Overwhelmed by the goodness of God

A little over 8 years ago, I started blogging over on another platform, using the same title that I have used for this.  I was a fairly new pastor of an Evangelical Free Church in south-east London.  I had received little training, although I was an avid reader.  I took on a church that had a Reformed and Baptist tradition, but was now more charismatic leaning, which reflected the position of my predecessor (who was both reformed and charismatic), as well as the position of many members of the church due to their attendance at various conferences and new members that had joined over the years.

I confess to starting the ministry that God had given me here full of pride.  I thought I knew my Bible.  I thought I was a theologically sound, Spirit-filled, Reformed Charismatic who was sent by God to bring the church into a full expression of Charismatic worship and experience alongside a sound theology that would keep us from going to some of the charismatic extremes.

Oh dear!  My arrogance of those early days reflected in my preaching (I knew best and I used the pulpit to push people into charismatic experience and into greater commitment in the church), the way I led services (it had to be me, so I thought, because I was such a great worship leader and could make the church more charismatic), and in my leadership (I pushed away the godly leaders that God had given here and forced for my own way and listened to the younger generation – like Rehoboam).  The church didn’t grow, leaders stepped down, people moved on and it was always someone else’s fault.

It is a wonder that I am still pastor here and that there are any people left at all. We lost many and I pray that they are all doing better in their new churches.  Yet, despite my folly and sin, God has left a good group of godly people here and has even brought some new people.  We are much smaller than we were and it is hard, but there is still a church here and that is all due to the goodness of God.

The original blog, which I have now deleted, came out of that time of arrogance. In addition to thinking that I was God’s gift to the church here, I thought I had a message for the world!

But I wasn’t and I didn’t. I was simply running after the latest teaching and the latest news of ‘revival’ in the different places.  I was undiscerning and not grounded in truth. I wasn’t spending enough time in the scriptures or prayer and the people in the church were being fed on husks and not proper food.

I then stumbled on something called Strange Fire.  There I heard messages that challenged me to my core.  I had never been health, wealth and prosperity, but I had certainly embraced and taught stuff which was simply not Biblical. I realised that I had been pursuing experience over scripture and pragmatism over truth.  Although (sorry guys), I don’t honestly see a scriptural basis for cessationism, these messages highlighted to me the dangers of placing experience over scripture. They reminded me of the faithful expository preaching that I had been missing to feed my own soul and that I had been failing to give the people in my church.

Although things in my own walk and in my ministry didn’t change overnight, by God’s grace, they are beginning to change and, I trust, there will be a growing fruit in the local church as God’s Word is brought alive through verse by verse expository preaching.

So, why this blog?  Well, I haven’t got a message for the world!  But, I trust, through my reading and studies to feed my soul and the people in the local church, that I will have some theocentric thoughts that will bring Him glory and perhaps help someone who stumbles on this page.  I may not post very often (or maybe even never again), but whatever is here, I pray it would be an encouragement.

Today, I am reflecting on the goodness of God.  It’s not just amazing that, after years of drifting, I still have the great privilege of caring for a local church.  It’s not even that, through the catalyst of the conference I listened to, I have been brought back to the incredible wonders of His Word.  It’s the fact that despite of every sin, all my pride, all the people that I have not served as I should and all the occasions where the name of the Lord has been dishonoured because of me, the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20). Incredible goodness!

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