expectations, Growth, prepared., ready

Trestles and Vines

Last night at our Church AGM we had an interesting image brought to us about Trestles and Vines. Vines need support -Trestles- to enable them to flourish and grow well.

The idea of trestles is what support do we need to put in place to enable to work of the Kingdom of God to grow and flourish well?

Without a trestle the vine falls on the ground and the fruit is trampled underfoot, and the grapes flourish in the sunlight.

It is an image I like, because the priority is focused towards what actually matters, and building a structure; loose, adaptable and flexible, to adequately host what God -the vine grower- is doing.

Sometimes in order to help the vine, we need to work with the trestles.

Yet I began to kick the idea of Vines and Trestles around in my head for a little bit and I thought of three pictures around this.

The first picture is a very sad one, -the Revered but Redundant Trestle- where the vine has long since withered and died, and so they obsess about the trestles, the trestles are -if we are being brutally honest- in-necessary and unneeded by the people have got used to them being there, and have been there when there was a vine covering them, and no one has had the heart to gently say “your trestles don’t appear to have any vines, leaves or grapes on them”.

The second picture is a little happier  -it’s the just about coping Trestle- the vine and the trestle are well matched and everything is coping nicely, the vine is a little heavy on the old trestle and the trestle has given faithful service, but it is all okay really. It works, yet the trestles have only been built to contain what they now contain, they may have been originally built with vision and faith, but now they have reached their capacity, and are happy, but a little strained, but they don’t want to stretch out new trestles and push beyond the now reached boundaries.

The third picture, is a faith-filled Trestle, where the trestle is built in faith for the vines future growth and development, seeing the vine now how it currently is, but how it can and will be, it know the vine will grow and need support, it is waiting/watching and prepared to take the strain as new growth gradually appears.

Growth is sneaky, often advances by inches, subtle and unnoticed except to the most faith-filled and expectant watcher with alert eyes.

When God starts to move, are our Churches ready and able to cope with what the Lord of the harvest brings in? Are our trestles, redundant or only just coping? Lets instead build with faith that God is at work.

Building not for what is here at the moment, but building for what is going to come, for the harvest we have yet to see.

Lets be people building these faith filled trestles/

 

 

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cost, expectations, Falibility, Ministry, Mission, Uncategorized

Our Response When the Storms Hit…

Matthew 8…
23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

In many ways I feel this is a picture of the Church in the UK.

It is a picture too of our own individual Christian walk with God too.

We’re okay when nothing much is happening, but can’t cope when it stops being comfortable, nice, and safe…

The Disciples are with Jesus, Jesus is in the boat (albeit asleep), and a storm hits…

They look at the size of the waves and they panic.

The strength of the wind makes them fearful.

Their hope is undermined, probably one of the disciples said something like “we’re going to die…” and this fear was infectious and spread.

The disciples problem they were focused on the problem (the storm) not the solution (the Saviour).

What are we like when storms hit us? (Afterall life throws us plenty of rocky moments).

Do we PANIC? Or do we PRAY?

Our are our hearts, minds and lives filled with FEAR? Or are our hearts, minds and lives filled with FAITH?

I was thinking about how fear is debilitating, a rabbit caught int the headlights of a car is frozen…

Fear makes us (like Jonah) run in the opposite direction from where we should be…

It’s okay to be nervous and not understand what is happening or why, that is a fairly normal part of being a Christian and being a human being, but fear is something we often choose to invite into our lives which God does not want in their.

The Bible tells us that “Perfect love casts out all fear” -and the only one with perfect love is God himself.

The most frequent command is “Fear not”…

But then imagine being in a stormy boat, being powerless to save yourself (there is quite a Salvation message here, powerless and destined for death until the Saviour intervene’s!) and then your passenger speaks to the wind and the waves and they fall quiet and go silent…

The question I’d like to ask the disciples, were you more scared before or after JEsus calmed the storm… I think afterwards!

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom, our starting point is the awesomeness of God.

 Today was meant to be the launch of our Church plant All Souls’ Southey Park, but there are problems with the lease and this is delaying us getting in there.  It would be easy to look at the stoms and the winds of things standing in our way, no key the the building, not much of a budget, very small team of people behind us. Sadly our Churches can be filled with scare mongers and prophets of doom, do with listen to their shouts rather than God’s still small voice whisper? 

Many of our Churches have dwindling numbers and are struggling, it is easy to see the wind and the waves and throw in the towel and give in and die…

Yet instead we need to look to Jesus, he doesn’t need waking up like he did in the story, but coming to him is always a good first response rather than a last resort, knowing he is more powerful than the wind and the waves, he is bigger than the problems and difficulties we face, nothing is too difficult for him.

So, who do we listen to effects what we do, thinking about the Church plant, I want to be like Caleb and Joshua who instead of being defeatist like the other spies who went to look at the promised land, came back saying that the land was good and God was able to deliver it into their hand… Yet the people chose to listen to the voice of fear rather than the voice of faith.

Fear took them into the desert to die…
Faith took Joshua and Caleb into the promised land to live.

Who do we listen too?
Who do we let speak into our lives?

Do we pray instead of panic?

Do we seek the Saviours Soultion rather than be pleplexed by the problem.

In your powerlessness remember that God is with you, who is able and mighty to save.

Encounter the storm stilling God, our starting point is an awesome God yet one who says “fear not”

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call, expectations, Life in the Spirit, obidience, vocation

God’s not doing it, so wondered if you could do it Vicar?”

“God’s not doing it, so wondered if you could do it Vicar?”

A phrase I heard yesterday, it made me laugh, but I have been chewing over it in my mind all day.

It reminded me of a quote by A.W. Tozer: “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the Church today 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament Church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference”…
Archbishop Rowan Williams said that “Mission is finding out what God is doing and joining in” and scripture reminds us that if “God doesn’t build the house the workers labour in vain”.
The work of God and the work of his Church ought to be one and the same thing, yet we know sadly this is not always the case.
I could list the reasons why Gods Church sadly ends up getting out of step with Gods spirit and his heart, and it probably would sound like a real finger pointing and tub-thumping article, but that might not be altogether helpful.
Yet so often with Christian groups and Churches I want to yell STOP and ask afresh, “Where are you going? And is God leading you there?”
Or have you ended up there and Gods opinion on the matter is just assumed because your building has a cross on the top of it?
Or perhaps at Church meetings everything is descided before someone realises and says a quick prayer asking Gods blessing on what we have descided?
Moses was offered the opportunity to go into the promised land but without God going with them, Moses refused saying without God what would set them apart from the other nations of the earth.
The problem with the church, is the same as the problems of the human heart, it’s we want to be in control and we want things done our way and how we like them, we don’t naturally find sacrifice and surrender easy…
Graham Kendrick wrote of Church “each other’s needs to prefer for it is Christ we are serving” which is theological truth and wonderful aspiration, but the challenge for all of us in lets see this becoming a reality in our lives and in the life of us gathered together corporately as a Church.
Let’s be a group that talk less of our own needs, desires and opinions and instead seek the will, heart and direction of the one we are meant to follow.
Most theological problems stem from God not doing what we’d like him too, and then we need to ask is he involved in our mission? Or our we involved in his? Do we invite him into our Church? Or does he invite us into his? Whose leading who? Whose speaking and whose listening to who?
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