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

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Problems And Solutions.

We breathe in the air of secular humanism constantly in the West. It is the dominating philosophy and we as Christians are relentlessly exposed to its insidious teachings. Continually, we are told that God either does not exist or if He does He is not relevant. The message is that it is material goods and possessions which are vital in determining our welfare. 

In such an atmosphere, all issues are viewed from a resource perspective. So governments are continually responding to matters by ‘throwing money’ at them. Politicians prove their success in dealing with a situation by how much resource has been put into a situation.

Having imbibed this culture we so easily follow suit in how we deal with matters in church. Accordingly, we look to bring blessing through bringing resources. Now, this of course has its place. Taking food resources to an impoverished family is going to bring blessing.

However, the reality is that the core problems of humanity are not to do with resources but to do with relationship. We were created to live in relationship with God and with other human beings. So much of the collapse of our society is to do with relationship breakdown. This may be on a macro scale when many people believe themselves disenfranchised from achieving in society. Or at a micro level with marriage and families in breakdown.

Resources do not rectify these breakdowns. There needs to be something deeper. It is only the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ that can ultimately touch these issues and bring healing. When people are returning to a relationship with God then relationships with others start to heal.

Family Worship

Here is an article on the vital subject of family worship.

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).

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).

Brother.

Who do we refer to as brother? In the flesh this is generally clear because of the physical relationships which define that definition. However, what about in the spiritual realm? In this respect I am speaking here about someone who is a brother in the Lord.

Paul delightfully commends to Philemon the converted slave, Onesimus, with these words: no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord (Phile 1:16). Paul describes Onesimus as a “brother in the Lord.” He has clear evidence that through his conversion Onesimus has now come to join him in the family of God. They now share the same Father and the same Lord; they are brothers. It is a beautiful term with all that it signifies in respect of the grace of God working to create this unique spiritual relationship.

What I am concerned about is the way we use this term. Some of us are unwilling to use it at all and some of us are inclined to use it too easily. As we have already seen it is a biblically appropriate term to use and so we should use it, but who should be called a brother?

In order to use the term there has to be evidence that the person you are referring to is in Christ. Doctrinally and morally there has to be sufficient evidence to justify categorising the person as a brother in the Lord. The term “brother” obviously hints at a relationship derived from a shared parental connection. So we ask, using an alternative term, does this person show that they have been born again from above?

We are not talking here of someone who sees every doctrine the same as us and is walking in sinless perfection, but we are talking about convincing evidence that demonstrates that this person is a Christian. 1 John is the book we go to to assess any claim, whether it be by ourselves personally or others, as to being born again of the Lord. There we see that a true Christian, does not continue in sin, loves other Christians, does not love the world and has the right views of Jesus.

There are two dangers I want to flag up in conclusion as regards using the term “brother” to loosely:

  • When we use the term of someone who is plainly not giving credible evidence that they are a true believer, then our judgment can be questioned by others. Others are less likely to rely upon our words when we are patently so casual in how we use the “brother” term.
  • When we designates someone who is not a believer as a brother in the Lord, then we are not doing them any favours. Rather, we can be encouraging them into a false assurance regarding their salvation.

N.B. I have referred to “brother” in this piece. However, the same issues apply with the use of the term “sister”.

Destabilised Children.

The social experimentation which has driven the collapse of the husband/wife/children family unit has not served us well. In fact it has, and is having, serious consequences for society. One particular way in which this is seen is in the destabilisation of children.

The physical liaison which leads to children being produced is only to be engaged in within marriage. As the Word of the Lord says: Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral (Heb. 13:4). By implication then it should only be in God’s purposes that children are born into marriage. It is in this context that children develop appropriately. It is with a mother and father watching over them and guiding them and caring for them that they develop well. It is interesting that the whole of the book of Proverbs is framed within this perspective. There are no doubt times when the parents are cruel and thereby inflict harm on their children, but it is a general rule that children do best in this family unit. That should be no surprise to us because God’s way is always best.

