Is there a 'solution' to life?

Posts tagged ‘spirituality’

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.”


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…)

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, ( 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…)

Snap shot: Me and Gideon

Gideon is one of my favourite biblical Characters, for one reason. Self-obsession, not that Gideon was self obsessed. More like I see a lot of Gideon in myself.

Connection 1 – Names

Now according to Wikipedia, Gideon means “Mighty warrior” and The word is derived from the Greek: Ανδρέας, Andreas, itself related to Ancient Greek: ἀνήρ/ἀνδρός aner/andros, “man” (as opposed to “woman”), thus meaning “manly” and, as consequence, “strong”, “courageous”, and “warrior”.

Warrior and mighty warrior bah duuuuuhhhhhhh.

Connection 2 – Family


A long time coming – What is it meant to be?

Since I last blogged, months ago, I’ve been inspired to blog many times since I last did but…


I’ve been lazy, de-motivated and lacking in passion! I wrote about passion “not long ago” by which I mean in my last few blogs, and not in the last few weeks. I was inspired to write again while listening to a talk about fathers, working from the parable of the lost son.


The message was not, I feel aimed at myself. I am blessed with a loving and caring father. One who has always had my best interests at heart, and provided for me. Truly blessed. The talk tonight was about how wonderful our heavenly father, Abba-God, is perfect, loving kind and caring, that even though our earthly dads might not have been the best, He is.


Saying that, the whole session was fantastic. There was a real tangible presence of God! It was real, a tingling sensation that ran up from my toes across the rest of my body over 15-20 seconds. It was a little weird, but remarkably cool, which is a good summation of my experience of God.


While the speaker was speaking, I drifted in and out of my own thoughts, which is to say, I got distracted. I thought about methods of speaking, and really got on to thinking about structuring and archetypes of sermons and this kind of talk.


I reckon there are a few main types of sermons

One-offs, Series sermons like going through the book of Genesis, starting with an overview and set up sermon, main feature sermons, and then summary sermon.


As we were being spoken to I was trying to work out what kind of talk/sermon this was. It was certainly a one off, and some-what standard – not in style and delivery, which are always unique to the speaker, but in message and passage. The parable of the lost son is trotted out to do it’s rounds regularly. It’s like that favourite sermon that gets dusted off every now-and-again in order to fill a blank space.


This frustrates me. However this parable is for another time, and another post.


So, what, in my opinion is the point of talks and sermons? What are speakers (and writers!) aiming to do?

The purpose is to teach and inform people of new things about God, to reveal new insights into how He works, and other such mysteries. In it’s very essence it is a lesson, every lesson needs a plan, a setting, a start, middle and end. Sometimes the lesson is extended into a series, and so gets a whole sermon to set the scene and introduce the lesson, and a whole sermon to wrap it up and boil it down into a distilled, powerful form that you can remember and apply to your life.


Each sermon/talk/blog needs to have a lesson – take the lost son parable, you can focus on how amazing the representation of God is, a Father who loves and cares passionately for us.


The talk then needs to introduce that, set the scene – maybe modernise it, set out the original scene. Draw the audience in (I like to really get across how good a story teller Jesus really was!). Once the scene has been set, the passage introduced the point you are making needs to be established – God is a loving and caring father.

Then I would have gone in on to talk about how our actual parents don’t live up to God’s standards, as was said in the talk tonight, we can get parents who are absent (not there), passive (not interested), performance based (not accepting), authoritarian (not forgiving) and abusing (not loving).

From there I would have countered each one of those points by quoting a Bible verse that shows that God is there and listening, that God is interested and passionate, that God is accepting and encouraging, that God is forgiving and merciful, that God is loving, desperately loving us.


That God could and can do nothing but love us and do what is best for us! That’s a summery of how I would do it.


I would summarise in a prayer, thanking God for the way He loves us, He is the perfect Father, etc. etc. (Tsp). Then catchphrase (AKA the blessing in a church service) and done.


So in short, a sermon/talk/blog should be concise, have a clear and understandable message, be easy to summarise in a sentence or two. Along with actually teaching something new, or presenting an “old” idea in a new way/style/ from a new perspective.


I hope this is of some use, that you now understand the process than I pretend to stick to, and that if you ever have to speak in public or write to somebody then this comes in handy (even as a how not to do)! Life is not a mystery, life is following in your Father’s footsteps.