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Messages of encouragement from our Pastor


Pastor’s blog, Sunday 11th November, 2012

November 17th, 2012
Pastor Jim Hillier

Pastor Jim

Dear Church,

My dear grandmother died almost a year ago aged 100!  She often told me how as a girl she saw burning enemy Zeppelins falling from the sky over London in the First World War.  She remembers being held by her father as she cried for the “…burning men” who were in those ships.  I also have the diary of my grandfather who was aboard the U-boat hunter HMS Starling during the Second World War.  He graphically recorded one of the deafening sea battles where he thought he was going to die.  Those memories have caused me many times to ask myself the question “What would I be prepared to lay my life down for?”

 

Every year at remembrance services, I stand for the minute’s silence and think of that question, but must admit that I struggle to break through the politics of the last 100 years of war to feel the overwhelming sense of gratitude that tradition expects me to feel.  Instead, I thank God for my social freedoms and what it cost others, then try to focus on the greater sacrifice of the Lord Jesus which bought my complete and eternal freedom.  Can I admit a further weakness?  Because I sometimes struggled to make an emotional link between His sacrifice and myself, I looked to various examples to move me – the heroic deaths of soldiers from various wars, married friends of mine who were prepared to die for each other when gunmen entered their Church and began killing etc.  However, I couldn’t make that connection with the un-naturalness of Christ’s sacrifice.

 

It was un-natural because I wasn’t born when Jesus died, didn’t fight alongside Him or share in His struggles, and didn’t have any form of relationship with Him at the time of His death.  The love was all on His part and He even died for enemies and for sins not His own!  What kind of love is this?  What changed all this for me was when I stopped considering the dead and started considering the living.  I realised that Jesus was alive, that I have a living relationship with Him, and that I do fight alongside Him and share in the struggles of His people.  I now find that the more alive my relationship with Jesus is, the more I have to contemplate in the minute’s silence.  Remember the dead, but pay more attention to the living.

 

Pastor Jim

Pastor’s blog, Sunday 4th November, 2012

November 17th, 2012
Pastor Jim Hillier

Pastor Jim

Dear Church,

Psalm 34 v 3 – “Glorify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together.

As I stated in my induction yesterday, thank you so much for the honest, sacrificial, and practical welcome I and my family have received.  We are always amazed at the amount of generosity and love from other Christians and it inspires us to be the same towards others too.  We are looking forward to serving you, and serving with you.

Many people have already asked me what I intend to ‘do’ with the church here.    “How will you develop the worship?  Will you lead an evangelistic campaign in Looe?  Will you re-structure the leadership?  Will you make pastoral visiting a priority?  Will you increase involvement with other churches in the area?”  They and all the other questions are good ones and it is right that they should be answered.  Anyone in leadership needs to have a vision, direction, be sensitive in church politics, be able to prioritise, and sometimes have thick skin!  It is my intention to immerse myself in the life of the church for the rest of the year and, as a good police officer would, to ask many questions.  In the New Year I hope to present along with the other leaders in the church, a more local vision for GCC Morval which will hopefully answer most of the burning questions that are in the minds of those concerned about healthy and God honouring Church life.  Thank you for your continuing patience.

 

However, there is no plan, no method or model, no policy or procedure however well-intentioned, which will be of any use if God is not in it.  If God, the glory of God and of His son the Lord Jesus is not the goal, then by default, we will be honouring only ourselves.  If God is not exalted and the reputation of His name honoured, we are doing nothing but running a charitable organisation.  If salvation is only received through His name and we are lifting up the name of Grace Community Church, then no-one will be saved.  In all I hope we will achieve together in the future, I invite you to “Glorify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together.”

 

Pastor Jim.

Pastor’s blog, Sunday, 28th October, 2012

October 31st, 2012

Dear Church,

Are we praying or sleeping?

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson

I love the story of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane.  On the cross He was stretched out physically, but here we see Him stretched mentally and emotionally as He faces and accepts the path set out for Him.  Jesus agonises over the prospect of what He is about to face. And in His agony, what does He do?  He prays.  He prays so intensely that his sweat is mingled with blood – a known medical condition that indicates huge mental stress.  And in that stress He cries out to His Father in prayer.

 

Contrast Peter and the other disciples.  Instead of praying, they fall asleep. And yet Jesus has warned them that trouble and temptation are coming.  He spelled out to them that they would fall away that very night.  He warned Peter individually that Satan was going to sift him like wheat.  But still Peter did not pray.  What a contrast!  Jesus, who was strong, cried out to God in agonised prayer.  The disciples, who were weak, ignored the warnings and gave in to sleep.  What was the difference that led one to pray urgently and another to ignore the call to prayer?

 

I believe that the difference lay in their understanding of the situation.  Jesus understood what was at stake.  He knew that the challenge He was about to face would stretch Him to the ultimate degree.  He was about to face the loneliness of the cross, where He would be separated even from His Father because of the sin of the world placed upon Him.  The stakes were high, because victory would mean nothing less than the salvation of the world.  Peter had no inkling of how high the stakes were. His speak-first-and-think-later approach had worked for him to date, more or less: he would brave this one out too.  He relied upon his own instinct and wits and completely underestimated both his own weakness and the temptation that was to come.  And he came crashing down.  I wonder if we at Grace have been guilty of the same sort of complacency.  The stakes are high.  We are weak and vulnerable and yet at the same time God wants to do a mighty work through us, He wants to impact our communities with His love.  Once by God’s grace we grasp these truths prayer will become more important to us than comfort or relaxation or even sleep.

Yours in Christ,

Ian Thompson (Acting pastor)

Pastor’s blog, Sunday, 21st October, 2012

October 31st, 2012

Dear Church,

“I am the light of the world”

“You are the light of the world”

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson

Jesus said two apparently contradictory things about light.  In John 8:12 He said “I am the light of the world.”  In Matthew 5:14 He said to His disciples “You are the light of the world.”  If we look closely it does not take long to see that there is really no contradiction.  We can be the light of the world to the extent to which we reflect Jesus.  We can be light to a dark world if they can see Jesus in us.

Let us pause to reflect a little deeper on the meaning of these sayings.  If Jesus is the light of the world, then without Him there is darkness.  Whatever else is used to help mankind, however helpful it may seem to be in the short term, in the long term it will miss the mark.  It will fail to shine brightly enough to make any lasting difference.  I do not mean by that to denigrate good government or the welfare state or education or medicine or science and technology.  All are used by God to alleviate suffering and to make lives better.  But none of them can change the human heart.  Only God can do that, and He does it through Jesus.  That is why He is the light of the world and there is no other.

But Jesus also said that His disciples were the light of the world.  That means that today we are the light of the world.  We have been entrusted with the only message that can bring lasting relief to a sin-sick world.  We have the only medicine that makes any real difference on the human heart.  That is why Bill Hybells is right to say that “The local church is the hope of the world.”

So, what about us? As we contemplate an exciting new beginning, what hope will we offer to the communities around us?  Do we believe God can use us to make a difference?  Let us dream big dreams of what God can do through us!

Yours in Christ,

Ian Thompson (Acting pastor)