Idle gossip

Idle gossip

Blogs
Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

Idle gossip

By Gerry Mellors, Jubilee Church Wirral

Have you ever heard of the phrase “If you haven’t got anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all!”?

Of course you have. We will all have had that said to us at one time or another, almost undoubtedly when we were children. 

But just because we were told it as youngsters, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t apply to us as adults. In fact, it’s Biblical wisdom; this is what Paul had to say about it:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:2.

And in Ephesians 5:4: Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”

It’s so easy to get sucked into gossip. I was talking to an old colleague recently and they were telling me about a conversation they’d had with someone we both used to work with. This former colleague of ours had expressed opinions about our ex-workplace which were completely at odds with mine. I found myself questioning my own thoughts, wondering if I had been blind and our mutual friend could see things I couldn’t.

And then I realised that I was being drawn into the gossip of others, taking interest in their idle talk, being unsettled by it and, worst of all, beginning to question my own positive perceptions.

God tells us in Matthew 12:36-37: And I tell you this, that you must give account on Judgement Day for every idle word you speak. Your words now reflect your fate then: either you will be justified by them or you will be condemned.”

We so easily slip into negative talk. I know I’m guilty of it. We must not forget that our tongues have a great deal of power.

James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire! The tongue represents the world of wrongdoing among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the entire body and sets fire to the course of human existence–and is set on fire by hell”.

Scary verses! What I say can pollute my body? My tongue can set my course on fire? Two very good reasons to be really mindful of what’s coming out of my mouth!

Our thoughts very much affect our feelings, and the more we rehearse negative thoughts, the more we are likely to find ourselves feeling low and depressed. God’s word reminds us we need to do the opposite: it tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4) It tells us that “the joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). 

It tells us:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”  (Philippians 4:8).

Next time you find yourself thinking negatively – that God has let you down, that He  isn’t there for you, that your life compares unfavourably with others’ – try instead to praise God for the good He’s done, the good you see, the good things you’ve received. 

Next time you hear yourself complaining, try to catch yourself and speak instead of God’s goodness and faithfulness. When you hear others gossiping and complaining, don’t be drawn in.

I haven’t “got there” with this yet. I sometimes manage to catch myself thinking negatively and remember to turn my thoughts to praising God, but it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes I get stuck with self-pity and despair. 

God talks about us renewing our minds: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” (Romans 12:2)

It’s a gradual process, and He’s gracious and patient with us. But let’s try and spur each other on to do this and encourage each other to be more like our loving God.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thess 5:11).

Gerry Mellors and Arlo Mellors of Jubilee Church Wirral

Gerry Mellors of Jubilee Church Wirral with her husband Arlo

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What is Love?

What is Love?

Blogs
Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

What is Love?

By Gerry Mellors, Jubilee Church Wirral

The dictionary definition (Dictionary.com) of love is ‘a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person’.

Many people have tried to give their own answer to this question.  In songs and movies the answer will often be a feeling related to romantic love with one of the best selling songs about it, ‘Love is all around’ by Wet Wet Wet saying: ‘I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes, love that’s all around me, and so the feeling grows’.

My parents had some cartoons from the 70’s which all started ‘Love is…..’ with a whole range of funny and sweet answers – although some feel slightly dated now. Some related to this feeling of affection, but others go some way to better answering the question as they were in part about putting love into action:

Love Is.. cartoons by New Zealand cartoonist Kim Casali  in the 1960s

I remember hearing a sermon as a teenager in which it was said love is an action, not a feeling.

I’d never really thought about that before, it was a genuine revelation to me, I was still very caught up in the idea of romance.

I was so familiar with the songs and films that spoke of love only as an emotion.

But as it was explained I realised how true it was. Yes God loves us with strong affection and feels very lovingly towards us, but His love is so much more than that. It’s sending His Son to die in our place – and in seeing His Son die, God can’t have felt only feelings of affection for us, He also felt feelings of pain….watching his son die was the ultimate act of love.

The Urban Dictionary (urbandictionary.com – definitions created by its users) has definitions for love including ‘the act of caring and giving for someone else’ and ‘a choice of devotion’ which seem much more realistic meanings.

Jesus himself gives us a very clear answer about what love is in John 15:13:

‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’

To give your life for another is the ultimate act of love, the very thing that Jesus would go on to do. Hearing this scripture always reminds me of Remembrance Day and the soldiers who gave their lives in war and the words ‘They died that we might live’ – the very thing Jesus did for us.

I’ve been reading a book called ‘The Road Less Travelled’, which isn’t overtly a Christian book, but it is full of wisdom.

The writer, Scott Peck, states: ‘Real love often occurs in a context in which the feeling of love is lacking, when we act lovingly despite the fact we don’t feel lovingly.’

