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A CHRISTMAS REFLECTION
by Roy Todd

Amidst the warm glow of festive lights and sparkling tinsel, there’s a more gritty reality to the Christmas story. The drawing below by artist Charlie Mackesy makes the point well. While Heaven greeted the birth of Christ with adoration, earth’s response was generally apathetic.

Yet as humanity slept, angelic beings could not contain their joy as they recognised the sheer magnitude of what had just taken place. They knew that Jesus wasn’t merely born to be king – but He was born AS King (Luke 2:11-14). That night over isolated middle eastern farmland, the atmosphere above was bursting with the magnificence of heavenly song, and music the like of which the world had never heard before. Yet still, underneath the majestic chorus was a neglected barn, putrid with animal stench, filfthy, dirty, cold, dark, lonely. It was here that the Son of God was born. The greatest miracle happened in a graceless mess.

Surely there’s a lesson to be learned here? Christmas teaches us that there is no mess in this life which God is not willing to enter. This is grace in all it’s glory – gritty, humble, real, pure, authentic.

Interestingly, the first to visit Jesus were simple shepherds, not wise kings. Some theologians estimate that the wise men didn’t actually visit Jesus until between one and two years after his birth. Funny isn’t it….common agricultural workers saw Jesus first, the kind of people society would have looked down upon. God takes delight in inviting those the world has given up on to encounter him, even involving them in his story. There is certainly nothing elitist about the advent story. This was God in the flesh, coming to do life with ordinary, every day people. 

The Christmas narrative is one which goes far beyond mere sentiment. It shows us what love looks like. It reminds us that however gloomy circumstances might be, where there is God there is always hope. Have a wonder filled Christmas season!

 

JOIN US FOR OUR CHRISTMAS SERVICES THROUGHOUT DECEMBER. MORE DETAILS HERE.

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IN PURSUIT OF THE MIRACULOUS 
by Roy Todd

Ten years ago, I wrote a book called ‘In Pursuit of the Miraculous’. I reckon I could write a follow up based on the past two weeks alone! It has been nothing short of miraculous. It all started when my wife Lydia gave birth to our beautiful baby daughter Sophia Hope at 11:27am on a […]

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DRAWN BACK TO THE FATHER'S HEART 
by Roy Todd

We’re all prone to wandering from God. It’s not for no reason that Isaiah describes us as being ‘like sheep who have gone astray’. Sure, sometimes our relationship with God is fresh and fervent. But if we’re honest, it’s not always like that. Complacency can so easily set into our lives. We get distracted from what […]

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BEWARE OF THE SPIRIT OF FEAR 
by Roy Todd

Have you noticed that the fear industry is booming at the moment? These are good days for things like suspicion, cynicism and gloom. They prey on people’s worst instincts, creating an atmosphere that is thick with the toxicity of distrust. It’s contagion blows into key aspects of society including politics, media and education, and it spreads confusion over a hurting nation. Church is not exempt from […]

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DON'T BE A CHURCH CYNIC!! 
by Roy Todd

There used to be a TV show called the Muppets. One of the puppet acts featured was a couple of old curmudgeons who were theatre critics. They were constantly carping and sniping at every performance they watched and they could never bring themselves to say anything kind about acts other than their own.  Sometimes, the Christian world can seem a bit like those two old disapproving […]

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FINDING A CHURCH YOU CALL ‘HOME’ 
by Roy Todd

When you find a church community that you can truly call ‘home’, cherish it deeply. It will prove a massive blessing to your life. Our heart for people who come to the Junction Church is that we would be a family where they feel loved, appreciated and where they can play their part. 

If you’re checking out the Junction Church, then here are 10 practical tips to think about on your journey:

1) Don’t search for perfection

Sounds obvious, right? But it’s important to remind ourselves that there’s no such thing as a perfect church. Because people are involved, there will always be flaws. So it is wise to settle in your heart that there will be plenty of imperfections.

2) Test the waters

We’re really relaxed about people checking us out. Many people have done this and ended up staying around because they love it. However, we totally recognise that we won’t be the right church for everybody. The important thing is to find a community where you can feel at home. Give yourself some breathing space and ‘test the waters’ to see if it’s right for you.

3) Have a heart to serve

Every church needs people who are willing to get their hands dirty and get stuck in. This requires our ego to be put aside. Serving is incredibly helpful in this regard. The great thing is that serving is by far the best way to forge friendships – and it’s REALLY good for us.

