Wednesday, 25 February 2015

God's commands

This year for lent I’m giving up my car, my job, my house and my country.


It’s not part of my theology to believe that God gives out words, in prophetic visions, at least not to me, but God is speaking pretty clearly to me in this case. Simply through the situation and circumstances that I’m in, He’s telling me that I need to be in, and effectively move permanently to America, if I am to stay married.


I have no idea how I’m going to do it.
I have no idea how I’m going to support myself and Fran.
I have no idea how I’m going to get a visa, or a work permit.
I have no idea how to sell a house, or how to buy a house in America.
I don’t understand anything about medical insurance.
And most of all I have no idea why God wants us there.


But it seems to clear to me that He does.


And I trust that He will provide the answers.


In the sermon I listened to this week at Kingsmead Baptist Church the topic was Jonah and basically how much faffing about and trouble he got into when he ran away from God’s command to go to Nineveh and preach to them. A modern day equivalent would be for one of us to be told to go to ISIS and preach God’s word to them. I’m reassured that God isn’t asking to me to go to Syria or Iraq and preach to them. However, I could still dwell in all these uncertainties and not make a commitment to move.


I’m still confused about how calm I am at all this. There appears to be no fear within me at all. I realistically should be indecisive and entirely apprehensive about what’s going on in my life. But that’s just it. I’m not making the decisions here. The pressure is entirely off me because I’m just the hand in this. I still have to work things out, I mean I can’t be complacent. It’s not just going to do itself, but the way it all seems to work out, just at the right time, is becoming too commonplace to not be comforted by it.


If anything I feel excitement. It seems clear to me now that God is providing the miracle that we've all prayed so hard for. Fran looks to be in remission and on her journey to a bone marrow transplant. Of course the day to day battle with her health is going to be a constant fight, but the long term miracle is now something that can clearly be seen. God has revealed to me so many miracles in the last few years. He has proved to me again and again that He still heals miraculously when the doctors think there is no hope. And it's the doctors that use the word 'miracle' every time.


I’m at our house in the UK now, starting preparations to sell up and I plan to fly out again in the next few weeks and be reunited with my wife as she continues her treatment.


There is nothing quite as humbling as realising that you are having to live entirely on the generosity of others. It occurs to me that a lot of people have to do that, especially the homeless and the very poor. It makes me appreciate just a little bit what it is like to live as a beggar. Because technically for the time being that is what I am, being technically unemployed and soon to be technically homeless. I am blessed to have a family and a church family that will support me despite this.


But being a Christian I understand that we are all living on generosity. We are living on God’s generosity. God has mercy on us because He allows us to live at all. The mere fact that any of us are breathing means He has withheld His wrath for every single one of us as sinners. Not only has He given us mercy, but He has given us grace. He has blessed us all with the hope of a saviour. He sent us His son to take the just punishment for our sins and allows us all to entry into His Kingdom. His only price is faith. He just asks us to believe and trust in Him and we are forgiven.


Whether you call it obedience or whether you call it a relationship, it amounts to the same thing. In my experience the trust that you have in knowing Christ is that you really do have no fear, and have a constant peace and joy in knowing Him. At the very least God has answered with a resounding yes to the prayers for Him to put peace on my heart. And it’s through knowing that peace that I carry on with my journey. Looking forward to what He has in store for me next.

I’m blessed to be on this great adventure!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Homophobia

It’s always exciting to get a phone call from a Pastor to explain that someone has complained about something that you've written on Facebook. It happens every now and again. What is interesting is that if I write something that might be controversial, the controversy turns out to go in a completely different direction of what I anticipate. Sometimes my satire isn't quite understood to be the irony that it is, but then it’s not always obvious what I’m conveying in written language.

Of course the original written word – The Bible – has that problem to. While a lot of Christians may claim that they have the authority of the Bible, all they ever have in their doctrine is an interpretation of the Bible.