It is sad to observe children not being brought up in this situation. One thing I observe is how such children are destabilised. They lack the innate security, which having a mother and father working together, brings. It is just not healthy for their development. This makes it alarming that there is a relentless pursuit of “a brave new world” of reinventing the family. Oh! Please, please for the sake of our children stop! Please go back to our Maker’s original plan and all will be so much better! And, in particular, so much better for our children.

 

Why Were We Not Consulted?

In the midst of life all of us are caught in situations where plans are laid, by others, which impact upon us. Sometimes, roles might be reversed and such planning might have to be done by ourselves. This is a common experience in all organisations whether it be in the workplace, in a family, in a church or wherever. The question arises as to how we, as those affected by such arrangements, respond when we are not happy with the plans.

In this context it is interesting to consider the Ephraimites and how they responded to the conquering of the Midianites by Gideon and the people of Israel. The specific passage is in Judges 7:23 – 8:3.

In calling together a force of men to attack the Midianites Gideon had drawn from the tribes of Manassah, Zebulun, Asher and Naphtali (see Judges 6:35). In due course, through the marvellous workings of God, an army of three hundred men gathered from these tribes defeated the vast hordes of the Midianites (see Jud. 7:1-22). It was an incredible victory! In seeking to eliminate any future threat from the Midianites Gideon enlisted the support of the Ephraimites to assist with the cleaning up operations. They duly got involved and were most successful. Their success included capturing two Midianite princes, Oreb and Zeeb (see Jud. 7:23-25).

We look at all this and wonder at such a mighty triumph wrought by God through His people and wonder what could be wrong. However, we soon find that the Ephraimites were miffed. Instead of looking to see how glorious this triumph was in the working out of God’s glorious purposes they were occupied with self-interest. Their “noses were put out” by the fact that Gideon had not approached them when he was gathering his force from the tribes of Israel (see Jud. 8:1). They effectively say “why were WE not consulted in the first place!?” Their response seems to be so out-of-order and yet how often we see this replicated today. In church life when something works out in a way that they do not like then they take issue with the way things have been done.

Notwithstanding how he might have felt Gideon is so amazingly gracious in his response. When you think about how much he had risked through fulfilling God’s call on his life and how he had seen God mightily at work we could almost have excused Gideon for exploding at the the Ephraimites. Nevertheless, he quells any potential bad feeling by his wise and Godly response. He draws the attention of the Ephraimites to how much God had used them in gaining His victory and most graciously downplays his own role (see Jud. 8:2-3).

When we stop and think about it how up-to-date and familiar this all sounds. How often do we hear people complaining in offices, factories (and yes very sadly churches) that “I am not happy because I was not consulted”. Or people say “Nobody spoke to me about this new arrangement and so I am not going to co-operate”.

In the situation, as described in Judges 6-8 it is no doubt possible to say that the Ephraimites had a case. There is no reason given as to why Gideon chose from the tribes which he did. But when you think about:

  • the pressure on Gideon; he was facing a humanly impossible task. The fact that he double-checked God’s calling in Judges 6:36-40 through the putting out of the fleece indicates how overwhelming he felt his task to be.

  • The fact that the outcome was a great victory for God.

  • The Ephraimites had a great role to play in achieving the victory.

When you think about these things the attitude of the Ephraimites surely seems to be completely outrageous.

So the next time you think about complaining that the proper process has not been followed think about these things first and seek to get some perspective:

  • Think of the pressure that those in leadership may well be under. In the church think about the spiritual opposition which the elders are facing. We are not here saying that any deceit or malpractice by the elders should be excused. However, think about giving the benefit of the doubt when the elders do not happen to speak to exactly everybody or call a meeting at the right time when they are seeking to make a decision to move the church forward.

  • Think about the outcome. Is what is taking place as a result of the decision in harmony with God’s word. It may not be exactly what you want, but are you going to stage a boycott or raise a complaint just because it was not organised exactly the way you wanted it.

  • Are you able to fulfil your ministry for God? If you are then praise God.

So the next time you want to take issue with the way decisions have been arrived at at home, work school or in church remember the selfish pre-occupations of the Ephraimites. And remember for for the sake of our LORD to determine to not cause an unnecessary fuss.

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church Newsletter of May 2010)

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