The Third Rocky Road Epistle Chapter 1

“Happy New Year”, “happy” in the sense that the Good News Bible uses the word where other translations use blessed.  So “Happy New Year”, may you know God’s blessing in 2021. 

The start of a New Year and another lockdown seems a good point to start our third RRBC epistle.  Although the new rules as printed today (Tuesday 6th) say churches can meet in their building for a worship service, after consultation with the deacons the decision for RRBC is that we will not meet in person for the rest of January.  Therefore, there are no morning services in the building for the rest of this month.  However, you will continue to receive these chapters, and we will have an audio service to listen to on a Sunday morning (or at any time during the week).  Either go to the website (www.rrbc.org.uk) or phone the “Dial-a-Service” facility from Twilio.  If you ring 01536 909787 you will be able to listen to a recording of the service on your telephone.  The cost, around 30p a call, is covered by the church. 

The poem, "The Gate of the Year", by Minnie Louise Haskins, is a favourite of many people since King George VI read it to the nation in the dark days of the second World War. The words seem very applicable just now.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

We step out into the unknown, but we do it with God.  He with us in the confusion and uncertainty, with us going at God’s speed. 

In the last chapter I wrote before Christmas, I referred to the book “Three Mile an Hour God” by the Japanese theologian Kosuke Koyama.  In it he reflects on the story of the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years and her meeting with Jesus (Luke 8 v.40-48).  In her society she was shunned, put into lockdown for 12 years.  Jesus was walking along to visit Jarius’ daughter who was dying.  In the midst of the crowd and seemingly unseen the woman touched the hem of Jesus’s garment.  Instantly Jesus knew this had happened and in the middle of the crowd he stopped.  Nobody went unnoticed to Jesus and this woman mattered to him.  Jesus had time for everyone, he did not rush past, even though he was going to an urgent situation. 

Kosuke Koyama wrote that “God walks ‘slowly’ because he is love. If he is not love he would have gone much faster.” Kosuke Koyama comments that love is a spiritual speed “It is the speed we walk and therefore it is the speed the love of God walks”. 

Over the next seven weeks our services will be considering the story of Elijah, and together with the Bible Studies are based on “The Wellbeing Journey” promoted by Hope Together.  If you have internet access you could check out their site https://wellbeingjourney.org

An equivalent word for Wellbeing might be Shalom, conveying a sense of wholeness and peace. 

There is a book available called “God’s Plan for Your Wellbeing” written by the author and church leader Dave Smith, which is described as giving fuel for the journey.  It is a guide lasting 50 days with the aim to help you improve your wellbeing in 6 key areas.  Or put another way to ensure that each of 6 dials on the dashboard of your life are showing green and not giving a warning light.  These key areas are Physical, Emotional, Spiritual, Relational, Financial and Vocational.  We will go through it, looking at one at a time but always linked with the others. 

If you are interested in buying the book, let me know.  If there are 20 people who want a copy we can get them at a reduced price of £5 each.


Reflection

From Laura on 1 Kings 17 v.1-6, 18 v.22-24, 18 v.36-39, 19 v.1-4

Wellbeing mindset or “Who do you think you are?”

How much have you travelled in the last 9 months?  Probably much less than in previous years and not as far either.  Any journey needs thinking about, even short ones to the shops to ensure you buy the things you need!  As we set off on this Wellbeing journey, we need to engage our brains, hence the question “Who do you think you are?”.  The television programme of that name investigates family trees of famous people, often finding surprises.  Knowing more of your background may change how you think about yourself and who we think we are impacts our approach to life.  How we think of ourselves can encourage growth in God.  As Paul writes “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12.2).  Feeling a failure, will negatively impact our reactions.  Failure can set us on a negative spiral of thinking it is all our fault, that everything we do is a failure and that it will never change.  Whereas being content, having good mental health, helps a sense of wellbeing in our lives.  We can all take steps to have a better sense of wellbeing. 

We are looking at the life of Elijah, if you have time this important prophet’s story is well-worth reading (only 6 chapters 1 Kings chapters 17-19, 21 and 2 Kings chapters 1 and 2).  Elijah’s name means “The Lord is my God” and his strong relationship with God is shown from his first statement in the Bible, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” (1 Kings 17 v.1).  Elijah was secure in God; he knew God and was content in God’s call on his life.  Verses 2-6 show his total reliance on God to guide and provide for him.  In the next chapter, chapter 18, we read of the contest on Mount Carmel when Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to show their god was real (v.22-24).  They could not do it, whereas the Lord God answered Elijah with fire (v.36-39). 

