Friday, 1 May 2015

The Perfect Fit

I wouldn't normally take a photo of a stone wall outside someones house, but when I saw the workmanship of the one in my picture I had to stop and admire the way in which a real craftsman had built it. Stones of different sizes, shapes and colours all fitted together perfectly to make something beautiful.

The Bible tells us that we like living stones are being built together to make a spiritual house(1 Peter 2:5). God is the ultimate master craftsman and knows exactly where and how each individual fits into his grand scheme, but it is also important that we co-operate with Him in His plan.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Seeing the gold or seeing the cracks

Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.
Galatians 4:19 NLT

There is a story in the New Testament about a man called John Mark. This young fellow not only divided opinion, but he also divided an effective apostolic partnership when Paul and Barnabas fell out over whether or not to take him on their next mission trip. Paul had felt let down by John Mark when he failed to complete the previous journey with them, and clearly felt that he didn't have what it took to make it in the ministry. Barnabas strongly disagreed with Paul and refused to write the young man off because of his previous failure, and so the two co-workers parted company and went their separate ways (Acts 15:40). It is so good to read later that Paul had changed his mind and specifically sent for the same young man who he had come to consider "useful to him" (2 Timothy 4:11). 

Friday, 13 February 2015

Ever feel like an ugly duckling?

"Now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it."
1 Corinthians 12:27

We all know the story from childhood about the duckling who didn't really fit with the rest of the ducks because he was so different. It was only when he was recognised as a swan did he fully become what he was always meant to be. Most people go through their entire life never really knowing what they were created for, and sadly this is also true of many Christians. The Bible says that every born again believer is a part of Christ's body, and therefore everyone has a distinct role to play and mission to fulfil. The idea that church is divided into a clergy (full time professionals) and a laity (the rest) is not a biblical concept, but unfortunately that is still how many people view the church which is why many Christians go through life feeling unfulfilled. When you discover the role that God has made you for and begin to function in it, you will find that your Christian life moves up a gear and God's purposes are advanced in the process.

So how do we find out what we are and grow up to be what God meant us to be? Here are some keys to help us on the journey.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Prophets Prophets Everywhere

Maybe it's just me, but everywhere I look in the Christian world these days there seems to be an abundance of those who call themselves prophets. I receive emails and adverts about various prophetic conferences, and increasingly come across books and TV shows on religious channels, by apparently recognised prophetic ministries, with lots to say for themselves and it seems lots to say to the wider church. Many of theses books, TV shows and conferences seem to be of an instructional nature, teaching the average believer how they too can hear God and prophesy to people. Others are more to showcase these ministries themselves, as they give bold predictions about the future - mostly gloomy, if not downright terrifying.

This of course is not a new phenomenon. Those who were around in the 1970's will remember the best selling book by Hal Lindsay that gave specific predictions on how it was all going to pan out, as he painted his version of the doomsday scenario. Despite the fact that most of his predictions have failed to materialise there still seems to be a never ending appetite among Christians for prophetic utterances, particularly about the future and the end times.

More recently I heard a well known author and speaker, again recognised widely as a prophet, conclude that prophetic ministry was all about finding the gold in people and helping them fulfil their ministry. There may be a certain amount of truth in his point, but is this really what the prophetic ministry is all about? One only has to  look broadly across the scriptures to see that the prophetic ministry is a vital thread that God has used from Genesis to Revelation to demonstrate his heart and will, and to keep his people on track with His plans and purposes. True prophets are not only vital today in God's ongoing plans and purposes, but they also should be easily recognised by God's people.

So what things should we expect to see in a Prophet? Is a prophet simply someone who relates words or pictures in a meeting with a thus says the Lord at the beginning? Let's begin with Abraham, who was the first person whom God refers to as a prophet (Genesis 20:7)....

Friday, 5 September 2014

The rise of the mocker and the scoffer

These days comedians are as big as rock stars, not just in the UK, but in many countries. Top performers are filling fifteen to twenty thousand seat arenas and many of them are becoming ubiquitous on our television screens as they seem to appear on every panel show going. Like most people I love to laugh and I have my own favourite comedians, however I find myself increasingly changing the channel when certain people come on my screen. The Bible mentions them on a good number of occasions and encourages us to avoid them - They are called the mockers and the scoffers.

