All posts by overseer1

Continue STEADFASTLY

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.

My Way

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!

Fully Equipped

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.

We’re on TV!

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!

What to do when things go wrong…

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.

First, what NOT to do…read on here

Commute time turned into…work time

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.

Read the Bible!

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!

Bounce back…or bounce FORWARD

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?

Getting Into Bible Study…

There are different ways to consider the main lines of what God says in the Bible. After years of personal study, a very competent Bible teacher of the 20th Century set out some key subjects as a starting point. His suggested approach is provided in full in our Resources Section. We have drawn attention to this material before, but it is worth doing so again!

Here is a recap of the main headings. If you see matters you want to study further just start by reading the fuller document here, where you will be able to track the Bible verses supporting each key point.

SECTION 1 – THE INSPIRATION OF SCRIPTURE

  1. The importance of the subject
  2. What is meant by the term “Inspiration”?
  3. How the Scriptures themselves regard Inspiration
  4. How the Lord Jesus and the New Testament writers accepted the veracity of the Old Testament Scriptures
  5. Fulfilled prophecy as evidence of the divine origin of Scripture.
  6. The exactness of the inspired Word
  7. God’s sovereign care of His inspired word at the hand of copyists, translations and versions.

SECTION 2 – THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD

  1. Belief in the existence of God
  2. The Being of God
  3. The Attributes of God
  4. The Trinity

SECTION 3 – THE CREATION AND ENTRANCE OF SIN

  1. The Creation of the Universe
  2. The creation of the angels
  3. The entrance of sin

SECTION 4 – THE PATRIARCHS AND PREPARATION OF ISRAEL

  1. The Patriarchal Period
  2. The beginnings of the nation
  3. Education as to a coming Redeemer
  4. How Israel developed historically
  5. How Israel degenerated spiritually

SECTION 5 – THE FULNESS OF THE TIME

  1. At the close of the appointed period
  2. The Incarnation
  3. The Atonement
  4. The Resurrection and Ascension

SECTION 6 – THE PRESENT WORK OF THE SON AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD

  1. The present work of the Lord Jesus
  2. The present work of the Holy Spirit
    1. Generally.
      1. In relation to the believer
      2. In relation to the Church the Body
      3. In relation to the House of God
      4. In relation to the world

SECTION 7 – THE CHURCH WHICH IS HIS BODY

1.         The word Church generally

  1. Singular form
  2. Plural form

2.         The Church which is His Body

  1. References to this Church in the N.T.
  2. Viewed as an eternal purpose
  3. In shadowy outline in the O.T. Scriptures
  4. In the full light of N.T. revelation

SECTION 8 – THE HOUSE OF GOD

  1. Jacob’s early vision
  2. The Tabernacle in the Wilderness
  3. The Tabernacle in the Land
  4. The Temple of Solomon
  5. The Temple of the Remnant
  6. The Remnant Temple rebuilt by Herod
  7. The Spiritual House of the New Testament

nihilism: Much ado about nothing!

No, this is not a comment on a play by William Shakespeare. It is about the increasing interest in what some philosophers term “nihilism”. That term comes from nihil which is a Latin word meaning “nothing”. The discussion goes back centuries, and the way the term is used has changed a bit. The current debate seems to focus on whether or not there is any value in seeking a meaning to life; does human existence actually have no point: nothing? Nihilists say there is no ultimate meaning to life, and for humans there is nothing beyond the grave. It is worth thinking about where that conclusion leads.

Certainly, the inquisitiveness of our species has always made us seek answers to questions about the origin, extent, composition and order of the universe. Looking in the other direction, the mysteries of microbiological research and nuclear physics has brought increasing knowledge of tiny things hidden from the human eye, or even the microscope. Did we emerge from nothing, only to eventually vanish again into nothingness? In this information complexity and overload context, some may think religion is too simplistic. They may think attributing origins, powers and rules to God is just an easy way to avoid the harsh realities of an otherwise apparently pointless existence. Yet the fine-tuning of the universe, the laws by which it operates at cosmic and microbiological levels, and the shear mathematical improbability of complex life emerging by chance, all provide substantial support for accepting these are the result of design by a Designer who is not confined to this physical universe, and for which the name “God” is the appropriate term. To bring something out of nothing is the prerogative of God (see Heb.11:3).

The expansion of available knowledge made possible by the development of super-computing has changed outlooks. For every unwanted effect, people may believe its unwelcome cause can be identified, if sufficient research is done. Then the problem can be avoided, and we can be happy again. Yet we all know that in reality remedies are not available for all problems, and we have to come to terms with suffering, and dying. Sometimes accidents happen. Sometimes violent people inflict harm and seem to get away with it. Present suffering is a big problem for people who are nihilists because they have no confidence in life beyond the grave. Therefore, they inevitably must conclude suffering is unfair. Christians on the contrary can take comfort from relying on a just God who has an eternity beyond the grave to make up for any “unfair” suffering in our present lives (see Rom.8:18).

Assuming there is no meaning to life may lead to at least two major problems. First, we may devalue our own lives, and even opt to end them prematurely when things are not going our way. Second, we may devalue the lives of others, and adopt an extremely selfish attitude. After all, if there is no ultimate meaning to our seemingly very temporary life, and no unavoidable lasting consequences for wrong choices, why not just live for the moment without a care about the effect on the lives of others? But if that idea offends our sense of moral expectation, then we must ask where does a sense of moral accountability come from? Why are people different from so many other animals in this respect? Yet, if our Designer had moral objectives to achieve when bringing humanity into being, and intentionally extended our DNA and related aspects governing what we are as humans to enable achievement of moral goals, resolution of our questions is in sight. As the Bible indicates, these added-values specific to humanity are not discernible merely by physical examination (see 1 Cor.2:14).

The increased interest in nihilism is occurring while interest in spiritual matters is also increasing (yes increasing!), as noted in 2017 Pew research results for the USA. Moreover, there is good reason to have faith in God, since data shows people’s degree of religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better health outcomes (see for instance the research report on “Religious Involvement, Spirituality, and Medicine: Implications for Clinical Practice” by the Mayo Clinic in 2001). To believe in nothing, is not really liberating, since one person’s liberty may act as an undue constraint on others’. And taking account of the needs of others may bring the happiness that eludes those who strive only to please themselves. A sense of responsibility for others, and personal accountability, can help satisfy spiritual needs we all have. But “spirituality” is a very broad expression, and once we appreciate its importance we need to find the meaning of life by reference to its Creator. Christians see in the Bible the written result of the Creator communicating with His creation, including us.

The wise writer of the Bible book Ecclesiastes was challenged by the realities discussed above. If God is left out of the equation, the result must be “life is pointless; just like chasing after the wind” (see Eccles.1). But that writer’s conclusion was that it is wisest to focus on our responsibility to our Creator, based on God’s right to hold us to account for the lives we are given to live (see Eccles.12:13,14). Interestingly, the Bible cautions us that if we operate selfishly, without love for others and for God, that is exactly what results in our being “nothing” (see 1 Cor.13).  As Christians we need to be ready to demonstrate the value of our faith, and be ready to provide answers when it is challenged (see 1 Pet.3:15). If we are not merely “nothing”, how are we to establish the value of a person to God? The Bible begins to provide an answer when it describes the sacrifice God was prepared to make to demonstrate love for us (see Rom.5:6-8).