The Only Way…

Yesterday was quite a day, and in many ways was the culmination of a big year. A year of trusting God and seeking His way forward; a year of getting frustrated, of doubting, and of messing up occasionally (but pretty spectacularly). But God has been faithful throughout, and His leading has been evident, His provision amazing, and His plan & timing perfect (as ever).

Last April I was given a year’s notice of the end of my post at Spurgeon Baptist Church [SBC]. A post which was anticipated to last only 3 years, but has actually lasted 7 and a half (only in God’s economy!).

Yesterday was the end of a process with another church which began last October, via a little ‘detour’ on the way. Beginning with an informal meeting with the ministry team, then an interview with a panel from across the church, then last weekend a family visit to as many church groups as possible before preaching on Sunday evening. Yesterday they had a church meeting to discern if they felt God had sent them the right person to fill their role.

I’m pleased to say that they were very clear about their approval. So yesterday I received & accepted the call to be the Assistant Minister for Children & Youth at Rayleigh Baptist Church [RBC] in Essex. We are so grateful to God for His clear leading, His patience & persistence. We are grateful to RBC for their warm, enthusiastic welcome, and to our church family at SBC for their love, prayers & support.

There are lots of details for be worked out & plans to be made, but we are excited about our new family adventure in Essex – apparently, it’s the only way… [theologically questionable though]

Windmill Reflections

Having started by reflecting on the art of sailing and being led to the work of the Holy Spirit, I now come to some reflections on the nature & purpose of a windmill. [if you’ve not read the first post, I recommend you do so before continuing]

This weekend I visited the windmill mentioned in the earlier post. – see the photos included right & below…

[These are personal reflections, representative of my own particular circumstances, offered here in case they’re useful to anyone else.]

There are some similarities between a sailing boat and a windmill, as both have sails to catch the wind and both convert the power of the wind to put it to use. There are many distinctions between them, but the one which has proved most significant to me is this: a sailing boat is about a journey & having a destination in mind, whereas windmills are about industry & productivity.

I felt God challenge me about the work of the Holy Spirit, then lead me to further reflect on the Windmill. So what message did He have for me? What did He want me to understand?

A windmill harnesses the power of the wind, but just as with a sailing boat, the sails must be ready to catch it – so I believe the first lesson is about preparation; be expectant & prepared.

In order for the windmill to be effective when the wind comes, it is important to ensure that the machinery is in good working order – so the second lesson is about systems; ensure the right systems are in place.

In anticipation of the arrival of the wind, with the sails set correctly and the internal systems in place, for the windmill to be productive, you must have a plentiful supply of wheat. The mill only turns when the wind blows, you can’t store the energy for later. So the third lesson is about the product; gather in the harvest.

One final thought which has felt significant as I’ve been reflecting, that is that once the corn has been milled, the product of the milling is pretty useless on its own (though it makes a pretty good explosive!); the milling is not the end of the process, the product of the milling then needs to be added to other ingredients to find its purpose. So perhaps the fourth lesson is about commission [specifically, ‘co-mission’]; there is still work to be done.

As one period of ministry comes to an end, I believe this is a lesson & a challenge for the next season. More on that in a few weeks…

Bradwell Windmill

Bradwell Windmill

Sails Safely Stowed

A few months ago, whilst on a retreat day, I was out walking, thinking, praying, listening to God, and taking photos. I was less than a mile from my childhood home, but in an area I’d not explored previously*.

[* I had tried to explore it previously, but had been shot at by a farmer – it has since become open park land]

I stumbled upon a sailing club, and was struck by the boats, which were moored with the masts still erected, but their sails safely stowed away.

Haversham Sailing Club at rest...

Haversham Sailing Club at rest…

I felt God challenge me about the Holy Spirit, and started to reflect on the boats and what it takes to sail them. Of course they are powered by the wind, totally reliant on it, but there was more than that. In order for the wind to be of any use the sails must be unfurled, raised and kept trim. To sail is an intentional act. Though sailing is for pleasure, there is usually a destination in mind and a course planned to reach it (more true in open water, less true on a sailing lake).

Scripture refers to the Spirit of God as ‘ruach’ meaning breath or wind. So I continued my reflection, specifically considering the Holy Spirit as the wind and the sailing boat representing individual Christians or the church corporately. If we are to harness the power of the Holy Spirit, we must be ready. We need to be intentional about preparing & we must be expectant.

Initially my thoughts were that the wind determined the direction, and therefore the destination. But of course there are constant adjustments being made to the sails to make best use of the power, and it is possible to correct the course using the rudder too. We cannot simply prepare & await the arrival of the Holy Spirit then sit back and expect to arrive at our planned destination.

This may all seem very simple and very obvious stuff to you. But it was a helpful reflection for me, as I seek not just what God has in store for me & my family, but where the destination might be. It felt worthy of further reflection. Am I anticipating the coming wind, and are my sails unfurled and ready to harness the power?

I didn’t realise it at the time, but this was just a preamble to a further challenge to come.

Bradwell Windmill

Bradwell Windmill

As I turned around, away from the view of the boats, I noticed a windmill in the distance. It is a windmill I remember well from my childhood (though since restored), but I was still surprised when I saw it.

God stirred me once more, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. I was left with a strong sense that the windmill was significant.

I moved on to two further locations along the north of Milton Keynes, and caught a glimpse of the windmill again from each, the feeling of significance grew each time.

In the month which followed I reflected on the windmill and the wind of God. Those reflections will follow…

Prophetic Photography?

Prophetic Photography? by easyrew

I took this picture in 2007 whilst at MK Summer Camp in St. Ives. As I was wandering around the town during some very rare free time, I spotted this row of cottages and took a photo. I remember thinking at the time how I’d love to return to St. Ives without the responsibilities & constraints of Camp and stay here [stunning location]. Next week, by chance, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing, in this very property. It’s been booked for a few months, but as I looked on the website this afternoon, I suddenly realised that I recognised the property. After a quick look through my photos from 2007 I found this. Small world after all…