REBUILDING WALLS, LIGHTING BEACONS, RIDING WAVES
I have just finished Jill Duff’s book Lighting the Beacons which is inspiring, challenging and insightful. The title refers to a vision she had that was close to her heart. The ancient idea that communities would support and communicate with one another by lighting beacons on hilltops (eg to signal the approach of the Spanish Armada). We do this in a ceremonial fashion these days to mark civil events (such as Jubilees).
But the cinematic version is JRR Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings.
“In the third book , The Return of the King, when the darkness seems greatest, a little hobbit manages to scramble up to light the beacon. Then there’s this amazing cinematography of a chain of beacons being lit all across the hills. And Gandalf breathes a sigh of relief that hope has been rekindled” (pg 1)
This is a picture of the church. Christ Church. A beacon lighting up as the kingdom breaks in, and as a sign to others to also light up. So that from above all that would be seen is a series of beacons lighting across the nation.
It’s a bold vision, entirely of God.
Our Beacon has not changed. The Vision is simple and clear. It should inform all that we do, all that we decide.
MAKING PASSIONATE DISCIPLES FOR CHRIST
‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ (Matt 28:18-20)
We are disciples. So, the Holy Spirit wants to make us more passionate. Others do not yet know Jesus as Lord. They are not yet disciples. We introduce them to Jesus and he will convict and claim them by his Holy Spirit. Making more disciples.
Disciples making disciples.
And all this FOR Christ.
HOW do we do this?
Rooted in God’s Word, Inspired by the Spirit …..
24 God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.’ (John 4:24)
This means a renewed emphasis on three things:
PRAYER MINISTRY – training and build team and confidence in the whole congregation
HOUSE GROUPS – places of Word and Spirit and care and boiler rooms of prayer
YOUNG PEOPLE – invest in teams to build an all-age family of disciples where all can bless and be blessed
….. and Giving it away.
EVANGELISM EQUIPPING – courses and building confidence in witness, invitation and sharing Good News
JUSTICE – with particular reference to Anti-Racism, Eco-Church and serving the disadvantaged
FINANCE – moving from deficit to abundance
Meanwhile building on community relationships, pastoral care, serving the older generations, worship, mission partners, welcome, our estate and developing Word into action.
God has been doing amazing things.
I hope to share the above vision and plan for the next few years amongst stories of what God has been doing with people amongst our family.
And we pray “more Lord”. Come have your way with us.
A potential word arose from the recent vigil overnight from Maundy Thursday into Good Friday.
“My glory is going to fill this place and out from it. Many will see and wonder.”
The picture that went with it was of the large oak doors, which only open inwards, actually swinging both in and out. God breaking in , in his glory, and then the doors swinging out in His glory. Will we follow him out in His glory?
When I first arrived, my first full day in the office, I had a conversation with Frank. It turned out that we had a mutual acquaintance that was important to both our spiritual walks with the Lord (mine being final conversion!) During that conversation I had a picture of a dam under pressure from a large body of water ready to break. That when it did water would flow out into the streets of our community.
This picture, many will know, chimes with another received by Christ Church, maybe ten years old now, about water flowing out into the community through those doors.
On another evening of prayer in the chancel a year or two ago I had a sense that the water flows form the chancel, from the place of communion. Just like the living water we see flowing in Ezekiel 47 that gets deeper the further one goes into the river that forms.
This all may be pointing to what God is about to do in and through Christ Church.
I jokingly wrote in the first draft of the recent sabbatical cover agreement that there were only two reasons to contact the Vicar:
1. Hell freezes over
2. Revival breaks out
If it does, not even then. You don’t need me. Its all Him, whatever happens!
Back to jill Duff. One chapter that struck me was the one on What is the battle? It highlights that the work of God always faces opposition. In fact, ironically, that is one of the ways we can weigh whether we are being obedient to Christ. The nature of the opposition we face!
Exploring the book of Nehemiah, Duff highlights six types of opposition and how to respond (you will need to read the book for the detail!)
Whatever wall we might be building, if it is truly from God, and discernment and weighing the spirits must overcome selfish ambition and self-determination here, then we will face opposition.
Because the enemy uses other people to attempt to destroy what is good.
We must be wary of the temptation to undermine or to doubt. Rather adopt a spirit of encouragement.
We can all be part of the discernment and be encouragers.
The Lord sent the angel to encourage Joshua:
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Josh 1:9)
The psalmist asked for encouragement:
"May the favour of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands." (Psalm 90:17)
Paul wanted the churches to be encouragers:
"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had." (Rom 15:5)
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." (1 Thess 5:1)
As radio silence from this blog ensues please be encouraged. The Lord fulfils his promises in his Kairos, perfect timing.
And if revival breaks out during the sabbatical – enjoy riding the waves!
I’ll see you in August!