Maldwyn brings us another episode on "Influential books", with a focus on leadership.
Do you find it hard to pray? Don't know where to start? Or what to say? Maldwyn recommends an helpful book on prayer by Dick Eastman.
The book is available on Amazon - Kindle and Paperback:
My job role at Plymouth Christian Centre is communications and media. I spend a lot of my week in front of a screen - I edit the website, update our social media accounts and currently edit the church services for YouTube.
I have just come back to work after two weeks off, where I went camping with my family and had some quiet time at home (well as quiet as looking after a 3 and 5 year old can be!) I intentionally took a break from social media whilst I had some time off and I honestly can say I loved it. I was reaching for my phone far less and felt more present with my family.
So, this week I am back to work and I can't avoid social media, as it is part of my job. And it has some real benefits - like seeing updates from my friends and family. But I find myself weighing up the pros and cons. During this time of social distancing the internet has been a real lifeline to most of us. It has allowed us to still "attend" church together, to stay in touch with one another and to connect in different ways. But there is also a lot of negativity online - particularly in response to cultural and political news. I'm not saying we shouldn't voice our opinions online, but the way in which we do this is so important.
One of our church members just shared this article on their facebook page: "How to win every social media argument" by Mark Pugh. Mark is the Pastor of the Elim church in Exeter, the same denomination as Plymouth Christian Centre. He explores HOW we communicate on social media when it comes to disagreeing with others. Mark writes: "You may not be able to convince everyone to adopt your perspective or thoughts but you can win every time by disagreeing without being disagreeable."
It's well worth a read.
Maldwyn continues his talk on the book "Cinderella with Amnesia" by Michael Griffiths. Please enter any comments/questions below.
Maldwyn continues this series on books that have had a significant impact on him over his ministry. This vlog is all about the book Cinderella with Amnesia by Michael Griffiths. Please enter any comments/questions below.
Throughout August, Maldwyn Jones will be sharing some vlogs about some of the books that have greatly influenced his life as a christian and as a pastor. This first video is all about the book 'Knowing God' by J.I Packer. Please leave any comments or questions you may have in the comments section below.
Amanda is a member of our church and has a great story of finding faith and recovery from alcohol, drugs and depression through a 12 Step Programme. We featured her story in our online service last week but here it is again if you missed it.
Please feel free to share and leave comments below...we thank Amanda for being so honest and courageous in sharing her story.
For our third interview on racial injustice our youth leaders speak to two of our young people about their experiences of racism and their views on what needs to change.
Please watch and leave your encouraging comments below.
Well done Naomi and Phenyo!
Jordan Round is a member of our church and leads our 20's-30's Community Group with his wife Tash. He writes his own blog (which this was written for), please check it out:https://jordanpround.wixsite.com/morelikechrist
This is only my second post during the lockdown! I had thought that some time at home without being able to go out and do much might give me a bit more opportunity to blog and share some of my life and thoughts, however this CV-19 pandemic has been nothing but harder and harder work for me.
I’m not really okay at the moment.
I have been really struggling, I would put the past few months among some of the most difficult I have experienced in my life so far.
I wanted to share some of my processing of my situation, how I've found strength and comfort. I'm not fishing, I'm not saying my problems are lesser or greater than anyone else's, I'm just hoping to share how I've dealt with mine, and maybe someone might get something from it that will help them too. If there is one person that this post affects like that, it will be a success :)
I've had a mixture of a few things; firstly work stress, having to work longer and longer hours, with others who are being asked to do the same and trying to coordinate a team of demoralised people is exhausting, and at times when angers and stresses flare, damaging. My job as a project manager involves a lot of problem solving, this usually involves de-confliction of events and technical aspects, but when this become deconfliction of people, that’s when it gets really tough.
Alongside work, I have been trying to keep on top of studies. I’m studying and in the final stages of a Master’s degree, with my dissertation one of the very last deliverables. Covid has not helped, it increased delays to research I was planning, and increased the pressure of work with a bunched up schedule of trying to complete the pre-requisites for my dissertation alongside a full-time job.
As a family we have been through some bereavement also – the normal stress of such events is to be expected of course and I’m by no means pinning my troubles on such a sad and tragic time, but accumulatively it makes life a lot to deal with.
Amidst some awful things going on in the world; social and economic crisis, George Floyd and the incredible civil rights movement that has followed, one may be quick to ask –
“Your problems are pretty insignificant compared to these big issues, aren’t they?”
I want to be very clear, your problems matter. To you, and to God.
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7 NLT
He knows you inside out, the tiniest details of you and your life - the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Luke 12:7 NLT
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few weeks minimising my problems, my stresses, my desperation at times with those very thoughts of ‘pull yourself together, look what’s happening out there’, ‘man up’, ‘get over it’ and all those very macho ‘British’ approaches to hardship, but I have come to realise that my micro problems matter just as much to God as the macro problems we see evidently in the world around us.
There is a piece of poetry in the bible in the book of Psalms that captures just how much God cares and looks out for us. It’s in the 71st chapter and the first half goes like this:
1 In you, O Lord, I have put my trust and confidently taken refuge;
Let me never be put to shame.
2 In Your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
Incline Your ear to me and save me.
3 Be to me a rock of refuge and a sheltering stronghold to which I may continually come;
You have given the commandment to save me, For You are my rock and my fortress.
4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked (godless),
From the grasp of the unrighteous and ruthless man.
5 For You are my hope;
O Lord God, You are my trust and the source of my confidence from my youth.
6 Upon You have I relied and been sustained from my birth;
You are He who took me from my mother’s womb and You have been my benefactor from that day. My praise is continually of You.
7 I am as a wonder to many,
For You are my strong refuge.
8 My mouth is filled with Your praise
And with Your glory all day long.
