Bit of My Theology
It gives me some food for thought when people say ‘Its God will’ and everything that happens is ‘Gods Will’. I am not so sure. If that was the case, why does Jesus tell us to ask God that ‘His will be done’ if it’s going to be done anyway, seems a sort of waste of time.
Rather it seems to me that God will is affected by my free will. Can God change his mind, yes of course he can and there are lots of examples in the Bible of this. Can I go against what God wants or wills, most certainly, not a good Idea but it certainly can be done.
Does God change his Plans dependant on my pleas and of course the pleas of others. Yes of course He can and does. Does God give us sometime the things we ask for even though they are not good for us, yes certainly especially if you nag Him enough. Again not a good idea, but certainly it happens and it’s not good. For those who need Bible, to back up my theology, just check (2 Kings 20 or 1 Kings 11)
I think it’s very humbling that God will ask my opinion and he can change things according to my requests.
The thing we do have to note here, is that God does promise to make things ‘work for Good to those who love him and are called according to his purposes,’ even though the thing that maybe has happened was not His will, nevertheless He will make it good for some.
So how do we know that it was an answered prayer? That’s a hard one, especially when there are lots of people praying for opposite things. However it is much easier on the smaller scale, when one asks God for those things that are seemingly strange, out of reach, or just plain impossible, and He answers prayer. Many who do not believe in prayer put it down to ‘coincidences’ my delight is that when I pray I get a coincidence.
Seems like answered prayer to me. Check out just one of those answers:(http://adrianhawkes.co.uk/index.php/2013/08/the-answer-my-friend-is-blowing-in-the-wind.html)
So are these latest political events answers to prayer, I don’t know, am I allowed to say, I don’t know? Maybe they are, then again maybe they are not, or maybe I hope not, they are one of those Quail events we shall see.
Then of course we come back to those coincidences that I have harked on about many times on my Blog.
It seems to me that it’s possible to get a coincidence by praying, maybe that’s answered Prayer? Of course for those who cannot envisage a God who is personally interested in us, and will actually communicate two ways with us then all of the prayers, answered or otherwise are just part of the accident of nature?
There seems to me to be some great planning going on somewhere.
Edited: Keith Lannon
Charity Starts at Home?
The amount of times I have had people say this to me, and on social media, and in other forums it’s getting tiresome. It’s used when I talk about helping refugees and asylum seekers, sadly Christian use it like scripture to me. It not! Scripture that is!
Can I ask what do we mean by this, where is home, your little house, your 2.5 children, your street, your country? What are you talking about?
I supposed I can almost forgive those using the phrase who would not claim to be Christians, or Followers of Jesus, but for those who make both those claims I do have a problem.
Jesus tells us what is commonly called the story of the Good Samaritan. Of course at the time when Christ was walking around in Israel, now self respecting Jew would ever go to Samaria, as the woman at the well said to Jesus, when he asked for a drink of water, “you’re a Jew and you ask me for a drink of water don’t you know that Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans”. Of course she did not know that Jesus had previously said to his disciples, “I must go through Samaria”; an amazing statement in of itself.
So let me counter that awful get out ‘charity start at home’ by reminding ourselves that Jesus said we are to love our neighbours, and then follows that statement by asking us to decided who are our neighbours, and the answer is not well pleasing to the people who never went to Samaria, as the neighbour turns out to be one of them.
In Africa I was speaking to a group and telling the story of the good Samaritan, I changed the story knowing that I was speaking to people of one particular tribe, and I knew that they hated another tribe so I made in my story the tribal member that helped a member of the hated tribe. People came up to after the meeting and said, you should not have done that, people hear hate the people of that tribe, don’t you know, err der! Maybe someone should have told Jesus that too.
Recently I had the privilege of going to a regular happening at a local Synagogue, where well over a hundred refugees where being fed, clothed, and financed by the local congregation, every nationality and religion turning up for help. I asked who is financing this and was told we are, at the moment its costing us about £30,000 a year.
The other very important point that I should make, especially to those who say they are Christians, follower of Jesus, is that Jesus commanded us to ‘love our enemies’.
So next time I say we need to be helping, caring for those pushed out by war be it from Syria, Eritrea or wherever, I know that I have responsibility for my family, but maybe that other statement of Jesus is apposite ‘that you should do but this you should do also’ please don’t tell me Charity starts at home it’s just plain the wrong response.
Edited Gena Areola
I think it’s good we all get to know this stuff, but I am particularly thinking of my American Cousins as I write. Particularly the Christian Right wing so called.
The term socialism was first introduced by Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825), the French social theorist also credited with the advent of Christian socialism and what would later become labelled as “utopian socialism.” The term itself refers to a collective mode of production and political economy.
