Notices for 31st May 2020

Louise,

Why mission? Friday 29th @7:30pm

Apologies that this is a little last minute… I have just been made aware of this live question and answer session hosted by our WEC mobilisation department. There will be a panel of four people – one is the new director of WEC UK who spent many years in Thailand, and there is also couple we know who worked in Senegal at BCS and then in Tanzania.

The call is on Zoom, click the ‘contact us’ link to be provided a password to join. Steve and Gill

https://wec-uk.org/news/why-mission-live-q-a

Church on the Green @ 10am

Rob will be leading interactive Bible Study and prayer as last week. You’ll be able to join online or via a standard phone call as follows:

Priory Street – joint service @ 10am

The ‘new normal’ continues with prayer and fellowship – contact your LIFE group leaders for when and how that is happening. Or use the contact form if you’re not part of one but would like to join in.

Evening prayer @8pm

Maybe it is easier to concentrate in the evening, after the children are in bed? If you’d like to join a small group, via Zoom, for a couple of Bible readings and to share and receive prayer reach out to Joey, Natalie or use the contact form.

Midweek Congregational News

Please click on the link for latest MWS news https://corshambaptists.org/articles/midweek-congregation-news-issue-4/

Junior Church

Activities for various age groups will be live on the CBC Junior Church channel on Sunday morning.

The Ark

The Ark is back this Saturday 31st from 10am! Please visit the link…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/726702974088284/?ref

Benevolence Fund update

The Committee wish to acknowledge the Lord’s goodness and to thank all those who have generously contributed to the Fund over the last few weeks. A total of £9,228 has been received in gifts, and a further £1,789 is expected from gift aid, which has enabled the Committee to consider a number of the Church family who are experiencing financial stress at this difficult time and to make Grants totalling £2,700. Sadly, we do expect further cases of financial hardship as the blow to the economy caused by the measures to contain the Corona Virus lead to pressures on some who are self employed as well as those who may suffer job losses. We continue to rely on the Lord’s goodness in caring for our Church family and this is one way in which those who are able can reach out to other brothers and sisters in a very practical way. If you are able and wish to join in this demonstration of our love for each other, please speak to Roger who will guide you on how to make contributions. Also, if you are aware of a brother or sister who is experiencing financial hardship, please let one of the Committee know so that we can consider a grant to them. Rob P

Family News

After 19 years at CBC, the last five with Church on the Green, Jeremy and Louise du Toit have decided it is time to seek a new direction with the Lord. This has not been an easy decision but with both Zach and Courteney now starting careers and the challenges to their taxi business during the Covid crisis, this feels like the time for a new start. Louise has also tendered her resignation as Church Administrator and PA to Eddie and Rob. Her last day will be Monday 29th June. I am sure that I speak for all staff, trustees and members that we have really appreciated both Jeremy and Louise’s contribution to the church and we wish them the very best in where God leads them next and hope to catch up with them in the future. Courteney will remain a member and attender of the 11:15 service and Zach will attend CBC when he visits Corsham from Wales.

With the current uncertainties, CBC will not seek to replace Louise immediately but we hope to bring a plan to the church in due course. Tim

Coming up…

Many activities happen even while we cannot meet together in person. If you or someone you know is feeling left out, please get in touch via the contact form or call the office.

  • Tuesday and Thursday afternoons: “Letter from ‘lockdown'” is Eddie’s devotional video. And as a bonus, on Fridays Nigel Coles publishes “Hope in uncertain times”. Everything is available on the CBC site here, with additional notifications via Facebook and Twitter.
  • Tuesday evenings at 7pm: Zoom Meetings for junior church children (school years 6,7,8). Please contact either Wendy R or John P (in the directory).
  • Each Wednesday and Sunday at 7pm, Lunn Green will be hosting a live prayer event. This is a great way to feel connected to the wider family at a time when many of us are isolated and under pressure.  Please use this link to connect to the event.
  • Wednesday 7.15 – 8.45pm Rooted – An opportunity for the young people (year 8+) to catch up and dig into the Bible together.
  • Friday afternoons Deeper – This study group runs fortnightly virtually, and is made up of older youth/young leaders (by invitation).
  • Friday 6.30-7.45pm Connect – This group launched last week virtually, and is for (year 7’s). It is an opportunity for the young people to enjoy some fun social interaction, as well as focus in on God through prayer and Scripture.
  • Sunday evenings 7.15 – 8.45pm Impact – A youth club that runs weekly and virtually, where the young people can come together online, hang out, have fun, & deepen friendships.

