When powerful people take advantage of those under their authority, it poses serious questions for all of society to think about.
Recent revelations about the behaviour of certain TV producers & some of our elected politicians is a sobering wake up call. Sadly, the Church has not always been exempt from such accusations either. How tragic for the victims of this conduct that they’ve felt nobody would listen and they were powerless to speak up. Maybe what is currently unfolding is the beginning of a shift in culture? Here’s hoping. But it begs the question….how much of this stuff is still happening today?
When an abuser says ‘I may have done that, but I don’t remember‘, this should send a shudder down the spine of our society. It speaks of a culture which has either turned a blind eye to abusive behaviour, or even unwittingly encouraged it with frivolous dismissal. In any case, as a nation, we would do well to ask ‘why?’. What on earth would create the impression that these dispicable actions are somehow ok? Why is it considered ‘fair game’ for some men to treat women as objects rather than human beings? What kind of environment espouses such utterly disrespectful treatment towards others? These are VERY serious questions which require an honest conversation. Yet too often, it seems like there’s only a willingness to discuss the symptoms, but not the cause.
The flurry of horrid stories which have been reported in the news are just the tip of the iceberg. Yet as we look ahead, wisdom asks where do we go from here? Will culture really shift…or will todays lured headlines just become tomorrow’s junk? And what about God in all this? Maybe the Bible’s wisdom has been too contemptuously discarded by secularism? Perhaps we have missed the point of a loving God who actually REALLY cares about the world and genuinely wants what’s best for us?
In the midst of the mess which greed & selfishness has left behind, society would do well to revisit what the Bible has to say. More than ever before, we need God’s healing grace. After all, that’s what the big story of the Bible is all about.
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Have you ever found yourself feeling lonely and abandoned? If so, well…you’re actually in good company. The bible is full of characters who experienced just that. One of them is the apostle Paul.
Today, Paul is celebrated as a hero of the faith, and rightly so. The former persecutor of Christianity became the man who wrote two thirds of the New Testament. His accomplishments for the cause of Christ are formidable, including pioneering churches all over the then known world and giving intellectual gravitas to theological principles. What a legend.
Yet despite his ‘success’, Paul was a lonely man. He often found himself isolated and misunderstood. For example, his most encouraging friend Barnabas left him in disagreement because of the latter’s cousin John Mark (Acts 15). On another occasion, Paul writes about his dear friend Demus who forsook him in order to pursue a selfish agenda (2 Tim 4:10). These are just two incidents of many.
Paul was clearly hurt by disappointments like this. He was human after all. Yet, there is never any sense of him moping around in self pity. He simply got on with serving God and fulfilling his calling in life, such was the measure of the man. You’d have to wonder if those who deserted Paul might not have done so if only they’d realised the magnitude of Paul’s influence both in time and eternity? Of course, hindsight is helpful…but foresight is far better.
I am personally grateful for the people in my life who’ve stuck by me when others haven’t, especially in times which were challenging and lean. Faithfulness is a virtue that is grossly underrated in 21st Century living. So many people just seem to give up at the first hurdle they encounter. Yet those who remain committed are rare…and more of an inspiration than they can possibly imagine. They know the worst, yet believe the best. They stay the course and live selflessly for God’s purpose.
If you ever feel abandoned and lonely, then resist the temptation to spend too much time feeling sorry for yourself. Throw yourself into the service of God. Turn your pain into purpose. The most fulfilled people are those who live for a cause that is bigger than themselves. Life is too short to be bitter & offended. Make every day count. Remember, what happens today echoes in eternity.
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It is human to feel lots of emotions in life. But when emotionalism sits in the driving seat, a world of fickleness beckons. It is subjective rather than objective. It is impetuous rather than principled. It is careless rather than considerate. But wise people don’t allow their lives to be driven by the immediacy of raw emotion. They afford themselves time to reflect & read the road ahead – beyond the path of sentiment.
It seems that too many people in life are quick to believe the first thing their emotions tell them. Take a quick glance over a Facebook timeline and you’ll soon discover this. Yes, feelings can inform us about what we’re experiencing in the here and now. But whilst we don’t have to deny what we might feel, it’s never good to give it too much credence. It has a habit of changing very quickly. Besides, the foundation on which God wants our lives to be built is the truth of his word, not the strength of our emotions. This is what will keep us standing during the storm. This is what will sustain us through challenges. This is what will guard our hearts when we feel hurt, disappointment and pain – all of which are inevitable.
Paul encourages us to be very intentional about ‘taking captive every thought and making it obedient to Christ‘ (2 Cor 5:10). In other words, we need to think about HOW we think. Instead of allowing our feelings to think for us, it’s important to develop disciplined thoughtfulness. The bench mark is how it lines up with the truth of God’s word. Interestingly, Paul encourages us to take ‘captive‘ those thoughts which are off the mark. This conveys the idea of capturing invading lies and then incarcerating them. In a world in which we are bombarded by ‘fake news’, this is particularly relevant advice.
