Archive for September, 2010

From Belief to Faith

Posted: September 29, 2010 by Nathan in What Next...
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Romans 10:9

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

All of us are at completely different stages in our life of faith. At one end of the spectrum there are some of you who have faith that there is no God and at the other end some people who have total faith that there is one. I guess that most of us sit somewhere in between. I just wanted to address the issue that some of you may have that you have a belief that God exists but want to translate that belief into something more. I would call it moving from a position of belief to a position of faith, or trust.

The Chair

When it comes to belief and faith I like to use the analogy of a chair. It’s perhaps because I’m quite a big guy so it is more relevant to me that others, but I hope you’ll understand the gist if it.

When it comes to the question of belief in God billions of people around the world would say they believed in Him. Yet for only a much smaller percentage of the world’s population does that belief have any real meaning. Billions of people believe in God but far fewer have faith or trust in Him. Here is where the chair comes in. When it comes to a chair or a stool or anything you can sit on, when considering sitting on it we have to believe that it will take our weight. We don’t want to end up in a pile on the floor along with the remains of a chair that didn’t quite do the job. As a bigger than average chap I have to consider this more than most, especially when it comes to camping chairs or chairs that like less than robust. I can pick a chair up, examine it from every angle, pull it about, check the joints and even read the label for it’s weight limit. I can come to a stage where I can look at the chair and wholeheartedly believe that it will hold my weight. It is not, however, until I sit in the chair that I can be said to have moved from that belief in the strength of the chair to having faith that it will hold my weight. So it is with many people’s belief in God. They believe in His existence but have not yet moved to faith in Him. It is one thing to believe in God but another thing to put that belief into action by having faith in Him.

So what does having faith in God look like?

The list below is by no means exhaustive but should give a good idea of the main elements that make up a faith in God.

  1. Believing that not only does God exists but wants a relationship with you.
  2. Being willing to enter into that relationship.
  3. Believing that the Bible is a major way that God has communicated with us and continues to do so.
  4. Putting in to practise the beliefs found in the Bible as best you can.
  5. Believing that God created us and all things.
  6. Believing that we have become separated from God through our wrongdoings.
  7. Believing that God sent His only son to die for us to bring us back into a relationship with Him by paying the price for our wrongdoings.
  8. Believing that God has sent His Holy Spirit to be our guide, counsellor and help.
  9. Trying to put God first in everything that we do.
  10. Believing that God wants the best for you and knows what is best for you.

Making the transition from belief to faith is a big step and not something to be taken lightly, but also not something to get hung up about. Some people make a huge “leap of faith” and go from believing to trusting in one quick step. Others make lots of little steps and get to faith that way. There are no set rules of how to come to faith but at some point you need to make the decision for yourself and pray a prayer similar to the one found right at the bottom of the page. Some of you may find that you’re not there yet and might like to try praying the prayer below asking God to help you in your search for Him.

When it comes to moving from belief to faith the Bible is very clear, all you need to do is “…confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” God has made it simple – after all there is nothing He want more that for you to make that step. Come on, what are you waiting for?

If you do make a decision to move from belief to faith please do let us know. We’d love to pray for you!! Also if you have any questions you want to ask before making that step let us know and we’ll do our very best to help. Just click on the contact button above.

Prayers that you may find useful

A Prayer for Help

God

I really don’t know if you are there or not.

I don’t know if you can hear me or I’m just talking out into space.

But I do want to believe in you.

If you are there please help me to believe.

Please reveal yourself to me in some way.

Please strengthen my faith

and help me in my times of unbelief.

Amen


A prayer of Salvation

God,

I recognise that I have been on a journey towards you. I thank you that you are real and love me unconditionally.

You say in the Bible that if I confess my sins and ask forgiveness, You are faithful and will forgive my sins and remember them no more. You will not hold them against me and You will give me everlasting life.

Father, I confess that I have done many things wrong in my life. I have not followed Your ways and have hurt you and others along the way. I am truly sorry for the hurt I have cause to those around me and to you. I repent of my wrong doings and ask for Your forgiveness.

Father, I believe that Jesus Christ, Your only Son, came to Earth and was born, that He lived among us, and that He was crucified to pay for our wrongdoings and for my wrongdoings. I believe that You raised Him from the dead and gave Him power over all creation.

God, I accept Your Son, Jesus, as my Saviour and I commit to follow Him from this day forward. Send your Holy Spirit to guide me, protect me, lead me and counsel me. Help me grow in wisdom, knowledge and love for You and Your ways. Give me the strength and courage to change my ways and resist evil and wrongdoings in the future.

