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Singing with the Word at the Centre – Psalm 119

Last night was our annual Music Team Night at CCM for all our musicians and technicians. Our theme was FOCUS: Singing with the Word at the Centre.

We heard a talk from Psalm 119 on how God can work through our word ministry of music by His Holy Spirit to bring spiritual life, build the church and strengthen those who suffer. There were also practical seminars on Running Tech to Help us Sing for technicians and Removing Distractions for musicians.

You can listen to the first talk from Psalm 119 here.

 

Psalm 119:25-32 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

ד Daleth

25 I am laid low in the dust;
    preserve my life according to your word.
26 I gave an account of my ways and you answered me;
    teach me your decrees.
27 Cause me to understand the way of your precepts,
    that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.
28 My soul is weary with sorrow;
    strengthen me according to your word.
29 Keep me from deceitful ways;
    be gracious to me and teach me your law.
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
    I have set my heart on your laws.
31 I hold fast to your statutes, Lord;
    do not let me be put to shame.
32 I run in the path of your commands,
    for you have broadened my understanding.

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Loz’s top tips for London Uni Life

Hello there, and welcome to the Christ Church Mayfair blog.  If you’re reading this post, then it's likely you're gearing up to study in London this year: congratulations!! I had fab times studying here, but some tricky times too. So, as you get ready to make the move, here are a few tips for making it work as you start out…

Be a hunter-gatherer – Food is expensive and taking up a crossbow to hunt pigeons leads to a criminal record. Nevertheless, my body is a temple and my mind is a muscle! Both must be nurtured by food if I’m going to live another day. Identify nearest supermarkets. Identify reduced-to-clear aisles, and ask when reductions occur (I’ve eaten many delicious M&S dinners for under a fiver!). Download the Too Good to Go app to snap up discount restaurant leftovers. Got this all sorted?  Share your gourmet trophies with your new uni friends by hosting a meal. You’ll be a hero. You’re welcome.

Master TfL – Using the TFL Journeyplanner online combined with the Citymapper app makes journeys a breeze. Travelling lots? Save cash with a Student Oyster card, get a 16-25 Railcard and link it with your Oyster card to save even more. Best of all, get on a bike and save loads. Your borough or university might make you eligible for free cycle training. You'll be buzzing around the city in no time.

Make friends for life – After a decade in London as a student/Students’ Union employee/ University Chaplain/Church Student Worker I think this is the most important tip I have:

Seek out and invest in costly, quality Christian friendships in church.

There are loads of wonderful things about life in London but tough times come. Good Christian friends helping me live for Jesus in those moments is something I’ll never forget. Can I welcome you along to our friendly church family? You can visit Christ Church Mayfair on Sundays at 6pm (and stick around for tasty dinner when term starts!)

In the video below you can hear a bit more from a few of our current students at Christ Church Mayfair about their experience of London life and our church family life!

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Why We’re Giving Thanks for Mike Ovey

"Your theological knowledge isn't like Gollum with the ring." That was one of Mike Ovey's warnings to me and my cohort as we started our time at Oak Hill CollegeHe went on to explain: "Theological knowledge isn't 'My precious', as if it's something you've got that no-one else can have. You are stewards entrusted with the mysteries of God, like Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:1 - and your job is to pass on what's been entrusted to you."

Mike Ovey's thanksgiving service

Mike had been Principal of Oak Hill for ten years, and died suddenly on 7th January, aged 58. All three of our current pastors at Christ Church Mayfair were taught by him, and four of our congregation are currently training there. We all considered Mike a mentor, an advisor and a friend. On 13th March we gathered with hundreds of other Oak Hill alumni at All Souls Church near Oxford Circus to give thanks to God for his life.

Many moving tributes have been shared, including Vice-Principal Dan Strange's Just Mike, and it's not our intention to add another personal tribute here. Rather, we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight why we believe in rigorous theological education for pastors, and why we invest a lot of time, prayer and money in sending people to train at Oak Hill.

