Category Archives: Insights

Doctrine, Signs and Wonders

I have seen it claimed that there are in excess of 40,000 Christian denominations. Almost all of the people in those denominations would claim to have some experience of, or fellowship with, God, despite the fact that they all believe many different things – although of course they have many beliefs in common. And He chooses to work through those people. Now, if those people claim fellowship with God, what gives me the right to doubt them, just because I have ‘other ideas’ about correct beliefs; about what is a ‘good doctrine’ and what is a ‘bad doctrine’? If God chooses to work through these people, who am I to argue with that, just because they don’t necessarily fit with ‘what I believe the Bible says’, or, more presumptuously, ‘what the Bible clearly says’? Each of those people has arrived at their current faith position through a multitude of different factors: geography, upbringing, literacy, education, family background, church background, whatever. And yet, they claim, God touches these people all the same, irrespective of belief or doctrine.

Some would argue that they definitely have God’s ‘seal of approval’, because of the ‘signs and wonders following’ that confirm the Word. In Mark 16:20, the Scripture says that, “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it”. What we see in terms of miracles, helping the poor, and other visible Christian fruits, is therefore seen as God’s ‘approval’ of what we believe in.

But we must remember that the ‘word’ being preached is Jesus – the Word become flesh. The signs and wonders confirm Him, not Us! They testify that the Kingdom of God is at hand (Mt 3:2, Mt 4:17, Mk 1:15) They testify as to God’s immense goodness and love.

They do not mean that you’ve got it all right and they certainly should not be interpreted as God ratifying, approving, subscribing to, endorsing or otherwise confirming your doctrines. In short, He does His miracles not because we are right, but because He is right! He does it because, despite our imperfections, He wants us to experience the fulness of His Kingdom. It’s all because of Him.

I therefore consider that actually God does not mind all that much about what we actually believe – or say we believe, which is often different – but actually, ‘as the Bible clearly says’, God looks on the heart (1Sam 16:7). And He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Heb 11:6). Nowhere does it say that He rewards those who hold ‘correct doctrine’.

In fact, all that the Bible says about what is necessary in order for us to experience the fulness of His Kingdom is that we believe in Jesus. Christianity is an ancient, broad faith, whose 40,000-plus denominations, encompass a vast spectrum of different beliefs on all kinds of peripheral topics such as Hell, homosexuality, the authority of Scripture and many, many other things. But still, central to each denomination’s faith, is the Person of Jesus Christ. It is completely unreasonable to expect that any one of these denominations has everything just right; all their ducks lined up. It is also therefore folly to believe that God somehow expects us – all of us – to be right all the time. Jesus is what it all hinges on, not a) our beliefs nor b) correct doctrine.

And so, my dear readers, please take encouragement. Carry on questioning, probing and thinking – because God made you to do that. Not necessarily to ‘find the right answers’, but simply to find out more about God’s goodness.

Only those with the control issues; those who will only tolerate their own doctrines, will have a problem with this.

“When the Spirit comes, He will lead you into all Truth”. He has so much more He wants to tell you…(Jn 16:12)


This piece is a companion essay to two of my previous posts on the same sort of issues, this one from two years ago and this one from eighteen months ago. Read in conjunction with this piece, they might be quite enlightening…

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The Good News

So often we hear the Gospel (which means ‘good news’) being presented, and it’s anything but good news. Tales of a god who burns people forever in hell just because they don’t ‘repent’ and turn to him. Even if they’ve never heard of him.

I don’t buy that at all.

Instead, the Good News is so much bigger, better and more vast and expansive than all that; so much better than just ‘Turn or Burn’, as so many espouse it.

The Gospel is supposed to be Good News.

And so, here is a piece by Jacob Wright, a young man who is very wise in the things of God, and, well, you’ll see what I mean. This piece is a breath of fresh air. Without more ado, here it is:

The good news isn’t “Turn or burn”. The good news is “Rise and shine.”

