Morals and Values 3. Morals and Conscience Do we have them? This is the third time I have talked about this subject from which you will gather that I think it’s important, especially in the light of some the recent events in the UK, such as …
Maybe I need some Helpful Understanding?
It seems to me that after deciding on becoming a follower of Jesus, one then enters a relationship with God Himself. This effectively changes the way that we are. This, I understand, is done by changing our minds by changing the way we think, which will in turn change our actions.
So; we should become the kind of people who love our enemies, do good to those who would seek to harm us, treat others as more important than ourselves, recognise that all humans are made in the image of God and therefore need to be respected and highly regarded. I would then expect us (that is-all Jesus followers) to be generous, to see neither male nor female, bond nor free, this nationality or that – in fact caring for one another however possible
So; I am not sure how to express my disappointment, and lack of understanding on several fronts. Recently, reading an American article, (and I don’t think what I am about to say only reflects only on the USA- it just happened to be an American writer whose article I was reading) the writer noted that in the restaurant industry in the USA it was difficult to get staff to do the Sunday shift. They surveyed widely to try and understand why this was so. Waiting staff are apparently not that well paid in America, and therefore tips become a very important part of staff income.
It appeared, after the results of the survey had been assessed, that staff did not like the Sunday shift as they said, that, “Sunday is the day that all the church people come in to eat – and they are the meanest and least generous of our customers”. Why is it like that?
Friends of mine, both in the journalistic as well as the political world, tell me that the most vitriolic letters and communications, the ones that are “the most condemning” and, in their words, “the most unkind” of all the correspondence they receive (and this is both in the USA and in the UK) comes from people who express in their letters, that they are Christians. Again why is this so?
I know it has always been a “secret evil” in society, but again; why is it that we keep seeing the misuse of children and the abuse of people of the opposite sex from selfish desires, so often by Christians who express themselves as leaders in the church or in church organisations. Why?
Have these people really met God? Do they really understand what it is to have been changed by their relationship with God? Or are they just “label” people? Are they hiding under the epithet “Christian” as a word that may seem to be a useful label to stick on their activities to cloak their dark activities?
Recently, I have stopped responding when people ask me, “Are you a Christian?”I wonder what that means. Usually my response is, “I am a follower of Jesus, and I want that to be more than just a label. I want it to be demonstrated in living lifestyle and action.”
Jesus said to his early followers; “This is how people will know that you are my disciples, in that you have love one for another”.
I reckon that is not just love for other disciples. I think it should be possible to demonstrate that in the wider world with all races, colours and creeds. To people who are created in the image of “the God who is there.”
What is it that I have not understood?
I can do it!
Recently my good friend Jeff Lucas wrote some stuff about people saying, “With God all things are possible.” “So with God you can do anything?” He went on to say that he/you everybody who reads that scripture, couldn’t do somethings. “Yes – we can’t do anything, (like fly without tickets or speak Chinese unless we learn it) but we can do all things through Christ who strengthens – in other words, what he has called us to.
Peter got out of the boat. The others didn’t.” He also noted he couldn’t fly without an aeroplane. He cannot breathe underwater. He went on to list other things that he was not good at all. It was all very true and, as usual, Jeff expressed it in a very readable and funny way. You will know that if you have read any of his many books how he writes things.
He was, of course, unpacking that verse of scripture in the Bible that says “I can do all things though Christ who strengthens me”. You can find that passage in Philippians Chapter 4 verse 13.
I often hear those “well meaning” “spiritual” people say things like, “You can do it with God! We can do all things!”
It’s obvious that when Paul was talking to the Philippians Christians, he was explaining that he had had bad times and good times, and that God was able to take him through any kind of time.
So, “Yes!” Jeff is right. However, I do get a bit bored with those “I live in a box people.” You know the type. I am referring to those who are always telling others, “It can’t be done”, or worse, “This is the way it is done and there is no other method or alternative”.
This breed of “wisdom” often surfaces in some people when they hear somebody thinking out of the box they exist in.
