About Me

Sunday, 30 May 2010

crazy...

Felt like a quick change of blog layout. not sure of the pink actually but fancied something completely different. Whilst doing this, it occured to me that this journey I am on is so crazy :) Sometimes I wonder if it is all a massive dream (remember Dallas and Bobbys death?!) and I'm going to wake up and go back to bumbling along in my life, thinking that I am in control of it all.... If someone had said to me a few months ago: you will be watching this guy heal people, you will be writing a blog post about the fact that you believe God can heal in this day and age, that you actually want to be seeking God 24/7 (quite literally sometimes) or enjoy reading the bible...and get it.... :) well I think I would have laughed. a lot. and then ignored them...
Thing is, having been at this for a few months now I can look back and see my life changing in so many ways. From the oh so subtle, to the downright smack you in the face obvious. and all for the better. Sometimes I catch myself in a situation that now comes so naturally, that would have been so alien a few months back and when I do, catch myself, I recognise how far I've come in such a short space of time and it is just wonderful. Life is good. Totally crazy. totally out of my control. all the balls are in the air and I have no idea where I will be next week let alone a year. but it is great. I am so happy. so trusting. so fulfilled. God is good. really good.
more please. Bring it on...

Healing. Miraculous?

This weekend Mark Marx, founder of the 'Healing on The Streets' initiative came to our town. He did a service last night and spoke at church this morning. All I knew of him before was related to the 'supernatural leg-lengthening' that he regularly does on people who apparently have one leg shorter than the other. If you haven't seen this try this clip:












Now I was totally skeptical about this. Totally. On so many levels. I struggled to believe that God could/would act supertnaturally like this. I thought this guy was probably a fraud. I thought that doing the same act on lots of people was a publicity stunt. I was sent this clip by someone a while back and pretty much dismissed it. So when I heard he was coming to our church I thought, right I need to see this.


My doubts I guess were 2 fold - is this guy for real? and can God heal like this in this day and age? (probably links back to my post about what prayer does). I guess in principal I had no problem believing that things like this can happen, through Gods power. but I think I needed to see something with my own eyes to get it completely. (will I ever get past being like Doubting Thomas...?)

So firstly I now know, yes, this guy is totally for real. His talks at both services were completely inspirational. Even if you take out of the equation the numerous examples of healing that he has seen, The 'Healing on the Streets' initiaitive, started just 3 years ago, is now in hundreds of town across the UK and Europe, and in many cases having seen some truly amazing results. Marx travels every weekend to towns and churches where they are running this initiative to preach and offer encouragement and training. I don't believe that would be happening if he was a fraud. After all, it isnt really about him, he visits places running the scheme yes, but he is not at every session by any means and individuals have to then run this in their own towns without his back up. So although I have yet to see anything completely awesome with my own eyes, I believe in the power of healing through God.


Just as a quick example, he mentioned: a guy born with no irises, and therefore no vision, who after prayer had normal eyes and vision; a man with plates in his arm after an injury who suffered with constant pain and limited movement, healed completetely; numerous cancers totally healed and medically verified, including several where surgeons opened up the patient to operate to find the cancer gone, and being totally stunned... the list goes on...


On Saturday night he did do the leg lengthening thing. When he first said, 'does anyone have one leg shorter than the other?' I thought 'oh no, why is he doing this? we don't need to see this gimmick, there are loads of sick people here (and there were) why can't you do something with one of them?' Anyway to my amazement one of my friends said, yes they did have one leg shorter than the other by about an inch & a half. So instantly my first doubt that people were set up went out the window as this guy is totally on fire for God and would not have agreed to be party to any nonsense. Then my next doubt - ok well he must pull the leg or line them up, or whatever, was blown out of the water as I stood about 2 foot from what was going on and everyone was crowded round so there was no faking!


After some guidance we all prayed for people with a range of conditions, with limited but some success. Similar this morning at the service. One guy during the afternoon session yesterday on the streets, had walked with a zimmer frame for 30 years after falling down some stairs on a double decker bus. He could not walk without the frame and had been in constant pain for 30 years. After prayer he said the pain had gone and was able to walk down the street on the arm of one of the team, with his carers on tenterhooks thinking he would fall!


