Welcome to Banbury Evangelical Free Church

Banbury Evangelical Free Church was founded in 1984, as a Bible-based, Christ-centred congregation seeking to proclaim the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ and to serve Christ in every aspect of our lives, both as individuals and together.

Monday, 24 May 2010

The Memory of the Just is Blessed

I don't think I will ever *enjoy* taking funerals. However, it is a great privilege to speak at the funeral of a Christian believer, as I did this morning. Mavis Parks had been a member of the congregation at BEFC for most of the church's existence. Included among her papers was the following testimony:

You ask me how I know I’m going to heaven;
You think that I am arrogant and vain
In daring to suggest it, let alone
Be confident; be sure.

I used to think Good Works would get me there;
Or giving cash to “causes great and good”.
I said, “I’m not a sinner, I’m all right;
I’ve not committed murder, thrown a bomb,
Abused, misused or hated anyone.”
And then they told me, “ALL have sinned (come short
Of God’s high standard).” Well, I know that’s true.
So all was hopeless; what was I to do?

And then I heard of Jesus, why He came
From Heaven’s glory to this wicked world.
Yes, then they told me that He came to bear
The punishment for sin, and Calvary
Was not an accident but God’s great plan
To make heaven possible for sinful man.

And when I heard of his great love for me
And how he suffered; then I wept. I came
In deep repentance, sorry for my sins,
And asked for pardon. No one asks in vain.
Now Jesus is the friend who, day by day,
Gives comfort, strength and help upon the way.

And one day Heaven will be full
Of those who claim no merit of their own;
And glorified and honoured there will be
The One who died at Calvary, for me.

Mavis will be missed. But in the light of the coming resurrection, we do not sorrow as others who have no hope! (1 Thessalonians 4.13)

Monday, 17 May 2010

Daylight meeting

Last Wednesday evening we had a visit from John Scott of Daylight Christian Prison Trust to tell us about their prison ministry. It was an informative and stirring meeting. For me, the following things were particularly thought-provoking: (1) The number of genuine conversions taking place among prison congregations: a preacher can realistically expect this to be the result of his preaching. (Why is that too often not the case when preaching to a "free" congregation?); (2) The need for churches to be prepared to adapt and change in order to be welcoming places for ex-convicts who, even if converted, do not find churches easy places; (3) The question of whether or how any in our church should consider having some involvement in this work. Plenty of food for thought and prayer!

Monday, 10 May 2010

A certain future?

Following an inconclusive General Election last week, the only thing certain about the UK's future at the moment seems to be – uncertainty! Whoever ultimately claims – or retains – the keys to Number 10, they can by no means be sure that they will still be in residence a year from now, facing the possibility of another election, or a coup from within their own ranks, in the months that lie ahead. Notwithstanding my long-standing interest in politics, it was a blessed relief to leave such matters yesterday and to be reminded of the one who is King above all – the one for whom thrones and dominions and rulers and authorities were created – as I was preaching on that glorious passage in Colossians that proclaims the supremacy of Christ as God and Creator of all. What ever our politicians may have in store for us, with our trust in Him we can have confidence in a future that is both certain and glorious!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

The Banner Conference, 2010

It is already nearly a week since the 2010 Ministers' Conference at Leicester came to an end. As ever, it was a spiritually refreshing time, and I am grateful to the church here for facilitating my attendance at the conference. The stated theme was on being “men for our time”, but for me the message that came through most strongly, both through the formal addresses, the question-and-answer times, and the informal conversations between sessions and over meals, was the pressing need for a close walk with the Lord in prayer – something which has surely been a need in every time! In this respect, O Palmer Robertson's lecture on Matthew Henry's “Method for Prayer” was especially helpful; while Ted Donnelly's closing sermon on John 21.15-17 was both heart-warming and challenging. I returned home at the end of the conference with a renewed desire to serve my Saviour more effectively, with love to Him and to the people entrusted to my care.