For those that would prefer it there is an audio track of this blog post. It is 17 minutes long but includes a message that Sharon shared with us in last Sundays meeting. Just carrying on reading below if you prefer – the text is the same.
Last week in her blog post “What’s in a name?” Sarah talked a bit about her kids moving on, and how she needed to rethink some things she had been used to because they were not the same anymore.
It got me thinking about things in my own life that were not quite the same and things that had needed to be looked at with a new perspective.
1. Family Relationships
One of those was our now married ‘baby’ – he turned 30 last January and got married in July just gone – Things have changed and I have to view him in a different way from what I have done previously.
As a young child I remember my mum getting very exasperated with me for always using scissors upside down. At the time I didn’t know why I could never get it right but years later I discovered, and managed to buy, some Left Handed scissors. My problems were immediately solved and cutting became much easier. (I am actually right handed but strangely use scissors in my left hand)
My Mum’s enlightening came one day many years later. She was struggling when staying with us because she couldn’t manage to use my left handed scissors very easily.
Then I heard her cry out
“Hey, I have worked out if I put your scissors upside down I can use them” .
When faced with something a little bit different, something that doesn’t fit what we are used to, we maybe need to use it in a bit of a different way. In fact maybe we need to use it in a different way to everyone else, to achieve the same purpose.
So where am I going with all this?
Do you have a tendency to look at the whole of life as if through covid-tinted glasses and decide that until those glasses get taken away there is nothing to be done to change things? I do sometimes.
We have to admit that Covid-19 is going to be around for a good while yet, and online church is all we are going to have for now.
So I, for one, have decided to take matters in hand. I am going to take a long hard look and do a reassessment. A reassessment of the way I am viewing things.
For example –
- Is the way this whole situation is moulding my thinking acceptable to me?
- Do I like the way it has changed my attitudes?
- Am I content with the way it has changed my relationships?
- Am I sure that there is no change to what I think, say or do that would be a better way to handle this more long-term?
Because if the answer to any one of those is “NO” then I need to decide HOW God would have me change things for the better – ideally before someone comes along and admonishes me 😊 (listen to last Sunday’s sermon if you don’t get that reference)
Please don’t switch off here –
What about you?
This is not the moment to assume there is nothing you can do about it – REMEMBER – with God ALL things are possible – even getting a camel through the eye of a needle – and so surely, whatever Covid-tinted glasses we are wearing, we can find a way to live more as God intended right where we are.
Fan into Flame
If we decide, after we have reviewed the situation, that we are doing all we can, then ok – but we may just find we need to tweak our perspective to be where we want to be in regards to Jesus and the plans he has for us and his church.
That’s what we want isn’t it? To be enthusiastic about Jesus and fan in to flame that which He has put within us.
Do you believe it is possible to be a raging fire in this Covid environment? Or are you content to just be smouldering?
Did you hear what Sharon shared about this very thing on Sunday – here it is if you missed it.
So folks – how are we going to do that? How are we going to “huddle together” to help each of us stay on fire for Jesus?
In fact – how are we going to light fires all down the valley for Jesus if we are separate embers struggling to stay alight? (ask Matt about that image from a prophecy given for Ark Church Halifax if you haven’t heard it before)
Let’s go back to my 2 illustrations –
1 (again). Family relationships
Like it or not – some things have changed.
I do like that our son now has a wife. Our relationship has changed, BUT it is not diminishing. In fact the family is growing as we now have a lovely daughter-in-law to include.
So with church – some things have changed. Our relationship with each other is different but it can still grow if we let it, and, under God’s guidance, grow into something much more solid and genuine.
What are you doing to grow your relationships in the church? Is it something you have given any thought to or we just drifting with our covid-tinted glasses and waiting for something better?
As I have been thinking about this it is hitting me hard. I know I am guilty of letting some friendships fall by the wayside because communication is difficult. I really don’t like making phone calls and rather than overcoming that reluctance I have been drifting along not doing anything.
Decision time: From now I want to commit to picking up the pieces and do something to not only regain lost ground but to advance and grow those friendships. It is time also to make new relationships. To get to know those who I didn’t know so well before. To build new connections to add strength to this body we call the church.
How about you?
Yes, it is difficult. But let’s think about some possible baby steps:
Think about what you are currently doing each week to interact with people in the church. Maybe you are doing well, maybe not so well – it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you improve, you take steps, baby steps, just small changes to become a little better.
Through OCTOBER, what could you ADD to what you normally do?
- make 1 extra call/video call each week to someone in the church family
- send 1 extra message each day to say hello to someone in the church family
- attend the before meeting prayer meeting on Sunday
- attend the Monday prayer meeting
- pray out your love for Jesus in our Worship time on Sunday
- Ask God if he has a word for you to bring to encourage others – and then bring it on the Sunday
- or something else . . .
