Preparing for Communion 1

I’ve recently been reading through the Memoir and Remains of R.M.McCheyne with a couple of the church staff – McCheyne was a Scottish minister in the 19th Century who had a remarkable ministry but died at the age of 28.  I read the book 25 years ago and in reading it again wish I’d gone back to it in the intervening years. I was struck particularly in the quotation below regarding the Lord’s Supper and wanted to share it with you as we prepare ourselves over the next two Sunday’s to meet around the Lord’s Table again. I pray that it will help you as it has helped me.

 

“Dear friends, it is this that is set before you in the broken bread and poured out wine, – the whole work of Christ for the salvation of sinners. The love and grace of the Lord Jesus are all gathered into focus there. The love of the Father; the covenant with the Son; the love of Jesus; His incarnation, obedience, death; all are set before you in that broken bread and wine. It is a sweet, silent sermon. Many a sermon contains not Christ from beginning to end. Many show Him doubtfully and imperfectly. But here is nothing else but Christ and Him crucified. Most rich and speaking ordinance! Pray that the very sight of that broken bread may break your hearts, and make them flow to the Lamb of God. Pray for conversions from the sight of the broken bread and poured out wine. Look attentively, dear souls and little children, when the bread is broken and the wine poured out. It is a heart-affecting sight. May the Holy Spirit bless it. Dear believers, look you attentively, to get deeper, fuller views of the way of pardon and holiness. A look from the eye of Christ to Peter broke and melted his proud heart, – he went out and wept bitterly. Pray that a single look of that broken bread may do the same for you. When the Roman centurion, that watched beside the cross of Jesus, saw him die and the rocks rend, he cried out, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Look at this broken bread, and you will see the same thing, and may your heart be made to cry after the Lord Jesus. When the dying thief looked on the pale face of Immanuel, and saw the holy majesty that beamed from his dying eye, he cried, “Lord, remember me!” This broken bread reveals the same thing. May the same grace be given you, and may you breathe the cry, Lord, remember me.”

Memoirs and Remains of R.M.McCheyne – p416/17

Top Tips for working from home – Andrew Rae

Being Productive/How to View Home Working

  • Treat as a privilege / blessing – it is a blessing to work from home as many jobs cannot work form home and are no longer working. Treating it as a blessing / privilege goes a long way to working from home productively.
  • Flexibility goes both ways – My first boss who allowed me to work from home told me she would give me flexibility and I was to give flexibility in return. Seeing it that way has worked well for me
  • Rendering Service ‘as to the Lord’ – Ephesians 6: 5-8. Remember it is the Lord we are ultimately working for and he is the all-seeing all-knowing God.
  • Set Daily achievable goals and at the end of the day measure yourself against these
  • Self-discipline – Working From Home (WFH) requires this. If this is not you pray to the Lord for help in this area

 

Maintain Regular Hours

  • Agree Starting times and Finishing times with your Manager/ Supervisor
  • Make sure your company’s messaging system is on at all times during these hours (except while on breaks)
  • Agree Breaktimes, these can be flexible (and are better to be so based on when your productivity takes a dip) however as no one can see you are on a break it is advisable (where break >15 mins) to let your manager know. and or change the status on your company messaging system to indicate on a break till XYZ time

 

Create a Daily Routine

  • Set when you will start and organize your day from there.
  • Regular meeting with your manager (out of sight, out of mind)

 

End of the Day routine

  • You start the day with a good approach and it is equally important to end the day in the same manner.
  • At the end of your day, log off your laptop and focus on your home life. Do not leave the laptop on and the screen active, some of you will not be able to switch off and be attracted by the light.
  • Unless you have self-discipline, you can end up being addicted or captivated by work.
  • Home Working is all about Self Discipline, you need to manage yourself, which can be the biggest challenge for some people.

 

Types of Meetings

It is good to recognise there are different types of meetings. In my work I tend to have the following

  • Leading – I am the leader. It is important, esp if the level of English of participants isn’t great to have visual presentation so that if they don’t pick up my verbal, they can read on a slide
  • Not leading but actively engaged – calls where I do not lead but I will be giving lots of input.
  • Listening (audio only, audio + visual) – These are the calls where it is easiest to get distracted and you need to work hard at staying engaged. Everyone will have their own ways of doing this. I know of one person who does stretching exercises during these calls. I often walk around the house to get steps in. It may seem counter intuitive but this keeps you from getting distracted by devices, emails etc.