It has seemed to me for a long time, that if one knows – that is, if one, really knows God, then they have, (or, “should have”, because often those claiming to know Him don’t seem to) a very broad view of life. Meaning; where is it all going? What’s the plan?
With those who are knowing God in a intimate way, it is a bit like looking from the top of a mountain and seeing further than those who are down in the valley. This releases them so that they are seeing the alternatives, conceiving the possibilities, perceiving the new – and even the impossible.
It also seems to me that that we can actually do a lot of things because God is with us that we would never be able to do if He wasn’t.
I know that my atheist friends struggle with that idea. They struggle with the idea of answered prayer. They struggle with the idea of God intervening on behalf of someone else. They struggle with the whole idea of miracles – boy do they struggle with that one! “It’s all just one big accidental coincidence”, I hear so often. I have had a lot to say about coincidences. Look up:
Their negative rationale goes on. And whilst others struggle with answered prayer, God’s interventions, Miracles and the like, I struggle with an answer that would satisfy my life experience of knowing God. I am talking of an answer that would properly explain my own answered prayer. I am thinking of such as moments when I find £10.00 at my feet via the natural wind after a brief one line prayer immediately answered.
I am remembering witnessing one woman’s blind eyes opening and acknowledging colour after laying hands on her and being amused at her sudden knowledge of the colour of her slippers.
Coming out of court recently, after a case where our own lawyer told us, “This is what has to happen – and it will happen just like this”, and then listening to the Judge say something totally different. That lawyer, who I don’t think shared my expectations of prayer being answered, as he walked out of the court, leaned over to me and said, “I have worked in this court for many years as a lawyer. Today I have witnessed a miracle”.
Of course, I know those who live in their mind set boxes where these sort of things do not happen, will work hard at a good explanation, and end up smiling sympathetically at my uneducated naivety.
For me, and I know many like me, we are happy that God is with us, that He does answer prayer, and that Miracles do happen. Maybe it is that boxed mindset that says, “This is how it works”, that keeps some from experiencing a more exciting way to live.
No! I can’t fly, or breathe under water, or do lots of things even though God is with me. But boy oh boy, there are things that can be done that take my breath away – metaphorically speaking of course.
So there are lots of times when people say, “You cannot do that!” “It can’t be!” “We don’t do it!”
Excuse me, but I did!
Edited by KL
Jenny or Robert?
Brexit and Trump
I am writing this blog with questions to my Christian friends who are followers of Jesus. Now, I am sure that, in a democracy there are many who would agree that in the field of politics, the fact that we are followers of Jesus will not stop us from see us seeing things from different perspectives. I have many friends in all kinds of political parties who, I am sure, are followers of Jesus.
However to all of them, as well as you my reader, I would want to ask these questions, and hopefully find some kind of coherent answer.
Here we go…
- · As a follower of Jesus, why would I not want people to have health care, especially if they could not afford it?
- · As a follower of Jesus, am I not responsible to try my hardest to see that people have a home? Again I say, even if their economic ability does not give them the resource that allows them to buy their own? Why also would I not want to see them clothed and warm? If you are asked for a biblical foundation for this thought, Luke 6.29 come to mind: “Give him your shirt also”.
- · As a follower of Jesus, why would I want to support a policy that makes my nation and people more important than any other people? Matthew 25:38 comes to mind. Am I not a stranger in this world holding the citizenship of another place? And more: Should not my citizenship of the other place impact my outlook in this place?
- · Thinking historically, why would I want to push for Nationalism (as opposed to Patriotism), that says, “My Nation is Great. My nation comes first”? Would that make us think that we are superior to all others? Wouldn’t that make me feel that Mexicans, Polish, Syrians and “whoever” are somehow lesser that my own people and my own nation? Would that not make me feel, somehow, that I was looking forward to the “Master Race”, which … oops! Happens to be mine?
