Monthly Archives: April 2009

The Most Dangerous Word

(page 68)

Frogs in the kitchen, on the royal salad, in the royal cereal; frogs in the garage, crunching under the wheels of the royal chariot.  I would be very careful before using the royal bathroom.

The frogs are out of control.  Ken Davis puts it like this:

Pharaoh can’t even back his chariot out of the garage without killing a hundred frogs,  His pizza is covered with frogs.  If his home is anything like mine, his wife and oldest daughter have been standing on chairs screaming every since the plague began.  His youngest daughter is running out of jar in which to collect and accidentally suffocate them.  Frogs are everywhere.

(And guess what Pharaoh’s magicians do to show their powers?  Make more frogs!)

Egypt has a big problem, here.

It is frogs.  But it has an even bigger problem.

A guy at the top who doesn’t like admitting when he’s wrong.  A man used to getting his own way.  A man that even when he makes mistakes, a thousand people tell him it was the other guy who messed up.

So Moses goes back to Pharaoh.  Pharaoh asks Moses to say a frog-removal prayer.

Pharaoh wants the outward problem to be fixed.

Be Moses points deeper and he says, with exaggerated courtesy
“I leave to you the honour of setting the time for me to pray… that you and your house may be rid of the frogs.”

And Pharaoh answers in a single word “Tomorrow”

Because there is something to sore for Pharaoh in realising that his arrogance and inflexibility and insistence on being in charge have created this mess
In looking slightly less powerful in front of his people
In recognising that there is a greater power in the world than Pharaoh

Pharaoh has chariot and armies
God raises dead men

Pharaoh has been wielding power for the past twenty years
God is the God of Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob.

And just a little part of Pharaoh has to die when he relies on Moses
And despite the frogs on the pizza, and the frogs under the chariot and all the loss of sleep and diet he says “tomorrow.”

 

What’s Left

A centre point of Cohen’s analysis is the Iraq war, where the left sided with Saddam against America, even though Saddam’s regime was a fascist, totalitarian dictatorship.  He talks much about the experience of Kana Makiya, an Iraqi dissident, whose opposition to Saddam became an embarrassment to his friends in the West after the First Gulf War.

Cohen draws out a number of elements of the leftist malaise

·          The conviction that everything is worth less than the cause.  This resulted in the crushing of dissent within leftist groups, and power being concentrated the hands of brutish tyrants.  Much is made of the activities of Gerry Healy and the Workers Revolutionary Party (supported by Corin and Vanessa Redgrave).  Dostoyevsky said that revolutionaries were attracted to causes which gave them the “right to dishonour” under the cover of high-sounding ideals.  George Monbiot once a moment of “horrible clarity” when he was struck by that “none of our alternatives could be applied universally without totalitarianism”.  If we say that we abhor totalitarianism, can we also call ourselves anti-capitalists (page 120)

·          The obsessive need to hate liberal democracy and in particular America.  Everything, under leftist analysis, had to be worse than America.  This is something that shows up in the writings of Noam Chomsky.


·          A moral relativism which refuses to condemn foreign atrocities of fear of being imperialist.  Foucault gets particularly stick here (p 107) for his endorsement of the Iranian revolution as something which could unseat capitalism.

·          The pathological need to object to all power, even when people are coming from a better place than raw capitalism.  This shows in the way that the left always turns on itself – the idealists against the pragmatists, the pure revolutionaries versus the politicians of the left who actually try to effect change.  I note Naomi Klein’s on disillusionment with Obama as symptomatic of this malaise.  To the people who spout this stuff not know how they play into the hands of big interest and greed.  I am also reminded of the pragmatist Denis Healey’s comment on the ministerial legacy of the idealist Tony Benn “”There were only two monuments to Benn in power, he said, a Uranium mine in Namibia which he had authorised as energy secretary  which helped support apartheid, and Concorde, used by rich people on expense accounts and subsidised by poor tax payers.  The only planning agreement actually existing when he left office was the old Farm Price Review “chaired in my time by the Duke of Northumberland” (From Andrew Marr in a History of Modern Britain, page 353)

·          A desire to hide under obscure language.  Here is the hoax of perpetrated by Alan Sokal on the post-modern journal “Social Text”.  It was deliberate piece of nonsense, stringing together the most bizarre of theorists’ claims (including Luce Irigaray denouncing E=mc2 as sexist and privileging the speed of light over other more feminine speeds).  However the magazine hailed his piece as part of the necessary work of uncovering the racists and sexist assumptions built into the Euro-American Scientific Method.  Cohen talks of “a free-floathing, gutless state of frantic evasiveness that preferred to twist and temporize rather than take a stand which required a commitment to defend.” (p.107)

·          The hatred of the liberal intelligentsia for the working masses.  Their hatred shows up in the way that Reagan and Thatcher understood working people far better than their supposed champions.  The left-wing elite despised the uneducated proletariat for failing to read the liberative script that their self-anointed champions had written for them.  In 1963, Michael Frayn (p.183) described

The radical middle-classes, the do-gooders; the readers of the News Chronicle, the Guardian, and the Observer; the signers of petitions; the backbone of the BBC.  In short, the Herbivores or the gentle ruminants who look out fro the lush pastures which are their natural situation in life with eyes full of sorrow for less fortunate creatures, guiltily conscious of their advantages, though not usually ceasing to eat the grass.

·          A refusal to intervene in foreign policy.  Here it is that Cohen’s appetite for military intervention jars most profoundly.  However he does uncover the left’s unwillingness to believe in Serbia’s sponsorship of the massacre of Bosnians, gelled with John Major’s governments refusal to intervene in the Balkans.  To the left’s cry that “when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”, the right responded “when you don’t have a hammer, a nail doesn’t look like a nail.”

·          That an abandonment of the canon of literature (p. 207) took away from men and women anxious to improve a means of knowing where the ladder was.  Fifty years ago one would read Shakespeare.  Now the elite anxiously reinvents itself.  What is avant-garde, progressive, post-modern, new wave can never be the same.  There is an ever shifting set of rules, and only the rule-makers get to know what the new ones are.

A few ideas come out of reading this sorry tale:

·          The dangers of believing too strongly in your own virtue

·          The dangers of believing in an ideal over and above the demands of faith and humanity

·          The dangers of failing to take seriously human frailty, greed and impulsive stupidity.

I read on in the hope of some sort of alternative, or do we just play around the edges of capitalism.  Is there a better idea which can enable the structures which dehumanise to be weakened, and for people to live to their potential in safe communities, where there is economic fairness.

