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

How Do We Greet?

Oh our social interactions are in state of such flux aren’t they. We were apart from one another for a couple of months at the beginning of and now we are starting to interact together in the flesh. But how are we to do it?

This all meshes in with the varying degrees of sensitivity there are among us to the present exceptional circumstances of the coronavirus outbreak.

  • Some are very wary as they are vulnerable on health grounds
  • Some are very wary because they are frightened of getting the virus.
  • Some are very wary and get angry with those who are not as wary as themselves.
  • Some are careful because the government still gives that message.
  • Some are unbothered about themselves, but thoughtful not to be too lax because of others.
  • Some are completely carefree, but respect others
  • Some are carefree and mock others who are not so.

So in this situation as at June 18th how do we greet people? This is a perplexity. If someone is in the carefree category and happy to shake hands or hug how do they know that you are a wary one? Their attempting a handshake could be at best socially awkward and at worst offensive.

I have to confess amidst all this I completely, without thinking, ended up shaking someone’s hand on Tuesday.

Watching the footballers last night it seems that fist bumps and elbow rubs seems to be de rigeur.

I feel that carrying a sign around with me may well be best to declare what I want in terms of greeting. So, through this, you will know what I am happy with. I am not sure how people would react to that though.

So given what the footballers did last night I will say, all things considered, that I am happy with a fist bump. But if you are not then that is no problem.

This issue is set to be a big one in our social interactions over the next few months and although it has its humorous side it also has the potential to cause much offence. As Christians we need to be very sensitive to each other in all this and certainly not be mocking each other.

Coronavirus (7)

With the loosening of the lockdown which we have been in for the nearly three months comes a change in people’s attitudes. Occurrences like this outbreak in China mean that we need to be continually vigilant. We still need to be thoughtful about how we conduct ourselves. I mentioned here about the attitude we should have to the outbreak. However, there are some very practical issues that need to be considered.

Following Advice: We should be careful to continue to follow the advice that is coming from the medical authorities. We should be operating appropriate standards of hygiene and self-isolating where necessary.

Physical contact. To withdraw from social physical contact is easier for some than others. But we all need to continue to exercise discretion. One of the reasons for doing this is to show outsiders that we are thoughtful about not wanting the virus to spread. To embrace and hug each other and carelessly declare that the Lord will take care of me is super-spiritual mumbo-jumbo and should be rejected. I have written about that here.

Help: Some are still having to be very careful. So if we know of those who are self-isolating then we need to be thoughtful about making sure that they have proper resources. So we can buy food for them if necessary.

Sharing: As we can now meet in groups of six let us be thoughtful about taking the initiative to welcome others into our lives. This particularly applies in respect of families welcoming single people.

Getting Involved. We are a people of the Good Samaritan as he is unveiled to us in Luke 10:29-37. There may be times that we simply have to set aside protocol and get involved to help people.

May we continue be a people of love and wisdom at this moment. But may our love not be constrained by wisdom and may our wisdom not cast off love. Let us remember the instruction from Paul to the Colossians:  Walk in wisdom towards outsiders, making the best use of the time (Col. 4:5).

Churches Back Together

In the UK there is still indication that churches will be able to meet together again in the flesh from July 4th. This will no, doubt be with restrictions, but it is a date to aim for. As a result of that plans are necessarily going to have to be made. Here is one document with thorough and helpful advice.

One thing that concerns me as I look towards the transpiration of events over the next few weeks is that of priorities. I fear that much attention is going to be given to practically preparing for returning to our building, whilst not much attention will be given to our hearts.

For some this is because they just so long to be back meeting together in a bodily manner. It is all they have longed for since late March and therefor being back is all they think about.

For others the problem is making sure we follow everything to the nth degree of the regulations and advice of the government. And any departure from the requirements is seen as dangerous. This can lead to a kind of mania of regulation investigation and implementation

For others it is the fear that if we do not put all the relevant precautions in place then we are going to put our health and the health of many others in a perilous danger.

For others it is simply that they love to administer and they love to examine the detail.

Now all of the cases just mentioned have redeeming features and a great deal of it is legitimate. We do long to function as churches; we do want to obey the government: we do want to protect our health and we do want to administer things well.

However, in all this we need to make spiritual preparations a priority. In many ways we potentially return as different churches. Over 100 days will have passed. People have changed; relationships have changed. We need to be thoughtful of what the Lord has been teaching us. We want to go back with the reality of knowing the Spirit of the Lord upon us.

