Posts Tagged With: belief

Masterpiece

“For we are God’s masterpiece.” Ephesians 2:10

Surely this truth has the potential to change our lives. Imagine what we would look like if at a deep, gut level, in our hearts, we knew the facts that the Bible repeatedly tells us: We are children of God, we were loving, fearfully, wonderfully created, God knew us before we were in our Mother’s wombs, He loves us so much that his one and only son was tortured and died for us. Would we still hang on that bit of feedback from our boss? Would we still need to incessantly compare ourselves to everyone around us? Would we still obsess over that text message? Would we still long for that reassurance, that pat on the back, that confirmation? This is surely the ultimate affirmation. The creator of the universe made us, knows every single fact about us, loves us more than we could ever love Him and has created us as His masterpiece.

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The outer man and the inner man

“Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” James 4:10.

I do not want to live a dual life, a life where I am busy doing things on the outside, and then periodically throughout the day feel like I have to ‘turn back’ to God in order to feel His presence. I think that most Christians desire to know the presence of God continually, they understand that relationship with Him is the driving force behind everything they do. There seems to be such a disconnect though with this desire for the presence of God and the reality of what our days really look like. Watchman Nee, in his masterpiece ‘The breaking of the outer man and the release of the Spirit’ argues that the work of a Christian is ultimately futile if the ‘outer man’ has not been broken as he can not properly exercise the ‘inner man’, his spirit.

The Holy Spirit dwells within us, the Bible repeatedly tells us this (1 Cor. 6:9). We, ourselves, are the greatest frustration to the work we want to do for God. The prayer I want to always be praying is that God, in his mercy, breaks, disciplines and changes all those earthly things that are in my mind and fill my emotions. He can then really have his way in my life.

I need to humble myself before God, to pray that His will, not mine be done.

Categories: Personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Safe

The angel of the lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” Psalm 34v7

A friend asked me the other day if I thought that a guardian angel watched over my children. He pointed out the many times I wasn’t there to physically keep them from harm and the countless risks and threats that had been prevented in my absence. I did not have a ready answer for him but it got me thinking because as a parent the foremost thing on my mind is to keep my children secure.

But don’t we all need protecting? Don’t we seek out someone or something to keep us safe? We are fragile, we need to be protected. We take shelter from our raging environment. We hide or fight when an enemy invades. We cry out for support when hurt. I find the verb ‘encamp’ in the cited Bible verse to be so powerful and such a great image. It brings great comfort. And, importantly, it is not meant to be metaphorical.

Categories: Biblical Scriptures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spiritual workout

Assuming belief in the supernatural, if humans have a spirit, can it grow?
Christians would answer affirmatively, but maybe the real question is whether its’ development is something that they take an active part in. Physical training is undoubtedly vital for sportsmen and women, who live lives dedicated to getting the best out of their physical bodies and skills. They commit to following a monitored diet and fitness regime. They don’t expect to simply turn up and be able to perform and play to the best of their abilities. Similarly, I believe that if Christians are to take their faith seriously, then the same principle of training and commitment to a certain lifestyle needs to be applied. Whilst Christians are saved by God’s grace, and cannot earn their salvation, they are clearly responsible for their lives and how they live them. St. Paul says that “while physical exercise has some value, spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next” (1 Tim 4:8). In my view, the question of what this “spiritual exercise” looks like can best be answered by studying the spiritual disciplines such as solitude and fasting that have long been practiced throughout the ages and that were also central to Jesus Christ’s life – Christ was tempted by the devil whilst in the middle of a long period of fasting and before he was arrested to be crucified, He purposefully spent time alone in prayer.

See: Dallas Willard – ‘The Spirit of the Disciplines’.

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Strength

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint   Jeremiah 31v25.

I have been feeling emotionally and physically drained recently. A few weeks ago I completed a Masters in Education which took me over five years to do, with the last six months proving to be especially grueling.

Reason dictates that in order to restore strength I should now rest. My default position in any case is to watch movies whenever I can and put my feet up. The problem is, it only works up to a point and doesn’t bring back much ‘strength’.

Society is full of books and people who give us step by step plans designed to help us feel rested and strong, whereas the Christian way of life almost seems too easy, as the first thing that God often wants from us is to just spend time with Him, primarily through prayer. The simple act of doing this may be ‘refreshing’ for our souls.

Categories: Personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

To be frank…

“The thing that keeps God out of our lives is not our sin. It is our compulsion to pretend, to cover up our nakedness with fig leaves, to climb sycamore trees in order to see without being seen”.
Pete Greig. God on Mute. Page 78.

