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

Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Personal Appearances

Generally in church, and particularly as an elder, there is need to be great wisdom exercised about how we speak about each other’s personal appearance. Great damage can be done by needless throw away comments which can cause frustration and distress to people.

Humour, in particular, can be particularly destructive. By way of example it is best to steer clear of joking about someone’s summery clothing. You may think that their appearance provokes a response, but is it called for for you to joke about it? The person may have issues of health or personal comfort. If you think their clothing is immodest then you need to speak to the person about it seriously.

Men making comments on the clothing of women, particularly those who are younger to them, should be a completely embargoed. If such is done it can arouse all kinds of feelings in the woman about the man being interested in her.

However, when the clothing of a woman is unseemly and not fulfilling the call of 1 Timothy 2:9-10 to be discrete. The Word there says: likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. In such a situation an elder or older sister should approach the lady involved.

In all this husbands should encourage their wives as regards to appreciating them and treasuring them. They should tell them of how they appreciate their appearance.

I just feel it is area where great care be exercised. In everything we say we need to think about whether this is contributing to building someone up.

Knowing Their Character

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it (2 Tim. 3:14). In this scripture Paul is supporting his insistence that Timothy keep with the Word of God by reminding him about who he had learned that Word from, This instructs us that the character of those who teach us the Word gives extra reason for us to believe that Word.

This is not to say that if the Word is brought to us by someone who we know to be an infidel, or afterwards proves to be an infidel, that we reject the Word. Our Lord said in Matthew 23:2-3 that The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. The Word must be obeyed because it is the Word of the Lord.

Nevertheless we should be doing what we teach. The Word that we teach should be modelled in our lives. This is a big issue for parents and all who teach the Word to others. But it is also a critical issue in our witness generally. It is the power of a godly life which lives out the gospel, that gives credibility to that same gospel when it is shared with others. And thereby there is effective ministry which attracts people to our Lord. It may even be that someone’s sweet testimony for Christ led to you seeking the Lord.

The implication of this is that we must be aware of our proneness to hypocrisy and be vicious in rooting it out in our lives.

This also has implications for the manner in which we conduct our affairs before God. We live in an age of the all-pervasive internet and social media. It has became easy in this digital age, to meet in cyber churches or to get our spiritual food from our favourite Bible teacher online. In such a situation we very likely have no knowledge of the charachter of those who are teaching us. It should not be this way. Knowing the charachter of our teachers is a God-ordained way in which he verifies His message.

This, therefore, gives strong impetus to the need for us to be based in local churches. And in those churches we need to have leaders who do not “ivory tower” themselves. We need those who move among the people so that their lives can be seen. Paul speaks in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 about Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. The leaders were among the church in Thessalonika and that is the way it should be. If you are a church elder you need to be among the people so people can see your character.

This also cautions us against churches becoming to big. If church members are not interacting with those who teach them because the church is simply too big, then means should be put in place to resolve this situation. That may mean refining the organisation of the church,or planting another church.

Definitive Statements

.I want to write here about how people make definitive statements This theme is closely related to that which I wrote about on Tuesday here. I am thinking about how we, without fully considering an issue, hastily rush to make definitive statements on a matter. Accordingly, people’s tendency to impose a narrative, can cause hurt and dismay by the definitive way people speak about situations without having fully considered those situations. Without fully considering a situation people make statements which categorically affirm a certain understanding of the situation or proposed course of action.

What we need to do is fully consider a situation by speaking with either the person or people involved. When we have fully considered a matter we can then make a response. Very often the most generous and tender thing to do is to make suggestions about what you consider the best way forward in the pertaining situation.

I, must emphasize though, that I am not advocating that there should be never definitive statements about anything. A parent who does not clearly establish what has happened when a child has carelessly used a knife and cut themselves. for example is being neglectful. And not to make definite statements about what the child must do is similarly neglectful.

Moreover, when someone has clearly done something wrong, as measured by the Word of God, we should be unhesitating to declare it to be such.

However, we need to be careful about making unconsidered definitive statements. This is, I would observe, very much against the spirit of our social media age where all sorts of things are slung out with unconsidered definiteness. Let us not fall into the trap of following that spirit in our dealing with others.

 

Imposing A Narrative

What I am thinking of here is the issue of how we respond to peoples’ situations. This can be an issue for parents with their children, friends with one another, employers with their employees. In fact it applies in many situations. I want to think about how we interact we the situations of others.

General. In all situations we must impose the narrative of the gospel to understand the situation we are dealing with. The malaise of this world, as manifest in peoples’ lives, is caused by the entrance of sin into this world. The remedy for the issue of sin is the blood of our Lord Jesus. His salvific work to redeem lives, will work ultimately to retrieve this world form disorder and chaos.

There must be great wisdom and sensitivity in applying the gospel narrative into the situation with which we are interacting. Simplistic cause and effect reasoning are very much cautioned against in Luke 13:1-5. That passage reads:

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

However, that passage also indicates that in a destabilized world, it is sin in the world that is the root cause and as sinners we need to repent. In all this our Lord is imposing a gospel narrative on the situation.

