04 November – Additional Notes

1 THESSALONIANS 4 – Define: “Mind Your own Business”

Before our son died I was busy. At one of our leadership meetings, we were given Tom Rath’s book Strengths Finder 2.0.[a] After completing the online test, I found that my strengths where Significance, Achiever, Command, Focus and Belief, and I could see how all five were in operation in my role.

When leading a finance forum one year, I did a session on values. The Values Test put my highest value as Contribution, and I was proud that my presence was contributing significantly to the organisation I worked for. I was young and alive and able to work through the day, the night and the next day, when it became necessary. I prided myself in having that ability. Those were the years when I cycled from London to Paris and trekked the Great Wall of China to raising money for the National Deaf Children’s Society through global charity challenges.

However, when Mikey died, life was reduced to putting one step in front of another. I had a new awareness of people with ME and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome who’d wake and eat, only to have to sleep again. Every day that I sat in my chair, I thanked God that my situation wasn’t that bad.

It was a time to reflect when everything else was stripped away – a time to wonder if I actually wanted it all back again and return to that sort of “normal”. It was at a time when I addressed our International Finance Committee (at the meeting after we were all assigned to take the Strengths Finder Test), and told them that the person who had all five of the above strengths, was now buried with her son. Although I knew I’d have to rise up again, I didn’t know what would become of those strengths in the meantime, or who I’d be, or wanted to be, when I finally resurfaced.

Today’s chapter is in two parts and could seem to be disconnected. The first is about living to please God and the second half is about His return. Giving it a closer look, though, I’m to live to please God because of Jesus return. The plan: To be found not just holy, but also honourable. [v4]  In other words, I want to be the sort of person who isn’t just going from strength to strength as the world would see it, but that I’d receive honour from my Maker because of the way I used His investment in me.

If we all did the Strengths Finder test, we’d see that we all have strengths. But in my headlong pursuit of significance, for example – playing a significant part in a significant project to help produce significant outcomes – was I hoping to gain self-recognition, please people, or bless my Father who made me in His image?

The proof is in my personal lifestyle choices. If I’m living a life that’s pleasing to the Creator God – and doing this more and more [v2] – I won’t be involved in sexual immorality, for one thing, whether doing it or watching it done on TV, in books, or the internet. [v3]  Nor will I have “passionate lusts” as they come in various forms. [v4]  These include a broad spectrum of ardent, zealous, obsessive, fanatical, vehement or even pig-headed desires, envies, longings, hungers, itches and yearnings.

Against such things, which are almost always at the expense of others, and for rejecting His instructions to change [v8], Father God has reserved a judgement. This is no new thing – it’s been a warning, time and again, to give us plenty of notice. [v6]  He created us as image-bearers not to live impure lives but to be like Him – set apart as holy [v7] and ready for His coming Kingdom. This brings me to the second half of today’s chapter and the purpose behind my lifestyle choices.

When Mikey was buried, we had to get a tombstone cut. The funeral director suggested that we shouldn’t visit the cemetery until the stone was up. This would give time for the grass to settle and won’t be so horrible. They phoned us in the second week of November to say that the stone was completed and up. So we arranged, on the following Sunday afternoon, to have a dedication of “the monument” with Mikey’s youth group.

Quite bizarrely, it turned out to be another so-called coincidence in a long line of coincidences since the day Mike left us. Our little dedication with 15 of Mikey’s friends, just so happened to poignantly coincide, with Remembrance Sunday. At the graveside, Mark read from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, which is the fulfilment of all the ancient prophecies such as Ezekiel’s, Zechariah’s, and Joel’s visions.[b]

Incredibly, as Mark was reading: “…the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…” [v16-17], I looked up and saw hundreds of birds in full migration. I have never again seen the numbers of birds in the sky, as I did that day. What seemed strange was that they weren’t flying south for the winter. Hundreds – perhaps thousands – of shining birds were flying towards the sun just like a sky filled with people heading towards the Son.

If this promise comes true in our lifetime, and more than a third of the world’s population leave suddenly and unexpectedly – the results will be catastrophic. I explored this in Topic 3: Beyond Human Experience on this website. In the meantime, I guess I’ll never again be able to read this chapter without the memory of that blue November afternoon sky in 2009 standing beside the grave of our lovely son. It’s because of this ancient HOPE, chapters like this, and what they really mean for my family and friends, that I can’t just “mind my own business”.

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[a] http://www.amazon.co.uk/Strengthsfinder-2-0-Upgraded-Discover-Strengths/dp/159562015X

[b] Ezekiel 37:12-13; Zechariah 14:5&9; Joel 2:11 (see also Daniel 7:13)

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