View from my garden bench
Reading… It takes me a long time to read a book. I find it a task and the focus necessary draws a lot out of me. I tend to dip into a book over a year and have several going at once. Occasionally a book will grip me and I will read it in a couple of sittings but this is rare.
Currently I am dipping infrequently in to Henri Nouwen’s The inner Voice of Love. The other day this sentence drew me down,
‘You are confronted again and again with the choice of letting God speak or letting your wounded self cry out.’
Another book I am reading over a long period is Growing Leaders by James Lawrence. This fine book is a breath of fresh air synthesising Christian leadership theories into a British context, giving a voice to those ill at ease with the dominant culture of our time but grateful for its insights. This morning I read,
Our primary calling involves laying everything before God and placing God above all things. Yet our secondary calling must surely encompass the relationships that are part of being human, a glorious gift from a relational God.
Our primary calling is God’s call to himself; our secondary calling is our service to the world.
That these two ideas have spoken to me is an encouragement I am pleased to share.
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The fountain at Cambridge Botanical Gardens
The church is a work of the Holy Spirit, who works creatively and deeply in the hearts of people to bring glory to Christ in his church. The principle is that the church is his work and he blows through the church like a wind, illusive yet manifest (John 3:8). We do not have control of how the Spirit works in the church and those born of the Spirit are similarly free.
How do you recognise a work of the Spirit in the church? Well it has the character of the Spirit: The Spirit is not bound in a method or a form though he might inhabit it. Living a Spirit filled life is being open to the breath of the Spirit blowing into every part of your life. Your concern is not in its location in any form, practice or discipline but in its call to worship and transformative effect.
The work God does in our heart, works its way out, effectively achieving its purpose, love. We are called to obedience to this principle, that we speak from the truth of the Spirit and not from the pain of our anxiety and ambition. We cannot bypass the deep work of the heart as it is God’s promise to us (Ezekiel 36:25;27). We are called to trust God who is faithful to achieve this purpose in whatever way he chooses, in Christ, and who cannot be confined by walls or methods. Any other way is not the work of the Spirit (John 3:6;8).
The church is a called people formed by the hand of a good and loving God. He will build his church; we will hear his call safe in our identity as children of God. (1 John 3:1;3)