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THE ART OF WAITING 
by Frazer Botham

What do traffic lights, doctors surgeries and online deliveries all have in common? They keep you WAITING!! Funny isn’t it. In our insanely fast paced world, we still have to wait for stuff. Even in a restaurant, who are you served by? A waiter. In century 21, good things still take time.

Currently, I’m finding myself in a season of waiting. Personal health challenges have really battered me over the last 6 months. The medical people are still trying to get to grips with what’s going on. The main symptom has been serious fatigue which has resulted in me having to pause a large portion of my life, including postponing my teacher training course.

I’m still serving at church every Sunday. See, being planted in God’s house is a non-negotiable, even in this tough season. For me, it’s all the more important since this is my community which I absolutely love. Yet because my energy levels have been badly depleted, some of my responsibilities are currently on hold. I just thank God for pastors who love me and stick by me no-matter what, behind the scenes where no-one else really gets to see.  I can tell you, the Junction Church is seriously blessed with the best of the best. 

Yet, for the first time in my previously energetic life, I have found myself in a period of waiting. Waiting for a miracle, waiting for the doctor’s report, waiting for recovery. I didn’t choose this struggle. But this is where I am.

So instead of denying the wait, here are 4 lessons I’m learning to embrace. I hope my reflections help you:

1. Patience is a virtue. 

You can’t always do a lot about your circumstances. However, you CAN control your response. Patience is the manifestation of self-control, which is part of the fruit of the Spirit. 

2. Prayerfulness needs to be a priority. 

In order to manage the tension of waiting, prayer must take a precedence. In periods of waiting, anxiousness can quickly develop. Yet when we pray, we exchange our apprehensions for the peace of God. This is a peace which transcends understanding. It’s a life saver!

3. Perspective is crucial. 

What has really helped me develop perspective in my season of waiting has been to focus on God. I remind myself of what God has done, can do and will do. When we focus on Jesus, we recognise that waiting is a season, not a destiny. 

4. Pain is part of the process. 

The truth is, waiting hurts, especially for a guy like me. It’s frustrating not knowing what’s actually going on with my once fit and healthy body. It’s arduous sleeping 3/4 hours in the day, 10 hours a night, waking up and feeling exhausted. Waiting for your miracle hurts. Yet the pain of the process reminds me I’m alive. Waiting is a refiner of character. No, it’s not pleasant. But it makes us better. Read a great blog about this HERE http://junctionchurch.net/2017/06/07/god-wounds-roy-todd/

Whatever you’re believing for in your life, lets learn the art of patience. God is at work. Have the courage to trust him. We’re gonna get through this. Keep going!!

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH NOTTINGHAM HERE.

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WHEN YOU FEEL ABANDONED & ALONE 
by Roy Todd

Have you ever found yourself feeling lonely and abandoned? If so, well…you’re actually in good company. The bible is full of characters who experienced just that. One of them is the apostle Paul.

Today, Paul is celebrated as a hero of the faith, and rightly so. The former persecutor of Christianity became the man who wrote two thirds of the New Testament. His accomplishments for the cause of Christ are formidable, including pioneering churches all over the then known world and giving intellectual gravitas to theological principles. What a legend.

Yet despite his ‘success’, Paul was a lonely man. He often found himself isolated and misunderstood. For example, his most encouraging friend Barnabas left him in disagreement because of the latter’s cousin John Mark (Acts 15). On another occasion, Paul writes about his dear friend Demus who forsook him in order to pursue a selfish agenda (2 Tim 4:10). These are just two incidents of many. 

Paul was clearly hurt by disappointments like this. He was human after all. Yet, there is never any sense of him moping around in self pity. He simply got on with serving God and fulfilling his calling in life, such was the measure of the man. You’d have to wonder if those who deserted Paul might not have done so if only they’d realised the magnitude of Paul’s influence both in time and eternity? Of course, hindsight is helpful…but foresight is far better.

I am personally grateful for the people in my life who’ve stuck by me when others haven’t, especially in times which were challenging and lean. Faithfulness is a virtue that is grossly underrated in 21st Century living. So many people just seem to give up at the first hurdle they encounter. Yet those who remain committed are rare…and more of an inspiration than they can possibly imagine. They know the worst, yet believe the best. They stay the course and live selflessly for God’s purpose.

If you ever feel abandoned and lonely, then resist the temptation to spend too much time feeling sorry for yourself. Throw yourself into the service of God. Turn your pain into purpose. The most fulfilled people are those who live for a cause that is bigger than themselves. Life is too short to be bitter & offended. Make every day count. Remember, what happens today echoes in eternity. 