Local Community News

Whilst we appreciate these are not Corsham Baptist Church matters or activities, given the nature of current circumstances and the different situations in which people in the congregations find themselves, we thought these might be of help to some folk…

  • Allington Farm shop are doing deliveries if anyone is needing that.  They seem to have plenty of slots available.
  • AgeUk are doing regular phone calls to the elderly for a chat and to check up on people (‘assurance’ phone calls is what they call them!) on 0808 196 2424
    Email: enquiries@ageukwiltshire.org.uk  & you can phone up to refer people to them. 
  • There is also a new ‘Daily Hope’ free phone number created by our ‘Faith In Later Life’ project/Archbishop of Canterbury and others, for people to choose from hymns, prayers, talks etc whatever denomination or of no faith on 0800 804 8044
  • Corsham town council & other volunteers in Corsham to the extent of Wadswick Green location are willing to help with food shopping & deliveries, medication deliveries etc:
  • Town Council – 01249 702130 towncouncil@corsham.gov.uk
  • Corsham Connections – drcbaker@hotmail.com
  • Corsham Link (transport for medical appointments but will also delivery prescriptions etc) – 07884 887105
  • And there are others willing to volunteer to help people according to your location etc on the Wiltshire Council support directory – http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/downloads/22069  (This is updated regularly)
  • Wiltshire Council has provision for helping those who need deliveries or any other issues with isolation at the moment  – wellbeinghub@wiltshire.gov.uk 0300 003 4576
  • They’ve also set up a list of resources for people during lockdown (keeping active as well as for those who are disabled, mental health, creative ideas & activities, etc) – scroll down each section to get past the stuff for children!  http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/leisure-active-communities
  • The Richmond Fellowship (there’s a branch that meets at a church in Chippenham) has set up phone calls etc for people who want someone to talk to on Telephone: 01380 724833  Email: wiltshirereferrals@richmondfellowship.org.uk   

How do I grow as a Christian?

Eddie,

If you want to download this list and take it with you, you can click here.

Jesus is Lord! That’s the most basic declaration of the gospel, the Good News. A Christian is someone who lives under the Lordship of Jesus Christ – not yet perfectly, but intentionally and persistently.

Yet Jesus is different from all other Lords, in that He did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life for others (Mk 10:45). Instead of oppressing us, He liberates us from our real oppressors (sin, self and Satan), and brings us into God’s family as His adopted children.

That’s why the Lordship of Jesus is Good News. And it’s why following Him isn’t a horrible burden or a dull duty. It’s the way to life in all its fullness – the life with God we were created for. And that makes growing as a Christian highly desirable, for God’s glory and our good.

Growth is always God’s gift to us, because all life comes from Him. But God’s action doesn’t cancel ours; rather, it enables it (Php 2:12-13). We are called – privileged – to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Pe 3:18). This strengthens our faith, repairs our broken lives, and increases our joy.

Are you keen to grow? Here are a few suggestions to help you.

