A Calling?

Having a calling, as in from God, not your kids shouting down the stairs at you, seems to be one of those Christian sticking points. For years I frankly cringed when someone said, ‘God called me to this’, or ‘God told me to do that’. I think you either understand it or you don’t (I mean it’s almost in the marmite category). I very definitely did not ‘get’ it, but then I guess there’s a lot of things about Chrisitanity I didnt ‘get’. I bet God is having a good old laugh at me now actually, saying and doing things I would have scoffed at others for doing before! So it was a surprise to me that shortly after being saved I felt like God was calling me to something – although I couldn’t actually put my finger on what ‘it’ was or is, I just know he is preparing me for something. Now I haven’t admitted this anywhere except to my husband (& on here, for the whole world to read of course), but one of my first thoughts about Gods plan for me was about going into ministry. Where this came from I have no idea (ok well, apart from the obvious, duh). I mean I am not the kind of person you would imagine being a vicar, I cannot see myself in that kind of role and so on… however I would like to study theology – that’s more my kind of thing. Getting my teeth into some good studying and critical analysis. I can see me doing that, God willing…

I had a lengthy chat with our parish priest (not at the church I attend) after the drama of getting saved and he asked me if I felt called to anything, so I said yes, but not sure what. He, interestingly, told me he felt called to ministry very soon after being saved, like a few months, which kind of made me feel better, like I wasn’t being too ‘up myself’ thinking God had a plan for me so soon in my journey.

So this thought has been occurring to me every now and then, but honestly I just can’t see it happening, I mean apart from anything else, what a responsibilty, how many years studying? I am approaching 40 for goodness sake.

Last week when our curate came over to talk about the baptism he told me that he felt my role was to be in ordained ministry. I laughed. a lot. The the other chap with him said to me ‘you need to listen to him, he has a prophetic gift, what he says usually happens’ or something along those lines… I stopped laughing pretty quickly. I think I probably did one of those comedy ‘gulps’. But still although I was a bit ‘worried’ I still thought, well, really? it’s just not me…

Last night at a church meeting (ok so I did get some God time) I was chatting to a lady I didn’t know about work and I made some comment about changing jobs soon and she just said straight out ‘are you going to go into ministry then?’, there followed another comedy gulp, louder this time…. This lady doesnt know me and I had not given her any reason to think this (especially as I still don’t believe it myself!).

So today I was very interested to read Lesleys blog here, where in part she talks about her initial calling to Ministry. In particular this sentence stood out to me:

It all started when I thought God was calling me to ordained ministry. I couldn’t admit it, because I was so determined that my role was to be at home with my kids and be a ‘good’ wife. I was also uneasy about women being ordained and I could not believe what I felt God was saying to me.

This sums up where I am I think. I can’t and won’t admit yet that I think that’s where God wants me. I really can’t believe that I am even worthy of such a calling and I’m not sure I want to give up my business for that. I wanted to give it up to spend more time being a mum; and to focus on my faith, yes, but really? to go into ordained ministry? And I too, despite being a ‘modern woman’ am not sure I like the idea of women priests, sorry Lesley, I am sure you are wonderful!

Maybe I am not quite ready to hear it or maybe there really has been a string of coincidences (I hope) and I intend to put it right out of my mind, so that if it is what God wants me to do he is going to have to show me in a pretty bloody obvious way. But now I have got off my chest all those nagging thoughts. They are down in print and I can move on. Please Lord, don’t make me eat my words… :)

the after glow…

This week I have been basking in the after-glow of my baptism renewal. Despite the freezing water it was a totally awesome occasion, which I will never forget. It has been an amazingly busy week as we have an event opening tonight at work (actually I’m writing this in between customers. In fact as it is all up and ready to go this is the first time all week I have been able to just sit and do something for myself – hence no posts in the preceeding 4 days). So it has been busy… and there has been little ‘God-time’ but in the after glow of the baptism I have felt bathed in his love, on a complete high, and it has been wonderful. In complete contrast to the usual stress and panic pre-event opening. Hope this feeling will linger a bit longer.

