Teaching

GOD THE FATHER OR FAIRY GODMOTHER

(January 15, 2019) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, challenges us to think outside the proverbial box…

‘Happy New Year!’

How often have we said that this year? And we truly hope that all the people to whom we have given this greeting will indeed have a happy year. However we know that for some this year will not be happy. Regardless of how committed to God we may be, the vagaries of life often present us with unwelcome problems, unrelenting sickness, unexpected sorrow or overwhelming disaster and no one is immune from such events.

The reality is that some quite evil people in the world prosper and some truly godly people suffer. So there is no correlation between Godliness and a trouble-free life.

Yet some Christians try to give the impression that everything is always well in their world – and they maintain this façade until some problem is encountered which often causes them to fall apart.  As we live in a fallen world, inevitably we all struggle at some stage with disturbing and destructive experiences regardless committed we may be in our discipleship or how pious we may present ourselves.   Only self-delusion can maintain the myth that all is always well in our world.

Fairy Godmothers aren’t real!
Recently I have been reflecting on two alternative ideas that Christians have concerning God – God the Father or God the Fairy Godmother.  If we think of God as some kind of ‘fairy godmother’ our conception of God will be one in which he always acts by solving all our problems and ensuring that good things always happen to us.

This is not, however, the character of Lord God Almighty who is revealed in the Bible. We know that fairy godmothers are not real! Nor is such a God real!

The book of Job gives us some telling pointers on which we should reflect. (more…)

CHRISTMAS OR CHRISTMYTH

(December 9, 2018) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, once again challenges us to think outside the proverbial box…

I admit it! There is no such word as ‘Christmyth’ in the English dictionary but I have formed it to make a point of contrast.

The word ‘Christmas’ is first found in Old English, in 1038 and was called Cristes Maesse. It referred to the festival that celebrated the coming of Christ into the world. Maesse, which means ‘dismissal’, refers to the sending out of the worshippers who had celebrated the good news of the birth of the Saviour.

I find that to be so appropriate for the message of the Incarnation is one of redemption and hope that Christians need to ‘go and share’ throughout the world.

My ‘made-up’ word ‘Christmyth’ refers to what I see to be the dominant expression of the festival today. A glorious, unrepeatable, rescue event expressing the loving heart of God has been transformed into a happy myth-laden tale with jolly Santas, red-nosed reindeers and fun!

And in so many ways the church has bought into this sanitised and shallow version of the biblical story by placing an emphasis on the sweet baby in a manger, the heavenly choirs and the ‘silent night.’

Don’t misunderstand me. I really am not a Grinch!  I too enjoy the ‘myth.’ At Christmas time it is so good to see the excitement in the eyes of children and the coming together of friends and families and the singing of the old familiar carols. But I sense that along the way we have so developed the ‘myth’ of Christmas that we have sold-out on the essential truth of the event.

Let’s take this further. (more…)

DON’T FORGET TO REMEMBER!

(November 10, 2018) Tomorrow, Sunday, is Remembrance Day and Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, reminds us to remember some important matters we should never forget…

100 years ago, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, World War 1 came to an end following a signing of an armistice between the Allies and Germany. After four and a half years of bitter fighting, which directly involved 32 countries and in which around 100 more participated in that bloody conflict with countless tragedies, peace was finally agreed.

Horrendous destructive trail
The war had lasted for 6 years and was now over. But what a horrendous trail it left in its wake. There was destruction everywhere. The human toll was truly overwhelming. It has been estimated that the total number of military and civilian casualties was around 40 million. Life would never be the same again for countless people whose families were torn apart, whose homes were reduced to ruins and whose countries were almost wiped off the face of the map. Wars had always played a gruesome role in human history but no war had ever before been more devastating than World War 1. It was truly the first global war.

Woodrow Wilson, the United States President at that time described it as ‘The war to end all wars.’ But it wasn’t! Twenty one years later and World War 2 began with even more sophisticated weaponry and once again Germany engaged the Allies and again another horrendous cacophony of hatred, lies, violence, inhumanity and destruction was visited upon the earth. Before it ended, around 80,000,000 people were dead. (more…)

ODD COUPLES!

(October 20, 2018) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, shares…

The 1968 comedy movie, The Odd Couple, starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau centred on two men, Felix and Oscar, who decided to live with each other after their wives left them. Felix was neurotically obsessed with tidiness and cleanliness while Oscar was a messy and quick-tempered layabout. They made an odd couple indeed.

Odd couples come in many shapes and forms!

A real life odd couple is Joelison Fernandes da Silva and Evem Medeiros from Brazil. Joelison is 7 feet 8 inches (2.36 meters) tall and his wife is just 5 foot (1.5 meters).

Joelison said, ‘The day I saw her I think it was love at first sight.’

 

 Six oddly coupled but significant Greek words

Recently as I was reading 1 Thessalonians, I particularly noticed what Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica. He stated that he continually remembered ‘before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:3 RSV).

It struck me as odd, or at least unexpected, that in these three phrases are found words that normally one would not put together, that is… (more…)

‘GOD COULDN’T POSSIBLY FORGIVE ME…’

(September 10, 2018) Dr Jim McClure, straightshooting theologian, shares…

Every now and then I hear these condemning words from a sad, heavy-hearted Christian, ‘I’ve heard that there’s a sin that God can’t forgive… “the unpardonable sin.” I feel, I think I’ve committed it! God couldn’t possibly forgive me…’

What such a tormented person is really thinking in his (or her) troubled mind is this – ‘Is it possible that I committed such a big sin, or so many sins, that I’ve gone beyond the point where I can’t be forgiven, can’t be saved?’