  1. PRAY! We can’t do anything worthwhile without God’s help. But it’s painfully insulting when we treat our Heavenly Father as though He’s unwilling to hear us and help us when we ask. He is a generous Father, so let’s act accordingly.
  2. STUDY! We can’t understand what God hasn’t revealed, but surely we should try to understand what He has revealed in Scripture! It’s pointless complaining that we’re confused if we’re not prepared to make the effort to learn. There’s a list of helpful resources at the end of this article. Studying may sound like hard work – but what’s wrong with that? Why should we not give our best efforts for the One who gave everything for us? Indeed, if we understand His goodness and love, we won’t have to be forced into getting to know Him better – we’ll want to do it! “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8) – do you begrudge the time and effort to eat your favourite food?
  3. COMMIT! Jesus promised His blessing on those who hear His word and put it into practice. He also warned of God’s judgement on those who hear His word and then ignore it. God has given His word not for information only, but for life transformation. So prayerfully commit yourself to obeying whatever God shows you, knowing that your Father’s will is always good. He really does know better than we do. Indeed, why should God speak to us at all unless we’re willing to listen and to follow?
  4. FIGHT! Resolve to attack sin in your life wherever you find it. Why? Not to earn God’s favour, but because He has given you His favour in Christ. You no longer belong to your old master (Satan), so don’t live for him any more! You’ve been brought into a new family, and you don’t have to follow those old, sordid ways any longer. So ask God to help you live in freedom from old sins – and then fight! Because God’s help isn’t given to save us the bother of having to fight; it’s given to enable us to fight. BUT REALIZE THAT THE KEY BATTLE IS THE FIGHT TO SEE GOD AS HE IS – because when we see how kind, loving and good He is, we’ll want Him more than we want our sins.
  5. SHARE! The Christian life is not a solo journey. We cannot belong to Christ without simultaneously belonging to His Body, the Church. It’s in company with others, serving and sharing together, that we really learn what it means to follow Christ. He loves His people, and we grow by loving them too. So commit to a local group of Christians, not as a spectator or a consumer, but as a devoted family member who seeks to build up others. And try to spend time in good company, with people who are God-saturated and who will encourage you in the fight.
  6. PREACH! Learn to preach to yourself rather than listen to yourself. Preach the gospel to yourself daily. Remind yourself that you are indeed a great sinner, but that Christ is a greater Saviour, and that through Him you are a child of God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and forever safe in your Father’s hands.

RESOURCES

WEBSITES

There are some marvellous websites containing video, audio and written resources. Here are some that are thoroughly reliable and very helpful:

Some individual speakers:

  • Tim Keller is making sermons and videos available (I highly recommend them) at: https://www.youtube.com/user/gospelinlife
  • There are also many free resources from Tim Keller at Redeemer Church Manhattan: https://www.redeemer.com/
  • Paul Tripp – sermons, videos and articles packed with pastoral warmth and wisdom. Includes wonderful material on marriage and parenting: https://www.paultripp.com/
  • And two other gems: Nancy Guthrie and Jen Wilkin. Each has her own website, but you’ll find many more of their resources on YouTube. Excellent teaching, warm and wise.

BOOKS

There are so many good ones, but I’ll try to keep this list brief and focused:

Understanding the Bible

On why the gospel makes sense

Basic Christian Beliefs

Christian Living

Of making many books there is no end” (Eccl 12:12). That’s enough to keep you going!

The Upside Down Kingdom

Peter Morden,

This post by Peter Morden was originally published at Seventy Two

2 Corinthians 11:16-33. Take a moment to read the passage.

Strength in weakness is an overarching theme in 2 Corinthians. We see it when Paul talks about his thorn in the flesh, the subject of last week’s reflection. We see it when he speaks of how the treasure of the gospel is carried in people who are like brittle jars of clay. It’s everywhere in the letter. This is a great encouragement, as it’s a theme for these Corona virus times. If you are feeling weak today then you’re in good company: the apostle Paul stands with you. God used him and God can use you in his service.

Given that strength in weakness is so important in 2 Corinthians, 11.16-33 seems to strike a jarring note. Paul even talks about ‘self-confident boasting’ (v 17). Is he contradicting himself? What is going on here? We need to dig a little deeper. When we do we realise the strength in weakness theme is being played out once again, this time with an additional twist.

