Changing your default settings

How do you react when you face opposition or criticism because of your faith? For many, the default position is one of retreat. Or an undertaking to tone things down. Undoubtedly some people do need to think about how they could share their faith in a way that is a little bit wiser. However, that’s probably not the case for most. It’s all too easy to run for cover and pray for protection or even – secretly, of course – call down fire from heaven on your critics.

Not so the church in Jerusalem. When they got into trouble with the authorities, their instinct was to pray. It’s what they prayed for that reveals so much about them:

Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. Acts 4.29-30

In other words, they prayed for more of what got them into trouble in the first place! Their default setting wasn’t one of fear, it was one of faith.

Sometimes instead of praying to God for greater boldness, we begin to pray against the enemy. Those kinds of prayers reveal that our default setting is one of fear. And when we react in fear we allow the enemy to distract us from the main task of seeing God’s kingdom extended.

How can we make sure that our default settings are faith based and not fear based? What does boldness look like? I think it comes down to having confidence in Jesus and in what Jesus has done in you. Over the last number of years there has been a lot of talk about “cringe free” evangelism. Unfortunately, some of our efforts to be “cringe free” have gone so far that we no longer mention the name of Jesus or disclose that we are Christians!

At a very basic level boldness means telling someone that you follow Jesus. And telling them about how that affects the way that you live. That is the simple kind of bold profession of faith that God loves and God blesses. The simple but bold profession of faith that He used to turn the Roman world of the apostles’ day upside down. The kind of bold profession that He still uses to turn worlds upside down today.

Second Time Round

Like Troy McClure from The Simpsons, I am tempted to begin with the words “You might remember me from blogs such as Outthere – and another one whose name escapes me at the moment!”

Yes, I did lay down the digital quill at the end of April 2011. An era seemed to have come to a close. For that reason I have not resurrected Outthere. It’s still out there on the web, a testimony to a season in my life.

I have begun blogging again primarily because my thought for the week that I send to people in Glasgow Elim has become sought after by a wider readership. It is simply easier to post the piece on the net than email it to people.

In time, I intend to use this new platform to address important issues that might be difficult to address in the course of a sermon or sermons. Sometimes the issue is complexity, sometimes it’s just that some important issues can appear boring to a majority of people.

The picture of the Fighting Temeraire is an artistic reminder that no matter how grand we think our lives are, or how distinguished our service, this life eventually comes to an end. This in itself is worth at least occasional reflection.

I have called the blog James Glass, because it just makes it easier for people to track down what I am writing. I hope you will forgive any unintentional self-promotion.

So here goes with my second foray into the blogosphere.