A brilliant weekend in Scotland

I’ve just had one of the most fun weekends I’ve had in ages, serving the students and 20’s of King’s Church, Edinburgh. Here are some of the reasons I’m so grateful to God for it…

A really warm welcome
There were somewhere between 50 and 60 people at this event, only two of whom I knew before I got there. Sometimes when I visit places where I don’t know many/any people it can be a bit lonely but I never felt that with these guys. They made me feel so welcome by chatting with me: asking great questions and sharing about themselves, by including me in the fun that they as friends were having (hustling pool, sharing wine around a bonfire on a beach, tobogganing towards a road...) and by expressing their gratitude for me being with them (which was both humbling and almost embarrassing because I was having such a great time too!) This all came, I believe, from the group having a wonderful sense of togetherness, and it was a real privilege to be a part of that for a brief time. They also laughed at my jokes which was very polite.

Scotland is so beautiful!
Mountains, lochhhhhs (that’s how it’s pronounced, ignorant southerners), trees, some more mountains, then another lochhhh for good measure, and all beneath the clearest blue sky… It did my soul so much good to be surrounded by God’s architecture rather than man’s. I’ve taken a few photos which give a glimpse of the wildness and the majesty I saw; I just kept looking round in delighted amazement! In his very helpful book, Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas describes nine different ways in which God’s people can love Him and develop their relationship with Him. One of them is “loving God out of doors” and I am nailed-on in that category. If you're interested, here's where we stayed.

A sense of expectancy
I have noted again and again how meetings and events that begin with a sense of expectancy are never let down by the Holy Spirit! He loves to meet us according to our faith, and the guys from King’s had high faith-levels right from the start. Oh, if more of us who love Jesus and profess to believe His incredible promises would sharpen our sense of expectancy before we gathered together, what blessings we would receive!

Great times of ministry
I was asked to do two talks and a seminar. The first of these was quite/very long and was on the topic of humility (more to come on this in the coming months). The second was much briefer in terms of content that I generated: we looked at how God speaks His truth to us by His Spirit and then gave loads of space for Him to do this with a time of Bible meditation followed by worship and moving in spiritual gifts. The sense of God’s presence was wonderful and many heard from God and were touched by Him. Finally I gave a seminar on leadership, just telling my story from feeling a sense of call eight years ago to my situation now, applying some lessons I had learnt and then answering questions. God was so wonderfully present through all of this and I had such fun ministering – what more could I ask for?

Opportunities to reflect
Sharing about life at Brickhill and what I do there, as well as getting feedback on my teaching were valuable opportunities to reflect, as was visiting another group of Christians and seeing what they do. I’ve come away with a renewed sense of gratitude to God for all He has done in my home church and in my life, as well as an increased awareness of who I am and what I’m like – being open with trustworthy new people is a great way to discover that.

God speaking to me
The guy who had invited up to speak (Dave Hill, you are brilliant ten times over!) had a very vivid dream about me the first night we were there. He was searching for my house all over the place and couldn’t find it for ages. When he did, he found that it was built on a river. Not by a river, in the river. He felt that this was about me building and living my life in the Holy Spirit, which was a wonderful encouragement. God also spoke to me through this about my current situation. Being around people who live in a city reminded me that I don’t, and there’s something about the buzz of a city that I really miss in Bedford. I felt reminded again that I am just where God wants me to be.

The other thing I will go away with is an awareness of my need to continually be in awe at the cross. I just kept looking at the mountains but I was so enjoying looking at them, and then I thought, ‘Do I treat the cross like this?’ The hill of Calvary is where all my joy was won and all my sins forgiven, there and only there is my life found. Everything I have, I have because of Jesus’ sacrifice for me. Do I delight in the cross as much as I delight in mountains? I hope so, and I am committed to doing so with increasing reverence, delight, and gratitude.

Having my joy multiplied by a humble sense of gratitude
As John Piper says, people do not go to places of amazing natural beauty to increase their self-esteem! How could I keep looking up with awe and think more or myself? Moreover, how could I minister the truth of God’s word and prophesy by the Holy Spirit to seek praise for me?! How could being blessed by so many things which I could not control lead to self-congratulation? Does that contradict the number of times I've referred to myself: what I felt and did, etc. instead of the One who did it all? I don't think so, because the only reason I’ve done that is to share with you how great God is! I have been the canvas on which God has painted some of His grace this weekend. And all of it not simply undeserved but ill-deserved and so my joy is full almost to bursting! Honestly, though absolutely cream-crackered I woke up really early on Sunday and Monday morning because my head was buzzing with excitement and joy. Jesus, I love You so much: thank You.