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Historical Jesus

October 24, 2017 Leave a comment

Should Christians engage in the so-called, ‘Quest for the historical Jesus’?

For the purposes of this essay I am defining ‘Christian’ as ‘Evangelical Christian’. That is, someone with a high view of scripture and holding to credal beliefs, such as, the incarnation and resurrection. The intention is to provide a brief history of the quest from the Enlightenment period through to the modern day, reflecting whether Christians would answer yes or no to this question, at various points. Then to look at more recent scholarly examples, some of which produce a Jesus consistent with evangelical theology, some of which don’t.

Today the most common way to describe this ‘historical quest for Jesus’ is to refer to the ‘old’ or first quest, followed by a ‘no quest’ period, a ‘new’ or ‘second’ quest period and most recently a ‘third’ quest period.

Prior to the Enlightenment Period there was no study of Jesus as a historical figure in the way we would understand that history is done today. Faith and reason were a matter of revelation from God. This did not mean that the various differences between the four gospels were not noticed, and various attempts were made at harmonising the four gospels. For example, in the second century, a Mesopotamian Christian called Tatian produced a continuous narrative from the four gospels called the Diatessaron. John Calvin, unable to resolve the conundrum that some gospel stories produced, wrote up the gospel stories side by side in parallel columns.

During the Enlightenment studies began to be done from a more sceptical viewpoint instead of solely in the context of faith, attempting to use ’rational’ methods. This, ‘old quest’ period was characterised by the writing of biographies of Jesus. According to Powell all these biographies had three common elements. Firstly, there would be a grand scheme or hypothesis, for example, Jesus was a social reformer, then everything would be interpreted in accordance with the scheme. Secondly, any gospel material that did not accord with the scheme would be excluded and thirdly there would be reflections about Jesus not derived from the gospels to fill in biblical gaps produced from the authors own projections concerning Jesus’s motivations, goals or understandings. The first study of this type was by Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768) published shortly after his death. In summary it presented Jesus as a religious zealot, who was executed for insurrection, following which his disciples invented the message of Christianity, after stealing the body of Jesus. This view was overwhelmingly rejected by scholars yet raised key questions about irreconcilable different gospel texts, such as, the resurrection narratives and suggesting that it was ‘both methodologically possible and theologically necessary to discover the historical Jesus and his message’ The nineteenth century saw the publication of many, ’lives of Jesus’, some of which were very popular. Two of the more serious critical works were by David Frederich Strauss published in 1835-36 and William Wrede in 1901. In The life of Jesus Critically Examined, Strauss rejected two current views of the time, rationalistic explanations of the gospel on the one hand and on the other what he called, ‘supernaturalism’, the conservative and early church view. Instead Strauss put forward a ‘mythic’ view, where very little of what Jesus said or did actually took place. The value of Jesus was not in the history of the gospels but in the value the church placed in him. By the nineteenth century it seemed that the answer to, ‘should Christians engage in a search for the historical Jesus?’, was a resounding, ‘yes’ from Christians and scholars of nearly all flavours and traditions. All this changed at the turn of the century, however, and became almost as an emphatic, ‘no’, not just for, ‘Christians’ but for scholars also. In The Messianic Secret Wrede cast doubt on the historical authenticity of The Gospel of Mark. Bock states that what makes this work significant is that up until that point most scholars had accepted Mark as the earliest and most historically credible gospel. And that ‘if Mark could not help us find the historical Jesus, then maybe the historical figure was lost in the theological overlay of the gospels’. The first quest was effectively put to an end with the publication of The quest of the Historical Jesus: A Critical Study of it’s Progress From Reimarus to Wrede (1906) by Albert Schweitzer and The So-Called Historical Jesus and the Historic Biblical Christ (1896) by Martin Kahler. Schweitzer pointed out that the many lives of Jesus published to date said more about the author’s views than reconstructing an authentic historical picture of Jesus . Kahler argued that it was impossible to distinguish the Christ of Faith from the Christ of History, believing that the Christ now worshiped and preached was the one who had influenced history and therefore the only Jesus scholars should be interested in studying and that faith is not dependant on historical research. The conclusions of Wrede and Sweitzer were very influential on such theologians as Paul Tillich, Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann and until 1953 there was a dearth of historical Jesus enquiry , the so called, ‘no quest’ period.