4) Make Sunday a priority 

Sunday gatherings are important. Think about it….there are only 52 Sundays in a year – which means just 52 opportunities to gather as a church community for corporate worship. So it’s wise to make Sunday a priority since there aren’t that many of them. At the Junction Church, we deeply respect people and so work hard to make Sunday’s meaningful, helpful and relevant to people’s lives.

5) Be part of a life group

Of course, there’s more to church than Sunday’s. That’s why mid-week life groups are so good. They are smaller gatherings where you can grow in community and do life with other people of faith.

6) Join the ‘planted in the house’ course

Four times a year, we host ‘planted in the house’. This is held over four Tuesday nights and is an opportunity to find out more about the vision of the Junction Church. It’s also a great way of catching the heart of who we are.

7) Be a contributor, not a consumer

It was President John F Kennedy who said ‘Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country‘. Well, maybe we could apply this to church too? Actually, it’s when we contribute that we get blessed.

8) Remember, friendships take time

We totally ‘get it’ that people are looking for meaningful friendships. So we work hard to create an environment that is friendly, welcoming and conducive to them. But it’s important not to try and force them. Truth is, developing authentic relationships takes time and commitment. So be patient, stay gracious and then watch what happens.

9) Church is not the answer to your needs

Say what? Yup, this might sound like a strange thing for a pastor to write – but it’s true. GOD is the answer, not church. Church is simply a community where we journey with others who follow Jesus, study the bible together, capture God’s heart and do life with others. God is our source for everything. Wise people manage their expectations.

10) Be open to a new experience

The Junction Church is a community that seeks to be biblical and contemporary. We are who we are. Our worship is current. Our teaching deals with everyday issues. We love Jesus with an uncompromising passion and we are committed to reaching those who don’t know him yet. So be open to a new expression of church. It will probably be different to anything you’ve ever experienced before. Avoid comparing it to previous churches (whether positive or negative) as this is never helpful. The point is…you’re on a new adventure in a new season. So enjoy the journey!

 

These are 10 tips that will hopefully help you find a church you can call ‘home’. If that’s the Junction Church, we’d love that. If not, we pray that you will find a community where your faith will grow and your relationship with Christ develop. Whatever happens, we pray that God will bless your life, your family and your future. #TheBestIsYetToCome 

 

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LOUGHBOROUGH HERE AND THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE.

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DON’T UNDERESTIMATE GOD 
by Roy Todd

Ok, it’s time for me to fess up. When we first planted the Junction Church five years ago, I was a bit bothered that our largest demographic was students. We didn’t plan it this way, it just happened. It’s not that I ever had anything against students either. No, the very opposite actually. I love them. They are the most incredible bunch of people to hang out with. They keep me fresh, laugh at my daft jokes, ask GREAT questions, are loads of fun to be around and I have learned SO much from this generation. But five years ago, I thought we would never establish a decent church with such a high percentage of students. Then I had my epiphany and I suddenly realised…silly me! Students don’t stay students for very long.

Five years later, those very same people are no longer at uni. They’ve graduated. And guess what? Loads of them have made the Junction Church their home. They’ve found a community where they can get planted, grow, develop, inspire others, encourage potential and love people to life. Now they’re the driving force of our church. They serve behind the scenes, lead the teams, are pioneering a new campus and they’re carrying great culture everywhere they go. They are sons and daughters of the house who profoundly understand that good jobs are easy to find but good churches are not.

I think I’ve learned a HUGE lesson in all this. Never underestimate what God can do. Truth is…He’s often doing more behind our backs than in front of your eyes. 

In those early days of pioneering the Junction Church, the demographic of our community meant that offerings were pretty meagre. It’s not that there wasn’t generosity. No. It’s just that people genuinely didn’t have much to give, which meant paying bills could be slightly challenging (yup, churches have bills too you know)! Sometimes before a service would begin, I’d nip out and withdraw cash from my own account and then put it into the offering. Afterwards when the team would tell me that we’d had record giving that day, I’d cheekily smile because I knew that I’d put most of it in!! The things you do just to encourage yourself when you’re pioneering a church!! But God constantly challenged us to hold our nerve, to keep showing up, to keep being generous, to love people and serve faithfully. Today, it’s amazing to see the Junction Church in Loughborough and Leicester bursting with life. In many ways, it feels like we’ve just got going. The potential is huge.