- · On the political side; wouldn’t you agree that the Right wing politics around the planet have, somehow, given us the Hitler’s and the Saddam Hussein’s of this world?
- · Again, on the political view of things: Why would I cheer at the demise of the EU? Do I really want to see the UK putting on the side things like worker’s rights, the Human Rights charter and other things like that. Some are actually cheering the fact that we may have managed to wreck the whole project by our withdrawal. I see nothing to be happy about there. I don’t want to see Europe become a collection of right wing nationalistic groups, with each country feeling that they are the superior one and that anyone who does not fit into their culture is unwelcome. May be those dissidents need to be got rid of. We all know where that leads too.
· On a positive note, I do think that as a follower of Jesus my EU brother or my Mexican brother is my responsibility. I should want the best for him or for Her.
· On a negative note I don’t think that the deprecation of women, disabilities, or other nationalities is in any way a positive force.
I understand the concern from my friends from the USA about the abortion issue. The problem is that exchange abortion death, death from no health care, no concern for refugees and other nasty’s raises possibly even worse scenarios. That is the problem with democracy and politics, its often having to choose the lesser of two evils – and the difficult choice of which one is the lesser along with the ensuing battle concerning which was the lesser evil and which wasn’t.
I understand the concerns of the jobless, and the need to blame someone, be it the EU, the last President, the governmental opposition, and, of course, never forget the immigrants. The problem is, however, that these are not the makers of joblessness, the closed mines, the loss of the textile industry, or even car manufacturing.
I was privileged, many years ago, to have a conducted tour around the British Leyland car factory, formally the Austin Motor Company, by my Aunt. She was not on the board of directors, but because of her financial nous they did not usually have a board meeting without her. In that day (the 1960’s) the factory at Longbridge, Birmingham, employed some 25,000 people. When the whistle blew for the end of shift it was a site to behold. There was a veritable river of humanity pouring out of the factory gates.
The same could be said of the coal mines in Wales and the textile factories in the North of England. It was probably true of Detroit too.
The thing is that in 1764 the UK went through similar labour throws, due to the invention of the Spinning Jenny. Workers broke into factories and smashed the machines. Why? Because one machine could produce together with a single worker, what hundreds of workers had previously been needed to achieve the same output. So, it wasn’t immigrants or politicians that caused the job loss, it was a little piece of machinery called “Jenny!”
Are we at that stage again? However, this time it’s not the “Spinning Jenny”. Maybe this time its Robert, as Nissan can run a car factory with 22 workers in Sunderland in the UK, and build 5,139 cars in its first year of production. Maybe it’s not the Mexicans, Polish, politicians, or whatever nationality you want to blame. Maybe its Robert’s fault! Eh! Sorry!
I am sure that the New President of the US will be able to create Jobs for things like roads, walls (better to have bridges), locks and canals, using tax dollars. Hitler was able to do that. I am still not sure that the UK will be able to replace the jobs that I believe we will lose, outside the EU mind you, even if the USA puts us at the front of the queue.
I am not sure how we created those new jobs that have been taken by the closure of mines, the use of robotics, as well as the outsourcing to cheaper labour economies. Even the supermarkets make us serve ourselves these days. Maybe we should invest in social care, hospitals, care for the elderly, social services, and maybe to do it taxes will have to go up?
So, 2017! Such new political policies. And are they really nice ones? Yes it’s the lesser of two evils. However, have we picked the lesser? Will we move backwards to where the poor get even poorer, where those who need health care can no longer get it because it is now too expensive, both in the UK and the USA.
I understand the arguments, particularly in the USA, but the UK too – where Christians feel that they have to not only agree with equality and fairness for people they disagree with, but they must no longer disagree.
They must, in fact, agree and change their opinions. The thought police are here these days, and we must now agree in thought action and word. Thinking like those we disagree with, but yet want them to have their say, and yes treat with respect and equality, even those we not agree with there view on marriage and whatever.
Could it be that this is where the “Thought Police” have overplayed their hand they have pushed those who don’t agree to use the ballot box to give us Trump and Brexit.
