My preach from last weekend… went on to my fave subject – mission and transforming lives!
My preach from last weekend… went on to my fave subject – mission and transforming lives!
So, as part of my job I’ve been putting together a list of resources for mission and outreach. Might be useful for others so here it is. Do let me know if you have other suggestions that could be useful to add. I haven’t done books yet but there will be a host of those to add too.
Church Army Tips for Evangelism Sheets: (downloadable) – Basic tips and ideas, a good starting point.
CPO – Christian Publishing & Outreach: CPO creates, publishes and distributes resources and media to promote the Christian faith. Masses of resources, posters. Invitations, etc that can be used for your own events. Also tracts, booklets and so on to order. Some more modern and contemporary than others – have a search around.
Fresh Expressions – resources for building new forms of Christian community and church planting.
Getting started with a FxC.
Grove Books – whole section on evangelism.
Working ecumenically (with other churches)
Churches Together in England – Working ecumenically
Also has some other papers on similar issues
Hope – resources for those wanting to reach their local communities. Encouraging churches to work together. Focused on key dates in the church year.
Disciple Kit – list of more resources
Came across this amazing tree whilst out walking the other day. The roots have been exposed after years of wind, rain, and a fair amount of foot traffic and swinging too by the looks of things!
I don’t think the photo does it justice, I just wanted to stand and stare at it for ages, as the family tramped on, ‘come on Mum…’. There was just something about it, the way the roots intertwined, not tangled but almost plaited together, reaching out far from the trunk in search of water and sustenance.
The pattern they formed was beautiful, intricate like lace, woven in and out of each other. And yet so strong, strong enough for people to climb up, hang off and trample over, or clamber under.
This tree stood alone, surrounded by woods yes, but in a little oasis of it’s own, any life around it ether ground under foot by curious walkers, excited kids, or just by the strength of this tree alone, those enormous tendrils of roots reaching every last drop of life in the ground.
This tree, in all it’s glory, reminded me of the roots we put down with our faith. This tree has withstood storms, gailforce winds, hot summers and an ever increasing onslaught of humans, and yet it stands. Not just stands, but stands firm, strong, tall, standing out in it’s surroundings, full of life. Are we like this tree? Am I? Is my faith as firm as to withstand the storms of life? I’ve found recently in the storm that my faith has strengthened in that. Like these tree roots not just gripping on but growing deeper and further, holding so tightly that nothing will rock it.
I once planted a tree in our garden, it was quite young and the roots were not yet deep, and when it was wet the soil around it would wash away and the tree would fall over. I had to put a stake in to hold it up until it had grown roots strong enough. Our faith can be like that, it we don’t give it what it needs to grow strong, to grow deep to withstand the rain or the wind, it will just fall over. What good is a faith like that? how does that tie us to Jesus?
I love this passage above from Colossians – that we will overflow with thankfulness when we are rooted deep with Jesus. And I think not just thankfulness, but overflowing with the life and love of Jesus. As a tree has roots deep underground, the outside is lush and green, or flowering, or full of fruit, so that it shows it’s life for all to see.
I hope that my roots will grow ever deep so that I can be like the tree that overflows with Jesus…
2 years down, one to go.
So, it’s about time I did an update and here it is, this time via the blog, because, well just because it’s easier. And if you didn’t know I wrote a blog, well you do now…
So I have successfully completed 2 years of my ministerial training, if there was ever a miracle, this is it. It means that God (and the Church of England, which are of course almost interchangeable) hasn’t yet changed his mind about me being a Vicar, which is somewhat encouraging (but also completely terrifying and requires wine, medicinal of course). Completing this year was certainly a marathon having suffered a back injury around Easter which a few week later became a prolapsed disk. To be honest if there was ever a ‘good’ time for this to happen it was then, I missed a minimal amount of college and should be fit enough to start back again in September; and in terms of work it is perhaps the quietest time of year. Right before Christmas or Easter would have been pretty disastrous… It basically has meant weeks lying on the floor on painkillers that turn you into someone with the mind of a jellyfish, and about as much coordination too (especially when coupled with the aforementioned wine). This was followed by surgery which was as you may imagine, not much fun, but has so far been successful and some 8 weeks post-op I am driving again and a lot more mobile.