I know that we have to wait for the kingdom of heaven, but can we do something better now than simply decry the powerful, or shrug our shoulders and go with the consumerist flow.

Unshaven Christianity

A braveheart sword for goodness, sake.  When a grown man is waving one of them about the room on his birthday, there has to something out of perspective.

However, I have really enjoyed the quotes, and so have the folks on the web given the hit count.  Here’s one that made me think of the permanently embattled Roy Keane, about whom Philip Cornwall says

Keane would surely have won a shed load as a player in the old days and, if the chance to manage serious contenders never arrives, he may never reconcile himself to the fact that football has changed. There are plenty of pictures of Roy Keane smiling as player, but you have to doubt whether the game he loves has ever made him truly happy.

 

Eldredge writes this on page 149, and it’s also in part 5 of the quotes.

What is this enemy that the Scripture calls, “the world”? Is it drinking and dancing and smoking?  Is it going to the movies or playing cards?  That is a shallow and ridiculous approach to holiness.  It numbs us to the fact that good and evil are much more serious.  The scriptures never prohibit drinking alcohol, only drunkenness; dancing was a vital part of King David’s life; and while there are some godly movies out there, there are also some ungodly churches.  No, “the world” is not a place or a set of behaviours – it is any system built by our collective sin, all our false selves coming together to reward and destroy each other.

The world is a carnival of counterfeits – counterfeit battles, counterfeit adventures, counterfeit beauties. 


Men should think of it as a corruption of their strength.  Battle your way to the top, says the world and you are a man.  Why is it then that the men who get there are often the emptiest, most frightened, prideful posers around?

 

Wild At Heart -Part Five

Forgiving our fathers

  Key Words Forgive Father Feeling Will Parent Forgiveness
  Source Wild At Heart
  Source Author Eldredge, John
  Location 131
  Quote Time has come for us to forgive our fathers. Paul warns us that unforgiveness and bitterness can wreck our lives and the lives of others (Eph 4:31, Heb 12:15). I am sorry to think of all the years my wife endured the anger and bitterness that I redirected at her from my father. As someone has said, forgiveness is setting a prisoner free and discovering that the prisoner was you. I found some help in Bly’s experience of forgiving his own father, when he said “I began to think of him not as someone who had deprived me of love or attention or companionship, but as someone who himself had been deprived, by his father and his mother and by the culture.” My father had his own wound that no one ever offered to heal. His fathe was an alcoholic, too, for a time, and there were some hard years for my dad as a young man just as there were for me.

Now you must understand. Forgiveness is a choice. It is not a feeling but an act of the will. As Neil Anderson has written, “Don’t wait to forgive until you feel like forgiving; you will never get there. Feelings take time to heal after the choice to forgive is made.” We allow God to bring the hurt up from our past, for “if you forgiveness doesn’t visit the emotional core of your life, it will be incomplete.” We acknowledge that it hurt, that it mattered, and we choose to extend forgiveness to our father. This is not saying, “It didn’t really matter”, it is not saying “I probably deserved part of it anyway”. Forgiveness says “It was wrong, it mattered and I release you.”

     
  References Forgiveness and bitterness (Ephesians 4:31)
Forgiveness and bitterness (Hebrews 12:15)

Sacred journey

  Key Words Vulnerability Strength
  Source Wild At Heart
  Source Author Eldredge, John
  Location 137
  Quote From Buechner:

To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do – to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst – is, by the very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures life also against being opened up and transformed.

Fighting the enemy

  Key Words Conflict Fight Strength
  Source Wild At Heart
  Source Author Eldredge, John
  Location 139
  Quote Enemy occupied territory – that is what the world is. – C.S. Lewis

If we would endeavour, like men of courage to stand in the battle, surely we would feel the favourable assistance of God from Heaven. For he who giveth us occasion to fight, to the end we may get the victory, is ready to succor those that fight manfully, and do trust in his grace. – Thomas A Kempis

Fighting with a higher purpose

  Key Words Conflict Cause Protest Battle
  Source Wild At Heart
  Source Author Eldredge, John
  Location 142
  Quote Talks about the importance of fighting for a higher cause:

“I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial” – Churchill

Comments on a friend who would love to be William Wallace at Falkirk Bridge in battle, but that he feels like the guy in the back row. That is a lie of the enemy, who is always there to accuse, comments Eldredge

Bly says
“The quality of a true warrior, is that he is in service to a purpose greater than himself, that is, to a transcendent cause”

The dream of the lion

  Key Words Strength Courage Vocation Image Self
  Source Wild At Heart
  Source Author Eldredge, John
  Location 148
  Quote Tells the story from Healing the Masculine Soul by Gordon Dalbey. It tells the story of a man who was haunted by a recurring dream of a lion which was chasing him. One day the man was guided by his pastor to revisit the dream in prayer:

As they prayed, [the pastor] on impulse invited the man to recall the dream even in all its fear. Hesitantly, the man agreed, and soon reported the aindeed, the lion was in sight and headed his way. [The pastor] then instructed the man, “When the lion comes close to you, try not to run away, but instead, stand there and ask him who or what he is, and what he’s doing in your life… Can you try that?” Shifting uneasily in his chair, the man agreed, then preported what was happening: “The lion is snorting and shaking his head, standing right there in front of me… I ask him who he is… And – Oh I can’t belive what he’s saying! He says, “I’m your courage and your strength. Why are you running away from me?”

The weight of you who you are

  Key Words Glory Weight Heaviness Image
  Source Wild At Heart
  Source Author Eldredge, John
  Location 149
  Quote From a friend called Brent:

Let people feel the weight of who you are and let them deal with it.

Dealing with the world

  Key Words World Sin Culture Temptation
  Source Wild At Heart
  Source Author Eldredge, John
  Location 149
  Quote What is this enemy that the Scripture calls, “the world”? Is it drinking and dancing and smoking? Is it going to the movies or playing cards? That is a shallow and ridiculous approach to holiness. It numbs us to the fact that good and evil are much more serious. The scriptures never prohibit drinking alcohol, only drunkenness; dancing was a vital part of King David’s life; and while there are some godly movies out there, there are also some ungodly churches. No, “the world” is not a place or a set of behaviours – it is any system built by our collective sin, all our false selves coming together to reward and destroy each other.

The world is a carnival of counterfeits – counterfeit battles, counterfeit adventures, counterfeit beauties. Men should think of it as a corruption of their strength. Battle your way to the top, says the world and you are a man. Why is it then that the men who get there are often the emptiest, most frightened, prideful posers around?