Now, having been deprived from blogging this week, of course I am champing at the bit to write so there will probably follow a flurry of posts….

What happens next?

So.. today has been the culmination of an interesting week. There have been highs, there have been lows, I have felt far from God and then very close to God. Today I renewed my baptism vows at church with a full on dunking, and suddenly it has all come into place…

The week started with me consumed with anxiety about the future of my business. I have written before about my desperate desire to do Gods work that He has planned for me, to just live for him and to do his will. I thought I had handed over my business worries to Him, but this week I realised I was still striving for answers under my own steam. Tuesday was a day of learning, of letting go, of realisation. Draining! at the end of which I just let go and gave it all to the Lord (really this time…). Wednesday was enlightening. We shared some time with people from church, one of them spoke some prophetic words about my life and my path with God, my calling. The other talked about so many things that are relevant in my life. All of these things spoke to me in volumes. The prophetic words were not a surprise, all things that I have spent time thinking on, yet had not spoken to others about. Thursday was a day of confirmation. Receiving the word from my friend which I mentioned on Thursdays post and mulling over all that had been said the night before. I prayed for a day clear from attack and just to be consumed by faith, and that’s what I got! I felt so close to God all day. I look back at this week and I know now it was a journey to get me to today, to the renewal of my baptism vows.

I have ultimately surrendered all to Gods will. I am waiting on him now. I could have sunk into despair about those words on Wednesday but instead I feel enlightened and secure in knowing that God will guide me to those places, even though they seem so far away…

So today I approached the service clear in my heart and my mind that God is in control. When I said those words this morning – ‘I believe and trust in him’, I wasn’t just saying it out loud, but in my heart too.
The preacher this morning talked about our roles, using the gifts God has given us and particularly for those that were baptised/renewed their vows: what comes next? As we shared testimonies this morning, one girl said she felt like this was the start of a new journey and the preacher expanded on this. I connected with that completely. It’s like everything that has happened over the last few months, this was confirming it all. and for us to stand up there and publically declare it was like us taking the next step, saying, yes Lord, we want this life, take us forward with you. I am excited about what the future holds in this journey guided by Him.

We had a few cards given to us today which was lovely and one I really liked had this quote by Jerome K Jerome:

Nothing is more beautiful than the love that has weathered the storms of life.

I just love this because although it wasn’t written as a reference to Christian love, it just sums up our journey perfectly and it will surely still sum up our journey in 40 years time…

Incidentally my daughter (unbeknown to me) videoed my dunking on her phone, so I will try and post it on here if I can suss out how to get ot from there to here… watch this space!

Emerging from the cocoon.

‘Butterflies’ card by John Dilnott (www.johndilnot.com)

I love it when God gives us a bit of encouragement, sometimes it’s just one word, as for me today…

Been a bit of an emotional week as I have a fairly big decision to make and it’s come to a bit of a head this week and I needed a little nudge! It’s not something I have to decide right now but I do have to think about it in order to plan out the next few months…. (when it’s all sorted out I will post about it in detail). Then, on Tuesday I went to a new prayer group, it’s really for teaching and learning, just learning to listen to God, to know when we hear him. Several things came up that I really felt God was pointing at me, relating to this decision, and it was a bit emotional as I shared what I felt. As well as this, one girl said she had a picture of a cocoon and a butterfly emerging from the cocoon, and she was saying how coming out of the cocoon is a struggle, but its worth all the hard work in the end. I felt like it was a good analogy for the situation I’m in at the moment and the decision I have to make as well as a metaphor for faith and learning. So yesterday I was thinking on this a bit and thinking how it was so relevant for me. Then last night we had 2 guys from church over for dinner and one of them mentioned the very same analogy, talking not only about butterflies but emerging from the cocoon too. When I went to bed I was writing some notes about this ‘coincidence’ in my journal and when I shut the book I noticed, (and I hadn’t noticed this before) that in the design on the cover there are butterflies!

