How often do you pray?

How often do you pray, really? I mean stop and go to a quiet room and just pray? Please, people who feel ok about this as well as people who feel they’re doing badly, answer. I want to know.

The Last Congregation

There was a quiet muttering of renewed acquaintances subdued by the silence of the hall. Old alliances were acknowledged with a stern handshake and a muttered joke, but they all knew they were here for the last time.

There were two times twelve of them, one from each of the great states of Earth, the Elders of their lands selected for their wisdom and authority.

Most of them were tall, as befit this room with its overpowering arches and this great throne around which the empty half circle of chairs stood.

The arc of chairs was perfect, each fixed for centuries in its position and used once every decade for the Elders’ Congregation. It stuck one of these elders that the room was most unfamiliar with people, being empty for these ten year periods and occupied for a few short hours, a flash in time.

The character of the murmer changed and a drift towards the chairs began.

They settled, and there was silence.

One of the Elders rose to his feet. “Gentlemen, we have one item on our agenda. Would those in favour please stand.”

Those who had arrived with doubts had found them dispelled by the atmosphere of the place. They rose at their various speeds, according to their age and dignity, unanimous.

“Then do it.”

Each man removed his crown, the symbol of his power and the weight of his responsibility, and cast it down at the foot of the throne of the Lamb.

Each gathered his things and returned to his land, a lightness in his step.

Revelation 4:10

Someone explained to me this bit of Revelation recently, and I kind of liked this picture of the elders throwing down their crowns. I’m sure my version of it is completely wrong, but what I really got out of it was that all that they had done during their lives was important, but they could just be freed of the responsibility by submitting completely to God.

I think out of everything I need to learn, that’s the most important thing for me.

Are You In God’s Church?

Will any church help me get to heaven? Now there’s a question.

Paul’s prophecy warns Timothy that a time will come when people will teach whatever they want to (2 Tim 3v16-17). Peter agreed, saying some people would distort Paul’s teachings, and that it would result in their destruction (2 Peter 3v16b). Timothy was also challenged to watch his LIFE and DOCTRINE closely, then he would SAVE both himself and his hearers. Does that mean that if he DIDN’T live and teach correctly, he and his hearers would not be saved? A scary thought.

When I came to England I searched for a church that would help me to live out what the Bible teaches . . . but there were so many churches!!

Which one should I commit myself to?

GAV

One big happy family?

What do you think about church? I think it might be interesting to get a discussion started on this, as many of us find aspects of church difficult. A few questions to kick off:

  • How important would you personally say it is to be part of a church – essential, important, not particularly significant, very unimportant? What about going to services or other church meetings regularly? What are the advantages and disadvantages of being part of a church?
  • What is your reaction to people in church very unlike yourself? What can we do when we find ourselves responding badly to them?
  • How do you cope when your church (if you have one) has a style of worship that you find different from your ideal?
  • What would you say are the most important priorities in choosing a church?
  • How would you change your church, if you have one? Ideas for what we can practically do at the moment to change things would be great.
  • Do you think that being part of a group of Christian friends can take the place of church?

I find it very easy to be critical, so I want to add the following sort of questions to balance things:

  • What do you think your weaknesses are, that others in church could help you with?
  • What’s really great about your church, if you have one?
  • Hope that sets things off. I’ll rant about my own church situation in the discussion as it gets going.

Good things about how the world is changing

Everyone seems to acknowledge that the world around us is changing. People are embracing `postmodernism’ – everything is relative and nothing has any real meaning.

And I think Christians are mssing out on some good stuff…

Modern society is bad, right? We believe in Absolute Truth and we’re against Apathy and Individualism, yeah?

Well, I’ll leave you to make a list of things we don’t like about our society. I’m interested in stuff we’re scared of that is actually really cool.

Here’s my best example:

Lots of people now are happy with ambiguity – realising it could be one thing or another, or another maybe. In fact, when I talk to people about the meaning of life, people seem to be very comforted when they find uncertainties.

In contrast, we Christians are terrified of ambiguity. We write whole books on why things aren’t ambiguous. We join one camp or another to avoid having to hold two possibilities in our heads. Or we just say it’s too hard and ignore it, hoping someone else will figure it out.

But we should be happy with ambiguity too. Why?

  • God is incomprehensible. We are just too small.
  • The Bible is ambiguous on loads of stuff. Hebrew particularly is a very ambiguous language, I’m told.
  • Sometimes we just don’t know. This is even true of ministers. We should embrace the mysterious nature of God.

Actually, on this particular issue, the Catholic church has it down much better than us evangelicals. They have these things called Mysteries (for example Jesus is both God and man) that they basically say are beyond our understanding.

Here’s another example just to make the point:

People are genuinely looking for authentic spiritual experience. Personally, if I’m honest, I’m scared of authentic spiritual experience and relieved when it becomes a routine.

Modern culture is actually quite good for some stuff. Why are we so scared of it?

`In the world, not of it’ doesn’t mean it’s ok so long as we’re `of’ a world from 50 years ago.

What do you think?

Answers not Questions?

Reading through the site there seems to be too many answers and not enough questions. Sometimes people put an idea on which then gets a comment that seems to suggest the idea was a question that needs an answer. Bono from U2 once said that his faith gave him a whole lot more questions in life instead of answers. What do other people think?

Not Lost

A poem.

————————-

Not Lost
Something missing
but not lost

Everything lined up nicely but
what now
what’s missing

NO SPIRITUAL EARNING POWER

Told many times he loves you
you’re not lost

Also told many lies
by wrong good people

When will I learn my lesson
or is this how it is
when you’re different
because he made you so

Take me back

You must believe the Bible right now – Part 2

How did Judas die? Take a look at these two passages from the Bible:

Matthew 27:3-6

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

Acts 1:18,19

(With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

Which of these is right?

Some people say that he hanged himself and then his body fell down and his guts spilled out in the field, but that seems very strange. Whilst that could be true, another alternative explanation is that there were two alternative myths that grew up amonst the people of Jerusalem about this unimportant detail (the exact nature of the grisly death of Judas), and that the two writers here wrote down the two myths.

Which alternative do you believe, or do you believe something else?

Exactly how Judas died (and who bought the field) will not affect my faith, but my attitude to conflicts like this will profoundly affect it.

Is it wrong to treat the Bible as evidence (rather than instructions)?

A Christian who didn’t like Jesus

I had a friend who didn’t like Jesus. She read about him in the Bible, and she didn’t like him. She thought he was arrogant and self-righteous.

I thought I was pretty open-minded until she told me, but it was a shock.

Does anyone else ever feel like this? How do you cope? Could I ever admit it if I did feel this?

You must believe the Bible right now – Part 1

Here’s the argument:

“If you start questioning certain parts of the Bible, where do you stop? You’ll have to question all of it, and where do you draw the line between bits you ignore and bits you believe?”

Here’s my opinion of that argument:

Not an argument at all: doublethink.

Here’s another argument:

“If you start questioning certain parts of what the Prime Minister says, where do you stop? You’ll have to question all of it, and where do you draw the line between bits you ignore and bits you believe?”

This is clearly rubbish.

You can’t dictate what you believe by looking at the consequences of that opinion.

You have to decide in all conscience what you think, and then live with the consequences.

Here’s another argument:

“I can’t believe the world is round until after next summer, because I’m going to Australia and I don’t want to fall off.”

What you believe doesn’t change the fact that the world is round. Similarly, what you believe doesn’t change the Bible.

I’m not saying that the Bible contains untrue things. What I am saying is that if you think it might, the argument above is not a good way of persuading you otherwise.

Is it possible to be a Christian and think that some parts of the Bible are wrong?