There are Two ‘i’s in the Word Christian.

DSC_2019Question: How do we know when some random thought that comes into our heads is from the Lord or not? The answer is not as simple as one might think. There might be some thoughts that are clearly not in line with Scripture and are easily dismissed. Equally, there are others that speak to the very depths of our souls which convict us of our shortcomings, which makes us fairly sure that it is the Lord. But in between there are many others which can leave us puzzled, at least initially. A week or so ago whilst dreaming one morning I found myself saying “The world is looking for Christians with two eyes in them.” I immediately thought that was stupid and woke up. As I went over that statement again in my mind I realised that it might make more sense if it was referring to the letter i, which in English is also the personal pronoun. And that the word Christian contains two ‘i’s. If we take the first ‘i’ as being our natural selves with all our idiosyncrasies and characteristics. Then as Christians we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit through which people can hopefully see God working in them as the second ‘i’. So the statement means that people are neither looking for carnal Christians who have no evidence of the outworking of God in their lives or Christians living as automata under the control of the Holy Spirit, but people who are clearly human in their behaviour but also something of the divine in them. Even if we are unaware of what they see of God in us.

But a cynic or critic could easily say that I am just trying to make sense of a nonsensical statement by spiritualising it and deluding myself into thinking that God was trying to speak to me. So while on the whole I think that God was trying to speak to me I have to admit that I am not 100% certain.

David Rose, 2017.

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A Great Disconnect.

DSC_1988There is a great disconnect between the traditional Christian world view and that of the liberal secular view which dominates the News channels and most of the press. Those in the public eye who cling to the authority of the Word of God are seen as a threat by the liberal establishment. When Christian issues are raised the media always seem to get the wrong end of the stick. But this is not the first time in history that people have misconstrued the message that God has been trying to give. The prophet Jeremiah had the difficult task of warning the people of Judah of the impending Babylonian exile. Instead of repenting they regarded him as a threat, a possible traitor, they preferred to listen to false prophets who said what they wanted to hear. Towards the end of the siege of Jerusalem the Lord told Jeremiah that if the people freed their slaves then Judah would stay in the land, but after agreeing to free their slaves they reneged and re-enslaved their fellow Jews. Condemning themselves to become the slaves of Babylon. Some of the poorer people were allowed to remain in the land after the fall of Jerusalem. But they continued to make a catalogue of bad decisions. After the assassination of Gedaliah the remnant fled to Egypt out of fear even though the Lord told them otherwise. In Chapter 44 verse 18 the men said “But ever since stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offering to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine.” In other words blaming God and not attributing it to the consequences of their sin. They refused to see it God’s way but it did not stop them finding themselves under Babylonian rule after Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt.

The problem is that when we try and argue something from a Christian perspective then we are accused of being bigoted before we get a chance to fully explain our position. That, of course is prejudice, but the mainstream media will not admit that. Christians then feel that they must step back into the shadows to avert the attention of those who seem intent to persecute them. This in turn emboldens those who promote the secular/liberal agenda to believe that Christianity is in decline. They are blind but they think they are the enlightened ones. We can only pray that their eyes will be opened.

David Rose. 2017.

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Being in the Centre of God’s Will.

DSC_1703

The above picture shows Cairngorm seen through the Sluggan Pass and taken a couple of miles north of Aviemore. As one travels north from Aviemore Cairngorm is hidden behind the hills to the right of the picture. It is only when you reach the point where the pass begins to open up that you begin see the mountain beyond. Initially, it appears towards the right hand part of the gap, but as one continues north it moves towards the centre of the visible gap. Photographically, the ideal shot is where the summit of Cairngorm is over the lowest part of the pass. However, if you continue to travel the summit appears to move to the left of the gap. Though it is difficult to say where exactly the optimum place is exactly where to take your picture. You know when you have gone too far as Cairngorm begins to slide out of view. But we are talking about several hundred yards or metres here rather than a few inches or centimetres.

However, when you hear some people talk about being in the will of God you would think they were referring a mark on a stage where an actor has been told to speak their lines and if they were to move away from that spot they would be moving out of God’s will for their lives. Now there may be some watershed moments in our lives where that might be the case, but for the most part it is not so much as the question of being in God’s will or not, but rather, are we in the optimum place to be in the centre of God’s will for our lives? We may be generally in God’s will by not living an immoral lifestyle, etc., but know there are areas where God is still not at the centre of our lives. But we are all works-in-progress. We live in a world where there is a lot of fear, be it in the secular world where if its not terrorism then there fears over what we eat, the environment, etc. In the church there are also those who peddle fears even if they are often subtle. While as followers of Christ we should aim to be more Christ-like there has to be a reasonable limit to how far we take it. I mean, for example, just because Jesus walked on water we should also be able to walk on water. There might be few out there advocating that (most of them have drowned), but similar arguments are being used by some that just because Jesus did this or that if we do not do it then we should question our salvation. We need to be sure that when we are trying to discern God’s Will for our lives that we are not being swayed by spurious arguments which may deflect us from the path God really wants us to go. Jesus said that perfect love casts out fear, but a church that has lost its first love finds itself tending to resort to fear instead to drive its flock along.

