Live theatre comes to St James' Park this Sunday!
Come and hear the greatest story ever told about the greatest man who ever lived!
Bring a picnic from 12.30pm. There'll be live music and a puppet show - plus a dramatic presentation of the first biography life of Jesus' life. Bring your friends - it's suitable for everyone, no matter what religious beliefs they may have. Those who've seen this performance before have described it as 'captivating' and 'stunning'.
Here's the actor, Stef Smart, talking about the production ...
If your relationship with God is feeling a bit flat at the moment (it happens to all of us at times), Advent can be a great opportunity to give it a bit of a jump-start. In fact, even if you and God are on really good terms at the moment, it's easy to lose sight of Jesus in all the busyness of the run-up to Christmas.
Here's some suggestions for an advent devotional book - a few pages for you to read each day, often with a suggested prayer. Ideal for helping keep you and God on track together as we prepare to celebrate Jesus' birth.
Tom Wright "Advent for everyone" - unpacking some passages from the New Testament about the coming of the Lord. Available as a book or on kindle.
Michael & Rosemary Green "In touch with God" - looking at some Old Testament characters each day in December. Available as a book or on kindle.
Paul David Tripp "Come, let us adore him" - looking at themes each day, with some suggestions for family discussions as well. Available as a book or on kindle.
Tim Chester "The one true gift" - going slowly through an amazing passage about Jesus from Philippians 2. Available as a book or on kindle.
Happy reading - and happy advent!
Which are you more likely to say: “Dear God, my problem is bigger than me” or “Dear Problem, my God is bigger than you” ?
It’s so easy for our picture of God to diminish – especially when faced with the challenges of life.
Starting this Sunday, we’re looking at the book of Isaiah – which presents a portrait of the immensity of God. So prepare for your mind and heart to be enlarged and encouraged and stirred to worship the awesomeness of God. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth …” (Isaiah 40.28).
Now, not many of us feel confident when delving into the Old Testament - and Isaiah was written 700 years before Jesus’ birth. Yet there's so much great stuff in Isaiah - including incredible prophecies about Jesus that help us understand who he is and why he came - that it's worth making an effort to get to grips with Isaiah.
So if you want to get up to speed, The Bible Project have some excellent resources, including this video:
So you love Jesus and you're keen to serve him - but how? How does what you hear on a Sunday or in your cell group link to your workplace? How can reading the Bible each day help you chat with your friends and colleagues and answer their objections to faith? How can your cell group or mission group make more of an impact for the Kingdom of God?
'Formation School' is a great course, run here in Southampton, which helps answer all of those questions. It's a course which will take you deeper into the Bible, grow your love for God and help you work out how you can serve God - at home, at work, in the community, in church. Why settle for staying as you are now - when you could be making more of an impact for God.
It runs from September to July on term-time Tuesday evenings - plus a couple of Saturdays each term. There is a charge for the course - but I'd see that as a fantastic investment in the Kingdom which will reap rich rewards. St James' by the Park may be able to contribute towards the costs if that would help.
I really cannot recommend it highly enough - it's the sort of course I'd love to have done when I was younger.
There's lots more information about it on the Formation School website. Better still, go along to one of the Tuesday evening sessions in June to get a feel for what it's like. You can contact Ruth, the administrator to get details of venue and time.
The night before Jesus died, he startled his disciples when he said, “It is for your good that I am going away.” Then he explained why - he said, “unless I go away, the Holy Spirit will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” [Jn 16.7] In other words, the Holy Spirit is no poor substitute for Jesus. In some ways, having the Holy Spirit is even better than having Jesus. How does that work?
The Bible says that the Spirit lives in us [Rom 8.9, 11], and that we are temples of the Holy Spirit. Isn’t that incredible?
He’s in us 24/7 - whilst driving to work, whilst sitting in a classroom, whilst changing nappies or waiting for a medical appointment, whilst in a difficult meeting or serving an awkward customer. That was why Jesus said it was better for him to go, so the Spirit could come. He can now be with each of us, all the time.
But what does the Holy Spirit do? We’ve started a sermon series which will begin to answer that question, and as usual, we’ll follow it up in our midweek small groups.
Some people are wary of the Holy Spirit or get worried when people start talking about the Holy Spirit too much. Some people want to steer clear of the Holy Spirit - for them, it sounds a bit spooky or weird-and-probably-not-wonderful.
There are people who make unhealthy and unbiblical claims about the Spirit’s work. That’s why in the Bible, God urges us to test the spirits [1 Jn 4.1] - we have to use our brains to see whether something that is claimed to be the Spirit’s work really is the Holy Spirit. But God also urges us the Bible not to quench the Spirit. [1 These 5.9] So we mustn’t write off everything that sounds a bit out-of-the-ordinary. Over the years, I’ve had to go on a journey to become much more open and desiring of the Spirit’s work.
Some people say, “The Holy Spirit isn’t really for me – I’m not that sort of Christian.” But Romans 8.9 says, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” In other words, you can’t be a Christian without the Holy Spirit. It’s simply impossible.
And the Spirit is really not to be feared. You see, if Jesus is the most loving man who ever lived, and this is the Spirit of Jesus, then of course we’ve nothing to be scared of. The Spirit’s presence brings love.
Jesus said, “If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” [Lk 11.13] Our heavenly Father longs to give us his Spirit because he knows the Spirit is the best possible gift he could give us.
My prayer through this series is that we’ll all open ourselves up to the Spirit’s work in our lives more. I don’t know what that will look like - sometimes he acts obviously and quickly; more often he works slowly and in a hidden way. But let’s welcome his work among us, whatever he chooses to do.