Archive for the ‘Christian’ Category

Review: “Stop dating the church – fall in love with the family of God” (Joshua Harris, 2004)

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

This is another classic Josh Harris book, easy to read, challenging and engaging with serious issues. It is also great to see the way the author has grown further in wisdom since his first book “I kissed dating goodbye”. It shares a similar theme – dating is silly, it is all about commitment.
I picked it up at Departure (the Eden Baptist Church student weekend away) where 10 of those were doing some good offers. We had some great teaching from 1 Corinthians 12-14 on the Church there and I thought I would read a little more about it.
It is quite short with only 129 pages using a large print so can be read in a couple of hours.

The first few chapters are most applicable for people who are ‘dating’ the church which essentially means not totally committed to your local church. It has been a while since that was me – the church is the best thing God ever made. However it is good to be reminded again of the things that we know to be true and to think again of how we can apply that.
Chapter 5 “Choosing Your Church” is a good review of the fundamental things that a church has to have and of the attitudes etc. that are important to have while choosing.
However my favourite chapters were 6 and 7 “Rescuing Sunday” and “The Dearest Place on Earth”. Sunday has been the best day of the week by far for me for at least 3 years now but “Rescuing Sunday” contains lots of practical steps for making it even better. “The Dearest Place on Earth” is a great conclusion by exposition from the end of John and really calls us to go out and live this.

In summary, a good book well worth reading on the heart theology and application end of the spectrum – “you know this is true, now go live like that, you know you want to”.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Monday, February 28th, 2011

ESV: Philippians 4:13.

This is a wonderful feeling. That there is nothing to fear, nothing is impossible – that whatever happens, whatever tomorrow brings – I am not afraid. Not because I have any strength in myself to face such things. Rather because I know that He does.

38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
ESV: Romans Chapter 8

Death holds no fear, for Christians can’t die — only sleep rather deeply while their body rots/burns away — and that holds no fear when you know that an alarm clock has been set that wakes even those who sleep so deeply — a trumpet that none can ignore.

What then can tomorrow bring?

… “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
ESV: John 4:14.

So I can pour out from my heart never fearing that it might run dry because it is not my heart that is being poured from, not my love being drawn on, but rather the love of God which has no bounds.

Obviously the danger here is that though the spring never runs dry messed up broken people like me can’t have oceans flowing through us that fast as our time is finite and so is our desire to do so. However that is only where we are — not where we are going.

So: bring it. Come sunshine, come rain, come storm, come hurricane. Come good times, come bad times. Come death, come life, come good, come evil. Come beginnings and endings. Come despair, come persecution, beatings and prison. All those things and more besides hold no fear for God is more powerful than all of them and he does not change. They hold no fear for I know those who have faced them and come out praising. Those who have died, been beaten, raped, who sit on death row, who sweat locked in shipping containers in the noonday sun. They are only a couple of hops across the friendship graph and they face more than I ever expect to and they praise the God who remains faithful and gives them strength to carry on in the face of all of that.

So summary for those who are by now thoroughly confused: there is a hope in my heart stronger than life itself and a joy to which nothing compares. I have bad days, I have good days but joy does not depend on me (it depends on Him) and it is better than happiness. (the life of a Christian is a pretty awesome thing (this is not the same thing as being easy))

Apologies if this doesn’t make much sense. If you think me crazy then well, no change there then. ;-) It was on my heart and is one of the rather better things in there so count yourself lucky. :-)

Telling good news

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

This week the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (CICCU) is running a week of talks about the truth that sets you free having been to the first two talks I know that they are very good.

Frequently one finds that people don’t understand why someone would want to tell people about Jesus. Why do Christians do that? Isn’t faith a personal private thing?

Perhaps this answers that question: if the Christian message is true then it is the best news in the world – there has never been anything more important. If then someone believes that it is true how can they not tell people – what a horrible thing to do to someone – to not tell someone you care about something you believe to be so incredibly important. If you don’t understand that if it were true then it would be the most important news then you don’t understand Christianity.

However Christians are human and we mess up a lot. It doesn’t help people if the way we try and tell them about this wonderful news turns them off and makes them ignore it. It doesn’t help if people think that we want to tell them about Jesus out of some sort of legalism or rule following or because we think that makes us better people – it doesn’t. How can we not tell those we love about the person we love the most.

Apologies if this comes across poorly. I may be a coward but if you ask me a serious question then I will try to answer. If you want to find out more then the truth talks are very good as are the gospels in the bible and two ways to live is a good introduction.

Having sensible discussions

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Recently I have been thinking quite a lot about how people who have different points of view on a particular issue can have a proper discussion about that issue. So often we don’t actually engage with each other or even really try to but instead go from the position “I know I am right and the other person is wrong” to the position “I know I am right and the other person is wrong because of X, Y and Z” but at the same time something similar is happening for the other person for possibly different Xs Ys and Zs.

In reality people don’t generally hold views which they consider to be wrong and don’t do things that they think are evil (at least not and then support them afterwards – I regularly do things that I think are wrong). So in a sensible discussion what we want to find out is what the underlying facts, assumptions and beliefs are and what the relative importance of each of those things. Then hopefully it will be possible to see how these fit together to form a worldview in which the opposite point of view is in fact the correct view.

Unfortunately this is frequently rather difficult partly because it is all to easy to reject things outright and so not actually examine these underlying issues and partly because all these things tend to be interconnected in a rather complex manner. So it may be necessary to talk about a very wide range of underlying issues which are all mutually dependant resulting in it taking a rather long time. Very few people will be prepared to put in that kind of time and even with those who are it is still difficult as there are fundamental restrictions on the number of hours in a day.

Recently I have been having sensible discussions with some of my Christian friends who are inclined to the ‘right’ while I myself generally consider myself inclined towards the ‘left’. In this situation it is possible to have really quite interesting discussions by virtue of the fact that we both already agree on a wide range of very important issues and have worldviews which are on a deep level very close indeed. At the same time outward political views can end up at opposite ends of the spectrum. It is also rather helpful that we already love each other a lot and so it is easier not to get angry or to consider them a bad person because of views that I might find objectionable because I already know that since they love all the people who are affected by implementations of policy based on those views they must have good reasons for them.

In this I have found that it is surprising how big a difference in policy subtle differences in the priority given to different underlying good principles can have. Having had the whole of Christmas to allow these thoughts to mature in the absence of such discussion I appear to have lost my recollection of good examples of this and since some of these thoughts stretch back to April or earlier that is not completely surprising.

So in summary: If both sides in a discussion are willing to put real effort into having a sensible discussion and looking carefully at the underlying issues then it is possible to get rather more out of if than one might expect. (This is also far more interesting than discussing the weather etc. and I should put more effort into making it happen).

Relatedly I had a ‘fairly’ sensible discussion about religion on #cl (It didn’t descend to a flamewar though IRC isn’t really a good place for going into detail on complex issues) this must be some kind of miracle. :-)