To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Sex Is Best God’s Way.

I know this is a delicate subject, but it does seem to me that Christians are so often on the defensive about sex. The attitude conveyed from the world, via the media, is to pity Christians for their attitude towards sex. The world thinks that we are such poor people  and miss out on so much. They think because we restrict sex to marriage that we are to be pitied. After all, according to the way of the world, you can enjoy sex with whoever and whenever you want, as long as it is not too licentiously outrageous. But those poor Christians – they can only enjoy sex in marriage. What poor creatures they are.

And so it was great to see this presentation by Tim Keller.

The fact is that it is those who engage in sexual practice outside marriage who are the ones who lose out. Marriage provides the appropriate secure framework in which a man and a woman can wholesomely give their bodies to one another without reserve. The marriage covenant engenders trust. And it is this trust which makes sex so special.

Without the marriage bond, the trust is missing to a greater or lesser extent so sex so easily becomes a selfish pursuit. Instead of solidifying their relationship, those involved in sex outside marriage are engaged in selfishly indulging their sexual drives. This is not a fulfilling arrangement. It is frustrating. This is why the world with all their propaganda towards “if it feels good do it” is propagating a destructive lie. How many lives are destroyed by this propaganda? Sex becomes totally warped. Men view women as sex objects. Women think that the best they get, is to acquiesce in a man’s lustful adventure.

But in marriage there is a beautiful symbiosis. As the marriage grows, so sex becomes that much more fulfilling. And as the fulfillment advances, so does the depth of the relationship in marriage. It is a beautiful virtuous circle. I know it is not always like that, but sex within marriage offers a completeness that fornication and adultery can never offer. In the end, the sexual libertines offer so much, but deliver so little.

Moreover, so many are harmed by their pre-marriage sexual indulgence so that they are scarred for the rest of their lives.  Accordingly, the fulfillment of sex in marriage is diminished because they have been ravaged by their pre-marital sexual exploits. God graciously can cleanse and heal in this realm, but the damage can be oh too real.

So two things to close:

  • If you are unmarried and facing the heat of peer pressure and worldly propaganda, then do not succumb. God’s way is the best without question. Save yourself for your husband / wife and you will nor regret it
  • Let us not be cowed by the pressure all around for so-called “sexual freedom.” It is not freedom at all. It is a lie. Let us be willing to declare how sex is best God’s way.

(Originally published at Venabling on 12th December 2013).

I Want A Position.

Are you a position seeker? Are you a person who feels that they should be recognised in a certain position in the church? What is your reason for this? Is it so that you can get status and be deemed to have been a success? Is it because you feel once you have a status you will be able to fulfill your ministry?

The Lord faced this situation among his disciples.

A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:24-29).

The call that God places upon us is to be those who serve. This is at the heart of what Christian discipleship is. We are called to serve God and serve others. Our model is our Master who came not to seize a position, but to serve As he says in the passage just quoted, I am among you as one who serves (Luke 22:27b).

If we are those who are seeking recognition or being placed in a certain position, we have departed down a dangerous road. It is a road not ridden by our Saviour.

So what do we say to those who want a position? We say get on and serve. If you have a calling to certain work; get on with it. if you have an inclination to certain service, just get on with it. Get on and serve. We are never called to wait around to get recognition and then we do. Rather we do and then we get recognition. This is the implication of the “Laying on of hands” principle. you are recognizing those already performing the ministry.

What we are saying is that recognition has its place. Deacons, evangelists and elders (among others) need to be recognized in the church, but those who are recognized are only the ones who are already doing the serving.

So don’t just stand there waiting to be anointed to whatever position, get on and do something and then see what happens.

(Originally published at Venabling on 2nd December 2013).

Tom Daley Fever

Well it is the men’s 10m platform competition in the diving at the Olympics starting today, so prepare yourself for another bout of Tom Daley Fever. What is it that seems to send the media circus into something of a swoon when it comes to Tom Daley?

He won the bronze in the 10m synchronized platform competition on 9th August with Dan Goodfellow. Whereupon certain parts of the press just produced photos of Mr Daley on his own as commented upon here. And remember he had not won! He had only finished third and yet it seemed that we were all being cajoled into believing this was a magnificent achievement. Well, of course it must be because Tom Daley did it. If he belly-flopped into the pool I reckon it would be portrayed as a triumph for British ingenuity.

So why is it that he is treated as such a hero? I reckon it is the longing to find role-models for the brave new world where everything has changed and is changing in respect of sexuality and gender. This is where Tom fits the bill. The news has it that Tom is due to be marrying his fiance Dustin Lance Black after the Olympics. And in so many ways it seems that Tom is your perfect role model to persuade us that such activity is normal. After all he:

  1. is young
  2. is good-looking
  3. is photogenic
  4. is courteous
  5. has a residual prominence as a result of starting his career so young
  6. is successful; having reached teh upper echelons of his chosen profession
  7. has suffered and overcome tragedy with the loss of his father
  8. has a mother who approves of his relationship.
  9. gives the impression that everything is great as regards to him being with Dustin

And so he is lauded and fawned upon. So there it is Tom is the hero to be emulated. Tom may be a fine man, his achievements are significant and I do not want to underestimate the suffering he had with the loss of his father. However, there is something distasteful about all this. I fear he is being used by the media to persuade us that all is well in this brave new world. Alas I believe it is all a lie and the harvest from overturning God’s order will be grievous to behold in our society.

Who’s The Card From?

Do you ever ponder upon the names that people put on a card sent from their family? Let me get straight to what I am thinking of here.

In Genesis 2:20b-24 we read:

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs  and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

 The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
    for she was taken out of man.”

 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

In marriage the man leaves his parents and establishes a new household with his new wife who has now left her father’s household and become part of her husband’s household. So what about parents who still include the names of their now married children on their cards. Do you not feel like saying; “Hey they’ve gone now; they’ve established their own family unit!” So parents, before you include your married offspring in the cards that you send, think about the implications of what you are doing.

Just a thought.

(Originally published at Venabling on 15th November 2013).

Unity in Church.

We are in a spiritual battle. One way in which Satan works to destroy the work of God is in bring division within a church. Churches which are Bible based, gospel preaching, Christ focused and God honouring are hated by evil forces. The serried ranks of hell scheme to destroy such places. Setting brothers and sisters against each other is a central pillar of this strategy.

Let us remind ourselves of the delight that the Lord has in seeing His believing people harmoniously living and serving together. Let us see these words from Psalm 133.

How good and pleasant it is
    when God’s people live together in unity!

It is like precious oil poured on the head,
    running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
    down on the collar of his robe.

 It is as if the dew of Hermon
    were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
    even life for evermore.

Moreover, we need to be reminded that God has set unity among His people. All the oneness He has established is set forth in Ephesians 4:4-6. Accordingly, as a prefix to this established unity God says to the Ephesian Christians that they are to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3). We are to labour with all our might to keep the unity that God has established.

However, it is important to assert that it is neither unity nor peace at any price. When people depart from the unity set by God, that is the unity of one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Eph. 4:4-6). If someone sets themselves to depart from these gospel unitities then we must depart from them. If we don’t we will have a fake unity. Departure from gospel oneness should always be grievous to us though. We never gloat over separating from anyone.

When gospel unity is established though, we must strive with all our might to guard it and encourage it. So everyone is praying for and interested in everyone else in the church. If people are not on speaking terms or are shunning one another in the church membership this is not good. Although everyone is not necessarily involved in all the activities of the church everyone in church membership should be interested in all the activities of the church.

The elders of the church need to be particularly vigilant in this realm. This is because those with pastoral oversight set the  spiritual temperature of the church. Everything about their demeanour, conduct and speech should be towards encouraging the maintenance of this unity. When the overseers are obviously interested everyone and every activity in the church then that has an impact on all the church.

In conclusion let us return to the military imagery that we started with:

  • Paul urges the Corinthians to so act that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes (2 Cor. 2:11b). We similarly should be making sure that Satan does not gain a bridgehead into the church. All disagreements and disputes should be dealt with biblically.
  • After consideration of the spiritual armour necessary for spiritual warfare Paul says to the Ephesians  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should (Eph. 6:18-20). Prayer is absolutely key. We should be diligently following the injunction here. And don’t forget the received wisdom of the adage that a church that prays together stays together!

Let us diligently covet unity in our churches then. This is a lifelong pursuit that requires perpetual attention. The devil is never off duty. And so we ever have to be on our guard and ever need to be labouring to keep unity in the Lord’s special place, the church.  

Good Parents.

The passing away of my Mum on October 4th means that I have now lost both of my parents. They have been good parents. They have not been perfect parents, but God has blessed me with good parents (in fact very good parents).

I had the privilege of a stable home. We had our disturbances, but there was the solidity of my Dad and Mum being together, and wanting the best for us four children. Did they get everything right? No! But they were there for us. They worked hard and gave up so much that we might be benefited.

The older I get, the more I appreciate the blessings of what my parents brought to me. I had difficulties as a child, but they were experienced within a loving secure frame.

When I think of the privileges that I have been blessed with by the Lord, I am grateful and thankful.

Sadly, increasingly, what I enjoyed is becoming less and less common. The disintegration and re-invention of the family has meant that a growing proportion of the population are brought up in unstable situations. Thousands of households in this country have no father. The re-defining of marriage to include homosexual couples will only exacerbate the instability. How sad, how devastating. So many growing up are scarred and mauled by their background rather than being blessed by it.

Oh LORD, thank you for good parents. They are gone now. But I want you, dear reader, to know Clarence and Evelyn Venables were good parents to me.

(Originally published at Venabling on 23rd October 2013).

Are Our Churches Satanic?

In Matthew 16:21-23 we read,

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’

Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’”

The key issue I want to draw attention to here is how our Saviour rebuked Peter as Satan, because Peter had in mind human concerns and not the concerns of God. To have merely human concerns when we should have godly concerns is satanic.

This raises the question as to whether in our churches we can be satanic in our approach to our community life. Picking up from the words of our Lord to Peter, we are satanic when we are minding the ways of man, when we should be minding the ways of God. When we come to deal with matters in the church, and our approach is according to business reasoning or pure expediency, then we are minding the ways of man; we are being Satanic.

Why is it Satanic? It is Satanic because it harmonizes with the way of the adversary. The word “Satan” is derived from a word meaning adversary.

How do we make sure that we are being godly and not Satanic? We do so by making sure that we stick to the Word of God. This is because the Word of God reveals the mind of God. And we use the Word of God in a godly way. We do this by being faithful to scripture and relentlessly seeking the Lord’s Spirit to illuminate the Word.

So when we face issues, we keep ourselves from being satanic by always saying, ‘Consult God’s instruction  and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to the Word, they have no light of dawn.’ (Is. 8:10).

(Originally published at Venabling on 10th September 2013)

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