Virtual Services: Sunday 12th July

Pastor David Fielding
David Sherwood

Dear Castlefields Friends,

Here is the usual Sunday ‘CNews’  with details of the hymns, Bible Readings & message titles for Sunday.
It also contains a handy map which will be useful for following the Bible Reading & Message in the morning.

There is also the ‘Junior Learning Together‘ sheet for the children to complete.

This week we are trialling video in the morning — so be prepared to see David as well as hear him!

As with all first time attempts at anything new, there are a number of glitches that will need ironing out for the future but we gradually want to make our services resemble the usual pattern that we were all used to before ‘lock down’.

We continue to explore opportunities to meet together physically rather than virtually, so please pray for us as we meet to try and advance these arrangements this week.

Evening services will remain on the website in audio version for the present time.

Every blessing.

David, Peter, Richard, Martin & Lee

Download AM & PM hymn sheets.

You can listen to the messages on the website front page or via these links: AM message from Pastor David Fielding & PM message from David Sherwood..

Download children’s activity sheets.

These messages are now available on Spotify & Apple Podcasts.

Virtual Services: Sunday 5th July

Pastor David Fielding
Peter Leyshon-Jones

Dear Castlefields Friends,

In our usual way, we are attaching the following items for tomorrow’s services:

  • CNews with hymns, Bible Readings & Message titles.
  • ‘Junior Learning Together’ sheet for the morning service.
  • Activity sheet for younger children for the evening service.
  • Activity sheet for older children for the evening service.

The Government are allowing churches re-open this Sunday but the process is complex and, in our case made more challenging by the size of our building. It will be very difficult to comply with mandatory hygiene & ‘self distancing’ requirements in our premises.

Please pray specifically for a way forward for us to adapt or use a suitable building for our morning services.

Next week, we hope to use video to advance our connection with you but for a time, other services will be audio based and our mid week prayer meetings will remain on Zoom by invitation.

We trust the Lord to provide for all our needs as His care for His church is infinite and perfect.

Every blessing.

David, Peter, Richard, Martin & Lee

Download AM & PM hymn sheets.

You can listen to the messages on the website front page or via these links: AM message from Pastor David Fielding & PM message from Peter Leyshon-Jones.

Download children’s activity sheets: Morning sheet; Evening sheet (younger children); Evening sheet (older children).

These messages are now available on Spotify & Apple Podcasts.

Virtual Services: Sunday 28th June

Pastor David Fielding
Peter Fry

Dear Castlefields Friends,

Here is ‘CNews’ No 42 with the hymns, Bible readings & message titles.

As usual there is also a Junior Learning Together sheet for the children to work through.

As the ‘lock down’ gradually eases we will need great prayer & patience as we work through the necessary steps to steer our Sunday activities back to something like “normal”! In the meantime, our on line services continue in audio format, so please pray with us that they will be greatly blessed to many far & wide, as well as our usual congregation

We pray God’s richest blessing on the ministry of the Word for young and old alike.

Every blessing,

David, Peter, Richard, Martin & Lee

Download AM & PM hymn sheets.

You can listen to the messages on the website front page or via these links: AM message from Pastor David Fielding & PM message from Peter Fry.

Download the children’t activity sheet.

These messages are now available on Spotify & Apple Podcasts.

Six Essentials for a church in ‘lock down’ (& beyond!)

“Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come —and the books, especially the parchments”. 2 Timothy 4 v 13

Please read 2 Timothy and especially note v13 in the context of chapter 4 v 6 – 18. 

When we read Paul’s second letter to Timothy, we read the last remaining letter of the Apostle. He is in ‘lock down’; literally! He is writing to his dear young friend Timothy who is the Pastor of the church in Ephesus. Paul is in prison in Rome and believes that soon he will face the Roman court once again – and this time the end of his life will come. 

