A friend of mine posted this as his Facebook status the other day, I hope it gets you thinking…
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as: Knowing when to come in out of the rain; Why the early bird gets the worm; Life isn’t always fair; and Maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies, don’t spend more than you can earn and adults, not children, are in charge.
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition. Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion. Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault. Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife Discretion, his daughter Responsibility, and his son, Reason. He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, I Want It Now, Someone Else Is To Blame, I’m A Victim. Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.
It has been claimed that Pink Floyd’s album Dark Side of the Moon syncs perfectly with The Wizard of Oz. Thanks to the internet, please find the entire album and the entire film presented, in sync.
Of course, Pink Floyd has always said that any synchronisation is a complete fluke, but it works terrifyingly well.
I have a confession to make: I’m guilty of quoting the Bible out of context to make a point. In my defence it was unintentional, but since realising this I’ve noticed that we Christians seem to do it just a little too often. Have a look at these commonly quoted Bible verses that don’t actually say what we seem to say they do:
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
I’ve quoted this, and heard it quoted often, to say that…’all have sinned’. Nobody’s perfect. But to take this verse to prove that the Bible says that everyone’s sinned isn’t logical, because the sentence continues:
 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,  whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
Logically speaking, if you’re going to use verse 23 to ‘prove’ that everyone’s a sinner, you must accept that all are justified – and that’s not the case because those that are said here to be justified are justified through faith in Christ Jesus. So the ‘all’ means ‘all Christians’. Can we please stop using Romans 3:23 to say that everyone needs to become a Christian?
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.
I’ve heard this one quoted in probably every other prayer meeting I’ve been to: ‘O Lord, you said that when two or more gather in your name you are there, and we are gathered in your name so you are here with us…’
But that’s not what the passage is saying! Have a read of Matthew 18:15-20 and you’ll quickly spot that it’s talking about church discipline! Jesus is saying that if someone has sinned against you and won’t repent when you approach them or when independent witnesses validate your claim, you should bring them before the church because the collective witness of Jesus’ body, the church, reflects Jesus’ own view.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Perhaps this is my favourite. This is always used as the call for conversion: ‘Unbelievers, Jesus is standing at the door of your heart, will you open the door and let him in?’
But again, look at the context! This statement is part of a rebuke to a church who were being ‘lukewarm’ – they were claiming to be Christians but living as if they were atheists. Jesus’ knock isn’t a gentle ‘let me in for intimacy’, it’s a sarcastic ‘Helloooo! I’m right here, you say you believe in me, but you’re acting like an unbeliever!’
Right. Let’s be clear here – I actually believe that all have sinned. I believe that Jesus is present when we gather by his Spirit. I believe that Jesus is calling unbelievers to faith and repentance. But how about we treat the Bible the way it should be treated? Instead of taking soundbites from it, how about we read it, study it, and apply its lessons.
I quite like funny pictures and things, and Friday seems to be as good a day as any to share them with the world. Perhaps I’ll turn Fridays into a regular comics day.
Yep, that famous quote from Stargate SG-1, perhaps the best TV series ever to grace our screens.
But I was away with work the last couple of weeks, and ended up looking forward to each weekend so that I could get home – in the middle of one of my five-hour drives I started thinking: what is it that actually defines ‘home’?
I was one of those kids who ended up moving around quite a lot – we moved five times before I left home, then my parents moved again while I was at university, and in the last eight years I’ve moved twelve times! What was it about ‘home’ that made me not create an instant attachment to my hotel room that I slept in for nine nights over two weeks?
Well, I had a bit of a think and figured that basically I didn’t feel it was home because it was lacking people that I know (living with me and in the community close to me), a place that I’m familiar with, possessions that I’m responsible for and a proutine I’m familiar with (routine doesn’t start with a p).
What defines home for you?
