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Posted in Interesting Thoughts Martin Ayers (Guest Blogger)|6:23 AM EST|November 27th 2014

Background: Inspired by David Robertson’s “The Dawkins Letters”, I’m writing a series of short letters to Brian Cox in light of his new series, The Human Universe.

Dear Brian Cox,

I do hope you’re still with me.  I’m writing several letters to try and keep things brief – addressing just a couple of points at a time.  Seeking to persuade people is a funny old thing.  I read with interest your recent admission that, when you went on Newsnight, you used a special underhand trick your friend had told you about – that whenever you wanted to make a point, you waved and thrashed your arms around exasperatedly so that the camera would find you again.  I’ll bear that in mind if I’m every on the telly.  I can’t do it in a letter.  But I hope you’re still with me.  So, on we go…

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Posted in Interesting Thoughts Martin Ayers (Guest Blogger)|11:50 AM EST|November 26th 2014

Background: Inspired by David Robertson’s “The Dawkins Letters”, I’m writing a series of short letters to Brian Cox in light of his new series, The Human Universe.

Dear Brian Cox,

You’ve certainly seen the world, during your series.  It’s hard not to be envious of the stamps on your passport.  You’re in the Rift Valley, then you’re watching that Soyz capsule land safely in Kazakhstan, then you’re at a shrine in Kyoto, then visiting Hindu boys at training school in Pushkar.  I find myself imagining conversations between you and the finance manager … “No, I’m sorry but there’s really no way I can illustrate this point without going to Easter Island.”  Whoever was in charge of the budget must have been mightily relieved when you planned episode 4 and let it slip that you grew up in Chadderton, and not Sydney or somewhere like that!

Brian, though there was lots that I liked about your documentary, my second letter is going to be quite negative I’m afraid.  It’s because of what you went on to say about the biblical God – or, more generally in your words, “some kind of deity”, in your episode, “Why are we here?”

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Posted in The Good Book Quiz The Quiz Team|7:00 AM EST|November 26th 2014

It's Thanksgiving tomorrow, and so we're exploring that theme in our midweek quiz. Enjoy!

"and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the _____"

  • chair
  • fish
  • loaves
  • silence

"Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you." For who?

  • Israel
  • The Pharisees
  • The Corinthians
  • The Galatians

How many books of the Bible are there which don't contain any letters in the word "Thanksgiving"?

  • 7
  • 0
  • 3
  • 18

"I had the leaders of Judah go up on top of the wall. I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks." In which book does this appear?

  • Acts
  • Nehemiah
  • Numbers
  • Revelation

Which epic Psalm contains, "At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws."

  • 1
  • 119
  • 23
  • 34

Who prayed "God, I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers"

  • The Samaritan
  • The tax collector
  • The fisherman
  • The Pharisee

In the NIV, which book contains the word 'thanksgiving' the most?

  • Nehemiah
  • Leviticus
  • 1 Timothy
  • Psalms
Posted in Useful Resources Dex Fletcher|6:31 AM EST|November 26th 2014

What 3 words would you use to describe Christmas?

Christmas in Three Words is a great little booklet by Vaughan Roberts to give away to friends...

Posted in Interesting Thoughts Martin Ayers (Guest Blogger)|9:50 AM EST|November 24th 2014

Background: Inspired by David Robertson’s “The Dawkins Letters”, I’m writing a series of short letters to Brian Cox in light of his new series, The Human Universe.

Dear Brian Cox,

Congratulations on your TV series, “The Human Universe”. It has been extremely well thought out, and marvellously well produced. For years I’ve enjoyed BBC documentaries that make science accessible, and in many respects your programme has achieved that aim. You’ve come a long way since you were playing the keyboard for D:REAM. Then again, as you sang yourselves, things could only get better.

But Brian, before you simply add this to your pile of fanmail, I’m actually writing because – as a Christian – I have some deep concerns about The Human Universe. I can’t possibly raise all of them, as there were lots of little asides throughout the series that I felt unfairly dismissed belief in the God of the Bible, or inaccurately presented your own beliefs and contentions as though they are facts rather than theories. But I think instead that it’s both necessary and helpful just to take up a few issues that you raised and discussed, in the hope that they cause you – and others who I hope will read these letters – to think again. To be honest, I am very concerned about all of this. I’m concerned that you yourself seem to have picked up false ideas about the Christian faith, and dismissed it for wrong reasons. But I’m also concerned about the influence that you yourself – and your documentaries – have upon your viewers. So, without further ado, let me dive in.

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Posted in Fighting the Monday Feeling The Explore Team|4:57 AM EST|November 24th 2014

Here's a challenge from God's word to start your week with—and a brilliant promise to hold onto:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. - Galatians 6:9-10

  • What does Paul tell Christians to do?
  • What's the great motivation of doing this?
  • Based on your own experience, how do we “reap” from such a lifestyle?

The final sentence is sweeping and comprehensive in its simplicity. First, it shows that the Christian life is not all about meetings or even conversions; it is about doing good to the person before me, giving him or her what is best for them.

Second, the word “doing” reminds us that we are actively to give those around us whatever love discerns is best for them; love in deed as well as in word. This starts with our family—our fellow adopted brothers and sisters in God's church. But it's not to be limited to them.

  • What would it look like deliberately to “do good” to all those you meet this week? Pray for stamina not to grow weary in doing good.

Based on an extract taken from Explore Daily Bible Reading Notes.

Posted in Interesting Thoughts The Explore Team|10:31 AM EST|November 21st 2014

Today we take a look at the climax of Paul’s speech in Antioch from Acts 13, to meditate on two amazing blessings we can have through Christ:

“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.”

Acts 13:38-39

So what are the two things that Paul says we can now have through Jesus?

  1. “Forgiveness of sins” - Spend some time considering the sins you know about in your life–make a mental or actual list. Now dwell on the fact that they are all forgiven through Jesus. Completely forgiven.
  2. “Freedom” — being set free from sin, released from the power and control of sin. Consider how unable we are to obey God on our own; think about our continual return to sin; remember the way our hearts produce evil. Now dwell on the fact that through Jesus we are freed from sin. We will continue to fight against it, but its controlling power has gone.

These wonderful blessings are both ‘through Jesus’ and they are given to whoever believes.

Based on an extract taken from Explore Daily Bible Reading Notes.

Posted in The Good Book Quiz The Quiz Team|7:00 AM EST|November 21st 2014

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8v12) As we head into Christmas, enjoy our 'light' themed quiz!

On which day did God say "Let there be light"?

  • Second
  • First
  • Third
  • Fifth

How did God give light to the Israelites as he led them in the wilderness?

  • As a glowing calf
  • As a burning bush
  • As a blazing torch
  • As a pillar of fire

Your word is a ____ to my feet and a light to my path.

  • fire
  • sandal
  • sock
  • lamp

To whom does King Belshazzar say "I have heard of you that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you."

  • Daniel
  • Moses
  • Joseph
  • Samuel

Which event in Jesus' life is being described, "his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light."

  • Last supper
  • Baptism
  • Birth
  • Transfiguration

Which Gospel states "In him was life, and the life was the light of men."

  • Matthew
  • John
  • Luke
  • Mark

"Now as he went on his way, he approached ______, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him." Where was Saul heading?

  • Jerusalem
  • Emmaus
  • Damascus
  • Bethlehem
Posted in Useful Resources Dex Fletcher|4:06 AM EST|November 20th 2014

Another great idea for Christmas - The Christmas Promise: a captivating retelling of the Christmas story showing how God kept His promise to send a new King, with superb illustrations by Catalina Echeverri.

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