The Best Possible Gift

At every Oak Hill open morning for prospective students Mike would tell them: "We want you to be God's gift to the Church."

That sounds like it was designed to puff potential pastors up with pride, but Mike would proceed to pop our bubble by pointing out that it was thoroughly biblical: in Ephesians 4:11-13 we're told Christ gave pastors and those with teaching gifts to the Church in order to build them up. "And I want you to be the best possible gift to Christ's Church", he would say. In terms of his Gollum analogy: it's not your knowledge. It's for you to pass on!

Shepherds Feed and Defend the Sheep

For Mike, passing it on meant pastors who were utterly faithful to the Scriptures. The word 'pastor' comes from 'shepherd', and this analogy is developed often in the Bible (e.g. John 21:15-17, Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:1-2). And a shepherds' job is to feed and defend the sheep.

Mike taught us to gently and consistently feed our 'flock' with the mysteries of God: all the broken-hearted, scattered, hopeful people of God, wherever we might find them, who needed to know God through the Bible. In his doctrine lectures he would often pause and enjoy something about God, and encourage us to pray and thank Him for it ourselves. Our habit of savouring the Bible and adoring God at Christ Church Mayfair was strengthened by Mike Ovey's example here.

But Mike also put steel in our spines and taught us to defend the flock against error. He knew that theological error isn't always flagrant and obvious, but often insidious and hard to distinguish. It never trots into church and announces itself as error, because it would never win a hearing that way (Acts 20:30). Defending against it therefore requires a deep knowledge of the whole Bible, an ability to think theologically and an understanding of church history.

Lay people simply don't have time to do that deep thinking and fighting, so it should fall to the pastors to take a lead on it. And Mike had a vision of churches across the UK and the world led by shepherd-pastors who could do that. He knew we wouldn't suddenly wake up one day with an ability to defend against savage wolves (Acts 20:29), so he trained us in it. He wanted us to be good at it, for the sake of the flock. He wanted all of his students, including Matt Fuller, Phil Allcock and Pete Snow, to be the best possible gift to Christ's Church.

We Grieve... but Not Without Hope

We were all shocked when Mike's death was announced, and the news has left us reeling and wondering about God's plan in it all. While we can't claim to fathom the riches of the wisdom of God, it occurs to us that Mike must be pleased with his legacy. In seventeen years at Oak Hill, ten of which were as Principal, he trained hundreds of students to be good shepherds. Last year 43 students graduated from Oak Hill in the class of 2016: that's 43 pastors or church workers last year alone sent out to minister to people. And Mike was at Oak Hill for seventeen years! Moreover, the College is in good health going forwards and looking to build on Mike's vision.

So we grieve for Mike Ovey, but not without hope. We'll see him again one day, resurrected and enjoying the God he taught us about, and we'll continue the work he trained us in: feeding and defending Christ's flock with the Word of God.

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Giving thanks for the Bishop of London

16 years ago Christ Church Mayfair was born because a bishop backed a bold scheme to plant a new evangelical church in the West End of London. This month we say farewell to that bishop as he retires from 21 years as Bishop of London.  

Along with the rest of London Diocese we give thanks for Richard Chartres's living faith in the Lord Jesus, which has been clear throughout his ministry and has refreshed us whenever we have encountered him. We're also thanking God for his support for church planting, refusing to sell disused church buildings but instead encouraging new churches to be born in them - such as ours on Down Street, in Mayfair. We believe that this policy has helped make the London Diocese a place of Christian growth rather than decline in the twenty-first century so far, and we recognise it as a gracious gift of God.

Along with many others, some of us were at St Paul's Cathedral for the Bishop's farewell service on 2nd February. It was great to see Onyinye Udokporu, one of our undergraduate students, give the Bible reading. 

