783

hishouse

About these ads

About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

87 Responses to 783

  1. danielg says:

    time to look for a better church

    cf. Why Most Churches Suck
    How to identify bad preaching

    I know that this blog seems mostly about being a safe place to air feelings, grievances, and concerns about church, I just feel compelled to bring practical answers to said grievances. Forgive me in advance, pls.

  2. subo says:

    he’s just popped down the road, to the local mosque

  3. Forrest says:

    My Dad was transferred about every other year when I and my brother were young. Parents shopped for a church partly by whether the presence of the Spirit could be sensed.
    Was, and was not, in some surprising places.

  4. Sara says:

    I thought I was the only one who had that problem. I was with God when we got to church, but somehow I lost Him after I entered the building.

    Daniel, sometimes it time to take a break from “church”.

  5. Tiggy says:

    I find God in circles, not rows. The Native Americans say, ‘White men can’t make circles.’ It’s true. They can’t dance either.

  6. Tiggy says:

    Yeah, the stuff on ‘Why most churches suck’ was okay; I’m less convinced by the one on preaching.

    The thing is, I doubt if either of those really address the feelings/grievances of the people who are posting on here. That’s the trouble with coming up with ‘answers’. They may be answers to you, but not to the person you’re giving them to. It’s better to listen to what people are saying, rather than serving up answers. That’s a mistake men often make because they tend to be focused on solutions rather than being WITH someone. I think people have to be accompanied and supported in finding their own answers.

    I’m often tempted to give answers myself because I like problem-solving, so I can understand people providing helpful links and these can sometimes expand people’s thinking or even make people realise where the problem ISN’T.

    I’m not sure there are hard and fast rules – sometimes it’s down to the particular people in the church community. I still think the most important aspect to a person finding God in at church is how much the community loves. I’ve been shown a lot of love at the churches I’ve been to since I moved and that’s what’s made a difference to how I feel about going to church. At one time I went to a very popular and famous church in London that everyone thought was great, but I didn’t feel loved there in the way I do where I am now. That may have been something to do with it being a commuter church, but also just a different culture with less warmth to it.

  7. danielg says:

    >> TIG: That’s a mistake men often make because they tend to be focused on solutions rather than being WITH someone. I think people have to be accompanied and supported in finding their own answers.

    True.

    >> TIG: I still think the most important aspect to a person finding God in at church is how much the community loves.

    I agree, though I hasten to add that love without truth is sentimentality without much more power to change lives than truth without love.

    Admittedly, love is more important, and harder to do.

  8. rockingRev says:

    Again this one is so subjective. Why is it some people feel the presence of God in a particular church and other people will not? Is it because some people expected to meet God while others were simply hoping to meet God? Is it because of the people they sit near and the reaction they get from them, either a welcome or a cold shoulder?

  9. Miriworm says:

    I thought we were all adopted sons anyway so are you sure he really is your dad? ;-)

    Sorry just thought I’d stir it up!

  10. Kim says:

    I think we mustn’t convince ourselves that God isn’t in churches, even if they are dull/tedious/unloving. He hasn’t left them, as he is always waiting and hoping they will seek him and then the transformation can start. They are only collective groups of individuals after all.

    However I do also agree that it is often just as easy to sense God’s presence elsewhere, and everywhere.

  11. Kim says:

    Hmm. Just thinking about this, isn’t the guy himself God’s house now anyway? The building is only a place or location to go to.

    I was thinking of that scripture about us all being living stones, built up into the church together. My stone is probably an awkward shape to be building with.

  12. kls says:

    hmmmmmmmm, I think this is either true, or simply us ignoring Him?

    I like the way ppl point at traditional churches, saying “God’s Spirit is not present” – well He either IS, or He is not present at any church. Tho, this is kindof a different story.

    But it’s really interesting to think about God reprimanding David for wanting to build a temple.

  13. that’s because its full of strange people doing weird stuff!

  14. Lewis says:

    Haha, all these cartoons – your church must be truly awful!

  15. jonbirch says:

    indeed it is rockingrev… this cartoon is something i’ve heard said, not something i necessarily believe to be true. i’d be interested to know what people mean when they say ‘god is/isn’t in a place.’ not sure i know. i wonder whether they are simply describing how they feel.

    lewis… hahaha! :lol: i refer you to the above paragraph. btw. very rarely go to church these days.

  16. I remember this one well. I used to work in a Charismatic Mission Organisation, and ‘Morning Worship’ (which I’m sure was great for a lot of people) always left me bored (on a good day) or feeling like I was run over by a train. It took me about half an hour to get over it to the extent I could start the day. I don’t know why this was/is.

