I’m in a field,…ok a collection of fields, in the rain-sodden west country. At New Wine LSE. So here’s five highlights that I’m taking away, alongside the gift of being with some of our church families.
1 Jay Pathak brought some great morning teaching from John’s gospel.
This was an echo of a conversation that a friend and I were just having prior to the bible reading. How an encounter with Jesus can eclipse the strongest apologetic arguments.
Note the only thing that Jesus makes in scripture is a whip! see Acts 2. And here in John 3, Jesus offends our minds to reveal our hearts.
Nicodemus believes in Jesus but isn’t willing to stand up for Jesus. Nicodemus knew the ‘whats’ but not the ‘why’.
The challenge to yield – to ‘be ploughed and resown’ from CS Lewis….
“The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self–all your wishes and precautions–to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call ‘ourselves,’ to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be ‘good.’………….As He said, a thistle cannot produce figs. If I am a field that contains nothing but grass-seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass may keep it short: but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and resown.”
2 Archbishop Justin Welby, spoke really well in a lengthy interview and evening celebration. Here’s some snippets….
Don’t organize things that don’t matter.
Seek healing, pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit and trust God through whatever!
Remember John Stott’s ‘go-go principle!’ “…….just keep going on!”
Can you say the apostle’s creed without crossing your fingers?
The problem for us is not policy, so much as delivery. Can we deliver in the local church?
35% of people in our country are using foodbanks right now, and there are 35 new foodbanks starting up each week. Here is part of where we are delivering!
Whatever it is that makes you angry,…..I trust it’s the stirring of the Holy Spirit?
God does not repair, He renews!
Popular opinion should not deter us from obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
We may be hard-pressed,…….but always hopeful.
People seeking Christ, causes collateral blessing!
Changed lives, change lives in the power of the Holy Spirit.
There is no renewal without a renewal of prayer.
Love of neighbour, love of enemies and love of one another – there’s no gap there!
We are to love, so the world can know!
Be converted and be converting..…
Be aware of the remorseless power of negative religion
Remember indifference is worse that opposition.
Living Christians make new disciples for the Holy Spirit spills out….
People will pay attention when the church is real!
We are in a time of revolution and we need another revolution in the church. What it looks like I do not know, but I want to be in it. What it feels like is Jesus-centred, fire-filled, peace-proclaiming, disciple-creating.
3 Anne Coles encouraged us to be ‘strengthened in the Lord.’ Her talk included many stories of God’s power at work. I felt really challenged to engage more in those prophetic conversations that God brings across my path.
The heart of the Father is for you…….so we live a life of ‘welcome’ for ‘we’re so glad to see you here!’
4 Prayer ministry, for and from others in the family of God.
Offering this…..and listening to God for others is such a humbling treat.
Having a stranger speak out the phrases I been praying earlier yesterday, and later have a friend echo, that exact phrase!
Receiving prayer for a body pain…..and already knowing a measure of healing.
5 The crowd of witnesses. Heartfelt sung worship to the praise of Jesus, is a perspective changer. The fellowship of others around me was such an encouragement. This is a quality gift. Some from church are attending for the week and with greater camping commitment and proximity to the green and moist earth than me!
I’d encourage you to get to one of the many quality national conferences that we are blessed with in this nation. These are great gifts, alongside the value and faithfulness of the local church. They may just be God’s tannoy system, in a clearer, louder and more unforgettable way for you.