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

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Are You Ok, Meghan?

Please see this video here at approximately 1.56 in. It is a fascinating interaction. It shows how the Duchess of Sussex obviously had a heart-cry that people would really take a interest in her welfare. This had particularly been the case subsequent to the birth of Archie, her son.

So I want to ask you; will people leave your church tomorrow with a heart-cry that no-one had shown an interest in them? I want to challenge you (and me) to be the ones who make sure that does not happen. So to the person:

  • Whose spouse has turned from the Lord, ask them how the situation is now.
  • Who has been out-of-work, ask about the job applications and their prospects.
  • With a difficult marriage, ask about the present situation.
  • who is struggling with depression, ask how they finding help to get through the situation.
  • With health difficulties, enquire about their health.
  • Recently diagnosed with serious illness, express your concern for them and ask whether they need any help.
  • With young children, ask how they are coping with all the demands of full -on parenting.
  • Who is a full-time, carer ask how they are coping with the relentless demands of that situation.
  • In work, ask how they are coping with the demands laid on them.
  • At school, ask them about their studies and the pressures they are experiencing
  • Who is a parent ask how their children are getting on spiritually.

Overall right now get your heart in tune with God’s and go and care for your brothers and sisters tomorrow in church. If such is the case you will be engaging in a big, big ministry. And that ministry will be even bigger if you pray with and for those people.

And if you are the person with that heart-cry yearning for others to take interest in you Can I say four things:

  1. It may be best you find someone who you know well, who you are sure will show interest in you and listen.
  2. You go up to others ask them about their difficulties and situations. An outward loving interest in others can be the means the Lord uses to help you through your perplexities.
  3. If no-one shows interest in you; remember that you have a Father in heaven who will always care for you and take an interest in you.
  4. Don’t berate the state of your church if no-one takes an interest in you. We do not always get everything right for each other. Sometimes we fail each other. Your best response to such failure is to be a loving example yourself.

Some Pieces Of Gold

I have written about the hymn “Count your many blessings” here. Yesterday, I had several blessings to count, each one portraying the observable workings of the Lord. Here are eight pieces of gold I want to treasure:

  • A sister delighting in how, after many years; many wild and rebellious years, a lady (the daughter of a friend) in her thirties had, the previous day, confessed Jesus as her Lord and Saviour.
  • A sister, who had kept in touch with a younger sister in the Lord after she had long-moved on from Feltham, was being used to counsel the younger sister through some hard times.
  • A younger sister, was rejoicing in how she had been rebuked by a brother in the church concerning an issue. Yes, she was rejoining and thankful. Rejoicing because the man had loved her enough to want to speak to her about the issue.
  • A group of sisters getting together to study the Word.
  • A lady who had never been to a prayer meeting attending the morning prayer meeting
  • A younger brother from church spent the day involved in an apologetic ministry in central London
  • I faced a situation with calmness and peace. This was something to treasure because it was a situation I had previously felt prone to go into with anger and frustration. The Lord does answer prayer.
  • I received a sweet email telling me how i had misunderstood a matter. It was presented in such a gracious and encouraging way. A model for good email communication.

And I am led to praise the Lord and consider that the Lord is alive and working. And so i give Him all the praise. I want to pick up each piece of gold and treasure it and admire the Lord’s working in each.

Faith Brightens Everything

In the Book of Ruth Naomi is a key figure. It she that Ruth returns with from Moab in ch1. Naomi’s demeanour initially is very negative. She can only speak of God being against her as she says: “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me (Ruth 1:20).

When she and Ruth do start to settle, she is of little help to Ruth who seems to have some initiative about getting things sorted out for them (see Ruth 2:2). Alas, Naomi does not seem to advise or assist.

Everything changes though, in Ruth 2:20 when we read And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” Previously she had been speaking negatively of the Lord, now she is positive. Previously she was negative and miserable. Suddenly she is transformed into a bright and active lady.

