Thursday, October 4, 2012

One Thing that I Desire

After reading Psalm 27:4 "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple." it made me think about what I want to achieve in life. In the past I would have had the same response as most people; pay off mortgage, career, travel......all mere worldly ambitions. But now my ambitions are more in line what the above verse describes, and probably should be for anyone who is a follower of Christ.
It's interesting how easily duped and deluded we can become by worldly secular influences, even when the bible clearly teaches something to the contrary!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


       Lately I have been hearing a bit about ‘prophecy’ on the Christian scene. I have heard of people being called prophets, and many people claiming to have had prophetic ‘words’ spoken to them. The common use of term ‘prophecy’ in today’s language seems to be quite unclear and inconsistent, and it also seems to be confused with another term called ‘revelation’.
But just what is prophecy, and what purpose did the prophet play in history? Like usual, Scripture gives quite clear answers.

          The Bible describes the prophet as having a very specific purpose, prophets were not people who simply predicted the future as is commonly thought these days. To use a modern example, the prophet can be compared to a ‘lawyer’ which God used to prosecute people and nations that that had sinned against Him. So just as a modern lawyer will represent the government in charging a criminal for a crime, God also sent His prophets to lay charges against people and nations.

At the start of Ezekiel’s prophetic mission, God used a very clear definition of what prophecy exactly is:

When I say to a wicked person, “You will surely die,” and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.Ezekiel 3:18-19.

Here we see four clear things about prophecy: 1) a sin is identified, 2) the prophet calls the sinners to repent of their sin, 3) punishment is predicted if there is no repentance, 4) the prophet is accountable for doing his job properly.

So while a prophet certainly does predict the future, this is only a small part of what the prophet does. It is important to note that the prediction of the future always dependeds on whether the people repented or not. If the people did repent of their sin, then God would not punish the people. We see this in the story of Jonah’s prophecy.

          1 Corinthians 14:3-4 gives another good guide to what a prophecy should do; “everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort”, and “he who prophesies edifies the church”. So we see that prophecy also contains encouragement and comfort as well as warnings of God’s wrath. Both are important parts of prophecy. Also the Old Testament prophecy contained a lot of encouragement and comfort too (Hos 11:14, 14, Joel 3:17-21, Amos 9:11-15, Mic 7:8-20).

          The Bible makes it clear that there are just as many false prophets as true prophets, so we need to be careful when listening to anybody who claims to be speaking prophecy. The two best ways to tell a true prophet from a false prophet are:
          1)  see if the prophecy comes true. “If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously” Deuteronomy 18:22.
          2) “By their fruit you will recognise them.” Matt 2:15,16. The fruit of the spirit is of course a reference to Gal 5:22-23, which is in contrast to the works of the flesh Gal 5:19-21, which are the fruits of the false prophet.

          Also prophets are always described as spreading their message on the streets, pleading to all the people in a confident way. Prophets do not whisper their message in a church corner.

So in summery we find a number of principles in the Bible for telling apart true and false prophets. These are the characteristics that the Bible describes of a true prophet:

1)      The prophet must be prophesying directly to the people

2)      Specific sins will be identified

3)      The prophet will call the people to repent

4)      Specific punishment will be identified for unrepentant sin

5)      Specific blessings with be identified for repentance

6)      The prophecy must identify a path to improvement

7)      The prophecy must come true

8)      The fruit of the prophet must be of spirit, not of the flesh

      It is obvious from all this that prophecy isn’t just the prediction of future events- this is called a ‘revelation’- but instead true prophecy will include the principles that are listed above which come from the Bible. Also it is very important to note that an extremely high responsibility is upon the shoulders of the prophet to do his job properly. This should serve as a dire warning to anybody who wishes to call their words prophecy; it is not a risk-free and glamorous job, and God holds you responsible as well. So people should be totally sure that it is God’s words that they are speaking and not their own. God takes prophecy extremely seriously:

“Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!”, “My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations” Ezekiel 13:3, 9.
" But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’" Deuteronomy 18:20

