Skip Church #SundaySuggestion

Skip church? Is he serious?

Before you unfollow me, I am not advocating you deprioritise church or stop going altogether. Being part of a church family, and making it a priority, is something we all must strive for. In days gone by, it would be unthinkable to miss a Sunday service, yet these days a committed member might make three Sundays a month.

So what is the point of my Sunday Suggestion for today? I will explain by telling you about my day today.

This morning I will be taking care of someone who is not too well in order that their spouse can go to church. They are unwell to the point where they cannot easily be left, so their spouse is rarely able to meet with other believers in church. Church is certainly my priority, but today I have the chance to help someone else get to church instead.

Now if I were to do this all of the time, missing church frequently, then that would not be healthy. Between us though, I am sure we can find ways of supporting each other and ensuring believers get the encouragement of fellowship.

I once heard a story of a group of women who felt compelled to get together twice a week to pray. That is, all except one member of the group. Instead of praying, she felt led to take care of the others’ children so that they could pray. While not praying with them herself, she certainly enabled them to do it.

In a similar way, are you able to enable others to take part? Whether it be a Sunday service, home group or other church event, is it possible for you to step in and give a hand? That might be by taking care of someone, or offering a lift, or missing out on a hobby you had been planning. Whatever it is, do think about whether you can be an “enabler” and help someone else benefit from a time of fellowship.

Skip church? Absolutely not – unless you are paving the way for someone else!

Have a great Sunday!


Fasting – Sunday Suggestion

Over the season of Lent, I have been fasting. It has not always gone according to plan, I hasten to add, but it has been an enriching experience in many ways.

This Sunday, why not give it a try yourself? Be sure to do it sensibly and wisely if you have never done it before. For instance, if you have any medical conditions which may be affected by it, then give it more thought and seek some advice if you need to.

There are different ways to fast, and it does not necessarily mean giving up all food altogether. You may choose to limit what food you eat, or to only eat certain foods. You may decide to miss a particular meal, or you may decide not to eat anything at all for a period. Pray about it before you begin, and follow the Lord’s lead. Start off slowly, and build yourself up.

Most importantly, fast with a purpose. Do not do it merely to appear spiritual to others. Instead, use the time you would have spent eating or preparing food to talk to the Lord or read your Bible. When you feel that sense of hunger, use it as a prompt to thank God for all the good He is doing in your life. Let this disciplining of your body remind you that we are not merely physical, but rather spiritual beings, and the spiritual needs to be primary, not the physical.

Remember, Jesus said:

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:16-18 (NIV)

Jesus wants us to fast for our spiritual good and to draw nearer to God, not to look good in front of others. If we talk about our fasting, or worse fish for compliments, then we have already received any reward we may get from the exercise.

Use the experience to strengthen your relationship to God, and praise Him for the plenty you have.

Serving Sunday – Sunday Suggestion

I want to encourage you to go to church with a servant’s heart.

The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Matthew 23:11-12 (NIV)

Church is not about you. For many of us, we go to church wanting it to meet our needs. We might want our favourite seat. We want our preferred style of music. We want sermons that do not make us feel uncomfortable or challenge us too much.

That may sound harsh, but unfortunately we are often guilty of going to church for what we can get out of it, not what we put in.

Of course, church should be a blessing to us, and if we never received anything from being there, it would not be healthy or right. But the primary purpose is not about what you need or want.

Instead, go with an attitude of service. Give up your seat or parking spot for a newcomer. Pass out the notice sheet if you see those without one. Help move the chairs afterwards if they need moving, or offer to serve the coffee or other refreshments.

Bringing together the family of believers is primarily about the worship of God. It can take a lot of work and organisation to bring it all together, and our consumer society means that too frequently we rock up, expecting to be “fed” and then leave. We are a family though, and if we all do our bit to serve one another, it will be such an amazing experience.

The church I attend is not perfect (of course) but one of the things that was so positive about it was that there were so many volunteers of all ages contributing to the events. We first went to a family oriented event, with different craft activities and a Bible time later on. There were many people there who were just there to serve, and it has always stayed with me.

In my experience, it is usually a select few who run around doing all of the work while the rest keep the seats warm! But we all have gifts, talents and abilities we can use to be a blessing to each other. If everyone did a little serving, then that would go a long way.

In my experience, it is usually a select few who run around doing all of the work while the rest keep the seats warm! #church #Bible #Christianity #Jesus

Make it your mission today to be a servant at church. Look around you and see what needs doing, and do it. It won’t go unnoticed, and even if your church family do not see it, the Lord will.