Freedom In Christ – It was great

This session could take 5-6 hours and is bold in its thoroughness, and willingness to devote time to individual lives.  Several Church leaders spoke of having had 100s of these appointments with people – you can think of few better uses of our time, and makes you question some of the things we get sucked into.

  • A “theology of resolution rather than coping” – that people can have the power now to deal with biggest sources of sadness in their lives, rather than find mechanisms which avoid the problem.  That we have power to live lives which are away from habits of breakdown, anger and addiction.
  • A strategy of enablement – if people are struggling with things “they should pray”, it is not our job to do the Christian bit on other people’s behalf.
  • I’ll hopefully post a few more notes soon.

    Light and Skin And Soul


    Light and Skin And Soul

    Ephesians 5 –

    This Rob Bell in expositional mode.  It’s brilliant that when the rest of us skim over the surface, Bell dares to go deep and finds some serious treasure when he’s down there.

    It’s also interesting to note here that Paul writes to his Chruches as if they are Christians, he demands much of them, he describes what is shocking amongst them because they are Christians, they are light, and darkness will not do, it is identity conflict of the worst order.  He doesn’t doubt their salvation, he assumes that they have “heard about Christ and were taught in him.”

    1- 5 mins Bell had greeted those in “Europe doing the dishes” and had heard back from someone who was doing exactly that.

    5-9 mins The role of light in the passage and link with Epiphany.

    9:30-14 mins The effect of the Artemis cult in Ephesus – this is a world which sexually was flying seriously upside down.

    15 mins A break down of the terms in Ephesians 5.

    V3, 5 – Sexual Immorality (Porneia) when flesh becomes product – the origin being that a word relating to the objects which are transported through a port, becomes used for prostitution.

    Uncleanness – this which is good, turned bad.

    Covetousness – the kick that never gives enough, you want to escape but the hit never satisfies.

    “everything gets held at a distance, nothing is embrace in the purity and innocence of love.”

    Filthiness – obscenity, that which you would not like to be found out about

    Foolish talk – when we damn the whole person (where the word moron comes from)

    Crude joking – everything is twisted, the sexual dimension is always found.

    24 mins inheritance

    27 mins wrath explained, this is not God wanting to get the cosmos and spank it.  Rather this is desire mixed with grief.

    29 mins disobedience.

    30 mins You are light – a high vision of humanity which is shared with Psalm 8.

    Talks about the fence at the local video store where people can go in and not get seen.  This is a metaphor for a society which has too much hiddeness.

    NG adds –

    We parade our virtue, and hide our shame

    Rather it should be the other way, we should be honest about our failings, and be coy about our virtue.

    For God sees both.  If God sees the vice then we will be less inclined to commit what is filthy.  If God sees the virtue then we are less desirous of letting others know.

    The Second Great Miracle


    The Great Miracle

    Acts 4:32-37 – 19th April 2009 – First after Easter

     Today I want to talk about the Second Great Miracle of Easter

     

    The Church has been founded on two miracles

    The first was that Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead

    The second is that people of the Church have managed to get on with one another.

     

    There are other miracles in there

     

    There is walking on water

    There is turning water into wine

    There are healings.

     

    There are still things like that today

    Many healings

    Other miracles of provision – cheques arriving in time, of special knowledge, of prayers being answered, people having miraculous escapes

     

    But by themselves these are simply something spectacular

    They do not change lives.

     

    It is these two great miracles- the death and resurrection

    And the Holy Spirit enabling the people of the Church to get on with each other

    These are the great miracles that we are founded on.

     

    It is this great miracle

    That a group of people with all their prejudices

    All their vanity

    All their ambition which wants their ideas, their agenda to be pushed

    With all the selfish and arrogant thoughts that rage through every human heart

     

    All of that has somehow been transformed

    And people that ought not

    Have found it within themselves to love each other.

     

    That is our great miracle – us.

    Miracle In Jerusalem

     

    Now after Jesus has risen from the dead, it might have been kind of handy if God had said

    “Now Jesus, don’t just stay on earth for 40 days,

    How about 400 years, and anyone who doubts you

    Can come down to Jerusalem and see this man who has been alive all this time

    And then they will believe in you

    And it will be really easy, because everyone will not need to have doubt any more

    Because there is a guy who has been living for 400 years.”

     

    Philip Yancey had said that if Jesus was an American he would have been marketing his resurrection on the streets of Jerusalem, he would have turned up on Pilate’s porch on Easter Monday “Remember me, I’m back.”

     

    But that is not the way that God does things

    After 40 days, Jesus ascends to heaven, and God relies not on people seeing the first miracle – the resurrection

    But the second miracle, difficult people getting on with each other.

     

    When people fall out with the Church, they don’t complain about no walking on water

    They don’t walk out the door and say “I’ve been coming to that Church for twenty years and not once has water been turned into wine.”

    No, when people leave Churches they say “That lot up there, they say that they love, but they don’t”

    “They pretend that what they stand for is forgiveness, but they are just the same as everybody else.”

     

    But when it works, somehow God enables the people of the Church not to be same any more.

     

    We are in the season of Easter, which celebrates God pouring out his power onto the planet.

    Drenches the planet

    God blows on planet.

    That’s what Spirit means

    God blowing.

     

    And what happens

    Dead people are raised

    And living people are able to get along with one another.

     

    That’s the incredible miracle

    That’s our trademark.

     

    Dead people raised

    Living people made slightly less annoying.

     

    That’s a huge miracle.

     

    We are a difficult bunch

    If it needs the whole power of God to get along, but that’s what happens.

     

    So what are the features of this life (vv32-37)

    • One heart and soul
    • No one claimed private ownership of their belongings
    • Great power they proclaimed the resurrection
    • Great grace was upon them all
    • People sold possessions and no one was in need

    Pride and Sin

    Someone has said that what wrecks us as people is sin, and that the biggest sin is pride.  Both those words have “I” in the middle.  The biggest damage happens when “I” dominates the middle.  Rather it is to be one with our fellow humans.

     

    What the Holy Spirit does with the Church is take the “I” out of the centre

    And instead we have one heart and soul, and togetherness

    The second miracle.

     

    And yet the greatest moments in art, in sport, happen when there is less “I” and people submit to something bigger than themselves.

     

    If you were to ask people what is the greatest achievement that Britain managed last century, what was it – it was the defeat probably of the Germans in the Second World War, and then from that to build a fairer society.

    Who did that – Churchill, Attlee, Montgomery – or countless individuals whose name we will never know.

     

    Or in sport – I would argue that the greatest moment in sport happened in the 1970 World Cup final when Brazil beat Italy.  And that was about a team.

