One of My Life’s Big Surprises

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On the evening of June 11 Kathleen and I attended an enjoyable celebration for writers in Mississauga, Ontario. It was the Word Guild’s gala for the annual presentation of writing awards — an evening to be remembered!

The Word Guild is an organization made up of approximately 400 writers and editors from across Canada who are committed to offer the public their writing from a solid Christian base, whatever the category. The objective of Word Guild is to encourage aspiring Christian writers of all ages to write Christianly for publication.

And so it was that this early summer event was held primarily to present awards for writing of all genres that had been published in 2013 – columns, poetry, song lyrics, short stories, and books of nonfiction and fiction. There was even a category for “fresh ink writers” — aspiring writers from 14 to 25 years of age.

My son Don, my editor and publisher, had entered my recent book, The Pastor’s First Love: And Other Essays on a High and Holy Calling, published by his company in April 2013. I knew in advance that it had been categorized as “instruction” (one of ten categories) and that I was one of five finalists.

And I had been asked in advance to provide a quote not longer than 100 words from The Pastor’s First Love. This request did not raise any hopes because I assumed the other finalists had been asked for the same. So I went with low expectations.

Then something in the Master of Ceremony’s introductory remarks made me even less expectant that this would be my night. I sat back with these facts playing quietly in my mind until the books categorized as “instruction” were introduced.

Before the MC spoke to announced the winner, a masculine voice I did not recognize broke into the silence and began to read into the public address system words about weddings – the very excerpt I had sent the Guild. Slightly stunned I went forward to receive the winner’s certificate, a check for $100, and an opportunity to offer words of thanks as all other winners were doing.

I was surprised and gratified to have won the prize for my category, but even more surprised when, later in the evening, my book was also announced as one of four having been shortlisted for the Grace Irwin Award, the award for the best of all the winning books. The award to the winner was $5000.

(The winner of the Grace Irwin Award had written an eminently worthy book, Carolyn Weber’s Surprised by Oxford. In it she tells of leaving Canada as an unbeliever and returning a believer, having been shocked that academics at Oxford were not afraid to discuss their faith. As a result of their openness she was drawn there herself to faith in Christ.)

But my deepest pleasure of the evening was to know that the message of a book on pastoring was being recognized by Word Guild as having significant merit.

The Pastor’s First Love is a collection of writings done over a number of years. Here in a few paragraphs is the book’s thesis:

There are certain duties pastors are expected to perform out of love. They are expected to love the challenge of preaching. They are expected to love pastoral care. That is, visiting believers and unbelievers – whether in their homes, apartments, hospital rooms, or wherever a pastoral call can be made effectively. And they are to love the administrative task of ensuring directly or by careful oversight that the business of the church is carried out with order. These are basics of the pastoral task.

But the pastor’s first love is none of these tasks. Instead it is a love for Jesus Christ from which they all are supposed to flow. Before Jesus laid the pastoral assignment on his disciple, Simon Peter, he asked him three times, “Do you love me?” Only when pastoral duties are supported by an ever-freshening love for the Lord does the pastor’s task succeed authentically.

The book then proceeds to give instruction on such matters as the significance of ordination, the effective conduct of worship, what congregations want most in a pastor, a pastor’s first thirty days at a new church, the hallmarks of a Christian wedding, sexual integrity in the ministry, and so on.

I close The Pastor’s First Love with a chapter reviewing in outline the pilgrimage in ministry Kathleen and I have made together across 66 years. We are still a team: I continue to preach, teach and write as God gives me opportunity and Kathleen is my full partner in this.

The idea intended to carry through the whole book is that if one loves Jesus Christ above all and is truly called to this ministry, one should do ministry with excellence. Also, the book is intended to reflect the conviction that pastoral ministry is a profoundly fulfilling way to invest one’s life. On the other hand, if the call is merely to do a job, lacking the primary motivation of love for Christ, its challenges can become tedious and even embittering.

As you read this, please offer a prayer that my book will find its way into the hands of many young men and women in the early stages of responding to the pastoral call.

(The Pastor’s First Love is available at Amazon, and other publishing websites, or the Wesleyan Publishing House)

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14 thoughts on “One of My Life’s Big Surprises

  1. Congratulations, Bishop Bastian. I’m still using it in a network of ministers I help lead. I recommend it regularly to others. Blessings

  2. Congrats indeed…I love reading about Pastors and what they are called to do. In fact I just read a book by Philip Cameron called They Call Me Dad. He is a pastor and his call was to work with Orphans in very horrible conditions. His book site is http://www.stellasvoice.org/they-call-me-dad/ I recommend it. I will recommend yours as well, great inspirational reads, very cool!