So we see the lady who previously had been of no help to Ruth is making plans to secure Ruth’s future. Ruth 3:1-4 reveal an active mind presenting plans to Ruth for the rescuing of their case.

The problem for Naomi and Ruth had been their destitute condition. They were both widows and were looking at a life of penury. However, there had been a deeper problem in Naomi; there was absolutely no faith in the living God. She had lost all sense that the Lord had a good purpose for them. So the early part of the book sees Ruth wallowing in faithless misery.

But suddenly in 2:20 faith arises. She sees that in Boaz there is a kinsman-redeemer who is fully equipped and suitably placed to rescue their situation. Suddenly she sees what could be, rather than what was not. Faith transforms the whole situation.

Eventually we see Ruth cradling in her arms the One who would be the forbear of Messiah. We read these beautiful words in Ruth 4:14-17:

Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. And the women of the neighbourhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. 

Oh what a difference faith makes. So have faith in the God of good purpose in 2020.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

Our society is full of them; excuses. Excuses for bad behaviour abound. It was my upbringing; it is my circumstances; it is my spouse who drives me to do this; it is my health situation. And of course, the one used perhaps most prolifically; I was provoked. All of these and many others are brought forward to excuse actions which harm others and are reprehensible in the sight of God. In making these excuses we expect a free pass from any examination of our actions.

Moses in Numbers 20:1-13 had a ready made set of excuses. In this passage he loses his temper and disobeys the Lord’s command striking the rock twice rather than speaking to the rock (see Num. 20:8-11). As a result the Lord’s judgement falls. We read  And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” (Num. 20:12).

Moses had plenty of excuses that could have been brought forward to excuse his action:

  1. His sister had just died
  2. The people had no water again.
  3. The people he was called to lead were complaining again
  4. The people were blaming him and Aaron, his brother, for their problems.

Each one could have been a valid excuse we might deem. However, not so with the Lord. Sin is sin and Moses as a leader of God’s people should have known better. To his credit Moses never marshalled any of these excuses in his defence. He simply accepted what was a great disappointment to him; he was not going to be able to lead the people into the land.

Alas, in the church of our Lord Jesus, we can be quick to get our excuses in rather than repent of our sin. Such an approach is ungodly. Let us be quick repenters rather than quick excuse finders. Of course, it is better to go one better and that is not to sin. And in that case we remember that when we are feeling under strain amidst the circumstances of life: Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:16).

Jerry’s Funeral Statement

Below is a somewhat unique document. Jerry Haglund who passed away to be with the Lord on August 13th 2007 wrote this so that it could be read at his funeral.  I have set it down exactly as Jerry wrote it.

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Some funerals are less sad than others! You may think that this is a strange statement to make, so let me explain what I mean.

Christians believe the words of the Lord Jesus Christ (as God incarnate) when He said,”Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3. Again “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish , but have everlasting life.”John 3:15 and “For God so loved the world , that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”   John 3:16

I believe that in June 1952, when I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour, I received the gift of eternal life. Further, I believe that at the moment that I died I went into the presence of God. Paul under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, when he was writing to the Christians in Philippi said, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”

Therefore my funeral is less sad for those present here today who are Christians, for they know that I am in the presence of the Lord . Many who conduct funeral services will, I believe, have a lot of explaining to do to God for deceiving people. To sum up their messages to their congregation is ‘rest assured that your loved one is now at peace and in the presence of the Lord.’ even though they may not have committed their lives to God, or prayed, or read the bible, or worshiped God , that somehow it will all be forgotten of God.

It is a fact of human nature that we are to accept the pleasant facts of life, but ignore the unpleasant ones. To sum up, there is a hell to be shunned and a heaven to be gained ; and heaven is not gained by good works, but by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as one’s personal Saviour, believing that when he died on the cross it was able to pay the penalty for our sin. I do hope that all present here today, by faith, with assurance that they know their eternal destiny will be in heaven in the presence of God.

