Thursday, March 30, 2023

Faith & Creation

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

In his letter to the Christians in Rome, the apostle Paul interspersed his writing with several doxologies. These are short, spontaneous outbursts of praise to God, arising from some statement made about Him. In one of these doxologies, Paul used a simple but sublime description of God, ‘from whom, through whom and to whom are all things.’ This formula sums up so much of what Christians believe about God and His relationship to His creation.  

We’ll concentrate on the first phrase; all things being ‘from Him’. He is the origin of all things animate and inanimate, seen and unseen. The actual mechanics of creation might be controversial, but there can be no argument among theists about the universe’s origins as having a creator. So rather than getting bogged down in the ‘when and how’ of creation, we could make useful progress by thinking rather about the ‘who and why’? Seeing God as creator – that is, in simple terms, One who made something out of nothing - puts us at odds with the famous cosmologist Prof. Stephen Hawkin of Cambridge University, whose latest M-theory outlined in his recent book ‘The Grand Design’, sees the origin of the universe as simply the solution of a set of mathematical equations. This solution postulates that the universe has up to 11 dimensions, plus time, and says we may be part of a ‘multiverse’ rather than one universe. 


Thursday, March 23, 2023

Faith & Children


All photos courtesy of Unsplash

Many young people plan careers to do with children as teachers or similar. Well, to Jesus, children were important, first in what they were and secondly in what they represented.


Talking about children, let me give you my favourite illustration of what faith is. I often stand a few steps down the stairs at home, and my youngest granddaughter stands at the top of the stairs. I open my arms, and she jumps into my arms. She knows nothing about the laws of gravity or about the dynamics of bone breakage, but she still jumps. Faith is like that; it doesn’t know everything that can be known, but, as a child, it trusts in its object of trust. In this case, that’s me! In the same way, to be a person of faith in Christ, one has to be childlike but, of course, not childish. 


The most mature people were urged by Jesus, the Son of God, to be childlike. There are two particular child-related reported incidents in His life when His disciples did not end up looking good. Each of these incidents is recorded by the gospel writers Matthew, Mark and Luke, but each from his own particular perspective. 


In the first reported incident, the disciples came to Jesus, and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’  Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said to his disciples, truly except you be converted [turn right around – do a U-turn], and become as little children, you shall not even enter into the kingdom of heaven. Then He went on to say that whoever is prepared to humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. The picture presented by this necessary conversion is that of turning round in a road and facing the other way. 


In the second incident, some little children were brought to Jesus in order that he should put his hands on them, and pray, seeking a blessing for them; however, the disciples scolded the children and tried to send them away. But Jesus told them to allow the little children to come to Him, and not to stop them coming to me because He said ‘of such is the kingdom of heaven’, and as requested, He laid his hands on them. 


In the parallels given in the gospels, we have some interesting personal touches in telling us what Jesus did and how He felt:


·      ‘Jesus was much displeased’

·      ‘Jesus called the children to him' and 

·      ‘Jesus took them up in his arms’ 


The sort of people who make up God’s kingdom are childlike and trusting. Child-like faith in Christ as your Saviour gets you into the kingdom of heaven, and child-like behaviour thereafter, i.e., humility and selfless service, gives you true spiritual importance. 


Never underestimate the importance of children; Jesus didn’t.  

Written for FTMP by a Guest Blogger


Friday, March 17, 2023

St Patrick's Day

All photos courtesy of Unsplash 

Around A.D. 390, Patrick was born into a Christian family in the Roman province of Britain. As a teenager, he was taken as a slave to Ireland. He later wrote that while living in Ireland, “the Lord opened the understanding of my unbelief… that I might turn to the Lord my God with all my heart.” From that time forward, Patrick began seeking God’s direction for his life. In his autobiographical Confessions, he wrote, “Tending flocks was my daily work, and I would pray constantly…. The love of God and the fear of Him surrounded me more and more.” 

After six years, Patrick escaped and returned to Britain. There, Patrick experienced his own Macedonian call: he heard the voice of a man in Ireland calling, “Come and walk among us again.” He became a minister and, around 432, returned as a missionary to the area where he had been enslaved. Patrick’s passion for evangelism brought the gospel to Ireland and beyond.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Faith and Evidence


All photos courtesy of Unsplash

In many fields today, people are coming to the conclusion that decisions must be evidence-based. That is to say, they think that using intuition isn’t good enough and the fact that something seems a good idea is an insufficient reason for making important decisions that influence people’s lives or livelihoods. On the contrary, many people are keen that ours should be an evidence-based society. One of the best examples of progress in this area is in medicine. A full definition of evidence-based medicine has been offered as ‘the use of mathematical estimates of the risk of benefit and harm, derived from high-quality research on population samples, to inform clinical decision-making in the diagnosis, investigation or management of individual patients’. That’s pretty heavy, but an everyday definition might be ‘the use of the best evidence available’ in making any decisions. This then governs choices ranging from building hospitals to prescribing treatments or medicines for individual patients. 


Decisions made using these ideas of ‘best evidence’ might be different from conventional wisdom - the ideas or explanations generally accepted as true by the general public. Brave souls might stick to their guns and press for ‘evidence-based decisions’, believing that in the long run, they will be shown to be correct.  


Thursday, March 09, 2023

Give yourself a soul valuation!

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

Jesus said - ‘what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose [or forfeit] his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’.


·    The top ten companies in the world have combined revenues of      

     about £2000 billion per year.

·    All the gold above-ground in the world could be worth as much as 

     £1000 billion. 

·    The British government’s annual income is around £600 billion and

·    The ten richest people in the world have about £300 billion between 



These enormous figures are way beyond our understanding. The nearest some of us can get to this in our understanding is that the average wage earner in the UK might earn about £1,000,000 in a working lifetime, and the average UK house price is currently around a quarter of a million pounds. 


Thursday, March 02, 2023

Philosophy, Fate or Faith?


All photos by Unsplash

The apostle Paul had sensibly travelled far south to Athens following hostility to his message in northern Greece. While waiting for his friends, Silas and Timothy, to catch up, Paul, like any other tourist today, looked around the city, viewing the Acropolis, etc. He was quite moved by what he saw. 


Athens was then the cultural centre of the Roman Empire. It had been the cradle of democracy and was the centre of learning in just about every field of human interest: philosophy, music, theatre, religion, mathematics and science, etc. It reads like a list of university departments. Indeed, says the Bible, the whole city seemed to be given over to the full-time pursuit of novelty, ‘hearing and telling some new thing’. 


Paul followed his normal practice of preaching in the synagogue to Jews and Gentile proselytes. Still, in order to meet others, he went to the marketplace – The Agora - with its public debating place, the Hyde Park Corner of its day, and engaged in street preaching and debating with people he met. 

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