Monthly Archives: August 2017

Love Keeps No Record of Wrongdoing

A superb and moving piece by my friend Dan Shaffer, a man of great wisdom and insight:

One of the most beautiful majestic words ever written, were from Paul:
‘Love keeps no record of wrong doing’ [1Cor13:5]

Yet Christianity strangely forgets these words when grappling with Salvation and Judgement.

We forget these words were not from a man who was the epitome of righteousness; rather a man who embarked on a murderous quest to rid the world of Christians. A man, with whom Jesus literally intervened and asked “why are you persecuting me?”

Ironically, we could ask many Christians the same question today. Those who “have discovered the error of their ways” and then enthusiastically pick up the banner of the Law and condemnation. Then proceed to rid the world of sin, or so they think.

However, Paul realized something different than so many Christians. He discovered who God really was. God was love and Grace.

You see, God doesn’t just extend love, or act in Love, He is Love. God doesn’t just extend Grace or act graciously, He is Grace. Love has never kept a single record of wrong doing, but the Law does!

Those who believe in the God of Law struggle with forgiveness and mercy.

Because the Law demands retribution as justice. It demands payment for wrong doing.

Love, on the other hand, desires restoration and completeness. Love’s agenda is to see you restored to the image of your loving Father.

This is your true identity.

Love is not interested in your past or your mistakes.


It keeps no record of wrong doing, therefore doesn’t remember your failures and transgressions.

There will be No big movie screen in the sky to judge and review your life.

When your body reaches its end, the corruptible has put on incorruptibility, you are changed in the twinkling of an eye.


Your soul and spirit are free of their hindrances.


Love has won, and your spirit reunited with it’s giver.


Love keeps no record of wrong doing.

Thanks, Dan! 🙂

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Matt Distefano on Biblical Inerrancy

Matthew Distefano is a regular contributor on the Patheos blog ‘Unfundamentalist Christians‘, where I tend to hang out if I’m on Patheos. I’ve even had a couple of my own articles published on there. I love his insights and his thinking, which amazingly (but unsurprisingly) often gels exactly with what God has been saying to me only hours before I read Matt’s pieces.

Here’s a link to Matt’s article on the problems he has found with the idea of ‘Biblical Inerrancy‘, that is, that the Bible “…is without error or fault in all its teaching”

Click here to go to the article


If you found that item interesting, you might also like Matt’s companion article to that one, ‘Jesus is the Reason the Bible is not inerrant

 

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The Weaponization of Scripture

Here’s a great post from Mo, one of my Facebook friends:

“Jesus and the teachers of the law both quoted a lot of scripture.

“The stunning difference was in the lens through which they saw it, the lens that defined its purpose and set its context.

“The Pharisees used the scriptures to condemn, to accuse, to prove guilt. Present-day people are pros at this pastime and propose plenty of proof-text piles to penalize perpetrators.

“I’ve done this too often, sad to say.

“Jesus came to show that the entire scriptures pointed to Him (Luke 24:27), the One who came to bring healing, forgiveness, wholeness, restoration, peace and Life.

“The Pharisees “weaponized” the scriptures, while Jesus came to disarm them and bring to us an entirely new way of engaging with the world. . .

“A way informed by His Love, built on
the foundation of His Shalom.

“Selah.”

I have written on this subject before. Some people see the Bible as the Word of God, and that the ‘Word of God’ is not only the ‘Sword of the Spirit’ (Eph 6:17), but also ‘…quick and powerful, cutting [really deeply]’ (Heb 4:12). I personally have likened the idea of the ‘Sword of the Spirit’ as being the ‘Lightsaber of the Spirit‘, albeit jokingly.

But I am concerned when Christians conduct what I would call ‘friendly fire’ attacks on fellow believers by wielding the Bible as a club, sword or other weapon. As I quoted in the first of the articles in the paragraph above,

“Every time [Scripture] is used, it should be used in a way that matches the heart of God. If it is not, it is being abused.”

How true that is. The great Christian theologian and apologist, C. S. Lewis, also agreed:

A-flippin’-men to that. Yes, it is Jesus Who is the Word of God (Jn1:1), not the Bible, although it does contain some of the words of God – some of the things He said. And the Bible is, as Lewis says, is one of the devices God can use to bring us to Christ. It is so sad, then, that in these days, people use the Bible as a judgemental weapon to beat up both those in the Church, and those outside it. Is it any wonder that I get so frustrated seeing, time and again, ‘believers’ hurting others with this powerful book – albeit a book that only has real power when people agree that it has. In other words, for those that do not believe in things written in the Bible, it holds no power.

