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)

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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).

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

Cover-up!

The passage in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, which covers covering, has been the subject of a long-standing confusion, even apparently for the translators, and also for my fellowship, my wife and myself.  I think it is still relevant to think on this topic as Paul writes: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you.”  In other words, Paul is concerned that this tradition (action) as well as teaching is continued without alteration, in his absence. Continue reading

UK today

United Kingdom

United Kingdom (Photo credit: stumayhew)

The situation is dire: the church in the UK, and in general in the west, has to remember Christ’s warning via the prophet Daniel: “And the host [the chosen people] was given [to the wicked horn] together with the continual burnt offering because of the transgression [of God’s people—their abounding irreverence, ungodliness, and lack of piety]. And righteousness and truth were cast down to the ground, and it [the wicked horn] accomplished this [by divine permission] and prospered.” (Daniel 8:12, Amplified Version).  Notice how the Amplified Version gives an uncomfortable level of detail: it is the actions and attitude’s of God’s people that allow such evil to prosper.  So clearly our actions matter… Continue reading

Baptism Questions: a study with no answers

I was deeply confused about my local church’s approach to baptism.  Traditionally, babies are baptised, and the children presumably are not believers… (well, I don’t think they believe in God… I can’t remember trusting Jesus as my saviour before I could talk, but then I don’t remember much else from that time either).  So, I then looked up (I think, though I doubt if all of them were used in the study) every Bible passage with the words “baptism”, “baptise” e.t.c. in them… (no I don’t know the Bible that well, but I happen to have in the house a cut-price Concordance* with an upside down cover).  I have deleted all the bracketed answers that I originally included for myself.  I am confident however, that an unbiased reading of the passages about it come to a pretty solid conclusion about the subject.  And if not, then maybe I am wrong.   Do feel free to use this without citation if it is useful, or to burn effigies of me with the study inside them if not.  Continue reading

The sinister and shocking truth behind the Bible…

KJV Bible

KJV Bible (Photo credit: knowhimonline)

More controversial than the Da Vinci Code and more unthinkable than most modern scholars would dare to imagine, this is what I believe is the sinister and shocking truth concerning the truth of the Bible…

1 Why do I believe the Bible?

Because of the conviction, given by the Holy Spirit, that it is true and trustworthy.

2 Why is this claim believable?

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