In 1953 one of Bultman’s students Ernst Kasemann gave a famous lecture called, ‘The Problem of the historical Jesus’ claiming that Bultmann’s sceptism about what could be known about the historical Jesus had been too extreme. This inaugurated the ‘new’ or ‘second’ quest with a number of scholars producing work through to the early seventies. The first of these was by a former student of Bultmann, Gunther Bornkamm, called Jesus of Nazareth . Along with a number of scholars to follow, Bornkamm remained somewhat pessimistic about uncovering the historical Jesus, stating that, ‘No one is any longer in a position to write a life of Jesus’. Going on to say, however, that just because previous attempts have failed, this should not stop us from making a fresh attempt. Beilby and Eddy list the new developments that characterised this new or second quest. First was the rise of redaction criticism, which operated under the conviction that, ‘the authors of the gospels did not function as mere collectors of earlier tradition, but rather allowed their literary and theological tendencies to shape the gospel texts.’ Secondly the so called ‘Q document’ took on a new importance, being seen as a full blown gospel. Thirdly, various methods were more seriously assessed and used, such as the principle of ‘double dissimilarity’. This was the idea that a saying/action of Jesus was only authentic if it could be shown to be significantly different in emphasis to both ancient Judaism and the early church . The new quest is seen to have come to a slow stop around the beginning of the 1970’s for a number of reasons, such as, meagre results, and a continued Bultmann like pessimism. Perhaps most importantly, this quest, somewhat like the old quest, fell foul to reflecting into it’s work the prevailing philosophy of it’s time, namely existentialism. And so once again, though perhaps not quite so emphatically, Christians could be well justified in saying, ‘no’ or ‘no point’ to being engaged in an historical quest for Jesus.

In the early 1980’s a ‘third quest’ began, the term first being coined by N.T. Wright in a 1982 article. Whilst Wright used the term to describe a new methodological direction, most scholars now use the term in a chronological fashion which is what I will do here. Witherington lists the reasons for this third quest happening as, the discovery of some new archaeological and manuscript data, some new methodological refinements and some new enthusiasm that historical research need not lead to a dead end. Other landmarks that denote the beginning of this ‘third quest’ are the launch of the Jesus Seminar and the publication of E P Sander’s Jesus and Judaism in 1985 . The Jesus Seminar, comprised a group of scholars attempting to work together applying strict method, getting together regularly to vote on the authenticity of the sayings and actions of Jesus. Despite being criticised on a number of fronts, such as, its over use of the dissimilarity criterion which tended to produce a very non-Jewish Jesus who was merely a non-eschatological sage, Gowler believed it to have, ‘made a significant contribution to scholarly and public dialogues.’ Sanders produced a similar list to the Jesus Seminar of things we can ‘know’ about Jesus, starting with the ‘virtually certain’ and gradually moving to the ‘incredible’ Sanders conclusions were different to those of the Jesus Seminar, for example, Jesus was apocalyptic and his followers developed their idea of who Jesus was adding, ‘Lord’ to ‘Messiah, they continued to expect an eschatological miracle to bring in a new kingdom, but this was likely to be in heaven. Certainly one member of the Jesus Seminar who has continued to make significant contributions to the historical Jesus debate is J D Crossan.

J D Crossan paints a picture of Jesus largely as a ‘Wisdom Sage’ or more precisely ‘Peasant Cynic Sage’ who was never the less a Jew, who preached a radical message that the Kingdom of God was present and open to everyone, as demonstrated by Jesus sharing meals and healing the sick. Jesus’s message was so revolutionary that it led to his execution by the Romans. Jesus did not rise bodily from the dead, instead Crossan postulates that that those who experienced Jesus’s divine power in his lifetime continued to do so in ways not confined by time or place . Although Crossan’s work is characterised by a serious attempt at historical method, he is criticised for his apparent willingness to abandon his own strict historical method when it does not suit. For example, Luke Timothy Johnson points this out in relation to Crossan’s portrayal of an anti-imperial Jesus and Gowler points out Crossan ignores multiply-attested apocalyptic elements from his first (earliest) strata of data, as well as other multiply attested items that would fit with a more apocalyptic portrait of Jesus

