Head in the clouds

Recently my wife found this excellent website: http://www.akiane.com.  It has pictures drawn and painted by a child prodigy, Akiane.  I would heartily recommend having a look: see her “Prince of Peace” for example…
…If you made it back from that link (and I don’t blame you if you didn’t), many of her pictures put me in mind of Heaven.  Many of them have themes like hopefulness or goodness of some kind, along with being actually beautiful, (as contrasted with the infamous “unmade bed” of modern art).  I think one of the things Christians have to do is really get excited about Heaven.  Indeed, historically, those with their “heads in the clouds” often had more of an impact on earth, where they kept their “feet on the ground” and spent their lives glorifying God.

Here are just some of the ideas that give us an inkling of what Heaven is… Continue reading

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Spiritual Warfare: Entry Points

The Christian RPG, Spiritual Warfare, features...

The Christian RPG, Spiritual Warfare, features a non-violent hero who spreads repentance by sharing holy fruit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In many wars there have been significant bridges or breaches which turn the tide of the battle and sometimes even the war.  But what of spiritual warfare?  What is dangerous and what is not?  There seems to be a lot of confusion about where the danger lies, and where the enemy is attempting to get a foothold.  Well, what does the Bible say about it?

Anger and self control

Ephesians 4:26-27 reads: “In your anger do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,and do not give the devil a foothold.”  First point: not all anger is sin (sorry star wars fans, it’s just not that simple).  If we do not get angry at (for example) massive injustice, as Jesus did when he cleared out the temple, there is something wrong!  But, we must not “sin” in our anger, so for example, if it does “lead to hate” (as the mighty Yoda says) we have clearly overstepped the mark (see 1 John 3:15).  And if we remain in a state of anger overnight, we have overdone it!  It affects our judgement and breaks up relationships.  It is OK (for example) to be angry with the actions of a misbehaving child, but not to act irrationally on that anger, nor to feed that into a seething hatred that lasts for days!  Final point: this is the kind of thing that gives the enemy a foothold.  Strategically this is a disaster.  We do not want the enemy within our walls (in our head or having influence over our soul), and as the Bible also warns us in Proverbs 25:28: “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”  This also hints that it is unwise to lose self-control or restraint in other areas of our life, whether it is how we spend our time (a tricky one for me in particular), or our money, or if we eat or drink too much….

Physical things

Much has been said on physical activities that are dangerous, for example any dabbling with the occult.  This is certainly true!  But I think the important distinction that must be made is that it is not the material objects that are the source of the danger: it is us.  Contrary to popular films and TV in the west, there is nothing in the Bible about evil spirits being trapped in physical objects that lack life: in one instance they go into pigs, but generally they are working through or against people.  That is not to say that we should not get rid of e.g. occult trappings or statues of idols, since it is confusing for others, and may cause them to stumble (see what is taught about food sacrificed to idols, and why we should avoid this according to 1 Corinthians 8).  The food sacrificed to idols mentioned is (I think) a useful parallel.  In 1 Corinthians 10:23-31 we find we should not raise questions of conscience about food from the “meat market”, i.e. you bought it in ignorance, not wanting idol food, and yes, someone might have mumbled some words over it but this has not changed the meat in any way, but that when we become aware of definite idol-meat, and someone else may be affected by our actions, we abstain.  This is a bit like the fact that much as I do not believe Buddha statues have any real power, I would not put one in my garden as it may cause questions from other Christians and non-believers: if I am a Christian why do I have a Buddha statue?  Who do I follow?  And their consciences would judge me, as that Corinthians passage warns!  Note again, that owning the stuff is not a good idea, but the source of the problem is us spiritual beings.  Further generalising, we would not keep a lock-pick if we had been a thief before we became a Christian, not because the lock-pick will induce us to steal, but it might tempt us and it will certainly cause questions on its discovery!

