Random Ramblings

Reflections on my walk with God


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Crumbs for the Dogs

My beautiful daughter was being pulled apart.

Gifts were given to the healers and sacrifices to the gods.
The healers could do nothing.
My gods were deaf to my pleas.

Her clothes ripped to shreds, her filthy body half naked covered in bruises and scratches. Curses and foul language spewed constantly from her mouth.
I would not let them take her away.

I was despised – all said that I had brought this curse upon my family.

Sometimes when she slept I could see the child that I had given birth to, sometimes then I could gently wipe her face and even hold her….
Sometimes when she woke up I saw my child in her eyes, terrified of what she had become, pleading to me to make it better… and then the demon would awake, and my child was gone.

There was a rumour that a great healer had come to our area. A Jew named Jesus – I had heard of Him. Some said that he is the Messiah that the Jews had been waiting for, he spoke with great wisdom and healed the sick.

Could he heal my child?
Would he heal my child?

My kind are despised by the Jews. We are seen as little better than dogs … so why would he come here? Has he come to mock us or to heal us? I must go to see him, I will ask him to heal my child, I believe that he can cure her, he is my last hope.

Entering the house where he was speaking I could feel the spirit of God in that place. The words that he spoke were like nothing that I had ever heard before, none of our teachers or priests spoke such words. I forced my way through the crowd and cried.

“Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.”
Jesus said nothing. His disciples urged him to send me away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”

Then Jesus looked at me and said, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” Prostrating myself at his feet I begged him again to heal my child, “Lord, help me!” Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”

He looked at me, really looked into my eyes as he lifted me up to my feet and said “Dear woman, your faith is great. Your request is granted.” His hands were rough, a carpenter’s hands, but his face was that of the Lord. As I stood there time seemed to stop, his smile and the warmth of his eyes engulfed me. The moment was broken by a voice shouting at the door, “Come quickly, your daughter is healed, she is here with me asking for you.” She squeezed her way through as only young children can do through the legs of adults.

She threw herself at me all smiles and hugs and tears. How could I ever thank Jesus for this gift of my child?

I will follow him all of my days.

Jesus heals bleeding woman

Matthew 15:22-28 (NLT)

 

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Simply, Simon; Redux

Thoughts on the blankness of Holy Saturday from Sy at The Book of Works

The Book of Works

It is Holy Week, and I would like to repost something that I put up on Holy Saturday last year.

Holy Saturday is the day in-between. Very little is written about what happened on that day, but we can imagine.  We can imagine a man, much like us. A man defeated, alone, miserable and afraid. This man, who was once called a rock, today thinks of himself as simply – Simon. Imagine him sitting in a strange house in a city not his own, staring out the window, seeing nothing but his own failure, and the loss of all of his hopes and dreams. I have felt this way at times, and perhaps you have also.

He thinks of the glorious promise that he has witnessed the past months, the miraculous and wonderful things he has seen and heard. He thinks of the Man who showed so much faith in him…

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Love

My thoughts on 1 Corinthians 11-13 for Valentine’s Day.

All quotes are from the NASB translation unless otherwise noted

When I teach I always try to get my students to see the big picture before looking at the details. The big picture here is that Paul very much wants the Corinthians to understand that although they no longer have to follow strict rules and laws about food, behaviour, dress etc., they should act in ways that demonstrate their salvation. If we bear this in mind and, as always, remember that this is a letter (no chapter or verse divisions) perhaps some of the more troubling sections make more sense.

The beginning of Chapter 11 is one of those sections of scripture that we shy away from. It seems on the surface to be undeniably misogynistic. Paul lays down the law about the behaviour of women in church. I leave delving deeply into that to the theologians. However the HCSB study Bible points out that many behaviours (for all believers) were required to avoid alienating the Jews and/or avoiding doing anything which seemed to align them with pagan practises or rituals. If I may quote an example from my Pastor. He recently told us that whilst there is nothing in scripture to prohibit him preaching to us in his pyjamas, it would be inappropriate and would certainly upset many of the congregation. It would also give the wrong message to outsiders. A trivial example perhaps, but one which helps us to see why it is so important to not only do what is right, but be seen to do what is right.

