Friday, April 27, 2007

Thoughts on Healing.

I have recently been challenged on my views in regard to healing in the church. To clarify, the place of God healing His people my means of the Holy Spirit when people are prayed for. This is specifically in regard to physical healing.

I am a member of a New Frontiers evangelical church that to label it if you must is 'charismatic'. That is it practices the 'charismata', the gifts of the spirit and believes they are as much for today's church as they were in the New Testament.

Now I don't have a problem with the gifts of the spirit at all and their manifestations. I sometimes doubt the genuineness of some peoples experience as I can be a cynical old hector but I also am mature enough to let it be between them and the Lord and not condemn them.

When it comes to healing I get quite cynical. I have no doubt of God's healing of the inner person. I have experienced significant emotional healing in my Christian life. It is physical healing where my attitude gets very negative. Let me be quite clear, I have no doubt at all that God can heal anything. He is sovereign over all things and His power is beyond comprehension.

However I really struggle with the whole praying for someone to be healed. I have certainly done it in the past and will continue to do it. Maybe my faith is so poor that it has an effect on the results. I guess it is the struggle with the age old question of why some are healed and others are not. Can you really declare that someone will be healed?

The new testament is full of examples of healing. Jesus obviously but also the apostles performed great acts healings. They had such bold faith as in Acts 3 when God healed the cripple through Peter and John.

It is so easy to lose heart and faith in God when you so desperately want someone to be healed and they aren't. A Christian may understand or at least have some trust in Gods sovereignty, but a non Christian would surely be turned away from God if nothing happened. My Father in law's dad is lying in hospital having caught a form of meningitis. He was a fairly fit 67 year old and within a day or two reduced to a body on life support with no cognitive brain function. I have asked my cell group and worship team to pray for him. I fasted for the first time ever for him and I don't even really know the man. I long to have the faith to go to the hospital, lay hands on him and say be healed in Jesus Name. How awesome would that be and glorifying to God. In my little world view I don't see why God doesn't do such things, its seems like the logical thing to do. To heal in face of no hope of recovery in the full glaze of the medical profession.

But that is where the problem I think lies. I am not God! I have no grasp of His eternal plan, thoughts or anything really. His ways are not our ways and He is not bound by what I see as the logical thing to do, He is sovereign! I must learn to just trust what He has said in the word. Jesus said we would do greater things than He did and He did a lot of healing of the sick and possessed.
I must persevere in trust and humility. It is clear from the gospels that God's desire is to heal and He has great compassion on those afflicted with sickness. Cynicism should have no place in my life as a believer. I have seen people healed, or certainly the after effects of it. A lady in my old church who was wheel chair bound and certified 70% disabled was healed and from then on danced joyfully in worship. A friend in my current church who's knee has been healed after he had been diagnosed with cartilage damage where his knee clicked constantly. Yet my cynicism takes hold again there. Why in church are healings always, backs, muscles, aches etc...? Jesus performed major miracles on lepers, deformities and other such very visible diseases. I think it is my logical, scientific mind wanting more proof. Though I doubt it would ever be satisfied.

I always play it safe and want to manage expectations. I think it has as much to do with my not wanting to feel let down by God than not wanting the person being prayed for to be hurt.

At the end of the day Lord I need more faith and trust in your goodness and that no matter what happens in this world your love, grace, mercy and faithfulness to us is constant and beyond anything I can grasp.

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Update to post @ 7:50 pm: I just found out that yesterday my father in law's Dads life support machine was turned off and he died this morning at 2am.

I guess I will never know what might have happened had I gone and prayed for him!

Please pray for the family, thanks?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

An Epic on the Horizon!

I am writing another one of my Epic posts, finally the one about God's goodness. It is taking longer than I thought as it is a large subject and not easy to tackle. Nearly there I think!

I have also been very busy at work and at home so time is squeezed and precious.

As an aside, I am actually liking Windows Vista. I am working on a deployment of said OS at work. I never thought I would say that but hey, even Bill can surprise me. The licensing is so Draconian that you would be totally out of your head to actually buy Vista. (That was not a suggestion of piracy by the way). I get to play with shiny toys at work sometimes and in this case I am impressed, especially with the Aero front end and the deployment tools. Oh well, I will have to live with XP because I am not paying for Vista no matter how much I like it!

Be back soon!

Friday, April 20, 2007

BBC anti-creationist Propaganda in series Waterloo Road and the T-rex Drumstick!

Well the Biased Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has taken another side-swipe in its war on non liberal Christianity and creation science while promoting Evolution as proven science.