“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.” – Ephesians 5:14

The good news is “Come! Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” – Revelation 22:17

The good news is “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

The good news is “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sin against them.” – 2 Corinthians 5:19

The good news is “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” – Luke 4:18

The good news is “I have come that they might have life, and life to the fullest.” – John 10:10

The good news is “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” – John 14:9

The good news is “Change your way of thinking and turn towards God, for his kingdom is approaching!” – Matthew 3:2

Let all wondering of who God is be put to rest. We have seen what God is like in Jesus. God is Christlike and in Him is no unChristlikeness at all.

We already know the bad news. The bad news is despair, depression, disease, disaster, and death. The bad news is that creation has been subjected to frustration. The bad news is we’re all lost in life and wondering who we are and who God is and what the point is. The good news is that God is like Jesus, that God has revealed a new way of humanity in Jesus, and that God has highlighted the hope of redemption in Jesus. God is a participator in the human experience, and empathizes fully with us. God takes up our grief and carries our sorrows within himself and through it births a new creation.

God is both in it with us, and has triumphed over all of it for us. God is not angry at humanity, but has woven himself into humanity. God is a father that is waiting to see us on the road back home so he can run to us and embrace us! God is a shepherd that is intent on searching out and finding us who have wandered astray so he can bring us back to safety! God is a doctor who has come to heal us of our sin-sickness. Most of all, God is human, of the same blood as us, which means we are divine, and to be revealed as sons and daughters of God. God is in complete solidarity to the ultimate limits of our sin, suffering, and death, experiencing it all in the incarnation and the cross, and triumphing over all of it in the resurrection.

Jesus is the good news.

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With Eyes For Only You

This entry is part 14 of 15 in the series Fiona

The other day I heard, for the first time, a song that has utterly blown me away: My God and King written by Shauna Chanda and sung beautifully by her on Terry MacAlmon’s worship album, The Sound of Heaven.

At the moment, I can’t listen to this song without my heart bursting with worship, and often even weeping with the sheer weight of glory that falls upon me. Only three or four times in my life so far has a song had this effect on me, (the main one I can remember being When I Look into Your Holiness in 1983) and this song, My God and King, is one of those songs. It’s been a long time since a song has had such a profound impact in me; I can feel the Spirit reaching in to the deep places of my heart as I sing or listen to it, and I feel Him minister His deep healing of the wounds I have received over the last three and a half years of Fiona’s illness and her passing. This song stirs up the deep spirit of worship within me like no other I have ever heard, and in that worship is my healing in God’s Presence.

Fiona at our son’s wedding, September 2009

I love how the song describes that, for the worshipper, to see God face to face and to be with Him would be their dream come true. And this is partly why I have included this in Fiona’s series – because indeed her dream has come true and she now sees God face to face, and worships Him there. Her heart longed to be with Him. She never heard this song on this earth, but I bet she’s singing it right now! I can imagine her lovely soprano voice singing it; she would have loved this song, it’s exactly the kind of song she loved best. A beautiful love song of worship where I declare, and live out, that I have eyes for only my Jesus, my God and King – even, and especially, through the storms of life.

So, with this in mind, here’s the brilliant Shauna Chanda singing her song, with the inimitable Terry MacAlmon on piano. It is my prayer as I write this that this song will bring healing to you too, in whatever area you need it:

 

My God and King
To You alone I sing
You’re the face I seek
For all eternity

My God and King
To You alone I sing
You’re the face I seek
For all eternity

You’d be my dream come true
Just to be with You
How I’d see brand new
With eyes for only You

My God and King
Through the storm I sing
Covered by Your wing
This song of love I bring

You’d be my dream come true
Just to be with You
How I’d see brand new
With eyes for only You

You’d be my dream come true
Just to be with You
How I’d see brand new
With eyes for only You

You are my dream come true
Just to be with You
Now I see brand new
With eyes for only You

With eyes for only You

With eyes for only You

I have eyes for only You

– Shauna Chanda

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This is Our God

God loves to surprise His children with wonderful things.

Quite out of the blue, He will pop up something that, for us, is totally unexpected and brings us great blessings. An example from my own life, from two and a half years ago, is here. This sort of thing has happened to me so many times recently that I just can’t remember most of the events. But each time the surprise and delight is real. Some would put it down to coincidence and ‘confirmation bias’, which of course it could be. But these things are so personal, so targeted, that I really doubt that it’s coincidence.

