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Posts Tagged ‘Lionel Berthelsen’

Jo 12I am so thankful for computers and the internet–for enabling me to email others so easily, maintain a website so people can find out about my books, write a blog each week and link it to Facebook, and also research all sorts of weird and wonderful topics—including how to deal with that pesky wasp’s nest under our back steps right now!

But last week, I came to appreciate another whole aspect of the internet, after my husband spoke at our church on Sunday. As is the custom there, his sermon was made available on the church’s website immediately after as a podcast for anyone to listen to (please click here).  Now I had not considered to any great degree how useful this might be in a church context, in this day and age when some people might be unable to get to church because of work commitments or the busyness of life or any other reason. In fact, at times, I had even wondered if anyone listened to such podcasts. How wrong I was.

You see, last Monday, a very special email was forwarded to my husband from our church office—and what an encouraging email it was! Someone had taken the time to listen to his sermon podcast and then give some wonderful feedback. Here is part of what this lady wrote:

Recently I have taken to listening to your weekly presentations on your website. Yesterday’s “When God Is Silent” was especially relevant in my life at the moment and I am so pleased I was not in church as it was being said as I would have just fallen apart. …

The writer went on to thank my husband for what he had said and the power and healing she found in it. She then continued:

Although I still have no idea why I am going through what I am going through, I now can acknowledge that it is not because I have been forsaken, but I must wait for God’s plan to be revealed to me and rejoice in all the little encouragements I receive. …

Thank you again. Just thought you would want to know.

Not all of us have our words recorded a podcast for anyone to listen to. But almost all of us talk every day—some of us quite a lot! Wherever we have an audience, even if only an audience of one, our words have power to impart hope and healing, wisdom and comfort—but also power to hurt or shame or discourage or anger.  People—especially our children and grandchildren, I have discovered—seem to remember so much of what we say and take things to heart in ways we would never have imagined. How careful we need to be with all those words that flow so easily from our mouths!

So this week, may the words you and I say in whatever context be spoken with great care. May they bring life and not death, hope and not discouragement. And may each one of them reflect our gracious, loving God, just as is needed, to those who hear.

A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Proverbs 25:11

Words are powerful; take them seriously. Matthew 12:36 The Message

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P1030779You might find this hard to believe, but my husband and I are both getting a little older as each year passes—at least, he is! Occasionally, in my smug state of being a number of years younger, I remind him of this. Whenever we pass an elderly driver doing something a little dangerous on our roads, I have been known to comment, ‘Oh, don’t worry. He’s just an old guy of about seventy-four!’—which is, of course, is my husband’s age!

But last week marked a different sort of milestone for him. Fifty years ago, in March, 1965, Lionel began theological college, which involved a student ministry placement as part of the training. He has been in some ministry role or other ever since, including several local church ministries but also two longer periods as a theological college lecturer and registrar, firstly at the Bible College of South Australia and later at what is now the Australian College of Ministries.

Yet that is not all. Even now, he mentors several pastors, meets with others for coffee and a good dose of encouragement and understanding, occasionally preaches, and pastorally cares for various friends via visits, phone calls and emails. Also, he still provides background support in training others for intentional interim ministry. On top of that, he continues to support me in my writing and speaking ministry as my bookkeeper, computer expert and general ‘roadie’, as he likes to call himself!

During those fifty years of ministry, there have been many interesting experiences, both encouraging and discouraging. Many sermons have been preached. Many lectures have been given. Many people’s lives have been touched. Only God knows the end result of all Lionel’s efforts in sharing the Good News, in caring for others and in training others to minister. Through it all, Lionel has remained faithful. He has kept going when I would have wanted to give up. He has persevered when I would have lost interest in doing so. He has kept the main thing the main thing. And I honour him for that.

Recently, a man in our street became seriously ill. Since then, Lionel has made a point of visiting him, talking with him, praying with him and sharing about God with him, both at home and then in hospital—to the point that now he has been asked to take this man’s funeral when the time comes. He has spoken with this man’s wife too because he cares about them and about their eternal destiny. That to me is the mark of a true pastor and man of God.

So I would say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’ to my husband for staying the course and completing that ministry marathon of fifty years. More importantly, however, I know this is what God will say to him one day—a day I know Lionel is looking forward to as he continues even now to run the race marked out for him until the very end.

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

May the Lord strengthen us all to remain faithful and finish our own, unique races well.

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I confess I’m a ‘glass half empty’ person. Sadly, I have to admit I focus on how much more water has to be poured into that glass before it is full rather than how much it already contains. And sadly, in the process, I suspect I miss out on much of the joy and encouragement God has for me in that moment.

An almost too clear example of this occurred this week when my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary—our forty-third! We decided we would head to a nearby Club for dinner. As we entered, my husband showed his membership card and was given a special ticket to put in a nearby barrel. Apparently, at 7.00pm, a name was to be drawn from this barrel and some lucky person would be given the chance to win up to two hundred dollars by spinning a small ‘chocolate wheel’.

Well, we didn’t think much about it after that. We rarely enter such competitions and of course don’t tend to win anything as a result! But as we were finishing our main course, we heard someone loudly calling out my husband’s name. Lionel made his way to the wheel, spun it—and won fifty dollars!

What a neat thing to happen on our wedding anniversary! My husband quickly pocketed the fifty dollars, commenting it would almost cover the cost of our meal, including drinks. Needless to say, I was delighted. But then … well, then that ‘glass half empty’ side of my personality kicked in with a vengeance.

‘That’s great you won fifty dollars,’ I told my poor husband, ‘but it would have been even better if we’d won the two hundred dollars—or even the hundred dollars!’

My husband looked at me a little stunned but just smiled. He was still basking in the glory of winning fifty dollars. But then, as we waited for our dessert to arrive, something—or perhaps Someone—prompted me to think about my response. Instead of rejoicing over our totally unexpected fifty dollar windfall and the fact that our meal would now cost almost nothing, I had felt peeved that we had missed out on even more money!

At that point, I felt ashamed of myself and my miserly response—but I almost laughed out loud at myself too. How crazy to spoil the joy of the moment by wishing something even better had happened!

‘Well, I think I showed tonight how much of a “glass half empty” person I am,’ I commented.

My husband agreed—a little too readily for my liking! But I couldn’t argue. After all, it was our wedding anniversary.

Since then, this whole event has caused me to reflect in general on my response to God’s gracious acts of kindness in my life—and everything else I enjoy from God’s hand on a daily basis. How often do I ignore what I have and selfishly wish for more, instead of responding with a heart full of thanks? Surely my thoughts and words need to take the same line as Paul’s do in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

How about you? Are you a ‘glass half empty’ or a ‘glass half full’ person? Do you think one honours God more than the other?

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