          The whole modern understanding of ‘prophecy’ seems to be based on a confusion between ‘prophecy’ and ‘revelation’. If someone is only predicting a future event, then this is revelation, NOT prophecy. The two are totally different things.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Recognising God's Will

In coming to grips with the realization that God controls the bad stuff in my life as well as the good, a friend made the comment that far too many people fall into the trap of placing God’s love one category and then place the suffering and discontent in their lives into a separate category.
It is so often assumed that God is responsible for the good things, and that Satan is responsible for all the bad things. But this type of thinking seems to me to be deeply flawed because it relies on the persons own definition of what is good and what is bad. In this logic, it is assumed that humans are capable of correctly understanding whether something is God’s will or is not.

But this surely has to be a false assumption. How can our small human minds fully know what is good and what is bad, and surely it is a little arrogant to suggest that we have the ability to read God’s mind like that anyway.

I can think of numerous examples from within my own life where what I thought was the right course of action ended up being wrong, and what seemed like the wrong direction that God took me, was actually the right course.

For example, it might seem like a good thing for me to get all the green traffic lights on the way to my destination, but actually getting all red lights may save me from being in the truck accident that occurred further down the road.

Getting sick might seem like a bad thing, until you hear the news that on the day that you had off work, the Fukushima nuclear power plant where you work has blown up in a nuclear meltdown.

How many stories like these have we either heard of, or have personally experienced?

While the good outcomes in these examples may seem obvious, it is only in hindsight that you notice that the outcomes are in fact good and not bad as it first seemed. But just think about the amount of bad things that occur in your life in which you simply fail to notice the good that actually comes in the end.

God is looking out for us and He “works out everything for his own ends.” Prov 16:4

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Spiritual Living

Ever since my ‘Spiritual rebirth’, God has been showing me small snippets of another way of living, a relationship with God that transcends the material world. This is a type of spirituality which seems to be the same as the spirituality that the Bible describes the first Christians living in.

My first ‘spiritual' experience of the Holy Spirit’s close presence occurred back in March. That first experience of the intimate love of God opened my eyes to what it is like to be totally detached from the material world, and I was introduced to a spiritual realm where the only focus is one’s relationship with God, very similar to my image of Heaven really.

Unfortunately the whole experience occurred at work, which forced me to stop the experience from being too emotional, but it was still extremely intense. It’s so hard to put into words, but I clearly remember thinking that the whole world could fall apart around me and I wouldn’t care. In fact, in the emotion of the experience I really didn’t have a care for anything else; all the troubles at work, the depression in my personal life and the financial stress etc; the only thing that seemed to be of any importance was holding onto that raw and deep love from God. During the experience I lost all feeling towards work colleagues who were causing me grief; my possessions and my life goals lost all value, in fact these things seemed to be a distinct hindrance to being able to hold onto this spiritual high.
It was a stunningly liberating experience, and also the most amazing high. Completely dream-like to be honest. The only way to actually live out this type of spirituality would be to run away from the world, sort of like the ancient desert monks like Saint Antony.

And yesterday I experienced something similar again. Although it was far less intense, I felt that the experience yesterday made far more sense to me, it also seemed to be a far more practical ‘spirituality’ to live in my normal life.

These spiritual experiences presented a type of living that was totally different to anything that I’ve seen before. It feels like a different ‘level’ of living, where you can only be in one level, either the spiritual or the material. At the moment I find myself slipping back to the material level from time to time. But whenever I do slip, God always rescues me and hits me with another wave of His love which immediately elevates me back to the spiritual level.

It seems remarkably similar to the spirituality that David and Solomon sung about in Psalms and Proverbs, and that which Christ taught and which the first Christians embraced.

It seemed so foreign to me before, but makes so much sense now. It’s like what they say about love songs, that love songs only really make total sense once you yourself are in love. It’s seems to be the same with spirituality, the following verses now make so much more sense to me, they really speak to my soul.