Socialism’s roots go far back beyond Marx’s works. Church’s actually led the first socialist movements. The US gave birth too many of Socialism’s key concepts.
The original Socialistic concepts date back to 1700s and influenced even the founding fathers of the US. You find many of them embedded in the Constitution and in laws passed over the years. Prisons for example were one of the first major socialist contributions to society. Before prisons came about, people generally were publicly punished with physical punishments, financially punished or executed. There was not much in between.
The first prisons date back many years. Socialists in the early 1800s made major penal reforms in the US which quickly spread to the rest of the world completely redefining crime and punishment. That is an example of early Socialism in the US and its predating Marx.
There are things that puzzle me about my American Cousins, and I love the USA. But from a Jesus Follower perspective, I want things that are good for people so I cannot understand why as a Jesus follower I would not want to promote Health Care for everyone at the point of deliver, I want people to be as healthy as possible, whether they can afford it or not.
Then again, another area, I want people to be housed, I don’t want them to be homeless, even if they cannot afford it. How can we help them?
Yes I know that when it comes to government enforcing these things that where the problems start, why is that, well much as people don’t like to hear it we are as people not intrinsically good, rather we are selfish, self-serving, and we tend to look after number one, us!
If you look at History when Christians are in control of the levers of government we have not done very well, but does that mean I should forget Biblical commands to Love Justice, (Matt 12:18 Luke 11:42 Gal 5:22:23.) If government of whatever ilk try’s to put in place things that do good, help people, give justice, welcomes strangers amongst us (Exd 22 and Exd 23.) Surely as a follow of Jesus I would want to support such action.
Likewise when people are being unjustly treated, marginalised, poor and denied the means to help themselves by government policy should I not cry out against such things?
The problem is we like to read the parts of Scripture that we like. So we would like to put things on one side such as (Matt 19:24) concerning the rich man, or (Acts 4:34 on, having all thing in common) and I often hear Christians say such things as well that was then, this is now, you cannot do things like that now. Why not, is that part of scripture we don’t like?
I often hear people say, why should we support free loaders, or as my Mother in law used to say why don’t those people get a job. Sorry but that really is uneducated.
On frequent visits to Kenya, another country I love, I have often asked leaders what do you need. They will say things like more crusades, more meetings, and more preachers. I look around and think no, what you need is more jobs. I see loads of people who want to work, need to work, would work hard, sitting waiting trying to find work, are they free loaders.
We need to understand that often the way society is structured means that the opportunities you are given are not just or righteous, the poor are often not poor because they are lazy or free loaders, or unwilling.
Please there is a lot of other reasons way beyond their control that put them in such positions. And if the follower of Jesus can change their position for the better be that by influencing government policy, or direct action to help, then God calls us to do it. To quote Jim Wallis – A Budget is a moral document.
And a bit more Wallis to end The Biblical prophets do hold their rulers, courts, judges, landowners and employer accountable to the values of fairness justice and even mercy, evil and sin is in the concentration of power, politics and economics need to be held accountable to Justice especially in the protection of the poor.
Fair outcomes not necessarily equality should be the goal of governments.
Socialist or whatever, let those who follow Jesus cry out for His values in His world.
Sitting down inside
Funny to see recently on Face Book the fact that Richard Dawkins is wondering if we need Christianity as it is not blowing people up, or saying that those that do not believe should be killed. Maybe he needs to take an even deeper look.
What really puzzles me Is why people think that a forced acceptance of something, means that I or anyone else has really accepted that premise, belief, thought. What a silly idea.
It also puzzles me that people think that if you are not allowed to speak something different to their point of view, their perspective then that is fine, they must be right, again what nonsense.
Yet this is our world, people have views that I don’t agree with, lifestyles that I think are wrong, attitudes that I think that if followed by lots of people will lead to their destruction and sometime the destruction of lots of others too, however I am not allowed to say opposite to what is the P.C. position, my view must not be heard? Now does that mean that the argument, position, life style of the others is so wrong that they cannot bear to hear anything opposite to what they have chosen right or wrong?
I joined a political party once, just to go along to the meetings and understand how they thought and how it worked. I tried to sit at the back and keep quite. One day they announced that they had made a terrible mistake, they had invited someone to speak to the meeting, and discovered he was a member of another party. They said obviously they could not listen to him. I being very naïve asked a question, this was my question, “Why are you afraid to listen to another point of view or perspective, is our own position, argument, perspective, so weak that we cannot possible listen to someone we might disagree with and disagreeing with him come to understand our position, thoughts are after all are better? He is not from our party was the answer! “yes but does that mean we cannot hear what he has to say”? The answer again, “you don’t understand, he is not a member of our party and so he will say what we don’t agree with so we can’t hear that”? I gave up!
