I know it’s the middle of May, but I’d like to share a bit about a Valentine’s Day with my wife where I got it completely wrong. We had talked a bit about what we wanted to do to celebrate the day together, and my wife made it clear that what she really wanted was to have a night out. In the end, we didn’t manage to find a baby sitter, so she then said that she’d be happy with a posh ready meal from a supermarket so that we’d be free to spend the time after dinner not cleaning up the kitchen. She left me responsible for working out what we’d eat, which is where things started to go wrong… Continue reading
So, we’re at the end of another year! If I thought 2009 was a big year with moving away from Hexham, moving to Derby and getting married in September, turns out that was all just preparation for what 2010 had for us! It’s been yet another year of life-changing events.
We started off by moving from the little apartment in Derby where we started our married life. We spent about four months in total there, but left in February to move into our first house. It was a good place for us – 2-bedrooms, room for our own dining room, closer to the city centre and much closer to the closest friends we’d made in Derby.
We had our first anniversary celebration at the Community Church Derby (CCD) building in September. It was a great day where we celebrated our marriage with UK friends and family who weren’t able to make the wedding in Brazil last year. We were able to look back on our first year together, and re-affirm our vows to each other one year in to our life-long commitment of love. Standing at the end of this year and looking back as a couple, it’s great to see God’s faithfulness over our lives. It’s been a definite year of ups and downs, but we’re ending it in love, more committed to each other and to the future we’re building together with God’s grace. I stand at the end of 2010 utterly amazed at the woman the Lord has given me – a woman so beautiful, so patient, able to help me see things where I’m blind, and willing to listen to me when I’m spouting all kinds of rubbish! Here’s to what 2011 has for us
As far as we were concerned, the house we moved into in February was going to be our home for at least a year before moving to Leicester in 2011, but as you might remember God had other ideas We ended up spending just over 7 months there before moving to Basingstoke in October. Our time in Derby was definitely good, and a good place for us to have our first year of marriage. CCD is doing fantastic things in reaching out to the people in and around Derby. It was great fun getting to know people, they really helped us by giving Laluna plenty of work in the kitchen for the events that are run in their building, and it was a real privilege being able to serve a bit in leading worship and preaching once. We found a great spiritual home in the small group led by Gary & Eileen Wright, and really enjoyed our time getting to know the people there. It was a real wrench for us leaving this group, and we still miss the people. We’re hoping to get back up to visit very soon – probably need to get my driving licence first though
Since we’ve been in Basingstoke, we’ve got ourselves nicely settled into Town Centre Community Church, slowly getting to know people, and getting stuck into a great small group. We’ve enjoyed getting a feel for the church, and for me it’s been a real sense of coming home to vision, values and style that I’ve known and loved before. God has done a great thing in bringing us back to Basingstoke, and we left Derby with a word or two that we would find a home and a place for us here. It’s fair to say that’s already happening, despite the fact that we’ve yet to find a house of our own!
Just before we left Derby, there was one more surprise God had for us that I don’t think I’ve mentioned on this blog before, but it’s certainly done the rounds on Facebook and Twitter. About a week and a half before our moving date, we found out that Laluna is pregnant with our first child! I’ve written about this on my new blog, Daddy Sidnell, where I called it a welcome surprise. Since moving to Basingstoke, we’ve had scary moments with the pregnancy, we’ve had fun moments, we’ve had morning sickness, we’ve had two scans when we should have only had one, and in two weeks time we’ll hopefully be finding out whether we’re expecting a little boy or a little girl. We’ve got another five months until the wee blessing arrives, and it’s safe to say that we can’t wait to meet the little one who’ll be our responsibility for at least the next 18 years!
On a final note, spiritually speaking, this has been an interesting year. Chris Welch used a phrase on Facebook today “Bless you as the Word continues to root”, which I think summarises nicely what this year has been about. I’ve been on a journey where the gospel of grace has been taking more ground in my heart, and there are new vistas opening up. This year has seen a fresh vision of what it means to be in Christ, to be one spirit united with Him, and starting to get an idea of what it is for Christ to live in me. There’s also been a fresh vision building of radical church restoration, solidly building on the understanding of God’s eternal purpose as described in Ultimate Intention by DeVern Fromke, and the fresh understanding of our union with Christ. I’m still thinking, praying, and talking through with Laluna what some of the implications might be, but I’m not stressed about it. I’m in faith that the Word is taking root in our lives, and will work it’s way out in the Lord’s fruit.
I think that’s where I’m at now that 2010 is coming to an end – in a place of peace that the Lord who already did everything necessary to save me is also willing and able to do everything necessary to lead us where He wants us. I don’t need to understand everything – I’m happy to let Him lead us where He wants at the right time, in His way. After all, a great passage to live by is “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Here’s to another year of adventure with the Lord
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”
You may remember a wee while ago that I announced that we’re planning to move to Leicester to be part of a new church plant that’s in the works. We had been thinking for quite a while about it, and finally got to a point where we felt like we were sure that God was leading us to be involved. We told all our friends and family, published it on Facebook and wrote a blog, so it was final!