“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is” Psalm 63:1

“there is none upon the earth that I desire beside thee”Psalm 73:25

“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.” Proverbs 3:13-15

“My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver” Proverbs 8:19

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” Matthew 4:4

Those verses describe a yearning for God in which all other material pursuits dim into the background. Nothing else matters. That is what I have been experiencing, material stuff seems to be little more than an annoyance and even hindrance. It’s not a hatred of material stuff, but just a lack of love toward it. Below are just a few verses which teach a detachment from the material world.

“go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me”Matthew 19:21

“Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” 1 Timothy 6:9

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” Matthew 6:24

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.” Acts 2:44-46

“For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16

While I certainly had always seen the truth of the verses above, the fact is that I was not living in the way that they describe. My attachment and desire for material possessions and pursuing financial stability were the focus of my life. This caused me to be frustrated at things braking down, and stress over financial matters. I was simply not trusting that God was in control.

I found that it was one thing to say that I served God and not money, but it was another thing to actually live that way. The simple fact was that I was blindly pursuing wealth, and I was only letting God fill the gaps.

I can be sure that I have now mostly let go of the material level because I rarely stress and fret about things, no matter what happens. It feels so good now that all my actions are done in the faith that God has things in His control, the following verses perfectly describe my new trust in God:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34

I have heard many Christians describe the stage that I am now going through as an ‘intimacy stage’ of Christianity, and that mature Christians grow out of this intense passion, love and zeal. To be brutally honest, this sounds to me like nothing more than a copout from ‘mature’ Christians who have simply chosen to let go of the intimacy. This may or may not be true, but as far as I am concerned, I will not let go of this intimacy with God, and forever I will praise Him, lifting up my hands to Him in prayer. He truly satisfies me more than the richest feast. I will always praise Him with songs of joy. It is a little emasculating to admit this; but I couldn’t help but read Psalm 63 with without tears rolling down my eyes. My own heart’s desires are so perfectly echoed by the Psalms. It’s such and amazing change from my old relationship with God.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Defining Evil

In writing the last post in regards to God actually causing evil rather than just being impartial to it, I noticed how careful I was in using the word ‘evil’. While the Scriptures clearly teach that God has no qualms about visiting evil on people (Exodus 32:12,14 Isaiah 45:7, Amos 3:6, KJV), I wanted to make sure that I didn’t impugn His name because of a careless use of the word ‘evil’.

So how is evil defined in the modern world? Wikipedia describes it in a way that I think most people would agree with; “Evilis the violation of, or intent to violate, some moral code. Evil is usually seen as the dualistic opposite of good [….] evil is commonly associated with conscious and deliberate wrongdoing, [….], and acts of unnecessary or indiscriminate violence.

This description is certainly in accord with the common understanding of evil, but no Christian would dare to use such words to describe God! After some probing from a friend, it became obvious that the revulsion of modern Christians to the idea that God causes evil is because the modern definition of the word seems to be quite different to how it is used in Scripture.

A simple question will illustrate this; would you call Satan evil? I certainly would have. But seeing the verses where God Himself is described as causing evil made me second guess this assumption. So I looked up every verse that refers to Satan, and guess what? Not once is the word ‘evil’mentioned in conjunction with Satan! Satan is never called evil, and more importantly he isn’t credited as causing evil either. It is clear from these facts that our understanding of how the word ‘evil’ is used in Scripture is quite errant.

So what then is the Scriptural definition of evil? The Hebrew word evil is רָע, or‘ra’, which predominately means adversity, affliction, calamity, distress, sorrow or trouble. These things are the typical tools that God uses to deal with wayward humans, and I don’t think many Christians would have a problem with God causing these things. But the most import thing to note is that these definitions are categorically different to what the modern definition of evil is, as exemplified in the Wiki definition above.

But it seems that the most important thing in figuring out what Scripture means by the word ‘evil’ is the context that the verse in found in.

In Exodus 32, God is described as being angered that the Israelites built an idol to worship after only having just been miraculously rescued from Egypt; “Now leave me [God] alone so that my anger may burn against them [the Israelites] and that I may destroy them.Now Moses was distressed at this idea, so he beseeched God, and actually demanded that God “repent of this evil against thy people [….] And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.”

