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Welcome to the summer edition of the newsletter! It looks slightly different because we can't distribute printed copies as we normally would, but hopefully you can still enjoy its contents despite the new format! Click on a link below and it will take you to the relevant article, or just scroll down to read the whole thing. If you're local and would like a printed copy, or would prefer it as a pdf, please let Michelle know.
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1. Yours in Christ: All Change?
2. Virtually Keswick Convention
3. Perspectives on Lockdown Life
James Nash James Nash Cathy Houghton
     
4 5 6
4. Youth & Children: Parents First
5. Mission Partner: Serving Japanese Christians Abroad and at Home
6. Book Review: You Can Pray (Tim Chester)
Beth Lindon The East Family Sarah Holden
     
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7. Curate's Corner: Jesus, our Righteousness
8. Meet the Family
9. Real Lives: Yes, Jesus is Real!
Jonny Lee Nick Sams & Jo Wolstenholme Lin Read
     
10 11 12
10. Doing the NWGP Training Course
11. Preparing for Ordination
12. How Do You Compare?
Sandie Smith Joe Houghton Rusdyan Cocks (Go There For)
     

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James Round James

I’m glad that I was able to leave writing this to the last moment; I think these thoughts would have looked very different just 2 weeks ago. Who knows, maybe things will have changed again by the time you read this?
 
The last 12 weeks (and more) have been filled with so many changes, showing our wonderful God-given ability to creatively adapt our behaviour to whatever environment we find ourselves in. I trust that you have been able to spiritually survive, and even thrive, through the various online Services and meetings we have continued with as a church family.
 
I know it’s not been easy for any of us, and that some have particularly struggled, but it’s been encouraging to hear stories of all the ways that our church family have supported and cared for one another through this time. God has made us all unique, with different temperaments, personalities, gifts and abilities, and it has been clear that the lockdown has had varied impact on us depending on our life situation, work commitments, age, stage and family responsibilities. I’m sure this variation will continue as the restrictions ease, and it will be a challenge for us to bear with one another in love through these changes, as we look to temper our natural instincts and inclinations in line with our desire to honour God and live godly lives in line with Government regulations.
 
One of the big questions that has been talked about in church circles is that of lasting change. We have undertaken many changes as we have continued to meet as a church family, but, as time goes by, it is clear that online Services are a pale imitation of the real thing and I expect some of us will never want to be in a Zoom meeting ever again! In the early days of lockdown there was much talk of some of these things becoming regular features of church life, but now I’m beginning to wonder… However, it is good to reflect whether some lessons learned in these extraordinary times do help us to reflect on whether church life might look different when life returns to ‘normal’.
 
Not wishing to be unduly negative, but I’m not convinced much will actually change, because although humanity is wonderfully adaptable in a crisis, we are also creatures of habit averse to change. I think this can even be seen in the way the mood of society has fluctuated over the last few months.
 
In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, our country, like the rest of the world, was marked by an understandable fear as we faced an unknown and lethal enemy with few resources at our disposal to fight against it. These conditions led to an awareness of our frailty, mortality, and humanity, affording opportunities for us to speak the gospel into the situation. Coronavirus acted as a signpost to the human condition of sin and we could offer the wonderful hope of the salvation we have in Christ to those impacted by anxiety and fear.
 
1b v2As we have journeyed through the rise and fall of the virus peak, we have come to understand something more of what we are facing and, with this increased understanding, the fear factor has begun to recede. Fear has given way to a second, equally basic, response: frustration. The unfortunate flip side of our innate adaptability is the ability to forget, as was so often demonstrated in the history of God’s people in the Old Testament. As the situation becomes normalised the fear is forgotten and the frustration, manifested in grumbling and complaining, begins. The blame game is now in full swing, and, for many of us, I’m sure it feels like the gospel opportunities afforded by the urgency of the life and death situation have sadly dwindled.
 
Turning to even more recent events, and even possibly exacerbated by the frustrations of Covid-19, we are now experiencing the impassioned outcry caused by the death of George Floyd. Allowing for the fact that culture varies from nation to nation, we are witnessing a powerfully testimony of the injustices of racism around the world. As Christians, we are to be moved with compassion by all injustice, and I trust we have been listening carefully and reflecting on what we need to learn in our own hearts, as a church and at every level of society. We are to pray for and, where we have opportunity, work for an end to injustice in the pressing issues of our day, following in the faithful footsteps of our Christian forebears.
 
George Floyd is reported to have said “I want to touch the world” and there are many who hope the legacy of his death will bring lasting change. The calls for statues to be removed or films and TV programmes to be withdrawn might feel like change, but will they turn out to amount to much more than the so-called ‘virtue signalling’ response of some celebrities (and others) that is attracting widespread condemnation?
 
The problem is that lasting change, even in this area, is so hard to achieve, because the issues go deep and steps to redress the injustices are so complex; at root they are all affected, and infected, by humanity’s common sinfulness. And herein lies the problem; first, sin is universal, and second sin is more powerful than we are.
 
1c v2Will there be any lasting change? Will church family life look different? Will issues of institutional racism be fully addressed in cultures around the world? Will the Covid-19 pandemic be used by God for bringing many to Christ? Only time will tell. However, God is a God who promises to bring change, not through fear, nor by force, but in love and the working of his Spirit.
 
We are not promised change in the social structures of this world although he may choose to work through our efforts to bring about good as he has done in the past. What God does promise is to work in and through us to bring lasting change in eternity. We look forward to the day when we will be gathered with a multitude gathered from every nation, tribe, language, and people, singing the praises of he who sits on the throne and of the Lamb. Let’s be praying for opportunities to share our glorious hope with those around us, and boldness to take them. Let’s be thinking through how the gospel addresses the ever-changing issues we face and determine to be peacemakers.
 
