The perils of spiritual hoarding

The perils of spiritual hoarding

Years ago, I went to a house way out in the countryside to perform a wedding. On my arrival, I was astounded to find the living room absolutely full of stacks of old newspapers. Many were piled far too near to a woodstove in the middle of the room. On using the bathroom, I noticed that even the tub was full of piles of stuff. The lady of the house was a cook at the hospital, and I wondered how long it had been since she had washed!

Hoarding is a psychological disorder usually rooted in some form of severe childhood poverty. A well-off professional friend of ours who had experienced a very poor childhood kept hundreds of tubs of empty plastic containers, bags and other things. She just couldn’t throw away stuff that she might need one day.

We can laugh, but most of us are guilty of some kind of hoarding. Clothes, old sets of electronics cables, batteries, pens, even (in the case of one friend) handbags. And we have a perfectly valid reason for keeping them all!

The church's best asset

The church's best asset

Thirty-eight years ago, I led a small group of students with very little experience and even less money in planting a church in the cathedral city of Durham in northern England. This week, we are back with the family of God’s people who have carried on and expanded that work far beyond its humble beginnings. Teams going out from Emmanuel Church have been instrumental in planting numerous churches in the United Kingdom and other countries, and thousands of people have been reached for the kingdom. Back at home base, in spite of all the people sent out, the house is full and expansion plans are underway.

But the best thing of all is that it’s still family. At the end of a prayer meeting, the folk gathered around Elaine and me to pray for us. One of the men referred to the account of Paul being let down in a basket from the walls of Damascus. He pointed out the critical role in the story played by the anonymous people who held the ropes that let him down. And then he said something which I found very moving, that there are people here who will hold the ropes for you.

Challenged by change

Challenged by change

Youth With A Mission is an amazing movement in which there’s rarely a dull moment. In fact, its motto was once described as constant change is here to stay.

We’ve been in the English city of Newcastle upon Tyne this week, working with South African friends planting a great church here. Elaine grew up nearby, and used to work in the city centre. She made the observation that while some things were the same, most things had changed, and some things were unrecognizable. And that’s always a bit of a shock - because we don’t like change.

For the most part, we understand that what we believe does not change. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

The door is open

The door is open

Today Elaine and I visited Hampton Court with our daughter and two of our grandchildren. Hampton Court was the royal palace on the banks of the Thames built by King Henry VIII almost 500 years ago, and enlarged at later dates by other monarchs. It was one of the most stunning buildings in Europe when it was constructed. And still is. Henry seemed to add rooms every time he married, and the fact he went through six wives may partially account for the extent of the building.

I found one thing about it particularly significant. Each wing, no matter which monarch built it, had a similar structure.

The path to revival

The path to revival

Every move of God is a sovereign exercise of his will. Let there be no doubt about that. There is nothing we can do to force him to bring the revival that we so desperately want and our culture so desperately needs.

But what we overlook is the significance of our response.

If we examine Isaiah 52 and 53, we see the great redemptive work of Christ, his suffering, his pain, his rejection. But when we look to the beginning of chapter 54, we find that suddenly a completely different note is sounded: “Shout for joy, O barren one... break forth into joyful shouting.”