Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Painful Questions

Life is hard. Life is painful. Life can change in a moment.

In the past few weeks, many of my friends have experienced situations that have left them with painful questions;

How could God allow this to happen?
I thought He loved me?
Will life get any better?
Is He angry with me?
How can I move on from here?
How can I trust Him again?

I feel that I should have the answers, but often I don't. Their questions cause me to question too. Where is God in all of this mess?

What I do recognise, is that these painful questions are prayers. Even when it feels like God has let us down and left us, we still call out to him. Even when we tell ourselves He doesn't exist, we want to believe He does.

My friend Pete wrote a book called 'God On Mute' about his struggle with unanswered prayer and the suffering it brings. I highly recommend it. Honest, humble, yet full of hope.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


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24-7 Magnify

Friday, 14 May 2010

Peter Hitchens Interview

Check out this video by a guy called Peter Hitchens, as he talks about his journey to faith.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010


We will all have times in our lives where we feel slightly uneasy and disillusioned about life.

These are often times when we have stopped to reflect and often compare ourselves with others, or the person we hoped to be. We may have had dreams and aspirations, but have found ourselves on a path that we didn't expect or necessarily wanted to follow. This can sometimes occur through bad decisions that may have been made by ourselves or by others on our behalf, but most of the time it seems that it's just the way life is!

It's a scary and disorienting time and can lead us to making drastic decisions and changes in a bid to rescue what we feel we have lost or missed out on. This could range from buying a sports car, a career change, going sky diving or in a worst case scenario divorce or suicide where even life itself has been questioned.

We may also feel disillusioned by people or systems that we trust, which is a major factor for political upheavals and/or wars. Of course, governments would rather people didn't question the status quo and make every effort to keep up the illusion that they know what they are doing and have everything under control!

For those who are people of faith, it can lead to very big questions about the meaning of life too. Where is God? Is there a God? How could He let this happen? Does He care?

So what does disillusionment mean?

"a freeing or a being freed from illusion or conviction."

So to be disillusioned is to be freed, but from what?

- Illusion -"something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality."

- Conviction - "a fixed or firm belief."

This definition seems to suggest that the process of disillusionment is a positive experience. It suggests that we have been believing a lie and that through this process we are able to see through it. But often, this experience leads to fear and insecurity as we begin to see that everything we have banked on in life, can't actually support us. A recent example may be the recession and the failings of the banks.

So who can we trust? Who can we turn to for the real answers? Where can we find truth?

Jesus would often start his sentences with the phrase "I tell you the truth..." He could obviously see people who were a little disillusioned with life and were looking for answers. They may have been disillusioned with the Romans who ruled over them or the religious systems that demanded so much from them or things had happened in their life that had forced them to ask questions. They were looking for a way of life that would be fulfilling and not oppressive, but also attainable.

Jesus also described Himself as 'the truth' (John 14:6) and pointed to the Holy Spirit as someone who 'would guide into all truth' (John 16:13). God is revealing Himself as someone we can trust, someone we can pin our hopes on, someone who will not let us down, someone we won't be deceived by.

So why is it then that we sometimes feel disillusioned with God?

If we go back to the definition, it would seem that this would leave us open to questioning God as a firm belief in our lives. What if it's all been a lie? What if there is no God and all the decisions I've made have been for nothing? Have I been wasting time?

But what if our disillusionment was not with God Himself, rather a god we have created?

This is why I think disillusionment in the Christian faith is such a healthy process, as we strip back all of the periphery stuff and get to the heart of the matter. We question who God is, what the church is about, why we take part in the practices we do, why there is suffering, and who we are in the midst of all that.

I believe that when we come to that place, we will get answers to our questions. We may find that a lot of the things we thought about God and what it means to follow Jesus were illusions and that God is leading us through disillusionment, in order to find the truth in Jesus.

Are we a Church that encourages and supports those who are disillusioned or do we label them as bad apples that may cause problems?

Are we willing to be childlike and ask the big questions without an agenda behind it?

Are you willing to be 'changed by the renewing of your mind' (Romans 12:2)?

I'm sure there are many more things I could write on this, but here are my initial thoughts. Would love to open a conversation on the comments page if anyone wants to join?

What are your experiences of disillusionment?

