C.H.Spurgeon on Genesis 24:63

Over the last 2 years, I have been fed by the wonderful wisdom that C.H. Spurgeon has provided in his “Morning and Evening Prayer”. For the Morning of the 15th August, Spurgeon takes us into middle of Genesis with this very specific verse:

63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming.

Spurgeon draws out the importance of meditation and specifically, the location and time that should be devoted to it. He brings to light this amazing statement:

“If those who spend so many hours in idle company, light reading, and useless pastimes, could learn wisdom, they would find more profitable society and more interesting engagements in meditation than in the vanities which now have such charms for them”. C.H. Spurgeon. Morning Prayer 15th August.

Spurgeon emphasises that the time we have and the way we use it has a huge impact in the way we view our own lives and how we treat God. The amount of time we can spend watching ‘trash’ TV or playing games on our mobile phones – including the trend of catching Pokemon – is remarkable. We become slaves to our own pastimes and we find it very difficult to leave our phones alone for more than 5 minutes.

When was the last time you went for a walk without your phone or computer? When did you last go into a field and give praise to God for the beauty of his creation and grace he gives to us so freely?

I have recently discovered that I am spending 5-6 hours a day just sat in my study – working on my computer – this is not healthy – this is not spending time meditating and enjoying and receiving the wisdom of God through his Word. Spurgeon raises this issue:

“Our little rooms are neither so healthy, so suggestive, so agreeable, or so inspiring as the fields.” C.H. Spurgeon. Morning Prayer 15th August.

We are to meditate in the field – spend an hour in the evening everyday and go for a walk – giving thanks to God for the day you have had, for sending the Lord Jesus Christ to be our Saviour and for giving us the wisdom found in his word. In the Urban climate I am him – Spurgeon does say – The Lord is found in the crowded streets too.

Where do you spend time in meditation on God’s Word? It is vital we spend time reflecting and growing closer to the Lord instead of growing more dependant on disposable ‘charms’.

Re-Launching the Urban Curate

Wow – two years ago was the last blog which I published. It is time to re-launch “The Urban Curate”.

As I enter the final year of my curacy, my Training Incumbent annouced that he is leaving the church in a few months time. The next 12 months are going to be both a challenge and a time of formation.

I hope to blog more frequently; to do more book reviews along with some “original thought”. I will also write about how I have tried to apply the treasures found in the Word of God to the pastoral situations I will encouter in my ministry.

The first official blog will be released tomorrow morning…

The most dramatic open day ever!!!!!!!!

The weekend just gone was a nightmare. The plan was to take my fiancée to an open day at a college for my ordination training. I wanted to show her the course that I would be taking, the accommodation, lectures, faculty, and the college itself. We got on the M5, heading south, in my car. When we got off at the Junction to head for the college, my car fails!! The clutch and the gear box goes. It was 9:45, and the open day began at 10:15. We were 20 mins away from the college, but I had to call out the AA, to rescue me. When he arrived, he suggested taking it to a garage and allowing them to survey the damage. I followed the AA to the garage in a jerking 2nd gear untill we arrived. It was 10:40, and I just had enough at that point, I just wanted to go home. The AA man asked us if he wanted to take us to the college, and we gratefully accepted. While we were on the way, he asked me who I was, and what I was doing there. I explained to him that I was a selected ordinand, who was going into the church. It was ironic, that I wanted to bring him to someone who would save him, while he saved us from a hopeless situation. We arrived at the college in an AA van. What a VIP entrance!! As we calmed ourselves down, we got on with the day, and we really enjoyed it. My fiancée got onto her mom and she offered to come and pick us up. At 3:00 I noticed on my phone that was on silent mode, that I had a miss call from my fiancée mom. I got her to phone her mom, and she then burst in to tears!! Her mom was involved in an accident!!! I was shocked!!! I couldn’t believe it!!! Her mom eventually arrived to the college in a police car. Two cars set out to that college, and not one arrived!!!! There was a time of sorting out the issue, and then my fiancée dad came and picked us up, and took us home. The news that I have received today has meant that I’ve got to scrap my car!

So the overview is this:

Two cars are out of action as a result of going to an open day.

The college had both visits from the AA and Police.

Where was God in all of this?? As I was pondering the weekend, I was reading the final chapter in the book “Everyday Church” by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. Coming to the end of the book, and reflecting on the ideal gospel community, it dawned on me that everything that happened on that weekend was to bring glory to God. Even in the pain of losing my car (a possession) that I had when I was 18, I saw that God was drawing myself to him. I was worshipping and grieving my car, and not the suffering of Christ. It might sound ridiculous but we all put our hearts on possessions, and grieve them when they go, but as the vicar’s wife reminded me what Mark Ashton once said

“It was going to dust anyway”.

