THOUGHTS ON REPENTANCE
A Devotional thought from Phil HoweTraining & Resources Manager Scripture Union NI
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5: 31-32
Coronavirus. The pandemic we are hearing about all the time. Health seems to be the most important currency right now. Even if we feel remotely sick, we know we need to get help and take advice from medical professionals, the government, education authorities and specialist phone lines. If we are healthy, we are thankful we don’t need a doctor because doctors are for sick people. Jesus was addressing people who thought they were spiritually ‘righteous’ and therefore, healthy. They were the religious elite who thought that they were the ‘good’ people. They saw other groups of people as bad or ‘sinners’. Tax collectors fell into this category. So, it seemed strange to them that Jesus was spending time with these ‘bad’ people. Jesus responds with the verses above. He is trying to show us that until we realise our desperate need of him, we will never turn to him, which is what repentance is. He gives this great picture and comparison. If you’re sick, you see a doctor. Similarly, if you’re a sinner and don’t meet God’s standards (which the Bible says means all of us), you go to the ‘Great Physician’. He’s the one who can heal and restore, just like a doctor can the sick. The lyrics of a song recently came to mind; ‘How great the chasm that lay between us… In desperation, I turned to… Jesus Christ, my living hope’. ‘In desperation’ where are people turning to? Soap? Toilet rolls? Pasta? Hand Sanitiser? As Christians, how can we be a non-anxious presence and show faith instead of fear? May this global situation and the build-up to Easter cause us to fix our eyes on Jesus, our Living Hope, who gives us a hope that even death can’t take away. My prayer is that as people watch and listen to the news, many will be reminded of the real hope Jesus offers, and many will come to know the Good News that we are seeking to make known. What an opportunity!
Phil HoweTraining & Resources Manager Scripture Union NI
The Belfast Telegraph are asking sporting stars how they are coping with the Corona virus. The text of the interview is below if you want to read it on the Belfast Telegraph Website then please click below. Claire is a Christian Doctor and a former Coleraine High School pupil.
Coronavirus Q&A with Claire McLaughlin: 'We're in the calm before the storm in hospital but I'm relying on God's strength to get me through
We are asking our sporting personalities how they are dealing with action coming to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic and how it has affected their daily lives.
Today, we speak to Ireland international rugby player and doctor Claire McLaughlin.
Q. How are you keeping?
A. I'm doing well, thanks. This is a bit of a strange time right now, and day to day it's hard to know how to feel, but I'm currently healthy and happy, working and training away.
Q. How have you been affected?
A. Sports-wise, for me the main thing that's been affected is rugby and the season being cut short. There's real uncertainty about when it might kick off again, so for now it's just about trying to keep fit while we're in this 'off-season' period. For me, this allows me to focus fully on rehab after having a frustrating season with a niggly ankle injury.
Day to day, I'm working as a doctor in the Ulster Hospital A&E. I've definitely been working a lot more hours over the past couple of weeks, and I'd say that will continue for the foreseeable. At the moment, we're experiencing the calm before the storm with regards Covid-19, which is a bit unsettling, as we're expecting it to get much more hectic over the next few weeks.
Outside of that, a few events and trips have been cancelled - my friend's wedding, my boyfriend's 30th birthday trip to Toulouse, numerous hen parties... it's been gutting but obviously the most important thing right now is that we reduce the spread of the virus, and play our part to help decrease the impact it could have.
Q. How are you keeping fit?
A. I plan to come out of this time fitter than before. I've borrowed some weights and have a nice little home gym set up to keep me strong - and sane - and I've actually just treated myself and purchased a Wattbike. I can't wait for it to arrive. I'm also doing two or three running sessions each week as part of my rehab/fitness.
Q. How are you keeping morale up? Is there much contact with team-mates?
A. We have a WhatsApp group with a weekly workout challenge, after which we have to post selfies and our scores, and there's usually a bit of banter. It's a good way to stay motivated, seeing everyone else training away and sending in the sweaty selfies!
Q. Where are you drawing your personal strength from now?
A. With so much uncertainty and this being such an anxious time, with not knowing how bad the virus might get, I'm definitely drawing my strength from God. Knowing that He is in control and He cares about us and our struggles through this gives me a real peace. I definitely do have worries about the impact this virus could have on family members, friends and our communities, but for me it's about taking each day as it comes and relying on God's strength to carry me through.
Q. With sports fans staying home, can you recommend a book or box set?
A. I would recommend Brian O'Driscoll and Dan Carter's autobiographies. I'm also keen to read Rory Best's recent book. Other books I've enjoyed recently fall into the health/wellbeing category - 'Why We Sleep' by Prof Matthew Walker and 'The Chimp Paradox' by Prof Steve Peters were really interesting. I barely ever watch TV, but I would 100% recommend Prison Break and Grey's Anatomy.
Q. Are there life lessons you can learn from this crisis?A. I'm definitely learning what's important in life - not being able to see friends or family has been really difficult, so it's made me appreciate how important these connections are. It's also made me realise how privileged we are to have the freedom to do what we want, when we want.
Q. When this is all over, what's the first thing you will do?
A. I will go to see my boyfriend, and my friends and family. I will probably take some time off work, and hopefully plan a trip away somewhere. I also can't wait to go out for brunch and coffee again!
Q. What message do you have for sports fans?
A. I would say be patient, sport will be back. I heard a guy chatting about the coronavirus and sport last week and he said, "Of all the things that don't matter at all, sport is the most important". I think that rings true for a lot of people. There's a reason we all use our free time to train or watch men, women and children run around a field with a ball - it captivates us, unites us, and brings us such enjoyment.
Obviously people are going to miss not having it, but we have to face up to the bigger picture - the important thing now is to protect ourselves and our communities, and do what we can to reduce the spread of coronavirus. So the key is to follow the government and public health guidance - stay at home, leave only to do the essentials, keep your distance from others and, of course, wash your hands!
The Wailing Wall In Jerusalem
This picture below shows the supervised removal of prayers posted in the Western Wall in Jerusalem since last September. The notes are being buried and the wall itself disinfected. What a privilege to be able to talk directly to God in prayer and know that he deals with our prayers immediately and doesn’t leave them lying around for months.