We are a church that aims to meet friends, meet God, and learn how to live life better.
We are a church that aims to meet friends, meet God, and learn how to live life better.
17 February 2020
Hello and welcome to Monday’s foundations podcast. I’m James and part of the team at STC. Happy half term to teachers and parents out there. We hope you have a great week! This week we are looking at the closing chapters of the book of Colossians. Today and tomorrow’s podcast will feel like two sides of the same coin. As we consider today (Monday) laying down the old life (former ways) and tomorrow we consider embracing the new life (the resurrection life) enabled by Jesus!
The picture used in the Bible passages we have been given is like a wardrobe upgrade. Get rid of the old outfit and begin to clothe yourself in the virtues of goodness and the fruits of following Jesus. I’ll explain more in a moment.
Let’s first talk about clothes. I’m no fashion expert and I have made many mistakes in my time. But I think it is fair to say that even though clothes don’t define a person… throughout time, history and even today they are used as a non-verbal communication to the word of the kind of person you are! Think for a moment of ANY American teen high school drama, such as the Breakfast Club or High School Musical and you will quickly see that clothes can be used to express social status, economic status, or if you are a sports star versus athletes. Even the decision to dress simply and plainly is an expression of your values to the world around you.
I can think back to when I first started University. I had never had a bursary paid into my bank in one lump sum before. I certainly hadn’t been taught the necessary money management skills required to make the most of that injection of cash. I blew the lot on two clothing brands, Jack Wills and Abercrombie, within the first few days. Parcel after parcel arrived and I quickly began to look like a walking advertisement for the brand. I look back at photos from 10 years ago and I think what a waste! Perhaps I am the only one here who cringes slightly at photos from 10 years ago. I’m sure you all have always looked great.
That said, You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices.
These words are a challenge from Paul to live as the new humans we will one day become. To remove… actually the words are stronger than that… to put to death… distorted sexuality and destructive speech and to (v10) have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. More of what that looks like tomorrow… but for today I will say this…
Putting on our new self – looking like and becoming like Jesus – is not an invitation to prioritise how we look over the inner workings of our hearts. That is not the Christian gospel. Jesus had a lot to say about people who worked on the outside only and neglected their internal world. Remember, he once called the religious leaders white-washed-tombs. Likewise, Paul knows that the way to change the world and to overcome the pressures of the day was not to act more pure, do more good and swear a lot less. He knows, like you and me, that genuine and lasting change would come through inward transformation of individual hearts. Jesus, with the gift of the Spirit, provides the power to transform our internal world, to give us a new heart. When that transformation comes, we embrace that new life, the new clothes begin to fit a little better than any of our old clothes ever did.
Today’s Bible story goes on to finish with some beautiful lines about what God’s new family looks like: in this family, “… there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” While we do not stop being Ethiopian or
14 February 2020
Hi everyone, it’s Mick here and welcome to Friday’s Podcast … the weekend arrives tomorrow! In this week’s reflections we have been asking the question ‘Is it possible to change?’ On Monday we saw clearly the answer is yes – it begins with Jesus with the invitation ‘Will you receive Christ this day?’ Tuesday, the fruit of Godly change is thankfulness. Wednesday, a God changed life is a better life because Jesus is Lord. Yesterday, lasting change comes from healthy spiritual growth. Today’s bible passage is Col2:20 – 3:4 from the MSG and our focus verse is 3:1 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it.
As we end this week’s reflections let’s consider again this place Colossae, this small church who are hearing these words of Paul. In its day it had been one of the leading cities in Asia Minor (Turkey) but was now just a small market town as other surrounding cities had grown in prominence – it had undergone great change; not unlike many of our cities in the UK, including Sheffield, which have also seen change as historic industries and business have moved elsewhere.
But Jesus had other plans for Colossae! Paul’s friend Epaphras starts a new church; people joined him and together they began building a Jesus community, initially no bigger than one of our cells then perhaps growing to cluster size. This community would have a profound effect on the city, the region and ultimately the world and even us today as were still talking about it! Is it possible to change? Yes it is, as we live out the Better Life of Jesus!
We live in a world overflowing with beauty and blessing but also so much brokenness – just watch the news – a brokenness that seems touch all areas of life today. Two areas needing radical change now stand out for me as we begin 2020 and proclaim the Better Life of Jesus.
Firstly, Godly change for our young people. We see daily on out TV screens, children suffering across our world; in our own nation children living in poverty; used as drug couriers by evil men and women; young people trafficked and exploited and then the despair of knife crime on our streets. Now, as they say on ‘Crimewatch’ don’t have nightmares about this! … but we cannot ignore it either because it’s happening on our watch!
