This is the new normal!

ad_encounterFor some time now, I have been trailing the weekend just gone as one which I felt would be significant in the life of Jubilee Church. We were really looking forward to the visit of a team from Kings Church Horsham and had a real sense that God wanted to do something quite seismic in the church. He did!

We were wonderfully served by Andy, Trevor, Janet, Jo, Juliet, Nicky, Jules and Jon from Kings. This gifted team gave themselves to us over the whole weekend. It was a packed programme and they served enthusiastically and with such graciousness over the entire time. They had prayed and prepared and came ready to give. We are so grateful to God for them and for their heart to be a blessing to us.

The sense of God’s presence over the weekend was tangible. The prophetic gift which was released was incredible. God has certainly been at work in Jubilee this weekend, and I feel that He has raised the bar as to what is to be called “normal” in church life. The challenge for us now is to not go back, not to settle for anything less. If we are not careful to push on, then this weekend could just become a “that was nice” weekend in our history. I don’t believe for one minute that is what God would want. This remarkable weekend should serve to encourage and motivate forward into all that God wants for us. Sarah and I are certainly up for that. Who else wants to come on the journey?

CS Lewis on giving

On Sunday, I preached at Jubilee about giving. Basing ourselves in Malachi 3, we looked at what the Bible has to say about generous, grace filled giving, as part of a life that’s sold out to God and committed to His purposes. We looked at how giving to God is not primarily a financial issue, it’s actually a heart issue. It flows out of a heart totally devoted to God. Anything we give to God, as part of our worship, should actually reflect the whole. The part given represents the whole, because we want to give everything to the Lord.

One of my quotes came from CS Lewis in Mere Christianity, where he answers the question as to how much we should give. He says this:

“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusement, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our giving does not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say it is too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot because our commitment to giving excludes them.” 

In typical Lewis style, this is a challenging and provocative statement. So, how are you doing with your giving?

“…He restores my soul.”

My fellow Elder, John Batten brought a great word at our Jubilee Celebration last Sunday morning. He felt God prompt him to read out Psalm 23. Now this is probably one of the most well-known Psalms, but he brought it with real conviction and faith that God was going to be speaking to people afresh through it. I know God did, because I was one of those people!

The phrase I’ve been thinking about a great deal this week is verse 3, “… he restores my soul.” Particularly, I’ve been meditating on the word, “restore”. What does it mean that God restores? The image that came to mind was of a master craftsman, working on an ancient artefact and restoring it to its original beauty. In fact, when gifted craftsman work on such things, you often cannot tell that restoration work has taken place – they are that good at their work! And the same is true of God’s work in us. When the Bible says that He restores, it doesn’t mean that He just patches up, tapes over and hopes for the best. God is the ultimate master craftsman, carefully working on us, His children; painstakingly and lovingly restoring that which is damaged, broken or cracked. God loves us in our damaged state, but He doesn’t leave us like that.

For me, I am waiting on God to restore me physically after a short season of ill health. For you, you may be asking God to restore other areas of your life. Whatever it is, be encouraged that we have a God who loves to restore, make whole and make new. The Lord is your shepherd – He restores your soul.