So I definitely limped over the finish line this year and was completing my last essay under the influence of severe back pain and a cocktail of drugs. I sent it off with a note to my tutor suggesting it would either be brilliantly insightful as a result, or a load of pants. Amazingly I did rather well with it, so it does rather make me wonder about about the benefits of drug taking whilst writing essays ;)
All that said it has been an utterly amazing experience, I can honestly say I wouldn’t change it, as I have just felt an amazing closeness of God that I will always cherish. If you’d like to know more, I preached a few weeks ago on all that, and you can watch it here:
I’ve been off work for 12 weeks now (eek, what will my inbox be like!?) but have spent the time off wisely by watching Suits and Youtube… ahem… I mean by being very studious… Actually I have loved having time to be creative again and lots of that has been blogged on here too, as well as finally finishing my ‘short guide to the discernment process‘ which will mean nothing to you if you’re not in it or ordained already. It’s basically the process by which the church selects people for training. It is, well, lets just say you need more than wine to get through it… Phil says it’s a ridiculous name and makes him think of old men in a room smoking pipes and stroking their beards saying ‘hmm’ a lot, which may not actually be all that far from the truth…
I started writing about it right when I started college but of course time and priorities meant it never quite made it to the top of the ‘to do’ list. But with hours on my hands I finally completed it and it’s now out there for all to see… well for the 7 people currently going through it all… ok maybe 8…
So anyway, this is supposed to be a college update…. as I write we shall shortly begin discussions about my ‘title post’, aka The Curacy (cue dramatic music, dun dun derrrrr…). This will almost certainly mean a house move, and possibly schools for the kids too. It is with some trepidation we approach this but also with total trust in God. Phil and I have always felt that He would show us the way forward and guide us into His plans for us, so we continue to trust Him for our future.
But before then I still have a year to go at college, with a church placement – delayed due to my injury – which entails spending 8 weeks or so in another church, gaining experience and then writing a number of reflections on it. Then more modules, New Testament this term, plenty more essays and heaps of things from our ‘check list’ including visiting yes, more churches, and various tasks. There are frankly not enough hours in the day! This year will definitely be a challenge especially when I now have to add into it, regular physio and gym visits and walking twice a day too.
Looking back this year has been great, despite the ending. We had a fantastic week at Canterbury again at Easter, with some beautiful worship in the cathedral crypt. Some great teaching, and a fab day on preaching with a visiting speaker Rev Dr Sam Wells, which won’t mean anything to most of you but those in the church might recognise his name. He was incredibly inspiring and it was great to chat to him at lunch too, over a rather soggy omelette (’tis the CofE you know, no expense spared…). For me, possibly a highlight of the year, was along with a few friends, successfully lobbying (and yes it felt like lobbying) for a more charismatic service during our study weekends. Despite not being able to lead it because of my back, it was a wonderful service, led fantastically at the last min by my friend Jeremy and I hope enabled people to see what good charismatic evangelical worship can be like. (Charismatic means different things to different people but in this case meant a more informal service, modern songs, less boring stuff – sorry guys, but it’s my blog so I’ll say what I think ;) – and more importantly some space for the Holy Spirit to move. In this case we had time for people to pray out as they felt led and some prayer ministry – time where people could be prayed for by a team of people with some privacy. Apparently it was the first time in years the college had included this kind of worship which felt like an achievement! And we had some great feedback after too, at a college like mine people come from all different parts of the church and it was never going to be everyones cup of tea, so it was lovely that people felt able to worship and meet with God, for many in a style they are not used to. For me, as the weekend where my back first started to go, it was an emotional roller coaster, but at the same time felt significant in more than one way.
