I went to an occasion a little while ago and it was spoiled by the Master of Ceremonies (MC). The main issue was that he had too much to say for himself. Rather than sweetly and efficiently linking to the next item, he always wanted to have too much of a say about this and that. After a while it became tedious.
Contrariwise I was in a worship setting at around the same time and that was, I suggest, lacking in linkage into the songs. There would have been more engagement with the worship through a sensitive introduction to the songs we were to sing.
This all reminds me of how important it is to lead services and to MC in a suitable way. Sensitivity to the occasion is so very important. You need to remember that you are a servant. You are there to help the people into blessing. The people have not come to hear you and your jokes and your self-indulgence. The people have come for something more important. And if that is a church service it is for the worship of God. You are there consecrating all your being for the service of God and the people.
So we must be prayerful and careful about how we engage with these matters. Carelessness in a coordinating role from the front is reprehensible.
…..and lost than never to have loved at all.” These words are apparently from Alfred Lord Tennyson. Yet they do express biblical truth. They do express a vital truth that you need to be aware of if you are entering into church leadership. So many times you will love and lose. People will reject you, they will misrepresent you, they will say and do all kinds of evil against you. And this even after you have loved them and given your time and energy for them.
But the call of the Christian is to love. As John puts it “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). If we do not love then we have never tasted or have ceased tasting of the love of Christ which has flooded towards us from the cross.
Yet at times we do feel like shriveling into our selfish cocoons. We want to shut down the love-flow so as to not allow ourselves to get hurt again. But to do that is to deny our calling as church elders; in a sense it is to deny our existence. After all the headline virtue in the fruit of the Spirit is love. To stop loving is to strangle the Spirits’s work.
Oh Lord I may have lost many times in love, but give me a fresh anointing to go and love some more. Thank you.
I was responsible for a minor catastrophe this morning; I burnt the porridge. It was like this. I had a few moments before going out for some exercise, so I thought I would be clever and start cooking some porridge so that it would be well on its way to being ready to eat for when we returned.
After being out for awhile it came to my mind that I could not be sure whether I had turned off the gas on the hob or not. I came back post-haste to find a gurgling morass on the stove and a smoke filled kitchen and living room. Forthwith I sought to deal with the damage.
And then I had to face the family and in particular my wife, May Lin.
What shocks me in retrospect is the ease with which self-justification reared its head in my heart. I started to look for other circumstances or people to blame. Shocking really given that I was completely culpable. But was I? Yes of course I was. I had failed to turn the hob off. I had forgotten. I had caused the whole mess.
So I did apologise to one and all and confess that I was wrong.
But what had gone on in my heart still sobers me somewhat. So the truth of Jeremiah 17:9 remains.
The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
Oh Lord deliver me from myself and my waywardness. i need you.
Customer Service arrived as a business phenomena in the early eighties. Previous to that I do not remember hearing of it. Previous to that indeed, people used to give customer service as just part of providing a service to customers! “Customer Service” arrived though and has stayed with us.
Its actual arrival is indicative of a transformation of society. Previously when the values of our society were derived from a biblical world view the expectation was that in providing a service you were motivated to help others and that influenced how you dealt with matters. The reality now is that goods and services are provided so as that I can maximise my personal benefit. This change has happened because of the diminishing of those values historically imbued within society.
Customer service was introduced in order to seek to make sure that the new way of operating did not harm customers unnecessarily. So something that was done naturally before has had to be replaced by a contrivance as society’s values have changed.
Inevitably, though, that contrivance can so very often be lacking in terms of authenticity. People in customer services are performing a duty rather than loving to help those who come to them for help. Hence dealing with customer service can, at times be, a fraught experience.
The average person on the street lives life believing that ‘the more money I have then the more comfort I will have and the more enjoyable life will be’. That is what motivates a lot of people to keep on living. So they just can’t handle it when they find that the wealthiest on the planet are often the ones who are enjoying life the least. Wealth and misery, rather than being aliens existing apart from each other, are often found existing together. Yes they exist very unhappily together, but they are together.
So what does the average person do in response to this empirical evidence? He shrugs his shoulders and says effectively it will be different for me. With me it won’t be like that. And so they go on striving after the money/mammon that perishes and think that the acquisition of such stuff will secure a full life for them.
These musings derive from overhearing a conversation about George Michael who passed away on Christmas Day last year. It was observed that George Michael had so much. Yet the participants in the conversation were aghast that his life could be such a mess. The assumption of course was that wealth and fame in this life must guarantee happiness.
Oh how sad and pathetic is all this. It is like living a perpetual delusion. People always living with the allure of wealth driving them, but failing to process the truth that the palaces of this world are generally not filled with happiness.
And how it should stir us to compassion. Compassion towards those trapped in the ways of this world and foreigners to the life that only comes through Christ. But what about me? Do I have a different life? As a believer in Christ I surely should have. And so we see in Matthew. 6:19-21 how things should be:
‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Oh Lord, that’s the life that matters.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young (Lam. 3:27).
This is the assertion of Jeremiah in the midst of “the hope passage” in Lamentations. There is so much destruction laid before us in Lamentations which means that the hope passage in ch 3 shines the more brightly. If we see this verse in the context of this hope it will persuade us that young men bearing the yoke always brings hope.
The image here is that of service. It is derived from oxen being yoked to an implement in order to labour for a desired end. And the labour involved is generally strenuous and demanding. It is this type of activity we want to see from our younger people.
So if you are a younger person set yourself to have an attitude bent on service. Be continually asking yourself “how can I serve the church and others”? “What can I do in the family so as I can give my time, energies and benefit others?”. When you are visiting others always be thinking in what way can I serve these people.
We so easily default to a position whereby we expect others to do things for us. So many just do not have a “helping others” mentality. Of course this is generally not an activity which brings you a lot of prominence and status. Moreover, it does not gratify the flesh. But it is surely fulfilling the second main summary of the law as stated by our Lord And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matt. 22:39). As we serve others we are surely loving them as ourselves.
And when we see a “how can I serve” generation developing we can be sure that there is hope. We can be hopeful that there is a next generation who will spend and be spent for the benefit of others.
One of the most memorable children’s books I read to the boys when they were young was Fun on the Farm Peter The Pig; The Grand Party. Peter is due to be four years old and he invites all of the farmyard animals to the party. He is looking forward to it and they are looking forward to it. Peter, with enthusiastic zeal, takes upon himself to be chief caterer. With great commitment he produces the food and welcomes his guests. Here upon the narrative reads:-
“Tea is served,” he said very grandly. The animals watched eagerly as he lifted the lids. And then to their horror, they saw what was in the dishes. In one was a huge pile of boiled potato peelings and cabbage stalks , and in the other………PIGSWILL. Poor Peter looked at their shocked faces. “Don’t you like it?” he asked sadly. “It took me ages to prepare. I thought that, as I like it so much you would too.”
Happily Farmer Pippin and Jeannie step into the breach to provide the necessary apple juice, jelly, ice-cream, chocolate cake and frothy milk and so they all had a grand party.
The sobering part of the story is the enthusiastically sensible and yet flawed logic of Peter. He likes the peelings, stalks and pigswill and so he expects that everyone else will. Alas how many times I have had a Peter the Pig moment when I have realised that everybody does not see the world through the same lens as me. Others have different preferences and different tastes. Others have different ways of doing things, And I, in my naivety, have presumed that everyone is like me.
Oh how I need to be thoughtful about these matters. Surely when love and prayerfulness is characterising my being I will know something of being saved from my self-centred perspective on life. After all love thinks about others and love stops and considers how others see things.
Similar musings appeared here previously concerning the tea issue.