But it’s not just me that it happens to, either. A few weeks ago, I was writing on Facebook about one of my favourite worship songs, and one of my friends came up with this lovely anecdote. I have ‘sanitised’ it of the song and personal details to avoid embarrassment, but have left it unchanged apart from that. Here is the story, just how it was told:

“I know the guy who wrote that song. I was a DJ in a small southern gospel radio station in the south, and I’d sneak in a worship song here and there. One day, I found that song on an album and put it on. A few minutes after I started it, a man came back to my booth, he was a new hire that had just started that day working in the office. He had tears STREAMING down his face, and asked me why I played that particular song. I told him because I’d just found it and previewed it and it brought me deep joy… he was sobbing. 🙂 Come to find out, he’d been struggling with so many things and had been really discouraged. He told me about how he and his wife WROTE that song and how it was just a sign to him that God had not forgotten him… so then of course I was in tears, too! lol, I had to put on a really long cut from the Kingsmen (10 minute song! lol) just to recover. 🙂 “

Wow. What a lovely story, and all because of a song that is one of my all-time favourite worship songs. I have several 😉 … But anyway, here’s the response I wrote to my friend:

Now that is a lovely story. Wow. It’s one of my favourite worship songs and always has been since first I heard it. I have used that song to bless countless people in congregations large and small, singing it with great anointing and reality. Because for me it’s true. Maybe you could encourage him some more with that. I am going to bed now with my heart rejoicing because of your story”.

I wish I could tell you which song it is, but I want to protect that man’s privacy. Sorry. But really, you could pick any one of the many worship songs I have posted on my blog over the time I’ve been running it, and you can bet there will be similar stories surrounding many of them.

And it’s simply because God is like that. He’s brilliant; He loves His children with a fiery, jealous passion that pales even the strongest natural mother instinct. If He made us to have that sort of love for our own children, how much more is He like that, given that we are made in His image?

This is what He’s like. This is our God.

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Today is the Day of Salvation

The other day I was listening to a talk by a man of God whom I greatly respect, and one of the things he said really made me think. He said that ‘there are great times ahead!’.

So what?, you might say. Of course there are great times ahead; God is involved in our future, isn’t He?

Well, yes. Absolutely. And I am sure that the words are correct because of that. But the drift of that man’s message was that tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow, or at some indeterminate time in the future, things will be better. There will be better circumstances, better displays of God’s power at work, better whatever. But it’s tomorrow, not today.

Well, I have learned a real little gem through my grieving process, and it’s this:

Today is the Day of Salvation (2Cor 6:2)

No matter what you are going through – and I am going through some horrible circumstances as I write these words – Now is the day for wholeness, for salvation (remember the word ‘sōzō’?); now is the day in which it is possible to find God’s peace and to find rest, in your relationship with Him, despite, and in the midst of, your circumstances. St. Paul’s encouragement to ‘give thanks in every circumstance’ (1Thess 5:18) was written with precisely this sort of thing in mind. Bringing Jesus in to a situation changes everything.

This doesn’t mean that everything will just suddenly, magically change and all your circumstances will improve, at least on the physical level. But it changes the way you cope with it. This is because as you turn your eyes to Him – maybe in worship, prayer and/or thanksgiving –  it puts all your circumstances into a heavenly perspective. It sets up what you see before you, in the context of eternity. Not that you are thinking, ‘Well, it’ll all be ok because when I die I go to Heaven’ – Jesus’s teaching was all about His blessings on this Earth for us – but in the midst of our circumstances.

So for my friend the man of God, while I agree that indeed great days are ahead, I need to remember that Now is the Day of Salvation. God wants to bring His miraculous power, His sweet, sweet Presence, His incredible wisdom, into the here and now for us – right here and right now. Today! Now! When we are actually on one of those ‘great days’ in the future, for us it will then be simply ‘today’. So, on this ‘today’, as you are reading this, this is one of the ‘great days ahead’ that my friend the man of God talked about yesterday, last week, last month. It’s now!