Going for a Goal… Still? – Sunday Suggestion

At the beginning of 2022, I began a new series called “Sunday Suggestion” and the first in that series was Go for a Goal linked here.

As many people do at the start of the year, it was about setting goals for yourself – although I hesitated to call them resolutions!

We are now nearly two months into the year and for this week’s Sunday Suggestion, I want to encourage you to review your goals.

Are you still on track, or have you let it slide? Is this something you need to pick back up again, or do you now realise (in hindsight) that it was too much to take on this year?

If you are still on course, then good for you! If you are not, then it certainly is not too late to catch up. If miss a meal due to a busy schedule, we do not give up eating altogether, but perhaps eat a little more next time!

If you missed that earlier post, or did not set yourself any goals for 2022, then there is no reason why you cannot (prayerfully) set some right here and now. You perhaps cannot claim them to be “New Year’s Resolutions” but if you think about it, 1st January is just an arbitrary date anyway. Why not start a new, positive habit on 20th February? If it is indeed positive, then there is no better time than now to begin.

In Galatians, Paul says:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Gal 6:9 #Bible

I want to encourage you today not to give up. Press on towards your goal, even if progress has been slow up until now. Do not become weary in doing the good you need to do, instead keep putting one foot in front of the other and sooner or later, you will reach your target.

Do comment below with how things are going, and please do respond to one another’s comment with words of encouragement.

Talk It Out – Sunday Suggestion

Throughout this week, we have been thinking about the Great Commission as given to us by the Lord Himself and recorded in Matthew’s Gospel. I want this week’s Sunday Suggestion to carry on the theme.

Before I do, is there anything that has challenged you this week? If so, talk it out with a trusted friend at church. Perhaps you were moved by the fact that the Eleven disciples had doubts (see Matthew 28:16-17), or perhaps you felt a nudge from the Lord to “go”? Maybe the discussion about baptism prompted you to want to explore it for yourself, in which case why not take this chance to discuss with your pastor? Did the posts about making disciples or teaching challenge you to want to go deeper with the Lord, or help others do the same? Whatever it may be, grab a coffee after the service and sit down with someone. Share your thoughts and get their views.

If there was nothing in particular that stood out this week, then that is fine. Instead, take that same cup of coffee and talk to your home group leader or leadership team about how your church is fulfilling the Great Commission. Do not be critical of course, but look for ways you can get involved and support the church’s efforts. There are undoubtedly myriad ways you can get involved. You might like to help run the next baptism preparation class, or take the big step of offering to lead a small group and help make disciples? You could start a prayer programme for those who are going out and sharing the Gospel, or join them yourself.

Ask your pastor or trusted friend to help you figure out your gifts and unique contribution, together make a plan on how you can use those talents to preach the Gospel – directly or indirectly.

As you discuss the Great Commission, see if there are ways you can encourage others. Some may be cautious or even fearful about stepping out, so give them confidence by supporting them and reminding them of Christ’s presence with them. It might be that they have a God-ordained idea in their heart to reach people with the truth, but they cannot do it alone. You may be the person they need to help turn their idea into a reality.

There are countless ways in which we as individuals and as part of a church, can seek to fulfil Jesus’ commands here. Perhaps you are desperately seeking a way to do so, but just can’t seem to find the right avenue. Talk to someone about it, and listen not just to them, but to the Lord through them as well.

I do hope you have enjoyed what you have read this week, but do not allow it to just pass you by. Let it prompt you to action, and to “go” as Christ instructed. Don’t dive in without thought, but do take definite action. Take the counsel of fellow believers and work with them in whatever way God is directing you.

Together, we can take the Gospel to the world that needs it so very much.

As a reminder, here are the words we have read so many times this week. Read them once again, slowly, and pay particular attention to those elements you have not noticed before. Importantly, read that last sentence more than once. Jesus is with you! Praise the Lord!

But the eleven disciples went into Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had sent them. 17 When they saw him, they bowed down to him; but some doubted. 18 Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go[b] and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Matthew 28:16-20 (WEB)

If you missed any of the post on the Great Commission, here is a list:

  • Bowing and Doubting
  • Go!
  • Make Disciples
  • Baptise Them
  • Teach Them
  • I Am With You

Pray for your Neighbour – Sunday Suggestion

This Sunday, after church of course, why don’t you take a walk around your neighbourhood and pray for those living there. You could focus on your own street, or else wander a little further afield. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, and see if He will lead you to pray over a particular house or area.

