Mark Fairweather Tall

Praying for the future

28/11/2013 16:59

At Easter, James is leaving NCBC. Whilst he will be very much missed, he goes with a sense of excitment because we believe it is God leading him on His pathway. As it is right for James, it will be right for NCBC as we move towards the future. We need to think and pray about what God is saying to us. 


“The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8 (NLT)


As we consider the future, we need to reflect on who we are and our purpose as a church. We have a mission statement and a strategy that helps unpack this more...

Our Mission Statement is: Making Jesus Known

Our strategy to help us achieve this is:

·         To grow in our love for God and encourage our brothers and sisters to do the same.

(“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’ Matthew 22:37-40)


·         To grow in our love and service for our Christian brothers and sisters. Our life together at NCBC should transcend barriers, creating a community where those often excluded can feel they really belong.

 (“And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25)


·         To grow in our love for those in our wider communities. We should proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom, respond to human need by loving service, and seek to transform unjust structures of society.

(‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ Luke 4:18-19)



“Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint,
    but blessed is he who keeps the law.” Proverbs 29:18 (ESV)


On September 29th James announced that he has been invited to be minister at St Andrew’s Baptist Church in Cambridge. He has accepted and will conclude his ministry at NCBC at Easter 2014. We thank God for the family and pray God’s blessing on their future.

For NCBC this means there is change ahead and we need to consider how we move forward as a church. The first step towards this is to call the church to prayer and fasting. During November, we are asking everyone to hold the church before God expressing our desire to walk in His way and be guided towards the future by Him. We can do this as individuals, in Contact Groups and indeed arrange to meet up with others specifically to pray for this. Some may find it helpful to fast as well.

 Whilst Scripture does not command us to fast, we read of those who did. Jesus fasted in the wilderness. In Acts 13:1-3, we read of prayer and fasting happening as God revealed His plans for Barnabas and Paul. Fasting is about taking your eyes off the things of this world in order to focus completely on God.  

We aren’t suggesting you fast for the whole month of November! However, you might decide to miss a meal in order to create time for prayer that you wouldn’t otherwise have. If you feel hungry, you might use that as a physical reminder to pray, “Lord, I am hungry... not just for physical food but to be fed by your Word.”

Fasting doesn’t have to only be about food. It may be that you fast from an activity to create time to pray – it might be television or facebook or your smartphone.

Whether you pray as an individual, in small groups or as a part of your regular Contact Group meetings, we really encourage you to pray.




Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)


Giving thanks and praise to God

Week 1

Read Psalm 145

In Budapest, a man goes to the rabbi and complains, "Life is unbearable. There are nine of us living in one room. What can I do?" The rabbi answers, "Get a goat and take it into the room with you."  The man is incredulous, but the rabbi insists. "Do as I say and come back in a week."  A week later the man comes back looking more distraught than before:  "We cannot stand it," he tells the rabbi. "The goat is filthy." The rabbi then tells him, "Go home and let the goat out. And come back in a week." A radiant man returns to the rabbi a week later, exclaiming, "Life is beautiful. We enjoy every minute of it now that there's no goat -- only the nine of us.”


This story confirms the principle that what we focus on in life affects how we feel about it. We can so easily be caught up with the difficulties and frustrations we face that we stop enjoying the blessings we have. As we start our month of prayer, let us begin by focussing on the One who is the source of all our blessings.


The reading is a psalm of praise and as we study it we can use it to focus our minds on God. We read that He is powerful, gracious, compassionate and rich in love. We can be encouraged because He isn’t distant but rather is ‘near to all who call on Him in truth.’


During this week, let us bring our praise and thanksgiving to God for who He is and all that He has done for us.


“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17


For reflection:

Read Psalm 145 again and pick out things that you want to give thanks to God for.  Consider your life – think of five different things each day to say thanks for.


Some questions:

·         What parts of NCBC do you appreciate most?

·         What is NCBC good at that can fuel prayers of thanksgiving?

·         What has made an impact on you in the past at NCBC?

·         Are there any verses of Scripture that you think are particularly important for the church at this time? What do you think God is saying to the church?

Seeking the wisdom of God

Week 2


Read Proverbs 4:1-9


During our prayer time this week, we are earnestly seeking wisdom from God about our future direction. Our reading from Proverbs speaks of its value: “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have get understanding.” V7


Andrew Murray (1828-1917) was born in South Africa and grew up in a home filled with prayer and worship as his father, the Rev Andrew Murray Sr., was ministering to Dutch settlers.  He developed a strong faith himself and went on to become a pastor, teacher and writer. His books contain much wisdom that can inform us today. It is worth hearing some quotes from Murray’s book “Abide in Christ” that might help us as we seek wisdom for the future:


First, we need to be as close as possible to Jesus: “Abide in Jesus as your wisdom and expect from Him most confidently whatever teaching you may need for a life to the glory of the Father." We can have confidence in him, even whilst we wait for his leading: "Cultivate the habit of rejoicing in the assurance that the divine wisdom is guiding you, even where you do not yet see the way." However, we must be willing to sacrifice our own ideas because we know His way is better. We need to wait on him:"Surrender all your own wisdom; seek a deep conviction of the utter blindness of the natural understanding in the things of God; and both as to what you have to believe and have to do, wait for Jesus to teach and to guide.”


Let us pray with humility and expectation that God will lead us forward to the next stage of ministry.


“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

Some questions

·         A few years ago we had a team of 2 ministers, a youth worker and pastoral worker. From Easter there will be one minister. What sort of ministry do we need to take us into the future at NCBC?

·         What would you like to see the church doing in the future that it either isn’t doing now or isn’t doing well?

·         What would the church look like in 3 years time that would make you excited to be a part of it?

Offering ourselves to God

Week 3

Read Matthew 25:14-30


Sir Michael Costa was a great orchestral Conductor of the 19th Century. It is said that one day he was conducting a rehearsal in which the orchestra was joined by a great choir. Midway through the session the piccolo player stopped playing. It seemed innocent enough – after all who would miss the tiny piccolo amidst the great mass of instruments? All of a sudden Sir Michael stopped the entire orchestra and choir. “Stop! Stop! Where’s the piccolo? What’s happened to the piccolo?”


The moral of this story is simple – to the conductor, no instrument is too small to be noticed and valued.  God has entrusted each one of us with gifts for use in His service. Each of us has something to contribute to His Kingdom.


The parable of the talents is well known to many, but the challenge should keep coming to us: Am I using the gifts that God has given me or am I burying them in the ground? The reasons for not using gifts can be many: We can find ourselves too busy; we might be low on confidence; we may not understand how we can get involved; it is possible that we just haven’t really thought about what we could do.


We are going to be coming to a stage in church life where we need more people to ‘step-up’ and take greater responsibility. Is that you? Do you have a new role to play in the church? Is the Holy Spirit prompting you to action?


Each of us are called to serve God in different ways. As we do so, we have the hope of being met with those wonderful words when we see our Master face to face: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”


Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically”

Romans 12:10-11 (NLT)

Some questions

·         What ways do you/could you contribute to the life of the church?

·         What gets in the way of you contributing?

·         What gifts/abilities/experiences do you have that others might recognise in you?

·         Are there any verses of Scripture that you think are particularly important for the church at this time? What do you think God is saying to the church?





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