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Thought for the Month  - March

What’s it worth?

A frequently asked question on TV Antiques programmes or in a household of teenagers when they are asked to perform a small task! Sometimes it is difficult to put a value on ‘it’ – whether that be an object, a task, a skill or a person’s life. Insurance, including “life insurance” is big business.

So what is our life worth? The Bible encourages us to see ourselves as God sees us. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is speaking to His disciples when he says “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26) He takes it a step further in chapter 10 when in sending out his disciples to preach the message of the coming kingdom, he tells them that even the hairs of their heads are numbered. In the light of the opposition that they would face he speaks words of reassurance: “Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (verse 31).

As we approach and live through Lent, let us receive the assurance of God’s grace: The God who knows all about us – and still loves us – this is grace at its fullest. A priceless, but costly love that Paul speaks of in Romans 5:6. “….God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God says to each one of us: ”You are worth it – because I love you.” How much do we value what God has done for us in Christ? May we respond with Isaac Watts in his famous hymn “When I survey the wondrous cross…”

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were an offering far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine

Demands my soul, my life, my all!

May Christ’s Love and Peace fill you anew this Lent


Thought for the Month  - February

Dear Friends,
February has arrived dark, miserable,  snowy and we can feel a bit down. As I thought of this I remember a time many years ago when I was 16 years old. I lived in Liverpool at the time and we were experiencing a terrible smog much deeper than a fog, you couldn't see all around you. I was on my way home from work, all buses and trams had stopped running and I was all alone. I was very frightened and had no sense of direction, I didn't know what dangers were out there waiting for me,  whether I would fall over or somebody would attack me. I prayed "Please help me" and suddenly a powerful light came out of the darkness and a voice asked if I was alright and where did I live. It was a policeman and he led me right to my door, to the light and warmth and love of my home. As I remember this,  I also remember how Jesus has always been beside me even in the darkest smog. Even when I was too lost to really know it, he was leading me onwards to light., warmth and safety and doing it with love. He is doing the same for you. Just breath "Please help me" and he will.
Blessings and peace to you all.


Thought for the Month  - December

Dear Friends,

Christmas time will soon be upon us again – an important time it seems for the commercial world. Decorations and advertising are already well under way in the shops; I have heard some carols being played. It’s an important time too for families; family reunions and giving of gifts are so much part of the season. Christmas cards are also important; they are a means of keeping in contact with friends we rarely see.

In fact, Christmas is an important time for the entire human race; Jesus came for everyone. His coming is so significant that, for most countries, the years are dated from his birth; His coming is God’s indelible mark on our human history.
As you have read these words, you may well have been nodding in agreement with me. Yet haven’t I forgotten something? What about the build-up to Christmas? What about Advent?

Of course, Advent is of vital importance. During the days of Advent, you will no doubt make many preparations; order a turkey, send out greeting cards, buy presents, put up decorations and lights, prepare special food. But let’s not forget the most important preparation to make for Christmas is to prepare your own heart for God, to be ready for the second coming of Jesus.

Do you remember playing “hide & seek”, and how the ‘seeker’ usually began the hunt with the words “Coming, ready or not!”? Well, that’s just what Jesus says to us with his words: “.... stay awake, because you do not know the day or the hour when your master is coming...”

This Advent, prepare your heart to meet God, because one day you may hear those words: Coming – ready or not!
In love and peace

Rev Tanya

Thought for the Month - November

Remembering, reflecting and re-telling our stories

November is here! Outside, things are changing – evenings are darker now the clocks have gone back, leaves are rapidly changing colour and falling, and our lawn at the manse is covered with windfall apples, with shiny green and red skins, still edible if gathered quickly. Nothing stays the same, but we know that the year’s cycle will turn, and new life will come again.

November is a month for remembering – Remembrance Sunday has an added significance this year with the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. November is a special time for Tony and me to remember our fathers – Tony’s dad’s birthday was the 10th and my dad died on the 5th five years ago. I remember the evening of the day he died, driving to a house group about 8 miles away, and seeing the sky filled with fireworks. It felt surreal, and yet somehow fitting, as I believed that my dad was being welcomed into Heaven. It was devastating to lose him, but somehow I knew that God was in it, that God was with me, and that my dad was with God.