With love and prayers, in Christ,
James

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James RoundJames

When the Keswick Convention had to cancel their Convention this summer due to Covid-19, they were determined to still provide some teaching, encouragement and fellowship for the thousands who would usually attend, and not by just reproducing talks from previous years. True to their promise, they have come up with ‘Virtually Keswick’ running from Monday 27th to Friday 29th July 2020.
 
2a v1Although they will not be able to provide the complete range of meetings, seminars and events that would usually happen, they are doing a pretty good job! The mornings are pretty wall to wall with Prayer Meetings, Bible Readings, Seminars, Children’s and Youth Groups with more for adults and teenagers in the evening.
 
A particular highlight will be the Bible Readings at 10am each morning, when Christopher Ash will be speaking on Psalms 2-6 (which will dovetail nicely with our sermons in August on Psalms 10-14). Christopher has spent many years studying the Psalms and is writing a (big) Commentary on them at the moment (keeping him busy during lockdown).
 
As a family we’ve been wanting to go to Keswick for the last few years (enticed by the Houghtons, Underhills and others) and this is the perfect opportunity to dip our toe in and see what we’ve been missing out on.

Details can be found at: https://vkc.keswickministries.org/

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Cathy RoundCathy

We wanted to see how people in our church family were getting on in lockdown life. We asked a variety of people about how they have been getting on. Hopefully, it will encourage you to see how God has been working in the lives of our church family.
 
Christine
1. What's your situation?Christine
I am retired, living with my husband who is also retired. I have two adult sons, one living in Manchester the other in Nottingham.
 
2. What's been hard about lockdown?
Life's little luxuries stopped, like not going to a cafe for a barista made, large coffee, latte extra hot! Missed two holidays so far. Theatres, cinema, and gym closed. Not being able to hug anyone!
 
3. What has been good (or have you enjoyed) about lockdown life?
The peace and quiet, no expectations from anyone. Time to reflect, read books and watch theatre productions specially put on YouTube for lockdown. I've been going on daily walks for exercise around Ashton and noticing nature more. Listening to the birdsong, taking photographs etc. Zoom, meeting up weekly with my two sons and two sisters for a family get together, generally having fun. Plus, meeting and seeing church family over Zoom.
 
4. How have you seen God at work?
Seeing the community spirit at work. People helping the vulnerable, neighbourhood clapping on Thursday evening to encourage the NHS workers and appreciation of Key workers. Our church and others finding alternative ways to worship.
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Nick 2
1. What's your situation? Nick 3
When Covid started we were still mid outage [shut down for maintenance at the power station] and decisions were made to continue but with control measures put in place to protect and keep workers safe; this prolonged the duration but for the right reasons – we needed to get the unit back on safely but to support the nation and keep the lights on.

Post Outage I tried a stint of working from home but practicalities of it didn’t work so have I have dropped into a staggered working pattern on site.  I feel for Emma who remains at home with the kids, bearing the challenge of the daily routine plus home schooling complications and me ‘helping’ on my days off.
 
2. What's been hard about lockdown? 
Even though I get out of the house, I still feel the walls closing in. Sadly, this seems to be burdening us all and we all feel a little flat sometimes which creates a number of rubs here and there. I do miss interactions with family and friends.
 
3. What’s been good (or have you enjoyed) about lockdown life?
The opportunity to slow down/reset and enjoy being a family; on reflection I’d taken my eye off a number of things with home life and was a little too focused on work. I have enjoyed family time in the garden and planting veggies with the kids, especially with the beautiful weather.
 
4. How have you seen God at work?
Despite the lockdown, it is wonderful to see that we are still united as a Church family and have continued (through new and different mechanisms) to share Gods word and encourage one another with our walk with him. God has blessed us with wonderful weather.
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Lisa
1. What's your situation?Lisa
I’m a teacher so I’m mainly working from home but going into school once a fortnight to look after the key workers and vulnerable children, along with home schooling my two children.
 
2. What's been hard about lockdown?
The things that have been the hard for me during lockdown are not being able to hug my Mum, not physically meeting up with my friends and family, and motivating an 11yr old to do schoolwork.
 
3. What’s been good (or have you enjoyed) about lockdown life?
I’ve enjoyed life being more relaxed and spending more time doing nice things together as a family. I’ve also loved meeting up each week with family and friends all over the country (and further) to do our weekly quizzes, we’ve spoken more during lockdown than we’d normally do over the year.
 
4. How have you seen God at work?
I have seen God at work in our church family in all the many prayers that have been answered, and especially in all the support and kindness shown to each other. God has also blessed us with a long spell of wonderful weather that has helped us to appreciate even more the lovely park and canal on our doorstep, and time to enjoy it together every day.
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Cheryl
1. What is your situation?Cheryl
I live alone and I'm fortunate to be able to work from home full time. I work as a sign language interpreter and I am currently working on my PhD.
 
2. What’s been hard about lockdown?
Separation from family and friends. Not being able to hug people. Not being able to see my niece or spend her birthday with her. Not being able to meet my parents’ new puppies! Dynamic of work has changed and moved from being around people all day to sitting at a computer.
 
3. What has been good (or have you enjoyed) about lockdown life?
I think lockdown has forced us all to look at where our priorities were before this all started. For myself, it has made me realise I spend too much time at work, even thinking about work when I’m home, not having a healthy work/life balance. I think it has also strengthened a lot of friendships and given me time to reconnect with people I haven’t spoken to in a long time.
 
