Dying well in the face of a world in denial

It is perhaps the most profound thing we ever face either the prospect of our own or the death of a loved one and as a journal noted:

People who are grieving will often report crying spells, some trouble sleeping, and lack of productivity at work. At first, you may find it hard to accept that the loss has actually occurred.

Once the initial shock has worn off, denial of the loss is often replaced by feelings of anger. The anger may be directed toward doctors and nurses, God, other loved ones, yourself, or even the person who has died. You may experience feelings of guilt, with sentiments such as “I should have… “, “I could have… “, or “I wish I had…. ”

Grief is a powerful emotion. It is painful and exhausting. Therefore, it sometimes seems easier to avoid confronting these feelings. However, this approach is not a viable long-term solution. Buried grief can manifest itself later as physical or emotional illness.

 

Today we mark a moment in our villages history when so many houses were racked with the grief at the loss of a loved one. And in that passage we meet that grief head on but it doesn’t stop there.

One lady wrote:

Death can make you question the good. It can make you wonder if there is someone somewhere keeping score. It can make you wonder why you were chosen, why your loved one was chosen. Why me? Why now? Why do bad things happen to good people? You’ll likely never get an answer, but you may always wonder. The thought always lingers there in the back of your mind. It can grow quieter with time, but on the days when you miss your loved one more than anything, it roars like a lion and you will want to roar right back. You may not have even thought you were capable of being a lion, but death has a way of changing you.

Today we will see that as Christians we live in the face of death with the hope of heaven.

So let’s set the scene in John 11 and to verse 1 Lazarus is ill and in verse 3 the sisters sent word to Jesus. And in verse 5 we see that Christ loved the family but in Verse 6 he stayed longer that expected. By verse 11 onwards the reality is that Lazarus is dead.

Now how far did Jesus have to go to get to Lazarus was it like a train journey from Kings Cross to Edinburgh? Well we know that the greek says that Bethany was 15 Stadia from where Jesus was in Jerusalem and one stadia was 202 yards and 9 inches so time that by fifteen and you get 1.75 miles about the same as from Sileby to Cossington.

Now we come to verses 17-37 and Jesus arriving at the home of Martha and Mary. They have been morning for three days and no that all hope is past for Lazarus. This is because we are past the first three days and this is significant because according to a Jewish belief, the soul stays near the body for three days after a person’s death: “For three days the soul hovers over the grave, contemplating a return to the body, but once it sees that the facial colour has faded, it goes away, never to return” (Gen. Rab. 50:10).  That is, after 3 days from death the body is so decomposed that the face is not recognisable anymore

So Martha sets of to meet him and Mary stays at home and the cry from Martha echo’s down the centuries as R Kent Hughes reminds us in his commentary:

Where were you, Lord? You came too late. Where were you when my loved one died? Where were you when my marriage dissolved? Where were you when my parents divorced? Where were you when my father became an alcoholic? Where were you when I was cheated out of my promotion? Where were you when my child went astray?”

We could add when Walter Lovett  or William Meadows or Alfred Middleton was shot by a sniper on Christmas day 1917.

When we face death that isn’t a wrong reaction as we see Jesus doesn’t start shouting or even politely telling Martha that she is in the wrong or faithless for asking the question. In facing death at whatever level we can be honest with God. So as Christian we are not called on to be stoical in the face of death and God understands whey we say this isn’t right and it hurts and I wish this wasn’t happening and why have you allowed this in my life God.

We see in David’s relationship with God it happens time and time again and one incident is after he sinned with Bathsheba:

And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick. David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. On the seventh day the child died.

 One writer put it this way:

If we avoid or cannot move through some sort of grief/mourning process we may:

  • Stay stuck in anger, pain and resentment.
  • Get stuck in numbness, the first stage in the grief process, we may lose access to important parts of our inner, feeling world.
  • Have trouble engaging in new relationships because we are constantly emotionally and psychologically “reliving”; we’re preoccupied with a person or situation no longer present, we have not, in other words processed the loss and moved through it.
  • Project unfelt, unresolved grief onto other relationships or situations, placing unfelt and unacknowledged feelings of hurt, pain and/resentment where they do not belong.
  • Lose personal history along with the un-mourned person or situation; a part of us dies, too.
  • Carry deep fears of subsequent abandonment, betrayal or disillusionment.

Although mourning carries the scent of darkness and pain, it is also a time- honoured path towards the light.