His writing is full of pathos and feeling, yet realism and instruction. Luke seems to be in Rome and able to visit Paul but his request is for Timothy to come, if he possibly can. His request for Timothy to bring with him the three “essentials” mentioned in v13 is very instructive. 

Using this verse, its context and the wider reminder of other Scriptures, we can apply this request pertinently to ourselves at Castlefields in our ‘lock down’ in these days. Whilst there are many other things that we would love to have, here are six ‘essentials’ for us to ensure that we have in place as our ‘lock down’ eases. 

1. A right perspective of the ‘big picture’. Paul had been in prison in Rome before – but not quite like this! Note Acts 28 v 30/31. This time it was serious (v6). All around him things were changing & normality was crumbling (v10- 16). That is just what has been happening in our days of lock down. But Paul had an awareness of the “big picture” (v17/18). It needs to be the same for us. It is essential that our eyes look in faith beyond the present trials to the big picture of God’s sovereignty & His purposes for the church. “Mission Unstoppable”, begun in Acts, still goes on and will be completed, we should not lose sight of that truth. 

The Prophet Habakkuk lived in desperate days but in Hab 2 v 1 we read that he went up into a ‘watch tower’ to wait & see what God would do. There he received the encouraging word of Hab 2v14: “For the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea”. 

Personally, we must not forget that the Lord is progressively sanctifying us so that we might be “blameless” at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess 5 v 23/24). It may be, that through our ‘lock down’ that is being achieved in specific ways – so we must recognize that and thank God for it. 

2. A right love for the local church. God has brought us all here to Castlefields for His purposes and we are to love the church into which He has placed us. It is very easy to become dissatisfied and envious of larger, more ‘tech savvy’ & prosperous churches. We can easily ‘church hop’ on line but this can result in us becoming critical and ‘picky’ with the leadership and with the way things are done here. Excessive comparisons can leave us feeling that Castlefields is a very ordinary sweet in a bag of other church goodies that are on offer. We all need to place ourselves into the spirit and practical outworking of Romans 12. Timothy was reminded by Paul that in Ephesus, the local church into which he had been called, he was to “hold fast” (1v13), “be strong” (2v1) and there to faithfully “preach the Word” (4v2). All that was to be “in season and out of season”. In other words, at all times, whatever the circumstances; even in ‘lock down’. 

3. A right involvement in service for the Lord. Paul was a man who had travelled many miles, preached to thousands, pastored, mentored & taught to great effect. He was a man of massive ability and usefulness; and yet, now he is ‘locked down’. Was this a time to give up and give in? No! Paul calls for “books” – so that he can read and learn yet more of God, and “parchments” – paper to write on. Maybe further Epistles were in his mind, to Timothy and other churches. He saw that ‘lock down’ was still a time to serve! How Timothy must have benefitted from this wonderfully encouraging & practical letter. How we still benefit from it today, as inspired Scripture. We are glad that Paul did not give up on serving the Lord in ‘lock down’.

Our preaching series in Acts chapter chap 8, impressed upon us how we might come alongside someone – although not in a chariot these days! – and share the gospel with them. We could ask them, about the Bible they are reading, “Do you understand…” just as Philip did to the Ethiopian Eunuch. We could guide them into reading Christian literature and biography. 

By writing as he does in v13 Paul is saying what we must say, “I’m not done serving yet – despite being locked down!” 

4. A right awareness of the dangers that surround us. For the Christian there are always dangers to beware of. Every period and phase of life presents its own temptations, pitfalls and trials of faith. A period of ‘lock down’ is no different! In chap 2v3 Paul reminds Timothy that he is a “good soldier of Jesus Christ”. Soldiers are for fighting, for warfare and for winning battles. As Christians we should never forget these truths. 

The temptations of ‘lock down’ are many, here are just a few: Selfishness; Idleness; Over-work; Introspection; Doubt; Anxiety; Boredom; Time wasting; Moodiness; Hard heartedness (towards your spouse, your children, your parents, the Government, church leaders); Internet sinfulness; TV bingeing; Xbox gaming (too much!) 