In the next section of this chapter, Paul denounces the behaviour of some of the believers with regard to the Lord’s Supper. He has heard that many take it as an opportunity to eat and drink to excess. Perhaps even worse, whilst they are feasting, some of the brethren are eating very little. Such behaviour is wrong on so many levels, they are not sharing their food, they are exhibiting glutony, they are ignoring or even abusing the poor, they are disrepecting the institution of the Lord’s Supper, and in so doing dishonouring Jesus himself. This should be a a time of sharing and fellowship, there should be no distinction between them, certainly not based on wealth.

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; (Romans 10:12)

The sharing of the Lord’s Supper should be distinct from general eating and drinking, believers are advised to eat before coming together for the Lord’s supper. We can perhaps assume that if they were celebrating communion as part of general fellowship, they would be expected to share all that they had, so that each received sufficient food. Paul urged them (and us) to make sure that they were worthy; in particular they should confess unforgiven sin and make themselves right with each other before sharing the bread and wine.

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself [herself], and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)

During fellowship it would be commonplace to talk about how the Lord was working in the lives of the believers. Perhaps Paul had heard that some thought themselves better than others because they had “superior” gifts.

For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. (1 Corinthians 12:8-11)

As we share in the Lord’s Supper and share fellowship, so we should share the gifts that we have been given.

There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. (1 Corinthians 12:6-11)

The gifts are given not to glorify the individual but to allow believers all to work together. Just as a healthy body needs all of it parts to function correctly and work together, so a healthy church needs all of it’s members to use their gifts and work together. No member of the church is more important than another, though perhaps it can be argued that some are more essential. Just as the heart and brain are essential for life, so some members of the church may have more important roles, but all members are equal in their relationship with Christ.

Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:27-28)

Paul finishes this part of his letter (chapter 12) with a series of questions and then goes on to “show us a more excellent way”. Chapter 13 is such a well known passage of scripture. It is a wonderful description of what love should look like. However, if we read it in the original context, i.e. continuing on from chapter 12 with no chapter or verse breaks, it becomes even more wonderful. Paul is clearly telling us that gifts are useless, if they are not used in and with love.

All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)

Roman13:10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.


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A Christmas Open Letter to His Royal Highness – Prince Charles

Powerful words and wisdom from David Robertson

TheWeeFlea.com

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Your Royal Highness,

I am writing to you to thank you for your Thought for the Day as given on BBC Radio 4 yesterday.  I appreciate what you said and also the manner in which you said it.   I remember the kindness you showed to a woman in my former congregation, Brora Free Church.  Megan Boyd told me how sometimes  you popped in to see her on your way up North – not least because she was the best fly-tyer in the world – but your kindness was largely unknown until the film To Kiss the Water, told the story.  Thanks.

I also appreciate your evident concern for the well being of those who are persecuted because of their faith.  As it happens I had just been reading about the Christians being beheaded in Aleppo and so it was particularly moving to hear your account of meeting the Syrian Orthodox…

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Creation Hymn

​In my Every Day with Jesus devotionals, the focus at present is on the Prophet Amos. 

Most of the book is very much about judgement on the unfaithful people of Israel. Interspersed are these beatiful verses described as Amos’ creation hymn. Amos reminds the people (and us) that as Creator, Gid is in control and has ultimate authority.

For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind And declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness And treads on the high places of the earth, The Lord God of hosts is His name.

Amos 4:13 NASB

He who made the Pleiades and Orion And changes deep darkness into morning, Who also darkens day into night, Who calls for the waters of the sea And pours them out on the surface of the earth, The Lord is His name.

Amos 5:8 NASB

The Lord God of hosts, The One who touches the land so that it melts, And all those who dwell in it mourn, And all of it rises up like the Nile And subsides like the Nile of Egypt; The One who builds His upper chambers in the heavens And has founded His vaulted dome over the earth, He who calls for the waters of the sea And pours them out on the face of the earth, The Lord is His name.

Amos 9:5‭-‬6 NASB


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Redesigning life

It seems like every time I switch on the news or read a paper there is a another story about horrific abuse perpetrated on children or other vulnerable individuals. In the latest a mother and her partner murdered her 2 year-old son.

