Christianity as diplomacy? - by Stuart Ramsay

"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God." (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)

This passage from 2 Corinthians struck me. Paul describes Christianity as a "ministry of reconciliation" in v18. What does he mean?

In the news this week, the Chinese government said that they were upset that the Prime Minister had met with the Dalai Lama, the exiled 'spiritual leader' of Tibet. We have even been told that the PM is effectively banned from China, and that the Chinese are expecting "concrete measures" to repair the rift.

International diplomacy is a difficult and sensitive business. Paul is using the image of diplomacy here in 2 Corinthians 5 to explain the gospel and its implications.

There is a 'rift' between man and God, caused by our rebellion against God, our sin. The relationship between man and God is damaged and in need of repair, of reconciliation, to bring two warring parties together.

But the relationship isn't restored because of our diplomacy. We cannot offer 'quid pro quos' or diplomatic sweeteners to repair the rift. No, God Himself initiates and undertakes the reconciliation. Paul says in v19: "in Christ", on the cross, God was "reconciling the world to himself", as Christ Jesus bore the punishment for our sin.

But then Paul expands the image to explain what is going on when we share the gospel. God has given to us ("committed to us") the "message of reconciliation" (v19b), that is, the good news that God has undertaken reconciliation in Christ. Just as an Ambassador might come from the Chinese Embassy in a few weeks to tell the Prime Minister that a good relationship with the Chinese Government has been restored, we are "Christ's ambassadors", passing on the news that reconciliation with God has been made possible through Christ.

God makes His appeal of reconciliation to people through us. The diplomacy is all one-sided: God has done the work necessary to reconcile us to Himself, from start to finish. But we now bring the declaration of that finished work of reconciliation, imploring others: Be reconciled to God through Christ!

Got Problems? Become A Missionary - by Pete Norris

Psalm 86

1 Incline your ear, O , and answer me,Lord

for I ampoor and needy. 

Preserve my life, for I amgodly; 

save your servant, whotrusts in you—you are my God. 

Be gracious to me, O Lord,

for to you do I cry all the day...

9 All the nations you have made shall come

and worship before you, O Lord,

and shall glorify your name...

11 Teach me your way, O ,Lord

that I maywalk in your truth; 

unite my heart to fear your name.

12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,

and I will glorify your name forever.

Sometimes you read passages in the Bible and something stands out as being particularly odd. Psalm 86 is one of those passages. Allow me to point out some of the strangeness of this psalm, and then how it can actually help us.

What do the nations have to do with my problems?

Psalm 86, written by King David, is a lament psalm i.e. a psalm where the writer is in a situation of trouble, distress or anguish. We know this from the first few verses: “answer me”, “save your servant”, “to you do I cry all the day”. It’s quite obvious that David is having a tough time.

You must have done the same thing when you’ve faced a difficult situation in your life. You cry out to God for deliverance.

But then, in the middle of this crying to God, David starts talking about the nations: “All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name” (verse 9).

Now just pause there for a second.

When you’ve been praying in distress – perhaps a problem at work, a financial difficulty, or family troubles – have you ever begun to recollect God’s plan for the nations in your prayer? I know I never have! When we’re in trouble, we tend to get more narrowly focussed on ourselves and on our problem. We can’t think or pray about anything else. But where we look inwards, David looks outwards. He takes his eyes off his situation and casts them over God’s work in the world. He does this because he has realised something.

Praise is more permanent than distress

By recalling God’s plan to draw the nations to Himself, David realises that praise is more permanent than distress. The worship of the nations that he talks about in verse 9 is more permanent than his personal problems. Revelation 7 gives us a stunning picture of people from every people and language group worshipping Jesus at the end of time (Revelation 7:9-10).

By remembering this, David begins to taste the permanence of praise and is drawn closer to the Lord. So close, in fact, that his request changes. Instead of asking for deliverance, he asks: “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name” (verse 11). Not only does his request change, but he is also able to give thanks in the midst of his trouble: “I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever” (verse 12).