Now I recognise that this post is bound to bring up a number of comments and plenty will be negative (Hi Ron... ;) ) and I don't blame you - I would have said the same a few weeks back - but for me, the thing that I have come away from this with, is the belief that God can and will heal. And why not? He is God... And indeed in the bible it says that we shall do greater things that Jesus. So if Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, then why can't we in his name?:

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12

I'm not being naiive about this, I actually find it easier to believe that God can do this stuff, than not. No, I don't understand why sometimes people are healed and sometimes not. Or why one man should seemingly have more of the ability to heal in Jesus name than any others. Or (still) why he uses the same example which seemingly works every time. Is this a God given example? (In fact if it wasn't for the leg thing I would probably have total 100% belief in this guy, it's just the repeating of it which makes it seem like a scam!).
Just for good measure here's another clip of Healing on the Streets in Reading.(first bit is a bit of background, prob best to start at 2 mins in)



as always I eagerly await your comments...
red
x

Monday, 24 May 2010

old church/new church (again...)

Ok not a full on rant this time but a gentle observation...
Having read Margaret's blog at Bridteacher about their rather dull Pentecost service, I had to share something I heard today. I have spoken at length about my old church, so I won't go on but today I heard that last Sunday the congregation were told that there wouldn't be a sermon that Sunday as they intended to show a slide show of the proposed re-ordering of the church. Right. A sodding slide show. On Pentecost. The birth of THE Church, they show a slide show. And if they think re-ordering their church is going to make it more attractive to the parish they are sadly mistaken. People do not go to church to see nice seats with cushions. They go to meet with Jesus and those who want to meet Jesus go somewhere where he is.

Again, I am not going to go on about how wonderful my new church is, but by contrast on Sunday our curate was out the front yelling, 'come one, come and get some prayer, come and get filled with the Holy Spirit...' and so on.

So I know where I would rather be...

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Is prayer necessary?

I have been rather absent this week, partly because I have been tired, partly because no.2 has been off school ill and partly because my brain needed a break from all the stuff I have been questioing and posting on recently. Well I thought a break would be nice, but seems like God has other ideas as there's always other issues appearing in my brain to be analysed.

So this week, while I have been quietly trying to ignore him, the thing that has come up is prayer. I believe in the power of prayer, even this morning I prayed about something that someone then came and talked to me about at church. But... if God knows everything and has it all mapped out for us - why do we need to pray to him? I don't mean giving thanks or in praise, but in asking him for things or praying for someone in need. If he knows the outcome why should our prayer make any difference? I recognise that this also links in with the predetermination discussion, ie: that if he know who is going to be saved, why do we need to evangelise etc etc..

Someone recently, in talking about a road accident in relation to prayer, said, 'what about that girl who died - did she not pray enough? was no one praying for her?' and I thought, no that's ridiculous, it was a freak accident. ok so maybe you could start talking about the force of evil, but in relation to prayer or lack of it I was a bit stumped.

As always would love to know your thoughts...

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

difference of opinion - part 2

one of my friends (Hi L!) said to me this morning - you do discuss some deep topics on your blog don't you? I laughed. but I do think its important. I have spent so many years just shelving anything that I didn't want to hear or couldn't address, and I'm not prepared to do it any longer. If something occurs to me, if God puts something in my head, I now address is straight away rather than let it fester and getting feedback on here from others with a very wide range of opinions is very helpful, so I thank you all :)
Covering all this stuff does mean that sometimes I get a bit full on, for which I apologise, but I just need to do that right now.

