This video is one of best music videos that I have seen in a long time and makes me more grateful for God’s forgiveness for my sins because I didn’t deserve it but he went to the cross anyway making a way of reconciliation for me back to him

41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among[h] themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”- Luke 7:41-50

Hi everyone. I know some of you have been wondering where I have been and why I haven’t been blogging as much as I used to. The honest answer is that I believe that God is transitioning me (again) through various experiences and while I am going through this process, I didn’t want to write too much but to just ‘sit back and think’. I do not believe that I am through to the other side yet so my blogs will not be anywhere as frequent as they used to be. But one thing that has been pressed upon me for a few years now is getting out of the Christian bubble. What do I mean by that? Well before I explain, please watch this video

In most of my Christian life, I believe that I lived in this bubble. I went to church on a Sunday, went to Christian conferences and conventions, went to Christian parties, watched Christian TV and films, listened to Christian music and the list goes on (not that any of those are bad of themselves). You get the idea. But I never really engaged with the culture around me. I found it hard to relate to them on certain things. I wasn’t brought up in church so I know how it is ‘out there’ but somehow, I lost touch. I was comfortable in this bubble and my goal was almost to get unbelievers into this bubble also.

I am part of the first generation children to parents who came over from the West Indies. Our British subculture was different than the normal British culture (even though we were born here) and unless you were part of my culture, the average British people could not fully understand and appreciate Lovers Rock music (which I love) because it was distinctly British but also linked into our reggae heritage. I am also part of the hip-hop culture in the 80s. We were a sub culture with a make up of MCs, DJs, grafitti artists, rappers and break dancers and body poppers (I was into the latter). Likewise, I believe that the Christian bubble has also become a sub culture, but where we (a lot of the time unintentionally) alienate others who do not participate in our bubble and we have no meaningful relationships or understanding of or with the outside world. Sometimes there is a bubble within the bubble with black/white churches.

I am at a place in my Christian life where I love and have a deeper understanding of Christ but if I am honest, can sometimes become bored of the Christian bubble and sometimes feel as if I lost who I really am. I have almost become shaped by what is expected in the bubble more than who I should be in Christ. I see so many things that happen to people in real life, then I see Christians almost ignore it because they are so busy with their praise parties in the church building and all this talk about blessings, breakthrough, divine favour and walking into your destiny etc etc. Yet those who do not step into the building (which are many) are oblivious to us. They are busy going through their own stuff or busy ‘living it up’. There is simply some things that I don’t want to be as a Christian.

I touched on this in one of the things that I learned in 2013 which was that:

People go through some really hard things in life and sometimes, it can be so comfortable to live in the church/Christian bubble without ever really engaging in the culture or the real world with real people who have real problems. I don’t want to be so involved in churchianity that Christ is in the background and is not relevant at all to the man on the street. I want Christ to be seen in me IN ALL of my daily life and that may mean sometimes doing stuff that traditionally ‘church folk’ don’t do. God is interested in the whole man.

Recently, I sat with some old friends for a cup of coffee. We first ‘met’ up on the now defunct United by One Christian website where we discussed many topics on a forum and since then we have always kept connected via social media

UB1 Massive

Going from left to right is Karl Nova (a frustrated artist), myself, George Luke and Dave McQueen (who once described himself as a Christian but now describes himself as an agnostic. See his reasons here in his own words).

Apart from David, the rest of us are Christians. Now this is what we could have done. David could have been our little project to ‘win him back to Christ’ and put another notch on our belt. But we just sat down and not only talked about issues of faith but about life in general and politics. We were also very honest with how we felt about issues in Christianity and asked some difficult questions. In fact, just simply stated, we just talked as friends and our faith journeys never was an issue. It was a very enriching evening where we could just be ourselves and learn from each others experiences which included us learning from Dave. None of us had any ulterior motives.

Now if I am honest, the place where I am is foreign to me and a bit uncomfortable as I am still in transition and I am not sure what the final outcome will look like. But what I do know is that ultimately, I want to be a good witness for Christ, whether that be overt and explicit or covert and implicit. I want to be salt and light to those around me and be a positive influence. I am not the average Christian because I like to ask challenging questions and say things that other Christians are also thinking but for various reasons, do not outwardly express it, sometimes because of fear of a backlash of going against the tide or they are blinded by loyalty.