Having faced 950 prophets of Baal and Asherah and won, Elijah should have been on a high, but the next chapter finds him running for his life after a threat from Queen Jezebel (19 v.1-4).  His trust in God seemed to have vanished; he was burnt out and prayed to be allowed to die.  He seemed to have forgotten who he was, lost any sense of wellbeing and claimed he was no better than his ancestors.  He went from being full of faith to being full of fear.  Dave Smith comments that we need to make a daily choice to do two things.  One is to fuel our faith by spending time with God’s word (Romans 10 v.17 - “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ”).  The other is to starve our fears, Paul wrote to Timothy - “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” 2 Timothy 1 v.7.  Dave Smith points out that “We really can exercise self-control over what we allow to come into our minds, starving our fears by silencing the Jezebel-like voices that can rob us of peace and wellbeing.”  Also, he reminds us that we have a spiritual enemy seeking to destroy our faith, as James writes in James 4 v.7, 8 “Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you.”  Nothing can separate us from the love of God who is greater than anything we face.

God restored Elijah, enabling him to again know a sense of wellbeing.  We will look at his recovery in more detail over this series.  Instead of being stuck with the conviction that change is impossible, the challenge is to approach life with a “growth mindset”, ready to learn, to be challenged, to be changed and to grow. 

Nick Vujicic is a Christian Evangelist who is described as a motivational speaker.  When you realise that he was born with no arms and legs his positive approach to life and concern to encourage others is amazing.  He said that "Fear is a bigger disability than having no arms and no legs."  Nick has struggled with his condition but reached a point where he could say “Every time you fall down, every time you fail, you learn something new.  You're ready for the next one.  You've learned how not to do something.  Learn from it and move on.”   Let us be people who keep journeying on with God.

Next week’s theme is “Physical wellbeing”.


Zoom Bible Study

On Wednesday 13th January at 7.15pm for 7.30pm start,

“Wellbeing - who’s in control?” Psalm 91

All are welcome to join - please ask Laura for details.  Or if you prefer to do this Bible Study at home, then read the passages several times and consider the following questions.

  1. What has been the impact of Covid 19 on your wellbeing? 
  2. For many people it has had a mental impact.  An American writer and evangelist, Josh McDowell, wrote about reactions to experiencing a loss of control.  When “many of our choices are being made for us right now and we can move into a pattern called learned helplessness.”  Does that fit with your experience?

Read Psalm 91

  1. a) What does the passage say about God: Father, Son or Holy Spirit?

b) What does it say about me or say to me?

c) What is the main lesson?

d) What is the best verse?

  1. The psychologist and author Dr Henry Cloud suggests making two lists.  One listing the things you cannot control and the other listing the things you can.  Then giving to God what you cannot control and writing down what you will choose to do with the things you can change.

New Year Prayer

Almighty, gracious, glorious God we thank you for your love, mercy and forgiveness.
We are humbled by your constant, faithful love.

At the start of a new year, we pray for a new spiritual season.
Thank you that your extravagant love means that there is no one so broken they
cannot be healed.

No one is so lost they cannot be found.
No one is so damaged they cannot be restored.

There is no one who has wandered so far that they cannot be brought home.
Lord, your love pursues us.

You are never resting, always searching.
You leave the 99 to find the one.

You came to seek and save the lost.
And when you find them all heaven rejoices.

We thank you, Lord, that your love is not found in empty clichés.
Your love is shown in the giving of your life for us.

Your life, death and resurrection have opened a way for us to become the children of God.
We know that the good news of Jesus is the power of God to change lives.

We ask that your Church may have a new boldness in sharing that news.
Fill us with your Holy Spirit.

Give us compassion for the lost.
Give us confidence in the good news.

Help us to pray with passion, live with love and speak with boldness.
Make us a people of faith.

Grant your favour upon us and thrust us out into every village, town and city.
We pray that lives will be changed and heaven will celebrate as sinful, broken people find a forgiving, loving God.

Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.

“Mission of the month” - Home Mission.


Songs for Sunday

1. Dear Lord and Father of mankind
Forgive our foolish ways;
Re-clothe us in our rightful mind;
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise,
In deeper reverence, praise.

2. In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow thee,
Rise up and follow thee.

3. With that deep hush subduing all
our words and works that drown
the tender whisper of Thy call,
as noiseless let Thy blessing fall
as fell Thy manna down,
as fell Thy manna down.

4. O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with thee
The silence of eternity,
Interpreted by love,
Interpreted by love!

5. Drop thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of thy peace,
The beauty of thy peace.

6. Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
O still small voice of calm,
O still small voice of calm.

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-92) CCLI #5638

1.  Just as I am, without one plea,
But that thy Blood was shed for me,
And that thou bidst me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come.

2. Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come.

3. Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need, in thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come.

4. Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve:
Because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come.

5. Just as I am (thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down),
Now to be thine, yea, thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come.

6. Just as I am, of that free love,
The breadth, length, depth, and height
to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871) CCLI #5638


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Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 31
The thirty first letter from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 30
The thirtieth letter from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 29
The twenty ninth letter from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 28
The twenty eighth letter from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 27
The twenty seventh letter from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 26
The twenty sixth letter from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 25
The twenty fifth letter from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 24
The twenty fourth letter from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 23
The twenty third letter from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 22
The twenty second letter from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

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