faith in a spin?

Today I put my faith in the weather forecast. It told me that although it was going to be very cloudy it was not going to rain and there would be a good breeze.

‘Perfect,’ I thought, ‘just right for doing some loads of washing.’

Stop sniggering.

So I put a load of washing in the machine, keeping one eye on the looming black clouds.

Stop giggling.

Then, when the machine had finished its cycle I hung out the washing to dry. Outside.

washing lineMeanwhile the clouds got darker and more ominous-looking. So I put another load of washing in the machine.

Stop chortling.

Then, when that was finished and hung out I put the rest of the washing in the machine. I ignored the moisture in the air.

Stop laughing.

No, seriously, stop laughing. Because it didn’t rain. The ominous clouds dispersed and now the sun is coming out. The washing is drying well in the breeze.

I began the day by wondering whether it would be worth doing some washing. I knew that it was needed. Then I did my research into the weather, checking out forecasts that were specifically for our town. Based on that research I decided that it looked like a good day to do some washing, even though looking at the sky you would have reached the opposite conclusion. I trusted the weather forecast.

But if all I did was trust the weather forecast the washing would still be sitting in the washing bin. I had to do something with my trust. I had to put it into action. That’s faith.

Some people reckon having faith means that you bypass your brain and take a leap into the unknown. That’s not what I have experienced.

Faith is putting the washing out on an ominously cloudy day because you trust the weather forecast. Of course there are a lot more reliable things and people in whom we can put our faith than a weather forecast but it’s the same process.

Faith is what happens when you take your research, your experience, your understanding, your hopes, your dream, your needs and your intelligence, blend them all together and then act on them.

Be blessed, be a blessing

the parable of the lovely notebook

Is it just me, or do others really enjoy having a new notebook or diary (if you still use a paper one)? There’s something attractive about having a notebook with crisp, pristine pages. I love it. I anticipate what I will use it for. I make myself promises that I won’t scribble or cross things out. I will only ever use nice pens to write in the book, and I will always use my best writing.

Recently for my birthday some kind friends of mine bought me this notebook.

20170313_103140

It was made in Italy and it’s got a lovely leather cover with that leather strap to keep it closed. It’s got my initials embossed on the front. The paper is lovely quality. I love it.

The only problem is that I haven’t used it yet. The book is too nice just to be used for taking phone messages or reminders.I want it to be used for something important and special. I want it to contain things that I will want to come back to and look over again in the future. I don’t want to spoil it with scruffy, rushed notes, or with poor quality handwriting, or with scratchy pens.

So the book is still in pristine condition.

But it’s not being used. It’s not able to fulfil its purpose. It’s being denied the opportunity to do all that it was created to be and do because I am concerned that it will not be used in the way that it deserves to be used.

Do we sometimes deny ourselves, or others, an opportunity to try something and to grow and flourish from it because we are afraid?

Do we sometimes forget that we have been given gifts, skills and personality in order to bless, delight and encourage others and keep them to ourselves instead?

Do we want to protect people or ourselves from harm and thus avoid taking any risks?

I have an idea of what to do with the book. I have resolved to use it.

What about you?

Be blessed, be a blessing

doubt that is bigger than ants

antA while back I remember reading a little phrase that stuck with me because it needed to be mulled and pondered and reflected on: “Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.” Apparently it was Frederick Buechner who wrote that in Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC.

I found it amusing, and then a little bit provocative. Does doubt really keep faith alive and moving? Do we actually need doubt to help keep our faith vibrant? And I am not just talking about Christian faith here, but whatever or whoever it is in we put our faith. You see, if we doubt then we question and if we question then we explore and if we explore then we find new vistas, new ways of thinking about what we believe, new understanding, and perhaps even new / renewed faith. If we have no doubts we have no need to question. I think that is what Buechner is trying to tell us.

However I don’t think that ‘ants in the pants’ is enough. That suggests a sort of irritant, something that makes you uncomfortable, something that makes you squirm. Doubt can be like that, but big doubt, real doubt, foundation-shaking doubt can be dark, all-embracing and menacing. It can be the monster under the bed ready to torment and keep you awake. It can be a highly corrosive acid that eats away the flesh. It can be the black ice on the journey of faith that causes a multiple vehicle pileup.

This is the sort of ‘is there really a God?’ or ‘how can God be like that?’ type of doubt that causes faith to scream in pain and won’t be placated by patronising platitudes. It’s the sort of doubt that demands answers. It’s the sort of doubt that can make or break faith.

