What is a church? Lots of people think churches are buildings, but the buildings are only the places where the real church meets. In many parts of the world, the church often has no dedicated space to meet in. They may worship under a shady tree, in a forest, in a cave, often in people’s homes, sometimes in a café. But wherever they meet the church is ‘the people who God has called out’ from the world as a special people who belong to Him.
Is God in control? That is a good question to start with, but unfortunately the question and popular answers may mislead lead us in understanding the way God works.
When we think about “control”, we may think about robots, missile systems, video games, or radio-controlled models: you press the button or move the joy stick and the object has to do what it is programmed to do.
Go back 100 years, and most people in the UK would have agreed that it was right to worship God in public. They might not have given their hearts to Jesus, or behaved rightly, but at least they knew what they should believe.
The discovery of the Higgs Boson has been hailed the “most important scientific discovery since Einstein’s theory of relativity”. Professor Higgs from Edinburgh University postulated the ‘primitive particle 45 years ago. He believed that the universe started with a huge explosion of energy and that some of the energy was condensed into primary matter. Such a primary particle has now been discovered during experiments designed in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and performed in the Large Hadron Collider in tunnels under the French-Swiss border. Popular media have called it ‘the God Particle’.
We are now in one of the most uncertain economic climates since 1929. Indeed, some would say that the world has never been in more financial peril.
Depressed global money markets and political uncertainty in prompting the questions: where will all this go to? what will happen in the end?
Only God knows. But there is a dawning realisation that a global economy based on credit cannot last indefinitely. We cannot take out more than we put in.
Sacrificial giving is a normal part of life for disciples of Jesus Christ.
When people realise that Jesus is God, who took a human body to suffer for their sins, they are amazed. As they repent and start to follow Him, they see how much He has given them.
“Give us the gossip, then!” “Well, have you heard …?” “No, tell us …!” Such conversations take people down an unstoppable escalator to a dark underworld where truth and lies, right and wrong, become confused as somebody else’s private lives are dissected in shady clubs. And they get pleasure out of it.
Not only pleasure, but a sense of power and control. When you know something about somebody else you can manipulate the way other people think about them. It is a bizarrely perverted style of abuse.
What will you be like in your old age? Strong to the end, or progressively failing in body or mind? Happy or sad, loved or ignored?
Perhaps old age has become the new taboo topic. We can make jokes about Zimmer frames and stair lifts, and use euphemisms like ‘senior moments’ to describe memory loss. But we fight shy of too much detail and most families come to critical life choices largely unprepared.
Did you know that over half of the adult population of the UK dies without having written a valid will? Does that matter? Yes!!
Dying without a will creates an expensive problem for family left behind, often creating unnecessary family disputes; and your money has to go where the intestacy laws dictate, instead of where you might want it to go. Don’t forget that while you have the money you have the stewardship responsibility for it, which includes making arrangements for its use after you cannot use it.
Because marriage is based on the promises of two people to each other, it is a covenantal relationship and not a contract. The stability of the marriage does not depend on any condition except that each has pledged themselves to the other, “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish and obey until death us do part …” And the reason for this is - that it is “according to God’s holy law”.