Now in verse 23 and 24 we see a confusion happening where Martha a good Jew says yes he will rise at the last day and that in response to Jesus promise that he will rise. But we know that Jesus is saying that he is Lord and will have the final say over death in the next bit of the story. And then we have the words read at every Anglican Funeral and they are breath-taking:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

What Jesus is saying here is that I am God and that if you come to Jesus and whoever believes that he is the saviour sent into the world to save sinner when the die they will live Now can this just mean we will rise again at the end I think Jesus is saying in effect when you believe in me you are in effect rescued and resurrected from the power of death. As Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 15:55-57 King James Version (KJV)

55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 Let’s just understand this correctly we will pass through as one commentator puts it the incident of physical death, but we cannot die eternally. And Jesus says do you believe that and Martha confused but aware of who Jesus is says yes.

Mark Ashton wrote in his book “on my way to heaven;”

In the spring of 2007, while on sabbatical in New Zealand, I first had pains roughly in the area of the gallbladder, which led eventually to going into Addenbrooke’s Hospital in December 2008 to have the gallbladder removed. But when he went in to do so, the surgeon found cancer which had invaded the liver, originating in the gallbladder. It was past surgical solution and radiotherapy, and there was apparently no effective chemotherapy regime to cure gallbladder cancer. The oncologist estimated I might have six to nine months to live. My prayer when my mother died had been answered. I said to the surgeon when he broke the news, that what he had just told me was, for a Christian believer, not bad news but good; it was not the end of the story, but the beginning. (And I saw an imaginary speech bubble appear above his head, saying, “This man is in total denial!”)

Imagine that we might fear the process but the actual act of dying is a joy and when we loose a loved one whose in Christ what a joy that they have gone ahead of us to glory.

We ignore death and believe we can cheat it and put it off. In nearly every age group a recent survey showed the overwhelming reason people ignore death is that it is perceived as being a long way off. Even in the 75+ age group a quarter thing that and over half of my age people. We don’t need to ignore it or deny it we can celebrate it. A Christina funeral is all about triumphant glory. When my father died I was able to preach and Know that those glorious hymn words were true.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness
Where is death’s sting?
Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me

 Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee
In life, in death, o Lord, abide with me
Abide with me, abide with me

Then in verse 28 Martha goes off to fetch Mary and the party head for the house where all the professional mourners where and she gets up and everyone thinks she is heading towards death and the grave but she is heading towards life and hope in the form of Jesus. And in her pain and grief she just collapse before him and then we have verse 33 where Jesus is touched by Mary’s pain but there is an issue in our translation. The word here is EMBRIMAOMAI  which was a word used to describe the snorting of a horse but when applied to a human Don Carson reminds us it is a way of speaking about anger and indignation and frustration. So why use that word here?

Jesus is frustrated that these people who know the fact that God has promised resurrection and acting as though there is no hope and Jesus is grieved to tear at this. But also jesus enters into the pain of the moment and is able to identify with the pain of loss. What a comfort that my Lord can feel my pain. Jesus will raise Lazarus so he weeps that there is death in creation and that Satan still seems to have a hold but that reality will soon end.

Today we remember death but it is not a great fear to the one who believes.

Now turn with me to Job 19 verse 25. Here is a man faced with terrible things ill health and the possibility of death he is ragged and broken in verse 23 he sees himself as the scroll brief and tempory and his words pass with him but he want what is about to say to stand the test of time so it must be carved in a rock.

Even in his death because he has stayed faithful no matter what the world things the great words of faith burst out of him and are used again so powerfully by Handel.

“I know that my redeemer lives”

My job as I die as Mark Ashton did is to find a way to magnify God in my dying.

Why is death a gain and win for the Christian?

Our spirits will be made perfect(Hebrews 12:22–23).

We will be relieved of the pain of this world(Luke 16:24–25).

We will be given profound rest in our souls(Revelation 6:9–11).

We will experience a deep at-homeness(2 Corinthians 5:8).

We will be with Christ

Be a bringer of hope and life in a dark death fearing world one lady wrote:

Sorry to write such a downer post but I’m terrified of dying!  there is nothing wrong with my health etc but I just can’t stop thinking about it. It’s usually in the night-time or when lying in bed and Things just come into my head like what will actually happen? And I will never see anyone again or be alive again it be the end of me! And who will look after kids I ll never see them or oh again or mum and dad etc I’m also scared of getting old and not being able to anything it just freaks me out to be honest  I remember being like this when I was little(I think since my granddad died) and counting down years till my mum was old and getting upset(weird I know) I’m only 22 but already am thinking that I’m nearly 30 then 40 then 50 and so on. 

