An Author’s View of the Bible

Though this post talks about the Christian Bible, you don’t need to agree with the faith or the authenticity of the book to understand this post. It is my position that the Bible is THE greatest story ever written (regardless of if it’s factual or not).

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A Treasure of a Book

As I begin rereading The Heavenly Man, the story of Chinese Christian “Brother Yun” I am deeply stirred.

heavenly manWithin the pages is a man who has experienced the power and miracles of God in modern-day. He has been faithful under incredible persecution and his continuous joy is proof of a deep relationship with God. Expressed clearly is his motivation: an abiding love for God and people.

As his co-worker acknowledges:

Yun’s testimony is written with blood and tears; his journey has been one that encountered many bitter struggles. Instead of complaining and grumbling, he learned to tackle all obstacles prayerfully, on his knees with God. … In the Chinese church I have seen many of God’s servants come with great power and authority, but with brother Yun I saw a servant of Jesus who always came in humility and meekness, reflecting the heart of the Son of Man, who did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life.

The words of his testimony are like being touched by a red hot coal. Instantly it grabs your attention and calls for a response.

Honestly, with all of the distractions in the Western world I could ignore the call. The safest route for “self” would be to discard the book. However I began the book knowing it would light a spiritual fire under me. I want that fire, I crave it’s heat. Yes, it will burn and at times be uncomfortable, but it is also a purifying flame. It will burn away that which does not belong.

As a Christian I made a commitment that Jesus Christ would be Lord of my life. He’s in control, not me. And yet, as a human, I often wrestle for control, in varying degrees. Or like a woefully out-dated navigation system, I offer ludicrous suggestions on which way to go.

What burns most is the knowledge that my relationship and experience of God isn’t as strong as Brother Yun’s. And that’s on me. The truth is my relationship with God is only as good as I want it to be. The Bible is clear: God wants a relationship with us, and has done all of the necessary work. And yet he will not impose himself. If I give him a fraction of my day and then shut my heart – intentionally or not – I’ll enjoy only a fraction of what the relationship could be.

It’s like this… The King has adopted me. Not because of who I am or what I’ve done but because of his nature of love. Not only do I have a relationship with him, but he also has appointed me as an ambassador on his behalf. As son and ambassador I have unparalleled advantage; wealth and purpose.

None of that potential is fulfilled if I choose to stay locked in my room, or act in a way that doesn’t represent the King.

[Marie] Monsen told the Christians it wasn’t enough to study the lives of born-again believers, but that they must themselves be radically born again in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. With such teaching, she took the emphasis off head knowledge and showed each individual that they were personally responsible before God for their own inner spiritual life.

Just as I am personally responsible, as are you.

If you haven’t read Heavenly Man I strongly urge you to do so. Why not read along with me, and let me know your thoughts on it?

A Great Reason for Optimism

As a young lad, my natural tendency was towards optimism. The experience of being a disabled adolescent crushed the optimism and gave birth to the foul taint of pessimism. It wasn’t always visible, but pessimism lurked like a dark reflex-action in my heart. 

Like a broken but long-held habit it occasionally reappears, offering it’s cynical view on everything. It’s about as helpful as water to a drowning person.But praise be to God and my patient wife for righting my attitude with a thousand well-earned admonishments.

Sure, there are things I could be worried about, or sad about, but there is so much more to be thankful about. A bitter heart never warms or blesses anyone.

Chief among the things I have to be happy about is my relationship with Jesus Christ. On Easter Friday we celebrate the death of Jesus, crucified upon a cross. It is through this undeserved death, prophesied throughout history, man can re-enter relationship with God. And so we celebrate on Easter Friday redemption, followed by complete victory when Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Monday. 

It is from this future hope, and a growing knowledge of the character of God, that life has meaning, purpose and endless amounts of joy. Life doesn’t become magically easy but it does take in a deep richness. 

What is Christmas?

Christmas for some is all about the presents. Either the pleasure of giving or more often, receiving. Depending on your personality and love-of-shopping quotient it will either be heaven or hell. While some people have an innate ability at finding the perfect gift (or fantastic systems of recording potential gifts throughout the year), others like me step foot into a shop only when absolutely required. When absolutely required and only with a tactical plan so that I can get out again with strike-force precision.

Remember those who aren’t wealthy enough to buy their loved ones’ gifts. Those whose only toys are found not in a store full of toys but on a rubbish dump where they eke out a living.

Christmas for some is all about the food. I have to admit I understand this more than I do the shopping. Whether it be shrimp, lamb, turkey or some other meat sacrificed on the carvery of yum. Christmas is the one time of year when all of the ovens align and the delicacies pour forth.I for one could eat Christmas pudding all year round.

Remember those who don’t have access to enough food to survive let alone to feast upon. While we will endure bellies swollen with gluttony, they will have bellies swollen with hunger.

Christmas for some is all about family. It’s a time to gather with loved ones and re-connect. For some this means traveling from afar just to be back together again. It’s about celebrating the connections and remembering the good times. It’s about a shared experience and a common identity.

Remember those who don’t have supportive families; who are separated by dysfunction, circumstances or death. Invite someone to your table who would otherwise be alone.

Christmas for all is about faith. To those who recognise that there is a higher power in their lives than just themselves, Christmas can be a time of great celebration and hope. As foretold in the Bible hundreds of years before his birth Jesus, son of God, came to earth as a man destined to die. In that act of sacrifice Jesus paid the debt of sin (rebellion) on our behalf, so that we could re-enter a relationship with God.

This opportunity is for all. It doesn’t matter what your past or current situation is.

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13)

Jesus made the way ready, all you have to do is receive his gift.

20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (Revelation 3:20)

And one final thought: drink drive and you are a bloody idiot.

Marriage Is Forever

I am a huge fan of marriage and believe that marriage is intended to be forever or as used to be popular, ‘until death do us part’. Marriage can be really hard work but if you invest in your marriage then it pays dividends a thousand times over.

Both spouses needs to learn how to forgive, be patient and support each other. Both must learn that it is no longer about I but about we. As a friend of mine puts it, “You take your car in for regular maintenance, why would you not treat the most important relationship you have in the same way… doing regular checkups on it?” Or as Pastor Craig Groeschel from Life.Church says, “Why would anyone be happy with a 50% chance of marriage success? For anything in your life wouldn’t you do something to try and give it a higher chance of success?”

As a man blessed with a great marriage and one who wants others to also enjoy the fruit of such blessing I cannot highly recommend enough the lecture series Christ-Centred Marriage by Dr Bryan Chapell. The lecture series is available from Covenant Theological Seminary website and you will need to sign-up to download it. (Obviously this is presenting the Christian biblical instructions for marriage).

It is a profound, challenging and inspiring listen. Carrying on with the car analogy, I call this a major service. It is time well-invested.