We often talk about how Jesus has changed an individual’s life. But changed lives change families and change neighbourhoods and change cities … and even change the world!
Think about it: 2000 years ago, women and children were pretty much treated as disposable property. What changed that? Jesus’ teaching about the radical worth and equality of every individual. That same teaching has eventually filtered through to create democracies where every person’s vote is equal.
2000 years ago, humility wasn’t seen as a good virtue, but as a sign of weakness. But then along came Jesus.
What about forgiveness? Jesus taught us to love even our enemies and forgive those who hurt us. Without such teaching, South Africa would never have had leaders like Nelson Mandela and a ‘truth and reconciliation commission’ to bring a relatively peaceful end to apartheid.
On and on the list goes: the impact Jesus has had on our world is quite remarkable. He modelled these things, and as his followers put them into practice too, culture and society was slowly changed.
Yet most people don’t realise so much of these changes for good stem from Jesus.
In early February, we’ll start a new course called “Jesus the game changer”. Like Alpha, it will run in a home with DVDs, discussion and food. But this is designed for people who might find Alpha a step too far: people who want to investigate Jesus more closely, but don’t want to be pressured into following Jesus.
Have you got friends who enjoyed the Christmas services or who admire your Christian faith, but have said ‘no’ to Alpha in the past? This will be the ideal thing to invite them to! Starts Wednesday 6th Feb. See www.stjamesbythepark.org/gamechanger for details.
Peter and Tamsyn: "God took the opportunity to really meet with us and start a long healing process."
What could be so special about camping for a week in Shepton Mallet – with thousands of others?! Tamsyn and Peter had heard various friends rave about ‘New Wine’, so decided to see for themselves what all the fuss was about.
“We’d gone through a tough few weeks personally beforehand so were prepared for a range of emotions and probably tears. Turned out that was just getting the tent pitched and surviving the first night’s wind and rain!!
Having survived the first night, they settled into the New Wine week - days and evenings filled with amazing teaching, fantastic worship and opportunities to build and deepen relationships with others from St James’ by the Park. The groups for children and young people are exceptional, and good provision for those with additional needs.
“We both had amazing spiritual experiences whilst at New Wine. He also surrounded us with a special group of people to share this part of our journey.”
How would they sum up New Wine? “Faith, fun and friendship. And you can’t get through New Wine without cake!”
And would they go again? “We’re booked up for next year already - 27th July to 2nd August. We want to know who will win the next floss-off. If you want to know what that’s all about you’ll have to come!”
New Wine moves to Peterborough in 2019 – a bit further away, but with more accommodation options nearby – eg hotels etc for those who don’t like camping. And apparently it rains less in Peterborough!
If you want to find out more, go to www.new-wine.org or chat to Peter & Tamsyn.
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 ...
After the great success of last year, the Generation Y Cell group are hosting another charity quiz on Friday 8th June 2018 at St. James’ by the Park! Always a great laugh and there will be lots of fun ways to give generously. We have prayerfully chosen to support a local and an international charity this year. After the fraudulent act on Southampton City Mission in 2017, we will be raising funds for the Basics Bank and also for the Barbara Project as part of our ongoing mission to support Enable Busoga in Uganda.
We are inviting guest speakers from both organisations to speak on the evening to explain more about these fantastic causes. As well as the quiz, we will be holding a raffle, cake stall, drinks and snacks & a well stocked bar in turn for your donations! We welcome you from 7:30pm for an 8pm start. Maximum 8 people per team.
Please do come and support us for what will be a fun evening!
Entry is £5pp to be given at the door.
We take cars for annual MOTs. Some of us get regular physical health-checks. When was the last time you took a spiritual health-check?
On Ash Wednesday, we gave the opportunity to take part in one. For those who weren't able to make it, here's some of what we covered:
Spiritual health is closely tied to spiritual growth. Sadly, for many Christians, a spiritual growth chart looks something like this:
In other words, after we become a Christian, we grow spiritually quite rapidly - but then we plateau for the rest of our lives until we die. At that point, Jesus completes our spiritual transformation (we are renewed in body, soul and spirit) and we get to live in his presence. That spiritual growth chart is similar to a physical growth chart for humans - growth through childhood and adolescence, but then no more growth for the rest of our lives.
But the Bible pictures spiritual growth as being more like this:
In other words, we should be on an overall trend of spiritual growth throughout our lives. Yes, there are ups and downs along the way. But by the time we die, we should be considerably more spiritually mature / healthy than in the immediate years after we become a Christian.
The apostle Paul was a great evangelist - but he wasn't just interested in people becoming Christians. He was passionate about Christians becoming more spiritually mature: "We proclaim him [Christ], admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect [mature] in Christ" (Colossians 1.28).
Similarly, when talking about why Jesus gave certain gifts to the church, Paul explained that it was "so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity ... and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." And the effect of this maturity? "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching ..." (Ephesians 4.11.16).
Spiritual maturity means becoming more and more like Jesus. Here’s Paul writing to the Corinthians: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory" (2 Corinthians 3.18). John Ortberg describes the effect of spiritual transformation like this: "When transformation happens, I don’t just do the things Jesus would have done; I find myself wanting to do them. They make sense. I don’t just go around trying to do the right things; I become the right sort of person."
So ... being a spiritually healthy Christian means growing to spiritual maturity - becoming more and more like Jesus. And that's a lifelong process - not one that stops after spiritual adolescence!
We developed some questions (actually, we borrowed bits from various different sources) to help each of us diagnose the state of our own spiritual health. Click here to take this 'spiritual health-check' yourself.
Go on - give it a go! You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. As you fill it in, be honest - this is just between you and God. If you score low in a section, it doesn't mean you're a bad Christian - it's just flagging up areas where you can grow.
A physical health-check is only beneficial if we begin to put into practice the GP's recommendations. It's the same with this spiritual health-check. If you just leave it there, it's been a waste of time. To get the most out of this health-check, once you've done it, choose one (or maybe two) areas which have been highlighted as needing some attention, and begin to work on it, prayerfully.
And don't work at it alone! Spiritual growth comes as we allow God's Spirit to work in us, and it happens in the context of Christian fellowship. Learn from the wisdom of others who are stronger in that area than you are.
And if you want some more ideas on how to work on these areas, specifically on 'spiritual disciplines', here's the 'growing spiritually' handout we used to help people follow-up.
Have fun - and let us know how you get on!
"In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy ... being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1.4-6).