It also has to be said that just because you have a setback that you are no longer in God’s Will for your life, remember Job and his troubles though your critics will condemn you for it. But they will, whatever happens to you anyway.

David Rose, 2017

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Thinking the Unthinkable- Part 2.

DSC_1703Before I continue I should explain why I chose this title as it was not obvious in part 1. Some people have theology that find it difficult to accept that a good person like Jairus should have a wife who suffered from such a debilitating condition, therefore to them either Jairus or his wife must have some hidden sin which resulted in God punishing them. This is similar to the question that the disciples asked Jesus regarding the man who was born blind in John chapter 9. Though we may think that people don’t think like that these days there is the example of Horatio Spafford the author of the classic hymn “it is well my soul.” He was a Chicago businessman who knew the evangelist D. L. Moody whom he intended to accompany to Europe on one of his missions. He was delayed by a business commitment and his wife and four daughters went ahead while he intended to catch a later ship and join them, But their ship collided with another mid-Atlantic and sank with many lives lost included his children with only his wife surviving. It was on his way over to meet his wife that he wrote the classic hymn. Later they had more children including a son, but he died tragically young, at which point the church he belonged to expelled him because they thought he was under some sort of curse. It is surprising how often similar thoughts can creep in, even when our head knowledge argues against it. Here spiritual warfare cannot be excluded. But I am digressing.

The account of Luke the physician mentions that all the woman’s money had been spent on medical help. As she was classified as ‘unclean,’ regardless of how debilitating her condition was, it would have been virtually impossible to earn any money herself so these funds must have come from her husband. Considering the low status of women in those days it says a lot for her husband that he must have really loved her rather than abandon her to her fate. Nothing in the Gospel accounts would suggest that Jairus was not such a man. Here another objection might arise as why if that was the case why did not Jairus immediately celebrate his wife’s healing by giving her a big hug? The most obvious answer would be that he still considered her to be unclean because the Law required certain rituals to be done before she was officially clean. But in fact she became clean when she touched Jesus even if the bystanders, including the disciples, failed to understand this.

By this time you may be wondering even if it was the case that she was the mother of Jairus’ daughter, what difference does that make? Well, I once heard that where a woman is mentioned in the Bible she is a symbol of the Church, the ‘Bride of Christ.’ As such her healing echoes the idea of the church being the spotless bride. Taken together with the daughter being raised from the dead you have a family being restored. Today in Western Christianity nothing it seems to do seems to halt its decline like all the money that her husband spent on the doctors. The secular media has written off the church and regularly foretells the demise of the church just as the neighbours had written off the daughter’s chance of recovering. That was because they were not taking into account Jesus. Just as Christianity’s critics today will try and deny that Jesus ever existed, despite the evidence. So it would be nice if it was not just two unrelated miracles but two parts of a whole. We are too individualistic in modern culture and forget how important is the concept of the family to God.

David Rose, 2017.

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Thinking the Unthinkable – Part 1.

DSC_1703The origin of this Cairngorm Musing was a thought which dropped into my head whilst reading the Scripture some time ago. It was the passage concerning Jairus’ daughter and the woman with the issue of blood. It is recorded in all three of the synoptic Gospels with the most detailed account given in Mark chapter 5 verses 22-39, with the account in Luke chapter 8 verses 40-56 being only slightly shorter. It is generally accepted that the woman with the “issue of blood” had probably got this as a result of childbirth. Luke’s version states that she had been suffering with this for about 12 years which was also the approximate age of Jairus’ daughter. The thought that arose in my mind was could the woman be the mother of Jairus’ daughter? The immediate reaction to this is that if this was the case then Scripture would have said so? Another objection would then be, why did not Jairus ask Jesus to heal his wife as well as his daughter? On the other hand the implications to a synagogue leader having a wife who was ceremonially unclean would be very serious for the daughter as well as the parents themselves. Could her illness in part be due to her pining for her mother?