Then today I had been feeling like I should text a friend of mine to see how he’s doing. He texted me back and said he had been thinking of me a lot yesterday and ‘butterfly’ was the word!!! I think my words were ‘no way!’… love it when God does stuff like this, it was just what I needed, just a bit of confirmation…

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Note to Ron !

In reply to Ron’s comments on my blog on creation and evolution… It’s a rather lengthy reply so I’ve posted it as a new post rather than lots of comments. Feel free to add further comments. I am genuinely interested. I have just read back what I’ve written and I do rather go off the point a bit, but there you go… Must do further reading on the subject then re-post!

Hi Ron
Thanks for you lengthy (!) reply. And actually I found it very interesting. It’s always good to be challenged and to learn from other peoples points of view. I am actually interested as to what your profession is – looking at your own blog there are many religious references, presumably related to your self-professed atheism? (although, and I don’t wish to be pedantic, from what you say it seems like you are more agnostic than an atheist, from my understanding an atheist is someone who actively denies the existence of God, you seem to say there is no evidence either way).
But back to the point, the way you word your scientific references seem to have an educational touch to them, put in simpler English than any scientist, so I presume you must be interested in science rather than having it as a profession? Do correct me if I’m wrong – I’m simply interested.
I must admit first of all that I haven’t studied this subject enough to know the answers to many points, but I have actually just ordered Darwin’s Theory of evolution and intend to read it for myself. So my response to your post is mainly from a personal point of view rather than any kind of academic one. I am not, as you can probably tell, someone who finds science an easy subject but I am interested in it and would like to get a better handle on this and other issues.
Dawkins first, as you say… I haven’t actually seen him speak, all I know of him is from his own writings, articles and such like, so I have not been biased by anyone other than myself. I’m not sure I will read his book but thanks for the recommendation, simply because from the things I have read of his, I don’t like the way he writes and I’m sure there are plenty of other writings on evolution and so on to look at instead.

I liked your point about theories/facts/truth. One of my own arguments about many scientific discoveries is that some scientists and ‘experts’ refer to theories as if they are the truth, which in many cases is misleading, particularly to those not able to tell the difference, the media is very guilty of promoting this attitude and it does irritate me, but that’s for another discussion!
In terms of Christian belief, you are right in saying that theists hold their truths to be absolutely true, but indeed there are Christians out there who hold beliefs that are not true, whether it’s from religious dogma, mental imbalances or otherwise. (I don’t think it’s fair to put all those who call themslevs Christians in the same bracket – rather like we cannot say that all Muslims are fundamentalists). My point of view is that all ‘Truth’ in a Christian sense comes from the Word of God, the Bible. Again we could get into a lengthy discussion about the validity of the Bible, but that is not for now. What I mean is that as far as I see it, any Christian truth I believe has to be backed up by scripture. For example those who kill in the name of Christ in my opinion cannot be true believers. Jesus did not preach this – he told us to love our enemies. So undoubtedly there are those that call themselves Christians who would not be deemed to be so by God himself.
Equally I agree there are ’facts’ that many would disagree about, and this can only come from their own minds. The individual mind, which is of course a product of every individuals experiences of life, whether a Christian or not. However again I say that often those who believe a point fervently as a fact are not in fact as well informed as they should be (the Daily Mail brigade come to mind). And sometimes those who believe so fervently cannot be dissuaded in any way from their belief that a fact is true or untrue in a certain situation. I am aware of course that this sentence could equally be applied to Christians, but I prefer to think of that in terms of a spiritual relationship between Jesus and the individual, rather than that person being swayed by outside influences or the media.

I accept that in general scientists like to have hard evidence or proof to make theories become ‘fact’. However science and Christianity need not be exclusive of each other, there are some well known Christians who use science in their ministry very well (Louie Giglio springs to mind). And in fact I am an example of someone who takes on both. I absolutely believe in Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, and to do that I need faith, but in science terms I am quite an analytical person – I will not accept one side of an argument or debate without listening to the other. Many Christians are the same – because they accept Jesus in faith it doesn’t mean they just accept any old theory by faith too!

I am grateful for your admission that ‘science can never prove something beyond all doubt’, indeed I’m sure there are many ‘facts’ from previous scientific discoveries that can now be disproved by more modern methods of testing. In fact your phrase below was particularly interesting:

‘…But when a fact or theory has such an abundance of evidence supporting it, and no reasonable evidence against it, then scientists are prepared to call it true’.

Because in a sense that same sentence could be applied to Christianity. There is actually an abundance of evidence supporting it, and by this I mean ‘Evidence as: ones basis for belief or disbelief; knowledge on which to base belief’. Historically it is agreed to be a ‘fact’ (by non-believing historians) that a man called Jesus of Nazareth existed, and I do not mean in the Bible, there are historical and contemporary references to a man of this name being sentenced by Pontius Pilate for blasphemy in more than one place. So in terms of the man, we can assume that he existed. There is also evidence that he was a Holy man with a band of followers. The Bible whether you believe it as the word of God or not, is also a useful historical document. It stands up against other contemporary writings and if I recall correctly (will try to remember where I read this!) there are more copies of the early Bible than any other historical document of this era. I won’t go into reams of info here but you can see that in historical terms certainly there is a lot of evidence to show that Jesus certainly existed, that he had a band of followers and those who wrote about him. So either he was who he says he was or he was ‘deluded.’ an early schizophrenic maybe? I for one chose to believe the former. So in that sense you could say that as the ‘theory’ of Christianity has much evidence supporting it, and no reasonable evidence against it (is there? I don’t know of any – that’s the point of faith, you can’t prove or disprove it) that we would be prepared to call it true?

Ok so on to the issue in hand – evolution – something which Christians all over the world disagree on! As I said I haven’t yet read Darwin but I am looking forward to. My understanding so far is that the main point of ‘natural selection’ cannot be proved to the extent which the theory implies. eg: an animals tail length or markings could be changed over generations with the right breeding, but that for a new breed entirely it is simply ‘impossible’ (probably not the best word to use in a science discussion…:) ). And indeed I accept that evolution happens and has happened over the centuries, but not that everything came from the ‘big bang’ and that we are all descendants of organic matter, all of us, every living thing on this planet. I mean really? I think the example that is often used is that of the human eye – that there are so many different aspects of it, in order for it to work, it needs every single on of these parts, so what could it have evolved from? In order to be a functioning eye it had to have so many bits even initially. I liken it to people who say that if you put a bunch of monkeys in a room with a typewriter eventually they will produce the works of Shakespeare. I don’t care how many theories of probability that you can produce, does anyone actually believe that could happen? And even then they only have one goal – with one typewriter. Evolution assumes that we all, every living thing evolved from organic matter. So that’s not just producing the works of Shakespeare, that’s like writing out all of his works in every language known to man 10 times over (or possibly more…) Do you see where I am going? Am I rambling..?!

And on Shakespeare:
You said: ‘If we ever think we have found an underlying reality, how would we know there isn’t something else just beyond our scientific reach’ which makes me think of a line from Hamlet:

‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,Than are dreamt of in your philosophy’

Which is one of my favourite lines from Shakespeare, and links in to your line above. No matter what we discover there is so much we can’t possibly know and we would be foolish to think that we did.

In terms of evolution as I said I don’t have a problem accepting that things evolve, what I struggle with is the beginning – the creation – so how did everything evolve from the big bang? That’s what I would like to know from a scientific point of view. Can you help me out? I have read arguments disputing bits of the original research but until I have read it for myself I will hold fire on repeating those.

So on to Chrisitanity (again!). You said:
‘theologians are keen to tell us what God wants from us, but when we enquire about God we are told he is unknowable, beyond our capacity to know. Well, if that’s the case how come theologians feel at liberty to claim to know just enough for their purpose of determining how we act?’

I think this is slightly unfair! Of course ‘the church’ at large does have a lot to answer for and ‘The Church’ and Christianity should be thought of in separate frames really. I don’t know what your knowledge or experience of church or theology is, but as in anything there are good and bad theologians and priests out there. Anything that theologians tell us should, as I said before, relate to scripture. And mainly this relates to a good moral code and not ‘God is telling me you must give all your money to the church’ or ‘ we must go to war against that nation…’ or other notions which have been used in history… I won’t get into denomination, but I am an Anglican, so I don’t go in for confession or anything along those lines. I don’t go in for the dogma or rhetoric that surround Christianity other then what I have personally experienced. Anything that comes from the church should, as I said before, refer back to scripture and not from individuals. Being a Christian is about having a personal relationship with Christ, Christ as part of the Trinity of God the Father, God the son, God the Holy Spirit. It is perfectly possible to have a relationship with him, and I do mean personal. And that is through prayer and studying the Bible. I believe there are things that only I and God know about me and that has been demonstrated to me any number of times recently. A non-believer might say well that’s just coincidence, but I can tell you if that’s the case I must be particularly lucky at the moment.
Of course there are things that are just too unimaginable to be able to understand, just as there are in life in general. For example if you look at the universe, scientists just have no idea how far it extends, it is talked of as ‘infinite’, because we simply don’t know yet how far it extends. Future generations of scientists may have made probes or space craft that can travel further and faster than we have been able to yet, but for now, it is unfathomable. Equally the human mind – we can only know so much – but to really delve into how it works in great detail – scientists only have part of it sussed out. And imagine if you’d said to someone 100 years ago, ‘in your life time, we will see man on the moon’ – what would they have thought? Probably they would have found it unthinkable too. So I don’t think it is wrong in essence to say that parts of God and the way he works are unknowable, because there are many things in life like that too and we cannot understand them all. But you can know him through his Son Jesus Christ, who is a part of him too. Happy to expand on this if you are interested…

You said: ‘Theists often claim scientists are arrogant, that scientists claim to know stuff as fact.’
True, but then some of them do… :) as with any large group of people, one can make generalisations: Atheists often claim that Christians are deluded, doesn’t mean they are…!!

I seem to have rather gone off the point – but I hope I have answered some of the points you made without being argumentative! I really am genuinely interested in the subject of creation vs evolution and as I said, I know I need to read further (haven’t looked at your other suggestions yet but will do.) I also do not wish to be one of those Christians who make it their personal mission to argue with any non-Christian point of view. That is not where I am coming from, so I hope it doesn’t come across that way. A good debate should be just that – good conversation, and an interesting debate.

Blessings…
Red x

creationism vs evolution

Thanks to a possibly, slightly heated debate, with my brother I have been looking into evolution and what the standard Christian response to it is. Sadly there seems to be no standard! Even within the church there is a division over who is right and who is wrong. If even the bishops and top scientists can’t agree, what chance do I have? I, possibly rather naively, assumed that the biblical account of the 6 day creation is the truth. Ok so some of the bible is symbolic, Jesus taught in parables but really is creation another example of that?
I don’t know, but either way I didn’t have the knowledge to debunk my brothers theories, hence the research now. What I have discovered, even just in a few hours online is that actually Darwins originally theory is way out of date (not surprising seeing as he wrote it some 150years ago). Even renowned scientists have agreed that many parts of his theory are flawed (and ‘theory’ should be the key word here). Yet it is in many places still expostulated as ‘gospel’ (‘scuse the pun).
Of course I have come across Richard Dawkins theories too and although I have to be honest and say I have never read one of his books, I have only read articles and theories posted by him, but he does seem to be, frankly, a total prat, who only succeeds in getting his point heard by shouting over everyone else. This is the thing with some scientists and those who find it easy to retain a lot of information, they think they have all the answers and are so smug about it, when in reality all they are doing is fooling themselves. Although I like to think of myself as an intelligent woman, I know I would be no match for Dawkins. Does that make me wrong and him right? No! It just means he is a better communicator and can recall stuff from his brain easily (not something I can do – I always did better in coursework than exams!)

But anyway, back to the point, I’d love to hear other peoples theories on creationism vs evolution, or some recommended reading, to help me out in my research!
thanks :)

The Vision

My goal is to live a big life for God. I don’t just want to live a good Christian life, I want to be out there, doing great things for Him. And over the last few weeks I have been worrying about whether this is my desire or Gods. It is hard to know whether I am listening to him or still following my own ideas. I am someone who strives for what she wants. I am a go-getter. I do not sit on my butt waiting for stuff to happen. So you see, it is actually quite hard for me to listen to someone elses path for my life. Don’t get me wrong, I want to. I want to live my life for God, but I just get confused sometimes about what he wants and what I want! (yes I know, confusion is not of God…)

Anyway, I just finished reading ‘Beautiful’ by Beth Redman. A lovely book, which I did enjoy and she has a great writing style, but I wasn’t really feeling the love for it, if you know what I mean. That is, until I got to Chapter 9. This could have been written for me. She talks about wanting to live a big life for God. She says:
‘I really really want God to use my life’ and she says shes on a mission to ‘know him more, to love him more, to become more like him, and to make him known to others…’

I could have written that myself…
and the thing is she goes on to point out that this is good, that God has works prepared for us, if we are willing to surrender to him and do them.
The funniest thing, when I knew God was talking to me was this:
‘a little person in a small town, or a tiny village can end up making a mark on history and affecting peoples lives forever.’ (that’s me, in the tiny village BTW)

So, thats what I want. I want God to use me in a mighty way. and I don’t mean that in any vain attempt at bigging myself up, or that I want to be better than the next person. I just want to do Gods planned works for me, and I think they will be big ones. I’m sorry if that sounds like I’m stuck up my own rear end, but I mean it in the most Holy of ways. It’s not about me, it’s about Him.

testimony update

A quick update… last night I shared our testimony at prayer group. It was great! I got through it without blubbing, people sympathised at the right places and laughed at the funnies. I played my songs and although I felt like my voice was shaking as I was so nervous everyone was very positive about them. Someone even suggested I sing them to our worship leader! (not sure I am quite ready for that!)I have been trying to post one here but I only seem to be to post videos so I will have to try and work on that!

It was so lovely to be able to share our story and everyone was so lovely about it aftewards. They shared some beautiful prayers for us, which was really touching.

I just thank God for everything he is doing in our lives and for these amazing people we have shared with.

Thanks for all those who prayed for me in advance, I really appreciate it. xx

it’s all in the preparation

Currently preparing to share my testimony on Monday at my prayer group. Will involve speaking for 45 mins and playing 2 songs I have written… eek!! Now on the third run through with my husband (who is being very patient and supportive!) more tea needed….. and lots more prayer!

Funny thing is I have had to speak in front of lots more people before, with a previous job, and it has never been an issue, I can adlib if need be and don’t seem to be phased by the experience. This however is different, seems so much more important somehow. And until now I have to admit that I have been rather blasé about it – ‘Oh yes I’ll share, of course, yes I’m used to speaking in public…’ that kind of thing. Of course, I am now, frankly, crapping myself!

Hunger

I am so hungry at the moment to know more about Christ. I may have blogged about this before, can’t remember… I just can’t get enough. It’s been like this since our journey began just a few weeks before Christmas. I am reading the bible every day, reading lots of ‘God books’ and have spent the debt of a small country on Amazon recently… I just want to seek him out, to know him more.
Lots of people have said to me, ‘oh it’s so nice to be around new Christians, they are always so hungry, always so on fire’. But I don’t want that to end. At what point does it become common place? At what point will I no longer be a ‘new Christian’? I keep praying for it not to end, I don’t want to lose this hunger, this fire, so do I have to? I have described it as a bit like falling in love – how when you fall in love you want to be around that person all the time, you want to talk about them, think about them, it is so all comsuming and coming to faith has been a bit like that for me. However when you fall in love, it generally calms down a bit, when you get comfortable with each other, and then you settle into a new pattern in your relationship. Should I not desire that with God? If I stay this hungry will it stop me from moving forward? I don’t think so, I hope not… I just don’t want to be one of those Christians who becomes a bit complacent and it just becomes part of their life – I want it (or Him) to BE my life not just a part of it.

Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. 1 Chronicles 10-11