So we live in a world where people are being killed because they disagree, don’t believe what you believe cannot possible hear even a view that is different from the party line. So this year in Brunei, Somalia, Tajikistan all banned Christmas celebrations as it might damage the thinking of the rest of the population apparently it was because of fear that people would be led astray. I wonder how weak the thinking of those people is?
I remember one of those stories, apparently a little boy was would not sit down at the meal table, he was only small and insisted on standing to eat, I think his opinion was that the food went down better that way. His Father got really upset and kept trying to make him sit down remonstrating with him with many words. The little boy refused, in the end the Father got fed up with discussion and arguments, and putting his hand on the little boys head pushed the little boy down until he was sitting. The little boy looked at his Father and recognised that he definitely was stronger than him, but then he said, “Dad, I know that you have got me sitting down at this table, but I want you to know I am actually standing up inside!
There is a lot of us around that are actually standing up inside!
You in your small corner and I in Mine
When I was around 5 years old, I went to Sunday school. I liked the people, I liked the other kids, but what I remember most is one song that they always sang. I guess I sang it too as I can still remember all the words; maybe you know it too. It starts off with, “Jesus Bids Us Shine” and ends with the line, “you in your small corner and I in Mine.” I hated that line; I still don’t like it now. I don’t think I liked corners and particularly not small ones; I certainly did not want to be in one.
When I was 11 years old I made my first trip, as the Brits say, “overseas”. I went to France with my school for a week. We travelled third class, as you could in those days, on a ferry across the channel to St Malo. Third class meant that you could not go inside the ferry; you had to stay on deck come rain or shine. They did give you a blanket and you could snuggle up to the funnel to keep warm.
Refugees: the current issues – is there a solution? I was privileged to have been able to speak at the United Nations on the subject recently. The reality is that this is the worst refugee crisis since World War Two; actually, in regards of displacement and movement of people, it’s worse. According to UNHCR there are currently 59.5 million displaced people in the world at the moment. In the UK there is a lot of anti-immigration press, telling us how many “illegal people” there are and the fact that they are taking jobs, school places, and homes. This has created a great deal of tension and distrust. Many of the figures quoted are not true, and when you look at real figures from reliable sources you find that the story is very different.
There is another story too, that is not being talked about much and that is one that needs to be brought to Europe’s attention. In Europe, UK, Germany, and Italy particularly, there is a need for young workers who pay tax. The reason being that in the UK and other European countries the indigenous populations are getting older. Most of us have things like state pensions, paid from taxes. When these were originally introduced with a male retirement age of 65 and female retirement age of 60, life expectancy was between 68 and 69, very different to today predictions. The current life expectancy in the UK is heading towards 100 years. Who is going to pay for all those retired people? Whose taxes will fund it? We need the refugees’ help to do that. Politicians don’t have very much to say about this.
Fences on Cliff Tops
Often times when we make new laws or change old ones, we are not thinking of the consequences unseen up the road. We would do well to do so; even when those decisions or laws are made with the best intentions in mind.
Early on in the UK, a law was brought in to make tenancy of rented housing more secure. The good reason for it was that some people were being put out of their rented house for very little good reason. However, the unforeseen consequences were that for a period it actually created homelessness. People were reluctant to give others a room in their house if they thought they would turn out to be a bad tenant. That of course was not the intention, but that was what happened.
I wonder, as I look at recent changes in legislation in the USA and the UK, if we are heading for unforeseen circumstances that we will not like. Of course, from a legislation point of view it may have been done for good reasons like equality and freedom, but are we really sure of the outcomes?
I don’t know, but I do wonder what our new freedom so called, our new equality so called, the removal of fences if you will; I wonder what they will bring up the road. I wonder if they will have good or bad effects on our society.
I heard someone telling a story recently about how they were working in fish conservation and checking on clean water in rivers and streams in the UK. Apparently they found an area of a stream where the fish were struggling for oxygen and dying. Workers then take out any dead fish and then it’s apparently possible to push oxygen into the water, often the water agencies do this by, as the Environment Agency says, pouring Hydrogen Peroxide into the water upstream. This releases extra Oxygen into the water. Such action appears to somewhat reduced the potential fish kill.
The Good Samaritan
Some time ago, before the tribal troubles in Kenya I was speaking at a conference. I was using for my talk the story of the Good Samaritan. Knowing a little about the tensions of the area I used as my illustration one of the tribes, who in the area where I was, was not very popular to say the least. I chose this least popular tribe and used the tribal name instead of a Samaritan.