So, yes, ‘Great Days are Ahead’, but God is not procrastinating His blessings – putting them off until some indeterminate ‘great days ahead’ in the future. It begins right now. And so, I need to remember this idea:

Great Days are Here Already!

Yes!

As a great preacher friend of mine once said, “This is not ‘pie in the sky when we die’. This is meat on a plate while you wait! “. And this is the encouragement I am trying to get across to you today.

I hope it helps 🙂 God Bless you.

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How To Put People Off God

In Matthew 23:13, Jesus says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to”

Who are these gate-keepers of the Kingdom? Quite simply, they are those people who say that their way is the only right way. You want to get into the Kingdom of Heaven? Then you have to do it OUR way, and no-one else’s, otherwise you’re not getting in.

And because of that attitude, they demonstrate that they are not really ‘in’ either, according to Jesus’s words that I have quoted above. It follows from this that actually the Kingdom is really broadly encompassing, welcoming to all who would come, and not just those whom the Religious people deem ‘worthy’. Those who have such an exclusive attitude are virtually showing that they do not understand the nature of the Kingdom of God, hence Jesus’s words.

Notice also that the Teachers of the Law are mentioned – the legalists. Those who would espouse certain do’s and don’t’s in order to be ‘good enough’ for God. Also the Pharisees – those who would be slightly more ‘helpful’ than the Teachers of the Law, in that they are eager to point out others’ ‘sins’ in order to try to ‘help’ them attain the standards that they thought qualified humans for the Kingdom. But of course it just comes across as its plain source: judgementalism! And anyway no-one can be made righteous (in right standing before God) through following rules (Rom 3:20).

I mean, it’s not rocket science. I think the take-home message of this is that dogma, doctrine and ‘sin-policing’ help no-one; in fact, quite the opposite effect occurs: You behave like those guys, and you will just put people off God altogther!

The thing is that God is not at all like the angry, narrow-minded monster that some Christians make Him out to be. He’s more like Jesus than he is like the Terminator, but many Christians would have us believe that the latter is actually a better likeness.

I can’t think of many things more likely to put people off my Father God….


If you liked this article, here’s another one you might like – ‘The Christians Making Atheists‘, by John Pavlovitz.

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Bullying in the Church

Bullying in the Church. You’d have thought, wouldn’t you, that a place meant to be known for healing, love and acceptance is also known for intolerance, bigotry and bullying. Sadly, extreme churches showing this kind of behaviour are generally the only ones who make the news – for example, the infamous ‘Westboro Baptist Church’; those who just quietly do the work of Jesus are never mentioned. Well, we can’t have Good News on the news media, now can we? 😉

Therefore, I must say first up that bullying does not go on in every church. My church, for example, is known for its acceptance of people from every walk of life from lawyers right up to the homeless 😉 And especially the homeless. We see every homeless person coming through those doors as Jesus wanting a hand. When I was naked, you clothed Me, and all that (Mt 25:36). And there are many, many churches out there which are similar; they simply show the love of Christ without partiality to all who would come.

But unfortunately some churches are still known for their insularity, exclusivism, dogmatism, and their intolerance for anyone who even slightly ‘strays’ from the ‘path’. Awkward questions are discouraged. Invariably, the leadership’s authority is unquestioned. Everything is tight as a drum with no wiggle-room, and the Bible is to be believed absolutely as inerrant, inspired and infallible, and ineligible for discussion. The belief systems are laid down in stone and woe betide anyone who tries to change that. The idea of believers being ‘…transformed from one degree of glory to another…’ (2Cor3:18) is fine as long as that transformation occurs in accordance with the approval of the group. Instead of a real, fluid, living Relationship with Jesus Christ, members are confined entirely to the straitjacket of rigid belief held by the leadership. I could go on, but that’s enough negative for now.

