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by Matt Parkins, 15 years ago (17.21 on Wednesday, 20th of November, 2002) |  permalink  |  Comments?
Counterfeit God
by Matt Parkins, 15 years ago (16.31 on Wednesday, 20th of November, 2002) |  permalink  |  Comments?

Counterfeit God

Big Brother starts tonight according to the bbc... hurrah! I've heard quite a few people diss it from a 'should christians really be watching big brother?' point of view, but all the arguments I've heard usually make me chuckle.

Actually, that's one of the things that used to annoy me as a kid. All those questions of christian policy: "How much should a christian drink?" "How far is too far?" It was always based on someone's opinions, as a child I could be pursuaded by the tone of voice used to explain and the mere combination/type of word used to push one side of the argument. I love the fact that the bible indicates no policy or rule on most things, as the bible is a beautiful slice of God character.

It's funny how things don't change - people just introduce complexity - sounding like geniuses I do wonder if they're way off the mark. Like, I've read quite a bit of Grudem (an evangelical theologan), and read lots of CS Lewis, and one day I'll get around to reading Berkof (another evangelical theologan, however you spell his name), and the fundamentals are of course correct, but sometimes I do wonder if these people are at all for real. It feels like they're trying to create a philosophy rather than trying to understand who God is - something that can only be understood through revelation of the Holy Spirit. One of the things I have a habit of saying is "always write your theology in pencil", they're wise words that unfortunately I did not pen (meaning that you should be ready to edit them!). So over time I, like most analysts and theologans, try and create in our minds a philosophy of 'the way it is' kinda thing (if that makes any sense), and I've found that if you don't write your theology in pencil when confronted with truth you insist it is not. However there are only a certain number of times you'll rewrite a fragment of your philosophy before you define it in a looser sense so that it doesn't break as easily - consider the difference between a bamboo pole and a bone china one perhaps.

So after a decade of constructing, reconstructing and deconstructing fragments and linkage of my internal philosophy I've come to realise that it's mostly meaningless drivel. Worse than that, it's a time-consuming mind-diverting puffing up of hot air. Laurence Keith summed it up well on Sunday when he said, and I paraphrase, that 'most evangelical theology is like a fairy story you tell your kids'. For me, I would say that it's counterfeit God - it looks like God, you spend time thinking about God and our relationship with Him, but it isn't. It's knowledge, not love. It's theory not revelation.

And frankly, I've had enough of it.

Who do you say I am? A question that only your relationship with Him and all that you've been through with Him can answer.

Interesting concept
by Matt Parkins, 15 years ago (11.03 on Monday, 18th of November, 2002) |  permalink  |  Comments?

Interesting concept

I just got a mail from someone here at work, this is quite an interesting idea..:@)

I suppose some degree of commerce would grind to a halt if telephone solicitors weren't able to call people at home during the dinner hour. But that doesn't make it any more pleasant. Now Steve Rubenstein, a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, has proposed "Three Little Words" based on his brief experience in a telemarketing operation that would stop the nuisance for all time.

The three little words are "Hold on, please." Saying this while putting down your phone and walking off instead of hanging up immediately would make each Telemarketing call so time consuming those boiler rooms would grind to a halt. When you eventually hear the phone company's beep beep beep tone, you know it's time to go back and hang up your handset, which has efficiently completed its task. This might be one of those articles you'll want to e-mail to your friends.

When you get ads in your phone or utility bill, include them with the payment. Let them throw the stuff away. Think globally; act locally.

When you get those pre-approved letters in the mail for everything from credit cards to 2nd mortgages and junk like that, most of them come with postage paid return envelopes, right? Well, why not get rid of some of your other junk mail and put it in these cool little envelopes! Send an ad for your local chimney cleaner to American Express, or a pizza coupon to Citibank.

If you didn't get anything else that day, then just send them their application back! Just make sure your name isn't on anything you send them. You can send it back empty if you want, just to keep 'em guessing!

It's a larf isn't it?

reStart
by Matt Parkins, 15 years ago (11.06 on Wednesday, 13th of November, 2002) |  permalink  |  Comments?

reStart

I thought that I would start a new blog, since the old one kind of just faded to grey (or something). My last post was back in March, about faith. Since then we've (St. Toms) begun to learnt a lot about faith - funny that I started to go through all this faith stuff and then the church starts going through it. I'm not sure I'd agree with my Faith posts below anymore, at least not 100%, there's way too much old school/law based understanding of faith in there really. Feel like we're coming at it from a different angle now. But I won't bore you with details.