In last nights episode of the TV series Waterloo Road the group providing the money for the new academy being built in the series turns out to be coming from an American group who are 'nutty fundamentalist creationists'. Who are anti-abortion and stem cell research. Who want to push their beliefs upon the children to promote their fundamental standpoint.

I knew where the story was going when this big, brash American character turns up and introduces himself and then promptly prays over the land where the academy foundations were being dug. Of course this sets off alarm bells. Then the American gives a pupil creationist books when she mentions she is interested in fossils and dinosaurs. What they essentially presented were largely correct creationist views. In that belief in age of the earth being 6000 odd years, Noah's flood, dinosaurs are thought to be what medieval mythology calls dragons. However the way it was presented of course made it sound utterly ludicrous to believe in, to logical minds because Darwinian, molecules to man evolution is fact. These are just nutty fundamentalist, religious views that have no merit at all and are secretly trying to push some religious faith view.

It was inevitable that a program about secondary English schools would sooner or later bring up the Evolution/Creation debate. It was also inevitable that any belief other than molecules to man evolution would be presented as dangerous fundamentalism designed to push a faith view that has no merit in 'real' scientific endeavor or place in teaching.

Now I agree that creationism should not be taught in school. Since teachers are invariably not going to support that view or have any real understanding of it. However what should be taught in school is that macro-evolution is not proven, observable fact. Children should not be just told this is fact, they should be taught critical analysis. Be presented with the evidence and allowed to make up their own minds.

A good example of the supposed 'evidence' for evolution is the so called T-Rex link to chickens around in the news at the moment. Now presented the way it is you could be fooled into going, uh ok! but look even a fraction below the surface and the story is very different. Click here and here for a more in depth analysis of this 'evidence'. So the protein is 58% similar to chickens therefore proving the evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds. Well, hello, human protein is 81% similar to frogs and no one thinks we 'evolved' from frogs so it is just nonsense to make those assumptions. Also the amount of living creatures that this protein was compared to was limited. This is just a good example of presenting so called evidence when given a little critical thinking turns out to be nothing of the sort. In fact it presents a good case for creationist ages since it is implausible to have tissue survive for 68 million years. Beyond 2.7 million years at 0 degrees C was considered absolute maximum. That is a big margin of error me thinks!

Oh well what can one expect from that 'Great' British Institution that is the BBC. Certainly not balanced news reporting or program making it would seem!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Thoughts on the Virginia Massacre

I am not going to go into a big blurb about Guns and violence and the causes of Gun crime as I am not really qualified to comment that much. I have a view about it most definitely. People kill people, Guns are just a tool. The easier it is to get the tool the more likely people will use it. You will never keep guns out of the hands of criminals, I am not naive enough to think gun control will achieve that. But maybe, just maybe, if that student had not been able to walk into a store and easily purchase a gun, this might have been avoided.

However, my main thoughts are sadness for both the victims and the perpetrator of the killings. Sure he will face judgment before God and most likely pay in eternity for the crime. However my immediate thoughts were what has to happen in a persons mind to get to the place where they calmly purchase a gun, then days later just start indiscriminately ending fellow human beings lives who they have been studying with the day before. I am sure many people think about killing someone else for some perceived crime against them, but what makes you go from that thought to stepping over that line where no ones life has any value to you. Was it pathological depression, where drugs may have helped. Was it psychological depression due to previous trauma's? We may never know. My prayers are with the families and friends of the victims, may God bring comfort and hope in the face of such an grief and loss.

What I do find interesting in these situations is how a situation like this, terrible and devastating though it is, is seen as more shocking than say the 170 people killed today in Iraq by indiscriminate, cowardly car bombs. We are so used to hearing about the daily bombs and rising death toll in Iraq that we seem to treat it as normal news now. Nothing out of the ordinary! What a statement that makes about us! Those being killed in Iraq are no different than those young students murdered in Virginia. They are human beings, going about their daily lives, struggling for normality in the face of such evil cowardly acts. Let us not become immune to the reports of lives lost anywhere in the world.

May we see those people as God sees them and weep for the world in which we live. I world lost in sin and wreaking of death. There is only one hope for all nations and people. The hope of salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tech Rant - Sat Nav and Users of

This is not an anti SatNav rant as I am a big user of said Technology. I use TomTom Navigator 6 on my Palm TX with a GlobalSat Bluetooth GPS. I like it so much my wife and I have even nicknamed the SatNav Penelope as the voice I use sounds like very posh lady. No this little rant is about users of the technology who clearly should never be let out unaccompanied.