Prayer walking is a great habit to get into. Not only does your physical body get some exercise, but it also gives you the chance to stretch those spiritual muscles. There are many practical ways to bless your neighbour, but only prayer allows you to invite God into their lives and do His miracle work.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)

Love your #neighbour as yourself #Bible #Jesus #Christianity

The chances are that the most popular name on your prayer list is your own… I know that’s true for me, I’m ashamed to admit. Yet verse 31 tells us to love our neighbour as we do ourselves. Well, if we pray mostly for our own needs, then let us each love our neighbour that way, and lift them before the Lord.

Perhaps it just isn’t possible for you to prayer walk right now, and that’s ok. If you can, pray at home for those living near you, as that will be beneficial too.

Finally, if you live in the UK, don’t forget your raincoat!

Have a great weekend!

Take Note and Review – Sunday Suggestion

This Sunday, when you go to church, don’t just keep the seat warm but try to fully engage with your pastor’s message. It took them time to prepare and study, so rather than just listen to what they say, make some decent notes which you can review throughout this week.

Each day, or even more often than that, pull out your notes and go over them. Remind yourself what the key points were, and re-read the Bible passages.

Turn the notes into some actions which you can do. What steps will you take to act on what you’ve heard? How can you put this particular message into practice in your life?

Even better, pair up with someone from church and review the notes together. See what actions you can take together and encourage each other as you do.

James says:

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

James 1:22 (NLT)

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. #Bible #Jesus #Christianity

Finally, when you see your pastor next week, tell them what you have done with the message they taught. It will truly bless and encourage them to hear that you have taken their words and acted on them. Tell them what you enjoyed and how it has challenged you to live more fully for Christ.

How many Christians sit and listen to every word their pastor has said, yet has forgotten every one by the time they reach the parking lot/car park? Don’t let that be you!

Spiritual growth is not automatic, and takes effort on our part. Engage with the Bible, learn from your pastor, and let the Holy Spirit be your guide.

Enjoy your weekend!

Introduce Yourself – Sunday Suggestion

This week’s Sunday Suggestion is as straightforward as ever. Introduce yourself to someone new at church. It may seem obvious, but often it can go undone. Church can be a little busy at times. In the run up to the service, you might be running around, getting things ready or trying to settle unsettled children. Afterwards, over coffee, you might need to have a quick word with someone, or else chat to your friends.

This week though, take a few minutes to pick out someone you have never met and go introduce yourself. If you cannot see anyone you do not know (firstly, well done) then head over to someone you would like to know better or who looks like they may need a chat.

Peter encourages us to:

Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.

1 Peter 4:8 (NLT)

Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9 #Bible #Jesus #Church

Being hospitable is not restricted to your own home, and you can be just as welcoming to those in the Father’s House as well.

This suggestion is not restricted to just welcoming new people, and can apply to anyone in the church – new or seasoned.

I am not the most social of people, and my natural inclination is to drift towards those I already know well. The result is that despite being in my current church for a number of years, there are still people I do not really know at all. I have little excuse for this apart from my own discomfort. Put me in a pulpit in front of a crowd, and I am happy to talk away… but sit me down with someone I do not know, and I find it a real challenge. Just how I am wired I suppose!

As a result, I need to discipline myself to make sure I make an effort, or I too easily find an excuse not to.

The key for me, and I hope it helps you too, is not to worry about yourself and how you are coming across. When our focus is on ourselves, we are being self-centred. Instead, we need to focus on them and really listen. Make them feel welcome, find out a bit about them and you will not need to worry about yourself.

Imagine if you introduced yourself to someone new every week for the entirety of 2022… by the end of the year, you will have potentially made 50 new friends, and made each of them feel welcomed and valued.

Why not take it a step further, and rather than just make the connection for yourself, introduce them to someone else too. Invite them to a home group. Take them out for coffee. Go that extra mile. You will brighten their day, and maybe even their entire year.

Have a great weekend!

Sharing Sunday – Sunday Suggestion

For this week’s Sunday Suggestion, I want to encourage you to share.

Paul writes in Galatians:

But let him who is taught in the word share all good things with him who teaches.

Galatians 6:6 (WEB)

In particular, I want to encourage you to share a blog post which has uplifted or informed you in some way. Here on WordPress, there are many wonderful blogs offering Christian exhortation and teaching, and so do share them on so others can reap the benefit.

