church leicester

GODS MASTERFUL ART OF SUBTLETY 
by Roy Todd

The most poignant music is marked by subtlety. Things happen in the background which aren’t entirely obvious, yet when included in the overall score, help create a meaningful sound. The same is true with art. For me, the finest artwork is layered with subtleties rather than glaringly obvious. They create an experience which provokes thoughtfulness and adds perspective to life.

God is an artist. He is the true original whose creative brilliance surpasses the very meaning of ‘genius’. Yet his work is often subtle, weaved deep into the fabric of his creation.

On one occasion when Elijah the prophet was struggling with dabilitating discouragement, God surprised him by bypassing all expectations. Instead of ministering through fire, wind or earth quake, he chose the intimacy of a still small voice. It was so perfectly pitched to Elijah’s ear that only the prophet himself could hear it. Not many words where spoken by the Almighty – but the means by which he spoke was as much a message as what was spoken. The moment exuded grace, love, gentleness and kindness. Brilliance lovingly rained down on the dreariness of desert land – refreshing, beautiful, subtle. (1 Kings 19)

It’s wise to resist the temptation of over-spiritualising the extra-ordinary and under-spiritualising the ordinary. The supernatural is rarely spectacular. It’s in the ordinary, everyday stuff of life where God’s power is most at work – subtle, hidden, profound. Most miracles don’t feel like miracles. It’s only hindsight which tells the tale. That’s why it’s vitally important to hold your nerve. Often, your greatest need is just a miracle in disguise.

One of the most priceless gifts you can give yourself on any given day is to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. He’s always at work, even when you don’t realise it. Learn the art of sensitivity and suddenly your eyes will be opened to a new perspective of God’s amazing grace…in the ordinary. That’s where His best work is.

 

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH IN LEICESTER HERE,  THE JUNCTION CHURCH IN LOUGHBOROUGH HERE AND FIND OUT ABOUT OUR NOTTINGHAM CHURCH HERE!!

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IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE WEIRD 
by Roy Todd

I love the work of the Holy Spirit. His desire is to draw people’s attention towards Jesus (John 14:26). On the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), there were symbolic manifestations such as a sound like wind and then what appeared like flames of fire that sat on the believers heads. The Christians also spoke in other languages they had not learned. Interestingly, passers by thought this was all a bit weird and even thought they were drunk (Acts 2:13)! So Peter quickly realised he had to clearly explain what was happening and articulate the message of Jesus. The result? 3000 unchurched people responded and believed. 

So does the Holy Spirit still work today? Can people experience him 2000 years later? The answer is…yes. There is nothing in the bible that suggests his work has ceased. The fruit of the Spirit are all for today (Gal 5: 22-23). So are all the gifts of the Spirit too (1 Cor 12:8-10). 

Yet one of the things that can deeply undermine the Holy Spirit’s work is the obsession some Christians have about pursuing strange phenomena. Whilst this may seem ‘spiritual’, the fixation on weirdness becomes a distraction and actually trivialises the Spirit’s work. Remember, the Holy Spirit’s main purpose is not to signpost signs – but to signpost Jesus. This is WHY he empowers us in the first place. 

If a church claims to be filled with the Spirit but isn’t engaging with the unchurched at every gathering, then the mark has been missed. It merely becomes a religious club and the only real growth that happens are the layers of insularity around the Christian bubble. A culture which searches for strangeness will always attract the few who love strange stuff – and alienate the rest of the world that God so wants us to reach.

Some think that the Holy Spirit cannot move in any gathering where there is any form of human scheduling. But this grossly underestimates him. If the Spirit wants to work, believe me…he can move! Heaven and earth won’t get in his way! However, he can minister with considerable ease through a programme that has been prayerfully planned. That’s why Paul encouraged the Christians at Corinth to organise their meetings ‘in a fitting and orderly way‘ (1 Corinthians 14:40).

At the Junction Church…we’re not pursuing weirdness. No. But we DO want to be totally filled with the Holy Spirit. We absolutely recognise our need to be filled with his power. In fact, our passion is to be so full of the Holy Spirit that we create a place where unchurched people can meet Jesus for the first time and find it easy to encounter his life changing grace. This is the atmosphere where miracles happen. Changed lives are the REAL evidence of his work.

COME AND CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE THIS SUNDAY.

