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Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

I was at a meeting today, and it began with a brother reading a couple of Bible passages and sharing a few thoughts about them. He spoke about challenges we were facing and about the need to endure, and how we are able to endure because our God is the God of endurance and encouragement – as we so clearly see when we look at Jesus. As we look at his example, his life, his death, his glorious resurrection.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:4-6

And that’s the answer for a messy head. You need to look at Jesus. Things are a mess, or we are weary, we are facing trouble and see that things are not going to be resolved any time soon. We’re anxious about things ahead – the uncertainty of not knowing the future. Looking at Jesus is the answer. It might be hard to change where we’re looking. Find a way to look to Jesus. Music, a good bishop, a collect or just doing nothing much.  Running on and looking at Jesus is the answer. It’s always the answer.

Hebrews121and2

 

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If you’re like me, you probably have one or two (= about a hundred) things left to do to prepare for Christmas. Here in the Vicarage, we have been reading a few of the Jesse Tree readings at teatime but have so far failed to actually get a suitable twig to hang the decorations from. We’ve been pulling the decorations from their tin as we read. And then popping them back, saying ‘We must get a twig to hang these from’. And failing. Are things a bit upside down in your house too? Maybe you even have a few (all the?) pressies still left to buy. Or you need some encouragement in the final flapping. So, in a spirit of festive helpfulness, I have six paper copies of The Ministry of a Messy House to give away in time for Christmas.

Tell me below the latest you’ve been up wrapping on Christmas Eve in the comment box below and on Sunday evening I’ll draw six names out and post your book out first thing next Monday.

MMH IVP marketing tweet

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It’s a busy season in the Vicarage. These last few weeks we’ve had a Confirmation service, multiple bring and share lunches, sick kids, secondary school open days and a new Ministry Trainee all arriving at once. And to top it all, my book is about to be published. Less than a year ago I was up front for a few brief seconds in a seminar at the Midlands Womens’ Convention and next Saturday, as a direct result of those few words I shared (mainly about this blog), my book will be available prior to the official publication date at this year’s convention at Derby County Cricket Club.

Normally IVP send their authors their own special copies before the book goes on sale. But my book has gone so close to the wire that the first copy I see will most likely be with Jonathan Carswell of 10ofthose, who is running the bookstall at the convention. I shall be at the convention with some lovely ladies from my church, but am hoping to be about near the bookstall for a bit. Maybe I’ll see you there?

The Good Book Company have been publicising The Ministry of A Messy House too. We had this flyer in the post a couple of weeks ago:

Look! On the same page as C S Lewis!

Look! On the same page as C S Lewis.

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What do wives of Christian ministers do when they get together, other than talk (obvs)? Last week at Hothorpe Hall we managed to take in some great bible teaching, pray together, swap tips for local church ministry and still had time to walk in the Spring sunshine (some of round fields, others between charity and coffee shops in Market Harborough). Er, and there was eating and a frock swap and crafty type things.

I also took time to assess the important question of what Vicar’s wives are wearing. A while ago I blogged on this and thought I would revisit it when I observed this year’s trends. So I am able to share with you that the current Vicarage/Manse look is likely to include one or more of the following:

  • Long boots with skinny jeans or leggings (very popular)
  • Converse sneakers (when boots don’t quite work)
  • Long sleeved t-shirt worn under short sleeve tunic or similar
  • Scarves are definitely in (possibly in place of necklaces, which were less in evidence than previously)
  • Fewer gilets this year (perhaps because of the milder weather, or people had remembered that the conference centre is about 20 degrees warmer than our houses).

Some of the essentials for this year's must-have Vicar's wife outfit

 The enjoyable frock swap run by Frock Chick Hilary Nicholls was a fun way for us to get rid of not-quite-right-for-me clothes – the wide-legged jeans and short boots etc. We were able to get new clothes ourselves and also think about whether such a thing would work as a women’s event back home. I’m not sure a clothes swap would work here (our women are probably too diverse in age and fashion sense), but I think an accessories one would. Seems like a fun option for an evangelistic event at church – just add refreshments and a short talk and you’re done.

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I’ll have lots to blog next week when I get back from Hothorpe Hall where I’m on the Proclamation Trust’s Minister’s Wives conference. I’m being very well fed on a diet of Ezekiel, Luke, tales of minister’s wives from history, seafood pasta and cake.  I didn’t bring a laptop, so I’m using the steamdriven conference centre computer and I don’t want to spend too much time online. There are too many lovely people here to talk to and a wonderful bookstall and space to pray and think.

I was going to upload a great song video we watched yesterday but the Jurassic system isn’t letting me show it to you. So instead, I’m going to commend Open Doors to you and their campaign to get those who are able to write letters of encouragement to Christians around the world who are suffering for their faith. We are writing some this afternoon here at Hothorpe. It’s such an encouragement for us to be here that we want to share some of that with brothers and sisters in far more difficult situations.

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We’ve had some great encouragements so far this year – new folk in church on Sundays and signs of spiritual hunger in all sorts of places. And yesterday we were reminded of the Lord’s presence and promises as we walked home from school: a fragile rainbow appeared right over the houses opposite the Vicarage. I managed to take a photo through our landing window, but you’ll have to look carefully to see the rainbow against the dark clouds.

Sometimes it can seem that hope here is fragile – there are challenges ahead aswell as encouragements. I need to keep reminding myself that the Lord is not fragile and that hope in him does not fade like a rainbow, but is living, secured by the resurrection of Christ.

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope 1Peter 1v3

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A lovely parishioner visited me yesterday and brought a bunch of flowers, knowing that I’d had a pretty stressful few days. Sometimes being the Vicar’s wife can feel lonely. You’re in a weird situation that not many people understand and people keep on calling at your front door asking the Vicar to mend their bikes (amongst other things last night). So when someone from our congregation thinks of me and lets me know they’ve been thinking of me, it really warms my heart. A little encouragement goes a long way and helps me to persevere.

And then a Vicar’s wife friend on Facebook asked for some help in drafting a talk on ‘Five Ways to Encourage a Minister’s Wife’ (she’s not just speaking to Anglicans). There were lots of great ideas there – and they’ve inspired me to write my five:

  1. Treat the Vicar’s wife as a real person, a normal member of the church family. Don’t give her too many messages for the Vicar as she’ll feel horribly guilty when she forgets.
  2. Be a pew buddy – sit with her on a Sunday morning – if she has kids give her a hand with them.
  3. Let her know if you’ve been thinking of her or praying for her (maybe in writing).
  4. Make sure she regularly gets on the Minister’s Wives conference, or a retreat, or something spiritually refreshing, and try to ensure she gets enough time with her husband.
  5. Flowers, wine and chocolate, obviously, or even an invitation to Sunday lunch for the whole family.

Many of these things would encourage any church member, but I’ve tried to highlight some of the things I’ve found especially encouraging myself. What do you think?

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Last week I posted on the Colin Buchanan song ‘Press on Mums’ which seemed to resonate with a few knackered readers. If you’re as exhausted as I always seem to be and needing to press on, I’d also like to recommend the Sovereign Grace album ‘Come Weary Saints’ (if you click through, you can listen to a sample).

I bought it at the clergy wives’ conference I was on the other week, and have been listening almost non-stop (apart from when I was unearthing my Colin album). In a YouTube clip I watched the other day Bob Kauflin of Sovereign Grace described how they had wanted to produce an album for people who were struggling through difficult times – for those who need to press on through the chaos.

Keep pressing on.

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