I have no idea where this transition will ultimately lead me as I am still learning but I am asking for God’s direction on this journey

Let’s see where this goes

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care – Theodore Roosevelt

This was written by American footballer Benjamin Watson. The post will speak for itself:

At some point while I was playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke about the Ferguson Decision. After trying to figure out how I felt, I decided to write it down. Here are my thoughts:

I’M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.

I’M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios.

I’M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I’m a law abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a “threat” to those who don’t know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.

I’M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.

I’M SAD, because another young life was lost from his family, the racial divide has widened, a community is in shambles, accusations, insensitivity hurt and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.

I’M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.

I’M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I’ve seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.

I’M CONFUSED, because I don’t know why it’s so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don’t know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.

I’M INTROSPECTIVE, because sometimes I want to take “our” side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it’s us against them. Sometimes I’m just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that’s not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That’s not right.

I’M HOPELESS, because I’ve lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I’m not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.

I’M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it’s a beautiful thing.

I’M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that’s capable of looking past the outward and seeing what’s truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It’s the Gospel. So, finally, I’M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.

 

In this post, I wrote about my reservations about God TV and unfortunately it has come to light that Rory and Wendy Alec’s marriage maybe over because of Rory’s ‘moral failure’. Wendy Alec explained what happened in a statement on the channel and you can see a small portion of it in the video below.

Now matter what your views are on them, we have to keep these two in our prayers because at the end of the day, these are two human individuals (plus their families) who are going through a very difficult time and it cannot be easy especially not only being in the limelight but being in the Christian limelight. Especially for Wendy now who has to carry on. It is hard enough dealing with this in private and they need God’s strength. HOWEVER, there is an underlying problem which is the real issue with God TV. The article below was taken from Christianity Today and was written by David Robertson

rory-and-wendy-alecThe news that God TV co-founder Rory Alec has been suspended from his post as presenter and head of the organisation, because of ‘moral failure’ has come as a shock to some in the Christian world. Others have a resigned sense of ‘oh no, here we go again’, while still others are quick to point out that we are all sinners and we should pray for and extend the grace of God to Rory and Wendy. All of these reactions are understandable but I would like to suggest that there is a danger that we won’t see the wood for the trees. The problem here is not primarily the adultery of one man, or the schadenfreude that critics of God TV might delight in. The problem goes much deeper and is something that the Church in the West really needs to get hold of.

I am not surprised at all by Rory’s ‘indiscretion’ – nor by the continual account of Christian CEOs or celebrity mega pastors being caught with either their hand in the till or their bodies in another’s bed. Why? Because whenever I have watched God TV, what comes across to me is that it is primarily about money and power. And when you have those two at the centre it’s not long before the third part of that particular unholy trinity, sex, rears its ugly head. Despite the fact that there were some occasional good things on it, I had to stop watching God TV because I used to get so depressed and angry. I have spent a great deal of time helping people whose faith, though initially boosted and encouraged by some of what they saw, eventually was battered, bruised and severely damaged by the theology and practices espoused on much of God TV. Take the example of so called ‘Missions’ weeks. They were nothing of the sort. They were purely and entirely about raising money. Now I realise that Rory and Wendy would tell us that it was about reaching one billion souls. That was hyperbolic sales talk, confusing the possibility that God TV “could” be seen on several million TV sets, with the idea that they “would” and that then all would believe. The manipulation, sales talk and constant pleading for money “for the work of the kingdom” was nauseating.

And the power. I have yet to see a God TV programme which extolled the virtues of weakness. Everything was about strength and power. Power-dressed shiny happy people beamed out of our TV screens a picture of wealth, health and success. Continually we were assured that somewhere out there was someone called Marge who had just been healed of cancer, or Tom whose marriage was about to be restored, or Dave whose business had just been boosted because of the cheque he wrote. There was nothing about Bill who had just lost his job, Susan whose daughter had just died, or Tim who went bankrupt after he mortgaged his house in order to give money to God TV. I even watched complete charlatans like Todd Bentley kick a woman in the face because ‘the Holy Spirit told him to’ and then pronounce that he had raised several people from the dead – however he could not name them because of ‘patient confidentiality’! He too of course fell into the money, power and sex trap – before GodTV, ‘graciously restored’ him and gave him yet another platform for his aberrations. And yet I know churches in the UK who were so desperate to ‘catch the anointing’ that they bought into all of this guff. This kind of TV is of more use to the New Atheist movement than it is to the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

