Peace of Mind

I feel relieved. Holidays are here so I can have a lie-in, do some much needed revision and relax for a bit.

At the same time I feel worried. Money is running low, I’m still without a job and I haven’t done as much Bible study as I would have liked. I started so well, researching into the Old Testament texts but then one night I was too tired to pick up my Bible and it’s been over a week later with no progress. I’m trying to get back onto it.

My life of true singleness is going fine though. That’s probably where the rest of the relief is. Now that I’ve stepped out of the proverbial boardroom, to leave the youth to stress about how Godly they look to the opposite sex, I’ve been able to concentrate on my walk with God a bit more. I want to learn more about myself and about Him and just … live.

My mother came with me to church last Sabbath for Visitor’s Day. She enjoyed her day and I’m just hoping she got something out of it, something more than just a rousing sermon. That’s my prayer, anyway.

A short blog post. There are other things I want to write, more poems I want do, but at the moment I’ll just leave this here. Hopefully I’ll be able to put more of my thoughts down during the holidays.

xXx

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“God Condones Violence”. Does He Now?

This is something that I’ve been meaning to study for such a long time but to be honest I’ve been worried that I won’t find the answer—or that if I do, it won’t be the answer that I want.

The UK is fast going the way of France in that secularism is the flavour of the month. I know people who claim to be atheist but are so concerned with religion it makes me wonder if they are anti-the system or anti-God Himself. Because there is a difference: you can’t hate something if you don’t believe it exists. It’s popular now to just hate God, to mock the Bible and anything resembling religion, not because people are angry at religious intolerance or corrupt clerics (because if they were then they would start a movement or campaign or something, not mock well-to-do people on internet forums) but because everyone else is doing it and at the moment it’s fun.

As this has become a popular standpoint for a lot of people, so-called Voices of Rational Thinking have emerged, skimming over Bible passages, picking out the ones that sound odd and making entire theories and speculations about them. They extrapolate Bible texts and share their “solid” theories with others who will never search for themselves to even check if the passage is in the Bible. This is passed onto others until a warped image of God is established. This is why God gets blamed for all of the world’s ills; why people get angry at God for the Holocaust and not Hitler, or the one from which minds like Hitler’s are created.

Something that I’ve come up against of late is this idea that God condones violence. I’m sure every Christian has heard this:

If God is so loving, why does he condone slavery, rape and genocide in the Old Testament?

As the Christian, what have you said? There are websites dedicated to “exposing the truth” of the Evil Book. Anti-theists have used these texts as a trump card of sorts.

Once upon a time I used to get really angry at it.

Now I feel pity. They don’t actually know God. They know of Him, but they’ve never prayed and asked for an answer. They’ve read the Bible but they’ve never studied it. If I were in their shoes I’d probably be just as angry upon reading these texts, because Christians don’t talk about them.

It was an atheist that brought those passages to my attention. Why hadn’t these texts been explained in church? Why aren’t there any Bible studies on them? We may want to bury our heads in the sand about them but it won’t stop people from demanding of us what they mean. For a lot of people, the Christ they do or don’t see in a Christian can make or break their relationship with Him, so we need to be well versed in the Old Testament, in the passages that make us uncomfortable so we may educate and explain.

Or … I wonder if these passages aren’t explained because people don’t understand them? This baffles me to no end. Whilst I know that there will be some things we just won’t understand about God, He hasn’t hidden anything from us. It’s all in the Bible for us to know about. “Come let us reason together” remember? I’m someone who’s always inquiring about something; I love knowledge and I love finding new things so I find it odd that some people can be in church for 20+ years and never ask about certain things. It’s just … weird.

I know God doesn’t condone violence. I know he abhors rape. I know that the Bible that was used to defend the slave trade was the same Bible that was used by abolitionists to end it. I know that God wasn’t rubbing His hands in glee during Rwanda, Armenia, Darfur. So what do these passages mean?

If there was ever a time for Christians to study their Bible, it’s now.

Christian Dress and Humility

For the past few months I’ve been attending Bible studies on Sunday evenings. They’ve been enlightening and fun, but sadly, they finished last weekend. We ended on a high: the subject was Christian dress and humility. The title was: THE ONLY OUTFIT TO WEAR TO HEAVEN.