4. How have you seen God at work?
Though I live alone, I haven’t felt alone. Talking with church family, having virtual teas and now occasionally being able to go on socially distant walks, has been amazing. I feel like I’ve noticed and been grateful for things that I used to overlook such as eating with friends, nice weather and family.
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Alex
1. What’s your situation?Alex
Stuck in my house with my mum and (sometimes annoying) sister [ed. I’m sure she finds Alex equally annoying…].
 
2. What’s been hard about lockdown?
Not being able to spend time with my family and not seeing my church family every Sunday.
 
3. What’s been good (or have you enjoyed) about lockdown life?
I think what I have enjoyed about lockdown is that I can sleep in late every day and can play a lot more Xbox with my friends.
 
4. How have you seen God at work?
I guess God has worked by protecting us at this time and he is motivating us all to keep on going.


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Beth RoundBeth

Beth 1I’ve really missed being able to see everyone over the last couple of months but there’s still been plenty going on. It’s also been a great opportunity for me to reflect on how we do children’s ministry, brush up on my video editing skills, and learn patience as I wait for my computer to load and the internet to work!
 
Beth 4A constant struggle in children’s ministry in the UK today is placing the right emphasis on parents being the primary disciplers of their children. The western world outsources almost all of a child’s education to ‘experts’ and there is real value in a lot of this. Free school education for everyone is so important and I am in no way trying to knock it. I am also not suggesting that we do away with youth groups or Sunday school (I would be out of a job if we did!) But the Bible is clear that it is a parent’s job to disciple their child. It is ultimately the parents’ responsibility to ensure their child has been taught the incredible news in the Bible.
 
Beth 2In normal times it’s easy to farm children out to groups and sit back comfortably thinking that others are doing the job for you and equally easy for those leading the groups to think it’s all down to them. Now a child’s education (both theological and otherwise) has by necessity, been put largely back into the hands of their parents. I would love to encourage you to reflect on the verses below and ask yourselves these questions:
 
  "These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
Deuteronomy 6:6-9
 
 
 
 


 
 
Beth 3    For parents:
    1. How am I discipling my child?
    2. How does this compare to before lockdown?
    3. What might I change after lockdown?
 
    For everyone
    1. How can I be supporting parents as they disciple their children?
 



Here’s a few of the things we’ve been up to in lockdown…
JC Logo Junior Church has been carrying on in people’s homes, following the sermon series on John’s gospel. Each week there’s a video and some notes for parents to use with their children either during the service or at another time. (The Ewbank/ Lindon household have been doing Junior Church before the service on a Sunday morning). It’s been great to see pictures and videos of what people have been getting up to.
  “Jacob and me have liked Junior Church at home because Beth’s videos are funny and we can stay in our pyjamas and sit with the dogs. But we are missing our friends and playing in the vicarage garden.” - Ella  
Noah’s Ark has also been continuing online with a story and song time video posted each week as well as craft and baking ideas. Last term we looked at the book of Acts and learning about the early Church. Next, we’re going to be looking at some stories from the Old Testament. It’s been great to have a few families involved in leading these sessions under Becca’s organization. Noahs Ark
XTB XTB hosted a family quiz on zoom in May. This was led by Joe and was great fun and a great chance to see some of the kids again even if the scoring system was entirely unfair! We’ve also been posting videos of the XTB leaders sharing their favourite Bible verses. You can check these out along with all the other videos on the St Andrew’s Ashton YouTube channel.
  "The XTB quiz was so much fun! It was nice to see all my friends. My favourite part was the scavenger hunt and doing the keep fit with Joe.” - Liv  

Beth 5As time goes on and things change, we are continuing to think about how we can be better supporting families during this time and in the future. We are currently working on some new plans and I am very open to ideas if you have any!





 

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Easts RoundEasts

Richard, Katherine, Mari, and Amy East are currently settling back into life in the UK after serving in Japan with OMF.
 
Easts 1What was the focus of your ministry?
For the last three years we’ve been serving in the Greater Tokyo area with KGK (the IFES Christian student movement in Japan). Richard has been part of the staff team supporting campus evangelism and discipleship. Catherine has mainly served in our local church and school community and caring for our daughters.
 
What has been the highlight your term?
Seeing students come to faith and beginning to excitedly witness and serve! One student was interested in Christianity because of her studies, but when she accepted an offer to study the Bible, she promised herself she wouldn’t become a Christian. She is now a passionate and joyful evangelist to her classmates, her family, and others.
 
What’s the most unexpected thing you have seen this term?
Regularly watching 100 people queue up to get into an already jam-packed train carriage... and somehow all squeezing in! [ed. obviously pre-lockdown!]
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What have you learned from East Asians this term?
We have had the privilege of seeing several Japanese Christians begin to take steps in evangelism, and transition from fear to joy in doing so. It has underlined that however reluctant we might seem, if the Holy Spirit is living in us, we cannot help but be excited at the prospect of sharing Jesus.
 
What can we pray for your future and OMF Japan?
Please pray for thousands of Japanese pastors, evangelists, and youth workers to be raised up to reach Japan for Christ. Pray that we would be able to contribute to that work by joining OMF Diaspora Returnee Ministry team in the UK. Our dream is to see young Japanese people encounter Jesus in London and catch a vision to serve him back in Japan. Also, for some of the most eager Japanese evangelists we’ve seen, time studying overseas was when they most grew in passion and boldness. We’d love to join in with what the Lord is doing in that way too.

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Sarah RoundSarah

You Can Pray‘If you’re easily distracted when praying, you’re not alone. In fact, if you struggle to pray in the first place, that’s not unusual either.’ That’s the beginning of the blurb of ‘You Can Pray’ by Tim Chester. Over lockdown, I’ve been trying to read a few more books, I read the back of this and thought ‘well that sounds like a great book to read!’
 