He goes on to talk about how in marriage, often real love starts when the ‘honeymoon’ feeling ends, and people don’t feel like they’re ‘in love’ anymore, as the experience of falling in love is invariably temporary.

Not that we necessarily stop loving the person, but the feeling of ecstatic lovingness that characterises the experience of falling in love always passes. 

Peck also says: ‘I conclude that the desire to love is not itself love. Love is as love does. Love is an act of will – namely both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.’

In the media people may make judgements about how much couples love each other based on grand gestures – purchases of expensive items etc, and they can be applauded for such things.

I suspect real love very often goes unnoticed as it isn’t so glamorous – but there’ll be people we know, members of our church who are faithfully demonstrating this self-sacrificing love, not maybe giving their life physically like a soldier, but giving up the life they might desire to love someone who has need of their love.

One example is the person who cares daily for their spouse who is struggling with physical ill health or dementia, who stays at home, missing out on their usual activities – seeing friends, eating out, even attending church – for the sake of their partner. Sacrificing all their desires to meet their partner’s needs. For them there is often no ‘me time’ – and they don’t complain about it, they just get on with it because that’s what real love is.

Really loving someone can sometimes be a very hard choice to make and to keep making, but this is the kind of love we as Christians are called to. And when we do, we are being like Jesus as ‘God is love’:

‘God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him’ (1 John 4:16).

                                      

    

Gerry Mellors and Arlo Mellors of Jubilee Church Wirral

Gerry Mellors of Jubilee Church Wirral with her husband Arlo

more blogs

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Building foundations with sapphires

Building foundations with sapphires

Blogs
Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

Building foundations with sapphires

By Gerry Mellors, Jubilee Church Wirral

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India

“Oh afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold I will set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires.  I will make your pinnacles of agate, your gates of carbuncles, and all your walls of precious stones.”
Isaiah 54 verses 11-12..

Building foundations with sapphires….such a beautiful image God gives us in Isaiah 54.  Imagine a building so beautiful that even the foundations, the parts hidden from view, are made from precious stones.

I believe one of the most beautiful buildings in the world is the Taj Mahal in India, built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a monument of love for his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal. I’d seen pictures of it many times and was obviously impressed just seeing those before visiting it on a tour of India.

But on seeing it in the flesh, so to speak, it is absolutely breathtaking. Inlaid with precious stones both inside and out, it really is a sight worth travelling thousands of miles to see. However, this monument of love built by a man for a woman is nothing in comparison to God’s promise in Isaiah 54 when God speaks to His people of what He will build in them.

Not just walls inlaid with precious stones but the very foundations of the building made from them! Even for what is not seen, God promises to use only the best materials.

God speaks in Matthew’s gospel about building our ‘house’ upon rock and not sand (Matthew 7: 24-27). Throughout scripture we read many references to the importance of good foundations in life. Clearly without good foundations, as Jesus states in the parable, a house can easily fall down in a storm.  The meaning in this is that a life can easily be shaken in the trials of life if the person’s roots are not going down into something solid and dependable – God is clearly very interested in what is at the centre of our lives, what we have when everything around us is shaken or destroyed.

On January 29th 2012, God took something from me that I’d not expected and was not prepared for – my husband of 9½ years, David.  Of course, nothing can prepare you for such a loss, but it was particularly unexpected as only 18 months previously we’d adopted two children as our first choice for starting a family.  It looked, from my worldly perspective that the timing couldn’t be worse.  How was I to cope without the love of my life, bringing up two boys who were only in the early stages of bonding with their new parents? Much of their time with us had been overshadowed by David’s illness as he was initially diagnosed only three months after they moved in.

Our attitude throughout David’s illness had been to choose to trust God: trust that He knew the outcome and knew what was best for us all, whilst praying frequently and unceasingly for a miracle of healing.

It was easy for us and others to rationalise a healing miracle – David was only 38, he’d just become a father through the first choice of adoption because we felt as a couple God had put that on our hearts, he’d given up his well paid job at a car manufacturer to work voluntarily at our local church – what more logical solution could there be?

But ‘the wisdom of man is foolishness to God’ (1 Corinthians 3:19) and God had a different plan.

And so I found myself late on that Sunday night facing a very different future to the one I’d expected.  I left the hospice and knew I had a choice.  It was a choice for that moment but one which I knew would define the future too.  I could choose to go to bed and try to sleep through the tears and pain, or I could choose to get down on my knees before God and declare I still trusted Him, in spite of what He’d just taken from me: ‘Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight’ (Proverbs 3 verses 5-6).  I knew which choice I had to make.