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THE HOLY SPIRIT FILLS US UP

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity (Father, Son, Spirit). It’s important to note that he’s a person….not an atmosphere or an ‘it’. In Matthew 3:16, he’s likened to the dove. This is no coincidence since the dove is amongst the purest of birds, only dwelling where they feel welcomed. This is like the Holy Spirit. He’s not interested in an occasional visitation but rather in habitation. His desire is to make his home in our hearts. That’s the essence of what we mean when we talk about being ‘filled with the Spirit’.

And what is the Holy Spirit’s purpose? To empower us. To guide us. To lead us. Ultimately, his mission is to equip us to carry the love of Christ into our world so that Jesus can be glorified. In Acts 1:8, Jesus said ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’

When we experience the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, this should never lead to an insular or self indulgent experience. This would be to completely miss the point. Everything the Holy Spirit does is not so much about getting us to look inward – but rather helping us see outward. He fills us up to send us out.

The evidence of a truly Spirit filled church is a compelling, passionate and loving commitment to reaching out to those who don’t yet know Jesus. God hasn’t left us to do this on our own. He wants us to know that he is with us. That’s why the Holy Spirit fills us. This gives us confidence, boldness and courage to communicate the Gospel to people we meet in everyday life. Interestingly, on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was first given to the early Christians, the result was that 3000 people were ‘added to the church‘ after hearing the disciples sharing the message of Jesus (Acts 2:41).

So how do you be filled with the Holy Spirit? You just have to ask. Jesus said ‘If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”’

We explore this and much more in the ‘Growing in Your Faith‘ track of our ‘EQUIP’ nights. More information about these at HERE.  

church leicester

WHY RELIGION HATES NOISE 
by Roy Todd

There’s a story in the bible about a blind beggar who caught wind that Jesus was in town. Upon hearing the news, he started yelling at the top of his voice ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!‘ (Mark 10:47). The reaction to his loud bellowing was one of predictable monotony by the religious people who stood by. They mocked him, ridiculed him, sneered at him and attempted to silence the noise. But the blind man was having none of it. He just shouted all the louder and eventually caught the master’s attention. Jesus absolutely loved it.

This story teaches us that religion hates noise. That’s because the resonance of authentic faith disturbs religious fakery and offends the miserable silence of tedious respectability. Religion stands tall in a prideful pose, puffed up by it’s own sense of spiritual superiority & looks down with intolerable contempt on those who refuse to conform. But what it doesn’t realise is that it is blinded by it’s own self-righteousness. The irony of the story in Mark 10 is that the man who was physically blind could see more than anyone else in that crowd. He saw who Jesus really was – but the crowd were oblivious to this reality. His simple faith honestly believed that the ‘son of David‘ had answers to his needs and that he could hear him, hence his shouting. He was right and those who tried to quieten him were wrong. When the miracle worker is in town, how could anyone possibly stay silent?

The passivity of religion will always try to silence the passion of relationship. That’s because religion is emerced in a cosy world of quiet selfishness & pretence. When anyone ever tells you that your love for God and His house is too loud, too enthusiastic or too over the top, then always conclude that this is the voice of religion trying to shut you down. It’s what it always tries to do. 

No, its time to challenge the norm of religious thinking and shout louder, just like the blind man in Mark 10. It’s time to big up what God is doing, without any apology whatsoever.

God loves enthusiasm. It’s better to have a passion for Jesus that creates some disturbance than a respectable religious demeanour in which silence is the comfort zone. God has no interest in making us comfortable. His desire is to get us from convenience to calling, from faithlessness to faithfulness, from passivity to purpose.

Yes, there’s a time for silence. But now is not the time. The Gospel is God’s good news. How can we possibly stay silent about that? The local church is the hope of the world. How could we ever keep this under wraps? Jesus changes people’s lives. What possible justification could we offer for not shouting this from the rooftops?

This is a message that’s worth making some noise about. Don’t ever let religion silence you.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE.

 

church leicester

REACHING OUT IS A CULTURE

Healthy churches are inclusive communities, constantly reaching out to those who don’t yet know Jesus. Archbishop Temple got it right when he said that the Church ‘exists for non-members‘. One of the greatest dangers for any local church is that it becomes an exclusive club where Christians have nice meetings and enjoy insular spirituality. This is not only extremely unhealthy but profoundly unbiblical too.