Anyway, I've been married very nearly a year now, and it's great. Lots of poeple told us that the first year would be the hardest, and while I don't have any other years to compare it to, we've actually found the first year to be really great and lots of fun. Not without it's hard times, but definately lots of good times.

I hope to post more often over the coming weeks..

Here are the old posts (from maffyblog)..

Holiday

I'm on Holiday for the next 10 days, back on the 7th of April, so I won't be able to blog again until then.

But let me leave you with a thought..

Faith II

I thought that I should briefly expand the stuff below (Faith is spelt n.o.r.i.s.k.), to include Luke 11. In Luke 11 Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray. He goes on to say in verse 9 "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.". Felt like mentioning that it's not just about hearing and seeking God's will, but often God gives you a choice, saying that there are a set of wrong decisions, and a set of right decisions, because I'm convinced that there's both times when you have a set of right and wrong decisions, and times when there's just one right decision.

There's so much more freedom than I personally used to live in years ago, I don't have to seek God's will for hours on end, yes I need to make myself available, give God the time, space and oppportunity to speak into my life, but the reality of decisions is usually about Collosians 3v15 "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts", literally, let the peace of God referee in your heart. Let the peace of God call 'offside' and 'foul' when you're going in the wrong direction, etc. It's my experience that when life presents you with a decision there are any number of right and wrong moves, and the options you have (based on the character that God has made you so far, along with what you percieve to be correct via God's word, and the peace of God), may still leave you with many alternatives that God is happy with you choosing. Why? Because he already knows what you're going to choose and has planned ahead for it, so, so long as you do pick one of the options that God is happy with, you can't go wrong.

Sometimes, but this is by no means usually the default, there's only one right option. At that point the decision is obvious. It feels like a lot of Christians, including me in the past, try to get to the place where's there's only one right decision every time they're faced with a non-trivial question. Freedom man!

I've forgotton where I'm going with this. erm. I'm late for going out tonight.. see ya in 10 days..

You muppet

I'm Fozzie bear! http://www.geraldfield.com/cgi-bin/unofficial/quizzes/sfesurvey.cgi?whatmuppetareyou Who are you ?


PigsNever teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.


Faith is spelt n.o.r.i.s.k.

There's a summary at the bottom if you can't be bothered to read all this.. :@)

I've been thinking about that thing that people often quote when talking about faith, "Faith is spelt R.I.S.K." The more I think about this, the more evidence I gain for a supposition that this really couldn't be further from the truth. The actual dictionary definition of the word faith varies considerably through the 8 dictionaries I've looked it up in - most talking about loyalty to, reliance upon, though one spoke about a belief founded without evidence. Cheeky mong. Along with other untruths like faith being having something to do with a mental assent of some kind. For the purpose of this ramble, I'll define faith as 'reliance upon' and 'loyalty to'.

Faith, according to Romans 10, comes from hearing the word of Christ*. The kingdom offers to break in - it's just a question of submission from here on in. You hear the word of Christ, (either through the bible, or through friends/family, or direct to you as a sense (through all your filters, experiences, nature and language, etc., blah blah blah), or observation of his work around you, etc.), where was I? oh yeah, you hear the word of Christ and according to Hebrews 11 it takes one of two formats.

The word either

- gives you insight into Gods will, or

- gives you insight into reality through God's eyes.

Either case is a message of truth: hard, solid, reality - more real than the world you see around you, and quite frankly, more reliable than the world around you. A simple, typical example is the faith I have that I am fully accepted, (because Christ says I am accepted) where the world would say you need to be xyz to be accepted and belong. Perhaps it's about the future, and God gives you insight into his will. Here God is offering you something, just like personal vision/prophesy it's offered rather than ordained (nice alliteration me) - it's more about submitting to his will/accepting his plan than it is anything else.

In the second format, God gives you insight into the way it actually is as he sees it. I hate it when people, even in a non-patronisting way, say "You're beautiful in God's eyes". The last 3 words in that sentence, "in God's eyes", are redundant and indicative of where that person is - keeping the way that God sees things out of reality, when actually, the way that God sees things _is_ reality - if our perception of reality differs from God's perception of reality we decieve ourselves or call God a liar. Obviously Christ has taken the punishment for our incorrect perceptions but when God does give us his insight he also challenges us to submit our perceptions, and where they came from, to Him.

