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

Archive for the ‘Christian Life’ Category

Advice

Here is a fascinating article about the seeking of advice by parents. Tim Challies makes two recommendation for parents:

  1. Find a couple who have parented children and their children are now into their twenties. Such children you perceive to be wholesome, well developed individuals. Seek out such a couple and speak to them about parenting. Seek their advice.
  2. Get that couple to observe your family and to give their view of your parenting. You give  them a free invitation into your family and welcome their counsel.

This seems to be such sound counsel and well worth heeding for the parents of any younger children.

However, the principle also applies in all sorts of areas of life. It can apply at work and in engaging in different kinds of service.

If you are a preacher seeking to taking your first steps in preaching then follow the two stages Tim Challies mentions and you will be well.

Similarly for those who are married seek out a godly couple who have progressed healthily in their marriage over many years.

We need to be deliberate about these things. We need to be open to being corrected.

I fear that there is so much wisdom and good counsel that goes untapped because we are all so self-contained. Dare I say that at the heart of this issue is a sense of  pride that I will be able to do it myself.

The article also refers to the problem of millennials just looking online for advice and the constant tendency to only reference your peers for advice. When seeking advice it is best as a general principle to go to those who are older: those who have passed through the seasons of life.

Our churches, families and communities will be prospered and helped when we are seeking and giving advice with freedom and receptivity.

Pig-Head or Snowflake

Criticism comes in the normal course of life. Criticism comes in seeking to serve the Lord. There should be no surprise that if the master suffered criticism then won’t that be true of his servants as well? So we read in Matthew 10:24-25:

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

But what do we do when criticism comes? Are we “pig-heads” or “snowflakes”?

Pig-Heads say “Stuff you with whatever you say, I am going to do it this way and if you don’t like it you will have to lump it.”

Snowflakes says “If you have said it, it must be right. I must do what you say straight-away. I will do whatever you say, yes sir, no sir; three bags full sir.”

So where do each of us sit with these responses. I suggest we are all somewhere on a spectrum here between pig-heads and snowflakes.

But how should we respond to criticism. I have written about how we should respond to a rebuke here. I post some further thoughts;

  • Always listen to what the person has to say. Seek calcification if necessary, but don’t pursue every detail ad nauseam.
  • Listen courteously and thank them for their observations which have very likely not been easy to deliver.
  • Consider what has been said and pray over it.
  • Seek advice and other counsel from those you trust.
  • Consider who has made the criticism and of what character, wisdom and maturity they are.
  • Respond and adopt the observations which you think are legitimate.
  • Reject those which you believe do not hold up.

Then move on with your life.  We need to embrace something of Paul’s attitude: But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.(Phil 3:13b-14).  Continually revisiting what has been said can keep you from the task in hand which is to serve God and be for Him.

 

Got To Leave It Behind

It happened about approximately 9.10 am on Thursday July 4th. I was travelling northwards on the A312 and approaching the A4 Waggoners Junction. And then this white car just cut across from the inside lane. There was no need for it. Absolutely no need; seeing he could go in the direction he wanted to in the lane he was in. And I wanted to know why? Why did he do it? Alas the chances of me ever finding out are infinitely small.

Such situations could be multiplied many times over in the general maelstrom of life. Perplexities come and conundrums go and there is no way of ever obtaining closure through understanding. Someone cutting me up on the road is, in the grand scheme of things, a puny event. However, there are events of a greater magnitude wherein there is so much emotional turmoil and distress embroiled. But what are we to do.?

We have to leave these things behind. As Paul said to the Philippians  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil.3:13-14). To not leave these things behind leads to us never moving on. 

We must be clear this does not refer to those matters where we have to properly face up to the prevailing issues and deal with them. This very likely will mean discussion , explanation, repentance and forgiveness. Perhaps it may means resorting to a court of law. Although i do note that scripture’s injunction is that Christians should never take other Christians to court (see 1 Cor. 6:1-18).

But we do need to leave what needs to be left behind. I could start my investigation as regards to who was in that car that cut me up. but where does it lead? I may get answers i may not, but where does it leave me. So many waste their lives away seeking justice. And yet to what end? Very likely the only life that is wrecked in their process is their own life.

So I can my life and see there are so many issues I would like answers to. But I see no way of achieving that. and in may cases if I could get answers i would not be benefited at all. So I must press forward leaving behind what is behind.

The Lord says to us in Hebrews 12:1-12: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Let us not allow the past to entangle us. Let us lay it aside and press on.

You Must Have Time With The Lord

This is essential for the Christian; you must have your personal time alone with Him. You put your life in peril if you do not. Church fellowship is essential and we need to be experiencing that to grow in the Lord. Worshipping in the family at home  must also be there in our schedules. But we must not neglect being in the secret place with the Lord.

You have to find out what works for you. You may be able to operate on a spontaneous basis, whereby in the natural flow of life you are having space to worship the Lord and be with Him. However, for most of us, I suggest, that this is not the case, We need to be more disciplined. we need to set aside a specific time to be alone with our Father and our Lord Jesus. Regular habits are normally good in this respect.

And if your Quiet Time or personal time with the Lord is becoming dull and lacklustre then mix it up. Try whatever works. Try reading a few passages of good Christ centred books. The Puritans are good here and Richard Sibbes is always a good place to start. Try prayer lists. In all this make sure that your prayings and worshippings are Bible framed so you must have the Word.

Living Christians are always God’s presence Christians. No time in the presence of the Lord means death to your soul and impoverishment in spiritual desires and worship.

And of course our Lord Jesus sets the pattern here. He was so keen to spend time with his Father that he would get up early to make sure it happened. Perhaps that is what you need to do (and me). You need to be thinking about getting up a bit earlier and having time in His presence.

I have written about personal devotions at further length here if you are interested.

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.

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