November can also be a month for reflection – a time to reflect on the past and give thanks for the people we love, those still with us and those who have gone ahead of us, and also to thank God for the many blessings we’ve received through the years. I find myself looking through photo albums, remembering holidays and family gatherings, special times with friends, and maybe some sad or difficult times too. In all of this, it is really good if we have a chance to share memories and stories with others. We can often find things in common with others, important and profound things, especially in the community of believers. We know that God has been there with us throughout our lives, sharing in our experiences, walking beside us and somehow ahead of us too. He is a constant presence, a faithful friend and a very present help in times of trouble, as the psalmist says (Psalm 46:1).

Each of us has our own stories to tell and it can be a great encouragement in our Christian faith to hear other people’s testimonies! Testimony simply means telling the story of a ‘God-moment’ in your life. The word ‘testimony’ may conjure up a picture of a ‘road to Damascus’ life-changing encounter with the living Christ, (Acts 9) or a ‘road to Emmaus’ realisation that Christ has been walking beside us (Luke 24:13) … but some testimonies can be subtle and non-dramatic, and yet still be life-changing. I’ve always loved hearing people’s stories and enjoyed being a pastoral visitor years before I felt called to diaconal ministry. It is still my privilege to hear lots of people’s stories as I visit them at Mickle Hill, or in their homes elsewhere in the circuit or in hospital. People share their God-encounters - maybe it came as a sense of deep peace, or of unexpected and overwhelming joy, or something that happened which clearly wasn’t a co-incidence but was a God-incidence.

We have just experienced one of these in our own family. Some of you know that a dear relative of mine, Win, recently died aged 96 in an MHA care home in Wolverhampton. As she lay dying, I wasn’t able to go to her, but my brother & his wife who live in Devon ‘just happened’ to be driving through the Midlands that day, on their way to visit their daughter in Manchester. They spent time with Win, reading the Bible and praying with her. I was so grateful that Win had some family with her, and it blessed my brother Mark and his wife Carolyn too. As Mark said, it was a “God appointment”. Wow – thank you God!

So as you travel through November, reflect on the God-encounters you have had, and thank him for them. If you struggle to remember any, open up your heart and ask God to make his presence known to you. I would love to compile a book of testimonies from across the circuit, so if you want to share yours, please get in touch with me (email:

May God bless us as we remember, reflect and re-tell our stories, and in the words of one of my favourite hymns: We’ll praise Him for all that is past, and trust Him for all that’s to come.’ (Hymns and Psalms 277 by Joseph Hart)

Peace and love, Deacon Fiona

Thought for the Month  -  October


Ive been wrestling with temptation over the last couple of weeks. It all started when I preached from the book of James. I found myself parked in the first chapter of this wonderful letter for the next 4 weeks. Spending time in this passage really took hold of me and finally led me to the issue of temptation.

I doubt there has ever been a person who has not been tempted. For those who yield to temptation after 5 minutes have no idea of the power of temptation and the strength it takes to resist it.

Even Jesus himself was tempted. Only those who resist temptation know how strong it is.

We must never make the mistake of saying, ‘God tempted me’ or that, ‘God made me this way so Im only doing what he has made natural for me to do’. This is a big mistake.

James, clearly tells us God tempts no one. “But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then after the desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin when it is full- grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15).

Have you noticed when we are tempted we start pondering the idea and then we begin talking ourselves into it and finding ways to justify it!

Jeremiah was right when he said,  ‘the heart is deceitful above all things.’ (Jer 17:9).

Temptation however can be a useful teacher when we recognise it for what it is. Temptation pinpoints the weak areas of our moral character and magnifies the fl
aws in our inner nature. If we recognise these weak areas we recognise our propensity to sin and the need for a saviour.

A person’s inner nature (thoughts and secret desires of the heart) determines how they can be tempted in their outer nature. Thus the temptation reveals the possibilities of their true nature. This means temptation will only come to each of us in accordance with the level of our controlling inner nature.

Oh how we need a saviour. What joy there is in knowing we have a saviour who ‘was tempted in every way as we are yet without sin’. (Heb 4:15)

We know temptation is not something we can ever be totally free from in this life. However if we keep our focus on Jesus our Lord and Saviour we begin to see him as a greater worth than the transient desire of the temptation . We have been given the Holy Spirit which makes us conquerors, more than conquerors through him who loves us.

Keep your eye on Jesus and not on the temptation…. Hope this helps

Watch the funny clip below from Francis Chan about temptation God bless.

