Re-imagining Everyday Language in Light of God’s Sovereignty

Everyday English book

Last year, I began a blog series called Praise and Prose in which my aim was to do exactly what the title of this blog post expresses. It was an interesting exercise, and definitely worthwhile. I actually planned to publish more posts as part of that series than I did, potentially turning the series into a short book if I had enough material, but I got carried away with other things and left the series hanging somewhat.

I think I’m going to try and progress that series in 2021. I have plenty more ideas for the series in the notes app I use to brainstorm ideas for blog posts. Also, this year I’d like to start posting blog posts less often but more regularly. This feeling is partly inspired by fellow blogger Retrospective Lily, who consistently publishes every Friday at 7pm (UK time, she’s in the States). I always feel it demonstrates commitment and consideration for followers when bloggers keep to a set schedule. Of course, life is unpredictable, and we all have different demands on our time — blogging to a schedule is not a ‘one size fits all’ thing, but a good goal for me personally to aspire towards.

You can catch up on my Praise and Prose series thus far by clicking this category link.

Let me know in the comments whether you have a vision for what you would like to do with your blog in 2021. Also, let me know whether you have any ideas that would make good subject matter for the Praise and Prose series, and also if there’s a specific time you feel works best for publishing weekly blog posts, and why.

Thank you for following Perfect Chaos and Happy New Year!

Keeping Hope Alive

Tealight Candles

I can’t bring myself to check the news websites. I stopped doing that months ago. I rely on the chatter in local shops, the occasional conversation with a friend, or a blog post or tweet that I catch sight of, to inform me about the latest stories that are being put out in relation to all things Covid. And, of course, I pray — prayer is the great comforter that has carried me along thus far, and which will hopefully get me through whatever God (in his infinite wisdom) has in store for me and for the world in the coming weeks.

As I started to write this post, I heard these lyrics in a song I’d not heard before but which came on in a playlist I was listening to in the background:

Right now I’m choosing to believe,
Someday soon I’ll look back and see,
All the pain had a purpose,
Your plan was perfect all along,
This is the truth I’m standing on.

I couldn’t describe my own feelings right now any better than that. What I would say — and I say this to encourage anyone reading this who is struggling — is that the thing that I’ve found helps me the most during these lockdowns is intentionality. It’s really good to keep busy. This is easier for people who live with others (although maintaining healthy relationships during a time of lockdown is a huge challenge in itself).

For those who live alone, as I do, we have to find meaningful things to do. Maybe some cleaning or household repairs; maybe having a clear-out and/or making an inventory of everything we own; maybe phoning an old friend who we’re anxious to speak with; maybe learning to play a new instrument or taking up some other new hobby; maybe just writing a blog post and emailing the link to a few friends. We must do things that force us to keep negative thought-patterns at bay and put us in a positive frame of mind.

If all else fails, remember that the wisdom of God is far greater than anything our finite minds can comprehend. However big the challenges that we face may be, there is a sovereign God who is in control and who always has infinite possibilities at his disposal. Just because you can’t see a way through, doesn’t mean there isn’t a way through. There is a way through. God will make a way.

Lean Not on Your Own Understanding

Man praying upwards

Good morning, friends. Today I simply want to remind you of the truth that God is in control of everything that happens in creation. If you’re feeling anxious or troubled, remember that God knows the whereabouts of every speck of dust in the Universe, and even the hairs on your head are all numbered.

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

(James 4:13-16)

As we go about our lives today, let us not think ahead too much, but remain focused on the good that we can do today. Let us try to treat others the way that we would like them to treat us. Remember that your responsibility is not to man, but to God; so aim to live in a way that pleases God.

When things aren’t going so well, let us be comforted by the thought that God is not far from those who call upon him, and that he is merciful to those who seek him earnestly with a humble heart.

Compulsory Counselling Before Marriage and Civil Partnerships

Couple holding hands

I come from a family which was broken in many ways. My parents had a turbulent relationship and separated, and there were many undercurrents of fear and anger in their relationship which were not openly discussed and dealt with properly. Ever since I attended psychotherapy in my 20s, I have become much more aware of the interpersonal issues that affect families and relationships.

Society in the UK is badly broken. I am concerned for the children who will grow up in our country, seeing as there are so many societal problems stemming from children growing up in unhealthy environments. I wouldn’t want any child to have to go through what I have been through in my family; but I know there are probably people who have had an even more troubled upbringing than me. What can we do about this?

I have been thinking a lot about marriage, sex, relationships, and children recently. There is part of me that feels I would love to enter into a deep relationship with a girl, but there is also an undercurrent of fear that I might enter into the kind of relationship my parents had, which led to a great deal of physical, mental, and emotional sickness for both my parents and my sister and myself. In my understanding, this kind of fear is commonplace in British society, and perhaps in other societies around the world.

I believe that the key to any successful relationship is open communication. Suffering is nearly always the result of fear; we suffer because we fear expressing the truth that is in our hearts. Psychotherapy taught me personally to express myself openly, and has led to a great improvement in all my relationships, and coupled with the moral teaching of Jesus Christ and others, I feel I have learned a great deal about how to manage my emotions and have better relationships (although I am far from perfect of course).

You may be familiar with the old saying ‘men are from Mars and women are from Venus’; an expression designed to encapsulate the idea that men and women are very different. However, I believe this is an incorrect way of thinking, and is the kind of thinking expressed by people who have not had the opportunity to heal emotionally through counselling or psychotherapy.

I believe that a lot of the time, men and women enter into same-sex relationships because they come from families where they have felt unloved. They might have embraced a kind of rebellious attitude due the fact that they haven’t witnessed a solid and stable male / female relationship in their own family. Of course, I understand that relationships are multi-faceted, and there may be many reasons why people enter into same-sex relationships.