I’ve read a few of Tim Chester’s books before and always found them really easy to read and really helpful, so I was looking forward to reading this one. I think all of us would say we would like our prayer lives to be better or that we’d like to pray more, so I was hopeful this book would be helpful in thinking about prayer a little more, and I wasn’t wrong.
 
Chester conducted a survey about prayer in preparation of writing the book and immediately you feel reassured that if you find prayer difficult you are not alone! He then goes on to try and address some of these issues in three broad sections; How we pray, Why we pray and What we pray. He is clear throughout and I found these sections really addressed the fundamental difficulties I have with prayer.
 
He begins by reminding us of our Triune God (Father, Son and Spirit) and how that reality helps us to pray. He encourages us to know that God is our Father in heaven, who loves to hear and answers our prayers, just like a father loves to hear and provide for their child.  Not only that, but because Jesus took our sin and gave us his righteousness, when we pray, our Father, through His Son, hears our often weak prayers as the perfect prayers of his Son and his heart fills with joy! On top of that, our Father has given us his Spirit so that as we pray we are connected to Him through his Spirit.
 
Chester then goes on to look at some of the reasons we find prayer difficult. These include phrases like ‘I’ve got more enjoyable things to do’, ‘I’ve got more urgent things to do’ and ‘When I needed him, God didn’t answer’. This wasn’t always the easiest part to read, not because of what was written, but because I saw my sin in how I view prayer compared to the other things on my ‘to-do’ list. As you read this section though, you always feel like you’re walking along with Chester, he never judges, often he says he struggles with prayer just as much as you do and seems to be talking just as much to himself as he is to you. As you read this book, you feel like you’ve got an older, wiser Christian brother talking with you about prayer.
 
The last section is all about what we pray for and I think I found this section maybe the most helpful of all. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I just ask God for things, rather than feeling like I’m enjoying a relationship with my Father in Heaven. Chester encourages us to argue with God! That’s not as strange as it sounds! Chester looks at lots of prayers from the Bible and points out that those praying don’t just present requests to God, but also give him reasons to answer. Reasons based not because we want something, but because of God’s glory, God’s mercy, or God’s promises. So, for example, as I pray for someone to become a Christian instead of saying; ‘please would this person become a Christian,’ I might pray instead; ‘God you are merciful and so I ask that you would be merciful to my friend and that they might become a Christian.’ I’m almost reminding God that he is merciful and so I’m praying in line with that. Often our prayers are human-focused, but in the Bible they are God-focused. Chester encourages us to do this to, it’s something that takes practise, but I think it would be a great way to grow my prayer life!
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Lastly, Chester discusses our priorities in prayer. Often my prayers are all focused on me, what’s going on with those I love and what’s going on in the world. Although there is nothing wrong in praying for these things, Chester helpfully uses the Lord’s Prayer as a basis for prayer and in the Lord’s Prayer Jesus teaches us to pray for God’s glory first before our own needs. We pray that His name might be hallowed, that His kingdom might come before we pray for our daily bread!

I won't lie and say my prayer life has been transformed overnight and I know these truths are things I will need to keep going back over and remembering, but this book spurred me on to want to enjoy a relationship with my heavenly Father in prayer more and I think that makes it a great book to read!

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Jonny RoundJonny

How would you describe your experience of lockdown? As James has said, there are differing experiences for all of us, even those in very similar home situations. It’s lovely to read some reflections from our church family in this issue especially about how God has been working in them through these pressures. But also, I think there are many commonalities to our experiences, particularly a sense of powerlessness.
 
The spread of Covid-19 has shown how little control we (as countries and as individuals) have over many things that we take for granted. As we abide by the rules to serve the greater good of the health of our nation, there is little more we can do than wait for the Government’s latest briefing and hope things are improving.
 
As Christians of course we pray, look to God for strength, and wait trusting in his sovereign plan. But this doesn’t change that fact that the voluntary ceding of our freedom in lockdown has led to a huge shrinking of our spheres of influence, experience, social interaction, and more. This has meant all of us have been able to do so many fewer of the things we would normally do, in addition to being able to do nothing to change the situation. Hence, I think, a sense of powerlessness.
 
7a v2This powerlessness can have many expressions or trigger many other things, for example, frustration, anxiety, procrastination, activism, low mood, emotional volatility, a sense of futility, feelings of worthlessness, and a loss of identity. For me recognising this has been a chance to examine my heart and reflect on how much of my worth do I put into what I do (and what I am seen to be doing)? Whether you connect with this sense of powerlessness or not, this is a helpful reflection to keep returning to, since so often this is a default setting of our hearts.
 
A wise person once said that for each problem there is a specific promise or truth of Scripture that helps in just the right way. There are a few that spring to mind but I want to share one that I have found especially precious in these times. Let me introduce it with a question, would you rather your slate wiped clean or be given a perfect record?
 
Imagine you’re back at school and sit an internal Maths test (sorry if just the thought brings on nervous sweats). Sadly, you fail terribly getting a G (or 1 in new money). Distraught you go to your teacher. Wonderfully, they take pity on you and offer to expunge this result from your report card. They give you a clean slate and give you the chance to do better from now on.
 
A little while later you bump into your top-of-the-class-smart friend and share how grateful you are for your teacher’s mercy. But then to your shock your friend makes you an even better offer. She says to go back to the teacher and arrange for your report card to be swapped with hers (teachers, I know you could never do this but just pretend with me). She got 100% on the test, you can take that result home as your own and she’ll take the G.
 
This little story helps illustrate two ways we can understand the gospel of the Lord Jesus. When we stress free forgiveness, mercy, not getting what we deserve, a fresh start with God, etc. we are in the first half of the story. We rejoice that in the death of the Lord Jesus the price was paid for our sins, the punishment we deserved laid on him, the charges against us taken away, and the bondage to sin broken.
 
But there’s even more to the work of the Lord Jesus; this is illustrated by the second half of the story. Jesus does far more than wipe the slate clean for us to then do better. As we are united to him by faith, he becomes our righteousness. We gain his perfect record of a life lived from conception to crucifixion loving God and loving his neighbour to the max all the time.
 
7b v2It means Jesus’ life on earth wasn’t just to reveal who he was to humanity. We are saved just as much by Jesus’ life as by his death. Or better, his death was the climax of his life’s work all of which was necessary for our salvation. When we stand before God we will be judged according to Jesus’ works and not our own. We will be joyfully welcomed into New Creation not only because our sins are forgiven but also because Jesus’ life is counted as ours. As Wesley’s hymn puts it,
 
No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness Divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
 
The pay-off of this is my worth is not in what I do but in what Jesus has done. Our assurance before God is that you and I have Jesus’ perfect record of righteousness. There is much good that you and I can’t do right now. There may be struggles that we are failing with. There may be a worrying coolness in our relationship with God. Or conversely, in God’s kindness you might be spiritually on fire right now. Nevertheless, either way Jesus is still our righteousness and we take his report card home to show our heavenly Father.

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Nick RoundNick & JoJo Round

Nick 2
Nick 11. How long have you been at St Andrew’s?
‘The Sams Clan’ have been coming to St Andrew’s for just over 4 years. Jenny had just turned 1 when we ‘braved it’ and stepped into church.
 
2. Favourite Bible verse
Psalm 100v5 ‘For the Lord is good and his love endures for ever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.’ – Our God is good, loving, faithful and is for ALL – this brings comfort and joy to my heart to be part of his Family and is a great model for us ALL to follow – I recently did a short talk on this for XTB and loved sharing and immersing myself in God’s word.
 
3. Favourite hymn/song
‘Everlasting Arms’; when I hear this is takes me back to one of the pre-Covid Thursday Prayer Meetings; the warmth and depth of the words coupled with the energy and ‘gusto’ of those singing dwells richly in my heart… “Lean on the Everlasting Arms…”
 
4. How do you spend your spare time?
Mostly playing with the children with various activities based on building or tinkering with things; Lego, bikes, DIY, garden and our veg beds. I also try to get out running when time permits; I like the opportunity to clear my head as well as getting fit.
 
Nick 45. What book are you currently reading?
‘James and The Giant Peach’ with the kids; my memory is terrible and I’d forgotten about the depth of the characters and adventures they had; I enjoy doing different voices for the characters but they do merge and change as I read which the kids pull me up on!
 
6. What’s your favourite meal?
‘Special Pizza treat’ from a certain establishment on Blackpool road… Hawaiian or meat-based feast, though am quite happy tucking into a chicken biryani or dopiaza with a couple of chapattis.
 
7. What’s your most annoying habit?
If I ask myself… it’s probably biting my nails… If I ask Emma… it’s probably not listening or doing a Daddy look for when I can’t find something and end up asking her only for it to be right in front of me… sadly there are traits of William doing the same thing!
 
8. What music do you listen to?
I like pretty much like most music; I grew up on Dire Straits so love their music; recently bought an ‘Alexa’ music streaming device which has opened up so many other choices to explore with the family with ‘Upbeat Pop’ being a favourite… go on try it!
 
9. Who would you most like to meet in a lift?
Monty Don – to talk through options on use of the greenhouse over the winter and pest control!
 
Nick 210. If you could travel back in time...
I’d listen to my parents and work through my education with a slightly different, more focused approach! Oh, and brush my teeth more! Sadly, I have now reaped the benefits of youth based poor dental hygiene and too many sweets… which goes back to first statement of listening to my parents! (partly reflective on my children not listening to me).
 
11. Nobody knows that...
I climbed ‘Longs Peak’ in Colorado...all 14,259 ft.
 
12. What’s your hope or ambition for the future?
As a husband, father, brother, and friend to be good, loving, and faithful. (See question 1: Psalm 100v5).
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Jo 2
Jo 11. How long have you been at St Andrew’s? 
I have been attending St Andrew’s for over twenty years; I was invited along by the then new Minister, Chris Entwistle who had started to come into school to do worship and assemblies. I had just started as Nursery Nurse in Reception, I was looking for a new church and it seemed an ideal time, especially with the links to school.
 
2. Favourite Bible verse
So many to choose and so little time. I’m going to be greedy and go for the whole of Psalm 139 it’s my favourite. No matter what we are going through, good, bad, happy, or sad, Father God is with us and he knows everything. He has us well and truly hooked and he has our backs covered. We can’t escape His sovereignty or His power, and why would we want to?
 
3. Favourite hymn/song
I love the words and the imagery that “The Lord is my Shepherd,” portrays but I do like contemporary Christian music so it’s a close call between “Bless the Lord Oh My Soul” and “Be still for the Presence of the Lord.” The words are very powerful, full of meaning; it’s also one that we sing in whole school worship.
 
Jo 24. How do you spend your spare time?
I love walking, either the countryside or the coast, it’s the best tonic to be out in the fresh air, beautiful open space, sunshine, and nature, connecting with God’s creation! We are very blessed in Preston, twenty minutes in any direction and you can be somewhere lovely. I adore the Lake District, but I am a very proud Lancastrian and often visit Pendle Hill, Longridge Fell and Fairsnape Fell. The coast walk from Heysham to Morecambe Bay is beautiful and on a clear day you can see the fells of the Lakes.
 