Strange Happenings

Associated with the account of the healing of the man who had been an invalid for thirty eight years in John 5:1-16 is some strangeness. What I refer to is the clearly implied recognition that through the stirring of the water at the pool of Bethesda, someone was actually healed when they were the first to get into the pool upon the stirring.

It is interesting that the Lord makes no comment at all upon this strange happening. And we simply have to accept it as a strange happening, with there being no explanation given. The Lord did not even rebuke the invalid for looking to get healing in the pool. Simply the account in John 5 leaves the whole happening as a mysterious event.

The important thing though, that the Lord does is to direct the man to look to Himself and Himself alone for help. He directs him away from the pool to Himself as Lord of this situation; Lord of his physical and spiritual welfare. The man must know that it is in the Lord himself that He will find transformation. So we read:  Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked (John 5:8-9a).

There are many unexplained happenings that we might come across in life and ministry. Such occurrences are not to pre-occupy us though. Sometimes strange things happen; we might not now why; the Lord gives no explanation of what happened in this instance and very likely we might not be able to explain many things. What is important though is that we should not get diverted by seeking to dwell upon and investigate these strangenesses.

Rather we should always be pointing people to the Lord Jesus. I fear that many Christians if they had been eye-witnesses of this event would be thrown into a state of ferment, not by the Lord’s miracle, but by the pool’s stirring and all that happened as a result.

There are so many things that we can’t explain whether they be natural or supernatural. What really matters though is whether someone has embraced the transforming grace that is in Christ Jesus. Let us give up our fascinations with strange events and give our full embrace and attention to the mighty saving grace of our Lord.

India (7)

I returned from India to the UK on Wednesday (18th). It was a good journey back. It included the interminable waiting in queues at Chennai airport and a three hour stopover in the majestic Muscat airport. It is good to be home.

It is simply remarkable that in all my travelling on the roads in India I did not see one accident or vehicular altercation; nothing. It is remarkable because of the seeming chaos of so much of the happenings on the roads. Vehicles and pedestrians so often mingle in a whirl of confusion and throw in a few cows and dogs and superficially you have a cocktail for carnage. Yet all emerged to see another day on the Indian roads I witnessed. I really did see some crazy stuff and of course plenty of horn blowing, particularly in Chennai.

Being served so attentively and graciously by so many people was a real privilege. This was particularly manifest at meal times. The general pattern was for the ladies to serve you and then eat later. I found this somewhat uncomfortable given our pattern in the West of all eating together. Eating together also displays a sense of how food is bringing us together around one table. However, this does not take away from the beauty of the attitude of serving that was continually on display.

It was marvellous to encounter so many different people. One striking memory is of the family from Cochin who have given themselves to scripture memorisation. And we are not speaking of odd verses, we are talking about whole books. Ephesians, Colossians and more. It was a privilege to hear the father recite Ephesians 1 in Malayalam. Made me think much about the need to encourage scripture memorisation and recitation. How valuable it is to hide the Word of God in our hearts.

And amongst the believing communities of God’s people i encountered there was the desire to work out their faith. Different ones struggling in different ways. Some strict some less strict. Some working out their faith amidst struggles of childlessness, Hindu persecution, communal Christianity, missionary work, doctrinal weakness etc. Yet all wanting to serve Christ.

It was great to participate in the baptism of a lady and her grandmother in Machillipatnam. Beautiful to see them confess their faith. It perplexed me somewhat that it was at about 7.45 on a Saturday morning after all the church had been busy serving the previous evening till after 10.00.pm. But nevertheless a joy to see Lily Grace and her grandmother of Hindu background profess the Lord.

The reality of poverty and wealth is very much on display. The Phoenix Centre in Velacherry, Chennai was very much like any mall that you would find in the West such as Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush. But shacks and beggars told another story.

And there was so much more. I have experienced so much and am inevitably am changed. The degree and detail of that I am unsure of. Certain matters were the Lord’s personal dealings with me.  I thank the Lord for the privilege of being able to visit India.

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