So how has God fulfilled His promise of building my foundations with sapphires? Unfortunately very painfully! What sounds so beautiful is not achieved easily. I’m sure there were injuries, if not lives lost in the building of the Taj Mahal, such a beautiful monument surely could not have been constructed without some physical pain. For me to have my foundations built by God with his materials has meant having some of the foundations that were there already, removed.

When God took David away, one of the most firm foundations in my life was removed, and not surprisingly with a large foundation gone, the whole building becomes unsteady and starts to fall.

I can see now as I look back that as God took out that foundation in my life by His plan, He allowed the ‘building’ that I was to fall down and crumble in many ways, but always He had in mind His plan for me….to build a better building, based on His solid foundations of sapphires.  A building which would ultimately be more beautiful in His eyes than anything it had been before.  And more solid, and therefore more fit for its purpose.  I am not able to say and probably will never be able to say that I am glad He did this work in me in this way. But I can’t argue that the work He has done, and is still doing is good.

I’ve never regretted that choice in those few hours after David died – I thank God for it as I believe it has truly shaped my path forward.  I can see now that making that choice to trust God was the first tiny little sapphire God set in my new foundations.

In Isaiah 54, God was originally talking to His people Israel and the literal city of Jerusalem – to be re-built in heaven of precious stones.

But as God so often does, He has used His word to speak specifically to me.  I was the ‘afflicted’ city, ‘storm-tossed’ and ‘not comforted’.  Praise God that in our most difficult times He gives us hope through the promises of His Word.  I am so grateful for what He has already done in my life, and I wait in hope and expectation for all that He still plans to do.   

Gerry Mellors and Arlo Mellors of Jubilee Church Wirral

Gerry Mellors of Jubilee Church Wirral with her husband Arlo

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read more
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Simon on the frustrations of not being able to get to sleep properly, and the Bible verses that help him stand firm against sleeplessness.

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Gerry on how easy it is to be drawn into gossip. “If you can’t say anything positive, don’t say anything at all” isn’t just good advice, it’s Biblical wisdom.

read more
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read more

Challenging times – who’s the boss?

Challenging times – who’s the boss?

Blogs
Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

Challenging times – who’s the boss?

By Gerry Mellors, Jubilee Church Wirral

I was feeling somewhat overwhelmed at the end of this week at the various things going on in my and my family’s lives.

It had been another tough week with unexpected things to deal with almost daily. My underlying trust in God’s faithfulness was there, but I was looking for some encouragement, and I asked God for wisdom as I read my Bible. This scripture from Colossians 4:1 really spoke to me and put a smile back on my face:

‘(Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly)… knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.’

It was that second part of the verse – ‘knowing that you also have a master in heaven’ – that I needed to hear. It reminded me again that God is in control and not me. He’s the boss. He’s the one who has the master plan. I don’t need to make sense of everything, I just need to trust that He can and does.

The Bible says God can see the end from the beginning in Isaiah 46:10:

‘I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’

Much of the time what is going on in my life doesn’t make much sense to me. I can’t see how God has a good purpose in it or why we have to go through a lot of the things we do. But I’m reminded it’s like working for a boss in a job on a production line where you can only see the little task in front of you to complete – whereas the boss sees the bigger picture and how it all pulls together to make something worthwhile.

I have no problem having a boss and not being in control of it all – what a relief, to know that someone else carries the can and is ultimately responsible!

That is true for me in my paid job, but also as a Christian.  And that someone for me as a Christian isn’t just an earthly boss who gets tired, can be unpredictable, or forgets things….it’s a heavenly boss who knows everything, sees everything – past, present and future and who promises to work all things for the good of those that love Him (Romans 8:28).

He oversees my life and all its troubles, challenges, confusion and pain, and I am very happy to trust Him with it all and just keep trusting in Him, knowing how good and faithful He is. 

Thank God that I am not in control but that He very much is!

Gerry Mellors and Arlo Mellors of Jubilee Church Wirral

Gerry Mellors of Jubilee Church Wirral with her husband Arlo

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read more
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read more
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Yvonne on loss and how God has helped her deal with the loss of her mum and the impending departure of her eldest son to his first job

read more
Sleep

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Simon on the frustrations of not being able to get to sleep properly, and the Bible verses that help him stand firm against sleeplessness.

read more
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Idle gossip

Gerry on how easy it is to be drawn into gossip. “If you can’t say anything positive, don’t say anything at all” isn’t just good advice, it’s Biblical wisdom.

read more
The Power of a Word

The Power of a Word

Chris on the power of our words and how having a relationship with Jesus can give us the power of the right word at the right time.

read more
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read more
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Andrew Greenhalgh on being much better at giving advice than at taking it – and what happens as a result.

read more
God NEVER changes

God NEVER changes

Chantal Robertson on how God and the gospel of Christ has never changed over time – even though the way we package it has.

read more
Christ’s Open Reign

Christ’s Open Reign

Dave expands on his Sunday morning message with this week’s blog on Jesus being the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

read more
Find joy in the everyday

Find joy in the everyday

Dawne challenges us to look at life with the enthusiasm, joy and exuberance of her Macedonian dog Floki and find joy in the everyday.

read more
Being a Christian isn’t easy…

Being a Christian isn’t easy…

Jen on how taking the Alpha Course because she had nothing better to do on a Tuesday afternoon led to a life-changing wheelchair for her daughter Daisy and many others.

read more
What is Love?