Mockery is a large part of humour as something or someone has to be the butt of almost every joke, and comedians have always loved to push the boundaries of taste in order to get a laugh. Bad language, strong sexual innuendo and brazen discussion of what were taboo subjects is now the norm.  Certain comedians have openly and vehemently made Christianity and Christians themselves the target of their so called humour. The rise of militant atheism in the last few years has unleashed the court jesters of Darwinism and they have only one target in view. I often see the faces of these funny men (and women) change to reveal an inner rage as they seek to make a mockery of those who put their faith in Christ and his word. "The proud and arrogant person - "mocker"is his name behaves with insolent fury (Proverbs 21:24). Most of them go beyond a little dig at people of faith and actually become preachers of atheism when they get onto the topic. We might feel a little uncomfortable and simply brush it off and continue watching in the hope that he moves onto something we can all laugh at. One atheist comedian who was mocking Christians in particular called us ignorant and said we "needed to read a few more books" to enlighten us. The only problem with his argument is that when one does read some books or look into the evidence(sic) for the atheists theories of life, one finds a case that is so full of holes that it is truly laughable that anyone should believe it much less stake their eternity on it. (See my post on the subject here)

The Bible tells us to guard our hearts. That means that we need to be careful what we listen to, what we watch and what we allow into our minds generally. More of us need to stop entertaining fools in our homes and letting these clowns into our living rooms through the box in the corner of the room. And fools are what they are, for the fool says in his heart there is no God. We shouldn't be at all surprised at the rise of the mocker and the scoffer in our day, for we are warned about them in the scriptures, but we also shouldn't give them the time, attention (or indeed our money) that they crave so much.

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires ( 2 Peter 3:3)

SCOFF(v) to laugh and speak about a person or idea in a way that shows that you think they are stupid or silly.

MOCK (v) to make something seem stupid or ineffective. 

Cambridge online dictionary

Friday, 14 February 2014

The Evolution Delusion

As I sat down with my breakfast cereal to watch the BBC news one morning in May 2009, it soon became apparent that I had  switched on my TV to one of the most momentous events in human history. Before me, on my screen, was a smiling Sir David Attenborough (right) standing beside a large fossil which had been affectionately named "Ida"  by the man who had discovered her in a quarry in Germany. Barely able to contain his excitement, Sir David exclaimed that "finally, we have in front of us the missing link." A moment that evolutionists had long been awaiting, this was concrete evidence of the fact that mankind had indeed evolved from apes, and in honour of their hero they had given Ida the latin title Darwinius.

Only a matter of weeks later, I came across a much smaller article on a news website that stated that the much heralded Ida was in fact nothing more than the remains of an ancient Lemur, and not the missing link after all. I think I must have missed the BBC news doing their follow up interview with Sir David on this huge disappointment. I was keen to hear his humble apology to all of us for making such a bold proclamation without actually properly investigating the evidence. Sadly, I am still waiting.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Walking it through or walking away?

A few months ago I met with a old church friend whom I have known for many years. I was having a coffee at his house when he pulled out a photo album filled with pictures of people who we both knew from years past. As we began to reminisce and go through the "where are they now?" routine, it was quite sad to realise that although there were some who had moved on in the purposes of God for their lives, many others had walked away from their church family with unresolved issues, bitterness and bad feeling. Some had gone to other churches without ever attempting to deal with the past, and tragically,  a proportion of the people were no longer walking with God at all.

It is my belief that there are no issues that cannot be walked through and resolved biblically if there is a humility and grace on both sides and a determination not to settle for less than God's best. Jesus gave his disciples a clear instruction to love one another and a clear pattern of how to walk things through and deal with issues. However, the inability or unwillingness of many Christians to deal with offences and differences in a loving and biblical way leads to a division and fragmentation that surely grieves the heart of God. So many people would rather hold unto their hurt and bitterness at the expense of losing a friend, brother or sister. Their own pride standing in the way of peace and unity in the church, and ultimately costing them dearly in their own lives and relationships.

With all this in mind, here are some keys from God's word on resolving issues and staying in peace and harmony with our brothers and sisters.