Friday, June 26, 2009


Readers of a certain age might expect me to be writing about a Roald Dahl book by the same title. But I'm not talking about the Big Friendly Giant, but rather the Dundonald version of BFG: Building For the Gospel.

St Elizabeth's Church has been reviewing its property, and looking towards the future of gospel work in the area. What is the best use of buildings that are appropriate for the gathering of God's people and which facilitates the outreach work of the parish to the local community? The Select Vestry have launched Building For the Gospel, with plans to build new church halls onto the side of the existing church building, thus bringing all the facilities under one roof. As well as halls and a youth centre, there will be meeting rooms, and a coffee bar / welcome area. The church building will also be re-ordered (with the appropriate permissions), with the pews removed and a more modern auditorium style established to bring the preacher closer to the people and to gather the congregation around the Word and the Lord's Table.

On Wednesday night we had our latest progress meeting, bringing the congregation up to speed with where we are, and to launch the first section of the financing of the project, a Gift Day in October.

At the close of the meeting, I spoke on Trusting the Lord, and here's roughly what I said:

It’s never easy to step out in faith. Much easier to stay where you are, stay in the comfort zone. We discern what God wants to do, where he wants us to be, and we prefer comfort and ease. The odds don’t look favourable. Humanly speaking, it’s probably impossible. Facing the unknown, the uncomfortable, the unfamiliar.

While this might be our situation at present, as we look into the unknown in the Building for the Gospel project, it’s not uniquely our situation. Countless times in the Bible, we find God’s call to his people to step out in faith and obedience. Think of Abraham, called to leave country and kindred and father’s house to go to a land that God would should him. (Genesis 12:1). No road map, no detailed timetable for when the son of promise, Isaac, would be born. Just the call to obey and the promise that the LORD was with him and would bless him.

Or look at the people of Israel waiting to enter the promised land. An impossible task, it seemed. Remember the twelve spies who went in to check out the land? Ten of them saw the problems - strong people, fortified cities - the Israelites looked like grasshoppers next to them. But Joshua and Caleb saw the opportunity - there was nothing to fear because ‘the LORD is with us’ (Numbers 14:9). That unbelieving generation died out in the wilderness before Joshua led their children into the land and conquered.

Last night at the Prayer Meeting, we were thinking about Ebenezer - not Ebenezer Scrooge, but the name of a stone set up by Samuel after defeating the Philistines. Ebenezer, because ‘Till now the LORD has helped us.’ (1 Samuel 7:12) As we look back, we can see God’s care and protection and provision, and can thank him for his goodness and faithfulness.

Just as we can rejoice in God’s provision in the past, so we can look to the future confident in the Lord Jesus. As Hebrews reminds us: ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.’ (Hebrews 13:8) As he has been, so he continues to be - faithful!

‘Trust in him at all times, O people; pour your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.’ (Psalm 62:8) We can’t do this, but God can. We can’t see the end, but God can. We don’t know how it will turn out, but God does. Will we shrink back, or step out in faith, trusting in the Lord for this project, and for all that we need? Amen!

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