As Christians, we have a particular high calling from God to nurture and invest in our young people. That’s why at STC we helped pioneer a schools initiative called SHINE which looks to bring real gospel hope to teenagers in our schools through Christian artists and evangelists speaking of the Better Life Jesus brings. It’s why as a church, we invested prayer, time and considerable money in the HIGHER TOUR last year where thousands of teenagers in secondary schools in our region heard and experienced the gospel. So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it.
Secondly, Godly change in our city. I live in the city of Sheffield, one of the largest cities in the UK. I was born in this city as was Tricia my wife. Our children were born here as were four of our five grandchildren. We love this amazing city! Over the years Sheffield has changed as its industrial base has changed – it’s seen really tough times. However, in the same way Jesus had a plan for Colossae all those years ago, I believe he has a plan for Sheffield! It is being redeveloped in so many ways; it is still a world leader in specialised steels, two world class universities, research and teaching hospitals, new centres for creative arts, music, IT etc. and now a Premier League football team! But what of the spiritual life of our city?
As in Colossae then so in Sheffield today or wherever you live – when Jesus Christ is honoured and followed it’s not just people who change but whole communities and ci
13 February 2020
Hi everyone, it’s Mick here and welcome to Thursday’s Podcast … the weekend approaches, but it’s not quite here yet! In this week’s reflections we have been asking the question ‘Is it possible to change?’ A recap tomorrow but today’s Bible truth is this: lasting change comes from healthy growth. Our Bible passage is Col2:13-19 from The Message and our focus verse is v19: we can grow up healthy in God only as he nourishes us. …
Paul reminds us here, as he has all week, that our faith is all about Jesus – it’s Jesus plus nothing else. Jesus has done it all. You don’t need to add anything says Paul. ‘So don’t put up with anyone pressuring you in details of diet, worship services or holy days’ (v.16, MSG). He goes on to say all you need is Christ … He is the Head and we are the body. We can grow up healthy in God only as he nourishes us’ (v.19 MSG).
We change through God’s nourishment. The word ‘nourish’ means to provide resources that allows health and growth. The phrase Paul uses here in the original text is ‘grow with a growth that comes from God’; the word grow means ‘to become greater in size and maturity’. So how does God nourish/feed us so we might be spiritually healthy and grow in body, mind and spirit?
Here at STC we use The Six Marks of a Disciple as our check and balance to encourage healthy spiritual growth; Here’s a reminder; for healthy, holistic growth based around the UP, IN, UP Triangle. We need to grow UP – Bible, prayer and Sunday church; grow IN with midweek community and financial giving to our church; to grow OUT we need to be serving in the church and the world. Put these simple truths into place and you will grow I. Your faith! Why not check out the video teaching on last year’s Grow Project (remember that?); read the written reflection and you will find a link to take you to the video.
6 marks of a disciple
The key to change is how we view Jesus Christ. Many people today of faith and no faith, would recognise that Jesus was a great figure in history although alongside other historical religious leaders. However, is Jesus the the Son of God – the universal Saviour of the world? This is an issue today in our increasingly secular society and liberal church. It was just such an issue in 1 century Colossae. In this small church other ideologies and powers were being put on an equal footing with Jesus. In this letter, Paul, with wonderful gentleness but firmness says no – he states that Jesus is the only Saviour of the world.
That’s why we hold Alpha courses every year at STC giving a clear presentation of the Christian faith and inviting people to receive Jesus and follow him. We launched this term’s Alpha a few days ago and saw 250 people arrive on a cold wintry Monday evening to hear about Jesus!
Real change takes place when we accept Jesus into our lives as Lord, be clear that he is in charge and the keep receiving him afresh every day – people like you and me, followers of Jesus keeping spiritually healthy and living out his life every day in serving our city in the jobs, careers and callings he gives us.
Sounds like the kind of thing that church leaders like me say to busy people like you! You may well ask ‘Mick, how can I help change Sheffield when I have all on trying to change my socks! – trying to deal with the stuff that every day throws at me? If that’s you, here’s a word from the prophet Boris Johnson My friends, as I have discovered myself there are no disasters only opportunities. And indeed, opportunities for fresh disasters!
Here’s a 100% gospel truth; it’s in the disasters of life that God moves powerfully – it’s in the challenges that we find God inspired solutions; Jesus says ‘without me you can do nothing’. So we need more of him every day,
12 February 2020
Hi everyone, it’s Mick here and welcome to Wednesday’s Podcast.