     

    The highest points of human achievement are when we come together.

    Sunderland

    I have at home a database of various articles and quotes which I read.  I can type in a topic name and they all come up for me.  I am in the middle of putting the whole thing onto the web, so you can catch it there.

     

    However, I was stunned when I typed in the word “Community” this week, and the fourth article out of 22 that came up was entitled “Sunderland”

     

    I was flabbergasted that I had no memory of it being there, and that it should come up the week we have the best representation of the city of Sunderland.

     

    Highs and lows, but the fans stay faithful

    · Sunderland Football Club was founded by James Allen in 1879 and its first home was at Blue House Field in the Hendon area of the city

    · Sunderland left their most famous home, Roker Park, in 1997. The Stadium of Light is the club’s seventh home

    · Arguably Sunderland’s finest moment was in 1973. New manager Bob Stokoe led them to a 1-0 FA Cup final victory against cup holders Leeds, the first time a second division team had won the Cup for 40 years. The match is remembered for Ian Porterfield’s goal and Jim Montgomery’s double save

    · The FA Premier League Fan Survey 2001 revealed that just 25% of Sunder-land fans earn more than £30,000 a year, while at Chelsea only 38% of season ticket fans earned below this threshold

    · In the same survey 77% of Sunderland season ticket holders typically bought a new club replica shirt, the highest number nationwide

    · Famous faces on the terraces include Tim Rice, Steve Cram, Kate Adie, Alan Price, marathon runner Khaled Khannouchi, Lord Puttnam, Gina McKee and Dave Stewart

    · Sunderland was once the biggest shipbuilding port in the world, the last yard closing in 1988. The shutdown of the last coalmine at Wearmouth in 1994 brought an end to the traditional industries in the region

    · Sunderland was granted city status in 1992

    With the disappearance of coal and shipbuilding, Sunderland FC is one of only three PLCs left on Wearside, with a physical presence which belies its financial standing. The 49,000-capacity Stadium of Light, high above the river, dominates the city. Four permanent gas flames outside the main stand illuminate the night sky.

    Built on the site of a big undersea colliery, which closed in 1993, it is dedicated to the working people of the area with a plaque, beside a big colliery wheel, proudly evoking the club’s roots: “Sunderland is a club for all … we have a unique vision of the future but we will never forget our past.”

     

    Underneath it says

    “Our unique vision is to see ourselves stay in the Premier League and to see an Alan Shearer led Newcastle get relegated.”

    That is the second great miracle.

     

    So what do we ask, at the heart of our Church life,

    We ask for unity, for divided we fall.

     

    And so I ask is there is anyone here with whom you are at odds.

    Then do your best, “As much as it depends on you” to make things right

    Ask “Is there something we need to talk about.”

    If you have huge reservoirs of hurt, or anger, then these things need brought to God

    If you feel you have been forgotten, if you can’t be bothered any more, if someone said something and you think there may have been an edge to it, or a claim of superiority.

     

    The we need the great power of the Holy Spirit

    We need the Second Great Miracle

     

    We need one heart, one mind.

    Money

    The disciples had found another economy.

     

    It involved people first of all saying “none of this is mine.”

    Somehow letting go of what belonged to them.

     

    Some of the great movements of Church history happened when people did exactly that.

    Right back to Jesus who told people not to take a purse.

     

    Of the early Christians, they did not cling to wealth.

     

    Or the people of St. Francis or St. Anthony of the Desert who sold all they had.

    Later on it would be people on Iona having the same amount

    Or someone like C.T.Studd the missionary who gave away his possessions;

    You see we are rather afraid – notwithstanding the great early safety of Messrs Coutts and Co. and the Bank of England – we are, I say, rather afraid that they may both break on the Judgement Day. And this step has been taken not without most definite reference to God’s word and the command of the Lord Jesus who said “Sell that ye have and give alms. Make for yourselves purses that wax not old.” He also said “If you love me, keep my commandments” And again “He that saith I know him and keepeth not his commandments is a liar.”

     

    Let us spend a moment to simply consider that nothing is ours.  It has been loaned by God. 

    So think of your home – it is not yours, it is loaned from God

    So think of your favourite gadget – it is not yours, it is loaned from God

    Think of your property – it is not yours, it is loaned from God

     

    How does that make you feel, that kind of an exercise,

    Is there not something quite freeing, quite liberating about that.

     

    Whenever people who have money see money being given away, they see it as a madness, because they have been trapped into thinking that their survival depends on more.

     

    This crisis is a chance to change.

    I was talking to a minister from Ruchhill about this on Thursday.

    He was saying that when things are strong, there is never change – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

    But if something is fragile, then there is the chance to change.

     

    How do we get out of this economic mess – do we spend, do we go back to the same drug that got us into this mess.

    Or do we find a different way.

     

    I have time and again talked about the Logan Tower washing machine as saying something very important to our community.

    About finding ways of sharing things.

     

    You can’t just say to folk, you can use my stuff whenever you want because it does get broken

    Nor can it be kept just for you.

     

    There has to be ways of giving stuff away,

    Of eBaying

    Of not buying things that we do not need

     

    And of giving away.

     

    Last year our congregation gave almost £73,000.

    We have to keep ways of our sacrificial giving.

     

    The Jesus community always says money is not good or bad, it’s not something that we’re going to be embarrassed with, but how we spend it we’ll be playing by different rules.

    The Congregation Witnessed

    And then what the congregation did, and particularly the apostles did was they bore witness to the other great miracle, the resurrection of Jesus.

     

    It seems that the resurrection of Jesus can only be believed from within the confines of a miraculous community.

     

    If we can be a good community, if we can love, if we can share

    If we can find ways of getting on top of this money thing

     

    Then we become a place where the resurrection can be preached, preached like people believe.

     

    This is what a yearn for

     

    A community where the resurrection is believable

    So that this must be a community which is at one.

     

    Did you know that there is a link between

    Burying a grudge

    Giving away offering

    And making the resurrection believable

     

    Believing the First Great Miracle, depends on people seeing the Second

    The Presence of Grace

    And there is a fourth ingredient – the gift of grace.

     

    Grace here is not gone into details about.

     

    It could be that people have a power given to them that allows them to conquer an addiction

    It could be something in their head, that enables them to no longer be guilty about their past

    It could be that someone who moves through a constant cycle of temporary, broken relationships has the power to commit and stay still

    It could be that someone who  has prayed for a special person to come into their life has that prayer answered

    It could be that someone who has not had that special person, has the grace to be happy being single

    It could be that someone discovers that they are not frightened any more

     

    This miracle happens in this community

    They are one

    They count their possessions not as their own

    The share their money

    The witness to the resurrection

    And they receive grace

     

    And that is the miracle that God chooses so people believe.