So... following on from yesterdays post, thank you all who commented it has been really useful and although I haven't been back to it for a couple of days I have been mulling things over. In fact I read all the references people left and looked at various others too, and it has made me think a lot! but the thing that surprised me most of all is the level of hatred and loathing towards those who are gay. I had no idea that in our society such vehemence could exist towards others. In fact it is sickening that because of one persons sexual chosing they should be so demonised. I think that is the one single thing that has shaped my feelings most. As Lesley said, Jesus was always on the side of the downtrodden, and as Christians aren't we supposed to be emulating him? I have to say there is nothing like an underdog to make me stand up for them!, and that isn't because I am specifically trying, it's just part of me. and the thing I have realised is that actually it really doesnt matter (to me) about homosexuality. Why should I feel the need to have it labelled as 'right' or 'wrong'? because either way we are all Gods children. If I were ever to be in a position of having to counsel someone on this, my advise would be to listen to God. If you are in a loving relationship and feel that God is happy with it, then go with it. I guess the issue arises when someone in a loving homosexual relationship feels that they are doing wrong (and I have had one friend go through this recently which is probably another reason why I am trying to get my head around it). I guess its about acceptance of anyone, no matter what their background, their past, their sexual prefernce (and I know this is a pretty bloody obvious thing to say ) and maybe I just needed to be reminded of that.
As Alan said over on his blog:

'...why we can't accept that we have differences of opinion over this and recognise that we are all trying to follow the teachings of Jesus as best we can?'

So for now, I don't have an opinion either way and I intend to stay that way. I am sitting on the fence, which is very unlike me. In fact this is another new thing I have learned about myself, from this debate, which is that I don't have to have a strong opinion on everything. (You have no idea how much it pains me to admit this!!). But I do know that we are called to love each other
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34

Jesus said love one another AS I HAVE LOVED YOU. so that should be our example...

Sunday, 16 May 2010

differences of opinion

I write this after reading both Lesleys blog about how others view the church and Sue's over at 'Significant Truths' about Mary Glaspool being consecrated as assistant Bishop of Los Angeles.

Although I am not a believer in lables, I guess I am probably more on the Conservative Evanglical side of things than anything else. However I very strongly believe that it is not our place to judge, there is only one who can do that. It is our place to love each other and accept others as Jesus would have done. Lesleys blog yesterday gave an alternative version of the parable of the woman pouring perfume on Jesus' feet which actually really touched me - really made me see why this was so significant. Jesus dealt with all sinners with love and compassion (and after all, we all sin, there is no 'well that sin is worse than this one'...) he met with them any way he could, how they came to him. He didn't say, 'you must purge yourself of sin before you come any where near me.'

However where should the line be drawn? Whilst all should be welcome, is it not going against our beliefs to just let anything go? If the church has particular core beliefs or doctrine then surely they should be reflecting that? But at what level? Is it ok for them to preach on contraversial subjects in church but not to confront people themselves. And at what level should it become unacceptable to go against those core beliefs. For example if a vicar is known to be cheating on his wife, but is about to be made a bishop, should the issue of adultery be addressed by his/her superiors before the appointment. If a lay preacher has a violent temper towards his family, but wishes to go for ordination, who should decide whether this is ok or not? Whilst we do not have the right to judge, at what point does the church say, 'that is not accpetable? '

Now at the risk of going down a difficult path, something I struggle with (yet another thing...) is homosexuality. Different churches have very different views on it. Prior to my renewal of faith I kind of felt that anything goes. I am a very tolerant person, and it didn't bother me one ounce. Now though, that is being challenged. I am not becoming homophobic, I have several gay friends who I love as much now as I did then (in fact we went to a civil partnership celebration on friday). I also feel that people should be welcome in church whatever their background or sexual chosing and I am not about to start preaching on the subject, I just want to get it straight in my own head. So... the big question is, is it right? and if not, then where should the church draw the line? - I have to admit to feeling rather doubtful about homosexual priests or as in the case of Mary Glaspool, becoming bishops. But I still feel very torn as to what I used to think. But who has the right to say so and at what point? (other than in death at the pearly gates...)

I'm sure I will get plenty of comments on this and I just want to make clear I am not being judgemental or declaring what I believe is right or wrong, I really need to hear others opinions to get some clarification so please do comment away.



Friday, 14 May 2010

beautiful day

Today I had the rare opporutnity of a few hours with my hubby with no children in tow. He had an afternoon off and a granny agreed to do the pick ups, (thats one of the kids grannies, not a random one..). So we decided on a walk in the beautiful South Downs. Coupled with glorious sunshine, a picnic and I repeat NO CHILDREN, it was just lovely.
We had our picnic in a small churchyard just under the downs where we saw this in the sky. Yes I know it's just two planes crossing and when you live not far from an airport this does happen reasonably regularly but I still love it when it does.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Who says Christians don't have a sense of humour?