Two stories I have heard of recently that highlight what I am talking about:
  • The Coach driver with a bus full of children wanting to go to Hampton Court
  • A posh lady who blindly followed her SatNav into a river
The coach driver just typed in 'Hampton Court' to his SatNav and blindly followed it. He ended up driving into central London to a street called, yes, you guessed it 'Hampton Court Road'. The children were stuck on the coach for 8 hours or so. Now anyone with a modicum of common sense would have realised central London is not where Hampton Court is and especially a coach driver should have. Secondly he clearly just typed in the destination as a street search and not a Point of Interest search or Post Code search. He clearly had no idea how to use the technology. The coach company then banned their drivers from using SatNav. Why? It was not the SatNav's fault, merely the drivers stupidity. Train them properly!

The Posh lady apparently, this is second hand knowledge so I cannot vouch for accuracy, blindly followed her SatNav directions into a Ford that was clearly too deep but since it said go that way she did. Her car drifted down stream and she was later rescued. Instead of calling a garage she phoned for her chauffeur who came and picked her up and she left her £60,000 Mercedes in the water. A good case of more money than sense.

Never Blindly follow SatNav and disengage your brain. It is a brilliant tool to have but don't throw common sense out the window. Look where the route is taking you and check that it is the correct destination you wish to go to. If it tries to direct you down a road that is clearly wrong or dangerous carry on going and it will re-route you.

The village of Exton has a sign to warn users of impending doom if blindly following SatNav direction.

I learned the lesson very early on when using an inferior product to TomTom and ended up on such a long detour that I was an hour or so late to where I was heading and my wife was not amused at all. The reason, I had messed with some parameters and was in such a hurry that I didn't check the route it calculated, which was very wrong indeed.

Don't just hand your life over to technology and keep you brain engaged!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dodgy Liberal Theology of Anglican Priest Jeffrey John

I have just read, on another blog I sometimes read (by a liberal-ish Anglican Priest), an article about the Sermon that was aired on BBC Radio 4 by Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans. You can read his sermon here. The Telegraph ran an article commenting on it. Of course there is spin on the reporting but it makes good reading.

Now I am not a Biblical Scholar but I do read the scriptures. I know Liberal Theologians have very different understandings of the Bible but this interpretation is simply not correct. In my view it is only half right. It sounds to me like a man trying to have a rather fluffy view of the Love of God and forgetting the other totally Biblical attributes of God such as Justice and Holiness. The evangelical view is not '...Jesus reconciling an angry God to us'. It is Jesus reconciling us to not an angry God, but a Just, Holy and Loving God. He seems to think that God demanding Justice for our sins somehow overshadows His great Love and makes him angry. Father issues anyone? Though him being originally from a Welsh Calvinist church I can understand where he would have picked up such views, however inaccurate.

Sorry Mr John, 'penal substitution' is biblical, Christ did bear the right and just punishment for our sins on the cross, that is death! However by being raised again He overcame death and therefore we can live under Grace and do not have to face that same punishment if we believe in Christ as our Saviour. If he didn't pay the price for our sins then He didn't save us from anything, He merely shared our suffering. Mr John seems to not have read the old testament law nor understand Christ's fulfillment of that same law.

How sad such a prominent man in the Anglican church doesn't understand the Gospel he is supposed to be a minister for. Sounds more like a belief that allows him, in his own head, peace with God for his own sin without facing the absolute Holiness demanded by God and the consequences for not measuring up. No wonder the Anglican church has lost its way so much with views like this. If there is no punishment for sin there is no moral absolutes. You cannot pick and choose the bits of the Bible or the characteristics of God you like.

I just want to make it clear I do not tar the whole Anglican church with the same brush and am fully aware there are many clergy who hold to a more conservative view of scripture and hold the teachings of the Bible in the highest regard. Hats off to you for standing up for biblical truth and the authority of scripture and not watering down the message of the Gospel in the face of wishy washy liberal interpretations.

Life on Mars - The End!

Well 'Life on Mars' has now finished and for an in depth analysis, Review and interview with the writer Click Here.

I wasn't sure what to make of the last episode. It was interesting how they undermined the idea about the coma with Sam starting to doubt it himself and beginning to think he actually was from 1973 and was suffering from amnesia. Ultimately is was obvious it was a coma but the ending was unexpected.

It appears in the end Sam committed suicide as he couldn't cope with his stilted, repressed modern life after 'experiencing' his 1970's life. He felt dead in the modern world and in reality and only alive in the 70's of his imagination. With him returning to 1973 as he died to drive off with everyone into the sunset and some sort of 'afterlife'.

I thought it was interesting how they filmed Sam's modern life in rather bland colours, very different to the style used for the 70's

It is a rather sad ending really. Sad that he couldn't work out his issues from what he had learned while in a coma without resorting to suicide which is never a solution!