It is up to logical arguments and in some cases instinctive feelings (Holy Spirit influenced or otherwise) on whether or not that doctrine is true. Most of the logical arguments are of course the realm of apologetics, but there are some that are quite controversial and mainstream that are at least interesting to discuss.

When I was growing up I remember there were political scandals where some politicians were outed as being homosexual. They were usually forced to resign because it was such an abhorrent thing. It was only just legalised but there was still a lot of stigma against it. Now in the same country they have homosexuals that are leaders of churches, and it is becoming illegal to say some parts of the Bible because it is considered a homophobic hate crime. It’s astonishing how the attitude towards same sex relationships has changed. It is legal in most parts of the western world for same sex couples to marry now, and indeed call it marriage. This would have been a ridiculous idea when I was child.

So what has changed? How come the same churches that would have condemned homosexuals as sinners when I was a child now embrace them as bishops?

Surely their doctrine has changed. The Word of God hasn't.

It all stems, I think from the atheist world view. Evolution tells us that we are nothing but animals. We can be treated as such. And that is what modern medical science does. We now have technology that means that we can prevent conception, or make it artificially. Human life can be conceived in a test tube, and then implanted into a surrogate womb. Or it can be murdered in the womb. We can of course end life at any time, and I suspect that euthanasia takes place a lot more frequently than any headlines would portray.

So why do we need to conform to the idea that society should need to protect traditional marriage? Why bother even with marriage at all. Sex is no longer about procreation. It’s just a bit of fun. Relationships don’t need to be grounded in anything other than superficial hedonism. Sex is just a commodity, it is bought and sold through pornography and prostitution.

And at the heart of this ideology we have the LGBTQ community that is slowly influencing churches, making up nonsense translations of the Bible like the QJV, and all along their symbol – the rainbow - itself defecates on the covenant that God made with mankind after He wiped out all the people on the earth because it was as corrupt and sinful as it is today, the rainbow being a sign of the promise to never again destroy the population that way again.

They claim that those that follow a doctrine that hasn't made that change are bigoted. Looking up the word bigot it means “a state of mind where a person strongly, obstinately, irrationally, unfairly or intolerantly dislikes other people or ideas”. Which to me sounds like it goes both ways, if someone is a bigot because their theology does not condone homosexuality, then perhaps then is just as much bigotry for those that do not condone that theology.

I’m also intrigued by the whole notion of homophobia. As if in some way holding that doctrine makes you scared of homosexuals. I certainly don’t rate myself anywhere near attractive enough for homophobia to be an issue for me.

I fail to understand how something that is in reality is a psychological abnormality has become not only an identity issue, but one that requires civil rights that need to be defended. And the worst of these in my opinion is the transgender issue, where the solution to a terrible distorted body image is to mutilate a person’s body and turn them into some horrific cosmetically mutated eunuch. Then it becomes a ridiculous game of personal pronoun tennis.

That is not to say that I don’t believe that people should have the right to have same sex relationships, they should! In a free country consenting adults should have the right to do whatever they want to each other, whether its same sex relationships, committing adultery, engaging in polygamy, dressing up like animals or drinking each other’s blood. These freedoms should be protected, even if we find them morally reprehensible, like the freedom of speech that protects my right to write this, and express my theological views.

And it’s not to say that these doctrines that are “pro-gay” are wrong in a lot of their notions. We should all show love to everyone, no matter what their sin. Jesus technically said nothing about homosexuality – although He did say that a man should leave his mother and father and cling to his wife – not to his husband. The notion that they were born that way is entirely correct too, since we’re all born into sin! But the idea that the Bible condones it - well in my understanding the Bible simply doesn't - not without altering it or omitting sections of it at least.

So does this make me hateful? I don’t think so. If I were to assess myself I would say that I certainly don’t feel hate, or anger, not since my life changed when I accepted Jesus Christ as my saviour and living in His love and grace is what gives me the strength I have today.