I came across this range of postcards on a recent trip to Canterbury. They actually made me laugh out loud in the Christian Bookshop.... (is that a first?) The manna one is my favourite, gets me every time :D

I have just come across them on facebook and spent 20 mins cracked up looking at all the cartoons.Check them out at: http://www.inheritthemirth.com/









Monday, 10 May 2010

emotions :(

What is it that makes our emotions come out? and don't give me all that hormones stuff, it's the wrong week. Yesterday I was angry, today I feel like crap.
I am tired. I am grumpy. I am fasting for a load of people I don't know when I really want chocolate. It's only for a few hours but I am resenting it. Which is stupid because I don't have to do it. I do actually want to.
I have spent my one morning off going to my daughters nursery to do art with them. I resented it. Which is stupid because I actually wanted to do it (and the kids loved it)
I have to do a Tescos order because we have no food. I am resenting this, which is stupid because we need to eat and its far quicker and easier than going to the store.
I have to do some stuff for the school PTA. Which, yes, you've guessed it, I am resenting, which again... is.. yes, stupid. because I want to do it.
I now have 2 hours and 47 minutes until I pick up no.3 from nursery. What I would like to do in that time is sit in the bath with a crappy novel and a large bar of chocolate. Then when the water is cold and I am so wrinkly I look like I've aged 30 years I will get into bed with a hot water bottle and the electric blanket on, just l because I can and read the paper.

In reality I will do the Tescos order, do the PTA stuff asap, run around doing a quick tidy, plan the dinner and then do the pick ups. I will then spend 3 hours running after the kids, making dinner which they won't eat and dealing with strops because they are tired. and that doesn't even account for the TA who will probably have some crisis or other which will seem so banal that I won't care, but will try to show that I do and fail miserably.

So, which of the two routes do I go down? If I go for the first I will have to work extra hard tomorrow. I will have to explain to the rest of the PTA why I haven't done what I should have done about a week ago, I will have to explain to the family why they are eating stale crusts for tea and to the husband why he has no dinner. I will also be letting down those people who I said I would pray for and on top of that I will have no reasonable excuse. So I will soldier on like some kind of bloody martyr and feel sorry for myself. Which is stupid because I really have nothing to feel sorry about, other than that I could do with a day off. A day off from being me, from emotions, from family, from God, from everything. Which let's face it is not going to happen. ever. so I need to stop being a miserbale sod and get on with it. but oh... chocolate would help so much.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

'Angry and frustrated' from Sussex

I'm not sure why, but this morning I am angry. Ok I do know, but I don't know why it is now that I am angry.I have written copiously about the traditional church, so I'm sorry to say this is more of that, but on a different level you will be pleased to hear. I think I am writing about it so much because God has put it on my heart and I just don't know what to do with it.

SO my main gripe is that parish churches - and I am speaking mainly about those known to me local to me, but I know it's a wider issue - are failing. They have minimal congregations, largely made up of the blue rinsers. Stuck in their ways, not willing to change or see that they even need to. Do they care that in 20 years time, when they are all dead there will be no one left? I hate seeing churches closed. It pulls at my heart. Not for the lack of believers as there are believers out there, and in many cases growing congregations - just not in the traditional church buildings. No, it is for the very fact that those buildings have been built, in many cases hundreds of years ago, for the very purpose of worshipping God. People have been worshipping in them for so many years and yet they end up closed, and turned into housing or bloody supermarkets (as noted here in Alans blog). What on earth is that about?

As I have said previously, I am an architecture fan. I love looking at old architecture, seeing the years of use that a building has had, the worn down steps from years of people kneeling at the altar, the marks on the ceilings from centuries of candles burning underneath... These buildings are full of our history and full of Gods love. And we let them close down, deconsecrate them (and thats another thing - is that even possible in a spritual sense?) and let them become 'just another building'. I know in some cases this is done very sympathetically but it's not about the aesthetics for me.

