church nottingham

JESUS TURNS IT TO WINE.

In John 2, Jesus turned water into wine. Sometimes, it feels like the Church has been trying to change it back ever since. I suspect legalistic types would prefer it if this story had been excluded from the bible. After all, the party context doesn’t sit well with the misery of religious pretence.

The story can at times be dismissed as a kind of irrelevant incident which happened just before Jesus officially got going. But such a miserable conclusion would completely miss an important point. The Holy Spirit included this incident in scripture for very good reason. We must be sure we never reduce a momentous miracle to a monotonous monologue which sounds more like water into whine than ‘water into wine’. That’s sadly what the spirit of religion tends to do. But joyless religiosity is un-representative of the culture of God’s Kingdom. 

It’s interesting that this first recorded miracle of Jesus occurred at a party. It was a happy occasion…well, apart from the little matter of a crisis behind the scenes. The problem? They’d run out of wine.  Here was a situation which was clearly brought about by human error. Wedding celebrations in those days would have lasted up to a week. So, the lack of wine might have been because someone had miscalculated and not purchased enough? Or perhaps the budget for the wedding party had not been properly prepared to cater for all the guests? Then again, maybe some attendees had been a bit selfish with their consumption of said beverage, thus denying others? Whatever way you look at it, somebody somewhere had badly messed up.

Yet, it says something about Jesus that he graciously went ahead and performed a miracle. It could have been all too easy for him to resist. He might even have preached a judgmental message on the imperfection of humanity and the ultimate reason for this pitiful mess up! But he didn’t. Instead, he did something about it and created a miracle. But not just any old miracle. From water poured into ceremonial vats which weren’t even meant to be used for drinking (ohh…Jesus is always mixing things up!!), he did something in a moment which should have taken literally years to produce. After all, good wine requires a long process. But there and then, Jesus created the best wine anyone could possibly imagine. I have a sneaky suspicion this was the finest wine that has ever been consumed. AD30 was definitely a year of rare vintage.

The danger when studying this story is that we can try to read more into it than the Holy Spirit intends. To do so is to miss the real point of the outcome. Of course there are lessons which can be gleaned about faith, obedience and courage. But what this event is really all about is… God’s grace. It’s a picture of undeserved favour in the midst of humanity’s failure. Isn’t this what the Gospel is all about? Isn’t this the good news that all who follow Jesus experience every day of their lives? It’s why we celebrate – not because of our own religious works but because of God’s amazing grace. Just like the wine Jesus created, his love & forgiveness are incomparable too.

It is surely no coincidence that the miracle occurred at a wedding party in Cana. Religion doesn’t like this. Yet it represents the vibe of God’s kingdom…gracious, joyful, celebratory, honourable. How on earth could any Christian ever portray Jesus as tedious, intense and clinical? Such a portrayal is a downright travesty. After all, Jesus is the source of real joy…and the finest wine maker on this planet and beyond. If he can work a miracle in the midst of a crisis in Cana, his grace can do the same in your life. Now that’s a message worth celebrating.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH NOTTINGHAM HERE.

church leicester

TAKING CAPTIVE EVERY THOUGHT 
by Roy Todd

It is human to feel lots of emotions in life. But when emotionalism sits in the driving seat, a world of fickleness beckons. It is subjective rather than objective. It is impetuous rather than principled. It is careless rather than considerate. But wise people don’t allow their lives to be driven by the immediacy of raw emotion. They afford themselves time to reflect & read the road ahead – beyond the path of sentiment. 

It seems that too many people in life are quick to believe the first thing their emotions tell them. Take a quick glance over a Facebook timeline and you’ll soon discover this. Yes, feelings can inform us about what we’re experiencing in the here and now. But whilst we don’t have to deny what we might feel, it’s never good to give it too much credence. It has a habit of changing very quickly. Besides, the foundation on which God wants our lives to be built is the truth of his word, not the strength of our emotions. This is what will keep us standing during the storm. This is what will sustain us through challenges. This is what will guard our hearts when we feel hurt, disappointment and pain – all of which are inevitable.

Paul encourages us to be very intentional about ‘taking captive every thought and making it obedient to Christ‘ (2 Cor 5:10). In other words, we need to think about HOW we think. Instead of allowing our feelings to think for us, it’s important to develop disciplined thoughtfulness. The bench mark is how it lines up with the truth of God’s word. Interestingly, Paul encourages us to take ‘captive‘ those thoughts which are off the mark. This conveys the idea of capturing invading lies and then incarcerating them. In a world in which we are bombarded by ‘fake news’, this is particularly relevant advice.

In the end, what matters is that which is true. Jesus is the personification of truth. That’s why wise people submit their thoughts, feelings and emotions to him. After all, he is ‘the way, the truth and the life‘ (John 14:6).

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

church in leicester

WHAT REALLY MATTERS??? 
by Roy Todd

I recently read some Christian blogs which were full of complaint about churches that have ‘hipster’ lights, punchy music & a ‘style’ that is not to their liking. Afterwards, I found myself thinking….SO WHAT??? In a world that’s in desperate need of the life giving hope of God’s good news, are these things seriously worth getting so angry about? I mean, in the grand scheme of things….really?? 

