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’.

Trying something new…

As I’m preparing to begin a second year as a Ministry Trainee, I am willing to try out some new things that could either help me in my ministry or hinder it. Here are a few things that I will keep updating :

1. Planned for the year:  I was inspired by what Mark Driscoll said in one of his talks at the Church planting Boot camp 5th May Acts 29 (Birmingham 2020) conference at Carr’s Lane Birmingham this year when he said  “Prepare well in advance, think about the music and every small group in what you prepare, everything up to the pulpit”. He prepares well in advance. He mentioned that he tries to prepare his sermons and music at least a year at a time! That is what I’m trying out. I have planned the themes for every youth night in our youth groups for the whole year. It takes the pressure off you during the year. We will see if it works. You might think that I’m not letting God work through it if I plan it all, and you are correct. That is why it is still open for change, but it is better to be prepared instead of panicking.

2.  Visiting people: Being here for a year has given me the chance to get to know people. I haven’t really done any visiting or seeing people, and I want to try this out this next 12 months. I have a passion to watch people grow in their faiths, but also to offer prayers and just be there for people who live on their own or have an illness.

3.  Saying “Compline” (Night Prayer): I have only done my “quiet time” in the morning when I get up, and a quick prayer before I go to bed. Using the Night prayer in the Common Worship Daily Prayer book, has enabled me to thank God for the things during the day; and any problems that I have had, I can offer them to God before I go to bed. I will probably do this for a while, and see how it goes.

They are 3 things that I’m aiming to continue for the whole year, and to contribute towards my continued growth in faith and love, and passion for the gospel.

Do you try something new?

 

 

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.

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.

Book Review on ‘Iron sharpens Iron’ By Orlando Saer.

This book is an absolute necessity in a small group leader’s library. There have been so many books written on leading small groups/ house groups, but Saer seems to have been able to condense the major themes and problems in leading house groups in to this volume. His experience goes before him, and he has seen many examples of both good and bad lead groups. This review is to give a taste of his nectar, which is simple and beautiful for a light read; and for anyone who wants to invest in getting it.

A bit about the author: Orlando Saer is a senior pastor of Cranleigh Baptist Church of Surrey. He has been involved with leading small groups and training other leaders for almost twenty years. He was a former teacher, and he has a family.

In his book he has 6 main chapters and they are very close and concise. They are:

 1. Why small group bible studies?

2. Preparing for leadership                                                            

3. Managing the group

4. Mapping out the study

5. Leading the meeting

6. Prayer, care and personal nurture.

1. Why Small groups?

He talks about the purpose of the small groups and he sums it up in to 4 points: 1: A good place to listen to God: each can help the other study the Bible. 2: A good place to talk to God, each can pray for the others in an informed way.3: A good place to care for one another; each can carry the others’ burdens. 4: A good place from which to reach the lost: members can work together to advance the gospel. His emphasis is that ‘It’s not a social club!!!!’

2. Prepare leaders

He is making a general prospectus on what a leader of a small group should look like. He shows that you don’t need to be a genius to lead one, but someone who can organise and follow the scriptures precisely. He says that the best leaders are those who have a ‘proven record of practical godliness and doctrinal orthodoxy’. They also have to set goals for others involved, and to understand the wrong motivation and misconceptions to be a leader.

3. Management.

This chapter has a great application of structure to show how a small group goes from ‘taking off’ to ‘landing’. He is trying to show the pros and cons of how a small group can go. It is a very helpful and graphical chapter for you to incorporate in a small group.

4. Mapping out the study

This chapter is the longest for a reason. It contains the structure to prepare a bible study. There are several graphical ideas in planning and conducting a meeting that you can use, and he emphases the great ways in leading a discussion; and the answers for problems. He is demonstrating how to make a passage that seems unrelated to the people in the group, in a way that it becomes relevant to them today. It’s a really good practical chapter

5. Leading

It’s about how to lead the meeting. It talks about deflective measures, and focused approaches to the passage, and how not to get carried away in a meeting. It’s very important to understand the way how to lead a study and to make it great!

