Is there a 'solution' to life?

Posts tagged ‘Religion’

Change, Christ, Challenge – Matthew 13:53-58


I’m not going to bother with an introduction (barring this sentence) today, it’s late and I want to get this down while I can still see straightish.

 

53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there.54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”

58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

 ( Matthew 13:53-58 NIV)

 

I find this passage challenging today. It’s the passage from the Biblestudy I was due to do on the tenth, but I don’t know if I would have really gotten it last week.

Previously when reading it I would think about the practical nature of things, it’s hard to accept somebody as different from the person you knew when they were growing up. However, Jesus didn’t leave home as a boy – He left as a man of around 30. This community knew Jesus well, he was a local tradesman in a pretty small town, he couldn’t have gotten by!

This passage has less to do with a radical transformation of Jesus in the time He was away (although He had changed, moving from a time of waiting into his ministry as the Son of God). Rather this passage is much, much simpler to understand than I had made it.

The passage is simple – The people didn’t understand exactly who Jesus was – they had an understanding, he was just another bloke, nothing special, just another guy like you or me – they didn’t realise he was the Messiah, the Chosen One. Just like the fire-truck in transformers, Jesus is more than meets the eye.

Jesus taught and clearly rumours had circulated after he arrived, because the people ask about Jesus’ change. However, when confronted with the fullness of Jesus’ identity, more than a wise man, more than a healer, more than a man they deny it. They explain it away, like a lot of people do today. “He’s just another man!” “His own flesh and blood are here with us, and they’re nothing special!” “Maybe Jesus had something worth listening too, but all this God stuff is a bit much, don’t you think?”

Then there is nothing more to follow. Jesus’ ministry takes a pause, there are no miracles, maybe the people didn’t bring Him any lame folk, maybe the blind didn’t cry out to Jesus. Perhaps they didn’t follow him out into the countryside without a packed lunch. We don’t know for sure, but my guess is that the people didn’t give Jesus any room to manoeuvre.

There is a lot of that in my own life. There’s a lot of that in the churches we are apart of. Some people pray “Lord make a difference here” but refuse to make changes. Some folks sing “Lord have your way with us” literally do what you want with us, and at the end of the service they leave the building and walk by homeless people without a second glance – I know I have, I know I do.

The point is this – If we really want to see miracles, if we really want to see a friend, a family, a city, a nation… the world changed then it has to start with us. It has to start with making sacrifices – taking the hard road when asked. Denying yourself, and taking up a cross and walking.

Maybe that means sitting down (again!) after a long service and chatting to some poor bloke who can’t afford to eat without begging. Maybe it means changing your prayer life. Maybe it means actually doing something when you know should, even though you don’t want to.

I think it means all of those things for me. I know when I cry out to God “Where are you?” or “Where were you?” The answer is always the same.

“Waiting for you to give Me a chance to help you.”

Advertisements

Genesis 44 – Joseph’s plan in action.


Well, I’m back safe and sound from another week at camp! The last two weeks or so have featured a lot of stress – I had my resits to deal with, then I was off to camp with a little bit less time to prepare then I would have liked, but realistically you can never prepare too much for an SU camp!

Now that I’m back I’m resolved to take my bible study much more seriously, both privately and online here, with my blog. Hopefully this time I’ll manage to stick at it longer than a few weeks, and maybe even finish Genesis by Christmas and find something new (and shorter) to captivate my online musings.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%2044&version=NLT

The title at the top of that link marks Chapter 44 as “Joseph’s silver cup, but in the English Standard Version (accessible through Biblegateway.com, or by changing the letters NLT to ESV at the end of the link above) it is given the title of “Joseph tests his brothers”.

I really like that as an overview for the whole passage, in context from Genesis 43 (see https://lifeisnotamystery.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/joseph-gets-his-act-together-genesis-43-and-a-springsummer-update/) we know that Joesph is no longer acting maliciously towards his brothers. He has given up trying to punish them, and now he is testing the to see if they have truly changed their ways or not.