The Bishop said in his farewell sermon that he was 'concerned not so much to celebrate the highlights of the past twenty years as to look forward to the highlights of the next twenty years.' The Bishop's main immediate legacy is 'Capital Vision 2020', the primary call of which is for a church that is 'confident in living and speaking the gospel.' For this legacy we give thanks to our Sovereign God and look forward to the expansion of the kingdom of God in London under the next bishop. 

Please join us in praying for Richard and Caroline Chartres in their retirement, for the Bishop of Willesden as Acting Bishop, and for the appointment of the new Bishop of London in due course.

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New Year’s Revolution: The Big Read 2017

The most common New Year’s Resolutions are: get fit; spend less & save more; get organised; get a new job; waste less time on Facebook & TV; live life to the full. You don’t want to know how long they last on average…

As a church, we want to make 2017 a year not just of resolution, but of revolution, as we commit to reading the Bible for ourselves. Why do I say that will bring a revolution? Research into thousands of churches shows that two key factors are present in all healthy churches, one of which is that every member reads the Bible and prays on a regular/daily basis. (FYI, the other is healthy, well-attended small groups). Therefore each of us can contribute to the health of our church family as we attend to our own spiritual health. It really is a case of ‘one small step for me, one giant leap for us all.’

Why this year?

2017 is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. What could be a more appropriate way to celebrate than a renewed passion for personal bible reading? The Bible fuelled the Reformation, and one of the key desires of the Reformers was that ordinary believers should be able to read God’s word. Tyndale (see image on left), translator of the first English New Testament based on the Greek manuscripts, wrote of his aims to a church official who viciously opposed his work:

If God spare my life, ere many years, I will cause that a boy that driveth the plough shall know more of the scriptures than thou.

And the German monk Martin Luther who kick-started things in 1517 famously declared:

Let the man who would hear God speak, read Holy Scripture!

What one thing can I do?

Don’t set yourself up to fail. It is hard to go from five minutes once every two weeks to an hour every morning in the original Hebrew… So why not try to just take one serious step forward? If you read the Bible and pray twice a week for 10 mins, why not try to do it 4 times a week? Or increase it to 20 mins? If you manage to do a little bit most days, why not set aside one day a week when you spend much longer and perhaps even work through a book of the Bible with a commentary?

FAQs:

But I get the Bible on Sunday and at small group midweek…

The Bible is living bread, not ice-cream: it is daily sustenance, not a nice treat every once in a while! Moses taught in Deuteronomy 8:3 that in the wilderness God provided the food of manna each day to the Israelites ‘to teach that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ In other words, we need to feed on God’s word every day, just as we need to eat physical food each day.

Furthermore, Psalm 1 warns us that there are competing voices out there that are seeking to shape how we live, and that it is by listening to and rooting ourselves in God’s word that we will know the blessed life. Every day as we talk with colleagues and friends, read the news and watch tv, we are being taught and influenced by the world’s voices. It is wise to listen to God each day too (see also Rom 12:2).

I’ve tried this before and I always fail by the end of January

That’s no reason not to try again. Thomas Edison failed in his first 1,000 attempts to invent a working light bulb. If the project is worth succeeding at, then we should not let past failure to stop us from dusting ourselves down and trying again. Relationships take work! It is worth taking practical steps too that might make success more likely, such as seeking an achievable goal, and enlisting the help of one or two close Christian friends so that you can encourage and spur one another on in this.

If I’m honest, I just don’t enjoy it very much

There a couple of things to say in response. First, sometimes we should do things that we don’t enjoy because they are good for us (eating vegetables, exercising on a cold day, etc). Our Christian culture stresses authenticity and heart in matters of faith, and they are good things. But the Bible teaches that God also values our dogged discipline and perseverance (Col 1:11, Heb 12:1-2).

Second, quiet times can be a bit like golf. No, really. It’s not that it takes 4 hours and you have to dress like you chose your clothes in the dark… The point is that golf is not much fun at first. You have to spend hour after hour doing boring, repetitive drills to learn the basics. We work at sport or music because we know there is deep joy and delight to be had down the road. But so often won’t put in a little effort in deepening our relationship with the living God of the universe, in whom is limitless pleasure and eternal joy! (Psalm 16:11). Put in the hard work, and the Scriptures will increasingly become ‘more precious than gold’ and ‘sweeter than honey’ (Psalm 19:10).

