bible

Church, theology

Into The Pray – The Bride


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*This is the third piece in a 7 part blog series called “Into The Pray”*

Pic ‘n’ Mix

The church Mairi and I have left recently are awesome in many ways. But in other ways they are not awesome. This can be said of any church as well as of ourselves personally, so this  shouldn’t be offensive news to any of us, should it? But as a symptom of the common departure of denominational ‘church’ from Biblical truth about the Church, into a kind of blinkered brain-washing, some of you reading this will already be offended. (more…)

Church, Culture

Into The Pray – Prelude


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Raw Disclaimer

{No, I’ve not gone vegan, but I would like to issue a WARNING that this series is going to possibly offend or insult if you’re religious or blinkered by denominational or institutionalised forms of control. The aim of writing Into The Pray is absolutely not intending to insult or offend in anyway (I take the subject of the church to be almost incomparably important) but I do want to deliberately ‘shoot in raw’ without ‘editing’ in order to process as best as I can}

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“Once more into the fray…into the last good fight I’ll ever know.

Live and die on this day…

Live and die on this day…”

Ottway, The Grey

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faith, religion

The Necessary Itch of Faith


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I appreciate the courage to rethink and examine the Christian faith as a response to the difficult (even distressing) loose ends that there can be for all of us in this life – like a kind of jazz music that ‘just doesn’t seem to resolve’ or sit pleasantly with us (any more).

But, without wanting to disappear down a rabbit hole by immersing myself in all the nooks and crannies that I’ve seen on Facebook lately, I’d like to just say one thing (in two halves) that, though likely to be disregarded as  being too simplistic or naive, remain the absolute and inescapable centre of these multifaceted debates. This needs to be said because although these conversations are personal in origin, to some, they nevertheless manage to create very public ripple-effects in the lives of others when they’re broadcast:

a) The Christian faith is a biblical faith, i.e. it is unashamedly based on the written word of God, regardless of how you respond to it personally. Christianity never pretends to be anything other than utterly biblical and the serious study of the biblical text will show far fewer grey areas or ‘interpretation weaknesses’ than we might like to think. The problem is that we don’t study it seriously enough.

b) The Christian faith is also just that: faith. If the starting (and ongoing) point of Christianity becomes anything other than faith then it ceases to be biblical and, therefore, Christian. This is not to say that faith is incompatible with general enquiry or even a millennial type of examen, but it does mean that you can spend an eternity trying to ‘work stuff out’ to find the illusive musical resolve of the jazz, but it will never come without faith…faith is always required despite our varying urges to fight and even rage against this order of design.

forest-landscape

Therefore, the Christian faith is not compatible with scratching the itch of needing to ‘know’ that something is real before ‘knowing’ it is true – in the sense of needing to ‘see before believing’ – in other words, the bible says you can ‘know’ THE truth by seeing but only via a sight that comes by faith.

Finally, it’s worth saying that examining the Christian faith can (and should) be done while still exercising faith…it is solidly robust enough to endure historical, philosophical and theological enquiry while still recognising that, at its core, is this mysterious but indispensable element called faith.

Christian FAITH – you may call it blind, childish or even ludicrous, but it will always remain the staple ingredient for any saving vision or relationship with Jesus Christ.

And He remains EVERYTHING

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” – Mark 10:15

Bible, Prayer, Theology

The Humanity of Prayer


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We were flicking through movie rental options on TV the other night when we stumbled across Kevin Reynolds’ 2016 film Risen – a film about the resurrection of Christ as seen through the eyes of a Roman Military Tribune, Clavius ((Joseph Fiennes).

Inititially I thought the film was going to be lame but was surprised by the way the film grew on me, particualrly when Jesus featured, as played by Cliff Curtis – I’d thoroughly recommend renting/buying the film!

Barging into the Upper Room

There is one particular aspect of the film that continues to speak to me powerfully:

As the Bible says, when Jesus rose from the grave, after Mary Magdalene had recognised Him by the grave-side, Jesus appeared to His disciples. Walls, Roman Soldiers, constanty conspiring Pharisees and the frightened bewilderment of His people weren’t a problem – Jesus met with his friends to prove his resurrection glory and to encourage His grieving mates. (more…)

Bible, Creativity, Prayer, psalms, writing

A Normal Oblivion


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Bed-side

Imagine being woken up tomorrow morning by voices in your head, or voices that you thought were in your head. Imagine groggily coming round, sick in your stomach, disoriented by fear because of the sonic traffic that the voices in your head were creating: unfamiliar tones, unrecognisable expressions – a mystifying medley of unearthly voice. Imagine waking tomorrow morning to experience something akin to a dream and yet that was not a dream; something understandable and yet utterly bewildering.

You would be afraid. (more…)

Bible, Church

The Valley of Achor


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‘…thus says the Lord, God of Israel, ‘There are devoted things in your midst O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.’

(Joshua 7:13)

It can be painfully frustrating to read through the accounts of the people of Israel. They seem to make the most obvious mistakes and at times have total disregard for the miraculous events that take place in their midst. Reading Joshua chapter 7 felt like one of these frustrating chapters to begin with but as the narrative began to unfold it suddenly felt significant and then incredibly relevant. It will never cease to amaze me how God does this time and time again through scripture. (more…)

Addiction, Exercise and Health, Prayer, spirituality

Dependence


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Did you know that it’s possible to be addicted to exercise? In fact, exercise dependence is widely recognised as a form of compulsive behavioural addiction – a psychological state that is damaging to physical, mental and social health.

The basic principle of establishing whether you’re addicted to exercise, or not, (or to what extent), is to answer a series of questions which pumps out an overall score of your psycological state.

*Google: exercise dependence and HAD test.

(more…)

emotions, forgiveness, grace, mercy

The Mystery of the Spectacular Ordinary 


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For several years I have been struggling to forgive a very serious series of incidents that have had a major impact on my heart and mind as well as Mairi’s. Detail is unnecessary. But, suffice to say, I have been wrestling with the cognitive wisdom of ‘knowing’ that forgiveness was needed, for my own sake, but not quite knowing how to get my heart there. (more…)

Bible, Marriage, Theology

Canonically 


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In 2008 I graduated from St.Andrews University with a slightly random degree in Biblical Studies and French. I had spent four years studying several different books of the Bible including their history, authorship, historical and cultural contexts and linguistic challenges that exist with them. (more…)

Hosea, Marriage, Theology

We Are Gomer


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This is the seventh and final post that I’m going to do on the book of Hosea. But seventh in the series though it may be, I want to treat it as though it is the first and the last.

Layered over the timeless theology of this minor Prophet’s book, and this series, has been a certain amount of poetic thought. I hope it’s been clear; I hope it’s been helpful.

But, in just a few paragraphs, what is the message of Hosea? (more…)