The context makes it clear that the “evil” that God wished to visit on the Israelites was not some kind of arbitrary and woeful injustice, but rather it was a just punishment for a blatant sin. So the evil that God wishes to cause is; adversity, affliction, calamity, distress, sorrow and trouble.

The context of Amos 3:6 is similar. The chapter starts out with a statement of Judgement “therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities”. So again, the evil that God wishes to cause as punishment is; adversity, affliction, calamity, distress, sorrow and trouble.

The context of Isaiah 45:7 does not mention any kind of punishment for sin. Instead the context of the chapter is to demonstrate God’s supreme control over every part of His creation. Not only does God “form the light, and create darkness”, but His infinite control means that the evil is his creation is under His control as well; “I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things”. But as the Scriptural definition shows, this “evil” is not some kind of violation of a moral code, or wrongdoing or act of unnecessary or indiscriminate violence as the common definition of evil is, because we know that God is just (Deut 32:4; Job 37:23; Psa 99:4; Luke 18:7-8) and righteousness (Isa 51:6; Psa 89:14; Jer 23:5-6; 1 Cor 1:30).

So while God certainly causes evil, it is clear from all this that God certainly does not cause evil in the modern sense of the word.

“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” Deut 32:4 NIV

Sunday, June 10, 2012

God and the Existence of Evil

As soon as I started pondering the idea that God has complete control over absolutely everything, then immediately the first question to pop into my mind was how the existence of evil fits into His control.
The logical conclusion of God having complete control over everything is that He is in control of evil as well as good. In fact, I have been coming to the conclusion that He may actually will evil just as much as He wills good. This idea seems to be disliked by some modern Christians, but also seems to be an idea directly born out of the Scriptures itself (Isa 45:7, Amos 3:6, Job 2:3).

In fact the most important event in God’s plan for us was based on evil; Christ’s death. There was no other way for our salvation to be fulfilled than for the Son to be crucified. Imagine if Jesus hadn't been crucified; salvation wouldn’t have been achieved if Jesus was recognised by Israel as the Messiah and crowned as King, or even if Christ started reigning the whole earth from Rome itself. No, God willed His Son to be crucified, and evil was necessary for salvation.

I remember in the past when I would experience my own personal evils of trials and suffering, and how I used to constantly question God as to why it is all happening; I just didn’t believe that it could be God’s will. That doubt produced all sorts of angst, sorrow, frustration and negativity. It just wasn’t a very pleasant way of dealing with things.

But I have been reading through the New Testament and seeing a totally different way of dealing with the trials of life. Scripture teaches that we are taught to rejoice in, and praise God, when going through suffering and even torture (Mat 5:11-12 Acts 5:40-41 2 Cor 8:2 Phil 4:4 Col 1:11 Jam 1:2 1 Pet 4:12-13). We aren’t instructed in Scripture to ‘beat your chest and mournfully implore God for answers’, nor ‘join together and wail for the sorrows of your trials’. What we do see in Scripture takes a far more positive and joyful tone:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” James 1:2

In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” 2 Cor 8:2

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Phil 4:4

They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing”Acts 5:40-41

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

The only way I can see that it is possible for the apostles to praise God in their torture and for us to rejoice in our trials as the Scriptures teach, is if the suffering/evil itself is God’s will, and God’s will is always worthy of praise, even if we don’t understand it. Of course God doesn’t will evil flippantly, nor for His own amusement, but rather for a good purpose and our benefit.

Perhaps the most poignant example of praise for God over the trials in ones life would be found in the words of Job:

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worshipand said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lordgave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. Job1:20-22

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

After spending years wondering why I couldn’t fully trust God in my mind, I realised it was because I wasn’t trusting God in my actions. As much as I desperately wanted to surrender all resistance towards God in regards to wholeheartedly embracing miracles or accepting the events that happen in life, there was a small part of me resisting Him which just wouldn’t go away.

As I explained in my previous post, the key was to realise that God actually does have total control over every single event in my life. But this wasn’t enough, I had to totally surrender my control of life to God. To do this I had to stop questioning why things happen and stop trying to fight against the events that happen in my life. Not just the big stuff, but the small as well, God has purpose in it all. Whether it is a storm that stops my outdoors plans, or if I drop my phone and break it, or even simply putting too much pepper in my dinner, it all has been sanctioned by God and therefore has a purpose. So I needed to stop questioning why things would happen if I knew that it is all willed by God.

