Friends

faith

An Atrophy of Faith


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A Brave New World

An amazing Brazilian couple we’ve recently made friends with came over to our house last night for dinner. Monday evening isn’t exactly the usual time of the week for having friends over but it suited our guests who have a very hectic working schedule that involves them both regularly working into the early hours of the morning – via pretty unsociable patterns – and Monday was a day off. Having only previously met and talked briefly at church, we were about two minutes into conversation over dinner when it dawned on me that this beautiful couple sitting opposite us were mighty in faith!

About a year ago they had made the decision to radically relocate their lives, along with their two children, from Brazil to Scotland simply because God had asked them to. Now we were enjoying dinner together as they both shared stories about the goodness and the power of God in their lives. With all of the many challenges you can imagine in moving from one country to another (employment, schooling, food, weather, culture, language, friends etc etc), they are now prayerfully waiting on the Father to show them how He wants to use them in this brave new world.

Faith is a Muscle

In the natural world of exercise and health, when you regularly participate in resistance training your muscles get bigger (hypertrophy); when you don’t get involved in said resistance training your muscles waste and become weak and small (atrophy).

I had worked in the world of fitness and health for more than ten years so when my new friend used this phrase (faith is a muscle) to explain his understanding of the key difference between the Brazilian and UK churches, it struck me powerfully. But mainly it registered forcefully with me because it was a phrase that had come out of the mouth of a believer who was truly living by faith in front of my very eyes!

It was also because I am someone who does regularly lift weights to keep in good physical condition that this metaphor had a profound impact on me: it’s all very well training and looking after your physical muscles but if you’re not exercising your muscle of faith you’re weak on the inside. I hate the idea of being weak and flabby in the physical so how much more horrible is the thought of being a weak and flabby spiritual man of faith?

Primed by the miraculous, awe-inspiring stories of our friends, I wanted to start exercising faith there and then!

Comfortable Christianity

Thinking about this simple analogy for the spiritual life of faith, how healthy is your faith, would you say?

Chat to someone about it.

Do you feel like you exercise your faith regularly or perhaps you feel a little out of shape?

People don’t exercise in the natural for lots of reasons many of which are often very valid but perhaps God is asking you to talk to Him about starting to exercise your faith in a new way?

What does the Bible say?

“…faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

Romans 10:17

Why not drop us a line or leave a comment to continue the conversation?

 

music

Citadel


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Citadel

G’day one and all. It’s summer so I hope you’re either reading this blog with a fresh cold drink on a glorious day off in the sun, or recovering with your iPhone in a cosy pub somewhere with a Ploughmans after a climb up a high, high mountain – a happy day.

It was a happy day much like one of these that I remember this instinct to write turning into focus in my head for one day after I got back from holiday. Well, this one day happens to be today – thank you for reading.

Citadel Festival

We’d been stood for literally 5 hours waiting for Sigur Rós to emerge from behind the scaffolding and smoke as we dwelt in London’s Victoria Park to see one of the best bands in the world. Crisp cider in hand and a rucksack-full of fresh fruit, we shouted, clapped and screamed through a couple of bands (including the very cool Caribou) before the Icelandic legends struck their first open chord. It was such a great day: Sigur Rós were more amazing than I’d expected (and I expected), Caribou were coolness personified as sundown came and went and the incomprable Nathaniel Rateliff just made everyone very happy.

Then it struck me – this is the way it’s supposed to be.

Sure, there were a couple of wollies who wanted to bypass festival etiquette by trying to barge to the front, yes there was a heady smell of weed everywhere and yes a few people fainted and had to be thrown over the security fence like a mannequin to receive first aid. But by and large everyone was loving it – the sun was shining, immense bands were playing 6ft away and everyone was treating everyone else respectfully and having a whole load of fun.