Want a faith like David’s?

Do you want to have such a strong faith so that, like David, you’re able to lift your eyes up from your troubles and give thanks to God? Then get yourself acquainted with God’s plan for the nations and what He is doing among the nations. Your faith will be enriched. Here are a few simple ways you can do that:

·         Watch this short but very moving video about a small tribe receiving the Bible in their own language for the first time

·         Buy a copy of Operation World, which tells you about the progress of the Gospel in every country in the world

·         Go on a short term mission trip (perhaps with Oak Hall) – or even become a long term missionary

Meaningless! Meaningless! - by Tom Waters

At some point in their life, almost everyone deals with the question: What is it all for? What is the purpose of living? Whether you are young and thinking about what to pursue in a career, or old and wondering whether you made the right decisions, the question of finding a purpose is widespread.
I have found the book of Ecclesiastes really helpful for thinking about this issue. Ecclesiastes is written by a man at the end of his life, surveying all that's he's done (possibly King Solomon, although it doesn't actually say). It's 12 chapters long and the first 10 are pretty depressing. It starts off with:
“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”
He lists through the book all the things which he finds meaningless - knowledge (1:13-18), wine (2:3), laughter (2:2), pleasure (2:10), wealth (2:7-8), evil men getting what the righteous deserve and vice versa (8:14), and great projects (2:4). On that last one he writes:
"I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees... Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun."
Many of us might recognise this tempted to feel that so long as we achieve enough big projects, and leave our mark on the world... then we will have led a meaningful life. But when the writer of Ecclesiastes reflects on this, he finds that he "hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind."
But although all these things in this life are meaningless and chasing after the wind, the writer notes that God "has set eternity in the human heart" (3:11). As a result, satisfaction can't be found in money and goods - in 5:10-12 he writes:
"Whoever loves money never has enough;
    whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
    This too is meaningless.
As goods increase,
    so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owners
    except to feast their eyes on them?
The sleep of a labourer is sweet,
    whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich, their abundance
    permits them no sleep."
Instead, we should be satisfied in what God has given us - 5:18-19 reads:
"This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labour under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God."
But more than that, true meaning and satisfaction in life is found in following what we have been made for. The last few verses of the book say:
"Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind."
This is our duty - this is what we've been made for, and this is not meaningless. It is God that provides life with meaning, and it's because of him that it's not all just 'chasing after the wind'.
If we fall into the trap of thinking that great projects, money, knowledge, or other human endeavours will in themselves give us purpose, we will find ourselves to be in the position of the writer of Ecclesiastes – seeing it all as meaningless. Let’s remember each day what our true purpose in life is: serving God.

The Healing Wounds of Christ - by Ben Ramsden

So I'm writing this from a hospital bed, having had to go in for surgery. (Minor surgery, don't get worried about me folks!)

For anyone who hasn't had surgery, it can be a nerve racking experience. As I lay on the operating table, I spent some time looking at my heart rate, a pretty accurate record of how nervous you are.

And as I lay there, unable to see the skillful work of the surgeon, a verse (half a verse) came to my mind:

"By his wounds, you have been healed."

It was fascinating for me to think about this verse. As the surgeon is healing me, it's not costing them anything. But Jesus closed up my wounds, and took away all my sin, by opening up wounds on himself. And he gladly bore it. For the joy that was set before him, and for his bride the church most precious to him.

Praise God for Christ's rescue in your pain and sufferings, because he came to remove our greatest suffering and replace it with our greatest need, God himself.

Knowing Love

It's hard to articulate what love is, in our current world in the West, it's hard to pinpoint the meaning of anything at all.

But I think that one of the biggest problems with our understandings of love is that we have blurred being "in love with" and "loving" someone.

At its simplest, being in love with someone is infatuation. That great desire to be affectionate to someone because you find them so attractive, either physically, or because of how kind or thoughtful they are. Essentially, it comes from people being "lovable".