  3. What a delight to learn that in a setting normally marked by a secular, and even anti-Christian tone (at least here in Australia at the annual Writers’ Festival) a work so clearly Christian was thus honoured. Congratulations.

  4. As always, you hit the nail on the head! Many thanks for your faithful example through your writings and living the Christian life. It has been a joy to connect with you and Kay over these many years. May you continue to shed the Light!

  5. Congratulations! As one who has had you for a pastor, has been under your instructions here at Light and Life Park and one who has always considered you to be an excellent example of a pastor, I am pleased that others recognized the value of your book and the truths found within it’s cover. Blessings, Sherry Loflin

  6. Sherry, I appreciate doubly the kind comments because they come from you. Blessings on you as you approach that June 30 date. See you in the fall we hope and pray. Don Bastian

  7. I have prayed and shall continue to pray ypur book inspires young Christians coming to the pastorate.My church has a service of ordination this weekend and I’m pleased to say there are as many prospective women ordinants as men.

    Once again thankyou for your thought stimulating blog.I look forward to yourCongratulations winning the Instruction category & making the Grace Irwin short list ,Pastor Donald. Kathleen ,yourself & Don sure had a night to remember.

    I like Carolyn Weber’s title ‘Surprised by Oxford.’ I assume it’s a play on ‘Surprised by Joy’ ,the Christian book by Oxford academic C.S.Lewis.

    I live an hour from Oxford ,where,John & Charles Wesley started the Holy Club at Christ Church.. Fellow students,cynical detractors of their methodical approach to Christian living ,composed the piece of doggerel which culminates :

    ”Method alone must guide ’em all
    When themselves “Methodists” they call”’

    Detractors increased calling them Methody men or Methodists.Friends increased more & John Wesley became known ‘the best loved man in England’.I don’t think the brothers called themselves methodists iat first, but later accepted the name as a badge of honour .

    The Holy Club sought to live as Christ,concerned with justice ffor the poor ,entering their homes to bring much needed food & clothing .They fasted ,lived frugally, within their means ,saving money to share with those in need.The mphasis on Holy living, points tback to the way Jesus & His disciples lived,,and to the Jerusalem Christians at Pentecost.It points forward to Methodism and the mid 19th century New York Holiness teachings of Benjamin Titus Roberts ,which reaffirm Methodist biblical standards.

    Oxford academics John & Charles Wesley,like those Carolyn met in Oxford,discussed & developed their faith in open discussion.As have so many Oxford academics.As well as C.S.Lewis,John Henry Newman & Edward Pusey of The Oxford Movement,to reintroduce earlier traditions of faith into Anglican worship ,were at Oxford UnIversity.The Anglo Catholic revival in the Church of England launched at Oxford.

    Christian writer John Henry Newman converted aged 15, a Calvinist evangelical.At life’s end he looked back to his conversion to evangelical Christianity as the saving of his soul. A Trinity College,Oxford academic, later elected fellow & tutor at Oriel college , & ordained at Anglican Christ Church , earlier venue of the Wesley’s Holy Club,he joined the large group of Oxford academics discussing faith., & became secretary of the Oxford Church Missionary Society,still an Evangelical.

    But Oxford discussion with Tractarian Edward Pusey.led to his move from ‘low’ to ‘high’ church thinking.Newman became prominent in the Anglo Catholic revival,the Oxford movement.

    Nowhere in England has faith been more rigorously discussed than Oxford,even in Cambridge.Newman went further ,than iAnglo Catholicism The first half of his ordained life was as an Anglican,Evangelican then Anglo Catholic: the second half Roman Catholic.Made Cardinal , he led worship at the Birmingham Oratory.

    Anglo Catholicism,Newmanism,Tractarianism ,Sacramentalism,Wesleyanism & Methodism – all trace their roots to Oxford academia.

    It astonished me to discover John Wesley’s close association with the Anglo Catholic Revival , through his biographies .He was criticized by Church of England orthodoxy as much for his Anglo Catholicism as his Methodism.

