What part do you play?.

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Gordon Jackson, best known for playing “Hudson” in the original and very popular series “Upstairs, Downstairs” said that he did not like the Belamy’s butler ( the character he played), very much.

Also Clive Dunn who played Lance Corporal Jones in “Dad’s Army” said that he did not like “Jones” a lot because he represented all that “class distinction” that he knew growing up and which he detested.Image result for clive dunn

I suppose we could all ask ourselves whether we like the part we are playing?

We can all put the mask of Christianity on at times, without our hearts being in it. Our Church, friends and family may expect us to act and sound a certain way and we may fall into situations where behaving like a Christian is the last thing we want to do.

Maybe we are only play-acting at being a Christians in the first place so when we run out of lines we have to “ad lib”, and because we have no real relationship with Christ we are not very convincing as performers.

My friend Don Proutt said that Christianity is something that should never be “Fictionalized”. Christ and His service in the World are the ultimate realities and our faith and love for Him and His people should never be merely feigned and assumed.

The challenge for us all is to be real Christians and genuine followers and believers in Christ. As He did not merely act the part, but lived and died for the salvation of our souls, nothing less than our “all” is required of us.

For those who truly believe, (continuing the stage acting metaphor), playing our part will mean more than waiting in our dressing room for our “cue”. It will mean pitching in and helping to get the show on the road.

All the World may be a stage, but Christ’s service in it is no place for mere play actors. It requires people, who are Christians in deed and not just in the cast.

These loyal believers in Jesus Christ will be the only ones mentioned in the closing credits.

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The Old Curiosity Shop!

Yesterday, I saw a news clip which showed Syrian refugees building walls for shelters,  using mud , embedded with old tin cans ,to protect them from the weather.

It reminds me of a house built in 1863, which became a tourist attraction in Ballarat called the “Old Curiosity” (shop now closed).https://i1.wp.com/vhd.heritage.vic.gov.au/images/vhr/80646.jpg

It was built of everything from

“Cast-off crockery, glass, ceramic figurine and mirror shards, shells, wallpaper samples, architectural ornament and slag,

a place was found for all manner of things, large and small”.

Even bits of old china dolls were incorporated into the building, garden walls and garden walks.

It occupied the owner and his wife most of their lives and became a source of amazement ever since.https://i1.wp.com/www.slv.vic.gov.au/pictoria/a/1/3/im/a13723.jpg

We could probably say of real Christians and the members of the invisible church, that they are an odd assortment of people and maybe not what we would use as building materials.

However much they are scattered by nation or denomination, they are one in Christ even though they may not always realize it.

They may have very little else to “cement “them together, but their oneness in Christ binds each into His building and body which is the true Church.

To worldly eyes the end result of this “Hodge podge” may not be exactly Frank Lloyd Wright, yet the end result will be a structure that will be to Christ’s glory and His delight for all eternity.

Dear Departed!

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As mentioned previously, people fall away from the church while still owning themselves as Christians and followers of Christ.

With these people I greatly sympathize.  I think that there is much to discourage in the visible church in this day and age.

Personality conflicts are always present in the church. Downright unfriendliness and cliques among seemingly devout Christians is always sad and a blight on a fellowship.

That some individual or family  rules the roost in a particular church and deprive others of the opportunity for service or input, can occur and split a local church.

Maybe the minister does not appeal to them or suit their taste

There are countless reasons why people leave a particular church group.

There is no doubt that boredom and searching for more congenial surroundings and friendships is a common reason for “church hopping”.

Many Christians become what C.S.Lewis called “Connoisseurs” of churches instead of members of the church.

Parents leaving smaller struggling churches, for larger fellowships with an active children’s program is one reason you hear of more often than not.

Fundamentally, lack of sound scriptural teaching and doctrine is another reason for moving on and is the most serious.

Though it seems to be smudged over by many, Christians are not always what they should be. They are not always the gracious Christ-like people that we would expect to see and judge from their pious behavior on a Sunday morning.

For anyone reading this and for the one writing it, we must include ourselves in this description at times.