What if mornings don’t work for me

That’s ok. There is no verse that says it has to be done in the morning. However, there is some wisdom in starting the day by grounding yourself in God’s truth, so it is worth trying to do that if it is possible.

Here are some of the great resources available. Why not talk to your small group leaders and others at church to find out what they use?

Smartphone Apps

Explore; ESV Study Bible; Olive Tree;

The most popular among our church is Explore which has the Bible text, notes, questions and suggested prayers in one app.  My wife and I use the Explore App. We love it – it’s the bible and questions on your phone in a very easy to look at way no matter how busy the tube.

Bible in a Year

30 students at CCM started doing this in September… The best known is the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan (4 chapters a day)Don Carson wrote a commentary on the passages in the M’Cheyne reading plan: For the Love of God (2 vols available). You can access this free online.

Accessible Commentaries:

For those who want to dig a little deeper, why not try one of these:

i. Dale Ralph Davies Focus on the Bible commentaries on Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, and on Psalms 1-12 (the Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life) and 13-24 (Slogging along in the paths of Righteousness).

ii. Job: The Wisdom of the Cross by Christopher Ash (Crossway)

iii. Any of the NT Commentaries in the Bible Speaks Today series.

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The easiest invite of the year?

invite-frd-to-carol-service

written by Clare Dooley

 

The lights on Oxford Street are up, the John Lewis advert is out, and it’s official: Christmas is on its way. Around this time of year, I’m sure many of us hear that Christmas is the easiest time to invite our non-Christian friends and family along to church, and I think that might be true. Loads of our friends love Christmas, singing carols, and having mince pies, so surely we should invite them along to church to celebrate with us. Tis’ the season to be jolly, right? It makes sense in our heads, but if we’re being honest, we still find it hard to ask our friends along to carol services. So what should we do?

Here are six tips that I find helpful to remember when inviting friends along to a carol service.

1: Invite prayerfully.

We know that our friends coming along to church and them hearing about Jesus is ultimately all God’s work, so we should pray as we’re inviting people! We can pray for boldness to invite people, for the words to say, and that our friends would want to come along.

2: Invite confidently.

Often as we get so worked-up about inviting people to church, we can end up seeming so awkward or uncertain about the whole thing that are friends might think we don’t even want to go. Don’t assume that your friends will say no, or start with, “You probably won’t want to come but….” The carols services at CCM are great events to come to! Have that in mind, chat to friends who have been before, and invite friends in a way that shows them that you are looking forward to going!

3: Invite widely.

I remember as a student nervously inviting a few friends to a carol service, only to be interrupted by another person asking why he had not been invited as well!! People from all kinds of lifestyles and backgrounds love the tradition of a carol service, so invite everyone, not just the friends you think would like to come. And the more people we invite, the more chance that some friends will say yes.

4: Make it an easy yes.

You know your friends better than I do. What do they like doing when you usually hang out that you could do to make them feel more comfortable and welcome at church? Maybe you could meet for food or coffee beforehand, or arrange to meet at the tube station and walk over as a group? Make a plan that will make it more comfortable for your friends to come along, so that (prayerfully) they can!

5: Don’t leave it to the last minute.

Christmas is a busy time of year. Your friends will have lots of plans, and if you want the carol service to be one of them, you should invite them sooner rather than later!! You can find all the dates for the carol services on the website here. Get the dates in your diary, grab some of the carol service flyers, and ask your friends which date they’re free to come along.

6: Remember why you're inviting.

I would love for my friends to come to church and find out the about the reason we love Christmas: Jesus Christ. And I need to keep that in mind when I'm thinking about my friends who I could ask to join me at carol services. The true Christmas story is amazing news that we have the opportunity to share with our friends. So let’s get inviting!

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