Posted on: 14th January 2019
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
Do you have the gift?
What is your gift? We have just gone through the Christmas season where gifts have been given and received. Did you get what you want? Did you get what you need? Did you get a gift that you thought you needed, but realised that it wasn’t what you thought it was going to be?
My favourite present is still partly unopened on the coffee table in my living room. It is a jar containing 58 pieces of paper. It is the most special gift I have ever received. On each piece of paper there is a statement that begins, “I love you because…” Every time I read one of the statements, I feel like a giant, a hero and a champion. Every word written by my wife and children is an encouragement that I am loved for being me.
In Romans 12:8, Paul describes encouragement as a spiritual gift. This doesn’t mean that only certain people can do it, but it makes it clear that God is into encouragement enough to empower people to do it through his Spirit. As a school, our mission statement acknowledges that the Holy Spirit is inspirer. Do you have the gift of encouragement? Maybe you don’t know the gift that God has entrusted to you. Maybe 2019 is your year of discovery and development.
Proverbs 18:20-21 says, “Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction. The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”
When we meet up in our houses this week, we are challenged to come together as a team, working together towards a goal. I have been part of enough teams to know that encouraging others is a far better team dynamic than criticism.
This week, take time to encourage others. If you feel it comes naturally to you then maybe you have identified a gift. Gifts are for giving, so give the gift of encouragement this week.
Posted on: 9th January 2019
“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.”
What would you do if praying made a difference?
We have been meeting weekly in the Chapel to pray, every Tuesday. During this time, we have prayed for the school, for events, for those connected to the school, that there would be a sense of the presence of God in everything we do. Some of our prayers have been for loved ones who are sick. Many of these prayers have been answered. We continue to pray for people and situations that bring discomfort and pain and you are always welcome to come along.
Paul prayed. When you read the letters, he wrote to the churches that were growing after the death and resurrection of Jesus. In Ephesians 3, Paul is writing to the group of believers in Ephesus. Paul had visited this city on his travels and lots of people had believed in Jesus and were choosing to live differently. The difference made by the message of Jesus had caused some to riot and oppose Paul and his companions. The message of Jesus had been accepted by some but was opposed to the way of life of others.
Jesus prayed. Throughout the gospels, Jesus went to be alone with God to pray. He taught his disciples how to pray. In Matthew 18, Jesus promises that when we gather in his name, he will be with us. He also promised that whatever we agree on in his name, will be given. What an amazing promise.
What would you do if praying made a difference? Prayer and meditation is a strong part of all major faiths. It is an opportunity to deepen our beliefs and faith. It can strengthen our inner beings and can make differences in our lives. Whatever your resolutions for the New Year, consider prayer. What if this was the year that you began to ‘Love to Pray’.
Posted on: 19th November 2018
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.”
What is the link between 2004 and 2016?
One link I would like to consider this week is unexpected success. The stage was set for Portugal, in Portugal, to secure the European Championship against an unexpected opponent. But the domination of possession and shots could not overcome the single goal scored in that game. But who were the winners?
5000-1 were the odds given to Leicester City at the start of the season. Reports praise the efforts of the three stars of the team, but I would like to suggest it was everyone connected to the team that brought the victory.
In Judges 7 we read the story of the defeat of Midian. Gideon was called a ‘Mighty Man of Valour’ by God, who found him hiding. The story strikes me as odd that the mighty man was hiding, but God knows how to pick them. Gideon was probably feeling like the odds were in his favour as he had an army of 32,000. God had other plans.
The first stage of fine tuning the army involved asking those who were afraid to leave. The remaining 10,000 faced the second stage, drinking water at the river. 9,700 drank like dogs and were asked to go home. The story ends with 300 men defeating the Midianites with trumpet, empty jars and burning torches. Now that is an underdog story!
As we consider the power of team and the difference supporting each other brings this week, remember the encouragement the Apostle Paul offers in Galatians 6:2. If you are to fulfil the law of Christ, look for opportunities to support and help those in your team. Having people around you who offer support really is a gift from God and a game changer.
Posted on: 17th September 2018
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.”
1 Corinthians 12:12
I do not know how you read the Bible, but I love to picture what the writer is describing, or place myself in the narrative as a character or a ‘fly on the wall’. I think both of these are acceptable ways to access scripture and can lead to an interesting perspective. This is definitely true for the passage in 1 Corinthians 12. The writer asks the readers to consider a number of different outrageous scenarios.
Firstly, consider what would happen in the body if the foot ‘says’ to the body, “I am not part of you because I am not a hand.” Or the ear ‘says’, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye.” Does the denial that they are not part of the body mean they are not part of the body? As a body of staff, students, parents and supporters of Saint Wilfrid’s, it may sometimes be easy to devalue or underappreciate the part we play as others seem to take a more prominent role. As we begin to establish our rhythm of the new academic year, maybe we could all take time to reflect on the impact of others and show our appreciation for their part.
Secondly the writer asks us to consider what it would be like if the whole body was an eye or an ear. This encourages me that my contribution to the body is important and I do not need to try and play the part of someone else.
Thirdly, the writer mentions the honour that is shown to the weakest and least important parts. He elevates these parts as the most necessary and therefore the most protected and cared for. As a school body, let us again take time to reflect on how we show care for all our members.