After speaking at CLAN (the largest charismatic conference in Scotland), I was interviewed by God TV. The producer told me that he loved the interview but that there was no way it would ever be broadcast. When I asked why, his answer revealed a great deal about God TV: “Wendy wouldn’t like it”. God TV was not about what God wanted, or what the Church needed. It was the Rory and Wendy show, and the show of all those tele-evangelists who were wealthy enough to buy into it. The language was always hyper spiritual, the onstage hysteria real, but behind the scenes there were the usual power games and struggles associated with secular corporations.

And therein lies the problem. The Church is not a corporation. Nor is it an entertainment or an advertising agency. Godliness is not a way to get wealthy. Or famous. Or to have your own ‘ministry’. The Church is to be the pillar and ground of the truth. Much of modern corporate Christianity has become pillarless and groundless. As a result it has also become brainless, banal and spiritually bankrupt. And it is certainly not harmless. I was visited this week by a friend who has just returned from six weeks real mission work among the poor in Africa. In some of these really poor countries, the world of corporate, commercialised Christianity, imported from the wealthy West, has taken root. There are mega pastors selling holy water for $1000, stealing money from the old, the sick and the poor, in order to pay for their mega mansions and luxury cars. The problem with God TV is not the moral failure of Rory’s adultery. It is the moral failure of associating the Good News of Jesus to the poor with the prosperity gospel and health and wealth blasphemy of Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn and Joyce Meyer.

When I write like this the objection immediately comes. Don’t be so harsh and hard. Why are you speaking against a brother and sister like this? How is that like Christ? Well – did not Jesus call the religious hypocrites of his day “white-washed tombs, twice dead”? Did not Paul tell the Galatian false teachers to go the whole way and emasculate themselves?! I have a genuine concern for Wendy – as I watched the cruelty of her live ‘revival alert’ which was much more like a Dr Phil confessional, I was so saddened for that betrayed woman. And angry with the people who continue to feed the illusion that she is the anointed one to save a billion souls. At best it is delusional, at worst it is a horrible blasphemy to have an American ‘prophetess’ screaming down the phone at her that the Lord told her directly that the endtime harvest was coming through Wendy. And it is oh so cruel. Far crueller than my words.

But some will say – “It has helped me…God spoke to me through it.” I don’t doubt that. Poison is always far more effective when coated in sugar.

Some will warn me “Don’t criticise the work of the Holy Spirit”. I totally agree. But is it not a false assumption to declare that everything that claims to be of the Spirit is of the Spirit? Is it not wrong to attribute the work of the Spirit to the delusions and manipulations of man? We are to test the spirits. And how do we test? If they glorify Christ, speak according to the Word of God and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.

Rory Alec in his statement says that we should not look at him, but look at Christ. But TV says “look at me”. This is not to say that TV cannot be used as a medium to proclaim the Gospel. There are Christian TV stations that do a good job. But it is a medium that it is very difficult to use. The Christian evangelist, preacher, TV personality must be someone whose aim is to point away from themselves and towards Jesus Christ – and not just when we have a ‘moral failure’. We exist to serve Christ and His Church. They do not exist to serve us. Like John the Baptist we declare, “He must increase, I must decrease”. Ironically even as I write this I am listening to a preacher on God TV tell us “no, no, no – he wants us to increase!”

The simple truth that we need to grasp is this: The six billion souls will be reached, not through the slick marketing, self-promoting, mega powerful corporations; nor through the hysterical delusions and manipulation of self-appointed ‘apostolic-prophetic’ ministries, but rather through hundreds of thousands of local churches humbly and lovingly proclaiming and living Christ in local communities, with the Word of God, by the Spirit of God, through the people of God. It’s basic Christianity!

