Category Archives: Others’ stuff

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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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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The Unforgivable Sin

It always amazes me how people who say they believe in the Love of God have this idea that there’s one ‘Special Sin’ that God just can’t find it in Himself to forgive.

Like if someone insults your mother, y’know, that sort of thing.

It just doesn’t make any sense, and the passages in Mark 3:28-30 and Matthew 12:31-32 must mean something different from what people usually think, because Jesus did not deal in harshness; He dealt in love, compassion and gentleness.

But, we are told, there is such a ‘sin’, and it’s called the ‘Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’.

All you need to do is to Google ‘Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’ and you will come up with a huge swath of hits, not only of people waving this idea around condemnatorially, but equally of people worried (sometimes literally) to death that they are destined to burn forever in Hell because of a few careless words.

We must remember that the ‘angry God’ model of the Scripture always defaults to the harsh, threatening interpretation, whereas the Jesus model takes us to the better, more gentle and loving interpretation. However, today’s Pharisees, just like those of old, love to find condemning Scriptures that they can use to bash people’s heads in, and because of this they will always default to the harsher interpretation.

Naturally, they seem to revel in the idea that there’s an ‘unpardonable sin’, which seems to be tailor-made for them to wield against the latest set of hapless believers to whom they have taken a dislike: maybe those who believe in Grace; maybe the inclusionists; maybe those who don’t believe that the Bible is infallible and inerrant; certainly anyone who does not agree with them on all small points. (Which is just about everybody, when you think about it!).

The idea is that they gleefully swing this horrific weapon and leave bleeding and despairing people in their wake, feeling that they have passed forever beyond all hope of forgiveness. In truth, there are fewer Scriptures that have brought more misery than this one. Think about it. As a Pharisee, using this most beloved of all your Scriptures, you can verbally condemn someone to believing that oh they’ve really gone and done it now; they will never, ever be forgiven. What better weapon could a Pharisee want?

But this is not the way of Jesus. Of course God forgives all sin.  But because this verse is wielded as such a powerful weapon, joyfully weaponized by those who are almost the Enemy’s servants in order to bring all that untold misery and despair to people, it needs to be addressed.

So, what did Jesus mean when He mentioned the ‘unpardonable sin’?

Well, here’s a beautifully simple exegesis of the Matthew passage by my friend Nathan Jennings, where he puts it really clearly. This explanation of the text closely dovetails with my own opinion on the matter. Over to Nathan:

“BLASPHEMY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Thoughts on Matthew 12:31-32

“Often, I am asked what to do with these verses in light of what we know of the grace and mercy of God through Christ. There are probably a few good ways to look at this. First we have to remember that Jesus, being the full revelation and character of God, forgave his enemies on the cross and throughout his time pre-resurrection. Also if you look at the verses leading up to this we see the Pharisees denying Jesus having the spirit of God as being the means of his healing people and said that it was the spirit of the devil. Immediately following the next set of verses, which begin with a “therefore” indicating the message about to be given is a response/result of the previous text, it states:

Therefore, I tell you that people will be forgiven for every sin and insult to God. But insulting the Holy Spirit won’t be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Human One will be forgiven. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit won’t be forgiven, not in this age or in the age that is coming”
Matthew 12:31-32

Immediately we can see and deduce that insulting /blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is unbelief in the work of the Spirit due to the passage in the text right before this.

Also the word ‘forgiveness’ is better translated as ‘freedom’ or “freedom from something” so, to me, what is basically being said here is:

“Therefore, I tell you that people will be freed from the power of every sin and insult to God. But unbelief in the power and work of the Holy Spirit will result in the enslavement and the freedom it offers you, because you’re not believing the truth. And whoever speaks a word against Jesus can still see freedom because the spirit can still be seen. But whoever doesn’t believe in the work of the spirit won’t experience the freedom of their true identity, in this age or the next.
Matthew 12:31-32″

I think that’s brilliant. And, if you feel that you have blasphemed the Spirit, be reassured: youre not. Because the ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’ means essentially a refusal to recognise that it’s the Spirit at work, if you are conscious of the Spirit’s work then you can’t be ‘blaspheming’ Her.

