Hi everyone. Rob here.
This afternoon I’m heading off to the shores of Lake Taupo to spend time at a Pastor’s Retreat for the movement that I’m part of. It has become an annual ritual that is a vital part of my spiritual rhythm of life. Coming as it does near the end of winter it acts as a time of physical renewal, emotional renewal and spiritual renewal. There are three aspects that stand out as to why it has this effect on me.
It is a welcoming space. It is a time where you can come as you are. One year I was an absolute mess. I wanted to give up. But I was welcomed, nurtured, prayed for and by the end of that week I had received a fresh calling. I was ready to go and it was a turning point for my ministry and my life.
It is a worshipping space. There are a couple of aspects to this. We meet together for worship and prayer a few times in the week but it is also a beautiful place where worship flows out of you as you walk through it. These acts of spontaneous worship bring life and restoration to pastors who spend so much of their life planning church services! I come back to him with dependence and trust after these weeks time and time again.
It is a wisdom-giving space (Sorry, the preacher in me just needed to put another ‘W’ word in there!). When I first started going I was young and I learnt so much just from listening to these older pastors in my midst. Sure, there were some whose footsteps I didn’t want to follow but there were others who carried so much grace with them, so much hunger for God that I wanted to be more like them. We have speakers also and they always deliver something for us to ponder deeply. When you give so much during the year these times where we can receive are vital to our hearts.
We’ll also laugh a lot, eat a lot and drink too much coffee but it will be joyful and good. What about you? Where can you receive welcome, worship and wisdom? Is that happening for you at your church? Can you get some friends together and make it happen? Do you need to get intentional about finding these things or can you offer it to others? Start with welcome. I put it first for a reason. When I was young, nervous and new I was welcomed by these leaders. It still took me a few years to feel at ease but that was me, not them. Are you a safe place for people? Can people come to you and confess their problems, their sins and their shortcomings? Do people come to you as wrecks and leave somewhat restored?
If so, great! If not, ask God to give you the welcoming heart of Jesus. Sinners flocked to him because their hearts were safe with him and they knew it. When they received his grace they worshipped and after that they passed on the wisdom they knew; go see Jesus. May you all know his renewal upon your lives this week.