what-is-churchNo doubt, today many christians all over the world will attend a church building but what exactly is church? As many of you know, I am always banging on about being a Berean and have witten a few posts about How to be a Berean in practice. One thing that we as Christians are scared of is having our normal way of thinking challenged biblically. We hear so many times that ‘we are the church and not the building’ and most christians would not disagree with that. However, if we are honest, most believers center their christian life around the building and not around the people. We have a ‘Come and See’ mentality. We invite people to the building, we go to conferences in the building, we encourage people to come to the building for various meetings, people feel guilty if they do not go to the building on Sunday. But what about those people who never want to step foot in the building? How do we reach them? Most of what I have learnt in my Christian life has not been in a building but has been through me searching the scriptures through myself and allowing the Holy Spirit to enlighten me through correct interpretation and rightly dividing the word. Once I did that, I was able to filter out a lot of garbage that I heard whether that be in a building, on TV, on the radio or anywhere else. I’ve mentioned them before but my friends in America host a radio show called Real Talk Radio  and they address real issues and topics that your average ‘church’ do not talk about. None of them attend a church building but do participate in christian fellowship. 

Below is an article written by one of the hosts about ‘Church’.

The Greek word for church is “ecclesia”. Ecclesia, in the original Greek means “called out ones”, “congregation” or “assembly”. Every instance in the KJV where the Greek word “ecclesia”, is found, it’s translated as “Church”, (in most other versions as well) EXCEPT in 3 verses, in the 19th chapter of the book of Acts.

Act 19:23-41 (KJV)

23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; 25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. 26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: 27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. 28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 29 And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre. 30 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. 31 And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre. 32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the “ASSEMBLY” was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together. 33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people. 34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 35 And when the town clerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? 36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. 37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of “CHURCHES”, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. 38 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another. 39 But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful “ASSEMBLY”. 40 For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. 41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the “ASSEMBLY”.

Here they are again:
Acts 19:32 some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the “assembly” was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.
Acts 19:39 But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful “assembly”.
Acts 19:41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the “assembly”.

Also, please take notice of the following verse:

Acts19:37 “For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of “CHURCHES”, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.”

The actual word CHURCH(ES) is used here, but it is NOT, I repeat NOT translated from the Greek word, “ecclesia”. So WHY is “ecclesia” translated as “assembly” only these 3 times? Remember, every other instance in the KJV when the word “church” is mentioned, it’s translated from the Greek word “ecclesia”. The meaning of the “ecclesia” does not change. Let’s use the word “church” in acts 19 and see it makes sense.

Acts 19:32 some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the “church” was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

Acts 19:39 But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful “church”.

Acts 19:41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the “church”.

Do these verses make sense to our western mind? If not, why? It’s because the term “church” is a mistranslation. Now let’s look at some verses where the word “church” is used in the KJV and see if it makes sense when we use the words assembly, congregation or called out ones. (unlike using “church” in acts 19)

Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my “congregation”; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Act 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the “congregation” daily such as should be saved.

Act 8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the “congregation”, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison

1Co 11:18 For first of all, when ye come together in the “assembly”, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.

1Co 14:4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the “congregation”.

Gal 1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the “congregation” of God, and wasted it:

Phm 1:2 And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the “congregation” in thy house:

3 John 1:9 I wrote unto the “assembly”: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

Rev 2:8 And unto the angel of the “assembly” in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
Rev 3:1 And unto the angel of the “congregation” in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

I could go on, but you get the point. The word “Church” is a mistranslation of the Greek word “ecclesia”. William Tyndale was killed because he translated the terms “church,” “priest,” “do penance” and “charity,” to “congregation,” “senior” (changed to “elder” in the revised edition of 1534), “repent” and “love,”. Why was he killed for these translations by the Catholic Church? To protect their established religious order, and their power OVER the people.

Please don’t believe me, do your own research and ask God to reveal the truth to you.

So I did exactly what they said. I reseached this myself and found it to be true. For those who want to (and should) do their own research, you will find that all places which use the word ‘church’ and the three examples above in Acts 19 use the greek word ‘ecclesia’ and if you want to check the Strongs concordance number it is 1577. However, in  Acts 19:37, where the it states “For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of “CHURCHES”, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.”, the greek word ‘hierosulos’ is used (Strongs concordance number 2417) which means temple depoiler.

Now am I saying that ‘church’ as is commonly know in and of itself is necessarily bad? Not at all. However, what I would say is that the heavy emphasis that we seem to put on the building seems to be unbiblical and you cannot help but wonder, like William Tyndale, why those words were changed and what was the ulterior motive.

