Following an update from our church planting teams, Ness unpicked and unpacked what Open Heaven Church could look like through eyes of faith over the next five years. Through trial, error, learning, prayer and the grace of God could we reach every outreached neighbourhood and people group in our town?
Psalm 46 says ‘There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.’ As a church we are called to be a river people. To live in the promises, provision and potential of the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah 11 is often used as a passage of scripture to commission others into calling. But tucked away at the end of its opening paragraph we read the following. ‘He will delight in the fear of the Lord.’ What does it mean to have awe and reverence for God? Have we as a church lost what it means to fear God?
In Luke 13 Jesus tells us a parable of a fig tree given a second chance in spite of its inability to grow fruit. When we look at the church in the UK with our physical eyes, we see decline. But as we look to the history of revival often renewal has come when the church is on its last legs. As we prepare ourselves for what God might do next, we need to draw nearer to Christ. With Christ. In Christ. For Christ. Through Christ. This is the grammar of the Christian faith. Can we awaken hope for a new generation of believers?
If God interviewed you, how would you answer? You've suited up, ready to present yourself to the King of Kings. Queue cards in hand, sweat on your brow, you step into His office - ready to reply to anything thrown at you. Quite suddenly the tables turn, and your whole life gets redefined. Who you are. What your past experiences were. What you expect from God.
Our Giving Sunday gathering is a chance to play your part in a radical act of generosity which will transform our church and our local community. We've talked you through how and where our finances have been invested, and outlined how your giving could benefit others as we look to raise the money needed for another year of Kingdom growth.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians that God loves a cheerful giver. Each and every year our Giving Sunday gatherings continues to grow in abundance, celebration and joy as we come together to contribute to the Kingdom of God. Find out more about giving at openheaven.org/give.
On Vision Sunday we outlined the vision for the 2019-2020 academic year. Focusing on the last 5 years of our three goals; Be an Apostolic Resource Community, Be a City of Refuge and Be an Open Heaven we unpacked how we've grown in these areas, and consider what growth looks like in the future. On Giving Sunday next week we'll talk you through how and where our finances have been invested, and outline how your giving could benefit the church, our community and ultimately expand the Kingdom of Heaven here in Loughborough as we continue to make disciples who establish Heaven on Earth. This is an essential, not to be missed podcast for anyone who considers themselves part of the Open Heaven Church family.
1 Timothy 4:8 says "Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever."
Over the next two weeks in OH2 we'll be talking about discipleship. Being a disciple (similar to an apprentice) of Jesus is a life-long journey. Thankfully, we are not called to do this by ourselves. At Open Heaven we have a culture of discipleship that is unusual. We set a high bar of expectation that if you want to be a part of Open Heaven, you must want to grow, be challenged and changed. It is not a Church to belong to if you are happy to stay the same! Discipleship is a biblical principle and a model with a proven track record of helping people grow in their relationship with God, and in all aspects of their lives.
Across the library of scripture we see time and time again God releasing His creative vision through others such as Noah, Bezalel, Nehemiah, Joseph, David. This summer in OH2 we unpacked these stories through a series of interviews. You can listen back to all five interviews here.
Our first interview was with Gregory Smith from The Wall. The Wall of Answered Prayer is a piece of architectural sculpture built on the outskirts of Birmingham about Jesus. Made of a million bricks, each one represents an answered prayer. With the land now secured the building will start in 2020.
In our second interview we spoke with Joe McSharry. Joe told us about how his previous job in the Social Services set him up for working for Open Heaven, his vision for love, justice and equality in Loughborough and how God gave him ideas for his new role as the Chair of the Charnwood Food Poverty Group.
On the third Sunday of the series we interviewed Harry Venning. Harry told us about the transformation he's seen in his life since becoming a Christian and how this life changing decision has impacted his workplace Sport England.
David Scarborough was our forth interviewee. David spoke to us about his work at Modern Painters, New Decorators, an art gallery, shop and studios in the middle of Loughborough. The aim of Modern Painters, New Decorators is to re-energise the local by enabling artists to bring value and worth to the community.
Lastly we spoke with teacher and musician Stephen Tillyer. Steve told us about his experience in education and the everyday prayers he uses. We talked about having a vision for Loughborough and our frontline - whether that be school, home or the workplace. In the story of Nehemiah, we read of a man set apart by God to rebuild the ancient holy city of Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit wants to partner with us in co-creating His Kingdom. What is God calling you into? What job or community are you called to?
The word baptism comes from the Greek word baptizo, which means to immerse, to saturate and to submerge. This reflects the New Testament style of baptising, which happened in seas and rivers. At Open Heaven, we practice full immersion baptisms in water, as it is the practice that was set by Jesus and the early church. It is full of symbolism about burying our old ways of living in the water and being lifted out into new life.
John shares about God the Father for our Fathers Day gathering 2019.