As Christians we can live well and die well we have a message of hope to bring to a world haunted by its own mortality

We bring to the world a powerful God that in Christ conquered death and a listening God and a God that sympathises with us but it is only in Christ there is hope. Again, I quote from Mark’s booklet

There is no question about the savagery of death…. there is no more devastating human barrier in all of human experience than between the living and the dead. The soft soap and wishful thinking peddled by false prophets in the face of death that the loved one in just in the next room, that he looking down on us all the time, that she will be invisibly looking down on us at every family party are iniquitous……..

 It is my relationship with Him (Christ) that can take me through death and which is the only hope of eternal life. He alone is the destroyer of death

And lets end life on earth here as Mark ended life on Earth crying “soon home.”

The Great Bake off.

We have read the Ashers judgement and the press coverage and what conclusions are we to draw from it? Can I refuse the services my business offers on grounds of LGBGT+ people being who they are and is this the moment that the LGBGT+ community become victims?

It strikes me that the key issue is the service I offer and it is very important we see this in perspective. If I am a printer of baker or even a florist my task is to create something that transmits a message to other people and that is generally one that affirms the view of the customer. Therefore I can separate the person from the message. However if I am a clergyman being asked to marry a gay person my actions affirm or deny that person’s identity. Again If I am a tailor I couldn’t refuse to make a gay man a suit because he was gay but it seems from the judgement that I can refuse to make a coat that has support gay marriage across the back.

How is this a threat to gay rights? It is just a confirmation that you can’t make me say things I don’t want to say and affirm views I oppose. Mr Lee expressed his concern at the decision, saying: “I’m concerned not just for the implications for myself and other gay people, but for every single one of us.” But why? Are we to be subjected to a legal system that tells us what to say and think like Nazi Germany or North Korea and the controller of that of course it only ever going to be the group in the ascendance. I will as a christian tell any gay person that they are made in the image of God and are there by precious  and to be valued, but you can no more require me to affirm your life choices than could a convicted criminal. The person is special and to be loved and valued but we are more than our sexual life choices.

This judgement restores sanity and protects people in that they can now operate within their own value system, gay, Christian, muslim and Jew. I agree with Lady Hale who said: “The bakers could not refuse to supply their goods to Mr Lee because he was a gay man or supported gay marriage, but that is quite different from obliging them to supply a cake iced with a message with which they profoundly disagreed.”

We must be very careful this is not a case that Christians can cart blanche refuse to deliver services to the LGBGT+ community and anyone that thinks it is will come unstuck, this is a victory against those that think they can make me say what they want me to say. So as a logical extension of the judgement; can I stop a school making my child write an essay on the positive nature of gay marriage, and can I stop my church and diocese from requiring me to have a clergy person in post that supports gay marriage or is least sympathetic to it who may give the impression by what they say and write that this is my view as well? The lid is now of a box that will cause a greater need to rely on case-law and more confusion. Over to the courts and Lady Hale for more help and guidance.

The fate of sin and liberal society

I would like to start with a great quote from the previous liberal party leader Tim Farron;

“Liberalism has eaten itself because it has eaten the very world-view that gave birth to it, that made it possible, that makes it possible.”

I was preaching on Revelation 17 last week and was struck by how the beast with ten horns turns on the prostitute in verse 16 and eats her and bares her flesh and burns her with fire. Evil has in its heart very divisive power to turn the heart of the lover against the loved.

We as Christians see it in the every day in the LGBT+ lobby arguing amongst themselves over the rights of the trans people. Women now upset that having let the Trans lobby have recognition and power and having to have these people in the women’s public toilet in the local county council offices. At a deeper level we see the trouble with intolerant tolerant liberals a group that hold to another reality Tim Farron puts so clearly:

“People talk about shared values today – I’ve done it myself. But when they do, what they mean is: “These are my values – and I am going to act as though they are also yours, and will demonstrate contempt for you if you depart from them.”

And so we will slowly and deliberately destroy the society that Judeo-christian values created by the enforcing of the mantra that to be as good as we can be there must be nothing that we reject in terms of life style and sexuality. The mantra also includes the fact that the one thing that isn’t to be accepted is a biblically Christians view of the world. The world is drunk on the ideas the great prostitute in Revelation 17 has given birth to. They are loving the fact that there are ni absolutes in terms of family structure and sexual norms and even the nature of what it is to be a person is now fully fluid in many aspects of thinking.

But what is the logical outcome of this? Well it could be anarchism which can be defined as:

The theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government – harmony in such a society being obtained, not by the submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilised being.”

This is a theory that fails to acknowledge the one elephant in the room and that is that whenever man if able to remove God and live independent of an influence from Christendom things seem to go from bad to worse. The examples from history are many and terrible;

  • Nazi Germany
  • Communist Russia
  • Pol Pots Cambodia
  • North Korea

and there are many more examples of attempts at something better than Christian living ending in the terror of the women in 1945 in Berlin being raped and gangs of Nazi thugs hanging children.

