Disappointment – some introductory reflections

Over the last year or so I have been increasingly aware of how important it is to handle disappointment well, especially but not exclusively disappointment with people. I’ve realised that my natural tendency is to withdraw from people who disappoint me, which is not very healthy!

However the bigger issue is that I have the same tendency to withdraw when I feel disappointed with God, which is even unhealthier; especially as I find it hard to even admit that I am disappointed with Him. I have discovered that this can cause me to subtly withdraw from God; I’m not even aware that I am doing it, yet alone know why.

These reflections have led me to the following conclusions.

It is ok to admit to being disappointed with God. My head may say I can’t feel disappointed with God; who are we the clay to feel disappointed with the potter? God is God and therefore can’t be questioned. However, whatever my head says doesn’t stop the heart feeling disappointed. Then in my case I can find myself withdrawing from God!

There is nothing wrong with being disappointed with God!  Everyone is at one time or another; there is no reason to feel guilty about it. It is not sinful and it doesn’t have to make us sick.

Better men than I have been disappointed.

e.g. John the Baptist! Things didn’t work out as he expected. He and Jesus were cousins, there had been prophecies flying around about them since their births. Crowds were following John, he even baptises Jesus. We then find Matthew 11v2 “When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else.”

Jesus was sent to set the captives free, but John is in prison. It is not surprising that disappointment caused John to ask Jesus what is going on. Jesus doesn’t reprimand John for asking the question.

I have learnt that like John we can find ourselves in the prison of disappointment. The key is what we do about it. John faced it, didn’t just bury it, we should do the same.

The next few blogs will look at how we can healthily process disappointment, especially disappointment with God.

 

WRITTEN BY TONY THOMPSON

tonyt

Tony is the leader of Hope Church Luton.  He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.

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My Perfect Train Journey

My idea of a perfect train journey is not talking to strangers, definitely no eye contact, and preferably surrounded by empty seats – don’t want to listen to someone else’s MP3 music… To get home from my summer holiday I had to catch no less than 4 trains.

 

On the first train at Hull I was forced to sit across the table from an elderly couple,  eventually it occurred to me I could ask God if He had a Word of Knowledge for them. I don’t think I heard anything.  After an hour,  as they got up to get off I realised if I had even spoke to them it might have helped.

 

At Sheffield on my second train, I had to sit next to a female student. I determined I couldn’t possibly speak to her less she think me weird. After trying to avoid eye contact till Leicester I remembered we are all a bit weird & forced myself to say something as she was putting on her rucksack to go.

 

Before getting on the third train I realised its best to say something as the train departs the station,  not as you reach the destination, but I hadn’t counted on having to join in a conversation with three Everton fans – I don’t get football – but when they got off at Kettering, I saw the student from the 2nd train was sat across the aisle,  now I was able to talk to her without being weird,  found out she is at the same University I went to,  studying for the same degree,  and was going home to the same town – Luton.

 

I have been praying lots, asking God again and again to give me more words of knowledge for the lost, especially outside of church meetings.   But nothing much has happened.   I ended up wondering if I was praying loud enough for God to hear,  or if he just wasn’t speaking.  Or is it that I don’t have enough faith or need more training….

 

My train trip made me realise that I had the wrong mindset,  that its easy to overlook where our thinking is incorrect and assume the problem is something bigger.

 

We need to take courage to talk to people about God

Normally, I find it easy to talk to complete strangers, it reinvigorates me,

But I realised on my train journey,  that talking to strangers whilst keeping an ear out for what God might say with a view to acting on it, still requires courage, boldness and faith from God – even for someone like me who finds being plunged into a room full of strangers invigorating rather than terrifying.

 

Do you let your culture restrict how God uses you?

On my train journey I let my culture dominate my behaviour to the point where it restricted God using me.  Sometimes I need to be less English!

 

Are you willing to pay the price for what you pray for?

I have been very willing to spend time praying, petitioning God to give me words of knowledge on the street for the unchurched,  but less prepared to do anything myself.  When I suddenly saw the practical personal price required of me to be open to God using me I found I wasn’t as keen or as ready or as serious as I thought I was.

 

God wants you to do something – to take action!

My mindset was wrong.  I had a mindset of ‘I’ll sit here and wait for a word of knowledge from God,  then I’ll say it.’ I hadn’t anticipated having to do anything myself,  I was expecting God to do everything for me, for it all to fall on my lap,  forgetting that he has given me a mouth,  and a modest bit of wisdom, or the ability to help people.  He could do it all without me, but he chooses not to.  To be used by God to advance the kingdom requires an action from me.   With apologies to George Muller, if I spoke to everyone I sat next to,  as the train leaves – not arrives at – the station, who knows what the Father will do?

 

Dean Fryer-Saxby

 

Dean  is Office Manager at Hope Church Luton, married with two children.
Dean is Office Manager at Hope Church Luton, married with two children.

 

 

 

 

The Importance Of Family – Part 3

Examples of Honouring Parents

 

Willing co-operation.

A child was asked to put his seat belt on in the backseat rather than standing on the seat. Eventually after threats he does so, however insists on the last word – I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside. Outward obedience but inner rebellion isn’t honouring parents, like the child told to clear up the bedroom but does so throwing stuff around, making their displeasure clear. Honouring parents is about joyful co-operating. We can have the same attitude towards our parents as the child; we are all children at heart!

Honouring in how we speak about them.

Many of us have been damaged by our parents – such a difficult, impossible job. Scary damage I will have done to my kids. It is easy to focus on the inevitable negatives, end up through our conversations dishonouring them. Relevant even for those whose parents who are no longer with us, can still honour them……

Appreciation.

