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From the Pastor's Pen

What to expect at HICC

We welcome you today as we celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday and hope that you will feel at home in the family of HICC. As you walk through this special occasion with us you will soon discover that HICC is a unique fellowship made up of ordinary people from over forty different nations.

We are a group of people who encounter the love of God through Jesus as we journey through life. Our relationship with Jesus influences every dimension of life. In our marriages, our homes, our work and life in general, Jesus is Lord in everything. He is the one who makes life work the way that God has designed and, like our Queen, we exist to serve the same King she serves. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We are proud to have the opportunity of introducing you to Jesus today and our prayer is that you too will discover the most important relationship there can ever be is possible for you. If the Queen needs Jesus to be her King and has pledged her life to His service, then you and I can make the same pledge and make a real difference in our generation.

During the service, you will hear songs that praise the Lord as we worship. There will be a sense of joy and celebration because knowing Jesus makes us the happiest and most satisfied people in the world. You will hear people tell their own story about how they came to personal faith in Jesus and the difference he has made in their lives. A short message will be delivered from the Bible and an opportunity to bring a personal response to Jesus will be given as we pray together. No pressure or persuasion will be applied. Your decisions must be real and from your heart, however, you will be encouraged to take a step of faith because without the exercise of faith we cannot respond to God.

A wonderful team of HICC partners has prepared for your visit. We have been praying for you. Someone will have invited you or even brought you to this special place. It may well be a different type of experience from what you expected ‘Church’ to be, but be assured that everything in the service is in line with the Bible. We hope you will relax, be at peace and be open to what God wants to do in your life.

Finally, we hope that this will be the first of many times you come to HICC and as you see the genuine love of God in the family you will sense the warmth and acceptance from each of us. Thanks for coming. Enjoy the celebration and the food.

May God bless you today.
Pastor Paul & Miriam

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From the Pastor's Pen

Preparing For Church Growth

There are far more ingredients needed to cause a fellowship to grow than we may think even though the Lord has promised ‘to build His Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’.  God has placed within the Church the necessary gifting in order that it might grow. Ephesians 4 v 11 tells us that it was Christ who gave some to be Apostles, prophets, evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers. These Holy Spirit gifted people are raised up to ‘prepare God’s people for works of service’ and, as each ministers, the body of Christ is built up. (Edified)  Three measurable outcomes happen as believers respond in a right heart; 1. Unity in the Faith. 2: Knowledge of the Son of God. (Relational Knowledge- not just facts) 3: Maturity in Christ. (Character transformation attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ)

The passage continues to remind us that further factors are vital that Church growth might really happen. Let me point them out for you:

  • SPIRITUAL STABILITY: It is vital that we become stable in our spiritual walk with Christ. The foolish man built his house on sand while the wise man built his house upon the rock(Christ is the rock) It is knowledge of the Word and application of Truth that will stabilise our spiritual life
  • SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT- to know, understand and judge in the realm of the spirit. In the early Church there were false teachers who presented something that was as near to the truth as possible, but was in actual fact as far away from truth as it could be. Error is error no matter how cleverly or deceptively presented. We are living in times when we need to discern that which truly is of God. The Word is our measuring plumb line which keeps us on the straight path. We walk the narrow way because the wide path leads to destruction. May God sharpen our spiritual discernment. HICC NEEDS TO BE A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE LEARN AND DISCERN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THAT WHICH IS OF GOD AND THAT WHICH IS NOT.
  • SPIRITUAL SUPPORT: The Church should be an environment shaped by support mechanisms that selflessly serve to support the weak and enable them to grow strong until they take their place in affective service. In our garden we have a nesting box that has become the home of nesting blue tits. They busily work away and prepare for babies to hatch. The other morning I saw that a cat had stealthily climbed up a nearby bush to try to reach the box. I burst into the garden and scared away the cat. I stepped in to protect. One day the parents will push the young to fly. When they know they are ready they will encourage them to leap and fly. Before that time they will practice and strengthen their wings until they are mature enough to take the step. HICC NEEDS TO BE A PLACE WHERE THE YOUNG CAN GROW STRONG AND BE READY TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP. TO SOAR ON WINGS AS EAGLES. This does not mean leave, it means achieve.
  • SPIRITUAL LOVE: There is nothing sentimental about pure spiritual love. This love is God produced and grows as Christ is shaped within us. It is strong love and yet gracious. We need to know this love that surpasses knowledge because we rely on this love and must live a life of love. Galatians 5 v 6 says………’The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love’. That which is of God manifest through the vehicle of our nature and lives. HICC NEEDS TO BE FILLED WITH THIS LOVE. LOVE THAT STANDS THE TEST AND STILL CONTINUE TO LOVE WITHOUT LIMITS.
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From the Pastor's Pen