What does all this have to do with bullying? Well, these types of churches predictably use bullying tactics to keep their members – whom, don’t forget, Jesus died to set free – in line. And I recently read an article on Paul Ellis’s ‘Escape to Reality’ blog which, along with its discussions, has become for me the ‘go-to’ article about church bullying. It describes what church bullying looks like, and how it is used to control those in the group. So, if there’s any potentially dodgy behaviour going on in your church, simply look at this list – it is not fully comprehensive, but helpful commentors have added other items – and see what you think. Some of this stuff I didn’t even realise was bullying, but when you look at it, it really is. One day, I might compile this list myself with all the additions. But, for now, take a look at Paul’s article. It’s quite the eye-opener!

Click the graphic below to go to the article:

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My Burden Is Light…

Here’s a great post from one of my Facebook friends, a chap who comes out with a whole lot of wisdom:

Friend,

If you’re thinking a relationship with God through Jesus adds the burden of meeting his requirements onto your already difficult life, rather than lifting that burden from you, giving you unspeakable joy and making your heavy load feel light, then perhaps it’s time you reconsider why God sent his son to die and rise.

Lifting pressure and making your heavy load feel light, not adding pressure by placing requirements on you, is precisely what Christ died and rose to accomplish and what Gods good news does each time it’s believed.

That’s why it’s called “good news!”

And still, so many hold tenaciously to a message that says until they meet certain requirements, they cannot enjoy God’s pleasure and “lightness” this side of heaven…so they never do.

So not true!

Christ died and rose so you wouldn’t need to wait another minute.

If this describes you, God can go from the taskmaster he isn’t to the savior and friend he is, all with a flick of a switch God calls faith.

Why not reconsider the good news.

Take a second look at the gospel.

Take another look at Jesus.

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“Is the Theology of ‘The Shack’ Heretical?”

Most of my readers will be aware that I am a big fan of the book, ‘The Shack‘, by Wm. Paul Young. I strongly recommend that people read this book, because it is simply incredible.

Via a great and moving storyline (it is written as a story), the book proposes total freedom, a carefree relationship with God, and also a closeness with God that some believers do not seem to have. It is essentially an extended parable. But rather than learn from this, some believers actually would rather try to discredit the book (and the movie that has been made of the book), most of them without even reading it themselves and instead relying on hearsay to ‘know’ what the book is about.

The Shack has life-changing concepts in it. You can look at my previous articles on it by clicking the category ‘The Shack’ at the top of this piece. The book is, of course, not Scripture, but, in the same way as the Scriptures were written, that is, by ordinary people writing about their interactions with God and their ideas about God, so too The Shack is such a book. As are all of the millions of books that Christians all over the world read. Theology is not confined to the Bible, it is also contained in the billions of pages of wisdom (or otherwise!) written in these countless books from people like Billy Graham, Joseph Prince, Derek Flood, Rob Bell, to name but a very few.

As I said above, many people ‘don’t like’ ‘The Shack‘, even though they’ve never read it. They say it contains ‘heretical’ ideas. While ‘heresy’ just means ideas that are formed from thinking outside the ‘box’, still many people in the Church shy away from it as something ‘dangerous’.*

So, after all that introduction, let me tell you that I read a great article the other day, an article that presents some of the claimed ‘heresy’ of The Shack, and discusses those claims in a level, balanced and rational way. This is one of the best articles I have ever read on this debate; indeed, it is one of the best-written articles I have ever read. It is a real joy to read.

Click the picture below to go to the article.

Enjoy!


*If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31) What possible danger does God not protect his children from? These people know little of the awesome power of God!

I think that some leaders don’t want their people reading this book because it will cause them to lose ‘control’ of their flock. Some of these guys see themselves as the backstop, the guardians, ‘shepherds’, if you like, of their ‘flock’. I know they feel they are ‘protecting’ their ‘flock’. And that’s fine up to the point where they replace Jesus as the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:11). Jesus is perfectly capable of building His Church. In fact, I would not have thought like this in the past, but I now consider that if someone says that people should not read a certain author, a certain book, or go and hear a particular speaker, then a) that’s a sure sign of control; get out of there as soon as you can; and b) Go and listen to that speaker, read his/her books and especially that book that they don’t want you to read!


