'For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord….'

Archive for January, 2010

One body, many members…(Part Two)

Part Two   ‘For the body is not one member but many’  (vs. 14)   (click here if you missed Part One)

Paul says that if your foot were to say, ‘I just can’t do all the things the hand does.  It’s so flexible, on the end of that long arm, and it is used all the time.  My toes just aren’t like those fingers; I just can’t do what the hand can do, therefore I really don’t belong in this body’,  it would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it?  That does not make the foot any less a part of the body.  The foot is deceiving itself.

The apostle is saying that if you think of yourself as a member of the church, the body of Christ, and you say to yourself, ‘because I can’t stand up and preach or teach or lead a meeting, there is really nothing I can do in this church’,  you are deceiving yourself!  You are still a part of the body.  You have simply shut your eyes and ears to truth.  You need to open them to see the part God has given you.

We must remember, there are no insignificant members of the body.  We all too easily develop the wrong idea that it’s those who lead our churches that have all the gifts.

If the work of the church is to heal the broken-hearted out in the world, to bring deliverance to the captives, to open the eyes of the blind, and to preach the good news to the poor and despairing of heart, then we come to the church to get ready to fulfil it out there!  Without exception, it is clear that there is definitely a part to play for every member.

A vicar once received a letter like this……

Dear Vicar, there are 566 people in our church, 100 are elderly, leaving 466 to do all the work.  80 are youngsters in education, leaving 386 to do all the work, but 150 of these are tired business people, which leaves 236 to do all the work.  150 of these are busy with children, leaving 86 to do all the work.  15 live too far away to be regulars and 69 say they’ve done their bit, which leaves just you and me!  I’m exhausted, so good luck to you!

Everyone’s meant to be involved because God has given gifts to all of us!


One body, many members…(Part One)

Ok, this is a four-part study in 1 Corinthians 12.  I know I blogged about chips in my last post, but I was feeling peckish.

By way of intro, the church (which I love) is both a building and a body, and the aspect that buildings and bodies have in common is that they are places in which to live.  The beauty of the church is that it is both the building in which God lives and the body through which He works.  This is the theme of Chapter 12.  The church is not an organisation brought into being to operate nice meetings, but it consists of all those who are a living body, growing and developing within the world, not apart from it, in order to touch the world with the reality of the love of God.

That is what the church is.  It is unique!  No other organisation approaches it in purpose, scope, power or abilities.

Part One   ‘But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good’  (vs. 7)

When it comes to gifts, sometimes we just can’t get our heads around the wrong thinking that they are talents or skills that others have!  Another problem is that we think they all have to come through the Sunday morning service, or from the church leadership.  It’s not like that at all!

Gifts get exercised when you are with your neighbours, when you are at work; or when you are in the car; or with children or older people.  It will be an opportunity that comes on a plate for you to use the gift of teaching, or helps, or encouragement, or giving, or whatever it is that God has given you.  We get to be servants in action, with the opportunity to use our gifts!  God loves to equip His people.  This is foundational.  What has God given to you by which you can function within the body of Christ?

Notice three things about this verse.  Firstly, Paul writes ‘To each one is given…’  In other words, no one is left out!  You have one at least, and probably more, because God chooses a combination to suit just you, ideal for your personality, and puts you right where he wants you, not only in the church among the other believers, but out in the world as well.  That is where you begin to function as a member of the church.

Secondly, Paul says  ‘…the manifestation of the Spirit.’  It is not your natural abilities, as we are so quick to assume.  It’s a supernatural function!  The gifts of the Spirit are not your regular abilities or talents, like amazing musical or athletic ability.  But spiritual gifts are given for functioning in the realm of the spirit.

The function of spiritual gifts is to enable the human spirit to live as it was intended.  Natural abilities and spiritual gifts do, of course, blend together wonderfully.  Take for example an outstanding singing ability being able awaken a sense of worship!

Thirdly, Paul says gifts are given for  ‘…the common good.’  In other words, they must serve others.  It has no other purpose in being given to you except to build up and edify others.  It is for the good of all.  You are going to need others’ spiritual gifts just as much as they are going to need yours.

Look out for Part Two….

Harry Ramsden in India…

It’s official.  Famous chip shop chain plans to open in Indian continent!  Funny that our influence on Indian cuisine which started with curry (yes, the British Army invented it – the word curry, that is), has now stretched to the good old chippy and all its healthy attributes.  Do you think they’ll do deep fried Mars Bars too?

Cod n chips...

For the record, Indian culture has flavoured its food with their exquisite spices long before the British Army turned up.  There.  Hope that’s broken the ridiculous myth that our dubious Empire antics also affected the dinner table!

Mr Boparan, the new Indian owner of Harry Ramsden’s, said that once the UK business is operating properly, he wants to open branches in numerous Indin cities and other major nations like China.  As fish raises few religious objections in India, the proposal demonstrates the country’s receptiveness to Western fast food.

The world’s biggest fish and chip chain was originally started by Harry Ramsden in a hut in Guiseley, West Yorkshire in 1928.  Within three years, Mr Ramsden opened a “fish and chip palace” nearby modelled on The Ritz and sold the business in 1954.  The Guiseley branch is the biggest fish and chip shop in the world, seating about 250 customers.

Mr Boparan said: “Harry Ramsden’s is a great British institution and we want to put it back on the map by focusing on the fundamentals of superb service, exceptional value and the very best tasting fish and chips you can buy.”


Hope does not disappoint…

Uh oh!  Just when you thought it was safe to read blogs again in 2010…….not another reflective post about the changing of the decade!  Ok, I admit it.  I am feeling all soft about the New Year and what it might hold.  But gimme a moment to persuade you of a hope-filled 2010.

I have no idea what 2009 was like for you…….but I can gaurantee it comprised a confusing mixture of the following : mundane work; great fun with loved ones; moments where you felt rejected; times where you felt you could burst with joy; days where you wondered where God was; and so on and so on……..

Life is not straightforward.  In fact, Jesus spoke plainly about this being so (John 16:33).  And our response?  Well, if your emotions follow the ups and downs of life, your reactions will also be mixed.  You will be relying on how you feel, and respond accordingly.  Living life in this way is exhausting!

But there is another way to respond…..logically.  In his letter to the Christians in Rome, the apostle Paul tells it how it is in Romans 5:1-11 , laying truth out for us so we are without excuse in understanding the extent of the mercy of God.

So whatever 2009 brought, treat yourself to an eternal perspective.  It’s what God would want you to do, and it’s why He puts lasting and robust joy in you by His Holy Spirit.   Someone once told me, ‘happiness depends on what happens to you.  Joy, however, is a steady assurance of a future hope, so live your life accordingly.’  Deal.