    Sometimes, one blessed day, God would let me worship him through music. Those days were beautiful. Of course then it was assumed by those watching (and they were) that I was ‘getting better’

    My solution was to draw during the worship(I still do)Of course this went down like a lead balloon. I’ve been told it’s a temporary fix, and one of the leaders told me that it was “Okay, but it’d be good if you come to the front at the end and explain the drawing.”
    My response: “Fine, when everyone comes to the front and sings a solo.”

    A few months later we were kicked out.

  17. Sophie says:

    drawing in worship sounds great. It’s one of the things I love in 24/7 venues, I have found it really helpful even though I’m no artist.

  18. Allatsea says:

    I was just thinking about danielg’s comment

    “love without truth is sentimentality without much more power to change lives than truth without love”

    I think I probably should agree and I even want to agree but I don’t think I do really – in my experience, love all on it’s own has never failed to transform and bring healing

    I also think truth without love has great power to change lives – mostly destructively

    Love the cartoon and can identify :-)

  19. jonbirch says:

    allatsea… thanks for bringing your wisdom. love is all. :-)

    andy in germany… that’s terrible. what a load of ol’ control freakin’ nonsense… you’re better out of it.

    sophie and andy… whenever i have to sit still or am bored, i draw… it’s a great cure. :-)

  20. Wanting to say something about the ‘Back to Church Sunday” we’ve got coming up in the UK – but not sure what. Our local Anglican and Methodist churches have posters outside advertising it, and are doing mail-drops.

    Wonder if God might be enticed back? Or wonder if the appropriate image is of someone standing with their back to Church? ;)

    I need a drawing pad and pen in public the way some people need an iPod. Drawing pad or a book. The toatl absorption I get when drawing is what psychologists call ‘flow’ – sports people get it when they are ‘in the zone’. If god’s not in the Church, then he’s certainly in the flow…

  21. Caroline Too says:

    I guess that God will find us when we’re looking for him

    perhaps our problem with church buildings is that we think that we’ve arrived at his house and so we don’t need to keep looking for him.

  22. Robb says:

    ekklesia – gathering
    ekklesia translated into english in most bibles – church

    oooooooops!

  23. Forrest says:

    #21 “perhaps our problem with church buildings is that we think that we’ve arrived at his house and so we don’t need to keep looking for him.”

    I’m not sure this is the best set of words for transmitting the ieda, but here we go:

    Perhaps what needs to be done is instead of “looking for God” is to bring him in by kind of ‘broadcasting’ his spirit within us. After all, we are are “indwelled” by the Holy Spirit, so an element of his presence is there within us.
    And we Should be taking that to church with us.
    Not leaving it at the donut and coffee shop on the way in.

    I think if the people collectively demonstrate that God is within THEM then there will be God WITH them in the church.

    Now, that then brings up the question of How Do they collectively demonstrate that God is within THEM?

    Which probably returns us to the question of Worship :-D as part of that answer.
    Another part would probably be the active and proactive living of “Christlike life” both inside and outside any given building’s frame.

  24. jonbirch says:

    “the active and proactive living of “Christlike life” both inside and outside any given building’s frame.” thanks forrest, a good definition of what i believe worship to be. :-)

  25. jonbirch says:

    danielg @ 1… consider yourself forgiven. :-) btw. this is also a place to air the good things, just so we’re clear. :-)

  26. “the active and proactive living of “Christlike life” both inside and outside any given building’s frame.” thanks forrest, a good definition of what i believe worship to be. :-)

    Amen.

  27. danielg says:

    >> FORREST: I think if the people collectively demonstrate that God is within THEM then there will be God WITH them in the church.

    Very nicely said! I wholeheartedly agree.

    HOWEVER, I also think that church leadership has a responsibility to MINISTER in the spirit. As the scriptures teach, the ‘five fold ministry’ is supposed to equip us for the work of ministry, which is to be done ‘in the spirit.’

    If we are not full of the holy spirit when we come to church, that’s ok, because the church exists to serve us, and we exist to serve it and the world.

    We are the church, but also, church leaders shape our corporate experience, which is a vital, even necessary part of Christian spirituality and maturity. And online community, as good as it is, is not the same as breaking bread over a meal with fellow believers.

    [steps down from pulpit]

  28. danielg says:

    >> CAROLINE: perhaps our problem with church buildings is that we think that we’ve arrived at his house and so we don’t need to keep looking for him.

    LOL. Also, can I just say that I HATE the prayer ‘God be with us’ – it should be “God, may we be WITH YOU!’ :D

  29. jonbirch says:

    “We are the church, but also, church leaders shape our corporate experience.” yes, i too wouldn’t want to blame our church leaders for all of it. :-)
    “And online community, as good as it is, is not the same as breaking bread over a meal with fellow believers.” maybe not, but neither is going to church, sadly. :-(

  30. Forrest says:

    Thanks guys :-)
    Halfway intelligent things do occasionally fall out of my brain although there’s no guarantee of that occurring on any given day.

