Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Wanted! Godly Sensitivity.

How much spiritual and emotional damage can be done by those who do not have pastoral hearts, whether ministers or not! When believers are undergoing the afflictions of this life, they need great tenderness from God’s professing people. Pious platitudes are worse than useless, even though they are true. Inexperience in pastoral matters can do great damage to souls. I am reminded of what Jesus said of Himself quoting Isa.42 that “a bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench” (Mt.12:20). Gentleness is needed when dealing with broken people.
Not all those who are called “pastor” are pastors at heart. They seem, rather, to use the pastoral office for self-promotion and self-gratification. Such ‘pastors’ become aloof from their people and when called in for help, are way out of their depth when it comes to providing it. Their approach is to squeeze this disruptive pastoral visit in as well as possible to fit their busy schedule because they have far more important matters to see to than caring for members who are in spiritual difficulties.
Sadly, the ministerial office is ready-made for self-gratification, etc.
But there are genuine pastors in churches and there are Christians who have a genuine pastoral heart, and they are gems. Thank God for them all, and pray for them.
But in the cancer scenario, ministers must exercise great care when it comes to implementing the American idea of testimony-giving in church services. This can also demonstrate the insensitivity of ministers in their zeal to promote the Gospel. These men seems to have a panel of testimony-givers they can call upon to tell their stories, and often no thought is given to those sitting in the congregation who are being torn to bits because of what they are going through in their own families. This is reckless, and ought not to be practised. Christians feel the need to get up and leave such services, and others made a conscious decision to turn off when such people were speaking.
All the end of the day, in cancer cases, and in testimonies, no two cases are exactly the same. Just because one Christian has experienced certain situations does not mean in the least that you will find the same. Testimonies are highly individual and subjective things, and as such can do extreme damage to tender hearts that might be present and listening. Also, many testimonies are more like life-stories rather than up-to-date witness statements about what the Lord has done and is doing in a person’s life.
Great care must be taken in church situations when dealing with broken hearts, and everything must be avoided that will further traumatise those who are seeking spiritual help.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Quenching the Spirit.

When you have experienced much of God’s goodness in the valley experiences of life, the big thing is that you do not want to do anything that would “quench the Spirit” (1 Thes.5:19) and drive Him away from us. We have enjoyed so much of God these past nine months in particular that we cannot bear to think that through our carelessness He would leave us. That is the burden of Margaret’s prayer in recent days. She knows just how easy it is to grow cold when the back is no longer up against the proverbial wall, and how easy it is to let spiritual disciplines slip back into ‘normal’ mode.

Thankfully we are aware of this possibility, and being fore-warned is to be fore-armed. Even in this matter, God has been very good to us. Her godly mother, now with Christ, used to warn about the “grey hairs” (Hos.7:9) appearing and “the little foxes” that come in to raid the crop, and all without us knowing it (Song of Solomon 2:15).
How subtle is Satan and how crafty his working. We remember, of course, that God is sovereign in his dealing with His children, and that in His approaches to them, He draws near when they need Him, and then, for His own reasons, withdraws a bit, and all without them having done anything. I am reminded of Rev David Morgan, one of the preachers in eighteenth and nineteenth century Wales, and who was a very ordinary preacher. He tells of how he went to bed one night as David Morgan and rose the next day like a lion, and had a spectacular preaching ministry for about two years. Then he went to bed as a lion one night and woke up as David Morgan, and resumed a most unspectacular ministry for the rest of his life. This demonstrates the sovereignty of the Spirit in these matters.
That said, it is very possible for us, as believers, to “quench the Spirit” in one way or another, which very thing, by God’s grace, we do not want to do. These times have been too precious and special for us to do that, at least, knowingly. We all need to be very careful about letting those little sins slip in and we find ourselves starting to walk at a distance from Christ, losing the desire for His presence, having a poor appetite for the Bible and prayer, and turning away from God-given opportunities for witness to others, whether Christian of not.
Being aware of this possibility can prove a great defence against it happening.