Joseph wants to look after his full brother Benjamin, and make sure that Benjamin won’t get mistreated in the same that he (Joseph) did. In order to do so  (more…)

Gender roles in the Church Leadership – Yes or No… or that’s not even a P.C. phrase anymore…


For the past few days, I’ve been searching for a new topic, I didn’t feel quite ready to continue on in Genesis, but knew I had to be on the look out for a topic to write about.
I came across it this evening in the pub, I feel as a student all of my thinking “should” be done either in a pub, the library or heaven forbid… a lecture theater!

I had an excellent discussion with a few friends in the pub (don’t worry I’ve had plenty time to sober up!), and when walking home with two different friends, who weren’t in the original group I asked the same question –

What do you think of women being Church Leaders?

To clarify, not women leading the within a church, but being the head honcho – the Lead Pastor, or Senior minister, what ever your terminology – within a church and the Church how would you feel if the buck stopped with a woman?

I think we agreed to some extent that it was non-issue, and Leadership in Churches (and anything else really) has to be decided on a case… The three of us agreed presented with a man and a woman both going for the same task, you shouldn’t pick the woman because she’s a woman, or the man because he’s a man. The important thing is determining who is best suited to the roll, and in a church environment if that person is called to be the leader of that church. (more…)

Tiny Cogs in Big Machines – The Invention of Lying


I’ve had a really interesting day to day (in my opinion any way) I got up,  tided a little bit, saw my fiancee and met up with a friend, we hung out, watched some films, a little bit of Dexter, and then went to the cinema with my brother and some other friends.
The film was Iron Man three, it lacked the things I loved about the first and the second, but made up for it in other ways. If you enjoyed the first and second movies then I recommend you watch it.

Although, as interesting as that part of the day was, what really stood out for me was watching “The Invention of Lying”

The Invention of Lying is a 2009 fantasy romantic comedy film that was written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson.
-Wikipedia

One of my friends who was watching described it as “basically Ricky Gervais’ attack on religion. Sure enough after after having watched about half of it, I began to feel defensive and attacked. After watching the entire thing I found myself ironically enchanted by my experience of Christianity.

Certainly I felt a fair few connections to the ideas implied by the film, but that was from when I was about 10. See, when I was 10 I didn’t really know anything about “being a Christian” I knew a lot about what a Christian was, somebody who did what God said… followed all the rules and did their best to be a good person.

That doesn’t actually have much to do with being a Christian though. (more…)

Words sometimes fail us… Revenge is a dish best served cold. Genesis 42


It’s been a wee while since I last blogged, so I’ll take the opportunity to update you all on me!
I’m finished at uni for the term, I’m more involved at both Central Church and Davidson’s mains Church, both in Edinburgh, as well as finally catching up on all my friends and chores etc.

Moving on from the dull stuff to Genesis 42, (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+42&version=NLT) we were left on a bit of a high point for young Joesph, the prime minister of Egypt, managing everything under Pharaoh. He has successfully managed the taxation and now the distribution of wealth during a time of famine, and he must have done a pretty good job, because he’s still around.

The chapter opens with Jacob sending his sons off to Egypt in order to buy grain. The lads arrive in Egypt and are eventually brought to Joesph to decide if  they are allowed to buy grain.

Since years have passed, and Joesph is probably dressed as a very rich Egyptian they fail to recognize their brother! A mischievousness glint takes the eye of Joesph as he realise, and he sets the stage for some ironic revenge. (more…)

Genesis 41 – the lines between humility, confidence and arrogance.


I’d love to tell you how busy I’ve been in the last few weeks, but that would require me to have actually been exceptionally busy. Big changes have been I’m now a regular gym go-er rather than an irregular one (regularity and consistency are not in my list of qualities unfortunately). I reorganised my bedroom so that my desk is now tidy enough to use, my furniture is now arranged so that there is room in my room. (A brief note on my desk, it’s clean tidy and ready to use, although I’m not actually using it, despite the fact it is trying to lure me over to it’s smooth wooden surface…)

I have now relocated to the desk. It’s awesome. (more…)

Attempted Sex, and other attention grabbing titles (that have nearly no relation to the content) – Genesis 39


I’ve had a really interesting week since my last blog, the most surprising thing that happened is that I’m actually blogging 7 days after my last post.

Included in this weeks happenings are University hand ins, Challenging church sermons, new followers on twitter and that other thing that slips my mind. Just like revision is slipping off the top of my to-do list while I blog, not a surprise I’m blogging again then.

