Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Nothing Else Matters.....

In Church last Sunday, the worship and prayer was really powerful in it's thanksgiving and praise to God.  During that time I felt the words of God say to me "Nothing else matters".

What did He mean, "nothing else matters?" Everything matters!

I struggle with the whole balance of world and faith scenarios, I do want a better car, I do want to buy nice things for my kids, I do want to go on an exciting holiday, I do want to have a reasonable income........but, I have a God who loves me, no matter what, and trust me, there's been a lot of 'what'!

I've realised God had to tell me directly, 'nothing' except my love for Him matters, 'nothing' except knowing He will be there with me for eternity matters.

If anyone had come up to me and said I think I've got a word from God for you "nothing else matters", I know I would have probably exploded and gone on for days about how they couldn't possibly understand what does or doesn't matter.  Not so easy when God Himself gives you the word, you try arguing that one out with Him, you won't win, I tried.

But I need help with this, I know the theory, but as always the practise is hard.

1 Timothy 6:6-8 ESV
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

Does anything else except God's love matter to you?

Sunday, 19 February 2012

This Doesn't Happen In Our Town........Until Now

I hope I'm doing the right thing with this post and it's not seen as sensationalising a tragedy.  But I feel blogging, for me, is about posting  what's current to me, whether it's my thoughts on a Bible passage or podcast or things of a religious nature that are making the news.

If you live in the UK, you cannot have missed that Rev John Suddards was tragically murdered in his home, The Vicarage, in the town where I live.

The week has unfolded and hopefully now they have the right man in custody.  There have been Police and journalists all over the town, and every time you hear the whir of the Police helicopter blades you are reminded of what you were trying to forget about.

My children go to the Church school, so they were just getting to know him, it was lovely to hear the things some of my friends children had remembered about him and I thought it would be nice to include those quotes in this post:

"My sons have all said he was kind and friendly and are stunned.  They know that he loved God and that he is now in heaven with him which is enough for them. My youngest son said it will be nicer for him there as he won't have to live on his own anymore which brought a tear to my eye".

"I remember him telling us stories about God and enjoyed working with him on the assembly team".

"When Father John did school assemblies they were more fun".

"My son is devastated, sobbed for over an hour.....He encouraged him so much with his organ playing".

"In the short time John had been with us, he very quickly became a much loved and respected member of our school community"

John 16:33 ESV
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

No-one can answer the many questions surrounding this week - least of all me!  But we can know whatever evil prevails in this world, the victory has already been won, by Jesus.

It was wrong, it should not have happened, but it did.  That is the nature of a sinful world.

We are fortunate we live in a very safe area and I'm sure it will return to that way again, but I realise that all over the UK there are places where stabbings and murders and crimes barely get a mention on the news because they are so frequent, this is also wrong and should not happen, but it does.

Jesus has overcome, we mustn't live in fear, and when He returns the world will be as it was intended by God; sinless and perfect.

Matthew 6:9-13 (NKJV)
9 In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The Beauty Of Church Is The People, Not The Building

This weeks Unbelievable podcast featured writer Alain de Botton and James Orr asking should Atheists be more religious?

Alain has written a book 'Religion for Atheists'. He seems like a really nice reasonable bloke, who can see the virtue in things religious people have and would like atheists to have the same just without the spiritual side of things!

One thing that came up that I strongly disagree with is his statement that having a faith orientation is the same as your sexual orientation, you are either one way inclined or another and there isn't any feasible way to persuade you otherwise.  I would probably agree that you couldn't persuade a straight person to become gay or vice versa, but to say you cannot show someone the way to faith is ridiculous.  There are many Atheists who become Christians and also sadly, many Christians who turn away from their faith and become Atheists.

The main point I want to pick up on from the podcast though is that Alain seems to place a lot of weight in the role Churches/Temples play in religion.  He would like a magnificent structure to be made for Atheists to be able to admire and gather in.

The point Alain has missed (not his fault, he's not a Christian) is that the Church building is irrelevant to a faith in God, beautiful though these buildings are, the Church is made of God's people;

Matthew 18:20 ESV
"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

I know some Christians obviously still meet in the traditional Churches of England, but the structure of the building is of no relevance to the religion, well, certainly not my religion! Alain seems to think we are drawn to the beauty of the structure and architecture of the building and enjoy that as one element of our religion. 

 It would make no difference to me where we met for Church, because the Church is made of the believers in Christ.
                                                The Church I attend; hardly an enviable temple, even to an Atheist!

Jesus himself dismissed the beauty of the Temple;

Mark 13:1-2
1 As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”
2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

This was one of the most beautiful buildings in Jerusalem, but it was not built to honor God, it was built for the Jews, mere people. And true to Jesus' prophecy the Temple was completely destroyed.

So if Alain de Botton would like a Church/Temple/Beautiful structure for Atheists to meet in, go for it.

But it will never have the beauty of a Church that Christians meet in, because God will not be present in it.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Love. It's Not Just For Feb 14th

I won't get a Valentine's card nor do I want one.  Love should not be dictated by Seasons, Love should be constant, given freely regardless of what the return is.

Unfortunately Human love is not always like this, it changes with the seasons of our lives, it comes and goes with the people we meet, it is given conditionally. 

But, if we know only one thing about being Christians it is that we must love.

Matthew 22:37-39 ESV
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.

So if you want to show your love to someone special on Valentines Day or any other day of the year for that matter, don't do it to conform to the commercialism of yet another card manufacturer, do it because God commanded it, and you truly mean it.

1 John 4:8 ESV
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

This verse challenges me sooo much, because I know God and I know He is love, but somewhere in me my stubbornness disobeys Him and I don't show the love I know I should. So if I neglect to show love to the people closest to me, how can I expect God's love in it's fullness?

John 14:15 ESV
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments".

There's no getting away from it, He really wants us to love! You love me, you keep my commandments and the greatest and first of these is love.  You can almost hear God saying "I've got all the time in eternity to keep going over this until you get it!"

1 Corinthians 13:4-13 ESV
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. ...

Well you didn't think there could be a Valentinesesque post without these verses did you?

Now, if you really want to, go ahead and purchase your M&S 'Dine in for Two' ready meals!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Head Coverings

Mum please, no, not the big straw hat
It’s itchy and it hurts
My auntie’s has a lacy front; I don’t want one like hers
My cousins all wear berets, back in fashion now you know
If you try to make me wear a beret,
I’ll tell you where you can go

Is it really so important?
Does Jesus really care?
I know it matters to the elders what we wear upon our hair.
When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, was it really his passion
That we’d all shop in John Lewis for the latest millinery fashion?