Rev. Ken

Thought for the Month  -  September

As children start school in September, a new year, a new class and often a new school, they usually have new uniform and bags full of stationery. I remember this start to the new school year as scary and exciting in almost equal measure and one of the things that I loved about it was getting new exercise books. Oh! the promise of those pristine pages! I was always so sure that I would fill this book with neat, lovely work. I was always so hopeful that this book would be the one that was full of correct answers with no mistakes.

 Needless to say, this was not to be. Every book of mine has neat writing for a page or two, then it descends into chaos as I sacrifice legibility to speed. Despite my best efforts, mistakes were made and, helpfully pointed out by the teacher, in red! This happened every year, and it is still the same if I buy a new notebook now (except for it being marked by a teacher)

 It is the same in life. We face new challenges as things change for us; new starts which are a mixture of scary and exciting. We often face these challenges telling ourselves that we will be wonderful and hardworking, and we will not make any mistakes. But in our heart of hearts we know that this is not the case. We all make mistakes and it is never very nice having them pointed out to us.

 But the good news is, Jesus knows this. He knows us all and he knows what we are like. So full of good intentions, so prone to failure in so many ways. But if we acknowledge our mistakes to God, Jesus promised us forgiveness. What a fantastic gift. A fresh start, a new beginning, forgiveness from God. Even better than a new exercise book!

Karen Pattison

Thought for the Month  -  August

I saw a cartoon the other day which made me smile, I t showed an old man and a young child sitting on a bench looking over brown fields and the man said"When i was young lad all these fields were green." At the time of writing we're in the middle of a heat wave, and this is making the world brown and dry our water supply is running out, in some places hose pipe bans are in place we long for rain, we always appreciate things when they've gone, I've also found a great love for drinking water.

 One day Jesus sat beside a well and asked a lady who was broken and despised for water and he tells her that if she knew who he was she would have asked him for water she then begs him
for a drink that she would never be thirsty again at the present time as we long for water remember the one who is waiting for you to ask not for a physical drink but a spiritual one that refreshes taking away your thirst, that moistens, so that we lose the dryness and aridness of life. That satisfies as we come to know the truth because the lady at the well found that Jesus himself is the water of life.

 Are we ready for a good long drink of this sort of water to refresh moisten and satisfy us, Have a lovely Summer enjoying the sun and being drenched by the water of life which Jesus longs to give to each one of us.

Thought for the Month  -  July

Delighted or Disappointed?

Whether it is the outcome of a football or tennis match (World Cup and Wimbledon both underway as I write) – or a birthday present; if we are involved, we are likely to be one of the two…delighted or disappointed! If we are not personally involved, or if we have not invested our emotions, our time or our money – then the result doesn’t matter.

For all of us, however, there may be times when we are disappointed, and this may be a mild “Oh dear – what a shame” to a feeling of total devastation as our hopes and expectations of someone or something are dashed.

It strikes me that there may be 2 causes: either we have been genuinely let down by an event or a person, or our own expectations have been misplaced. People can have bad days: footballers can miss penalties; tennis players can have an injury. We wait for another opportunity – maybe next time. But what about disappointment in our relationships? Do we expect too much of each other? When a couple come for wedding interview, I give them a questionnaire so that they can examine what their expectations are of the marriage. From the small details, of who puts the rubbish out, to if and when they would like children. Verbalising or writing down our expectations, as we do with job descriptions in an employment situation, can be vital to those future relationships.

How about our relationship with God? Is there a mutual delight in our relationship with God, or is there disappointment from either side? God expects much of us: loving commitment, faithfulness, speaking out against injustice and practical working for the good of others. Is God disappointed in us? Without the Holy Spirit there is no way that we can fulfil God’s hopes for us, but with the Holy Spirit, we can grow as disciples of Jesus, and become more like Him. What do we expect of God? Are those expectations too low, not expecting anything including any answers to prayer? That way we will not be disappointed, but neither will we flourish as His people. Alternatively we may expect great things, and sometimes we will be disappointed because we have expected the wrong things – but these are the times when we learn and grow and depend on the God who knows us better than we know ourselves. Romans 5 Since we have been made right with God by our faith, we have[a] peace with God. This happened through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 who through our faith[b] has brought us into that blessing of God’s grace that we now enjoy. And we are happy because of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory. 3 We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. 4 And patience produces character, and character produces hope. 5 And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. He gave us his love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us.

May God bless you in your times of delight and disappointment.