The whole reason why someone questions why something has happened is based on the assumption that God either doesn’t have control of ones life, or that God hasn’t got ones best interests in mind. But we know from what God tells us in the Scriptures that these are false, and neither do Christians actually believe that they are true either, so the obvious solution was to just stop questioning why things happen! Does fret, don’t stress, things happen because God is looking out for us!
It's easy to say, and even easy to believe, but much much harder to actually do!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Randomness and God

     Recently I have been pondering the idea of whether there is randomness in the universe. Are events in nature like rain, earthquakes, solar storms just random events? If these can be random, then what about stuff that occurs during our everyday life like finding a car park, or kicking your toe on a rock, or winning lotto? It must be noted that if something is random then it doesn’t have a purpose.

Is the idea of randomness and purposelessness consistent with the way God works? Where does the idea of randomness come from anyway?

The two ideas are everywhere in the Western world, they are in the way we think and the way we speak. Even a trivial remark like ‘best of luck’ is based on the idea that the events in life are random. These ideas haven’t always been in the Western world. In history the Western world always believed that even the most insignificant events were the result of God’s will, there was no concept of things occurring without a purpose. But when atheism started to take over the Western world, it started transforming the way we think about things. Because the atheist believes that there is no God, he also believes that absolutely everything is random and has no purpose. This is exactly where we get the idea of ‘luck’. So randomness and purposelessness actually come from the atheist way of thinking.

So after pondering these things for a while I came to realise that I had unwittingly adopted the ideas of randomness and purposelessness into the way I view the world. I thought I knew atheism well enough to prevent it from invading my personal worldview because I spent half a decade actually studying atheism and debating atheists. But it seems that the ideas of atheism are so deeply ingrained into the Western world that I unwittingly adopted some aspects of atheism into the way that I view the world; my worldview.

My personal worldview was built by spending a great deal of time studying the natural sciences. I had noticed how everything in the universe ticked along like clockwork (albeit clockwork that’s running down and malfunctioning) without the immediate presence of God; planets revolve, our bodies repair themselves and clouds create rain all without any supernatural action. These observations lead me to think that events in nature are random and have no purpose, events like rain, earthquakes, the motion of planets, bushfires.

When I started looking into the Bible it became clear to me that randomness and purposelessness are simply NOT Scriptural concepts, but as I noted before, they instead come from atheism.

While most Christians have no trouble believing that God is all-powerful, few are aware of how surprisingly powerful this actually is! Being all-powerful, all knowing and means that God has complete control over His creation. He knows & sees all (1Jn3:20; Ps139; Pr5:21;15:3; Heb4:13; Isa46:10), and nothing is too hard for Him (Gen18:14; Job42:2; Jer32:17; Mt19:26). Even Satan and his minions are fully bound by the will of God, as the story of Job testifies. So if nothing happens without His knowledge, then absolutely nothing can happen without God’s approval; not the explosion of a star, not an earthquake, not a car crash, not a broken finger nail, nor even the motion of an atom in the atmosphere. God’s dominion is absolute.

God is described throughout Scripture as making all things conform to His will. Everything does His bidding, and nothing can resist (Is 43:13; Rm8:28; Eph 1:11; Ps155:3,135:6; Dan4:35).

The picture of God that is painted in Scripture is a God of purpose and design. I can find absolutely no Scriptural reference to randomness or purposelessness, it is totally foreign. It does not fit into the Christian worldview, it only fits into the atheist’s worldview.

So this puts things into a better perspective: If God has perfect control over the movement of even all the atoms, then it makes perfect sense that God would direct the motion of all things in the universe to do His will; the movement of the atoms, the planets, the clouds, and the winds: Everything is in His control and is used to achieve his will. So not only does it seem nonsensical to me for a God who has total control over everything to allow random movements of things, I actually question if it would even be possible for there to be randomness if God has total control! It seems to me that this would be a logical contradiction, just like a ‘married bachelor’ or a ‘straight curve’. So if there is no randomness in the world, then nothing can be purposeless either.

