Tag Archive: Christian



I’ve been thinking a lot about the Christian roots of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I’ve seen literally 100’s of people’s lives transformed over the years by God’s grace and healing power in AA.

“I’ll do anything! Anything at all! If there be a God, let Him show Himself!”  Said AA founder member Bill Wilson.

 I’ve seen communities built and sustained, people turning from the old (repenting), admitting they need spiritual help, surveying their pasts,  making amends for harm caused and rebuilding damaged relationships. I’ve seen them living in the present, sharing their own experience, strength and hope and going the extra mile for others. AA’s fundamental foundations were built on Jesus’s transforming messages of love, forgiveness and service from The Sermon on the Mount and the Book of James.

But mention Jesus in an AA meeting and people think you’ve lost the plot.

 The beauty of AA is that people are smashed to bits (rock bottom) and come to believe that they need a spiritual way of life..thats big in itself, hurrah! I get it, the idea of a ‘Higher Power’ or  ‘The God Of Your Understanding’ being more palatable to those on the first rung of the spiritual ladder. It’s so much more trendy, cool and sexy to be part of some new-agey, undefinable movement but I do wonder how AA’s Christian roots have been buried/lost/forgotten  (at least over here in the UK anyway) to the point that the name of Jesus has become a dirty word in an AA meeting.

Maybe it goes back to the fact that Christ’s message and reputation has been tarnished. Over the years his recurrent themes of forgiveness and love have been obscured by the  larger than life billboards of  fundamentalist Conservative preachers.  Highly public religious scandals have become somewhere else for militant atheists to hang their hats and say ‘I told you so’. Christianity has become something to laugh at or be repelled by and Christians are lumped together by non believers as anti-intellectual, anti-gay, Bible believing literalists who all believe the world was created in 6 days.

“Spiritual not religious” has become the battle cry. Christians are seen by society as hypocritical, judgemental and religious and some are. Most of us know it was the ‘religious’ folks that Jesus had the most criticism for.

Its time to change the face of Christianity. If it’s offensive to say the name of Christ in an AA meeting which has such Christian roots then something has gone horribly wrong.

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Doubts and absolutes


 

Dear Lord, You are the light of the world. That’s about all I know just now. These first couple of years of following you have been confusing at times. Continue to reveal yourself Jesus. Amen

Today a friend and I were talking, he said he finds it hard to believe in the angry, violent and jealous God portrayed in the Old Testament. I don’t spend much time dwelling on that to be honest. I see the Bible as a narrative. Stories inspired by God, told by man, which tell of his relationships with his people and their quest to seek him. In fact, thanks to a very helpful comment on my blog I’ve just ordered “Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally” by M. J. Borg

However, I do know there are almost 3,000 passages in the Bible which mention poverty and justice.

I don’t spend much time thinking about heaven or what will happen when I die. I don’t like the ”us and them” stuff, the ”who’s in? who’s out?” mentality and I don’t spend time looking for souls to save. I do believe that I’m here to do my bit in bringing the Kingdom to the here and now.

I have to admit to not even liking the word ‘saved’ and sometimes not understanding the term  ‘salvation’.

I can’t get my head around the fact that there are people who go to some sort of fiery pit after death and are burned and tortured for eternity. I believe that idea directly contradicts a God of love and compassion.

It’s quite nerve-wracking voicing my doubts like this but certainty scares me also. Absolutes scare me. I admire people with unwavering faith who appear to hear from God in all sorts of areas of their life, I just don’t have that. I do, however, think God is bigger than our tiny minds can ever comprehend and I seek to commune with him. The sooner I try to define him by my beliefs haven’t I then made him in my image?

 So..if I can’t get my head around these doctrines and beliefs that are banded about so much, am I even a Christian? Sadly, some would say no.

About a year after I began to follow Jesus, someone in the Church said to me, ‘”You are in danger of becoming too liberal and works based”…I didn’t understand what this meant  at the time, but it hurt a bit. 

