Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"Held in hands that bled for us"

I spent Tuesday at the Proclamation Trust's annual Evangelical Ministry Assembly. I think it's about 10 years since I last went - it's always felt too far from Exeter, but with a month before we move out of the South West to go the opportunity arose and I'm so glad I went because of...
1. The understated humility of Vaughan Roberts and Adrian Reynolds. Vaughan reflected on how he'd heard older gospel ministers in the past being thankful for God's faithfulness in holding on to them, and how many years later he sees the same in his life.  
Granted it was a room of largely British people (and perhaps more culturally conservative than average), I loved the understatedness of the occasion. A large crowd but no hype, just ordinary brothers and sisters together. The tone wasn't so much celebration of the achievements of the last year (good as that is to do) but of thankfulness for God's grace in the gospel, to have kept us looking to him.  
2. Being treated to a biography of John Newton and the story of God's persevering grace with him. The high point for me the reflection from one of Newton's letters (apparently now mislaid by John Chapman) of "how unspeakably wonderful to know that all our concerns are held in hands that bled for us." The cruciform sovereignty of the God who gave himself for us. 
3. A rich confidence in preaching the gospel of Christ from the Bible, acting on the basis of what God says. Jonty Allcock offered a compelling, attractive, humble argument to persist in gathering people to Jesus from Luke 5 - "because [Jesus] says so." This was also reflected in a concern to equip churches to disciple children - and the excellent resources introduced to help with this. 
4. Catching up with old friends and acquaintances, people staying true to God's word because he's kept hold of them for another year. One day wasn't enough to get to all the familar faces but valuable for a handful of conversations and two more extended meet-ups.
I hope to be there again next year, and not just for one of the days. Somewhere over 1200 people were there from 750 churches. Leaders young and old seeking to turn again to Christ and continue to make him known.

Pic: Chris McBurney.

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