When God gives us insight into his perception of reality, you'd be daft not put your reliance and loyalty, your action, your faith, upon it - put another way, you'd be taking a risk if you put your faith in your own perception and not in God's insight. Faith is spelt n.o.r.i.s.k. 2 Corinthians 5v17. When you don't submit to the challenge that God's insight brings, perhaps the word falling on deaf ears, or just plain not accepting it, then you don't hear the word (listen and take on board), so that word cannot bring faith.

So what about the first format, when God gives you insight into his will? (When God gives us an insight that what we hope for is in tune, or needs to be in tune with his will). When God gives you insight into his will, it's a vision, in fact, I would put personal prophesy here too - they're all the same thing: The revelation of God's will, and if you submit to it, it'll happen. God offers you something, it is his will to give it to you, so if you adopt this insight/submit to his will, (which means that you of course act upon it) then God will give it/do it. Which is probably the standard understanding of faith, but I'm not sure people see vision and personal prophesy in the same way: They're offered to you, it doesn't have to happen, and without you acting upon it, without faith, it (probably) won't happen. eg: It is God's will that all be saved*. 1 Timothy 2v3-4.

The only risk that appears is where you get the word from/the accuracy of the word, and that is the primary form of attack from the devil - we know this because it literally was the first form of attack from the devil in the garden of eden. "Did God really say...?" which also often reappears as "maybe I made that up - perhaps I shouldn't eat tabacco for breakfast", etc. Now, if the word comes from the the bible and is specific to a situation you can be 100% sure of it's accuracy "Don't kill people" being an adequate example. But when you're thinking about specific situations that aren't covered by the bible, it becomes increasingly hard to guarentee the sender of the word, and increases the opportunity for flakeyisms - seeing meaning in a lightbulb flicker for example. My personal opinion is that if you put your faith in a word that you're not 100% sure is from God you also need to put your faith in the sovereignty of God - that he's in charge even when you get it wrong, that he foresaw it.

Besides. What do you have to lose ? What is there to risk ? Surely God owns everything, including your life. In the same way that he gave it to you he can take it away again, and then regive it if he so chooses. There are no risks with God - he's too far ahead in the game. Never play chess against God either. Erm..

I've rambled for far too long now. Summary: The way God percieves reality, is reality. Faith comes by receiving God's insight into reality or his will. That insight brings a challenge to submit, and our submission to his insight/to him lets him change us, our perception and even allow him to carry out his will in our lives.

I hope you're not sleeping already. :@)

*(c)2002 Parkins paraphrased and quite possibly heretical translation of the NIV.


Insert witty and ironic (if I can manage it) title here

I can't believe it. The course has (finally) finished... phew and zzzzzz. Still, at least Man U are through to the quarter finals of the champions league. At least IFK Zippy (my team) are through to the semi-final of the sdfpl cup, the final is to be played at bramall lane, (lets hope we get there). At least I still have my health. :@) We have a league match coming up on Saturday, I'm not convinced we're fully focussed on the league anymore, I think the cup has unintentionally become the focus of the players.

Last saturday we got into the semi-finals and there were plenty of destructive events in that game that we won, including a sending off of one of their players. Had a real sense that where in the past the christians in the team have merely not masked their identity (who we are and what we're about), perhaps now it may be time to project/promote that identity ? We have an opportunity (why Saturday was out of line) to press in to our own players what we're about.

Not that being passive in the past wasn't right, it's a seasons thing, but the sense I get, which is shared by the other christians in the team is that now is the season to project/promote, to be on the offensive rather than passive now that the ground favours us. Besides, humanly speaking, strategically it's a great time to press in - if someone feels awkward with all this God stuff being pushed and projected (by individual Christians 1 to 1, rather than front led of course), they’re not going to leave with the semi-final at Owlerton and the possibility of Bramall lane around the corner.

Not that we should base any thinking on human sight of course, but that feels like the grace we need to help us project/promote our identity, relationship and faith in God, (and if it is the grace we need, then we know this is God's will). An offensive of the kingdom. Come on!