Paul’s opponents were boasting about their background, their culture and their polished rhetoric. The apostle could easily have done the same. He may not have been trained in the latest, most fashionable ways of public speaking, but he could certainly use words powerfully as these verses show. Yet when he does boast he focuses on his weaknesses, setting out with passion and precision various ways he suffered as an apostle (vs 23-29). His words are deeply moving. Truly, Paul has shown himself to be a servant of Christ (v 23). His example encourages us to get out of our comfort zones and take risks as we seek to follow Jesus today.

Verses 32-33 can appear puzzling at first. Paul’s successful escape from Damascus doesn’t seem to fit with his boasting about weakness. Understanding the Roman background helps us. When an army laid siege to a city, the first soldier to go over the wall and enter the city (assuming they survived) claimed the Corona Muralis, or ‘wall crown’. This was perhaps the greatest military honour a Roman soldier could attain. Astonishingly, Paul takes this image of military heroism and reverses it. He was not the first in but effectively the first out, fleeing over the wall to escape arrest. For people of the day this would have smacked of one thing: weakness. But Paul was unashamed to boast in this ‘foolish’ upside down fashion.

Sadly, in both church and wider society we tend to boast about our strengths (as we see them). In churches this sometimes reveals itself in a ‘celebrity culture’ and in showy, self-promoting ministries. But we serve Jesus whose own crown was made of thorns. We are called to follow him. Paul shows us the way.

 

The post The Upside Down Kingdom appeared first on Seventy Two.

Daily message – 28 May 2020

Eddie,

LOVE IS refusing to be self-focused or demanding, but instead looking for specific ways to serve, support, and encourage, even when you are busy or tired.

— (Paul Tripp, Weekly Devotional)

Midweek Congregation News – Issue 4

Tim Stephenson,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

…to Norman who will be 75 on 4th June. A few of us in lockdown are beginning to look like the wild man of Borneo, but as you can see, Norman is going for a proper hippy look!

Congratulations also to Queenie who is staying well and thriving in Claremont Nursing Home, and reached an impressive 91 years old on May 19th.

Please keep sending news, pictures, prayer requests and ideas in to us: we’d love to share them with everyone!

MORE LOCKDOWN LONGINGS

Here are some more of the things we’re most looking forward to when the lockdown finally ends …..

  • Having a haircut and seeing the grandchildren (Joan C)
  • Seeing grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (that’s showing off!) and doing my own shopping (Sheila N)
  • Going to Weymouth and seeing the sea (Wendy W)
  • Big hug from the grandchildren (Carol B)
  • Seeing people in the flesh, and seeing the bluebell wood at Sandy Lane (Janet M)
  • Hugs with our family and meeting up with church family again (Zelda)**
  • “The first thing I’ll do is give thanks to God for having the freedom to go out”. (Margaret H)

** Zelda also impressively went on to a theological reflection, commenting: “This reminds us how much we all naturally desire freedom – and how Jesus sets us free from the “lockdown” of sin”.

PENTECOST (May 31st) IS NOT JUST FOR PENTECOSTALS

We sometimes remind people around the end of the year that “Christ is not just for Christmas!”. But Pentecost is this coming Sunday, and a similar principle applies. The New Testament is full of the work of the Holy Spirit, drawing us into life-changing relationship with God the Father through Jesus, changing and empowering God’s people, giving both gifts and fruit.

So this Sunday, why not read again in Acts 2 the story of God’s gift to his church of His Holy Spirit? Remind yourself that we don’t either focus on the Bible or on the Holy Spirit: we seek the Holy Spirit’s touch on our lives, just because we take God’s word totally seriously. And maybe let’s each pray for a fresh touch of the Spirit of Christ on our lives (Luke 11 verse 13). David

GOD’S SKINHEAD ANGEL!

I recently had occasion to phone someone whose husband pastors a small church. I asked how it was going and whether they still used the baptistry in the wild flower garden behind the chapel. “We’ve now been given a summer house so people can watch baptisms under cover”, he replied.

