First Impressions

There’s a great book, a classic, called Pride & Prejudice written by Jane Austen in the 1800s which has been made into various film adaptations. Although written during a different era, it’s message is still very relevant today. In the book, we encounter characters who make decisions (some very hasty) based on their own initial judgments & prejudices and how others appear initially to influence them.

The initial title for the book was apparently “First Impressions”.

We all make first impressions. When I started my first job in sales, I was always taught that you only had one chance to make a first impression on the customer so make it a good one. No pressure!!!

People make first impressions on us. There are lots of factors which can influence our first impression of someone and prejudice is one of those influences we need to recognise and if it’s there then choose to reject.

So I’ve been giving this topic of prejudice some thought. Do I really understand what it means to be prejudiced and do I harbour any prejudices in my own heart.

When I think of the word “prejudice” I think of pre-judging – my mind has already reached a conclusion – it’s judged a person or situation already without really knowing the truth.

It’s so easy to make snap decisions or judgments based on our “eyes” – what we initially see or by what we hear (which can unfortunately include hearsay), but discerning whether those arise from prejudice in our hearts is sometimes difficult to recognise unless it’s pretty obvious.

The dictionary defines “prejudice” as a “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.”

Sometimes, it is easy to recognise prejudice – it makes no effort to hide itself. I worked with a lady once who had a racial prejudice which was from ignorance and lack of relationships and experience of different cultures. She didn’t hide this prejudice and we had some very uncomfortable and difficult conversations about it. She couldn’t recognise the problem however.

When she was very ill in hospital with cancer, I went to visit her and the first thing she did was introduce me to her “new friend” who just happened to be a person of race that she had harboured great prejudice against previously.

I discovered that my friend had been placed in a hospital room for two. Initially, she was very unhappy with the arrangement – her prejudice influenced her first impressions of her room mate. However as they started to talk she discovered they had lots in common. She also experienced such great kindness and compassion from her new friend and his family whilst she was so ill that her eyes were opened to the truth and her prejudices disappeared. Her first impressions were changed.

My friend was truly sorry for the years that she had allowed this prejudice to rob her of forming friendships and relationships with people of other cultures and races and for the wrong things she had thought, said and done.

Sadly my friend died not many weeks after her stay in hospital but I’m truly grateful that before she died she had the opportunity to discover truth not prejudice. God works in amazing and gracious ways to bring us into truth.

The Lord knows that we as humans have a tendency to be swayed by our first impressions which is why he showed us that God isn’t influenced by those things.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

I wonder what our first impressions of Jesus would have been? Isaiah the Prophet said this about him.

“For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.”
Isaiah 53:2

From these verses it would seem that Jesus would not have initially drawn people to him through his appearance. It was his teachings, his character and his good works. He showed great compassion and love which drew people. His words of wisdom and understanding would have been like precious jewels.

James gives us good advice in these bible verses because prejudice can lead to favouritism.

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favouritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
James 2:1-4

So my prayer this week is that the Lord will help me identify any prejudice in my heart and show me what influences my first impressions. May it be Godly discernment and wisdom with eyes of love which are not blinkered or blind. Eyes and ears that see the heart and character of a person not influenced by outward appearance.

Have a blessed week my friends.

What’s it based on..

Feed My lambs, Feed My Sheep

These were the instructions which Jesus gave to his disciple Simon Peter, when he met him again in Galilee after His death and resurrection.

This was the same Simon Peter who had denied knowing Jesus in his time of trial. Jesus had told Peter that he would deny Him but Peter had protested that he was ready to go to prison and even death for Jesus. It wasn’t to be the case, but Jesus knew that.

It must have been really difficult for Simon Peter to face Jesus again after letting him down so badly, to believe that Jesus would still want him, Peter, to be involved in His ministry and to trust him to look after His flock. What a responsibility. What a calling.

Jesus did trust him though. Even when Jesus knew that Simon Peter would deny him, He comforted Peter by telling him that even after his denial Peter would return and be restored to relationship with Him.

Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’
Luke 22:31-32

Jesus had a task for Peter to do..to strengthen his brothers. The other disciples would need Peter’s support, faith, encouragement and example of humility. I can imagine it was a different Peter who met with his brothers again after his experiences.

I was reminded today of a picture which was shared by a dear brother in Christ at one of our Sunday morning services many years ago. He saw in his vision a long banqueting table. On the table were bowls of soup ready to eat.

The guests at the banquet (members of the church) took their seats facing each other ready to eat. However, when they picked up the spoons they were far too long. It was impossible to get the spoon into the bowl and into their mouths.

Somebody then realised that their spoon could reach the bowl of the person seated opposite them. They started to feed the person opposite them. The others watched their example and started to do the same. Everyone worked together to feed each other.