Real love, however, calls for a lot more than that. Love is really tested when the object of your love is "unlovable". If your spouse/partner/friend/child has done something wrong, hurt you or caused you pain, that is precisely when love needs to be played out. And that doesn't fit in with today's view, because relationships are all about getting what you can from them, and if they don't benefit you any more, then time to move on. For the "in love" couple, when the affection wanes, it's time to find a new special someone.

But real love looks beyond the self, and to the benefit of the other. And God so clearly demonstrates what love really is, in his relationship with his people Israel. When God talks of Israel, often he talks of her as a bride, like a wife. But very frequently, scarily frequently, they are referred to as whores. Strong language to say the least. But that is their sin against God, forsaking him, leaving him, the one who truly loves them, for empty worthless things. Leaving their husband and being an adulterous wife. However, God continues to love them as he has made a promise to them to be their God (on which our promises in marriage are made, as men, to be a husband).

Two points to take from this:

Firstly, God doesn't cover up that his people are unlovable. He very much tells it like it is. He doesn't tell them it's all OK, he wants them to change and be a faithful people. For someone who is married, you wouldn't tell them it's all OK to keep having an affair. But secondly, God loves them despite them being "unlovable". Real love is not dependent on the quality of character or attractiveness of the person you are loving, it's dependent on the commitment of the lover.

What is Sacrifice?

I used to wake up to this every morning as my alarm. A really inspiring way to wake up. A call from the very beginning of the day, to lay your life down for the service of others and know what true Christian sacrifice is.

Hope of the Ages!

A friend of mine sent me this to listen to. I listened to it in bed just before curling up to sleep on Christmas Eve. I cannot tell you how it set me up to see Christmas in its true form, God, the preincarnate all powerful Christ stepping into our world.

Admittedly a bit late, however, 12 days of Christmas aren't up yet so I'm going to sneak it in!

CWC News 3rd Jan

New Year: New Sermon Series

This Sunday sees the start of a new sermon series entitled: Above All: The Life of Jesus. We'll delve into the life of Jesus, looking at the central purpose of his life and the various obstacles and challenges he had to face. From nature-defying miracles to his humblest teachings, we'll explore the very person and being of the God-man, Jesus. The first week we're kicked off by Stuart Ramsay as he opens up Mark 1 with us. Sundays at 10:30am for the morning service and 6pm for the evening service.

Big Small Group Returns

On the 16th January, Big Small Group returns with the final part of John's Gospel. Starting at John 14, with the start of Jesus farewell discourse, we work through the final moments of Jesus life up to his crucifixion and resurrection. Here the fullest account of the teaching he felt was most important to his disciples is laid out. It's going to be deep and spiritual stuff, but from it I hope we will learn the depths of love Jesus had and has for us as we see him face the way to the cross with unflinching confidence.

New Year: New Attempt at Reading the Bible Regularly?

It is very much a good thing to read the Bible frequently and spend time asking God to help us understand it. However, many of us with the best intentions at the start of the year set about an ambitious program of reading that falls flat very quickly in the large pile of other failed New Years resolutions. To help with reading the Bible, we can recommend The King's English, that takes a small excerpt from the Bible and explains it's relevance to us in the day to day. No more struggling with difficult names and concepts, using this will help you get to the heart of the matter pretty quickly! I love the blurb for it, it's the best: "Each day you will be drawn to the centre of the Scriptures - the Lord Jesus. These are not daily pep talks aimed at the will. They are daily doses of the grace of Christ to warm your heart and establish you in the truths of the gospel." Enough said! It's available in paperback, hardback and on kindle. See it's website or our books section for more information.