The importance of unity is summed up in verses 26 and 27. As we consider the role the house system plays in the life of Saint Wilfrid’s this week, may we be encouraged by this.
“If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honoured, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”
Posted on: 18th June 2018
“‘Each of us should please his neighbour for their good, to build him up.’”
Two men who shared a hospital room ended up becoming friends. One could sit up for an hour every day. His bed was beside the only window. The other man spent his life flat on his back. Each day the man at the window would describe the activity and colour of the outside world: the park overlooking the lake, ducks swimming, children playing, couples walking together, the skyline in the distance.
His friend, who could see none of this, smiled and imagined it all in his mind’s eye. One day the man by the window died and his roommate moved into his place. He propped himself up to look outside and was amazed to see a drab brick wall! Confused, he asked the nurse how come his friend had described the scenery in such glowing terms. She replied, ‘Actually, he was blind, and he couldn’t even see the wall. He just wanted to encourage you.’
Paul said, ‘Each of us should please his neighbour for their good, to build him up.’ There’s great satisfaction in encouraging people, especially when your own situation is less than ideal. One author writes: ‘When you tell someone they’re beautiful, you change how they see themselves. A girl in love thinks she’s the most beautiful girl in the world because her young man said so. When a teacher tells a student he’s smart, he works harder and achieves more. When a parent tells a child she’s loved, she has confidence to reach for the stars.
Posted on: 21st May 2018
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
Discontentment. It’s something that can stop us from feeling joy and living life to the full.
The Bible says we must learn to be content ‘whatever the circumstances.’ That can be hard.
We see what other people have and we want the same. We see what other people have achieved, and we want to do that too. Once we start comparing our lives to other people’s, discontentment can find its way in and we begin to forget all the blessings and gifts that God has given us.
Discontentment clouds all the good and makes us think our lives are not alright as they are. Instead, contentment recognises all the good in our lives and doesn’t want what other people have. There’ll always be people who have more than us, but there’ll also be people who have less. What you choose to focus on will determine how contented you feel.
Our security and self-worth should be based on who we are in Christ, not what we have. Our possessions, achievements and relationships shouldn’t define who we are. Paul wrote: ‘I’ve learned…to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am’ (Philippians 4 v 11-13).
When we’re focused on our identity in Christ, rather than what we do or don’t have, we leave no room for discontentment in our lives.
Posted on: 5th February 2018
Isn’t it ironic that the majority of time we ask for patience is when we want it immediately? Even Christian’s pray for patience… and they want God to give it them now!
Think through the past few weeks. Who or what has tested your patience? A teacher who did not understand you? A friend who annoyed you? A brother or sister in an obnoxious mood? A parent’s expectations that seemed unreasonable? A disappointing grade? A broken-down car? Other drivers on the road? Sickness?
Now consider, which of those situations did you have any control over? Probably not many and whilst it’s good to try to control those things you can control, just to simplify your life, the things that test our patience are often out of our control. We just have to live with them and through them, learn patience.
So, now what?
Paul tells us to be “strengthened with all power according to God’s glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11).
Yes, God can give us the power of patience; He can also teach us patience when we ask for it.
Are you patient? Do you need to learn patience? In which areas of your life could you do with a bit more patience?
“Carry one another’s burdens and this way you will fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2)
Each person has a community around them, whether we like it or not we are connected in some way to others that we have both similarities and differences with. Each of us belongs and though sometimes we don’t believe it or feel it our belonging makes us a part of something bigger than ourselves.
Whilst last week we explored how we can set ourselves up to win and the fact we are all unique in our own way, this week we are looking at how us as individuals can set our community up to win. In the bible we read of Paul, who we thing wrote 13 books in the New Testament. We know for a fact that the majority of these books were based upon his letters he sent to several communities that had been established as new Christians. Paul’s letters teach us three things that we can do to set our community up to win.
- Pray – Each time Paul wrote to the different communities he declared at the beginning or the end of his letters that he was praying for them, often for the specifics that he knew of them too.
Do you pray for your community? For those you are in direct contact with? For your faith leaders? For those in positions of power?
- Connect – Meet people where they are at. Paul never wrote above the understanding of those who were to receive his letters. He targeted areas in his letters that the individual communities were working on in order to warn them of danger or encourage them. It’s easy to think of people in your community that may sometimes get missed due to information being in a format that they can’t cope with. Be the one who connects beyond others. Remember the phase from last year “When you support the 100, the 100 support you.”
- Build Relationships, Build Culture – throughout Paul’s letters we read of people Paul has sent out to do works within those communities he is writing to. Paul however never sent them out without the intention of them bring the culture of Christ into those communities. What relationships are you actively and intentionally seeking to build? What culture are you taking into you community?
See as communities we all feel the same things. Hopes and fears, the comfort and strength of a hug, a chat with a neighbour, a moment to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, 5 minutes of peace all to yourself, awe found in a fabulous view, beauty found in nature, a warm breeze, a generous smile, happy tears, sad tears, the assurance of a friend, the delightful laughter of children -their fun, adventure, innocence, curiosity and energy, the satisfaction gained from working hard and learning something new, a desperate prayer spoken to a gracious and listening God, who so desperately loves us all, the power of saying ‘sorry’ when it is needed and mileage that comes from a word of appreciation. The list goes on but it’s as community that we are able to empower one another to succeed far beyond what we can on our own.