A little while ago I shared some ideas to help in your own personal prayer times. One of those was to take a page of the address book and pray through it each day.
A small group leader recently told me that his group had started doing this when they get together also. This idea seemed too good not to share. So here’s how it goes. . .
Each week he messages his group with the page they’re praying through. He then encourages the group to see if they can have a chat with someone on that page on the Sunday (hence encouraging people to keep meeting new people, and speaking to those they may sometime miss). Then, when they meet the following week they can share briefly (and appropriately) any particular needs or requests, and pray for the people on that page (hence encouraging people to pray for other people, outside they’re usual circles). There’s 36 pages in our address book, which means everybody in the church gets prayed for roughly once a year. Imagine if all groups did this (28 in our case) – that would mean everybody getting prayed for by someone else roughly once a fortnight! Imagine how cool that would be – to know that every small group in your church was going to pray for you by name at some point during the year. Imagine how that could transform that sense of ‘one-anothering’ in the church family.
So, if you use an address book, maybe this is something your small group could try for a while, and see how it shapes church life and care for one another.
My Granddad died just over three weeks ago. It was a privilege to be with him as he passed away. We’ve all laughed and cried with stories and memories. He was a top fella in lots of ways. We’ll miss him and his infectious sense of humour. Last Friday I took his funeral. I’m tired and drained in lots of ways.
Often, when I counsel others in grief I encourage them in the comfort that God offers to us in times of loss. He is the great comforter, counsellor, and shepherd who can bring that peace which passes understanding. And without taking any of that away, I was surprised in my own reflections to find not just comfort, but also a word of challenge, even rebuke.
Through my own thoughts and prayers I found God challenging me robustly about the brevity of life, the reality of eternity, and my own cowardice and unconcern. In the words of a recent Getty hymn God has been rebuking my ‘slothful ease.’ My slothful ease at not speaking of my faith to others very often, and, if I’m being totally honest, not feeling much guilt or concern about that either.
Life is short. Eternity is real. And the distractions of life (maybe one of Satan’s chief tactics) has meant I’ve failed to often to cross the pain line and talk to others about the things I really do believe to be most fundamental to life and life after death. I know this is a very personal thing, and in that sense I’m only sharing it in the hope it may encourage others. Maybe some of us who have been recently bereaved, and maybe some of us who counsel them, could be brave enough to consider the ways in which, in death, God not only comforts, but challenges.
This week an Anti-fascist organisation stormed a Kings College lecture to protest against a speaker called Carl Benjamin. You can read more about the story here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/anti-fascist-protesters-kings-college-london-university-antifa-carl-benjamin-alt-right-talk-a8242181.html
Benjamin’s opponents consider him ‘alt-right’, while he considers himself a classical liberal. What he is or isn’t is less interesting to me, than the reaction of the so-called ‘anti-fascists’. If you want to know what characterises fascism you can check here: http://www.rense.com/general37/char.htm. Characteristics include:
- Use of violence where necessary to shut down opponents
- Suppression of deviant views
- Frenzied scape-goating
- Chanting, banners, flags etc.
- Intimidation and threats
- Censorship, particularly of academics and professors with dissenting voices
- Free expression is attacked
- Cronyism, dictators, cover-ups, secrecy etc.
So, let’s just consider what the ‘anti-fascists’ did. They forcibly gained entry to the lecture. There was some mindless chanting, flags, violence, intimidation, threats, an unwillingness to show their faces, and ultimately the shut-down, by violence/force of the lecture. So what exactly makes such groups ‘anti-fascist’ I ask you? Seems to me there were (and are) fascists involved in the whole ‘no platform’ movement, but they aren’t the ones giving the lectures.