He and his wife had been wanting to build a summer house, but knew their little congregation of about 12 couldn’t afford it. One morning he went to the local wood yard and told the shop assistant, “I want a summer house, and I’d like you to give it to me!”

The assistant called his manager, who turned out to be a huge-necked, shaven-headed young man in big boots. “Come outside with me”, he said, and led him to a pile of wood and glass on the ground. The pastor was somewhat nervous, having been in the Crown Prosecution Service. So when the young man said, “I think I know you”, the pastor wondered if he’d seen him in court with the CPS and was about to engage in a bout of fisticuffs! But the young man continued, “Our family used to come to your Sunday School, and now we go to the local christian fellowship”. After consulting with his boss, the manager said, “We’ve been thinking about this: the owner doesn’t want it; we can’t sell it, so we’re going to give it to you and we’ll come and put it up for you!”

How good is the God we adore! Nora.

Finally, some people are taking “lockdown” rather literally! Here’s Sue banished to a cage in our back garden (don’t ask why!). Mona “Layabout” Lisa, meanwhile, is making the most of the peace and quiet in her own Louvre Lockdown!

You can also download a PDF if you like.

PART 3: JESUS OUR MINISTRY

kathylarkman,

This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE

colossiansTree[5971]PART 3: JESUS OUR MINISTRY- COLOSSIANS 4: 10-18
“10 Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings, and so does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin. As you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way. 11 Jesus (the one we call Justus) also sends his greetings. These are the only Jewish believers among my co-workers; they are working with me here for the Kingdom of God. And what a comfort they have been! 12 Epaphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God. 13 I can assure you that he prays hard for you and also for the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas. 15 Please give my greetings to our brothers and sisters[a] at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church that meets in her house. 16 After you have read this letter, pass it on to the church at Laodicea so they can read it, too. And you should read the letter I wrote to them. 17 And say to Archippus, ‘Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.’ 18 HERE IS MY GREETING IN MY OWN HANDWRITING—PAUL. Remember my chains. May God’s grace be with you.” COLOSSIANS 4:10-18 New Living Translation

 

RECAP
*These final paragraphs in this letter are not an afterthought. While they might at first seem to be a random collection of greetings and references to people, there is a common thread. They illustrate real life for those who trust the full revelation of God in Christ and the finished work of Christ on the cross. They remind us that the Christian life is about living together as a community of believers. Chapter 4 shows life has its struggles and problems (for example, Paul’s imprisonment(4v3), and the implicit challenge of speaking to non-believers in 4 v 5-6. Last week we considered two of Paul’s Gospel fellow workers, Tychicus and Onesimus. Today we finish this amazing letter considering the rest of Paul’s “community”, where Paul acknowledges his need for friends and colleagues. 4V11

.
READ COLOSSIANS 4:10-11

  1. Aristarchus show us the radical commitment of discipleship. He’s in prison with Paul at that moment for his ministry for Christ.
  2. Mark shows us the power of Christian reconciliation. He had at one point fallen our with Paul (read Acts 15:37-39), but he’s now commended by Paul- and even described as a comfort to him in verse 11.
  3. There is real confidence- confidence that praying to God makes a difference. (v 2 and 12), and confidence that Christian ministry is in essence, about serving the “kingdom of God” v11.
    REFLECTION: What can we learn from them?

 

