Posts filed under ‘God’
Yelp! I have only got half an hour to post today. Got distracted…
I have been able to actually do some designing at my table today 🙂 This makes me happy, both for having tidied the table and made my space more attractive, and for being able to use it, as well as having fun with the designing.
I have photos, but no time tonight to sort them, so expect that in a future post (but don’t hold your breath, not for anything I say might come in a future post…)
We watched a very thought provoking series on the BBC which had its final part tonight. Rather depressing overall, but very thought provoking – ‘All Watched over by Machines of Loving Grace‘. There are some dangerous ideologies out there and people can do terrible things both deliberately and with quite the opposite intention. I was feeling rather weighed down by it all, and was glad to read this post by Janna Writes which reminded me that no matter how scary the world is I can trust God. It’s true that poison for the spirit negates joy, some of those theories are spiritually toxic, as is what people are capable of at their worst.
But it is not good to focus on the bad. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Phil 4:8
Which is not to say that it is wrong to discover more about how bad things happened (I can’t write bad tonight – first typo was bed and now bod! What’s wrong with me?) but dwelling on such things rather than trusting that God has a plan is not healthy.
Well, I think it’s now time to get my bod to bed 😀
We now have a small ‘comfy zone’ at the back of church. It’s not really meant for during services or anything, but because of my arthritis I was allowed to sit there 🙂 It was much better than normal, I was more relaxed and less distracted by pain. I think it would be great if the whole church had comfy sofas instead of more formal seating. After all, the early church met in people’s homes, so a less formal and more homely environment is not inappropriate.
I reckon it would change people’s attitudes and how they react and interact with God, with the service, with each other.
Some traditionalists would not like it of course. But maybe more people would start coming to church if they felt welcome, at home and comfortable there.
Some churches have tried similar things. For example cafe church, where people sit round small tables and share coffee and cake while doing Bible study or hearing sermons. It’s proved quite popular.
Most of what goes on in church is tradition which has built up over the years. That often acquires such a strong influence that I think it can be most unhelpful. There is a place for formality – in the early church they often went to the temple, which was presumably a more formal worship style. But mostly they had house church.
Traditions should be examined to see if they are still useful or not. Maybe use them sometimes but not others. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, but do try to change the dirty water for fresh clean stuff once in a while!
We are blessed to be able to have to a building to meet in and not be limited in size as to what would fit in the pastor’s living room 🙂 but it would be nice to strip away some of the traditions which may have lost their usefulness and go back to the Bible to see what the early church were doing, and not doing!
It is interesting that there are no instructions in the Bible as to how to do church. It makes it challenging to discover the ‘right way’ if there is such a thing, but it is also good to know that there are a variety of possibilities which can all please God. There are some guidelines and some examples, but no order of service or anything!
I’d like to see more discussion. Sermons can be interesting and instructive, but they can also be dull and send people to sleep! I’d like to be able to ask questions and hear answers from the pastor and from other Chrisitans, more like a seminar than a lecture.
Shorter segments would be good too. I can concentrate fine for hours if I’m not uncomfortable with my arthritis, but attention spans are generally reducing, thanks to TV, magazines, the internet etc, apparently. Unless they have always been that short and we’re only just realising! But having ten minutes of singing, then a ten minute sermon, communion, ten minutes of discussion, some more singing, a bit of Bible study, mixing it up, would be fun and keep people engaged more.
I’d at least like to try it and see how it works! But change is a dirty word for many people…
What do you think? If you go to church, do you prefer it formal or would you like to try relaxichurch? If you aren’t a churchgoer, would you be more likely to try it if there was more chat and sofas?
Woohoo! I don’t have to fear death or anything because my Saviour defeated death and evil two thousand years ago! He is alive! He suffered and He died, but He won and He rose again and now He lives forever more and all for me and for you too.
I celebrate this every day but most of all on this day, the anniversary as close as we can tell to the day on which He rose triumphant 😀
I praise the Lord for His amazingness! 😀 His love which overcomes all, His mercy, His sacrifice, His victory! Hurrah!
I like to imagine what it must have been like for His friends on this day. They were in despair, they didn’t understand why He had to die, they thought He had been defeated, that all was lost. They were in shreds for so many reasons. Then they found He was not in the tomb. They did not understand this either at first. Imagine the joy when they realised!
I wrote a poem about this which I shall share now:
Empty we went to the garden,
Despairing, mourning, lost,
His death the end of all our hope,
At far too high a cost.
Empty the tomb gaped open,
His body was not there
The final blow, denied our grief,
We turned back in despair.