If each one of us did just SOMETHING, where could we be by the end of October?
2 (again). Scissors
Remember way-back Matt shared a picture about the queen chess piece.
The Queen: one way to improve your game of chess is to play WITHOUT the queen. This teaches you to find the strengths of other pieces and not to rely totally on the strongest piece on the board.
When you reintroduce the queen you will then be able to play a much more balanced game.
When he shared this illustration Matt suggested that maybe by having our Sunday meeting as we knew it taken away from us there were things we could learn that would be of great benefit.
Online church is still church, but it is different, awkward even, isn’t it? It doesn’t feel quite right and leaves us longing for what used to be.
Indeed, I know for some of us just thinking about the technology is much more difficult than it was for me or my mum just handling a pair of the wrongly shaped scissors. It is an insurmountable brick wall that feels way beyond awkward.
So, what is the equivalent of my mum discovering she could use the scissors upside down?
How can something that sometimes feels so awkward and inhospitable become a place to find encouragement and strengthening in Jesus.
With baby steps.
If you are struggling to face technology then you cannot, and no one expects you to, suddenly to become computer savvy and handle it all with ease. That is unrealistic. Even those of us who can handle a computer are still sometimes struggling with online church.
But every one of us could find a baby step that will move us on.
That is all it needs. For each of us to take baby steps and the church will be strengthened as we help each other. Find one appropriate for you and where you are at – don’t look at what you cannot do, trust God, choose YOUR baby step, and go for it.
- Non-Zoomers What about a zoom training session? No need to feel inadequate or awkward about it. A session just to help you begin and become more confident in handling what is new and difficult. Remember my mum’s exasperation with the scissors? She, by accident, eventually found a way to cope. I would love to be able to help you find your own way to cope with zoom. No need to join a more public session until you are ready to do so but please give me opportunity to help. The church needs you there so just take a baby step in this direction.
- Non-Engagers Do you find yourself just ‘watching’? That is what you do with a screen isn’t it? – well maybe for Netflix but not in this case. We need to use it a bit differently. Maybe more like you use a phone. Don’t see a screen but concentrate on the people beyond. Enter into what they are saying and doing. Act as if you were with them in person, until you find it becomes more like you ARE with them in person. Remember – worship is not entertainment. Worship needs YOU to be praying, singing and addressing your thoughts, words and everything within you to the living God. Is that what you are doing? Or are you just ‘watching’. Take a step next meeting to engage with the living God. You won’t regret it.
- Non-Chatters – do you drop out of the meeting and avoid going into the chat rooms? Would you find it easier if you could choose a friend to be in the same room with you?
It is possible! – message me (Julie) personally and let me know who you would like to pair up with in your zoom breakout room – either just for that week or for every week. You can message me on ZOOM chat, or WhatsApp or Facebook or SMS. It will really encourage others if you are there, and we want to help you take a step forward – try it and see.
- All going fine? – if you are one of those who, however hesitantly, are faring well with this zoom church thing, then there are still ways you can take a step forward
- Use the chat facility to invite someone to come into a breakout room with you? (just let me know what you have agreed and I will make it happen)
- Learn to manage the zoom response settings to make our meetings a bit more interactive – they have been used occasionally but if more of us began using them it could add to the ‘togetherness’ we feel.
- Be careful not to ask personal questions in a public setting. They may not be as confident as you. If you want to talk with someone individually why not ask to meet up with them in a breakout room – just message me and I can set it up.
- Check out guidance on setting up your computer screen and lighting to make yourself easily visible to others – try googling it, there is lots of good advice out there.
- If you are doing something that could be distracting, then turn your video setting off.
- or something else . . .
If each one of us did just SOMETHING, where could we be by the end of October?
Think about it!
I know this is maybe not what we want.
I know this is maybe not what we are used to.
I know that when we look back to what we had, this doesn’t seem to compare.
BUT it is what God has given us just now AND he has promised to work all things together for good to those who love him, who are called according to HIS purpose.
His purposes are not on hold during 2020 because of Covid 19 – whatever the situation in our country, or globally, the Bible assures us that he will build his church.
Julie Brons sums it up well with what she wrote on the WhatsApp group recently
We are all different ‘bones’ in the body and we need one another at such a time as this. We all have something to offer so let’s pray that the Holy Spirit will move and refresh us to bring blessing, comfort and encouragement to one another, asking ourselves what part we have to play in making this body whole.Julie Brons, on WhatsApp
SO why don’t we take up the challenge and see how good we can make it?
Fan into flame that which is in you.
Renew your enthusiasm for Jesus.
Grow closer to others so that even while physically apart our relationships are strengthened as we encourage and help each other.
And as a BONUS – If we can make it good now, think how much better it will be when we can finally meet in-person again.
We have nothing to lose have we? And the whole world to win over for the Lord Jesus
How good can we make it folks? How shall we begin?