Encouragement and St. Paul, stomach problems and other matters

by | Sep 24, 2023 | Christianity, Latest Post | 0 comments

Reading Time: 12 minutes

I attended the morning service of the Vineyard group at the old Radstock Methodist Church.  I never know what I’m going to meet or more importantly what is going to happen when I go in the door. There were about ten people when I arrived but as many again came in time for the morning service which started around 10:30

I started talking to someone about how they were, and after the usual pleasantries it appeared that he was having problems with his stomach. He had had a tuna bake  yesterday made by his wife but after a short time it repeated. In other polite words was rejected by the body.   Having had this problem for many years, I was somewhat qualified to talk to him and I told him of my own experience that the gastric juices are not secreted in such quantities after mid afternoon certainly in my case so I dont eat much after that time. I keep a check on my condition by avoiding milk and by taking medication most mornings plus sodium bicarbonate which seems to be a cure for most ills of acidity and bloating.

I could not explain his tuna bake situation so I said there must be something in the food that the body does not like and rejects. We are so used to trusting everything that we eat and it could be that just one chemical triggers the reaction.  I said this in spite of him being very careful about food and having good food as often as possible.  In addition, I said that there were three brains, the heart brain, the ‘brain brain’, and the gut brain each of which exerts its own influence on the harmonious running of the human body. I commented that stress certainly have an effect.  Although the conversation finished at that point it may be that I sowed the seeds of success  and maybe something will come of it. Sometimes it takes but a tiny tweak to effect a huge change. For example I benefit from cutting out sugar.

Encouragement – what is it?

First, what is it not?  A dystopian visit into the past now follows. Pour encourager les autres is a French expression meaning, as an example to others; originally, a quotation from Voltaire on the execution of Admiral John Byng in 1757, for neglect of duty in failing to relieve Minorca when blockaded by a French fleet.
This is the very opposite of what encouragement should be about.

I have always said we use words and sentiments without thinking what they mean. I’m not talking about Americanisms such as ‘ have a nice day’ or ‘how y’all doin’ then?’  I’m talking about genuine communication,  conversation with individual people with a view to making a difference to their often difficult journey on this planet.

Suz, the co-leader of our local group based her talk on  Thesselonians 2.   St Paul was writing to people for the second time in Thessalonia – which is now part of Turkey by the way – explaining the root and branch reason why they should have the attitude that Paul describes.  Encouragement of other people was a big part of this letter as was consistency.

We were asked in our group to discuss what discourages you and what discourages you. Between us we  said  ….

We can start from the day to day understanding of what a human being is which is a frail and insecure creature until he or she realizes that the body is not the natural state, and our natural state is indeed in spirit, or in heaven as some  would say.   There is therefore an inherent insecurity.  Daily, we are insulted by disorder and disharmony. The easiest way to avoid this is to be in harmony with nature, living off the grid, feeding ourselves, not being subjected to wave forms such as EMF, 5G etc.  In other words of purity of life.

Maintaining our humanity is a full-time job. Even if we live with someone as a friend, companion or partner,  we are ultimately on our own because each one of us has a soul in other words a unique blueprint of the Almighty and the eternity of which our human body is the center and not the source. We must expect buffetings. We cannot deal with all situations equally well.

When we speak to someone and they do not understand it or they abuse us, this is not necessarily a reason for an immediate and reactive search of our own soul to see if we did the right thing. It may be that the bad behavior of another person is a damage report describing the way that they themselves have been hurt and therefore are unable to respond adequately to other people in certain respects.  This is where objectivity and the need for compassion come in because you are aware of the damage not so much on the person and what they have said.

There is no need to beat ourselves up. If we acted in good faith, it is highly  unlikely though not impossible that we set the wrong thing.

Jesus forgave us our sins because he understood our condition and we should be miniature versions of the same.  We are supposed to be imitators of Christ.  Think about the condition of the person who speaks angrily.  Who would be angry and objectionable because such actions do not make you happy, they cause an eternal internal strife from which it is difficult to extract ourselves.

Sometimes you can with the best will in the world say the right thing but at the wrong time and this will also not produce the desired result. If you are in tune with your intuition you will know what to say, and perhaps when not to speak and let the process itself take the person to a position when they understand what they have done. I believe that true love enables you automatically to get the right degree of distance between yourself and another situation although it may not be easy. I think compassion as opposed to sentimentality  has its own  built-in ‘self-adjusting distance meter’ so you don’t go too close to the flame and get involved with situations that will only diminish you.

I am not talking about passing by on the other side, I’m talking about a creative distance where your example can be available to them but not getting caught up in the manifestations of anger which may be coarse and unproductive.

You are less likely to be distraught at someone’s action if you have a good base of being supportive to other people. To give a simple example let us say you’ve had 99 examples where you have taken part in something and had a productive result, and the hundredth one brings no result, it is unlikely to be something that you have said inappropriately or unkindly.

We need to understand what is called ‘storing up treasures in heaven’. We cannot find security through possessions and anything on the material plain but we can find security in the knowledge of our eternal nature which does not change and can never change.

There is another phrase, ‘Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial?’

The term  unequally yoked does not mean ‘do not speak to’ but it means avoiding forming an inappropriately close association with another at the core of your being. This is the principle on which a marriage or relationship should be formed.  While we should be friendly with everyone we should be careful who we admit into our inner courtyard.  It is very easy for us to be compromised in our face by engaging activities that  those in a group may find attractive. Let someone prove themselves before being admitted otherwise disaster and personal hurt could ensue.