The good news of the gospel
I feel for such people (incidentally some non-Christians also often believe their sins are too great to be forgiven!). And if they’d share with me I hasten to point out that the gospel – the good news – of Christ is that our sin, whatever they are or how big or many, cannot exceed the love, grace and mercy of God. (more…)

THE KING IS COMING, BUT…

(August 29, 2018) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, shares…

‘Whenever I ask anyone about Jesus’ second coming, I seem to be given an answer that differs from other answers I’ve received from others.’

So wrote a concerned reader, adding, ‘Can you please give me an easy answer to my question: What can we know for sure about the return of Jesus?’

Easy answers can be suspect!
I wish I could give an easy answer to your question… but, like many things theological, an easy answer is often suspect!

The problem is that in the Bible God reveals to us many things that are not easy to grasp but he nevertheless wants us to be aware of them.  To help us he uses what theologians call ‘language of accommodation‘ – that is – terminology with which we are familiar to give us some insight into things that are unfamiliar.

The matter raised by this perturbed reader is in the area of eschatology, or concerning the doctrine of ‘last things.’ With reference to the return of Jesus Christ…

  • We know generally what is going to happen but –
  • We do not know precisely how it is going to happen.

(more…)

‘AND THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT …’?

(July 24, 2018) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, brings another wake-up call…

Recently I watched Britain’s Got Talent.  The act that won was of a ‘comedian’ whose whole routine was about his homosexuality. The judges thought it was hilarious! The audience stood and applauded! And the voting public declared him the winner! (In another performance a man demonstrated his ‘skill’ by removing his clothes in a provocative way.) The show was concluded by a female guest singer who sang about wanting to kiss girls.

Another popular singer, Ariana Grande, has a new sexually explicit song on the market called God is a Woman. Some of the lyrics are a mockery of Christianity, such as, ‘Baby, lay me down and let’s pray’, ‘So, baby, take my hand, save your soul’ and ‘And boy, if you confess, you might get blessed.’ In her music video of the song Ezekiel 25:17 is misquoted. And Grande is portrayed in a flesh-coloured body suit with multiple breasts at which men suckle.

Disrespect for spiritual beliefs and standards
Sadly in recent years we have seen a disintegration of social principles and disrespect for spiritual beliefs and standards that have established a sound foundation for many nations for hundreds of years (more…)

‘LAUREL OR YANNI’ – A THEOLOGICAL CHALLENGE?

(June 10, 2018) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, brings a topical wake-up challenge…

Imagine that you are returning home late one night. As you pass your neighbour’s house, you see that it is on fire. You are really very fond of those neighbours whom you consider as very close friends. They have two bright, friendly little children who are like family to you. Obviously those neighbours are fast asleep in their comfortable beds and are unaware that they are in such danger.

You are confronted with a problem – what do you do? You have two choices. Should you let them sleep and not disturb their comfort, or should you race towards the house yelling to awaken them and warning them of their danger even though their comfort will be disturbed?

What is the loving thing to do? What is the right thing to do?

Laurel v Yanni
Over the past few weeks there has been an audio clip on the internet that we could describe as the ‘Laurel v Yanni’ argument. Apparently while listening to this audio clip some people clearly hear the word ‘Laurel’ while others clearly hear the word ‘Yanni.’ (more…)

GOD WANTS YOU TO BE RICH – REALLY?

(May 8, 2018) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, openly shares from his heart…

Recently I received a blog from an Indian friend who is pastoring in India: a young man whom I taught for a short time in a Bible college in Tamil Nadu. He was very committed in his Christian faith and very passionate in sharing the gospel.

However, his most recent blog troubled me. It was titled, ‘God wants you to be rich!

The following is part of what he wrote:
Yes, God wants us to be rich. We all know and believe that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, died on the cross to buy our salvation, healing, blessings and deliverance; but I want you to know on the same cross Jesus also died to make us rich.

‘You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich’ (2 Corinthians 8:9 NKJV). (more…)

IF OR BUT – CONSEQUENCES AND CONTRASTS

(April 17, 2018) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, reflects…

In English there are some words that sound very impressive, such as iridescent, ethereal, serendipity, ineffable, and so on. On the other hand there are some words that sound pathetically unimpressive.

However some of those unimpressively sounding words are supercharged with significance… such as if or but. It’s hard to imagine anything less impressive than those two common little words.

Nevertheless they lie at the heart of the most marvellous of all Christian truths – the resurrection of Jesus that millions of people around the world joyfully celebrated earlier this month.

But did the resurrection of Christ really happen?
Is the recently celebrated Easter story just a fascinating tale? Can we really believe that a brutally executed man came alive again three days later?

It does seem to stretch the bounds of credibility and, as atheism is embraced by more and more people today, many dismiss the reality of that event and believe that it should be classified as a fairy tale.

Recently I read these words by a Californian college professor of sociology and secular: ‘The world is better off when supernatural tales lacking evidence fade, especially when these tales teach that all humans are evil and rotten and in desperate need of salvation which can only come about through the brutal torture, murder, and resurrection of the son of a magical deity. As for the death and resurrection of Jesus, well, fewer and fewer people are buying that old tale. Increasing numbers of men and women in formerly Christian societies are losing their faith.’

This professor is right in one sense – individuals and Christian societies are losing faith in that story. And many just cannot give any credibility to the fact of a man coming alive again three days after he had died. (more…)