At the time of writing, the Kindle eBook edition of The Shack is only 99p (in British money!) on Amazon UK, and $1.27 on Amazon.com. The links are here: Amazon UK and here: Amazon.com if you’re interested.

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The Heavenly Perspective

This entry is part 12 of 15 in the series Fiona

To be honest, I was at a loss for what to write for my regular 25th-of-the-month article about Fiona. Over the three weeks or so before writing this piece, (which was actually written about ten days before it was published), I have been quite fed up; I’ve certainly not been my usual buoyant, optimistic self! It’s mainly because a number of occurrences and circumstances have together reminded me especially of the permanence – at least for this life – of my loss of that amazing lady. We were very close and we shared everything. And so, I am missing her so much, and there is this huge gap that she left in every area of my life. And of course there are the huge gaps in the lives of all the people who loved her. We lost a real treasure on that day, seven months ago today.

And yet, as I have shared previously, I know she is in the presence of her Lord Jesus. She is in an amazing place where she has her animals, she can worship the Lord face to face – and she is most likely part of that great crowd of people in Heaven that I mentioned in my previous post*.

Let’s look at them again:

“And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Rev 15:3-4)

Those are people who can see that God’s purposes in History were all part of His Great Plan, on a level and of a complexity that we cannot even begin to fathom. As I’ve said before, we can only gain an inkling in this life of how that all works, what the answers are to Life’s Big Questions. But these guys have what you might call the Heavenly Perspective – they can see what’s really been going on all this time, and, like I said before, they worship God in response to what they have seen!

Now, think of it like this: I too – and you – are also in that great multitude. And so,  you see, it means that we too can live today from within that Heavenly Perspective that our ‘future selves’ will know. Part of bringing the Kingdom into today, part of our eternal life in the here-and-now, is surely to bring that Heavenly Perspective into our lives, and the lives of others we meet, today. Jesus said that “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Mt 3:2). This meant that wherever Jesus was, so there the Kingdom was. He was bringing forward, into the lives of the people around Him, the glories and benefits of the Kingdom of Heaven. And because Jesus lives in us by His Spirit, that same Kingdom is here with us right now, in our everyday lives. All we really need to do is to realise this!

Now, we know that one day we will be singing with that great crowd, in the full knowledge of God’s huge creative and redemptive genius throughout history, where we will see that even those things that bother us now were but a part of that huge tapestry of interconnected events that all worked out in the end. We will in fact have that Heavenly Perspective. We too will see how it all worked; how that great Plan happened and how it all came together.

And so, because we will see that perspective then, why not pre-empt that and live in that knowledge now? We know even now that, one day, we will know in completeness what everything was all about (1Cor 13:12) like those in that great crowd, why not today join with our ‘future selves’ in their knowledge that it’s all great, and actually just fine and dandy. You can imagine our ‘future selves’ thinking wryly (because there will be no regret in Heaven!) “Oh if only I’d had that perspective back then!” But we can indeed have that perspective right now!

I hope this makes sense; it is a bit metaphysical, and I know as well as the next guy that it’s hard to maintain a ‘Heavenly Perspective’ when life is burning us and we are still in the flames of whatever troubles we are going through. Believe me, I have been through the fire these past three years; I have walked the walk, and the talk I am talking is based on what I have learned over that time.

But, you know, the Scripture speaks of ‘Treasure in jars of clay’ (2 Cor 4:7) – something immeasurably valuable in ordinary human bodies. It speaks of us having the Holy Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, a downpayment if you like, to guarantee the things that are to come (2Cor 1:22, Eph 1:14). This is what powers the Life in the Spirit.