Conversely, though, the Bible holds the power both to build up or to destroy those who do believe in what the Bible says. This is why the message of inerrancy  – that the Bible is always right – is so damaging, because firstly the Bible was never intended to be always right; secondly, those who have dogmatically decided that what they believe is right are the ones who batter people over the head with their own beliefs, based on their own interpretation. That there are many ways of interpreting the Bible is beyond doubt; that is why there are tens of thousands of Chistian denominations all across this world of ours.

The damage caused by this sort of behaviour is at least twofold. Here are the two principal types of damage I can think of: firstly, those who believe the Bible is an authoritative document are led into lives of slavery and misery by those who claim to have everything all ‘right’; all their doctrines lined up neatly like ducks in a row. Secondly, people outside the Church see all this theological infighting and decide, quite rightly, that they want nothing whatever to do with this sort of thing. In a very real way, the ‘gatekeepers of Heaven‘ are shutting the doors of Heaven in men’s faces by their misuse of this book which is such a precious spiritual resource but which is misused so often, as in the Lewis quotation above.

Instead, then, let’s use the Bible as the way to build people up. Let’s use it for its primary purpose, which is to lead people to the true Word of God, Who is Jesus Christ – not in an accusatory or condemnatory way, but in portraying God as Jesus portrayed Him: full of mercy, compassion and Love. When we lift Jesus up, He draws all men to Himself (Jn 12:32).

This is so much more upbuilding than causing vast spiritual and emotional damage akin to waving a razor-sharp sword around.

Or even a lightsaber…

So, to my mind, it’s about time people stopped waving this lightsaber around like that.

They’ll have someone’s arm off….* 😉


*This is a reference to how, in most of the Star Wars movies, someone’s arm gets lopped off by a lightsaber. I have heard it jokingly said that it’s not a proper Star Wars movie unless someone loses an arm… 😉

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Jeff Turner on Righteousness and Good Works

I’m sorry to say that many Christians today think that the very best efforts of humanity, to do good, appear as ‘filthy rags’ (Is 64:6) in God’s sight. I have written on the subject before, but I’d like to say that I’m not the only modern thinker that believes that this idea is utter rubbish.

In this piece, Christian writer and theologian Jeff Turner tackles this issue with his usial clarity and insight. Over to Jeff:


“Are all of your “righteous works” *really as filthy rags?

“In short, no.

“To insult a person for poor decisions or immoral actions is one thing. But to insult them for actions that are admirable is an entirely different thing. If even your best attempts are met with mockery and derision, your soul will quickly shrivel and die.

“Today’s popular form of Christianity is a belief system that comes with a message of scorn and derision, not simply to the morally bankrupt sorts, but even to those whose hearts and souls yearn only to do good. It assures them that their best attempts at being kind, upright, decent humans appear as disgusting, filthy rags in the sight of God. It humiliates, denigrates, dehumanizes, and demoralizes, even the best among us.

“If one makes a careful read of these “filthy rags” type of passages in scripture itself, though, one won’t find the God who rubs our faces even in our successes, as though they were indistinguishable from our messes. Rather, one will find that the people being rebuked in such instances have sunk to depraved lows in their behavior, and become morally bankrupt. It’s not that even their good has become bad, but that there is no good to be had, or when there is, it’s merely an attempt at hiding greater evil. Scripture does not teach that *your every attempt at being a decent human appears as filthy rags in God’s sight, but that Israel, at particular times in her history, had embraced a mode of being in which the good was almost utterly absent. This is not the same as claiming that, from birth, even the smallest of babies is counted as a sinner, and that even the most kind, decent, loving of humans is a filthy sinner in the eyes of God!

“How awful and destructive a doctrine we spread when we make these claims!

“Listen, that people believe in anything *at all is a major accomplishment in a world like ours. That people can get themselves out of bed most mornings is an act of God. That the whole lot of us aren’t tearing one another to bloody ribbons, what with the chaos and tumult our world is in, is miraculous. Let’s be honest, that most of you are still even breathing is a feat you deserve to be commended for. To look then, upon suffering people, who are simply doing the best they can to live and get by, and tell them instead that their best attempts are vile in the sight of God, is reprehensible, and so outside the character of Christ that I think it could rightly be called satanic.

“We have our issues, to be sure, but Jesus does not come to assure us that even our struggling through life just to smile and raise our families is a disgrace in God’s sight. No. That message is a disgrace. Not you. God is near the broken-hearted and present with the suffering, struggling one. And he’s present in the form of one who is for you and on your side.

“Peace”.


Brilliant piece. I have to admit that, once upon a time, I was a judgemental Christian like that too. I believed that any good that non-Christians did was worthless. It makes me feel sick to remember that I once felt like that… but thank God He gave me the chance to change. Every good deed has value, irrespective of its source. The value of the deed is to the recipient. The homeless man doesn’t care whether the hot meal comes from a believer or a non-believer; the main thing is he gets his meal. All good things come from God. What about when Jesus said ‘if anyone gives you a cup of water because you are My disciple, he will certainly not lose his reward’? He didn’t specify any required belief structure!

