Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Harvest "Joke"

A parishoner told me an Anglicised version of this joke yesterday, that I might tell at our Harvest Festival no. 1 today:

"There was once a traveling preacher, a good man on fire with his religion. He was very intense and ardent. As he was traveling across the Arizona desert, he saw a beautiful splash of green on the distant horizon. He knew it had to be a mirage. Nothing that green could exist in such a barren desert. When he had traveled closer to the beautiful green spot, he saw it was a lush garden. Colorful flowers bloomed and birds sang from the limbs of trees covered with fruit. Tomatoes, green peppers, squash, and melons spread in neat bountiful rows. At the back of the garden stood a small house. Full of religious zeal, he ran up and knocked loudly on the door. It was opened by a small studious looking man with glasses perched on his nose. The preacher exclaimed loudly, "I just want to tell you what a fabulous blessing the Lord has given you! Here in this barren desert, he has created a small piece of paradise, for you." The man smiled and replied, "I understand and I agree. Without the good Lord's sunshine and the miracle of seeds none of this could be here. But, you should have seen this place when the Lord had it all to himself."


Thursday, September 27, 2012


Do you think it unreasonable for Jesus to ask for the 1st 10% of your gross income?

Well, you could say its generous of Jesus to give your your next breath, your lunch and your home. Do you deserve the money you get, or do you deserve the judgement of God on your sin? How kind of Jesus to let you keep 90% of your income, when it all belongs to him.

Anyway, if you don't buy all that, maybe Jesus would accept 9% of your post-tax income. That would be a step in the right direction.

Monday, September 24, 2012

What if Adam had been a man?

When Eve had eaten the forbiden fruit, what should Adam have done?

N D Wilson suggests that the First Adam should have done what the Last Adam did: lay down his life for his bride, taken the punishment that she deserved, die that she might live.

Instead, Adam follows Eve into her sin. He might have saved her from it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Warbleton Church Mission Action Plan Launch 2012

 Warbleton Parish Church MISSION ACTION PLAN Summary (2012)

to be & make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ

Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Peter 3:15

·         improve our website and keep it up-to-date
·         plan ahead and publicise our programme (for the year)
·         produce and use a welcome leaflet
·         make more use of Facebook in publicity and perhaps Twitter
·         personal invitations key - A6 flyers for events available
·         when people move into the area, make sure Marc knows (visit)
·         joined up events with next step options for finding out more
·         email circulation list for forthcoming events etc.
·         every church member praying, befriending, inviting etc.
·         not too busy – involved in local clubs etc., time for friendships
·         11-50 year olds relatively absent – extra effort to reach this age group
·         long-term aim to be an all age family friendly church
·         grow our work with families from the bottom up over the long term
·         new toddler group & social events for the mums
·         summer holiday club type morning for the under 11s
·         focus on men under 60 - football trip and fishing day and other suitable events e.g. pub quiz
·         parenting course
·         ? bereavement course (in the future)
·         opportunities to investigate the Christian faith e.g. Christianity Explored and the Identity Course
·         make the most of baptism, wedding and funeral enquiries from local people
·         a marriage (preparation) day ?
·         events that deal with issues of contemporary interest and practical application from a Christian perspective e.g. evening on internet security, social media safety, online pornography
·         working with the other churches in the benefice - support joint events
·         explore the possibility of working with other churches to do things together which we could do less effectively alone
·         begin to plan now for the Passion For Life Mission at Easter 2014
·         broaden the base of volunteers who are actively involved

Why not pray this prayer at least once a week?

“Father God, thank you for the Lord Jesus Christ and the good news about him.

Please help me to follow Jesus and to encourage others to follow him.

Please help me to live in such a way that others are helped to come to Jesus, and please give me opportunities to speak about Jesus and the right words to say.

Please bless my friendships with:





Please show me ways I could help them to follow Jesus and give me the courage to do so.

In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.”                                                         

What could the church do to help you reach these people and others with the good news about Jesus? If you have ideas, please speak to Marc. Suggestions and offers of help are always welcome.

A date for your diary:

At our churches away day on Saturday 26th January at Springhill, Broad Oak, Rev’d Glen Scrivener will give 3 talks on:

The Outgoing God: The Why, What and How of Sharing our Faith

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Children’s talk on swaps on Mark 10:17-31 and Philippians 3:4b-11


Do you ever swap things?
When I was younger, football stickers.
Would you swap this computer for this one?
Would you swap this car for this one?
(Car keys) – would anyone like to swap cars?
Any other swaps?

You could say our Bible readings today are about swaps.

Paul says he’d swap anything if it meant he could know Jesus.
He says that all the things he used to think were so good and important, he now realises are worth much less than Jesus.
In fact, Paul says he thinks everything else is rubbish compared to Jesus.
Being a Christian is the best thing in the world ever, and nothing comes close to it.
Paul would swap everything to get Jesus.

