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

Leading In Repentance.

This post from last week leads me to think about how leaders should demonstrate their leadership in repentance. This is essentially counter-intuitive because the thinking of the world is that you have to prove yourself to be strong and in control if you are a leader. However the godly leader is not of that ilk.

The model of our leadership is a Saviour who was humble and lowly of heart. Now our Saviour never had to repent of any sin. However for us who are weak in our beings and prone to wander from the ways of God there should be the readiness to repent.

This so important because it is how we display the gospel into our family and into our church. Parents and church leaders who are not repenters set a bad example to those under their care. The gospel we affirm, after all, is a message which has its fulcrum in repentance. Gospel grace swings into our lives when there is repentance. Forgiveness is experienced when there is repentance.

So parents and church leaders make sure that you are a leader in repentance. Children and church members who see their leaders ever proving their strength and refusing to face up to their sins are hindered from seeing the gospel clearly displayed before them.

The Way Of The World.

We were considering the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand men (and women and children) with a small group aged 10 to 17 at church last week. We read this in John 6:5-7

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’

The response of Philip led us to ponder upon the way that this world thinks. Amongst us, and this was not from me, we noted that the way of the world is to think of “money, shops and the things you can see”. I felt that was quite a pithy, but very helpful description of the world in which we live. In fact Philips’ words would indicate that these reflect a mindset which permeates the ages.

Sadly it is not the way of thinking that helps to deal with the real issues of life and to find ultimate solutions. That way of thinking focuses on Jesus Christ as the miracle-working Lord of eternity. When He steps into a situation he brings satisfying transformation. “Money, shops and the things you can see” always lead to an ache for more. When Jesus comes and intervenes there is always satisfaction.

So in the feeding of the five thousand we read that all the people had as much as they wanted (v11b) and they had all had enough to eat (v12a)

Amidst the issues of life. Do we look to the way of the world or the way of Jesus?

Would I Wish To Be Accursed.

Paul has explained the glorious gospel of the glorious grace of our glorious God and then declares with overwhelming profundity in Romans 9:1-3a:

I speak the truth in Christ – I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit – I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. 

What a statement that is. He has such an overwhelming gospel love for his own people, the nation of Israel, that he would even wish himself to be accursed should that lead them into blessing in Christ.

Imagine that! He would even be happy to take eternal punishment through bearing the curse of God because of his sin. He would be willing to endure being cut off from Christ in order that others would enjoy eternal gospel blessing.

I must confess I stumble at that, I hesitate at that and yet I am overwhelmingly challenged by that. I feel that my heart is way away from the heart of the apostle Paul. My love for others is pitiful in comparison to his love.

But oh for some stirring in my heart to have some of this gospel love for my family, for my friends, for my colleagues, for my community, for my nations. Oh Lord stir me with gospel love.

Here is the BBC report on the death on November 17th (last week)  of the American missionary, John Allen Chau. His willingness to give up all, even life itself, so that others might know the love of God in Christ Jesus is surely the love of God in demonstration. It is must be truly Christ-like self-sacrificial love.

It is reminiscent of the desire of the five American missionaries to reach the Auca Indians back in the 1950’s (see here for basic details).

I am challenged and effected as to how much my life reflects this self-denying love. Am I constrained / compelled by the love of Christ (see 2 Cor. 5:14). I preached on that at our church back in September the audio is here. But how much am I living the message I preached? And now we have this portrayal before us in the life of Mr Chau. In all his weakness, he was willing to risk his life to teh end taht others might have life.

In his letters shortly before his death he mentions about who will step up to take his place if he is taken. Sobering words indeed.

So how seriously do we take the great commission to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19a)? How much am I longing to see people gathered around the throne of God praising God in their own language?

Depression (What You Eat).

Over the past couple of months (since the end of August) I have sought to change my diet in order to benefit my mental and emotional health, I generally had quite a bad summer in these respects. So I have sought to eat the following foods; see here for further information

  1. Leafy greens
  2. Walnuts
  3. Avocados
  4. Berries
  5. Mushrooms
  6. Onions
  7. Tomatoes
  8. Beans
  9. Seeds
  10. Apples

I have also sought to avoid the following foods; see here and here for further information:

  1. Sugar
  2. Processed foods
  3. Caffeine
  4. Fruit juices
  5. Breads / Cakes / Biscuits
  6. Salt

I have had more than two months without taking anti-depressants which is the longest period since I first started taking them in October 2002. I have certainly felt much better in my mental and emotional health. I do not know what the future holds; tomorrow i could be in mental / emotional free-fall. However, I have certainly noticed a beneficial change thus far.

  • The biblical frame is that men and women come together for marriage. You should never “date” or “go out” with someone unless you feel there is some prospect that you might marry this person.
  • Casual dating should not be considered.
  • Clear communication must be had with the sister in Christ you are considering going out with so that there is no confusion as regards to each other’s intentions.
  • You are the man and in God’s order of things you have responsibility to lead things from the beginning. You should be the initiative taker.
  • You should only go out with another believer. It is wrong to be unequally yoked. The Lord says in 2 Corinthians 6:14  Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 
  • Start by praying and reading the Bible together. Make that a key ingredient of your relationship right from the beginning.
  • Don’t be insular. Yes “go out” together, but make sure you mix with others. You will find out a lot about the young lady’s character through this (and she about yours).
  • Encourage each other to be going to church.
  • Going back to the biblical frame, the fundamental character of a male/female relationship being established is that the woman leaves her parents home to join the man in the new marital home (see Gen. 2:24). Regard should be had so that the parents of the sister are respected and at some point the father approached as regards to taking his daughter into marriage, should the relationship develop that way.
  • Make sure that you are very careful about the physical aspects of your relationship. Sex outside of marriage is wrong. But stirring up feelings through amorous contact is wrong too. The Spirit says in Hebrews 13:4: Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
  • Before marriage you are exploring whether you are compatible in the Lord and in marriage. The physical aspects of the relationship are for marriage. It is good therefore outside of marriage to make sure that certain parts of your body do not come into contact.
  • Any woman should have nothing to do with a man who disrespects her so much that he would “try it on” before marriage.
  • If you are in a relationship and you realise that it is not working out, then you should be clear with the lady involved. You must not let things drift on and let feelings  become intensified.

The Deceitfulness of Wealth

In Matthew 13:22 we read The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. These words are part of our Savior’s explanation of the parable of the sower (or soils). In reading the passage this morning, I was particularly struck by the phrase “the deceitfulness of wealth”. In our Lord’s explanation he is indicating that the good Word of God does not go on to bear fruit in the lives of certain people because, for one reason, it is choked by the deceitfulness of riches.

To be deceitful is to make false claims that deny reality. So how are riches deceitful?

  • Riches offer us a happy contented life. However, they so often deliver stressful lives as we have so much property to care for and bank accounts to manage.
  • Wealth offers happiness. However, the wealthiest people are often the most miserable people.
  • Riches offer freedom to do what I wnat. However, health, relationships and force of circumstances mitigate against this.
  • Wealth offers permanent blessings all “on tap” as I use my card and drain from my abundant bank account. However, eternity dawns and we find the riches of this world are useless to bring salvation to the soul.
  • Wealth says that I can buy my way to perfect relationships. The wretchedness of my heart wrecks such dreams as so easily I sin against my nearest and dearest.
  • Riches offer to be a friend to help me become what I should be. Alas in the end they become a tyrannical god and kill my soul in this world and the next.

Whether we have lots of money or little money we can still be duped into thinking that money will buy me anything. Money is a great friend, but a terrible master.

 

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