Back to my original thesis that sin is self-destructive, look around you do you see a happy society that has strong family structures and healthy life patterns? I don’t and we all know why.

 

Past Pain

I would like you to image an old soldier walking into town leaning on a stick. There is a child with him and he is happy and jolly with the child. Then they go into the park and the old man stands still as the, pass the war memorial and he looks at the names. in an instant he is back in that fox hole in 1944 in Holland the shells are raining down and the dead men litter the field. The pain is overwhelming and a tear is seen in his eye. In that moment he is broken again and the wound in his leg hurts like it did 70 years earlier.

There are many clergy like that man, they have lived through the battle ground that is church life. They have tried to bring about change or they just were not like their predecessor, they preached in a different way and or they just were ministering somewhere where the gospel was hated. What do we do with them? We move them on and put them into action again, but I can see that 13 years in a painful ministry is a God-given privilege in that as one man put it:

There are some things we would love to forget but scars will be there forever, serving as a constant reminder. As painful as they may these inwardly and outwardly actually do serve a very important purpose.

They remind us of the impacts of sin and the are a powerful reminder that as a church we are to be as it says in Ephesians 4 enabled to walk:

in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

They also remind me I walk the way of the cross and as Christ suffered so will I and that i am not immune from the effects of ministry. I have pretended that they have all healed and the past is the past but it never is it affects and is affected by the present. we need as a writer put it to remember:

God doesn’t give us scars to remind us that we have been hurt. God gives us scars to remind us that we have been healed having been faithful, we’ve been delivered; and we’ve been set free! Although Paul endured attacks upon his ministry, he reminded those involved (the Galatians church) his scars showed that belonged to Jesus. Thank God for scars!

My pain is something I need to find a way to cherish and use to the glory of God because in the darkest moments he held me and brought me out of the pit. However handle you minister, pastor, clergy with care they have been in the front line and they will have faced live fire from the Devil and will bear the scars and as much as you wouldn’t press on the wound of that veteran, why would you be careless with your minster, pastor or clergy. A U.S University research project concluded;

Social support from the congregation was a protective factor in terms of the
relationship between burnout and turnover intentions.
Remember what it says in Ephesians 4 that:
“he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to
equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until
we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to
mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

 

He gave us each other as an act of love and remeber they have been in the front line and they will hurt and they will cry and they may need space to hurt and I know that it will take me 2 or even 4 years to recover but i know i have a church that will walk with me in that recovery.

Disaster in the west

I read alot in the papers and on the internet about the demise of the west and it’s loss of its Judeo-Christian values and I see in the articles a sense of panic and yet I feel peace about it. Our society and in articular the west and the UK are seeing what God predicted would happen and we shouldn’t be supprised. In 2 Timothy 4 we read;

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

Stop worrying it will happen and yet it happens becase God has ordaind it, nothing happens in this world that is not first initiatied in the throne room of heaven. The simple truth is that we have to stop treating all this as a stoppable disaster we can some how reverse.

Do we not belive that we worship the God of Revelations 4 where it tells us:

At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings[a] and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come!”

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.”

 

We should nte a ew key facts from these verses, firstly all this takes place under the rainbow which is a singn of God’s covenant with all humanity to never again destroy the world. It isnt a sign as it has become is celebrating sin. Then note that the 24 represent the church we will reign on high with God there is an image of soverign power and hope for the church, Then there is the image of worship which is a great band led praise session it is deeper and all about the very being of those worshipping. We need to live in the reality that our civilisation is now on a path to self destruction and God is allowing it to happen.

So what is the church to do? Well 2 Timothy tells us;

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

and

As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

We live in the reality of Romans 8 where we are reminded that:

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Have we forgotten that although we are to speak out against injustice and preach the way our society is going is not to be freared in the sense that it generate panic. We are to be like Daniel when he was banned fro praying. We must accept what God is doing in our midst and pray, pray for strength to stand and that God would have mercy on us and that he would give us the right words to say.
The disater that will befall our commnuities is a testing as set out in the letter to the church in Philadelphia. I will finish with a quote from my favourite book:

Is the C of E the church in Laodicea?

The main charge against the churcg in Laodicea is that it is luke warm. Is the the church in England and the west going the same way? The thing is we have little if any passion in the average church for the Lord and the mission of the church. “A consuming passion is the last thing you think about before you go to bed at night and the first thing you think about when you wake up,” says Brian Schwartz.