Thought for the Month  -  June

A Foggy Day

A favourite story in our house when the children were little was ‘Postman Pat’s Foggy Day’. Pat gets lost in a fog, has various mix ups with scarecrows and rabbits, then is led back to the village by the sound of the church bells. We read it countless times, and when I looked at the book again recently, it was still so familiar! Summer may seem an odd time for an article on fog, but it can still surround us, hypothetically, on the brightest of days, and a sea mist at the beach can certainly spoil a day out.
We all have times when we can’t see the way ahead and it bothers us. We feel more comfortable when we can see where we are headed. The demands of daily life can often cloud our ability to see God’s way clearly. Sometimes the fog is a result of our unwillingness to deal with the challenges to faith that life presents.
In the Mark Ch 9, we read of the Transfiguration of Jesus and verse 7 says: Then a cloud overshadowed them and from the cloud there came a voice, “this is my Son, Listen to him!”.
God was in the cloud.
In Luke 8 we read of the disciples being in a boat when a storm blew up and the boat was being swamped. But Jesus was resting in the boat with them. It was when the cried out to him, he calmed the storm.
Jesus was with them in the storm.
We are not alone in our foggy times. Like Postman Pat, we need to listen for God’s guidance and takes steps towards his voice.

Thought for the Month  -  May

The Perfect Church?

Dear Friends,

A minister once said that he sometimes had a dream of the Perfect Church:  The worship is perfect and the problems are non-existent.

He then went on to describe in humorous terms the personnel in this perfect church. Neil Down is the Director of Spirituality and Prayer; Dina Mite is in charge of the evangelistic programme: Sally Forth maintains the missionary interest; Benny Factor handles the money, while Barry Tone is the superb Director of Music, ably assisted by his associate Benny Dictus and a super band, The Magnifi-Cats. Interestingly, he didn’t come up with a name for the minister, perhaps I could suggest as in my case, Mia Shepherd!

We may smile, but the church is every one of us. We may not, as the names, suggest, all fit into some kind of perfect model of what we think the church is meant to be about and what each one of us has to offer, but we are all in it together - that’s the point.

However, within the varied expressions of our shared life and ministry we are faced with the question, What on earth is the church for? It is not the first and nor will the last time that question will be posed. In answer to it each one of us may come up with a different response, and all of them may be right to a greater or lesser degree.

Perhaps our choice answers would reflect the amazing depth and variety of the church, and that’s a positive thing not a divisive one. From the very beginning that question has not gone away. The last words of Jesus, spoken to His gathered disciples, were ones which we have come to call the “Great Commission.” These words remind us that we are to “go” ... “make disciples” …. “baptize” …….” teach”.

It is easy to think that this is an instruction simply to do with the increase of numbers, something no doubt we would all like to see. It’s also easy to get hung up on numbers. We know that crowds followed Jesus but following Him is not only about quantity but quality.

If you ask me the question about what our purpose is, then I would say it is the quality of our Christian work and worship which really counts; the depth of our commitment to one another; the integrity by which we look beyond ourselves to the needs of the community and world at large. If we can, working together, get these things right then we go a long way to answering the question, what on earth is the church for?

Every blessing

Rev Tanya

Thought for the Month  -  April

God’s Springtime …
  It’s felt like a long, cold winter and Spring has seemed a long time coming! As the days lengthen and (hopefully) grow warmer, there are more and more signs of new life appearing all around – snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils coming out in turn, lambs gambolling in the fields and leaves beginning to unfurl on the trees. This is the beauty of God’s creation in the physical world, bringing hope and joy - but what about our spiritual lives?

  Sometimes I have felt as if I’m travelling through a “spiritual wintertime” – when the joy of the Lord in me has been buried by worries, like flowers under the snow, when I’m feeling overwhelmed, prayer has been difficult and God has seemed distant. Many of us can experience ‘spiritually wintery conditions’ if our joy is outweighed by anxieties- whether it’s fear of the future, worries about health, or loved ones, or chapel closures, or lack of ministers, or concerns about the wider world.

  If you are travelling through this wintery terrain, take comfort that it is only for a season: joy WILL come again, as ‘God’s Springtime’ (to use Joyce Huggett’s phrase) breaks into our lives. And we never travel alone – God is with us every step of the way, and knows us through and through. In spite of this intimate knowledge, God still loves each of us totally and unconditionally!