And in our Gospel reading, you could say this rich young man is asked to do a swap.
He’s asked to swap all his money for Jesus.
Jesus tells him to sell everything he has and come and follow him.
Jesus wants the man to swap treasure on earth for treasure in heaven.

But the man won’t do the swap.
He hangs on to his money, and he won’t follow Jesus – and he goes away sad.

The man loves his money more than he loves Jesus.
He puts his money first in his life, even before God.
And our passage warns us not to do that.
We should swap anything that we risk loving more than we love Jesus.
We should swap anything that stops us following Jesus.
Jesus should be number 1 in our lives.
He’s the best.
Nothing else compares to him.
If you know Jesus, don’t swap that for anything.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

The Rich Young Man (Mark 10:17-31)

As I feel I ought to write my sermons for a Proclamation Trust preachers' workshop group, and they might expect headings, here are my slightly reluctant headings on Mark 10:17-31. I hope they're some help to someone sometime:

There is nothing we can do to earn eternal life.


Anyone who will follow Jesus and put him first can be saved and receive the blessings of the Kingdom of God.

Wedding Sermon on Ecclesiastes 3

A wedding couple asked for Ecclesiastes 3, which was a challenge. Here's my attempt:

This is a time to laugh, to dance, to embrace, to love.
But we all know that’s not the whole story.
Life is not always a bed of roses.
Even the best marriages, are not always ones of unbroken bliss.
In all our lives there will be times to weep and to mourn.
Our reading from Ecclesiastes reminds us that God rules over all of life, every time and season.
For the Christian, everything in life comes to us from the hand of our loving heavenly Father.
The hairs on our head are numbered.
Not even a sparrow falls from the sky without the Father’s permission.

One of the wonderful things about marriage is that husband and wife promise to be there for one another, come what may:
For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health.
That’s a tremendous source of security and encouragement.
Faithful, unconditional love is one of the greatest things in life.
Even our imperfect marriages, give us glimpses of something divine.

The Bible often describes the relationship between God and his people as like a marriage.
God is the husband, who loves his wife, despite her wandering affections.
Christ is the bridegroom who lays down his life to win his bride, the church.
So the unconditional, faithful, life-long love of marriage is a picture to us of Jesus’ love for all who will put their trust in him.

One of the cries of Ecclesiastes is “vanity of vanities, all is vanity”.
Or in more modern translations, “meaningless! All is meaningless.”
Which would be a dismal message for a wedding!
Actually, both “vanity” and “meaningless” are bad translations.
A much better translation would be “vapour” or “mist”.
Life can be like a foggy vapour, a mist.
Life is elusive, we can’t grasp it.
We can’t make sense of it.
We cannot find out the beginning and the end.
Life is sometimes frustrating, like a chasing after the wind.
Often we can’t make sense of what God is doing in his world.
The Bible doesn’t offer simplistic, easy answers.
It sometimes seems an understatement to say that “God moves in a mysterious way”.

Yet our Bible reading says that to eat, and drink and enjoy the good is the gift of God.
In fact, all that we have is a gift of God, to be enjoyed with thankfullness.
God has set eternity in our hearts, and we’re intended for friendship with him.
Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in him.
In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Life is not meaningless.
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

The writer of Ecclesiasties concludes:
“Remember your Creator…
Now all has been heard;
Here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every deed into judgement,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.”

Although there are lots of things we don’t know, in fact we do know the end of the story of our world.
The climax of history will be a wedding:
The marriage of Christ and his bride, the church.
Jesus loves us and wants to win our hearts.
He died, that the church might be his beautiful, spotless bride.

As we celebrate ______ and _____’s marriage today, may it remind us that Jesus invites us to a Marriage Supper, his own heavenly banquet.
Let us engage ourselves afresh to the Lord Jesus Christ, the faithful Bridegroom.
Today would be a great time to do that:
A time to embrace Christ, the pledge our love to him.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Christian Values for our church primary school

We are working on clarifying and making explicit the Christian values of our church primary school. Here's where we've got to so far. We're thinking of using these as themes in some forthcoming assemblies.

Some Of Our Christian Values
from the Bible


Jesus said:Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.

(Matthew’s Gospel chapter 22 verses 37 and 38)


Jesus said: “Treat others as you want them to treat you.”

(Matthew’s Gospel chapter 7 verse 12)


The Apostle Paul said: “Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you.”

(The letter to the Colossian Church chapter 3 verse 13)


The Apostle Paul said: “With thankful hearts, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. Whatever you say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, as you give thanks to God the Father because of him.

(The letter to the Colossian Church chapter 3 verses 16 and 17)

Bible quotations are from The Contemporary English Version (CEV)