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

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WHY REAL VICTORY IN LIFE

It’s better to be underestimated than overestimated. When expectations are too high and unrealistic, disappointment is inevitable. What’s really important is what happens behind the scenes. To be victorious in life, you must win here first.

The bible character who illustrates this best is King David. Before he became king, he was deeply underrated. This was something he’d experienced all his life. For example, when Samuel was looking for a new king in the land, all of David’s brothers were in line first before David was eventually chosen (1 Samuel 16). Years later, when the Philistine champion Goliath taunted and humiliated the armies of Israel, David’s offer to confront him was treated with complete scorn (1 Samuel 17). Then when he finally stood on the field to face Goliath, the colossal giant was insulted by a kid who he looked down upon with utter contempt. What infuriated Goliath all the more was the fact that David only had a sling and some stones, wearing none of the usual armour a soldier would carry. However, in those next few moments, history was made as an astonishing victory took place. With one stone, David hit the giant and subsequently defeated the Philistine armies. Wow. With one stone!!

So….was this a fluke? Was it luck? Not at all. Behind the scenes, David was totally prepared for this battle. What Goliath didn’t know was that David had already defeated a bear and a lion (1 Samuel 17:34). Furthermore, David was highly skilled in the art of sling throwing. It is said that David’s skill would have been so accurate that he could have hit a target from a significant distance and with incredible precision. So in reality, whilst David was perceived as the underdog, the real disadvantage lay with the nine foot giant. He was an easy target for David that day. David was more than happy to be seen as the underdog. You see, status didn’t matter to him. What really counted was victory.

Underdogs are underrated because they are perceived as weak. But the perception is often flawed. When people aren’t aware of the battles you’ve been through in life, they often underestimate what you’re made of.

Before we planted the Junction Church, we hosted a series of Sunday night meetings in a small village. On reflection, those two years were the toughest of our lives. In that short time, we dealt with virtually every issue it was possible for leaders to deal with. The pressure was great and it nearly broke us. I can’t begin to describe what we went through there. Yet as painful as it was, it was absolutely necessary we passed that test. When we went on to plant the Junction Church, we were prepared for what lay ahead. Why? Because we’d been through the fire and not only survived…but thrived. We gained invaluable experience which prepared us to build a community that would be strong and healthy. 

What happens behind the scenes of your life REALLY matters. If you want to live in a place of victory, then this must be fought for when no-one else is looking. The battle is in your mind. It’s also imperative to overcome the struggles in your heart. When we deal with these well, that’s when we’ll triumph in life. Nothing will be able to stop you. When you learn to win those unseen battles, they create a steel inside you which prepare you for your key moments. You see, the real victory happens when we win while no-one else is looking. 

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

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COMPASSION 
by Roy Todd

Of all the miracles in Jesus ministry, the healing of the leper in Matthew 8 has got to be one of the most profound.

It is rich in compassion, powerfully showing us something of Jesus heart. One statement pretty much sums this up when it says ‘Jesus reached out his hand and touched him‘ (Matthew 8:3). This is a story where the glory of divinity meets the grittiness of humanity. On the receiving end is a broken leper, someone who has been abandoned by society and reduced to living with the scourge of a disease that has made him disfigured. Yet in one moment, Jesus honoured him by showing authentic love, touching the untouchable and embracing a person the world had left behind. Jesus empathic act restored dignity to a man who was going through his own deep sorrow in life. It’s as if the healing which followed was a by-product of the encounter. The real miracle was the experience of caring compassion in a crass and cruel world.

For me, this story shows us what real compassion is all about. It is authentic and free of pretence. Lets face it, our world is full of nauseatingly cheap calls to ‘love not hate’. For example, everybody loves the idea of caring for the planet – yet nobody seems willing to give up their carbon emitting holiday flight to Spain. Politicians love to preach about tolerance and respect – yet they ‘debate’ each other using the most hate-filled and intolerant language. We complain about a society that is unconcerned about the vulnerable – yet most of us probably don’t even know our neighbours name. The list of ironies could go on. Saying it is one thing. Doing it is another.

The theory of compassion is pleasant to the mind. However the notion that because we think about compassion means we somehow occupy a higher moral ground is delusional. The practicality of real love is very different. It means loving the unlovable, not just the lovable. It means genuinely caring. It means reaching out. It means seeking to understand what life feels like for someone else. It means being self aware instead of being self obsessed. It means avoiding patronising grandstanding and instead serving quietly behind the scenes, getting our hands dirty and being there for others.

Whilst compassion doesn’t have all the answers, it’s often the only answer we can give. Jesus interaction with the leper in Matthew 8 is a beautiful portrayal of the extra-ordinary in the midst of the ordinary. Compassion is truly extra-ordinary. This is what God calls us to.