Read COLOSSIANS 4:12-13
1. Epaphrus (already mentioned in 1:7-8) shows us how to pray. He ‘constantly wrestles in prayer for you’ NIV; ‘constantly struggles for you in prayer’ ERV. This literally means agonising for the church in prayer.
2. Most significant in light of the whole letter is the subject of Epaphras’ prayer in 4 v12: Epaphrus teaches us what to pray: ‘that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured’ NIV; ‘asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God’ NLT. It was precisely this assurance that the Colossian false teachers undermined; and it is precisely this assurance that Paul sought to bolster and stabilise by writing to the Colossian Christians. This is the priority for the church. (read Col 1v7, 1v29-2v1)
REFLECTION: Put into your own words of how the prayer of Epaphrus sums up the big message of the letter to Colossians.
Read Colossians 4:14
A warning – Demas proved unfaithful in the end. (read 2 Timothy 4:10), hence the importance of faithfulness (read Col 1v7, 4v7)
Read Colossians 4:15
Nympha, most likely a woman of means, who hosted the local church in her home, shows us the importance of generosity and hospitality.
Read Colossians 4:16-17
A second warning- Archippus was also, like Demas, in danger of not holding out in his service of Christ. Long-term perseverance is a key quality to look for in role models.
REFLECTION: Paul’s description of his friends (Col 4 v 10-17)focuses on their hard work and service for the gospel. How can we encourage one another to persevere in our service of the Lord, His people and those who do not yet know Him?

 
Colossians 4:18 ‘HERE IS MY GREETING IN MY OWN HANDWRITING—PAUL. Remember my chains. May God’s grace be with you.’
‘The gospel is so clearly Paul’s priority over everything, even his own personal comfort and security. But this hardly means he would not prefer freedom. The request in v 18 to remember is presumably a plea for prayer and solidarity- for how easy it would be for the Colossians to allow shame at his imprisonment to create a reticence to identify as Paul’s brothers and sisters.’ Mark Meynell

CONCLUSION
The following is a concluding quote from Mark Meynell, from his book, Colossians For You. He summarizes the letter beautifully:
‘ GRACE BE WITH YOU. Paul’s final statement might sound like a standard, and even hollow, farewell. But after all we have learned in Colossians, it is far from that. For we have travelled far in the realms of Christ Jesus, the Lord of all. But he is no dictator Caesar, who simply demands that his followers die for him to sustain his reign. As we saw in the introduction, Caesar claimed to offer forgiveness, peace, and provision, and in a limited sense he was able to do that. But Christ actually delivers it– for all eternity. He is God’s King, who was crowned on a cross. His victorious death brings complete forgiveness for every sin, ushers in eternal peace with our Creator, and lavishes upon us the treasures of His heaven. Having reconciled us to our Father, He reconciles us with one another. He truly showers us with his grace.
God’s grace can only provoke our gratitude to God. And our gratitude must surely work out in graciousness to one and all, whether to those who are part of the body, or towards outsiders who ply us with questions.
Grace. Gratitude. Graciousness. This is lordship the like of which the world has never seen. What an extraordinary privilege to know it first hand. So as Christ has shared His grace with us, we, with Paul, share grace with all.’
PRAYER (from Colossians 2:6-7)
Dear Lord, and now, just as we accepted You as our Lord, help us to continue to follow You. May our roots grow down into You, and that our lives will be built on You. Cause our faith to grow strong in the truth we were taught and that we will overflow with thankfulness….in increasing measure. For Your glory and our good, AMEN.
* (Thank you to Andy Mason for his material in Colossians: Alive in Christ, and Mark Meynell for his material in Colossians for You, and Colossians- Confident Christianity, of which a large part of today’s study has been taken)

 

Kathy Larkman

Kathy Larkman, contributor for today’s blog post

This marks the conclusion of COLOSSIANS: ROOTED. Thank you for all the contributors who led us in teaching, and for you, the participant, for joining in to learn to know God better and love Him more through the study of His word and friendship with others in our church community.
Please stay tuned in through the summer on Grace Place where we will be reflecting on what we have learned in Colossians (and other bits and bobs, no doubt). AND, please be praying for Sharon Durant and the team as they prepare for next school year’s study. In the meantime, our love and prayers are with you as we all move forward in these strange times. Remember, in God’s economy, NOTHING IS WASTED!
Lots of love,
Kathy

Leadership in Anxious Times: Remain Calm

Rick Lewis,

This post by Rick Lewis was originally published at Seventy Two

Uncertainty and stress due to Covid-19 in recent days are producing a pervasive anxiety throughout society. That anxiety can look different in different people but, if you pay attention, it’s there in the excited and upbeat people as much as in those who are negative or fearful or even cynical. Anxious people act and react in ways they normally would not and that puts particular demands on leaders. Fortunately, we know quite a bit about the psychology of anxiety and that helps tremendously in planning appropriate leadership responses.