And, in any case, all sin was dealt with at the Cross, once and for all, forever. All sin, including this one. Don’t concentrate on sin, concentrate on Jesus. Christians today are far too preoccupied with sin; they need to leave it in the grave where it belongs!

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Giving up the Bible Debates

Recently, I have found, when reading my Bible, that instead of hearing the gentle voice of the Spirit, I have instead been feeling the dry, grating, harsh legalism from those harsh people with whom I have engaged in Bible debates. I have found that I can’t read the Bible without its passages being contaminated with the nastiness and horror of some people’s worldviews that, while purporting to be Christian, still are not reflections of the loving Christ that I know so well.

It’s time for me to step back for a while from all the Bible debates on the forums, and to let myself bask in the closeness of the Holy Spirit once again. Time for worship; time for just rejoicing in His goodness.

Even after my recent post expressing why I do these debates (for the upbuilding of the invisible, silent listeners), still I need to recharge every so often. I still need to learn to pace myself and to give myself space.

Just a few short hours after I made the decision to do this, the following post appeared on the Unfundamentalist Christians channel on Patheos. And it was like an RAF air strike: right on time and right on target. Thank You, Lord!

This article is so perceptive and penetrating; it’s one of those pieces that you can immediately see is really outstanding. It describes things really well, so, why not take a look for yourself and be encouraged.

These are wise words, from a wise man.

If this is your burden, be released and be free.

Click here to go to the article, or click the graphic below:

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Holy, Holy, Holy!

Just like how there’s nothing like a full orchestra for scoring cinema/movie music, there really is no instrument like the piano for leading worship. Of course, being a pianist, I would say that, but really it’s so expressive and versatile. You just can’t beat it.

And one of the best worship pianists around is Terry MacAlmon. Some months ago, I majored on the worship themes of Heaven, using a lot of his music, and this post goes on from that.

So, here’s the classic hymn, Holy, Holy, Holy!, written by Reginald Heber and with the tune Nicea by John B. Dykes, but played by Terry in his inimitable style. This song also is themed on the worship of Heaven; let it lift you up, along with Terry’s enthusiasm, tremendous playing, and obvious anointing 🙂

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity.

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The Parable of God’s Repentance

There’s a young Christian writer I know who comes out with some really good stuff. He’s called Jacob Wright, and I’ve featured his writing before on my blog.

In this powerful parable that I read recently on his page, Jacob cleverly exposes the flawed concept that God the Father could ever be different in character from Jesus Who is His perfect representation (Heb 1:3).

Over to Jacob:

“God repents of Old Testament days, asks Jesus into his heart”

It’s reported that God, who has been known to go by Jehovah, has recently decided to follow Jesus. God recently released a statement that sending his Son into the world made him rethink some of the old ways he used to deal with people. “Perhaps wrathfully raining down fire on cities and drowning millions of people wasn’t the best or most Christlike way to go about things,” God reportedly said. God especially felt bad about commanding his people to commit wholesale genocide against the Canaanites and the Amalekites, including their women, children, and babies. “I’d rather not talk about that stuff. It’s in my past. I was still new at this whole human race thing. As God, I’ve decided to give a Christlike example for humanity to look up to. Jesus has taught me a lot.”

After hearing Jesus teach against wrath and hate, and commanding people to love their enemies and be peacemakers because this is what their Heavenly Father is like, God said that Jesus’ words really had an impact on him and made him think. “I really liked the way Jesus portrayed me. I think I can live up to that,” said God. “When my Son even forgave his own murderers, that kind of sealed the deal for me. It’s really had a powerful effect on people’s lives too. I want to be more like Jesus.”

God said that since becoming a disciple of Jesus, he no longer plans to torture the majority of mankind forever in fire, and is taking a new course of direction. “A different approach to this whole thing is really needed,” God said. God promises that his change of heart is real, and that he promises to practice the fruits of the Spirit in the future.”