As we took communion we included a wonderful song by the band Leeland, which is below. I just love this song, it expresses so much of what Jesus did for us…
I listen to this and think, yes I am seated where I don’t belong. Many people have said to me things like ‘you don’t deserve this’ of my back injury, but the truth is we all deserve a heap more than this. Sorry to get all deep, I know this newsletter is a bit more melancholy than others have been (and no bean jokes other, there’s a first) but I guess being incapacitated or poorly makes you reflect more and I’ve done my fair share of that recently. I can’t begin to describe the blessings I have felt in all the pain and I can only say that is down to God. Others go through far worse than this and suffer terribly and yet I can look back and say it has been a blessing. Why? I think it’s the goodness of God. And no I can’t say why I get to have a good time in it all and others don’t, but I just know I wouldn’t have got through this without Him…
Ok I’ve probably gone on enough, promise to be more jokey next time! and there might be some curacy news too :) In the meantime here’s some prayer points…
: For healing – well derr…. this is a slow old process but any prayer for helping in my back would be very much appreciated!
: As we approach curacy discussions, please pray for God to guide us to the right place.
: and in that, for peace for us all and particularly the kids
: A level results on Thursday, need I say more! Uni beckons…
: For me as I get back to work, for the time that I need to fit everything in!
As always with love and blessings
So I’ve been thinking a lot about trust recently.
The word trust (or derivatives of it) appear over 200 times in the bible (I’m looking at the NRSV but let’s face it, it’s a hard word to translate another way), and the phrase ‘Trust in the Lord’ or ‘Trust in God’ appears regularly. It’s a favourite of the Psalmist, frequently declaring his trust in God, even (or often) in the face of adversity (see Psalm 31 for example).
The Oxford dictionary online definition of trust is this:
Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something…
Acceptance of the truth of a statement without evidence or investigation
(amongst other definitions)
So really, trust is black or white. There isn’t a grey in between, it’s a choice, a yes or no. Do we, do I, choose to trust God in all things? So often we say that we trust him but when we’re in a tricky situation or have a tough decision to make, we waver, we question, we doubt, we try to fix things ourselves (well, maybe that’s just me.).
As I prayed through Psalm 56 this week I’ve been thinking about that. Am I allowing trust to be in various shades of grey or am I saying YES, a big fat yes, I choose to trust?
And of course it’s not really that simple is it? If you’ve ever been let down by someone you love then trusting again can be hard. You don’t just do it, it doesn’t just happen as it once might have, you have to actively choose to trust.
But as the definition shows, trust is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability and strength of Jesus. And an acceptance of the truth of who He is. Of course I can say I have a firm belief in the reliability, truth, strength and so on, of who Jesus is and of who He is in my life. So if I can state that and believe it, then I can choose to trust him, wholeheartedly in a black or white decision.
Psalm 56 was written as it says ‘under persecution’, in battle, and my only battle is not with military intervention but with my mind. As my head hits the pillow every night the questions and the plans start to whir around incessantly. It’s like the truth of what I am thinking is only allowed out then. So whilst I say I am trusting in Him, the reality is, underneath it all I’m still anxious, still uncertain, still questioning: why on earth would God have good and perfect plans for me?
The me who so often fails Him, who so often questions Him, who so often gets it wrong?
Well, if I can’t quite accept the truth of that ‘without evidence or investigation’, here is my evidence in Romans 5:8:
But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
That is all I need. To make my trust a black or white thing. Because every time I will choose the light (or white). I’ve been reminded of that so much recently in this time of healing and recuperation (I won’t call it tough because the time with God has been so amazing!), that He is all I need. In the wavering moments, I repeat to myself, I will trust in the Lord. In the sleepless hours I remember what can man do to me? I will not be afraid, in God I trust. In the anxiety I remind myself, that God has proved Himself, whether I need evidence or not, He has more than proved his love for me.
And He is trustworthy…