  31. Pat says:

    Danielq @27: Why is online community inferior to ‘breaking bread over a meal with fellow believers’? In the context of your other comments in this reply, I take the inference to be that it is does not represent a corporate experience; however I’m not sure whether your reference to breaking bread also implies a feeling that there is an absence of sacramental elements and that this also renders it ‘less than’.

    This isn’t a hostile question btw (although I suspect, from reading your website, that we occupy different places on the theological spectrum :-) ) – rather, after your comments I’ve been thinking about the nature of church in the context of corporate experience and I’m interested to hear what you or others might think is lacking or, alternatively, more evidently experienced, in an online community such as this one.

  32. Carole says:

    Pat, I think you raise a very interesting question. There have been times when I have experienced a most wonderful sense of God in communion. I went to Assisi and Rome with my church a couple of years ago. We were a group of about 20 and celebrated mass every day. We did it at the hermitage of St Francis, at a chapel at St Clare’s community at San Damiano, at the tomb of St Francis in the Basilica, the Venerable English College in Rome and, perhaps most memorably, on the banks of Lake Trasemino. But that sense of God was very much wrapped up in the shared experience of the fairly small group of people, with whom I feel a special bond to this day. On our last evening in Rome, we shared a meal at a small restaurant and this, for me anyway, felt every bit as spiritual as our wonderful, more overtly religious events. Afterwards, we sat on the rooftop terrace of our hotel where we enjoyed a beverage or two, laughed and basked in the mellowness of the occasion. Right on cue, as if planned just for us, the sky lit up with fireworks. Wonderful stuff!

    I think there is something really special about when people are gathered together with God as their focus – now and again God makes His/Her presence known anyway. But I sometimes think that we can wrap ourselves up so much in the ritual that God barely gets a look in.

    I find God in these online relationships of ours, but I wonder if I would prefer to meet in the real world…on the other hand, I am comfortable here, in my untidy little study and possibly a bit less shy than I would be in the ‘real’ world. I can express myself more freely. Maybe we should break bread/fish and chips/pizza etc online sometime! Someone set up a facebook event…

    BTW, Pat – was gutted to have missed you at Greenbelt – was theseoldshades there too? And Allatsea and Linus…maybe next year.

  33. subo says:

    at a tangent, as always, it’s just that it struck me the other day, that Jesus meant it when he said in wanting to be a blessing to the religious elite of his day

    i’ve come to think he wanted to bring hope, consolation, healing, freedom and forgiveness to everyone, and that if i read his words to the ‘religious elite’ as coming from a heart of compassion, then they make loads of sense

    – he spoke to the rich young man, possibly constrained by having more than anyone he knew, asking him if he’d like to give ‘all his possessions away?’

    i just think Jesus knows about the things that burden us, our deeply routed compulsions to keep acting in the way we’ve been bought up to, our disconnection, our isolation

    i think he knows we darn’t giggle in church, or fart, or taste just how good it can be to be alive. i think he longs to meet with us at a depth where we find we are known, where words dry up, where our aching and longing is treasured, where we find our hopes are respected

  34. Kim says:

    thanks subo. that’s not a tangent, that the whole nine yards. being known. what a relief.

  35. Ben says:

    The church’s imperfections shape us closer to perfection…

  36. Robb says:

    Subo – I agree. I think that the recent lamentations of people like the bish of reading and steve croft about the image of the church tell it like it is. I think people like me shatter all of those illusions each time we walk into church wearing a hat (on the wrong/right way) and swig from a can of coke and burp….

    ….whilst wearing a dog collar.

    Life is too short to ignore the reality and pretend that we are nice and middle class. God is too big to only care for the people with suits.

    God is too big to leave people like you and me isolated and disconnected. And damn it – it is about time that we told people this!!

  37. Pat says:

    Ah Robb – while I applaud and second the sentiment, I fear that both you and I, whatever our origins, are neverthless de facto ‘middle class’ by virtue of what we have done/currently do work-wise :-( But then again, middle class folk need God too :-)

    Subo @33, I agree with what you say about Jesus meeting with us – and believe that this is what happens. One of my favourite verses from the Bible is John 14:23 – for me ‘home’ would be that place where I am myself, naked and undefended in all my joys and sorrows, my goods and bads, my strength and weaknesses…

    I guess too we can take this verse as an encouragement in another way viz that as Christians, we always live in a base community of at least 4 (I take the Spirit as a givin in Jesus’declaration here) :-)

    Carole – I really like what you shared about your Italian experience – I too can recall some moments of intense closeness in these sorts of scenarios. But I also reckon I’ve had ‘em online sometimes – albeit slightly differently because of inbuilt difficulties and ambiguities of online interaction (though of course such things are also ever present in ‘real-time’ interaction too eh :-? )

    I’m sorry to have missed you too :-( (theseoldshades was away at the wedding of some of her friends). Let’s break virtual bread sometime though….that would be good.