Wow. Ponder on that…


I’ll also add a couple of the comments from some of Jacob’s readers:

Reading a parody, great! (at least I hope so). God is, of course, unchanging. What Jesus revealed was that ancient man had gotten most everything wrong from the beginning. Then, when religion kicked in, we went right back to the misguided OT level of theology that Jesus had just corrected. Speak to any Christian today, you’ll get a flood of scripture quotes, with virtually no inner awareness of the truth of their being. Jesus had the same problem, trying to compete with religion.” – Frank

I think humans have a natural penchant to swing and/or return to Religion and legalism. This is why the truth Jesus brought is so counterintuitive.” – Anthony


I think this piece is definitely thought-provoking. Certainly it’s incisive….

Hope you enjoyed it 🙂

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The Prodigal Allegory

Here’s a great article by my friend Ken Nichols, a man who is prophetic in hearing the new things the Spirit is saying to the churches in this time. Listen to what God says as you read it:


The following is a retelling of the Prodigal Son story [Edit: Luke 15:11–32], using the popular “penal substitutionary atonement” (PSA) model as a guide. (Note: like most allegories, this won’t ‘fit’ perfectly, but is done to make a point.) (Note 2: If you don’t know what “penal substitutionary atonement IS, a quick Google search will give you all you need to know.) (Note 3: This retelling uses The Message version as the original “base” for the story, so I wouldn’t have to make my part sound all “spiritual”.)

“There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’

So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.

That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.”

And when he arrived home, he found the front door locked. He knocked at the door and heard his father’s voice say, “Who is it?” from inside the house. The son gave his speech: ‘Father, it’s your son. I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’ And the Father said, “That’s true, and I appreciate the apology. That’s a good first step towards mending our relationship.” The son said, “Well, can I come in?” The father opened the door and came out. “Not yet.” the father said. “We still need to deal with this sin problem. You see, you have to be punished for what you’ve done to me before I can accept you as my son again. I can’t just let you ‘get away with it’. A price must be paid.” By that time the older brother had discovered what was happening and also came out of the house just as the father was explaining the problem.

The father continued, “And unfortunately, my laws demand that blood must be spilled in order to forgive you. I’m sorry, but these are the conditions required to grant you restoration in my household.”

The father said to the older brother, “Son, go get my rod from the barn. Your brother must be punished.” The son obeyed, but when he got back, he felt compassion on his brother, who after the famine and all, wasn’t in too great a shape anyway. He was afraid that the beating might be too much for him, and was concerned he might die.

“Father,” he said, handing him the rod, “beat ME instead.” His father was shocked but also proud that his eldest son would step up and volunteer for such a thing. Even though he knew this son was innocent he said, “That’s fine. As long as justice and the law are satisfied, that will pay the debt your brother owes.” He then called for one of his farmhands and handed him the rod. The youngest son seemed confused so the Father explained, “Oh, I can’t do it MYSELF. I don’t actually punish people directly. I have someone else do it at my command.” To the farmhand, “And remember, blood has to be spilled, so don’t hold back.”

The farmhand, who was angry with the son concerning things we won’t get into here, proceeded to beat the oldest son nearly to death (It would take a “miracle” to revive him). The father was pleased to see him suffer and all the spilled blood. The price had indeed been paid. He opened his arms to the younger son and said, “I forgive you! Now we can be together again.”

However, by this time, the son wasn’t so sure what to think. He loved his brother, for sure, for taking his place, but his father was scary. Honestly, he just wasn’t sure if he could be trusted after this display of violence. So, he hesitated.

His father admonished him, “Come on. This is how my love and justice work together. And if you don’t accept me now. I might have to walk you over to the outhouse where you’d have to go live. Trust me, it’s not someplace you want to be.” “Why?”, the son said. “I thought the price was paid.” The Father replied, “Only if you ACCEPT all this and love me. Otherwise, we will be separated forever.”


Ken has asked me to provide a link to his Facebook page in case anyone wants to contact him about the article. Click here to be taken to Ken’s page.

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With Eyes For Only You

This entry is part 14 of 16 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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