|Thank you so much to everyone who gave me feedback on the topic of loneliness, especially Lesley Williams. It's a real issue. I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing Joan Mankoo on this topic today. The fruit of that is in the podcast interview - the links to which you will find below in the newsletter.
What has another week of social isolation taught me?
- Gratitude for the church. The avalanche of initiative, support for one another and eager embracing of new ways of doing church has warmed my spirit. My phone battery has been running down more than once a day due to the video calls I've made to other people and they to me. Although nothing beats in-the-flesh fellowship, virtual fellowship is still pretty awesome.
- Silver linings. Despite all the bad news, God is still working. I was heartened to hear about how the virus crisis had brought reconciliation to a friend's parents. My prayers have been difficult at times, but different and a growth area for all that. I have learned new technologies, connecting with new people and found new ways of making a difference for the kingdom. Chris Reed and I were having a conversation last week when he posed the question, "What's been better since the Covid 19 virus crisis?". It's easy to list the things that have been worse. The truth is, when you stop and think about it, many things have been better. I wonder what those are for you?
- Learning from other people. Being at home has made me think differently about podcasting and video recordings. I've conducted two interviews this week (below). I might not have done that in if circumstances had been 'normal'. But those two interviews with Joan and Rolein have been very enriching. Not only that, but I've been on YouTube a lot brushing up my skills in new technology. I love learning, and this has been a tremendous opportunity.
- The riches of God's word. I first studied through the Psalms of Ascent about 10 years ago. They had a big impact on me then. But, re-studying them for the current podcast series has helped me to see new relevance in them. I'm also very grateful for Simon Dinning for his new YouTube series and Andy Boakye for his new podcast. Isaiah and Galatians are coming alive for me more than ever before.
- Reading. Truthfully, I'm still not doing as much reading as I would like. But I have been enjoying making progress in the book, "Life without lack" by Dallas Willard. I have been very taken with his explanation of how we arrive at the place where we can enjoy a life without lack (Psalm 23:1). To enjoy the maturity of such a relationship with God requires first faith (trust), then death (to self) resulting in the experience of receiving love (agape) and the ability to love others in that same way. Of course, this is exemplified in no finer way than the life of Jesus the Christ. More on that another time and in the sermon series based on Psalm 23 I'm working on for later this year.
A final note here for any of us feeling any sense of despair. Don't let the water in. I'm paraphrasing Eugene Peterson from his book, "A long obedience in the same direction" when he said something like:
"All the water in the oceans cannot sink a ship unless it gets inside it. The same is true of evil - and God is the one who keeps us 'watertight'."
This sad sight greeted me yesterday morning on my prayer walk. There's no reason for any of us to sink whilst we have the Spirit. Hold on, rescue is coming. God has promised it. We know it because Jesus lives.
“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”” (Matthew 14:30 NIV11)
I hope my posts this week will help you to enjoy God's companionship, and offer loneliness-busting support to others.
God bless, and stay safe, Malcolm
- That the online services will attract non-believers to join us as we worship God.
- For everybody involved in the frontline of providing help for the sick. Especially my GP wife!
Thank you for reading this far, and encouraging me in my endeavours to support our times of quiet with God, our corporate worship experiences, and the effectiveness of our preaching and teaching. I hope my uploads will help you to live a life of peace as you rest in the trust you have in our heavenly Father, no matter what the circumstances.
If you know anyone who might enjoy these materials, please send them a link to my website and encourage them to sign up for this newsletter.
God bless, Malcolm