Let me start my prayer update this month by saying a huge thank you to all of you who sent encouraging emails to me after my last (somewhat depressing!) update. To be reminded of truths was exactly what was needed. It reminded me to look not in to myself, my works and my heart for feelings of worth, adequacy and for justification, but instead to look to Christ, and his truths as revealed in the Word. A very helpful reminder - humbling and deeply encouraging.
As I've delved more into Ephesians this month these thoughts and impressions have been forming more strongly. Last Sunday I preached on Ephesians 1:15-23, and was struck by Paul's prayer for the Ephesians. He prays that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened - that their whole person: mind, body, will and emotions would grasp the truths. And what truths they are! Have a read of it and be encouraged.
One of the things that I've realised over the last month is just how much I'm enjoying attending the South Central Ministry Training Course. I really am learning a lot there, and I really enjoy having the time to spend with other people in the same stage of life as I am - it's a huge encouragement to me. Praise God for that!
You may remember that back when I started my time at Woody Road as a Trainee I attended the 'Formation' conference? It was a huge encouragement to me back then to engage in servant-hearted leadership on the foundation of grace. Clearly it's something I've gradually forgotten! This month, from the 8th-10th March, I'll be attending the second installment. Please pray that, like the first conference, I would feel refreshed, encouraged and challenged again. Please also pray that I would come away from it having my eyes more keenly fixed on Jesus and with a greater desire to serve him.
Please continue to pray for my ongoing work in the church. This includes one-to-ones, student work, youth work, preaching and leading at services plus other bits and bobs. Please pray firstly that God would work through me to bring glory to his name in my life and the lives with whom I work. Also please pray that I would continue to grow in gifts and become more effective in the responsibilities that I have.
Finally, just an update on wedding prep. As you can imagine, with Cathy living in Belfast, me living in Oxford, the wedding being in Hartlepool and Cathy's parents living in Saudi Arabia... it's not a straight-forward process! You can praise God, however, that a huge amount seems to have been sorted (thanks largely to the hard work of Cathy's mum), and nothing 'big' is left to be arranged. It's easy, in the run up to a wedding, to be focussed so much on the day itself that you forget all about the lifetime of marriage that follows! Please pray for Cathy and I, that we'd continue to develop patterns now that are glorifying to God in the rest of life, and that we'd be able to get good foundations in place for married life.
Massive thanks again for your prayers.