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

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GOD HAS WOUNDS 
by Roy Todd

The question of God and suffering is one which perplexes many hearts and minds. While the predicament is nothing new, it is always current. Why do evil things happen in the world, and yet God seems either unwilling or unable to do something about it? 

Unfortunately, there are no quick or easy answers to this apparant conundrum. For the person who is experiencing their own valley of pain, it is an immense challenge to provide any kind of answer that can sooth the rawness of bitter experience. Glib retorts like ‘it was God’s will‘ are not only deeply unhelpful, but totally unrepresentative of the heart of God. Though well intended, it unwittingly portrays him as uncaring, aloof, distant and un-compassionate. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The whole point of the biblical narrative is that God has personally intervened in our fallen world. He is more familiar with suffering than we will ever know, and he has the scars to prove it. His intervention cost him everything. It is a stupendous mystery to think that the immortal God was not only born as a man, but died a death so cruel that it is beyond comprehension what he endured. The latter was the price Jesus paid for the falleness of humanity, and to bring about the hope of his Kingdom on earth. 

Yet, even after 2000 years since the events of the cross, we still live in a profound tension: the world as it is today (fallen)  – and the world as it will be one day (renewed). That’s why Jesus taught us to pray ‘Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven‘ (Matthew 6:10).

One day, everything will make sense. However, as we await the full manifestation of God’s Kingdom on earth, suffering is part of our pilgrimage because of the fallen state of our world. This is not a defeatist reflection, rather an exhortation to lean into the protection of God’s grace. Surely this is one of the reasons why Jesus taught so much about faith? As believers, we are not exempt from suffering – but we journey through life in the confident hope that God will renew all things (Matthew 19:28-30). Our posture is one of trust. This means we can ask the difficult questions during times of suffering and God is not offended by them. He simply longs for us to follow him, even through the darkest valley’s of our lives.

After Jesus had risen from the dead, a disciple called Thomas was racked with doubt, and adamant in his refusal to believe unless he saw Christ’s scars for himself. A whole week passed before Thomas eventually got to meet Jesus. Those seven days must have felt like a life time. However, when Thomas finally saw the wounds, his hardened heart melted in an instant as he cried ‘My Lord and my God‘ (John 20:28). How utterly compelling this moment must have been.

God has wounds. Far from being distant and aloof, he is acquainted with suffering more than any of us could possibly grasp. His scars are the proof of his love for us. Interestingly, Jesus said to Thomas ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed‘ (John 20:29). 

In times of challenge, our greatest act of faith is to keep following Jesus. That’s why Hebrews 10:35 says ‘Do not throw away your confidence‘. Suffering is temporary, even though it sometimes feels like an eternity. But one day, we will meet Jesus face to face. When we see his wounds, our hearts will melt, just like Thomas. In that single moment, everything will make sense.

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

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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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BITTERNESS VS BETTERNESS 
by Roy Todd

Someone once said that Christians are an Easter Sunday people living in a Good Friday world. Our faith has to manage the present tension of earthly facts and the future anticipation of heavenly truth. Lets be honest, this isn’t always easy. 

The thing about life is that it can be filled with moments of high exhilaration as well as deep exhaustion. The mountain tops are inspiring and enthralling – but the valley experiences can be gloomy and menacing. With the latter, there are the questions, the doubts, the frustrations and the demoralisation, all of which can be hugely influential in defining our faith. When we feel the harshness of earth’s toil, we have a choice. We can either allow it to make us bitter or better. Truth is, as much as the pain of life can feel uncomfortable and even at times unjust, in a strange way, it signifies life and purpose. 

I’ll never forget reading the story of a leprosy doctor who was returning from a medical trip abroad. As he sat in his hotel room waiting for a flight home the following day, he suddenly felt numbness in his leg. A cold shudder went down his spine as he realised how potentially significant this could be. You see, one of the first signs a person has contracted leprosy is the inability to feel pain. In a moment of desperation, the doctor proceeded to grab a pen and gash it into his leg. But still, he felt nothing. He want to bed that dreadful night with an awful sense of worry and shattering despair. However, when he awoke the next morning, a felt a sharp ache in his leg from yesterday’s wound. It was the most wonderful sensation he’d ever experienced in his life. It meant he hadn’t contracted leprosy after all. The pain proved it. He was alive and well!

When you feel pain, it means you’ve got breath in your being. It makes you more human. It helps you relate to a whole world of people who are experiencing their own hurt. Yes, pain can make you bitter…if you let it. But it can also make you better. Instead of permitting it to grind you down, why not have the audacity to build others up? Allow it to define your faith for good, not bad. Avoid the victim mindset too. It’s never helpful. Your pain is part of your story. Dare to use it to become a better you, not a bitter you.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE