Monday, 21 December 2015

Just another Melodic Monday - Who would have dreamed?

From the Christmas-themed album "Prepare Him Room" by Sovereign Grace Music, this is "Who would have dreamed".  I love the thought that we could have held God in our hands - it reminds us of the human reality of the birth of God's son.  

There hasn't been an opportunity for us to learn the song as a church this Christmas, so hopefully next year!

Monday, 14 December 2015

Just another Melodic Monday - O Love that will not let me go

You should have seen the smile on my face when I discovered this wonderful hymn being sung to a tune that will suit our acoustic set up perfectly!  The traditional tune I know is fine, but more suited (in my opinion) to a keyboard rather than a guitar.  

The recording below is produced by Indelible Grace Music (another discovery for me!), and is taken from the album "The Hymn Sing: Live in Nashville".

Friday, 11 December 2015

Friday to the Father - 11/12/15

Jesus said: "This then is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven...' "
Matthew 6v9

Thank God for an encouraging first public service last Sunday!  I'm beginning to discern a core group of believers that will initially make up the church, and it was great to also see several friends who had come to encourage us.  In total, there were 12 adults and 13 young people (from age 0 to 16).  

Please pray for the service next Sunday.  On Sunday evening, I was struck by the reality of holding a weekly meeting!  Pray that we'll be able to recognise gifts within the church, so that responsibilities can be shared out appropriately.

Please also pray for wisdom as we consider other opportunities to meet together.  It's important for us now to establish a regular time for corporate prayer during the week.  I suspect (due to family commitments all round) that this will entail separate men's and women's weekly meetings.  Pray that we'll be able to organise these within the next couple of weeks.

But most of all, praise God for his faithfulness!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Just Another Melodic Monday - Cling to Christ

Here's a song we'll be singing soon on a Sunday.  It's from the latest album, "Sooner Count The Stars", by Sovereign Grace Music.  The song is called "Cling to Christ", and reminds us of the need for complete reliance on Jesus Christ  for salvation. An acoustic version is also available on Youtube.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Some words for Wednesday - The Lord's Meal (first course)

(I recently taught the church about the Lord's supper, and will be sharing what I taught over the next few weeks)

I took the above picture recently when, as a church, we met together in a local hall on a Sunday afternoon.  We were about halfway through sharing the Lord's supper together.  Mae (on the left) looks very sober as she examines the bread that we shared (and probably is trying to tear off a chunk!)  Malachi (on the right) is just excited and happy as he interacts with his mum.  I love the picture, because it captures something important about the Lord's supper.

Before I explain what I mean, you might be thinking: "This doesn't look like the kind of Lord's supper I'm used to!  Maybe this is what they call 'messy church'!  It's that kind of service where all the kids get involved - it's fun for the little ones, relaxing for their parents, and entertaining (but probably a little shallow) for everyone else."

Nope - this is not what they call messy church (although it does get a little messy - about as messy as you'd expect the average family get-together to be).  This is just the church doing what will be our regular practice when we meet on a Sunday afternoon.  We'll sit together around a few tables, break bread, eat a meal, and then share red grape juice.

I thought it would be appropriate to provide some of the reasons why we're practicing the Lord's supper in this way.  I'm anticipating I'll do this over three posts, which is why I'm calling this one the first course.  I've got six points to make, and here are the first two.

1.  The Lord's supper is a meal - so we'll eat a meal and sometimes refer to it as "The Lord's meal"

In Luke 22v19-20, we're told that after sharing the bread and before sharing the wine, Jesus and the disciples had supper.  This would have been a meal.  Similar to many of us today, the evening meal was usually the main meal of the day.

When the apostle Paul writes about the Lord's supper in 1 Corinthians 11, he rebukes those who are eating their meal before everyone has arrived (verse 21-22).  By having a meal, in one sense they are continuing to adhere to the practice of Jesus (1 Cor.11v25).  But because they are not eating together, as one body, they are being disobedient to the Lord (1 Cor.11v20-22, 29).

Paul's instruction to remedy this is simple - "When you come together to eat, wait for one another." (1 Cor.11v33).

We will therefore eat a meal together as part of remembering the Lord's death for us, and sometimes refer to it as "the Lord's meal".      

2.  The Lord's meal reminds us of the death of Jesus Christ who now lives - so we will be both sober and joyful 

Here's a simple question: What are you doing when you eat birthday cake?

You're remembering and you're celebrating.  You're remembering that a particular person was born on that day, and celebrating that they're still alive and kicking.

When does this change?  Usually when someone dies.  You may still remember their birthday, but you won't celebrate to anywhere near the same degree that you used to.

So why do we celebrate the birth of Jesus, given that he died on the cross?  Because he lives!  He overcame death and rose again!  We celebrate his birth because he lives!

If that's true of the birth of Jesus, then it's also true of his death!  We must never remember the Lord's death as if he were still dead - there must be an element of celebration because he lives!

When we consider that final meal in the upper room, we probably imagine the atmosphere to be sober and sad.  But now consider the meals Jesus shared after his resurrection. When he appears to his disciples (Luke 24 v36+), and eats fish and honeycomb with them, we're told "they marveled and did not believe for joy".

In John 21, Jesus appears to his followers while they're fishing, and Peter is so happy he jumps for joy - out of the boat!  Imagine the meal that followed, shared around a warming fire on a beach.  What would the atmosphere have been as they had fellowship with the risen Christ?  Surely it isn't sadness or morbid gloom we imagine, but joy and hope and relief.

When we have the Lord's meal, our aim is not to recreate the atmosphere of that final meal before the cross, but of the meals after the resurrection. 

So we should be sober, because we're remembering the Lord's death.  But we should be joyful, because the Lord is alive!

We should be sober, because he isn't physically present with us at the table.  But we should be joyful, because one day he is going to return!

We should be sober, because on the cross he was the victim of agony and humiliation.  But we should be joyful, because on the cross he became the victor over sin and death.

We must strive for a balance between being sober and being joyful.  That's why I love that picture at the top.  Sober and joyful.

Or perhaps Paul phrases it better: "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." (2 Cor. 6v10)

Monday, 23 November 2015

Just another Melodic Monday - Seeds Family Worship

When we meet as a church family, adults are greatly outnumbered by the children!  We're seeking to reflect that mix in some of the songs that we sing, and one of the resources we'll be using is Seeds Family Worship.  Here is one of their memory verse songs:

Friday, 20 November 2015

Friday to the Father - 20/11/15

Jesus said: "This then is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven...' "
Matthew 6v9

On Fridays, we'll be encouraging you to pray for the church plant, as well as for other local and international churches.

Praise God for His continued provision for us, and for the encouragements we have received over the last week.  We've made contact with a family that have recently moved to the area, and are looking for a worshipping community in Welshpool.  Please pray that God will support and guide them as they settle into their new home.

I preached last Sunday at the local baptist church that we left several months ago.  The Lord gave us good fellowship together, and I felt at liberty to preach.  I'm so glad there has been no animosity between us - it is an important testimony of our unity in Christ.

I'm travelling to West Bromwich this evening with Luke and Ethan (my two eldest sons) to see Matt Redman and Kari Jobe in concert!  Please pray for our safety as we travel, and that God will speak to my sons through the testimonies and songs they hear tonight.

I'll be purchasing some of the equipment for church this weekend.  Getting a laptop solely for church use will be very helpful, as it can often be difficult to access the computer at home!  I'll be seeing the deacon at NEC on Sunday to arrange a meeting about the audio equipment we'll need.  We need to visit the hall we're hiring so that he's able to give the best advice.  Please pray that we'll be able to arrange a time to do that within the next week.

Please pray for the church family.  Each person involved in the church plant has pressures going on in the background.  Praise God for a good meeting last Sunday afternoon, where we were able to share some of those pressures and consider solutions.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Just another Melodic Monday - O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Here is a beautiful version of a traditional Christmas hymn.  Thanks to Charlotte, a member of the church planting team, for this recommendation.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Friday to the Father - 6/11/15

Jesus said: "This then is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven...' "
Matthew 6v9

On Fridays, we'll be encouraging you to pray for the church plant, as well as for other local and international churches.

Last Sunday, we had our third (and probably final) practice meeting in the hall we're renting.  I taught about the Lord's Supper, and we then shared the bread and grape juice together as part of a meal.  It was the first time we had done this, and it will be something we will be doing every Sunday as a church.  

Praise God for a wonderful atmosphere and a sense that we were being obedient to the simple instructions of the Bible.  It was also a blessing to see the children sat at the table, considering whether or not they really believed Jesus was their saviour, and asking questions about what it really means.  

We've received a quote for the majority of the equipment we need (laptop, projector etc.) so pray that we'll have wisdom to make the right decision.  We'll be applying to the FIEC for a church plant start-up loan to cover the initial costs.  Please pray that I'll find time to do that in the next few days.

Please pray also for the publicity that we'll be doing for the church.  This involves the blog, other social media, and the local newspaper.

Thank you for your prayers.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Monday, 2 November 2015

Just another Melodic Monday - Psalm 62

Here's a song we'll be singing in the near future when we meet together as a church.

This song, written by Aaron Keyes and Stuart Townend, is based on Psalm 62.  The psalm reminds us that refuge and safety are found in God.  When we trust in Jesus Christ, the saviour that God provides, we are able to find rest in God.  We are able to pour our hearts out to him, and trust in his power and his love.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Friday to the Father

Jesus said: "This then is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven...' "
Matthew 6v9

On Fridays, we'll be encouraging you to pray for the church plant, as well as for other local and international churches.

Last Sunday, I preached at Grace Church Wellington in Telford for the first time.  It was good to meet the pastor, Tim Wills, and his family, and a great encouragement to meet the church and experience their warm fellowship.

Please pray that the church will be known for its Christian love within the community, and that they'll be able to share the good news about Jesus Christ.  Pray that the Word of God will have transforming power within the church and among the residents of Wellington.

Please also pray for Tim and his family - that God will provide all they need as they seek to serve him.

If you're interested in finding out more about Grace Church Wellington, you can find their website at

Monday, 26 October 2015

Just another Melodic Monday!

Ok, I admit, I was a massive fan of The Bangles when I was a teenager, so I couldn't resist the obscure reference to their hit, "Manic Monday".  Pop culture reference over with, here's a song that we'll be singing in the future when we meet as a church.

The traditional version of the hymn "Come thou Fount of every blessing" has a potentially confusing reference to something called an "Ebenezer" in verse two.  

Ebenezer means "Stone of Help".  Read 1 Samuel 7, and you'll discover why Samuel set up a massive stone and gave it that name.  He and the Israelite nation had received help from God to overcome their enemies so they could remain in their homeland.  

Today, we look to Jesus Christ as the one God has provided to bring us to Him and keep us there.  The hymn writer raises their own "Ebenezer" in recognition of the help that Christ has given.

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,

Tune my heart to sing thy grace

Streams of mercy, never ceasing,

Call for songs of loudest praise.

Teach me some melodious sonnet

Sung by flaming tongues above.

Praise the mount!  I’m fixed upon it,

Mount of God's redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;

Hither by thy help I’m come;

And I hope, by thy good pleasure,

Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,

Wandering from the throne of God;

He, to rescue me from danger,

Bought me with his precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor

Daily I’m constrained to be!

Let thy goodness, like a fetter,

Bind my wandering heart to thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,

Prone to leave the God I love:

Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it,

Seal it for thy courts above.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Friday to the Father

Jesus said: "This then is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven...' "
Matthew 6v9

On Fridays, we'll be encouraging you to pray for the church plant, as well as for other local and international churches.  

Firstly, thank God for the provision of work for myself and Brandon!  I don't think any of us imagined a few months ago, when we started asking the Lord to provide work, that He would give Brandon so much work that he'd be able to share some with me!  And who would ever have thought I'd get work as a labourer!  But the work has been good, and I've enjoyed the physical nature of it.

We've now got the church's Sunday meeting place booked, and have tried it out a couple of times.  Thank God for the opportunity to have these "practice runs" before going public.  We've learned valuable, practical lessons each time we've met there.

Please pray that we'll have all the practical things ready for when we start public meetings in December.  We'll be purchasing a laptop, projector and audio equipment over the next month, and we're grateful for the advice offered by the deacons at NEC.  Please pray also for our organisational skills to develop, so we're able to set up and pack up efficiently!

Please also pray for the Christmas meal we provide on Christmas Day.  We will be cooking in a different venue from the last couple of years, so pray that we'll be able to publicise this effectively.  We'll be encouraging people to come along to the services in January, when we will be considering the meaning and relevance of the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

Thank you for your prayers.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Melodic Monday!

It's Melodic Monday!  Each Monday we'll be posting a link to a song that we'll be singing at church in the near future.

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!"
Revelation 5:13

"Forever" is a beautiful song, directing our attention to the eternal glory Jesus will receive because of his victory over death.  

The song lyric are below the video.

The moon and stars they wept
The morning sun was dead
The Saviour of the world was fallen
His body on the cross
His blood poured out for us
The weight of every curse upon him

One final breath he gave
As heaven looked away
The son of God was laid in darkness
A battle in the grave
The war on death was waged
The power of hell forever broken

The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King
Has rendered you defeated

Forever he is glorified
Forever he is lifted high
Forever he is risen
He is alive, He is alive!

The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King
Has rendered you defeated

Forever he is glorified
Forever he is lifted high
Forever he is risen
He is alive, He is alive!

We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
The Lamb has overcome

Forever he is glorified
Forever he is lifted high
Forever he is risen
He is alive, He is alive!

Friday, 16 October 2015

Planning a Plant

If you're interested in learning a little more about the background to the planting of Welshpool Community Church, here is an article I wrote a few months ago.  It was written for the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC) who have been giving us encouragement and guidance.  At the end of the article, you'll find some points for prayer.

Ruth and I decided to live in Welshpool when we got married more than 15 years ago. We now have four children and we have always felt convicted that God wants us to be based here. For that reason we’ve sought to be active members of a local church but we’ve been unable to find one that is traditionally reformed in its theology, but contemporary in its practice.

We eventually recognised God was calling us and another couple (Brandon and Charlotte Oram) to plant a church in Welshpool. We had our first house-group meeting in April with a wonderful, homely atmosphere and we hope to start public meetings in December.

Below are some of the principals we’ve been learning along this journey as we prepare to establish a new church.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the unknown, but commit to what is known

In seeking to plant a church, there are so many questions that it can feel a little overwhelming: Where do we meet? How will we recognise membership? How will we recognise leaders?
God has given us plenty of advice and wisdom in the Bible. We might not find specific answers there, but we will find guidance on how to move towards those answers.
For example, we know that we should try to do things in an orderly way (1 Corinthians 14:40), so we realised that it would be wise to plant a church under the oversight of another church. We approached Newtown Evangelical Church (NEC), which is 12 miles away from Welshpool and a church we have had fellowship with over the years. They were very positive about supporting a church plant.
We are now members there, and so to start with we’ve been meeting as a NEC house-group in Welshpool. As a consequence this has created initial accountability (to the elders), given us access to gifts, knowledge and a prayer support network (among the church membership), and provided us with a doctrinal basis.

Seek help from a variety of people, but don’t forget who your Rescuer is

Tim Gill, an elder at NEC and member of the FIEC Pastors’ Network, contacted Andy Paterson (FIEC Mission Director) who visited us in Welshpool. We went for a walk around the town as we discussed possibilities and resources.
This was encouraging but daunting at the same time! As the possibility of a church plant became more likely, I realised I was looking for a person to sort everything out – an individual to provide all the time, money and answers.
I remember the moment I suddenly realised that this person was Jesus. He is the Rescuer who I need to rely on. While it is incredibly helpful to have access to people with resources and advice, the most helpful person to approach is the Lord.
He is the one who ultimately provides all good things, and we express our recognition of that in prayer. Individual and corporate commitment to prayer is foundational to a church plant. When we meet on Sunday afternoons, we deliberately set aside plenty of time for corporate prayer and have established time for prayer together during the week.

Avoid seeking glory for yourself, but deliberately seek glory for God

A church plant makes you stand out, and standing out is something we tend to shy away from as Christians. There is a Spirit-placed instinct to avoid self-glory, and that can cause you to move out of the spotlight.
the church plant team

At the same time, we want local people to know that a new church is being formed, so that God can be glorified when they hear the gospel. We want our network of Christian friends to know how to pray for us, so that God can be glorified as He answers prayer. That means we have had to deliberately put ourselves in the spotlight.
In practical terms, this has meant sharing our plans and needs with the members at NEC; sharing information with friends over social media; establishing a Facebook group and a blog; and being open with friends and contacts in Welshpool.
As we seek to establish this new church we would value your prayers.
  • We’re planning to begin public church services in a local hall in December. Please pray that God will confirm and bless this.
  • I have resigned from my high-pressure job, and taken other work that is lower paid, but much less stressful. Brandon is self-employed, and the amount of work he gets fluctuates. Please pray that the Lord will provide all we need to be obedient to His will.
  • Currently, when we all meet together, there are 7 adults and 12 children. This is a great blessing, but also a great responsibility, so please pray that God will continue to help us in this.

Monday, 12 October 2015

An introduction that comes halfway through the story

Wouldn't that be weird - finding the introduction halfway through the book?  And yet that's exactly how this first blog post feels.  Somehow, at the same time as we begin something new, we continue something that began a long time ago.

Of course, that's no surprise when it comes to working with God.  The earliest things we notice are the shoots of the seeds He planted.  And that's only if we're paying close attention.  Often we don't sign up to His plan until we see people already enjoying the fruit!

So while this blog is a sign that something new is beginning, it's also evidence that God is continuing a process that began many years ago.  Hence, we're excited not only because of what lies ahead, but because of what we can see God has already done, opening doors and laying foundations.  

But if you've missed the first few chapters, don't worry - you're just in time for the introduction!

Welshpool Community Church is a church plant being supported by Newtown Evangelical Church. We currently consist of two couples - Tom and Ruth Magness with Brandon and Charlotte Oram - plus a small army of eight children.  We've all lived in Welshpool for over 10 years, and have supported local churches for much of that time.  However, we've struggled to find a church that is contemporary in its practice, but traditionally reformed in its theology (and if you're not sure what that means, don't panic - we'll come back to it another day!)

But that hasn't stopped us loving, supporting and serving in local churches, and I can see how God has used those years to teach us and prepare us for planting a church.  Take a look at the "What we do when we meet" page to learn about how we'll be applying some of those lessons when we begin public services in December.

We greatly appreciate the prayerful support of others.  If you want to continue following the progress of Welshpool Community Church, please enter your email address in the box in the right-hand sidebar.  You'll then be notified by email each time there's a new blog post.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him."  Ephesians 1v3-4