A year on, that sentence has stayed with me (the church hasn’t). The thing is, I wasn’t ‘becoming’ anything..that is me..that is who I am, always have been, and probably always will be. I try to have a heart for social justice, work with and get alongside the marginalised and from what I see in the accounts of Jesus’s life, that’s what he did too.

In  Matthew 5:14-15: “You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” 

Hopefully, with Christ’s light inside me, i can help bring forth his comfort on earth regardless of my ”dodgy” theology. 🙂

Unequally yoked. What?


 

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and unrighteousness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness.”

2 Cor 6;14

Unequally yoked? Man, this passage carries some weight, generates much discussion and impacts many Christian’s  lives.

What IS she on about?! I hear some of you asking.  (It’s nothing to do with eggs, ok)

Some who read this will have no question as to their interpretation of this passage. For those that don’t I’ll explain what I understand.

A  yoke is a wooden beam which is used between a pair of oxen to allow them to pull a load when plowing a field. It allows equal weight to be distributed to both animals so that they will  bear the burden evenly. In the above passage Paul was speaking to the Corinthians. Some people think that this passage was referring to Christians having relationships with, or marrying non believers. People take this very seriously indeed and inevitably it has huge implications.

I sometimes wonder if it’s another one of those passages that has been taken completely out of cultural context, used as Biblical instruction with too much focus being placed on it. Some people love to have rules.

 The theory is that  a Christian and an ‘unbeliever’, (or person of another Faith) who are ‘yoked together’ by marriage, or relationship, will undoubtedly face  difficulties..their priorities in life will not match, and pain and discomfort will more than likely be the result.

Someone gave me the stool analogy. If you, (The Christian) are standing on a stool, it is much easier to be pulled off it than to pull the other person up on to it with you.

 There are many exceptions to this, I’ve met them. I’ve heard wonderful stories of Interfaith relationships.

All I know is-I became a believer, errr, only God knows how or why..

The, (already rocky) road of relationships became narrow..

It was ‘suggested’ it would probably be a good idea to look for a partner who is also a believer..

So..the road became narrower..

A little way down the road, it turns out not all of us Christians share similar views on major issues and some can actually be quite weird..

And narrower..

 I don’t believe Jesus wants us to withdraw into a Christian subculture. Paul wasn’t telling the Corinthians to break ties with the world, but to put their relationship with God above all else.

Have we demoted Jesus and promoted Paul? A Clegg and Cameron style coalition where Paul has become PM and Jesus the deputy? 

Jesus said ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Luke 10:27). That’s all.


This morning, our Vicar encouraged us to pray for an area either close to home, or in the wider world where we long for God to shine his light.

The last few days, I’ve been following Christians Tired Of Being Misrepresented’s coverage of yet more bigotry in Gods’ name. I’ve swung between disbelief,confusion and anger as I’ve followed the case of Elizabeth Edward’s funeral in the US and the planned protests by Westboro Baptist Church to protest at this event. I’m hesitant to give them too much coverage as I write this, this..so..called…”church” is not a Church. They no doubt think they are. That’s the problem with certainty. They are a hate group, similar to the NF or the EDL over here in the UK, except they claim to know God..thats the big difference.

And why are they protesting at the funeral of someone who has just died from cancer you may ask? So did I..hard to fathom hey? It boils down to the fact that Elizabeth was an activist. An amazing campaigner for health care. She was an active anti-war campaigner and an advocate for gay rights.

So these freaky folk at WBC think that God hates all that stuff and decide to voice their hatred at her funeral.

Hate breeds hate and all that and I could feel it bubbling inside me over the last few days towards them. Their hatred and wackiness poisoning me right over the other side of the Atlantic. The good news is that only 5 or 6 of their ‘group’ showed up after all. The bad news is that they had children present. Children growing up in a family which indoctrinates them into hatred of their fellow-man.

