Here is our Church Newsletter for May 2019. It includes an article on knowing the character of our teachers.
Archive for the ‘Character’ Category
Let us think of a hypothetical man who stands before you and says “I am a Paraguayan.” You then proceed to quiz him a little further about his identity. Whereupon you find out that:-
- He does not have a Paraguayan passport.
- He was born in the UK and has been resident there for his whole life.
- He has never been to Paraguay.
- His parents were born in the Philippines and have never been to Paraguay.
Having established those facts you think for a while and conclude it is most unlikely that this man is a Paraguayan. His profession is denied by the evidence.
So let us think about the sadly not so hypothetical man who stands before you and says “I am a Christian”. You then proceed to quiz him a little further about his identity. Whereupon you find out that:-
- He does not go to church.
- He believes that being a Christian is about seeking to do lots of good works.
- He has neither been baptised nor ever been a church member.
- He does not have any display of the fruit of the Spirit (see Gal.5:22-23) in his life.
Having established those facts you think for a while and conclude it is most unlikely that this man is a Christian. His profession is denied by the evidence.
(Originally published at Venabling 13th January 2017)
Yesterday was a fine spring day in Feltham. Accordingly,given the clemency of the weather, we went for a walk in the late afternoon to the nearby disused running track. Later in the evening I saw a message on my phone saying: “How was Feltham Running Track?” Presumably, I had had my phone in my coat pocket and my location had been logged.
This all just alerted me to the fact that technology has made it so easy for us all to be traced. Similar experiences occur after a search has been made online to purchase a certain product. From this ensues the popping up on my screen, of all kinds of adverts for the product I had been searching for.
Now I do not want to get overly paranoid about these happenings, but it does provoke me to muse upon the amount of surveillance there is around. Through my online activity, use of mobile phone, bank/credit card use and car use so much data is available to the authorities about me, my movements, my interests and my activities.
Two thoughts arise:
- I should be careful of my behaviour. Of course that should always be the case given that we are being watched by our all-seeing and all-knowing God. But, what of our living out of His grace in our lives? We should make sure that nothing could be recorded, with or without the knowledge of ourselves which would mar our testimony for the Lord.
- With all this information available should the authorities turn hostile towards us as Christians (or for any other group for that matter), they could soon trace us and our activities and connections. Such leads on to some natural fear about what may be ahead. But we should be simultaneously reminded of how God knows all and watches over His people for their good.
David observes in Psalm 25:9 how the Lord guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. Humility is a character trait of great value to God. We should be doing everything to cultivate this grace into our lives.
We must immediately confess that it is not a trait that is natural to us. It is pride which naturally characterises us. We want to exalt ourselves and push ourselves forward. It is grace which changes this situation. It is the Lord revealing to us our sinful weakness that starts us in the way of humility. True humility grows when we have God in view. When we see how majestic and magnificent He is, then we start to see ourselves properly; we are humbled.
Whenever we lose sight of the greatness of our God then we start to see ourselves bigger than we ought. Self-promotion starts to develop and we deviate from the way of humility. It is in the presence of God that we see ourselves aright. Every day I should be seeing myself afresh as an unworthy individual wholly dependent on God.
Humility leads to God showing His favour, as our verse teaches us. It shows us how He lovingly guides us into what is right and into His way. And thereby I will be living well. So may humility characterize us as we seek to move forward for the Lord.
Some weeks ago Mark Henderson, who is the Evangelist in our church, preached a sermon on King Josiah it is here At one point he provocatively mentioned about how many books there were about people who had lived half-heartedly for God. Of course, the answer is that there would be none of such. The books that have been written are about Christians who have poured themselves out for the cause of Christ. Only such lives are worthy of being so recorded as to be passed on to the reading public. This is because it is only such lives that are worth the reading public taking an interest in.
There is of course a greater assessment which is to come when God assesses our lives. In 2 Corinthians 5:10, Paul informs the Christians in Corinth of how we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due to us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. In that day God will examine our lives to see whether they are worthy of commendation.
Whether or not people write a book about us is ultimately of no consequence. What is of consequence is the verdict of God upon my life.
Also I need to mention that the Christian publishers may ignore many lives because they are not seen as being sufficiently interesting, but God will never miss a life that is lived wholeheartedly for Him. A wholehearted life can be quietly and effectually lived. Such a life may not impress man, but it will impress God.
Nevertheless Mark’s point stands provocatively challenging as it is only wholehearted lives that are worth recording whether that be by authors or more especially God Himself.
I am concerned here to dwell upon the need for Christians to be studying the Bible. Growing Christians are Bible studying Christians. Moreover, such people are enjoying what it is to be a Christian. So Bible study is essential and thrilling. Particularly I want to address you:
- if you are starting out in Christ and therefore you are new to the Christian life.
- you have drifted in your walk with the Lord and are feeling all is drab and aimless.
- you have been a Christian for many years and want a fresh surge of progress.
- you have time on your hands through some providential happenings.
My simple advice is to get stuck in to studying a book of the Bible. I suggest you start with the one chapter books and build up from them. Get some commentaries and Bible helps. Make notes on what you are learning. Memorize all or apart of what you are studying as well. Above all, don’t let time pass away which can be helpfully used for the study of scripture.
Above all be praying before, whilst and after studying the Bible.
And through this and in this, you will be knowing something of the joy of knowing the Lord.
I was watching a TV programme on crisp making last week. It was noted that as a final part of packaging the crisps, the crisp packets are given a blast of nitrogen. The reason for this is so that the freshness of the crisps could be maintained. Apparently, if they are just allowed to be packaged in a packet with normal air then they lose their freshness far more quickly than if the packet has enhanced nitrogen content.
This led me to muse upon the air that we surround ourselves with. If we are relentlessly just breathing the air of this world then we will soon lose our freshness for the Lord. There will be a certain limpness in our charachter and lifestyle.
The only way of counteracting this drift is to breathe the air of another place. We need to be seeking the Lord through His Word and prayer so that we escape from the air of this world and breathe some other air which will freshen us in our gracious Lord and Master. As a result our characters will be transformed; renewal will take place.
It is my observation that the people who spend time in this other air can be distinguished. There is that freshness about them; that aliveness to the ways of God.
Alas for those who do not enter that heavenly air through prayer and the Word there is a “withering on the vine”. Yes they are true believers, but through failure to seek the Lord they have lost that vitality of life which is found in the Spirit. Just breathing the air of this world will not foster freshness and aliveness in the Lord.
So what of you and me what air are we breathing?