Although saying it all like that makes my week sound boring and uninteresting. I’ve actually had some interesting things to think about: 1. The role of authority in the Church, 2.  Idealism and Realism and balancing them both, 3. The increased responsibility of leadership.

recaps on my thoughts 1. Having a strong authority in the church is important, especially in a secular society in which the church often comes under fire for it’s stance on controversial issues. If the church isn’t entirely focused on God’s authority then it’s reputation falls apart. If there isn’t an strong leadership in the church,  helping it to stay true to the Bible, and the mission God has for it, then we’ll tear ourselves apart, stuck on the little issues, and not focused on the big ones.

A realistic view of the world is quite really important, if we don’t look at what is  actually going on, then we’ll end up hurt and disappointed. The main focus of my thoughts on this matter was Christians – We aim to be perfect and Christlike. Which is exactly right – we need to AIM there, although we also have to accept we are doomed to fail, and be realistic. We can’t do it. Even when God helps us to be better, we still aren’t perfect.

Don’t lose heart though, cause God still uses us even though we’re screw ups.

Then the thoughts on responsibility in leadership – well that’s what I want to talk about next week, so come back and read them then.

This week though, is all about our man Joe, and his new job.

This is what we’re working from

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+39&version=NIV

 

So Joe is now a slave, he’s doing well in his new role, his boss promotes him, again and again until Joe is the big boss, the only guy who Joseph takes orders from his owner Potiphar, and Potiphar’s wife. Pretty sweet.

Then the wife looks at Joe, a “well-built and handsome” young man, and she thinks “I want a slice.” Since she is Joe’s owner, she says “Have sex with me” and then Joe says “No.”

She asks him again, and again he tells her “no” every single time. Like a good boy! Joe’s hitting the big leagues and he doesn’t want to mess things up.  Potiphar’s wife is not satisfied (punintented) and she wants revenge – hell hath no furry like a woman scorned. So one day when she’s in the house alone, she asks him, and he says no. Raging she grabs hold of his cloak and rips it off him, but he escapes her. She then tells her husband that Joe tried to rape her. Joe, goes to prison, lucky to be alive.

And God’s looking out for Joe, and he ends up the boss again – I mean come on, you can’t keep the Lord’s men down.

That’s really encouraging for me in a lot of ways –

Joe starts out as a flawed character, very flawed in fact. He is attention seeking, self obsessed, doesn’t think about other people’s feelings. The guy gets beaten down, his brothers sell him as a slave, He works hard, get back on top, and then this woman slanders him, and he’s sent to prison. Even in prison though, he’s working hard, showing signs of a greater calling. Even when he’s at the lowest ladder, he works is way up to the top rung of it.

The other encouraging thing is Joe’s new view on morality, he now clearly sees right and wrong, and steers clear of the wrong.

As somebody who has a messed up past in terms of doing wrong things, I’m right up there. I have hurt people, hurt myself and hurt God – I’ve done thing I’m not proud of, that I’m ashamed of. I’ve lied my arse off, I’ve cheated in relationships, I’ve cheated in tests. I’ve manipulated, irritated and frustrated people for my own amusement.

I’ve been a massive douche for a long time of my life, cold calculating and self interested.

Joseph changes. He becomes a new man, he has something to be proud of, everything he does is going right, when people slap him down he bounces right back up!

I wanna be like Joseph, I want to be productive, useful and able to effect changes that help people. I’ve read how Joseph changed, and if he did it, then I know I can do it, with God’s help all things are possible.

Now, this is where my opening paragraphs tie in. I’m looking at this realistically. There is no insta-cure for being a douche. There isn’t a “I’m going to be perfectly nice guy” pill I can pop and feel good about where I’m headed.

There is some hard work a head (starting with the revision I’m putting off). Working with God, my church and in my relationships, with other people I can make progress.

I can know I am not doomed to repeat my failures forever. I’ll get better.

I’ll find new failings in my life, and then God willing, I’ll knock those sons-of-lady-dogs right of the park.

We can all change, get better and make progress in our life –

Titus 2:11-12

New International Version (NIV)

“11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,”

Learning to live a self-controlled upright and godly life in this present age isn’t going to be easy, but at least the method isn’t a mystery.

Thanks for reading.