Tuesday, December 12, 2017
I've been meaning to get back into blogging for a while, and just struggling to find time. I haven't given up on it, but the limited time I've had for online stuff has been mainly on Facebook and Twitter, and a little on instagram (I know, i need to get with it...).
I'm writing this blog today to encourage a bit of accountability for myself.
Truth is, I'm a sinner, and one of the areas of real lack of control has been around food and exercise. I've been greedy. And I've been lazy.
At Easter I decided to make some gentle changes, and then during my sabbatical in autumn I got more serious, eating less and increasing the amount of walking I do.
The upshot is that weight is slowly shifting, and quite a bit so far, but I know I will struggle to keep it up. So here is my permission to you to challenge me on it, and to ask how i'm doing. It's not going to be a big thing for me on social media, and although I have wondered about starting a new blog just to talk about faith, fat and fitness, I really don't have the time.
If you're on your own journey from fat to fit, let me know. I'll be praying for you.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Our current Sunday morning teaching series is called "Red Letter Commandments", and takes a look at the places in Matthew's gospel where Jesus gives a commandment that we feel is still relevant to us today. Last week I preached on Matthew 5:38-42 and Jesus command to us not to take revenge, but to engage in creative nonviolent resistance.
This week I was speaking from the following paragraph Matthew 5:43-47, Love your enemies. I remembered that I had once read a sermon from Dr King on that text, and so I read it again in preparation. It is an amazing sermon, far better than I could have aspired to, and I shared that fact this morning. I quoted from one section, and said that I would share the text from my blog for those who'd like to read the whole thing. This is a transcript from a recording made November 17, 1957 at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama. Right in the heat and turmoil of the civil rights movement. I pray his call to radical love will inspire you as much as it has me.
Sunday, January 01, 2017
In Hebrews 13:8 we are reminded of a timeless truth, “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.”
This morning in church I shared that if something were true at the time of Jesus’ life, it’s still true today. If there was any truth in His teaching 2000 yrs ago, it’s still true today. If His life and ministry are an example, they are still an example to us now. If his death on the cross had an effect 2000 yrs ago, it still has that effect today. If His resurrection was a sign of anything then, it’s still the same sign now. If His ascension into heaven meant He was powerfully interceding for us then, and preparing a place for us, then those things are still true today. And finally that if the giving of the Holy Spirit, so liberally poured out onto humanity that Pentecost day, empowered Christians to live, serve, love and minister in the power of God at the beginning of the Church’s story then the same is true today.
Because Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever, I make these predictions for 2017, not based on an interpretation of the news, or my best guesswork knowing partial information, but based on the never-changing nature and character of God.
So, regardless of who wins what election, or what actions are taken re membership of Europe, nevermind who sets themselves up to change the world, or just one part of it; whether we will continue to see the slide towards a world of individual meanings, and a careless disregard for facts, or whether the sun shines and we live in growing peace, here are some things that will happen for sure in 2017:
God will hear and answer our prayers
God will transform this world, one changed life at a time
God will keep His promises
God will reveal more of Himself to us as we spend time reading the Bible
God will continue to love the world, and everyone in it
God will forgive all who turn away from their sinful life, and follow him
God will not give up on anyone
God will send us blessing if we live in line with His word, the Bible
God will keep giving you power to live, love and minister for Him
And finally -perhaps most importantly when we consider the great upheavels in the world we are living through - God will continue to be in control
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Tuesday, July 05, 2016
Last autumn I started broadcasting on Periscope a couple of time a week, with the title "Ask the Pastor".
They were quite popular broadcasts with people from all over the world tuning in sharing greetings, prayer requests and posing a wide range of questions from matters of faith through politics, sports and general information about living in the UK.
A period of illness at the end of the year meant I stopped broadcasting and kinda got out of the habit.
I'm happy to say, in response to several requests, the broadcasts are back.
I'm aiming to broadcast weekly, and in the first instance it's most likely to be on Fridays at around 4pm UK time, that's 10am CST in the USA.
If you aren't able to join me live, then please feel free to leave questions in the comments here then watch the broadcasts later on this link to my periscope profile.
Or alternatively you can tweet questions to me on twitter where I am @baptistjon and I'll include them in the broadcast
If you do use periscope, please follow me there too and I'll follow back - I'd love to get a glimpse into your world!
Monday, July 04, 2016
Salary: £18-20k depending on experience
Term of contract: This is a permanent position
Hours of work: This is a full time (37.5 hrs per week) post, with 5.6 weeks annual leave.
Tabernacle Baptist Church Wolverhampton (often called Tab) is a busy, diverse multi-site church of some 250 people, with buildings in Whitmore Reans, the city centre and Ashmore Park.
We are seeking to recruit an outstanding individual to work at the heart of our church's organisation.
Supporting a large team of staff and volunteers, alongside handling enquiries from the public and managing a number of routine tasks means that each day is varied, and that the right individual will find this a stimulating and rewarding opportunity.
The postholder will need to be someone who has proven office management skills and be able to communicate effectively in person, in writing and through the use of digital media. They will also be strongly internally-motivated with experience of office based administration and dealing with enquiries.
