The wrong measure?

I guess I am simply greedy. I want more. I read Luke 18:18-30 (ESV) and wondered if I was thinking wrongly about the things that I want. It is the story of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and realised his life was empty in spite of all his material wealth.

18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’[a]”

21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”

27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”

29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

In my journal I wrote,

“I wonder how much people would pay to serve with Prime minister Modi, President Obama or General Secretary Ban Ki-moon for a day, week, month or year? My guess is a lot!

“So in the light of the Biblical promise and of the idea of training and equipping ringing in my thinking, I asked what am I receiving now?

  • the joy of knowing God
  • forgiveness and grace
  • the love of God in my heart
  • filled with, guided and empowered by
  • being a disciple of Jesus Christ, receiving training for life and eternity
  • I get to take an active part in the plans and purposes of the Living God
  • I get to make a difference, both large and small, in this generation”

I could have continued, but by the time I had written the things above (and a few more) I realised I am blessed now, and am receiving from God during my time here on Earth.

The blessing of the Cross

I am teaching a series on discipleship based upon Bob Gordon’s, The Foundations of Christian Living. The notes for the third section looking at the virtue (blessing) of the cross can be found on Scribd.com and slideshare.net using the links below.

15 understanding the blessing of the cross

4 Gospels = 1 Novel

Sometimes I wonder why Christians seem to know so little about the life and ministry of Christ? After all he is our Lord and Saviour so you might think knowing about him would be a priority. Many know about his birth and baptism, the feeding of the 5000, 4000, a few healing stories, the odd miracle, varied ideas about the crucifixion and resurrection and maybe a few more, though in most cases the details are usually patchy. Ask them to place things into a chronological order and for many it gets really tricky.

The four Gospels contain 28, 16, 24 and 21 chapters respectively. A grand total of 89 chapters.

Matthew has 1071 verses and 18345 words, Mark 678 and 11304, Luke 1151 and 19482 and John 15635. In total they have 3,779 verses which contain 64,766 words.

From my perspective it doesn’t sound like a lot, if I read a chapter every two days I could read the Gospels twice each year. It made me wonder about what the “average” reader might digest in a year of reading

Wikipedia reports that,

…novels can vary tremendously in length; Smiley lists novels as typically being between 100,000 and 175,000 words,[6] while National Novel Writing Month requires its novels to be at least 50,000 words. There are no firm rules: for example the boundary between a novella and a novel is arbitrary and a literary work may be difficult to categorise.[7] But while the length of a novel is to a large extent up to its writer,[8] lengths may also vary by subgenre; many chapter books for children start at a length of about 16,000 words,[9] and a typical mystery novel might be in the 60,000 to 80,000 word range while a thriller could be over 100,000 words.[10]

According to Amazon (as quoted by The Huffington Post) the median length of a novel is 64,000 words.  Specific examples include,

On the low end “Animal Farm” has 29,966 words. In the middle “Lord of the Flies” has 62,481 words.Whilst on the upper end of word count in novels, “Ulysses” has 262,869 words, “Middlemarch” 310,593 words and “War and Peace” 544,406 words.

I couldn’t find figures for reading all around the world but did find Pew Research data which suggests that 75% of  American adults (over 16 years) read at least one book last year. The median was 6 (the average 15).

What conclusions, if any, should I draw? What does this mean for a group, Christians, who are passionately committed to a written word (the Bible)? Are audio Bibles a good alternative?Are ebooks diminishing people’s power to read? Is the internet to blame?

What does Post-Christian mean?

I live in a part of the world where many people have yet to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a tragedy (a real one not the sort we hear spoken of by people when referring to a minor aspect of life that doesn’t go well) that we have so many very rich Christians who are not using their money to spread the Gospel around the world through real day-to-day projects to touch the hearts and minds of people who have never heard the name of Jesus properly proclaimed.

Living in a non-Christian culture makes it interesting to read reports of what is happening to Christianity in the USA which has had the Christian message preached to it for many years, and which has reached the point where vast swathes of society are now rejecting that message.

Barna in their latest report gives a picture of the Post-Christian USA and offers some definition of what it means to be “Post-Christian”.

The obvious, and not too surprising, fact, is that many of the ideas of Post-Christian and Pre-Christian are identical (or at least very similar). I imagine many of the Pre-Christian would like to hear what Post-Christian USA has to rapidly rejected.

Anyhow here’s Barna’s list:

Post-Christian Metrics

To qualify as “post-Christian,” individuals had to meet 60% or more of the following factors (nine or more). “Highly post-Christian” individuals meet 80% or more of the factors (12 or more of these 15 criteria).

Do not believe in God
Identify as atheist or agnostic
Disagree that faith is important in their lives
Have not prayed to God (in the last year)
Have never made a commitment to Jesus
Disagree the Bible is accurate
Have not donated money to a church (in the last year)
Have not attended a Christian church (in the last year)
Agree that Jesus committed sins
Do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”
Have not read the Bible (in the last week)
Have not volunteered at church (in the last week)
Have not attended Sunday school (in the last week)
Have not attended religious small group (in the last week)
Do not participate in a house church (in the last year)