One of the things that I enjoy about what I do is the variety. At the moment this includes all that is happening with our current building project. It has been interesting to see all the different stages that this involved. Once you have been through all the initial discussions, pricing and agreeing what needs to be done, the work then begins. The first thing that needed to happen was to clear out the space where the work was to be carried out, during which we made a number of discoveries including old church magazines, past orders of service, small amounts of money, as well as the chewing gum that we found under the pews (some we believe going back many years!!). The other stages include getting everything ready, finding places to store everything temporarily, finding homes for all the pews (across Sheffield and beyond) the combined efforts of various skilled workers, making decisions about colour schemes and opening up to let people have a peek at what is happening and how it is all changing,
While we are looking forward to the end result which I think will be great, it is important for us to remember that there is some other building work going on at the moment. God says as His people we are being built up spiritually.
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2v4-5)
Just like any building project we are a work in progress, the great news for us is that, God is the builder! Sometimes progress seems to happen quickly, at other times a lot of time and effort goes into the fine details. God never gives up on us – He never looks at what needs to be done and thinks it’s too big a job! God is working on His master plan in our lives, to shape us into the best we can be.
I believe we have much to give thanks for in terms of the building work that is taking place in both our church and in our own lives. We need to look towards the opportunities that He will give us in both to be somewhere / someone where God is at work.
Rev. Chris Hawley
As someone who really enjoys watching sport, this has been a great summer, including the Olympics and the Paralympics. While the euros were a big disappointment (again!) unless you are from Wales, Portugal or Iceland, the events from Rio have been a real highlight. The phrase that we have heard over and over again is about how much an inspiration someone has been. I wonder how many of us have been truly inspired by it, or whether we have simply been inspired to watch more sport?
For many September feels like a new year, the opportunity to make a fresh start, we recommit ourselves to something we feel ‘inspired’ to do – getting fit, working harder, learning a new skill or simply being a better person. I can think of many things that I have been inspired to do it the past that have not produced the results I hoped for – I still can’t speak a foreign language, my guitar sits gathering dust,…
As a Christian I often feel inspired to try to be more like Jesus, but if I am honest I don’t always see the results that I hope for. When we listen to the Olympic and Paralympic athletes’ stories they will talk about their good days, their bad days, and the goal that kept them going. A Christian’s God given goal is to be more like Jesus. The great news for us is that God through the work of the Holy Spirit will bring about this transformation in our lives. However this doesn’t mean we should just sit around and wait for it to happen, God has much to say to us about the part He wants us to play (including through the Sermon on the Mount – the focus of our current Sunday Morning Series).
God’s word offers us this advice –
Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4v7&8).
And may we all be inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1v3).
Rev. Chris Hawley
As a church we are supporting Tearfund Partner the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church (EKHC), particularly the work of the Self Help Groups (SHG)
Ethiopia is experiencing severe drought and the report below shows how EKHC is responding to this situation. You will see that this work is not all plain sailing, but still a difference is being made to people’s lives as we see the love of God in action.
Please use the prayer pointers and this report for your prayers.
If you would like to write to our partner church in Ethiopia, this can be arranged through obtaining letter heads from Ian Baillie, who will arrange for letters to be forwarded through Tearfund.
Living without a safety net
We often thank God for your compassion and cheerful giving to support the poor and disadvantaged people in Ethiopia. May God bless you and your ministries.
In the past few months we have been focused on two areas: assessing the impact of the drought on SHG members and their livelihoods and finalising our plans for a Church and Community Managed Resource Centre. (CCMRC).
How the drought is impacting the groups
The drought has been catastrophic for many people in Ethiopia who do not have a safety net. We were hoping that those who are part of a SHG would be faring better, as they had their savings to fall back on.
This is proving to be somewhat true but, because of the scale of the drought, it has still had an effect. We did an assessment of 141 members from eight groups and found that they were struggling to save as regularly as before. Those who had taken loans were finding it difficult to pay them back, and the groups had stopped doing projects together that would help them raise income.
We raised these issues as well as the general need for more support for drought stricken communities when the local government came to see our work with SHGs. They are always very impressed with the groups and the whole life transformation of group members, but we feel there are more opportunities for collaboration between us, the churches, and the government. We ask that you pray for this to happen.
A new project for the long term
This CCMRC is the next step in making sure that our SHGs are sustainable and built for the long term.
It involves bringing together churches, church leaders, and SHGs, and encouraging them to support the SHG network locally, rather than relying on funding from us. We are still at the early stages, but we are encouraged by the interest and enthusiasm we are getting from church leaders.
To make sure they are prepared for running these centres we are giving them training on fundraising, and thoroughly briefing them on how the centre will work. Please do pray for all the groups involved as we bring this project to life.
How you can pray for EKHC
- Pray for the development of the CCMRC project, that all involved would be eager to see it come to fruition, and that it would make a big difference to the sustainability of SHGs.
- The drought in Ethiopia is still severely affecting communities, please do pray for God’s intervention and help the church to respond to those who are suffering.
- EKHC and Tearfund are planning to respond to the emergency situation through our SHGs, please pray that God would provide guidance on the best way to handle this process.
Video – Conversation with Nigel Harris (Tearfund’s new CEO) about his first trip to Ethiopia
Hillsborough Baptist Church now has a new Facebook page:
Happy New Year?
I have often wondered how far into the year you can wish people a Happy New Year? Maybe the answer is before the third Monday in January, as it is officially the most miserable day of the year. The reasons given for this include the fact that it still goes dark before most people finish work, the weather is often rubbish, our holidays seem a long way away, the credit card bill has arrived but it is not pay day yet and for those of us who made New Year’s resolution we have well and truly failed by now.
