Submitting

End of the 1745 rebellion
Wikipedia commons

A book I am currently reading, is set in the time of one of the ‘Highland Clearances’.

In the aftermath of the battle of Culloden, the author has the entire family of the protagonist slaughtered. The father and brothers in the battle; the mother, wife and children in acts of retribution against ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’s’ followers.

The protagonist is imprisoned and then sent to ‘the colonies’ as a slave. He, who had been a church-going man, now hated God, blaming Him for the loss of his entire family and homeland. (Scots are, or were, incredibly – even fiercely patriotic.)

Conversely, I have recently listened to a sermon on ‘submitting’.

Submit therefore to God….
James 4: 7a

And be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
Ephesians 5: 21

Bless those who persecute you, bless and curse not.
Romans 12: 14

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will reply, says the Lord”.
Romans 12: 19

These, and many other scriptures tell Christians that, unless those in authority over us tell us to do something that breaks God’s law, we are to obey.Obey wordart

Obey, is a hard word these days. It flies in the face of the culture of the world we live in, where everyone has ‘rights’ (except, it seems Christians).

The first scripture I quoted was the instruction to submit to God. In fact, all through the Bible there are instructions about submitting… some stating that we are to submit to those in authority over us, as to Christ.

The sermon I heard stated, ‘The Christian chooses to suffer evil, rather than do evil.’ Mmm.

Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation on themselves. Romans 13: 1, 2

Corruption cartoon
Whistleblowersecurity.com

In these days, where in most of our countries, we can see the corruption in our governments, and governing authorities, it would be easy to think ‘well they don’t deserve my submission/cooperation.’

That is not a ‘new’ thing. In my research for Hold the Faith and Grow in Grace, I learned much about our first century Christian forebears. They certainly had to submit to some very ungodly men. Some chose to die, rather than ‘recant’ their beliefs. As yet, we are not in that position, but we are expected to obey, to submit to laws that do not contradict the law of God.

Notice Romans 13: 1 again. “For there is no authority except from God, and those which are established by God.”

Life's not fair, God isTherefore obedience (or submission) is an act of faith. King David is an excellent example of this faith and trust. A prayerful read of the Psalms will make this very clear.

In the New Testament, a look at the life of the Apostle Paul will demonstrate that the Christian life is no ‘easy’ walk to the Kingdom. It is trusting God that He is in charge of all circumstances in our lives..

No wonder the Christian life is spoke of as a ‘high calling’. (Philippians 3:14)

All the more reason to be very grateful for the grace of God, without it we would never reach the goal that the Apostle Paul spoke about.

I wonder if the author of the book I am reading will bring her protagonist to that realization.

Considering many things

Susan

Hold the Faith, purpose re-visited

Greetings!

With all the ‘holes’ I have stumbled into lately, I have neglected to keep this blog up to date. Please accept my apologies.

Additionally, the posts that I have written this year were more on the subject of grief, and coping, whereas the original intention of this blog was to share some interesting, and sometimes quirky, discoveries while researching the book series. (Apologies to any ‘grammar police’ out there, for that long, complex sentence.)

My experiences though, give me a deeper understanding of the lives lived by our forerunners in the faith. How did they cope with the stresses and griefs? They didn’t have psychologists, medication, and the string of support professionals that seem to be available today.

family membersWhat they did have was FAMILY, and where there was no family, the early church was the family. Remember, many of the first Christians had left blood kin, to follow this ‘new’ faith… and were persecuted for their foolish decision.