I spoke to someone recently who told me that having a child changed her attitude, her appreciation of her parents. She realised that previously she took them for granted. When you are a parent yourself it is easier to understand what is involved; 9 months pregnant; unable to keep food down; dirty nappies; sleepless nights; no sex for what seems like forever. Lifestyle totally changed. Estimates of how much it costs to raise a child from 0-18 keep changing…. upwards. We are talking of hundred’s of thousands of pounds. Parent’s worry about their children more than anything else, even as the children become adults (often worry more….)

The best way to discourage parents is to neglect them, fail to show them gratitude to keep taking and taking, without giving anything back.

Ask for forgiveness, as well as forgive!

We are all aware of the need to forgive our parents at times, but what about the other way round? Have you ever asked them to forgive you for the way you treated them, the ways you hurt them?

I have found this a very important way to build my relationships with my parents. It helped me realise they had far more to forgive me for than I had to fogive them!

Other practical examples.

Phoning parents regularly, visiting, and being interested in their lives…………

Bottom line.

Back where we started – family life is crucial for our society today. It is breaking down and we are reaping the consequences. God knows that healthy family life is essential for the longevity of a society.

The key to healthy family life is the attitude of children to parents……………. which we are particularly bad it in western society………..

Healthy family life flows from our relationship with God, but it can also impact our relationship with Him.

He is our Father and we can abuse and take Him for granted in the same way we can take our own parents for granted!

 

WRITTEN BY TONY THOMPSON

tonyt

Tony is the leader of Hope Church Luton.  He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.

The Importance Of Family – Part 2

Honouring Your Mother & Father

We saw in the previous blog the importance of family life and the key, according to the Bible, to healthy family life is not honouring kids but honouring parents! A real challenge to our western culture!

Honouring parents is also more difficult than honouring children, at least in my experience, it goes against our natural perspective whatever age and stage we are at.

Children are basically selfish, teenagers think parents are ignorant and behind the times, young adults get absorbed in work, marriage and their own young children, middle-aged adults see parents as burdens!

There is lots of talk about honour but we have lost the art and attitude of honouring. Scripture specifically encourages us to specifically honour our parents.

Jesus had lots to say to the Pharisees, including the fact that they were not honouring their parents.

Matthew 15   3 Jesus replied, And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?

4 For God said, ‘Honour your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’

5 But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’

6 he is not to ‘honour his father’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

Amazing, Pharisees were criticised for giving things to God which should have been given to parents, this could be money or time. We don’t hear much about this. We should be encouraged by those who “sacrifice” their ministry to honour parents. Whilst we hear much more about those who make sacrifices to serve God, often at the expense of honouring parents!

WRITTEN BY TONY THOMPSON

tonyt

Tony is the leader of Hope Church Luton.  He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.

The Importance Of Family – Part 1

Whenever things go wrong in our society you will find someone saying it is as due to family breakdown. The importance of family has long been recognised within the church, there is a significant history of work with children, Sunday school movement, role in church planting and parenting courses. I remember Tom Sine, an American speaker a number of years ago speaking about the need for the church to “reparent” people who had no experience of parenting.

When we look at family in the Bible we find some interesting truths.

We find the model of family assumed is the Eastern model of extended family, an inclusive family that includes far more members than we assume in the West, the Western concept of nuclear family of parents and 2.2 children is missing.

We find the family as one of the most common metaphors of the church; we are brothers and sisters; members of the family of God; God is our Father; Jesus the first born.

However there is no denying the crucial role family plays in Scripture, as long as we see it in a wider view.

Therefore it is significant and relevant to see how Scripture encourages healthy families. What is the key to healthy family life? Something that’s so needed today.

10 commandments.

Israel was established as a nation, God’s people, designed to represent God to the people and the people to God. They were given guidelines on how to perform this role, summarised in what we know as the 10 commandments.

The first 4 commandments are about our relationship with God; the second 6 our relationship with others.  Only when we are at peace with God and under the influence of the Holy Spirit can we relate to others satisfactorily.

It is significant that the first of the commandments about our relationship with others is about family.

Many recognise that family relationships are difficult. We struggle to forgive past wrongs, to overlook irritating habits, and love people who seem unloveable. We need help, we can’t do it on our own; we need help from God. As we grow in our relationship with him our attitude to others changes, people become more important to us, we become more sensitive to others needs, their desires and hurts.

Not only is family life the focus in the commandments immediately after dealing with our relationship with God, the 2nd part of the verse indicates what is at stake – so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

The Bible is saying nothing less than longevity of a society is determined by the health of family life. It’s what we as a society are beginning to wake up to.

This truth can be seen historically. Societies where the family unit collapses, e.g. Roman Empire, find morals decaying, the society itself becoming rotten and then we find collapse.

In his book Civilisation, Niall Fergusson says China is displaying all the characteristics that made Europe and then America strong. More Christian characteristics, especially the importance of family life, are found in China than the West.

However it is the first bit of the commandment that is most stimulating and challenging.

Honour your father and mother.

The key to building strong, healthy, godly family relationships is contained in the 5th commandment.

Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

This is not what you would expect from a Western perspective; in fact it is a real challenge to our culture. Less so to some other cultures but in modern western culture the child is king!

But here in the 10 commandments the key to family life is not our attitude to our children but to our parents………

Very profound…….very challenging….

Something I will explore more in future blogs.

 

WRITTEN BY TONY THOMPSON

tonyt

Tony is the leader of Hope Church Luton.  He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.