Holiness has become a rarely used word, even in Christian circles. It’s gone out of fashion. Does that matter? Is holiness reasonable and relevant for today? Do we want it? Is it achievable?
Alone in a hotel room I didn't expect the TV to offer much to interest me, but I came across a documentary that bored into my hidden feelings - grief for my long-dead mother.
Jesus began his ministry following his encounter with John the Baptist. The four Gospels are unanimous about that, and it’s an easy story to understand. But the next story, whilst familiar, is much harder to comprehend. We are presented with a picture of God incarnate in a head-to-head debate with the Devil. What’s happening here?
Jesus stilled the storm. It’s a well-known story that's usually told to show how powerful Jesus was. But the story starts from a quite different perspective. As he boards the boat, there’s a little phrase in the story that we can easily miss. It says that the disciples took Jesus “as he was”.
The Aberfan tragedy was a result of corporate negligence. But it’s not enough to blame that corporation and ignore our own failings. We each have freedom of choice – freedom to drop a bottle on the ground and leave it there to cause a deadly wildfire – freedom to discard a plastic bag that will end up as a sea-borne hazard to wildlife – freedom to live just for ourselves and overlook the needs of others.
I knew a man called Maurice Smith. Thousands of people knew Maurice, because he was a prominent leader in the charismatic/House Church movement in the second half of the twentieth-century. He travelled widely in the UK and the USA, addressed meetings in locations as varied as London's Albert Hall, and private house front rooms, and … Continue reading The preacher who couldn’t dissimulate
I don't recall ever hearing a sermon based on Philemon, and I probably wouldn’t have started this study but for a question from a friend.
I like music, especially when it’s worship with real passion. I don’t mind if its loud. It’s OK if it has a beat, because I enjoy a charismatic knees-up! Music has been a major part of my life and still matters to me. In the 60s I was in the popular Christian rock band, The Pilgrims [i] , who were once introduced at a big concert in central London as “not only the best but also the LOUDEST Christian group”. So, I know how to be loud for God. But the best thing I’ve learned since those days is to value silence – but now I’m talking about prayer.
Most of us mess up occasionally, and it’s natural to feel embarrassed about it. We may chide ourselves for our mistakes, but it’s not those fleeting moments of self criticism that worry me. My concern is for people who continually put themselves down – and especially those who think that’s what God expects of them. It does no honour to the Gospel to declare ourselves “miserable sinners” after we have received salvation – and it’s bad for our mental and spiritual health.
Don’t be afraid of doubt. OK, it may feel like a threat, but you can also treat it as a tool to help you dig down to the solid ground of your real faith. I'm avoiding the adjective “true”, because it’s so often used in a negative way. “True Faith” (note the capitals) implies a set of beliefs that we have and they don’t. My real faith consists of the things I believe deep down, and those beliefs have been tested again and again – by doubt.