To have written this yesterday would have perpetuated the hatred, I’m glad I didn’t. Thanks to the time difference between us and our American cousins, I woke this morning to reports and blog posts written about counter-protests of LOVE at the funeral. The Bible is full of stories of people breaking into song. That’s what the brave folk from The God Article plus others did, who went along to balance out this hatred in Gods name. They simply drowned out the hate with love. I needed that lesson.

God parachuted in to that environment in the form of Love. The Prince of Peace was present.

So..back to Brighton, this morning, my vicar and my prayers. 

 Isaiah 9 :2

 The people walking in darkness
   have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
   a light has dawned.

I pray that those in WBC will come to know the real Jesus and that the scales of their own certainty and hatred will fall from their eyes. I pray they will come to know the light who is a Prince of Peace and who came into the world not to condemn it but to show Gods love for it.

Amen


 

I am a proud member of Christians tired of being misrepresented, The Christian Left and The Progressive Christian Alliance. Online groups set up to counteract some of  the bigotry and lies that are perpetuated in the name of God.

I find my self fascinated by America’s Religious Right and the lack of separation of church and state over there. It’s just not like that here with the public manipulation and power games, I assume that a lot of our party leaders here in the UK have been much more ‘reserved’ in their faith. I know we have bishops in the house of Lords who  advise the government on stuff but my thoughts are that Christians really are in a minority here and have much less of a voice in mainstream policy. Britain on the whole is much more governed by political correctness. In fact there is a whole ‘I’m not ashamed’ campaign going on at the moment http://www.notashamed.org.uk/leaflet.php, where people feel they are being discriminated against as Christians and are called to stand up and be counted. I ask myself if this discrimination of Christians is as a result of  society being sick and tired of told how to live by often misguided but well-meaning fundamentalists.

 Still, Christians ARE misrepresented here and often find ourselves having to undo damage done by others.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a work colleague who knows I am a Christian. We’ve never really chatted about matters of faith. She said she finds Christians ‘hypocritical’ and while she admires people who have a strong faith, it’s not for her. Turns out her brother became a ‘Born again believer‘ a few years ago. Over the years he has consistently quoted scriptures at her and told her she is going to hell for her lifestyle choices and continuing to refuse to accept Jesus. At a family event recently, he even refused to acknowledge her new partner. She also told me that he has continued to behave in some very dark ways and is an angry bully to the female members of her family. We sat in a coffee shop, my toes were curling as I tried to grasp for something to say. I think I mumbled something like ‘before the reformation, folk were worried about putting Bible in the hands of the common man for exactly these reasons.’ It is a dangerous book in the hands of the ignorant. People will  interpret it themselves and come up with all kinds of crazy ideas and judgements, alienating the majority in the process. All of this sadly, so far removed from our saviour and the things he said and did.

Lord, I’m sorry for some of these people misrepresenting you on this earth.

Friends, I’m sorry for the self righteous, judgemental lunatics that we, as Christians can be.

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

Letter to Mr Right


Firstly, yesterday I met Mr Right. I mean he really was Mr Right..about Everything.

And I’d like to thank him..for prompting me to start a long overdue blog.

Thank you again, Mr Right.

I thought I’d write to you Mr Absolute, for the sake of any poor women who may come across your path in the future.I thought I’d give you a few tips on the do’s and don’ts of dating.

So I’m quite a new Christian okay. (In other words don’t be asking me to do any theological referencing to my banter, I don’t have any, just a heart that is being filled with faith for a God I don’t understand) I’m struggling with the daily walk and where I fit in to it all. I don’t feel like I fit in most of the time but that’s just me. I find God in weird and wonderful places not necessarily within the walls of church. Am humbly reliant on a daily dose of His radical grace.