To get our minds thinking about our new series on the life of Jesus, here is my last devotion. In Mark's Gospel, there is a great speed with which you are propelled through the story. Of any of the gospels, Mark is the quickest to read and in many respects, a gripping account of Jesus life. If you've never sat down and read a whole Gospel before in one go, read Mark through and see what effect it has on you. Immediately in Chapter 1, we are launched into Jesus' baptism, temptation in the wilderness and calling of his disciples. His mission statement is made immediately clear in verses 14-15: "Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time has been fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." " Right there we have Jesus mission to the world, the bringing of God's kingdom, God's rule over people's hearts and lives is being established. And, being picky with the language, he doesn't say "believe the gospel". He doesn't say believe this is true, and you'll be alright. Just get your facts straight, and everything will be fine. No, he calls for repentance and belief in the gospel. This is different, this isn't learn the facts, this is turn from your ways of self-interest and trusting in your worldly status, possessions and power. Instead, we are to believe in the gospel, to trust mind, body and soul in the good news of God, and accept his rule over us as our true king.

CWC News 18th December

This Sunday (23rd) and the following Sunday of the 30th, there will be no evening service. With many people having left for the holidays we want to bring the morning and evening services together over that time.  Also, we won't be having a service on Christmas day - the staff at the Canada Water Library and the Albany are all away.  

Christmas Day - 6 Days To Go...

I hope you are almost all finalised in your Christmas preparations, if you're still around on Christmas Day, then let Kruger know at


It's interesting to see what Kruger pointed out on Sunday in Matthew 2. The scribes and the priests knew the sign for the Messiah, the promised ruler of Israel who would shepherd them (v.6), they knew everything very well, it all matched up to what they know, and yet they ignored the coming of Jesus into the world. Looking at everyone in our modern culture, we know the story of Jesus, the nativity with the sheep and the shepherds, the wise men and their gifts. It's all something we already know, but do we worship? The wise men did, because they didn't just have knowledge that the Messiah was over there somewhere, they went to him, they met with him and adored him. This Christmas, let's remember to not just know Jesus' story, but let's go to him and worship.

That's all from me. I wish you a great Christmas and hope it is both a fun and restful period. I'll be back with the newsletter again after the new year.

Ben Ramsden
Dogsbody, Canada Water Church

A Little Rant

A bit of a quirky video, this one is by Glen Scrivener, who is one of our recommended authors in our book section of the site. A thoughtful look at the way we embrace Santa and contrasts it with a view to God.

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

I felt this video was quite relevant, seeing as we've spent the last few months working through a bible overview. See if you can make out the various bible stories weaved together in the expectation of this long awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ. Looking forward to the Carol Service this weekend, hope you can make it!

The Loneliness of London

An article on the BBC this week drew my attention with quite the headline stat:

More than a quarter of Londoners say they feel lonely often or all of the time
— BBC News, 20th Nov

It is as many of us have experienced. London, is a lonely place. With such a high turnover of people and everyone being so busy most of the time, there is a significant loss of community. And with that, can come serious depression and mental health issues.

How on earth do you start to address that?

Perhaps the obvious answer is to rebuild these communities, but around what? Perhaps we could around common interests, of sport, hobbies, theatre, the arts, all kinds of things. But there is a danger in that as well. If we only spend time with people that share our common interests, then we wont ever be challenged, stretched and tested in our understanding of current events, life and the world. We will become just as we are in much of our work, specialised to such a degree we cannot fathom what other people do, losing large chunks of our ability to empathise with those around us.

But what then, could bring us together?

There's no easy answer to that, but my hope is the church as the people can do something for the people by the people. Christmas can be a good time for that, with Carol Services (like CWCs) and Christmas Markets. The church here in Canada Water wants to help build that community, not around hobbies, but around shared space and location. If you're near the area, come join us for the Carol Service or on a Sunday, we'd love to have you, and help you get to know others in the area.

Original article:

CWC News 28th November

New Sermon Series - Preparing for Christmas


After an impressive double finish by Kruger of the God's Big Story and Work of the Spirit sermon series, we are on to a new area. Preparing for Christmas, a retelling of the classic nativity story, but not in its usual warm, cosy picture as is so often imagined. We're going to flesh out what it meant when Christ entered into thr world as a poor, weak baby. Hopefully you will see the message of hope delivered on that first Christmas.