6. Prayer, care, nurturing

This talks about the moment in a meeting when someone brings up a problem or a prayer request. It will help you to be focussed on the prayer and nurture time in regards to the meeting, and to see if it is appropriate for them to talk about it in the meeting or privately. 

There is also an evaluation sheet in the back to allow you to assess how your meeting goes!!

It’s a great book, and it’s a must if you want to set up/ lead a small group!

Can you be changed by your peers?

The start of 2011 was a new experience for me. The last 3 months were my observation/ induction period as an MT, but now I’m getting more involved with the life of the church. The MMTC course that I’m on is getting more interesting, as well as challenging. The best meeting so far was when Tim Hawkins came over from Australia to get us some tips on how to do practical youth work! It was great, the atmosphere was electric, not because he had an iPad, and new Mac air, (must be a very well paid youth worker) but his enthusiasm in the work that he did. He loved it!!

As part of my training I have to take on a ministry and lead it for 6-8 months, and I wanted to take on the older youth group. I was thinking and praying about what to do with the youth group, and at the MMTC meeting with Tim, he said one phrase that gave me the answer to what I needed to do with the youth group.

” The best evangelists to young people are the young people themselves”

That’s it!!!!! There are a number of keen young people in the youth group who wanted to know Jesus better, so I have split the youth group up.

There is a Bible study and a youth meeting that are separate, but the idea is; the people who go to the bible study, will talk to the people who go to the youth group, and be evangelists to their own peers. At the same time, we are training them up to be young leaders for the smaller group, and a new initiative called Messy Church that starts this month.

When was the last time you spoke about Jesus to one of your peers? Its great!! The power of speech, works better for less engaged youth, than sitting round a table with a bible open. Hopefully, there will be a band of young people ready to do work? The best people to talk to about Jesus are your peers, If you tried it let me know how you get on. If you haven’t them give it a go, how hard is it??

Is the future of the church going to be like an ‘Agony Aunt?’

This is the latest item on the agenda! The problems that society have are being focussed on the life of the church.

I went to a vocations workshop about the sustaining practises that could help the life of a priest. It was really good, because it was open for discussion, but also it was good to share experiences with other clergy, and also the opportunity to work out strategies to prevent ‘spiritual and physical burnout’. The meeting was going smoothly, untill there came a point when we got in to small groups to discuss what we would do in certain scenarios. This then opened up the character of a lot of pertensial ordanands. The session turned in to a ‘agony aunt’  session. A lot of the women were getting emotional about ‘My relationship could change with my friends’, or ‘my husband wouldn’t like that’, or ‘I don’t like that’, etc. I sometime wonder how these people get so far with their own ministries, let alone, with the ministries they will conduct in the future. I know God will ordain them in what he wants them to do, but i do have a slight concern with the future of the church. There are so many people who are going forward for all types of ministry, but, have they sorted their own lives out, before they can conduct advise to any one else?

If these people are going to be the leaders of the church, then ‘Oh dear..’ I know that everyone has problems, including myself, but: if you don’t offer your problems to God, then you become burdened with a lot of rubbish, which could crush your ministry. If these people go out with problems on a major scale, they will be useless to anyone who needs spiritual, and physical support. I do wonder if a lot of people know what is in stall for them.

I went to the food bank again yesterday, and there are suggestions to go out and live like those who sleep rough, in order to experience some of the pain that some people face.  Could you imagine, any of those people who have a ‘status’ doing anything like this?   I woke up to the real world, outside of the church, when I  came to this neck of the woods, and I must say; God has shown me the reality of this world! I hope and pray tha the church as a whole can see it too. I don’t mean the whole church, but the local church.

My bible notes today are about being forgiven and cleaned. It brought up the passage in John 13, about Jesus washing his disciples feet. Jesus as the servant king, who will serve upon those who accept him. This passage some up the blog as a whole.

The church has people who have dirt in their lives, and especially leaders;  and they need someone to clean it away. Their sins need wiping away, and Jesus is the only one who can do it. Peter denies Jesus the opportunity to begin with, but Jesus said (13:8)

 ‘ Unless I wash you, you have no part with me’.

We should all accept Jesus, and to ask him to wash our feet (our dirt and sins) in order to live a clean life, and also offer to him the problems and desires that we have to him.