To settle the first question all you have to do is find evidence from the three accounts that Jairus’ wife was at home caring for the daughter. However, only Mark’s account mentions that Jairus’ wife was actually present, but only when all the mourners had been ejected is she mentioned as being with Jesus when he entered the child’s room. This implies that she was outside of the room when Jesus arrived, if not outside of the house altogether. You would expect a mother to be beside a dead or dying child. Unless she was ceremonially unclean and forbidden to come anywhere near the synagogue leader’s house. So far this neither proves nor disproves my question.

As to the second question to answer this takes us away from the narrative of the story itself. If she was Jairus’ wife, then why did he not ask Jesus to heal her earlier? I think the answer to this lies with the fact that her condition was a chronic condition, but it was a condition she seemed to be able to live with. It had become part of the furniture, so to speak. So when the daughter became seriously ill, because it was a new situation he sought out Jesus to help. How often do we treat nagging chronic conditions as something we have to suffer, yet ask God to heal newer symptoms? Even when they might be linked to the underlying cause of the chronic condition.

Another point is – is the daughter an only child? In those days large families tended to be the norm. Would Jairus approach Jesus to heal her if she was just one of many siblings? Though the lack of any specific mention of others does not exclude the possibility of other children. Even so, elders tend to be risk averse and it would be more likely that she was an only child, for Jairus to pushed to ask Jesus to heal her. Of course, if the woman with the issue of blood was the mother she would be unable to have other children because of both her condition and uncleanness.

On the down side is the failure of the gospel writers to make the connection between the two healings. I suspect the disciples themselves might have found it rather hard to reconcile the unclean invalid first called forth by Jesus out of the crowd and fit and ‘clean’ woman seen cooking a meal for her daughter. It could have been that after the woman was healed and walked towards Jairus’ house that she was transformed as she stepped out in faith and became unrecognisable compared to what she had been a few moments earlier. Mark’s Gospel states that after the news of the girl’s death reached them Jesus asked the other disciples to hold back the crowd, thus Matthew would not have been present at the raising of the daughter accounting for his shorter version. Peter, James and John went ahead with Jesus and then had the job of evicting the mourners. They too would not had been looking at the woman during this and found it hard to believe the positive change in the woman. That might explain part of it. Another factor might have been the reluctance to identify the individuals concerned because of the increasing risk of persecution.

To be continued. David Rose, 2017.

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Looking at Both Sides.

When you look at both of these two pictures you might be surprised to find out that they are the same bird, a male redpoll. From the back it appears to be a fairly non-descript bird and easily mistaken for some other bird such as a sparrow. From the from he is far more colourful, especially in the spring when the male’s breast becomes quite red. The female is less colourful though. I took the picture with its back towards me first, and it required patience when it flew off before it returned awaiting its turn at the feeder.

There are many issues where it helps to see both sides before one makes a judgment. Even if at first sight it looks unprepossessing. It is all too easy to fire off a tweet before you have time to think what you are saying. Equally we can judge people from some less than flattering first impression. You can often tell the editorial stance of a newspaper by how flattering or unflattering the pictures they chose to publish of politicians and other public figures. We have to be mindful that our perceptions are being formed with people with agendas.

In the same vein it can be applied in Christian matters in many areas, especially where two opposite concepts are held in tension. The very essence of the Gospel is that God’s love for his creation is held in tension with His justice for those who have rebelled against Him. We are naturally attracted to the idea of a loving God and these days it is easy to watch or follow those who preach a positive and upbeat message. At times we all need to hear a positive and uplifting message in a world where everything seems to be such doom and gloom. Though if that is all we ever hear, in time, it becomes saccharin sweet. The danger then is to go in the opposite direction and concentrate on the sinfulness of man and become judgmental. God’s love and justice are two sides of the same coin. A coin that is the same on both side in this part of the world, if not yours, is a fake.

The fact is that a couple of days before I took these photos I noticed a female redpoll at the feeder, and because it had been nearly a year since I had last seen a redpoll in my garden my first reaction was to think it was a sparrow. It was only when I noticed it was too small to be a sparrow that I took a closer look. Therefore, I was on the lookout for it to come back, otherwise I might have missed this one. Jesus said that the truth would set us free (John 8:32), but we often settle for a one-sided view of the truth.

David Rose 2017.

