“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.
Categories: Biblical Scriptures
Tags: affirm, assurance, belief, compare, created, ephesians, faith, feedback, God, hearts, love, masterpiece, obsess
I discovered recently that the word ‘Christian’ only appears in the Bible on three occasions. It was a term mostly used by people outside of the ‘Christian’ community to define all of these new, radical, Jesus followers that were springing up everywhere.
If I were to ask 20 people what word comes to mind when they hear the word ‘Christian’, then I would probably get 20 quite different responses. It is a term that is not biblically defined and so to some extent we can determine ourselves what it means.
The word that is much more frequently used by Jesus’ followers and the apostles to define their relationship with Jesus is ‘disciple’. But this word is a lot more frightening to start using as it is quite clearly defined – Jesus specifically teaches about what it means to follow and emulate Him.
In future posts I would like to try and elaborate on what it actually means to be a disciple of Jesus.
Categories: Biblical Scriptures
Tags: agnostic, Bible, Christian, disciple, discipleship, faith, follower, God, Jesus, questions, Religion, thinker
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 (New International Version)
In J Warner Wallace’s book ‘Cold Case Christianity’, the author offers a fresh perspective on the difference between believing in something and believing that something will happen. The author recounts how a policeman friend of his was called to a crime scene where he was suddenly threatened at gunpoint by a convicted criminal out on parole. Before the policeman could draw his own gun, he realized that the convict was going to shoot him in the chest, and so in that brief second of realization he was forced to trust in the bulletproof vest that he was fortunately wearing. He had naturally been briefed before that bulletproof vests can protect the wearer from the force of a bullet, but, as the author points out, there is a big difference between believing that bulletproof vests can save your life, and actually believing in them.
The link between this story and faith in God is evident, and I think that the dramatic situation of being forced to believe in something at gunpoint is also very relevant. The Bible verses quoted at the top of this blog are some of my favourites, as regrettably it often seems to me that my default position when things in life are going well is to ease off from praying and trusting in God. It sometimes feels like I have to be suddenly confronted ‘at gunpoint’ with the potential gravity of a situation, before I will sincerely come before God in petition and prayer.
Tags: belief, believe in something, bulletproof, criminal, faith, God, gunpoint, James, perseverance, Prayer, testing, trial, trust, Warner Wallace
I want to briefly deviate from the proposed apologetics / social concern / human rights theme and shortly write about what has been happening at home recently. It fits in quite well to my first blog about prayer.
Last week both my wife and son were consecutively admitted to hospital with suspected food poisoning. I was naturally fearful about it and started to pray that they would both be ok. However, shortly after I prayed for their well-being, I realized that I was still just as worried as I was before.
If one does not sense some kind of peace of mind or reassurance from prayer, then one could deduce that s/he does not fully trust in whom s/he is praying to.
I cannot claim that after several days of hospital visits, anxious moments and earnest prayers that I now feel completely at ease with a still ongoing situation, but can state that I have found genuine encouragement and belief through several verses written thousands of years ago by people going through some considerable troubles of their own.
A few memorable ones:
“But when I am afraid, I put my trust in you… I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?
Psalm 56 verses 3-4. Written by King David when his enemies had captured him.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
Proverbs 3 verse 5. Written by Solomon, the third King of Israel, between 971-931 B.C.
The statistic that less people go to church nowadays is surely irrefutable, one only has to visit the local shopping mall or high street on a Sunday morning to verify it, but does that imply that the number of people praying has also fallen? A handful of studies carried out by the Christian charity Tearfund a few years ago produced some interesting figures in relation to this question. Tearfund claimed that although the amount of people attending church in the UK has dropped to around one in ten , the number of people praying on at least a weekly basis was a significantly higher one in four. 
Although it may sound a bit clichéd, we do live in a society which never sleeps. We have advertisements that quite literally sell impatience as a virtue, we think of silence as something otherworldly and unnatural. To discover that the inner reflection that inevitably accompanies prayer is still valued by a healthy amount of people is encouraging, but I think a more pertinent question for a study would be to explore whether or not all of us have felt the need at some point to try to communicate with a God of our understanding. Very few people in the Western world can plead ignorance regarding the possibility of the existence of God. Is not the desire to pray something that is profoundly, inherently in us? Although it may be a final act of desperation or insincere at best, have not we all tried it at least once in our lifetime?
As I am kicking my first blog off with an extolment to prayer, I also wanted to provide a link to a great two minute clip of Francis Chan discussing our societal need for financial security that dramatically clashes with a gem of wisdom that is offered in one of the Proverbs.