Well, after all that, God has surprised us!
Recently we had a bit of a holiday, and spent a weekend with my sister and bro-in-law. On the first evening, we spent quite a bit of time chatting about some difficulties we’d been experiencing recently, and despite there being other things they could have offered us in practical advice, the first thing they did was ask us a question. “Are you sure you’re in the right place?” They recommended that we take some time out, take all plans off the table and really chat about who we are, what we want and where we’d really like to be.
That question and bit of advice really hit home – in truth, we’d been feeling a bit unsettled about Leicester for a little while, but we’d been trying to keep the faith and carry on with what we’d felt God say. Being set free to ask these questions, we started talking and realised that the most important thing to us is to be near family. The Midlands isn’t more than a couple of hours from my home town, but that’s far enough when there’s no direct train and we often end up going through London! The one thing we knew is that we didn’t want to head back to Basingstoke itself – we didn’t want to actually be back in the same town as my parents
So we started looking around to see if we could find a place that we could afford in Reading, Southampton, Bournemouth, Portsmouth and pretty much any other place we could think of that wasn’t actually Basingstoke. Until we saw a job advert that was pretty much perfect for Laluna in…… Basingstoke! This was the last wall to come down for us to finally give it up and say “Let’s just give in and go back!” In 48 hours, God had taken us on a journey from planning to go to Leicester, and never wanting to live in Basingstoke again, to seeing Basingstoke as a natural progression for us.
As we chatted to people, it turned out that almost everyone we spoke to had some kind of lack of peace about us being involved in Leicester. People generally seemed to support the idea of us moving back to Basingstoke, with some people saying that they’d been wondering for a while now about why we hadn’t moved back there already. After visiting the church we’re planning on joining to make sure that we could see ourselves there, we made a final decision that we’re definitely moving back.
After making our decision, we found out that my brother-in-law had originally been thinking that we should head back to Basingstoke, but didn’t say because the first thing we said was that we definitely didn’t want to go back there! Hearing that was a nice bit of confirmation
The only question outstanding in my head is “What about the time we felt God speak about Leicester?” I was fairly sure that I had heard Him speak about it, but when I think back on it, I can see that we didn’t really act in a wise way. According to James 3:17, the wisdom from above is among other things peacable and open to reason, and I don’t think I really gave anyone an opportunity to speak into the decision regarding Leicester. Instead, we kept discussions to ourselves, and when we’d finally made up our minds simply presented the decision to everyone without giving room for comment. This isn’t a good idea!
So yes, we had one occasion that we felt was God saying to go to Leicester. However, as I looked back over the three years I was at University in Preston, I spent pretty much the whole time believing that God was planning for me to go back to Basingstoke when I was done. I can see why it wasn’t right to head back to my home town immediately after uni, but everything that has happened in the last few weeks actually makes a lot of sense out of those years where I was so sure that God’s plan was a return to Basingstoke. I’d always written those years off as mistaken hearing, but weighing it all up, I think I’m happier calling the one occasion we thought we heard God speak about Leicester a mistake rather than the three years I was so sure about Basingstoke at uni.
So, we’re still totally for the new church being planted into Leicester, and will continue to cheer it on from the sidelines all the way from where we’ll be down south. It’s been great getting to know the people who are planning to be involved, and are praying every blessing on them all, especially Ben & Esther Rook who are heading up the plant. Our plans were to go, but the Lord’s purpose has prevailed – we’re really off to Basingstoke!
It’s been a wee while since I’ve posted some personal news on this blog. That’s partly because there’s not been a lot and it’s partly because what has been bubbling away hasn’t been appropriate to share. That time is now over
Me and Laluna have been thinking about being part of a proposed new church plant into Leicester for quite a while now. I think we may have been praying about it since before we got married, and we were certainly debating whether we should move to Derby or Leicester once we’d decided I’d be leaving Hexham. So after a lot of thought and prayer we finally reached a point of clarity and a sense of God’s Yes that we should be a part of it about 6 weeks ago. We’ve spent the last few weeks telling our friends, pastors and home group so the cat is well and truly out of the bag!
The plant is called CityChurch Leicester and it’s being planted out from Community Church Derby and EMCF, but there are plenty of people from around wider Salt & Light Ministries and (I think) other church streams in the UK who’re getting involved. Momentum has been building in the background for a while, with Ben Rook blogging about the plant as things happen. Now, we’re starting to meet monthly so that everyone involved can get to know each other and start to build a corporate sense of what God is wanting to do through this new part of the body of Christ in Leicester.
