ZERO (Day 365 the last day of 2014, 100% complete)

All year I have been struggling with balancing my normal routine life with my commitment to read the entire Bible for the first time in my life. It has been a difficult challenge and I wish I could say that God spoke to me with his big booming “God” voice and made me feel all warm and squidgy.

But he didn’t. I need to look elsewhere.

So what have I learnt, in brief?

The Old Testament is not a series of chronological descriptions of prophets having conversations with the Almighty. It is a series of events in more or less chronological order, but then continuing with the Lord speaking to the prophets about what Israel is doing wrong.

It is hard NOT to draw parallels with modern-day Israel and the politics of the Middle East. Some people might say that Israel is still doing wrong and will be duly punished. But there are some in Israel itself who are struggling to make their voice of compassion and equality heard. Time will tell if they manage to succeed. Peace is still a long way off, but if everyone on all sides could agree on a compromise, then life would improve for all.

The New Testament contains some challenging words from Paul and the other epistle writers. It is difficult to follow their instructions sometimes. Many of the things they wrote about are directly opposite to our modern way of thinking.

As the Church of England chose its first female Bishop, one can only imagine the horror that Paul would feel. Or would he? If he were alive today, would he think more like us? In a way it is not even a question. We cannot change what’s in the Bible just because we don’t like it. Picking specific passages to support our arguments is very thin ice, theologically.

Much safer to say what I liked most. I have enjoyed Zachariah, which I didn’t quote because I’d already decided to just concentrate on Revelation in December. There were many connections with the Easter story. Life from death. Easter: a time of re-birth and renewal. A time of starting afresh. A sort of spiritual Happy New Year. And perhaps that’s God’s message to me? A Happy New Year!

Which brings me to the final quote. Thank you for reading, I hope you found some of it interesting. God bless you.

“He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon!’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.” [Revelation 22:20-21 NLT]

Day 112

““But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers.” (Luke 21:12 NLT)

Jesus is talking about the End of Days. When judgement comes.

In the news today, a government official is claiming that Christians are afraid to speak out. Ashamed of proclaiming their faith.

Now, personally, I don’t believe that to be the case and I think there is something else going on. But I blogged about politics last night so I don’t want to go into that again.

But I am thinking about persecuted Christians. Those who do feel as if they have been made to feel as if they are standing trial.

I have been involved in several exchanges on Twitter today with people who are vehemently opposed to Christianity, or “the church”. I see it as my moral duty to stand up to these negative comments and put them right on a few points.

Not one person has ever changed their views. But, by the same token, neither have I!

Who is right? Who is wrong?

That depends on the point of view of the reader, I suppose. But where there is clearly an inaccurate statistic, for example, I can correct them. They will probably just ignore my reply, but I have done my bit.

TV historian and writer Dan Snow claimed that there are more people who support Manchester United football team than there are Christians.

Wrong! According to figures published by Manchester United (which have been disputed) there are over 800 million supporters worldwide, which equates to one in ten. Ten percent.

According to the latest UK census, just about half the population of this country describe themselves as Christian. That’s fifty percent.

I replied to Dan Snow’s Tweet by saying this: “10% or 50% which is higher? you do the maths.” Which could be read as argumentative. And in a way it is.

But I did get my point across in a direct manner. I stood up for my fellow Christians by telling someone who should (and most probably does) know better that he was wrong.

Whether your accuser is a king, governor or just a TV presenter, don’t be afraid to tell them they are wrong!

Day 92 (25% of the way through 2014)

“As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.'” (Luke 9:57)

What struck me here was the casual way this was written, almost like a throw away line. And Jesus’ reply is a cryptic one, but basically, “No.”

Why? I think it’s because Jesus isn’t interested in people who are willing to follow without the realisation of what this life will mean. It’s not an easy ride. It’s not a safe option.

Being a Christian is hard. There is only one guarantee: that if you follow him and follow his commends, you will have a place in Heaven.

But before you get there you have to walk a very rocky road indeed.