We as Christians are called to be different: we’re a chosen generation; a royal priesthood, and this should be reflected in what we say, what we do and what we wear.

My issue once was the unfair pressure put on women to mind how they dress, whilst the men always seemed to be ‘let off’. But after this study, I now see that ‘dress and humility’ work differently for men and women. There are of course some things that wouldn’t make sense for Christian guys to wear (such as trousers swinging by the ankles), but I think with men  the issue is HUMILITY. That macho behaviour and big ego are seen in Isaiah. God talks about the women and the men:

Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion;
the LORD will make their scalps bald.”

In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces,  the earrings and bracelets and veils, the headdresses and anklets and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, the signet rings and nose rings, the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses  and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls.

….

Your men will fall by the sword,
your warriors in battle. 

(Isaiah 3:17-23 & 25)

Even though things are changing in our post-modern society, generally, there is more pressure put on women to look good and to conform to an appearance that panders to the sexual desires of men. Look in most shops on the high street: the skirts are shorter and the tops are cut lower. I would always defend a woman’s right to wear whatever she wants without being an object of lust, but sadly, the lust will happen. And even if you do dress ‘appropriately’, there are some men that will lust after anything that moves! But I’d hate to conform to the world’s standard of how a woman should look. I’d prefer to take the example found in Revelation 12:

 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

A natural beauty! The attention given to that type of woman is thankfully more respectful—and welcome. There’s nothing worse than hearing an inappropriate comment from a sexist male. I wish women could walk the streets without harassment, but sadly that’s never going to happen. And let’s not forget the inappropriate comments from church men! As in:

“Oh my God! Sister so-and-so’s dress was so tight I was reciting the Lord’s Prayer to take my mind off it. Mercy!”

These statements are offensive. To hear a man, or even a group of men saying things like this about women just isn’t nice. Just because you threw a Bible reference in there doesn’t make it any less appropriate than the guys on the street. Comments such as the above only cause shame, self-consciousness and humiliation for the woman involved. And I don’t think God appreciates a sexist comment haphazardly cloaked in ‘Holy-Jargon’.

The thing with dress is that it takes a personal conversion, a real experience with God for it to have any meaning to the individual. When I was a Goth, I was so angry and hurt whenever someone at church gave me a lecture about my clothes. At one stage I was told I was inviting evil spirits into my life, and that my outfits were giving me mental illness! But now that I’ve grown spiritually, I can see that those particular clothes automatically made me a part of a lifestyle that wasn’t of God, regardless of my heart. It was a bad witness: whenever I went door-knocking, people didn’t take me seriously because they thought my clothes were in contradiction with what I was saying.

So what is the only outfit we’ll wear to Heaven?

I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

(Isaiah 61:10, NIV)

Righteousness and salvation. Something to think about : )

 

 

Limiting the Media Intake.

I’ve finally admitted to myself that I spend far too much time on the Internet. I’m not like my dad, so I won’t be writing it off as almost-Satanic or anything, but I think it’s time I had a major cut down. Ask anyone that knows me; I pride myself in not watching television. Television isn’t awful either, and I still watch some documentaries and dramas on iPlayer or whatever, but I’m so glad to be rid of it–especially during the X-Factor seasons. However, there’s no point in being proud of myself if I spend several hours a day in front of another screen. The Internet is great, but it can make you just as much of a drone as television can.

Have you ever wanted to research something on Wikipedia, say, Origins of Christmas, and found yourself on a page of Cats two hours later? It’s so easy to get carried away on the web, it really is. The internet is a great source of information–and a great way to witness to others, like this blog. You can reach people and contact people who are far away in other countries, but it has a devastating downside: it takes us away from Bible study.

I know a woman who always has a Bible text on the tip of her tongue. No matter the topic, she always knows exactly where to find what response in the Bible. It’s incredible. Also, look at Jesus. When he was being tempted by Satan, he casually quoted Scripture. These things don’t happen overnight; it comes from constant study and devotion, spending time with God. If I spent even a fraction of the time I spend on Facebook in the Word then I’d probably know the whole Book off by heart. And especially now, as more and more people misquote the Bible, bend the truths, demand answers from me as a Christian, it’s important that I know what’s what.

And maybe then I won’t feel so lost when I have to come off the computer during Sabbath…

xXx