Austin Fischer: If you can’t find it in Jesus


“The character of Jesus is the character of God. God would never do something Jesus would find morally reprehensible, so if you can’t find it in Jesus, then you really ought to think twice before you claim you’ve found it in God.”
― Austin Fischer, Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed: Black Holes, Love, and a Journey in and Out of Calvinism


Find Out What Failing Means to You

From the book It’s Not My Fault by Henry Cloud and John Townsend:

Why doesn’t everyone who encounters failure pick himself up and try again? Why does one woman get rejected on a couple of dates then go on to find the love of her life, while another who gets rejected, quits? Why does one person make a sales call, get rejected, and later that month land the big account, while another gives up? The answer: one has normalized failure and learned how to deal with it, while the other has not. Let’s look at why and how.

Let’s explore a few questions to check your present thinking on what happens when you fail.

What do you feel when you fail? (In other words, when you are rejected for a date or do not close the deal or your venture goes belly up.)

Do you feel bad and get deflated? (Not mere disappointment, but a judgment about yourself that plunges you into immobilizing emotional states.)

Does all hope go out of you? (A feeling that things will never be any different.)

Do you tell yourself that you are a loser? (Internal dialogue leads you to pin a global, critical label on yourself.)

Do you think that success is for others and not you? (You feel you are missing something that others have.)

Do you think that there is just no answer for your dilemma? (It’s beyond anything you can learn or grow into, no matter how hard you try.) Continue reading “Find Out What Failing Means to You”

I’ve been changed from a ruin to treasure

I've been changed from a ruin to treasure.

I was blind, now I’m seeing in colour
I was dead, now I’m living forever
I had failed, but You were my Redeemer
I’ve been blessed beyond all measure

I was lost, now I’m found by the Father
I’ve been changed from a ruin to treasure
I’ve been given a hope and a future
I’ve been blessed beyond all measure

Genesis 1 v. 27: He created them godlike

God made man.png

God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
“Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”

Genesis 1:27-28, The Message

Image from the 2018 Bible Society Calendar.

Tomorrow at Explore: God rescues Peter from Prison

Is there something in your life that looks a mess?  In John 5 Jesus said that God is always present and at work.  God is always present.  He is always at work in your life.  He’s always seeking to engage you in whatever circumstances you’re experiencing.  But, it doesn’t always feel that way, does it?  Sometimes it feels like God is distant and aloof.  That he’s absent, or that he doesn’t care.

But that’s more a perception than reality.  Today, Colin develops a concept that came up last Sunday that God is strong in our weakness.  In today’s passage, God rescues Peter from Prison in an amazing and dramatic way (Acts 12:1-16).  What would it look like for God to be strong in the weakness of your life?

11.15am, Ottery St Mary Parish Church.

Galatians 2 v. 20: My new life is empowered


Galatians 2:20, The Passion Translation says:

My old identity has been co-crucified with Messiah and no longer lives; for the nails of his cross crucified me with him. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives his life through me—we live in union as one! My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God who loves me so much that he gave himself for me, and dispenses his life into mine!

Bradley Jersak: Has Hell been lost in translation?

“In modern English, we use ‘hell’ as a catch-all term to describe the bad place (usually red hot) where sinful people are condemned to punishment and torment after they die.  This simplistic, selective, and horrifying perception of hell is due in large part to nearly 400 years of the King James Version’s monopoly in English-speaking congregations (not to mention centuries of imaginative religious art).  Rather than acknowledge the variety of terms, images, and concepts that the Bible uses for divine judgement, the KJV translators opted to combine them all under the single term ‘hell.’

In truth, the array of biblical pictures and meanings that this one word is expected to convey is so vast that they appear contradictory.  For example, is hell a lake of fire or a place of utter darkness?  Is it a purifying forge or a torture chamber?  Is it exclusion from God’s presence or the consuming fire of God’s glory?

While modern scholarship acknowledges the mis- or over-translation of Sheol, Hades, and Gehenna as ‘hell’ – especially if by ‘hell’ we refer automatically to the eternal punishment of the wicked in conscious torment in a lake of fire – the thoroughly discussed limitations of hell language and imagery have been slow to permeate the theology of pulpits and pews in much of the church.  Why the reluctance?  Do we resist out of ignorance?  Or are we afraid that abandoning infernalism implies abandoning faithfulness to Scripture and sound doctrine?  After all, for so long we were taught that to be a Christian – especially an evangelical – is to be an infernalist.  And yet, not a few of my friends have confessed that they have given up on being ‘good Christians’ because they can no longer assent to the kind of God that creates and sends people to hell as they imagine it.”
― Bradley Jersak, Her Gates Will Never Be Shut: Hell, Hope, and the New Jerusalem

Danny Silk: The best tool for telling someone else about you

From Danny Silk’s book, Keep Your Love On:

The best tool for telling another person about you is an ‘I message.’ The basic structure of the “I message” is: “I feel [emotion] when [describe experience] and I need to feel

Notice that the “I message” begins with “I feel,” not “I think.” The “I message” is designed to let other people know what is happening inside you, not for you to let them know what you think about them or what you think they need to do.  As you construct an “I message,” make sure that you are really expressing a feeling, not an opinion.