Jesus has appointed different ministry roles within His church and has equipped His body of believers with every good gift so that His followers can be discipled and fed. Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers and Evangelists. We have the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God. The Holy Spirit has also come to us. We have the gifts and fruit of the Spirit to help us and to help others.

It’s love for Jesus that is to be the motivation and reason for our service to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Loving obedience to Him our Lord and Master. Jesus asked Peter 3 times if he loved him when He gave him these instructions. Peter replied that Jesus knew that he did love him. Jesus then replied “Feed My Lambs and Feed My Sheep”.

It was Peter’s love for Jesus that was to be the motivation for service. Jesus restored Peter in love and forgiveness so that Peter did not have a wrong understanding and reason to do what Jesus asked. Jesus wasn’t asking Peter to serve him out of duty or penance in mistakenly thinking he had to make it up to Jesus for denying him. A pure love for Jesus will lead to a pure love for the brethren and pure motives for service.

I believe that there are those within the body of Christ who have not taken up their ministry roles or have laid down their roles and gifts for many different reasons. There will be so many different reasons but Jesus knows them all. Jesus wants to restore us just as He restored Peter. There is a way back to Jesus and there is a way forward to serve Jesus in love as He has called us to do.

As Satan wanted to hinder Peter and to sift him like wheat, so satan does not want any of us to take up our God given callings within the body of Christ. Don’t let Satan deceive us or rob us and the body of Christ of our service to each other.

Every beautiful thing in community pantry

Taking only what is necessary. That is the theme of the Community Pantry. Those wise words remind me of God’s provision for the Children of Israel in the wilderness. God only provided the food that was necessary for the day ahead and if the people tried to take more than they needed and store it, the manna would spoil. God was faithful in providing each day sufficient food for the day.

Give us this day Lord our daily bread. Thank you for your provision to us God. Bless the community pantry Lord amongst the people of the Philippines and may it be a light and inspiration to others to help others and share their bread with the needy. May it be like the widow’s oil which will never run dry and will sustain all in these times of need. 🙏

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 26 April 2021 Patring the lovely lady behind this community pantry said it so well “this is not a charity” …

Every beautiful thing in community pantry

Power in the Presence

This is a beautiful inspiring poem written by a lovely lady called Bee from our church fellowship. She has allowed me the privilege of sharing it on my blog. It really touched my heart and I hope you enjoy it and it inspires you too x

They prayed & laid on hands in love
But the one who held the key
Was the one who came in silence
And sat and cried with me.

He didn’t seek for understanding
He didn’t offer prayer
He just came down into my valley
And waited with me there

No aid was offered nor accepted
To relieve me of my pain
But there was power in his presence
With no judgement, fear or shame.

You say ‘he must have been an angel,
Or even Christ the Lord!’ Believe me –
He was just a man.
Human. Christian. Flawed.

But when he sat beside me
I knew the presence of the Son
For the Spirit dwelt within him
And he let God’s glory come.

I didn’t leave the valley
When he left me for the light
But my faith and hope
Did flicker in the darkness of my night.

I ask God to pull me from the valley
But so far, he has said no.
So I need friends to walk with me
To go where I must go

One day the King will come
Glorious light to end all pain
But still there’s power in the presence
Of the ones who love His Name

B.H.
Jan 2021
Mark 9:24

A love letter from God

For God is love.

Every bit of God’s love is in creation. His footprint of love is in creation. Jesus was the living Word and where He walked…..love, where He lived….love, the air He breathed…love, the ground on which He spilt His blood…love. A loving touch by a loving Son felt in the fabric of Creation.

God’s touch of love was in Creation. His loving breath into Adam’s lungs. The gift of life given by a loving Father by His very breath. The breath of love. His hands of love. His imprint of love is in the very fabric of Creation.

This beautiful earth which was created for us is a love letter from our Creator God. He created us and gave us the gift of life to enjoy the beauty of His creation.

A loving Father, a loving son Jesus, a gentle & loving Spirit, Holy Spirit; the dove that hovers, wings outstretched over all Creation.

The Lord has written His love into the very foundations of the earth. All that He is, all that He has, it was His very best which was poured out as a love offering for us before the throne of Grace. A love so pure, so strong, so amazing that none could be found that could possess such love but God himself. God who gave of Himself for all of us. To give us life.

How amazing to be loved like that. A love that will sacrifice itself for someone else. What love is this? The love letter from God poured out in the blood that flowed from its Creator’s side, received into the earth itself. Poured out as an offering before God’s throne. What love is this that could be so pure; so amazing; so freely and abundantly given. Nothing held back but all done for His good pleasure and to redeem His children and show us that He loves us.

Blessed be the name of the Most High God. Blessed be His name forever and ever. Amen.