Blogs I follow

This is way off topic of this  blog, but does anyone know how I can add blogs that I follow to my blog page so that other people can see them.  Am not finding the technicalities of blogging particularly straightforward!

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Not very efficient :-(

So I was planning to write once or twice a week, and havent written for ages.   Various reasons for that.  I spent a couple of weeks trying to get something we had written as a group to transfer into a post; even when I typed it in directly it insisted on coming in with strange line spacing and looking odd.   Then I had a crazy couple of weeks and forgot.   

This week is half term break, so not got a class tonight.  Actually, I think I will miss having one.  I am enjoying the course now I have got into it.   There is a lot of reading, one week we had to read Genesis chapters 12 – 50.   There were a couple we were to miss out – the genealogy ones, and the chapter about Judah and Tamar.   But I read them anyway.  

Reading parts of the Bible as a chunk is something I like, and have done at various times in the past.   A few years ago I read The Book of God by Walter Wangerin which gives the story of the OT as if it were a novel, missing out all the repetition.   That inspired me to read the actual OT from beginning to end.  I would recommend that to anyone who wants to get to know the basic story of the OT.   

the next week we are to read the rest of Exodus, and some chapters of Leviticus.  But only a couple of chapters of Leviticus.   To my surprise, when I read Leviticus right through as part of my reading of the whole OT, I really enjoyed it.   I knew very little about the whole process of sacrifices and why they happened – indeed I didnt know if it still happened and asked a Jewish friend (More of my friends are Jews, Muslims and Agnostics than Christian).   Sacrifices could only be carried out in the Temple, which was destroyed by Titus in 70CE – no temple so no more sacrifices.    Although I don’t remember, and dont need to remember, what the various sacrifices were, I did get a grasp of the concept of the Law around the practice.   And as an aside “ephod” turns up a lot in crosswords. 🙂

How is the course helping my relationship with God and my journey both as a disciple and in recovery.   In strange ways really.  I have also been doing a Big Book Study in 12 Fellowship, and am attending a 12 Step Bible Study.   I can see how my faith and Biblical teaching slot together into the 12 Step programme, although saying that wouldnt make me popular with many people in fellowship!   Studying Torah in Disciple Course is helping me to better understand God and to see how relevant Torah is to Christians today – Judaism fascinates me, and I believe strongly that Torah is overlooked in Christian teaching,  and that is a loss to Christians.   Over the past three or four weeks, my “conscious contact with God” has become greater, possibly because I have been reading so much of the Bible, and thinking about what I have read and its relevance to me.  And spiritual things are happening, I am getting “light bulb” moments quite often, as well as experiencing spiritual gifts.  Including ones I don’t understand – Christian friends, be aware I might suddenly ask you strange question.   WHAT DO YOU MEAN – I DO THAT ALL THE TIME!   

One question which remains unanswered from the 2nd week of the course. Genesis  3 v 7 – Adam and Eve sewed leaves together to hide their nakedness.   And yes, the Hebrew verb is indeed “to sew”.   Where did they get the needle and thread from, unless God put a haberdashery shop in Garden of Eden.   Okay so I am sometimes irreverent.   

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Why did God say Creation was good, not perfect

At this week’s session, one of the leaders posed the question “Why did God use the word good to describe Creation rather than the word perfect?”   I would love to hear peoples comments.  

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Relevance of Torah to Christians today

This post is an article I wrote for the church magazine a few months ago, and is fairly self explanatory.

Apart from the Ten Commandments, as Christians we are often more familiar with the stories in the Books of The Law than we are with other aspects of them.   I first started to look at The Old Testament in more depth about five years ago, and am now amazed and fascinated by it.   The passage below is from Deuteronomy 6; in Judaism is called The Shema, and Jews say this first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

4 “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.  5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.   Deut 6 v 4 – 9 NLT

The first part of this will be familiar to you, it is often used in church, and is part of the communion service, as well as being the first part of the Great Commandment.   The message is simple, love God more than we love other people, places or things.   

Even verse 7 is fairly simple – keep telling your children about God and the need to love Him more than anything else, and tell them about Him throughout the day as you go about your daily business.   

But verses 8 and 9?  Tie words to our hands?  And to our foreheads?  Wont people think we are weird? And write them on our doorposts and gates?   Surely, we ask, God cant expect us to do that – that was an instruction to the Children of Israel, not for us today.