So, why does my church - part of the Church of England, but definitely at the far end of the spectrum - have to hire a sports hall each week for us to worship when the village church is practically empty? Is this not completely the wrong way round? There are people out there that want to believe, that want to worship, that need something more. This is not about falling numbers, they are rising in our church. So... why, oh why can't the Diocese see that we need more of this? Why do Vicars, Bishops, whoever makes the decisions just stick their ground and not see that change is needed? Oh, it makes me so angry. I feel sooo angry right now (we had a sermon on revival in our area this morning, so that's probably why now). Why don't they sodding well wake up?

Wake up oh sleeper!... (Eph: 4:14)

As I've said previously this is not about getting rid of the traditional - I know people like to worship in different ways - but just to make room for something else. Try something different. If you want to get people in, you need to provide what they need. I want to see the parish churches in our area packed to the rafters. I want to see people in them filled with Christs love, worshipping for that reason, not because they are going out of habit, because that's what they do on a Sunday.

I've an idea that keeps coming back to me and I have no idea about how to deal with it. I am sure it is from God because the more I ignore it the more it comes back. It's not a new thing - it occured to me in my old church too. But the idea is to have kind of a travelling service. One that has a band and a good preacher (or preachers), a basic format initially, that goes to a different church each month, once a month. The main premise of each service would be to work with the parish to get people back in to that church. It wouldn't be about getting people into our church, but back to their own parish church. This could start small with just a few churches so that each church had one of these travelling services maybe once a quarter, but with the plan to get people back in, get them involved and then they eventually take over the running of this quarterly service. From there who knows.... This service could ahve all sorts, from the basic servcie to then follow up evenings hosted by the parish for those that want to know more, which could then lead on to other things... The church is so often literally at the heart of the community and it should be so on so many levels, not just becuase it's in the centre of the town or village.

I do not mean this to be like a plant church taking over another. It needs to work with the existing churches, in order to appeal to the people in their parish, with the general aim to get people back in so they can run with the idea and grow. I know I should be doing something with this but I have no idea where to start. It's not that I want someeone else to do the work, I am happy to work hard at this, but I need doors to open. If it is of God I need him to open those doors for me, and if not , well then Lord, please stop bringing it to my mind because it is very frustrating.

BTW does anyone know where I can get figures on congregations from? I'd like to see where congregations are growing and where they are depleting, just so I can do a bit of research!

Ok, rant over, anger is poured out. Will let you all know if doors do open...










I'll never be the same. Forever I am changed

Yesterday was an odd day. will probably write about it this week sometime. The one lifting point was during the middle of the day (I was at a womens conference) we sang this song. The line that struck me was 'I'll never be the same. Forever I am changed'.
No matter what I am thinking, worrying, doubting, I know that this is true. Something has changed in me and I will never be the same.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

teenagers...

ok so this is slightly off the usual faith stuff, but will someone please tell me how to deal with a very tetchy teenager?
I am tired tonight. I have been out all day. I have little patience. I just want to sleep. So I thought, what would be a nice idea? - a movie with dinner, vegging in front of the telly. but that has been wrong on every level. The dinner is horrible, Teenager is still hungry, I wouldn't let her cook curry (at 5 mins notice) therefore I am 'so unfair'. I wouldn't pass a bowl to said TA, when she was stood right next to the cupboard, so I am lazy. When trying to watch said movie I didn't answer a question so 'I never listen'. Apparently the movie is stupid and why can't we watch something we all want to watch...? TA stomps from room...
Just as I am writing this, feeling like I am a terrible mother and will never understand my daughter, she comes down and says, shall we do facepacks? I guess that is teenage speak for 'sorry Mum', not that she would ever admit it.
I am now sat with a near immobile face and TA is smiling. All this has taken maybe 7 minutes... I'm not sure how many years of this I can take. By the time this TA is off at uni the younger ones will be going through it. ARGHHHH!!!
Tonight was horrid.
On top of that will someone tell me how to get this wretched facepack off?

Thursday, 6 May 2010

muck, manifestos and middle england.

So today is election day, which we've all been waiting eagerly for for about a decade... or not, as the case may be and I'm sure half the blogging world will be posting on the subject. I particularly liked the Vernacular Curates rant on party signs here .
Round our way, good old middle England will be out in force, swayed by their city friends or whether it will affect little Johnnies school fees... I am not sure that our current MP will ever leave office, until he chokes on his room temperature bourbon in his cut crystal glass. (I don't mean that to sound quite as bitter as it seems to have come out, just that he has been there so long that his seat in Parliament has the shape of his derriere very firmly imprinted upon it...).