This is going to be an interesting, and hopefully inspirational week as we continue our journey through Proverbs. Solomon sets us up with four statements which follow the same pattern: ‘if you do this, then this will happen’:
‘Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favour and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Honour the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.’ (Proverbs 3:3-10)
Love and faithfulness – favour and success
So if we hold tight to love and faithfulness we will ‘find favour and good success’. What does this mean? Well, holding on to love and faithfulness must refer to God. He is love (1 John 4:8), and all His work is done in faithfulness (Psalm 33:4). So holding on to love and faithfulness is to maintain a strong faith in God. We are to worship Him above all other gods, and submit to Him in everything. If we do this, we are promised favour and good success – so what does this mean? Well, this uncovers the single biggest mind-blowing mystery in history, yet one that I think we overlook on a daily basis! Despite the fact that God’s standard is unattainable by us, He has granted us His favour through the Son’s death and resurrection. The Hebrew word used for favour is chen, which can also be translated as grace. ‘by grace you have been saved’ (Ephesians 2:5).
The second and third statements used by Solomon echo and underline this first one. If we trust in the LORD, if we acknowledge Him in the way we live our lives, He will make our paths straight – what does that mean? Well, ‘all the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness’ (Psalm 25:10) so Solomon is using this opportunity to remind us of God’s amazing grace. Who says that the God of the Old Testament is all wrath?
And the third statement is like it; if we admit that we are not wise (submission to God’s wisdom) and fear the LORD and turn from evil, we are promised healing and refreshment. Does this mean that ‘if we have enough faith, we will always be well’? Absolutely not; read the words carefully: ‘It will be healing…and refreshment’. NOT ‘you will be healed and refreshed’ – Solomon is telling us that the act of submission, humility and fear of the LORD in themselves will be healing and refreshment! In submitting to God, in worshipping Him, we are healed. For our benefit and joy, they are an end in themselves.
Honouring with wealth – full barns and vats
Having understood how the previous statement can be misinterpreted it should be more straightforward for us to understand this statement. I’ve been told on numerous occasions that this verse is a Bible promise that if you tithe, God will make you rich…but that is not what it says. This is a Bible promise, but the promise is that if we honour the LORD with our wealth (i.e. what we own above the absolute basics of food, clothing and shelter) and the firstfruits of all our produce (i.e. giving a generous portion of our income to God before doing anything else with it), our barns and vats will be ‘filled with plenty’ and ‘bursting with wine’. The assumption that is normally made here is that the barns and vats essentially refer to our bank accounts on earth, but that simply doesn’t tie up with the rest of the Bible.
Jesus speaks a similar phrase to this in Mark 10:21: ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ Jesus’ command to this rich man was to honour the LORD with his wealth, and his reward would indeed by treasure…but in heaven. You and I, if we are Christians, have barns and vats in heaven, and as we honour God with our earthly wealth we are making an eternal guaranteed investment. What joy will meet our eyes as we arrive at our heavenly mansions, where our vats are literally bursting with wine! Our God is indeed a generous God.
When I was a student I was introduced to this little phrase: ‘Once saved, always saved.’ Apart from it being frustrating use of the word saved (see here) it seems to make some people really angry.
There are some Christians who don’t like this idea because it basically means that someone can stick their hand up at an evangelistic event and ‘get saved’, then go back to their regular life and live in sin, all the while claiming that they’re ‘always saved’. This does seem to fly in the face of Christianity: should we sin so that grace may abound? By no means! (Romans 6:1-2)
But what’s the knock-on effect of drawing this conclusion? That you can lose your salvation. I could respond at an evangelistic event, or in my bedroom, or in a field with a friend, or whatever, then not actually know in a week’s or in a year’s time whether I’m still a Christian. Especially if I sin. But this goes against the Bible’s little phrase which says that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).
So what’s the deal? Simple. But not easy. Of course God doesn’t change his mind, once you have been saved you can’t get ‘unsaved’. But salvation clearly isn’t so much about praying a particular prayer or responding by raising a hand as it is about having a change of heart; you become a new creation!
I guess it’s not that easy to define – I think I’ll leave it to God to judge.
Um…I stumbled across this the other day and actually am not sure what to think…please tell me?