Stop the world! I want to get off!

“Stop the world! I want to get off!” This world is broken. And it gets more broken by the day. I sometimes wonder how any of us find the strength to carry on.

It’s almost enough for one to say, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here!” That, according to Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy,’ is the inscription above the entrance to Hell. In this day and age, it might well be the inscription above the entrance into life on earth.

We all know who to blame for this brokenness, of course. We all know who is ‘Patient Zero’ in this tragedy.

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Worship in Spirit and Truth

When Jesus was walking the earth, going around doing good and performing signs and wonders, they said these miracles were not from God, and instead accused him of doing them by the power of the devil [see Matt 12:22-32].

I wonder if He wouldn’t have the opposite problem today; that signs and wonders are attributed to God that would seem more likely to be from the devil instead?

I raise this question because I have seen far too much go on in Christian worship services – and celebrated as evidence of the anointing of the Holy Spirit – that looks to me to be anything but Holy Spirit led.

Some would be quick to point the finger at me, warning that I am doing exactly what the Pharisees were doing in Jesus’ day. I’ll admit, that is a possibility. So I approach this carefully.

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True Worshippers

True worshippers, that’s who the Father seeks, according to Jesus.

So, does that mean the ones with good voices, or musical talent, or the most ‘spiritual,’ whatever that means? Is He seeking those who know good songs to sing to Him?

And does that mean worship is reserved for church on Sunday morning (after all, it is called a ‘worship service) when we gather to sing for 30 or 40 minutes? Of course, the more spiritual among us might do it privately during the week too, but surely the Father doesn’t expect that of all of us?

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True Worshippers

True worshippers, that’s who the Father seeks, according to Jesus.

So, does that mean the ones with good voices, or musical talent, or the most ‘spiritual,’ whatever that means? Is He seeking those who know good songs to sing to Him?

And does that mean worship is reserved for church on Sunday morning (after all, it is called a ‘worship service) when we gather to sing for 30 or 40 minutes? Of course, the more spiritual among us might do it privately during the week too, but surely the Father doesn’t expect that of all of us?

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Who is this man?

The more I study the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, the more amazed I am at the way Jesus relates to, and connects with, people.

And the more obvious is the contrast between how He addresses the powerful and how He deals with the lowly.

For instance, in John 2 He enters the Temple and, outraged at the corruption and exploitation displayed, makes a whip, overturns the tables of the money changers, and drives the animals out of the Temple courts.

Another time, He was angry at the religious leaders for their hypocrisy and lack of compassion, and deliberately healed a man on the Sabbath in the synagogue, knowing full well that it would provoke them to plot His death [see Mk 3:1-6].

“You snakes, you brood of vipers,” He calls the scribes and Pharisees in Matt 23:33; “Snakes in the grass,” one translation puts it.

‘Gentle Jesus, meek and mild…’ Hmm, maybe not.

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Living Water

“I thirst,” Jesus cried out from the cross.

And so do we. We thirst – we all thirst – for something more, something beyond ourselves. But we can’t quite put a finger on what we are thirsty for. We just know it is something we don’t have at the moment.

So we begin to accumulate wealth and possessions, hoping that they may satisfy our thirst. Or we seek fame, or power, as if that could quench the dryness within.

Or maybe we gather friends. If we have enough friends, then surely we’ll need nothing more. And if that doesn’t help, then we explore religion and spirituality.

But none of it satisfies the thirst within. There must be something more.

And there is…

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Living Water

“I thirst,” Jesus cried out from the cross.

And so do we. We thirst – we all thirst – for something more, something beyond ourselves. But we can’t quite put a finger on what we are thirsty for. We just know it is something we don’t have at the moment.

So we begin to accumulate wealth and possessions, hoping that they may satisfy our thirst. Or we seek fame, or power, as if that could quench the dryness within.

Or maybe we gather friends. If we have enough friends, then surely we’ll need nothing more. And if that doesn’t help, then we explore religion and spirituality.

But none of it satisfies the thirst within. There must be something more.

And there is…

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A much neglected teaching

‘Aseity.’ Now there’s a word you don’t hear every day of the week.

In fact, I’d bet most of you have never heard the word at all, let alone recently. And I suspect you would be in the vast majority of Christians if you don’t know the word or what it means.

And I also suspect that you’d be in the vast majority if you don’t care what it means either. Let’s face it, a word that rare and unused can’t be very important, can it?

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The Graciousness of God

Why is it so hard for us to understand the grace of God? Why do we go into our shell when we know we’ve done wrong, rather than reach out to our heavenly Father?

Is it because everything about our life is based on getting something in return for what we give?

We work 40 hours a week in exchange for a pay packet. No one gives us a weekly wage to do nothing – not even the government; you at least have to fill out forms and go to job interviews to get your payments.

Even our relationships are usually based on what the other person can give us in return for our friendship. We gravitate towards someone who is interested in the things we are interested in. No one gets our time if they can’t return to us in like.

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch!” Is this why we don’t really grasp the wonder of the depths of the grace of God? Continue reading

COVID19 – Fear or Faith?

Only a couple of weeks ago, we were all looking on with befuddled amusement at scenes of empty shelves in the supermarkets and shoppers fighting over the last few toilet rolls. “Have these people gone crazy?”, many of us wondered.

Because only a few weeks ago, what triggered the panic-buying was still something ‘out there,’ not really expected to bother us much.

But now, wow! It’s all become uncomfortably real for us. And so quickly! How can things change so much in such a short space of time?

Welcome, Coronavirus, to centre stage.

The sheer speed that change has come to the whole world has left many of us confused, uncertain, anxious even fearful.

And I’m sure it has left many people wondering whether there really is a God, and if there is, whether He really is in charge.

Or is the devil running rampant at the moment, and God can’t (or won’t) do anything about it? Continue reading