This was one of my most read Pearls of Wisdom from this year.
I hope you enjoy reading it again tody￼
Pearls of Wisdom God’s number one goal is NOT to make you comfortable Some Christian TV channels are great, but not all of their content lines up with Scripture. You do have to be discerning. If you tune in to the wrong show or preacher, you might be misled into thinking that God’s number one…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2022/01/19/gods-glory-or-your-comfort/
If God is sovereign, then what is the purpose of prayer? Why do we pray at all?
Today I share an article I wrote a few years ago, trying to address this very subject.
A couple of years ago, I was challenged about my view of God’s Sovereignty. I once believe that He did not control all things, but rather had delegated some control (for want of a better term) to humankind. Yet, a careful look at the Bible made me question this view, and ultimately dismiss it. God…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/07/14/prayer-and-sovereignty/
Do you believe in God? It’s a straightforward question I suppose, but often with a complex answer. Some might respond with: Which God do you mean?I believe in a Higher Power, if that counts?There must be something, right? How might you reply to the same question? If you are reading this blog, then the chances…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2021/01/06/even-the-demons-believe/
Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! Psalm 34:3 (ESV) At a recent prayer event, we were thinking about “magnifying God”. The facilitator expressed the sentiment that to magnify something is to make it larger, so how can we make God any bigger than He already is? This stumped me. Surely God is…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2018/02/23/magnification/
When I was at school, I was taught various Creation accounts from a number of major religions. In science class however, I was taught only the Big Bang and evolution. As far as I can recall, science lessons made no mention of Creation as a possibility even.
Later in life when I became a Christian, I did not pay too much mind to the Creation vs. Science debate. I understood that what God wanted us to know about Creation was given us in Genesis 1 (and other places). In my mind, I did not address the broad incompatibility between the Bible’s account of Creation and what was commonly accepted science. I do now.
I can accept that perhaps God did instigate the Big Bang, if you subscribe to that theory. When it comes to evolution however, something I never questioned in school, I now have serious reservations.
I have two main objections, one scientific and the other theological.
Firstly, the scientific problem with evolution (for me at least, and those who know more may be able to fully explain it) is the age-old question of how it all began? If you can accept the process of slow change over a long time, then that’s one thing, but what was the initial starting point. Scientists have surmised a number of things but I do not think they have fully answered this question.
The problem is information. It takes a huge amount of information to build and maintain even the smallest or most basic of creatures. Where did that information come from? How did that information increase over time? Many say that mutation leads to new information being brought into the system, but I am (personally) not aware of any favourable mutations adding in useful information. Perhaps I am simply ignorant of the facts?
Adaptation is quite different. Take a bunch of long-haired dogs and short haired dogs and place them in the Artic. After a while, the long-haired dogs will thrive and the short haired dogs will die off. This is “survival of the fittest” in action, as the long-haired dogs are more suited to the colder conditions. That is all fine and quite sensible, but it is quite a stretch to suggest that, even given enough time, the long-haired dogs will grow wings or change their basic nature completely.
My second objection to evolution is theological in nature. For evolution to work, you need time – and lots of it. Evolution is a slow process, if true at all, and says that basic creatures become more complicated over time. Humanity is at the end of a very long line of ancestors who slowly changed into the species we know today.
Why is that an issue theologically? Because it means that we had to have death before we had sin. For evolution to work, ancestors need to die off, and so there is death in the world before humanity even existed. That means that death was not as a result of sin, and that is not what the Bible says.
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
Romans 5:12 (NIV)
There is, of course, much debate about all of these matters. There are Christians who believe in evolution, and there are those who do not. There are those who find their Christianity compatible with the secular scientific view, and those who do not. Creation is a fairly fundamental issue to be honest though, so I do think it is important to get it straight in your own mind.
If we disagree, let us do so amicably and as family should.
What is the bottom line though? I think it is summed up in Genesis 1 and the first words of the Bible.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:1 (WEB)
We may disagree exactly how this was done, but we must not dispute that it was done. God created everything, seen and unseen. He made us, and He made the universe we live in. He built the physical, and He constructed the spiritual. We can debate the method, but not the substance.
If we cannot accept this truth, then we cannot accept any truth the Bible offers.
If God created all things, and He did, then what does that mean for you today? Knowing that God made you and the world around you, how should you conduct your life differently?
Rejoice in the fact that you were no accident, but carefully crafted by the hands of God. That should make you feel pretty special, and you are!
In recent days, I have felt something of a burden to pray. Reading that back, I wonder if that’s really a good way to put it. A “burden” sounds like a heavy weight or chore, and it has not felt like that at all. Rather, it is an immense privilege to pray and what I have felt is a stirring of the Holy Spirit to pray more – much more – than I have been.
