Just a quick post that I'd like to file under the increasingly random tag of "reflections". Let me know if this sort of blogging informs your own thoughts!
Now in the wake of Easter, I have been able to see God's work pushing me to invest in people the way that Jesus invested in us, wholly and sacrificially. This has been brought home in a number of ways:
1) I've had a new chance to show people I am interested in their lives at work as I have moved to a new, more talkative, team - and God has been fantastic, really providing good times to chat about Him. Pray these continue and that interest in the Lord grows.
2) A news update from the Bulgarian Christian Union movement, BHSS. Here's an extract: "Easter is a great time for witnessing to students! Just before Easter, the BHSS students from the Bible study groups in Sofia, together with other students from Studentski grad (the Student Residential Area) ran a clean-up in front of apartment block No. 21. The students chose the motto: 'Clean up and be forgiven'. It was a great opportunity for the Christian students to share with their non-Christian friends how in a similar way, God ‘cleaned-up’ and forgave us on the Easter day." During the project one leader was allowed to run a lesson about Easter in a pre-school, where the students painted the play areas, and after the project 4 non-Christian students started coming to their regular meetings. It's encouraging that God works through people choosing to go out there, rolling up their sleeves and just going to people with good intentions and words of hope.
3) Talks by Tim Keller at The London Men's Convention which showed us just how incredible our God is. In the Garden before he went to the cross, Jesus was faced with the choice "him or us" by his Father - and right at the point where He was seeing the lowest of human sin, too. He knew that on the cross he would take on all the ugly sin of human rebellion and wickedness - and had no reason to choose "us", to face the whole ordeal and the full wrath of God for us - but he did! One way this applies to the Christian who Jesus has saved is this: When I'm faced with the choice to help others, to go the extra mile, to be with them in their hardship, will I choose God's way or my way, will I choose "myself" or "them"?
4) Serving in church, even merely by deciding to speak up in prayer or in showing interest to others - and, crucially, appreciating when others do this, some of whom I really admire.
5) Working through some of the New Word Alive notes I made (which I have largely yet to blog on!) Go here to listen to some great talks. I will highly recommend Mike Reeves' Justification track, Dan Strange's series on 'Rules of Engagement' with Culture (it has a hard first session but gets a lot better) and the Pastoral Care track, too. The lessons of the latter one in how to care like Jesus are continually demanding lessons, but also confirmed over and over by Scripture, which reminds us of the reality of our hopeful yet often trying situation as wait for the only big day left on God's calendar: the end of the world, the day he judges, righting all wrongs, and bringing believers into a wonderful, fully-realised realm, free from evil, where Jesus is our majestic King. While we wait, we are called to encourage each other in the church (Heb 10:24-5), and this involves hard work, joys and sorrows (eg Heb 13:3), much prayer for and with one another and great dependence on "the God of matchless care" to inform and inspire our caring.