Another popular portrait of Jesus to come out of recent historical study of the life of Jesus is, Jesus as a ‘Prophet of Social Change’. Theissen and Merz conclude their work on the historical Jesus with a tentative, ‘Short Life of Jesus’. They postulate that, Jesus, ‘put the commandment to love God and neighbour at the centre of his ethic, but he radicalised it so that it became an obligation even to love enemies, strangers and the religious outcasts’ . Jesus sought to replace the temple, which could no longer bring about salvation, with the simple meal via the symbolic action of the last supper . This led to the founding of a cult, which continued after Jesus death, when the disciples, after various Jesus, ‘appearances’, became convinced he was alive. For Theissen and Merz, Christianity is a social and ethical gospel concerned with the world and society, where, ‘Historically and theologically, Jesus belongs to Judaism’.

So far we might class together this group of third questers as revisionist scholars in that they radically, ‘reduce’, the Jesus of those with a high view of scripture. However, even these scholars all tend to agree that Jesus was born, that he was baptised by John the Baptist , that the temple incident (turning over of the tables, etc) occurred, that Jesus died and that there were actions and sayings around, ‘the Kingdom of God’. Christians might also be encouraged by the fleshing out that such study can give to their own beliefs. For example, the wedding at Cana. Historical information that suggests it was a matter of honour to give a marriage party lasting several days and that should the couple run out of wine they would be forced to borrow from a money lender at extortionate rates, can help create a narrative of Jesus ushering in a new, ‘Kingdom of God’, with his first miracle. On the other hand, Christians with a high view of scripture might well be want to turn away from such historical enquiry if it does not include the bodily resurrection of Jesus and other key beliefs. Such Christians, however, can be encouraged that the Jesus they know from scripture and experience, can also be authenticated in history with greater optimism. This arises from a number of developments and we can look briefly here at two scholars and their work , namely N.T. Wright and Richard Bauckham

N. T. Wright has done a great deal of work on the historical Jesus and we can focus here on one or two aspects including the resurrection. For Wright, in historical terms, Jesus was unique, being neither a, ‘quietist, nor a compromiser, nor a zealot’ but, a proclaimer of the’ Kingdom of God at hand’. Further, Jesus reconstitutes the full return from exile for Israel and the whole world, around himself. Wright introduces the idea that Jesus actions were ‘symbolic’. Firstly, that Jewish symbols such, as food, the Sabbath and the temple had been corrupted and that Jesus, was announcing a new agenda, a kingdom, whereby what these symbols represented, eg forgiveness of sins, would now come to completion through his ministry, death and resurrection. Secondly a whole new set of symbols of the Kingdom gave the same message, not from the angle of judgement, but of hope. So the symbols of land and healing point to the restoration of Israel, as do a new concept of family, ie a renewed community . As for the resurrection Wright argues that bodily resurrection was part of Jewish belief but that early Christianity modified this belief in seven important ways , that it is historically plausible that the Easter narratives are based on very early oral tradition and that the disciples encountered Jesus in bodily form, albeit, this bodily form was different. In summary, the bodily resurrection of Jesus as, ‘Lord’, (as oppose to some earthly authority), a belief for which people were willing to die, is central to answering the fascinating question of why the early church exploded into growth and, indeed, it’s continued exponential growth today.

In a landmark study , Richard Bauckham points to the gospels being written in the same style as Greco-Roman biographies of the time. The style of these biographies was to write the main sayings and actions of the hero, with those around the time of death being seen as especially significant. These biographies, to be believable, had to clearly identify eyewitnesses throughout. We see this in the gospels with the disciples and public figures as main witnesses, clearly identified where necessary, for example, ‘sons of Zebedee’ (Mark 3:17). Minor witnesses are also named, for example, ‘Blind Bartimeaus’, Simon of Cyrene and his sons and various women as key eye witnesses of the resurrection, also named. Bauckman argues that, ‘the Gospels put us in close touch with the eyewitnesses of the history of Jesus’ . These eyewitnesses were likely part of a group of key guardians of a reliable oral tradition with some alive at the time of the writing of the synoptic gospels. This dissipates the supposition of many revisionist scholars, using form criticism, that the Jesus sayings and actions were hugely modified and even invented by the gospel writers and early church communities. Christians can now have greater confidence in the gospels as a category of historiography, ie the ‘Jesus of testimony’ through which the ‘Jesus of History’ and the ‘Christ of faith’, ‘need not be at odds, but can converge’