Truth be told, I’ve started to reflect on my Christian walk of late. On the back of the lockdown in the UK, it has been an extremely busy time in many different respects. Being honest with you, my prayer life has suffered. I run from one thing to the next, seldom stopping to pray over what I’m doing, and essentially crashing at the end of the day without taking time to converse with God about the events of the past 24 hours. Sound familiar at all? I’m sure I’m not alone.
Yet, the book of James tells us that:
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
James 5:16 (NLT)
The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces tremendous results… wow! Notice it is no throw-away prayer, but an earnest one. Earnest means sincere or serious in effort, it is not some half-hearted attempt. I could not honestly describe my prayers of late as earnest… can you?
Yet we see how powerful prayer can be! Prayers have great power indeed, and not because we’re so wonderful, but because God is. Prayers produce tremendous results!
How quickly I forget the power of prayer. How unconsciously I slip into not praying and not seeing the wonderful results which James speaks of. I am humbled as I write this, and ask our gracious God to forgive me and to remind me each and every day of the power of prayer. How dare we go one solitary hour without petitioning heaven!
King David was a man of prayer:
I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me; hear me when I call to you. 2 May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.
Psalm 141:1-2 (NIV)
David continually cries out to the Lord, and expects a swift answer. he compares his prayers to that of sweet smelling incense, ever present before God. May my prayers be as sweet before the Lord, and I pray He will indeed come quickly to my aid when I call on Him.
So, I need your help… please do pray for me, of course, I always seek your prayers! But also, please do let me know how I can pray for you. If you send me a request, I will certainly pray for you and it will help me get my mind off of my own business and on to the things of God.
You can contact me via the Contact page, replying to this post or by commenting on any of the social media feeds. I look forward to hearing from you.
Prayer is indeed a powerful thing to do. I have said it before, but prayer must never become a last resort in our lives. In both good and bad times, prayer ought to be our very first step. It is not about getting all that we want from God, but about living life with Him.
I leave with you these words from the Apostle Paul, which I am sure you know well…
Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
This week I have started on the Course for Christian Studies. This is a two-year course designed to help Christians understand the Christian faith more deeply and to also act as a gateway into various forms of ministry.
For me, I’ve tried to study the Christian faith myself over the years and so hope these early weeks of the course won’t be too stretching for me! We shall see! Theological training is important, and week one of the course is entitled “You too can be a theologian!” Properly handling the Bible and understanding matters of doctrine is important for all believers.
I have wanted to get involved more and more in the life of my church. My gifts largely centre around teaching, and while I have been very fortunate over the years to be able to teach in a variety of ways, if I want to do more in my church then I do need to obtain more formal training. I understand this, and it is wise that those in positions of authority or teaching are properly equipped.
I have been praying a lot about my own ministry and its future. I am certainly keen to explore more formal ministry further, and completing this course is a great first step. Through it, I hope to learn al ot but to also meet other believers on a similar journey. Also, I hope it will help me to more fully understand God’s will for my life.
As I progress on the course, I will try to write about it from time to time. I won’t give you a blow by blow account, but hope to keep you updated on my progress and the things I am learning.
This first course module is all about Encountering God. Those on the course come from a variety of churches and backgrounds, and so we begin by getting to know one another.
One activity involved noting down words we use for and about God. These included:
Lion of Judah (see Revelation 5:5)
Lamb of God (see John 1:29)
Comforter (see John 14:16 (Amp))
Advocate (see John 14:16 (Amp))
Judge (see Psalm 75:7)
And so many more…
God is everything to us, and so one single name does not fully convey Who He is. The Bible refers to God in a huge variety of ways. Some you will relate to, and some you may find more difficult.
We can no more define God than we can measure the distance between east and west. God is beyond our comprehension, and we are shown various dimensions of His character throughout Scripture. And yet, paradoxically, we can know Him. We can know the unknowable. The Almighty God came down as a Man, a human being just like each of us, and He lived a life like we live.
It is a mystery that the God of the Heavens has made Himself known to us through His Son. The God so far above us connects with us on our level. He meets us where we are.
Who is He to you? I will be spending some time this week thinking about this question. Have I put Him in a box, and have I limited Him? Do I know Him as I ought to, or do I concentrate on the bits I want to? I rejoice in His salvation, but do I submit to His Lordship? Have I painted a picture of Him in my mind which is not true, and if so, how can I really learn Who He is from the Bible?
The course this week has challenged me to think about this. I do not wish to limit God, nor do I want to know Him only in part. He is Saviour and Friend, but also Lord and Judge.
We can know God through the Bible, but it tqakes effort on our part. We must study the Scriptures and learn about Him. Not just gathering facts about Him, but understanding Who He is through relationship. I may know my wife’s date of birth, hair colour, shoe size or telephone number yet these are just facts about her and tell me little of who she really is. Likewise, I may gather pieces of data about God and still totally miss Who He is.
Only through systematic study of Scripture can we fully know God as He is revealed to us. Let us leave behind any preconceptions or traditions, and see what the Bible really has to say. I pray that the Holy Spirit will help each one of us do that.
I hope this has been of interest, and I’ll post more about the course over the coming weeks and months.
Here in the UK, the government have now introduced a new rule known as “The Rule of Six,” which means that outside of work or other specific situations, no more than six individuals should meet together. This is an attempt at preventing further spread of COVID-19 which is on the rise across the country right now.
Some have questioned the new rules, accusing the Government of having no science to back this up. While true, there are no scientific papers to support the idea of six people being anything other than an arbitrary number, it is more a practical decision. Previous rules were somewhat confusing about who could meet and when. The premise of the Rule of Six is to simplify things. Sadly I don’t think it has achieved that.
Our family is a family of six, which means we cannot all meet up with any other person or group. Some point to the absurdity of being able to work with a group of seven people but then not being to go out to lunch with them.
It is all rather easy to criticise the Government in this situation. They cannot get it right for trying. No one wanted a lockdown, and yet they were criticised for not locking down sooner. There is obvious contradiction in their seemingly random approach, encouraging us to eat out one minute and stay home the next. I do want to point out what a difficult job the Government have and it is right that we believers pray for them continually.
This is all well and good, but not exactly my usual approach to blogging. Typically I stick to the Bible and leave politics out. I make no comment here on the new or previous rules, and so turn to the Scripture in our uncertain times.
Whether deliberately or otherwise, a great sense of fear was created around this virus. We have never locked down before, and many – rightly – understood this to mean how serious the situation was. The subsequent consequences to the economy pose an equal or even greater threat, so steps are being made to try to undo the damage. Fear is not so easily dismissed as it is created.
We were not created for fear. In fact, we see that fear was the very first negative experienced by Adam and Eve after the Fall of humanity.
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool[c] of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”[d] 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
Genesis 3:8-10 (ESV)
Having eaten of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve realised they were naked. They were just as naked before, but now, for the first time, took their eyes off of God and turned them on themselves. Sin entered the world, and the first emotion they felt was fear. There is no evidence of fear prior to this.
The Bible has much to say about fear – far more than I can ever say in this one short post. Suffice it to say that fear is not what God wants for His people. Fear often stops us obeying the Lord or doing what we know is right. Sometimes we fear other people and so don’t fully serve God, frightened of people’s judgement or criticism.
Many places in the Bible tell us not to fear. It does not necessarily mean do not feel the emotion of fear, but rather, do not allow the fear you feel to stop you doing what you know is right.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
So how do we conquer fear? How do we master it in these fearful times? I could write a whole book on the subject, but hope these few points help.
We must start from the point of understanding that God does not want us to be afraid. Fear is a very real and powerful emotion at times, but we must harness it, not allowing it to drive us but instead God’s Spirit. As you act and speak this week, ask yourself if the words or deeds are driven by fear or the Holy Spirit.
We must pray through fear. Fear is not an easy foe at times, and so we must stand firm in prayer and draw on the strength of God. If you are facing a particularly frightening time, then please do seek God more and more. Often the thing we fear becomes tiny and insignificant as we compare it to the splendour and majesty of our God!
My final suggestion is to think through the consequences or outcomes of what you fear. For example, a couple of weeks ago I faced a situation which was quite scary. I knew it was coming and was getting anxious about it. As I thought about it however, I realised if it did not work out as I wanted, there were virtually no consequences. at all. Fear and worry about it was a major waste of energy. We play the “What if?” game which can be mentally draining. Many of the things we fear though have little consequence, and even fewer have eternal ramifications.
The world we live in can be a frightening place at times, but you do not face it alone. Fear can be beaten, and we do so in the strength of our Lord. What do you fear right now? Talk to God about it and fight that fear!
We are often afraid of many things in life. That fear can prevent us doing what we know is right. Often the fear of other people stops us doing or saying the things that God has prompted us to. Or worse, peer pressure leads us to do things we know are sinful.
The Bible has much to say about fear, and while I do not think the emotion of fear is prohibited in the Scripture, bowing down to it and letting it stop us certainly is.
When this life is over, and we stand before God, all those things we feared will seem rather insignificant. There is nothing to fear, except God Himself.
When we say “fear” these days, we simply mean things that we are scared of. Often people are afraid of spiders, heights or public speaking. This kind of fear is not what we were made for. God does not want His people to be afraid. Evolutionists explain fear as a safety mechanism, and yet we saw no sign of fear in Adam and Eve until after the Fall and sin entered the world.
Our Heavenly Father does not want us to fear Him in the sense of being afraid of Him. Rather, when we speak of fearing God, we mean a reverential fear. This is to highly respect God in His position of Sovereign Lord with the power of eternity in His hands.
Next to God, there is nothing worth fearing. If your fear is stopping you from serving God then cast it out today! Fear nothing, except God Himself!