I am not sure if it is common on all blogs, but my own tends to have slightly less traffic on a Sunday., I suppose this is because many Christians are heading to church, spending time with family or just having a well-earned day of rest. If that is true of all Christian bloggers, then sharing one of their posts today would give them a real boost.

There are two major positives about sharing quality Christian blogs. Firstly, it widens the audience of the blog and so more people can enjoy the writer’s words. Secondly, it acts as a real encouragement to the blogger themselves. I’ve written about success before, and page views are by no means the best or only measure, but they are a tangible way for the author to get feedback on their work.

I hesitate to mention some of my favourite blogs here, as there are so many and I am bound to miss one out! I try to share posts from those favoured authors fairly regularly, and do hope it passes on their work to more people.

Don’t forget though that WordPress (and other sites too) offer search facilities to discover new authors and blogs you might not otherwise have heard of.

Today, share one of your favourites. Others will be grateful. Take a few minutes to scan a new blog you’ve not looked at before. You never know what treasure you might uncover!

Have a great Sunday!

Pray for your Pastor – Sunday Suggestion

Today’s Sunday Suggestion may seem an obvious one, but your pastor/minister/vicar needs your prayer support! I am not a pastor, but have been in church leadership for many years, and let me tell you it is no easy task! You know the phrase, “You can’t please everyone all of the time…”? Well that is sadly apt for church leaders!

If you have a faithful pastor or group of leaders over your church, then you ought to be eternally grateful. I know so many church leaders who have worked themselves sick for the sake of their flock, and now more than ever, pastors and leaders need our help and support.

The Bible encourages us to pray for those in authority over us. Scriptures such as Romans 13 and 1 Timothy 2 direct us to pray for kings and ruling governments, and I do not think it a stretch to include those in church leadership over us also.

A passage I return to when thinking of my own leaders is found in Exodus:

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Exodus 17:10-13 (NIV)

Now your pastor may not be facing a physical battle as the Israelites were (although I bet it feels like that sometimes!) but they need just as much support. Can you be an Aaron or a Hur for them, come alongside and hold up their hands for a time?

How can you pray for them right now? If you are not sure, why not ask them, or send them an email?

Most leaders or pastors would probably like the following to be prayed over them:

  • Prayers for strength, energy and good sleeping patterns
  • Prayers for protection for them and their family; physically, mentally and spiritually
  • Prayers for wisdom and discernment
  • Prayers to help them manage their workload and prioritise
  • Prayers for their own relationship with Jesus
  • Prayers for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their life and ministry

The list could go on and on. If you have other good ideas of how to pray for church leaders, do share them below.

One final suggestion – you might like to set aside a specific day or time to pray for them each week. If your life is like mine, then it can get rather hectic at times. Set a reminder or put a weekly appointment in your diary or calendar so it does not get missed.

Your pastor will be ever thankful for your prayers and support!

Go for a Goal! – Sunday Suggestion

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14 (NIV)

I want to begin this new year with a series I’ve entitled “Sunday Suggestion.” It’s not too cryptic, and I intend it to be a fairly brief post each week about how you can make the most of your Sunday, and engage more fully with your church.

As it is a new year where people are setting themselves various resolutions, why not set yourself some goals around church?

You might want to improve your attendance, and commit to being there each week no matter what other offers you get.

You might want to set a goal that you will make notes during each sermon and review them throughout the week.

You may wish to set a goal to help out in the youth or children’s group, or serve coffee after the service.

There are any number of things you could commit to this coming year, and don’t do so lightly. Sit down with the Lord later today and ask Him what He might want you to do. If you get a clear direction, then go for it.

I know that goal setting can become a legalistic exercise at times, and I do not want that for you. Equally, I know life can be extremely busy and the thought of taking on something new might leave you in a cold sweat. If that’s the case, then do not feel you must take something new on. Perhaps your goal could be to prioritise your activities so you can be all the more fruitful for the Lord?

Write the goal down somewhere where you will see it often. If you don’t have a useful place, set a reminder on your phone or tablet to keep the goal in your mind.

Lastly, tell someone about your goal. Ask them to help you stay on track, or to at least review it in a few months. Accountability keeps us honest.

If you intend to go for a new goal this year, please share it below (if you are happy to do so). I’m sure others will be inspired to do the same, and we can help one another stay on track.