Today I found myself thinking of Bob Chalmers. He was one of the elders in St. Peter’s and St. Andrew’s Church in Thurso where I served from 1989 until 2005.
Bob is now in glory. I have so many positive memories of him. He taught me so many things to do with being sensitive to the presence and touch of God’s Spirit. He prayed in a move of God during our time in Thurso: he had prayed for it for over 30 years. He was a faithful visitor of the flock of God. He was a friend and encourager of many ministers. He was generous: he paid for my first mobile phone for two years when I could not afford one, and paid for me to go to Toronto on two occasions, where I was refreshed in the move of God’s Holy Spirit that began there in the mid 90’s. That ushered in my most fruitful years of ministry and influences all I do in ministry to this day. I owe Bob’s kind and thoughtful generosity a lot as do you if you are blessed by these blogs or have ever been blessed by my ministry in other ways. Into his latter years He remained open to fresh experiences of renewal. I remember him being slain in the Spirit. I remember Him praying for others, including a Pentecostal minister, and they were slain in the Spirit too. He loved the Word of God. He was the Church officer and whenever I came into the Church I would find him ready to share something from an open bible lying before him on the table he loved to sit at and pray. Often he cried as he shared truth that had touched him deeply. On occasions he prayed for folk and they were healed.
But none of that is what came most to mind today. Rather it was a memory of him looking downcast as he shut the huge heavy ancient doors of the church one Sunday morning . He turned to me and said, “You know Kenny, I just long for one Sunday Morning when I could come and worship the Lord and go home without someone complaining to me or being critical to me about something or other.” I felt so sad for him, more sad for him than he felt for himself. He was used to unkind things being said to him even in circles within church life beyond the local congregation. Sometimes Church authorities have am angry attitude towards those who follow Jesus and His Word as faithfully as Bob did.
I think what made that sad memory come alive was being at Storehouse Church in Kilsyth whet I had been invited to preach. I met some elders who had been part of the congregation when it first formed and only recently had been asked to serve as elders again. They struck me as lovely humble people. They somehow reminded me of Bob. I found myself wondering if, like Bob, in the course of many years service they had ever longed for a criticism free Sunday.
I guess the question that arises from this at the close of a Sunday is this: did you criticise or appreciate today? As simple a challenge to think about as that…
In God’s Word the Apostle Paul encourages us all to desire that we should be prophets to those who know, love and follow Jesus, however imperfectly, as part of the body of Christ. What does that mean? Well Paul tells us. It means that we should desire to learn how to listen to God and then speak something from God into the life of the body of Christ, to strengthen, encourage and comfort our fellow believers. Look at these three words again: strengthen, encourage, comfort. Survey your day, survey your words today in church in the light of them.
Keep these 3 words in mind when you next gather with God’s people.