We must never underestimate the potential of people’s lives. If you have a bunch of students in your church, invest in them and keep sowing well, especially in times of lack. God has this amazing way of using our feebleness so that his glory can be seen. Remember, today’s seed is tomorrows harvest. Don’t underestimate God. Its amazing what He can do.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE.

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WHAT IS BAPTISM? 
by Roy Todd

At the Junction Church, we believe in the importance of water baptism. This is something which every follower of Jesus is privileged to experience. It was widely practised by the early church. Even before then, it was taught by John the Baptist, a man who truly lived up to his name and baptised thousands of people in the river Jordon. 

The vast majority of churches today maintain the practice of baptism, believing it to be both biblically compelling as well as an important profession of faith. But what is baptism? Why is water used? And what is the significance of total immersion? Lets think about these questions.

WHAT IS BAPTISM AND WHY DO IT?

Mark records in his gospel that John preached ‘a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins‘ (Mark 1:4). Here, we learn that baptism is an outward sign of a life that is freed from sin. To ‘repent’ simply means to turn around, to change direction, to walk away from selfish living and to journey instead on the path of Godliness.

The connection between repentance and baptism is highlighted yet again in Acts 2. Here, as Peter was preaching to a large crowd, he told them to ‘repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins‘ (Acts 2:38). Of course, the act of being baptised in itself cannot forgive sins. Baptism in the New Testament is always preceded by repentance. Therefore, it is a testimony to what has happened in our lives.

WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF WATER? AND WHY TOTAL IMMERSION?

When a person is baptised in water, this symbolises the washing away of sin, hence the involvement of water. Baptism portrays an analogy between the physical cleansing of our bodies and the spiritual healing of our hearts.

There is nothing mystical about the water in which people are baptised. It is purely symbolical. The Greek word for Baptism is ‘baptizo’ – which literally means ‘to fully immerse’. Interestingly, it was a word used by sailers to describe a ship being drenched by waves during a storm. 

This picture of baptism by total immersion is clearly portrayed in the book of Acts where we’re told that Philip ‘went down into the water’ in order to baptise a government official (Acts 8:37). It is also highlighted in Jesus ministry too. Mark 1:10 says that after Jesus was baptised in the river, he ‘came up out of the water’. This strongly indicates that the proper practice of baptism involves full immersion in water, rather than mere sprinkling. Incidentally, what is fascinating about Jesus is that he didn’t need to be baptised, yet he was fully immersed anyway in order to demonstrate it’s importance for us. (Matthew 3:15 & 2 Cor 5:22).

WHAT DOES BAPTISM MEAN?

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he explains that ‘having been buried with him (Jesus) in baptism, you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead‘. (Colossians 2:12). This verse points out that baptism is symbolic of death and resurrection, the very reason why we can experience God’s forgiveness today. Therefore, being immersed in water is an identification with the death & burial of Jesus Christ. 

When a person is baptised in water, they are, in a sense, publicly declaring that they are dead to the old way of life. As Colossians 2:12 states, it means we are ‘buried with him (Jesus) in baptism.’ Thankfully though, the person being baptised is not left under the water for very long (only a fraction of a second!!). When they rise up again, this symbolises the birth of a new life in Jesus, the one who rose from the dead. This means we can live in hope, and water baptism powerfully illustrates this.

DOES WATER BAPTISM ONLY HAPPEN ONCE?

Yes, water baptism is something that a Christian only ever does once. Ephesians 4:5 tells us that there is just ‘one baptism’. Of course, baptism doesn’t lead to a sinless life. We still make mistakes and get things wrong. However, this does not mean that the bible provides us with an excuse to live sinfully. No, it actually encourages us to lean in to God’s grace where forgiveness and healing are always found. That’s why Paul says ‘we should no longer be slaves to sin‘ (Romans 6:6).

WHY IS BAPTISM AN ACT OF OBEDIENCE?

Baptism is an act of obedience because Jesus commanded us to do it. Just read what he said in Matthew 28:19. In the same verse, he also views baptism as an important part of our journey of discipleship (i.e. following him). It is always a sign of spiritual health when a Christian is willing to be baptised in water. Yes, it may require some courage, but it is the right thing to do and our lives are blessed for it.

YOU DON’T BAPTISE INFANTS. WHY?

