Perhaps it’s a good time of year to write about New Year resolutions (I’m not too far off mine – eating more kebab in January than the whole of 2019), or maybe reflect on the General Election in December. Both very important matters - however, I felt compelled to share with you something you may already know.
To some, change is exciting, to others it can be alarming (Metathesiophobia is the fear of change). For some, adding a drop of any gravy other than Bisto to their Turkey on Christmas Day is committing the most atrocious culinary offence, whilst others would happily try a vegan alternative to pigs in blankets.
Moving house is one of the changes we may all go through at one stage in our lives - and it’s my worst nightmare. People move house for various reasons; from employment to being fed up with the neighbours, it’s a process that brings a lot of change with it.
When I think about the last time we moved house, I remember a feeling of excitement mixed with fear. I was excited about our new place and making friendships with some of the neighbours we’d already met, yet at the same time, sad to say goodbye to our old neighbours, and scared of living in what could be described as ‘a state of emergency’ for a number of weeks until the last box was opened. I had just about learned where everything was in the kitchen, and now had to start all over again! Thankfully, many good friends were there to help; from moving heavy furniture to carefully packing fragile stuff, they were all a team with the purpose of serving us as a family in mind, and were working in harmony.
As we’ve been encouraged by prophetic words over the past couple of years, we know that Spring is here, and God is calling us to enlarge the place of our tent. As we ‘expect great things’ from God, we also need to ‘attempt great things’ for Him.
When God calls us to enlarge our tent, he’s not simply calling us to build an extension or something resembling a conservatory. Enlarging a tent changes its shape. It messes around with the comfort of living in a place you’ve known. Things are in a different place; some aren’t there anymore, some are there in even greater numbers. Just as our friends were working in harmony when helping us move house, God calls His Church to be in harmony. Harmony is good in the world, and so much more in Church.
Enlarging a tent involves change, but God-ordained change isn’t like any other change. We’re not to be afraid of it, but rather embrace it with faith and a holy expectation. As we enlarge this tent he’s given us, there’ll be times we wish we could go back to who we were, but remember that we don’t worship a God full of nostalgic emotions, but the One blesses generations.
'We may not necessarily see the fruit of the work we do, but we plant the seed in faith, knowing that our God is at work'
As we dig ditches and prepare for the Springtime, remember that life doesn’t come with a remote control, which means we’ll have to get up to change the channel. We may not necessarily see the fruit of the work we do, but we plant the seed in faith, knowing that our God is at work. As we continue praying about what it looks like to enlarge the tent of Jubilee, let’s remember that God is interested in obedient hearts. God’s definition of success isn’t necessarily how we interpret it. Let me give you an example:
I recently met with a brother who leads a church in a nation that persecutes Christians. He talked about the church he leads, and started by saying “I don’t have any success stories”. Later on in the same day, we came to hear about the church they’d planted in another part of that country, which had subsequently planted another church. Within a year, they’d effectively planted two churches, and had seen a few dozen people come to faith in Christ. To him, it wasn’t success (perhaps out of humility), but I disagree – not because of the church plants or the number of people baptised (although that’s amazing), but because there was a clear sense that God was in everything they were doing. Which one of us is right? (Sweet treats for those who vote for me!).
Who are you praying for to come and take rest under the shade of this tent? Who is in your heart to come and reside in this tent? What is God calling you to do, as together and by the grace of God, we enlarge the place of this tent?
As we come out of our Covid restrictions and look into the next season for us as Jubilee, I wanted to take this time to share some news with you regarding our next steps as a church.
This month, we're privileged to have Michael Akotia write a blog for us. Michael along with his wife Mabel and three children (John, Keziah and Grace) are dear friends to us. Michael leads City of Grace Church in Ho, Ghana and serves on the Christ Central Churches International Team.
Have you ever thought that there might actually be a number of similarities between our Christian walk and baking a cake? Gavin explores some of these similarities in this month's Elders letter!
So Sunday saw the finale of series 6 of the BBC drama Line of Duty. If you haven't been watching it or have watched the latest series then you can read on. If you still plan to watch the final installment of series 6, you may want to stop here (although it's not a huge spoiler)!