Above all we need to be going back as a humbled and broken people. If we are in such a state then all will be well.We will be set to be used by the Lord in future days.

This all reminds me of the Mary and Martha dichotomy in Luke 10:38-42.

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Martha was not wrong, but Mary was wiser. And what Maratha was doing would have been transformed if she was Mary-like. This is because we are transformed for living and serving when we are Mary-like.

As we face the next few weeks then let us not forget to be Mary-like. Otherwise we will all be planning and preparing like Martha and there are going to be lots of agitation and argument.

The True Servant

John the Baptist was a great servant of the Lord. I want to ponder upon some aspects of his service as they are conveyed in Luke 3:15-20.

He got people thinking (see v15). An anodyne ministry which provokes no-one to wonder and question and ponder is a deficient ministry. In Luke 3:15 we see the people questioning. John the Baptist got people’s minds going.

He pointed people to Christ (see v16). John knew that he was the forerunner to introduce Christ Jesus. He speaks of the majestic superiority of Christ. He thought of himself in terms of the lowliest servant, and that was too high a thought. Tying of laces was only for the most menial of servants at that time.

Judgement (see v17). John preached that was a time of judgement coming. He preached of a time when all must face their maker. He spoke in terms of the either / or of judgement. You are either blown away in unquenchable fire or rescued into the barn. Oh the magnitude of these issues. John was bold in preaching them.

He preached the gospel (seev18). We do not readily think of John the Baptist as a gospel preacher. We read through in v18 that he is preaching the good news.

He was courageous (see vv19-20), John was not afraid to confront the king and confront him about his sin. He did this even though it led him to be imprisoned.

What a faithful man. What a faithful ministry. How about you? How about me? Are we faithful servants who minister like John the Baptist?

The True Disciple

John The Baptist had a major ministry in the purposes of God. His ministry was to prepare for the coming of Messiah. He preached boldly and he preached repentance. In Luke 3:10-14 we see him directing certain groups as to how they would live out their transformed lives. Each group would reveal one characteristic of what should be seen in all the lives of true disciples:

Generosity (see v11): Those with excess possessions were urged to share with those who were deprived. This is not misguided philanthropy which gave to scroungers. Rather it is wise generosity. Every believer should be wisely generous.

Honest (see vv12-13). The tax collectors were known for their dubious practises which lined their own pockets. John told them to be honest. There was to be manipulation of the figures. We should be honest.

Reasonableness (see v14a). Paul would exhort the Philippians to be sweetly reasonable. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand (Phil. 4:5) are Paul’s words. And so were the soldiers to be. They were not to be using force or intimidation to get what they wanted.

Contentment (see v14b). Finally the soldiers were to be contented with their lot. They were not to be agitating. We similarly should be cultivating contentment. The words of Paul ring true again here:Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and[c] we cannot take anything out of the world.But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content (1 Tim. 6:6-8).

 

So if you are a disciple of Jesus Christ you should be generous, honest, reasonable and content. If you do not have these characteristics then you are most likely not a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Church Newsletter

Here is our church newsletter for June 2020. It contains an article on how we are responding to our present coronavirus affected church situation.

I am left wondering about the response by the church in the West to the restrictions that have come upon us as a result of Covid-19 crisis, I want to muse upon this issue from the point of view of history and geography

History.

The Church in the West has for several centuries been in an anomalous situation. We have largely be accepted, even at times celebrated, by the governing authorities specifically and society at large, more generally. I say this is an anomaly because it is not how it has been through much of the world and through much of history.    

It is also an anomaly because it is out of kilter with the ministry of our Master and Lord Jesus. Here is the summary of the ministry of the One we call Master and Lord:

He was despised and rejected by men;
    a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces 
   he was despised, and we esteemed him not (Is. 53:3).

We cannot expect to be accepted if we follow the Saviour who was not accepted. They gave Him a cross as the reward for His love and righteousness. Should we expect anything more for ourselves?

We need to be finished with our comfortable and convenient Christian lives which have been engendered by the welcoming culture around us. Normal Christian living is to know discomfort and be unaccepted.

And we start to get grumpy when the government does not consider us to be essential. Really!!! I think we should probably feel more concerned if they think we are essential.

What is our response to this. Get on and live godly in Christ Jesus. Honour the government and go forward by faith

Geography

Many of our brothers and sisters around the world are living right now as such a people. That is they know what it is to be despised and rejected by the community in which they live. They know the reality of the opprobrium that falls every day because they choose to honour Christ and take up their cross every and follow Him.

