Dear Neighbour,

As we enter the final month of what has been an unforgettable and incredibly difficult year for us all, we think especially of those who have lost loved ones, been hospitalised or self-isolated with Covid-19. Others perhaps are feeling lonely and fearful of what tomorrow may bring.

We wonder is there any hope for a better 2021 with the vaccine rollout now commencing? We trust and pray for its success.

Christianity however, offers Hope that is not dependent on our circumstances but in the person of Jesus Christ.

Christmas Presence!

A lady took her four-year-old granddaughter to “big church” for the first time. She sat quietly taking in every aspect of the service and her attentive curiosity stayed in check until the pastoral prayer. The pastor said, “We thank You, Lord, for Your presence.” The little girl’s eyes flew open and she whispered to her grandmother, “Granny, we’re going to get presents!”

A Heavenly ‘present’ is indeed truly available to all who will receive God’s gift of salvation.

Luke 2:9-11 NKJV Behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.”

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator; If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist; If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist; If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer; But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Saviour.

On behalf of the leadership team and the congregation, we wish you the blessings of God’s joy and peace this advent season.

A Message From Gordon

The Pursuit of Joy!

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all coping ok and proving God’s faithfulness in these challenging times when the whole world it seems is in the grip of the Covid19 pandemic.

The title I’ve chosen for this article may seem a strange one as it could be said that there hasn’t been a lot to be joyful about!

However my response is that Joy is an essential ingredient to cultivate and indeed pursue, especially in times of crisis.

How then can we become more joy focused? You may recall this acrostic on Joy:-

J -- Jesus First!

O - Others Second!

Y - Yourself Last!

This is a principle for pleasing the Lord so why not make Him Lord of your life today and then experience in a deeper way that The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength! (Nehemiah 8:10).

I share some 4 tips on cultivating Joy that I’ve adapted from Chuck Swindoll’s article that I’ve listed below.

Rehearse with the Lord the reasons you trust Him.

Tell Him which of His attributes is your favourite right now. Read the praises of Scripture back to Him - begin with Psalm 103.

Keep a “joy journal”.

Record the reasons you have to rejoice and the reminders of God’s faithfulness that you encounter in your everyday life. In addition, why include a photo of a person that brings you joy each time you remember him or her? Think big - expand your journal into a “joy box” or a “joy drawer” that brings floods of joy each time you open it.

Approach life‘s challenges and trials redemptively.

God doesn’t waste the difficult circumstances of your life but uses them to develop His character in you. Review Romans 5 and James 1 for help in processing pressure productively. Joy will sneak up on you when you view your hardest lessons as gifts from God.

Make praise and gratitude a habit.

Has God met a need? Praise Him! Have your challenges given you greater opportunities to see Him work? Thank Him! Joy flows from a grateful and responsive heart. Before you turn in at night, write down three to five blessings in your “joy journal”. Make it a habit, and watch your joyful attitude grow.

Adapted from “Seven Ways to Cultivate Joy”, Insights (March 2001): 2. Copyright © 2001 by Insight for Living. All rights reserved worldwide.

I was inspired by reading an article recently by Dennis De Haan, about a gentleman called Grant Murphy.

Grant Murphy lived with multiple sclerosis. First he needed crutches to get around. Then he was limited to sitting in a chair. Finally he was confined to a bed.

Near the end of his life it was noted how he continued to express joy and thankfulness with a constant anticipation of being in the Lord’s presence. His favourite part of Romans 15:13 was the phrase “in believing,” to which his response was that he couldn’t do anything more than that.

The writer commented that it’s "when we can’t do anything that God does everything. Herein lies a profound paradox of the Christian’s experience. Faith is simultaneously an exercise of our will and the impartation of divine strength. And from that marvellous mixture spring joy and peace and an abundance of hope.”

Why not apply these words to your personal circumstances as I do to mine? For those of us who have placed our trust in the Saviour, it’s reassuring to know that at those times when we feel weak and helpless, that the Lord will strengthen us to keep on believing. The Holy Spirit has the power to produce within us, HIS joy, HIS peace and HIS Hope in abundance. Now that surely is something to think about!

Pastor Gordon

Gordon and his wife Linda have been with us since 2017 below is their story and how God led them to us:

Gordon has been an Elim Church minister, for 28 years having served enjoyable pastorates in Newcastle, Larne and Worcester. In 2010 he took time out to engage in some fresh learning at Regents Theological College, Elim’s national training centre in West Malvern, Worcestershire, where he undertook a BA Degree in Applied Theology ,graduating with a 2:1 in June 2013. Linda served as a Supervisor in the College dining room, where she was valued and loved by students and staff alike.

Following completion of his studies Gordon joined the Pastoral care team at Regents and also became an Associate Minister at Lifehouse, Worcester’s Elim Church, and Pastoral Advisor to Malvern Baptist Church. All this in addition to studying for a Masters Degree, which is still ongoing!

On the 21st February 2017, Gordon accepted a unanimous call to become the minister of Quinton Park Baptist Church, having been introduced to QP by Rev Alison Mackay, a Regional Baptist Superintendent, some months previous. He is serving as a Elim Minister, in a Baptist church, for the Kingdom’s sake and sees this as an extension of his Inter-Church vision, which is to be an encouragement to the Body of Christ, wherever he finds it!! This unusual appointment was further endorsed by Elim’s National Leadership Team and by the Baptist Union of Great Britain. He and Linda were inducted on the 17th of June 2017 and the caring Irish couple have settled in remarkably well after being ‘sent’ to Coventry and feel very much at home!

They still return to N. Ireland several times a year to visit family and friends and in connection with Gordon’s role as Chaplain with the loyal orders there. In his spare time, he is an ardent football fan, supporting Portadown FC and Leeds United! He is also an avid reader of the Guardian Newspaper and is a member of Christians on the Left, which is affiliated to the Labour Party. He and Linda enjoy walking in the nearby parks and visiting the local coffee shops for their delicious pastries!