Really Really Real

Clouds and Glory: God's Presence

Clouds and Glory: God’s Presence

Is God really really real to you?

I think that is a big challenge, especially in a society that frequently puts out a message of being “past” believing in God (though this is not actually always backed up by the statistics).  We are constantly told that science or modern thought has made God irrelevant (I don’t think either of these worry Him- either the laws of the world He created or the morality of the people He made in His image).  As a Christian at such a time, we can lose focus on the reality of God, which should really be our automatic starting point, a bit like believing in any other thing we can experience without seeing such as wind or gravity.  So I had some thoughts on how I first approached prayer and how my faith affected it…  (I hope this is helpful)

Continue reading

What Came First- The Feeling or The Doctrine?

The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United St...

The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United States Library of Congress, demonstrating printed pages as a storage medium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do we realise how much our feelings guide us?  Here is a very general way to not read the Bible:

1) read the text and intake via the eye into the brain what is said,

2) have a gut reaction (feeling) and say “God can’t mean that/has to mean the opposite of that”

3) arrange a logical argument with our mind that backs up our feeling, often giving it the best possible motives (“it can’t apply now”, “it stands to reason”, “that was Bible times”…)

4) re-regard the text and summarise that it is a) incomprehensible (“beyond our understanding”) or b) nonsense (“legend”, “poetry”)

The middle two steps here (heart and mind) are not wrong, but they are in the wrong place and (4) is well, how can I put this tactfully… Wrong!

Continue reading

Heaven, Hell, annihilation and procrastination

Hell's Eternal Punishment

Hell’s Eternal Punishment (Photo credit: vaticanus)

Just lately I’ve been thinking of hell- it’s terrifying: the idea of never knowing peace or relief from pain.  I can see why annihilationism is so tempting: the idea that it does not go on for ever, the idea that death is just an end for those souls who reject God and his salvation through Jesus Christ.  I really wanted to become an annihilationist when I thought about hell.  I don’t mean thought intellectually about it, but just thought about what it would be like, what it would feel like.  Body and soul are destroyed (Matthew 10:28), but as Mark 9:42-50 makes clear this is not a clean-cut absolute end as “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’”  Furthermore, if any part of you causes you to sin, Jesus says “It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell” (and gives other examples).  In other words, no amount of discomfort in this life is worth the pain of hell, even a lifetime of difficulty and pain does not compare.  On the plus side, “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17), which coming from a man who had suffered as Paul had, shows that Heaven will plentifully compensate us for any pain encountered on earth, even a death for trusting in Jesus (my wife has been going through Revelation).   And thank God that it is He who judges and directs the affairs of both Heaven and Hell!  We can know safety and Peace in His saving plan (John 3:16-18)!  Continue reading

True Religion

Prayer

Prayer (Photo credit: Chris Yarzab)

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” says James 1:27 (see link for context), and there is a lot in there about not just hearing but obeying the word.  But this is easier said than done!  Recently I have been reading (on occasion) the old book A Taste of New Wine by Keith Miller.  This book is filled with a lot of wisdom from God, lived out and shared.  It is brimful of encouragement too- the author does not depict himself as perfect but points us more and more towards the perfect God.

One of the interesting points the book makes (among numerous others) is the value of spending time with God.  Just “feeling we ought to” does not inspire us to read the scriptures and really spend time talking with the Lord (oh… and listening).  Continue reading

New Religions For Old

Bible

Bible (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

People are often happy to critique and indeed mock Christianity for “stealing” another religion’s ideas (i.e. having Christmas at about the same time of year as an old pagan festival), but what of the biggest and most blatant copy-cat of all: Islam’s attempt to have all of the Jewish and Christian scriptures as witnesses to the “truth” of the new religion?
More academic work has been taken on at http://www.answering-islam.org/Walid/corruption.html and by numerous others, but I just want to go through the basic argument.

1) The Qur’an states that the Bible was true.

2) The Qur’an states that God’s words can not be changed.

3) The Qur’an states (say some) that the scriptures of the Jews and Christians got corrupted.

Continue reading

Creation and Science

English: A bit of uniformity.

English: A bit of uniformity. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a nice summer’s day today, (yes, this happens, even in the United Kingdom!) and so we went for a family picnic.  Nature is truly a wonder: no single person has ever known all the different species and yet more are discovered even now.  There are the many species of insects, mammals, reptiles, fish, birds, the microscopic, the beautiful and the repellent, the massive, and surrounding and dwarfing all the features and landmarks of such a variety of climates: deserts, downland, forests, swamps, mountains, underwater caverns and many more besides.  Some regard the creation/literal vs evolution/”science” debate irrelevant, but how can that be if we are to give God glory for what He has made?  Worse, since “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin” (see Romans 5:12-13), if the evolutionary world-view is entirely correct then the scriptures are in serious error, since according to evolution there were tonnes of (animal*) deaths before Adam sinned.  See also 1 Timothy 2:13 for evidence of Adam and Eve being literally formed by God as the only humans on earth.  Did God call “good” a world of animal carnage where death reigns as the creative force to generate new forms?

*incidentally that word for “death” (I am told) would not have applied to a plant…  Continue reading