If you are experiencing that sort of doubt then you need a few things to help you deal with it.

You need good friends who will support you without judging as you work things through.

You need space and time to explore things properly.

You need grace to be able to explore previously-held beliefs and see whether they still hold true.

You need be determined to persevering through the difficult terrain.

You need to want to come through the doubt (some people prefer to wallow in it).

If you are a Christian I suggest that you spend time looking again at Jesus in the gospels and see what he has to say about faith and doubt.

And, whether or not you call it ‘prayer’ you need to seek wisdom ‘above’ to help you discern truth from lies.

It’s the sort of experience that John of the Cross called the ‘dark night of the soul’. It’s an experience that strips away a faith that we have received but not owned, that dis-empowers our own futile attempts to get to know God on our own terms and provokes within us a desire for a deeper, simpler intimacy with God. Those who have been through it, endured and emerged find that their faith is deepened, stronger and somehow much more relevant to life. It is something lived rather than something thought, it is something experienced rather than something understood. And such a faith enables us to hold faith and doubt in tension.

I think that faith and doubt are siblings – two responses to the innate human suspicion that there is more to life than simply ‘me’. In the Bible Jesus was asked by a desperate father to heal his son. In response to Jesus nudging him in the direction of faith the father exclaimed: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) The siblings are both present as the father wrestled with the reality of a son whose affliction was incurable and was causing him to injure himself and the possibility that Jesus could heal him but what if he didn’t and yet he has healed others…

That’s honest faith. That’s faith that has been wrestling with doubt and has just about emerged victorious but bruised and scarred.

If you are experiencing doubts I hope and pray that beyond a search for answers you will find truth, hope, peace and love.

Be blessed, be a blessing

prayer support

I’ve just been writing my monthly prayer diary, which is sent to a group of people who have offered to pray for me and the Ministry to which God has called me. As I was about to send it out I remembered that my Grandparents told me that they used to pray for me every day. I didn’t doubt it for one moment.

spot the torch
Crowds of people in Colchester cheering on the Olympic Torch Relay

Of course I am certain that they also prayed daily for their children, their other grandchildren, and quite a lot of other people and situations around the world. That was one of their qualities and gifts to others. And whilst I do know that many other people were praying for me, it was one of the things I felt I had lost when they died and joined the great crowd of witnesses cheering on from the galleries of heaven.

So now, knowing that there are others who have promised to pray for me daily, I realise I have not lost that spiritual support and encouragement of others, it’s just been passed on to others. I try to offer the same support to others too.

Yesterday morning I was preaching from Mark 2, the righteous vandals who ripped open a roof to lower their paraplegic friend in front of Jesus. Among the many things that are significant in that passage, as I was speaking it struck me afresh how Jesus acted “When he saw their faith.” Not the faith of the man on the mattress in front of him, but the faith of the four friends peering anxiously through the hole they had made in the roof. It reminded me of how we bring other people into the presence of Jesus in prayer and in faith, and God acts in response to that faith.

So, if you have ever prayed for me, thank you for your faith. If you pray for other people. Thank you for your faith. If you are in need of prayer, and know that others are praying for you, be encouraged that God acts in response to the faith of those who bring people into his presence.

And how much faith do you need? Just enough to pray – God does the rest!

Be blessed, be a blessing.

oh behave!

What's this picture got to do with the bloggage? Can you make sense of it? It's a  metre rule (folding)...
What’s this picture got to do with the bloggage? Can you make sense of it? It’s a metre rule (folding)…

How do you know how to behave in church and as church? You watch what others are doing don’t you. I was in a church a while back (preaching) which had a very different tradition to the one I was used to. There was standing, sitting, kneeling, responding, singing, praying, chanting and incense waving and a couple of different books to navigate.

The problem was that I was sat right at the front on my own because I was due to preach. I was facing forward so there wasn’t anyone I could copy. My peripheral vision earned its keep that day as I strained to see what everyone else was doing. It felt very strange.

Of course that’s how lots of people see and experience church – not just the services but the whole package. We have different buildings (mostly); use different language (or when we use familiar language we might mean something different – “I’ve been washed in the blood of the lamb” might get you a visit from the RSPCA outside a church building) (or we don’t use language that is used outside church); we seem obsessed with notices (in the services and on numerous noticeboards; we say that we love everyone (and then have an unofficial list of people we don’t love); we run all sorts of activities with volunteers who work selflessly but venerate the few who are paid to be there (or pillory them)… and much more besides

It’s a miracle that anyone finds faith in Jesus through the church, isn’t it?