Bloating inert mass

Just started a 3 day course at work on Maya (a 3d art package). So far it's all been front led lectures and it really is killing me - there's a lot to be said for information after experience, you're a lot more hungry for it. Right now I'm working out where all this information fits, so it's all a lofty intellectual mass which is probably going to join the rest of the inert mass of knowledge and understanding that hides away inside puffing me up. If I was a computer, and this course was software, it would be labelled 'bloatware': software that bloats.

That reminds me of how it's easy talk or introvertly contemplate lofty intellectual concepts. If it's not birthed from experience, whether good or bad, or confusing experience (or similar/scaled up/extensible experience), I wonder how much can be taken on: If there isn't somewhere to put this knowledge then it puffs me up. Speaking straight from the head is my number one way of failing to speak the truth in love. The head cannot live without the heart. If I have not love I am only a resounding gong.

Hmm... I'm sure I could ramble on down this line for a lot longer than anyone has patience for..

Monday

It's monday again, it comes way too soon. Still, as watchman nee said, 'Anything that increases your prayer life is a good thing'. I'm still not entirely sure that's right, but it helps on mondays.

Busy

I'm well busy this week in preperation for the weekend away. I'm leading worship a few times and speaking (though not at the same time), so that'll be fun, but until next week I'm preparing so I don't have enough time to blog, see ya Monday.. :@)


Implosion warning.

Made it. Though my brain is about to implode. 64 hours time it all starts again, except it's worse because it's a monday. How does that work ? Perhaps I should have Monday's off ? Perhaps we could just have 6 day weeks? Or 3 day weekends.. Mmmm.

Really being stretched on the whole "I'm being asked to do something but I don't have the skill to do it, but I have to do it because my heavenly dad says I should". I'm up for it. Just not capable of it. Now I know everyone goes through this, and to watch people go through something that you percieve they can obviously do, but they don't share that same belief is somewhat tedious, and generally they just need some encouragement and confidence, but this isn't a call up that can be solved by mere confidence, but by an increase of skill.

But really there are 2 issues going on when in comes down to skill. First, how am I to measure success? Do I define success in earthly terms, or am I looking through God's eyes on this one ? What does God consider to be success and failure here? Not in terms of 'meaning well' or 'every attempt is successful in the eyes of God' or anything as twee. More in terms of what criteria is God using to define success? If my criteria for success differ from God's criteria then I'm running in the wrong direction (since 'success criteria' inevitably becomes vision).

The other thing is that I have to do things perfectly. It has to be ee e e eee e e perfect. Rubbish song. I do have to do things perfectly, and the thought of being seen to do something less that such is more than a little scary, but totally in line with one (of the many) things that God has been teaching me on yet another deeper, yet another onion skin, level. Maybe one day it'll go right in? I'll explain this another day I'm sure..

Fridays..

Brain dead and 8 hours of work to go. Friday's are never pretty..


Old and new

Monday night was interesting. I have a few medals and a trophy from Go-Karting, and one or two other 1st or 2nd place things. One of them I kept on top of a wardrobe, but on Monday Jo, my wife, knocked it off and it broke. I was a annoyed about that, and I think that showed up something unhealthy. It showed some insecurity - almost like there was value in the way that other people saw me, and one way to prove it were medals and a trophy. The tarnishing of these felt like the tarnishing of peoples perception of me - and the thought that I was protective of that, even subconciously, is definately not a good thing! I Felt like God was suggesting getting rid of them, that it'd be helpful for me and my security.

I'm glad it highlighted the issue though.

Perhaps I should mention who I am.. well, my name is Matt Parkins, and I'm from Sheffield, UK. I write computer games for a living, and I'm working on a sequal to a very well known racing game. When I'm not doing that I can be found either at the table football table we have here, or staring into the distance (silently praying, contemplating, and practicing the presence of God).. anyway..


First Contact

maffyblog@lightstorm.st

This is my first blog, nice.. I'm planning on just spewing here whatever I think God is teaching me (the Christian God that is! My Heavenly daddy, Jesus and the Holy Spirit). I can't imagine that many people would agree that my heavenly dad is personal and talks to people 24.7, nevermind actually agree with the content I'm likely to blog on about. But that's irrelavant because it would appear that western culture has drifted into relativism, so that being the case, this blog is my story.

Feeling Crap?