No, all good deeds are good; they are not filthy rags. The context in Isaiah 64:6, where the ‘filthy rags’ comes from, is about thoe who put on righteous acts for their own sake; for show. That’s what it’s about, not about secular people’s deeds being worthless. They are indeed not worthless.

This is yet another example of how the Spirit is using modern-day prophets like Jeff, to put out there these ideas that so many other believers are hearing at the same time! Truly the Holy Spirit is at work in these days 🙂

 

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Aerobatics with Lauren Richardson

The other day, I was privileged to meet Lauren Richardson, aerobatic display Pilot and former British Female Aerobatics Champion. Lauren performs her superb routine, in her customised Pitts Special S1-S aeroplane, at airshows all over the  UK, before crowds of tens of thousands of people or more.

Lauren flying her Pitts Special aeroplane in a classic ‘knife-edge’

I also got to meet her partner, Simon Wilson, who is himself an accomplished diplay Pilot,  displaying the vintage Percival Provost at airshows all over the UK.

The gorgeous Percival Provost at Torbay Airshow, flown by Simon Wilson

Lauren and Simon are well-known in the British airshow circuit for their highly professional, sparkling displays of these two classic aircraft; displays that are so different (although both aerobatic) and each riveting each in their own unique way. Apart from their immense skill, what makes display Pilots like Lauren and Simon so special is that they have to perform their displays at a low level, typically below a maximum height of about 2,000ft, because if they went any higher than that, the crowd wouldn’t be able to see them well enough. In fact, that figure of 2,000ft is only the very apex of their manoeuvres; most of the display is actually performed much lower than that. And this kind of low-level flying, and the consequent lack of time for recovery from an error, means this: there is no such thing as a minor incident in low-level aerobatics. These guys have to get it right first time, every time; there is very little margin for error. Flying like this requires a precision that is unmatched in virtually any other type of flying, with the possible two exceptions of fast-jet operations on aircraft carriers, and low-level terrain-following flight.

Lauren has recently begun publishing ‘behind the scenes’ videos of her flying, detailing such subjects as why she loves what she does, what preparation she has to do before each display and so on. She has also started doing, well, not exactly ‘how-to’ videos, because you can’t just hop in any old aeroplane and perform these manoeuvres, but at least videos showing how she personally is handling the aeroplane in each manoeuvre. I find these videos quite fascinating, so I have showcased this video today, the second in the series, with Lauren’s permission. Here it is; enjoy!

Wisely, Lauren concludes the video with a ‘don’t do this at home’ disclaimer, which is spot on and wholly correct. You can’t do this sort of thing in a Tomahawk, a Cessna 152 or a Warrior.

I would also like to point out that not only does Lauren do public airshows, but she also performs routines of up to 12 minutes for private functions too, such as weddings, corporate functions and the like. The service Lauren provides includes all the paperwork and insurance and what-have-you, so it’s totally hassle free for you. If you’re interested in booking Lauren for your event, click the image below or follow this link for further details.

 


Picture Credits:
Header photo: Hushkit.net
Lauren’s Pitts in Knife-Edge: BritishAirshows.com
Percival Provost photo: Photozone72.org.uk
Private function photo: lauren-richardson.com

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Praise Him!

I make no apology for including yet another Terry MacAlmon song on my blog, nor indeed for it being another number in which Shauna Chanda doubles the brilliance of the piece by leading with her amazing voice and obvious love for Jesus.

This one’s called ‘Praise Him‘, by Lynn DeShazo. As usual, let the song lift you as you agree with the singers (Terry MacAlmon, Shauna Chanda and Ruth Ann Johnson) and, indeed, praise Jesus for all His goodness towards you.

Praise Him, Praise Him
Praise Him, Praise Him

We have assembled to praise the One we love
We join the chorus of the angels up above, oh yes…
They sing hosannas and praises to our King
So we lift our voices all together now and sing

Praise You, Praise You
Praise You, Praise You

We are Your children, we’re here just to seek Your face
Lord we come boldly before Your throne of Grace
To love and worship You, and listen to Your voice
You are our Father, and how our hearts rejoice

Praise You, Praise You
Praise You, Praise You

We love You, We love You
We love You, We love You

I love seeing the worship responses of the different people in the congregation. Some are actively singing with their hands lifted up. Some just standing and not singing, but just receiving. Some just sitting quietly listening, one couple sitting close together and just soaking in the worship. No self-consciousness at all, in fact; they are just concentrating on Jesus, each in their own way worshipping their Lord. This is simply beautiful, and it’s at times like that that I realise how much of an honour it is to have the privilege of leading precious people like these in their worship. This is beautiful worship, with beautiful music, to our beautiful Saviour.

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