Here are a few lines of poetic verse in rather dated English style, that will make more sense to us after reading Mk.4:35-41 and Acts 27:13-44.
“It was not so just now! I turned aside With aching head, and heart, most sorely bowed; Around me cares and griefs in crushing crowd, While icily rose the sense, in swelling tide, Of weakness, insufficiency, and sin, And fear, and gloom, and doubt in mighty flood rolled in.
That rushing flood I had no strength to meet, Nor power to flee; my present, future, past, Myself, my sorrow, and my sin I cast. In utter helplessness at Jesus’ feet; Then bent me to the storm, if such His will. He saw the winds and waves, and whispered, ‘Peace, be still! ‘ “
Now we may contemplate the words of Rom.8, which says in part:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Many readers of this post will be familiar with Acts 2:42. There we are told that those who believed what Peter preached about Christ had some new responsibilities. They were to “continue steadfastly” in the apostles’ teaching, and the fellowship, and the breaking of the bread, and the prayers. If you check out our “About” page, you’ll see the church of God in Mount Forest sees these Bible statements as still very much applicable today, and we provide some information on how we comply with them.
But what do you do if, for health and safety reasons, the whole church cannot all meet in one place to steadfastly keep to these biblical fundamentals?
If you want to learn more about how we tackled that responsibility during the many months of the Covid pandemic, please check out our page titled Into One Place, in our Resources section.
In many developed countries the Covid-19 lockdown measures meant people have had to work from home. Now, in countries that have been able to supply vaccination to the majority of their people, a return to working in a company’s place of business is in process. It will not be the same! Although working at home has disadvantages and challenges for both companies and their employees, it has also had some benefits. For those working from home, one advantage has been the ability to include some flexibility in their work life. Breaks have reduced the monotony of some tasks. The freedom from being under the eye of an unfair boss has lessened the stress that can bring. A worker has had more liberty to choose how they will accomplish their assigned tasks, and they might prefer to do things, so to speak: “my way” instead of being closely supervised.
It is quite likely that to the surprise of many supervisors, worker productivity has actually been better while employees have enjoyed these partial freedoms. So, as people return to their old workplaces, we are likely to see some changes in management techniques, away from so-called micro-management and more towards mutually aiming for achievement of targets rather than forcing compliance with detailed procedures.
Christians are to live by what the Bible says. There we read that God approves of applying effort to accomplish assigned tasks. For instance, in terms of work ethic the Bible commends adopting an attitude of working “as for the Lord and not for men” (Col.3:23) and not just working as “people pleasers”. These statements were originally written to people in a society where slavery was a painful reality. Even in such a harsh context, Eph.6:6 says: “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” In one of His parables, Jesus spoke of work providing opportunity to enrich others, with greater rewards for those who achieved the most (Matt.25:14-30). He was using an everyday challenge to illustrate a very serious spiritual day of reckoning. For the Christian, therefore, the opportunity or necessity to work from home has not provided an excuse for slacking in any way, and a return to the pre-Covid workplace shouldn’t either! Surely a greater goal would be fair reward for work done.
These Bible truths must be balanced with instructions given to those who manage others. For instance, Eph.6:9 and Col.4:1 note threatening behaviour is wrong and God will take note of it, and fairness needs to be demonstrated. While the Bible accurately records historical settings of slavery, it does not require that practice in human government or even commend it. In fact, it endorses the appropriateness of obtaining release from it if possible (1 Cor.7:21). This in no way lessens the reality of Christians having been bought by Christ and living now to serve Him. So we read “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body” (1 Cor.6:19,20).
So the idea of “increased workplace autonomy” a “My Way” approach, may become a popular slogan, but Christians must at all times consider themselves as not so much autonomous, self-ruling, but as those who are ruled by the kindest and most loving ruler, Christ. Serving Him wholeheartedly will then make us better managers and better employees. We are Christians 24/7, not just when we attend church meetings!
How many pockets is enough? A workman may find it helpful to have lots of tools handy. When working in tight spaces it is frustrating to have to crawl out and go back to the toolbox to pick up what you need to get the job done. There’s a moral in that, isn’t there?
Some Bible verses deal with this issue directly. Paul writes to Timothy: “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim.4:2). Be prepared, he says. Good advice. How many times have we found ourselves saying: “If only I’d…”?
Paul had already explained how we can prepare to be helpful to others in what we say. He told Timothy: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim.2:15). If we do not know “the word of truth” we will not be able to use it effectively.
When writing to Christians in Ephesus, Paul taught them: “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph.4:11-13).
So now we know that as Christians our equipment needs have been provided. We can be taught! And if we commit to memory the instructions given by our Teacher, and learn correctly how to use them, we can be prepared to bring helpful messages to others. It is not the Bible in one of your pockets, but the word of God in your mind and heart that will be the tool God can use so you can reason with and persuade others. But if we think of our minds as having many pockets, we can fill them in an orderly way so that we are able to retrieve the information we need, when we don’t have the time to go back to the toolbox! The Holy Spirit delights to remind us, but to do that we must first have put the word of truth safely in our hearts, prepared and ready for His use (Jn 14:26).
In the late 1800s, some serious Bible students got together and tried to figure out what vital teaching was missing from the practices of the churches at that time. The result was the production of a magazine called “Needed Truth”, which was intended to supply information that would fill the identified gaps. The magazine is still going strong, and you can review the current issue and the archives (for free!) at this link: NT. Use it to fill your “pockets” and fully equip your service.
Because we have not been able to invite people in to our church meetings because of the pandemic, we have instead tried to take our meetings out to the public. Each Saturday night we can be seen on Wightman TV channel 6, at 8:00pm.