Numb

But as the beats per minute looped on and on, there was another world not very far away:

Terrorism, greedy banks, dividing countries, Dictators, sex scandals, wars, rumours of wars, crumbling economies…I think we’re all a little numb from not only the accelerating pace of the atrocities and stresses that seem to punctuate our days, but the peculiar numbness that comes from the constancy of dysfunction of society’s fraying – something’s not right and we know it somewhere deep inside, wondering, as we all do, if it will ever come to stare us in the face more closely to home.

It’s called fear.

This momenatry oasis of Citadel’s summer festival was respbite from the evil that is far too dominant in all of our worlds. But it was more than a mirage.

Maybe most folk weren’t thinking about the countires under attack from terrorism as Sigur Rós played another G#m and lit up the sky. But isn’t there a tiredness in all of us with evil and murder and atrocity? A kind of internal fatigue that comes when we hear of yet more carnage and flagrant disregard for the sanctity of life and yet we don’t know what to say…so normally we don’t – we just sigh and hold our nearest and dearest a little tighter. Or perhaps we drink too much so as not to think about it. Or end up taking drugs and fainting and being thrown over a metal blocade like a rag doll.

Neighbours

We all have to deal with the outrage and the fear and we’ll all deal with it in different ways. But there is one consequence of the accumulation of these sad days that should be the same for all of us blessed with rational sanity: we should all be learning to love the sanctity of life that we’ve been given, the peace in cohabiting respectfully together and the grace to be thankful for every tiniest blessing along the way.

Humanity isn’t created for guns and race wars and genocide and atrocious greed; humainity is created to dwell together in unity and to revel in the unity found only there.

When the Pharisee tested Jesus with a question about the law, the Messiah replied

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (See Matthew 22:37-38).

As I wrap up these musings about the struggle of good and evil in our days, and the small glimpses of how things are supposed to be despite them, perhaps these freedom words about loving God and loving each other as we should could be more of a comfort than we might have ever thought.

(more…)

Bible, Culture, Jesus, Theology

Don’t Be A Ross


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Christian Fundamentalism has a bad name because it’s a term that’s often used to stereotypically describe someone who believes in biblical orthodoxy…

…but in a BAAAAAAD way:

Christian Fundamentalists are regularly stereotyped as being inflexible, bigoted, arrogant, unloving, religious and legalistic and perhaps not ‘cool’, ‘street-wise’ or ‘relevant’ any more.

More specifically, at the apex of the negative branding of ‘Christian Fundamentalists’, is the notion that they are controlling and narrow-minded, damaging of ‘free thought’, emergent generations and general ‘freedom of speech’.

I don’t think this is what it means to be a Christian Fundamentalist. (more…)

Bible

Fight as Though For Yourself


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A friend loves at all times,
    and a brother is born for adversity.

 – Proverbs 17:17 –

The bible says this is what friends do and that this is what brothers are born for.

Q) Is this your experience? A) Probably not…at least, probably not entirely.

It’s more likely that you have been hurt by your friends, vice versa, and that you have shirked the risk of taking responsibility of the adversity of a brother (or sister, obviously). (more…)

Worship, Worship Projects, Worship, Music and Song, writing

With Us: Oikos (Behind the Scenes at Home)


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Here are a series of stories of dear friends who have journeyed through their own valleys but who also have awesome testimonies of the faithfulness of Jesus constantly being with them. Thanks so much to Jo, Naomi, Andrew, Josh, Roger and Sheena who plucked up courage to go for it!

The video also explains a little about my deep desire to see our homes increasingly becoming our Head Quarters of radical prayer and worship where we retreat to be with Him together and from where we advance, filled with the Holy Spirit, full of faith and love, to reach those black and blue but who are without hope and without God in the world (what a terrible thought – see Ephesians 2:12)

Our stories shared from black and blue seasons in life can help us all stand on our bedrock foundation that “God Is With Us”. Why not share your own black and blue stories with others – when God has always been with you – they’re unique, powerful testimonies that will bring others much-needed sanity! (See: 2 Corinthians 1: 3-5)