Because the individual will be called upon to represent the church, its interests and its mission, the postholder will need to be a dedicated disciple of Jesus with great communication skills, and able to support Baptist beliefs and practices.
Tabernacle Baptist Church Wolverhampton is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and adults at risk. All our staff and volunteers are expected to share this commitment, which is underpinned by robust systems that seek to continuously promote a culture of safeguarding. The successful applicant will be required to complete an enhanced DBS (formerly CRB) check which must be maintained throughout the period of employment, and undergo safeguarding training.
A more detailed job and person specification is available via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Applications can be made by sending a CV and covering letter to email@example.com or via mail:
The Senior Minister
Tabernacle Baptist Church Wolverhampton
Closing date for applications is 5pm on Wednesday 20th July 2016, interviews will be held on Wednesday 27th July.
Friday, June 24, 2016
Today Great Britain has embarked on an uncertain journey, following the referendum on whether we should remain a part of the European Union.
Months of sharply divisive campaigning has revealed itself in a result that is far from resounding with 52% voting to leave, and 48% to remain. There are people in our neighbourhoods and churches who are struggling to make sense of the enormity of the decision, and as I write this our Prime Minister has just resigned, the Governor of the Bank of England has issued an emergency statement and our finance markets are in turmoil.
How should those of us who follow Jesus respond to these events? Is there anything for us to do other than pull up our drawbridges and try and ride out the coming storms? Whether we voted to remain or leave, is there some shared action or attitude that will help in this time of questioning and uncertainty?
I want to offer a few thoughts as someone who is first of all a pastor. My concern is to help church members navigate this different terrain we find ourselves in as faithful followers of Jesus.
I've used the idea of journey and shifting terrain, and I do that on purpose, as I think it's a really helpful way of understanding something important about our identity. The Apostle Peter, writing a letter that's included in the Bible, addresses his readers this way:
Part of what it meant then to be a follower of Jesus was to be an exile - a person who is not living in the place of their nationality, their own nation state. For Peter's first readers this was often because the persecution that had arisen because of their faith meant that had to flee from home.
But in a deeper sense, all of us who follow Jesus are exiles in this world. Whereas before the time of Jesus, God's dealings with humanity had been done primarily with a particular nation-state - Israel - after Jesus all of humanity is potentially the people of God, with no need to become part of a particular nation. So, in Jesus all who follow, from wherever they are in the world, are on a different journey, and have a different sense of belonging. Yes, legally we might have nationality in a place (GB for me), but we are also citizens of Heaven, a place we haven't got to yet, but a place where our real belonging is.
The writer of the New Testament letter to the Hebrews tells a number of stories of great heroes of faith, and then includes this reflection:
Exiles we are then, looking for a new home, travelling through this world trying to be faithful followers.
So, what word to exiles might encourage us, give us hope and direction right now, on this day when our nation faces an unsure future, and when deep divisions between old and young, poor and rich, native and foreigner have been so sharply revealed?
God's people have often been exiles, and in the Old Testament we see what happened on many occasions when they were divorced from the land they had called their own. So, what did they do? Did they sit and pray, or look longingly back to the place they remembered? Did God call them to resist the exile?
The prophet Jeremiah wrote much that has become very familiar to us, including the passage in Jeremiah 29 where he speaks for God saying "I know the plans I have for you..." But earlier in that passage God gives instructions on what it means to stay faithful to Him in a time of exile:
So, in that list of getting on with things, engaging with culture not withdrawing from it, we see an instruction to seek the peace and prosperity of the place where we exiles find ourselves, and to pray for it.
Two things for us to be doing then.
Prayer seems fairly straightforward for us, bringing to God our concerns for the place we are, listening to God for His guidance on how to pray and act.
But more than praying, we're to seek peace and prosperity. We're to be those who look for the embers of peace and fan them into flame. We are called to find the people of peace and co-operate with them. It is for God's exiles to do what they can to see prosperity - which means dealing with issues that hold people in worklessness, and using our resources where we can to bless our locality.
Right now, when there is a rise in far-right ideologies in our continent, and where an ugly strand of racism ran through parts of the referendum campaign, we need to be those who work for the peace and prosperity of those who are economically marginalised, or are strangers amongst us, as refugees and asylum seekers, or as those for whom immigration was a better or safer option of a bright future.
Again, in the Old Testament, Moses speaks to the people of God and reminds them:
At a time when there's a real temptation for our nation to close borders, and to concentrate on a narrow and self-interested agenda, we, the followers of Jesus, must be those who ensure that the new Britain that emerges should be a generous one, an outward-focussed one, playing our part in caring for the whole world, not merely our own bank balances.
So, it's a word to exiles, that's all of us who haven't reached heaven yet. It's a call to pray, but more than that a call to act, a call to seek, and a call to build a peace-filled and prosperous nation.
In the middle of all the questions that are to come, I encourage you to find your identity in Jesus, not in nation, and your purpose in service, not self-interest.
Grace and peace
A 10 minute video version of this is available here: https://www.facebook.com/jonathan.somerville1/videos/10154359810454390/
A 10 minute video version of this is available here: https://www.facebook.com/jonathan.somerville1/videos/10154359810454390/