This week we are asking the question ‘Is it possible to change?’ with reflections on Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Today we reflect on another great bible truth ‘a God changed life is a better life because Jesus is Lord’ – our reading is Col 2:8-12 MSG and our focus verse is v10. when you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.
This verse comes at the end of a warning Paul gives this growing Colossian church; he says beware of false teachers who ‘try to dazzle you with their big words and intellectual double talk’ (v.8, MSG). There is still plenty of that around in the church today! Over many years as a church leader I have seen the church in our nation lose its confidence in Christ and dilute his gospel message by listening ‘big words and intellectual double talk’ from false teachers. As Christians, we have negated our responsibility to present Jesus to our nation and in particular to our young people who see church as boring and irrelevant. An ineffective church is the outcome of a liberal gospel. But there is hope; Paul goes on to say this ‘You don’t need a telescope, a microscope or a horoscope to realise the fullness of Christ and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything’ (vv.9–10, MSG).
He is referring to a specific issue which was causing disturbance in this church community; some were saying that men still needed to be circumcised to be a follower of Jesus. For us today this sound very obscure, even silly, but this was a real issue for Paul’s listeners. He makes it very clear again, as he did earlier, that to be a Christian all you need is Christ in your life – it’s not Christ plus something else.
The sign of belonging to Jesus is baptism. Paul says this ‘going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ’; baptism is an outward sign of this God received better life – it says ‘I am a Christian – I am for Jesus- I am his disciple’. Baptisms at STC are very powerful times. I love to see children of believing parents being baptised; to see their grown ups making real promises to live a God life on their behalf and trusting Jesus for their spiritual growth; I then love to see the church family sprinkled with the font waters as we walk among the Gathering to remind them of their own baptism! I love to see adults being baptised by full immersion in our tank; I love to hear them tell their God story of how Jesus has changed them before they go under the water. Literally thousands of adults have been in our tank over the past forty years or so – amazing! These really are powerful moments in the life of STC.
So, Paul says, we receive Christ, we are baptised and then this amazing gift Jesus gives as we say yes to him His power extends over everything (v10) – and that means over you; the power of heaven is released into our lives! Four verses earlier in v6 Paul’s says this just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him We have seen throughout this week’s reflections that real, Godly and good change comes only through Jesus Christ – when I say yes to him he becomes ‘Lord’ of my life.
The word ‘Lord’ is not a term we use frequently today; if we do we get a picture of older people in Westminster dressed in fine robes in the ‘House of Lords’ but we’re not quite sure who they are or what they do. In Paul’s time the word ‘Lord’ was a powerful term because your Lord gave you protection and provision and allowed you to live in peace because his power extended over you and your family – mess with
11 February 2020
Hi everyone it’s Mick here, welcome to Tuesday’s Podcast.
Our reflections this week are asking ‘Is it possible to change?’ Yesterday, we reflected on the truth that all change starts with me but doesn’t end with me remember the question ‘Will you receive Christ this day?’ Change comes through receiving Jesus. Today, we see how the fruit of Godly change is thankfulness. Our reading is Col 2:1-7 and our focus verse is v7b ‘rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. …’
We sometimes overcomplicate the Christian faith. We give the impression that there are lots of add ons to being a Christian – certain extra things you need to understand or do. In today’s reading Paul challenges this kind of false teaching completely. He keeps reminding his readers then, and us today that all you need is Jesus. It is not a matter of adding anything else to Jesus, but rather of putting into practice what you already have received from him: ‘My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught’ (vv.6–7a, MSG).
Then comes this wonderful phrase in v7b overflowing with thankfulness. … or as the Message bible says let your living spill over into thanksgiving . Two words here to reflect upon; firstly, thanksgiving – gratitude to God for his unmerited love in our lives. It’s called ‘grace’; the kindness of God filling our lives.
This letter was written in Greek and the word used here is for thanksgiving is ‘eucharist’ – thanking Jesus for his love and kindness in our lives, supremely seen in his death and resurrection. That’s what we do when we take bread and wine in church, we remember Jesus and say a big thank you to him as we offer our worship and praise. Sadly, communion services in some churches are more like a funeral dirge than a celebration. I love the Eucharist at STC – we keep it simple and thanksgiving just oozes from this celebration gathering!
