Chapel Street Methodist Church

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Minister's Letter, 16 September

From the Revd Alastair Bolt

Dear Friends,

Greetings to you all this week. The weather has been glorious, especially if you have been able to get out in it. The sea seems to have been very placid, which with low tides has added to a feeling of restfulness. Perhaps the equinoctial storms await us!

This week I received a prayer letter at the top of which was the verse from Job 23, ‘He knows the way I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold’. It is reassuring to know that God doesn’t just use for good things that happen to us anyway. He knows and has His hand on all that happens to me. He doesn’t send bad things other than in corrective punishment, but nothing happens to me which He does not allow.

‘Coming forth as gold’ reminds me of God being a refiner’s fire (Malachi 3 v2,3), burning out the dross in me so as to make me pure. For good things to happen, bad things need to go.

All of us who are drivers need to visit a petrol station to fill up our tanks from time to time. (I know electric cars are coming, but I can’t help thinking of milk floats). Our local petrol station is having a makeover and two massive tankers moved in. Normally a tanker calls to fill up the station tanks, but these are different. Their job is to empty the tanks, which seems a bit negative but is vital as part of the rebuild. When all has been cleansed, then new fuel will arrive and our cars can be powered up. In our spiritual lives, fresh infilling by the Holy Spirit will not continue indefinitely without cleansing of our sin and removing the results of sin. Both in our personal and church lives, we need regular pump-outs as well as regular refills. Perhaps in this time when our churches are less busy in a practical sense, it may be a season for pumping out, repentance, purification, clearing our churches of everything other than their pure purpose. Then, when people start coming into our buildings again we shall be ready with tanks full of the Lord’s powerful love for them.

Now, if I mention snooker, you may be an avid enthusiast or cease to read at this point! It is certainly a good sport for TV now, but do you remember black and white TV snooker (“the brown is behind the green” etc)? In normal times I see quite a bit of snooker on the televisions of the people I visit, but at present only at home. A few weeks ago, the world championships were held, and the famous players were potting impossible pots and accumulating amazing breaks. There was no audience but we got used to it. In snooker, you tend not to see the crowd because they sit in the dark. But when it reached the grand final I noticed a dramatic change which it took a moment to grasp. There was a crowd and they were making a lot of enthusiastic noise, clapping and cheering after the stony silences of the tense moments. You still couldn’t see them but the whole dynamic for the two players under the lights was completely different. It must have been such an encouragement to have someone cheering them on. You may feel you are plodding on at the moment, doing your best, dealing with the opposition, planning your next move, but you are not alone. You are being cheered on, appreciated and encouraged by all the Christians who have gone before you! Hebrews 12 v 1. You might not see them, but it’s worth listening carefully.

Blessings and warm regards to you all,

Alastair's signature

Published at 15:02 on 16 September 2020

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