What often happens when a church feels challenged about it’s lack of outreach is that a committee is formed and plans are made for an ‘evangelistic event’. This is something that usually takes place in an alternative venue (so as to look ‘normal‘). The idea is that people bring their friends along and are hopefully impacted by it. Problem is…these isolated events tend to be a bit surreal and unreflective of ‘normal’ church, a bit like an office away day to the zoo. They convince Christians they’re achieving something, but actually produce little or nothing. However, what they do provide is some temporary relief from the guilt which many church leaders feel about their lack of outreach, thus allowing the church to get back to normal thereafter…at least until the next outreach event.

In my experience, these kind of events do more harm than good if they’re not feeding into great culture. For a start, they highlight an intrinsic problem. Reaching out is NOT an event. It’s a culture. For example, in the book of Acts, people were added to the early Church because of the exuberant and uncontainable passion of those who already followed Jesus. There was lots of misunderstanding and it could all look a bit messy at times….but in the mess, miracles happened. There was massive growth, not because of ‘events’ but a culture of outreach. This was just the norm.

Sometimes, I talk to church leaders and will ask them ‘how many people have started following Jesus in your church over the past year?’. The numbers mentioned are often very low, which indicates a lack of practical commitment to inclusivity, even if the heart and sentiment is otherwise. Remember, facts are stubborn things which speak for themselves. So good leaders don’t deny them but rather make facts their friends.

If John Maxwell is right when he says that ‘everything rises or falls on leaders‘, then it stands to reason that leaders must personally carry the culture they’re believing for before they can ever expect anyone else to catch it. In other words, leaders must model outreach and inclusivity. This means everything we do is open to constant challenge…from the way we speak to how we worship, what needs to be stopped and what needs to begin, the way we shape our services, how we schedule our week and prioritise our goals etc etc…it ALL matters if we’re serious about reaching out. 

In the end, what’s normal becomes culture. Everything that happens in the life of a local church should be seen as an opportunity to connect with more people…everything. When this way of thinking becomes the new normal, it’s amazing what can happen.

CHECK OUT OUR CHURCH IN LEICESTER

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WHY WE DON’T NEED ‘REVIVAL’
by Roy Todd

For years, Christians have talked about ‘revival’. Sermons have been preached on it, books written about it, theologies built upon it, prayers prayed for it and hearts have longed to see it.

The word ‘revival’ is most commonly used to define the idea of a seemingly lifeless Church being revived back to vitality, and the subsequent ushering in of a spiritual awakening in the nation/nations. 

Having reflected much on this for quite some time now, I personally find the concept of ‘revival’ biblically questionable and even at times profoundly unhelpful to a healthy understanding of God’s grace. For a start, the word itself does not appear anywhere in the bible. While some might point out that other terms like ‘Trinity’ aren’t mentioned either, the concept of the Trinity is clearly seen throughout scripture – Father, Son and Spirit. But the concept of ‘revival’ is not clear at all. How could it be? After all, the Church had only just been birthed in the New Testament, something which happened after the cross (i.e. the event which changed everything.)

The heart of revivalism is in many ways admirable. It focuses on what we would seem to lack and says ‘We need MORE – more faith, more fire, more blessing, more anointing, more prayer, more deliverance etc etc’. But what often happens in revivalist thinking is that an unhealthy negativism creeps in which has the effect of undermining faith, leading to introspectiveness and insularity. This is because it’s focus is on what we DON’T seem to have rather than what we DO actually have. Often, the result is that layers of guilt are unwittingly piled on revival seekers, with the subtle suggestion that it is their bereftness that is the cause of all spiritual deadness. However, this type of thinking is not only unhelpful – but it leads to an intense form of guilt driven religiosity that feels so condemned that it diminishes the joy of evangelism and loses sight of God’s immeasurable grace. 

Perhaps the most quoted bible verse regarding ‘revival’ is 2 Chronicles 7:14. It says ‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’ However, as with any bible passage, it’s important to clearly understand the context of this statement before jumping to formulaic conclusions about it’s application (something that we Christians can be very good at). It’s wise to bear in mind that 2 Chronicles 7:14 was a specific word to a specific king at a specific time.