But isn't it funny how we are all happy to disucss quite personal issues with our friends, but when it comes down to politics no one wants to tell anyone else who they have voted for. As if it matters? I don't think my neighbour is going to cut me off because I voted Lib Dem. yeah, ok so I did, I voted Lib Dem - you all know now and does it make you think about me differently? No, I doubt it, because actually you could probably have a fairly good stab guessing at who most people vote for anyway. Today I voted on the way to school with the kids and half of the school were in there doing the same thing, it was like some kind of coffee morning - kind of nice I thought, except that you could just tell that everyone was burning to know who everyone else was going to vote for, but not daring to voice the question. Even as we left and my 6 year old said to me, 'Mum who did you vote for?', I made sure I was well out of ear shot of the village hall before revealing my guilty secret, and I have no idea why!

And in a funny way it's a bit like Faith. Most of us are not happy to stand up in a group of people whose beliefs we don't know and say 'this is what I believe' (Vicars excepted!). Why is that? If you have given your life wholeheartedly to Jesus then why keep it to yourself? Because you're afraid of what they will say, what they will think of you, of what judgements they will make on what you chose to believe. Just like which political party we chose to vote for, what does that say about us to people we know? What judgements will they draw from that?

I actually think that for the majority of people, they decide sometime around the age of 26 1/2 who they are going to vote for and then they stick to it for life. I mean how many of us actually know what the manifestos are for the main parties, how many of us have listened to all the debates, read the copious amounts of commentaries and made an informed decision as to how we are going to vote? be honest now.... Again I feel a bit like that about my faith at the moment. I know who I am voting for, but I am reading all the manifestos, challenging why I am voting that way and making a more informed decision. I will undoubtedly vote the same way at the end of this process but I will be more convicted in that choice and better able to understand why I am doing it.

Happy Voting all... :)

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

My understanding of evil

in continuation from the lengthy chat going on in yesterdays post about sin...
So Lesley said:
I would be interested in your journey of understanding of evil and the difference it has made to you.

So to answer this fully, I need to go back to the beginning a bit. My testimony can be seen here. But in a nut shell, I have been to church regularly all my life - traditional village churches. All through this time I struggled with faith, in fact I would say that for the most part I had no faith - not even sure there was a mustard seed... Sometime before Christmas we had some work done on our house and one of the chaps was a very commited Christian who basically ministered to me daily, just telling me about his testimony, his life, his faith. I, as I am still doing, questioned many things he said. I was frankly a pain in the backside. But through it all the love of Jesus just shone through him. I am not sure at what point I actually let go but I think I just realised I couldn't not believe, if that makes sense.

There were several things that he raised that really made me think, all things I had not heard discussed or talked of before. Which is why I am so down on the traditional church because I can't believe that they didn't give me a full view of faith, in all those years, I can't tell you the turmoil in my head over faith, for sooooo many years. Really all I needed was the full picture. I have said many times that if I get into something or want to know about a subject I want to know all of it. I investigate, research, immerse myself in it and that's what I needed to do with Chrisitainty.

So he talked about the presence of evil a fair amount - probably mostly prompted by me as I had not heard any of it before. He talked about 'the enemy' as a real presence of evil that can have an impact on us. and the thing is I believed this from the word go. His testimony is so powerful, taking an overdose and seeing the face of Satan in the mirror, but surviving thanks to the Grace of God (it's his story to tell so I'm not going to write it all out here).
One thing he told me about was seeing a demon cast out of someone. This guy is a close friend now, but at the beginning he was just someone working on our house. There was no reason for me to believe him, in fact I think my most used word at the time was 'really?' said in that questioning way... But despite this I knew, just knew in my heart, that he was telling me the truth. The Truth.