Me and Laluna are really looking forward to getting stuck in with this plant. Leicester is a great city, and there are plenty of areas of need where we’ll be able to do so much good for the Kingdom as we reach out and serve people where they’re at. We’re still not sure of exactly what God’s got for us all, but it’s a great to realise that however big we may dream, God is able to do infinitely, abundantly, above-and-beyond, MORE than we can ask or imagine!
Here’s to the adventure
I’ve just been listening to some of Steve McVey’s 101 lies taught in church every Sunday, in particular the lie “When you became a Christian, God changed your life”. The lie is that our life only needed a bit of renovation, whereas Jesus looks at our life outside of Him and says “There’s nothing I can do with that – that life needs to die, and I’ll give you My life”. It’s pretty much the same truth I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.
In the process of listening to it, I realised one of the funny things about being raised in a Christian family. I don’t know when I can say “I was crucified with Christ” or “I died with Christ”. Let me explain. My parents, and my wife, can each point to a date that they became a Christian. “I heard the gospel on this date, believed in Jesus and committed myself to Him.” They can point to this date and say – that was the day I was crucified with Christ, whether I realised that’s what was going on or not.
I don’t know if I can give a date like that. I can give loads of potential dates. It could be when I was a child and asked my Dad to pray with me to become a Christian for the first time (I reckon I was about 5 or 6). It could be when I was 12 and went to a Crusader’s event in Southampton and felt the tug of the Holy Spirit consciously for the first time to respond to the gospel being presented. This was certainly the point that I got a whole lot more serious about God, but then knowing what I know now about self-effort and the Christian life, that might not have been such a good thing! Maybe it was 1995 when I got Toronto’d on a youth camp and encountered all kinds of miraculous stuff I’d never previously accepted. It could have been 8th December 1996 when I was baptised in my local Anglican church.
The funny thing with being raised in a Christian family is that it can be difficult to point to a definite turning point because you take so much for granted. And boy does the devil play on this one!!
As you’ll know, I’ve been on a God-directed quest to understand better my identity in Christ and live out of the good of that. It’s been good, and I know I’m only just starting out – there’s loads more truth and revelation to come that is going to unlock dynamite in my life, I just know it in my “knower”. But at every step, the enemy has been able to use this lack of definite conversion point to cause doubts to rise up about whether it’s really true of *me*. After all, if I can’t even point to when it happened for me, can I be sure it happened?
Well, no more! Devil, I’m letting you know that I resist you and this means you’ve got to flee!! Whenever it happened, I ceased trusting in myself for salvation a long time ago, and now put all my hope in what Jesus has done for me. And whatever day that occurred, at whichever minute or hour, God alone knows. But it happened and I can rest in the finished work that occurred.
So I can know that I am justified. I can know that I am dead and that the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God. That I died and received His life. And in knowing this, I give up my striving and rest in the truth of my fellowship with Christ – confident that I am living by His life and will uncover more and more of what this means as we go on together.
As Steve McVey would put it, my Grace Walk has started and God will be faithful to complete it as I rest in His strength and receive all that He loves to give.
Here’s to the rest of the journey!
I’ll not neglect my new wife for too long by writing a huge post about it, but I went and got myself hitched yesterday!
It was a great day, and it is so good to be married to the love of my life I’m adult enough to know it won’t always be roses and sunshine, but I’m confident that it will always be love, growing every day!
So this Mr Jon Sidnell now has a wife, Mrs Laluna Sidnell!!
As requested by Julie who blogs at Voice of Grace (as well as on other blogs!), here is a photo of me and my beautiful fiancée This was us in a lovely little town called Keswick on New Years Eve.
Definitely one of the better pictures of me (even with the touch of beard!)
It’s been about a week and a half now since Laluna went back to Brazil. It’s been a tough time, where we’ve both been missing each other like crazy! It really will be awesome after September when we will be married and never have to live 4000 miles apart again
Please indulge me in sharing a bit of personal news…..
Last night, at about 22:45, just after a curry with a load of young people from my church, me and Laluna went for a walk in the local park, which was all decked-out with lights for the Christmas season. I had a plan in going for the walk there, but Laluna didn’t suspect a thing!
After a short while, we sat down on the park bunch, alone and under the lights. She asked me what I was thinking. I told her about how, 18 months earlier, I made a decision that I would walk a path that had challenges and difficulties, but that would end with us being together. How there wasn’t even a pause for a second before I decided that I would walk that path because it would be worth it!
So I then told her I had something for her. The ring that had been in my hand for the last 5 minutes, after being subtly taken from my pocket earlier, was shown and I asked “Quer se casar comigo?” Which is Portuguese for “Will you marry me?” She said yes!!
So we prayed together, for the first time as a couple betrothed – and God was smiling!