Monday, 26 November 2012

A brand new life awaits

I had the enormous privilege of baptising a few people yesterday. And what's more, the other person doing the baptising was my wife. 

One thing that I said to one of the people we were baptising, was that she would be asked two questions that were arguably the most important questions she would ever be asked: 'do you acknowledge that Jesus is your Lord and Saviour?' and 'will you seek by His grace to follow Him for the rest of your life?' 

There are no other questions that anyone could ever pose to you that would carry greater significance. The implications to your answers are incredible. As far as milestones in life go, these questions are probably THE pinnacle. They exceed the markers of 'which University do you want to go to?'; 'will you marry me?'; 'do you take this women to be your lawful, wedded wife?'; 'what are you going to name him/her?' Being asked whether Jesus is your Lord and Saviour will always be the most significant thing anyone could ever ask you.  

God has many, many amazing things in store for you and me, but no two paths are alike. The only thing that remains a constant through every story of faith is that from the beginning, He chose to lay down His life for us, so that we may one day do the same for Him. 

That is what baptism symbolises - going under the water as the old you and coming out of it as a new person in Him.  Every journey of faith looks different - but the springboard needs to be from that water.  

The Gospel of Matthew  (c 28 v 18-20) famously details Jesus' position on baptism: 'Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: 'Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.'

It has been almost a decade since I came out of the water myself, and I can still imagine the feeling of the water washing over me. Strange, huh? Not at all. There is such power in making that decision and He totally knew it when He gave the instruction. 

Are you prepared to take that first step of obedience? A brand new life awaits. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

To infinity, and beyond!

Yesterday afternoon I went for a long walk with my brother in law. Through fields, coastline, sand dunes and country roads. At one stage we came to a church building, embedded in the hillside, dating back 1,000 years. Entering the building, surrounded by gravestones centuries old, it's mad to imagine the community of people who began meeting there, such a long time ago. Fuelled by the gospel and hungry to establish something for God's kingdom.  

Who knows what kind of successes and failures they encountered along the way. 

Our church is fast approaching an exciting threshold of our own, as we go from one church venue to three (in three different London boroughs). And after MUCH prayer and consideration, my wife and I have made a sizeable decision to join the team going to Everyday Church Southfields, in Wandsworth borough.  

I think a lot of credit for wanting to be a part of this adventure can go to our elders at church. When you have such great leadership to follow, it gets you excited and ready for action. Week in, week out we're presented with captivating and challenging themes through the gospel that galvanise and prepare us for the week ahead as missionaries in 21st century London - a great distance apart from the community of believers who once launched a kingdom work centuries ago, from within the building I visited earlier. 

My wife has been at our church her whole life and I have been there since my teens. We met Jesus there; we got baptised there; we met each other there; got married there; many of our family members attend the church; I worked there and we've even lived there for the last 4 years. And even though we'll still be part of the same church family, it was a big deal coming to that decision to move to a new site.  

If I have learnt one thing over the last 12 months, it's that God's grace never fails to get dished out in perfect measure at exactly the right moments. We have been trying to plug into what's happening at our church for some time now, and God has made us so excited about what He has been doing and what He still has planned. We'll be asking Him to do the same when we relocate a few miles up the road (not exactly the most treacherous of moves in the grand scheme of things!). 

Over the years I have been praying (along with many others) for God to do something significant with our church. It's funny that when those kind of prayers get answered, the reaction is usually one of surprise or hesitance; as if we didn't see it coming! As the plan unfolds, it's bigger and better than we ever had pictured. The longer I am a Christian, the more I realise that that's exactly how He works.  

So, these are terrifically exciting times to help shape a new work for the kingdom of God. Much as they would have been for the believers at St Enodoc church in the tenth century. I hope and pray that the foundations of what we're launching in the coming months will still be having an effect on the surrounding area in centuries to come.  

Let His kingdom come and His will be done.