We could learn to believe more in the presence of a loving  and accepting energy field or as Christians would say the Holy Spirit and know that we can be re-transmitters of this in the company of others so maybe we don’t have to actually say anything but just be in close proximity to them.    You will never know what good you do and some would say that is a good thing for the ego.  You don’t wake up one morning saying, ‘I’m going to have a positive effect on a complete stranger today’.  It just happens as a by-product. Your first duty is to your own inner truth and align with that. Some would say prayer and supplication is the way to do it, others would say meditation and awareness is the way to do it.

There are two types of actions and words. Those who separate and those who join together. We are very good at saying ‘we are all one’ but unfortunately we don’t act like it. Is it the famous ‘stand-offishness’ of the Brits?

There is another way where we can control  our highs and lows.   I do not think it is helpful to tell ourselves to ” snap out of it”  because that does not address the cause.  If you are digging a hole for yourself and have a wrong concept about something you would just dig a deeper hole. Its difficult to think while you panic.

How about rest and recreation, which by the way is formed of two words

re = about
creation = to create

How about finding something that you really benefit from. Clue:  it could be about the way you treat The Four elements are air, earth, fire and water. Many people get a restorative benefit from walking in a wood.  I get benefit from cutting hedges. I can apply a tool to unruliness and create order and beauty. Even 20 minutes or such engagement on this sort of activity causes a magical restoration of the mind. Even nicer if you get paid for it. Ha ha. It is not magic of course, it is the restoration of balance. When I have finished writing this piece, I will probably sit down and have something to eat or drink, and I may go into the garden.

I feel It is important to share your beliefs about this and indeed any other topic.  We are not able to be consciously aware of everything we know. We would go mad.  By focusing on something and addressing someone else – especially in cases of need – you will automatically  sort out the things we were only half aware of or even completely unaware of and thus learning takes place.

Come to think of it, if I gave away  every last bit of knowledge I had, I would be wiser at the end then at the beginning. Why could that be?  Because the brain, the ultimate relational database, would have done so much creative and analytical work that it would have generated more knowledge and wisdom.  That is in general why selfish people are less happy than selfless people.

The Book of Thessalonians in the Bible is in an exercise in economy of words and great meaning. In order for this letter to be successful in its mission, the writer, St Paul, had to have all the parameters at his fingertips so to speak. He would need to understand what God can do for example “may the Lord lead you into a great understanding of God’s love and the endurance that is given by Christ”   this is only one sentence but it contains a great deal of meaning and could be the subject of a whole evening’s discussion.

He says elsewhere ” We did not accept anyone’s support without paying for it. Instead we worked and toiled…. We did this not because we have no right to demand our support, we did it to be an example for you to follow”

In other words on a previous visit Paul had set the example and he would just remind them of this. he was encouraging other people by chiding them. St Paul was not trying to win any popularity contests. What he was writing was a question of life or death.  I would love to see more sense of urgency in the people I meet with day to day. I find that ‘normal’ people in particular have no sense of what is coming and I’m sorry to say I find them boring. One of the things I enjoy most of all is to hear English spoken as it is meant to be spoken with all its subtlety, humor, variety, and ability to lift us up from our rather mundane activities that we have to take part in most of the time.   We are supposed to redeem each other not leave it to someone else.

I sometimes think that the ease with which we can communicate such as by emails and telephone calls results in sloppiness in our presentation. Talk is cheap. If we had to write a letter that had to be hand delivered to someone 400 miles away with no guarantee that the letter would not be stolen along the way, we would write every word carefully. I see that we have lost the art of this I’m afraid

Anyway I’ve been preaching for long enough.  I realize with our group that they don’t all have to be perfect examples but they just have to provide an atmosphere in which I can be inspired. In other words I can give myself permission to be a spiritual being and not Be misunderstood.  It must be pretty lonely in solitary confinement in a cell but it must be more lonely to be with people who are not on your wavelengths and this has come out in the recent years with the  vaccine, the lockdown, and all that has gone with it.

To sum up therefore on the topic of encouragement:

We can also be discouraged, that is part of the human condition.  Unlike robots, we can encourage each other by our companionship, our words, and our very presence.  If we understand what is troubling us it may be nothing to do with us but the force of circumstances at  it is called.    The world exerts force on us and if we think in the same terms, and allow the force to influence us, we will be subject to turbulence which you could call depression or discouragement.  If we believe in a life beyond the physical that in itself will be a great store of encouragement on a 24/7 basis,  because it is part of the universe. Do we choose to be part of this universe?  That is up to our own free will so you could say we create our own heaven and hell within us

Shepton Mallet market no more

I went back home to pick up Françoise and we went off to Shepton Mallet looking forward to the normal collection of stalls. The market square was empty. We went into the coffee shop on the corner and it was obviously not the first time they had been asked. the service said that due to lack of subsidy presumably from the council, the market had had to be cancelled. This is very sad because the town is not the strongest town financially and does rely on local activity to bring people in. It’s all very well having  a local Tesco’s and Aldi  but that does not solve the community local spending attitude that people should have.  The lights go out little by little.


This is a powerful video from Neil Oliver. ‘To Hell with Spinelessness’

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