Honest about my faith is 4 years old today!

WordPress have just sent me this reminder that my blog  is 4 years old today.

This seemed to be a good opportunity to thank all of you who take the time to read along (127,583 hits so far).  I would also like to especially thank those who take the time to get in touch to provide encouragement.

I find writing quite difficult and I still am amazed at the way that God has taken something that I don’t feel very good at and has used it for such good.

I have over 100 blog post ideas saved as drafts so your prayers are appreciated as I try to make the time to share some of them.

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Pentecost: Knowing God rather than just knowing about him

As we think about the day of Pentecost it is not juts a nice story, it is life changing!

Honest about my faith

ephesians 5.18 - be filled with the spiritIt’s Pentecost Sunday but did you know that during the Jewish festival of Pentecost (originally called Weeks) they remembered the giving of the 10 commandments?

What do you think that the significance is of the giving of the Holy Spirit taking place during the festival when they remembered the giving of the law?

The giving of the 10 commandments and the rest of the law to Moses was God’s way of showing his people how they should follow him. The law taught people how to live and also showed them what they had to do to make themselves right with God.

The Law taught people what to do to follow God but the Holy Spirit enables us to know God.

Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit who would be another comforter / counsellor / advocate (John 14.16). The word ‘another’ tells us that the Holy Spirit’s role is to be the…

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Are we thankful for Pentecost?

God chose to pour out his Spirit at Pentecost which was a harvest festival where the Jews celebrated the firstfruits and looked forward to God’s greater provision.

Honest about my faith

cyo chaplain thanksIt’s Pentecost Sunday tomorrow but did you know that the Jewish festival of Pentecost (originally called Weeks) was a harvest festival?

What do you think that the significance is of the giving of the Holy Spirit taking place during a harvest festival?

The Bible says, ‘Celebrate the Festival of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest’ (Exodus 34.22)

The festival of Weeks (later known as Pentecost) was a time when the harvest was celebrated but it was also acknowledged that there was so much more to come.

On the day of Pentecost, 2000 years ago Jesus’ followers were in a house in Jerusalem. Just over a week earlier, Jesus had ascended back into heaven but before he went, he had told them to wait until the Holy Spirit gave them power.

As the disciples gathered on that day, they would have been thinking of harvest and in particular of the firstfruits.

On that…

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Meeting Jesus when we feel broken, afraid or full of doubt

Mary was distraught. She had come to the tomb and was shocked to find that Jesus’ body wasn’t there.  We don’t know how long she stood there or what thoughts were spinning through her head but we do know that she reached the conclusion that someone had removed the body (John 20.2)

She ran to tell Peter and John who had responded by coming to see for themselves. They had both looked around but now they had gone and she was left alone, crying outside of the tomb.

One of the things I find sad (if it’s possible to find a sad bit about the resurrection story) is that the Bible says that John believed that Jesus had risen but then he just goes home leaving Mary crying. Did he say something on the way past or was he too wrapped up in what he was feeling? Either way, I really feel for Mary.

Mary then encountered some angels and then Jesus (who she didn’t recognize) and they all asked her (unlike Peter and John who had cleared off) why she was crying. “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

Mary felt broken. Her fellow disciples had left her and now people kept asking her why she was crying. Why would they ask that, wasn’t it obvious? Her Lord had been tortured and executed and now it looked like someone had taken his body away.

The description ‘Mary was crying’ is completely inadequate. We can only imagine the anguish that she was feeling. She was so consumed by her pain that she didn’t recognize that angels were talking with her and she also didn’t even recognize Jesus. Then in a wonderful moment of clarity, Jesus speaks her name and the penny drops as she realizes that no one has moved the body but that JESUS IS ALIVE!!!

Do you feel broken today? Are you living with hurt that conumes you?

If so, will you meet with Jesus and pour out our hearts once he asks; why are you crying? As we do so, our honesty will begin our healing!

Posted in Being honest about our faith, Bible, change, depression, Faith, Life experiences, Listening to God, Relationship with God, restoration, Resurrection | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Apparently I’m not Worthy, or am I?

As I walked past it I couldn’t resist the urge to try to pick up Thor’s Hammer. I knew it was fake, just a prop in a cinema foyer but I just had to try.

As I posed for my picture holding the handle of Mjolnir, someone walked past and said

‘You’re obviously not worthy.’