Children are seen as accessories and people feel they have a “right” to have one of their own – biology can be twisted to purpose.

If you are a single woman or a lesbian couple, find a sperm donor.
If you are a single man, find a surrogate.
If you are a gay couple, find a surrogate.
If you are post-menopausal, take hormones and use a donated egg.

Biology does not have to limit your choices you can choice the donors of eggs and sperm to give you the best option of a “prize” child. If you don’t like the result – sue the suppliers! In that article Julie Bindel comments as follows:

With the designer “gayby” boom looking set to expand even further, there are some important questions to ask about the ethics of commercialised reproduction. In London alone there are a number of clinics offering sperm for sale; brokers that arrange wombs-to-rent, often in countries where women are desperately poor and sometimes coerced into being surrogates; and egg donation that can cause significant pain and health risks to the donors. There is also the “mix and match” temptation that comes with choosing eggs and sperm from a catalogue. There is even an introduction agency for those who wish to meet the sperm while it is encased in a body.

Where does this leave the child? What will the parents tell that child about his or her biological inheritance?

We all have a need to have roots. To see where we came from. To relate our current experience of life with that of our forebears. But what if your biological mother or father or both are unknown?

Further choice is around the corner – genetic modification of embryos will be possible in the near future: GM embryos ‘essential’, says report here and here.

It will start with disease genes …but where will it end?
Designer babies – made to order and delivered to your door? Perhaps the last bit is somewhat fanciful, but maybe it is not totally ridiculous to imagine a world where babies can be grown in vitro or in animal surrogates.

At the other extreme we read and hear daily of babies and children subjected to to most horrific atrocities. Babies that were born “by accident”, babies born to women who could not look after them … or just babies born into situations where they were seen as possessions to be treated as one treats anything else, loved or abused.

The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East posted the following: “Last year, Islamic State issued a fatwa calling for children with Down syndrome and other congenital disabilities to be killed. Following the decree, 38 children between one week and three months old were murdered by lethal injection or suffocation”. (Caring for disabled children in Kirkuk)

I see these extremes as parts of the same problem, when children are no longer seen as gifts from God, are not the expression of love between a man and a woman, then they become possessions to be bought, sold and disposed of as people wish.


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Speaking in Tongues

I’ve always been a bit bemused about speaking in tongues. I have admittedly only witnessed it once ir twice , though have seen it in video clips. Why would God talk through someone in an incomprehensible stream of sound? There was no interpreter on the occasion that I witnessed this occurrence and it left me pretty baffled and in no way left me feeling as if the Spirit had spoken.

Acts 1 (in various translations of the Bible) indicates different languages or different tongues. The understanding is that the gift is the ability to speak to those from different nations. It does not say that they were babbling.

Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” (Acts 2:3-12 NKJV)

And as Paul laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke in [foreign, unknown] tongues (languages) and prophesied. (Acts 19:6 AMP)

Also in 1Cor 14:6-25 Paul admonishes that the gift of tongues should be used with care to teach and glorify God.  He also says that if there is no interpreter present then the person speaking in tongues should not do so aloud.

But now now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching? (1 Corinthians 14:6 NASB)

If I speak in tongues and I do not understand what I am saying, and there is no interpreter available, what is the point? No one is edified by this as none have gained knowledge from my utterances. How can I expect  anyone to say “Amen” if they do not understand? Indeed should we ever say “Amen” if we do not understand and agree with the prayer that has been spoken?

What then is the conclusion, brothers? Whenever you come together, each one has a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, another language, or an interpretation. All things must be done for edification. If any person speaks in another language, there should be only two, or at the most three, each in turn, and someone must interpret. But if there is no interpreter, that person should keep silent in the church and speak to himself and to God. (1 Corinthians 14:26-28 HCSB)

Today in our Pentecost service we were reminded that the Holy Spirit came upon all who were gathered in the upper room. Men and women. All heard a sound like a great wind, all received the Holy Spirit and were given the gift of tongues so that they may share the Gospel far and wide. The many visitors to the city heard the good news in their own language and dialect, no translators were needed. The Church was born in power but also in the simplicity of each person’s mother tongue. All could understand the message. All could take Gospel with them back to their own land.

Are we doing likewise?