For many the shadow of Schweitzer still hangs over us, that is, we are bound to produce histories of Jesus that only reflect our own views, but, the work of Wright, Bauckhman and others does give Christians greater confidence. However, many would argue, like Luke Timothy Johnson, that the complexity of the subject makes it inaccessible , though in Wright’s case at least, we see a good measure of success in producing popular versions of his work. Bird argues that Luke Timothy Johnson’s view brings the danger of solipsism, that is, the real Jesus is the one ‘I’ experience . My view is that this is overstated, yes there are minority fringe and cultic Christian groups, but I would argue that there is an amazing commensality across the broad sweep of the Christian world in terms of Scripture, Theology, Tradition and Experience.

If I had to say, ‘yes’, in answer to this essay question it would be from the viewpoint of contextual mission. In liberal/pluralist/post-modern societies such as the UK, much of Europe and parts of Northern America, this kind of subject can be a first point of contact, a means of building a relationship with a number of, ‘seekers’ with an interest in this kind of subject and could even be an entry point to a journey of faith. And it is this point of view, I believe, that has the strongest appeal to the evangelical Christian, for a study of the ‘historical Jesus’.

Bibliography

Powell, Mark Allan The Jesus Debate, Modern Historians Investigate the Life of Christ published by Lion Publishing plc, UK 1998

Gowler David B The Historical Jesus? published by Paulist Press USA 2007

Bock Darrel L Studying the Historical Jesus, A guide to Sources and Methods Published by Baker Academic USA 2002

Witherington III Ben The Jesus Quest, The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth published by IVP USA Secon Ed. 1997

Bornkamm Gunther Jesus of Nazereth translated by Irene and Fraser Mcluskey and James Robinson published by Hodder and Stoughton Ltd and Harper and Brothers USA 1960

Beilby James K and Paul Rhodes Eddy, Editors of The Historical Jesus, Five views with contributions from James D. G. Dunn, John Dominic Crossan, Darrell L. Bock, Luke Timothy Johnson and Robert M. Price Published by IVP USA 2009

Sanders E P Jesus and Judaism published by First Fortress Press USA 1985

Crossan J D The Historical Jesus, The Life of a Mediterranean Peasant paperback edition published by Harper Collins USA 1992

Theissen Gerd and Merz translated by John Bowden The Historical Jesus, A Historical Guide published by SCM Press UK 1998

Meir John P A Marginal Jew, Rethinking the Historical Jesus Volume One published by Doubleday USA 1991

Wright N T The Challenge of Jesus published by Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge UK 2000

Tom Wright Surprised by Hope published by Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge UK 2007

Bauckham Richard Jesus and the EyeWitnesses, The Gospels as Eye Witness Testimony published by Wm B Erdmans USA/UK 2006

Bauckham Richard The Gospels as Eye Witness Testimony published by Grove Books, UK 2008

Bird, Michael Shouldn’t Evangelicals Participate in the’Third Quest for the Historical Jesus’? Published by Themelios 29.2 Spring 2004

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Are we powerless?

September 12, 2017 Leave a comment

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fjesusinyou%2Fposts%2F1399155193529308&width=500“>Are we powerless?

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Doing from being!

September 21, 2016 Leave a comment

These are the notes of the sermon I preached at my Dad’s funeral. I kind of had the privilege of preaching what I wanted to but something had been on my mind for months, and I just want to share that here. 

I had become increasingly disturbed by the picture of who we are in the latter half of Romans 7. Here Paul paints a picture of a person who rarely does the good and often loses the fight against doing the bad. I thought I’d resolved the issue when I read in Eerdmans commentary that ‘most commentators now agree Paul was talking of his pre Christian experience’ and that a large part of the Greek is in the past tense. However, I then read that a number of commentators, including John Piper(for whom I have a great deal of respect), do believe this is part of normal Christian experience. You can look up this (good humoured) debate on Google, just type ‘Romans 7 John Piper’. That did help me a bit and I guess that I arrived at a view that says Paul was describing the pointlessness of struggling in our own strength, especially as at the end of Romans 7 when there is the huge sigh of relief when Paul says thank goodness we have Jesus Christ! Then he goes on to all the great stuff in Romans 8 ‘no condemnation’ ‘adopted children’ ‘no longer slaves of fear’, ‘God works all things together for the good’. We find a parallel in Galatians where Paul says, ‘O foolish Galatians’ in reference to their returning to living life in their own strength according to moral laws. Paul urges them to walk in the power of the spirit.
I was wondering whether there was anything else in scriptures that would help when I came across the wonderful hymn or saying, summarising the Christian life, in Titus 3. Paul instructs Titus, ‘ This saying is trustworthy and I want you to insist (repeatedly stress) these things so that believers in God will do good works’. In the preceding verses Paul talks of ‘the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit’. And I was like yes! There it is in no uncertain terms and Paul is instructing Titus to insist on it (repeatedly stress it)! So we are transformed at the core and we must be continually transformed by the renewal of the Holy Spirit. This way we can live powerful lives and begin to see happen the things of God we can’t even imagine! (Ephesians). That is a summary so please read on if you wish 😀
(The reading was John 1:1-14)

