Call the Midwife!

It is good to be back in the office after the summer. As I sit here reflecting it seems incredible that it is now 2 years since I left teaching to work for the church fulltime. Then I was sat in the cold, damp, wooden hut that had been home to the church for several decades. This time last year I was in the new premises but it was still a building site with all the commotion and stress that entailed. The experience today is much different as we have settled into the new building and enjoy the warm modern facilities that it offers. These last two years have probably the happiest and most fulfilling of my life so far. I am constantly overwhelmed by your seemingly endless energy and enthusiasm to support the various activities of Life Church—there are far too many things to run through here but I am sure you have your own list in mind.

Most recently many of us have shared together in the highly fruitful Newday and Westpoint events. These are always excellent times of teaching and worship and you can read more later in Lifelines. For me the highlight of the summer has been being midwife at the birth of 4 new believers! There is no greater joy than seeing someone come into the kingdom of God and becoming a ‘follower of Jesus’. Combine that privilege with some excellent teaching from PJ Smyth which I heard twice at Newday and Westpoint and it has rekindled a desire and expectation to see people becoming followers of Christ. PJ’s observation that churches have a tendency to drift from mission to maintenance is sad but true. Bottom line however is that Jesus has commissioned us to make followers of him. I am thrilled that over the summer 8 people connected to Life Church have crossed the line and made a decision for Christ. Christ is not looking for people simply make a decision and get the label ‘Christian’ but that we all genuinely become followers—a lifetime journey for each of us!

Any midwife will tell you that childbirth doesn’t run to tidy schedule and timelines, the call can come at anytime day or night. The challenge for us is not to develop new programmes so much as to ensure that everything we already do is shaped by the expectation and desire that it will result in helping people follow Jesus. Whatever your role in Life Church, whatever your daily routine, please join me in praying that we will all be called upon to be midwives and parents to birth and raise followers of Jesus.
This blog post featured in the September 2012 edition of Lifelines

God’s Signposts

This summer my wife and I have enjoyed the holiday of a lifetime in Canada. Our trip ranged from Toronto to Vancouver, Niagara Falls to the Rocky Mountains. In a couple of weeks we only scratched the surface of that vast country which spans 5 time zones and is the world’s second largest by total area. Time and again we were stunned by the awesome beauty of the scenic countryside, mesmerised by the power of crashing waterfalls, speechless at the strikingly coloured lakes and humbled by the vast mountains.

I wonder what your reaction is when you see beauty in the natural world?  Invariably for me it reminds me of God’s creative power. Speaking of God, Paul wrote: ‘For his (God’s) invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made’. When we are captivated by the power of something like Niagara Falls, made to feel small by the magnitude of a great mountain, or transfixed by the beauty of a sunset, this is because God intends it to produce that kind of reaction in us. He has created stunning natural power and beauty for us to enjoy as signposts to his superior power and beauty. The tragedy is that for many, the signpost becomes the destination, and our gaze rests on the created rather than moving onwards to the creator.

Sometimes people say to me I don’t need church because I can experience the presence of God by being out in his creation. Paul goes on to tell us that because of the beauty of the natural world ‘we are without excuse’! The signposts we see to God in creation should lead us to want to meet with him personally. The message of the bible is that we do that corporately among God’s people as we read his written words, pray and sing songs of praise to him, which enables us to go beyond the signposts and have a living encounter with the creator. Why settle for the work of art when you can meet the artist who designed and made it?

This blog post featured in the September 2012 edition of Hook Focus