5. What book(s) are you currently reading?
Lord of the Flies, William Golding and The Making of Us, Sheridan Voysey. The first is one that I read at school, way back in 1979. I came across it at home during a clear out and began reading it again. I do read a lot of children’s books, I loved The Harry Potter books and Joseph Delaney, The Spooks Apprentice and I really enjoyed The Hunger Games. The Making of us, who we can become when life doesn’t go as planned, was given to me by a friend. A spiritual book that helps you to reflect and trust in God’s leading for our lives.
 
6. What’s your favourite meal?
I love Italian; pizza, spaghetti bolognaise, and lasagne but my favourite is curry and I make one every Saturday night. My friends have taught me how to cook an authentic Indian curry and introduced me to a local shop in Deepdale where I buy all my herbs and spices. My family enjoy it, they prefer meat or chicken, but I like a vegetarian, potato or chickpea. 
 
7. What’s your most annoying habit?
You’d have to ask my husband.
 
8. What music do you listen to?
I grew up in a house where Mum and Dad loved music with a vast and varied genre, ranging from John Denver, Glen Campbell, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra to Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald. Music was always playing in our house. I grew up watching Top of the Pops and listening to the Top 40 on a Sunday evening. It’s really influenced my choices and I do have a varied range. I love Jazz and soul; I am currently listening to Gregory Porter; I also enjoy contemporary Christian music and love the soulful voice of Lauren Daigle.
 
9. Who would you most like to meet in a lift?
I don’t do lifts! My friends and family are exasperated by me; I will run up 100 flights of stairs before I will go in a lift. But if I could, it would have to be the Archbishop, John Sentamu, he officially retires on the 7th of June. He is a real charismatic character and has had an interesting life, a man of faith, who has done much encouraging work with the Blackburn Diocese. May God bless him and his family in his retirement.
 
10. If you could travel back in time…
I would like to go back a couple of generations, meet my ancestors, and spend a week getting to know them and comparing then and now.
 
Jo 411. Nobody knows that…
Well, I certainly have no claim to fame; I am just your everyday ordinary Jo but what everyone may not know is that I am a biker girl! In our youth Ian and I have travelled the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. These days we tend to stay within a 70-mile radius, and we are fair weather bikers. We love to explore our county and have found some hidden gems, particularly in and around the Trough of Bowland and the Lake District.
 
12. What’s your hope or ambition for the future?
That one’s easy, I pray every day for my family to come to Jesus and know Him as their Lord and saviour. It feels at times that this is never going to happen but I never feel deterred because I know that Father God can do more than I can ever hope for or imagine, so I trust in Him and pray on. I pray for my family to be happy, healthy, and contented with life. And for me, in my dreams Ian and I own a little tea shop on the coast, it’s called The Light House, serving soup, sandwiches and homemade cakes, but this is not any old tea shop it’s a quiet place with gentle music playing, a place where you can pick up a bible and read God’s word, pray, be inspired by the famous quotes on the walls. Encounter God’s love and grace. Be still and know God’s heart.

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Lin RoundLin

Lin 2I was born in Abergavenny, South Wales a long time ago! I was number 5 out of 11 siblings (5 boys, 6 girls). I hung out with my brothers mostly, so I did bow and arrows, jousting, riding mountain ponies and wild camping before dolls! My playground was the Deri and Sugarloaf mountains as we lived close to the mountain tracks. My father was a fitness fanatic, so we were out running at 6.30 am most mornings summer and winter. We broke the ice in the local open- air swimming pool to get a swim in before school and that’s just by way of background.
 
My parents were Christians, but my father was sadly subject to deep depression, so the atmosphere was somewhat tense and unpredictable – highs and lows. However, it was the family I was born into and here I am today.
 
My elder brother died aged 11. Paul was an amazing Christian and although he was bedridden, he would share his faith with anyone who visited. One day he said to my Mum, ‘I’m going to see Jesus, say a prayer with me’. Before she’d finished Paul had gone to heaven. Yes, Jesus is real!
 
9a v2I believed in Jesus – it was a simple understanding of Jesus dying on the cross instead of me and taking all the punishments for my sins. When I said sorry for my wrongdoings (pinching my sister or pulling my brothers hair) Jesus would forgive me. My faith was very clear and while I don’t recall any biblical teaching my faith never wavered. I went on to start a Christian union in school which my brother later took over. I was super keen but not taught!
 
At University I soon came under very biblical teaching – the John Stotts, Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones, David Watson et al of the Christian world. However, the first question I was asked when I attended the Christian Union was, ‘Are you an evangelical?’ My reply was ‘I don’t know what one of those is, but I am a follower of Jesus and I am a Christian’. It may explain my aversion to labels!
 
Lin 3University was a great learning time where I began to understand the greatness of God and learned to get a God perspective on life. I met my husband, did outreach, went on missions, and later began life as a minister’s wife. These were happy days; the girls were settled and so was I. In fact, I’d just started a temporary part time teaching job; we’d bought a ‘holiday/retirement’ home in Shropshire and life was challenging but we were also experiencing a growing church and even more outreach and missions. Yes, Jesus felt real!
 
Lin 1Imagine a thunderclap and the building you are in collapses around you and all you can taste is dust in your mouth. That’s how it felt when my husband announced his departure – completely out of the blue. Now I had no home and my job had just come to an end. Living in a town of 7000 it became very public. I went shopping in the dark so no one would see me and kept my head down.
Praying, crying, praying some more. I approached another headteacher and a housemistress vacancy had just emerged – so I would have a place to live in with my daughters. Oh my! A job and living quarters in one fell swoop. Is Jesus real?
 
This is where I understood the verses in Romans 8v26: ‘We do not know what we ought to pray for but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans’ I could hardly string a sentence together and felt very alone and a public shame - I was the minister’s wife how had I failed? Is Jesus real?
 
9d v2Yes, emphatically yes! Who else would take on this shrivelled, weeping woman? Who else would put people along the road to lift up, help, encourage and nurture me back to womanhood? Is Jesus real? A kindly bank manager – who I later found out was a Christian, guided me through £20,000 debt as our cottage was repossessed. A kindly headteacher who paid off the last instalment of school fees - Yes there was plenty of embarrassment and shame, I was a proud person who could tackle any financial commitments – not so now! Yet, Jesus walked along the muddy path with me. Jesus was very real.
 
Shortly afterwards I was diagnosed with cancer – Bethan in her final year, Annie on a gap year in Canada, not an ideal time – yet I was very much cared for. Is Jesus real? Yes, in my real life!
There followed a flurry of activity as I took sixth formers to Uganda for my school; then six months in Australia and 6 weeks in Indonesia with Youth With A Mission’ (YWAM) leading to 3 years in Switzerland training young people to speak English for missions all over the world.  Then the money ran out!
 
So, I prayed and turned to the Times Educational Supplement and after a few interviews (good practice) landed the Assistant Head at St Dominic’s Girls’ School, Staffordshire; this developed into Deputy Head and finally, Acting Head for a year. A long way from the weeping woman of three paragraphs previous. Is Jesus real?
 
As the financial crisis once again hit, I was made redundant and surprisingly found a job in Kirkham. I had actually applied for a teaching post there years before! Now it materialised! At the right time!

What can I say? Yes, Jesus has been very real. This has been my real life! My faith has grown from a very simple straightforward faith (nonetheless real) to one that has been enriched through godly leaders; through circumstances; through having to 'Lean hard lean hard' on Jesus through illness and disappointment, through divorce, cancer and redundancy and finally to living in the north where it is just a tad cold! But what do I have here? A living, vibrant, caring family of all ages, who love the Lord and love me. I continue to feel nurtured, encouraged and challenged. I can truly say I delight in feeding on God's precious word (Psalm 119) without which, life would not be real at all! Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Thank you, Lord. May he equip us with everything good for doing his will - that's what I want more than ever.

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Sandie RoundSandie

10a logoThis school year, several of our church family have been busy studying on the first year of the North West Gospel Partnership Ministry Training Course (NWGP MTC for short!). We were blessed that the first year of the course was being held at St Andrew’s on Tuesday evenings (until lockdown of course). The second year will be taught at All Saints Church in town if anyone who has done the first year is interested in taking up the second year at a local venue.
 
10a v2From September to March during term-time, Claire, Dave, Emma, Laura, Pete, and Sandie, all enjoyed meeting up in person with the many others who attended the course from various nearby churches. Since lockdown in March, we've mostly been learning remotely via Zoom meetings and catching up on recorded talks saved to Dropbox and YouTube thanks to Sara Holland's hard work as the NWGP's administrator.
 
On a typical week, we had a 50-minute talk from the Bible overview – a tour through the big story of the books in the Old Testament and New Testament. The other two sessions were called the Exposition Series. This was where we had a talk delivered from one of our lecturers on how to study a book of the Bible and how to teach a section of that book. The other session was within smaller groups where we took it in turns to deliver our own 10-minute talks on sections of the particular book we were studying. We were then given verbal feedback from the person teaching (usually Hannah Fox, Josh Probert, or Mark Pickles) and from the rest of our group. It was lovely that support was also available from our very own James Nash and to hear that others on the course were able to get advice and feedback from their church leaders too.
 
10b v2We regularly compared the NIV and ESV translations, as well as referring to a Bible Dictionary. We were also each given a brand-new red folder with our course notes in. To keep us on our toes, there was a tea, coffee, cake, and biscuits rota to remember too! Practicalities aside, the course was underpinned through regular prayer that the good news of Jesus' love for us would be faithfully taught and understood. Amen!
 
Here are how some of us found doing the course:
 
Sandie: I found it hard to stay focused on the darker evenings but really enjoyed learning with others and being able to chat about what was going well or what we were finding challenging. It was exciting to have in-depth conversations about how the books of the Bible fit together and how to balance or home in on the different things we can teach from them.
 
Claire: People said I’d particularly enjoy doing the bible overview, and I love a big “Aha!” moment – when I suddenly achieve a big shift in thinking or understanding – I haven’t actually had that on this course, but that gives me comfort that I’ve had some great bible teaching over the years, and this course builds on that. I’ve enjoyed being reminded about all the pointers to Jesus through the Old Testament as we’ve done the bible overview, and I’ve been stretched in drawing all my background research together over a particular bible passage to expose myself and give a talk to others.
 
Dave: I've thoroughly enjoyed the course! It's been a challenge balancing it round everyday life particularly when talks come around, but it has been great to get into detail on the bible overview and learn how to put together a solid talk.
 
Laura: Although anything on top of working full time and having young kids is hard to undertake, I can honestly say I have thoroughly enjoyed this course and am glad I have done it. In comparison to Claire, I’ve had many 'aha' moments and loved that God has spoken to me through his word and the brilliant teachers over the past year!
 
I hope you can see from our reflections it was well worth it!  Please talk to one of us or James or Jonny if you’d like to consider doing the course [from September 2020 the first year of the course will be available to do online].
 
For further information on the training course visit: https://northwestpartnership.com/training/ministry-training-course/its-purpose

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Joe RoundJoe

Next year I will be training for ordination in the Church of England. Just writing that line fills me with excitement and fear. Excited for study and time to grapple with God’s word and the Church’s wisdom for undertaking the role of a Vicar. Fear because I don’t feel ready for the responsibility of leading a Church. Which is the purpose of training and curacy, I guess. I have a long way to go over the next 5-7yrs.
 
11a v2I am extremely grateful that I was able to attend the last Bishops Advisory Panel before everything shut down due to Covid-19. That was the last step on a long journey to being accepted for training. Some of you are getting excited, have we finally got rid of Joe? Sorry to disappoint, my training won’t be taking me to the wilds of London, like the Freemans. I am staying put. Yes, you can now do your training for ordination by staying where you are. It’s cheaper for the Church of England so they like that, but it also allows people to put into practice what they are learning as the stuck into a local church and it’s worshipping life.
 
Joe 1I will be attending St Mellitus College, which has bases in London, Chelmsford, Plymouth, Nottingham, and Liverpool. My training will consist of 3 days study each week with the rest of my time based with you at St Andrew’s learning from James and the team. Every Monday I will go for lectures to the Liverpool centre as well as having online learning with teaching weeks and weekends away. I am super excited to undertake this training amongst you. As you well know I have much to learn. I will get to study Theology, Church Leadership, Church History, Biblical Studies, the Anglican Tradition and Biblical languages if I fancy it (which I don’t).
 
All of which means sadly I will be leaving my role at Archbishop Temple school as their chaplain. However, this will give me more time to be involved with the St Andrew’s, so please would you pray for me as undertake this training both in the learning in the classroom and as I learn from James and the team on the ground so to speak.
 
Particularly would you pray for:
  • Diligence in study.
  • That what I learn would stir my heart with love and awe for our triune God.
  • Family adjusting well to a new home life situation with me being at home more. The lockdown has provided a rocky but helpful preparation.
  • Pray God might be forming me into a person who can care as an under shepherd of the Lord Jesus.

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12
Rusdyan RoundRusdyan Cocks

CompareWe like to measure and compare things. We compare the coffee at one café to another. We compare one internet provider or phone plan to another. We compare one school or university to another. But we also like to measure and compare ourselves in relation to other people. At work or in our study we will compare ourselves and our performance to our peers. Trawling through social media, we can’t help but compare our life to others’ (or to what they want us to think their life is like!). Maybe you are someone who consciously compares your appearance to other people. We compare ourselves to other people all the time.
 
We even compare our Christianity. How often do you find yourself measuring your faith and godliness in relation to that of a fellow brother or sister—or even an unbeliever’s? How often do you compare yourself to another believer by the church that they go to or the amount of ministry activities that they do?
 
But when we compare ourselves to other people we fall into two big problems: comparing down, and comparing up.
 
Comparing down
When we compare down we elevate ourselves above someone else; we compare ourselves to them favourably. In the Bible we see this play out in Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. This Pharisee is a classic example of someone who compares down, and as he prays we are left in no doubt as to what—or who—he measures himself against: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector” (Luke 18:11).
 
By elevating yourself above others, you look down on them. You use a person whom you judge to be ‘worse’ as your measure. This stems from our pride and our over-inflated view of ourselves and our superiority. It’s the sentence or the thought that starts “At least I’m not as bad as…”. We do it because it makes us feel better and gives us a greater sense of self-worth, but it is dangerous and wrong. Jesus had some stern words about the Pharisee and taught that this proud attitude was not the path for those who want to be right with God (Luke 18:14). Let us heed this warning.
 
Comparing up
On the flipside, we also compare up. This is where we compare and see others as being greater than we are, or even the ultimate. A fellow human being becomes the benchmark we must reach. The Bible speaks sharply about how, in our rebellion against God, we humans have idolized and worshipped creation—including fellow humans—rather than God (Rom 1:21-23). When we compare up, we search for the ideal in the creation and not the Creator.
 
12a v2How often have you said or thought something along the lines of “If only I was like….” or “If only I had…”? Comparing up shows our lack of contentment and ungratefulness towards God for how he has made us according to his good design. It also shows us where we find our value: in someone or something other than God. Rather than promoting an attitude of thankfulness to God for how he has made us and the circumstances he has placed us in, we become jaded and dissatisfied with God as we chase what we have idolized.
 
Measuring and comparing ourselves against others, both favourably and unfavourably, hinders our trust in God.
 
The right measurement
When it comes to making comparisons with others, the bottom line that the Bible draws is: no-one and nothing can compare to God. When God addresses his people through the prophet Isaiah he says: To whom will you liken me and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike? ... Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. (Isaiah 46:5, 9b)
The true measurement for all things is in relation to God. The humbling truth of the gospel is that in our sinfulness none of us can reach the perfect standard of God. We fall dreadfully short because of our sin; we are not even close. But the liberating truth of the gospel is that Jesus is the ultimate one who doesn’t fall short of God. When we look to Jesus we see that the only standard and measurement that matters is who we are in Christ, not in relation to someone else. Through Christ’s finished work on the cross and his merits—not our own!—we can measure up to God.
 
12b v2Looking to Jesus gives us enormous comfort as we find our true self-worth in him, and leads us to far greater joy and humility than engaging in the fruitless exercise of comparing ourselves to other people.
 
So how can you fight the urge to compare yourself to other people? Here are three suggestions:
 
1.  Fight grumbling with gratitude. Give thanks to God for how he has made you in his good design (Ps 139:14). Thank him for the circumstances that he has placed you in. Make gratitude a key part of your prayer life.
 
2.  Fight jealousy with joy. Celebrate and rejoice in the diversity of gifted people who are members of the body of Christ (Rom 12:3-8). Rather than being jealous of a fellow brother or sister, give thanks for them and praise God for the unique way he has made them. Find a Christian and tell them what you are thankful for about the way God has made them.

3. Fight discontentment with delight. Find your contentment in your loving Father and all the riches he has given to you in Christ. Have a go at memorizing Ephesians 1:3-14, and marvel at all that God has given us. Or, if you’re looking for something a bit shorter but no less significant, memorize the comforting words of the Psalmist in Psalm 73:25-26.

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