8th January 2024
founder of the
"I spent Advent reading and re-reading the book of Isaiah."
At the same time, I was both looking at the world around me and talking to a whole load of vicars preparing to welcome lots of people to their special Christmas services.
Just a few days ago I came across a powerful description of the workings of secularism in 'The Christmas Tree' by Jennifer Johnston, a wonderful Irish writer.
"Somewhere I lost God too, through carelessness, I think, rather than design. As I outgrew my conviction I neglected to replace it and one day God was gone and I was sad."
So, no atheism, no massive struggles, in fact no definite decisions just "one day God was gone."
This is why evangelism and church growth are so important.
Not for the sake of the church but for the sake of the people we know and love and for the sake of the world.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'
But each path led me to the land of secularism.
A land with a thin veneer of God; which brings the nativity sets out once a year, for a declining number of people; a land which is primarily concerned with self rather than God.
A land of consumerism, and the big problem with consumerism is that it becomes all consuming.
Our world view comes out of the telly, our search for truth leads us to social media and the prevailing act of revelation is about public opinion 'rather than the mind of God'
The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner's manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.'
The great danger is that we see secularism/materialism as a many headed monster, as a great mist gradually coming down and enveloping all faith in its path.
Then we lose hope and confidence.
We need to be reminded of the hope, strength and confidence burnishing words of St Paul
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8: 37 - 39.
At the beginning of this New Year, I feel a new sense of vision that has sprung out at me from Isaiah.
In particular Isaiah 56 has given me a sense of direction
For my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.' The Sovereign Lord declares - he who gathers the exiles of Israel: I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered.'
Isaiah 56: verse 7 and 8.
Firstly, making our church into a house of prayer for all people.
Secondly, gathering in both those on the edge and those beyond the fluffy edges of our church.
I hate and despise secularism/materialism, something that takes away from, and ruins, the God touched world we live in.
I have not lost confidence in the Gospel.
In fact the greyer our world becomes the brighter it shines.
And I am desperate to see more folks gathered in to God's church in this coming year.
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For almost 25 years we have been serving the local church across the country with a vision to encourage and equip churches to grow both numerically and spiritually.
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We help all kinds of churches, Catholic or Charismatic, Evangelical or Liberal, Rural or Urban, Big or Small.
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