What is Love?

Gerry on how her ideas of what love truly is have changed over the years, and how love can be so much more than a feeling.

read more
The Tapestry of Life

The Tapestry of Life

Matt Wilson on how God is weaving a tapestry – and knows what that looks like. He can see the big picture. Our part is to trust him with the threads he has given us.

read more
New Year, Same Vision

New Year, Same Vision

Dave expands on his Sunday morning message with this week’s blog on Jubilee’s vision and values after 20 years as a church.

read more
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Denise Griffiths on resolutions and why she has resolved not to make the usual New Year’s resolutions such as giving up chocolate, eating healthier or doing more exercise!

read more
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This transitory life

Vernon on the transience of life, and how, through all suffering, God’s steadfast love has the capacity to satisfy us every morning.

read more
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God’s faithfulness

God’s faithfulness

Blogs
Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

God’s faithfulness

By Gerry Mellors, Jubilee Church Wirral

I wanted to write a blog about God’s goodness and faithfulness and to share my experience of how He can be trusted, not just when we feel it, or can see it in our lives, but all the time, even when things don’t seem to be going well.

I’ve always known that God is real: I was brought up as a Catholic and talked to God daily, knowing He could hear me, but I didn’t really understand about His goodness in sending Jesus until I was a teenager.

Life wasn’t easy, but I always knew God was with me, and that He would ‘work all things for the good of those who love Him’ (Romans 8:28), so even though my Mum died when I was 15 after a long illness, I can see how God actually used that for good, to bring myself and my two sisters to trust in Him, I believe, as a result of all the people praying for our family.

Life has continued to be very challenging but God’s faithfulness and goodness abound in all circumstances. Having lost my mum prematurely, I also lost my first husband after 11 years together, leaving me at 33 years old, single mother to two newly adopted boys.

The last few years have been very difficult, but God has been my rock through it all. He made me the promise ‘I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope’ (Jeremiah 29:11) as my first husband was dying, and confirmed those words through my close friends who kept sending me the same scripture at that time.

My late husband’s best friend made a trip to Israel and wanted to buy me a gift of jewellery. He asked the lady in the shop if she had any necklaces with Scripture on them, and she had only one left, which said these same words. God is in control of every detail and directs all things according to His good purpose.

My family and friends have also given me wonderful support over the last few years and as a result of surviving adversity I made the decision to re-train as a Counsellor, so I could support people going through their own challenges. Having completed my training a few years ago, I continued to work in my usual job but volunteered as a Counsellor on my day off.

I felt God was prompting me a few months ago to pursue counselling more, so I started to look for opportunities. I knew that I could just push doors and see if they opened and leave the rest to God. I saw a job back in April for a School Counsellor but it was only two days a week. I felt prompted to apply and went ahead and did so. I had thought they just needed my CV and a basic application form, so panicked when having left it a bit late, I discovered as I clicked through the form that there were sections requiring much more detailed responses! Thanks to my husband’s support, I didn’t give up and got the application in.

An interview followed which went very well, but after all that I was told someone had just ‘pipped me to the post’. I knew God had my future in hand so chose to be grateful for the experience and the positive feedback from my first ever counselling interview! After all, I wanted more than two days’ work so it hadn’t been ideal for me anyway.

Six weeks later I received a phone call from the organisation asking me if I was still interested. Another job had come up, and they’d kept my details on file as I’d interviewed well. She then asked how many days’ work I was looking for seeing as I’d applied previously for a two-day job. I said ideally four, and was told that the new position was for four days! The lady declared confidently “I believe these things are just sometimes meant to be! They’re planned for us!”….something which I could wholeheartedly agree with – knowing who it was who was doing that planning!

God continues to fulfil His promises to work all things for the good of those who love Him…. bringing out of my losses, a deep faith and trust in Him, and new opportunities to support others through their struggles and trials. There have been and will continue to be difficulties and dark days, but I know God has always been faithful and will always continue to be so.

Gerry Mellors and Arlo Mellors of Jubilee Church Wirral

Gerry Mellors of Jubilee Church Wirral with her husband Arlo

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