Monday, October 09, 2006

Better late than never?

My apologies for anyone who has been looking at this blog expecting me to post a detailed account of why I wound down my business and hit the road to tell people about the great message of personal salvation and purpose in life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here are some of the stages in my journey (and my wife's journey) with God while he was calling us to work for him.

This call is not about why me – because I do not know why me (except in the terms of why God loved people in the Bible – because he wanted to). I was not perceptive, God had to call me directly and clearly so that I would hear his voice.

I became a believer in Jesus Christ at the tender age of five. It was a privilege to have been brought up in a home where God was honoured and I was taught truth from the Word of God (the Bible). The choice I made at five was tested many times and God has over the years been very good to me. Even when in my teens I started to relook at faith and belief I was able to rediscover that I what I had been taught was true and that faith in Christ is the only way to salvation.

From my earliest recollections I always wanted to serve God. I moved about a lot with my job in banking and everywhere I went I saw the massive need to spread the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. Despite seeing a great need to reach people the Lord never called me to settle in one place at that stage neither did he ask me to give all of my energy to this work. I always knew that there was a massive need (and that I would just be a small part of this process) but all believers need to be out there telling people about God’s great salvation.

In my twenties I thought the Lord was calling me to be a missionary (Botswana and then
Iceland) but at that stage he did not call.

After Carole and I were married we looked at working in a Christian Nursing Home so that we
could be involved in serving elderly christians and that I would have more time for serving the Lord more fully but this never happened either.

Eventually I got to the stage that I thought that the Lord was not going to open the door for us to serve him in the way I imagined and so after 26 years I left Bank of Scotland (HBOS plc) and set up a small business training consultancy. At that stage the Lord made it very clear that we were to set up in business and we had to learn to trust him to provide for us in these circumstances. The idea was to eventually free up time to serve the Lord more but in the meantime I thought that I possibly could earn enough money to support financially the men and women that God had called to leave their jobs to serve him - this was not to be.

All the time I was training I was trying to help people run their businesses more efficiently, manage their human resources better, be better people in business and all the time I was thinking I have an even more important message to tell them that can change their lives for eternity not just for the present. Those of us who are saved do have a message that can change people's lives.

The following people and events were used by God to tell Carole and I clearly that I should spend the rest of my life telling people about the Lord Jesus.

On the 8th of January 2006 Andrew Dutton came to our local church and spoke on Acts 6:4 “we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word”
On the 14th of January 2006 God spoke to me from 1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God”. The Lord was teaching me that I had become too proud for him.
Later on that month (23/1/06) we started looking at a bigger house, nearer to the Gospel Hall we attended – it had the right accomodation for us and it seemed the right thing to do.

On the 27th of January 2006 we asked the Lord again to open or close the door re the house as he sees fit.

I was reading Num 9 regarding the cloud and the pillar of fire. The lesson I was taught was - God will guide. We should move when he moves, stop when he stops and serve him where we were until he asks you to move.

3/2/06 Still praying and looking for guidance re the house.

8/2/06 I noted what I prayed in my diary – Help me to trust you totally, serve you and others, earn enough for family and others etc.

The vendor sells the house to a lady who increased her offer by £25K to get it
(and subsequently did not complete and the house went back on the market).
Lesson - we were not meant to buy the house.

In March I was quoting for training from an Aim listed Company. There was a sizeable training contract on offer with a lot of training coming out of it. It looked like we had a good chance for the work. Other work was coming from a number of sizeable companies. Things were looking good for the business and we begin to think that we getting somewhere.

On the 4th of April 2006 I went to meeting of the Professional Speakers Association. A friend and colleague quotes Ecclessiasties chapter 11 to me – 'Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days'. I saw this in relation to my business and the fact that you prospect for business and the right business comes eventually at the right time. I was to learn (through my wife) that the Lord was teaching me that I would sow the seed of the good news of Jesus Christ and that God would prosper this.

At Easter 2006 we went to the North of Ireland for a break. As our custom was we attended some Bible Teaching Conferences and a meeting where various evangelists report on the work that they have been involved in. The lessons that Carole and I learned were these.