God, I thank You for sending Your only Son to die so that I can live.

Jesus, I thank You in that You died for me while I was still doing many wrong things and had not yet accepted You. I thank You for forgiving my wrongdoings and for bringing me to a saving knowledge of You.

God I know this is the beginning of a new journey with you, a new chapter of my life. I ask that you would teach me to pray. Guide me. Increase my faith in you, and make me sure in the knowledge that I can rely on You, no matter what may come. Lead me to a good Christians and the right church where I can learn Your word and your will for me and where I can grow in my knowledge of You.

I ask these things in Your name, and I thank You for making me a Christian.

Amen!

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Wake up.  Get ready for work or school.  Go there.  Do your thing.  Go home.  Eat supper.  Get ready for bed.  Go to bed.  Get up and do it all again the next day.

Then there’s the weekend.  A little different, but basically a repeat of last weekend.

Add into the mix struggles with money, school, job, family, friends, your own self…what’s the point of all of this?

Will it ever end?  Or at least seem meaningful?

As in “The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

What does man gain from all his labor
at which he toils under the sun?

Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.

The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.

The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.

All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.

All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.

There is no remembrance of men of old,
and even those who are yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow.”  (Ecclesiastes Chapter 1 – NIV)

Do you feel like that “teacher”?  I have.  I understand very well his ponderings.

Why do I live each day to only get up and do the same thing all over again?  Some barely make it through each one, others seem to “successfully” breeze through their days, but most of us regardless of our situation have found ourselves saying these same things.

Is there more to life than “this”?

Yes, there is.

Life is much more than each of those repetitive things we seemingly do without purpose at times.  We are not here to become successful and make profit.  We are not here to find our inner selves and attain the highest level of inner peace possible within us.  We are not here to get over our low self esteem and achieve a place of having self worth.  Meaningless, meaningless, that is all meaningless…like chasing after the wind.

No, we will never find fulfillment in who we are or what we can do.  Sometimes it may seem like it, but that too is fleeting.

We are on this earth because our Creator loves us and has a specific plan for each of our lives.  He wants to commune with us and share with us glimpses of Who He is and who He plans to make us.  He wants to have us all come home to spend our eternity with Him, though in the mean time, He deliberately has each of us on this planet at this very time for an appointed reason.  And, while we are here, He desires for us to live this present earthly life abundantly by accepting His free gift of eternal life, right here, right now.

We don’t wait until we are no longer on this earth to live abundantly and eternally – it starts here and now…the minute you confess that you believe in Him and what He has done to pay for our sin by sending His Son to die on the cross for us.  The minute you accept that free, but by no means easy, gift He gave us.

I don’t know what His intentions for you are on this earth, but I do know that you and I are here “for such a time as this.” (See the story of Esther for more on that.)

I don’t know specifically why you are here, but I know that He says:

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” (Jeremiah 29:11)

And He says:

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.  ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'”  (Isaiah 55:8-9)

I know that our Creator and Father longs to commune with us so that we can overflow with His love and mercy onto those around us who so need love and mercy that they cannot and are not getting anywhere else.  He wants to use us, even the bad things that have been a part of our lives, to show others how precious and freeing and peaceful His redemption and forgiveness can be in our lives.

Our world is hungry and thirsty for things much deeper and more eternal than food and drink.  Just like all of the things that seem so meaningless in this life cannot satisfy, looking inside ourselves or to other people on this earth will leave us feeling void and pointless.

Only He, our God, through His Son gives us purpose and fulfillment in our lives.

He will lead you.  Confess your need for Him because of your sin and lack of faith in Him and accept His gift right now.

He will guide you from there.  He will show you “the point.”

That’s why you’re here.

I don’t have a brain the size of a planet and I’m not even that intellectual. I’m not well educated and I don’t even have a degree so if you’re looking for well thought out counter-argument to Richard Dawkins…look away now!!!

I bow to the greater intelligence of this man but I don’t have to agree with him and, you may be surprised to hear, neither do a great deal of other equally intelligent people. As with many things, those that shout the loudest, get heard the most. It doesn’t mean that those who shout the loudest have the right answers. For every Richard Dawkins there are hundreds of other equally intelligent people who disagree to some extent or other. Do we hear these voices? Let us also not forget that there is a world of difference between intelligence and wisdom.

I love the story a friend of mine used to tell of a guy he took sailing one day. This guy was among the most intellectual people you would be likely to come across. During the course of their sailing trip they discovered they had a small gas leak and this guy took it on himself to seek out the source of the leak. He came back on deck saying that he’d found it. My friend asked him how he knew where it was located and this guy beckoned my friend to follow. He took my friend to the source of the leak and explained that he knew it we coming from this weld in the pipe because every time he lit his lighter and held it to the weld the leaking gas blew the flame out!! My friend quickly removed the lighter from this guy and fixed the leak. It could have ended up far worse!! Intelligence but little wisdom.