Musicians Required!

This week has seen Carl and Katie leave us. It was so fantastic having them as a part of the church, we're really going to miss them! But them leaving does leave us with quite a problem, we only have one person to lead each of the AM and the PM every week! We don't want the remaining guys to burn out, and we also want to let them enjoy time just being in the congregation learning and worshipping. Thanks so much Stuart, Helentje, Ferdinand and Steve for always being so serving to us in this way! So if anyone is musically talented and can contribute to the music at CWC, please let Chris know at We especially need people who can play piano or guitar, so please consider if you can spare the time!

Flyering Progress for Carols

Slow progress is being made on the flyers front. If you are able to take some and distribute, please grab some at a Sunday service. If you want to see what areas have been covered already, then take a look at the map of what has been covered. If you have done an area not shown on the map, then email me and I'll update it.

CWC News - 21st November

Carol Service Flyering

This Saturday we will be meeting up in the foyer of the library to distribute flyers. Stephanie has made some great ones and over the course of the morning we aim to try and invite as many people as possible by delivering these flyers to the Canada Water Area. Plus tasty brunch at Kruger's afterwards for all the wonderful helpers. Bryonie is figuring out the logistics of all of it, so if you could help out please let her know at, and, if you're unsure but end up being free on the day, then come join in the effort anyway. 9:30am this Saturday, at the library.

The Last Big Small Group!

Alas! Tonight is the last Big Small Group before Christmas. But not to worry, if you feel stuck for things to do with your Wednesday night there are a few one off events in the pipeline. First of which is the Stories of God seminar on the 12th December. We'll spend some time listening to people's testimonies of how they came to Christ, and then in groups share with others our own stories of how we have grown more and more to know Jesus. Same time as BSG, 7pm on 12th December.


Paul shows us in Ephesians 4 (passage from last Sunday) how the work of Christ is uniting the church. Christ came down onto the Earth (descended), to die the death on the cross we deserve, only to now be exalted to the highest throne (ascended), to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the ultimate king. Now Jesus, through his kingship, is creating a new kingdom, which is all bonded together in the unity of the Spirit. Paul calls us to this unity, because of the one God who brought us one hope through one salvation with one Spirit. Therefore we should pursue unity, and "grow up into every way into him who is the head, into Christ." (v.15)

Who is the Greatest Person in All of History?

There are many, who have sought fame, power and glory, but few have attained it. And even then, who remembers them in the distant future? Ecclesiastes, the book of wisdom from King Solomon, the greatest and wisest man on earth at the time, says this:

For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.
— King Solomon, Ecclesiastes 2:16-17

Life is vain, because for all our labour and all our work, we die, and we can't change anything. Hitler couldn't escape that, Alexander the Great couldn't. No one. Absolutely no one could. A sombre message, a very depressing message. But there is hope, a single hope through which mankind can still survive. Ravi Zacharias tells us in this clip.

Jesus came to break the curse that death has over mankind, by becoming the curse for us, taking it upon himself and bearing it in his death on the cross. He was and still is the greatest man this world has and will ever know. And through his resurrection we experience eternal life, and an end to the vanity of life as living in Christ we find purpose in seeing and knowing the Father, in knowing God.

Giving - Do we do it well?

I'm going to say from the start, God is passionate about us giving. And not just to the church. There are many people in the world much worse off than those in the circles than we move in around London and the UK, and we have tons of media that tell us about the suffering and poverty across the world, are we moved by it?

Now, surprisingly, this post is not about do you give, I'm not going to ask whether you give or not. What I'm interested in, is if you want to give well. Most of us say: "Well yeah, of course, why wouldn't I want my money put to the best use?" Well quite. But we don't often act like it in our decisions. Often our giving can be impulsive, directed in spontaneous acts when someone shoves a jangling bucket in our faces. Rarely is it possible to make a wise decision in such a quick reactionary response.