I want to concentrate on the two verses that describe our believing in his name and of our being reborn of God, that is John 1 verses 12 and 13

‘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.’

In the notes of the Passion Translation for verse twelve, Brian Simmons writes that believe in his name, or lay hold of his name or ‘those who are putting faith into his name’ ‘means to believe all that he represents and put into practice what he taught, all in the power of his name’. Now this belief in practice is intimately linked to who we are because John immediately goes on to describe in verse 13, that we both have the right to become children of God and that we undergo a process of rebirth, we become children born of God! Now I’m going to switch these two points around, faith in Jesus name in practice and our being reborn of God, because I want us to see the importance of who we are being the place from which flows belief in practice through the power of his name. Our doing flows from our being . .
Who we are:

In Titus 3:8 we read, ‘The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works’. Paul wants Titus to insist on these things so that believers will do good works, what things? Well we have to look to the verses before . . ‘4But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.’ We have a wonderful description of the Light coming into the world as the goodness and kindness of God appearing, then the fact that we are not saved by works but according to mercy and then, and this is what I really want you to take note of, we are saved ‘by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit’ And Paul in instructing Titus is saying ‘I want you to insist on these things so that believers will do good works’. Do you see the link here, who we are by regeneration or rebirth as children of God leads us to do good works! John talks of being born of God, Paul talks of regeneration, this is no mere accounting thing, not merely transactional explain. Paul says we must constantly stress these things, why? There is a danger sometimes that we think God looks at us with a special pair of glasses, with them on he sees us as pure holy and blameless, with them off he sees us as we are actually are, a bit messed up. When in Colossians 1:22 it says Christ presents us to God as pure, holy and flawless, in God’s presence. Is that just in the future? There is no tense here, it’s now and in the future, there is a definite sense here of who we are! 
Does that mean we are perfect, of course not! We are a work in progress and we know we struggle with sin often. But its too easy to conflate our mistakes with who we are and the devil would love to steal away our true identity by tempting us to think badly of our true being, trapping us in a cycle where we do sin he whispers in our ear, ‘see, that’s who you really are’. In Corinthians it says our spirit is united with Christ, also in Corinthians we are described as new creatures, something fundamental has happened to us! I like to think we have been transformed at the core, like molten metal, pure at the core, with the dross gradually being pushed to the surface to be cleaned away. And our washing by regeneration through the holy spirit is a continuing process! And an amazing one, because as we begin to realise who we truly are, transformed at the core, we start to live the powerful Christian lives God had/has in mind for us.
So when we operate in the name of Jesus Christ it’s not just a magic name. After all the priest of Sciva in Acts tried that and the evil spirits made the possessed man beat them up. The evil spirits could not see the spirit of a man united with Christ, so the use of Christ’s name was ineffective. As reborn Christians, united with Christ, we have real spiritual authority and power to bring the transforming gospel into people’s lives to save and to heal. It’s a wonderful thing to partner with God and see lives transformed, in our south Yorkshire days we saw people’s lives amazingly transformed as they believed in Jesus name, were washed and renewed through the power of the Holy Spirit. New believers immediately began to tell their neighbours and friends and within just a few years the church had grown by several hundred! My Dad wasn’t a charismatic at the time, but the Holy Spirit broke out delivering people from the power of the occult, bursts of creativity as people wrote songs, prophesy and speaking in tongues. My Dad was not offended, he did not resist the spirit and was humble enough to call on the help of the local Pentecostal minister on occasion. So scripture tells us we are transformed and experience tells us as well and I could tell you numerous stories of people from this church and elsewhere who have experienced transformation and healing and then gone on to be a powerful transforming influence in their communities and workplaces.
One other thing about my Dad, he had courage, he did it scared. If you’re waiting till its no longer scary, get over it! We can only learn this stuff by experience (are we over taught and under experienced?) and we have to do it scared, embarrassed, cringing and so on? What do I mean? Well when we look for opportunities and are prepared to behave differently, there comes a scary moment. For example, a year ago or so I offered to pray with a supervisor at Morrisons who had been telling the cashier about her bad back, we chatted I offered to pray, there was a horrible, scary moment and I nearly bottled it. Part way through the Holy Spirit broke in and we both became silent in wonderment. I spoke to her recently and she confirmed her back had been healed. So next time someone in church or someone at work or wherever tells you about a distressing situation, offer to pray with them! A simple prayer addressing the situation in Jesus name is all that is required. For example, ‘I command all pain to go in Jesus name’ We can all tell our personal story, practice it, so you are ready. We can all pray for healing and wholeness and we can all bless people with kindness. Because of who we are and the name of Jesus we can see powerful results when we are obedient and allow the Holy Spirit to move.
FINISH HERE?
I want to throw out a challenge to us evangelicals and say that all the theology that applies to saving also applies to healing. We wrongly step into the sovereignty of God if we tell someone, ‘you will be healed today’. Similarly if we say that someone will only be healed in heaven, we wrongly step into Gods sovereignty. As evangelicals the battle was fought to evangelise against those that said we didn’t need to because God was sovereign and he would just save if he wanted to . . apply that to healing! So we are left with two things, one we have to be obedient to the commissions, ‘heal the sick and tell the kingdom of God is at hand’ (it can be grasped) and even the great commission says and teach them all the things I have taught you. Second the scriptures are very firm in stating God’s goodness, hold onto the fact that he is good and his intentions are always the best they can be at all times . . . yes when we look around we have questions, but we not called upon to build theology on such questions or observations. So when you offer to pray for someone, believe that God is good and be obedient.
So, you are a new creation (for a new Kingdom)