Empty, the garden had been,
The gardener then drew near
We asked him who had got the corpse
He told us not to fear
Hope is always with us
The end becomes the start
Recognition dawned in us,
Hope quivered in my heart.
Hope for He is risen,
Hope for our Lord has come,
Defeated death, negated sin,
Hope has overcome.
[Edit: this comment no longer valid, thanks to Little Things of Life 🙂 It worked! I think it looks better now anyway. The formatting is not ideal here for this. There seems to be no way to remove the extra space between paragraphs, which I generally like when they are paragraphs, but not when they are lines of poetry. Ho hum.]
I hope you have the joy of a wonderful Easter Sunday filled with love and celebration 🙂
Which is better?
Apparently if you think you’re in the right, or if you’ve been a victim, you might be expected to prefer justice, but if you are aware of having done wrong and maybe needing mercy then that seems more important. I read that somewhere long ago and can’t recall where.
This morning I watched a BBC programme about forgiveness which was very interesting. A rabbi being interviewed said that justice without mercy was not safe, too harsh I suppose, and that mercy without justice was not safe either as there was nothing stopping the person you forgive from harming you again. Both are needed.
In our Good Friday sermon today, our pastor asked why God didn’t just forgive Adam. Why did Jesus have to come and make the ultimate sacrifice so we can be forgiven? What was stopping Him from forgiving Adam and Eve?
I don’t recall them apologising much actually, just making excises and passing the buck. I wonder if He might have forgiven them had they repented?
But the pastor said it was because of justice. There had to be a repercussion for sin. And since there is justice, someone had to pay the price for our sin, or we would never be good enough to come near to God. Jesus was the only one who could do that.
I suppose if God just forgave us without us knowing there was a price to be paid, we might think it was OK to sin and just say sorry, won’t do it again, and then go right back to it. You know, the way you maybe apologised under duress as a kid when you had a fight with your sibling 🙂 Everyone knew you didn’t mean it!
Does being aware of the price, knowing it was paid for me by One who loves me enough to pay even such a terrible price, make me any less sinful? Maybe not, but hopefully it at least makes me aware of wanting to change.
I certainly felt like a new creation when I first came to know God. And now I feel I am being remade once again.
I was struck today by the similarities between my current situation and how things were then. I thought I had written about that, but I just looked back and it seems I haven’t yet.
The thing is, I got a massive black depression, out of nowhere. I was quite content and then suddenly, whammo! I realised there was no point to life. No matter what I did I was going to die and eventually be forgotten as if I had never existed. Even if I was a big success at something and became a famous novelist, or a successful runologist who made a lasting impact in my field, one day I would be forgotten, even if only because the human race would eventually die out.
That was a bit of a bummer!
I mean, it’s not as if I didn’t know this, I just didn’t think about it. It didn’t bother me. I was comfortable and had a nice life, that was all that mattered, wasn’t it?
I foundered in this black treacly gloop for a while, maybe a few weeks. Nothing could pull me out of it. It was bad. I wasn’t having fun! I wanted my old brain back, the happy content optimistic one.
Then I suddenly realised that I could have that, if that was all I wanted. I could get antidepressants, go to counselling, get my brain reprogrammed.
This realisation instantly made the black depression lift, leaving me instead with a much more bearable grey depression.
Out of the pit of despair and into the muddy puddles of existential angst.
Once I could see a bit more clearly, I realised that I had a choice. I could go back to how I had been, or I could take the message as a wake up call, a message from God, Him tapping me on the shoulder and saying ‘hello! I really am real, you need me, you know the deal, are you going to do anything about it?’
So, to cut a long story short, I went looking for God and I found Him.
Now I feel He is tapping me on the shoulder again. God moves in mysterious ways, is He communicating with me via the medium of mental health? After all, He helped my arthritic hands using the medium of crochet!
And when I say tapping me on the shoulder, I am using slight understatement. If someone ignores a tap on the shoulder, you maybe have to whack them round the head to get them to notice you!
So I was working really hard on my thesis for several months, as I had an impending scary deadline, the upgrade, and I had got a bit behind. I had been concerned that working so hard might make me ill, with the arthritis. I was both right and wrong. It did make me ill, but it was not the arthritis. I got the Blah virus.
Because the Blah virus stopped me in my tracks and I couldn’t work, I knew I had to suspend as I had no time in hand. To do this, I had to get a sick note from the doctor. I was expecting him to write that I had exhaustion as arthritis gives me pathetic energy levels. But instead he put stress and anxiety.
I was taken aback by this. It was not at all what I had suspected. But I soon came to realise that he was right.
He referred me for counselling, saying I’d hear something in a couple of weeks. Trouble is, what I got then was a phone assessment confirming his diagnosis, a bit of advice and being put on a three month waiting list!