    This miracle repeated

    This miracle has been repeated time and again in the Church’s history.

     

    Very few of have seen the First Great Miracle

    But the Church has ensured that people have seen the Second.

     

    And we got it in the Church in which one of the leaders is a wealthy Jewish landowner who sold his property

    Another is a black African,

    Another is a man from north Africa

    And another is a guy from Syria, who has been implicated in judicial executions

    And in this diverse mix, we first received the name Christian

     

    It happened in the earliest years of the Church

    I love some of the quotes from the early Church, about living differently – that Church that was persecuted, that left very few records, but somehow managed to grow from about 25,000 in AD100 to about 20,000,000 people.

     

    One of the Church’s opponents, the Emperor Julian, complained

    “They don’t just feed their own poor, they feed ours as well”

     

    A lawyer called Minutius Felix complained

    Because they love one another before they even know one another, they practise a cult of lust calling one another brother and sister indiscriminately. Minutius – Felix.

     

    And then the miracle got to him, and he stopped attacking the Christians and became one of the them.

     

    There is a Church called Richmond Craigmillar in Edinburgh which works with bereaved children

    There is a community called 174 which runs out of a converted Church in Belfast

    There was the old Iona Community which did the job of brining ministers to work alongside carpenters in the building of the Abbey at Iona,

     

    This is not a miracle that people make for themselves,

    It happens when God is trusted,

    When the resurrection is believed

    And the Holy Spirit which yearns to hold people in the bond of peace

    Is allowed to work in human hearts.

     

    I want to close with the story of Ernest Gordon.

     

    Ernest Gordon was a Scot, a naval officer who found himself sailing around Singapore in 1942.  This was not a good place to be in 1942 and he was captured by the Japanese.

    Ernest Gordon was put into a prison camp, it turned out to be one of the worst prison camps that the Japanese had.

    The Japanese were trying to build a railroad, so they could invade India,

    And it meant building a railway through Thailand, and Burma, and meant going through this terrible swamp, which had these terrible diseases.

    And so they flooded this swamp with prisoners, because it was dirty hard labour.

    Ernest Gordon estimated that 80,000 men died in the building of that railway, 393 men per mile.

    He was an officer, and was not meant to be used for manual labour, but they had not signed the Geneva convention, the Japanese, so he was made to work.  He caught malaria and dyptheria, and dyssentria.

    The dyptheria was so bad that it burned away the back of his throat.  When he tried to eat rice it would come back up his nose, his legs were paralysed,  so they took him down to the death hut, where they lined up men who had only a few days to live, head to toe in this area.  Several hundred men were in the area, waiting to die.

    At this time, something very strange happened in the camp.

    The healthier soldiers and sailors went out to dig, and every day they would come back in to the camp, and they would counted back, and all the spades that they had used, they too would be counted back.

    You did not want an unaccounted shovel in a prison camp.

    On this day, there were only nine shovels, when there should have 10 shovels.

    The officer started shouting at the men, but the men said nothing.

    If you don’t tell me who stole this shovel, I will kill everyone of you.

    He cocked his rifle and pointed it the first man in the line.  At this, another officer stepped forward and said “it was me who stole the shovel.”  At this the guard went berserk and took his rifle butt and hit him with the butt, and he stabbed him with his bayonet, and kicked him, long after he had died.

    Then the men went back to the camp, and they found the missing shovel.  This officer hadn’t taken the shovel at all, he had given his life to safe that first man, and possibly more of them.

    That night the men were talking and one of the soldiers said, “I remember this verse from Sunday School, greater love have no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

    And the Japanese have won, because we have become like animals.  If there is a gristly piece of meat floating in the soup, then we all fight to take it,  so that you don’t get it.  It’s beast against beast.  We’re not like that, we can’t let them win.  We have got to change.

    So they said, “There’s a chap here who has studied philosophy at Cambridge University, perhaps we should appoint him chaplain.  What’s his name?”

    “It’s Ernest Gordon”

    “Oh, I’m sorry he’s already in the death hut.”

    So they went down, and they found Ernest Gordon in the death hut, waiting to die, and they said to him “Is it true that you studied philosophy at Cambridge University”

    “Well, yes.”

    “Well we wondered if you would be our chaplain”

    “Well, I’m not sure if I really believe in God.”

    “Well, that’s okay but will you be our chaplain.”

    So they took him out of the death hut, and they built a special bamboo hut for him, and a Methodist and a Catholic came each day, and they massaged his legs, and they found ways to force food down him, and they brought him back to health.

    And in the meantime, as he is resurrected,  he starts reading the Bible from cover to cover, beginning at Genesis, and he becomes a believer.

    And the first thing he does is he says “We’ve got to have a proper chapel”

    So they build a chapel at the highest point at the swamp.

    And they say we’ve got to have a proper burial for each man who dies, because when they die we just throw them in a pit.  And when they die, we must give them a proper burial, because it has to be made known that when they leave they create a hole in this place, they leave a hole in the universe, they matter.

    And as he started doing these things, the whole moral of the camp changed.

    This was in the 1940s (when people did these things at school) and they discovered that there was a knowledge of nine different languages amongst the men in the camp: Greek, Hebrew, Latin, German, Russian, Spanish, French…

    And they started this camp university, and the men would go out and work in the railway, and then the would come back and study.  And they would take classes.  At first the Japanese thought this was crazy, and they were alarmed by it, but they saw that the men were happier and better workers.

    There was a soldier there who had served as the libriarian for the London Symphony Orchestra, and he had photographic memory, and he wrote out every note of every symphony by Beethoven and Schubert and most of Mozart, and they carved instruments out of bamboo and they had a prison orchestra and they started giving concerts and they had a theatre troop, and every one of these men said

    “We hope that this is not all that there is.

    “We hope that we do not spend the rest of our lives in this place which is like Dante’s inferno

    “I hope that I can get back to the heather covered hills of Scotland

    “I hope that I can get back to the parks of London

    “I hope that that’s where I spend the rest of my life

    But as long as I am here, I will act like a Scot, I will live like an Englishmen,

    I will live out by the values of my world, even in this hellhole.

    As it turned out, Ernest Gordon enjoyed being a chaplain, soon the allies came and liberated the camp.

    The prisoners pled for the lives of the guards who had so brutalised them – don’t kill them, don’t murder them, treat them justly.

