Launching LifeGroups

For the past few months in Jubilee, we haven’t been running our small groups. At the beginning of the year we felt it was right to shut them down and do some other things for a season. Whilst I am sure that was right, it has felt somewhat strange; it’s the first time in the history of Jubilee that we haven’t run small groups of one sort or another. So it was with great excitement and celebration that we re-launched LifeGroups yesterday morning. And then in the evening I met with our new group leaders. They really are an excellent group of people – passionate, loving and enthusiastic. I really couldn’t ask for more!

LifeGroups are an integral part of Jubilee. They are our structure for outreach and growth as well as for pastoral care and discipleship. And most importantly, they are our expression of community. You can never get to know everyone on a Sunday morning – we passed that stage a long time ago. However, as we grow larger on a Sunday, it’s important that we grow smaller as well – in relationships, in a small group context.

The small group is the perfect setting for community, discipleship and outreach. We all need a community to be part of, and LifeGroups give us that opportunity of living life together, and walking with others in the journey we call life. They are also a great place for encouraging one another to grow in God, and all He has for us. We can be honest, open and vulnerable in a small setting in a way that will help us grow as followers of Jesus. Small groups also give a natural way of reaching out to others, of serving a community or loving people who don’t know Jesus yet.

No small group is perfect, but that’s not a reason not to be part of one – it’s the reason you and I can be part of one! If you’re part of Jubilee, I want to encourage you to get stuck into a LifeGroup – make contact with the group leaders and give yourself to that group of people as you give yourself to Jesus and His church. The book of Acts tells us that the early church were devoted to one another – let’s go for that and see what God might do amongst us. Jesus is building His church – and it’s thrilling to be part of it.

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Central Cities 2010

Central Cities 2010 is an initiative to strengthen local churches in the North Midlands and to resource future Church Planting in the area.

Are you interested in moving to join a young, vibrant Newfrontiers Church in the North Midlands? Are you thinking of being part of a church plant in the future?  Then join us in Derby for Central Cities 2010 on Saturday 27th November 2010 to find out what the Newfrontiers North UK Team are planning for this part of the UK. For further details check out www.centralcities.org.uk or view the video below.

Sex in the City (wk 4) – Singleness

In 1 Corinthians 7:1-17, Paul makes it clear that both marriage and singleness are good – both are gifts from God. Whilst he does say that “it is good for a man not to marry”, he then immediately goes on to say that “each man should have his own wife”. It’s not that Paul can’t make up his mind, it’s just that marriage and singleness are both good and are both gifts from God and we should not see one as better than the other. The danger if you’re single is that you look at someone else and want what they have – a wife/husband (hopefully not their wife/husband!) The key to living well is to be content with your current circumstance. (see 1 Corinthians 7:17 (English Standard Version), Philippians 4:11)

I spent 30 years being single before being married. I love being married to Sarah and I’m very happy with that. When I was single, I wanted to be married and I prayed about it most days. However, I also learnt to be content. You have to learn to hold those two things in tension. Too often, I have observed single people put life “on hold” until they get married. Don’t do that. Don’t wait until you’re married to fulfil God’s call; go for it now! You’ve got many opportunities as a single person and less commitments than you will have when you’re married. Learn to be content in your current stage of life and determine to serve God now

For example, if you’re in your 20’s, don’t wait until you’re married to follow God’s call, or until you have kids, or until something else happens. Before you know it, you’ll have found that life has passed you by and you never got to fulfil God’s call. LIVE NOW! Whatever your age, whatever your marital status, live for God. In 1 Corinthians 7:20 Paul makes it clear that you don’t have to change your station in life in order to follow Jesus. If it’s not a problem, don’t make it to be one.

If you are currently single, and hope to be married, then the reality is that you may or may not get married. That is why it is so important for your security, your foundation, your hope to be in God, not in a change of circumstances. In fact, that’s also true if you’re married. The foundation of your life needs to be God. He is the only rock solid, secure foundation you can get. Your situation may change, but God will not, so build your life on a relationship with Him and see what He will do in you and through you.

Sex in the City (wk 3) – Purity in a sex-mad world

In the culture we live in, sex and sexuality are all around us. Sex is promoted without any reference to God’s standards and guidelines – normally totally separated from marriage, and often even without the context of a loving relationship. So, in this culture, is God interested in what you do with your body? The answer from the Bible is an emphatic “yes”. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” God is interested in what we do with our bodies.

Too often, Christians can come across as anti-sex. That’s not the case. Sex is God’s gift. It is good, and He has given some parameters for its use – in a marriage of one man to one woman. In marriage, sex is good. Outside marriage, any sex is sinful in God’s eyes. That doesn’t mean we don’t love people who are sexually active outside marriage – of course we love them and want to show God’s love and compassion to them. However, that doesn’t mean we have to approve of their lifestyle, whatever it might be.

In the church, the apostle Paul makes it clear (in 1 Corinthians 5) that there are certain standards that God expects (i.e. sex is for within marriage only). For those who are struggling in this area and repentant, God’s grace is available. However, for those who are proud of their sin and unrepentant, Paul says that they should be put out of the church. The purpose of this is to bring that person back to repentance and back into fellowship, and also to ensure that the church is not infected with sexual sin (see 1 Corinthians 5:6).