  At a retreat back in 2009, we were invited by the Revd. Stephen Poxon (the then President of Conference), to ‘look out for the angels’ along the way as we prepared for ordination. He meant that we should be aware and open to all the things, people and situations that each of us encounter that encourage us – bring us joy, surprise us with beauty, fill us with hope. Once we open our eyes to look out for these ‘angelic encounters’, it’s amazing how many we notice!

  What has brought you joy recently? Many of you will know that Samantha, our daughter, gave birth to our first grandchild in January, Hugo Anthony (named after Grandad Tony!). He has already brought so much joy to all the family. Whilst looking at a photo of Hugo, my wise Spiritual Director, Sister Philippa from Stanbrook Abbey, pointed out a profound truth about God’s deep, unconditional love that many of us already know (but it never hurts to be reminded)! She said, “You love Hugo so much, and he hasn’t done anything to deserve or to earn that love. That’s how God loves us!”. It’s true – believe it! What a source of joy and peace this knowledge brings!

  God’s unconditional love is for everyone, everywhere – may we communicate this love, living it out in our lives beyond the walls of our chapels, spilling it into our communities and spreading the joy and renewal of life that comes from the knowledge that we are all beloved children of God.

Joy, peace and love

Deacon Fiona

Thought for the Month  -  March

It is a great loss to the world when one of the world's greatest evangelists since St. Paul passed away. It is estimated that Billy Graham in his 60 year ministry preached to over 210 million people. A life surrendered fully to God, giving his all and how God used him mightily.

As we approach Easter we are reminded of the message Billy preached so clearly to millions around the world. Easter is not about chocolate and fluffy bunnies! It's all about Jesus and the cross. Jesus Christ, taking our sins upon himself in order that we could be reconciled back to God. For God loves you with an ever lasting love, wanting none to perish but all to come to a saving faith through Christ.

It's not a popular message today and even deemed as offensive by some in our pluralistic, multi cultural and increasing secular, humanistic and atheistic society.
But there is one fact that can not be overlooked. The tomb of Christ is empty. For we do not worship a dead Christ, a memory of a good man or stories to warm our hearts and provide simple moral guidance -No, for we worship a living Saviour.
Jesus told his disciples that he is The Way - for there are not many ways to God but ONE, and that way is through him.
Jesus told his disciples that he is The Truth - not a truth, or a relative truth or even a philosophical truth but The Truth. Truth is found in Christ for Truth is a person and he alone is Truth.
Jesus told his disciples that he is The life - we are dead in our trespasses and sins says Paul in his letter to the Ephesians. But we can have new life, be born again, a new beginning, a fresh start with God today, if we but repent and believe and receive the Holy Spirit and eternal life.
We can't earn our salvation, buy it, barter or negotiate for it. We can't compromise it or even add something to it of our own merit, it is God's gift of grace to those who repent and follow him. This is no cheap grace for it cost him dearly.
Jesus concluded that no one comes to the Father except through him. For he is the gate, the door way, the entrance to heaven. We have to deal with our sins at the cross of Christ, there is no other way.
Are you saved? Do you know in your heart that something is missing, not quite right?
Have you a longing to discover what you see in others but lack in yourself? 
Turn to Christ, surrender to him, as the hymn writer says, trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.
I have included a link below which is Billy Grahams last message preached to the world. Take a look and tell someone else how they can also be saved.

God bless.
Rev. Ken
Ambassador of Christ
2 Corinthians 5:20

Thought for the Month  -  February

What do Valentines Day and Ash Wednesday have in common? Well, one answer could be: chocolate! Chocolate given to a loved one (heart-shaped of course) – or chocolate denied for the sake of a loved one! I have a fridge magnet that says “I’d give up chocolate – but I’m no quitter!”
This year Ash Wednesday falls on 14th February – St Valentines Day. We may not observe the latter – but in circuit we have the opportunity to observe Ash Wednesday with a circuit service at Kirkbymoorside at 7pm, giving us a focus for the beginning of Lent. On Saturday 17th February we have a Circuit Day of Prayer and Fasting (whether that is fasting from all food or some, from technology, or from those things that distract us from prayer). Of course, every day throughout the year, we have the privilege of prayer – but Lent (as with Advent) can be a special time to draw near to God. That may involve denying ourselves – it may involve taking a new direction in thought or activity.  Journeying  with Jesus, through the wilderness times, through temptation, through highs and lows of life – I pray that we may gain fresh insight into God’s love for us, made known through Jesus Christ our Saviour  – and find that our love for God grows day by day too.
Valentines Day and Ash Wednesday do have something in common – Love!
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 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, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-1


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