The ending worked, much down to John Simm's acting and the script. As to a satisfying ending I'll leave that question open to debate!

I look forward to the new spin-off series called 'Ashes to Ashes' where we will get to see Gene Hunt, Ray and Chris again, this time in 1981 with a female co-star. For all Gene Hunt's moral failings he is one of the most entertaining TV cops to have ever been written.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Time Stands Still - Experience slips away!

(Time stand still)
I'm not looking back
But I want to look around me now
(Time stand still)
See more of the people and the places that surround me now
Freeze this moment a little bit longer
Make each sensation a little bit stronger
Experience slips away.

Lyrics by Neil Peart
Album Hold Your Fire by Rush
(c) 1997 Anthem Group

I have just come back from a week away in my favorite place, Cornwall. I always find is such a special place. The coastline is like no other in the UK and almost seems alive itself. It has the power to lift the spirit, making you feel closer to God with its raw power and shear beauty.

It was the above scene that made me start to think of the lyric at the top from the song Time Stands Still by Rush (click here to watch video on YouTube awful 80's video though!). I first heard the song back around 1988 when I began listening to Rush. I always liked the song and the album still remains a favorite of mine. However the song didn't mean too much to me then, since I was only around 17. As time has gone on I have begun to understand more and more the sentiment behind the words. That as you get older you see time passing by apparently faster and faster. That each time you experience those special moments you don't want them to end, you wish to stay in them for longer than reality allows.

I was sitting on a cliff outcrop (above photo), with my wife, above Sandymouth Beach on the north Coast of Cornwall. The sun was shining, it was pleasantly warm for April. All you could hear was the sea and the chirping of birdsong. I felt at peace in my spirit and just wanted to stay there forever. This happened several other times over the week we were away. It must be my 36 years, but more and more these little snapshots in time become more valuable to me.

Being by the sea, especially the Cornish coast, seems to have that effect on me. As I said above I think it is its power, its demand for respect and its natural beauty. It is but a mere reflection of God, the Creator and author of all things, Romans 1:20

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

(Left Boscastle Peninsula and Right the beach below Bedruthan Steps)

I guess as more and more experience accumulates in life you become better at recognising those special moments. When you are young they somehow seem to pass by with less impact on your life, you are always wanting to move on maybe. I realise I am not old per se though staring at 40 in the distance but approaching fast it is a bit of a shock to be here. I remember my parents turning 40 for goodness sake. I don't feel that old in my mind, somewhere in my twenties maybe. I still have an adventurous, slightly childish attitude sometimes. I want to climb rocks, trees, be out in the wild. I suppose it is age but I crave those moments when you feel truly alive and slightly in danger. I think that is why myself and my two oldest friends have taken up our annual cycle ride again. For those brief moments it is just you, the bike, the danger of the road and being dependent on your own will power and strength to get where you are heading. I feel alive!

Over the past year as I have been involved in the worship team at church and have had to understand and challenge myself over my own worship of God I have begun to see that where the soul, mind and body start to feel more alive than anywhere else is when openly, joyfully and reverently worshipping the Lord Jesus. It is what our prime purpose is here on this earth. To worship our Creator, therefore it follows that that is where we would feel most alive.

Selwyn Hughes wrote in one of his sermons the following:

'Worship is inner health made audible' (C.S.Lewis). True worshippers are healthy on the inside because their focus is not self-centred but God-centred.

...As we worship Him our souls are drawn to health and we become all the better for worshipping.

...Lewis also pointed out that although there is only a fine line between worship and praise there really is a difference. We praise God for what He does for us, we worship Him for who He is. He said, 'When I learned how a thing can be revered not for what it can do for me, but for what is it in itself, then I understood the difference between praise and worship.'

(c) 2005 CWR
Spoken from the Heart - Selwyn Hughes
Published 2005 by CWR, Waverley Abbey House, Waverley Lane, Farnham, Surrey

In evangelical circles we are very good at praising God for what he does for us but not so good at worshipping Him for who he is. To me that is the most important objective in my Christian life at the moment. To learn who God is by His revelation in the Scriptures and to give an appropriate response to that revelation.

When in Cornwall by the sea I find is easy to catch that glimpse of the awe inspiring nature of our God. As it says in the scripture above, the whole of creation cries out about the Glory of God. No one can miss that unless they chose to ignore it, there is no excuse as Paul said.

As to my pondering time passing. My holiday seems so far away now even though it is just a few days ago. Those moments are just memories, points in time, to remember and enjoy until they fade. My future, eternity in the presence of the Lord God, more alive than we can ever know on this earth.