Some people are more visibly formed in the image of Christ and some are still in the early stages of formation with the rough edges yet to be hewn off.

Some people we will always disagree with and will never be as close to, yet it makes it all the more important that we look more closely to see even the slightest evidence of Christ in them and when we cannot see it, to give them the benefit of the doubt and our Christian witness.

For those who are bored with the church they attend, I can only asked them to examine their motives and expectations for attending church and to look again that what function Christ has ordained  for the local church.

For the Christian church to be a source of constant entertainment and catering to our fads and fancies should be very low down on the list of priorities.

I confess I have less patience with those who leave a faithful Bible believing church merely because it is too small or does not have the facilities for a “whiz bang” children’s program. Is this a genuine reason or is it and excuse to move to a larger more exciting group?

Looking at many countries in the world there is no way they would have the electronic media aids and entertainment facilities which most western churches devote to their efforts at children’ ministry. Yet the work of evangelism, among children and in general goes on without them.

We must always ask ourselves, where can we best serve and where are we most needed.

Do we think that if we are in the place God wants us to be that He will let our children be the losers by not attending a high tech, high energy children’s ministry?

I do not have children but if I did I would rather they went to the humblest “Sunday school” and heard the stories of Jesus and the Gospel than be  just entertained  or run ragged by a Christian version of the “Wiggles”.

The saddest reason for leaving a church is because they do not preach “the whole counsel of God”.

I am not speaking about blatantly false doctrine, although there are plenty of groups like that, but rather groups which preach enough of the scriptures and the doctrine of salvation to pass as orthodox but neglect great tracts of the Word of God. I am thinking of those churches whose preaching is all sugar and no salt and who accentuate the positive while making no attempt to deal with the negative.

For those groups who avoid anything in the gospel message which may give anyone offense and who soft pedal the fact that we are all sinners, and have sinful propensities to be overcome and repented of. Those who make the gospel little more than a lifestyle change without any need for being born again.

Clearly when one attends a church which is selective in its preaching of the gospel of Christ one must think whether it is right to attend such a church. Yet we must also think that we may be the means to take the great truths of God, out of the filing cabinet these churches relegate them to, and remind them of how vital to our understanding they are.

The fundamental change that has occurred in the church in its preaching and worship, over the last thirty or forty years, is no doubt affecting and discouraging many. In my experience of it, I can only say that it is un-edifying to say the least and a poor substitute for the worship I enjoyed when I was younger. This makes it very difficult to remain in some groups today. They are so fundamentally different from the way they were in the past and have no continuity with the church our forefathers in the faith knew and suffered to preserve.

So I would submit, that when you have found a fellowship, (big or small, young or old) which perseveringly and wholeheartedly proclaims the Word of God and gives Him the reverence due to His Name, you should think long and hard before you go to a church where the grass may seem greener but where it is all show and little substance.

 

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To be Remembered!

I have met and struck up several acquaintances with people over the years even though I only see them seldom or periodically.

One particular man with whom I have not had direct contact for some years and who I thought had forgotten me smiled and waved as he drove passed me the other day.

Another day I was walking done one of our main streets and a man walking behind me who drew alongside and asked me whether I used to clean up at a local joinery. I worked at this job when I was still at technical school over thirty years ago and then only a few hours a week.

The point I wish to make is that it gives me great pleasure to be remembered and remembered well. To have someone, some where, thinks enough of us to wish to renew an acquaintance or even give a friendly greeting are a simple pleasure, coming in the midst of a world full of animosity and apathy.

True many may not wish to remember us at all and others will remember us with hostility, yet as long as someone reckons we are worth knowing we can comfort ourselves that we are not complete pariahs and outcasts.

However this may be, when we become God’s children by faith in His Son, we can be certain that in any circumstances He will remember us!

Even in old age when our faculties fail and we may no longer remember Him He remains faithful and keep us always in His eye.

Sometimes God’s attentions to us savor more of a father’s displeasure but despite this, the bond we have with him as his children is none the weaker or less enduring or loving.

He remembers us and will not forget His dear ones.

And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
 Malachi 3:17

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What part do you play?.

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