So what if some churches like a few lights? So what if there’s a bit of beat in the music? So what if some churches don’t conform to traditional ways of doing things – and sing songs that have been written in the last 2 years rather than 20 or 200 years ago? So what???

Surely what REALLY matters is that people are encountering the life transforming grace of Jesus Christ? Surely it would be better to celebrate churches that are courageously reaching out and impacting a generation with the greatest news on the planet? Surely the REAL travesty is that there are so many churches out there where new salvations are few and far between?

The Pharisees detested Jesus because he didn’t fit with their expectations of how things should be done. They even accused him of being a compromiser, or as they put it, a ‘friend of sinners‘ (Matt 11:19). But what was meant as a carping, sniping criticism was actually an unwitting compliment. You see, Jesus related to everyday people, used illustrations they could identify with and connected with their lives. Meanwhile, religion loves to stay in it’s own little theologically correct bubble and feels better about itself when it is pontificating about what it doesn’t approve of. Every Christian would do well to take care not fall into it’s pit. It’s a death trap in which many churches today are paying a heavy price, their very existence on the edge of extinction.

If we’re going to win a generation, then the Church (capital C) is going to need to shake itself out of complacency and recapture the raw heart & essence of Jesus message. Think for a moment about the first line of the most well known verse in the bible – ‘For God so loved the world‘. That one statement tells us everything about the ONE we worship. If it matters to him, it ought to matter to us. In the end, that’s what REALLY matters.

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

church leicester

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS 
by Roy Todd

Picture the scene. It’s a balmy Virginia morning in early August – about 9am. The sky is brilliant blue and the sun is shining brightly. My wife and I are still buzzing from the day before when we celebrated the wedding of a beautiful young couple whose lives are bursting with joy and optimism. Now, in the afterglow of such a fabulous occasion, we’re enjoying a quiet breakfast under the shade of an Ash tree at a downtown street cafe. The vibe is peaceful and relaxed. We just sit there for an hour or two, chatting, laughing, drinking coffee, people watching. It’s all good. The name of the town? Charlottesville.  

One week later, the heart of Charlottesville is torn apart by the hatred of racism. A mob of white supremacists (mainly transported in from other places) contaminate the atmosphere, turning it nasty and vicious. Destruction and death are the inevitable consequence of its bigoted ideology which is intent on creating division and promoting fear. It is evil, pure and simple. The awful carnage it creates is a wake up call regarding the menace which lurks deep within. Its sinister motivation masquerades as acceptable, empowered by stoking the fires of division. Suddenly, 2017 feels more like 1817. In many ways, these are even more dangerous times. The voices of hatred & fear are growing ever louder, taking advantage of the uncertainty that exists around the world. It’s how evil works.

The very notion that any one race holds superiority over another is not only utterly delusional, but is as contrary to biblical teaching as it is possible to get. Galatians 3:28 clearly states ‘There is neither Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus‘. It couldn’t be any clearer. We must never be silent at even the faintest hint of racist thinking. The bible is unambiguous and unequivocal about this. The same should be true for all of us.

My thoughts turn to Britain, the nation I love. We would be wise to reflect on the events of Charlottesville, and understand that the menace of bigotry lurks here too. The UK Church is not exempt from this, subtle though it may be. Instead of paying lip service and engaging in moral protestations which make us feel morally better, it’s far wiser to put Galations 3:28 into practice. Our actions speak far louder than our words. It’s always best to model what is right.

If any community on earth should be showing the way ahead, it’s the Church. We are one in Christ. It is His amazing grace which unites our hearts. There is no place for racism here, subtle or otherwise…ever. 

WE ARE ONE CHURCH IN TWO LOCATIONS. CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH IN LOUGHBOROUGH HERE AND THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE.

junction collective

WORSHIP VIBES 
by Junction Collective

Hey!! We’re excited about releasing two albums. Yes, TWO!! 

The first is called VIBE, a 14 track instrumental album which is a soundtrack to what’s happening in the life of our church. We really wanted to create something that’s upbeat, capturing the heart of what God is doing. We’d LOVE it if you would download the album HERE. 

Then in 2018 (January), we’re releasing our first worship album. This is called HOPE WILL ARISE. We’re currently finishing it off and you’ll hear more details about this soon!

Worship means SO much to us at the Junction Church. When we meet together as a community, we sing songs that express our love and passion for God. But why is music so important? Well, for a start, this is an art which is clearly used in the bible. For example, over 55 of the psalms were actually song lyrics that are prefaced with the instruction ‘for the director of music‘. It’s a pity recording devices weren’t around then as it would be awesome to hear what those songs actually sounded like!! Then in the New Testament, Paul sometimes quotes words from what many scholars believe where early Christian songs. Philippians 2:5-11 is probably one of them (it’s totally worth a read).

At the Junction Church, our heart is to create songs that are biblically based and which also reflect life in Century 21. Our boundaries are ancient but our outlook is eternal. The first part is really important to us and we totally believe in the importance of declaring God’s Word rather than just writing a bunch of nice lyrics. It’s the Word that produces faith (Romans 10:17). Without the certainty of biblical truth, all you get is a clash of confused noise. However, it’s also important to us that we reflect what God is doing today. Our heart is to help a generation connect with Jesus through the language of music.