Again, I am thankful to you, aforementioned Mr Right for prompting me into the blogosphere. ive been reading so many  blogs recently and of course feelings of spiritual unworthiness as well as lack of academic ability creep in  as to whether I can write my own. ( I got expelled from two schools for being obnoxious and disruptive) so my academic life never really took off!

when I say Mr Right..i of course mean Mr religious Right. We were ‘destined to meet’ after a few brief emails on a Christian dating site (more fool me you all may say…well, all I say in return is never again!)

 Dear Mr Right,

So, Mr Virtous, to start a date making an issue over someone choosing not drinking alcohol and then probing and probing about why not, until one is almost forced to disclose far too much about their past is not the way forward, believe me. Now don’t get me wrong, ive no skeletons in my closet. I’m open about stuff. I just choose not to disclose it in the first five minutes of meeting someone..Mr Certainty, for your future dating information, it is not the way to make someone feel comfortable. and, while i mention it..the fact that it was such a big deal for YOU..says far more about you and your love of Cabernet Sauvignon. And also, while we’re on the subject of  selective use of scripture (okay i know we’re not there yet but im getting there)…whats that one about causing your brother to stumble again..?
Anyhow..the date…the date to remember with Mr Right-eous. Within five minutes you tell me that you havent spoken to your brother in 8 years. ‘He’s turned away from the lord and is…GAY’ (said in hushed voice)…’not GAY!?’ I whisper….then , ‘its ok’, you quickly reassure me ‘he knows it’s an “Abomination’…oh dear, it’s hard to tell if what I can hear is blood rushing to my ears or my mind slamming shut but I know I that’s when I really start planning escape routes.

Will it be over the sea wall or may be I really will just wrench that bloody Cabernet Sauvignon out of his hand and down it after all?

i make a feeble (and i mean feeble as im a bit intimidated by Mr UpRight’s rightness you know..) attempt with my newly acquired knowledge to explain what I think the word abomination meant in the cultural context it was used..but my words trail away as i got that sudden feeling of trying to grab the soap in the bath..( this dudes been to Bible college I’ll have you know)

 Next subject.. mainline churches and their lack of awareness of the spiritual realm. Mr Certain, you’ve managed to piss off various pastors in the UK by going round  ‘exorcising’ members of their congregation and leaving people in floods of tears. (exorcising-is that a word? well you know what I mean, casting out demons apparently) When called in to the office and questioned on your antics you’re off..in fact Mr Right about everything, you are  thinking of starting your own church aren’t you? because that’s just what we need, more fragmentation and a few more denominations hey?.

I know you’ve seen real demons coming out of people like that woman who tried to stab you with a large knife. Was that before or after you benevolently took away her music collection consisting of INXS and Led Zeppelin for her own protection?

Anyway, Mr Are you For Real?..you did seem interested in me for a few minutes though. You asked me how long I had been a Christian. ‘2 years’ I said and you developed a slightly scared far away look in your eyes. Were you wondering what kind of worldly fun I had been indulging in until the age of 40, what my music collection consists of  and whether it would be appropriate to lay hands on me there and then in the bar and start screaming in my face for the demons to leave?

When you asked what my church was like, i said i loved the outreaching it does in my community, I love working with the homeless , recovery programs and soup kitchens etc really are my thing..you said we shouldnt feed anyone until they’ve accepted Christ..really..?
By now I’m seriously eyeing up your Sauvignon, but instead of necking it am begging my wonderful God for some strength, I think I muttered in a doubtful New Christian kinda way “well, i think Jesus hung out with folk on the margins all the time and that’s what I love about him”

‘Matthew, Mark, Luke and John’ are irrelevant to the new testament church” you say in a very factual kind of way.

‘Oh,really?’ Now im completely confused, am I even a Christian?
‘Change the subject’, my head was screaming ‘we’re not going to agree on much here, move on, get out of here, make an excuse’..’how old are your kids? tell me a bit about yourself”, I say..
‘My wife left me… for an UNBELIEVER ‘ you reply

‘really?’ I say,’funny that..’

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