We can interpret these verses in two ways.  The first way, as observant Jews do, is to literally do what it says.  Their homes have Mezuzah on the doorposts – small ornate cases containing the script of the above passage handwritten in Hebrew on a tiny scroll.   During the daily morning services which observant Jews attend, they will wear Tefillin, containers holding tiny scrolls, tied to their arms and head.

Most New Testament teaching suggests that unless we are Jewish, we do not have to follow the rules laid down for the Children of Israel.  However, I don’t think that means we can ignore it, or forget it exists.  We can interpret these verses in a way which is relevant to us today.   The Shema is about reminding the Children of Israel about God, and making their belief in God publicly visible.   

  • Make sure that your own children, and the children in your life know about God, and the Christian message.  If you can, bring them to church, read them Bible Stories, teach them to pray, show them God’s love in a practical way, in all situations.
  • Wearing Tefillin is culturally inappropriate for us as Gentiles; having God’s word to hand is, however, very relevant, and not difficult in 21st C Western culture.  You can download the Bible onto most mobile phones free of charge, so it is always in your pocket or bag.  If you don’t have the right kind of phone, CLC  (and the church bookstall) sell cards which you can have in your pocket or bag with favourite Bible verses on them.   Instead of tying a Tefillin on your head, you can carry God’s word within your head, by reading the Bible, (even the difficult bits), and memorising a few verses.   I am editing this just a few hours after after hearing of death of a wonderful gentleman in my church, and he was a good example of someone who carried God’s word in his head; I heard him quote Romans 8 v 28 so often that it is imprinted in my own head and I find myself quoting it to others.
  • These days most door posts are made of PVC (not sure what Jewish households do about that).   But there are other ways to remind yourself of God’s love, and to show those who visit your home that you are a Christian, and love God.  Look at your home as if you were a stranger visiting for the first time.  Is there anything in the rooms in which you take guests to show your faith, or to remind you of it?  Bibles visible, Christian images on walls and surfaces, your palm cross?

Where do you read your Bible?  In bed? On the sofa? In the garden? In April? Have you tried reading it in less usual places?  I first tried this a few months ago, I had a passage I needed to read before a Bible study, and I read it (on my phone) in a waiting room waiting for an appointment.  It was ok, so I tried it in other places – coffee shops, hairdressers, other waiting rooms.  Sometimes people comment, sometimes they dont.  When they do comment, usually they will ask first what I am reading, and when I tell them I am reading the Bible, it provides wonderful openings to talk about God’s love.  If you are worried about not knowing what to say, just pray, very quickly that God will put the words into your mouth.  IT WORKS EVERY TIME.   

 

 

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Getting choral

Following directly on from the last post, I did indeed manage to finish all the work before the session last week.  I will be honest and say that I was a bit disappointed with the material, it didnt have much depth, and some of the readings were kind of predictable;  The gospel reading was Prodigal Son.  I know it is an important parable and a good example of God’s unconditional love for us, but recently it seems to have cropped up all over the the place in the various studies I am involved in.   I joked to a friend that I might try and present it from the point of view of the fatted calf as all human angles had been covered multiple times, she told me that she had seen that one done too!

However, I really enjoyed the session on Tuesday evening, and the opportunity to get to  know a little more about the people I will be studying alongside over the coming months.   

This week I have planned my time properly.  I have only two out of the six readings still to do, and will be doing at least one of them when I finish writing this.  The concept of me doing one piece of work each day was never going to happen, I am hopeless at that and always have been.   I have enjoyed the readings, the them this week is Wonder, and we are looking at Creation, and at examples of God’s creative wonders in rest of the Bible.  I have been aware for years that there are two separate creation stories in the Bible, in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, and have read and compared them both over the years.  I had forgotten that the one in Genesis 2 doesnt suggest any time frame for the creation.   I am not a “young earth” creationist.  I struggle with the creation/Adam and Eve/geological evidence/evolution thing.  I didnt in the past, I had decided it was a sort of parable so that the Patriarchs could understand creation.   As I have read more, learnt more, talked about it all more I have started to struggle more.   A couple of weeks ago the Jewish festival of Rosh Hashanah marked the start of Jewish Year 5774, which in Judaism is taken to mean it is 5,774 years since God made Adam and Eve.   I can go with that now, just not the suggestion that everything else was created in the five days previous to that.   I do believe the world is at least millions, perhaps billions, of years old.   And although this isn’t in the coursework until next week, I do believe in The Fall.   My current theory, for what it is worth, is that the world existed for millions of years, but God gave Adam and Eve a soul 5,774 years ago.  Previously the hominids such as Australopithecus and Homo Erectus has been animals, creatures without a soul; no “missing link” because there wasnt one.  Arrived at this theory after discussion with a friend about it a couple of weeks ago – thanks, you know you are.