We do dedicate babies at the Junction Church. However, we do not baptise very young children. The reason for this is that there is simply no scriptural precedent for it. While we don’t set an age restriction for baptism candidates, we do insist that each person clearly understands what they are doing. Ultimately, being baptised is a decision that those of the age of understanding must make for themselves. Unfortunately, infants are afforded no choice in this, and the idea of ‘confirmation’ is really not found anywhere in scripture. 

Of course, we would never wish to dishonour those who have had their newly born children baptised (or who themselves have been baptised as infants). However, we do strongly encourage everyone to search the bible for themselves, and choose to have their own experience of baptism. Even if you were baptised as an infant,  if you have subsequently decided to follow Jesus as an adult, then by all means get baptised by full immersion in water. This is totally appropriate.

WHAT HAPPENS AT A BAPTISM CELEBRATION?

We host baptism celebrations throughout the year at the Junction Church. Last year, dozens of people were baptised at these events. Our friends at Loughborough Baptist Church have very kindly invited us to use their building for our baptism services. These tend to happen on a mid-week (usually a Thursday). This is a very simple event which includes some upbeat worship songs, a short 10 minute message, stories from those who are being baptised and then the actual baptisms. 

Before each person is baptised, I (or a member of the team) will say these words: ‘According to the confession our your faith, we now baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’. After this, the baptism takes place. It only lasts a couple of seconds but it is always accompanied by lot of cheers afterwards as people celebrate this important step of faith.

WANT TO BE BAPTISED?

If you would like to be baptised, get in touch with us ASAP. We’ll then give you some details on when the next Baptism celebration is going to be. Baptism is an amazing experience and it is totally worth doing. For more information, email: amy@junctionchurch.net

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FAITH IS NOT A FORMULA  
by Roy Todd

Faith is far more gritty than grandiose. It is forged on the rough terrain of life’s experience, not by clinical calculation and theorising in comfortable surroundings.

The danger with a formulaic faith is that it lulls us into a false sense of security. As long as the formula seems to work, everything appears fine. But the moment it falters, that’s when trust is shaken and a crisis ensues. People’s lives then get rocked to the core because of their mistaken concept of ‘faith’ which bears no relation to what the bible actually teaches. Problem is, this kind of shallow ‘faith’ will always lead to disillusionment because it is flawed at the root, more of a superstitious pastime than a spiritual pilgrimage. 

Don’t put your faith in faith. Anchor your trust in God, especially during the storms of life.

While faith is simple, it is not simplistic. Glib answers to tough questions are not credible. Authentic faith doesn’t yield to challenging circumstances, but it doesn’t deny them either. The latter is something which has too often been missed by an erroneous theology that refuses to acknowledge the very existence of suffering. This is more akin to fear than faith, a way of living which is bereft of the courage to face life’s issues with integrity. It’s no good.

True faith is not formulaic, but has confidence in God’s grace. It doesn’t understand everything, but chooses to believe Him no-matter what. Yes, it will have questions & concerns – and these are important to address. But the healthiest relationships can withstand the rigour of difficult questioning, and still emerge strong. Read the Psalms, and you’ll see how they powerfully illustrate this. 

Perhaps the greatest definition of faith is found in Hebrews 11:1. It says, ‘Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see’. Notice the paradoxical language of this verse, using words which don’t normally appear together (‘sure’, ‘hope’, ‘certain’ ‘do not see’). There’s nothing formulaic about faith here. It’s messy, it’s real, it’s gritty, it’s authentic. As believers, we root our trust in God’s ultimate goodness. Now that’s faith.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH IN LEICESTER HERE.

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REMEMBER, WHEN YOU GIVE UP,

The definition of “delusional” could be this; ‘thinking that when I stop, everything else stops‘. But this is not how life works. Wise people settle in their minds that the world goes on, no-matter what. Sure, it can feel unfair and even brutal at times. However, the card you’re dealt is what you’ve got. You can either wish you had something better OR do the very best with what you have. The latter is always the smarter option. You’ve got to stay in the game if you want to win!

What tends to happen when people give up in life is that they consign themselves to the sidelines and become mere spectators. Then they watch on with a sense of nauseating horror as things progress without them, utterly mystified that this could actually be happening. Often, it’s at this stage that bitter resentment digs in and begins to metastasize, starting in the heart. You see, the unspoken expectation was that everything would cease when they stood aside. This is not what happens. There will always be someone who steps up to the mark to have a go…always. If you don’t walk through the open door of opportunity that is before you, somebody else will. It’s a ruthless truth….but true nonetheless.