Actually, yes.

And the miracle happens mainly when we are ‘normal’ but offer to pray for someone in trouble. The miracle happens when we are everyday people who talk about what Jesus means to us. The miracle happens when Christians are down to earth people who have an awareness of heaven. The miracle happens when we allow his Spirit to help make us into good free samples of Jesus rather than when we are trying to be impressive churches.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

whether the weather

Embed from Getty Images

Following on from yesterday’s bloggage, today is the day when the shed is going to be put up. The nice men from the shed company have just arrived and the heavens have opened! We’re on the lookout for groups of animals moving around in twos.

It has been said that there is no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothes. That may be true normally but when work needs doing outside the weather can be wrong. Crops require the right weather to grow and then we need the right weather to harvest them. When England play at cricket we need the right weather (sadly sometimes it’s a need for rain to avoid a defeat). Sun dials don’t work well in the rain. And when blokes turn up to put up a shed they need it to be less than torrential: otherwise they may be tempted to build it upside down and turn it into a boat!

But is it the wrong weather? Or is it that our lives are insufficiently flexible to enable us to change in response to the weather? I recognise that events like harvesting crops are relatively fixed but so, on the whole, are the seasons to enable farmers to plant, grow and harvest so there is limited flexibility even there.

You may be wondering where this line of reasoning is going. I wasn’t sure myself when I started. But the thought struck me (given the British obsession with the weather – it gives us something to talk about when we’re stuck for subjects) that perhaps we need to relax our modern lifestyles and obsessions with time and timeliness. Perhaps we need to be more flexible (I can already hear administrators and event organisers screaming) about things. The Bible has the concept of Kairos – God’s timing. And it is clear through the Bible, through history and in my own life that God’s timing is not always what we hope or expect but it’s always good. And wise people will adjust their timing and expectation to fit in with God’s.

The question is whether we will.

mostly armless

Not quite my what my office chair looks like (there's no spotlight!)
Not quite my what my office chair looks like (there’s no spotlight!)

When I was a teenager I had a computer game called ‘Elite’. It was a space-based game in which you flew your space ship around a Universe with thousands of planets – trading, bounty-hunting, asteroid-mining, pirating and other space-related activity. It was astonishing just how much the programmers crammed into 48k of memory.

Yes, young people, 48k. Not 48 MB or 48GB. 48k. Just so you know, a MB is 1000k.

When you began playing the game you would be classified as ‘harmless’. After a while, when you had successfully defended yourself against attackers or had dealt with some bad guys you became classified as ‘mostly harmless’… and so on until you became ‘Elite’.

They’ve recently reissued ‘Elite’ on a much, much grander scale and while it is very enjoyable and far more complex (it is linked to t’internet so you can play with / against other people around the world) it perhaps lacks the charm of the wire frame graphics squeezed into 48k of Random Access Memory.

So why did I call this bloggage ‘mostly armless’? Well the thought came from my office chair. It has arms that attach to the back and seat. Over the years the covering on the arms has become a bit worn and frayed and even Duct Tape can’t successfully repair them (I know, amazing isn’t it!). I recently took them off in order to see if I could repair them more easily like that and the back of the chair didn’t fall off. So I decided to see how well the back is secured to the seat.

It’s well-secured with heavy duty bolts.

So I decided to see if I could operate without the arms for a while. From a Health and Safety at work point of view it must be causing serious headaches because I am not now following the manufacturer’s instructions (bad) yet my chair does not have arms so can fit better under the desk (good). I will keep checking the heavy duty bolts to make sure it is not going to fall apart.

Without the arms I have discovered a freedom. I can get onto the chair much more easily. It will slide under my desk completely so can be pushed out of the way better (in my cramped space). My arms hand down at the correct angle for typing on my keyboard so my posture is better.

And I have also discovered that there are phantom arms. I keep trying to push on them to sit up straight. I keep trying to grab hold of them to turn the chair around.

I know that I will adapt to the new mostly armless chair. I think I prefer it. But it does feel strange – almost like a new chair.

Christians talk about how God’s Spirit is changing us. He is slowly but surely working on our character, personality, thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, behaviour to help us to become more like the people God created us to be. We’re all a work-in-progress. But sometimes he asks us to make more radical changes.

It might be scary. It might feel strange. It might be risky. It might be unorthodox. But if we trust him, it will bring freedom.