God is good

Do it scared

Imagine and pray yourself into situations

Like Jesus you can be obedient to Father God and like Jesus you can operate in the power of the Holy Spirit and do the things Jesus did and greater things as John says in his gospel, Jesus also says in John, ‘as the father sent me, so I am sending you’

Finally, like Ephesians says we just can’t imagine what God has in store for us, it’s so exciting, we are on the brink of a new season – God’s on the move, get on board!

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Just a Thought . .

April 4, 2016 Leave a comment

Just a thought . . it’s ok to ask for God for joy!

11 Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
and they will return to you.
Psalm 51 NLT

This is quite incredible! David wrote this Psalm after committing adultery with Bathsheba and arranging the death of her husband! Why is it incredible? Just have a look at verse 12 http://biblehub.com/psalms/51-12.htm What David is saying to God is ‘give me joy and then I will obey you, or ‘give me joy to help me obey you’ or ‘give me joy which will help me have a free and willing spirit necessary to my obeying you’. How cheeky can you get? Not only that he also says that this process, Joy – Obedience, will lead to him getting others to follow God’s ways!

Joy – Obedience – Evangelism

David is revered for knowing God’s heart and what worship is all about . . so I think we are fine taking his lead!

If we are struggling in the area of obedience or evangelism, why not try seeking out joy as a first step. In doing so we will find freedom from our struggles to obey as we flow in a new intimacy with a God who wants to deluge us with his love and joy . . from this experience we will have a strong desire to tell others!