As a Christian who has been ‘around the block’ for some time, I have seen a lot of things, experienced a lot of things and not surprised by a lot of things. In some of my latest posts, you may have seen a change of my tone. This is because I am fed up and frustrated with Christians being fed false hope, being afraid to ask difficult questions in life. Nearly everywhere I turn, I hear messages about blessings, breakthroughs and divine favor, and not truly understanding the reality of being a christian. Because of some of those messages from the pulpit, when something happens like a Christian dying at 37 from cancer or something else disastrous happens in their life that they do not expect to happen to them as a Christian, they become disillusioned with the whole Christian faith because they have been blinded by and fed false promises.

So when I came across an article by C Michael Hatton on the Reclaiming the Mind Blog, it caught my eye because it tackled a question by an unbeliever head on. “Will God protect my children if I decide to come to him?” We could come with a text book answer with “Yes because you are a child of the King and he will protect you and your family” but I know from experience that the Christian life does not guarantee you any protection on earth.

I have placed the article in full below and I pray that you will swallow this hard truth more than a soft lie.

Will-God-Protect-My-Children

Will God Protect My Children?

My friend was not a Christian, but he was seriously considering it. He was one of my wild friends from my younger, crazier days. We used to drive from bar-to-bar looking for nothing but trouble.

We often talked about Jesus. I was one of those dichotomous Christians who did what he could to evangelize while neck deep in the clutches of carnality (now I am just dichotomized in other ways!).

He was an atheist and pretty determined to stand his ground. Initially, our reconnect involved uncomfortable re-telling’s of our former days of sin along with some (compromising?) laughter about such.

But we spent the next year talking about Christ Here we were a decade later having the same types of conversations during a different stage of life. He’s married with kids. I’m married with kids. He’s thinking about bigger, more profound things. I’m teaching about bigger and more profound things.

Hurdle #1 – “Do’s” and “Don’ts”

I was very excited and prayerfully hopeful about what God might be doing in his life. We talked on the phone about once a week. Often, late into the night. During these talks, he would present his objections and questions and I would present the possible answers. Sometimes he put his wife on speakerphone to ask her own questions and listen along.

I sent him a couple of books that really helped him overcome some of his misunderstandings concerning the nature of Christianity. Primarily, he saw Christianity as a legalistic set of “do’s and don’ts.” He had never even come in contact with the idea of grace. Our conversations culminated in his reading of Chuck Swindoll’s Grace Awakening. He was refreshed. Hurdle #1, successfully jumped.

Hurdle #2 – Intellectually Naive

In the backdrop of our conversations was his perception that Christianity was naive, with no place for serious intellectual conversations. We talked much about this and I sent him a copy of one of my favorite apologetics books (save the Open Theology leanings) Letters to a Skeptic byGregory Boyd (I told you I loved Gregory Boyd!). He slowly began to see that the central tenets of Christianity were not only sustainable but ultimately persuasive. Hurdle #2: successfully jumped.

Through this process, his objections were slowly losing steam. It was incredible to see the slow transformation of his mind. The misinformation was corrected as intellectual conviction grew. He had only one step left: an act of the will to stand before Christ and proclaim his helpless condition and ask for mercy. We were almost there.

The Unexpected Question

It was the day of Angie (my sister’s) funeral. He came to my parent’s house along with many other guests after I had preached at the church. He sat by the side of the house, timidly lurking about, not really knowing what to say. He knew Angie well and, like the rest of us, wasdevastated and confused by her passing.

When we finally talked (it was the first time that I had seen him since our reconnect), I could tell something was on his mind, something that the tragic circumstances of that week brought to his mind. We began to talk outside by his car. He mentioned my sermon at the funeral and seemed very appreciative. We talked a bit about Angie and many of our friends that had shown up.

Then things turned serious.

Grief in Dialogue

“Look, Michael,” he said, as if all our conversation until this point was just a deterring prelude to something more, “I get it!”

“Get what?” I responded.

“I get it. Call me whatever you want—a believer, Christian, or whatever… I get it. I believe. I believe all that stuff about Christ.”

Then there was some silence. I knew there was something more coming.

He continued, “But I am scared.”

“Scared of what.”

“You love Jesus and have been doing so much for him,” he said. ”Yet look at what has happened to you. Look at what happened to your sister. Look at the pain of your family. Look at your mom. Especially your mom. Your poor mom. She has always been into Jesus. She is the best example of a Christian I know of. Look at what God is doing to her. I am scared. I am scared of God.”