What does this life look like? Well, I have written a piece on this here, but I will summarise by saying that there is joy, there is healing, there is power, there is love, there is freedom from bondage, freedom from religious Rules, freedom from the power of sin, freedom from addiciton, freedom from the fear of death; there is the overriding sense of God’s Presence that gives this immense ‘peace that passes understanding’ (Phil 4:7) – a peace that is beyond understanding because it cannot be explained in terms of worldly circumstances. And beyond all that, there is this:

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” ” (John 11:25-26)

Sounds as if Jesus is contradicting Himself, doesn’t it? But He’s not. He’s using the old Hebrew poetry device where two concepts are matched together to reveal a deeper truth. What He meant was that when we die, we will still live. He’s talking about the ‘afterlife’, if you like. And He reinforces this by saying that when a living person like you or I believes in Him, we will not die, since He has already explained that we will still live even after death. So, in a totally real way (not just ‘in a sense’, as I was going to write), this means that once you believe in Him, your life will be one amazing, long walk with Him through this life and, without pause, into the next. Jesus says it quite plainly, in fact, in John 5:24, where He says, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life”. Did you see that? A believer has already crossed over from death to Life! It happens now. This is the assurance that Christians have. This is the assurance that Fiona had, and now knows in full measure. This is the Gospel, or at least a huge part of it. Passing through the veil of death at the end of a believer’s life here on earth is merely the moving on into the fuller, complete life we have been just starting to get used to, during our lives here. This is simply amazing stuff; it’s the sort of thing you can build your entire life on (Matthew 7:24).

This is the inheritance of the Saints (that’s you and me and Fiona) – eternal life beginning now, and continuing for ever. How’s that for Good News! Of course, the thing with an inheritance, remember, is that it’s something you get in this life because of Someone who has died. Go figure!

So, as the old hymn goes:

“Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine and ten thousand besides!”

Wow!

And so, in the light of my opening lines here about being fed up, even just writing this piece has buoyed my spirit again. It has reminded me once again of all the mighty promises in God that are mine – and yours – to hold and to use. I needed to regain that perspective. And I have.

Even now, for the things I have already seen in my life and in the lives of others, I can still worship God for what He’s done already, very much like those people in Heaven.(Psalm 145:4).

So, I am asking God to increase my awareness of the Heavenly Perspective, like the one that Fiona and our ‘future selves’ have. It’s very much a foretaste of what is to come!

And for such great things as these, what better response than worship? Let me leave you, then,  with a great song based on the words those saints are singing – The Song of Moses:

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb
Saying Great, great and marvellous are Your works, Lord God Almighty
Just and true are Your ways Lord, O King of the Saints
Who shall not fear You O Lord

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb
Saying Great, great and marvellous are Your works, Lord God Almighty
Just and true are Your ways Lord, O King of the Saints
Who shall not fear You O Lord

Hallelujah, O Hallelujah!

Be blessed!


Header picture shows Fiona on the South-West Coast Path overlooking St. Mary’s Bay, Brixham, on a glorious Devon spring day. We are so blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the country, and Fiona always loved this walk. If Heaven is anything like Devon – and I believe that everything beautiful on this earth is a pale reflection of the glory and reality of Heaven – then it will be glorious indeed.


*I know that the Book of Revelation is not intended to be taken entirely literally. But there are still passages in that book that nevertheless show a glimpse of things indescribable to the human mind, through the use of metaphysical imagery. Basically it’s the best that John (the writer of Revelation) could do given the limited descriptive powers at his disposal – the same limits that you or I would come up against even today, were we to try to describe the inexpressible things he saw in his vision. And so, I have no problem in setting aside some of the more weird imagery in that book until such a time as Holy Spirit makes its meaning clear to me, while at the same time getting to grips with those parts – like the passages in this piece – for which I feel I have sufficient revelation (no pun intended; I hate puns!) to make a decent case for my insight in this piece.


[Edit: Not long after I wrote this post, there was a terrible terrorist suicide bomb attack on a crowded arena in Manchester. It was at an Ariane Grande concert; 22 people at least lost their lives and many more were injured, many of them young people and children. I don’t know why these things happen. But it is my sincere wish that people from such bereaved families find this post and take comfort from it. It’s easy to say this now, but, believe me, one day it will all make sense. I say that not from a callous heart but from one that has been through the same kind of fire. Jesus loves you. God loves you. Rest in the knowledge that your loved one(s) are being held gently in God’s arms. If you want to contact me about this, please do so and you’ll find the contact link in the menus at the top of the page. Or post a reply below.]

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