So the demon: this was a friend of his who he had been doing some work for. he gave various accounts of feeling things when this chap was around (not really quantifiable) and seeing something different in his eyes, and his voice being different, like there was something else there, that kind of thing. He said this chap came to church with him one time and in the church something happened to him and he was shouting and so on. Apparently people legged it from the church they were so scared. He was down on all fours growling.... the Pastor commanded the demon to come out and it refused. The Pastor just looked at him and said look at my eyes, who do you see. to which this chap/the demon said 'Jesus', so the pastor commanded the demon to come out in Jesus name, and it did, throwing this guy to the floor as it went.

Now when I first heard that account, I knew it was true but I also didn't believe it at the same time. Obviously this is not something I have seen first hand, but this very approach to a force of evil really helped me to get a handle on my faith. All the years I had this little voice whispering in my ear, 'its not real you know, no one is listening..' I put that down to the Devil now. Because it isn't that I didnt want to believe before, I did, I wanted more than anything to have an all-consuming faith without the doubt and the whispering voice. And now, its not like I never have doubts, its just that from all that has happened to me recently I just know, even when I doubt. If that makes sense?

Our church runs the 'Living Free' course, which I have mentioned before, but see here for more info. As the name suggests it is about living free from the crap of life, the chains that hold us down. It refers to the enemy and the force of evil a lot and it totally makes sense to me. My husband did the course a little while back and I am about to do it. But while he was on it I read all the literature alongside and listened to the talks on our church website. Those who are not in favour of this course generally site that they don't wish to give too much credit to the enemy by putting all sin and all bad things that happen downto him - and I guess thats where my original question comes in about what is sin and is it all from The Devil or from a force of evil. But I would say that so many people have been through this course, at our church and much further afield and the feedback is amazingly positive.

So now, well, I am still asking questions but I do ultimately believe in a force of evil, whether that is from the Devil as a 'person' or otherwise I am still unclear, but I do think that this presence of evil can affect us individually but that we have tools to deal with it and that as Christians Jesus overcame it for us, so we don't have to be under this force.
One of my biggest questions before, was why all the suffering in the world?, why does bad stuff happen?, but I think I understand that better now. In the wider sense of faith, we cannot be forced to believe, because that is not what God is about, he asks us to love him and one cannot be forced to love another, it goes back to free will, as discussed in yesterdays comments section. So in order to love, we must have feelings of our own, including bad ones, in order to distinguish the good from the evil for ourselves. And in that sense God must have created the bad in order for us to experience it. Because if he didnt then someone else did and that would mean he is notthe all powerful force that we believe in. So I subscribe to the theory that God created everything including evil. Whether he ever intended us to experience it as we do now, is another question, and goes back to whether you believe in the Devil, and the fall, which would explain it as far as I can see.

So, I guess while I still have questions, (think I probably always will, because I am always seeking to know more...) I feel that I have a fuller picture of faith in general and of my own now. Whilst I don't wish to dwell on the dark side (!) I do think its important that one addresses this side of faith. For me there are so many issues that I need to get my head around and that's not an easy journey but a necessary one; even when it's not a particularly 'nice' subject to think about.

I will not put down my renewal of faith to knowing more about this, it's not, it's about having my eyes opened by God, but in order to have the full picture, which then enabled me to believe whole heartedly as I have never done before. So in that sense, to Lesleys original question, the difference it has made to me is immeasurable. It is Faith itself.



Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Does all sin come from the Devil?

Question: Does all sin come from the Devil?

Just something that was raised in a conversation last night. Can we blame all sin on the Devil, as the root cause, or are we just as much to blame in our human selves? I initally thought, yes of course it all comes from him, because after events in the Garden of Eden we all carry that sin from the original sin. But do we assume that the serpent in the garden was an embodiment of the Devil or a symbolic representation of him? Can we? Or was the serpent merely used by the Devil to do his evil work? And even so, are we giving too much credit to the enemy by saying that all our sins come from him?
As humans we carry the legacy of that original sin with us, whether we sin for ourselves or not, (not that I have ever met anyone who has not siined for themselves!) so by default we are sinners. But from that, are any sins we carry out now derived from that which we hold inside us as the original sin? or are they merely our own human reactions and responses to external factors and forces on our lives? Can one separate the two?

I am not sure now whether it is as obvious as I first thought!

Love to know other thoughts...