  38. Robb says:

    Pat – yep. Take a miners son and send him to university and he becomes defacto middle class.

    Middle class people do need God too. They just seem to be much better catered for!! The number of people who tell me that “people like me aren’t allowed in there”.

    That was my experience as a teenager. The local church didn’t find the long hair and studs on the jacket of this strange little guys jacket acceptable. There are still some who don’t find me acceptable. Certainly the abuse I got in the pub whilst I ate my sunday dinner last week in my collar last week confirms that.

    It isn’t possible for clergy to be working class. If they are from a working class background they are educated out of it (using the typical definitions of class).

    Check out what the Bishop of Reading said this week.

    When I did a pastoral visit with a guy yesterday it was made much easier by the fact that my dad worked at the pit next to the one he worked in and I was on the comittee of a working mens club for a few years.

    As an asside, I think that a lot of class barriers in society are now broken in their traditional forms. The church is one of the last places where I see it continue. I see people every sunday stick on their sunday best and go to be respectable members of society.

  39. Robb says:

    Appologies for the two ridiculous sentences where I use the same words over and over again in the over and over again sentences.
    :D

  40. JF says:

    I suspect people find the dog-collar incongruous with certain types of appearance if they feel it is of the type which demands “look at me!”, rather than “look at God!”?

  41. Robb says:

    I do love the judgement of motivation. Very typical.

  42. Carole says:

    It would, of course, be very wrong of me to judge the individual in the pub who offered Robb abuse as a mindless jerk…so I won’t. ;)

  43. Pat says:

    Now Robb – is that a middle class apology or a working class one :lol:

    Joking aside, I’m saddened by some of your observations here – I wish what you were saying wasn’t true but I know that it is :-( How have we christians managed to get things so wrong and end up with such perversions and distortions of the gospel of love, grace and hope?

  44. Robb says:

    Pat – it is a confused appology. I really don’t know what I am anymore. I know that I will be in the club next week playing snooker with an ex miner. I know that tomorrow I will be hanging out with the Bishop sitting on synod.

    I think I may be suffering from multiple personality syndrome.

  45. Robb says:

    And on reflection, I don’t know what I have ever been.

  46. Pat says:

    Robb :-( (Great song though)

    But as to what you are – my observation would be that your two, very different perspectives put you in a position which is simultaneously both disorientatingly difficult and ripe with possibility. Speaking as someone who, in the work situation, also straddles what seems to be a huge divide (in my case, epistemological rather than experiential – although that’s an appallingly reductive way of looking at it :-) ) I reckon that those who inhabit 2 different worlds are in a strong position to open up new possibilities of thought, understanding and action. But yes…it can be difficult and demanding and leave you wondering what it is you really think and where it is you really belong.

    Light to your journeying – and may the necessary grace and courage attend you on the way.

  47. Carole says:

    Re 47 – Some of these car valeters really go the extra mile…I wonder how she scored on the customer satisfaction survey. :lol:

  48. Sophie says:

    last night I listened to Maggi Dawn’s talk about church relevance from this year’s greenbelt. She made the point that we shouldn’t judge churches on whether they have electric guitars, or organs and incense, but rather on whether they bring life to the people who gather there.

  49. Kayte says:

    Or whether the people who gather there bring life to others…?

  50. Sophie says:

    Yep, I suppose that’s it, but also that God brings life.

  51. does god really have a house?
    really and truely?

  52. danielg says:

    Yes, he does:

    1 Corinthians 3:16
    Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

    1 Corinthians 6:19
    Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

    Also, see Where is God?:

    The most obvious answer is that God, who is an invisible spirit, does not actually exist in one place, but in all places. As the Apostle Paul wrote:

    Ephesians 4:6
    There is…one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

    ….Many are surprised to find out, however, that God is not in ONE place – in the hearts of those who do not believe. That can only occur through personal invitation.

  53. Luke says:

    danielg what do you mean?…

    ….Many are surprised to find out, however, that God is not in ONE place – in the hearts of those who do not believe. That can only occur through personal invitation.

    when it is written..

    Ephesians 4:6
    There is…one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

    where do you get the former from considering the latter?

    ;]

  54. Tiggy says:

    ‘God is not in ONE place – in the hearts of those who do not believe’

    That would mean that God is actually in very few hearts. Oh dear, he’s not done very well then. It’s funny how it’s hard to see a huge difference between those who have God in their hearts and those who don’t, (allegedly).

  55. danielg says:

    >> LUKE: where do you get the former from considering the latter?