In his wonderfully insightful book, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times[1], Peter Steinke helpfully lists the principal ways in which anxiety affects human functioning:

  • decreases our capacity to learn
  • replaces curiosity with a demand for certainty
  • stiffens our position over against another’s
  • interrupts concentration (everything takes longer)
  • floods nervous system so that we cannot hear what is being said without distortion or cannot respond with clarity
  • simplifies ways of thinking (yes/no; either/or)
  • prompts a desire for a quick fix
  • arouses feelings of helplessness and self-doubt
  • leads to an array of defensive behaviours
  • diminishes flexibility in response to life’s challenges
  • creates imaginative gridlock (not being able to think of alternatives, options or new perspectives)

Does all that look familiar?

In this series of blogs, I’m going to suggest a short checklist of leadership initiatives that take into account these impacts of anxiety. You are probably already doing most of these things instinctively, but it may be helpful to have clear points to do a mental self-assessment so you can decide where you might want to give a bit more attention.

  1. Remain calm

Family therapist Edwin Friedman first coined the phrase, ‘non-anxious presence’. Pastoral ministry training will often include a reference to how important it is for a pastor to remain calm and collected in the midst of an emotionally charged situation. Of course, if you have any level of care for the people you’re dealing with it’s virtually impossible to be non-anxious. But we can, with a little focus and determination, be less-anxious, and it’s vital that we make that effort in these times.

Bear in mind that coronavirus is not the only infectious thing going around. Anxiety itself is infectious. Seeing other people around about us in a worried state tends to intensify our own unsettledness. Unless something is done to cool things down, anxiety can start to spiral out of control. As a leader the idea is to nip this in the bud. But what can you do when you have your own anxieties that are perfectly reasonable and very real? Peter Steinke says we can learn to manage our natural reactions, using the knowledge we have about how anxiety works to suppress our knee-jerk responses, choosing to be patient and proactively taking more time than usual to listen to people and observe what is happening around us and within us.

All that is excellent but as Christians we have an additional secret weapon: prayer. Leaning into God, we find a genuinely non-anxious presence. Our heavenly Father is never in a flap, never fearful, never uncertain. His calm gently seeps into our soul, bringing a sense of stability and a recovery of faith and hope. This is what Paul writes to the Philippians:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7 NIV)

At the risk of sounding super-spiritual, the ‘peace of God which transcends all understanding’ is precisely what we need when facing a pandemic. We need something supernatural to cut through the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity; something to guard our hearts from emotional disturbance and our minds from racing into imagining all kinds of scenarios that might never happen.

If it’s hard to put your finger on exactly what you’re anxious about, David’s prayer at the end of Psalm 139 can serve as a good reminder of how to approach God:

Search me, God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting. (Ps 139:23-24 NIV)

Sounds really obvious, but how many of us have neglected serious, focussed prayer in the rush to attend to all the adaptations we have to manage? Through the practice of prayer, we can remain (relatively!) calm with a settled spirit, drawing from deep wells in order to be ready to lead God’s people in anxious times. There are five more leadership responses I want to share in the blogs which follow, but you can’t effectively implement those until you have this one sorted.

[1] Steinke, Peter L., Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times: Being Calm and Courageous No Matter What (Herndon: Alban, 2006) p.8-9

The post Leadership in Anxious Times: Remain Calm appeared first on Seventy Two.

Daily message – 26 May 2020

Eddie,
Profile photo of Sinclair Ferguson

Christ died our death, and now in His resurrection He continues to wear our nature forever, and in it He lives for us before the face of God. He could not do more for us than He has done; we need no other resources to enable us to walk through this world into the next.

— Sinclair Ferguson, “In Christ Alone”