In the Old Testament, there was a prophet called Elijah who had to face this challenge. As gifted as he was, he was also prone to bouts of insularity. In 1 Kings 19, he decided to retreat into the reclusivity of the desert and give up altogether. While he was there, God spoke to him and gently reminded him that if he should decide not to continue serving, God had 7000 other people in reserve from which a successor could quickly be chosen. It was an incredibly gracious, yet deeply sobering word to the man of God. God’s purpose will never be hindered by the withdrawal of human cooperation. It will always come to pass, and the onus is on us to run with unshakable conviction.

Whatever happens in your life, don’t be a quitter. Keep going. Stay planted. Hold your nerve. Maintain a servant heart. Tough times come and go. So it’s best not to make a permanent decision in a temporal storm.

Think about Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.’

Keep going!

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE.

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FORGET BALANCE. THINK RHYTHM. 
by Roy Todd

There is something mind numbingly tedious about the word ‘balance’. It is often hoisted up as the pinnacle of all correctness which absolutely must be achieved if we are to enjoy a peaceful and harmonious existence. My problem with this is that I don’t want to just exist…I want to LIVE!! I find that ‘balance’ kills creativity, stifles life and induces apathy.

A far more helpful word than ‘balance’ is ‘rhythm’. This is all about creating seasons of work and rest. Sometimes, life goes at 100 miles per hour. There are deadlines to meet, expectations to fulfil, responsibilities to honour, meetings to attend and about a million other things to do. Frankly, the last thing you can do in the midst of all this is to suddenly stop and then force your way into the middle ground of stillness. That’s just not how life works. Sure, the theory of this is great – but the practicality isn’t. The unrealness of it actually adds unnecessary stress and ends up doing more harm than good. 

However, thinking in terms of ‘rhythm’ is altogether better. It takes away the guilt you might feel when you’re in a season of busyness, whilst at the same time helping keep you disciplined and intentional about creating space for rest and play in your life. That latter is incredibly important, and is something that needs to be part of the beat in our seasonal rhythms.

Have you ever seen one of those big old grandfather clocks? The pendulum swings from one side to the other, maintaining momentum and keeping perfect timing. If the pendulum is balanced in the middle, it may give off the impression of quiet serenity….but that’s simply because the clock is not working! It’s utterly useless without movement. That’s exactly why it’s far better to create rhythms in our lives where the pendulum swings back and forth from relentlessness to rest, from pressure to peace, from chaos to calmness, from busyness to breathing space. Wise people work hard to create healthy rhythms that ease into one another. This is far more helpful than the monotony of ‘balance’.

Here are some really great words from Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30 (the message translation). “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Forget balance. Think rhythm.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE.

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GREAT UNITY STARTS WITH GREAT CULTURE 
by Roy Todd

In a nation that is as riven with divisions as ours, it’s refreshing to hear calls for unity growing ever louder. This is especially true of the UK Church. What better contrast to the apparent drifting apart of a nation than the coming together of the Church? 

However, one of the challenges with ‘unity’ is that while the intent behind it is honourable, it can so easily succumb to hysteria & rush. This is something which is never healthy for the long term. In the desire to model an alternative to the divisions of society, Church unity can end up being shallow, lacking authenticity & even appearing pretentious in the eyes of the very people it is meant to be reaching. 

When the surface of ‘unity’ doesn’t honestly acknowledge & address the deep undercurrents of toxicity lurking within it’s own waters, it accomplishes nothing. Unity is not an event. Nor is it even about church leaders meeting together for coffee, cakes & conferences. Great unity has everything to do with great culture, something which starts in the heart. It’s a lifestyle that genuinely champions & provokes others to greatness, far beyond the monotony of mere platitudes. It builds an environment where others can thrive instead of being suffocated by the self-righteous disapproval of religiosity.

No relationship can ever truly flourish in a culture that lacks affirmation. This tends to produce unhealthy unity, the kind that is more about what it’s against than for. Gossip is the glue that holds this kind of unity together. It is the most subtle killer of great culture in the Christian Church today, more so than is ever realised. Yet too often, it is given permission & acceptability, excused as mere small talk. Wise leaders understand that careless words are corrosive to great relationships. So they create a new normal in their everyday conversations, one that is disciplined in the art of building up rather than the crassness of tearing down. Ultimately, you reap what you sow.