    Well, you’ve stumbled upon one of the many paradoxes of faith. Part of it comes from the inexactness of language (what does ‘in’ mean?), and the other is that metaphysics can not always be boiled down to simplistic concepts.

    BTW, that quote, in context, is merely Paul quoting a pagan poet to agree with the Greek Philosophers on Mars Hill. He is discussing the Omnipresence and non-corporeal nature of God, not the doctrine of salvation and the new birth.

    In a sense, he is talking metaphorically and generally. When the bible talks of the specifics of man’s SPIRIT, we see that man is described as:
    – spiritually dead
    – separated from God
    – in need of spiritual regeneration / new birth

    This new birth is described as “the Holy Spirit will be IN you” – as my article discusses, even w/ the Disciples, Jesus said that the gift of the Holy Spirit IN us makes even the most base believer greater than even John the Baptist, because JTB never had the opportunity to have the Spirit IN him through regeneration, even though he was ‘filled’ with the Spirit as a prophet.

    Again, there are probably specific theological terms for the differences between the ‘filling’ of the spirit in the unregenerate pre-Pentecost prophets and the ‘regeneration and indwelling’ of the spirit through post-Pentecost regeneration.

    And the latter is what I am referring to, which does not disagree with Paul’s more general statement, which, seen in context, is referring to a general Omnipresence of God.

    How’s that? :D

  56. danielg says:

    >> TIG: That would mean that God is actually in very few hearts. Oh dear, he’s not done very well then.

    I’d say yes and no. While Jesus said that “broad is the way to destruction and many go that way” while “narrow is the way to life and few find it”, the number of believers worldwide through gospel preaching is, by some estimates, more today than the sum of all history.

    >> TIG: It’s funny how it’s hard to see a huge difference between those who have God in their hearts and those who don’t, (allegedly).

    This, sadly, is due to the relative spiritual immaturity of most believers (I blame it on church leaders and the doctrine that says you can become mature without being part of a body of believers), and the relative worldliness, meanness, and negative perceptions of Christian. It is also the subject of such books as UnChristian

  57. jonbirch says:

    gilly… not a house like i do, no.

    danielg…
    paul says…”There is…one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”
    you say… “God is not in ONE place – in the hearts of those who do not believe. That can only occur through personal invitation.”
    is that ‘believe’ as in what you believe, or what i believe?
    all good things come from god. good people who say they have no belief do staggeringly good things every day. i see jesus all the time in people. good things frequently come from the hearts of those who say they have no faith. i find your answer simplistic i’m afraid.

  58. danielg says:

    Mark 16:16
    He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

    John 3:18 (New King James Version)
    He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    John 3:36
    He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

    John 5:24
    [ Life and Judgment Are Through the Son ] “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

    John 1:12
    But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

    Romans 8:9-10
    But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

  59. Forrest says:

    I’m looking at the several posts above and wondering if there could be a difference between God in your heart and Christ in your heart.

    And what, precisely, does “in the/your heart mean for any given usage?

    “Ephesians 4:6
    There is…one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. ”

    That one brings to mind this question I have of: Okay, if God created everything in the universe, then what did he make it out of?

    Is it made of elements of his own essence?

    If so, then that quote would most certainly be able to be taken literally: whether specifically for its context there or not.

  60. Tiggy says:

    Who is man?
    The reflection of the Eternal Light.

    What is the world?
    A wave on the Everlasting Sea.

    How could the reflection be cut off from the Light?

    How could the wave be separate from the Sea?

    Know that this reflection and this wave are that very Light and Sea.

  61. jonbirch says:

    you’ve not answered my question danielg. :-) we all have access to bibles and many of us read them. some of us have sat with great scholars, teachers and preachers, some are scholars and teachers, many have read books, many books, some visitors here have written books. some are leaders, and good ones too. teachers, students, artists, poets, childrens workers, etc. etc. and these are just a few of the people i know who visit here. all of us have one thing very much in common. we either have a christian faith, or we are interested in engaging with it. quoting scripture can come across as a bit hollow and fruitless when i think of how deep and fruitful it really is. scripture used to win arguments seems to me to sometimes be at odds with scripture used to win hearts. of course c.s.lewis and many others argued themselves into christendom and there is a place for argument… but that requires far more depth than simply listing quotes.
    here, we come from a mix of understandings and traditions, building relationships and learning from one anothers experiences, triumphs and tragedies. also, we talk and listen about what we think scripture means, and yes, we also argue and don’t always agree.
    i’m interested in danielg and what we can learn from him. i’m not sure i believe that you are mr answers. i believe you’re more than that. :-)

  62. danielg says:

    >> JON: is that ‘believe’ as in what you believe, or what i believe?

    Jon, your question seemed sarcastic and combative, and took the conversation nowhere. If you think that my explanation was incorrect, you should address it directly instead of making a veiled ad hominem attack.