We need to pay special attention to the Lord’s Day and ensure that we do not lose the blessings of Isaiah 58 v13/14. Self-discipline in “attending” the services at the set times (as we always would have done) will help us to keep a good structure and discipline to the day for our spiritual good. This will particularly help with the raising of children and profitable family life. 

A ‘lock down’ is wearing, and that is a strategy that Satan loves – to wear us down so that we lose our spiritual sharpness! We need to watch out, because he wants to “devour” us (1Peter 5v8). Take action now – before it is too late! ‘Lock down’ can, and should be for profit – pray that it certainly would not be for loss! 

5. A right balance of praise & worship. Maybe our attitude is, “we’ll sing when ‘lock down’ ends”. We might feel like the Old Testament people of God in Psalm 137 v 4, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”. We see ‘lock down’ as a foreign land and we just want to be free of it! Until then, how can we really praise God? 

Paul longed to be joyful – we can see that in chap 1v4. If Timothy could come to visit him, he would be filled with joy. Sometimes we take that to an extreme and say “if only… then I will sing” but that is not right. God has not changed; Jesus has not changed and everything that is true about our salvation has not changed – every Christian needs to sing – now! 

Everything about the coronavirus is horrible, fearful and terrible. What a contrast in Psalm 147 v 1, it tells us that singing praises to our God is “pleasant” and praise is “beautiful”. In the previous Psalm it tells us that we should sing praise while we have life and being! Even in ‘lock down’ we have those things and we need to balance the difficulties, fears and worries with praise! 

We must not forget how to sing! ‘Lock down’ may end, but the opportunity for Christians to sing praises in a corporate, church setting may not be allowed for many, many months to come. Seek out good resources – the Internet is full of them – to enable you to praise and worship the Lord in prayer and in song – it will do your soul good! 

6. A right dependence on the Lord. How very alone Paul must have felt in his ‘lock down’. How sad to read that “all forsook him” in his hour of need. So, in v 17/18, how much he was helped by the Lord standing with him, strengthening him and in knowing that in the end He would deliver him and preserve him right 

through to his final place in God’s heavenly kingdom. There was no one else he could depend on now; he was cast upon God. 

For us, as individuals, the future is totally unknown. There may well be many job losses in Derby and the practical, emotional and spiritual fall out from this ‘lock down’ may be massive. 

As a church we are faced with the tremendous logistical problems of a small building and a large congregation! What are we to do? How are we to “do church” in all its aspects (Sunday Services, The Lord’s Table, Baptism, Youth work etc)? 

Our dependence on the Lord for help in all these things is essential. Humanly speaking we have no quick and easy answers. Our dependence is to be individually but it is to be corporately too. 

There are many things that we will want to do and experience after ‘lock down’ has ended but here are six essentials that we must have right now. If they are right today, then with God’s help, they will be right during the easing of current restrictions and right when we come right through. 

Click here to download this article as a PDF document.

Mission Unstoppable: An Introduction to the Acts of the Apostles

The Acts of the Apostles is the companion volume to Luke’s Gospel. Both books are addressed to Theophilus (see Luke 1v3 & Acts 1v1). Some would like to rename the Book, ‘the Acts of the Holy Spirit’, because, as they point out, the Holy Spirit is mentioned sixty-one times! But this might give the impression that Jesus’s work is over & He ceases to be central. Rather, Acts tells how the ascended Jesus continued to work through His Spirit-empowered apostles & people.” Rodger Crooks – One Lord, One Plan, One People

The Writer

The writer of the book is Luke, a physician and historian of remarkable ability. In his book, Church on the Move, Peter Williams says, “It is not difficult to see what we owe to Luke. Without his history, we should know little, if anything, of the origin and progress of the church, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the organisation of the church and its methods of evangelisation. Also, in a more general way, Acts serves as a link between the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament.”