For me, believing in randomness in the universe became a spiritual ‘wall’ in my heart which was preventing the Holy Spirit from fully working in me. How could I fully embrace and believe in the reality of things like miracles and God working through events in everyday life -even though I wanted to- while at the same time holding the contrary belief that the way the world works is random? The simple fact is that God’s actions can not be found in random events.

The spiritual effect of me now believing that God’s will is in everything has resulted in a total revolution of my attitude in life. Stress, anxiety and the burden of expectation has vanished. Believing that absolutely everything is God’s will means that there is nothing worth fretting over. This is no longer an unobtainable fantasy for me, it is now a reality, and the peace in my heart and the joy in my stride that this reality brings is beyond what I thought was possible.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heavenEcc 3:1
The Lord has made everything [to accommodate itself and contribute] to its own end and His own purpose—even the wicked [are fitted for their role] for the day of calamity and evil.” Prov 16:4

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Name of God - Jehovah vs Yahweh

In starting this blog site I was faced with the conundrum of what to name it. I have a deep thirst for knowledge of God, but ‘Thirsting for God’ doesn’t really have a nice ring to it. ‘Yahweh’ was a logical choice, a name for God that is in common use, and certainly has a great ring to it. The other logical option was ‘Jehovah’, but because of it’s close association in peoples minds to the Christian group called ‘Jehovah’s Witness’, I initially decided against using it.

So ‘Yahweh’ it was! But I thought I would do a little bit of research on the name before making it the title of the Blog. I quickly realised that Yahweh was a bad choice for a number of reasons, and that Jehovah is almost certainly the most accurate translation of the name of God.

Below is just some of the reasons why Yahweh didn’t make the cut:

1) Historically the name of God was always translated as ‘Jehovah’, as in the older KJV, AV and ASV. The trend to call God by the name of ‘Yahweh’ is only a recent phenomenon.

2) Many modern Bible scholars consider the name ‘Yahweh’ to have been a petty ‘storm god’ from other religions of antiquity, which the Israelites later stole to be their own god.
This idea is based on the fact that many descriptions of God in the Old Testament describe Him in association with thunder, lightening and storm clouds, which is similar to other ancient pagan gods who were storm deities, some of which was called something like Yaho, Ya-hu, or Yave.

3) The English use of ‘Yahweh’ is a mistranslation anyway. If one wanted to use this name, then Yahweh should be spelt with a ‘v’ not ‘w’, which makes the name ‘Yahveh’.
This error came about due to the misreading of German Hebrew grammars, which use W for the English V (note: the German V is pronounced like the English F). ‘Yahweh’ with a ‘w’ is more of an Arabic word, as opposed to the more correct Hebrew ‘Yahveh’, with a ‘v’.

4) Yahweh should never be spelt with a ‘y’ in the first place. In every case of a name in Hebrew that begins with a yod (Y) it is pronounced with the appropriate phoneme for that language. Y becomes a J in every name in English, French, and Spanish. In English the J is pronounced like J in Japan, while in French it is pronounced like S in pleasure, in Spanish it is pronounced like an H, in German it is pronounced like Y.
This means that Jahweh would be more correct.


For a more detailed explanation of why Yahweh is just plain wrong, see this article on my other Blog.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Born Again Christian

I was recently filling out a questionnaire which posed the usual question of which type of Christianity I belong to. Normally I just tick the “Lutheranism” box, or if that is not available then the “Other Christian” option. But this time I was given the option of “Born Again Christian”. I have seen this choice a number of times in past surveys, but certainly never considered myself to be of that category….not until now.

I had always looked upon Born Again Christians with a wee bit of envy. They are always the most joyful people, they have such a passion and enthusiasm for God that I had rarely seen in people who are born and raised as Christians.

