Great Expectations

Sometimes when we look ahead to a forthcoming event we are full of excitement and expectation of what it will bring. For example we may be looking forward to our summer holidays with great expectations of the enjoyable time we will have. However I wonder if our Christian life is also full of great expectations?

When we go to church each Sunday do we have an expectation that we will meet with God? I expect that if we are being honest we sometimes go out of habit and maybe our expectations are low or sadly maybe non-existent.

At my church once a month in the evening we have a modern contemporary worship service. I personally enjoy this service and generally speaking I have an expectation that I will meet with God during this time. However when I attend our normal morning service I do not have the same level of expectation. Why would this be?

I think part of the answer is that the evening service is monthly rather than weekly and the style of the service is significantly different to the normal format of worship I experience each week. It also helps that I’m not on any rotas for the evening service so I can 100% concentrate on it. However some of the fault obviously rests with me as I should be prayerfully preparing myself before I attend the morning service with a view to meet with God.

There is another church whose morning service I have attended a few times recently. I also find when I attend that church there is an expectation I will meet God during the service. When thinking about this particular church it’s fair to say that I really enjoy their times of worship. It seems to create an atmosphere where you just expect to meet with God.

It’s not just at church though where we should have great expectations to meet with God. There ought to be this expectation each day. When we read our bibles we should be expecting God to meet and speak to us through the scriptures. However there are occasions if we are being honest with ourselves when we can regard our bible reading as a tick box exercise. This is not how bible reading is supposed to be.

Likewise the same thing can happen with prayer too if we are not careful. When we pray it’s not just a case of going through our prayer list and then getting on with the rest of our day. Instead we come to the living God and through the blood of Jesus we enter into His presence. If we consider the wonder of this then we should be excited and amazed at the privilege we have. Hopefully this will lead to a great expectation of meeting God through this discipline.

So whether it’s attending church, reading the bible or praying let us have a great expectation that we will meet with God.

Qualities of an Elder

At the beginning of Paul’s letter to Titus he lists the qualities that he expects in a person who is going to be in the office of an Elder. Interesting the requirements are mainly character based ones.

Paul does not list any of the following:

  • Good preacher
  • Gifted with youth work
  • Experienced in church growth
  • People’s person
  • Keen evangelist with a passion for the lost.
  • Passionate worship leader
  • Committed leader

Now obviously there is nothing wrong with having any of the above qualities. I expect the majority of churches would want people with these gifts and abilities. However what Paul lists for an elder is:

  • An elder must be blameless (v6 and v7)
  • The husband of one wife (v6)
  • A man whose children believe. And the children are not wild and disobedient (v6).
  • Not overbearing (v7)
  • Not quick tempered (v7)
  • Not given to drunkenness (v7)
  • Not violent (v7)
  • Not pursuing dishonest gain (v7)
  • They must be hospitable (v8)
  • One who loves what is good (v8)
  • Self-controlled (v8)
  • Upright (v8)
  • Holy (v8)
  • Disciplined (v8)
  • Someone who holds firmly to the truth (v9)
  • An encourager (v9)
  • Someone who refutes those who oppose sound doctrine (v9)

That is quite a list! I wonder if we will ever see a church leadership role being advertised anywhere that lists these qualities rather than the first ones I mentioned?

I personally am not an elder and to be honest do not aspire to be one. However I would like to have these qualities in my life. I think that any Christian young or old, leader or not should aspire to aim to have these godly qualities in their life.

 

 

No One Likes Change

Let’s be honest we don’t really like change do we? Most of us are normally quite happy with the status quo and like things to remain exactly as they have always been.  We like what we are comfortable with.

I’m reminded of the character Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory who always has the same food on a set night each week e.g. Monday night is Thai takeaway, Friday night is Chinese takeaway etc.  If anyone attempts to change this routine then they meet fierce resistance from him.

I find myself worryingly adopting similar tendencies when I visit local restaurants. In each restaurant I always have a favourite that I select each time I visit. If a restaurant removes my favourite item from the menu it throws me into total confusion! In fact I stop going to that particular restaurant. How dare they change the menu!

CHANGE AT WORK

There have been many changes in the working world over the last few years. The world of work has changed beyond recognition during the time I have been working.  When I first started work we did not have PC’s. We recorded the number of transactions we did by hand in a big ledger. I wonder what today’s young people would make of that.

I remember a number of years ago when I first encountered spreadsheets. Back in those days we used Lotus 1-2-3 and my initial reaction was resistance to them. One of my colleagues was very good at writing formulas in Lotus 1-2-3 and I was not. This was a change I did not like!

Now fast forward to the present day and I really enjoy working with Excel spreadsheets and trying to find quicker ways to complete tasks! I couldn’t imagine a world without spreadsheets now.

Technology has brought many changes to the workplace over the last 20 years. I suspect that there will be many more to come. How will I embrace these changes? Will I be willing to change and be adaptable or will I yearn for a return to the old ways?

CHANGE AT CHURCH

The following story of a conversation between a new vicar and a church warden illustrates the problem we have with change in churches:

Vicar: “How long have you been coming to this church Fred?

Church Warden: “I’ve been coming here for over 20 years.”

Vicar: “You must have seen a lot of changes over those 20 years.”

Church Warden: “Yes I have and I have resisted all of them!”

This year my church will be merging with one of our sister churches to form one new church. Both churches currently have very different styles of worship. The plan is to hold two services which will reflect the differing styles of worship that both congregations have at present.

Both churches at the moment meet for worship at 10am. However, going forward that is going to have to change, probably for both churches, as we will need to fit in two services during the morning. I personally like worshiping at 10am. It’s very convenient for me! I would rather we kept worship at 10am but that is unlikely to happen and I will have to accept this change.

We are in the process of advertising for a leader for our new merged church. Whoever gets this position will be responsible for ensuring that this merger goes ahead and planning how this is done.

There will no doubt be a number of changes over the forthcoming months and years. Some of these changes will be well received and some I expect will probably be resisted. What will my response be going forward? Will I resist every change and long for a return to the ways things are now? Or will I embrace change and prayerfully accept changes including those that I do not like?

As Christians we must always be open to embrace any changes that God wants to do in us. In John’s 15: 1-2 Jesus says

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

Jesus will prune the branches. Change is both good and necessary.

Change is for us. Don’t let yearnings for the past hold us back from change