Looking further ahead -we have a great theme for the Gathering this year ‘Incarnation’. Inevitably with that theme we’ll draw inspiration from Paul’s picture in Philippians 2 of Jesus leaving his comfort zone with the Father and entering our world. It will be a time when we share great stories of vision and courage. Sometimes when we hear these stories we can forget that we too have great stories where the final chapters are still being written. I’ve recently been re-reading the book of Acts and was particularly struck by the roles of Ananias and Barnabas in shaping Paul’s ministry. Ananias was an unhappy man when God shoulder-tapped him, but did anyone in biblical history have a more important role and the same could be said for Barnabas who introduced Paul and told his story to the other believers (Acts 9). It would have been a bit like commending a bloodthirsty Richard Dawkins. Both men in differing ways were operating in sync with their gift mix but being encouraged to move out of their comfort zone. They were people on a growth journey with God. Isn’t that what this great journey of ministry is about? You may be much more of an Ananias or a Barnabas than a ‘drawing the crowds Peter’. Who have you encouraged recently or who is that person you’ve persevered with who really you have pretty serious doubts about. It may be a Paul. The great preacher Charles Spurgeon tells of his conversion when he was one of very few people in a tiny chapel and the preacher, who was not one of the great orators, looked at him and said ‘Young man you look very miserable’ Spurgeon says – Well I did – it was a good blow struck right home. He then tells how the preacher said Look to Jesus. You have nothin’ to do but look and live. And he tells how he did – that was the catalyst that launched a ministry that will have influenced millions. Looking at individuals and seeing the potential of what could be ‘in Christ’ – that’s our calling.
Going off on another tangent – I recently read a book by Joe Klein called ‘The Natural’ – about Bill Clinton. I really enjoyed it and I can sense that some of you have already started praying for me! It’s very insightful with regard to leadership. The last chapter is challenging where he attempts to sum up
For me there is a lot about ministry in that – courage, entering worlds where we haven’t gone before, Kingdom values rather than consumer values, understanding the culture but redeeming the culture and being part of the biggest thing there is – God and His Kingdom.
The Lord bless and anoint you in your ministry, may you find and bring health, know the strength of being part of a great family, and help, in your own way, to grow and shape that family for the future that is greater than you can begin to imagine. God has invested heavily in the church – you, me and those yet to come, because he believes it’s worth it.