Just one more thing before I forget. When Carol sprung the surprise birthday eve party and friends spoke to me 'before I am dead' I learned several things. People were being kind (in view of my age) so they said positive things! Modesty prevents me from sharing much as friends spoke of my ministry in Cambridge and at Spurgeon's. But it was mightily interesting and encouraging to hear things from their view-point. How rarely do we hear from others about our work and influence! Truly, the instruction: Don't wait until he's dead' deserves attention
However, one comment really caught me out. Ron (my current pastor) and his wife were present. Ron had overlapped his final year as student at Spurgeon's College with my first year as Principal. He had been there three years already and he shared his discouragement and how utterly dispirited he felt about going into ministry. Now, he had shared that with me before but what he said next completely surprised me.
Apparently, for my first time preaching in the chapel I took the story of Abram's call, telling the students to begin reading the story in Genesis 11:27. Ron said that they quickly looked up their bibles to see the background to Abram's call in Gen. 12:1-9. Then Ron remembers my three points (which he repeated later): God speaks, God disturbs, God promises. 'This was a transforming moment,' he said,' that turned my dejection around. It was a whole new beginning and I was renewed in my call to ministry'.
You can imagine (even those of who are not preachers) just what it means to be told this news 22 years later! I was humbled. But I was also reprimanded. I have recently written three chapters of a book with the working title: ' Beyond three points - preaching for the twenty-first century' in which I critique the too familiar practice of hanging spiritual truths on predictable three pegs. I argue that there are other ways of presenting gospel truth. However, Ron's reminds me sometimes three points can really make impact!