Bob Goff: If Love Isn’t the Defining Characteristic of Our Faith, We Need to Find Our Way Back to Where We Started.

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.

JOHN 15:18

Here’s a page from Bob Goff’s book of daily reflections, Live in Grace, Walk in Love:

Once Jesus and His disciples wanted to go to a village in Samaria. Here was the problem: the people in the village weren’t having it. Apparently, they had an issue with people from Jerusalem. The disciples heard the outcry from the village, and do you know what they said? “Jesus, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to destroy them?” Yikes. It seems a little harsh, yet at the same time not unfamiliar. We’re a lot like the disciples sometimes, wanting to tap into nuclear weapons when people say something we don’t agree with or rub us the wrong way. At some point, we started to believe that our doctrine is the defining characteristic of our faith. We got it in our heads that knowing the truth and telling others about it was our greater purpose here on earth than simply loving the people God made.

The gospel isn’t a set of doctrines we agree with, though. It’s actually Jesus. He said He was the way, the truth, and the life. Don’t add to it. It’s possible to have great doctrine and lousy theology. Loving people the way Jesus did is great theology. The Bible helps us understand how God wants us to live, but never let anything block your view of the fact that He’s the one who holds all things together. He’s the one who rescued us and who still rescues us when we slip up and need some grace.

There will be times you’re not welcomed. There will be times you’re misunderstood. There are times you’ll be angry about it. We don’t need to ask God to rain down fire on the people who have been difficult. Just keep moving forward, eyes fixed on Jesus and off of everyone else.

Is there someone you’ve written off because of the way they once responded to you?

Bob Goff: Live in Grace, Walk in Love

Carman: Serve the Lord

Christian Singer Songwriter Carman has died, 65, after a series of complications following a hernia operation.

Here are three of his lesser known songs that stand up with his better known ones. My particular favourite Serve the Lord; Are You the One? (John the Baptist); and Sunday’s on the Way.

I love the line, ‘Remember that ol’ blind man, John? Well he ain’t blind no more.’

Ephesians 5: Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

Ephesians 5:2, The Message

Philippians 3: The power of his resurrection

Does that sound as though my account was well in credit? Well, maybe; but whatever I had written in on the profit side, I calculated it instead as a loss – because of the Messiah. Yes, I know that’s weird, but there’s more: I calculate everything as a loss, because knowing King Jesus as my Lord is worth far more than everything else put together! In fact, because of the Messiah I’ve suffered the loss of everything, and I now calculate it as trash, so that my profit may be the Messiah, and that I may be discovered in him, not having my own covenant status defined by Torah, but the status which comes through the Messiah’s faithfulness: the covenant status from God which is given to faith. This means knowing him, knowing the power of his resurrection, and knowing the partnership of his sufferings. It means sharing the form and pattern of his death, so that somehow I may arrive at the final resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3:7-11, New Testament for Everyone

Philippa Hanna: Thorns in the Straw (featuring Graham Kendrick)

Love the words, melody and feel of this song on Philippa’s 2020 Christmas album. It’s an old song written by Graham Kendrick and she brought him on to duet with.

And as she watched him through the years
Her joy was mingled with her tears
And she’d feel it all again
The glory, and the shame
And when the miracles began
She wondered, who is this man
And where will this all end…

Graham Kendrick

Here’s them singing it together Live.

Here are Explore’s website’s Top Posts from 2020, voted by you!

Thank you for following us!  Here’s a countdown of the five most-read posts on Explore’s website in 2020: 

The fifth most popular post was the article China: Inside the biggest revival in history. You can read it here.

The fourth most popular post this year was a Pete Grieg‘s Devotion A Sabbath Prayer. You can read it here.

Number three is a interview ‘We’re going to feel stupid for eternity if we waste this life’ with Jackie Pullinger.  It was viewed 132 times.  Find it here.

The UK Blessing | Diocese of London

Number two was the classic song The UK Blessing from worship leaders released in the first UK Covid-19 Lockdown.  Find it here.  It has had more than 170 views. 

And the Number one, the most viewed post was 24/7 Prayer’s Lectio 365 Devotion,  I Can’t Breathe by Izwe Nkosi, his powerful response to the death of George Floyd.  It had 260 views.  See it here.  It’s well worth a read. 

The Explore website had more than ten thousand views in 2020, more than ever before.  We posted more than 250 times.  Thank you for following us;  Please tell your friends, and click ‘Add comment’ on any post to add your own thoughts and start a conversation and help build the community.

Lost Voice Guy: Shall I Pray for You?

I enjoyed Lost Voice Guy’s biography Only in it for the Parking. Lost Voice Guy is not a Christian. He has cerebral palsy. When he was a teenager his Aunt took him to a faith healer. I was challenged with this short passage in the book, about people commonly asking him ‘Shall I pray for you?’

When you’re disabled, people tend to pity you a lot. When people find out more about my disability, they start to tell me how sorry they are. Everyone is so sorry all the time. Sorry to hear I can’t talk, sorry about my walk and sorry I’m both ugly and disabled. They say ‘sorry’ is the hardest word, but I can safely say that it isn’t, because I can’t say any of the other words in the dictionary either. And, let’s be clear, you haven’t really tried to say the hardest word until you’ve attempted to type ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ into your iPad without making a spelling mistake.

The whole pity thing means people often come up to me and say that they will pray for me. I’ll be honest with you: I’m not at all sure why they do this. I presume it’s because they think my disability is a burden and I need to be healed. Or a sin ‒ either in this life or some past existence as the despotic ruler of a remote jungle kingdom ‒ for which I’m now paying. Or maybe their hearts go out to me because they realize I’ll never appear on Strictly Come Dancing.