We ladies kicked off the year, feasting on good company at our January ‘starter’ event. The purpose of the evening was to deepen our existing connections and provide a chance to forge new ones. Faced with an array of food platters, from cheese boards to cakes to exotic fruits and jerk chicken, we gathered around with no other agenda than to enjoy one another’s company.
“I haven’t really enjoyed being amongst a big group of people for a long time, but I really enjoyed the ladies’ evening. It was so lovely just to be free to chat and catch up with old friends and new. It was such a relaxed environment, with some structure if you wanted it but no pressure at all!” – Beth Caddick
The next event (a ‘main course’ this time) is on Saturday 14th March 2020, 930am-12noon at The Vine on Boughton Lane. Please let one of the team know if you would like to attend. Also, bookings have opened for our afternoon tea at Chilston Park Hotel on Saturday 11th July at 2pm. Visit jubilee.co for more information.
Some of the most important questions in the world revolve around the meaning of life and what happens after we die. As Christians, we believe that God loves us and wants us to spend our lives in relationship with Him, now and for eternity.
As Christians, we are aware that we don’t deserve this unity, as we have done things in our lives that reject God, hurt others and hurt ourselves. However, the beautiful, amazing love of God was to give His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay for the wrong things we have done and provide the only way for us to go to be in relationship with Him. If we put our faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, He forgives us and we can be assured of an eternity spent with Him.
A number of churches in
Maidstone were challenged in 2019 by how we are helping people think about
where they will spend eternity. We recognised that we are not asking people
this question on the streets. So we decided to go out on the streets of
Maidstone and ask people the following, “If
you died tonight, would you be certain that you would be with God in heaven?”
This question gets right to the heart of the issue that we all have to think
about. It is the Big Question.
Many of us have never
talked to people on the streets. It is something that we might even find scary.
So The Big Question team held an evening of equipping to give us tools for how
to begin this conversation. We were reminded that we are going out to share God’s
message of love and hope with a world that so desperately needs it.
On one Saturday morning in January eight of us planned to go out on the street. We gathered together to pray for the morning before going out into the town. We sought God to lead us to people, and guide our conversations. I went with another man and we started praying about who we should talk to. I stopped one young man who showed a lot of a surprise on his face when I asked him the Big Question. He shared that he had stopped going to church because God wasn’t answering his prayer for a job. I offered to pray for him and this young man agreed. I prayed for him on the street. Another team met a lady at a bus stop. They started talking to her and were able to lead her in prayer to become a Christian.
So why not come and ask people in Maidstone the Big Question and trust and see if God will move among those who are looking for hope in their lives and asking the important questions of life.
At the start of the very wet and windy half-term, Unlock the Bible took a trip to Brogdale farm to see in nature some of the principles and imagery God shows us in His Word about grafting and pruning. Here is what Esther Simmons had to say about the experience:
“Trees and fruit are used all through the Bible as an illustration of life. I had been thinking lots about what Jesus says about fruit, how He has created us to produce fruit, so I was interested to get some more insight into this picture. Tim Biddlecombe taught us about the botany principles of grafting and pruning. Being given some understanding of the natural world and the practices of farmers to aid fruit production, shone a light on the picture Jesus uses to describe our relationship with Him in John 15.
One phrase that has stayed with me, is something Tim said that he’d tell fruit farmers in reference to pruning fruit trees so that all the branches receive enough light.
‘You’re not farming fruit, you’re farming light.’
Although it was a windy and rainy day we did manage to get outside to have a go at pruning a vine without getting too wet. It was a powerful picture to see a vine before and after being pruned and to understand the reasoning behind deciding what to cut off and what to leave. The person pruning needed to get rid of old branches that would hinder the growth of the vine and identify which branches would produce fruit for the next couple of years.
Learning about wood stock for grafting was particularly interesting and gave me another framework in which to understand the larger narrative of the Bible. It was a very insightful trip! Thank you Tim, for sharing your knowledge, and to the Unlock the Bible team, for organising it for us.”
We recently did a Sunday series on the theme of “Walking on Water”, looking at the passage in Matthew 14:22-33. There was a challenge to let go of the familiar and step out of the boat, looking towards Jesus, accepting His invitation to come.
Here is a testimony from Gillian Liversedge and a poem written by Sarah Ashdown.
“Who knew that such a well-known Bible story, taking only a few verses of Matthew chapter 14, would contain so much truth to discover. I remember clearly hearing Darren, as he started the series, getting me to think about where I would have been, in the boat, on that wet and windy night. Knowing myself, I’m pretty sure I’d have been somewhere safe and relatively comfortable, tucked up with a blanket and a hot drink. Yet, as I listened to the preaches during the series, I found myself repeatedly praying that I would, with God’s help, become more and more a person who would, instead, be asking Jesus to call me out of the boat, day by day, to deepen my relationship with Him. To ‘be more Peter!’ I’m so aware that, for Peter, he was in many ways doing something normal, an everyday action (rowing the boat to get from A to B.) It was in the day to day that he had this opportunity. Over the course of the series, and since, I’ve found myself looking for opportunities to encounter Jesus more deeply, in my day to day. Scary, yes, but much, much more. It’s wonderfully exciting!”
by Sarah Ashdown
He tells me that faith, though flimsy to hold, is all I will need to step out of the boat. I taste a turn in the weather, So I scrape mine together with a tentative grip As it threatens to slip through my fingers.
It’s enough, He says, as I top up my jar assessing my faith through the glass. It appears unremarkable, a seed barely visible, a prayer on a thread hanging cynical and I can’t quite believe that I’m not going to sink as I smell the doubt blow back in on the wind.
I think of Peter whom gravity mocked, though faith would uphold even those known as the Rock, who could be forgiven for their hesitation having lived all their lives with a name that threatened to sink them.
As doubts barge in like adolescent tempers, I search for my reflection amidst the turbulence for any resemblance to the heroes of old who stared hard in the face of no reward, who left what they knew for what was unknown.
And I think of the man that Jesus sent home with nothing but words to escort him, “don’t be afraid, just believe” and how he pocketed these as something inside came alive and he walked his longest mile where faith and doubt would meet and clash and one would win and one would bow.
I think how faith suffers as it reads of no hope Yet tenaciously grabs for the edge of His cloak and keeps reaching. Keeps trusting. Keeps turning the page for the story to change for a shield it must raise, and a will it must bow for His perfect course must be allowed to transform from the inside out. How precious to Him, our surrendering Of all that burns at His refining, The unbelief we’re sacrificing.
As earth surrounds a seed His Hands close in to accept what I release, and He holds it Holy like an offering in the hands of a Priest.