The Servant Queen

In the recent publication; ‘a tribute for her Majesty’s 90th birthday’ we are challenged by observing her life lived in service to her people. Her commitment to a lifelong vow made to God and the nation has sustained and enabled her to persevere in times of great challenge.

Our Queen clearly recognises that her authority comes from God and not just from our government. The book itself, which is beautifully produced by the Bible Society, HOPE and the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, is entitled, ‘The Servant Queen and the King she serves’. This says it all and clearly states that we have a Queen who is not ashamed to confess her faith in the True and Living God. In her foreword to the Book she reminds us of a poem quoted by her father in his Christmas Day speech, broadcast in 1939, which was the year that our country went to war for the second time in a quarter of a century:

I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the year; ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown’. And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.  That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.’

As a nation we are not at war in the conventional sense but we are engaged in a war against terrorism and all who oppose peace in the world. It is right that as believers we recognise in the spiritual realm there is a war being fought, and often this is played out in the natural across the face of the world as nation rises against nation. What happens in the spiritual realm is often mirrored in the natural realm because the Word of God says that ‘our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.’ Ephesians 6 v 12

We have all gone out into the darkness because the Bible explains that this world lies in the arms of the evil one, but we are making our journey with our hand firmly fixed in the hand of God. ‘We are in the world but not of the world’ because we belong to God. We are called to serve the King of Kings who calls us to live with the same type of commitment we have seen in our Queen. God save the Queen and long may she reign over us.

 

 

 

 

 

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From the Pastor's Pen

Building Wisely and Well

What a joy it is has been to see people coming to Christ and being baptised. Many fellowships do not see or experience what we are walking through in HICC in these days. It is all by His grace and by His hand. It does however, bring great responsibility to each partner and attendee. Our responsibility is to ‘live a life worthy of the calling we have received’. We must operate in life in such a way as to release the full expression of God’s Kingdom among us.

How do we do this?

The answer is found in how we serve together. In HICC we use the Biblical term ‘partnership’. Partnership is about walking in the unity of the Spirit and aligning ourselves as one body to the purpose of God. What an exciting prospect for us all. Where else can one find such purpose and cooperation? It is spiritual work with eternal accomplishments. This lifts it beyond just being part of a secular organisation or club. We are part of the ‘Ekklesia of God, which is the community of heaven who are still on the earth because we are a ‘people belonging to God’. We must be willing partners and serve with a right heart and spirit. It is a joy and privilege to serve together in the work of the Lord.

Who should be involved?

The answer is found in our calling. We believe God called you to belong to Himself and has placed you in the Church right where He wants you to be so it is not an accident that you are part of HICC. We hope you will become a partner with us because Partnership is such a vital part of our DNA as a Church. We want you to be fulfilled and complete what God has called you to do, and the best way for this to happen in HICC is to partner with us. This is where we agree to walk together as co-workers with Christ. It lets the leaders and the family know that you are committed and willing to serve alongside others in the family of HICC. (Please complete the form in the newsletter and pop it in the white letterbox in the foyer and we will process your request)

Why build this way?

The answer is because wise building requires strong structures. You have perhaps heard me say that what holds a building together is unseen. The foundations and steel structures are mostly unseen, but without these vital components the building would collapse. Jesus is the foundation and His completed work is the only foundation upon which we can build, but we have the responsibility of building wisely upon rock and not sand. Our prayer is that every partner will serve to build the fellowship wisely and that you will remain at your post, belong to the family and serve with all your heart.

Finally; Miriam and I are available to support you as we walk forward together. Let’s enjoy the journey as God takes us into new days together.

Pastor Paul & Miriam

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Michael's Missives

Britannia

At the height of Roman Britain, the Empire included all of Britannia, the Latin name for Great Britain (first invaded by Julius Caesar in 55 BC). People living in the Roman province of Britannia were called Britanni. The Emperor Claudius paid a visit while Britain was being pacified and was honoured with the agnomen Britannicus as if he were the conqueror. But, the noteworthy thing is that the island of Great Britain has never been completely conquered, even in Roman days.

