Resigned, Step of faith, trust

I’ve resigned…

I’ve resigned.

I’ve written to the Bishop.

I’ve signed some legal paper work and made the announcements to the Churches.

It was really tough.

Yet, I do feel it is the right choice.

Yet like many right choices it’s often the harder path.

I don’t have another job to go to, although with some inheritance we might be able to get a home of our own (which is both scary and exciting but in a different way).

This has been something I have really prayed over, probably one of (if not the hardest) choices I’ve made in my Christian life.

A picture I have had as I have prayed into this is that the coach and the manager often have a better view of the game than the players, and although I do want to play the full 90 minutes, often it has been that choice to swap players in the final minutes of the game that has transformed the game itself. As a Man U supporter when Fergie (the manager) pulled off some great player (can’t remember who) and brought Solscar on the pitch as fresh legs that changed the whole game. Sometimes, trusting that the coach knows both the game and you better than you, is a tough lesson to learn, but victories are won by trusting the coach/manager. In fact here locally, George whitefield was doing a great job with the Kingswood Miners -no one else in the country was as good at reaching miners that whitefield- and yet he felt God call him to the America’s and that is when God called John Wesley and the nation was changed and transformed. The greatest fruit comes from obedience, if whitefield had stayed the Christian world would have been so much poorer.

Yet, ultimately it is a step of faith knowing that the one who calls us is faithful. This faithfulness is not just to the place and people we serve, but too us personally as his children. I have recently been so challenged to see my identity not just as his servant, a worker for God, but as his child, his son, beloved by my Father.

Scary too, to re-discover the disciple beneath the dog collar.

Realise afresh the vital calling of being a good husband, good dad, good son, good friend all role and callings I have at times sacrificed on the altar of ministry. Ironic as a bitter old vicars kid, I swore I’d never do that, but amazing how easily we can fall into the old familiar traps!

I am very worried about leaving people in Church the lurch -especially people I have come to love- and I hate letting them down, I think for some of us as Christians ‘guilt’ and ‘duty’ can be a real driver, and although it is good to be conscientious, sometimes this can over-swing.

Yet trusting that actually the mission of God is his mission and not ours. Someone once said that “it’s not the Church that has the mission of God, but rather the missionary God who has a Church”, ultimately the people in our care are his too and “he will be there shepherd”.

Sometimes we have to learn the lesson that we are not indispensable and actually much of discipleship is actually about surrendering. Yet we are surrendering to the lover of our souls, the God who loves us and cares for us, the God who has our best interests at heart. In surrender we find freedom and fulfilment, it is tough, surrender is not easy, but in doing so we trust God to be God, and his faithfulness.

To often when we take a step of faith, we want to know the end from the beginning and to see the safety net clearly. Yet in my experience God’s faithfulness often kicks in, after and not before we take that step.

Reminded of Noah who we reckon might have been in the boat for about 7 days, or the widow sharing her bread with Elijah (using it all up and finding it didn’t run out) or Peter stepping out of the boat to walk on water. Faith came first and God’s faithfulness followed.

As we take that step of faith, I am reminded by some of the stuff the Bible says about 3rd days. It was the third days happen loads in the Bible, 3rd day the wine ran out, 3rd day Lazarus was raised and obviously 3rd day Jesus rose from the dead. As I thought about this, often we make the choice, we have that terrible “Holy Saturday” moment of pain and anxiety before we have the Easter Sunday time of God coming through, sometimes these Holy Saturdays last a while and others are relatively short, yet no matter what God is faithful (even when it doesn’t always look like we think it should).

Sometimes the reason why faith is faith is because it doesn’t always make logical sense to us, but I believe that one day from the perspective of eternity everything will make sense, and God’s plan is the plan that makes perfect sense.

Our last day (and last Sunday) is 1st October, the day after the 10th anniversary of my ‘priesting’ (or more accurately “ordination as a presbyter” -but that’s a whole different blog about why “priest” isn’t the right name for Vicars!)

It has been a journey both with some wonderful highs and some huge lows, sorrows and joys.

I have been honest in other blog about having depression and going to counselling, and now in stepping down, and my hope is that other people will know afresh that God copes with our brokenness and is faithful, and obedience in laying things down is okay because we are loved and he is good, gracious and kind, we don’t have to prove anything to God just keep listening for the coach, the coach that knows us and the game better and we can trust him.

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call, Democracy, Politica, trust, values, vision, vocation, Vote

Voting is a lifestyle…

Today people will be voting in the general election, for who they want to represent and govern them. It is really important to vote, so if you’ve not done it already go and do it!