Maybe the evangelicals, so called, have also overplayed their hand, and we will now get injustice, robbery of the poor, a downer on women, and – hopefully not- but maybe, just maybe, we are back to Caesar.
Edited by K. Lannon
Saturday, 21 January 2017
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
The Negatives seem too often to be in the Majority
Many of the best “How to be Successful” books will tell you that in order to move forward and be a success one needs to surround one’s self with either successful people, or, most certainly, positive people. Yet so often the majority seem to fit the “negative” criteria.
I note from the story of Israel in the Bible, that when they arrived at the land that God had promised them, they sent in twelve spies and – true to form – the majority, ten, to be exact, said we can never do that! We cannot win there! We look like grasshoppers, and they look like Giants! Only two of the spies said “It’s great. God is with us. We can take the land.”
The thing is that my experience of life shows me that for most people it seems that it is easier to be negative rather than positive. So many times in my experience I have been told, “You cannot do that.” “You won’t get there.” “You are finished.” One has to learn to stop one’s ears sometimes, before they get the chance to say, “You cannot…”, or move out of the immediate zone before the cold water carriers pour it on your internal fire.
The truth is that sometimes one cannot do it simply because the majority are so negative. So, Moses never did get to the land – because he needed the others to come with him, and they were too negative to do so.
I have been in situations where I know it was achievable, workable and doable and would have been great to be done and help others. But, the “ten” outweighed the “two,” so I lost out also.
It’s sad also when people do it to others. They are no good, they cannot do it, and they poor scorn on other human beings. Often they pull down others who are actually doing what they are not and doing it well.
I still remember a deputy head teacher calling me to his office one day. It was the days when people in that position sat in high and lofty desks and looked down on the students as if they were minnows. He looked at me and said, “Hawkes! You are so stupid, you will never be able to do anything in life. I can’t even think you could be good enough to sweep the streets.” Maybe that is why, when people ask me, “How do you get to be a leader?” my answer is always, “How well can you sweep up?
If you can do that job well, there is every hope in your other abilities, and the character to lead!”
I was very bad to that teacher. After I had left school, I took my new car – part of my successful job – and drove past the school as he peddled out on his rusty old bike. I pulled over and asked him with a smile, “Are you really still riding that old bike sir?” I guess that was not a good example to others, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit it was fun.
The other side to this “negative” discussion is often the mountain or the journey of achievement itself. “It’s just too big!” I get lots of knocks on my FB page and other writings as people tell me we should not be taking in Refugees. Many look at the problem, and, “Yes! There are around 60 Million displaced people in the world at the moment.” And: “No!” I did not make a mistake on the number. Many sarcastically say to me, “Where are you going to put all those millions of people in the UK?”
My oft reply is to refer them to the story made plain in the following web site: https://eventsforchange.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/the-starfish-story-one-step-towards-changing-the-world/ Have a look at it.
Even so, I do have answers for the bigger group, that is, the majority that are the “neggo’s”. But then I need more than the two out of the ten to see it also and come with me to take the positive action. I could climb the mountain, or enter the land, but others need to see it too. That is the problem with vision. What is obvious to the positive mind, is just negative fun to those who are of the negative mind.
As the Chinese proverb goes, “The longest journey has to start with the first step.” If we are not willing to get out of our easy chair. If we are just happy seeing only the negative. If we are always of the “half empty” rather than “half full” people. If we are always only able to see the problems and never see the problem as a “stepping stone” to success, then we will never see the view from the top of the Mountain.
I am a follower of Jesus, and he said to his followers, that if they believed, they would be able not only to see the view from the top of the mountain, but they would be actually empowered to say to the mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea.”
Personally, I would rather believe and see the success, than listen to the negativity of others. Or rather, I would prefer to have you join me in being positive, seeing what could be, taking steps, believing in a vision, and climbing mountains, or moving them out of the way, whichever is most appropriate.
Edited by K 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