Richard Dawkins would have us believe that when it comes to God, evolution, Darwinism, science etc. he has it all sown up. After all he does have a reputation to uphold!! It would be difficult for him to come out and change his view on many issues. However although his main belief seems to be…

…all life, all intelligence, all creativity and all ‘design’ anywhere in the universe is the direct or indirect product of Darwinian natural selection…Design cannot precede evolution and therefore cannot underlie the universe.

in 2008 he did say that:

“A serious case could be made for a deistic God.”

Melanie Phillips, as reported in The Spectator magazine, said…

“This was surely remarkable. Here was the arch-apostle of atheism, whose whole case is based on the assertion that believing in a creator of the universe is no different from believing in fairies at the bottom of the garden, saying that a serious case can be made for the idea that the universe was brought into being by some kind of purposeful force. A creator. True, he was not saying he was now a deist; on the contrary, he still didn’t believe in such a purposeful founding intelligence, and he was certainly still saying that belief in the personal God of the Bible was just like believing in fairies. Nevertheless, to acknowledge that ‘a serious case could be made for a deistic god’ is to undermine his previous categorical assertion (above).”

Melanie Phillips goes on to say that…

“Even more jaw-droppingly, Dawkins told me that, rather than believing in God, he was more receptive to the theory that life on earth had indeed been created by a governing intelligence – but one which had resided on another planet. Leave aside the question of where that extra-terrestrial intelligence had itself come from, is it not remarkable that the arch-apostle of reason finds the concept of God more unlikely as an explanation of the universe than the existence and plenipotentiary power of extra-terrestrial little green men?

So it seems he is willing to believe in some things where there is no evidence of existence and yet argues that evidence is all important. He also says that he is in search of truth. However, in watching him take part in various debates it seems he is very free in twisting the truth and making false statements. For someone who, if we believe him, holds the truth in such high regards it is a little strange.

There is no time to go into details here but to me there are many cracks in Dawkins’ arguments against God. For some reason he is very anti-religion and echoes John Lennon in imagining a world with no Religion. A world without 9/11; 7/7; the Crusades; Northern Irish unrest; the Middle East Situation etc. It seems easy to agree with him. However he discounts the other side. What about a world without World Vision; Islamic Aid; Traidcraft; Cafod; Christian Aid; to name just a handful of faith based organizations in a sea of Religious organizations tirelessly working to make lives better.  You can’t say something is wrong because you don’t like it or disagree with it. It’s very easy to look at the negative sides of religions, pick at their faults and therefore discount them. Even taking Christianity there have been many things done in the name of it that are abhorrent. There are things in the Bible that are difficult to come to terms with, things that even Christians don’t like. However, it doesn’t mean that, just because we don’t like what He allows or does, that God doesn’t exist.

What I found interesting in one of the debates I listened to was that Dawkins had the final word as summed up his thinking by saying words to this effect… If you walk into a garden, everything points to there being a gardener. Darwinism shows us that this doesn’t have to be true. Now that sounds like a good point of view. If you walk into a garden there is a possibility that there isn’t a gardener a creator behind the order, complexity and design that you find there, but would you believe it? If I took you to the formal gardens of a Stately home and showed you them and then told you what you were looking at was just derelict land that was left to it’s own devices and this is what nature created – you would think me crazy. Even though you might think it could be even remotely possible you would not believe it, you could not believe it.

Though I personally may not be able to convince you that Richard Dawkins is wrong in his beliefs, I would urge you to acknowledge that there is the possibility of him being wrong. Below you will find just a couple of links to a debates and an article that I hope you’ll find useful in exploring further the subject of “What If Richard Dawkins isn’t as right as he thinks he is?” However, where does that leave us? If Richard Dawkins and all his intelligence can’t disprove God or even put forward a convincing case for His non-existence what are we meant to think.

Now, I’m not suggesting just because someone can’t disprove God it means that He must exist, of course not. I am however saying that it is enough to make you think. Many scientists would have us believe that science has once and for all buried God. I would say that they have tried and will keep on trying. But God is not dead. I would say that if Richard Dawkins is wrong we have a lot of searching still to do.

Are you prepared to search along side us?

