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’.

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Feeling the pressure

As the week of this Ministry Trainee begins, I have time to ponder the amount of work that lies before me. I have been given the responsibility of doing two service talks, Sunday evening and a harvest school talk. Preparing some of the practical elements of our Messy church that begins on Tuesday. Prepare and lead our youth group on Wednesday. Attend my weekly dose of theology on Thursday, collapse on Friday, and make sure I’m ready for Sunday on Saturday. I also have a wedding to think about next year. Please pray for me this week that God’s work (and mine) will be done this week.

Although I’m feeling the pressure, I am truly thankful that I am being exposed to this pressure because that is what I will have to face when I’m a full-time minister.

Picking up some bargains!!

As a trainee, who is about to go off to college next September to begin training for ordained ministry, I realised that I must begin to collect books for my “Library”.

We had a coffee morning this morning at our church, and i was able to talk with some of the older folks and eat some vicar’s wife cake (yum), One of the ladies who organised it came out with a big full of books that looked like they were ancient. Due to my curiosity, I ferreted among the books, and old tracts and came across a few gems. I found Rick Warren’s “The Purpose driven church”, and “The Purpose driven life”. I also found two intercession books by Susan Sayers. The lady said “Shall I throw them all away?”

I instinctively reacted and saved these books from the recycle tip, and they are now amongst my collection of theological books. I know you might think, ‘well ive read them, and you can get them from shops’ but I gave £1 donation for the lot, instead of paying £40 in a shop.

You never know what you will find in the most unlikely of places!

I’ve been recommended for ordained ministry!!!

It is official, this Ministry Trainee has been to a Bishop Advisory Panel and has been recommended for training for ordained ministry. It has been a process of nearly 2 years, but the journey has only just begun. There are a few tips that I can give any potential ordinands who are waiting for a BAP or considering the call to ordained ministry but I will say that they might not apply to you but they did to me.

1. Be yourself! The advise I get from every other candidate is to remember that the people who will recommend you are looking at what person you really are. They will look at people who have potential; especially if you are a younger candidate. If this is God’s purpose for you, IT WILL HAPPEN!!

2. Pray Pray Pray!!! During a time of pressure, you value your times of prayer. God is involved with this journey too, so make sure you keep him involved with what you are considering. He knows what will happen because he is an all-knowing and all-loving God. Don’t pray that God will get you through your BAP, but pray that God’s will, will be done. You need to trust that God has everything under control, so PRAY!!!

3. Be Prepared!! It is useful to have a few bible verses and scenarios up your sleeve when it comes to interviews, but make sure you have all the things you need. I remember turning up to my BAP, and i came for my pyjamas, but they weren’t in my case!! I had to sleep in one of 3 shirts I brought with me and my boxers for every night. I know it is a nervous and pressured time, but make sure you have everything.

4. Enjoy it!!! My Director of Ordinands (DDO) said that people find BAP’s very stressful and emotional times! That is 100% true!! The first day I was shaking like a tumble dryer, but I settled into the dynamic atmosphere and began to enjoy the fellowship with the other candidates. You are all in the same situation. We went out every night to the pub (2 nights) and shared the fellowship with one another. I made connection with people and I enjoyed the time being there, at the end I didn’t want to leave!!!

I hope these tips will help some of you who are considering ordained ministry, or have selection panels in the future; that what ever happens; God has complete control on what will happen.

Ephesians 1:11 “In him we were also chosen,having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”

If you want anymore tips then let me know.

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…

What is available to Men for devotional time?

The Men and motives conference that I went to last month highlighted the need for men in churches. The conference revealed that there is hardly any men in the church, and that needs to change. The problem that I see in the retail market for men, is the material available is very anti-men. The journey to Birmingham and to the christian bookshops is always a delight. When you walk  in and ask about devotional material, you are met with an array of pink and orange. There are more devotional material for women than men! Why? There are some churches today that run like small women clubs. This is not on! The men in the church are being restricted to a lot of the new material that is being written because it is not aimed for them. The argument that you might see in this is, why can’t men use women material? It is not easy for a man to go to church! It is hard, because the society around us see men that go to church either ‘weird’ or ‘camp’. These people in society create a barrier for men to go to church. At all levels of faith, the material is either feminine or gender neutral. There is a book especial for men that I use called “TouchPoints for men” (picture)

This book has given me the direction in christian living being a man. It talks about issues that some of us men have problems with, and this book gives us direction to scripture. The book is crucial for those who find christian living as a man difficult. There are many alternatives to the problems we have that are discussed in the book. It can be used for devotional time because when we spend time with God, we need to be focused on him and the information and reading is very readable for that use. It is designed to help those who find temptation in this world  hard to live with. I will support that there is material for men out there, and there is a choice before you think that I haven’t looked on the internet; but go to a christian book shop and see your devotional area and see the ratio of men and women books.