Thought for the Month (June 2009)

When you read this you will have finished 'Round the Bible in 80 Days' and we need to ask the question, 'Are you more comfortable with the Bible and are you reading it more?' I have certainly enjoyed reading it and enjoyed preaching on a theme agreed in advance.

I know for some of you reading the Bible each day has been a new experience and for some of you discussing it with others has also been a novel experience but is all this exposure to the Bible helping you to live the Christian life more fully?

In particular is your Bible reading helping you to face the day, is it providing a memory bank of Scriptures to help you when life gets tough, is it building up your faith in Jesus Christ so you can tell others why you believe?

The Bible is a wonderful resource which is available to you and me. It was the Reformers of the 16th century who insisted that the Bible be a resource for all believers not just the priests and ministers, and we need to make that a reality today. Is Vision4Life doing that for you?

In particular what else would be helpful for you? With this magazine Audrey Mitchell has provided another month of readings. This time they are all from one book of the Bible, the Book of Acts which follows very naturally from Pentecost. You should get to know Acts very well and if you are keen you could read the whole book. It gives a stunning picture of the early church and shows what people filled with the Holy Spirit can do even when the situation looks very unpromising. It is written as an encouragement to us to serve our Lord today.

Over the summer Revd Steve Mann from Vale Royal Methodist Church will be giving an overview of the Bible on 16th July, 20th August and 17th September from 2.30 4.30 pm. at Tunbridge Wells URC. Steve will probably be answering some of those questions you have always been asking, so do come along and enjoy a cup of tea as well.

We are also planning to ask someone from the Bible Society to take a service in October so we can understand something of their work abroad. We are learning to appreciate the Bible in our church but many Christians around the world long to have a Bible and the Bible Society work to fulfil that need.

We have just returned from a URC Ministers' Spring School at Ashburnham Place and it was a very encouraging time. You, like me, are probably discouraged sometimes at the state of the church. We look back at much larger attendances in the past, much larger Junior Churches, more active organisations and we may ask whether we have a future. Why should people come to church, why should they read the Bible?

Well the picture in the western world appears much more encouraging than we think. For example, those that have a faith in God are generally happier than those who don't and this is a consistent pattern. One piece of academic research in USA indicated that going to church once per week improves people's wellbeing as much as their salary being doubled.

We live in a selfish age and it appears that when we can direct our attention away from ourselves to God and others, the result is we are happier. So we have something to say to our friends. Come to church and be a happier person. We know there is much more to it than that but it is a good start! So as you read through the Book of Acts, just remember that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is still relevant today.

May God bless you richly and your happiness overflow.

With Love in Christ,

Bob and Karen

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