Many of you who read this blog will have learned today that the last ever CLAN gathering takes place this Summer. It is always difficult in church and wider church life to know when to stop something. I have mixed feelings hearing about CLAN coming to an end as for many years I was part of the leadership team. I remember vividly when God gave me a dream about the name and the purpose of that Gathering. Hundreds of churches and thousands of belivers from every postal are in the land and every conceivable type of church rallied around that vision for many years. It proved to be almost like an umbrella under which many could gather despite any differences of church practice etc., though not an umbrella which stopped the rain of God’s blessing falling again and again over the years. It has been a humble and yet enormous blessing to church life throughout Scotland. There are mininstries and chuches floursihing today that would testify to the encouragment CLAN gave them to step into new things for God and to expect great things from God. However I am confident of “the seed falling into the ground and dying” principle that we see in nature and we find being spoken about in Scripture. When a seed falls into the ground and dies it bears much fruit. If it does not go through that dying process then it remains a single seed. I truly believe that which has been of God in CLAN will indeed continue to bear fruit for the present and future purposes of God in Scotland and pray that God will honour the decision of the current leadership for things to stop.
Actually, the principle of the seed dying and bearing fruit is one that I have seen in action in my own life in recent months. I have not got the health to preach at the moment but somehow what that represented in terms of calling has been through a metamorphosis and resulted in a blog which reaches more people and countries than my preaching from a pulpit or a conference platform ever would. By the way, when I say that, I have not discounted preaching again in time to come! Many are praying for my healing. I am simply stressing the seed dying and bearing fruit actually works.
Now, remember not every blog will seem relevant to everyone equally every day! I guess today’s blog leads me to ask, “ Is there something you should be stopping? Something you have been doing in church or even as a church which needs to come to an end?” Perhaps you have been wondering about a question like that and this blog may be part of God’s leading or guiding. I take my hat off to those who have served in a role in church faithfully over the course of many years. That is commendable and yet it bothers me in church life that sometimes we don’t give people the chance to stop doing something. Whatever that “something” may be, it gets tired and the people enabling it to happen get tired too. I found that there was a level of guilt associated with my decision to step down form being a minister. I couldn’t actually do it without my G.P., the Ministries Council of the Church of Scotland, the elders of the congregation as well as those close to me giving me permission to stop. Perhaps this blog will be a permission giver for you.
Someone commented not long ago as a response to a blog, that they disliked a phrase that has become common in church; “Lord, we give you permission to do this,” whatever “this” may be. I am with him on that. I have an intense dislike of any theology, any spoken words that make us too big and God blasphemously small. God can do what He wants when He wants with or without or permission, with us giving our will or against our will! I have met people who were converted totally against their own will and intention. God did it! However, the language of permission is appropriate when it comes to you and me. If, like me, the idea of stopping doing something cuts across the grain and feels unbearably uncomfortable I pray you too might find permission givers along the path if this blog seems to speak to where you are at. May that help to reassure you that indeed God is saying to you, “This is the way; walk ye in it…”
… and may there be extra grace if you are a church leader announcing this weekend that something that has been a treasured part of congregational life is going to stop!
God bless you this day and always
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