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

Archive for the ‘Christian Life’ Category

What’s My Impact?

David Powlison, a key man in the development of the biblical counselling movement over the past thirty years, passed to be with his Lord on June 7th 2019.

Kevin de Young writes of him here. One comment he makes is: Without exaggeration I can say that I walked away from every encounter with David wanting to know God more and love people better. After reading that I am left thinking: wow what a statement to make! The context, of course, is that Kevin de Young is himself a godly man. An unbeliever may have had a very difference response to meeting Mr Powlison.

Notwithstanding that, it prompts me to think: what is the impact I am having on the lives of others? When others meet me what is the impact that I have on them?

The danger for us, Christian people is that we make people think about being religious. We make them think about what they can do to improve their lives; this is laudable in a sense. However, the heart of life is found in our Lord Jesus Christ and through His cross. When our Saviour’s person and work are central in my life I will impacting others to know God more and love people better.

This will be the case because through my Saviour and His cross the Holy Spirit is flowing into my life. And when the Holy Spirit is energising my life I am moving to fulfil the commandments of our Lord. The two-fold summation of the commandments of the Lord is found in Matthew 22:36-39 when the Lord spoke in response to the lawyer  “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” 

The law is summed up in love for God and love for others. May it be that through the Saviour and His cross, by the Holy Spirit my life flows out, like Mr Powlison’s to affect others for good.

What Are You Enjoying?

Our Lord Jesus declared to His disciples  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10b). Our Lord is in the business of granting abundant life to His followers. I feel a lot of us, as Christians, respond to that by wondering how we can enter into this abundant life. One key way is through enjoying fellowship with our God and our Saviour by the Spirit through the study of, and mediation upon, the Word.

Reading the scriptures very easily degenerates into being a duty which we undertake because we have to. There is something good and wholesome in the studying of the scriptures because it is our necessary food. However, we should be concerned if we are not experiencing something of the discovering of beautiful things in the Word of the Lord.

Here is the book which tells of my God and His way of salvation. Therein is the declaration of all of God’s purposes. In it we find the beauties of our Saviour. In fact the whole book is about Him. There is so much to enjoy.

So why am I not enjoying my God and my Saviour through His Word? Possibly it is due to sin; in which case I need to repent. May be, it is because I have never realised that the book has such riches; in which case I need to be stirred up to view the scriptures in a whole new way. Or could it be I have forgotten all about the need for the Holy Spirit to illuminate and bring alive what is in the Word. If that is the case I need to be asking the Holy Spirit to be with me whenever i read the Word.

Whatever way, it is our Father who has ordained that through the Scripture we have so much to enjoy. Real, lasting, satisfying enjoyment comes through reading and meditating on the Word. So what are you enjoying at the moment?

And perhaps it would be so strengthening to our fellowships if we were asking each other more: What are you enjoying at the moment? Then from our lips would be delivered the fresh groceries we have obtained from God’s beautiful superstore in Scripture.

Let’s get reading and studying the scriptures, brothers and sisters in Christ. And let’s get asking the Holy Spirit to reveal His Word and His ways to us.

Charachter

I saw a physiotherapist earlier in the year. She looked like a physiotherapist should look. She was slim; she wore loose fitting, but discreet medical type clothes. She was clean and her personal hygiene gave no cause for distraction. She looked the part. Her presentation “fitted the bill” for what her calling was. As a result I was put at ease concerning her treating me for my ailment

This leads me to consider the issue of how much we reflect in our lives, of what we profess in being Christians. Now, if the physiotherapist did not present in a certain way i would question whether she was a proper physiotherapist. Similarly there are expectations people have about how we present as Christians. As Christians if we present as miserable, stroppy, complaining, angry, bitter and a miscellany of similar attitudes then we deny our profession.

And when we contradict our profession in this way we give a certain message to people. And that is that the Christian message, that we profess, is not able to change lives for good.

A Christian living a life which is not commensurate with our calling is a deterrent for others coming to experience the medicine of the soul which our Saviour dispenses. Moreover, when we speak of the gospel of grace people will not hear because of the noise of our graceless lives.

Digging Yourself Into A Hole

My withdrawal from work and church life consequent upon my depression was a quite a heart-wrenching experience. Through the night on January 16th/17th everything changed. Through disturbed sleep, I gradually moved from a position of contemplating how I was going to arrange myself so as to get through what was ahead, to a position where I had concluded that I had to pull out of everything.

At the heart of myself reaching this conclusion was the awareness that I was only digging myself increasingly into a hole. I had gone on since December 19th thinking that I would right myself and be stabilized mentally and emotionally so as to be able to move forward. Reluctantly I had to conclude by January 17th that I was only going further down and there was no stabilizing and rising up. If carried on I reckoned, I would only drive myself further down.

I believe in retrospect this was the sensible thing to do and was important as regards to me re-establishing myself.

Moreover, I want to assert, that there is a general principle of life here which we need to be willing to apply. There are times when we have to admit that to continue in a certain course is only going to have harmful consequences. In such a situation we have to admit defeat and pull back. To do otherwise is to prejudice the welfare of ourselves and possibly many others. I believe if I had not pulled out it would have been detrimental to the welfare of my family and church.

To admit that the pursuit of a certain course is harmful is not easy, but it is wise. However, there must be discernment between copping out and pulling out. The former is a character fault because it indicates that we will not stick with something when we should. The latter is a character asset because it means we do not continue with something when we should not. To discern between the two is very often not easy, but it is essential that we are aware that the two are necessary to healthy living.

 

“I Am From Paraguay”

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:-

  1. He does not have a Paraguayan passport.
  2. He was born in the UK and has been resident there for his whole life.
  3. He has never been to Paraguay.
  4. 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:-

  1. He does not go to church.
  2. He believes that being a Christian is about seeking to do lots of good works.
  3. He has neither been baptised nor ever been a church member.
  4. 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)

Church Newsletter

Here is our church newsletter for April 2019. It has an article about “Real Christianity.”

We No Longer Have The “Old Man”

Christians often use statements referring to how they are battling with the “old man”. But is this really accurate? Do we still have the “old man”?

Paul writes this in Romans 6:6-7 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin –  because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. At the moment we become Christians we are finished with the old self; the old man is crucified with Christ. Sin used to dominate in that life which I had before I was saved, but when I became a Christian the old man, given over to sinful pursuits, was slain. On the ,contrary we are now new men. We are new because of Christ. The teaching of Romans 6 is that through the gospel we have been re-wired. So rather than being dominated by sin, we are now dominated by righteousness. The inclination of the new man is predisposed towards righteousness.

So the life story of every Christian is like this. Before they we saved, they had the old man. After they were converted, they are remade as new people. As Paul says to the Corinthians: “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!’ (2 Cor. 5:17).

We must state here, though, that although we do not have the old man; we do most definitely still have the old nature; we have the flesh. We do still have within us a nature which is set on doing wrong. Paul writes in Romans 7:18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. The Christian cannot be dominated by sin, but he can be plagued by sin. The bent of every Christian is towards righteousness; this is the reason why sin is so detestable to the Christian.

Paul further teaches in Ephesians 4: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” The main idea in this passage is that the Christian is to be who they are. More correctly the text should say that they have put off the old self which is corrupted in evil desires and have put on the new man which is created to be like God in righteousness and holiness. Given that this has happened, they should now live as new people who are finished with the past.

The teaching in Colossians 3:5-10 is similar. Here Paul addresses the Colossians and says: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

So most wonderfully, fellow Christians, we no longer have the old man. Given that God has worked this so wonderfully for us, let us make sure we live as new people risen in Christ.

(Originally published at Venabling on January 30 2014)

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