    To answer your question directly, it is not what you OR I believe, it is IN WHOM we believe that matters, and that NOT believing in Christ is damning, and that condition is described by the scriptures as ‘not having the Spirit of Christ.’

    I provided a balance of scripture to show that the condition of people being ‘without the spirit of Christ’ is a real biblical state of being.

    I presumed that I was talking to Christians who use the Bible as their primary authority, and in light of my previous argument, merely retorted to your remark with the relevant scriptures.

    I explained in detail how such scriptures may be interpreted in light of the Eph. passage you offered. If this explanation is insufficient, you should ask better questions that lead to clarification or contradict what I’ve reasoned.

  63. JF says:

    Maybe God ONLY exists in the heads of believers. That sure would explain a lot!

    Quoting the bible is one thing but what does the totality of our experience REALLY show us?

    I went to a football match last weekend. From reading the home team’s programme, I learned that this was the greatest club in the land and was impressed by their work in the community and with kids. From my wider experience, I knew that this club was playing in the third tier of English football and had begun the season with a negative points tally due to a punishment for financial irregularities.

    It really is dangerous to base one’s entire understanding on a single source, especially a source with such a palpable agenda.

  64. Roberto says:

    For, thank God, a child seven years old knows what the Church is, namely, the holy believers and lambs who hear the voice of their Shepherd. For the children pray thus: I believe in one holy Christian Church.

  65. Allatsea says:

    I just want to stand in defence of Mr Asbo – In the 2 years or so I’ve been visiting (I read more often than I write) and the one time we met, he is anything but combative and definately not sarcastic. And what you see really is what you get – he’s not into hidden meanings in replies.
    That’s why I keep coming back :-)

  66. subo says:

    I believe God seeks us, our tiny responses often catch a tiny image of the Kingdom, and God wants to open our eye’s to a little more each time

    sometimes we look back at things we thought absolutely key, and find they are an valuable element

    I believe he values our hungering after him, even when our seeking leads us into things we then move away from

    it’s only in engaging with idea’s, joining up with others, finding other people think completely differently, that we can gain a sense of our place

    we belong, when we belong. when we let go of trying to ‘run it all and fix it all’, when we find ourselves enjoying someone else’s ideas without loosing our own, when we find we are pulled into the house of God with enough humility to take our shoes off

  67. theseoldshades says:

    I haven’t been to church in months but I still feel/find/am aware of (what is the best word?!) of God’s presence in my life. In how beautiful even a grimy old city like this can be, in the love of friends, in lots of things.

    The thing (or one of them) I struggled with at church was the *expectation* that God would ‘move’ in you, that you would be swept away on the tide of his spirit, washed in the blood of the lamb, insert more jargon here. When we were singing (synonymous with worship in most churches I fear)I would look around and have no idea why people were waving their hands or jumping around- what were they feeling that I wasn’t? Sometimes I was jealous because they had looks of peace on their faces, sometimes I thought they looked a bit silly if I’m honest but always I felt somehow isolated because I couldn’t meet the expectation of what they thought a reaction to worship/God should have been.

  68. Carole says:

    Hiya theseoldshades! Isn’t it great that God can respect the individuality that He/She gave us even if other people can’t? I read your words and it very much echoes a lot of my own feelings. I can do a bit of congregational singing, I don’t mind that. But I’m not an arm waver or dancer by nature. I sometimes wonder how much of the very overt ‘moved in the Spirit’ kind of behaviour is more about influence exerted by leadership on vulnerable people than a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised to leave us peace, not the licence to jump around like a flea on speed or bark like a dog. But I may be wrong…

    One of the most worshipful experiences I have had of late was sitting inside a gazebo in Soul Space at Greenbelt weaving bits of yarn through a little mesh. I lost all sense of time as I sat silently. I spoke to God in a way I haven’t for ages and felt responded to. I felt quite awestruck…who would have thought it?

    Did any UK peeps watch Alone in the Wild – I think it was Channel 4? This guy was dropped into the wilderness of the Yukon with a camera and attempted to survive on emergency rations and whatever he could find for 12 weeks. He lost a couple of stones in weight, hunger was a constant companion but what he really yearned was human companionship. In the end, he was picked up after 50 days because he was so weak and felt so desolate without human contact. But, here’s the point of the story…he said that at one point he EVEN considered praying, but at just the point he put his hands together, his girlfriend’s voice popped into his head as if it were a phone call and they chatted for half an hour and his spirits were lifted if only for a little while. I’m assuming he had written God out of the equation but I thought how good God is to sustain us at our time of need.

  69. Forrest says:

    #70 “I’m assuming he had written God out of the equation but I thought how good God is to sustain us at our time of need.”

    And that’s where he has rather more grace than I probably would.

