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Pastor’s message: February 2019

Dear Friends,

I write the day after the big vote. Our government’s proposals for Brexit have been rejected. Before the vote took place it seemed that there was no clear direction. The vote has happened, we are in the same place and the truth of Proverbs 27:1 has been fulfilled – “you do not know what a day may bring.” The big question is “Where do we go from here?” I have no intention of entering into a political debate, because I do not claim to have any answers, but Jesus addresses such situations in the later chapters of the Gospels and His advice remains pertinent,

Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. (Luke 21:28)

Each day that we live on this earth takes us a day closer to eternity, be that in our own death or in the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is clear that there are various events in life, political, spiritual, social and even personal over which we have no control, but that does not mean that they are wasted or insignificant. Christ is saying that we need to respond to life events, but it is not to be mindless re-action, but rather it is to be conscious and purposeful.

We are called to “straighten up”. It is suggested that this primarily is a spiritual exercise, that of lifting up the soul. I can understand that, but increasingly I am aware that we are whole beings – body, soul and mind; or physical, spiritual and mental. Each affects the other. In Ps 32 David acknowledges that unrepentant sin drained him of physical health and energy, “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.” (v.3)

The writer to the Hebrews issues the following call, “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, (Hebrews 12:12). He is not simply concerned with our physical fitness, but rather that anything that causes weakness or hinders spiritual progress in life should be dealt with – “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;” (vv14,15).

Similarly we are called to “raise your heads”. There are times in life when it is important to keep our eyes on the ground, so that we do not trip or stumble, but the majority of time it is important to look up and get a full-picture of life. The car driver who is focussed on the front of his bonnet is far more likely to collide with another vehicle, than the one who is aware of his own position, but also that of others around him. The Lord however is not simply concerned with the present events of life, but has an eternal perspective and we have here a call to gain that same perspective. First of all to focus on Him, because He is our redemption, but also to understand that God’s purposes are far greater than our immediate world.

There is a very narrow line between genuine personal spiritual concern and self-absorption, thinking that the world exists for us personally. Similarly emphasis on the growth of our own local church will lead to cold and impotent isolation; we are to have a worldwide and long-term vision seeking the glory of God in the salvation of lost sinners. History bears grim testimony to the vile destruction generated by nations who simply want to extend their territory and their power.

There is political confusion, but at the same time there is a devastating spiritual lethargy, it is time for each of us to “straighten up and raise your heads.” We do this not for personal satisfaction, but for the glory of God longing that we might see our lives, our families, our church and our nations committed to keep in step with God’s purposes.

Your friend and pastor, resting in God,

Bernard Lewis

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