Andy

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Eagerly Desire

August 29, 2015 Leave a comment
Fix Your Thoughts

Before writing this blog I had to clear my iPad of photos and some videos, it was so clogged up I couldn’t do anything! Our lives too can get clogged up can’t they? So clogged up we have lost our joy maybe? May be not clogged up with bad things and we can be ever so ‘busy for the Lord’!
This week I lost my focus a bit, well a lot really. Recently I realised that next January I am due a bit of pension money (Yes I am that old!). Enough to put down a deposit on a new or nearly new car possibly. So I have spent all week ogling cars. I’ve become obsessed to the point where I stopped enjoying it and lost my peace! Even my son Sam said, ‘Dad can we stop talking about cars now’? (Just in case you like cars I will put the two models I fancy below and you can vote which one you like best!) See, I can’t help myself . .
I love Psalm 27 where it says:
One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire[a] in his temple. Psalm 27:4

ONE THING!
Everything we do must flow from one thing or else it will be all strain and push. Yes, there is grace and God always blesses, but if we are looking for abundant blessing in our ministries, in our work, family, whatever . . . it must all flow from one thing! At the centre of our lives, the top of our list, the thing we most eagerly desire must be  . . . to be in His presence!

Desire only to be in His presence
There is nothing wrong with desiring the joy that comes from being in His presence. Yes, sometimes it takes discipline, to get up and pray, sit still, put that worship music on, whatever. And yes, tough times can come, but even in the midst of these we can find peace and joy in His presence! There is such a thing as experiential learning . .the more we experience the Holy Spirit, the more we experience the Holy Spirit . . and yes it’s meant to be more and more, certainly not one off and rare experiences for a particular purpose. Yes, there is purpose, but it flows from relationship!

It’s the same Holy Spirit!
Recently I was in the Morrisons queue and the supervisor was chatting to the till person, saying how much her back hurt, then she wandered away. I said, ‘OK Lord if she comes back I will offer to pray with her’. She wandered somewhat closer as I put the last of my shopping in the trolley. I very nearly turned away, but just about summoned enough courage and went over to her and asked if I could pray for her back. She said yes, I was stood near her but didn’t feel it was right to ask to lay hands on her. I addressed the pain and the cause in Jesus name and suddenly we were both enveloped in the Holy Spirit. I can’t explain it but we were both stood staring at each other in a kind of wonder. And guess what? It was the same Holy Spirit I have encountered in worship! So not to be too mechanical or legalistic about it, is it possible these encounters come the more we seek to be in His presence, the more we seek the Holy Spirit? Is that the challenge for us and is that why David said, ‘One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after’, because he knew this was the secret to the rest of his life?

Ok the cars . . just dreaming!
Jeep Renegade vs Skoda Yeti Outdoor . . what’s your vote? (click the pictures for more pictures . .)

ps we are having a bbq today at 3 food at 5 if you fancy coming . . let me know though 🙂
Andy

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Warrior King

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Religion Has Run Out of Wine!

cana2
Read John 2:1-11

Jonh 2 a

John 2 b

Mary, Jesus and all the disciples are invited to a wedding, probably a Tuesday, the third day of the week (Resurrection Day!). No mention of Joseph here, some have speculated he died early, leaving Jesus to provide for the family . . . The wedding feast would last several days. It was the responsibility of the couple and their respective families to provide enough food and wine. In fact it was a matter of honour to do so. Running out of wine was a serious matter, the couple may even have had to go to a money lender to solve this problem, thereby starting their married lives in debt! Jesus provision means we don’t have to go into debt to fund His work and mission!

Mary asked Jesus to do something because the wedding feast no longer had wine. She was saying, ‘Religion has run out of wine.’ Religion alone cannot gladden our hearts! Jesus reply was, in effect, ‘what have we in common if I do this?’ In other words his status, how people perceived him would change dramatically, Mary’s not so much. Jesus already had disciples, what a miracle would do here is accelerate his ministry. Are we ready to have our own ministries accelerated, perhaps dramatically, perhaps by signs and wonders!?!?

Did Jesus drink this new wine?

The six pots of water . . six stands for ‘man’ or ‘human’. The pots represent our human efforts, at best the water washed the outside of people, their hands and feet, faces perhaps. Yet the water would have been dirty, unclean, even though the pots were ceremonially dedicated to their purpose. Our religion is ceremonially dedicated to its purpose, what if we suddenly found it full of new wine? Would we taste, would we drink and how deeply would we drink? Did Jesus drink this new wine at the feast I wonder? Did he laugh, did he dance?

Exercise
Read the passage again slowly and as you do imagine yourself a guest, there at the wedding feast. What happens? Perhaps Jesus invites you over for a chat, maybe he even invites you to dance with him and his disciples. Imagine his face, perhaps he takes hold of your hands and spins you round. Perhaps he offers you a cup of the new wine, will you drink? Weird huh? Maybe . . .

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