Junction Collective is a team of musicians at the Junction Church who are passionate about using our skills for the glory of God. Our ethos is that none of our individual names are attached to the songs we write. That’s because we want to keep our ego’s in check. Our heart is to serve and we think this is really important.  We really love our church and we’re excited about what God is doing today.

If you’re a musician or singer and you’d like to get in contact, send an email to info@junctionchurch.net

church leicester

TIME TO CHALLENGE THE SPIRIT OF RELIGION 
by Roy Todd

When you read through the Gospels, it’s interesting to note the sadness that Jesus felt at pretentious religiosity. It hurt his heart more than anything else. His strongest words by far were reserved for the Pharisees. He fearlessly challenged their judgmental legalism and the hypocrisy which accompanied it. On the surface, they’d be laying down the law and condemning those who weren’t adhering to it. But behind the scenes, they were excusing and reprieving themselves for breaking it. It was a classic case of ‘do as we say, not as we do‘. 

On one occasion, Jesus addressed the elephant in the room and said Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.’ (Matthew 23:27). Wow. Pretty strong stuff…and certainly not RC (religiously correct).

Sadly, there’s a religious spirit that still exists today. It feeds suspicion, instills fear, thrives off gossip and is quick to pronounce judgments. The thing is…we are all susceptible to it, me included. There have been times in my own life when I’ve felt the Holy Spirit tugging on my heart because I’ve veered into territory where he doesn’t want me to wander. Lets face it, none of us are THAT good.

Yet, there’s a strange comfort in self-righteous religiosity. It’s like a prison that makes you feel that God is pleased you are suffering for truth. But this is a false comfort and its thinking is not only flawed, but dangerous. You see, truth is releasing not restricting. Jesus taught us that when we know the truth, ‘the truth shall set you free.’ (John 8:32). Living in unhindered integrity is a beautifully liberating experience.

Of course, truth must always be accompanied by grace. Without the latter, all you get is the harshness of legalism, judgmentalism, condemnation, self-indulgence and the inevitable hypocrisy that goes along with it. However, God’s grace allows us time and space to be honest and vulnerable with ourselves and others. That’s why 1 John 4:18 says ‘love casts out fear‘. It’s not a choice between truth OR grace. It’s both.

It is time to graciously but fearlessly challenge the spirit of religion. It does huge damage to people’s lives and robs so many of the joy of real relationship. The challenge begins in the heart.

 

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

Church Leicester

WHY WAS JESUS SO COMPELLING?
by Roy Todd

Lets talk about Jesus (my favourite subject!). He is the most compelling person the world has ever encountered. During his ministry, people flocked to listen to him.

Here are 7 reasons why he was so compelling…

1. He spoke “as one who had authority’

In other words, Jesus knew what he was talking about. This was unlike the confused message of the religious establishment who were all over the place. Yet in a world of confusion, his voice was crystal clear. Read more about this in Matthew 7:28-29.

2. He was relevant to people’s lives

The religious establishment tried to smear Jesus as a “friend of sinners” (Luke 7:34). But it unwittingly emphasised just how completely relevant he was (and how irrelevant they were). Jesus was a man of the people. He spoke a language they knew. They respected that.

3. He connected with people 

For example, Luke 19:1-10 tells the story of Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector. This man was as corrupt as they get. Yet when Jesus met him, he didn’t harshly confront him. Instead, he spent time with him. It must have been a compelling conversation as Zacchaeus emerged with a resolve to give his wealth to the poor and repay those he’d swindled. Result. 

4. He was a great story teller 

Jesus spent much of his time communicating through stories. Luke 15 is a great example of this. The religious establishment dismissed this as shallow and lacking substance. But they had no idea how to relate to people. Jesus did. People connect with people before they connect with truth. 

5. He empathised with people’s needs

You can see this in Matthew 8:3. Here, Jesus met a leper. During their conversation, he reached out and touched the sick man. This was an act of immense compassion by Jesus. After all, who would take the risk of touching diseased skin? Jesus did. He showed massive empathy, coming alongside a man in desperate need. 

6. He was vulnerable  

The shortest verse in the Bible is in John 11:35. It says “Jesus wept”. This was because his good friend Lazarus had died. Such a public expression of emotion was a demonstration that Jesus was profoundly touched by grief. He wasn’t cold and clinical. His vulnerability was actually a sign of strength. (READ A BLOG ABOUT THIS HERE)

7. He understood the power of appropriate silence

In John 8:1-11, the religious establishment confronted Jesus with the case of a woman caught in adultery. His response? Silence. Then, in a moment that could have been academy award winning, he invited any Pharisee who was without sin to be the first to throw a stone. They left. But Jesus stayed….cos that’s what Jesus does. (READ A BLOG ABOUT THIS HERE)

 

Read the Gospels for yourself, and you’ll see that religion was the enemy of everything Jesus was about. It still is. Jesus heart was warm and gracious towards people…and he was relevant to their lives. We could learn much from Jesus. 

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