Contents

Calvin describes The Acts as “a vast treasure”. Peter Williams’ book is called “Church on the Move” and the IBS Study booklet calls the Book, “Mission Unstoppable!”. The NIV Study Bible refers to it as “a bridge that ties the church with each succeeding age”. All of these descriptions are helpful to us in getting to grips with what the Book is going to tell us.

Luke, in his Gospel, shows what Christ began to do on earth; Acts shows what He continued to do by the Holy Spirit through the disciples. The ascension of our Lord is the closing scene in Luke. It is the opening fact in Acts.

  • The Gospels set forth the Son of Man, who came to die for our sins. Acts shows the coming of the Son of God in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • The Gospels tell of the crucified and risen Saviour. Acts portrays Him as the ascended and exalted Lord & Leader.
  • In the Gospels we hear Christ’s teachings. In Acts we see the effects of His teachings on the Apostles.

Acts is not a record of the acts of all of the Apostles, as no extensive accounts are given of any of the Apostles except Peter & Paul! It records the acts of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles. His name is mentioned about seventy times. Look for some of the Holy Spirit in every chapter of this book.” H. Mears – What the Bible is all About

Timeline (All dates are approximate)

Acts 1 – 8:

  • 30AD Ascension of Christ. Pentecost and beginnings of the New Testament Church.
  • 32AD Martyrdom of Stephen. Missionary journey of Philip and conversion of the Ethiopian.

Acts 9:

  • 34AD Conversion of Saul of Tarsus.
  • 35AD Paul visits the Jerusalem church for the first time

Acts 12:

  • 44AD James is martyred. Peter is miraculously freed from prison.

Acts 13:

  • 47AD Paul begins his first missionary journey with Barnabas (& for a time, John Mark).

Acts 16:

  • 49AD Paul begins his second missionary journey with Silas (& later, Timothy & Luke).

Acts 19:

  • 52AD Paul begins his third missionary journey with Timothy & Titus (& others joining them at various points).

Acts 22-23:

  • 56AD Paul imprisoned in Jerusalem and then in Caesarea.

Acts 27 – 28:

  • 59AD Paul imprisoned in Rome.

Not recorded in Acts:

  • 61AD Paul makes his final travels.
  • 64AD Great fire at Rome – many Christians put to death.
  • 64AD or 67AD both Peter & Paul are martyred

A Summary

In the preface to Gordon Keddie’s commentary, he refers to three key areas that the Book of Acts demonstrates for us, namely:

  1. The history of the work of the Holy Spirit.
  2. The setting out of the doctrine of the church.
  3. The striking “evangelistic impulse that bursts out of every page”.

Relevance for us today:

“Here, most personally and immediately are our own ‘roots’ as the followers of Jesus.” Gordon Keddie – You are my Witnesses

“It is both thrilling and wonderful… to think that Jesus did not leave this world and return to the Father’s glory without first making arrangements for the on-going work of the gospel here below. What makes it thrilling is that He did not entrust that work to angels or divine beings but to ordinary men like the Apostles and through them to ordinary people like ourselves. There is a real sense therefore in which we can say that the ministry of Jesus never ends, and is being continued to today in the lives and witness of all Christian believers through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the church. What a great privilege and enormous responsibility we have therefore in being part of the body of Christ in the world.” Peter Williams – Church on the Move

3 Essentials to begin:

There are three essentials that occur at the beginning of “mission unstoppable”. They set the scene for the rest of the story!

  1. The promise of the Holy Spirit (1 v 4 – 8)
  2. The ascension of the Lord Jesus (1 v 9 – 11)
  3. The necessity of corporate prayer (1 v 12 – 14)

Useful Commentaries:

In addition to those written by Peter Williams & Gordon Keddie which are mentioned above, other good commentaries include those by John Calvin, Richard Lenski & Joseph Alexander.

These notes accompany the sermon series preached at Castlefields Church in 2020. Click here to listen to the whole series for free!

Click here to download this article as a pdf.