The ideas expressed here may be controversial for some - they're intended to be.
The idea is to get you thinking about why you believe what you believe, and generate a bit of discussion.
Many blogs offer devotional inspiration, I want to offer theological inspiration.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Prayer is a "Deception"


Brother Lawrence, a French Lay Brother serving in a Carmelite Monastery in the 17th Century discovered the secret of living always in the presence of God. He called it, "The Practice of the Presence.” As a lay brother he worked in the kitchens and as a cobbler doing the kind of day-to-day tasks which may have otherwise kept the monks from their prayers and studies. Though he loved God very deeply this meant that he was not able to spend long periods in prayer as the monks did. Instead he found that, by keeping his love for God awake in his consciousness all the time he was doing his daily duties, he was able to live continually in the presence of God.
"It is only necessary," he says, "To realise that God is intimately present with us, to turn every moment to him and ask for his help.”
Lay brothers like Brother Lawrence were under limited vows and had to take occasional retreats and periods of withdrawal. The reason for this was that their menial tasks were regarded as a distraction from prayerful living, so it was thought that they needed these quiet days to focus their lives on God once more to regain a sense of his presence. Brother Lawrence, however, found these retreats to be an unnecessary burden. For him, even his most demanding task didn't keep him from being close to God
He went further, claiming that the idea that retreats and set prayer times (like daily prayers) are essentially different to the little prayers we say in brief moments, is a deception. Whether we are deep in prayer or totally absorbed in work or leisure, God is no further away, but how often do we rate his closeness by the degree or amount of prayer that we are capable of?

Monday, 12 July 2010

We are not saved by faith


Incredibly, the exact phrase “salvation by faith” occurs nowhere in the Bible.

The words “salvation through faith” do appear (2 Timothy 3:15, 1 Peter 1:5), but they convey an entirely different meaning. “Through faith” implies that faith is a passive vessel through which we receive the gift of salvation. “By faith”, on the other hand, infers that our faith is the means or method by which we obtain salvation, which sits there like some object waiting for the taking.

But, when it comes to defining exactly what it is that does save us, Paul is absolutely clear:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no-one can boast” Ephesians 2:8,9

Faith doesn’t save us, Jesus does; we just have trust that it is so.
Faith is actually about trust. So much of what the Bible says about faith makes a lot more sense when you read the word “trust” for the word “faith”.

Apart from the need to swing the pendulum back a little, there are two reasons for this shift in our understanding of faith:
First, the gifts of God’s grace and all that Jesus has done for us can only be received by trust.
Second, only through trust can you live by grace.

Just pause for a moment and let that sink in. Let it be one thought you carry with you for a day or two:
It is only through trust can you live by grace.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Live World-Wide Communion on Twitter

I'm really excited about this project. Taking the Twitter Lord's Prayer idea to it's extreme, I realised that Twitter offers the possibility of sharing communion live around the world with thousands of Christians.

It's an opportunity to show the world that Christians really do belong to just one Church, and that, in spite of doctrinal differences, we can be united in celebrating our love of God in Jesus.

For more details go to http://www.twittercommunion.co.uk.

Please spread the word. Send the link to everyone on your email address list who may be interested, pass it on to Facebook friends.

We need as many people as possible to sign up.

This may possibly be the first live, global Lord's Supper ever.

Monday, 5 July 2010

The Lord's Prayer For Today

This is the full version of the Lord's Prayer I wrote for Twitter. It had to be slightly abridged before it was ready for sending out.

Bringer and Nurturer of life, whose sacred name we hold precious.
May your supremacy, your desires, your plans and purposes burst from heaven into every corner of creation.
Feed our hearts, minds and bodies as we entrust ourselves into your care.
Forgive us when our self-centredness brings hurt to others and to you.
Help us to be just as gracious and just as loving with those you hurt us.
Guide us from following the seductive allure of all that draws us away from you,
And let evil’s influence over us be rendered impotent.
For yours is the sovereign rule;
Yours is the majestic, glorious power,
Throughout all time and into eternity.
Amen.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

The Lord's Prayer on Twitter

If you are on Twitter, you can join with me and fellow tweeters in saying a specially written contemporary version of the Lord's Prayer I've written for Twitter. Starting at 2pm on Monday 5th July, I'll be tweeting the prayer in 5 parts at hourly intervals (part 1 at 2pm, part 2 at 3pm etc).

The idea is that your day will interspersed with brief pauses for prayer.
To join in, login or sign-up to Twitter (not too tricky) and then search for TimRossMinister.
I'll send out a warning tweet a few minutes before sending each part of the prayer on the hour.
You can tweet and Amen after each one, or at the end of the prayer if you want.

I'd be grateful if you would pass this on to anyone you think might be interested (copy and paste into an email), or if you are on Twitter, please would you let your followers know and get them to follow my Twitter.

If you don't live the UK, we are on British Summer Time. You can see what time that is wherever you are by going to http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html

When the prayer is finished, I'll post the full, slightly extended version of the prayer here on the blog.

Peace with you,
Tim

Friday, 2 July 2010

Prayer is a Broadband Router

If you connect to the internet through broadband, the chances are you will have a router or similar box which feeds stuff from the web onto your computer. There are two types of routers; wireless and wired. The wireless router ‘beams’ information from the internet onto your computer giving you the ability to wander out into the garden with your laptop and surf the web from there. The problem with wireless routers is that the further you wander from the router, the weaker the signal gets, until eventually it is lost altogether.

Exchange the words “internet” for “God” and “router” for “prayer”, and you get a common teaching about how prayer works. You keep connected to God, it is sometimes said, by staying close to him in prayer, let your focus on your prayer life wander and you ‘lose the signal’. Wander too far and you may lose your connection altogether.
I'm not convinced by this argument.

The other kind of router, the wired one, is exactly what it says. Your computer is permanently connected to the router with a wire. The disadvantage is obvious; you can never be further than a cable’s length from your router. The advantage, though, is that you are permanently connected to the internet and your signal is always full strength.

It’s actually the wired router which more closely represents the nature of your relationship to God and prayer. You can’t lose your connection. Whether you surf once a day for twenty minutes or whether you connect only briefly at odd moments throughout the day makes no difference to the quality of your connection to the Web. It’s always full strength.

Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers.” John 15:5-6