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“Parts of the Body”

 

The Apostle Paul uses the analogy of individuals within the church being likened to different parts of the human body, in his letter to the Corinthian church known as 1st Corinthians in Chapter 12 verses 12 to 31. This concept is of a medical nature so it is not unreasonable to assume the idea behind may have originated with Paul’s companion Luke, who was a physician as well as the writer of two books of the New Testament. So far so good. We do not hear much about Luke himself in Scripture but he must have had a good intellect in order to write his Gospel and the book of Acts. It would be a mistake to dismiss him as a nonentity because his chose not to blow his own trumpet. I suspect that part of Luke’s role was not just to be Paul’s doctor but also as his sparring partner. I suspect that Luke first used this analogy with Paul because Paul expected other believers to be just like him and became frustrated when they did not quite get his arguments. I wonder how many times Luke had to say to Paul “You can’t expect everybody to be just like you.” Then going on to explain how all the different organs of the body are needed for the body to function well. In part, I suspect, Paul when he used the analogy he was preaching to himself, it was a message he needed to learn himself. In verse 21 Paul argues: ‘So the eye cannot say to the hand “I have no need of you!” Nor can the head say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”‘ We assume that when John Mark left prematurely on Paul’s first missionary journey that the fault lay entirely with John Mark. Before Paul set out on his second missionary journey he told Barnabas that he had no need of John Mark. Yet by the end of his life in 2 Timothy chapter 4, he could ask Timothy to ask the same John Mark to come and help him because Paul found him useful. So just maybe some of the reason for John Mark’s return home early lay at Paul’s attitude towards John Mark?

David Rose, 2016.

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Welcome Immigrants!

dsc_1343This winter we have been invaded by hundreds of foreign migrants from Scandinavia and Russia. These feathered migrants are welcomed by nature enthusiasts. The birds pictured here are waxwings that originate in Russia. Attempts to photograph them have been frustrated by their habit of perching high up in trees and then all too often being spooked by either the click of a camera or some other movement. This year they have been numerous here in the Cairngorms unlike previous years. I caught these birds in the late afternoon sunshine. More of them were in a taller tree adjacent to this one and after a while I noticed some birds diving behind a nearby building which turned and returning to the trees. Out of sight was a Rowan tree.dsc_1365The waxwings were feeding on the berries and I managed to get a couple of shots of them feeding before they flew off. Funny though when the question of human migration comes up it tends to produce screaming headlines and negative feelings. Just a thought. Not that there is any easy solution.

David Rose. 2016.

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Surprise, Surprise.

In some of my previous posts I have referred to King David and Absalom’s attempt to usurp him. I also suggested that Absalom was a type of the antichrist because he attempting to prevent Solomon becoming king and building the Temple as foretold by the prophet Nathan. I return again to that part in his life. There is an episode when David was fleeing Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 15 vv-19-22. In an exchange between David and Ittai the Gittite, the king suggested that Ittai and by implication the 600 Gittites which he commanded stay behind as because they were foreigners Absalom would leave him and his men alone. But Ittai declares his loyalties to David whether this might lead to his death. Sometimes we are surprised by those who stay loyal to God when the chips are down. When it comes to eschatology there seems to be no shortage of experts who sort out prophecies to their own satisfaction and have their lists of good guys and bad guys. The problem is that events tend to spoil things and then those experts have explain their failures. I can remember it stated the Meshech and Tubal were Moscow (Russia) and Ukraine. At the present time these two countries are enemies even if the conflict between them is on the back-burner while Russia is involved in Syria. Again much was made about the four “blood red moons” a year or two back, well they have come and gone yet even though we have been living through interesting times since then few have attributed events directly to the moons. Though no doubt somebody will be working on it. The fact is that the experts in the first century got the first coming of the Messiah wrong so why should we be too surprised if the experts get it wrong for the second coming.

David Rose, 2016.

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“Some Went Out on the Sea in Ships.”

There is a passage in Psalm 107 (23-37) which states:- “Some went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters. They saw the works of the Lord his wonderful deeds  in the deep. For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves. They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away. They reeled and staggered like drunkards; they were at their wits’ end. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders.” The Israelites of old were not known as a maritime nation, in fact they hated the sea which they thought of as a place of chaos. The only story of a sea voyage in the Old Testament is that of Jonah which included a storm or tempest. But the seamen involved were all pagans who prayed to their own gods. But when Jonah told them about the God he believed in, but was disobeying, they became more afraid of Jonah’s God than the storm and began to pray to Jonah’s God before eventually threw Jonah overboard to what they believed was certain death. Some years ago I heard that there was a Jewish tradition that the sailors went back to the shores of Israel and went up to Jerusalem to pray in the temple and offer sacrifices to Jonah’s God. This passage in Psalm 107 seems to confirm this. The irony is that in refusing to preach to one lot of pagans he leads to the conversion of another bunch of heathens, before going on to successfully lead the Ninevites to repentance. Not for nothing did Jesus say when asked for a sign gave the example of Jonah; not only in that the three days Jonah spent in the belly of the ‘fish’ represent the death and resurrection of Christ but also that Jesus’ mission was also to bring in those beyond the boundaries of Judaism. An inference that was not lost on His hearers.

David Rose, 2016.

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