    (oooohhhh dear, now that I’ve said that, is he going to give me lots of opportunities to “grow in grace”????????????)
    (God seems to have an odd sense of humor about that kind of thing, be careful what you say where he can hear it!)
    (oh, wait, he can hear everything everywhere – I’m done for! ;-D )

  70. JF says:

    Roberto (66): Children are TAUGHT to pray thus. Whether they really understand a word of what they are uttering is another matter entirely. I shudder to think of some of the prayers which I may have uttered as a child, or to which I acquiesced and said “amen” in my unknowing state.

  71. jonbirch says:

    hey danielg… no veiled attack intended. rightly, or wrongly, what i said was what i meant. apologies if it came over differently to you. the smileys were meant to be warm and friendly and my response to you, whilst strong, was intended to be sensitive to both you and others. i guess i failed… not the first time and probably not the last. :-)

    theseoldshades… i wonder why it is so easy to feel isolated by church cultural goings on, when in reality it is the church which has become isolated. you’ve made me think.

    forrest… “I’m done for!”… but for grace, eh? gotta love grace. :-)

  72. Kim says:

    Jon – you are a gracious, tolerant and sensitive host and its what makes it such a warm and blessedly safe place for so many of us. Thanks so much for that.

  73. jonbirch says:

    kim… thank you so much. :-)

    allatsea… again, thanks a lot. :-)

    i do care about people on this blog… this strange little asbo place that i really feel has invented itself. i’m just keen, as i’m sure most of us are, that it stays safe, and that all get to express themselves to one another with respect and love. even more so as i know i am responsible sometimes for starting up awkward subjects for conversation… these subjects, while just subjects to some, are real life every day experience for others.

    love to all.

  74. Laura says:

    Sometimes this place just feels like “home”.
    Meant in the best ways possible….

  75. Tiggy says:

    The Western mind believes God exists; the Eastern mind knows nothing exists but God.

  76. Forrest says:

    So, what does my Southwestern mind believe?

  77. Tiggy says:

    Whatever its therapist says. :-)

  78. subo says:

    jon, 75, know what you mean,

    it is amazing to realise i value people who i only know via comments on this blog.

    who write under a blog name and live either a few towns away – or across the globe

    the amazing, honest, thoughtful, asbo crew

  79. becky says:

    Speaking as someone who hasn’t found a church I can call home – what I settled for is there are a some of places where I can go to get communion and meet at least a few people I know. I feel I need to be in person to be fed by the Eucharist and having tried other church’s liturgies, the Anglican church connects for me in a way that others just don’t.

  80. danielg says:

    >> ALLATSEA: I think I probably should agree and I even want to agree but I don’t think I do really in my experience, love all on it’s own has never failed to transform and bring healing.
    I also think truth without love has great power to change lives – mostly destructively.

    I think that both love and truth, implemented independently, can have great positive impact, but also the risk is great that they will have negative impact.

    For example, if I ‘love’ someone so much that I am unwilling to confront them on their drinking problem (that is, I avoid the truth), while my love for them in general will help them, my lack of truth telling may actually communicate to them that their drinking is not that bad. To me, love without truth is like codependency.

    I also think that truth, if not delivered with love, can be done with anger, which is destructive, but it can also be delivered dispassionately – that is, without love or anger. In that case, a person may hear the truth, not from someone who cares, but just hear it plain and simple, and that may save them.

    There is a reason why the scriptures say “mercy and truth met in Jesus Christ.” That balance is powerful, and lacks the huge risks of using one without another.

    Put another way (my phrasing): Love without truth lacks courage. Truth without love lacks mature compassion.

    >> JF: Quoting the bible is one thing but what does the totality of our experience REALLY show us? It really is dangerous to base one’s entire understanding on a single source, especially a source with such a palpable agenda.

    I agree, which is why I wrote a short series of The Wesleyan Quadrangle, a theology that describes the hierarchy and relationship between the ‘spiritual authorities’ in the life of a Christian – that is, Scripture, Tradition (the Church), Experience, and Reason.

    We can view the scriptures as true and authoritative without being mindless. However, quoting scripture is important if we think that scripture is authoritative in matters of Christian thought and practice.

    >> THESEOLDSHADES: I haven’t been to church in months but I still feel/find/am aware of (what is the best word?!) of God’s presence in my life.

    While it is possible to experience God outside of Church, imo, it is not possible to advance God’s kingdom and do his will without being part of a spiritual community of believers. And, it is probably not possible to become spiritually mature (which includes loving the Church and the mission of the Great Commission) without being part of a local body of believers either.

    >> THESEOLDSHADES: The thing (or one of them) I struggled with at church was the *expectation* that God would ‘move’ in you, that you would be swept away on the tide of his spirit, washed in the blood of the lamb, insert more jargon here. When we were singing (synonymous with worship in most churches I fear)I would look around and have no idea why people were waving their hands or jumping around- what were they feeling that I wasn’t?