The second word is ‘overflow’ – the word here means ‘above and beyond the normal’ or ‘exceeding the ordinary’. Paul says that as Christians we are to spill over with thanksgiving – I just love that! How do you know when a glass is really full of water? When it overflows and the table gets soaked! How do you know when a Christian is full of thank yous? When the people around them get soaked in God’s goodness, kindness and generosity! It’s so good to be around people like that – thankfulness is contagious, once you start you it affects other people.
Is it possible to change? Yes it is with Jesus. How do I know I’ve changed. Here’s the test – the fruit of Godly change is thankfulness. After nearly forty years of following Jesus I’m still learning this great truth; to constantly give thanks every day for all he has given me in my life, my amazing wife, our wonderful children and grandchildren, our home, our friends, the work God has called us to, the money he gives us, the list goes on! To let my thank you bubble up and touch those around me. Many years ago, not long after becoming a Christian, a colleague at work at a Monday morning meeting asked me this ‘Mick, it’s Monday, what have you got to be so happy about?’ My reply came straight out: ‘I went to church yesterday!’ Okay, maybe not the best answer, but it was good enough to get a God conversation going! I know it sounds crazy but it actually works! let your living spill over into thanksgiving
Where could I overflow today!
Lord Jesus, thank you that my life is safe with you – rooted and grounded in your love. Thank you for giving my
10 February 2020
Hi everyone, it’s Mick here and welcome to Monday’s Podcast at STC. As a church family, our Vision 2020 is ‘Join Us for the Better Life’ – to become people who actively seek this Better Life that Jesus came to bring us and become his committed people who can bring Godly change to our society one kindness, one generous act at a time.
Last week, my colleague Tom began our reflections in Paul’s letter to the Colossians and I do so hope they encouraged you as much as they did me. This week’s reflections pose this question ‘Is it possible to change?’ Our reading today is Col 1:24 – 29 and the focus verse is v27 ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’
Here at STC we often ask the question ‘How is life’ on a scale 1 – 10? It’s a good check and balance test and a way to take stock where we are with God.
John Lennon said: ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.’ What are we looking for in life? Many people are looking for more than just acquiring more stuff! Perhaps best described by the word ‘hope’?
The word ‘hope’ in the New Testament means ‘trust’ or ‘confidence’ – being absolutely certain that something promised will take place. Christians believe our ‘hope’ is found in Jesus Christ; he gives real meaning to our lives. The former Chief Cashier of the Bank of England, Graham Kentfield once said, ‘I am clear that the meaning of life can only be properly understood in the context of our relationship with God.’
Many years ago, when I was exploring Christianity, friends took Tricia and I to their church. I heard the preacher say this in his sermon ‘There is a Christ shaped hole within us; there will always be an emptiness in your life until it is filled by Christ living within you – will you receive Christ this day?’.
This was the invitation always given after he’d preached by the great evangelist Billy Graham who died two years ago aged 99′. ‘Will you receive Christ this day?’ When we do, he fills that hole in the soul and brings you hope, peace, joy and faith. In that moment you know ‘Christ in you the hope of glory’ and you experience ‘the glorious riches of this mystery’ (v.27).
Paul is in prison writing this letter (1:24). He has a clear calling, to speak of the mystery that was kept hidden but is now revealed (v.26). This passage highlights how Paul’s thinking and preaching, indeed his whole life are focussed on Jesus Christ and making him known. Is mine?
So, Is it possible to change? As Christians we believe the answer is yes; we change when we personally receive Jesus Christ into our lives – in that moment, life transformation begins.
‘Will you receive Christ this day’? I answered that preacher’s call all those years ago and became a Christian. However, I have to answer that call every day of my life – every day I receive Jesus Christ afresh. I am now becoming more like him as every day I receive him afresh – it’s a lifetime journey, one small step at a time.
This evening at STC we will be hosting the largest Alpha course our church has ever done – indeed, it may be the largest Alpha course any single Northern church has hosted. We are praying for 500 on this course; we are praying that many will receive Jesus into their lives for the first time and many others will find their faith powerfully renewed.
So, how is life today, on a scale of 1 – 10? Some days I feel so ill equipped to face the challenges of life but then God reminds me ‘Mick, remember, Christ in you, the hope of glory’ – I am then reminded of this great truth (v29) that I face the challenges of life with ‘all his energy, which so powerfully works in me’.
Lord Jesus, thank you for you invitation to live your life every day. Thank you that it is possible because you live in me. I r
Customer ReviewsSee All
Excellent podcast. Well presented. Clear content. Highly recommended.
Brilliantly short, fantastically insightful
Great thoughts for the day, very encouraging.
Encouraging podcast on how to live out being a Christian in daily life. And it fits into a coffee break: bonus!