The Dawkins-Lennox Debate

“Is Richard Dawkins still evolving?” by Melanie Phillips – Spectator Magazine

***Please note that the “Possibly related posts” are not necessarily ones with which we agree nor endorse, unless they come directly from this site (whatifdotdotdot.wordpress.com).  These posts are automatically generated by WordPress and are not in any way selected by us.***

Are you up to the challenge!?!

Posted: September 8, 2010 by Haelie in What Next...
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So, tell me…how’s that challenge going for you? (You know, the one I dared you with back on the What if I don’t know what I believe? -Part 2” post…go check it out if you are just now reading about it for the first time…but you others have no excuse…you know the challenge I’m talking about!)  No, seriously, I do want to know how you’re doing with it.  In case you’re wondering…I learned so much when I dove into the Book of John last year!  I do hope you will give it a chance, if you haven’t already.

Well, there are only a few options of answers for “How’s the challenge going?”

  • “I’ve started, but I haven’t gotten all the way through yet.”
    • Well, I must say, very good! Seriously, I know you may be beating yourself up over it a little (or a lot), but I promise, sometimes you just have to do things at your own pace.  And, believe it or not, that is exactly the pace at which you should be doing it.
    • The main thing is…just don’t quit!  Don’t give up! Keep reading and considering all that is there and you will be so glad you did!
      • Are you hung up on something?
      • Do you have questions that have surfaced?
        • Ask. We may not know the answer, but we can sure try to help you find out.
          • By the way, for any of you at whatever stage in this, one thing I have learned very well lately is to not wait until you (or I) have all of the answers and get it all figured out (we never will…no one can).
          • Take Him as you know Him right now, the way He has revealed Himself to you up to this point in your life, especially through the book of John as you are working your way through this challenge.  He will progressively answer more of your questions and show you more of Himself in your life as you are honest about what you do know (little or much) and act on the knowledge you do have.
  • “I’ve already finished.”
    • Awesome!!! Now, did you really consider it as you were reading it?
      • If so, what kind of thoughts did you have?
      • What different things did you learn (or are you still learning, rather)?
        • Please share.
      • Do you remember the part about Him feeding the extremely large crowd of people?  Did you catch a couple of the lessons in that?
        • Like for instance, sometimes in order to realize that God is at work we have to realize how humanly impossible the situation is.
        • Also, when we are dealing with something that is so impossible, are you one who takes whatever you have (strength, hope, energy, belief, money, etc. – even as little as it may be) and brings it to Him knowing He can take it and multiply it like He did the food that day and do something you could have never dreamed possible!?!
        • Here’s an awesome quote for you from the study of John which I went through last year (called BSF International, in case you want to know more about it).  It’s related to a lesson to be learned from the boy who gave his small lunch to be used that day, not knowing if he would even get to eat any of his own lunch, but just thinking that he might could be of some help…
          • “You must risk in faith before you know by experience.” (Will you take that risk!?!)
  • “I haven’t started at all…” (followed by one of the following:)
    • “…but I do plan to, just haven’t done it yet.”
      • Again, I’m very glad you plan to (of course, it doesn’t matter whether I’m glad or not…you don’t have to please me…you don’t owe anything to me…this is all for YOU…for YOUR benefit, not mine.).
      • Do start as soon as you get a chance, and I will say the same to you as I did above in the first response at the beginning of this post.  Go back up there and read that again.
    • “…and I don’t plan to at all.” (To which I will then ask “Why Not?” and your response may be very close to one of the following:)
      • “I already know what it says, because I’ve read all or most of John as well as the rest of the Bible so many times over the years…not to mention all of the sermons I’ve heard on it (or even preached on it). So, really, what’s the point?  I already know all there is to know.”
        • Really?  You do? I do understand what you are saying, as I have thought and told myself the very same thing several times, for many years of time as a matter of fact.
        • Is it really that you think that there is no way you could see/read/learn anything new by reading John again…or could there be more to it?
        • Let’s think about this.  Time to really get honest.  I dare you!
          • Could it be that you have been rationalizing your life and way of thinking for so long that you don’t even realize that – even though you say you are happy with your life and the way you are living it and are furthermore not doing anything wrong?
          • Could it be that you are actually refusing to “come to the light lest your deeds be exposed” and you have to face and admit the fact that you have been wrong after all?  (quoting from BSF and John 3:18-21, not to mention my own experience)
            • I know it’s terribly difficult and even humiliating to consider that you might have to hear “I told you so.”,  even if it is your own self saying it!
              • (And, honestly, you are probably the only one who will say that to you…so many people in your life will be so overjoyed and refreshed to see the change in you and the obvious joy in your life that they won’t even think twice to welcome you home with loving, forgiving, caring arms.)
            • No one can judge you, because no one on this earth is above sinking to the lowest depths imaginable…and each of us truly knows that about ourselves.
      • “I don’t believe in God, so there is no point in reading the Bible.  It’s no more real than the mythological writings.”
        • Do you believe everything else that you read? Fiction?  Mythology?  Folklore?
        • If you read other things KNOWING they are not true nor real, then what will it hurt to read this one book of the Bible, John?  Besides, it’s nowhere near the length/size of many highly read literary works (the likes of which you may enjoy reading as well).
        • Why not just take this intellectual challenge and read it once through?
        • I’m not asking you to believe it.  As a matter of fact, you can even leave out the prayer part of the challenge if that’s just way too “out there” for you.  No big deal.  Give it a shot.
        • Again, as I said when I first issued the challenge…I dare you!  I’ll even up the ante now…I DOUBLE DOG dare you!

