The Unity of the Spirit

I have been exercised recently about what constitutes error or even heresy (not the lightest of topics to be considering here I know). Over the years, Christians have branded one another as heretics and have done unspeakable things to each other – although not for a few hundred years. These days, when we disagree over doctrine, we enter into dialogue with a view to understanding one another’s position. Whilst at a recent CTE Enabling group I had an interesting discussion with members from the Greek Orthodox Church, Scottish Presbyterian Church, German Lutheran church and others over the question: if we accept one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, why can we not take communion together – the very meal Jesus instituted to celebrate our unity? For me, this issue is critical although I see no way for it to be resolved at present. When a fellow brother or sister (perhaps in our own ‘tradition’) seems to be teaching error what should be our response? Do we ignore them or cut ourselves off from

them? Do we seek to bring correction? Or do we seek rather to safeguard our own flock, particularly if the person bringing error is remote from us? In all of this, we have a re- sponsibility to look after those God has given us responsibility for whilst we seek to pre-serve ‘the unity of the Spirit, through the bond of peace’ (Ephesians 4:3). In other words, don’t fall out with each other over non essentials but stay rooted in the truth.

God bless, Richard.

The Right Kind of Fuel

This week I filled up my car with the wrong kind of fuel. Not only did I feel like an idiot but it proved to be quite a costly mistake. Hopefully, there is no long term damage to the car. As I was thinking about this, I was reminded of the encouragements of scripture concerning what we put into ourselves. These things will have a good or bad effect, depending on what they are. Jesus declared all foods ‘clean’ (Mark 7:19), however, if we put too much of the wrong sort of food in our body it will have bad consequences for our health and wellbeing. In the same way, what we put into our minds will determine what sort of person we are. In this same passage, Jesus declared, “What comes out of a person is what defiles them.” In other words, that which makes us clean or unclean is that which is in our heart and mind. In Philippians 4:8, Paul says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” In this, he is lining up with Jesus. If we fill our mind with rubbish, then rubbish is what will come out of us (garbage in, garbage out). But if we fill our minds with the right sort of fuel, we will be blessed and will be a blessing to others.

God bless, Richard

 

Created

The Answer to the World’s Problems

This year the teaching series is focusing on Jesus the Messiah. He is, of course, the focus of our faith. In coming to earth and laying aside his majesty, he achieved what could be achieved no other way: reconciliation between us and God; between the creation and the creator; between heaven and earth. He is the bridge (or to use the Biblical word, Media-tor) between the Father and Humanity. He is the one who came to make a way where there was no way so that all of creation could come back into Divine order – back under the authority of the King of Kings. The more we understand the person and mis-sion of Jesus, the greater is our sense of thankfulness and worship, and the bigger the need to tell others so that they too can come into this same relationship with the creator and sustainer of all things.

The world is generally oblivious of its need of God. Obsessed with the material reali-ties of life, and putting all thoughts of eternity to one side, people go about their daily lives not realising what they are missing out on, and also the peril they are in. It may be a trite thing to say but Jesus really is the answer (now what is the question?). This month, remember you have the answer to the world’s problems and in you is the hope of eternity.

God bless,
Richard

Richard’s Blog May 2015

Spring brings with it the promise of new life. That which was dead in the ground suddenly bursts fourth in fragrance and colour and warms the hearts of all those who look on. This is nature’s way of mirroring the Resurrection and the empty tomb. But it is also a reminder to us of the promise that is given to us of new life which begins with us coming to faith and will be complete in our resurrection. And yet there is something for each one of us to do now in terms of activating that promise within us now. Paul says, ‘Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 3:13-14). Paul is not passive in terms of activating the power of the resurrection in his life. He takes deliberately action to lay aside his past and to ‘strain’ towards the goal. God has not called us to be apathetic Christians. We are called to take hold of our destiny and press on to-wards the goal that God has given to each of us. This Spring, lay aside all of the encumbrances of the past – all that weighs you down and stops your progress in the faith – and be determined to ‘take hold of that for which Christ has taken hold’ of you. God Bless. Richard.

Richard’s Blog 01/01/2015

As the Christmas Carols fade in our ears and the tinsel begins to look tired around the tree, our thoughts turn to the year ahead. This can provoke a number of different reactions. For some there may be a sense of anticipation as they consider some good things they know will lie ahead. For others there may be a sense of ‘same old, same old’ as they move from December to January. For still others there may be fear and dread; perhaps there are financial of family challenges to be encountered or a difficult job that they feel trapped in.

For all of us the passing of one year into another marks another opportunity to make a difference. God has placed us on this earth to embody Jesus to those we meet. For some that may be the only way they will ever encounter him. For others we may represent the echoes of a distant memory of faith that once they followed but which has
become crowded out or forgotten in the busyness of life. You and I can make a difference in the lives of those we meet, if we are willing. This New Year,don’t make resolutions, but choose to live as a child of the King. Who knows how many will be impacted by that choice.

God Bless,

Richard.

A Passion for the Kingdom

God has put a passion in my heart. That passion is to see His kingdom come and His will done on earth as it is in heaven. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by this passion as I see the slide towards existential immorality in the society around us. The task of bringing in the kingdom seems to great, particularly when confronted with the level of prejudice we encounter from the World concerning God, the Church and faith. But Jesus never said it would be easy; quite the opposite (see Mark 10:30).

So how can we achieve this task? Firstly, we need to pray – pray for breakthrough; pray for opportunities to share the good news; pray for God to lead us to those he is touching; pray for boldness and courage. Secondly, we need to stand. Paul said in Ephesians 6:13, when we have done everything else we need to stand. That means standing firm in our faith and remaining true to our calling in spite of all that comes against us. Thirdly, we need to remain connected. God places us in a body in order that we might have family around us who will stand with us, support us, pray for us and encourage us. Finally, we need to be led by the Holy Spirit. God gives us His Spirit to empower us for the task he has given us to do. Let us draw on the Spirit’s power day by day in order to get the job done.

God bless

Richard