The answer is not simply “Don’t worry be happy”, for me the following words provide a much better answer
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Phil. 4v4-8)
One thing we do at the beginning of a New Year is to pack away the Christmas decorations, the danger is that we also pack away the Christmas message including the truths that God is with us and that Jesus is the light of the world.
As we slowly begin to appreciate slightly lighter mornings and days that are beginning to get longer we need to remember that Jesus, our everlasting Light is with us always. He shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish His light. As we move through this year let’s remember that whatever we face He will guide and protect us. The message of Christmas is just as relevant should we choose to let it impact our lives, as we move through the year, following Jesus.
Rev. Chris Hawley
About this handbook
In January 2015, David Saunders started running a preaching course at Hillsborough Baptist Church. The course was aimed at those who have little experience of preaching and more experienced preachers who feel their ministry could be more effective. It is also helpful for those who give other types of talk in which Bible passages are core elements. This handbook was developed as a result of this course.
The handbook can be viewed by clicking on this link: Preaching God’s Message
The aims of the course were to:
1. Help students think what the sermon should be trying to achieve
2. provide some examples and illustrations which should help participants improve their bible study
3. introduce participants to some practical approaches to sermon preparation
On completion students should be able to:
1. explain the difference between a sermon and a speech or essay
2. prepare some interesting and useful sermon outlines
3. overcome many of the common difficulties and problems facing novice preachers
4. prepare and deliver a sermon
The handbook can be viewed by clicking on this link:
Preaching God’s Message
A few weeks ago I received my first letter this year telling me how long it was until Christmas, only 19 weeks to go! I wonder are you someone who has already started counting down to Christmas? You know exactly how many shopping days you have left and you are already looking forward to the big day, or are you waiting for your chocolate advent calendars (which are already available in the shops!) before you start counting down? Even if we are not counting down to Christmas yet, many of us often find ourselves counting down to things like birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, the end of term, special events or even a delivery that we are waiting for. We count down to things that we are looking forward to as well as things that we are not looking forward to. When the time finally arrives we might be happy, sad or just glad it is all over. Then we will often simply find something else to start counting down to.
Christians have often been accused of counting down to the life that is to come, to the fantastic things that God has in store for us in heaven. Sometimes we are accused of being too heavenly minded to be of any earthly use. This is not God’s plan. We are to live the life He wants us to live in this life, as well as in the life to come. While this does not mean that we have an easy life, it does mean that we are to enjoy the many blessings God sends our way, including His amazing love and His presence with us.
Jesus said “I have come that you might have life in all its fullness”. It sounds good doesn’t it? God’s plan isn’t for us to merely survive this life until we move onto something better, but to celebrate, to be fulfilled, to enjoy and appreciate the varied and infinite ways that God chooses to bless us. We need to live in relationship with Him to make sense of what life is all about. It’s the way we are made!
So, what are you waiting for? Do you live life to the full? Are you living this life putting off making a decision for some time in the future? There is no need to countdown, or to wait to know God every day, my prayer is that you would know the truth of God’s love today.
“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Rev. Chris Hawley
Just follow the signs
This is something we are finding more difficult to do, this is probably largely due to our increased dependence upon technology including things like Sat Navs. These devices are happy to tell us which way to go, to warn us about speed cameras, to tell us to turn around when we have gone in the wrong direction and the more hi-spec versions even know when there are traffic problems ahead. However we also can experience loss of satellite signals or we have heard the stories of people being taken to the wrong place or on huge detours. When we see a sign we normally respond in three different ways, we either follow the sign, do what everyone else is doing or decide that we know better and do our own thing.
In John’s gospel we read about the signs of Jesus and how people responded to them. When Jesus himself was asked for a sign, He spoke about the death that He would die on the cross and His resurrection. In turn the cross has become the sign / symbol to remind us of what Jesus has done for us and why. The question is how will we respond?
When God’s word says that we should repent, it is like we have reached a crossroad and we need to decide which way to go, our own way or God’s way? This is made possible through Jesus’ death on the cross, which in effect crosses out all the things that get in the way of our relationship with God. 2 Corinthians 5v17 tells us that when we choose to go God’s way we cross over from the old way of living life to the new way.
A sign points us to what we are looking for. Because God has made us all to be in relationship with Him, this is what each of us ultimately is seeking, whether we know it or not. The cross not only shows us the way to God, but also continues to point us to Jesus, and helps us to live God’s way.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12v1-3)
So will we go our own way, or with God’s help will we follow the sign?
This is my first blog as minister of Hillsborough Baptist Church and I wanted to start by saying that it is a real privilege to have been called to serve at this church in this way. As we move as a family from Huddersfield to Sheffield we are looking forward to getting involved in the life of the church and the local community. I believe along with the other local churches that we are called to be salt and light in Hillsborough and the city of Sheffield, to be witnesses to Jesus and the amazing life transforming gospel.
As I was born in Sheffield and lived here until the age of 18 there is a lot about the local area that we are familiar with, although some things have changed – where has the hole in the road gone? As well as discovering new places and rediscovering some old ones, it will also be great to get to know lots of new people. One of the many things I enjoy about what I do is working across all the different age groups. Another thing I enjoy is drinking coffee and eating (cake, fish and chips etc.), so I will also be trying to continue to play sport as well as watch it.
When as a minister you move to a church, you know that much time and prayer is given by both the church, and the minister’s family and friends to work out if this is the place that God is sending you to. It’s great to have the reassurance that you are going in God’s strength to the people He has called you to. However this is not only true of a minister. It is true of all God’s people as He sends us to communities, schools, work places, families, friends, neighbours and others that we come into contact with. May God make it clear to each of us who He is sending us to and may we know that through His Holy Spirit He will equip us to do everything He wants us to do
Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20v21-22)
Rev Chris Hawley