Sunday, 2 May 2010

The Lords Prayer

3rd post in a day. must be a red record... been to a church prayer meeting tonight and came away totally inspired. we've been praying for the nation, the locality, the election. It was awesome. So many fired up people in one room, really asking for God to speak to them and to heal our nation. Just had to write about it.
One thing that really struck me was talking about our children. 50 years ago 50% of the UK's children went to Sunday School regularly. Now it's 5%. 50 years ago nearly everyone knew the Lords Prayer. Children learnt it at school or Sunday School, it was said at public events and people joined in. So many people have talked about praying the Lords Prayer at significant moments in life, or have been saved when all they could think of was to pray that one prayer - the one prayer they knew. And now...? Isn't it important if, at the very least, we teach our children this prayer, all children, so that when they need it, they have something, just one thing, that they can remember, that they can pray.
Ok so we live in a tolerant society, where pretty much anything goes, but don't we as Christians have an obligation to stand up for our faith and to pass our faith on to the next generation? Even if all it is, is one prayer, that one prayer that can help ANYONE in ANY situation.

Tonight we made a commitment to pray the Lords Prayer every day this week and I urge you to do so as well. It is how Jesus taught us to pray and if we can just pass it on to one person this week who didn't know it before, we are doing Gods work and possibly saving one person.

Our Father
Who art in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy name
Thy Kingom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory
For ever and ever
Amen

listening to God

I have been practising trying to listen to God this week. I mean actually listening rather than praying on the hoof and then running off and not listening to anything he may wish to tell me! As this is fairly new thing to me it's lovely to get confirmation that I am actually hearing right.
Last week I spent an hour praying for specific people who I felt needed some prayer and then asking God what I could do to help. In one case I felt God was telling me to make a friend a cake. This may not seem like much but this lady is an excellent baker so it was a strange thing to do. She often bakes for others and so I guess it would be a bit like 'taking coals to Newcastle'. Anyway I felt I should do it so I thought ok, well there's no harm. That particular day I had no eggs, so the next day when the 'tescos man' had been I made it and she was very appreciative when I gave it to her, which was nice. But today she came up to me and told me how timely it was that I had taken it over when I did as she was having a very rough day and the kids were asking for something to eat and she had little in the house to give them! She also said, very emotionally, how no one had ever made her a cake before. It was so special for her to tell me all this and I felt like I had really blessed her in such a simple way and of course in return it blessed me as I feel like I heard right.
If such a simple thing can make such a difference, I really must try and listen more often!

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17

Sunday mornings

This is the first Sunday morning I have seen before 7.30am in a while. You see my lovely husband is definitely a morning person and he is always awake before me, meaning I have a lie in until church. Bliss.. Last night he stayed up to wait for our oldest to come in (she was babysitting for a friend) so I said I would get up with the kids. It was a struggle, don't get me wrong, I think I sent no.2 downstairs 4 times with an 'I'll be there in a minute' before I actually dragged myself out of bed. (funny, pre-children I was always up ealry - loved it! but there you go, another thing that changes with kids...!)
But. having been up for a while now, I am loving it. The kids have the rare morning treat of an hour of telly, I have been ironing (even that was enjoyable today... ) had a shower, read my blog with a cuppa in peace and quiet. I had forgotten how lovely and peaceful Sunday mornings can be. It's funny how it doesn't matter what your religion or belief that Sunday really is a day of rest for most people (or at least the morning anyway!). The road outside is quiet, the milkman hasn't arrived, nor the bin men. Kids haven't got to rush around finding shoes, games bags, reading books, homework and so on ad inifinitum..., we don't have to got to work. In our house there is actually nothing that has to be done this morning until at least 9am, and that is only because we choose to go to church.
The day of rest, whether you're a Christian or not, is so important. In this busy whorl of life, we are all running round like hamsters on wheels. We spend so little time 'out' actually thinking about ourselves and our families, or spending time together, not rushing from one job to the next. And it is nice for me to realise this Sunday morning that, at least in our village, others are taking it at a slower pace too!
Sadly I really do have to get the breakfast now or we will be late for church but this is one pleasure I am going to try and repeat sometime soon (probably minus the ironing too..)