Speaker - Stephen Grant - Psalm 49 – Money cannot buy souls eternal blessing.
Speaker - Roly Pickering – The value of the Lord, the value of believers and the value of a
Statement such as “How are you using your time for eternity”, “Find the place where the Lord wants you and work it”, “when are we having meetings in Manchester?”. Stephen is active in the gospel in Manchester! and finally David Oliver (USA) spoke on The Gospel of John chaper 2 and quoted repeatedly “Whatsoever he saith unto you – do it”, get a love for souls and how are you going to spend the rest of your life? The challenge to Carole and I was immense.

ON the 17th of April 2006 in Carole’s parents home in Ballymena the Lord spoke to me in the quiet of our bedroom. He said "I am giving you a 2nd chance, I want you to preach the gospel".
I did not mention this to Carole at this stage but I was moved to tears.

In the following days the Lord spoke to me from a number of verses from the Bible. I had not read them recently but the Lord brought them into my mind.

Acts 16:10 'Assuredly gathering',
Rom 15:19 'I have fully preached the gospel of Christ'.
Rom 10:15 'How beautiful are the feet'
Psalm 126:5,6 'Sowing reaping'

You would need to read all of the verses to get the impact of the message.

On the 20th of April 2006 Carole and I chat – we feel that the Lord is speaking to us.

The following is a potted history of the notes I made when God spoke to me - any one who wants more information can e-mail me and I will explain.

22/4/06 Northampton – Message "a man sent"! Was God sending me?
24/4/06 Go to ask Headmaster regarding doing school assemblies – He tells me there is an open door!
2/5/06 Luke 5:5 – toiled all the night and have taken nothing – left the business
and followed Christ – I put in my diary - 'is this me Lord'.
5/5/06 Deut 8 – God provided for the nation for 40 years – could he not provide our needs.
6/5/06 David Street Missionary Conference. The clear messages were Go/We only have today to preach/Wait on the Lord.
7/5/06 Slightly confused – Carole Bethany
8/5/06 Carole goes to Liverpool
One man answered all the questions that Carole still had on her mind about serving God in this way.
1. It will be a challenge
2. Do not go if you are not sure
3. Don’t refuse if you are called
4. Don’t move location unless you feel it is very clear
5. Be a support to your husband
6. Do not wait until you are financially secure.
On 9th May 2006 Random verses keep coming.

“this is the way walk ye in it”
“the steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord”
“Wait on the Lord”
“In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths”.
The 10th
“They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength”
“Woe is me if I preach not the gospel”
“Preach… not where Christ is named”
“I am a man of unclean lips”
11/5/06 Meeting with Paul Baker at SETA with Mark Od. Stressed re college and letting Paul down. He had set up the meeting to help me develop business. I cannot get the words of Nehemiah 6:3 out of my mind.
“I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down” I told Paul what the Lord was guiding me to do and as always he supported me.

13/5/06 Prestwich Conference
John Grant said “If I read the book (the Bible) and disobey it there are no justifiable reasons for my actions”. His comments regarding Josiah were – He took action at the first available opportunity.
15/5/06 CJ working – Abey showed me a song. The words were these:

Listen to our God, when he’s calling for you
Listen to our God, there’s nothing else you can do
I don’t know where I am going
And what I will do
Listen to my God before you lose it all
God had said to me the on the same day – Duet 12:28,32 – Observe and hear/what thing soever I command you, observe to do it.

16/5/06 Prestwich – The Lord challenged me from my own ministry
18/5/06 I am reading “Out of the comfort zone” by RT Kendall. P55 states “when God clearly taps you on the shoulder then move is what you and I must do. We have no choice but to obey otherwise we forfeit the blessing of the Holy Spirit and risk the unthinkable – not hearing God speak to us again and becoming stone deaf to the Holy Spirit”

22/5/06 I met the Elders of the Gospel Hall from Swinton. In the morning both Carole and I had independantly read Luke 14:11 and come to the same conclusion. I also read about 2 Cor 4:1 Bond servants and 2 Cor 4:5 We preach not ourselves.

There was then a waiting period as we and the elders prayed for God's further guidance.

26/5/06 Praying that I might not have manipulated the will of God.
I sat down and read the Lifetimes magazine. The first page I read was P8 which was entitled “The gift of the second chance”. What an additional confirmation!

The elders came back to Carole and I and confirmed that they were delighted to confirm that we had been guided by God to do this work of evangelism and to serve him in this way.
My prayer is that all who read this account will trust in the same God who we serve.
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