We’ve been a bit quiet over here the past week at Plant Halifax, that’s because we’ve been away on a study/retreat week in Shropshire. Rach, myself and the children have been at Jesus at the Centre - a week of teaching and fellowship with other ministers and church leaders. We have been massively blessed by it. We made new friends, shared hardships and points for praise, prayed with people and heard about their churches; we had fun with the children and relaxed as a family; and most importantly we were refreshed by the ministry of the Word. Paul Blackham and Richard Bewes did the teaching all week - and as ever with these two men - it was wonderfully insightful, pastoral and full of Jesus!
On the first morning Richard spoke on ‘the ever growing kingdom’ from Matthew 13:
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”
Richard began by saying: “let’s first say this - the kingdom of God is small in it’s beginnings. Tiny seed, little yeast - it’s small in its beginnings. Whenever there is a story about God’s ruling intervention in the bible, it comes across with apparent insignificance built into the start…”
As Richard spoke I couldn’t help but think about the situation we find ourselves in. Everything feels small, insignificant almost - but we trust that to God it is anything but. The night before we were reminded by Paul Blackham just how much Jesus loves the church. It is his bride, his own body, the one who has been set apart for him from before the foundation of the world - she is the one He forsakes his Father for! And so we trust that because Jesus loves his church this much, he will grow the church in Halifax - even if its beginnings are small!
We were also reminded by Richard that the growth of God’s kingdom cannot be monitored. Just as the rising dough is almost unobservable except for coming back after time has passed; and just as to stand over a mustard seed while it germinates would convince you there is no growth at all - so we cannot measure the growth of God’s kingdom. We can easily become discouraged by what we could see as lack of growth, but the Kingdom of God is not external, and so external observation will never measure it - it is the work of the Spirit in the lives of his people, calling and drawing, and feeding and growing. Richard reminded us however that this does not stop us making prayerful plans for growth! It does not stop us trusting for expansion - we have our part to play - and what a privilege it is!
And so here we are after a week of rest and teaching - reinvigorated! Looking forward to getting back to big plans and prayers for Halifax! Hopefully there is some more news to share on the horizon - so do keeping checking back for more!
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Soli Deo Gloria!