You may not be a Wightman subscriber, or even be in their broadcast area, but you can still see our programs. We have uploaded them to our Youtube channel. By all means check them out here.
There you’ll find 30-minute programs from our past year’s talks. We usually try to also include some Christian music/singing, which we hope will be to your liking. Most of it is rather traditional, but check it out: the lyrics are always great!
If what you watch interests you, by all means contact us with your comments or questions, or tell us what subjects you’d like us to cover in our future talks. We’re listening too!
This is a brief comment on things worth considering
when life seems to be presenting too many challenges, when things are going
wrong and you need to stop and consider: why?
And think about the best way forward.
These are only notes; contact us if you need any point
to be developed in more detail.
Likewise, if you’d prefer to listen to a talk on this subject, we can
provide a link to a recording.
What have you done with it? Well, perhaps you didn’t notice you had it. We’re talking about that precious commodity: time. We all only have 168 hours a week, and we’re told a lot of us spend a major proportion of it sleeping! But for a large segment of the working population another huge use of our time has been spent travelling to and from work: commuting time. But over the past year, the pandemic changed that. “WFH” crept into texting language. Work from home became a reality for many more people. For some it has been welcome, as it provided more flexibility. For some it added untold additional mental stress, as it came with extra home duties, including perhaps being an unpaid teacher of sorts. How that has changed our valuation of those noble folk who follow a calling to be full-time teachers! Much more could be said about such related aspects.
Here, we just want to focus on how for many people the cessation of a need to spend time commuting has introduced new possibilities. As the world entered into the period of the pandemic, economists feared that there would be enormous global economic recession. Some industry sectors have indeed been very harshly affected, especially those related to entertainment and non-essential retail trades. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, in other sectors productivity has in fact improved. Part of the reason is that workers have turned commute time into work time. Some businesses may also have been able to cut costs associated with accommodating workers in office buildings, but it is the time issue we’re thinking about. This is where we find an extension of Parkinson’s Law: as we have more time available, we find more work to fill it!
Before our minds go off on an unproductive tangent, let’s just refocus and remember this is a church website, and we are looking for spiritual opportunities. 1 How much time did you formerly spend going to and from meetings of your church? In many large cities and towns, church congregations have tended to move further and further away from their initial centre, as property prices and the needs for good education and other family priorities led people to relocate some distance away from the church’s building. The venue for meeting didn’t move as the people moved, so the result was a commuting church. For some, that meant (pre-pandemic) the time actually spent meeting with the church was only half of the commute time! Also, for workday meetings, those in families often had to leave youngsters at home to do school homework, so numbers attending church meetings mid-week inevitably were lower. Video-conferencing has changed all that! It has given us back the opportunity to be at the church meeting without paying for it in commuting time, and it has enabled far more people to attend. Of course it is not the same attending by video-link as it is when we can shake hands, and even enjoy a coffee together after our spiritual priorities have been met. But have we invested the commute time profitably?
More to the point perhaps, what have we learned from the experience, and how are we hoping to ensure benefits are not lost as the world bounces back? 2 Will we just bounce backwards with them, or can we see how to “bounce forward”. Now we know better than ever how important it is to be close to people, will we go back to getting in our cars to do that, or will we refocus more locally? Will we look for opportunities to be close enough to fellow church goers so that a long commute can be avoided? Will our Christian testimony among near neighbours result in others being drawn to share our faith as they get to know us better from more frequent local contact and our greater contribution to local community activity? Will we continue to find strengthening through online prayer times, that are better informed as we see one another more frequently and understand needs better? Or will we just contribute to more carbon dioxide emissions until we can afford a new electric-powered car?
We are at an inflection point, a pivot point. It is easy to simply resume where we left off pre-pandemic and recommence the commuting church experience. For some of us that might be the only, or even the best, solution. For others, fresh fields of opportunity could lie ahead. The old picture of the man trying to keep a foot on the boat and another on the dock illustrates the difficulty of a pivot point. Perhaps we can almost hear the command of the Master: “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” 3. Let us consider our direction prayerfully, with attention to the Master’s instruction book and roadmap.
The House Churches of Mount Forest bring you something every day to think about from the Bible
Don’t go on hearsay. Read the facts yourself!
Why not try our Bible Reading Plan, to read the whole Bible over three years, one day at a time? Its updated each weekend. And we always keep a few weeks readings in view, in case you need to catch up!
The writer of the Bible book, Hebrews, was very concerned about the direction his readers were going. They had become Christians, and now faced a period of significant difficulty. They reached a pivot point. Would they bounce back to their previous religious practices? That option had the comfort of possibly again experiencing the acceptance of society, and the familiarity of meeting expectations of others. But that is not what they were urged to do by the Bible writer. 1
Instead, the objective was to “bounce forward”. That meant relying on their faith in God, not their acceptance by society. It meant not quitting, but rather quietly relying on God who would never leave them, nor forsake them. 2 It meant expressing faith in what could not be seen, but yet was as much a reality as what they could bump into!
The Epistle to the Hebrews rides through biblical history, faces up to the present challenge and points upward. It places the reader, not alone in a world that opposes them, but among a vast company of God’s worshippers. It extracts them from the mundane problems of a hostile world and brings them into experience of spiritual blessings in heavenly places. 3 Please read the whole epistle, and take in this amazing theme.
We are about to emerge from the pivot point of a pandemic. Are we thinking we should just bounce backwards, and again be satisfied with what we experienced before? Or are we among those who can’t wait to “bounce forward”, to take all the positive learnings and additional possibilities that have accompanied a prolonged period of reflection and ingenuity, and employ these more fully as we are liberated from both the strictures of the recent past and the sometimes false comforts of what preceded it?