In the end, what matters is that which is true. Jesus is the personification of truth. That’s why wise people submit their thoughts, feelings and emotions to him. After all, he is ‘the way, the truth and the life‘ (John 14:6).
CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE AND THE JUNCTION CHURCH LOUGHBOROUGH HERE.
The most poignant music is marked by subtlety. Things happen in the background which aren’t entirely obvious, yet when included in the overall score, help create a meaningful sound. The same is true with art. For me, the finest artwork is layered with subtleties rather than glaringly obvious. They create an experience which provokes thoughtfulness and adds perspective to life.
God is an artist. He is the true original whose creative brilliance surpasses the very meaning of ‘genius’. Yet his work is often subtle, weaved deep into the fabric of his creation.
On one occasion when Elijah the prophet was struggling with dabilitating discouragement, God surprised him by bypassing all expectations. Instead of ministering through fire, wind or earth quake, he chose the intimacy of a still small voice. It was so perfectly pitched to Elijah’s ear that only the prophet himself could hear it. Not many words where spoken by the Almighty – but the means by which he spoke was as much a message as what was spoken. The moment exuded grace, love, gentleness and kindness. Brilliance lovingly rained down on the dreariness of desert land – refreshing, beautiful, subtle. (1 Kings 19)
It’s wise to resist the temptation of over-spiritualising the extra-ordinary and under-spiritualising the ordinary. The supernatural is rarely spectacular. It’s in the ordinary, everyday stuff of life where God’s power is most at work – subtle, hidden, profound. Most miracles don’t feel like miracles. It’s only hindsight which tells the tale. That’s why it’s vitally important to hold your nerve. Often, your greatest need is just a miracle in disguise.
One of the most priceless gifts you can give yourself on any given day is to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. He’s always at work, even when you don’t realise it. Learn the art of sensitivity and suddenly your eyes will be opened to a new perspective of God’s amazing grace…in the ordinary. That’s where His best work is.
CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH IN LEICESTER HERE, THE JUNCTION CHURCH IN LOUGHBOROUGH HERE AND FIND OUT ABOUT OUR NOTTINGHAM CHURCH HERE!!
WHY REAL VICTORY IN LIFEHAPPENS BEHIND THE SCENES by Roy Todd
It’s better to be underestimated than overestimated. When expectations are too high and unrealistic, disappointment is inevitable. What’s really important is what happens behind the scenes. To be victorious in life, you must win here first.
The bible character who illustrates this best is King David. Before he became king, he was deeply underrated. This was something he’d experienced all his life. For example, when Samuel was looking for a new king in the land, all of David’s brothers were in line first before David was eventually chosen (1 Samuel 16). Years later, when the Philistine champion Goliath taunted and humiliated the armies of Israel, David’s offer to confront him was treated with complete scorn (1 Samuel 17). Then when he finally stood on the field to face Goliath, the colossal giant was insulted by a kid who he looked down upon with utter contempt. What infuriated Goliath all the more was the fact that David only had a sling and some stones, wearing none of the usual armour a soldier would carry. However, in those next few moments, history was made as an astonishing victory took place. With one stone, David hit the giant and subsequently defeated the Philistine armies. Wow. With one stone!!
So….was this a fluke? Was it luck? Not at all. Behind the scenes, David was totally prepared for this battle. What Goliath didn’t know was that David had already defeated a bear and a lion (1 Samuel 17:34). Furthermore, David was highly skilled in the art of sling throwing. It is said that David’s skill would have been so accurate that he could have hit a target from a significant distance and with incredible precision. So in reality, whilst David was perceived as the underdog, the real disadvantage lay with the nine foot giant. He was an easy target for David that day. David was more than happy to be seen as the underdog. You see, status didn’t matter to him. What really counted was victory.
Underdogs are underrated because they are perceived as weak. But the perception is often flawed. When people aren’t aware of the battles you’ve been through in life, they often underestimate what you’re made of.
Before we planted the Junction Church, we hosted a series of Sunday night meetings in a small village. On reflection, those two years were the toughest of our lives. In that short time, we dealt with virtually every issue it was possible for leaders to deal with. The pressure was great and it nearly broke us. I can’t begin to describe what we went through there. Yet as painful as it was, it was absolutely necessary we passed that test. When we went on to plant the Junction Church, we were prepared for what lay ahead. Why? Because we’d been through the fire and not only survived…but thrived. We gained invaluable experience which prepared us to build a community that would be strong and healthy.
What happens behind the scenes of your life REALLY matters. If you want to live in a place of victory, then this must be fought for when no-one else is looking. The battle is in your mind. It’s also imperative to overcome the struggles in your heart. When we deal with these well, that’s when we’ll triumph in life. Nothing will be able to stop you. When you learn to win those unseen battles, they create a steel inside you which prepare you for your key moments. You see, the real victory happens when we win while no-one else is looking.
CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE AND THE JUNCTION CHURCH LOUGHBOROUGH HERE.
by Roy Todd