Monday, February 17, 2014

Life after "Strange Fire"

I've made no secret of my struggle to maintain interest or passion in theological/spiritual matters this past year or two.  I still believe in God (not so sure about the church thanks to past experience).  But this is a work in progress - certainly not an unfinished story.  A few issues sparked my interest - for example, John Macarthur's "Strange Fire" conference of a few months ago.

A brief history with Macarthur:  As I was growing up in Dunstable and discovering an experiential relationship with God, my church and senior pastor were going in polar opposite directions.  And Macarthur's "Charismatic Chaos" was the instruction manual flogged around Dunstable for that.  I have always fervently believed my pastor Stanley Jebb's motto that; "the unexamined opinion is hardly worth holding".  So I read "Charismatic Chaos" and found it thoroughly interesting.  It didn't persuade me in the slightest of anything - apart from human beings are human beings and make mistakes.  Oh - it also persuaded me that John Macarthur was a throughly negative, unpleasant individual who was having a nasty effect on the pastor and my church - and it was something and someone I didn't want to be like in the slightest!

So the mention of "John Macarthur" usually makes me roll my eyes.  That's why when C J Mahaney started preaching for Macarthur - some reformed/charismatics were thrilled and thought it meant Macarthur was "softening" in his anti-charismatic views and maybe the bald-headed one was impressing him with his sense.  Rubbish.  All "Strange Fire" proved was that in fact Mahaney is taking the same path my pastor in Dunstable took, and is taking all possible steps to reject charismatic life in his church (apart from apostolic authority - in all but name).  A quick glance at Mahaney's "church programme" proves that - no room for the Holy Spirit there!

So I was interested today to find a You-Tube video of Macarthur speaking about the follow-up from the "Strange Fire" conference.  He has taken a lot of stick (quite rightly) for his harsh and intolerant suggestions that charismatics are not Christians.  This is his answer - and essentially he sticks by his views.  Another book is promised to answer his critics (around 26 minutes).  But what particularly interested me was Macarthur's taking on of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones and John Piper in particular (38:12) - namely that pastors and preachers have NO business seeking an anointing or unction from on high to preach!


Here it is;

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Sing It Louder!

I was thinking a lot about mental health issues today thanks to the great "Time to Talk" focus day this week.  One account particularly moved me - that of "Time to Talk" campaigner Johnny Benjamin - sharing his experience of how he almost threw himself off a bridge in London but was saved by a passerby.  It struck, worried and moved me how awful the reality of suicide is - and how surely it is OUR responsibility as a race to try and protect our own?  NO-ONE should feel so lost and alone that they end their lives!

So what keeps us going?  What keeps us living?

I have considered suicide myself personally this past year - I confess it.  Things just got "so" bad that it occurred to me as a distinct possibility.  I know that psychiatrists consider the risk of suicide greater if "there is a plan".  I had a plan.  I kept on living for a largely negative reason - I did not consider the cause of committing this final act "worthy" enough to do so.  It's not perfect but it worked for me!  The fact is that life serves good times and bad times.  And I have learned over the past year or two that rather than just "keep hoping that life picks up" - it is wiser to enjoy the good and use it as a foundation to work through the bad.

I got a little revelation today as to one of the reasons why I "keep going".  It was listening to one of my favourite song tributes to my adored and revered Her Majesty the Queen; "Sing".

The lyrics in question that moved me immensely were;

"There’s a place, there’s a time in this life when you sing what you are feeling, find your feet, stand your ground, don’t you see right now the world is listening to what we say? ... You brought hope, you brought life, conquer fear, no it wasn’t always easy, stood your ground, kept your faith, don’t you see right now the world is listening to what we say?"

What occured to me is this (and bearing strongly in mind; "Time to Talk" campaign) - one POWERFUL reason to "keep going" - is that there may be others out there who are encouraged, find strength, find hope from the story that we tell.  I shared a tweet the other day about the reality of living with an anxiety-related disorder.  It's horrid.  But if by speaking out - I can encourage or remind or tell another person that they are not alone and are not alien or weird - then surely I must do it!

There is a reason for keeping on living - and keeping on going.  We do not live alone in isolation.  If we live or die - this does have an impact on our fellow human beings!  And we have the opportunity to affect the world we touch by the words we speak!  So my hope and my aim right now in life is to try and take courage and speak out honestly about problems and solutions.

If it were one day to save a life, or to even just encourage someone that they aren't alone - that would make the ups and downs of my life ALL worthwhile!

Keep singing!