In the Marvel Universe, only someone who is worthy enough may wield Thor’s Hammer and this is shown at the beginning of Avengers Age of Ultron as some of the Avengers take it in turns to try to lift it (see the YouTube clip below). As they all fail, Thor, effortlessly lifts the Hammer and tells them it’s because they are all not worthy.

Throughout the Marvel movies, it is never made clear what ‘worthy’ means. Later in the same film, Vision lifts the Hammer (okay, so he’s worthy. Got it) but Captain America (the ultimate boy scout and person who always does the right thing) cannot lift it (Marvel, have you really thought this through?)
(As an aside, Captain America lifted the Hammer more than once in the comic series so perhaps it’s just the film makers who haven’t thought it through!)

Okay, so if anyone can lift the hammer they are worthy (okay got it). But then there is Thor’s sister (the villain in Thor Ragnarok) who catches the Hammer near the beginning of that movie (so is worthy about power rather than morality or is this just a massive plot hole?)

What does it mean to be worthy?

One things for sure, if you say ‘you’re not worthy’ to a room full of your friends in the real world then you probably aren’t going to have many of those people as friends for much longer.

I hate the fact that some people perceive Christianity as being like this. These people think that we are a bunch of stuck up people who believe we are so much better than everyone else in the world who are clearly ‘not worthy!’

Nothing could be further than the truth! Christians believe that God saves us by grace, that he knows and loves us even though we haven’t earned or deserved his love. We Christians are a group of people who know what it is to be forgiven and loved unconditionally.

In other words Christians are people who realize that we aren’t worthy of God but we are grateful that God accepts us and sees us as worthy of his love and presence anyway. God loves everyone, not juts the Hammer carriers or people who can draw a sword from a stone!

I couldn’t lift Mjolnir but I know that God loves me and that he accepts me and anyone who turns to him.

You can turn to him as well! So, what s stopping you?

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For God so loved the world that he gave …?

I used to be passionate about just sharing a gospel message but now I have become more passionate about sharing Jesus.

When God wanted to demonstrate his love for the world, he sent his son, not a message. A letter, text or email would have been easier but for God words were not enough.

In John 1, Jesus is called ‘the word’. Do you see, God’s primary message, his key communication is his son not a set of words or instructions. What we see in Jesus, how he lived, treated people and what he taught and did shows us who God is and what he is like.

I want to share that Jesus calmed a storm and that he can still say ‘peace be still’ to volatile situations and stressed out people today.

I want to share that Jesus cares for the lowest of the low and that he values people who are seen as worthless by others.

I want to share that Jesus was known as the friend of sinners and that no one is excluded from his love.

I want to share that Jesus, the creator of the universe is with us always and that we never have to be alone.

I want to share the Jesus is the light of the world and that we never have to feel trapped in darkness and despair.

I want to share that although Jesus is like a lion that he chose to become a sacrificial lamb.

I want to share that we are loved with an everlasting love.

I want to share that Jesus overcame death and this demonstrates that he has the power to overcome anything.

I used to mainly want to tell everyone that we are all separated by God because of sin but the good news is that Jesus gave his life to open the way for us to know God. I still want to pass on this good news but my passion now is primarily to share Jesus in all of his fullness.

After all ‘For God so loved the world that he gave us a gospel message his only son’ (John 3.16)

Jesus is God’s gift to the world and it cost him so much to come here so let’s share about him with others.

Jesus is the greatest gift anyone could ever receive so let’s tell people about him.

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The one about the lighthouse

Honest about my faith

The captain pondered his problem as he tried to keep his boat on course in the storm.  He knew that his ship couldn’t survive much longer at sea in the gale force conditions but it was also pitch black and apart from the occasional flashes of lightning, he couldn’t see what was ahead.

The captain  knew that if he stayed at sea that his boat would sink but he also knew that on the way to land that he could hit rocks and his boat would never survive the impact.

He was in a no win situation and so he had decided to take a chance on trying to get to shore.

lighthouse storm Image from bible-daily.org

The captain was sinking deeper into despair when he saw the light and he turned his boat towards it. As he moved closer he realized that he could see a lighthouse and he remembered the stories that he had heard…

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Do we want to become more like Jesus?

Whenever we on a walk in the countryside, my daughter looks for two long sticks to carry.

Looking at this picture, can you guess why?

My wife uses walking poles when we are on longer walks and my daughter just wants to be like her.

As I walked behind them both a few days ago I began to ponder this and I took this picture.

I began to think about how we should be becoming more like Jesus.

As we travel through life, will we aim to do so as his followers who want to live in a way that please him or will we simply worship him but generally live as we please?