We have been blinded by the need to be balanced and to ensure that we do not take this religious thing too far. We might read things in the bible about money and giving and homosexuality and marriage and much more but we are British. Also there is the danger as there was in Laodicea that we have tomuch in worldly terms and in has made us so centred on selfcentred seraches for happines and fulness of life we no longer need God in the same way. We often say about faith, church is fine and God is great but don’t become a Jesus nut please. Yes go to church but keep things in balance and don’t give a tithe and make sure that the boys get on Sunday every other week to play football. Was Jesus luke warm towards us did he give it 100% to save us? yes he did and the response must be likewise. And we wonder why God has perhaps spat us out.

Matthew Henry writes;

“They may call their lukewarmness charity, meekness, and moderation, but it is nauseous to Christ. They will be finally rejected. For far be it from the holy Jesus to return to what has been rejected.”

We are in danger in being a church hat is passionate about being a sucessful church and being intouch with the society we live in at the cost of being on fire with love for and seeking Jesus and his will for the church. Schwartz points out, it’s important to remember that passion requires fuel to grow and one of the best ways to get that fuel is to share it with others. “Just like a plant needs water, your passion needs to be nurtured a little bit every day in order for it to grow to the point where it becomes obvious to you and the rest of the world,” The best way to do that is to stay close to the teacher and share what we have. If we are just Sunday Christians we will go cold. As Matthew Roberts says:

Jesus himself demanded nothing less. Whoever wants to follow him, he said, must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow him. Whoever does not leave his father and mother for his sake, he said, is not worthy of him. Whoever puts his hand to the plough and turns back cannot be his disciple. Christians, according the one all Christians call their Lord, must be extreme in their commitment to him. To ask Christians not to be extremist Christians is to ask them not to be Christians at all. 

The church needs to gain a new confidence in the gospel as recieved and in te 39 Articles of Religion it is Christ and his rejection we should fear nit the worlds. The Archbishops oxymoron of good disagreement is part of the issue that is driving us to be luke warm infact it is a call to be luke warm, we can enjoy each others company and tollerate a via media whilst holding to orthodoxy at the sams time. No extremists welcome here then.

Again quoting from  Matthew Henry;

“They think they are rich and growing richer. They are so rich that they have gone beyond the point of wanting to become any richer. Perhaps they had all that their bodies needed, and that made them overlook the necessities of their souls. Or maybe they thought they were well off in their souls. Perhaps they mistook learning for religion. They had wit, and they took it for wisdom. They trusted in ordinances instead of the God of the ordinances. How careful we should be not to mislead our own souls. Doubtless there are many people in hell who once thought they were on the way to heaven. Let us daily beg God that we may not be left to flatter and deceive ourselves over the concerns of our souls.”

The church in the west the great gift to most of the world when it sent our missionarys has become self confident and arrogant and forgotten that we need to trust in what the bible teaches not be children of the enlightnement and ignore the bible. The church is wrethced, poor and naked in so many places lost and wandering. But the Lord loves the church and our present testing is a call to repent and return to lay hold of old truths and patterns of ministry. In anglicanism we can see that we are dying because  management is starting to replace leadership.The danger that Lambeth has to face is that once you start managing, you may stop building anything of value. Instead, you simply manage what you’ve already built. If all you do is manage what you’ve already built, you won’t have much left to manage in the future.

We also need to avoid being the notable church. How you respond when you receive attention is critical. The call can be not to go to far and then we can fall fo the call to be popular. We’ve all seen celebrities who become obsessed with being famous. Whether it’s Kanye or the Kardashians, you can make an industry these days out of simply being you.

Lets be passionate for the right things and on fire let Jesus be “the last thing you think about before you go to bed at night and the first thing you think about when you wake up.”

 

Retreat

This isn’t a call as given by the Regimental Sergent Major in battle but my monthly time away from the parish. Why do I bother and should an evangelican churchman be spending time with a group of nuns at the Holy Cross Convent? Isn’t it dabling with things Tractarian. Firstly they are an Anglican order and they ask nothing of me but just give me space to be with my bible and my God.

I am becoming a convert to this monthly pattern of a day away. It is creating space in my diary to ensure that God is the priority for that day. How often is the email and the phone the driver of the day the meeting and that pastoral situation and yes then we have time for prayer. it is said that retreat is to be seen as:

“time consciously set aside for God, a change of focus, a deliberate act of stepping outside of normal routine by withdrawing (not running away) from the noise and pressures; the immediate and insistent claims of our social, domestic and workaday responsibilities in order to be in a quiet place where all our senses are open and ready to listen to God. Evelyn Underhill spoke of this as ‘loitering with intent.’ ‘Going equipped’ would be a more modern phrase meaning the same.”

I will always defend these days in my diray days when I stop doing and start being in Christ.