 

Practicalities

  • Have a dedicated room – with door. Depending on where you live this may not be possible however if you can have a dedicated room with a door to shut this will help avoid distractions. A door you can lock may be very helpful for calls in which you are leading/presenting to avoid unexpected visitors!
  • Ergonomics – don’t work at kitchen table unless you cannot avoid it (if you must, make sure your back is upright and hands in comfortable position when you use laptop and avoid slouching). Slightly above the middle of your screen should be at eye level. To achieve this typically you need a monitor. A chair with armrests at a level where your arms naturally hang, then having the desk form an even line with the armrests is ergonomically desired. For more ergonomic tips you can search the internet
  • Avoid the Fridge as much as possible!

 

Communication

  • Project your voice – when speaking on calls, make sure to project your voice well. Studies show that standing up helps one does this better.
  • Headset – Buy a good headset (wireless gives you more freedom) or conference puck/disc – Getting your handsfree enables you to write minutes/take notes during a call/meeting
  • Ensure phone has mute button and be on mute as default. If children interrupt it does not interrupt the call and secondly it gives you time to pause before talking
  • Can be a slight delay when talking, so give a second after someone finishes to start talking
  • English as Second Language – one thing different from an ‘in person’ meeting is that you cannot see someone’s facial expression and thus it is harder to pick up when someone is confused or does not understand what you have just said. You therefore need to be more diligent at picking up vocal queues as this is all you have (unless you operate video calls, but even then it is hard to see everyone in enough detail)

 

When not on calls, working on own

  • When not on calls – it can be very easy to get bored. To avoid this, I will often play music or a radio station in the background. Not something that will distract me from working (ie if I needed to listen intently) but something to facilitate my working. I sometimes listen to a Gettys playlist.
  • Recognise when your productivity takes a dip – This happens to everyone. Be on the lookout for this and when it is happening take a break. By doing so you will be more effective when looking at the day as a whole

 

Dealing with Loneliness / Socialise with Colleagues

  • Loneliness, disconnect, and isolation are common problems in remote work life, especially for people who are very sociable in nature and need to have company.
  • Don’t be afraid to socialise at the start of calls, particularly 1×1 calls. I used to think this was wasting time however I now realise its importance. I have a Canadian work colleague where we will often talk sports then move onto work and this works very well. I have made some really good friends working remotely and you would be surprised at the personal info they have shared with me.
    • You need to ensure you take a balanced approached and ensure this does not impact your productivity, that said it is really important to build relationships and socialise and these done rightly will improve your productivity

 

Set Ground Rules for those at home with you

  • Agree with your children what they can and cannot do when you are at home for example no loud music, particularly when you are on a conference call, music playing loudly in the background is going to impact all others on the call.
  • Ground rules are simply so you can focus on work and not for other people in the house to take advantage of you being there that results in you losing productivity or focus on what you are doing or need to do from a work perspective.

 

 

Working in shared House

 

Working from Home while Children Schooling

The above is still applicable just that you may need to be a bit more flexible. It is worth letting your boss know that you have children at home and who are doing school work. Be understanding of other work colleagues when their children interrupt and pray that your boss and colleagues will be understanding of you as well. There are a number of online articles on juggling work and children at home that you can google.

Some links and resources for 21/3/20

I recently read Thomas Charles on the Sabbath, it’s a short letter addressed to his wife,  in 1782,  it’s a remarkably helpful piece of writing – I think for all us putting some time in to think how are we  use our Sunday’s over the next few weeks would be really helpful in the longer term
Ligonier have made all their teaching series available – there are wonderful courses, I’d particularly recommend – Sinclair Ferguson’s courses on the Holy Spirit and the means of grace but all the material I’ve looked on there is excellent, The videos are 20 minutes would be really helpful in seeing us grow as Christians.
Mel Lacy has written a nice piece for parents in communicating with their children about Corona Virus

 

The Little’s have recommended to me these videos for children – Superbook –  and we’ve watched these on the lives of Christians. – Torchlighters

 

My friend Jeremy Walker has written a piece on a way to pray, his points on what to pray for at this time are particularly helpful
Richard Coekin has written helpfully on praying the Lord’s Prayer at this time

The Sabbath – Thomas Charles

A letter written to his wife in 1782…….