    And Ernest Gordon came to America, he served there as chaplain until the year 2002 when he died.

    This is a good image of the Church.  We are called to live in the present, to live in the future, to live on earth as it would in heaven.

    God’s will will never be done in our lifetime, as it is in heaven.  But we are called to establish little pockets of the kingdom, even in the middle of a swamp, and to trust that one day we will be back in those places, in the park, on the hills.

     

    And it happened in Burma

    And it happened in Antioch

    And it happened in Jerusalem

    And it happens in Sunderland

    And by God’s grace, may it continue to happen here

     

    AMEN

    Making God Visible In Pollsmoor

    Yancey said to Joanna, “Forgive me Joanna, I’m a cynical journalist, I’m meant to ask these questions, but these guys are monsters, they’re rapists.  What happened, what really happened to change Pollsmoor prison.”

    “Well of course Philip, God was already present in Pollsmoor prison, we just had to make him visible.”

    God is already present.  God is already present.  And we just have to make him visible.

    A couple of years later we went back and took the Saltmine theatre group with us.  This was an even better audience that Greenbelt.  They stomped and cheered, they would have stayed there all day, we found out why later, they are locked in their cells for 23 hours out of 24, except for Church services.  This was a way of getting out of their cells.

    And after that service, Joanna said would we like to say where the men lived.

    There was a whole cell block devoted to Christian prisoners, and they had all signed up to a rather rigourous course of discipleship.  So they opened the door, and everyone almost passed out with the stench.  There were 49 men about the size of our living room, and 48 triple tier bunks, mattresses on the floor, no toilet, just a garbage bin that was emptied once a day, 49 men.

    We walked in and there was so little room, so that the actors could hardly move as they did a little sketch for the men.

    Joanne said, “Would you like to hear some of their stories.

    HI my name is Bruce, and I am in for murder.  I had my wife murdered.  I am serving three consecutive life sentences, so I’ll spend the rest of my life her.  In fact we are locked in 23 hours out of 24, so this is my home.  But I am so grateful that I am here, because it was here through Joanna and her husband that I met God.  And I want to be faithful, and I want to live the life of Jesus the rest of my days.

    “Hi my name is Antonio and I was in a gang rape of a 14 year old girl.  And I am in for life plus 38 years, and like my brother I will be in for the rest of my days, but I am so grateful that I am here, in this wing, because it was here that I met God.  I will spend the rest of my life trying to reconcile with the family that I wounded, with the girl that I hurt so badly.

    And as they were talking, we saw what was on the walls, and most of the walls had pornography and graffiti, but that was not on the wall of that cell.  On that cell was in beautiful calligraphy, praise songs.

    One of them “Soon and very soon we are going to see the king, no more crying there, no more dying there.”

    If you are in that place with 49 other guys, 23 hours out of 24, for the rest of your life, those words mean something to you.

    They are all you have.

    The next one said “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.”

    Joanna was right, years before she had said “God was already in Pollsmoor prison, and we just had to make him visible.”  And she had, and now God is visible in that hell hole, the fifth layer of that cell block, in a room with 49 men.

    That’s true not just for those men, not just for Joanna it’s true for us.

    We are called to broadcast the message, in a world which is barraged by a different message.

    Prayer is the means by which we are given the resources to do that, to make God visible.

     

    Grace On The Burmese Railway

    The dyptheria was so bad that it burned away the back of his throat.  When he tried to eat rice it would come back up his nose, his legs were paralysed,  so they took him down to the death hut, where they lined up men who had only a few days to live, head to toe in this area.  Several hundred men were in the area, waiting to die.

    At this time, something very strange happened in the camp.

    The healthier soldiers and sailors went out to dig, and every day they would come back in to the camp, and they would counted back, and all the spades that they had used, they too would be counted back.

    You did not want an unaccounted shovel in a prison camp.

    On this day, there were only nine shovels, when there should have 10 shovels.

    The officer started shouting at the men, but the men said nothing.

    If you don’t tell me who stole this shovel, I will kill everyone of you.

    He cocked his rifle and pointed it the first man in the line.  At this, another officer stepped forward and said “it was me who stole the shovel.”  At this the guard went berserk and took his rifle butt and hit him with the butt, and he stabbed him with his bayonet, and kicked him, long after he had died.

    Then the men went back to the camp, and they found the missing shovel.  This officer hadn’t taken the shovel at all, he had given his life to safe that first man, and possibly more of them.

    That night the men were talking and one of the soldiers said, “I remember this verse from Sunday School, greater love have no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

    And the Japanese have won, because we have become like animals.  If there is a gristly piece of meat floating in the soup, then we all fight to take it,  so that you don’t get it.  It’s beast against beast.  We’re not like that, we can’t let them win.  We have got to change.

    So they said, “There’s a chap here who has studied philosophy at Cambridge University, perhaps we should appoint him chaplain.  What’s his name?”

    “It’s Ernest Gordon”

    “Oh, I’m sorry he’s already in the death hut.”

    So they went down, and they found Ernest Gordon in the death hut, waiting to die, and they said to him “Is it true that you studied philosophy at Cambridge University”

    “Well, yes.”

    “Well we wondered if you would be our chaplain”

    “Well, I’m not sure if I really believe in God.”

    “Well, that’s okay but will you be our chaplain.”

    So they took him out of the death hut, and they built a special bamboo hut for him, and a Methodist and a Catholic came each day, and they massaged his legs, and they found ways to force food down him, and they brought him back to health.

    And in the meantime, as he is resurrected,  he starts reading the Bible from cover to cover, beginning at Genesis, and he becomes a believer.

    And the first thing he does is he says “We’ve got to have a proper chapel”

    So they build a chapel at the highest point at the swamp.

    And they say we’ve got to have a proper burial for each man who dies, because when they die we just throw them in a pit.  And when they die, we must give them a proper burial, because it has to be made known that when they leave they create a hole in this place, they leave a hole in the universe, they matter.

    And as he started doing these things, the whole moral of the camp changed.

    This was in the 1940s (when people did these things at school) and they discovered that there was a knowledge of nine different languages amongst the men in the camp: Greek, Hebrew, Latin, German, Russian, Spanish, French…

    And they started this camp university, and the men would go out and work in the railway, and then the would come back and study.  And they would take classes.  At first the Japanese thought this was crazy, and they were alarmed by it, but they saw that the men were happier and better workers.

    There was a soldier there who had served as the libriarian for the London Symphony Orchestra, and he had photographic memory, and he wrote out every note of every symphony by Beethoven and Schubert and most of Mozart, and they carved instruments out of bamboo and they had a prison orchestra and they started giving concerts and they had a theatre troop, and every one of these men said

    “We hope that this is not all that there is.