My daughter spends a lot of time and energy getting her sticks ready (a good Gandalf like staff can be hard to find!). Will we spend time and energy living like Jesus (don’t worry, the beard and sandals are optional!) or will we simply live in a way that pleases Jesus when it suits us and is convenient?

At the end of the day, do we want to become like Jesus or do we want him to become like us? Do we want to live in a way that pleases him or do we want him to act n ways that please us?Do we want to focus on and worship Jesus or would we like our lives to be the centre of his universe?

This should be our aim, that we are able to say;

Imitate me as I imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11.1)

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When God says Tune in Next Week

Thomas couldn’t believe what he was hearing, the other disciples were saying that Jesus was alive but how could that be? Thomas listened to them and then he famously replied:

“I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” (John 20 v25b)

The next few verses talk about the encounter that Thomas had with the risen Jesus which led to his belief and his statement of faith and worship: ‘My Lord and my God’.

I’ve read about this so many times and have even blogged about it (read more about what happened and my thoughts about it here: Stop calling him Doubting Thomas, God doesn’t like it!)

As I read this passage a few days ago something new struck me. Thomas’ encounter with Jesus begins with the words;

‘Eight days later’

Is it just me that finds that odd?

Thomas says he would believe when he saw and touched Jesus and as I read the passage, it feels like Thomas needs Jesus instantly but Jesus took over a week to go to him.

When Jesus set out for Jerusalem the other disciples were afraid but Thomas said ‘Let’s go too so that we can die with him’. John 11.16

Did Thomas have survivors guilt? He had intended to die with Jesus but he had actually survived by keeping his head down. Was he feeling guilty, is that why he wasn’t with the other disciples? Was this overwhelming sense of doom and gloom the reason why Thomas found it hard to believe?

Jesus taking over a week to arrive reminded me of the cliffhangers that TV episodes often end with. These cliffhangers used to be followed by the words ‘tune in next week for the next exciting installment of …’. You remember the sort of thing;

The hero has just fallen over the cliff edge (NO WAY!!) and the end credits roll. ‘Tune in next week to find out what happens next!’

You have just watched someone who you thought was one of the good guys betray their team and kill someone who you thought was their friend (DOUBLE NO WAY!!!). ‘Tune in next week to find out what happens next!’

You have just heard Darth Vader say ‘I am your father’ (EXTRA HUGE NOOOO WAY!!!!) to Luke and you have to wait more than a year to see what will happen next!

Let’s be honest, most of us hate waiting!

Sometimes we come to Jesus like he is a vending machine.

We expect to push his buttons in order to instantly get what we ordered.

Thomas wants to see Jesus in order to believe and Jesus answers his desire but he does so on his term sand in his own time.

Jesus knew what Thomas was thinking and he knew how long that he needed to process what was happening before he was ready to move on. Jesus taking over a week might seem cruel until we remember that God’s timing is perfect and that he knows all things.

Thomas had put his order in with Jesus but instead of simply fulfilling it instantly, Jesus gave Thomas what he really needed.

As Jesus appears, at just the right time, everything comes together for Thomas and he believes.

How about us? Are we waiting for something from God? Have we ordered something from him? Do we feel like he is saying tune in next ‘week/year/at some point’ to find out what happens next?

When we are disappointed with God, it is often because we have forgotten that he is the all-knowing one who knows what is best.

We want things on our terms but God wants what is best for us and sometimes that means that he won’t do what we are asking when we are asking.

Will we still trust God when he isn’t doing what we are want him to?

Image made using https://imgflip.com/memegenerator

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Holy Week: What is it all about?

Christians often call the week leading up to Easter Sunday, Holy week. So many things happened during that week that are amazing and inspiring but also confusing and odd. With these things in mind I have written a series of blog posts that can be used to help think through Holy week. I hope that you find them useful.

Honest about my faith

Happy-Easter-HD-Wallpaper-2015Christians call the week before Easter Sunday Holy week. This week coming is a time when we especially remember the days leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection.

I have written two different set of reflections. The first looks at the events of Holy week in order asking what was going on at each one. The second considers questions and thoughts that arise out of the Easter story.

The Events of Holy Week: ‘What were they all about?’

You may already know about the events that happened, but have you ever wondered what was really going on? What were all these things really about?

You can read through all of these together or you can use them on each day during Holy week as a series of reflections.

Palm Sunday: Palm Sunday: What was that all about?

Monday: Trashing the Temple Courts: What was that all about?

Tuesday: Trying to…

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