 

The Sabbath is approaching; and on the Sabbath day night this will come into your hand. I hope we shall find it a precious day of rest to our souls. It commemorates the accomplishment of that stupendous work which brings deliverance to guilty sinners, by the resurrection of Christ from the dead. It is an emblem of that rest which sinners find in Christ for their weary souls, in consequence of his having finished the glorious work he had undertaken. This is also a pledge of that rest that yet remaineth for the people of God. As sure as we are now enjoying the one, we shall soon enjoy the other, if indeed we are pilgrims and sojourners here on earth.

The Jewish Sabbath, being the seventh day , was to them a commemoration of their glorious deliverance from their Egyptian bondage, a sign between God and them, and a pledge of the promised deliverance. It looked backward and forward, it reminded them of their slavery and deliverance from it, whilst by faith they were looking forward to the land of promise, where they should rest from their wanderings in a barren and dangerous wilderness. Our Sabbath also speaks the same language, – it reminds us of a bondage infinitely dreadful, and a deliverance infinitely complete and glorious, and also of a rest eternal in the heavens. It directly looks to Christ as the glorious author of this deliverance, and in whom only we can find rest to our souls. The rest is his purchase and gift – “I will give you rest.” When we consider what this rest cost him, can we help admiring his love and his kindness? “The travail of his soul” is our rest. “With his stripes we are healed – He hath borne our sorrows and carried our griefs,” – what words are these. His sorrow is our joy, his travail our rest, his stripes are our medicine, and his death is our life. How strange the mystery!

You see my dear, where we are to go for rest, when weary and burdened –  Jesus gives it. And if we have it not, the reason is, because we go not to him for it. The sabbath reminds us both of a duty and of a privilege in this view. It preaches to us, whilst our bodies rest from worldly toil, that we should seek rest also for our weary souls in Jesus Christ hath “ceased from his work,” having gloriously finished it. God the Father looks upon every thing which Christ has done on our behalf and said “Behold it is very good,” that is , comely, glorious, satisfactory and sufficient, bringing glory to God in the highest, and peace, and happiness on earth. May the Lord open our eyes to behold also the glory of the stupendous work. In the light of the Spirit it will appear to us to be very good. We shall with astonishment, admire and rejoice  in it, as the means of our present and eternal rest.

There is rest now in Christ; but the apostle  saith “there remaineth a rest for the people of God.” They have rest for their souls  now by faith in Christ; but there remaineth a rest, both for body and soul, eternal in the heavens. Our rest now in Christ is the firstfruits; the harvest will soon follow. The sabbath is a sign of the one, and a pledge of the other. Let us therefore be not weary in well doing, but be steadfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. Let us with cheerfulness bear the cross. It is for but a little while. If the road is rough, let us not complain, for it leads to a glorious rest which nothing shall ever disturb. Let every returning sabbath revive our drooping spirits with this glorious hope, and assure our faith with increasing confidence, that whilst we are now by faith resting in Jesus, all our toils, crosses and troubles will soon be for ever at an end.

 

Thomas Charles – Spiritual Counsels – Banner of Truth Trust, 1993 – page 207/8

Confession of Sin & Assurance of Pardon

Have mercy on us, O God, according to your unfailing love. According to your great compassion, blot out our transgressions. Wash away all our iniquity, and cleanse us from our sin. Against you, you only, have we sinned and done what is evil in your sight. Wash us, that we may be whiter than snow, for a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Restore us to fellowship with you, that we may walk in the full assurance of your promises, and in the freedom of knowing that you care for us and have brought us to yourself by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, in whose strong name we pray. Amen.