I’ve been challenged recently to be constantly and habitually honest in prayer. I’ve realized that I actually find it a lot easier to be honest to those closest to me than to really be honest to God. I find in prayer that it is all too easy to follow the same old format, to repeat the same fixed expressions, true and meaningful though they are. Even after looking through the Psalms and seeing how brutally honest some of those laments are, even after reading and talking to others about how God responds to our honesty, how it unfazes Him and how he responds to it, this still hasn’t meant that I’m any closer to being honest with God on a daily basis when I shut the door and pray to Him.

Possible Solution: Pray for God’s help to be more honest!

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On the streets?

Why are there homeless people living on the streets of your city? They are there because they want to be there, right? Your government provides enough housing, enough help.

Although there are people living on the streets because they want to ‘drop out’ of society, a significant number are actually there because of addiction, mental illness, domestic abuse, and a lack of governement support.

I read two interesting articles about this today. The first highlights how easy it is to become homeless, the second reports that homelessness in the UK has risen by 26 percent in the last four years, with a lack of affordable housing being one of the principal reasons for the rise.

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/25/how-i-became-homeless-cant-happen-to-you-think-again

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/25/homelessness-crisis-england-perfect-storm

As a Christian, the response is simple:

the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.    Matthew 25 v 34-36.

Categories: Social concern | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Crime against humanity

I have recently been encouraged by the published UN report which details the labour and prison camps currently being enforced by the North Korean dictatorial regime. The report compares the systematic human rights abuses that are being carried out to those of the Nazis and has already referred the matter to the International Criminal Court. Ever since I read Blaine Harden’s book ‘Escape from Camp 14’, which relates the account of one man’s escape from such a camp, I have had North Korea very much on my mind. The constantly changing political landscape and the instant, immediate way that the news is broadcast nowadays means that it is easy to adopt a passive indifference every time we hear of a new dictatorship that has emerged or a civil war that has sprung up, but I believe that the situation in North Korea has been going on for far too long for the West to continue to justify turning a blind eye to it. Prayer and action can make a difference!

Here is one of many petitions being run online to raise awareness. This one is being carried out by the British Government:

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/61060

Here is a video taken from a North Korean tour bus which gives a very brief glimpse into the hardships taking place:

Here is an insightful article about the UN report, taken from the UK’s Guardian newspaper:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/17/north-korea-human-rights-abuses-united-nationshttp://

Categories: Human rights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prophetic

What is one to make of the approximate 2500 prophecies that exist in the Bible, at least 2000 of which have currently been carried out precisely as they were predicted? I have recently begun to think about the probability that so many prophecies have actually come to pass. Although some of the prophecies that apologists claim to have been fulfilled could be regarded as being a little vague or ambiguous, one cannot doubt that for the gospel writers, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies was a compelling reason for believing in Jesus’ Messianic claims. On this basis alone, one must also treat their realization with the upmost seriousness. Here are two prophecies that I find to be particularly noteworthy:  

Prophecy one: Shortly before his death, Jesus prophesied both the destruction of the entire Jewish temple and the city of Jerusalem.

Bible Verse: Matthew 24:1-2“Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.’”

Fulfillment: This was carried out 40 years after Jesus’ death, when Rome destroyed the temple and Jerusalem.

 

Prophecy two: The Messiah would be betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver. Prophesied in the book of Zechariah in approx. 586 B.C.

Bible Verse: Zechariah 11:12-13 – I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.”  So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.  And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter” – the handsome price at which they valued me!  So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.

Fulfillment: “Then one of the Twelve – the one called Judas Iscariot – went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?”  So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver.  From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.” Matthew 26:14-16.

Categories: Apologetics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Into the desert

“We do not go into the desert to escape people but to learn how to find them; we do not leave them in order to have nothing more to do with them, but to find out the way to do them the most good. But this is only a secondary end. The one end that includes all others is the love of God.”

Thomas Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation.

I am not very good at any kind of purposeful meditation or contemplation. To spend long periods of time in solitude attempting to be still or ‘look within myself’ feels too hard, too anxiety ridden. I have tried many times but invariably end up surrendering after about three minutes, congratulate myself on a job half done and resolve to try again another time.

For this reason, reading Thomas Merton’s book about contemplation has been very insightful and quite exciting. He accepts that physical solitude and interior silence are important for a contemplative life, but forcefully rejects the idea that we need to ‘go into the desert’ simply because we like or need to be alone. As highlighted in the above quote, for Merton, contemplation is important so that we can learn how we can best be of service to our neighbour, friend, brother, or stranger. I very much like this idea, because I believe in a relational God. I believe that a life is at its most fulfilled when we are fully invested in the lives of others, those who are our natural friends, and those who are suffering.

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