Psalm 71:1-8 Amplified Version
The writer reflects by using ‘Me’, ‘My’ and ‘I’, this is not a corporate prayer about a nation or mankind, this is a personal reflection of God’s help in the singular life.
3 things have helped me through in recent months.
I’ve experienced a small miracle. Due to some knee injuries in my late teens and early twenties I never thought I would be capable of road running again, however after some quite divinely inspired research and reading I discovered that by changing my running technique slightly that I have been able to run – pain free! Because my usual exercise was not possible during lockdown – hockey and the gym – I was beginning to feel extremely lethargic and sluggish a few weeks into being inside, and this was having a huge adverse effect on my health both mentally and physically.
Yes, you could say that there’s hardly much miraculous about that, but for me it’s the timing. It was so perfect that during this time I happen to stumble on something that would allow me to get out and blow off steam that was building up considerably. I am putting it down to nothing short of a miracle.
For the first time that I can remember, I have been encouraged and have been reading the bible every day, and I cannot stress how important this has become in my life.
Alongside reading the Bible, talking to God is our part of the communication. God wants to know us; he wants us to be open with Him. There have been times when I have cried out, shouted and asked God “Why!? Why!? Why!?”. There’s nothing wrong with bringing our issues to God, he wants to be part of our lives, warts and all.
I have always struggled with reading the bible, I don’t know why. I started doing a ‘Bible in 1 year’ study where 3 passages are picked out: 1 from Psalms or Proverbs, 1 from the Old Testament and 1 from the New Testament.
It’s incredible how God works. Perfectly.
I have never really taken much interest in the Old Testament and the history of the Church and the Jewish people and culture but having this plan has forced me. The more I read, the more engrossed I became and started learning just how important the recorded church is to the context of Jesus, and then the times after Jesus had left the Earth.
What struck me most were the characters hailed a ‘heroes of the faith’. Samson, Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, David, Solomon, Ruth, all incredible examples of Godly living and faith to live how God wants us to for our wellness.
Absolutely none of these people were perfect, actually far from it in most cases, but this is almost the most encouraging thing. Despite their imperfections, they were favoured and blessed by God because of their devotion and faith in Him. They all also endured excruciatingly difficult times in their lives and endured all sorts of hardship and problems. Didn’t that sound familiar.
It gives me hope.
I am just as imperfect as them and anyone else, and I also am in the midst of hard times, but if God blessed David and Solomon and Job, and Paul in the New Testament, then as long as I stay faithful and devoted, I know that God will bless me too. And He does, every day.
God’s word is food for the Soul. Jesus said that:
"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst." John 4:13-14 NIV
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." John 6:35 NIV
The bible feeds us spiritually, in a way that the world can never.
I can testify to the fact that I have been so deeply fed over the past few months, and I expect this has directly prevented me from having some sort of breakdown!
Family and friends
There is no way that I could have gotten through the past few months without the support of my family and friends. I cannot say how much other people help if you are willing to open up and expose yourself.
I admit that becoming vulnerable is not easy, I find it very difficult, however it’s important to be real with people.
Tash and I have been blessed with an incredible small church community, we lead a group that meet on Tuesdays usually at our house, but more recently over video chat whilst we’ve not been able to meet together. Small groups such as those where you grow in relationship and community are so special, their support through prayer and physical acts of support, especially going through some bereavement and grief go to show how as Christians and friends we look after each other.
Never lose sight of the value of close friends and family.
In addition to our church community we have friends and family who have been so kind to us and to me. Having people to talk to genuinely helps. For me it’s my parents, a couple of my very close friends and Tash who I can open up completely and bear my soul to and it’s been so important to have those options.
If you’re reading this and thinking “I don’t know if I have anyone in my life who I can be like that with”, please reach out. I promise you that if you want me to, I can be that person, if not me then find someone, please, one day it could be the difference between 2 very contrasting states of physical and mental health.
Finally, I know for certain that I would not be coping, I would have gone under long ago had it not been for my wife Tash. She is a rock, and such a blessing. God puts people in our lives for a reason, and whether it’s a spouse, a family member or close friend, He uses those people to support us and works though them to help us through the struggles of life.
Tash is unquestionably the most selfless person I know, she never complains about a thing, if there is something not done she does it, if there is something that she can do to help, she’ll do it, if she can listen, she will and not try and fix everything, she is the quickest to a smile and a laugh, and for her I am so, so, so grateful. In a time where she has also been through the wringer a lot, she remains steadfast and my source of constant. I pray that when she goes through low times that I will be the same strength for her as she is for me right now.
So, rounding up. Sometimes life can be really tough. As Christians we should expect this really! There should be no surprise that building my relationship with God through reading his word and drawing strength from it would result in anything but resistance from a world that is ruled by powers of darkness and from a spiritual enemy that wants nothing more than to separate me from the love and strength of a God who is there for me no matter what.
However, there are answers to the tough times in life, and if my advice and experience is worth anything, I would start with these 3 things:
· Find a release – whether this is a hobby, a sport or whatever, something to release the tension that builds up inside.
· Read the Bible – and pray. For my non-Christian friends reading this I make no apologies, but I am yet to find a problem that cannot be solved by reading the bible and sharing in the experience and wisdom of these God-breathed words.
· Find people to talk to and who will support you – hopefully you already have this, but don’t lose sight of their importance. Maybe even reach out and ask if someone is okay if you notice something out of character or off. Solidify those deep relationships, God made us relational beings to help each other.
Bless you, God will, and so do I.
This week Boikhutso, a lecturer at Plymouth University and church member here at Plymouth Christian Centre, shares some of his experiences of racism and his thoughts on some next steps that we can all take to help end the racial injustice that we see in our society.