Romans 8 : 1-2 (ESV)

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

W/C 2 September

I’ve realised I’ve done 2 years on the blog and so I think I’ll go to a weekly update which will probably peter out!  if there’s anything interesting I’ll fill you in

W/c 2 September – I caught up with an old friend from growing up in Swansea first thing on Monday, I’m hoping he might turn up to ours on a Sunday evening once we’re in the new building at least that’s his intention.  Good elders meeting in the evening and decisions made that I think will be helpful to the ministry of the church. Lourens joined us from Oak Hill and it was good to have him there. I gave the first of 2 talks at ELT on 1 Corinthians 15. We then headed off to Northern Ireland as the kids are off for an extra week owing to the building project at the school. Normally I try not to be away during September but with the wedding and a trip to Poland with my dad it feels all very disjointed. I worked a couple of days in NI and then we had a terrific day out at W5 – this interactive play/ science place. Oli and Rachel’s wedding on the Saturday was magnificent – a real witness and all the speeches were brilliant. I spoke on 1 John 4 and I’d found it hard going in prep and didn’t feel I spoke well – we love because of.. who God is/ What God has done/ What God is doing but an all round great day with terrific food.

finishing off year 2

Tuesday 28 Aug- The hunt for the wallet continues to no avail. I studied in the morning and took Noah and Ellie to ELT, the buses were a nightmare going home so in the end we turned back to go to the party later that afternoon, only to discover I’d got the wrong day. The kids weren’t best pleased with me. In the evening I had a remarkable pastoral visit with a new couple to the church who were asking wonderful questions. I then popped in to one of the congregation’s 40th birthday party it was good to see so many church folk there.
Wed 29 Aug – I’m working on a new sermon from Acts 16 in the morning , then had a lengthy pastoral visit with one of our members, a phone call on zoom for presbytery, followed by a bit more study. I had tea and went to pick the kids up from the party only to be force fed curry again. I would argue some training should be given to seminary students on the capacity to eat 2 dinners in close succession. We had a lovely prayer meeting, it feels like people are trickling back from holiday.
Thu 30 Aug – Another day in the study and I managed to get some visiting done to a family in our church that have just moved. We long to see more of them in worship and then visited one of my elders Chuck who has been unwell.
Fri 31 Aug – I took a day reading and finished off Acts 8, I’ve been nervous in using the word conversion, partly because of the connotations in our culture but saw it more clearly today that we have to use the phrase and talk more about regeneration. In the afternoon I met with Israel to talk about ministry and preaching, he’s an able fella.
Sat 1 Sept – Wallet found in the Park Run bag from last Saturday. Park Run was good Noah got a PB I was back under 30. There was a brilliant birthday party in the park in glorious sunshine which Phoebe enjoyed the rest of the day was preparing for Sunday
Sun 2 Sept – It was good to be back preaching in the morning and we had a large congregation, lots of outsiders again which was thrilling. God is gracious in that he often brings people through no connection with anyone which stops us getting proud. I preached on Conversion from Acts 8 and people were responsive. We had folk back for the afternoon and then Israel preached in the evening on Jacob.  He’d worked hard in preparation, He did well and for a beginner he’s got gifts that will be honed by Seminary.

7 Verses for the Christian Life – J.M. Boice

Boice

I’m reading James Montgomery Boice’s ‘Foundations of the Christian Faith‘, it’s a series of sermons he preached at Tenth Presbyterian Church in the late 70’s and early 80’s giving the congregation a Systematic Theology. It originally appeared in 4 volumes and then in the late 90’s was put into one attractive hardback edition – it’s styled a comprehensive and readable theology. In lots of ways it’s a remarkable work for not being remarkable, just accessible decent systematics. Boice was a great simplifier and there are lovely little sections…..

The Bible is filled from beginning to end with statements of what God is able to do and will do for those who are his people. Here are seven verses which when put together, cover almost all the fundamental doctrines of Christianity’

 

Hebrews 7:25 – 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

 

2 Timothy 1:12 – 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.

 

2 Corinthians 9:8 – And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

 

Hebrews 2:18 – 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

 

Ephesians 3:20 – 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us

 

Philippians 3:21 – 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

 

Jude 24-25 – 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

 

‘Taken together these verses declare that God is able to save us for this life and for eternity, to keep us from falling into sin and temptation, to lead us to the best in human experience and to satisfy us completely. Are these things true? Yes …. but for one reason only. They are true because they are the eternal and immutable counsel of the God who is sovereign.”

 

page 124,125