I had hoped that a bit of rest might help, but over two months later, I still have the problematic symptoms. I am still off sick and shall have to be for a while longer as there’s no way I can face going back just yet.
But now I am starting to wonder what God is saying to me through all this. It might just have been His way of making me take a rest and do the crochet to make my hands better.
But it also might be His way of telling me that my PhD doesn’t matter, even that I am giving it too much priority and maybe it’s time to reconsider. Do I need a PhD? No. So why am I doing it then? If the upgrade is the problem, why not stick with an MPhil? Do I even need one of those?
Much to ponder on and I still don’t have answers yet. I am just enjoying the time off and being like the woman in Proverbs 31:13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands! God approves of me going to the yarn shop and crocheting! Mind you, I am a long way off the other traits of this woman…
Also I have other problems to deal with, but this post is more than long enough now!
I wanted to share some of this stuff before, but I kept holding back. Mostly because of caution around admitting to mental health issues. But why not just be honest? I’m hardly the only person with such struggles. So here goes. I’m pressing publish! Aaagh, scary! Stop dithering and just do it…
Church. What does that say to you? A pretty building? Somewhere to go for special occasions? A boring place you were dragged to as a child and vowed to avoid as far as humanly possible? The house of God? A special place? Somewhere you love to go and would spend all your time there if you could?
We have just one word, where they used to have two. We tend to think of the building, or perhaps the Sunday service. But the dominant meaning when the Bible talks about church was the people.
A lot of people are put off by church. And no wonder, as it can be dull if you have no special relationship with the Person who is the focus of the whole thing, God. But even if you do, that doesn’t seem to mean that church is the most fun place to be.
It ought to, right?
If it doesn’t seem to hit the spot, whose fault is that? Is it mine, for failing to have the right attitude? The people in charge of the church for failing to engage with me? The devil?
When I was a child and a teenager, I went to church because I had to, because my parents went. It was compulsory, like school. It was not so bad, I had friends who went with me. It didn’t start quite as early as school. But it was always a duty.
I still went for the first year I went to uni, unless there was something else I really wanted to go to on the Sunday, but the church I picked was not friendly and welcoming. I’d go in, sit and listen, then leave. I think the pastor would shake hands with people on their way out, but that was it. I did go to the C.U. meetings, which were better. But this post is about church.
In my second year I started to get ill and was skipping class, so I must have also skipped church. And I was too ill to go much when I had to go home and live back with my parents. I was quite glad to not bother. And not just because I was too constantly tired to do anything anyway.
Over a decade later, when I came to love God, for various reasons I couldn’t become a regular attender at a local church and a few months later I was living in Norway for the second half of the year.
When I returned to England, I moved into a flat by myself and was free to find a church to join. The first local church I tried was very welcoming, and I have been going there ever since. I had been expecting it to be a chore, a duty, but to my surprise I found I loved it!
It wasn’t so different from the church I grew up in; it was me which had changed.
But then, not long after getting married and moving even closer to the church, it had a massive rupture and almost all the leadership left! As part of the Loyal Remnant, we threw ourselves into doing whatever was needed to keep it going. But through that first year I lost my joy at attending. I guess it got gradually eroded by a sense of responsibility or something, I don’t really know what or why.
People would say that always happens, that new convert fervour wearing off. But I’m not sure that is either what it is or that such a thing is right! But it hasn’t come back, even though we got a pastor. Things are still difficult and the church is not growing, maybe that is the reason, I don’t know. Or it might be me. I have been struggling with my energy levels lately.
It has made me consider why church is important, even whether it is. There is an internet church, maybe I could join that. But I still think there a lot to be learned from church. It is my family in Christ. I feel it is a commitment, like marriage, but one based on love, again like marriage.
There are many reasons to stick with it, which I have run out of room to discuss today! Maybe some other Sunday.
But finally, I was glad I went today. Not to the morning service – the clocks changed and it would be even earlier! But I went to the evening Bible study. There were only four of us, but that didn’t matter. We worshipped God and looked into His word about how we are His adopted children, which is mind-blowingly wonderful! Not slaves, not servants, not just worshippers, but His children. I look forward to when I can live with Him in heaven!
I felt tired and not keen to go when I set off. But I was so glad I went.
What are your thoughts on church?
In lieu of a carefully thought out post today, please enjoy a few lovely pictures of God’s wonderful creation.
I often feel closer to God when walking or just sitting looking at His Creation than I do in church. Is that wrong? Or is there something about church which is not working? Sometimes the five minutes I spend walking across the path to and from church is the best bit of going. That and seeing my friends.