Don’t … Leave it out!

Train notice

The excellent BBC documentary The Tube showed the delays that can be caused by just one passenger obstructing the doors of  a London Underground train. While travelling on the London Underground this week, or the Tube as it’s more commonly known, I was reminded that the usual safety warning on the carriage doors has changed in recent years. It used to read, “Obstructing the doors causes delay and can be dangerous,” although often some wit had scratched out certain letters, leaving, instead of a safety warning, the self-defeating instruction: “Obstruct the doors, cause delay and anger us!”

Choosing certain letters and rejecting others reminds me of those who pick and choose which parts of God’s message, the Bible, they want to believe, as if they alone had authority to alter ancient scripture; with the eternal destination of millions hanging on what they feel like believing. Of course, it’s not wrong to question, but to have a serious opinion you need to check out the evidence for and against your point of view.

Today I came across a small pamphlet on a controversial subject. It was entitled: Hell. Suppose It’s True After All? The text described a conversation between two friends, who decided that hell is a myth, because a God of love wouldn’t condemn His creatures to everlasting punishment. Then after sitting silently for a moment, “one of them looked up and said … “Suppose it is true after all?”” Suppose that same God of love spoke about hell to warn His beloved creation that there is a hell to avoid? Suppose the very reason that that same God of love came to earth, taking on human form, was to provide a way of escape for all who aspire to a more positive, a more exciting, a more satisfying eternity? Many years before Jesus was born, God spoke through Moses: “Choose life, so that you and your children may live …” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Why does London Underground put warning notices on the doors of tube trains? Perhaps it’s because obstructing the doors causes delay and can be dangerous. Why did Jesus warn us about hell? Perhaps it’s because He loves us so much.

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Try praying

Manchester City stadium

“It was a miracle,” said Roberto Mancini, Manchester City’s manager. “God looked at our game and gave us a helping hand.” Manchester United fans probably wouldn’t agree, but for all who followed the afternoon’s football, it certainly was a nail biting two hours with plenty of twists and turns. The Premier League title was at stake, as was possible relegation for Bolton Wanderers or Queens Park Rangers. At the end of ninety minutes Manchester City were losing to Queens Park Rangers; the title almost belonged to Manchester United, who had just won their match. Manchester City needed two goals in five minutes of injury time to win their match and claim the title, a task that would be in anyone’s eyes a “miracle”. Yet Dzeko and Aguero did “the impossible”, scoring two goals before the whistle went.

According to David Clayton on Manchester City’s website, “Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero were the men who scored the winning goals and turned despair into delirium.” Even so it’s just possible that Gary Owen – a veteran City midfielder, sold to West Brom in 1979 – gave them a helping hand. Gary was interviewed on the BBC News Channel during City’s victory parade on Monday. Gary described how he left his seat in the Etihad Stadium during injury time to pray for victory in one of the executive suites. “I’m not a religious man,” he said, but he knew where to get help, and had faith to believe for the impossible. He went on to say that when Dzeko scored he didn’t let go of God, saying “I haven’t finished yet; we need another goal.” Anyone who knows the Bible, knows that God responds to that sort of faith. Powerful men from ancient times, such as Jacob and Daniel clung to God in desperate times, and found that God is indeed the God who answers prayer. As the author of the book of Hebrews writes:

“I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” (Hebrews 11:32-34)

How about you? Do you pray, really pray … and believe? Why don’t you Try Praying?