The only way healthy church culture can ever truly develop is when leaders grow it in their hearts first. This challenges everything…demeanour, outlook, gossip, generosity, words, conversation, vibe. The weeds of cynicism get uprooted & replaced by the seeds of authentic faith. They take a while to plant and the growth can be slow, but what matters is that God looks at hearts, not gestures. This is where it all really begins and blessing is commanded.

When great culture grows on the inside, then great unity flourishes on the outside. The result? The city receives great life.

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WHEN YOUR HEART FEELS HURT 
by Roy Todd

There’s a fascinating story in Luke 24 about two men walking along the road to Emmaus (near Jerusalem). The vibe of their conversation was downbeat and melancholic, reeling from the bitter disappointment of Jesus death a few days earlier. Their hopes had been dashed since the one in whom they’d rooted their trust was no longer with them. Devastating stuff.

Meanwhile, a third man who joined them on the journey seemed strangely oblivious to recent events. As they offered him explanation regarding the tragedy of what had just occurred, they were so lost in the fog of confused perspective that they failed to recognise the identity of the person in their company. It was Jesus himself….right there with them, listening to them, walking with them through their pain. 

The two men on the road to Emmaus are like a lot of people today…living on the right side of the resurrection but settling on the wrong side of a revelation. Sometimes, our ponderings and wonderings can be so slanted by the bias of our own subjectivity that we completely miss the reality of what God has actually accomplished. Little did the two men know that while they were wallowing in pitiful dispair, Jesus had just been through hell for them…literally. You see, there’s always more going on than meets the eye.

Disappointment happens to all of us. However, it’s always a mistake to camp in the valley of hurt. God intends for us to pass through it, not live there. Making pain our identity is merely surrendering to earth’s facts without submitting to heaven’s truth. As followers of Jesus, we are to keep trusting through the challenges of our pilgrimage. God doesn’t always owe us explanations for the more challenging paths we tread. Wise people settle this in their hearts…and dare to keep following. 

When your heart feels conflicted by hurt, be kind to yourself and avoid the pitfalls of unnecessary guilt and overanalyses. Sure, it’s good to reflect. However, allow your reflection to be shaped by revelation, the reality of a God who has experienced his own wounds, who feels your pain and whose heart toward you is pure and unadulterated. When you know deep down that you are deeply loved, there’s powerful healing in this truth that can overcome any hurt. Surely this explains Isaiah 53:5… ‘by his wounds, we are healed.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE.

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EXCELLENCE MATTERS.

I recently read an article which took aim at churches that pursue the value of excellence. The writer suggested church should be a messy environment reflecting the reality of a messed up world. Excellence, it was asserted, alienates people rather than connecting with them. 

Well, who could disagree with the importance of loving & reaching people where they’re at? But abandoning excellence is not the answer. Of course God accepts us as we are…but He loves us far too much to leave us that way.

I was born in west Belfast during the height of the Northern Irish troubles. I grew up in one of the most deprived areas in all of Europe. But what I observed during that time of conflict was the aspiration of a working class generation who dared to dream. They searched for something better than what they’d known up to then, resisting the patronising overtones of their middle class superiors which suggested they should “get used to the mess cos this is your lot”. So many of my peers sought to pursue a more excellent way because they longed to rise higher and go further in life. They had the audacity to believe for more..and so looked beyond the doldrums of despair toward a brighter future.

The point is…God never designed HIS church to pander to mediocrity, but rather to shine as a beacon of light in the fog of unbelief. As Paul says in 1 Cor 12:31, love offers ‘the most excellent way‘. We do a gross disservice to our towns and cities when we ever lower the bar and try to keep people where they are. That’s exactly what mediocrity does.

Excellence is a state of heart. It’s about doing the very best you can with what you have. It’s not about money. Nor is it about facilities and resource. It’s ALL about having a passion to help people reach their God given potential. A culture of excellence reflects the heart of a community which loves our world and wants to help others rise higher. We’ve seen this happen at the Junction Church over the past few years…where people have been so impacted by the culture that they’ve taken it into their families, schools, universities, work places & peer groups. Surely it’s this kind of gritty, everyday stuff that changes the world? Some call it ‘bringing the Kingdom’. We just call it ‘doing life well.’

If anywhere in the world ought to reflect excellence, it’s Church. It should never be thrown together in a shoddy, messy, untidy way. What inspiration is there in this? That’s why one of our values at the Junction Church is excellence…and we make no apology for it. It brings God glory when we create an environment that loves people, lifts their vision and helps them rise to greatness. That’s why excellence matters.

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