“I feel like you are an idiot,” is not a feeling. It is an opinion— because you could replace “feel like” with “think.”  If you start to say, “I feel like…” you should stop and check yourself —because what is likely going to follow is not a feeling, but a judgement. And a judgement statement is actually an expression of mistrust, not trust. A judgement statement says, “I’m too scared to show you what is really  going on inside me. I’ll only feel safe to show you what I’m feeling if you first agree with my assessment of what’s wrong with you and then promise never to be like that again.”

Nothing guarantees raising another person’s defences and hijacking a conversation more than a judgement statement. In their fear, people convince themselves that they can make people change without needing to be vulnerable, rather than trusting people to change by offering vulnerability. And for some weird reason, they expect the other person to say, “Thank you! I was wondering what was wrong with me!”

Yeah.  That never happens.

Instead, we need to take the approach that says, “I feel a feeling and it’s connected to an event. When this happened, this is the feeling that I had. And I need to feel something different than what is happening.”

For example:
“I feel scared when you drive this fast. I need to feel safe and protected when I am in the car with you.”
“I need to hear about you and feel valued when we talk.”
“I feel hurt when you talk to me like that.”
“I feel hurt and judged when you frame it like this.”
“When you hit the wall in anger, I feel scared.”
“I feel rejected when you react to my efforts to help you like that.” Continue reading “Danny Silk: The best tool for telling someone else about you”

Richard Selzer: Twisted Himself to accommodate us

Dr. Richard Selzer is a surgeon who wrote a penetrating book entitled Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery.  In it he writes:
I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in a palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of a facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth, had been severed. She will be thus from now on. The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut the little nerve.

Her husband is in the room. He stands on the bed, and together, they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight. Isolated from me, private, Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry-mouth I have made, who gaze at each other, and touch each other generously, greedily?

The young woman speaks. ‘Will I always be like this?’ she asks. ‘Yes,’ I say. ‘It is because the nerve was cut.’ She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. ‘I like it,’ he says. ‘It’s kind of cute.’

All at once I know who he is. I understand, and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with a god. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate hers, to show that their kiss still works. I remember that the gods appeared in ancient Greece as mortals, and I hold my breath and let the wonder in.

That is the spirit of Jesus.  Man’s link with God had been severed through sin.  And He twisted Himself to accommodate us, and give us the kiss of eternal life.  But not without giving His own life on our behalf.  Jesus.  At the same time, so tender and powerful.  The most remarkable figure ever to have lived.  And why not?  He was God incarnate.
The birth of Jesus split history like a thunderbolt on a hot July evening.  Everything before His birth we call B.C., before Christ.  Everything after, we call A.D., anno Domini, in the year of our Lord.
Quoted in Understanding the Bible in 15 minutes a day by Max Anders.

Francesca Battistelli: Breakup Song

I love everything about this song, written by Francesca Battistelli, David Garcia and Bart Millard.  You might not guess it, but Breakup Song is a song about fear sung by Francesca Battistelli.  It uses all the phrases and imagery of a relationship break up, but it’s about breaking a relationship with fear!

Fear, you don’t own me
There ain’t no room in this story
And I ain’t got time for you
Telling me what I’m not
Like you know me; well, guess what?
I know who I am
I know I’m strong
And I am free
Got my own identity
So fear, you will never be welcome here

The full words are:

Sick and tired of being sick and tired
Had of much of you as I can take
I’m so done, so over being afraid

I’ve gone through the motions
I’ve been back and forth
I know that you’re thinking you’ve heard this before
I don’t know how to say it
So I’m just gonna say it

Fear, you don’t own me
There ain’t no room in this story
And I ain’t got time for you
Telling me what I’m not
Like you know me; well, guess what?
I know who I am
I know I’m strong
And I am free
Got my own identity
So fear, you will never be welcome here Continue reading “Francesca Battistelli: Breakup Song”