In the New Testament, Jesus adds to the Old Testament law about not committing adultery by adding that “…anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28). With this in mind, is it possible to maintain purity?

Romans 6:1-7
makes it clear that when you become a Christian you are no longer a “slave” to sin and it is possible to live differently. This is echoed by 2 Corinthians 5:17 which talks about us becoming a “new creation”. Maintaining purity in a sex-mad world is possible, and here are some practical tips to help that:

1.    Stay away from temptation
If it causes you a problem, then don’t go there!

2.    Decide in advance what your standards are
When temptation is coming, that’s not the time to decide – you should have decided already!

3.    When temptation comes, flee
Just like Joseph in Genesis 39. When temptation comes, don’t hang around, don’t play with it, run!

4.    Know what causes you to sin and deal with it
In Mark 9:43 Jesus talks about cutting off that which causes you to sin. I don’t think Jesus means you to literally cut off your arm or gauge out your eye, but He certainly does mean you to take radical action

5.    Be accountable – ask for help
It’s often really helpful to have someone to talk to, to pray with and to be accountable to about these things

6.    Don’t focus on the problem

If you spend all your time thinking about what causes you a problem, guess what? It will consume you. Think about other things. Better, think about Jesus. (Philippians 4:8; Romans 13:13-14; Hebrews 3:1)

7.    Worship
Loving God is critical, and being satisfied in Him is essential. John Piper in his book, Future Grace says, “Sin is what you do when your heart is not satisfied in God”. So get satisfied in God! (Galatians 5:16)

In conclusion, let us remember and be thankful for God’s grace towards us. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Thank you God for your grace and your forgiveness. Thank you too for making it possible to live for you in a sex-mad world.

Sex in the City (wk 2) – Marriage

Sunday saw week 2 of our Sex in the City series at Jubilee. John & Julie Batten spoke about marriage and shared some stories from their own 30+ years of marriage. As well as giving some of the Biblical basis for marriage, they talked about The 5 Love Languages as taught by Gary Chapman in his book of the same name. These are the ways in which we best receive love, and the challenge for those of us who are married is to find out how our husband/wife best receives love. Chapman lists the following ways in which we receive love:

  1. Loving words
  2. Thoughtful presents
  3. Physical affection
  4. Quality time
  5. Kind actions

The list can also be applied (albeit in a slightly different way) to other relationships, such as those of a parent and child. So, how do you best receive love and if you’re married, do you know how your husband/wife best receives love?

John also talked about The Marriage Course which we are planning to run in Jubilee in the near future. Contact the Jubilee office for more information if you are interested in this. If you missed Sunday and want to hear the message, you can download it here.

Sex in the City (wk 1) – Relationships

Last Sunday saw the launch of our new preaching series for February at Jubilee called Sex in the City. We are going to spend 4 weeks looking at what the Bible has to say about sex and relationships. I started the series by looking at the area of relationships in general.

The world can so easily shape the culture of the church, whereas really, the church should be shaping the culture of the world. JB Phillips’ translation of Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within.” That’s certainly what we hope this series will begin to acheive.

God is a God of relationship. He made us for a relationship with Him, and also for relationships with one another. This applies to friendships as much as marriage, as the Biblical example of David & Jonathan’s friendship in 1 Samuel 20 shows. In the New Testament, Paul’s expectation that he wouldn’t see the Ephesian Elders again led to a tearful goodbye in Acts 20. Both of these examples show us the types of friendships we should be building.

As we build strong friendships, we should also be aware of the potential temptation to take them too far. For example, our relationships should be charcterised by purity rather than flirting. Boundaries can be put in place to help keep us from making mistakes in this area, particularly in the area of friendships between guys and girls. This becomes even more important if one or both parties concerned is married.

Next week we will be looking at marriage, and then on week 3, we will look at singleness, and “purity in a sex-mad world.” If you miss any weeks, you can download the podcasts from www.jubilee.org.uk/media

Launching a season of prayer

The New Year is often a time for new things and fresh initiatives, but I have to say, that this one was somewhat unexpected. However, that’s OK, because I can honestly say I feel that we as Elders are responding to God’s initiative and leading, and that’s always a good place to be!

So, as I announced on Sunday, we are stopping LifeGroups for a while and having a season of prayer as a church. A number of things have led us to this, but mostly, we felt God give us faith for it at the last church prayer meeting of 2009.

Practically speaking, it means that we will have a monthly Half-Night of Prayer on the last Friday evening of each month, from 7.30pm – midnight. This will be supplemented by a couple of prayer meetings each week, on different evenings in homes across the City. This is our plan until Easter.

Between Easter and the summer holidays, we will still have the monthly prayer meeting, but also run a number of training tracks on a variety of subjects. More details will follow on these nearer the time.

We will relaunch LifeGroups in September 2010, after the summer break.

It is worth stating once again that we are totally committed to community life, to pastoral care, to outreach and evangelism. Whilst LifeGroups are not running, we will need to look at other ways to ensure that all these important elements of church life are achieved. This may include things such as Men’s breakfasts, Ladies pampering evenings and so on.

Whilst we don’t have all the details yet, we know that we have not taken these decisions lightly, but over a period of time and with much prayer and we feel we are responding to God’s prompting and leading. This is an exciting place to be and I’m looking forward to what God has for us  in the year ahead.