Britannia was personified under Hadrian and Antonius Pius and depicted as a beautiful young woman, wearing a Centurion’s helmet and wrapped in a white toga with her right breast exposed. She is usually shown seated on a rock, holding a spear, and with a spiked shield propped beside her.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Britannia lost most of its symbolic meaning until the rise of British influence and later, the British Empire.  As British power and influence rose in the 1700s, Britannia became an increasingly more important symbol and a strong rallying point among Britons.

By the Victorian time, Britain renewed Britannia. Still depicted as a young woman with brown or golden hair, she kept her Corinthian helmet and her white robes, but now held Poseidon’s three-pronged trident and often stood in the ocean, representing British naval supremacy. She also usually held or stood beside a Greek hoplon shield, which sported the British Union Jack: also at her feet was often the British Lion, the national animal of England. Another change was that she was no longer bare breasted, due to the prudishness of Victorian Britain.

In the Renaissance tradition, Britannia came to be viewed as the embodiment of Britain, in imagery that was developed during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Britannia first appeared on the farthing in 1672, followed by the halfpenny later the same year; the female model used, then and later, was Charles II’s mistress, the Duchess of Richmond, who appeared on the penny coin between 1797 and 1970, and on the 50 pence coin since 1969. When the Bank of England was granted a charter in 1694, the directors decided within days that the device for their official seal should represent “Britannia sitting looking on a Bank of Money”

With the disestablishment of the British Empire there have been moves to remove Britannia from the back of our 50 pence coin and portray an image more current to our society, and this led me to muse on the symbols of Christianity, and the current day tendency, through aggressive materialism and atheism, to reject the public wearing of a cross.  I was wondering therefore how these old-age symbols could be changed in keeping with the present manic trend of being politically correct and reflecting the contemporary trends in church society. Instead of a fire we could have an iceberg, instead of a cross, a personified saint indicating another way to God.

The old adage “if it ain’t broke don’t mend it” comes to mind. Why must we change anything, just because world systems and values become undermined and corrupted? The image or representation of Christianity is a cross and a fire: the one indicating Calvary and the other Pentecost. The death of Christ speaks of forgiveness, supreme love, and eternal life and the upper room outpouring of the Holy Spirit testifies of quickening and gift impartation. In reality the church is now known by the fire rather than the cross, as the book of Acts has not closed, but the fire and the cross are unshakable to Christianity.

“Ah!” You say, “That’s a sign of age,” well, thank God for that. If youth and middle age means we throw everything away that speaks of value, and undermine foundations of greatness, then may I be the only dissenting voice. The reason Billy Graham, now over 90 is honoured world-wide, is because he has never changed his message. He refuses to be political, although he has advised most Presidents over the last forty years. He preaches the simple unadulterated gospel; good news to all, repentance from sin, acceptance of the cross as the only means of salvation. Who can doubt the supreme importance of the cross and the fire-intensity of his life?

Politicians may be able to remove Britannia from our coins and England from the map, but they can’t rub out the marks of Christ in an individual life. Theologians may try and subvert the church, but they cannot change one sinner to resemble Christ, but the Holy Spirit can. He puts his indelible stamp on the coinage of Christendom.

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Michael's Missives

Why go to Church?

I have written down 15 reasons why we should attend a worship service. It could be more, but we will leave it at that number. This knowledge can be used as an evangelising tool as the reason we gather together weekly but not weakly! It is always wise to have a reason for the faith we hold and the practise we adopt. Here they are:

    1. Because people who attend church usually find a sense of peace and spiritual refreshment not found in a worldly atmosphere.
    2. Because those people who are really saved enjoy the fellowship of other Christians.
    3. Because they are able to hear God speaking in and through the prophetically preached word.
    4. Because they can participate in true worship with others as preparation for that great and final all-eternity everlasting praise time.
    5. Because it is a place where they can partake and be part of supernatural surprises.
    6. Because it is a place where God can speak to their heart about destiny and guidance.
    7. Because it is a living testimony to their neighbours that we are committed Christians.
    8. Because it is a place where communion is dispensed and they remember Christ’s death, resurrection and second coming.
    9. Because people who attend church usually live longer [a proven fact].
    10. Because God commands itdo not forsake the assembling of yourselves together” [Hebrews 10:25].
    11. Because it is a place where healing, renewal and revival occurs.
    12. Because it is a place where multinational unity exists as opposed to the frictional world system. It is a microcosm of heaven.
    13. It is a place where money is not worshipped and greed is discouraged and advice is given on how debt can be conquered and cured.
    14. Because it is a place where fellowship can grow into friendship and friendship into relationship.
    15. Because it sets a right example to our children [If we have any] and helps brings them up in the way of God in their formative years. They will do what you do not what you say!