Have you ever seen it as a positive process?

e.t.c, e.t.c...

Monday, 26 April 2010

Real Life Starts Now

Having just written my last blog post, I listened to this podcast by friends in the States, which I think compliments and supports what I have been feeling well.


Being Present

What do you think of when you think of the future? How does it make you feel?

I'm someone who likes to have plans and answers to questions.

I'm more comfortable with things being completed and decisions being made, then open ended situations.

I like it when there is clarity and when there are goals to achieve.

I like order and the ability to clearly communicate what I am internally processing.

So when I think of the future, it causes me to panic slightly.


There is no definite. I can make plans, but they often change. Basically, I can't control my future.

So, during my unexpected break that was last week, I found myself asking God a lot of questions about the future.

What job will I have? Where will I live? Who will I be living with? etc, etc.

In my search for answers, I just found myself getting more and more worked up and frustrated as the questions branched out to other questions. I started to get down on myself, wondering if I'd wasted my life so far, wondering what I had actually achieved, which lead to the question of whether there is a God after all!

Once I'd finished my little moan, I felt God remind me again of the simplicity and beauty of his calling for each one of us;

John 15:12 - "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."

This command of Jesus to His disciples reminds us that there is a world around us. A world that gives us the opportunity to love, just as Jesus loves us. In the midst of my despair, I had been focussing solely on myself and was begining to get lost in the future, which I might not even reach.

The command to love others daily calls us to be present in the world around us.

In the midst of my worrying, I had become camped in the future, where people and situations are fictitous and are dictated by my emotions and imagination. Jesus knew this would be a problem and so encouraged His followers by saying;

25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifeb]" style=" line-height: 0.5em; ">[b]?

28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Each day has enough trouble and opportunities to seek first His kingdom, that we shouldn't be concerned by the future. Of course, it's good to have dreams and goals in life, but hold them lightly. Don't get so lost in them that you neglect those you live with or next to; those you work and socialise with; those that you walk past everyday.

It's made me realise that there are so many opportunities to love each day, but often I miss out because I'm distracted by the fear of tomorrow.

The danger with not being present is that we will never commit to anyone or anywhere in case something better turns up or it doesn't fit with our plans.

But how will we learn and grow if we don't engage in the immediate world around us?

It may be true that you feel led to live in a foreign country in a couple of years, but does that stop you loving your neighbour today? Does that stop you being a voice for the voiceless in your community today? Does that stop you discipling the young people on your streets today?

As always, our great example of being present and loving daily is God Himself in the person of Jesus.

John 1:14 - 14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

God chose to limit Himself and put on our skin, so that He could love us in a way that could be reproduced. His mission was ultimately to die for the sins of the world, but that didn't stop Him loving the people He was around everyday, bringing the Kingdom of God to earth.

It doesn't matter if you don't feel 'equipped' or not, because Jesus has left us the Holy Spirit and He lives and works in and through us. Don't let the lie that you are not good enough hold you back from loving well!

The challenge for us is to look around a bit more each day and say to God "Who can I love today? Let your Kingdom come!" and allow each day to become a piece of a jigsaw that God is putting together, without us having to worry about what the picture is!

Note - Learn what the best way to love the people around you are and do them, whether that's washing the dishes or leaving cards. It takes a little bit of effort, but it's worth it! Don't just assume everyone gives and receives love the same way you do, although ultimately it is a heart thing and not a formula!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

If God could do that...

I was reminded of and encouraged by this Philip Yancey quote today;

‘There are two ways to look at human history, I have concluded. One way is to focus on the wars and violence, the squalor, the pain and tragedy and death. From such a point of view, Easter seems a fairy-tale exception, a stunning contradiction in the name of God … There is another way to look at the world. If I take Easter as the starting point, the one incontrovertible fact about how God treats those whom we loves, then human history becomes the contradiction and Easter a preview of ultimate reality. Hope then flows like lava beneath the crust of daily life. This, perhaps, describes the change in the disciples’ perspective as they sat in locked rooms discussing the incomprehensible events of Easter Sunday. In one sense nothing had changed: Rome still occupied Palestine … death and evil still reigned outside. Gradually, however, the shock of recognition gave way to a long slow undertow of joy. If God could do that …’