This made me think that you had to experience the lowest of lows in life to then be able to experience the highest of highs that Christianity offers. I thought that maybe you had to totally reject God and also be at such a low point in life- someone like a drug-dealing pimp or heroin-addicted prostitute who is in such despair that they are at the point of suicide- in order to fully appreciate the amazing gifts of forgiveness and love that Christ offers.

Can the sweetest of sweet tastes only be appreciated by those who have tasted the sourest of sour flavours? This was my fear. I so dearly wanted the amazing relationship with God that these people experienced. The joy in their eyes, the ecstasy on their faces and the enthusiasm in their dance, simply over their love of God; I wanted that!!!

Well those depressing fears have been proven to be wrong in the last month. The joy in my heart and the zeal for God in my soul certainly seems to be similar to these types of Born Again Christians, not that it’s a competition! But the spiritual high that God is giving me totally satisfies my soul. So much so that I have no doubt that I now belong in the “Born Again Christian” category!

Hallelujah! God is indeed Great!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

How Should We Pray?

I have a confession to make; I have always felt a little bit uncomfortable in the way that I have prayed.
My prayers, and the group prayers that I have been part of, always seem to consist of just one major part; asking God for help. While there is obviously nothing wrong with doing this, I always felt as though I was praying to God as though he is a genie-in-a-bottle. This left me feeling rather guilty, as though I am just using Him.

It occurred to me that maybe we are doing prayer totally wrong. So I started looking in the Bible for examples of prayer, and I started to notice that back in the biblical days the people used to pray a lot differently to how we do now. Yes, they certainly asked God for help when faced with concerns or trouble, but there were a few other aspects to how they prayed that were actually more important than just asking God to miraculously intervene.

What I found was that God’s Word teaches us to pray by following five important steps.

1) We are to honour God

 We are to acknowledge God as the King of kings, whom nobody is above, our awesome and almighty creator and saviour. God is worthy of praise regardless of whether we are having a good or bad day!

Nehemiah gives a perfect example to start his prayer: “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God” Nehemiah 1:5

2) Acknowledge what God has already done for us, and give thanks for the prayers that have been answered.

Imagine if you always gave a gift to someone but they never thanked you for it, you would eventually get a little annoyed! So be sure to thank God for what He has done, and not just use prayer as a never ending ‘wishlist’. Remember that God does not answer our prayers because He has to, but He does it because He has infinite love for us.

This is Solomon’s acknowledgment of what God has done for him; “LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.  You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today.  [….] And now, LORD, the God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David come true. ” 2 Chronicles 14-17

3) Confess your sins to God

We all sin, and we do it all the time. In fact we are so sinful that God the Father can not even hear our prayers directly, they have to be purified and delivered through Jesus, John 14:6.

So before asking God for a favour, be sure to come clean with Him, confide in Him your sins. He loves you, and He just wants to put peace into your heart. By His love and mercy your sins are forgiven.

This is Daniels confession of sin in his prayer on behalf of Israel; “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel [….]are covered with shame, LORD, because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him;  we have not obeyed the LORD our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets.  All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you. “Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you” Daniel 9:5-16

4) Prayer to God for help.

This is when you ask God to help you, or to intercede in your life. Notice that it is only after you do the three steps above that it is appropriate to make your requests to Him.

5) Praise God

Praise Him, because He is truly worthy of all praise, whether or not He answers specific aspects of your prayer, He has your best interests at heart. Think about all the things God has done for you, think about the wondrous world that He created for us, the undying love and compassion He has. Whether we are having a good or bad day, God is truly worthy of infinite praise!!!

This is the praise that Habakkuk said at the end of His prayer; “I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my saviour. The sovereign Lord is my strength, he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:18-19

Take note that these steps occur in order of the most important to the least important. The order should not be altered.

First, honouring God is the most important simply because He is worthy regardless of anything else. Second, God has done great things for us, and has answered our prayers in the past, we need to enthusiastically thank Him for these. Third, we are hopeless sinners, we should not continue to ask for God’s help until we humble ourselves before Him and admit what we have done wrong. Fourthly, it is only now that our requests of God are worth giving to Him.

If you want to take a closer look at this structure of prayer that I am outlining, read the corresponding post on my other Blog which goes into far more detail: