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Mark's Blog

A few reflections, thoughts and comments from Mark as leader at All Saints. 


Wait for it... Be Expectant

The waiting is over. The Christmas trees are up. The John Lewis advert is out and the lights are just about to be switched on. If you haven't decided what you’re eating for Christmas Day, where you are going to be staying and what you want Santa to bring you, then you should definitely start to panic. Because this year, other than the small distraction of an election, if we spend enough money and switch on enough sparkly lights then Christmas is going to be perfect! But...
None of that has anything to do with Christmas. Apart from the very first word in the title. Wait.
The Christian Festival of Christmas is not about consumption, or sparkly lights, although there is one of those in the story. It's not about resolving climate change by spending money as if there is no tomorrow, oh the irony. It's not about short lived political pledges, that may or may not change tomorrow. It's not about the rush by our own effort to make everything perfect, or just manage it well so we can cope with having the mother-in-law stay. 
It is the fact that 2000 years ago in a forgotten part of the Roman Empire, in an out of the way village, God stepped into the world as a human being. His birth was celebrated by a few outcast Shepherds who would briefly come in from the cold. Their response was to worship this newborn King, not fill their trollies to overflowing from the local supermarket.
But there is also a bit that comes before the Christian Christmas. It is a time of preparation. Not getting ready for the relatives or thinking about what to eat for Christmas dinner. But waiting - the season of advent. Where we wait again in anticipation for the arrival of the King of Kings. We prepare our hearts to worship, not at the altar of consumption, but in wonder that God has chosen to move in to the creation he has made and make his dwelling among us. 
So I invite you to pause, to wait, to prepare yourself for Christmas in the most important way. Be still, watch, pray, wait, for the King of King is coming and you will find him in a manger. 
We would love to invite you to experience Christmas at All Saints. Find out more here


Remembrance Sunday Reflection

(Mark's talk from the service at the War Memorial on Sunday 10th November 2019)

In a few moments I am going to ask us all to remember in silence those who have given their lives in active service of this country. 
”We are going to be silent, not to glorify war, but to honour those who have given their lives for our freedom.” The total number of military and civilian deaths in World War I are estimated to be in the range of 15 to 19 million. Ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history. The Allies alone lost about 6 million military personnel. World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history. An estimated total of 70–85 million people perished, which was about 3% of the 1940 world population (est. 2.3 billion).

But these are not numbers, they are people. People’s sons and daughters, husbands, wives, friends and each one was longed for, hoped for, wept for. Rudyard Kipling puts it like this:

“Have you news of my boy Jack?”
Not on this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing and this tide.
“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not on this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Oh dear, what comfort can I find?”
None on this tide.

After World War II nations where divided and another war began, the Cold War. Thirty years go that wall came down with renewed hope for peace and reconciliation in our time. There is joy and hope in those moments of peace. Yet we find ourselves in divided times again. This time it is not war or physical walls, but the technology in our hands that separates us into conflicted tribes. Social platforms that were intended to bring us together and win us new freedoms have given us unwritten permission to hurl insults at one another. A new war of words and ideas is upon us, where anyone outside our tribe can be destroyed with a few short sentences. This is even more pronounced now that we are in election season and we see daily political take downs on every side. Don’t worry I am not going to tell you how to vote, other than encouraging you to vote with your own conscience and to not allow yourself to be in conflict with those who vote differently from you. 

After our silence I will ask you three questions. You may or may not be comfortable with the elements of faith or God in these statements. But I hope we can be clear together about our resolve and their foundation. They are based on example of Jesus Christ who gave his life for all so that we could be at peace and the dividing wall of hostility could be torn down. These resolves are for nations, for politicians, for world powers, but they are also for us: for our daily lives, our individual choices, our relationships with our neighbours. These resolves are for the oldest in our communities, the families, those living alone, for the teenagers and the children. 

Every single one of us resolving again: that the sacrifices made in war shall not be in vain. That we shall strive with unshakeable faith and unswerving purpose for peace and justice for all mankind. So we are going to be silent, not to glorify war, but to honour those who have given their lives for our freedom. And we will resolve to not to squander their sacrifice but to seek peace and justice for all.


Don’t worry..

How are your worry levels? It seems like there is a lot to be worried about right now. Our political systems seem confused and toxic. Boris found his ditch and Rees seems to be eating his words. I would not want to predict where this roller coaster will land and whether it will be for good or ill. But I am not worried, and neither should you be.

The bible is clear that we should not worry or be anxious or be afraid. One of the results of these three things it that we get locked into patterns and behaviours that make the worry, anxiety and fear worse.


Whatever you think of the politics at the moment, it is certainly creating some high drama and providing a feast for our media. It has also increased by 27% the applications to study politics1. Brexit has exalted some people to celebrity status (or loathed status - dependant on your views). The speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow has found himself at the centre of it all. The internet is now awash with clips of his efforts to bring the house to order and his flamboyant commands.

Watch on YouTube:

Yet the process he oversees, especially when it comes to voting is both historic and formative2. If neither the ayes or noes have it then the lobby is cleared and the voting begins. The MPs file through one side or the other and cast their votes. After the tellers have announced the result the speaker confirms then he cries, UNLOCK. This is a picture of where we can be with worry, anxiety and fear. We are removed from our places, but are locked into a course of thinking that will not achieve anything and is without fruitful conclusion. We need somehow to be unlocked. This is where Bob Marley and Jesus offer similar advice but from very different perspectives. They both tell us not to worry.

Watch on YouTube:

Bob’s rational is that by worrying you, “make it double” and Jesus says that worrying simply does not work. But Bob does not offer us much more that just being happy as an alternative (maybe with a little help). Where as Jesus refocuses us on “seeking first the kingdom of God”. He invites us to raise our eyes and our outlook to see things from the perspective of heaven and to participate in its coming on earth.

”Don’t worry” is an easy thing to say, but it is not an easy thing to do.

So here are five things to help us

Seek First the Kingdom of God

“Seek first his kingdom” Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

The kingdom of God goes beyond geography and political boundaries. We are part of something much, much bigger. The foundations of which are not about values, philosophies or ideas, but about the person of Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life. To seek his kingdom is to seek his rule in everything. This will continue to be possible whatever the outcome of Brexit.

See the long view

“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6 (NIV)

We tend to think from the perspective that we can see. What is currently happening is confusing and polarising. However things play out we will have to see the healing and reconciliation of everyone who lives and works in this nation. The kingdom that we are seeking is not synonymous with current political boundaries that have shifted many times of the last 2000 years. Having a kingdom of God mindset helps us see the long view.

Seek the welfare of the city

“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7

We are to play are part in the cities and nations that we find ourselves. Seeking the welfare of all the people that are here. Vote when you have the opportunity, and be thankful that you can. Participate in politics, rather than just shouting from the sidelines. March if needed. Work if you can and pay your taxes. Get involved in your local community. With these small steps we seek the welfare of the city. Remember as well that people with different views are not the enemy, and even if they were, we are suppose to love them.

Pray for those in authority

”I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—2 for kings and all those in authority.” 1 Timothy 2:1–2 (NIV)

We are to bring all those in authority - this includes MPs from both sides of the house - before the King of Kings. It does not matter whether you voted in or out, if you want a deal, an election or a referendum. Each one of us is invited to pray for everyone in authority - following Jesus really does mean living differently.

Pray with thanksgiving

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

Thankfully the bible is not just a about the do nots, but about the dos. Do not be anxious instead here is something better to do... Pray with thanksgiving. When we pray like this it changes the atmosphere of our hearts and we begin to find ourselves surrounded by the peace of God. These verses come with a promise, that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 (NIV)


By the time this blog has been published, the political landscape will have probably have changed again and we will have another set of things to worry about. Remember the five little things so that your hearts can be unlocked from the never ending cycle of worry, anxiety and fear. As it says in Matthew 6:33, “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well”. If you’re not sure where to start with this especially with praying, then why not read about the five habits as part of our church vision.

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Finding God in everyday places

We all see the world in different ways and we all encounter God in different ways. For me I see the handy work of God all over creation. I can’t help but look at something natural and be filled with wonder at the maker. But there are many other ways we find God.

Our conversations with others often lead us to see things differently. Hearing how others have prayed, experienced the presence of God or understand the bible can help us in our journey. As a church community we want to make more space for these kind of conversations. So we have started a group called Access which meets on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month at 7.30pm at All Saints - everyone is welcome. Details of the next session can be found here:

Personally I find space or retreats are helpful. Often just a holiday or time away from the routine means that I slow down for long enough to look up and beyond myself. Sometimes these are regular places - there is a beach in Cornwall that is hugely significant for me. Big prayers with few words have been prayed in that place, so it is an easy place for me to find God again. Or perhaps more accurately, to allow myself to be found by Him.

For some the search for God is like trying to de-mist an old car window on a cold day. You want to get going but it takes a long time to see anything clearly. Yet very few are cold hard atheists for whom human interaction is just a matter of the accidental collision of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus. Love does not matter if we are just matter. For most people there is something rather than nothing, even if the something does not have a name. There are some great books out there covering everything from the “Case for Christ”1 to finding God even when you feel like he is “God on Mute”2.

Each year as a family we attend a summer conference called New Wine. This year it was a privilege to go with over 40 from All Saints, even though like many other conferences, it was cut short by the weather. When I first used to go, I would be hungry for as many resources and books as I could carry away. Wanting to keep myself resourced for the year. Now I just listen out for the simple fresh word or phrase from the Holy Spirit - one word from him is enough for a year. Strange to drive half way across the country and camp in a field to encounter God, but it’s worth it every time.

New Wine 2019

If you have already made a decision to follow Jesus then I pray that you would hear from him afresh today. Maybe you are still looking for God, or hoping that he is looking for you. I invite you to come and spend time with a Christian community, to learn and listen to others. Maybe then the mist will start to clear and you will see the way ahead and begin the journey of a lifetime.

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Staying hot in the summer!

Over this last week it's been hot! We've seen some of the hottest days on record. Sunset 1000There's been lots of very sensible advice about how to stay cool in the heat. But I want to give you five things to help you stay hot this summer.

In Revelation 3:16 it says that we can sometimes become lukewarm in our Christian faith. So here are five simple things to help you keep your faith burning hot this summer:

  1. It’s personal. The passage in Revelation goes on to say that we should turn back round and let Jesus in, he wants to spend time with us.
  2. Be together. Hebrews 10:24/25 says, “let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together...but encouraging one another.” We will be gathering as Christian communities at our regular times on a Sunday. Come and join in, be encouraged.
  3. Read the word. We need guidance on the journey. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet”.
  4. Give thanks. A simple thank you can change the atmosphere. A lifestyle of thanksgiving opens our life to the kingdom. Psalm 100:4 says, “enter his gates with thanksgiving”. When we give thanks we start to see life from God’s perspective and become more aware of his presence.
  5. Live Co-mission. When we don’t have a purpose or direction we can quickly become discouraged. Remember that we have been called to be in co-mission with the Holy Spirit. What is He doing today? How will you join in? There is an adventure to go on today - live in co-mission.

Whatever you are doing this summer, I pray that you would be physically cool, but spiritually hot.

God bless.


Mark Searle, 26/07/2019


Reflections and Photos

Summer on the rec was a wonderful community gathering hosted by the churches in Weston and Newbridge. Massive thanks to all who made it happen, especially Peter Heywood, David Pendle and all those who prepared coffee, set up tents, looked after budgets, shifted toilets, organised craft, found sheep (caught sheep), ran sports and those who were onsite early and left late. Thank you! Here are a small collection of photos and videos from the day with one line reflections to go with them.

We all need more joy...
2019 Summer on the Rec-4157

We can pray blessings, peace and prosperity over our city...
2019 Summer on the Rec-4103

Creativity connects us to the creator...
2019 Summer on the Rec-4141

We all have more to learn about prayer...
2019 Summer on the Rec-4073

Live music connects...
2019 Summer on the Rec-4250

If you’re pulling in opposite directions, sometimes you land on your...

But pulling together gets the job done...
2019 Summer on the Rec-4232

Finding lost sheep makes the day... 

There is always an opportunity to pray...
2019 Summer on the Rec-4191

The Funk Tuckers + quick tour of the site...

People love to be invited...
2019 Rec Panorama 1 copy

With photo credits to Dave Saunders.



Enough for today 

Enough for Today bread image fThe fragrance of freshly cooked bread is so compelling that supermarkets often pump the smell over the entrance. It makes us hungry for more. In the bible there are many images of bread as a picture of God’s presence and provision. While the Israelites were in the wilderness the LORD provided fresh Manna, or bread from heaven, each day. If they kept it overnight during the week it went off. Are you receiving from God each day, or running on something he did yesterday?

The temple included twelve loaves of bread called the bread of the presence. A reminder of God’s presence and provision for each of the twelve tribes. When Jesus comes he says, “I am the bread of life”. Then he takes bread and says “this is my body broken for you”. He has provided so much for us. But he does not expect us to survive on what he did yesterday. Jesus instructs us to pray, “give us today our daily bread”.

Jesus also promised that we would have a helper, the Holy Spirit. As we come to Pentecost we remember that first outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He is for everyone, young and old, men and women, rich and poor. But this Pentecost Sunday in the churches year should not be just a remembering of something God did years ago. He continues to pour out his Spirit and we need to receive more and more each day.

In Ephesians 5:18 it says that we are to “be filled with the Spirit”. The idea is that this is not a one time event, but rather a continuous filling with the Holy Spirit. So how are you doing? When was the last time you heard his voice, and felt his presence with you? If you are running on yesterday or last years filling of the Holy Spirit then stop right now and ask him to fill you to overflowing. You don’t have to wait till Sunday!


Take A Moment for a Lifetime

Sometimes, everywhere you go all you can see are purple flowers. Maybe it’s getting towards summer and you need some new flip flops or you wonder if you should investigate electric cars, or even just notice a gloriously coloured purple flower in your garden. For the rest of the day all you can see are flip flops, electric cars or purple flowers. These things were there before, but now they are highlighted in our vision. Our brains are extraordinary like that. 

Take a moment

The Christian faith doesn’t get many positive headlines these days, we find ourselves in an increasingly difficult environment. This is especially true if you actually believe that Jesus is God and wants to partner with you in transforming the world. The story that some parts of our culture would like us to believe is that it is only ok to be a Christian if it has no effect on what you do. Therefore it is increasingly unpopular. While it is true that the Christian faith is currently in decline in the UK, that is not the case around the world. Many churches are growing in the UK - they are the ones that believe that Jesus is God and take his great co-mission seriously. Worldwide there are 2.18 billion of us (2010 figures) and the average age of a Christian around the world is 281. The projected number of Christians by 2050 is expected to be over 3 billion. But like the purple flowers or the flip flops, how do you spot them?

Being a Christian is not about attending a building. It is about being part of a community who gather in the name of Jesus and live to make a difference in the world. Jesus calls these people disciples. They don’t just have classroom knowledge but are choosing to be apprenticed to Jesus - working out together how to live for him in the world. Jesus says there are two key ways to spot his followers. First by how they love each other and second by their fruit. We are supposed to make a difference to the world around us.

J. John tells the story of how he describes his work as a pastor to people he meets for the first time. In response to the question, “What do you do?” He replies: “I work for a global enterprise, we have outlets in nearly every country of the world, we have hospitals and hospices and homeless shelters, we do marriage work, we have orphanages, feeding programs, educational programs, we do justice and reconciliation. Basically we look after people from birth to death and we deal in the area of behavioural alteration... it’s called the church... have you heard of it.” 

Watch J. John tell the story below:

Recently at All Saints we gathered together to say farewell to Rob Stone whose life was cut short. His wife Rachael had come to faith over thirty years ago, but for Rob he had never been able to take that step. He was funny, faithful, loving and stood by Rachael with great integrity. At the end of 2018 he joined the Alpha Course and in his own words, “was the only person who failed Alpha”. In 2019 he did Alpha again, this time it was different. He had a moment when even with the many questions he decided to follow Jesus. But the key moment had taken place before that. Towards the end of the course I asked Rob what he was going to do differently as a result of Alpha. He replied, “I am going to come to church with Rachael and we are going to start a Homegroup”. You see, Rob had already started to follow Jesus, he had more than a moment, he was taking the first steps of a lifetime.

Jesus has his followers everywhere, I hope you start to see them everywhere. Whether you a following him or not, why not take a moment now to pray, it could change your life and transform the world.

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Delayed by the Donkey 

My dad used to take great delight in parking his tatty old Fiat 127 next to his colleagues' BMWs and Mercedes. He was one of the senior medics at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. The other doctors would drive something that ensured everyone knew their status and privilege. In the Easter story we find Jesus on the wrong form of transport. Kings don't ride donkeys. 

Donkey 2As Jesus is preparing to enter Jerusalem as King, he asks his disciples to head into the city and find a donkey. This is not the right kind of transport for a triumphal entry. He was supposed to be riding into Jerusalem to bring freedom from the Romans. Instead he comes as a servant, ready to lay down his life, once for all.

We see donkeys in a different light nowadays. They have become a day's attraction that you can go and visit. No longer a humble working animal but resigned to retirement homes and sweet sponsorship deals. But they're also loved. Last week our garden was taken over by lots of parents and children from our All Saints church playgroup called Toddler Rock. Two donkeys were faithfully and gently providing rides for every child. The joy of the children and parents was tangible. Donkey rides are a brilliant way to share the Easter message, the parents could not stop talking about it. Well done to all involved.

My dad is more concerned with how things are than how they appear. He was content with being generous with his money and driving a car that was functional (mostly). In fact I think he secretly delighted in parking his lawnmower styled car right next to his colleagues' over engineered status symbols.

It's all too easy to get comfortable with the Easter story. We get distracted by the sweetness of the donkey. Foot washing can only be done with pre-cleaned feet. Receiving bread and wine can become a comforting weekly pattern rather than something that radically overturns the religious systems and even history itself.

So much of the Easter story does not sit comfortably. If the plan was to save the world and start a world changing organisation I'm not sure Jesus’ scheme would've got through business school. There are concepts that are difficult to explain. Like the fact that Jesus came to complete and fulfil the old sacrificial system and its laws. He came to pay the price for us. The strategy is not one of a powerful leader riding in victorious to save the day. Instead, Jesus becomes a humble servant, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and a week later is killed in the worst way possible. On a Roman cross.

This is supposed to be the King of the world, the one who's come to save us! A week in, and the crowds are disappointed and call for his execution. It's only after his resurrection that Jesus' family and his followers really begin to understand what has happened. The only way to deal with sin and death was to come in person and stand in our place. Only someone who was fully human, fully God and yet completely sin free could do this. Isaiah 53:6 says that, “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all”. God the Father takes the sin, the mess and the death of all humanity and lays it on his perfect sinless son in order to set us free. It seems that God’s ways are not our ways, but they are good ways.

I pray that as we retell the Easter story together over the coming weeks that we will look with fresh eyes. That we will not get distracted by the things that we think we know or the way that things appear on the surface. But that we would look deeply and wonder again at the King who comes riding into the city on a donkey. That we would see his good way and walk in it.

“Stand at the crossroads and look; 
ask for the ancient paths, 
ask where the good way is, and walk in it, 
and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV)

You can find out more about our Easter events here

Donkey 1


The face of perseverance

It was a cold wet day. Not the kind of day that anyone would want to get out of the house unless they really had to. I was coming to the end of taking our mid-week communion service. It is amazing that even though the media keeps telling us that the church is facing critical decline (and I know there are struggles) yet here almost 20 people gathered on a miserable day to worship and encourage each other. They are an incredibly faithful, welcoming and loving band of people and I love being able to serve them.

The door at the back of church creaked open and in came a lady, soaked through from the rain. She walked slowly and determinedly up the aisle. Each step considered and purposeful. Her face set on completing the journey. I waved at her and encouraged her forward. Everyone else had sat down having received communion, but still, she came. The two small steps up to the area where we were sitting must have felt like mountains. But some friends came to assist. She drew closer to the communion rail, slowing even more, trying to dry her hands to get ready to receive. We paused, we prayed, she got what she came for. As I gave her the bread I could feel the tears welling up inside me. If only I could be as determined as she had been. I want to live life like that, face full of perseverance.

During our evening church services at All Saints, we have been thinking about persevering, about running the race that God has set before us with our eyes fixed on Jesus. This coming Sunday the streets of Bath will be filled with runners. Some experts after a personal best, some running to work off Christmas. Others running not for themselves but for a good cause, the time doesn't matter, finishing the race does.

The Christian faith is full of things we are supposed to hold in tension. On the one hand, we are to run the race marked out for us with perseverance, we are supposed to be strong and courageous. On the other hand, we are supposed to rest and abide in our loving heavenly Father knowing that this is the path to fruitfulness. The beauty is that although these two things are held in tension, they are not in opposition to one another.

I've run a few marathons in my time. To get around you have to have done the training. Then on the day, it requires a combination of perseverance and relaxation. You have to press in and work hard, sometimes it just hurts. But you also have to relax knowing that you've done the training and enjoy the day, allowing yourself to be taken along in the crowd.

So let's press on and run the race, with our eyes fixed on Jesus, but let's not exhaust ourselves in the process. We are to go slowly, abiding in him. It's not about coming in first but about running the race with him. Some days we will arrive late having walked through the rain but when we get there we can be assured of a gracious welcome from the King of kings who loves us.

Please support those who are running the Bath Half Marathon this year including:

  • Sarah
  • Jo
  • Duncan
  • Ben
Mark Searle, 14/03/2019


Let’s talk about prayer

Lets talk about prayerI sat beside the goldfish tank in our London flat and prayed. The goldfish had just died and I thought this was a good opportunity to practise raising the dead. A few hours later the still dead fish was flushed away. Prayer works, but you don’t always get what you want. Over the last few months I have been thinking about prayer at All Saints. In fact, the way All Saints prayed was one of the things that was attractive to us about coming to Weston. God’s on the move and prayer is one of the ways we join in.

One night at a youth group I was leading, one of the girls was in lots of pain, she could not stop crying. She had a long term hip condition and was unable to do the thing she loved - riding horses. The pain got worse and she started to cry out loudly. I asked if we could pray. She said yes, so I got her friend who had only just started attending the youth group to join me, she had only been a Christian for a couple of weeks. I asked the new girl to lay hands on her friend and pray for healing. Within a few minutes, the pain had gone and she was completely healed. She went back to the doctors and went back to horse riding. Prayer works, and sometimes we get we want.

I would like to set a direction for us so that together we can grow in prayer. As we do that here are four things to ponder and then seven alternative perspectives - I call them kingdom flips.

  1. Culture has shifted (remember the bridge?). But the way we pray has largely stayed the same. We would be wise to make prayer a core part of discipleship as we are seeking to do with the church vision - a church on the way.
  2. Prayer is both personal, “when you pray go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is unseen” and also corporate. See Matthew 6.
  3. There is a battle on and we need to have a strategic response. Nehemiah 4 describes this beautifully and also highlights the need for quick and corporate responses when the fighting becomes heavy.
  4. Colossians 4:2 says, “devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful”. Devote is a word we can use lightly, but it means to give over totally to the Lord - how are we doing with that?

A kingdom flip is to turn something over and see it from the perspective of the kingdom of God. Here are my seven flips.

  1. From 'pleading' to 'positioning'. We are sons and daughters of the living God. Jesus is at the right hand of the Father interceding for us (Rom 8:34). We can approach with confidence knowing where we stand. Prayer is never about a blind request but should be an encounter with the living God.
  2. From 'earth' to 'from heaven'. The Lord’s Prayer says, “your kingdom come on earth and it is in heaven”. We pray as citizens of heaven sending the blessings of heaven on the earth rather than calling them down.
  3. From 'me' to 'our'. The Lord’s Prayer begins, “Our Father”. We don’t pray alone but are part of the body of Christ. When we are struggling to pray, others are praying for us. But more than that, we get to pray with Jesus as we say, “Our Father”.
  4. From 'All Saints' to 'All the Saints'. In John 17 Jesus prays for us that we would be united. There is one church in Bath, in the UK and in the world. We are part of it.
  5. From 'an hour' to 'without ceasing'. I love the prayer that happens at All Saints. In fact, I would go as far as to say that prayer is one of the keys things that sustains this place. But if our prayer is measured by a prayer meeting on a Tuesday then we have missed the point. We have been called to pray at all times, without ceasing - 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
  6. From 'experts' to 'everyone'. Prayer is the call on everyone. Yes, we will have people who lead and dig deep, but we must enable and equip people to pray. There will still be a need for a smaller army of prayers who are on the counter-offensive and taking ground for the Kingdom of God.
  7. From 'cautious' to 'courageous'. Sometimes our prays are too small. God does not answer them, because we can sort it ourselves. Let's pray courageous prayers.

I hope these flips are helpful as you think about prayer. I encourage you to pray daily, and join in with the opportunities to pray with others at All Saints and across the city. If we do nothing else let’s pray out of an overflow of a continuous encounter with the living God.

My talk under the same theme can be found by clicking on the title below:
A plan for prayer with testimonies

kingdom flips


Fill Your Hope Tank

Looking into a Christian community from the outside can leave people feeling a little confused. Christians can sometimes come across as overly optimistic, and even sometimes annoyingly full of peace (not always - frankly sometimes life is just hard). A friend of mine had a major life tragedy a few years ago. At the funeral service, he sang courageously and in the face of great adversity, "all is well with my soul". Some people were annoyed, most joined in. What was going on was not unreality, but an immense work of grace and peace in a young man's life. Life was tough, but he knew God was with him, so all was well with his soul.

There is a prayer in the bible that ends with1, “now to him who is able to do more than we can ask or imagine”. It is one of those hopeful passages that followers of Jesus like to hang on to. We hold it up against the impossible, confident that our God has got this. The world looks on like we might be slightly crazy, but these words and the hope we have are not unfounded. There are at least four things that underpin our audacious hope.

Hope founded on Jesus

In Ephesians, Paul lays out clearly the good news of Jesus2. That his death deals with the mess we make and that his resurrection brings us to life.

Hope that is purposeful

The church is not a collection of people who are just hopeful, we also have a clear purpose3. “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known...”

Hope that is rooted in love

All this is deeply rooted in knowing that we are loved by God. We are supposed to know his love in a way that surpasses knowledge.

Hope is discovered in community

Right after Paul has outlined these amazing truths he goes on to talk about unity and community. All these things are worked out with others. Following Jesus is not a solo activity. The church is described as the body of Christ, we are inseparable from one another.

So out of this let me give you four things to ponder as a way of keeping your hope tank full.

  1. Are you holding onto the good news of Jesus as revealed in the bible or have you accepted a diluted version?
  2. Have you got a clear purpose? Whether you work in a shop, a bank or a hospital, you're retired, at school or unemployed, you can live as if serving the Lord. Suddenly even ordinary life has meaning.
  3. When was the last time you stopped and rested before God who loves you? Remember that we are supposed to be fruitful, but fruitfulness comes from abiding.
  4. How are you doing with being part of the church family? Are you gathering with others for worship regularly? Are you meeting with others in a small group (we call them homegroups here)? Are you looking out for others? There is a place in this family for every one of us and the church family needs you so that we can be all that God has made us to be!

As we follow the way of Jesus together I pray that we would be rooted and established in love so that he can do more than we could ask or imagine.

  1. Pauls amazing prayer in Ephesians 3:20 ??
  2. Ephesians 2:1-10 ??
  3. Ephesians 3:10 ??


You’re invited - YES!

We don’t get much post these days. But that morning in the middle of last year was different. A small envelope dropped on the mat. Thick textured paper - proper posh! The envelope franking made me suspicious, we are not in the habit of getting post from Buckingham Palace.

I paused before opening the weighty letter, half thinking that one of my siblings was winding me up. Inside an invitation to a garden party at Buckingham Palace. It was true. “The Lord Chamberlain is commanded by Her Majesty to invite...” Yes! We cancelled everything, hired some fancy clothes and got ready to visit the Palace. We did not get very close to the Queen, but we had some loverly sandwiches, royal cake with tea, a walk around the grounds and I even fell asleep in the sun by the lake. As one of the shepherds said at Christmas, it was “proper lush.”

Asleep at Buckingham Palace

Asleep by the lake at Buckingham Palace

That moment of being invited was perhaps even more amazing than going to the palace. As nice as the garden party was, it was not very personal and I will not be changing my life because of it. 

Over twenty-five years ago I received a different kind of invitation. No fancy envelopes or royal stamps. Just someone at a local church inviting Meghan and I to an Alpha course. I had recently come back to faith and Meg had just come to faith after a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit during worship. Alpha was a wonderful experience. For me, it confirmed what I believed but had tried to run from. For Meghan it was all new and helped her to grow up quickly as she learnt to follow Jesus. Alpha is a fantastic resource for the church to be able to invite people to explore faith and life. It was a privilege to be there in London in the early stages of its international roll out.

All it takes from you is an invitation and you know what, people love to be invited to things! You don’t have to bash people over the head with the bible (in fact I would rather you didn’t). Just ask. You might say something like, “We are starting a great course at All Saints called Alpha. It’s a wonderful opportunity to explore what life's about - would you like to come with me?”

We will be using the new video material which is really fresh and engaging. 

Last year at All Saints there where three Alpha Courses, two in the church centre and one in someone’s home. Our next course starts on 23rd of Jan in the church centre at 7.45pm with the taster session. 

So I would love you to join me in doing a couple of things:
1. Pray for the Alpha course (team and guests).
2. Pray for your friends and neighbours and ask the Holy Spirit who to invite.
3. Invite someone on this Alpha course. 

Question, if you're not going to do this then why not? 

One more thing. We have a section on the website that we would love to fill with your stories and testimonies. This enables us to be sharing the good news of Jesus 24/7 (in December the new website received over 100,000 page requests). Please, could you send us your story via email. No more than 500 words, keep the language simple, free from Christianise and include a photo. 

By the way, a simple invitation could change the course of someone's life. A young man called Albert invited his friend Billy Graham to hear a preacher. The rest is history, but its life-changing history.

Thanks loads



Hope for the future?

HopeThe Brexit roller coaster might be coming into land sometime soon. The rattle of pressured negotiations goes in fits and starts. However you voted and where-ever you stand now, we can’t escape that we are all in this together. Excited, heart broken, determined or maybe even fearful as we step into the unknown. Some are stock piling, others preparing to move out of the country (at least until the dust has settled). As I write this the draft proposals are on the table. In a few weeks, we could be moving forward towards Brexit or even getting ready for a general election.

Each day we get bombarded with another opinion about whether the direction is right or wrong. A lot is ill informed or based on little more than rumours. Whatever angle you view it from the other perspective is often portrayed as one to be feared.

As a Christian community we have something that goes beyond the political divide. Beyond borders and class, beyond passing ideologies and even beyond history. When Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God he says it is both “here” and “near”. He describes it almost as a wind that can blow where it wants. Beyond the confines of a church building, an hour on a Sunday or any man made boundary. Interestingly the Holy Spirit is described in a similar way. In the Old Testament the “Ruach” is the breath or life of God and is translated as “Spirit”. In the New Testament the “Pneuma” is the Holy Spirit of God, the one who Jesus promises. As followers of Jesus we are both filled with the Holy Spirit, and we follow the Holy Spirit’s lead in the world as we seek first the kingdom.

So how as Christians are we suppose to respond to the prevailing winds of fear and factionalism? The answer is that we should not respond! It is not a question of changing our response, but changing who we are are looking at.

In 2 Cor 3:17 it says, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Jesus also declares his peace to us in John 20:21. We get there by changing our focus, by fixing our eyes on him, we gaze upon Jesus and we are transformed into his likeness. Fear is displaced by peace and oppression pushed out by freedom.

As we draw closer to Christmas, think again about the wonder of God with us. Don’t be overwhelmed by that which causes fear and divides us. Instead let us gather again around the history shaper, Jesus, who fills us with his Holy Spirit. Going into the world as carriers of his peace. Whatever happens with Brexit, I pray for you that, “the peace of Christ, that passes all understanding would guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Mark Searle, 14/11/2018


One Step Along The Way

At the start of this autumn term I outlined a fresh vision for All Saints. To be a church on the way. I have invited you to imagine a community of people from every generation and every background following Jesus. Committed to growing and being transformed by him. Continually being filled by God’s Holy Spirit, going into their communities and lovingly sharing Jesus in actions and words. This is the kind of church family that we want to become. We have not arrived yet, but we are a church on the way. Over the rest of the month I have called us back to five simple habits. Pray, Read, Join, Commit and Give.

The vision is simple and purposeful. At its heart we are called to be the people that God has made us to be. Invited to follow Jesus, growing as his disciples and going into the world. Jesus is for all and died for all, so the vision is also very big. There are about 7000 people that live in Weston and we are sent out to be good news to everyone. It’s helpful to imagine a church that is larger than we are now, about 750 people, that’s just over ten percent of Weston. How do we step into a vision that is bigger than we can achieve in our own strength? One step at a time and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

One StepThe reason for calling us back to five simple habits is that big vision is achieved one step at a time. As we faithfully bring ourselves before God, choosing to be part of community and living generously. So we make space for the Holy Spirit to lead us. Many have walked this way before us. There will be things to let go of on the way, but the daily call is to run the race by fixing our eyes on Jesus, one step at a time.

Hebrews put it like this:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

What will be your next step as you follow Jesus?

Useful Links:
The Vision - A Church On The Way
The Five Habits of the Way
Additional Data Form - Commit - Help us to become a church on the way.


Sleeping with Bread, Living With Hope

A few years ago I was booking a family holiday to this fantastic place in Wales

I had paid a 50% deposit via my bank. We were all really looking forward to it. But a few days later the owners of the venue said that the money had not arrived. I checked everything, finally I realised that I had switched the numbers of the bank sort code and sent the money to a random person in Portsmouth. I had lost the money, I felt so stupid, and where was I going to get the money so I could pay the deposit.... I went from hope to despair in a moment.

Have you ever had a time like that? When it seems like more is going wrong than right? Or when things are changing too fast, or when you get news that you did not want to hear?

There is a wonderful book that I have had for many years called 'Sleeping with Bread'. The book opens with this story...

Sleeping with BreadDuring the bombing raids of World War II, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care. But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them, "Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow."

Life is full of highs and lows, joy and pain. Things that bring us life and things that drag us down. How we respond to those things is really important.

In the book, 'Sleeping with Bread', the authors suggests a way of living well each day, no matter what the circumstances. The idea is simple, you end the day with two questions:

What am I most grateful for?

What am I least grateful for?

Then you bring those things before God. You ask him to help you with what was difficult and thank him for what was good.

Jesus says “I am the bread of life”. Ultimately he is the one who sustains and provides for us. We can ask him to help us with the difficult things and thank him for the things that were good and that sustained us. In doing this simple thing, even when life is tough we can be people of hope. There was bread today, there will be bread tomorrow. There was something good today, there will be something good tomorrow.

This was originally given as a talk at the Connect 3TL as part of it first 'thought for the day' slot. It is a very gentle introduction to a simple way of praying called the Examin.


Let’s get going

Great start to the new term with a fantastic church family and a wonderful team.
+ Children and Youth team

    Arrived together for Monday morning prayer and worship.

Children And Youth Team 2


+ Three new websites launched

    Well done and thanks Gary and Naomi for making it happen.

New website

+ New vision launched

    Catch up here if you missed it.

+ Ruben arrived with his drone

    Can't wait to see what else he captures
Church from above

+ Rock team

    Hard at work prepping for feedback to church, consultation with community and an application for planning.

+ Party For Pam

    Planned - come and join us.

        It's going to be a good term - let's get going on the way!


Slow Down

Slow Down

“Slow. If there is dust behind you, you’re going too fast”

This is the sign that is often out during the summer at my favour campsite. Placed in the middle of the road so you have to drive round it as you come in. I don’t expect that Martin, the campsite owner, has any idea how significant it has become for me.

The drive down takes a couple of hours and the roads get narrower and bumper the closer you get. There are some silly traditions that we have developed for the journey. Like the joke about the wind farm, who can spot the sea first or the threatened day trip we have never taken to the bee centre. But as we come over the brow of the last hill everything in me is getting ready to slow down. Quite often the sign is out at the entrance to remind me.

Changing pace is so important. Over this summer I hope that you get the chance to take life at a different speed. That you have some moments when you can get away from the crowd and the day to day, rest up and reflect. 

Jesus knows the importance of slowing down. He would often escape the expectations of the crowds and walk the hills. Spending time with the Father in prayer.

Whether you have a staycation, fly abroad to escape the heat or even if you have to work all the way through. I hope you find some moments to reduce your speed this summer. Kick off your shoes, lie down in the grass and allow Jesus to refresh your soul.

Mark Searle, 27/07/2018


Love Weston Cafe

Every Friday Love Weston Cafe is open to the community for coffee, cakes and lunches. This week I had the opportunity to visit. Kathleen Paley and Shirley Ward who co-run the cafe hosted me for the morning.

Love Weston Cafe Team

As I arrived the place was buzzing. Parents and toddlers catching their breath after the school run. There was lively and welcoming conversation around larger shared tables. The coffee and homemade cakes were delicious. As the parents started to drift out the lunch crowd started to drift in.

Shirley and Kathleen oversee the volunteers from the local churches and the community. They were all enthusiastic and friendly. It was good to hear some stories about the cafe’s history and the way that it has impacted the community.

Love Weston CafeLove Weston Cafe is a good example of the church being there for people. If you are looking for a place to volunteer and be a blessing to your community than this is a great place to start. If you need to connect with others then you will find a warm welcome and generous hearts at Love Weston Cafe.

Mark Searle, 13/07/2018


Growing You 

Over this term we are thinking about growing community. As part of that I would like you to start thinking about something. How do you grow?

We can probably all remember back to school biology lessons. When we learnt about the essential things that living things need to grow. Dependant on the era that you went to school you may have been taught the acronym MRS GREN. It is used to help remember all the necessary features of living organisms. Movement, Respiration, Sensitivity, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion and Nutrition.

The Church is alive and it needs all these things so that as a community we can be healthy and grow. I will unpack how each of them translates to community life another time, but I am sure you could work it out. 

MRS GREN is also applicable to us in our personal christian journey. We need to breathe deeply the Holy Spirit, to keep a short account and we need a nutritious diet. 

Jesus often uses plants as a picture of our spiritual life. The seeds on the path, the harvest in the field and the vine that is pruned so that it can be fruitful. Growing You

So what helps you to grow in your Christian life? It could be reading the bible, worshiping with other people, thanksgiving, being part of a homegroup or listening to teaching. I hope you are aware of what is helpful for you. Then you can be intentional about doing these things. Growth is rarely quick. Like the ROCK project, it happens one step at a time and over many years. (BTY There is lots going on in the background as we get ready to take the designs to the relevant planning bodies)

Sometimes it is also helpful to ask the question the other way round. What stops you growing? Disappointment, missing church, doubt? I don’t know what’s on your list. But I am very aware that for me there are a few things that really get in the way.

Take some time today and give the question a bit of thought. What helps you grow? Then ask, what am I going to do about it? 

Mark Searle, 05/07/2018

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