So even in the worst time of your life. Praise and thank God for the goodness that comes from it.

The Extreme dangers of Lust

As part of my own devotional time in prayer and reading the bible, I use a book based on Johnathan Edwards. He was one of the greatest American preachers that moved a growth of the christian faith in America, and one of his most famous sermons was “Sinners in the hands of an angry God”.

The page for the day took me to 1 Peter 2:11 which says”

 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul”

We live in a society that depends purely what the world thinks, says and does. We have gone away from scripture, and depend on what we as intelligent beings believe in, and that is ourselves and our desires. As part of our preaching group, we are reading a book called “Instruments in the Redeemer’s hands” by David Tripp, and what we have read so far describes the conditions of our hearts, which lead to the lusts in our lives. We need to be strangers and Aliens as Peter says. We are not of this world. We will be rejected and abused for what we believe in, but we shouldn’t come to depend on the world, but on Jesus. From Edwards reflection he says

“So far as any lust prevails, it biases the mind to approve of the lust”

This is the deceitfulness of sin. We are blinded by the truth because of the lusts in our hearts. We can not understand dour own lusts until we see them through the eyes of our saviour. We are not immune to this, but we are different. We have a Lord and King who loves us, and he died for us. Why should we lust for things that we can’t have, and rejoice in the gift of grace that God is willing to give each one of us, to those who trust and belive in him. We are all human, we all sin, we all fail. We are Alien to those who don’t know the love of Christ. So to leave you with a few questions about the lusts that we have in our hearts and lives:

1. In what way have you seen the evidence of these truths in your life?

2. What can you do to protect yourself against lust?

Midland Ministry Training Course

The Midland Ministry Training Course (MMTC) has final come to an end for this year. It was brilliant! I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to develop their theological knowledge, but also your practical skills in ministry. Check out this link for next years prospectus.

BAP!!!

It is nearly time for my Bishop’s Advisory panel!!! I have less than a month to be ready for the grilling of my life. It has taken over 2 years of thought, prayer and discussions with my Director of Ordinands and I now feel ready for the Panel. The panels have changed over the years so I will outline what mine will involve; going in as a potential ordianand in 2011:

1. Application form: This form will be the most detailed piece of work that you will probably ever do on yourself. They ask you about every part of your life and work since you were born and they expect you to be as clear as possible. That is very difficult if you have a bad memory so if you are in the process of doing your form now; I suggest you start to jog your memories because it took me 3 hours to do that bit on the paper.

2. Written Reflection: For 2011 candidates, we had to write on an area of mission and evangelism. It was a 700-750 word assignment and the Advisors will look at your writing ability. This goes off with your application form, about 6 weeks before your panel.

3. The Presentation and group discussion: This is a piece of work that you have to prepare outside of the panel, but perform during the panel. You have to choose a specific subject that relates to one of the 9 criteria for selection and deliver a 5 min talk on your chosen subject. After your 5 minutes, you then have to chair a group discussion without a break, and you have to lead that discussion for 12 minutes. In the last 2 minutes, you have to summarise what the group has said and conclude the discussion.

4. Pastoral letter: At the Panel; you are given a scenario which requires a written response in the form of a letter. You are given the topic at the panel and you have the two days after to research and complete the letter on time. It should be no more than 500 words and has to try to address the issue. the panelists are looking at your ability to deal with pastoral issues in the form of a letter.

5. Personal inventory: This is a 45 minute test which involve multiple choice and essay based questions. It is a non-assessed test where the panelist see how you react to immediate issues and how you would address them.

6. Interviews: You have 3 interviews by all 3 panelists plus the panel secretary. The 3 panelists will use all the other tests that you have done plus your application form and references to try to see if you clear all 9 criteria. There is an education advisory, a pastoral advisory, and vocational advisory. They look all look at 3 categories in their fields and try to see if you are suitable. The biggest tip is: Be yourself!!

7. Results: Yes, No, Not yet. You will know about 10 days after your panel. Yes; means off to college and ordained ministry; Not yet; means there are some things that you have to do in order to go to college; No means that you are not suitable for training and you then explore with your DDO the options available or try again in 2 years time.

This process is what I will go through at the end of May. I have done 1 and 2, but I have the rest to face. I will let you know what the outcome will be for this ministry trainee…