Will God Protect My Children?

After another period of silence he asked the question of the hour, “Will God protect my children?” He went on, “Will he protect them or is he going to do to me what he did to your mom? Because from where I sit it looks like if you follow the Lord too closely, he brings terrible things into your life. I love my children and I am scared to death that he might hurt them or take them from me because I follow him… to test me or something. I don’t want that.”

Questioning God’s Intentions

My friend was no longer questioning the reality of God, Christ, the resurrection, or even his own need for a savior. He was questioning God’s plan. He was questioning God’s intentions. Simply put, he was scared of God.

This is really the broader question of suffering. But it is also particular. It is not, “Why does God allow suffering in general?” It was not even a “why?” question. It was a “will?” question. Whatwill God do? What can I expect as a child of God? Is He going to require too much of me? It is a question of counting the cost of following the Lord.

How do we answer such questions? How should we answer them to avoid misinterpreting God?

3 Really Bad Answers

Wrong Answer #1

Yes, of course he will protect your children. That is one of the benefits of being a child of God. Sign the dotted line.

I have searched throughout the Scriptures and cannot find any guarantees that when we follow the Lord, we, along with our loved ones, fall under a shield of protection that guarantees physical longevity, health, or safety. Believe me, I have searched for such promises.

My friend Trevin Wax in his book Counterfeit Gospels calls this the “Therapeutic Gospel.” It is the Gospel that offers benevolent guarantees of mundane goodness. It is the Gospel that says that once you have faith in God, you can expect physical blessings and security. About this Trevin says:

“If you believe that coming to Christ will make life easier and better, then you will be disappointed when suffering comes your way. Storms destroy our homes. Cancer eats up our bodies. Economic recessions steal our jobs. If you see God as a vending machine, then you will become disillusioned when your candy bar doesn’t drop. You may get angry and want to start banging on the machine. Or maybe you will be plagued with guilt, convinced that your suffering indicates God’s disapproval of something you’ve done. When we emphasize the temporal blessings that come from following Christ, we plant the seeds for a harvest of heartbreak.” (p. 54)

Wrong Answer #2

No, he will not protect your children. There is a good chance that God will take them from you to test your faith. Its called “bearing your cross.”

This is also an answer we must avoid. Suffering and evil are a part of the fall and are in God’s hands. While God uses suffering to bring us closer to Him and while we should not be surprised by these type of trials (1 Pet 4:12), we don’t know what God is going to do in our lives.

Matthew 5:45 says that God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Suffering and pain are part of life. They are a part ofeveryone’s life. There is no way to know what God is going to do. While God is not in the business of making sure everyone lives as long a life as possible, He does desire Christians to live as full a life as possible.

All Christians I know have their share of suffering. All people I know have their share of suffering. The major difference between the suffering of the believer and the suffering of the non-believer is that the believers’ suffering is full of purpose. Romans 8:28 says that God is working all things together for good for those that love him. This “all things” includes suffering.

One thing we can be sure of is that life is going to take many terrible turns, but knowing that these things have meaning and purpose makes it bearable.

Wrong Answer #3

You’re misinterpreting things here. God was not involved in the death of my sister. God wanted my sister to live, but she decided to take her own life. God is not in control of the well-being of your children either. He has a “hands-off” policy on these types of things.

This is often referred to as “Open Theology”. It puts God in the cheerleading section of the game of life. Many people do this so that they can live with the reality of evil. If God could nothave stopped what happened, then He’s acquitted (in their mind) of any wrongdoing. However, this is not the God of Christianity. The God of Christianity is a God who is sovereign overeverything that happens. Daniel 4:34-35 is one of the great passages in all of Scripture speaking of God’s sovereignty:

“His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’”

Even Satan has to come to God for permission to act (Job 1:6-12).

God’s “Perfect” Plan and His “Redeeming” Plan

This does not mean that evil and suffering are part of God’s perfect plan, but they are a part of His redeeming plan. Death, sin, and suffering are all evil. They were brought into the world when man fell in Eden. But God’s redeeming plan uses sin to right the wrong.

This is why God brought the greatest evil in the history of the world upon His Son. What seemed to be a defeat when Christ died on the cross was a wonderful expression of God’s love, redemption, and sovereignty introduced, not by the will of man, but by the predetermined plan of God (Acts 4:27-28). God is in control of all things, even our suffering.

