ death and celebrate his life together.

Word vs Spirit – The Radical Middle

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As we are settling into our Year of Biblical Literacy, a number of people have fed back to me just how glad they are that we are focussing on the Big Story of the Bible in 2019.  It’s true that the Bible is being marginalised in our wider culture, but some people may also be wondering just how much emphasis a ‘charismatic’ church movement like Vineyard places on understanding the Bible, it’s overarching narrative and it’s teaching?

Over the centuries, different Christian groups have developed a wide range of approaches to the Bible. On one side would be those who place a deep emphasis, almost exclusively, on knowing, studying and preaching the Word of God. At the other end of the spectrum would be those who put almost all of their focus on the the activity of the Holy Spirit. All churches in history could be placed somewhere on this line.

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John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard movement (pictured above) taught that the most effective growth would occur in the ‘radical middle’, emphasising the importance of both the Word and the Spirit in maturing disciples of Jesus.

We place a really high value on the Bible and it’s truth, and that’s one of the reasons why we’re digging into it this way this year.  We also love and value the Holy Spirit and his work among us in our private times, in our public meetings, and equipping us to live out our faith in the world. 

Maybe you’ve known people who have held more extreme views on the Bible, and who have expressed them in an unhelpful or immature way.  Perhaps, as a reaction, you have swung away from reading and studying the Bible for yourself.  If that’s the case, I would encourage you to consider redressing the balance.  As in many areas of life, holding these values in tension can be tricky but is so important.

As apprentices of Jesus, we need the Holy Spirit to quicken the Bible to us and bring it to life as we read.  And when we encounter the Spirit through a physical experience or receive a prophetic word, we need the Bible as our vital reference book to make sure that what we are experiencing lines up with God’s truth.

Consider: Where would you put yourself on this line? And is there anything you need to do to redress the balance in your own journey with God?

Our next teaching series is called The Big Story of God, looking at the overarching narrative of the whole Bible in 6 stages.

For Further Exploration

More on John Wimber & the story of the Vineyard Movement

Video Clip: John Wimber on buying his first bible

Lecture: Origins of the Bible by Tim Mackie of the Bible Project

Timeline of the Bible

Grasping the Big Picture

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We have designated 2019 as a ‘Year of Biblical Literacy’ at Winchester Vineyard Church.  We aim to grow in our understanding of the bible through consistent reading, discussion, Sunday talks and even a few in-depth lectures.  (more info)

One of the key reasons for doing this is to help us get to grips with the bible’s overarching narrative and get a better appreciation of its timeline.  

As a primary school teacher, I would always begin a history topic with a timeline, to help children learn how each particular period relates to the world chronology.  During the course of a year, for example we might study the Ancient Egyptians or Romans and then jump to Victorian Britain or WWII.  Each one is a fascinating with some brilliant stories, but each also occurs in its own context – culturally & chronologically.  It’s essential to start with the ‘Big Picture’ and then dig down into the specifics of each topic, and it really helps to understand where a period fits within the overall timeline. 

Getting to grips with the bible can present a similar challenge. Its 66 books span around 5000 years of history and were written by around 40 people in a variety of literary styles.  Each book stands on its own merit with plenty to explore, but it’s not always easy to know how it relates to the bigger picture.

Over this year we’ll be getting to grips with the Bible’s timeline as we work our way through it chronologically.  There are so many brilliant stories, but there are also some parts which are a little trickier to understand.  As we read through this book together, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to us, our hope is to gain a clearer understanding of the biblical timeline and its key themes.  Our next series “The Big Story of the Bible” (in February and March) will particularly help set out the parameters for the rest of the year. 

In your personal reading, be encouraged, not to focus on trying to keep up with a plan, but to read a section each day (however short or long) and ask God to speak to you through it.   Bless you heaps as we read God’s word together. 

For further information:-

The Bible Project Website

Overview Bible Website

The Sacred Calendar Website