Bluebell Woods, Foraging for Wild Garlic in Cemeteries, Tweed Run 2014, Integrity in Ministry
How time flies (when you’re having fun)! You blink and find yourself, somewhat dismayed, in the middle of May.
- prep for the two Bible study groups i help lead – a mixed group of young workers and a women’s group of City professionals;
- meeting up with the 15 people from both groups who have the misfortune of being under my care;
- shakily training up new leaders;
- loads of controversial experimental practice talks at the School; and
- next month (only two weeks away!) travelling up north(ish) to do a real talk.
The last worries me most – the organiser called today to say how they “loved” hearing me previously and that they’re now moving to a new venue because of the number of people coming. Truly dislike upfront ministry – to stand there feeling the weight of expectation, cringing from the full force of critical stares, is not my idea of a good time. Being neither a competent speaker, nor possessing any natural charm or charisma, the chances of it all going horribly wrong are very good. Am thinking of taking a wingman/woman along who will hopefully so outshine me that they’ll spare me the next time!
wild garlic leaves (they grow plentifully in parks and cemeteries) with rump steak and in an omelette
Still, perhaps there is an important lesson here: do i rely heavily on God only because i don’t think i have the skills for the job? Shouldn’t i rely on God all the time for all things because any small amount of skill could only have been given by Him, and he, being sovereign, is in charge of how everything turns out regardless of how wonderfully gifted i might (not) be?
Tweed Run, London 2014
Lee Gatiss’ church history exposé on the real reason why Wesley was allegedly told by a church warden after he had preached at St. Helen’s Church on Bishopsgate “Sir, you must preach here no more” (his unbiblical denial of the complete sovereignty of God and the unbecoming manner in which he made that known (“[predestination] is a doctrine full of blasphemy”) – see page 35 of Gatiss’ The True Profession of the Gospel), the George Whitefield and John Wesley spat, and Wesley’s later meanness to Augustus Montague Toplady (love that name and also his tunes) and his deliberate and devious altering of Toplady’s pamphlets, was talked about amongst friends for some time. Could John Wesley plead an unhappy marriage to Molly Wesley as the reason for his ranting and outbursts and inability to think clearly (see Clare Heath-Whyte’s Old Wives Tales)?
Few of us will be famous enough for people in later centuries to want to study our lives, but if they did would they find our good reputation unjustified or would false charges against us be dropped and our persons vindicated?
And does it really matter? It is not a state of equanimity that is proposed, but the clear realisation that it is only before our master that we stand or fall.
We’ve been working our way through the Book of Revelation in our Sunday morning meetings. Last Sunday’s passage on Sardis was a very good reminder that success in ministry doesn’t look like having a great reputation:
3 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Revelation 3:1-6)
Whatever reputation we have amongst our peers, whatever the history books say, whatever fruitfulness or lack thereof we might see in ministry, whatever accolades or criticisms, it is Jesus’ opinion of us that we should be concerned about. God alone sees all things (“I know…” he says), and will therefore be the just judge of all.