Yet democracy ought to be more than marking a bit of paper every four years? As I began to think about it, we actually vote all the time, often a vote for the status quo, but a vote none the less.

It has been said that every pound you spend is a vote for the kind of world you want to live in, scary when we think that if we have the internet in our homes we are in the top 4% of the worlds richest people. How we spend our money shouts loudly to this capitalist world.

Interestingly if we look back to the 80’s when many banks wanted to invest heavily in South Africa at the height of the apartheid they stopped doing so when people -mainly students and the now infamous picture of Jeremy Corbyn getting arrested- boycotted their banks.

As consumers what we think really matters, if in any doubt look at the millions that are spent devising algorithms to match our viewing habits to commercial sales.

So, although it might be only a baby step even a facebook share or twitter comment at least does make something of an impact.

The lie we are fed is that we are too small or insignificant to make a difference.

Yet as Confucius once said “Too small to make a difference? Try spending the night with a mosquito”. -He also said, that “A mosquito on your testicles teaches man that not every problem is best solved with violence”-.

The problem is that we are often don’t make a stand about anything much at all. A great question that has always challenged me is “would my bank manager know I was a Christian by the way I lived and spent my money?”

What are my choices when I buy, do I seek to be an ethical consumer? Do I value fair-trade? Do I enquire about sourcing? Or animal welfare? Do I ever do any on-line research about company ethics? Is there anything I boycott due to ethical grounds? -How does our (honest) answers on this chime with our response to a position of God entrusting us with the responsible stewardship of creation?

Yet, I think that we can do more than spend wisely, read labels and write strongly worded tweets on social media.

I passionately oppose the sale of weapons especially to states with awful records on human-rights, but yet I have never been on a protest, or picketed and arms faire, if I care about this issue I need to step up to the plate and make my protest felt.

Although Christians statistically are good citizens when it comes to doing their civic duty and vote, we perhaps need to be better at protesting against injustice, do we sign petitions? Do we write to our MP’s? Do we go on marches? Do we campaign for a better world?

The truth is that if the people of God don’t step up for the things that are upon the heart of God then who will step into that void?

So a call not just to vote, but live a life that seeks to usher in and advance the Kingdom of God, voting as a lifestyle each day, choosing to be a campaigner for the Kingdom of heaven and the cause of the heart-cry of Christ.

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priorities, trust, vision

Force 10 from Navarone…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDXTTBfZUsw

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One wet Sunday afternoon when I was a kid I remember watching the film “Force 10 from Navarone”, it is set in the second world war, and a group of English Officers and some Americans have to join forces to assassinate a double agent and blow up a bridge.

Spoiler alert, blowing up the bridge doesn’t go according to plan, it looks indestructible, they only have a small amount of explosives, the problem seems insurmountable.

As the story progresses, the team end up coming across a dam, and they realize that if they blow up the dam, then the bridge would be hit by tons and tons of water enough to bring it down…

By blowing up the dam, the bridge fell and the mission was fulfilled.

Often we look at a problem and we can’t see a solution,  because we only can see what is in our vision, what is in front of our  eyes, and don’t see the fuller and wider picture that God sees.

Sometimes, like the guys in the film, we think we know best -we think we know how to blow up the bridge- and yet so so often our ways don’t work, and yet God’s ways does.

Sometimes, when we serve God, the areas he seems to be stirring don’t seem to match up with where we think he should be working, where the obvious need and problem is, yet with hindsight I have looked back and only later do I understand.

Even when I don’t understand, sometimes it is a case of trusting that despite what we can see, what we think God is still on the throne, God  is still in control and (even when it doesn’t feel it) God is still good.

When the wine skins were empty looking at the foot washing jars seems crazy, yet it worked, I can imagine the servants looking at each other when Mary, Jesus’ Mother, saying “do what ever he tells you”, thinking “this will never work” -but it did!

Scripture calls us to “walk by faith and not by sight” -and the wisdom of Mary (“Do whatever he tells you”) remains good advice. Neil, my former prayer partner, used to have a phrase about the Christian life, where he said “you live life forwards, but understand it backwards”.

As we think of this crazy upside down world, I remember a story from a local youth and community worker, who began working in this Church (which was big step of faith for him) and he felt God call him to play football (which he enjoyed) and felt very self conscious that playing footie wasn’t proper community work, surely God should be calling him to start a youth club or something like this. Yet whilst playing football he made friends, people came to faith, and through this work a youth group was formed with Christian volunteers, and went on to thrive.

What is the bridge in your life you  would like to see God blow up?

Where is God calling you to work, what is he calling you to do?

Do you trust him to know what he’s doing and to see the bigger picture?

God bless,

Andy

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