Loving God, loving people

November 2017

Dear friends

As I write it’ll only be a few days until Bonfire Night. In 1605 the gunpowder plot to blow up the House of Parliament and kill the king was foiled, and in celebration on November 5th bonfires were lit across the land, and have been ever since.

I have early memories of standing out in the freezing cold in Newcastle while my Dad lit fireworks, or while we attended a public bonfire - maybe you may have similar memories too, such as going round asking for a penny for the Guy…

…or maybe you don’t. In fact if you’re not originally from the UK you probably think this is a really weird custom. You’ll need it explaining, and you might fail to see the point of it. For those born and bred in the UK it is just part of the culture, part of what we do.

I wonder, here in church are there things we do just because it’s a tradition that we’ve always had? Why don’t we take a step back and consider – how does it look to outsiders? Is it actually meaningful or helpful? As Christians we are called to love our neighbour; to have concern for those outside our walls as our chief concern. Are we doing everything we can to make church accessible to those for whom Christ died?

God bless

Dan

 

October 2017

Dear friends

This week just a couple of hours before the church meeting I received a call from David Leverett at the Baptist Building Fund (BBF). We still owed them £17,500 of the £25,000 they loaned the church towards the cost of the new kitchen extension.

Due to a recent change in the law however BBF are now required to write off all debts of £25,000 and under. If we had borrowed £25,001 from them, we'd still be required to pay back the full amount, but as it stands our debt is cancelled and they will be returning to us the instalment of £2500 we made in May of this year, as legally they are unable to keep it.

Many of you have been making monthly pledges to the building fund and we'll be in touch in due course, but for now let's give thanks to God, that as a church we are now debt free!

This is of course an amazing reflection of what God has done for us. Freeing us, unexpectedly, undeservedly, from our debt of sin through Jesus' death on the cross. God's grace truly is amazing.

God bless

Dan 

September 2017

Dear friends

It was a privilege for me to go on a six day silent retreat this summer. OK, I'll admit… it wasn't completely silent!! For 40 mins a day I discussed with the retreat guide what I was reflecting on. The rest of the time however, was silent. And in that silence, God spoke. Through the beautiful Sussex countryside that I was able to walk in and enjoy. Through times of rest, just sitting and enjoying his presence. Through key Bible passages I was able to take time to really chew on.

The challenge for me now, coming back to 'normal life' (whatever that may be) is to continue to find space and make room to hear God's voice. Much of life around us is busy and noisy and not exactly conducive to letting us sit at Jesus' feet (like Mary did - see Luke 10:38-42). So I know I need to be intentional with it, to set time aside.

Please pray for me as I seek to do this, and I will pray for you too. May you find God in your life, seeing him at work, perhaps finding him in the unexpected places. May you hear his still small voice to you. How much he really loves you and cherishes you, his precious child.

God bless

Dan

July/August 2017

Dear friends,

It's coming up to ten years that us Fosters have been at Howlands and looking back much has happened. At present we're on the cusp of The Commons Preschool going to start up in the annexe, with lots of building works going on in preparation. At the most recent church meeting it was voted that we don't continue explorations regarding us joining up with Christchurch. In the light of that we all need to seek the Lord for his plans and purposes for his kingdom; his will for us as we look to the future. This Sunday we have the excitement of Terry's baptism, but also the sadness of saying a (sort of) goodbye to David and Dianne.

In short there's quite a bit going on! I must admit however as I'm just about to have a mini-sabbatical in August, I'm ready for a break. I'd appreciate your prayers during this time. As well as taking sometime to recharge the batteries and do some reading, for one week I'm going on a silent retreat. I've never spent an entire day in silence, much less a week! Moses told the people: 'Be silent, Israel and listen!' (Dt. 27:9) and in the Psalms we hear God saying, 'Be still and know that I am God.' (Ps 46:10). It's important to have those times when we quieten ourselves before him so we can be attentive.

I'll look forward to seeing you all in September and let's look forward to the next season.

God bless

Dan