So if you have been putting off being baptised, you have been avoiding talking to that person about your faith, you have been holding back from trying out your gifts, you’ve been resisting renewing your relationship with Jesus, you have stopped going to church and find it difficult to go back, and you know what God’s Spirit is prompting you to do about it, I would encourage you to go for it. Ask some of your friends to pray for you as you do it and take off those arms.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

wait for it

File Name : DSCN0428.JPG File Size : 749.7KB (767677 Bytes) Date Taken : 0000/00/00 00:00:00 Image Size : 2048 x 1536 pixels Resolution : 300 x 300 dpi Bit Depth : 8 bits/channel Protection Attribute : Off Hide Attribute : Off Camera ID : N/A Camera : E885 Quality Mode : NORMAL Metering Mode : Matrix Exposure Mode : Programmed Auto Speed Light : Yes Focal Length : 8 mm Shutter Speed : 1/6.1 second Aperture : F2.8 Exposure Compensation : 0 EV White Balance : Auto Lens : Built-in Flash Sync Mode : Red Eye Reduction Exposure Difference : N/A Flexible Program : N/A Sensitivity : Auto Sharpening : Auto Image Type : Color Color Mode : N/A Hue Adjustment : N/A Saturation Control : Normal Tone Compensation : Auto Latitude(GPS) : N/A Longitude(GPS) : N/A Altitude(GPS) : N/A

Are you any good at waiting?

Are a patient person, or do you get frustrated when your plans are delayed?

Do you see a red light (or even an amber one) as an opportunity to stop, admire the view, and do some thinking or do you see it as an imposition and an irritation – drumming your fingers on the steering wheel until the light turns green?

Do you find waiting easy, even when things are out of your control, or do you want to do all you can to expedite matters?

In the Bible there’s a verse which in some translations says, “those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength…” (Isaiah 40:31). In my translation it says, “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength…” [my italics]. The first translation made me wonder whether it was about waiting on heavenly tables and getting a tip from God!

Why the difference? The Hebrew word that is variously translated as ‘wait’ and ‘hope’ has different meanings and nuances all contained in the same word. It can mean ‘hope in a certain outcome’; ‘waiting patiently’; and ‘resting trustingly’ and in fact all three aspects are right. As a teenager we had a labrador dog called Bonnie. We used to balance a dog biscuit on Bonnie’s nose and tell her to wait. She would look at us pleadingly as she waited for the instruction to eat it. She would also drool, which was often an encouragement to us to allow her to have the biscuit before we drowned in drool. But she waited expectantly / hopefully / trustingly / patiently.

People who are expectant, patient and trusting in their relationship with God are promised renewed strength. It’s as if we keep putting on fresh strength like we put on fresh clothes daily. The strength is not specifically physical, it is the strength to persevere, to rise above life’s difficulties and problems, to keep going despite the odds. It’s an unnatural strength.

It’s the strength seen in people whose faith in Jesus puts their life in danger yet they refuse to deny that faith. It’s the strength shown by those who faith in God is mocked and ridiculed by others who do not share it.

When my children were a lot younger when they got tired we would carry them. We would tell them to hold on, and they would hold on tight, but actually they were held anyway. Waiting / expecting / hoping / trusting / resting in God is like that – we hold on to him in faith while, whether or not we are aware of it, we are held.

Be blessed, be a blessing

Ten good reasons not to believe in God

I think it is about time we were honest. So this Baptist Minister is giving you ten good reasons why you should not believe in God* and risking being burnt at the stake or excommunicated. Perhaps your reasons are in here somewhere…

Hand Count 101. It’s old fashioned – believing in God is not really a 21st century thing to do, is it? It’s like believing in Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy and we have grown out of it, haven’t we? It’s as old fashioned as breathing.

2. Christians – yes Christians can sometimes be a good reason not to believe in God. They can be annoying. They can be overzealous. They can be hypocritical. And they can do things and say things that hurt us and put us off God. And haven’t Christians been responsible for some of the worst atrocities in history – Crusades, Inquisitions…? Surely when you believe in God you become perfect don’t you?

3. Church – it can be a bit, well, churchy. Nobody likes being preached at. And sometimes it comes across as rather traditional and boring while at other times it seems to be trying too hard to be cool (and nobody says ‘cool’ any more). I wonder sometimes whether God doesn’t feel like going to some of our churches either. And while churches do lots of good things (we can’t deny that) so do lots of other charity organisations. Going to church is like looking at a stained glass window, it looks nice but it’s out of date and not very practical.

