As I headed off to our church Carol service last night I bumped into one of my student colleagues. I said “Only three Christmases until we’re knee deep ourselves” or something along those lines. In other words we have three years as student ministers to enjoy Christmas before it becomes a big work slog thing.
When I got to the service I realised I was being a complete numpty. Of course Christmas services are hard work for Church ministers. Good stuff always is. And there at the Carol service was a whole church celebrating the coming of the Lord; and not just members of the church family, but neighbours and friends too. Those who rarely cross a church threshold, but clearly enjoyed it. This ought to be what makes a minister tick: preaching the word to the faithful and the visitors.
It’s not three years until it becomes a big work slog thing at all. It’s three years until I can get truly stuck in, and there’s no time like the present to be practising. These three years will be best used to try and reduce the numpty factor.
We (that is me, my increasingly amazing wife, and our three girls: the Dribbler, the Snoozler and the Space Cadet) have arrived back in North London to start studying at Oak Hill. I told my eldest girl six years ago- when we moved to Sheffield from North London- that we wouldn’t move again. A Dad’s rash promise number 243. It’s good to be back though. Hopefully there will be a few more moments to blog. Looking forward to dedicating more time to studying His word too.
I got my bike out today and had a quick 20 mile spin around Potters Bar, barely breaking sweat. Six years of Peak District hills has been good for me (apart from the extra 15kg of girth) – I must have been a right old wuss back then!
Lovely little animation which tracks Boris Bikes in London over a day.
A little bit of revelation hit today. In my pensions life I’ve been speaking to a colleague about the compromise that one of our clients has to make in choosing a third party administrator. The client has to settle for less in areas that matter less in order to gain more in others that matter more.
Compromise with God is not the same, but too often I try to do it the same way. As I contemplated this at lunchtime today, it gave me a new insight into why David said to God “against you, and you alone have I sinned” in Psalm 51. You see, David loved God more than anyone else, and knew that he’d failed God first. Yes, Bathsheba, Uriah and Zadok were all hurt dreadfully, but God mattered to David, and David knew his sin mattered to God.
So when I say about something that I do (such as genuinely lusting after the latest carbon Pinarello): “it doesn’t really matter to God that I do this -it’s not hurting anyone, and there’s more important things to be worrying about”, I am deeply wrong, and it betrays all sorts of flaws:
- It shows that I think and act as if God’s plan for my life doesn’t matter
- It shows that my priorities are higher than God’s are in my life
- It shows that I’m slapdash with his Word, even though He lovingly crafted it for me and others in order to tell us about himself.
It rightly pulls me up to look at my motivation. It rightly tells me that when God says something in his Word, I don’t have the right to compromise on it. But there’s an extraordinary joy in recognising all of this: how can God, against whom I wrong so often, and so obviously show him that I matter more than He does, still bring me so much care, joy and providence? I don’t know why God does this for me, but He does, and I am so very thankful.
A couple of posts on blogs that I follow caught my eye recently, particularly as a Dad who has to ensure time is balanced well (including cycling!)
Tim Challies on children within the church, here.
and an inadvertently fun, but very apt, response from the author of Transforming Grace, here.
The Good Book Company has a new Bible out today – it should really help the time starved cyclo-Christian. Check it out here.
As any reader will have gathered I try my best to limit the seriousness of my posts. There are far better places than this to find useful Christian advice, not least in some of the blogs listed down the side. Nope; my job, in part, is to point out the ridiculousness of a portly 40-something bloke on a bike, and therefore someone who clearly needs to trust in Jesus.
But I need to be indulged every now and then. I’ve been away these last three days (on a BAP for those in the know) and because of one of the exercises, I’ve given quite some thought to how we give written feedback and advice. This is my conclusion:
Good news and encouragement are good things to set out in letters. It allows the reader to look at them again and again and benefit from your words each time. For the same reason bad news or criticism should be given verbally or in person rather than set out in a letter or an email, unless it backs up what you have already said.
All too often I’m quick at firing off a critical email (particularly in my non-pastoral role) and I’ve realised it’s just not good enough. Let see what this does to my working life!