While ‘revival’ nobly cries out for more, the shocking truth is that we don’t actually need MORE. As followers of Jesus, we have already been entrusted with MUCH. Ephesians 1:3 tells us that we are ‘blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ‘. Just think about that verse for a moment. How amazing is that? The point is…faith isn’t about sitting around waiting or even praying for the ‘more’ of revival. It is leaning into the ‘much’ of God’s abundant grace, a grace which God has poured out with unrestrained extravagance at the cross. What ‘more’ could we possibly need? This is why Ephesians 2:8 says ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is NOT from yourselves, it is the gift of God.’

It’s important to understand that ‘revival’ is not a biblical doctrine. Rather it is a well intended aspiration, but one which struggles with a paradox – one moment, deeply conflicted by a sense of utter inadequacy and the next, desperately striving to earn God’s life-giving power. However, if the former is true then the latter makes no sense whatsoever. What on earth could bereft people possibly offer God? It appears profoundly spiritual but is actually peppered with the dangerous traits of self-righteous religiosity, something that is driven by the idea that our striving can justify us before God. Even the faintest hint of this type of thinking completely misses the point of God’s grace. This is something which can NEVER be earned, only received by faith (see Eph 2:8 again).

The irony is that ‘revival’ thinking can actually distract us from the good that God is doing where you are NOW. This is because of the bias of it’s pre-conceived notions, a way of thinking which limits God and leans in the direction of it’s own negativity, often feeding off it and in a strange way, even gleaning comfort in it too. Faith will never thrive in this kind of environment. Remember, it is faith in His grace that God is really looking for.

No, we don’t need ‘revival’. Jesus himself once said “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead” – (interestingly, this is a reference to the idea of spiritual death). Instead, the faith journey is about constantly leaning into the abundance of God’s grace. What he has given us is huge. When Peter spoke to a man in need of healing in Acts 3, he didn’t focus on what he lacked. Instead he said ‘look at us‘ (three words which challenge pretentious religiosity which is always quick to point out that it’s ‘not about us’). After saying this, Peter proceeded to tell the man ‘What I DO have, I give to you.’ (Acts 3: 4&6). And that’s the point. When all of us catch a revelation of the immensity of what God has already entrusted to us, the world had better watch out.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE.

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THE PURPOSE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
by Roy Todd

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity (Father, Son, Spirit). It’s important to note that he’s a person….not an atmosphere. In Matthew 3:16, he’s likened to the dove. This is no coincidence since the dove is amongst the purest of birds, only dwelling where they feel welcomed. This is like the Holy Spirit. He’s not interested in an occasional visitation but rather in habitation. His desire is to make his home in our hearts. That’s the essence of what we mean when we talk about being ‘filled with the Spirit’.

And what is the Holy Spirit’s purpose? To empower us. To guide us. To lead us. Ultimately, his mission is to equip us to carry the love of Christ into our world. In Acts 1:8, Jesus said ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’

When we experience the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, this should never lead to an insular or self indulgent experience. This would be to completely miss the point. Everything the Holy Spirit does is not so much about getting us to look inward – but rather helping us see outward.

The evidence of a truly Spirit filled church is a compelling, passionate and loving commitment to reaching out to those who don’t yet know Jesus. In his first letter to the Christians at Corinth, Paul the apostle had to strongly rebuke a church which had the appearance of being Spirit filled but in reality was selfish, insular & deeply divided. They didn’t really care about reaching out to those who had not yet experienced Jesus. As far as Paul was concerned, this was a travesty – as far removed from the purpose of the Holy Spirit as it was possible to get.

It’s always wise to remember the Holy Spirit’s purpose and to keep this as our focus. Nothing dishonours him more than when we trivialise him and make it all about ourselves. The only reason why the Spirit fills us up is to send us out.

My heart for the Junction Church in Leicester and Loughborough is that we would be a truly Spirit filled church. Not weird. Not wacky. Not flag waving. Not giving place to embarrassing ‘spiritual’ freak shows that draw in weird loving Christians but which drive away non-believers. No way. Our heart is to be a community where the Holy Spirit feels welcome – and where we can catch the essence of his heart – a heart which longs for people to know Jesus. That’s the kind of church the Holy Spirit loves to work through. That’s what we want.

CHECK OUT MORE INFO ABOUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LOUGHBOROUGH HERE AND THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE.