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

Archive for the ‘Christian Life’ Category

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.

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)

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