Recently, I read an article entitled “Why a rest is as good for you as sleep.” It was a synopsis by Louise Atkinson who analysed a book by Dr. Matthew Edmund, The Power of Rest, she extracts various facts and concludes the article like this “Praying has similar benefits. U.S. research has shown that people who regularly attend religious services live longer than those who do not.” This is the point I made in No. 9 above! I had already discovered that fact in my own research several years ago. It is the best longevity pill on the Market!

We have to ask therefore why there are possibly more Christians outside the church than in it. Perhaps it is because they have forgotten that the principle of the tithe also includes their time, which amounts to 16.8 hours weekly freely given to God for his worship and service. The New Testament Christians realised this and set an example that is hard to follow. Hear God’s word:  “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple,” [Acts 2:46]. The result was this: “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” [Acts 2:47]. The example of the early disciples was such that it attracted a multitude of people who saw that their faith was real; so real that it was manifested in a daily expression of congregational unity and worship.

I ask myself if the modern Christian understands what Christ has really done for them; the complete and wonderful salvation, with sins forgiven, and destiny secured. Have they marked-time in their growth seeing Christ only as a Saviour, failing to embrace him as the ‘beloved?’ Perhaps their faith is just a cursory appreciation of his help in kicking the sin habit, or even less than that?  I ask myself the question: ‘maybe my salvation is different from theirs?’ but wonder how that could be, because we are one family with Christ as head of the body. I know that one day it will be church for eternity, so in the now I want to be prepared for that by attempting to mix with people I will see in that future time.

 

 

 

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Michael's Missives

The Wide-mouthed Jar

“In fact, he taught only by illustrations (parables) in his public teaching. (Mark 4:34 – TLB). Thus was the ministry of Jesus. “The word parable signifies in general a comparison, or a parallel, by which one thing is used to illustrate another. It is a likeness taken from the sphere of real, or sensible, or earthly incidents, in order to convey an ideal, or spiritual, or heavenly meaning.” “He that has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 13:9). It is taking simple or common objects to cast light on spirituality or religion. It has been well said of the parable that “truth embodied in a tale shall enter in at lowly doors.” It abounds in events and daily figures and is connected with two words the root meaning of which is “likeness.”

I was once worshipping on the front row of the church and saw two things connected with the platform and projector. These could be called parables. The first – an access hatch on the platform adjacent to the pulpit which covered the baptistery had been recently lifted and reset and the carpet nap was in the wrong direction and therefore showed darker than its surroundings. I asked two of the male singers to lift it for me and replace it the right way and sure enough it blended into the uniform colour of the platform carpet. The lord said to me, “It was in the right position but was facing in the wrong direction, like some leadership,” who are in the rightful setting but their vision can be in the wrong direction.

The second instance – as I looked at the two screens to read the worship words I noticed that one was out of focus – you could clearly read the words but the picture was elongated as it pushed past the edge of the screen. Again I sensed God speaking to me to the effect that “Vision should not only be clearly seen like the worship words, but also have boundaries, it should not over-sail like the songs on the screen.” Thus, vision must have a boundary lest it becomes fanaticism. It acts as a limitation that keeps it within focus and a fact of possibility.

Here is one parable which I think has great significance in today’s frenetic world. “One day, an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration (parable) those students will never forget. As he stood in front of the group of high-powered over-achievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz” and he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouth jar and set it on the table in front of him. He also produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class yelled, “Yes.” He replied, “Really?”

He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. He then asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was on to him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. He reached for a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel.

Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good.” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?” One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!”No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point.

The truth of this allegory is, ‘If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.’ What are the ‘big rocks’ in your life, time with loved ones, your faith, your education, your dreams, a worthy cause, teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you’ll never get them in at all. Therefore, ask yourself this question, “What are the ‘big rocks’ in my life?” Then, put those in your jar first.