The thought of being able to freely gather at a screen and see other brothers and sisters whilst hearing God’s Word and praising His Name is something they can only dream of. And we start to complain because we are not able to meet in the flesh; that concept would be beyond their wildest dreams.

And for those who are able to use online facilities to meet with others they are glad to feast on such scraps of fellowship. Of course they long to meet together, but glad of the mercies which afford them some semblance of fellowship.

Let us not despise our blessings brothers and sisters in Christ. To be restricted from meeting together is not as it should be and we should be longing and working so as to be able to experience that. In the meantime let us not belittle the privileges that we have.

So in all things give thanks. We are privileged in so many ways.

 

 

 

The concept of The Languages of Love was popularised in Gary Chapman’s book. He categorised five of such namely:

  • words of affirmation,
  • acts of service,
  • spending quality time,
  • giving gifts,
  • physical touch.

Broadly, I would feel that they have a certain legitimacy.

What I want to ponder upon here is the issue of how an awareness of these love languages can enhance our preaching.

The tendency is to view life through our love language. So if you are a works of service person you conceive of everyone else in the world as being a works of service person. And if you are a works of service preacher you will preach works of service very big as you seek to apply the Word of God to people.

The first thing we need to be aware of then as preachers is that everyone is not like us.  To work the Word into people’s lives as if everyone is a clone of me, in terms of their satisfactions and desires is to fail in our preaching.

In mentioning this I am not negating the necessity to preach the Word as it stands. That is our primary responsibility, but that Word must be applied to the people in front of me. And very likely all five love languages will be represented in front of me.

 

Stop The Spread

The reasoning behind the lockdowns that have been put in place in so many places around the world is that curtailing the movement and gathering of people will stop the spread of the coronavirus. This is because of the way the virus is transmitted. The spread of the coronavirus is primarily through respiratory droplets. These droplets either spread directly or indirectly from infected surfaces.  This message still seems to be unappreciated by many people.

The reasoning of many people is just quite simply self-centred. They reason that they are not bothered about whether they get the disease or not and therefore they are free to continue with their lives. Christians put a spiritual gloss on this and say that they will carry on with their lives because the Lord will protect them. I have reasoned about this issue here

There is a sense that this is not very loving for four reason:

  1. You may actually be infected with the virus without knowing and therefore be passing it on.
  2. You may be a means of transmitting the virus through being in close contact with others. You can transmit the virus through having it on your hands etc.
  3. If you get infected you are likely to infect others.
  4. If you are contributing to the spread through your undisciplined activities then you are holding back the lifting of restrictions for all.

As we are moving forward with the lifting of the lockdown we, as believers, need to be thoughtful of the law of love for our families, churches and communities.

Further, the authorities can reasonably have a wariness of us because of the understanding that Christians do express their closeness through hugs and handshakes etc. and generally being together. In fact our being “church” and being in community together, mitigates against us being allowed to meet freely. There is a sense that the government’s reluctance to allow us to meet freely is a commendation of us; they actually understand that we function properly when there is open and free contact between us.

We are not like a D-I-Y store where people go to undertake a transaction of goods. We are a place where people meet in community and that is how it should be. Alas, though, that can mean that we are seen as a a greater risk for spreading the virus.

Let us be thoughtful of these matters as we seek to move forward.

Go For Christ

The ice-cream bean fruit grows in South America. It is so-called because of it’s similarity to vanilla ice-cream in appearance and texture. It has remarkable health benefits. These would be:

  1. Helps In treating dysentery
  2. Prevents rheumatism
  3. Eliminates free radicals
  4. Treats nerve problems
  5. Cures headaches
  6. Boosts immunity
  7. Prevents cancer
  8. Helps in weight loss
  9. Helps lower cholesterol levels
  10. Promotes better health

The comparison to normal ice-cream is stark. Live on ice-cream for a month and you will be seriously nutrient deprived. Live on Ice-cream bean fruit for a month and you will be doing nicely.

The world and it’s philosophies and religions is very much like ice-cream. they may be sweet to start with, but in the end a regular diet of them will emaciate your soul.

Whereas the ice-cream bean fruit reminds us of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the true philosophy and religion and in Him there are always healthy vitamins for our lives and souls. Here are a few of the infinite benefits of being in Christ.

  1. Forgiveness of sins
  2. A life to please God.
  3. Eternal Life
  4. Hope of heaven
  5. Family to share life with (the church)
  6. Peace with God.
  7. No condemnation.
  8. A purpose in life
  9. A Priest taking care of us
  10. Right With God

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