In our times there are more ‘nuclear families’ or single parent families; most operating without the backup of extended family. During the time setting of the Apostle John series of books, Hold the Faith being the first, the fledgling church was the family.

~~~

So, a reminder about the basic reason for this blog… with updates.

http://tinyurl.com/cm8efvyHold the Faith is the first in a series of novels and, so far, the only one published. 

·

 

·

 

 

update sign

Book 2 in the series, Grow in Grace,  is also  published. Grow in Grace, cover image

·

·

By the late first century AD Christianity had spread throughout the Roman empire. The book series finds the Apostle John living and working in Ephesus and, in the first book, travelling around the churches in what was then called Asia Minor.

christiancommunities

History is available about this 1st century period of Christianity, some, unfortunately, is contradictory.

Ancient sandals
Bible History online

Trying to ‘walk in the shoes’ of my Christian ancestors has been illuminating, to say the least. As far as possible, I have used words appropriate to their time. This has limited the vocabulary used, but so also has the fact the gospel of John was written in Greek which has made direct translation difficult. (No, I don’t read Greek. I still remember some of the alphabet letters though, and recognise a few words from the one attempt I made to learn.)

I have chosen to go with the Bible as a guide, where facts are documented.

The apostle John, has a well documented ‘history’, and many traditions associated with his latter years. Although he travels around the churches in this book, amusing though it is, I have not included the ‘tale’ of him ordering the bedbugs out, and that they asked permission to return to their home in the morning. One tale that is included, briefly, is the one about the apostle leaving the bathhouse because Cerinthus was there.

In this series of books, I have ‘given’ the apostle a family, and followed the tradition that places him in Ephesus. He, his family, and the brethren are shown keeping the Sabbath and God’s Holy Days because until times and seasons were changed, this is how these first Christians, described in the Bible as followers of the Way, lived.

You are welcome to explore my website at http://holdthefaith.net

Shalom,

Susan

ALL things work together…

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. (John 9: 1 -3)

Recently someone said to me that it had taken a while to accept the death of a loved one… that it had been an opportunity for God to glorify Himself in healing the person.

Before I put the conclusion my friend came to… please let me share some thoughts.

  • One… only the wife and hospital doctors knew how ill this man was. To other people, he chose not to complain, nor even to admit just how much of a struggle it was for him to make it through the days.

So – no obvious evidence of a miracle would be apparent.

  • Two… Both the man and his wife firmly believed that God is in charge of ALL things.

Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible. And it doesn’t say ‘all good things’ it says ‘all things”

  • Third… the death of that man caused at least his wife to consider his life, his witness, and maybe other people too. It is to be hoped that those memories are good ones.

Question mark imageA question…

As we journey through this life, do we consider that ALL things that work together for good, also means the trials, the heartaches, and the disappointments?

What about when you pray and agonise over wanting someone as a wife (as Benjamin did in Hold the Faith) – can we accept that God has another plan in mind?

What about when your child dies? (I can speak from experience here.) Can we accept that God has a purpose in that, even if we don’t see it?

What about losing a job, losing a home… losing a dear friend?Image of man holding head

There are so many ‘losses’ that are devastating to the person suffering it/them. Sometimes it is overwhelming and hard to see light at the end of the tunnel.

That’s when trust needs to kick in. Do I trust God in this? Do I believe He will bring me through this safely?

The friend, after much meditation, concluded that the death of that person was a gift. Something the wife of the person who died, also had come to see. She had considered her husband’s ways, and saw he was a godly product.

So, why did God not answer the prayers of the many people who interceded for him?

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13: 8

There is logic then in believing the death of the man would ‘work together for good’ in the people who loved him. Just as the Bible quote at the start says. I see it as the same principle. I don’t know that it glorified God… but I do know that it was God’s purpose.

Thinking on these things

Susan

Self-pity? No. Sadness? Yes.

This post is inspired by a couple of recent comments…

“Good to see you are looking forward and being positive Susan.” And another like it… “… you are not wallowing in self-pity.” (The latter came at the end of a very positive assessment of where I am.)

The other night, I did not feel so positive.

Busy bee cartoonFor some reason, evenings, and the ‘can’t-get-to-sleep’ times are the worst. Between memories, recriminations, and a very over-active mind, sleep is frequently driven away.

·

So there I was the other evening, trying to watch TV… not something Geoff and I were ever much interested in. Sorry to my American friends, but we have so many of your shows in the early evening that are either, rude, crude or violent… hmm, or a mixture of all. Therefore we didn’t watch much TV. Nowadays, sometimes I need to hear voices, so have looked at some selected programmes.

One evening I was staring at something not too bad on the screen, and awareness flowed over me. No one to talk about it to. (I have basically survived the no ‘good-mornings’ because most mornings my daughter texts me to say it.)

For a moment, (the thought did not come to birth), but it was forming in my mind. I won’t say it, but I will give you a hint… looking forward to this loneliness being over.

Gladius sword and text

God gives life, and He has blessed me with more time to grow in His image.

I remembered a man on my prayer list a long time ago, who wanted to die because he was lost in the desert of life without his wife of many years. I didn’t know what he felt like then… I do now.

However, in this time, God is blessing me with many opportunities to know Him better, to study the life His Son led, and which we are to follow, as well as to be totally reliant on Him. Yes, other people contact me, support and encourage me, but they cannot be with me twenty-four hours a day. God not only can, He does.Psalm 119, photo canvas

Sometimes I forget that, then someone will ring, send a card, text or email, and it cuts through the
sadness. If not, it is often in the Bible… or the text on the photo-canvas on the wall,

… or on the cushion, that travelled with us from the Feast last year, to Edinburgh, then home… and sits in a ‘cushion box’ staring at me.

Psalm 46When I look at it I smile.

Be still and know
Psalm 46:10

·

I smile for the reminder of Who is in charge

I smile at the memory of the young couple who gave us it

I smile at the memory of coming from the Edinburgh hospital, back to the flat and seeing it sitting on the bed… and I guess it also brings tears.

Then I can look at the photo-canvas with the scripture…

Your word is a lamp to my feet…
Psalm 119: 105

… and smile again, at the scripture, the photo, and thoughts of the special person who sent it.

encouragement

·

To everyone who has supported, encouraged and prayed for me… thank you so much. You have no idea how important encouragement is.

 

I am trying to be more aware of giving it, generally. It’s easy to encourage friends and family. Outside that circle there are a lot of lonely people, who very much need to be cheered. Smile at someone in the shopping centre. Most times you will see a smile break out on that person’s face. So many people are in the midst of a difficult journey.

Or stand back and let the person in a rush, go first.

Just thinking

Susan

PS … the sword image is a Gladius, a weapon of the Roman soldiers… the type used in book 2 of the Apostle John series, Grow in Grace.