4. Bad stuff happens – this is surely one of God’s weaknesses (if he exists). How come he lets bad stuff happen? That’s not very nice, warm, loving and fluffy – not the sort of gentle Jesus meek and mild I was told about in Sunday School. God is supposed to be “in light in accessible, hid from our eyes” (as the hymnwriter puts it) – blindingly perfect. What sort of God would give people complete free will and risk them ignoring or hating him and doing bad stuff? What sort of love is that?

5. Bad stuff happens that is not anyone’s fault – you know, earthquakes, famines, tsunamis and the like. You can’t pin that on free will being exercised can you? If there is a God and he made this planet how come he made it with all of this hideousness as well? He can’t exist and if he did he’s some sort of monster. Car manufacturers put safety features in to stop them having accidents so why couldn’t God do the same? Admittedly the cars become less safe and more accident prone when you put a human behind the wheel and they decide not to obey the rules…

6. He’s anonymous – if there’s a God, how come we can’t see him? Why does he have to be silent, invisible and remote? If he was that interested in us surely he would let us know about himself, give us some clues, leave some fingerprints or DNA around the place from which we could at least deduce his existence? Surely he would show us how we can get to know him?

7. Science has disproved him – we humans are clever. We know how so much of this planet works, we have worked out the complicated maths behind so much of the Universe. We know so much of what happened from the fraction of a sliver of a tiny nanosecond after the Big Bang. We know about DNA and how it mutates and changes through the reproductive processes. From the smallest particle to the largest expanse of the Universe we know about it all. Yes, there are some bits that we don’t know yet, but surely it’s only a matter of time before we know how everything works. And ‘how’ is the most important question isn’t it?

8. Aliens – alien life forms disprove God don’t they? The Bible doesn’t mention aliens. What about Roswell, Area 57 and all of the evidence about alien life forms? Ha, God, get out of that one. The evidence for aliens is all around us. Everyone knows that.

9. The Bible is iffy – there are so many discrepancies and inconsistencies in the Bible. It’s been made up by people who wanted to try to explain why things happen – people who didn’t know about science. I’m sure we can all name hundreds.. maybe five… at least one inconsistency in the Bible.

10. If God is so nice, why does he send people to hell? That doesn’t sound very nice does it? Even if we can understand some of the horrible things that happen now, surely God wants everyone to be with him in heaven, so why does he send some people to hell? That’s not nice. If I invite people to a party what sort of host am I if I troll those who don’t want to come?

So let’s stop worrying about God and get on with not believing in him. If we say we don’t believe in him then he won’t exist. Will he?

Be blessed, be a blessing

*This bloggage is incomplete without understanding the irony. Because irony is not obvious in the written word I wonder if some of you missed it or need the irony above explaining a bit, so if you need them here are some further explanations to what I have written above.

1. I imagine you haven’t decided that breathing is unnecessary, so why ignore the possibility that there is someone who is beyond and within time who gives us that breath?

2. Christians are not always the best free samples of Jesus. We are human, we are flawed, we are ‘works in progress’. If God used angels or any beings other than humans to tell others about him it would be very difficult for people not to believe in him because we will have seen the evidence of the supernatural so he takes the risk that Christians will mess things up in order not to compromise the free choice he wants all of us to have. I don’t excuse the hideous things that Christians have done in the name of Jesus, but atheists are no saints: Holocaust, Stalin, Mao…? I am not saying that you can excuse one atrocity if you excuse the other. But let’s not throw stones if we live in glass houses.

3. Don’t judge a book by its cover. And if you want to see the best of a stained glass window you have to go inside the church to experience the light streaming through it – it’s the same with church and being a Christian. You can’t fully experience it looking from the outside. But do you trust your friends who are Christians? And people who are not ‘church’ doing good things doesn’t mean there isn’t a God, it could be evidence of his goodness at work beyond the church.

4. The existence of light mean there is also likely to be shadow? There is a ‘shadow’ to our world. Suffering can have a purpose – pain signals to our brain tell us that there is something wrong or to take our hand out of a fire. Sometimes people’s greed means that others suffer – why are shanty towns built in vulnerable areas: because the rich people have the good land. Sometimes we humans have to take responsibility for our own failings.You can’t give people complete free will without risking that they will ignore you and cause bad stuff to happen. And you can’t give people complete free will without allowing bad stuff to happen because if you intervened they would have no choice but to believe in you. Because if you built a perfect sentient robot with self-awareness and the ability to think for itself you couldn’t make some rules about it having to love you.

