(Picture credit: @vide.design)

Yesterday we had the privilege of Sam Cutforth (friend, fellow college graduate and Associate Pastor at Howick Baptist) “visit” our church family to preach Ephesians 2:1-10. Amidst the madness of a sudden Level 3 lockdown and half our members trapped outside Auckland due to roadblocks, God was kind and we still managed to join in worship over Zoom!

The online format meant we got to run a live Q&A and ask a few questions. I personally thought Sam’s answers were helpful and pastoral and worth sharing below (edited for clarity).

Like us, you’ve been through several lockdowns now. What’s some advice to help us thrive spiritually during this time?

SC: I think it’d be really good to treat this week as a really intense time of seeking God and spending time in His Word.

Some of you might know the experience when you’ve driven really fast on the motorway and when you have to slow all the way to 50 km/h, it feels really slow in comparison – that’s because you’ve been doing a 100 km/h before. During lockdown many of us have more time, so you can drive at 100 km/h spiritually – making time for prayer and the Word. And that means when you come out of lockdown, when the normal responsibilities crowd out our schedules again, they won’t feel “fast” enough, and that’ll give you a desire to go a bit deeper and a bit harder spiritually.

So see this week as an opportunity to drive 100 km/h spiritual in terms of prayer, discussing God and encouraging others, so when I get back to life as normal, I’ll want to go that little bit faster.

Why do people like using anonymous confessional sites – and what’s a better alternative?

SC: The best place to go is to confess our sins to God. Secondly, the Bible does say you can confess your sins to one another as well.

I think people use these websites because deep down lots of people do have problems with sin in their life. We have this picture of life that’s meant to be good and perfect through social media and elsewhere, we’re supposed to live free and however we want. But our actual lives don’t match – and we’re not sure what to do with it. But rather than come to Jesus, or to church, these people go to anonymous websites to relieve themselves.

Confessing to someone anonymously may relieve us from a bit of a “burden”. But it doesn’t build a deep relationship and trust, where someone knows your sins and struggles, and is there to help. So I wouldn’t encourage that. For anyone who does that, I’d say: come and confess your sins to Jesus. He’ll give you lasting forgiveness.

Any tips on how not to be boring when sharing our testimony? Of if we’re nervous?

SC: I recently read of a great way to do it: you figure out what makes you tick, what idol it is that you most struggle with, and then you share how Jesus fulfils that. For example, you might be someone who’s fearful of people and you’d go around doing what people asked you to – that was a bit of me. But then you met Jesus, and he says you don’t have to do anything for me, but I’ve loved and given myself to you. You realised: “I’m forgiven! I don’t have to work for salvation!” And then I can freely serve this master. It’s good to try present your testimony around something in you that Jesus has changed or encouraged – even if you think you have a “boring testimony”.

I mean, I grew up as a pastor’s kid and I had this horrible sin of wanting to please people that I just need to get rid of. It doesn’t have to be exciting, instead go with real: this is the real me, what I’m like, and Jesus accepts that and forgives that.

What are some practical ways to help us gaze more deeply into the gospel?

  • I find it very helpful to write in a journal as I’m reading God’s Word – it helps focus my mind and get me thinking.
  • There’s nothing like slowly plodding along in God’s Word and letting Him bring up things that He needs for you.
  • Seeking out others for encouragement. Sometimes we’re a bit flat ourselves but if we’re in the having of having spiritual conversations with others, then they can pick you up and you can “catch” some of their excitement as well.