Specific. On the other hand when we come to deal with specific situations we need to be wary of imposing any pre-conceived narrative. I have been very much aware of this through my being afflicted with depression. People may or may not have been right about the narrative they were bringing to my situation. However, what took me aback, at times, was the unwillingness to actually establish with me what had happened to me. People either would not ask or, if they did ask, would not listen to what was said.

I am arguing that always before we jump to conclusions we should stop and consider what has happened. This means we actually listen to the person and find out what there experience is and what they have been through to get there.  For parents, I feel we will fulfill the requirement to not exasperate our children (see Eph. 6:4) if we follow this approach.

Always remember, as well, that even though two people are experiencing something identical that does not mean that the causes of that experience are the same. So don’t assume when you come across someone displaying certain things that you have seen in someone before that the cause is the same in both cases.

It is very frustrating to be on the end of certain counsel or certain views about your situation from people you believe have not taken time to find out about your situation.

So my conclusion is when interacting with any situation always impose a gospel narrative, but never impose a personal narrative.

Saturday Nights Are Alright For……………………………….

Well what are Saturday nights alright for?  How you answer that probably all depends on what your thoughts are about Sunday. If you have got no thoughts about Sunday then Saturday night is probably OK for just about anything that takes your fancy. In fact the Saturday night will flow into the Sunday, so it is all just one Saturday night until you emerge from your slumbers mid afternoon on the Sunday.

But if Sunday means something to you then your Saturday night will be affected. This is particularly so for Christians. So fellow Christian what do you think about your Saturday evenings?

The first thing to have in mind on a Saturday evening is that you have got church tomorrow, and therefore you need to remember that you are committed to being with the Lord’s people in the church of which you are a member, in order to worship the Lord with them. Everything you do and think on Saturday evening is permeated by this awareness.

The second thing to do which builds on the first is to prepare for Sunday. If you have filled your mind with junk on a Saturday evening don’t be surprised if church is an empty experience on the Sunday morning.  Perhaps set aside sometime to meditate on Scripture and seek the LORD confessing your sins and getting your soul in good order. And pray over the services of the Lord’s Day ahead; pray for the preacher and all those taking part. Pray that you would be in the right place at the right time to say the right thing and act the right way.  So that you will be a blessing to others.

The third thing to be aware of on a Saturday evening is the impact that you have upon others. This particularly applies if you have got children and even more so when the children are younger. And I cannot emphasize too much the importance of Christian fathers taking the lead here. Christian parents you should be expecting and anticipating that the whole family is going to be in church. So you will arrange everything around this. You will make sure that the kids are in bed in decent time. You will make sure they know what time they need to get up on Sunday. Your whole schedule operates on Saturday night around knowing that you will be in church by the time the service is arranged to start.

And when we see God’s people getting their Saturday nights sorted out, then we will see the whole experience of the Lord’s Day transformed.  What do you think?

(This is an adaptation of a post Originally published at Venabling on 1st June 2015)

Do Not Speak Ill…………………..

……………………………of anyone in and anything about the church. That should be a rule for all Christian parents. It is a “red line” that should never be crossed. Neither to the children nor in front of the children should there be anything said that casts church and/or the people of the church in a negative light.

To do such a thing is to do the devil’s work. We are giving the children reasons not to believe. After all the church is the place which represents God in this world. To be relaying our malice regarding the church to the children is to be showing God’s place and God Himself in a bad light.

Why should our children continue with God and His church when we are declaring that the church that we (and they) attend is full of hypocrites and miscreants.

We are duty bound as Christian parents to present our church in a positive light to our children. They should not grow up suspicious of people in the church because we have spoken ill of our fellow believers. If such is the case they are likely to make their strongest relationships with people outside the church because they cannot trust people in the church.

So fellow Christian parents let us make it a “red line” to never speak ill of the church or its people

Breeding Pharisees.

What kind of people are being bred and produced in our churches and families. This is a big issue to challenge parents and church leaders.

The big danger we face is of producing those who have an outward conformity to accepted standards, but their heart is not in it. They conform to the standards that are presented to them out of obligation or respect, but if they had their own way they would be doing differently.

The issue is an issue of leadership and teaching. Are we law teachers and demonstrators or grace teachers and demonstrators?

Law teachers basically present the rules and say that if you keep them all will be fine. But if you don’t keep them then things are going to go bad.

Those who teach grace are continually drawing their students into the wonderful news that there is acceptance. Naturally we are wrecked and written-off because of our sin. However, there is acceptance with God though our Lord Jesus Christ who once died to take away our sins. In leading this way we present the true way as a way of delight where we can know that we are with God. In teaching this way we want to draw hearts into an appreciation of how much good God has demonstrated in Christ. We, of course, need to be demonstrators of this. Children need to see that their parents are livers of grace.

As grace is presented in all its richness to our congregations and children then we long and pray for a heart response. Such a heart response will lead to lives that are wanting to go on and know the Lord and live to please God.

They live to please God not just to keep the standards, but because they love the One who gave the standards.

Parents, church leaders and all involved in discipleship must remember this.

It must be noted though that law teaching is not excluded by the need to teach grace. In fact the law if properly handled shows the need of grace. So in that sense the law when used properly is a means of grace.

 

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