It’s Time to Remember and Rejoice!

Our God wants you to remember.

Remember your past. Remember His goodness. Rejoice in the plans He has for our future.

We see this illustrated several times in the Bible. When the people of Israel were brought out of Egypt they were told to pile up twelve stones. Then Joshua said to the people, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’. . . so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4:21, 22, & 24)

In the New Testament, we have the most famous command to remember, given by Jesus on the night he was betrayed: “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)

This month of October is a time for us at New City to remember. We remember that Sunday on 7 October 2012 when ten adults and a few children first gathered at St. Stephen’s Hall to worship Jesus together. There have been times of laughter and tears over the past five years. We have welcomed new faces and said goodbye to many. But all along, God has been faithful to our church family.

I hope you can join us next weekend to celebrate God’s goodness over these five years. Join us on Saturday, 7 October as we eat together and reminisce about those early days in Shepherd’s Bush. We will see pictures and hear a few people give testimonies of their time with us. Then on Sunday, 8 October, we will be taking membership vows for the first time during our 5th anniversary worship service.

God has been good! It’s time to remember and it’s time to rejoice in the plans He has for us as a church family.

History of New City Church (IPC)

In preparation for New City’s (NCC) membership class, I put together the following one-page history of our church:

NCC has its ultimate origins in the plan and purpose of God, who from before the foundations of the world ordained that through His church he would glorify Himself and bring Good News to the world.

God’s plan and purpose began to unfold in 1994 when Bob and Keren Heppe, missionaries of World Harvest Mission (now Serge) from the USA, responded to God’s calling to move to London.  Their purpose was to reach out to the many South Asians living in this city.  In 1998, New Life Masih Ghar started worshiping in Southall and in 2005, Chris and Josephine Hatch joined this work.

After 5 years of working at NLMG, the Hatches sensed a call from God to plant a multi-ethnic church specifically seeking to bring the gospel in word and deed to the multitude of people who had moved to London.  After much prayer and consultation with the International Presbyterian Church, Shepherds Bush was decided upon as a target community.

In January of 2011, Chris began spending time in Shepherds Bush prayer walking, studying at cafes and seeking opportunities to serve. In the April of 2011, he began volunteering at St. Stephen’s C of E to help start a dinner and film club for the elderly and homeless.  Slowly but surely, relationships began to grow in Shepherd’s Bush over the course of 2011 and into 2012.

The summer of 2012 was key for us as New City welcomed our first summer intern, Edd Stock, a young English man who was instrumental in getting the film clubs started. Rev. Allen R. Nabors, the director of the New City Network, spent the month of July in Shepherd’s Bush with his wife to build the vision of the small group of people who were beginning to make plans for the new church.  After school ended, New City held our first Kids Club on the White City Estate with 8 children attending the first day.

In September of 2012, our first apprentice arrived from Germany.  Christoph Boss join us for a year and was one of 10 adults who gathered on 7 October 2012 in the St. Stephen’s church hall to worship Jesus as New City Church (IPC).  The Hatches were joined by Rebekah Rajkumar, Dhana Makini (later baptised),  Joel and Cindy Hylton, Oli and Constance Smith, several others and three children. Pastor Chris preached from Ephesians 1 and ended that sermon by stating:

You can approach God Almighty with boldness, not because you’re so special, but because Jesus is so special.  Jesus gives his brothers and sister the right to come with confidence to their Father.  Together – we can ask our Father to build New City – right here in Shepherd’s Bush. 

The Lord has answered those prayers! Over the years, He has faithfully grown our fellowship as we have sought to establish a multicultural church in West London that is working to see the love and mercy of God expressed through verbal proclamation and practical deeds of service.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph 3:20-21)

You got rocks in your head!?!

When I was a child my grandfather (Buck Hatch whose teaching you can listen to  at www.buckhatchlibrary.com)  used to tease me by saying, “What’s wrong with you?  You got rocks in your head?!” 

I’d do something stupid like 10-year-old boys often do, and out would come the “rocks in your head” comment in a joyful way that only a grandfather can say to his grandson. 

What’s the problem with having rocks in your head?  

On the most basic level – the problem with having a rock in your head is that there is no life in a rock!  

If we go to an art museum we see beautiful sculptures made out of stone.  These may inspire us to think good thoughts or peaceful. But do these stone statues really help us in any way?  No – these statues have no life in them.  

Some folks view Jesus in this way – he is like a stone statue that inspires us.  Jesus lived a good life and taught us many good things.  

This is true, but if Jesus is just an example from long ago who showed us the way to live life, then we’ve made him into a stone statue.  He may inspire us to try harder but in reality, we have to go out and do the hard work of life.

In I Peter 2:4, Jesus is called a “living stone”.  Peter uses a metaphor here to let us know that he is beautiful and worthy of building our life upon. But Jesus isn’t just a stone statue.  He’s the LIVING STONE. 

Peter wants us to remember that there is a MAJOR difference between Jesus and a statue.  Jesus is alive!  And he has the power to bring change in our world and your life. 

Do you view Jesus as a stone statue that’s worthy of admiration?  If so, maybe you’re the one with rocks in your head!

Is the Local Church Worth the Effort?

I know that’s a question I’m not supposed to ask as a pastor. But if I’m honest, that question has crossed my mind. And I’m sure it’s crossed your mind as well.

All of us who have been involved with the church have frustrations and disappointments. There’s no denying it—Christians can be frustrating people! Even though I started working for the church 28 years ago as an intern at New City in Chattanooga, Tennessee (USA), there have been multiple times when I’ve had serious questions about my involvement. Questions about those I work with. Questions about the members of the church. Internal questions—“Am I just wasting my time?”

But again and again over the years, the Lord has answered my questions with a resounding: “Yes, the local church is worth the effort!”

I’ve met remarkable people in the church over the years who have loved me, challenged me, and been used by God to mold me into the man I am today. The pastor of New City in Chattanooga used to say, “The church is God’s vehicle for social change.”

To that, I say yes! And I would add that the church is also God’s vehicle for personal change. The Lord does sometimes work in miraculous ways outside the organized church, but most often, His “tool” for personal and social change is the local body of Christ.

This month will be a special month at New City as we focus on the church. We’ll start a new sermon series titled “We Are The Church,” and membership classes start on September 10th. The sermon series will look at biblical teaching on the church while the classes will dig a little deeper into who we are at New City Church (IPC).

My prayer is that God will bind us together as the body of Christ in a renewed way over the coming weeks. Specifically, the sermons and classes will be leading us to October 8th when a group of us will take vows together as New City Church. 

Please let me know which membership class you’d like to join (Sundays before worship or Saturday, 23 September) in person or by filling out the brief registration form here.

Is the local church worth the effort?  YES!!!And let’s all thank the Lord for His commitment to gathering His people together for His purposes in this world.

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