    I think that such expectations can be abusive. However, I do think that we should all come and bring our OWN expectations that we are going to EMOTE TO GOD in worship, and see what happens. I think we should also expect God to meet us in a more personal way at church IF our ministers are men and women of the Spirit, and preach with annointing, not just emotion. As the scriptures say, it is the anointing which ‘breaks the yoke’ – that is, it is the presence of God that sets people free.

    Still, when there is no anointing in church, I still commune with God (or my cell phone ;), even if I am just dying to get out of there.

    >> CAROLE: I sometimes wonder how much of the very overt ‘moved in the Spirit’ kind of behaviour is more about influence exerted by leadership on vulnerable people than a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

    I agree, though I think that our inherent mistrust of (fake) enthusiasm can cause us to miss the real thing. I addressed this in my sermon Living the Passionate Christian Life. If you will, give a listen and let me know if I hit or missed it.

  81. danielg says:

    >> JON: hey danielg – no veiled attack intended. rightly, or wrongly, what i said was what i meant. apologies if it came over differently to you.

    Sorry, I apologize for being reactive. Looking back at my comment, I’m like ‘dude, lighten up!’ Anyway, let me try again, please, and thanks for the grace.

    My only point was to try to support my contention that God is, in a sense, absent from the Spirit/heart of those who do not believe. To explain how this (and the scriptures I listed) can be harmonized with the Eph. passage, I would summarize it this way:

    1. Prodound biblical truths often appear in such paradoxes, so we should not be surprised if there is one here.

    2. While the image of God may be seen in men, that does not mean that they are not spirituall fallen, and in need of regeneration.

    3. While God is ‘in’ everything in His ominpresence, that does not mean that in another and more specific and personal sense, he is absent from the hearts of the unregenerate – hence the many passages I quoted about those who ‘do not have the Spirit’ or need to ‘receive Him.’

    I mean, you can either attempt to harmonize these passages, or you have to conclude that the bible is in contradiction on these points, I think.

    4. While we can all sense God, and recognize/experience Him in Creation and moments of inspiration (cf. Romans 1), there is still a sense in which we are in need of being ‘born again’ as Jesus taught in John 3.

  82. Tiggy says:

    God didn’t seem too enamoured of some of the churches he addresses in the book of Revelation. I think a lot of people are disappointed in the church – I don’t know if that means they love it or not. You also have to bear in mind that most of the people on here live in England and the churches here may have different problems to the ones in the US. It IS a different culture.

    Daniel are you on here to promote your blog? This blog, in case you hadn’t noticed, is a place of personal sharing rather than didacticism (if that’s a word).

  83. danielg says:

    >> TIG: God didn’t seem too enamoured of some of the churches he addresses in the book of Revelation.

    I know, nor Paul w/ the Corinthian church. But they still loved the church.

    >> TIGGY: I think a lot of people are disappointed in the church – I don’t know if that means they love it or not.

    I agree, they seem to congregate here! JK. No, even I was very hurt by the church.

    >> TIG: You also have to bear in mind that most of the people on here live in England and the churches here may have different problems to the ones in the US. It IS a different culture.

    Yeah, I forget that. The US is more of a wild frontier for faith, and always has been.

    >> TIG: Daniel are you on here to promote your blog?

    No, it’s just that I write a lot, and when a topic comes up that I’ve already done some thinking and writing about, I like to reference it for the discussion instead of copy/pasting. I only try to reference what is relevant. Do you think that my link above if irrelevant self-promotion? :D

    I am merely sharing my perspectives already documented.

  84. Tiggy says:

    Well I’m an exception then because although I have been hurt by the church it was a very small and off the rails housechurch and I love both the churches I go to now. I would like to go to more churches, but can’t fit them in. There’s another one very near to my flat that I love going to because the vicar really seems to understand me. I have also found the clergy at the Abbey to be very kind and understanding. This is all rather surprising for me as I’m quite a critical person and can feel vulnerable in churches.

    I’ve never visited a church in the States – wish I’d done that now – but I’m imagining there probably isn’t the same level of awkwardness that English people seem to have around religion. We’re not naturally enthusiastic so when we try to be it can be embarassing. I’m also not sure that English people are given to being in large groups except as football hooligans.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I’d rather see you expressing yourself in a more personal way than just linking to your blog, but then I am a person who likes persons to be personal – it seems to be what they were designed for. I’m often TOO personal :-) but then I see myself as redressing the balance. It would be interesting to hear more about your life and experiences and feelings than just your intellectual thoughts which tend to take the tone of ‘this is the case’.

    Have you hears of Jesus Culture from Bethel in California? They are on tour here and did an evening at our church last night – it was really good.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s