This weekend has been provocative, inspiring, encouraging and challenging at different times. Ideas and possibilities of whirring through my mind and I am trying to assimilate them all. I am trying to work out what God not concerned to me and to our church through all of these different thoughts and ideas.
One of the things that has inspired me has been the people with whom I have experienced this weekend. On Saturday I went with some of the 20s and 30s of our church to an event in which we were encouraged to take the good news of Jesus as onto the streets, at the same time stepping out of our own comfort zones. To help us to apply what we have learned rather than simply take notes we then went out into the town and put those ideas into practice. I was blessed and inspired by the enthusiasm of my companions and their willingness to take some risks for the sake of sharing the good news of Jesus. That was almost more inspiring and encouraging them the talks from the main speaker!
Today I travelled with some fellow ministers to another gathering with the same main speaker. Whilst the time in the gathering was positive, encouraging and once again inspirational, it was the conversations with my travelling companions and others whom I met at the gathering that really blessed me. prayers that were offered words of encouragement that we shared were really encouraging. It is always encouraging when you see God at work through people. It reassures us that he can and will do the same through asked if we allow him to do so.
But the overarching theme of Saturday and today has been to be “bighearted”. This is the theme of the Baptist union of Great Britain’s current president, Chris Duffett*. He is the one who has been encouraging us to step out of our comfort zones and be good news to the people whom we meet. He has a natural gift for this and has many clever and exciting ways in which he helps people to encounter God’s love. the one for which he is most famous is standing in the middle of a street holding a sign that says ‘free hugs’. He says that he has probably hugged thousands of people doing this and they have been blessed and encouraged by encountering God’s love in a hug.
I am not a huggy person. That sort of thing feels unnatural to me. But to others it is the most natural thing in the world. I know that there are other ways in which I can communicate God’s love which don’t involve hugs with strangers. What Chris has been trying to encourage us is to do something, almost anything, in order to show God’s love and grace to people who desperately need. What might this look like in our church? Watch this space. What might this look like in your life?
Sandwiched between those two days has been a Sunday in which I preached at another church in the morning and on a complicated passage from Daniel in the evening at our church. On both those occasions people said to me afterwards that God had spoken to them through those passages. Awesome. That is the greatest accolade and puffing for which I pray more than anything else in preparing. I would gladly swap 100 people telling me how much they enjoyed the sermon with one person telling me that God had spoken to them through it.
How about swapping 100 people telling us how wonderful we are for one person who has experienced God through us being a good free sample of Jesus, or telling us that God had spoken to them through us?
*Chris, for your encouragement and to add to your own story on Saturday, I have been dictating this through my computer and it interpreted your surname as ‘stuff it’.
Be blessed, be a blessing.
YAW – that’s way out of order (see recent blogs for context)