My Answer

I don’t know if God will protect your kids in the way that you desire. I really don’t. I am sorry.

I had no guarantees for my friend. There are no prenuptial agreements that we can ask God to sign.

In John 21 (I love this story), Christ has already risen from the grave. He is talking to Peter and has some hard news. He tells Peter, in essence, that he is going to suffer and die for his faith. Peter, curious and somewhat agitated, looks at his friend John, looks back at Christ and says, “What about him. Is he going to die too?” That is where we are. We come to Christ and say:

  • What about [fill in the blank]?
  • What are you going to do?
  • What is in store for me if I follow you?
  • Are you going to protect my children?

I suppose that the Lord’s response to Peter is the best answer we are ever going to get. Christ said to Peter “If I want him [John] to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22). In the Greek, this is emphatic:

You follow me. Take your eyes off the details of the future and you follow me. I have John under control. You follow me. Your children are mine and I love them. Youfollow me. I don’t follow you. You follow me.”

We don’t come to Christ because of guarantees of health, wealth, or protection from physical danger. We come to him because He is Lord. We don’t become Christians because of fringe benefits; we become Christians because Christianity is true. We come to Christ and bow our knee knowing He loves us enough to die for us. We come to Him knowing that His plan, whatever that may be, is full of love, purpose, and wisdom. We come to Him because of the guarantees of the life to come, not the guarantees of this life.

secular-sacred

 

Look at the image above and be honest. If you turn left, what do you expect to find? And turn right and what do you expect to find? And more importantly, where do you think God resides most.

TURN LEFT: Most people will think this involves going to work, school, college, going to a bar or pub with friends, going to the movies, doing sports, going to the gym, engaging in your hobbies, playing secular music, going to the Notting Hill Carnival and dancing is what would normally be in ‘Secular’ camp

TURN RIGHT: Most people people would think that church, prayer, fasting, reading the bible, attending Christian conferences etc would all appear in the ‘Sacred’ camp

And if most of us as Christians are honest, we think that God is more on the right hand side than the left.

The video below gives a quick summary

As the video says, we as believers will say that we know that our Christianity should be displayed in all of our life but subconsciously, we divide our lives into sacred and secular and into areas which are more spiritual than other areas.

One of the things that I said that I learnt last year in this post was that:

People go through some really hard things in life and sometimes, it can be so comfortable to live in the church/Christian bubble without ever really engaging in the culture or the real world with real people who have real problems. I don’t want to be so involved in churchianity that Christ is in the background and is not relevant at all to the man on the street. I want Christ to be seen in me IN ALL of my daily life and that may mean sometimes doing stuff that traditionally ‘church folk’ don’t do. God is interested in the whole man.

I have had a few transitional points in my Christian journey and I believe that right now, I am in the middle (not there yet) of another one. The Holy Spirit has been teaching me a lot and most of it is not by me turning right to the sacred camp. Just by looking at people lives or watching the news makes me look at things with a Christian worldview. I have also been frustrated sometimes with the ‘Come and See’ mentality of churches. The fact of the matter is the vast majority of unbelievers have no interest in church or church events so what happens to them? How do we impact the culture?

I am involved with an employee network which aims to promote fairness for Black and Asian employees so that we are represented at all levels and so that there is true diversity, especially at senior levels. As it stands right now, it has been acknowledged by senior leaders that this is not the case. Is this less important to God than me attending a mid week prayer meeting?

In one of my old churches, whenever there was a public holiday, the churches would have some kind of convention where it was expected that members would attend and I always used to think to myself, why don’t they just let people stay at home and spend quality time with their families instead of expecting people to attend church all the time?

On March 22, 2013 at Convocation, North America’s largest weekly gathering of Christian students, Lecrae talked about erasing the secular-sacred divide. He pointed out that everything is God’s, so there shouldn’t be a division between our role in society and our role in the church. As representatives of God’s kingdom, we should engage, love, & rehabilitate every aspect of today’s culture for His purposes. Check out the video below

So I would like to summarise this post with Colossians 3:17 which states

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Those words ‘whatever’ and ‘everything’ mean………..you guessed it. ‘whatever’ and ‘everything’. Not just ‘church’ stuff.

I would also recommend listening to this podcast from Matt Reagan