    “We hope that we do not spend the rest of our lives in this place which is like Dante’s inferno

    “I hope that I can get back to the heather covered hills of Scotland

    “I hope that I can get back to the parks of London

    “I hope that that’s where I spend the rest of my life

    But as long as I am here, I will act like a Scot, I will live like an Englishmen,

    I will live out by the values of my world, even in this hellhole.

    As it turned out, Ernest Gordon enjoyed being a chaplain, soon the allies came and liberated the camp.

    The prisoners pled for the lives of the guards who had so brutalised them – don’t kill them, don’t murder them, treat them justly.

    And Ernest Gordon came to America, he served there as chaplain until the year 2002 when he died.

    This is a good image of the Church.  We are called to live in the present, to live in the future, to live on earth as it would in heaven.

    God’s will will never be done in our lifetime, as it is in heaven.  But we are called to establish little pockets of the kingdom, even in the middle of a swamp, and to trust that one day we will be back in those places, in the park, on the hills.

     

     

    What Do I Do With My Doubts?

    Some of the things that make me question my faith is the Church.  He once thought about writing a book called “How my faith survived the Church.”  Someone responded to this by suggesting writing a book about Yancey “How the Church survived your faith.”

    There has been a history of lies that the Church has told, and Yancey grew up in a Church that told him lies: that people of colour were inferior, and they misrepresented the nature of God.

    There is a special place in God’s heart for people who didn’t get it: Jacob, Job, Thomas.

    6 mins Yancey went to a Christian college where he didn’t fit in, and when he speaks in Christian colleges he tries to address the 10% who don’t fit in.

    8 mins There is not a single argument against God, from the philosophers – Voltaire, Hume, Bernard Shaw, which is not the scriptures.  It impresses me about God, that he lets these things into the scriptures.  God not only gives us the freedom to reject him, but also includes the arguments we can use against him in sacred scripture.

    9mins 50 Sometimes faith gets harder rather than easier.  Most Christians, when they have been at it long enough, they go through this phase when they wonder if it is true.

    Things learned about doubt:

              sometimes the Christian life gets harder than easier.  Your prayers are more likely to be answered if you have been a Christian for 3 months rather than 3 years.

              There is a spiritual principle, which isn’t in the Bible, but which Yancey believes, and it goes like this “God is nicer to newcomers.” (10’26”)

    A friend did a research on the saints, and every one of them seemed to find it harder, the longer that they were at it.

    Look at the experience of Teresa, who privately hadn’t felt God’s presence in decades.

    Takes an illustration from Frank Schaeffer, who talks about some military missions which need the troops to undercover for months, without any resupply or contact with head quarters.

    John Claypole, who had a daughter who died of Leukaemia, and who wrote about Isaiah 40:31, which talks about rising up on wings, running, and then walking.  Claypole used to think that the order in this was wrong, but then realised that this is how things are in faith, that we begin by rising, and end up walking.

    Pilgrims Progress is a good illustration of the Christian life.  Christian always goes for the bad fork in the road, and Christian faith is about falling down, we all fall down, and it is about learning to get back up.

    There is an important thing though, that we need “stick-to-it-ness”

    Talk to the oldest person you know, and ask them the question “What is the most meaningful time in their life.”  They will probably mention a time of hardship and of struggle.

    Londoners talk about the most important time in their life, blitz.  These are the times that give meaning.  Marriages fall apart when people fall apart too soon.

    Ways to cope with doubt:

    1. 21 mins Keep Jesus at the centre.

    Talks about reading a very small Oxford English Dictionary and having to read it through a magnifying glass.  You only can read it if you keep a small area focussed in the middle of the lens.  You have to keep Jesus focussed, and at the middle of the lens.

    How did Jesus deal with pain – he cried, he moves to heal them

    Look at the answers to Jesus prayers:

              12 disciples, and look at who he got

              I pray that they may be one – 34,000 denominations in the world;

              Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven

              Let this cup be taken away from me.

    When we are flummoxed by our own unanswered prayers, we can take comfort from the fact that Jesus had the same experience

    Bishop Ramsay “In God there is no unchristlikeness at all”

    “If you want to know what God is like, then look at Jesus.”

    You need to point that magnifying glass at Jesus.  If your magnifying glass is not pointing at Jesus, then you need to clean it up.

    2. 27mins To find doubt companions.

    The Church is often not too good at this – if you have doubts then you might be looked down upon.

    The Church doesn’t seem to have nearly so much tolerance for doubters as God does.

    Find someone who will reward you for your doubts.

    Jesus was not resurrected as an American, he’s not a very good marketer.  He only appears to people that already believe in him.  He would be back on Pilates porch on the Monday morning, “Remember me.  I’m back”

    Jesus only goes to people who already believe.

    The experience of Thomas.  It is interesting that they do not keep Thomas out the room.  Church is a safe place for doubters.  They wouldn’t have let Thomas back in the room, if he had been part of the Church down the ages.  Church can sometimes be a safe place for those waiting for more light.

    It is also interesting with Thomas, that the only time that he is addressed as God is when Thomas does this.

    31 mins Acts as if it is true.

    Behavioural therapy; AA – act like a soberperson.

    Athletes the last thing I want to do is train, but I do it.

    Augustine on time – To live in the present, sometimes you have to live in the past.

    “Don’t forget in the darkness what you learned in the light.”

    Or look into the future, believe that there will be a future.

    Talked about praying through a book of prayers, a book of the hours.

    Talks about difference of experiencing grief if you loose a child – it still really hurts, but if you have a faith, there can be a hope that you will be a future.

    Think about heaven, 1 Corinthians 15, if we don’t believe in the resurrection, then there is really no reason to be a Christian.

    Unamono – had a deistic belief, that there would be no heaven, he met a peasant

    “This God you believe in, has not heaven”, “No”,said Unamuno

    “then what good is he” said the peasant.

    If this life is all there is, then God is not the God of the Bible

    He’s not a God of justice, not a God of fairness, because this world is not just, this world is not fair

    This God justifying himself.

    42 mins Ernest Gordon was a Scot, a naval officer who found himself sailing around Singapore in 1942.  This was not a good place to be in 1942 and he was captured by the Japanese.

    Ernest Gordon was put into a prison camp, it turned out to be one of the worst prison camps that the Japanese had.

    The Japanese were trying to build a railroad, so they could invade India,

    And it meant building a railway through Thailand, and Burma, and meant going through this terrible swamp, which had these terrible diseases.

