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

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

My Dad

My Dad would have been 95 today and I do so very much miss him. I share this which I wrote shortly after his passing:-

——————————————————-

During the afternoon of Tuesday January 3rd 2006 a great man passed away. Clarence Venables died in Chapel Brook Nursing Home in Congleton. This man who lived all his days in a small village in a pleasant part of rural England was a great man. Not known outside of a relatively small circle and yet a great man. How do we measure greatness? One way is to consider the beneficial impact that a man has on the lives of others.

A great family man Married to Evelyn for nearly 54 years (they were due to celebrate their anniversary on January 9th), he kept to his wedding vows in loving and cherishing his wife over this long period of time. And was it all straight forward? Of course not! Whenever is marriage all straight forward! And yet through joys and sorrows, easy times and hard times; he continued as a devoted husband.

Four children were given to them in marriage; John, Christine, Andrew and Philip who were born over ten years between 1952 and 1962. Through diligent hard work he provided for his family so that they never lacked. All were supported in their chosen careers. He never wavered in his duty to be a supportive father. Even when they grew older he was always there as a wise elder statesman to give his caring wisdom. For example, when John was going through hard days as he settled at High Lees Dad was there to call upon for support and give advice.

His family being together was always special and important to him. He was perhaps never happier than on those occasions when his children and grandchildren were surrounding him. There was, no doubt, some poetic providential beauty in the family gathering which took place at Mere View when all children and grandchildren were together on the night before he died. Of course he was absent, but it would have been such a special joy to him.

A great farmer He took on the tenancy of Hills Green Farm upon his marriage in 1952. He thereby was involved in managing the farm over a period of unprecedented change in the agricultural industry. Under his capable management the farm changed and moved forward. He farmed with due care for his animals and the countryside where he was privileged to work. He saw the business through great transitions whilst gradually from 1968 transferring responsibility to his sons; first John and then to Andrew.

A great employer His employees always would know his reasonableness. He expected them to work and work hard, but never exploited them. Due wages were always paid on time. Workers were always supported. He stood by his staff during their difficulties when possibly others would not have been so understanding.

A great community man He served his local community with diligence. His main contribution was in his service to the Siddington Parish Council which he served as a member from 1972 until 2002 being Chairman from 1982 until 1985. True to his character he fulfilled his duties with undemonstrative reliability.

Further he was a National Farmers Union (NFU) member. He served as chairman of the Chelford branch in 1975 to 1976.

A great man of sport Herein lay one of his great interests outside of his farming. All sports were of some interest to him except for motor sports which never really captured him. Football and cricket were his main passions. In the football realm he actively supported, Macclesfield Town, Stoke City, Siddington and Congleton Young Farmers over different periods. He was not the detached analyst rather he was the committed supporter. So at the matches there was always a passionate desire for his team to win. And as a committed supporter he had the natural tendency towards bias.

At different times the children were taken along as Dad would go to support his team. One highlight was in 1971 when they ventured down to Wembley to see Macclesfield triumph in the FA Trophy final against Telford.

Then there was the great love of his summer life; the life on the bowling green. Whether it was for the Dixon Arms or the Chelford NFU teams, he plied his sport with great success. Clarence urging his “woods” on with due fervour was a familiar sight across the bowling greens of Cheshire. Moreover, he treasured the camaraderie that he shared with “friend and foe” alike.

A great visiting man Oh how many people were thankful for a visit from Clarence. Unannounced he would drop round to many who were lonely and desperate for someone to talk to. The widows of Siddington and communities were kept from feeling forgotten and alone because one man cared enough to visit. He surely could have given night classes to teach others the skills of caring visitation.

It is worth noting that in this age when values have been so corrupted it is mark of his integrity that his wife, Evelyn, never had any reason to question his motives in doing this.

He is missed by so many in this respect. He was a man who even in the midst of a busy life had enough time to be kind to so many. He was a generous man.

A great market man He was a man who loved his visits to Chelford Market. His time with other farmers and cattle dealers was special to him as he discussed prices and market movements along with other issues of greater or lesser weight. Monday was a special day for him as it was market day. And after lunch with his group of friends at the market he set off on his round of regular visits.

A great man of principle This perhaps gets to the heart of who Clarence was. This is because he was a man who had firm principles. Through thick and thin he did not depart from the deep seated principles which he had learned in his early days. These convictions undergirded by biblical moral principles were the basis of his operations in the family, business and community spheres. So, for example, there was no working on Sunday other than to do the essential farm work.

With this moral framework determining his conduct he was a man who was respected by so many. A reliable and trustworthy man; one who gave his word and stuck by it. Yet he was not afraid to give a rebuke if he thought someone’s conduct warranted it. Accordingly, he was truly a man to be respected. He knew that money and temporary success were not the key issues in life. Clarence was a selfless man who preferred others rather than himself.

However it must be mentioned that he was not a dour man. He had a splendid understated sense of fun. Many will remember that little twinkle in his eye as something humorous struck him. But in having fun he always sought to maintain purity and it would never be at the expense of others.

A great caring man He was no Pharisee because his commitment to principle never prevented him exercising great care to other people. In fact it was, no doubt, his commitment to principle which drove him on to care for others. The comforting arm around Bunty Reeves as she mourned the loss of her husband, Cyril, at his graveside in early 1981 was just an example of his thoughtfulness.

His daughter, Christine, returning home too late one night from a night out was greeted with an arm of comfort and “I am glad that you are home”. Christine did not need to know that she had done wrong. Such welcoming words were honey to her heart.

A great religious man Brought up in Methodism he switched allegiance to the Anglican Church in the village in the 1970’s upon the closure of the Methodist Chapel. As he outworked his commitment to the church he desired that his children be given opportunity to learn of the things which he believed to be important and be found in the church. He served as a Church Warden and Sidesman at Siddington Church.

A great persevering man Life was not always easy for him. He lost his Mum when he was thirteen. The day was like any other day until he returned home from school to find that his mother had suddenly died. As can be expected this event had a massive impact upon him. What is more, in his late teenage years and early twenties he was particularly afflicted by severe mental troubles. These tendencies in many ways never fully left him and few people know how he fought against depressive illness throughout his whole life. What Winston Churchill called “his black dog” was also an unwanted companion for Clarence.

Herein perhaps lies the key determining factor of Clarence’s greatness. He was great because he accomplished so much even though he had suffered so much. These sufferings would have beaten others who were of a lesser calibre. Perhaps, his wife Evelyn and sister Kathleen are the people who really know the depth of these afflictions which would have destroyed many.

 

Clarence was, then, a great man. The Telegraph will not carry his obituary, but the farming community in Cheshire know that they have lost one of their greatest. We mourn, but we remember; a great husband, a great father, a great farmer, a great friend; …… a great man.

 

Family Time.

We, as a family seek to have our family worship time each evening, Monday to Friday after our evening meal. I have written about “Family Worship” here. Recently, we have introduced the following and so far found them beneficial.

  1. We have started using the New City Catechism (see here). This provides brief questions and answers, along with supporting scripture, to seek to establish us in the truth.
  2. Alongside this resource there are songs which reinforce the truth. These can be found here.
  3. We have used the Operation Word Book before and found it helpful, but it is somewhat unwieldy. We have now started using the online version which is here. This helps us educationally to find out about countries, but most importantly sets us to be praying for countries around the world.

So, thus far, I feel these resources have enhanced our family time and given us some direction in our family worship time.

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”.

Tag Cloud