I do believe that there is a really significant problem in society as regards mental health in the area of relationships and sex and sexuality. People are having sex-change operations which must be so incredibly painful for them both emotionally and physically, and in many cases it’s because they don’t feel loved and accepted as who they are. All any human being wants is to feel loved and at peace. In this sense, women are not from Venus and men are not from Mars; we are all from Planet Earth.

Part of the reason why I have embarked on establishing a multifaith church of the future is because I want there to be a forum in the UK for discussing issues to do with the development of society from a philosophical and spiritual viewpoint. Part of the vision for the charity I am setting up is to run a counselling service, Tealight Counselling, which aims to address some of the issues highlighted in this article.

I believe it would benefit society enormously for couples to engage in compulsory counselling before marriage or civil partnerships; this could even be a legal obligation in their best interests.

Allow me to end with a few personal reflections. I have been thinking a lot about what drives men to enter into relationships, and what drives women. I feel that we all want happiness, so before getting married we should talk openly and candidly about the things that make us happy. Understanding what makes a fellow human being happy is always a beautiful thing, because we all want each other to be happy. The happiness of others is what makes us happy ourselves.

I think there is a common misconception that guys don’t like commitment and responsibility. The truth is we LOVE commitment and responsibility; we actually just want to make our spouse happy so that we can feel like we are a capable, good, and mature man/husband. I think that perhaps in many relationships, women don’t necessarily discuss their needs and desires openly with men, perhaps because they fear we won’t understand. But if I were to meet a woman who said to me, “my dream is to have lots of children with you because I adore children and want to experience their love and cuteness and beauty with you as their father”, I would really love this and it would make me feel very special and loved and want to be very devoted to my wife. Of course, this is not to suggest all women or men think the same way, this is just an example of an important desire in many relationships which may not be openly expressed.

Rather than being afraid of commitment, I believe men are only scared of relationships failing. We just want to understand how women honestly feel about things. If we know our spouse is going to be open and transparent about their motivations, feelings, loves, ambitions, drives, and desires, then we will feel confident committing to them and supporting them in any way we can.

Counselling can potentially be the key to solving pornography addiction, sex addiction, physical and emotional abuse, and many other relationship issues.

I’m not denying that marriage will always be a challenge. All kinds of relationships into which humans enter are challenging. And we are always growing and learning. But the experience of counselling allows us to become emotionally mature before we enter into marriage, and what kind of person wouldn’t want that for themself, and for their marriage?


Please note that the opinions expressed in this article do not reflect the official views of Tealight Counselling or The Universal Church of Almighty God; they are just some imperfect personal thoughts.

Why Did God Choose to Create?

Globe

Greetings, friends of the blog. Today, I’d like to share some thoughts in relation to the question of why God might have chosen to create human beings and other creatures.

In my book God’s Grand Game: Divine Sovereignty and the Cosmic Playground I speculated that one reason why God might have chosen to create could be a kind of loneliness. Due to God’s omnipresence, I believe there is nothing outside of God, which means that in reality God is all that exists, and any material things and creatures exist within God. God’s boundlessness is, I believe, something which could never be changed, and there will never be a possibility for anything to exist outside of him.

What must it be like for God, I questioned, to never have another free being with whom to interact? What must it be like for God to be alone for all eternity? I wondered whether God might have created human beings for the purpose of relationship.

A related question I raised in the book concerns what it must be like for God to be unable to cease existing. I believe existence is part of God’s essence, so taking a break from existence might be impossible, even for an all-powerful God.

I acknowledge that these speculations are rather anthropomorphic, but the Bible does say God created man in his own image, so speculating in this way isn’t necessarily problematic. I also acknowledge that understanding God completely is beyond my limited human comprehension, and that’s part of being human — God has created human beings with certain limitations and has made certain things mysterious to us.

I would like to share something T. D. Jakes said when he was addressing a conference a few years ago:

“It is suggested that God made man because he is lonely, but I disagree. If God was lonely then he needed something outside of himself to fulfil himself. But the Bible says he is complete within himself. He is the all-sufficient one, lacking absolutely nothing to make him whole.”

T. D. Jakes, Megafest 2013

In a blog post I wrote in 2019 entitled Life: Tragedy or Comedy? I speculated on this matter in more depth. As I say in that post, I believe the question of whether or not God suffers is incredibly important philosophically, because if he does suffer we might understand our own suffering in a different way to if God doesn’t suffer. Please read that article for an elaboration on this point.

I have come to agree with T. D. Jakes — that it’s most likely God is absolutely complete. But why, then, does God choose to create? Some people might find my description of the universe as a ‘cosmic playground’ created by God as part of a ‘grand game’ to be a strange way of describing things. But the reason why I chose the word ‘game’ in my book title relates to the question of God’s purpose in creation. I believe that unfolding the story of the universe is God’s pastime; God’s entertainment; God’s play.

Someone might rightly ask how I can describe reality as a ‘game’ when there is so much suffering in the world. I understand this point and I acknowledge its validity. However, when looking at the big picture of existence, and looking at the question of whether or not God is ultimately kind and merciful, I maintain a hope that he is.

Let me put the question to you: Haven’t you always found God to be merciful in your life, after you have gone through the challenges he has placed in your path?

I believe that God probably creates because creating is entertaining for him. Whether or not this is the truth of the matter I may never know during my life on Earth, but I hope things will become clearer one day, perhaps after death. In terms of understanding God’s purposes as they relate to human beings on Earth, I’m grateful to have the ‘instruction manual’ of the Bible to guide me in terms of answers to all of the most important questions related to God’s purposes for human beings.