    And so they flooded this swamp with prisoners, because it was dirty hard labour.

    Ernest Gordon estimated that 80,000 men died in the building of that railway, 393 men per mile.

    He was an officer, and was not meant to be used for manual labour, but they had not signed the Geneva convention, the Japanese, so he was made to work.  He caught malaria and dyptheria, and dyssentria.

    The dyptheria was so bad that it burned away the back of his throat.  When he tried to eat rice it would come back up his nose, his legs were paralysed,  so they took him down to the death hut, where they lined up men who had only a few days to live, head to toe in this area.  Several hundred men were in the area, waiting to die.

    At this time, something very strange happened in the camp.

    The healthier soldiers and sailors went out to dig, and every day they would come back in to the camp, and they would counted back, and all the spades that they had used, they too would be counted back.

    You did not want an unaccounted shovel in a prison camp.

    On this day, there were only nine shovels, when there should have 10 shovels.

    The officer started shouting at the men, but the men said nothing.

    If you don’t tell me who stole this shovel, I will kill everyone of you.

    He cocked his rifle and pointed it the first man in the line.  At this, another officer stepped forward and said “it was me who stole the shovel.”  At this the guard went berserk and took his rifle butt and hit him with the butt, and he stabbed him with his bayonet, and kicked him, long after he had died.

    Then the men went back to the camp, and they found the missing shovel.  This officer hadn’t taken the shovel at all, he had given his life to safe that first man, and possibly more of them.

    That night the men were talking and one of the soldiers said, “I remember this verse from Sunday School, greater love have no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

    And the Japanese have won, because we have become like animals.  If there is a gristly piece of meat floating in the soup, then we all fight to take it,  so that you don’t get it.  It’s beast against beast.  We’re not like that, we can’t let them win.  We have got to change.

    So they said, “There’s a chap here who has studied philosophy at Cambridge University, perhaps we should appoint him chaplain.  What’s his name?”

    “It’s Ernest Gordon”

    “Oh, I’m sorry he’s already in the death hut.”

    So they went down, and they found Ernest Gordon in the death hut, waiting to die, and they said to him “Is it true that you studied philosophy at Cambridge University”

    “Well, yes.”

    “Well we wondered if you would be our chaplain”

    “Well, I’m not sure if I really believe in God.”

    “Well, that’s okay but will you be our chaplain.”

    So they took him out of the death hut, and they built a special bamboo hut for him, and a Methodist and a Catholic came each day, and they massaged his legs, and they found ways to force food down him, and they brought him back to health.

    And in the meantime, as he is resurrected,  he starts reading the Bible from cover to cover, beginning at Genesis, and he becomes a believer.

    And the first thing he does is he says “We’ve got to have a proper chapel”

    So they build a chapel at the highest point at the swamp.

    And they say we’ve got to have a proper burial for each man who dies, because when they die we just throw them in a pit.  And when they die, we must give them a proper burial, because it has to be made known that when they leave they create a hole in this place, they leave a hole in the universe, they matter.

    And as he started doing these things, the whole moral of the camp changed.

    This was in the 1940s (when people did these things at school) and they discovered that there was a knowledge of nine different languages amongst the men in the camp: Greek, Hebrew, Latin, German, Russian, Spanish, French…

    And they started this camp university, and the men would go out and work in the railway, and then the would come back and study.  And they would take classes.  At first the Japanese thought this was crazy, and they were alarmed by it, but they saw that the men were happier and better workers.

    There was a soldier there who had served as the libriarian for the London Symphony Orchestra, and he had photographic memory, and he wrote out every note of every symphony by Beethoven and Schubert and most of Mozart, and they carved instruments out of bamboo and they had a prison orchestra and they started giving concerts and they had a theatre troop, and every one of these men said

    “We hope that this is not all that there is.

    “We hope that we do not spend the rest of our lives in this place which is like Dante’s inferno

    “I hope that I can get back to the heather covered hills of Scotland

    “I hope that I can get back to the parks of London

    “I hope that that’s where I spend the rest of my life

    But as long as I am here, I will act like a Scot, I will live like an Englishmen,

    I will live out by the values of my world, even in this hellhole.

    As it turned out, Ernest Gordon enjoyed being a chaplain, soon the allies came and liberated the camp.

    The prisoners pled for the lives of the guards who had so brutalised them – don’t kill them, don’t murder them, treat them justly.

    And Ernest Gordon came to America, he served there as chaplain until the year 2002 when he died.

    This is a good image of the Church.  We are called to live in the present, to live in the future, to live on earth as it would in heaven.

    God’s will will never be done in our lifetime, as it is in heaven.  But we are called to establish little pockets of the kingdom, even in the middle of a swamp, and to trust that one day we will be back in those places, in the park, on the hills.

    50 mins When you boil it down, the only way to combat doubt is to learn to trust.

    My wife and I do pretty well on co-ordinated time schedules.  She has a 5-10 minute range after the time which doesn’t count as being late.

    There is always a time, that Philip is looking at his watch, and she is 10 minutes late then he does not worry.

    If she is an hour late, Yancey’s response is not “What an irresponsible wife, she doesn’t care about me, I will never trust her again.”

    Yancey knows that if she is an hour late, then there must be a good reason.  She will be a lot more upset about it than I am.  Yancey has learned to trust her.

    It is important that we learn to have the image of God, in whom there is not unchristlikeness at all.

    52 mins A man who stood up in Church and said, “I get so tired of all these people who say after a plane crash, I missed the flight and I was spared,”

    What about the people who died?

    Why do we always give God credit for the good things, and not the bad things?

    But as we get to know God, we learn to do that more.

    There are also power streams of evil, which oppose everything God stands for, he doesn’t smash them in unsubtle ways, but deals with them through people like us.

    54 mins There is a saying from Jeremiah – there are places in the world which does not have rain, and has sun and heat.

    “There is a bush planted by the desert soil, and only the bushes which have roots which go down way deep will survive the drought times.”

    If you have a beautiful lush bush during good rains, it will look great.  But the next year it will shrivel it up.

    But you will have bush which has roots which reach down to the water table, and it will survive during the drought.

    Bill in Chicago went through a time of burn out.  I have nothing left to give.  I feel like a pump.  Everytime someone comes along they pump, and I have nothing left.  And he went to the spiritual director and he thought he was going to get some nice sympathy.

    But the director, well Bill, you know what to do when a well goes dry don’t you, you dig deeper.

    Talks about the well at his house that has been filtered through 640 feet of granite.

    If the well goes deep enough, the bush flourish even during dry times.