God agrees: 

On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.
— Paul the Apostle, 1 Corinthians 16:2
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver
— Paul the Apostle 2 Corinthians 9:7

So when we are deliberate in our giving, not under compulsion and doing so regularly, we give more wisely. But another way to give more wisely is to think, is this charity using my money as effective as possible? Often for major charities a large chunk of the money we can donate goes on more publicity, and so could be wasted.

However, another option is to shop around with our charitable giving, much in the same way as we seek the best value products when we shop. There are some sites that help with that, such as, which researches many thousands of charities across a wide spectrum, and has given a shortlist of what the most cost-effective charities are.

The results can be absolutely staggering, giving to one of the cost-effective charities there can be 1000-times more effective than giving to other charities. Check them out, and without doing very much, we increase the measure of our giving, without increasing our outgoings.

Current News at CWC

Carol Service


The carol service is coming closer and closer towards us, and as the biggest event this church does all year, we need a lot of hands on deck. If you are able to help with preparations for the day, please email Bryonie at It's taking place on Sunday the 9th December at 6pm. Last year we had more than 250 people come last year, which was truly remarkable. But we will only have people come again if we pray, so I'd like to ask all of you to be thinking of the carol service, praying for preparations to go smoothly and praying for people you might invite personally.

Church Lunch

Just a quick reminder that church lunch is happening again this Sunday, with a Chinese theme. I hope many of you can be there, it'll be upstairs again in the meeting rooms we use for Big Small Group. 12:30pm/after the morning service.

London Music Ministry Conference

LMMC is happening this Saturday 10am-4:30pm at All Souls Church, Langham Place. A useful time to consider how church music should be used to engage people in worship. Tickets are £15 each.

God's Big Story, in a picture

Gods Big Story Outline.jpg

From our last sermon series, God's Big Story, this picture describes the path we travelled and what it all looks like together, see if you can remember the different places we looked at and how they fit into the bigger picture of the gospel.

Devotional: Drinking the Spirit

This week, I'm afraid that I'm not doing a devotional here, but that is because I've found this absolutely great article about the same text as on Sunday. Far better than anything I could do, it shows how the Spirit works for our good, taken from the same text Ephesians 5:15-21. It's a serious faith revitalizer:

3, 2, 1 ... Finding Our Place In The Three

It's not often I see a video quite so interesting as this. It tells the story of God, the world and you in a way not often presented these days, using the knowledge of the Trinity.

Most people take the Trinity to be some human invention as it is never explicitly put in the Bible. But the Bible does assert that the Father is God, the Son is God and the Spirit is God and they are three distinct persons but still one. It's not a maths problem, it is simply who God is. And I've never seen a gospel presentation use this knowledge, when it is so fundamental to our understanding of God.

Sit back, drink in.

What's the Old Testament about?

A week or two ago a few of the guys from CWC went to a conference on evangelistic preaching from the Old Testament. It doesn't come natural to most, with the vast majority sticking to the gospels or maybe a letter from Paul. But I think that this video helps us to understand what the WHOLE of the Old Testament (and really the whole Bible) is at its root, about.

Do you believe the Bible is basically about you, or basically about Him?
— Tim Keller

It totally changes the way we think about preaching, teaching, learning and serving. Jesus is the true fulfilment of all of the Old Testament, something we could not fulfil and still aren't expected to fulfil. It's easy for us to see that we should do things like people in the Bible and then when we can't do it, become depressed. But Jesus could, and did. Jesus came not to abolish the law, but fulfil it (Matthew 5:17), so we could be redeemed from the curse of the law, by him becoming a curse for us (Galatians 3:13). So now, we can live in the light of his grace, being assured that by his death, his righteousness is imputed to us. We now receive God's unmerited favour and that brings us joy.