5. Yes, there is suffering in the world that makes no sense and has no human cause. But free will (if it is genuinely free) risks rebellion and that rebellion is at large in the world. You can call it evil, the devil or whatever you like, but this world is not as God intended it because it is at odds with him, just as a malfunctioning robot might destroy the environment in which it is based. The robot designer did not intend it to malfunction. And if there is a malevolent force around doesn’t it make sense that it would exist in the shadows of this world and try to point us away from God by making us blame him for the bad stuff that happens? Bad stuff happening is evidence of a malevolent force in the world. Wouldn’t it make sense for a loving God to be trying to sort that out for us?

6. Read one of the gospels and then ask if God is anonymous. And take a look around you. The Universe we inhabit is astonishing isn’t it? Isn’t it possible that it has a Designer? Why is that less plausible than that it happened purely by chance?

7. Science tells us how things happen. It doesn’t tell us why. Science can tell us how God put things together but it can’t say why. It can tell us about the patterns and laws and rules and maths behind everything, but it can’t say why those patterns and laws and rules and maths are so perfectly balanced to allow for this Universe (other than to hypothesise an infinite number of Universes so that this one can exist and sustain life).

8. You can believe in aliens but not in God? The ‘evidence’ for alien life forms is somewhat sketchy at best. And even if they did exist, why does that disprove God? Bearing in mind when the Bible was written, wouldn’t it have rather freaked out those people to have been told about beings on other planets?

9. The manuscripts of the Bible exist in many fragments found in many different places and they are in harmony with each other in 98.5% of the all of the manuscripts. The 1.5% were caused by mistakes in copying (no photocopiers or scanners, it was all hand written); explanations added in the margins and then incorporated; and some words changed to try to make it easier to understand. None of these differences make a difference to any of the major themes of the BIble. Did you know that 24 carat gold is 99.9% pure gold, but 18 carat gold is 75% and 9 carat gold is 38%. The Bible is almost 24 carat gold!

10. I don’t believe that God sends anyone to hell (whatever your view of ‘hell’ is). If he is consistent he will always respect our choices because he respects our free will. He won’t force anyone to be with him who doesn’t want to be with him. ‘Judgment’ (whatever that is) is about God (sadly, perhaps even reluctantly) accepting our decision whether or not we want to be with him. Whatever you think hell may or may not be, it at least is an absence of God: he respects our decision – if we want to be with him we are with him, if we don’t we aren’t. Whatever you choose, he will respect.

You may not believe in God, but he believes in you.

a lesson in humility

Jesus face-planted as Nick got it wrong again
Jesus face-planted as Nick got it wrong again

Last night we had a Church Meeting where, among other things, we appointed new deacons (those who serve by leading and lead by serving). Three people had generously agreed to be nominated and I was thrilled that all three had agreed to stand – they are all brilliant Christians who have so much to offer us as a church.

I was upset, therefore, when one of the three did not receive sufficient votes within the meeting to be elected. If I am honest I was a bit annoyed too. And I was very concerned for the person who had not been elected – how would they feel having been willing to stand and then not been appointed?

Immediately after the meeting I was able to meet with the person who had not been successful and was instantly blessed by their grace and wisdom. Her wisdom, faith and humility humbled me. And I had to change my attitude.

At the start of the meeting I read a passage from the Bible and mentioned how we believe that God speaks to us all when we are gathered together. I prayed that he would guide us. And before the ‘election’ I said that it was not a democracy but a theocracy, where we are seeking God’s will together and using the method of voting as a way of discerning that (it’s less messy than some of the methods mentioned in the Bible!).

In our time together after the meeting Silvia (she’s given me permission to use her name) told me that she felt peace about the outcome because it was God’s will. That blessed me more than she could have known, and also made me stop and reflect.

When the meeting voted and discerned that it was not right for one of the nominees and I was upset and annoyed I was actually behaving a bit like a petulant child who did not get his way, and I was actually upset and annoyed with God! Oops.

So a couple of apologies are in order: sorry to God for ignoring him when he had led us and being sufficiently arrogant to believe that I knew better than him; and sorry to the church for not practising what I was preaching and not having enough faith in God and trust in his people that we would get it right.

I need a big badge saying, “Please be patient, God hasn’t finished with me yet.”

The wonderful thing is that God is gracious and willing to give fresh starts when we ask him.

Be blessed, be a blessing