And finally

1 Corinthians 8:1 warns us “[n]ow about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.”  Just knowing things is not enough.  It’s not even very useful.  The most evil people in history knew things.  But they did not love.  The most sure-fire way to win the spiritual battles is to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”  Doing that is something that pleases God, and the enemy can not use real love (though like everything he will try to twist it).

Isaiah 50-51: walking in the dark is better than the light?

Reading this (Isaiah 50:10-51:1) struck a sudden chord…

“Who among you fears the Lord

English: Bonfire Night The Saturday before the...

English: Bonfire Night The Saturday before the 5th this year. The annual fireworks and bonfire are organised by the local coastguards and funded by local donations. Recent years have seen the development of a torchlit procession culminating in the flaming torches being thrown on to the waiting pile of timber. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on their God.
But now, all you who light fires
and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires
and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from my hand:
You will lie down in torment.

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness
and who seek the Lord:
Look to the rock from which you were cut
and to the quarry from which you were hewn;” Continue reading

Abortion The Ongoing Issue

je ne suis pas un foetus

je ne suis pas un foetus (Photo credit: Rmoris)

It’s something that occasionally jolts my conscience.  We seem to live in a society that regards itself as peaceable, pleasant and (in the UK) avoids the death penalty and holds all life as sacred (or a “right”), even that of dangerous criminals.  But the unborn seem to have no such protection.  Are we as a society gradually inoculating ourselves to the horror of killing human beings, yet still perceiving ourselves as civilised?  My personal position is twofold: one, the Bible’s point of view is pretty clear and should not be dismissed (by Christians) as wrong (see below), and secondly that the arguments for the current sort of abortion-on-demand are utterly feeble!  There is a caveat here that I am not arguing against all abortions, as the pro-lifers are often publicly slandered and libelled as doing: when another life is at risk (e.g. the mother, or another child), there is a much more difficult dilemma at hand.  Nor am I commenting on exactly where the law should stand.

What the Bible says about abortion Continue reading

Contradictions and versions…

Intaglio,, copperplate print (KJV) 1631 Holy B...

Intaglio,, copperplate print (KJV) 1631 Holy Bible, Robert Barker/John Bill, London. King James Version (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are a lot of Bible versions out there.  There are also a lot of passages and verses which when omitted or included or indeed translated using an alternative word, cause (in some cases quite rightly) a bit of outrage!

The first thing to remember is that in many most the vast majority of nearly all cases the changes make no difference whatsoever to the meaning of the text.  In others, the emphasis is changed but the idea is the same (test if I’m telling the truth by running a few try-outs on biblegateway.com to get the idea).  Personally I think it vital that God-fearing individuals, full of His Spirit and preferably selected by God Himself carry out the work (consider this interview with Colin Urquhart, who seems to have the right idea).  This is not meant as a general comment on the accuracy of modern Bibles (which I actually consider accurate), but I do think we need some principles for dealing with any confusion…

Some possible principles for confusing passages or where translations disagree or there is more than one option given…

Principle 1: Do not panic or despair.  God is not confused.  The verses about Him promising that He will preserve the words he has spoken are not in jeopardy (e.g. Matthew 24:35 plus numerous passages that imply the scriptures are still reliable after many thousands of years- see one of my first posts for more on this).  So His promise stands.  So the book He caused to be written stands.  He is good and always true.  Continue reading

Jesus Heals but don’t advertise it!

Not long ago, some MPs got embroiled in an attempt to allow Christians to make the statement that Jesus heals.  These adverts were disallowed, and it is shameful that this happened.  However, it seems to me that we the Christians (or at least most of us) are to blame.  Let me explain: would there have been any grounds for even Jesus’ most hardened opponents to claim that Jesus could not heal?  This link to Biblegateway gives an idea of the number of times “Jesus” and “heal” are mentioned, and yes, not all of the 59 results are actual healing references but some of them are multiple, and some of them like Matthew 12:15, show Jesus healing everyone in an area (0 failures, 0 rejections mentioned).  So where does that leave us? Continue reading