We will be looking forward to hearing from you in response to how your “What If…” Journey / Challenge is going.  Share your thoughts…honest…good, bad, or indifferent.

What If… I die tomorrow?

Posted: September 1, 2010 by Nathan in What If...
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Last Sunday we travelled back from our much needed and fantastic family holiday. We had not travelled far, about an hour, when we came to a stop at the end of a traffic jam. It became clear that there had been an accident and the traffic jam soon turned into a linear car park.  People got out of their cars and craned their necks to try and see what was going on. First police, then ambulances, fire engines, more police, an air ambulance, yet more plain police cars and finally the ominous sign of the darkened windowed cars of the undertakers filed passed our windows. We were only about 30 cars back and could see the aftermath of the accident.  It was far too close for comfort, especially with two small children in the back.

Three hours is a long time to sit in a car waiting. As I sat and prayed for those involved and for all those who were helping I couldn’t help but wonder “What if…?”  What if my wife had not taken that wrong turn?  What if my kids had not slept in so late? What if we’d been more organised the night before and packed the car then? All these questions leading to the inevitable “What if we’d have been 2 minutes earlier and it had been us involved in the accident and not them?” What if instead of sitting here in relative comfort for three hours we were sitting in agony as fire crew cut us from our car? In fact, what if it was us that the undertakers were packing into those black bags and transporting sedately away in front of the silenced onlookers?

In some ways it doesn’t bear thinking about. Yet thousands of people die unexpectedly every day of the week, every week of the year. Those six people involved in Sunday’s accident had no idea what their day was to bring. Never would it have entered their minds that this day would bring so much pain, anguish, tragedy and even death. However, it happens to people all over the world day in and day out and yet we never expect it to happen to us and never really prepare for it. When it comes to dying most peoples preparation goes as far as ensuring they have clean underwear on in case they land up in hospital.  Some people go as far as having funeral plans, life insurance and making a will.  But what about the really important thing?  Have we really thought through what would happen to us if we did die unexpectedly today? Is this life really all there is? Many people have a vague belief in God, but are we really ready to meet Him?

The Apostle Paul, in the Bible, says that to live and do God’s work on earth was great but to die was even better.  Not many of us can say that!!  I once knew an incredible lady who was so ready to die, she was an inspiration. Every birthday that came around she would say that we could wish her “Happy Birthday” but weren’t allowed to wish her many “happy returns” (a way of saying “and many more birthdays to come as well“).  She had been a missionary, she was still doing the work of God but what she really wanted to do now was to meet Him face to face, to go to heaven and start the party!!  She didn’t want to die in a sort of depressed, suicidal way she just wanted to move on to bigger and much better things. She knew she was living in a second class Kingdom and that God had so much better for her in store. She had thought through carefully the Christian faith, she had made her decision and lived it out for many years.  She was now ready to go home. Had she not spent the time and energy to explore the Christian faith she would not have been ready, she would not have had that certainty that a life trusting God can give you.

You may have made a will, got life insurance, have your family catered for and all your affairs in order but have you taken care of your spiritual welfare? You may have left details of what is to be done with your possessions and even your body when you die.  Your nearest and dearest may know if you want to be buried, cremated or even cryogenically frozen but what preparations have you made for your eternal future.  What if there is even the smallest possibility that part of you, that part that makes you you, continues in some form or other.  Some people call it your soul, some your spirit, but whatever it may be called isn’t it worth thinking through the possibilities.  No-one likes to miss out on good things.  As a Christian I believe that the best is yet to come. I believe it took God six days to create this earth.  I also believe that is has taken Him 2000 years and counting to create an eternal place for us to dwell.  That gives the magnitude of how great I believe heaven will be.

Now that is going to be some party!!  Are you ready to join in?