I digress, one of my particular skills.  Why is this post headed “Getting Choral”?   As part of the work for each day this week we are told to either read aloud or sing a hymn – different one each day.   I felt very very silly reading a hymn out loud in a house which at the time had people in it.  So downloaded the relevant hymns and played them through my headphones, and sang along to them.  Felt much less silly.  However, totally forgot that others in house couldn’t hear the music on my headphones, just me singing, apparently unaccompanied,  very very badly.  I am not clear why we had to sing, all may become apparent on Tuesday evening.  I have checked, we don’t have to sing next week. I hope we dont have to sing again.  

Job appeared again this week, as day 4 reading, chapters 38 to 41.   These chapters really do sum up that God is all powerless and we are totally powerless, a fact I need to be reminded of on a frequent basis.   The first time I looked at Job was when I was reading “The Bible Jesus Read” by Philip Yancey.  Until then I had been unaware that Job was being tested by Satan with God’s agreement, so God could show Satan how faithful and Godly Job was.  And despite everything which happens to him,  Job stays faithful to God.   Not sure I could have done.

If you are reading this, I would love some comments, no-one has left a comment yet 😦

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First week – not up to date :-(

So here I am, Sunday afternoon of the first week.  On the first day of our personal study, aka homework stuff, we were to look at and explore the Bible we would be using for the course.  I have bought the recommended Bible, an NRSV study Bible called “New Interpreters Study Bible”, although when I am reading the passages I will be referring to my Life  Recovery NLT.  I  had already done that but did it again so I could write about it in the handbook.   My main issue is its size, weight, and fineness of the pages, I will struggle with that, particularly taking to the sessions; have decided I will photograph pages I will need in session onto my iPad.   The handbook also suggested we think about other  Bibles, including our first Bible.  I still have my first Bible, it was given to me by my grandpa when I was about 7, a lovely leather bound KJV, with lots of pictures and maps, and gold leaf on the edges of the pages.  It isnt a Bible I have read much, but when I was a child and teen I collected bible book marks, and they are all in this Bible on the right pages.  I have many Bibles, in lots of translations, and also a French Bible, which I cant read well, which was in the family.  I would love, but dont have a copy, an actual Jerome’s Vulgate – I have an electronic copy.  Which brings me to another point.  Reading a real “hard copy” Bible seems strange to me, because now I usually read electronic versions on either iPhone, iPad or iMac, some as some as downloads, sometimes on http://www.biblegateway.com and some on Kindle.  Those of you who know me face to face will know that I often get my phone out to look something up, and I lead Wednesday Worship from my phone, occasionally from iPad.   I love the freedom of having so many versions to hand all the time.  I have already mentioned my fascination with Judaism, and I have an electronic copy of Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB); it isnt very orthodox since it has NT as well as Hebrew Canon!   But I do look at it when I am studying certain passages.

The rest of the week we are looking at the various different types of book in the Bible – poetry, Gospels, letters, history etc,  I am going to be very busy tomorrow 🙂   To be fair to myself, there is a lot going on at present, not least a daughter with a serious foot injury, so my time is filled up easily.  But this is no excuse.  When I have finished this post I will prioritise my time and the things I am down to do this week, and block in time to study.   I am currently glad that I didnt go for the MA, time would have been a nightmare!

I would appreciate your prayers for time and clarity, and for my daughter’s foot.

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Day 1 – before the start of the course

So here I am, start the course this evening, am sort of excited, but worried I wont like it – my preference would have been the MA in Biblical Studies at Manchester Uni, but cant afford either the time or the money.   This course is different from the MA, it will (hopefully) help me apply what I read in Bible to my daily life and faith, as well as helping me understand God better.  

My personal choice of Bible Translation is Life Recovery NLT, but am liking the look of the NRSV Study Bible we will be using on the course, lots of interesting notes in it.   Grabbed on the first page when it suggested that Genesis wasnt given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai, but was compiled from various authors after Moses death.    As you will realise if you know me, or soon learn if you dont know me, I am definitely not a literal Christian who blindly accepts everything in the Bible as literally true.   God gave me (and everyone else) the ability to question.   I have friends with whom I enjoy serious discussion about Bible passages, and I am hoping for more of that from this course.   

I intend to blog once or twice a week, but time will tell.  I also intend to work out how to include links to other peoples blogs which I follow, if you know of any good ones, please let me know.

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