    My mind opened wider reading G.W.Taylor’s ‘John Wesley & The Anglo Catholic Revival ‘ SPCK 1905.A lifelong Anglican,like his brother Charles,Wesley is claimed as their pioneer by Methodists and Anglo Catholics alike. In my Anglican church,both our Evangelical Protestant wing and our Anglo Catholic wing ,claim Wesley as their own , quoting him from the pulpit.

    We are an ecumenical church. The Church of England has no one doctrine,and a wide variety of styles of worship & observances.With or without choirs,vestments,Latin .Our Bishop may turn up to a morning service in full regalia + mitre & crook in the morning then in the evening to an evangelical praise service in sweater & slacks . I am openly Wesleyan and have friends who attend who are openly Roman Catholic or nearly Mennonite.The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham led 2 Masses here in the last year.I was suprised they don’t have a fraction of the Latin we do in our more formal services.I learned Latin at school & can read the St Jerome Vulgate bible,but not the original Hebrew or Greek.but know English better.English is more inclusive.

    We have countless Methodist ,Baptist,United Reform,Anabaptist ,Lutheran ,simple evangelical Roman Catholic & non denominational services.This worship takes place,especially in our non denominational Unity chapel.This non Anglican chapel,consecrated in 1962, along with our Cathedral, is essential since we were made to a UK spiritual centre of Christian unity ,peace and reconciliation,open to all,as well as the centre of the world community of the Cross of Nails.

    We take Lord’s Supper together,according to Spirit led individual conviction ,not church dogma.Apparently the Catechism forbids Protestants taking the bread and wine at Roman Catholic Lord’s Supper.In practise ,where the Holy Spirit insists ,this has happened. I wonder if the new evangelical & ecumenical Pope will change this.In ‘Evangelli Gaudium’ ,his first encyclical,to my reading,he seems to point this way.God’s Will shall decide.Let us turn to the Bible for our standard.From the Bible ,I exegete His Will to be Christian Unity but I am still learning I want to obey Jesus’s two great Laws – Love God,Love others.

    I learn things run deeper than my earlier assumption that there is high church and low church.’ Considering Wesley’s edition of St Thomas A Kempis’s ‘The Imitation of Christ’ & his reading of Jeremy Taylor’s ‘The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living & Dying ‘ 1650 – 1. opened my eyes & heart wider.

    Jeremy Taylor ( 1613 – 1667) , was chaplain to King Charles 1st ,sponsored by Archbishop William Laud who was executed by the English Puritan parliament.Taylor ,suspected by Puritans of Catholicism was imprisoned aftyer they defeated the King in Civil War.Yet Taylor was released to become a great Christian writer under Oliver Cromwell’s Puritan Protectorate.At the Restoration ,he was made an Irish Bishop.

    I am learning not to pigeonhole Christian thinkers ,writers and practitioners as Protestant ,Catholic or Puritan,but as Christians first and last.

    John Wesley especially ,whose writing I have learned so much from,teaches me to think faith through with an open heart ,by the Biblical standardJohn Wesley,a prolific reader ,said he was a man of one book.The Bible.The Bible must be our authority always,pure and simple. Yet Wesley was widely read from all Christian traditions.But always he sends us back to our Bibles.

    Still,I, I learn by looking to Wesley’s reading,my Bible always open. About justification by faith, I learn from Wesley and his reading of Martin Luther.I learn Holiness in dailt life from Wesley & his reading of Jeremy Taylor.And from the Holiness Teachings of Benjamin Roberts ho was inspired to lead Methodism back to the integrity of early Methodism & the Biblical standard from which it had strayed ,

    About the saving and strengthening power of faith I learn from Wesley and his Moravian contacts ..On the Atlantic voyage ,on mission, from Gravesend to Savanna ,Georgia,then back,Wesley was inspired by the quiet tranuility their faith gave them in face of storm and shipwreck.Moravians, Pietist in doctrine and Catholic in observance.,inspired Wesley’s self knowledge that ,though ordained he was as yet unconverted to entire faith in Christ,through the Holy Spirit.

    Wesley’s encounters with different Christians , led to his famous 8.45 am ,warm hearted conversion ,to entire faith ,

    ”About a quarter before nine,I felt my heart strangely warmed” London,May 24 ,1738

    Cetain special dates stand out in history.Such as 13 May 1373,the day Jesus ,through the Holy Spirit,gave His Showing of Love,in a series of profound Visions, to a simple holy woman in Norwich,England.This was the anchoress Dame Julian.Such a date is Wesley’s conversion.The Holy Spirit seems to favour May for such great personal events.

    It is said at this moment,May 24 1738, Methodism was born.Wesley began to develop his plain Methodism.This was not not the Calvinist,Puritan ‘Methodism’ of his friends the Countess of Huntingdon & her chaplain George Whitefield.

    Wesley’s Methodism is distinctive .Wesley insists on the frequent taking of Lord’s Supper.”Let everyone please God & obey God by communicating every time he can.I read in the Christmas 1773 – 1774 enties in his diary,Wesley & his Methodist circle took Lord’s Supper each and every day of the 12 days of Christmas.Wesley insists ,in his own words ,on celebrating the solemn feast days.He insists on being born again ,regenerated ,by the water of Baptism.Just as the first Christians.He repudiates Calvinism.The Father did not create us as clockwork automotons,he posited..The Bible says we are created in the Father’s image.

    Wesley preached to the heart ,calmy ,in holiness,never ranting.screaming wildly or thumping the bible violently.Wesley appointed American bishops.,to the consternation of the Church of England.But look to the good which it lead to – the spread of a great Christian revival in North America.I wish as many UKers attended church and held faith as in USA.Wesley preached Grace and Holiness of living.

    I found my home in Wesleyan Holiness Methodism,through discussing faith honestly & openly and learning from good Christian writers whose ideas speak from Biblical Christianity.Discovering the Holiness teachings of B.T.Roberts after talking faith by e mail with a young Canadian Free Methodist,my faith progressed exponentially.It seemed an epiphany ,a conversion.I was changed.

    John Wesley is my ecumenical hero.He discussed faith with ,& learned from all Christians without ever compromising his Holy Spirit inspired conscience & reasoned thought in faith. Finding my denominational home through entire conversion, ,eager to learn more,I found no local church of the strategic faith to which the Spirit called me.Yet! .I contacted the national conference office at Preston of the UK national branch of the Church B.& Ellen Roberts started .They stressed the need for Christian unity,directing me to worship where I am ,in the Chuch of England,living according to Wesleyan Christian holiness.A Roberts style church may grow here. My personal faith story continues.

    Susanna Wesley,John’s mother ,when John was saved from a house fire in infancy ,said her son was a brand God saved from the burning.God had a plan for John Wesley ! I think God has a plan for all His children.For Wesley,it was to lead a Christian revival of the holiness way of life of Jesus and His disciples , the Christian way of life of the Spirit filled Jerusalem Christians at Pentecost.

    Theology is not divine knowledge.It is divine living.So said Jeremy Taylor ,who Wesley read and was so inspired by.Do we read the Bible to acquire more knowledge.Surely not.We read the Bible to learn how to live our lives as God wants us to ! For the love of God!

    I believe at the first Lord’s Supper,the night before He died,Jesus commanded Christian Unity. tis hard to pigeonhole Christian writers as either Protestant or Catholic or Puritan.Better ,I’ve learned,to read them as Christian first and last and measure what they say against the Bible .

    Reading this weeks blog and contemplating Carolyn’s Oxford conversion has set me on a chain of thinking about my faith that has sent me to rereading the bible,parts of Wesley and to some of the books he read and those inspired by him.Always in conjunction with the Bible..

    As always your blog inspires me to think about my faith,Pastor..I discuss each week’s blog with an elderly church friend who I print out each week’s blog for.I phoned her to tell her about this week’s subject .

    Thankyou for your work each week,Pastor.I believe that like faith,ministry is for the love of God.I shall acquire’The Pastor’s First Love’ and look forward to reading it,especially the closing chapter with the story of your long ministry in a team with Kathleen.I believe behind every good pastor is a good spouse.Of course now ,even our Church of England celebrastes 20 years of women’s ordination,so a pastor’s spouse could be either gender .

    I read B.T.Roberts 19th century book on ‘The Ordination Of Women’ so know you’ve enjoyed a pastorate open to all Christians for a very long time.

    Again,thanks for your thought stimulating blog ,which sent me to my Bible and to reread many passages from my Christian library.I look forward next weeks blog.

  8. Congratulations winning the Instruction category & making the Grace Irwin short list ,Pastor Donald. Kathleen ,yourself & Don sure had a night to remember.

    I like Carolyn Weber’s title ‘Surprised by Oxford.’ I assume it’s a play on ‘Surprised by Joy’ ,the Christian book by Oxford academic C.S.Lewis.

    I live an hour from Oxford ,where,John & Charles Wesley started the Holy Club at Christ Church.. Fellow students,cynical detractors of their methodical approach to Christian living ,composed the piece of doggerel which culminates :

    ”Method alone must guide ’em all
    When themselves “Methodists” they call”’

    Detractors increased calling them Methody men or Methodists.Friends increased more & John Wesley became known ‘the best loved man in England’.I don’t think the brothers called themselves methodists iat first, but later accepted the name as a badge of honour .

    The Holy Club sought to live as Christ,concerned with justice ffor the poor ,entering their homes to bring much needed food & clothing .They fasted ,lived frugally, within their means ,saving money to share with those in need.The mphasis on Holy living, points tback to the way Jesus & His disciples lived,,and to the Jerusalem Christians at Pentecost.It points forward to Methodism and the mid 19th century New York Holiness teachings of Benjamin Titus Roberts ,which reaffirm Methodist biblical standards.

    Oxford academics John & Charles Wesley,like those Carolyn met in Oxford,discussed & developed their faith in open discussion.As have so many Oxford academics.As well as C.S.Lewis,John Henry Newman & Edward Pusey of The Oxford Movement,to reintroduce earlier traditions of faith into Anglican worship ,were at Oxford UnIversity.The Anglo Catholic revival in the Church of England launched at Oxford.

    Christian writer John Henry Newman converted aged 15, a Calvinist evangelical.At life’s end he looked back to his conversion to evangelical Christianity as the saving of his soul. A Trinity College,Oxford academic, later elected fellow & tutor at Oriel college , & ordained at Anglican Christ Church , earlier venue of the Wesley’s Holy Club,he joined the large group of Oxford academics discussing faith., & became secretary of the Oxford Church Missionary Society,still an Evangelical.

    But Oxford discussion with Tractarian Edward Pusey.led to his move from ‘low’ to ‘high’ church thinking.Newman became prominent in the Anglo Catholic revival,the Oxford movement.

    Nowhere in England has faith been more rigorously discussed than Oxford,even in Cambridge.Newman went further ,than iAnglo Catholicism The first half of his ordained life was as an Anglican,Evangelican then Anglo Catholic: the second half Roman Catholic.Made Cardinal , he led worship at the Birmingham Oratory.

    Anglo Catholicism,Newmanism,Tractarianism ,Sacramentalism,Wesleyanism & Methodism – all trace their roots to Oxford academia.

    It astonished me to discover John Wesley’s close association with the Anglo Catholic Revival , through his biographies .He was criticized by Church of England orthodoxy as much for his Anglo Catholicism as his Methodism.

    My mind opened wider reading G.W.Taylor’s ‘John Wesley & The Anglo Catholic Revival ‘ SPCK 1905.A lifelong Anglican,like his brother Charles,Wesley is claimed as their pioneer by Methodists and Anglo Catholics alike. In my Anglican church,both our Evangelical Protestant wing and our Anglo Catholic wing ,claim Wesley as their own , quoting him from the pulpit.

    We are an ecumenical church. The Church of England has no one doctrine,and a wide variety of styles of worship & observances.With or without choirs,vestments,Latin .Our Bishop may turn up to a morning service in full regalia + mitre & crook in the morning then in the evening to an evangelical praise service in sweater & slacks . I am openly Wesleyan and have friends who attend who are openly Roman Catholic or nearly Mennonite.The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham led 2 Masses here in the last year.I was suprised they don’t have a fraction of the Latin we do in our more formal services.I learned Latin at school & can read the St Jerome Vulgate bible,but not the original Hebrew or Greek.but know English better.English is more inclusive.

    We have countless Methodist ,Baptist,United Reform,Anabaptist ,Lutheran ,simple evangelical Roman Catholic & non denominational services.This worship takes place,especially in our non denominational Unity chapel.This non Anglican chapel,consecrated in 1962, along with our Cathedral, is essential since we were made to a UK spiritual centre of Christian unity ,peace and reconciliation,open to all,as well as the centre of the world community of the Cross of Nails.

    We take Lord’s Supper together,according to Spirit led individual conviction ,not church dogma.Apparently the Catechism forbids Protestants taking the bread and wine at Roman Catholic Lord’s Supper.In practise ,where the Holy Spirit insists ,this has happened. I wonder if the new evangelical & ecumenical Pope will change this.In ‘Evangelli Gaudium’ ,his first encyclical,to my reading,he seems to point this way.God’s Will shall decide.Let us turn to the Bible for our standard.From the Bible ,I exegete His Will to be Christian Unity but I am still learning I want to obey Jesus’s two great Laws – Love God,Love others.

    I learn things run deeper than my earlier assumption that there is high church and low church.’ Considering Wesley’s edition of St Thomas A Kempis’s ‘The Imitation of Christ’ & his reading of Jeremy Taylor’s ‘The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living & Dying ‘ 1650 – 1. opened my eyes & heart wider.

    Jeremy Taylor ( 1613 – 1667) , was chaplain to King Charles 1st ,sponsored by Archbishop William Laud who was executed by the English Puritan parliament.Taylor ,suspected by Puritans of Catholicism was imprisoned aftyer they defeated the King in Civil War.Yet Taylor was released to become a great Christian writer under Oliver Cromwell’s Puritan Protectorate.At the Restoration ,he was made an Irish Bishop.

    I am learning not to pigeonhole Christian thinkers ,writers and practitioners as Protestant ,Catholic or Puritan,but as Christians first and last.

    John Wesley especially ,whose writing I have learned so much from,teaches me to think faith through with an open heart ,by the Biblical standardJohn Wesley,a prolific reader ,said he was a man of one book.The Bible.The Bible must be our authority always,pure and simple. Yet Wesley was widely read from all Christian traditions.But always he sends us back to our Bibles.

    Still,I, I learn by looking to Wesley’s reading,my Bible always open. About justification by faith, I learn from Wesley and his reading of Martin Luther.I learn Holiness in dailt life from Wesley & his reading of Jeremy Taylor.And from the Holiness Teachings of Benjamin Roberts ho was inspired to lead Methodism back to the integrity of early Methodism & the Biblical standard from which it had strayed ,

    About the saving and strengthening power of faith I learn from Wesley and his Moravian contacts ..On the Atlantic voyage ,on mission, from Gravesend to Savanna ,Georgia,then back,Wesley was inspired by the quiet tranuility their faith gave them in face of storm and shipwreck.Moravians, Pietist in doctrine and Catholic in observance.,inspired Wesley’s self knowledge that ,though ordained he was as yet unconverted to entire faith in Christ,through the Holy Spirit.

    Wesley’s encounters with different Christians , led to his famous 8.45 am ,warm hearted conversion ,to entire faith ,

    ”About a quarter before nine,I felt my heart strangely warmed” London,May 24 ,1738

    Cetain special dates stand out in history.Such as 13 May 1373,the day Jesus ,through the Holy Spirit,gave His Showing of Love,in a series of profound Visions, to a simple holy woman in Norwich,England.This was the anchoress Dame Julian.Such a date is Wesley’s conversion.The Holy Spirit seems to favour May for such great personal events.

    It is said at this moment,May 24 1738, Methodism was born.Wesley began to develop his plain Methodism.This was not not the Calvinist,Puritan ‘Methodism’ of his friends the Countess of Huntingdon & her chaplain George Whitefield.

    Wesley’s Methodism is distinctive .Wesley insists on the frequent taking of Lord’s Supper.”Let everyone please God & obey God by communicating every time he can.I read in the Christmas 1773 – 1774 enties in his diary,Wesley & his Methodist circle took Lord’s Supper each and every day of the 12 days of Christmas.Wesley insists ,in his own words ,on celebrating the solemn feast days.He insists on being born again ,regenerated ,by the water of Baptism.Just as the first Christians.He repudiates Calvinism.The Father did not create us as clockwork automotons,he posited..The Bible says we are created in the Father’s image.

    Wesley preached to the heart ,calmy ,in holiness,never ranting.screaming wildly or thumping the bible violently.Wesley appointed American bishops.,to the consternation of the Church of England.But look to the good which it lead to – the spread of a great Christian revival in North America.I wish as many UKers attended church and held faith as in USA.Wesley preached Grace and Holiness of living.

    I found my home in Wesleyan Holiness Methodism,through discussing faith honestly & openly and learning from good Christian writers whose ideas speak from Biblical Christianity.Discovering the Holiness teachings of B.T.Roberts after talking faith by e mail with a young Canadian Free Methodist,my faith progressed exponentially.It seemed an epiphany ,a conversion.I was changed.

    John Wesley is my ecumenical hero.He discussed faith with ,& learned from all Christians without ever compromising his Holy Spirit inspired conscience & reasoned thought in faith. Finding my denominational home through entire conversion, ,eager to learn more,I found no local church of the strategic faith to which the Spirit called me.Yet! .I contacted the national conference office at Preston of the UK national branch of the Church B.& Ellen Roberts started .They stressed the need for Christian unity,directing me to worship where I am ,in the Chuch of England,living according to Wesleyan Christian holiness.A Roberts style church may grow here. My personal faith story continues.

    Susanna Wesley,John’s mother ,when John was saved from a house fire in infancy ,said her son was a brand God saved from the burning.God had a plan for John Wesley ! I think God has a plan for all His children.For Wesley,it was to lead a Christian revival of the holiness way of life of Jesus and His disciples , the Christian way of life of the Spirit filled Jerusalem Christians at Pentecost.

    Theology is not divine knowledge.It is divine living.So said Jeremy Taylor ,who Wesley read and was so inspired by.Do we read the Bible to acquire more knowledge.Surely not.We read the Bible to learn how to live our lives as God wants us to ! For the love of God!

    I believe at the first Lord’s Supper,the night before He died,Jesus commanded Christian Unity. tis hard to pigeonhole Christian writers as either Protestant or Catholic or Puritan.Better ,I’ve learned,to read them as Christian first and last and measure what they say against the Bible .

    I have prayed and shall continue to pray ypur book inspires young Christians coming to the pastorate.My church has a service of ordination this weekend and I’m pleased to say there are as many prospective women ordinants as men.

    Reading this weeks blog and contemplating Carolyn’s Oxford conversion has set me on a chain of thinking about my faith that has sent me to rereading the bible,parts of Wesley and to some of the books he read and those inspired by him.Always in conjunction with the Bible..

    As always your blog inspires me to think about my faith,Pastor..I discuss each week’s blog with an elderly church friend who I print out each week’s blog for.I phoned her to tell her about this week’s subject .

    Thankyou for your work each week,Pastor.I believe that like faith,ministry is for the love of God.I shall acquire’The Pastor’s First Love’ and look forward to reading it,especially the closing chapter with the story of your long ministry in a team with Kathleen.I believe behind every good pastor is a good spouse.Of course now ,even our Church of England celebrastes 20 years of women’s ordination,so a pastor’s spouse could be either gender .

    I read B.T.Roberts 19th century book on ‘The Ordination Of Women’ so know you’ve enjoyed a pastorate open to all Christians for a very long time.

    Again,thanks for your thought stimulating blog ,which sent me to my Bible and to reread many passages from my Christian library.I look forward next weeks blog.

  9. Apologies for double posting.The 11:12:31 comment printed with the paragraphs out of order.The 11:22;01 post has the paragraphs ordered correctly.

    Prayers and blessings.

  10. Francis, you are a curious man and an avid reader and I admire you for both. I hope you enjoy the pastoring book. You may even find in it some traces of Anglicanism. Don Bastian

  11. Thankyou Pastor Don.I love to read Christian thought from all ages.I love to see how churches go about their mission at different times in history.The most important time is now .At the moment I’m absorbed in the history of the Free Methodist Church from 1860 New York,when slavery was still legal,up to to today.At the moment I’m reading ‘ A Future with a History: The Wesleyan Witness of the Free Methodist Church, 1960-1995 ‘ by David Mckenna..There’s alot about the formation of a Free Methodist church in Canada with it’s own conference & I’ve come across your name many times ,Pastor. I look forward to following it up by reading your pastoring book ,which is on it’s way to me.

    We had 3 services ordaining ministers at St Michael’s on Saturday & Sunday.Yesterday afternoon was for Methodist ordination,I forget which branch – United maybe.On Saturday ,visting ‘primitive ‘ Methodists from a village near Chesterfield ,joined us for Lord’s Supper & I enjoyed talking about our faith, the sacrament.They told me their village has 3 churches,each one of a Methodist denomination.

    By the way ,in my comments I type rapidly & don’t always have time to check for typos as I use a library computer & time is limited.I noticed I typed Wesley’s conversion as being at 8.45 am ,wheras of course it was in the evening,at 8.45 pm.

    Blessings and prayers.Francis Hatfield.

  12. My blessings to you and Kathleen. Yes, indeed, a pastor is most importantly one who dearly loves the Lord and then with joy ministers to people. Wes, my husband, lived this to the greatest extent. You have been such a blessing to us as you lived your book long before you wrote it.
    Your friend, Dottie Bennett

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