There’s a very real difference between feeling crap for a period and living a life of low self-esteem: one is circumstantial, the other a ‘natural’ state. One is a holiday into negativity and introspection, (though usage of the word ‘holiday’ is probably not apt), the other a reality from which you may escape only occasionally. The primary intended recipients of this article are from the latter category: people who consistently have low self-esteem. Losers, nothings, zeroes, nulls, idiots, worthless, unlovable, undesirable, unwantable, failure and anything else you may have called yourself – this is about you, written by someone who thought as you do.

When I was a teenager I heard a preacher, and many other people at the time, say "In front of God we are nothing". An easy teaching to accept, and probably an even easier teaching to give, it describes a comparison of value between the created and the creator. I imagine it rolled off the tongue with little thought beyond the assumption of creator being greater than creation, and yet I took this to be truth. That comparison became one of many foundations in my life – all teaching I heard was subject to the foundational truths that I believed: any teaching that contradicted would, naturally, be discarded. I had originally believed that we had value, finite value, and that God had infinite value. Now I had to believe that we were nothing and at the time it did not contradict the truths I believed: The difference between finite and infinite is the same as the difference between zero and infinite – an infinite difference. So I accepted this teaching as truth – it solidified the natural low self-esteem, giving justification and a Christian backing for its existence. In front of God we are not nothing. The teaching I accepted was a lie: the ‘truth’ was false. I say that now to avoid confusion and to make my intent clear.

With all this talk of truth we should establish a definition. There are two types of truth: absolute truth and relative truth. If I have ten pounds in my hand, the absolute truth is that I have ten pounds in my hand. The relative truth is that I have a small amount of money in my hand. Why? The way I have been nurtured by my environment, mixed with my natural character makeup brings me to believe that ten pounds is a small amount of money. It's subjective – to other people, a child for instance, ten pounds is quite a lot of money. Relative truth is truth that is local to you. Some people may agree, others will not.

So why is truth relative? Actually, truth is not relative, rather, truth is relative when you do not know all the variables involved. If we knew (and understood) everything, then, assuming we didn’t lie, we could speak from a position of authority and accuracy: Truth is only relative if you do not know and understand everything. Humans do not know and understand everything. We never will. There’s an infinite or ridiculous amount of data to know and understand in this existence – a single human will never capture that much data. When talking about the 10 pounds in my pocket, there is not that much data to know and understand – a simple concept, a simple truth. But when talking about opinions and value the amount of information to know and understand is quite a sum. God knows and understands everything. Therefore, if your truth is different to God’s truth it is because you either do not know and understand all the variables related to this truth, or you choose not to believe the absolute truth: If your relative truth differs from God’s absolute truth, you deceive yourself.

Therefore your opinion of yourself is a relative truth. You couldn’t possibly know and understand all the variables involved in your value. Your relative truth also differs from God's absolute truth in this case, you deceive yourself because God does think that you have value. Allow me to explain. How much value would Christ die on the cross for? How much would He have to value someone to be spent for them? If I am nothing, Christ died for nothing.. literally. We know that Christ did not die for nothing as God would not call His own son to die for nothing – he would have to be seriously ill-informed to allow that to happen. In fact, as any parent knows, faced with a decision of sending their own child to the grave, you would generally spend time over the decision and try to know and understand all the data there is to be obtained. God, knowing and understanding everything, in a perfect place to make an informed decision, would not call His son to die for nothing. The absolute truth is that you have value, value that is equal to that of Christ's life, death and ressurection. If you truly believe that you are nothing then your relative truth differs from God’s absolute truth and you deceive yourself or you label God a liar – do that at your own risk.

Now that we have established that your value is greater than nothing the question arises "Just how much am I worth?". For this, let us first establish how much God is worth. He created life, the universe and everything. The bible speaks continually of His worthiness – a supreme and almighty King – God has infinite value. This God, whose thoughts are absolute truth, considers you worth dying for in the cruelest way, worth being tortured for, worth spending 33 years on Earth being hated and rejected. Consider Him, and all the things he did for you. Now consider whether you would do this for someone you loved – how much would you have to love them, how much value would they have to have for you to do this for them? Now consider how much value you have for Almighty God to do this for you. You are something that God does not want to lose – He is prepared to do almost anything to keep you.

Whether you accept His sacrifice or not makes little difference. It doesn't matter if you're a Christian or not – that is a decision you have made after Christ has died for you. So just how much are you worth? No matter what you believe, the absolute truth is this: You are precious.


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