Sunday, 22 July 2018

You’re a Good Good Father

To give God permission to bring down the barriers takes everything you have and the excruciating pain of vulnerability is scary.

Source: TeePublic
Deuteronomy 5:16 tells us; ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you’. How is this done when a parent or parents are truly perverse (‘showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable’ – Google online dictionary)? We can and should still obey God in these difficult circumstances and prayer can make all the difference and in fact, to do so is to truly find life. We need to ‘dig deep’ to find the divine objectivity which enables us to love and to wisely pity the unhealed parent/s while at the same time avoid being overly diminished or impacted by the darkness or whatever is amiss. Within the objectivity must be built the understanding that love is something stronger than mere kindness.

As a child I remember feelings that troubled and confused me. I didn't understand myself or my circumstance and I felt I must be really bad to have what seemed awful thoughts and feelings toward my parents. I was a child who believed in God as I had given my life to Him, but I did not know love, as the church my mum attended was incredibly harsh and legalistic. I reached times of great crisis and at the age of 13 I completely shut down and at a subconscious level I just wanted to die or disappear. I developed severe anorexia which later included bulimia, drug and alcohol addiction. There is a reason a child closes down including trauma and shock which results in feelings getting shut away. Walls of defense are put up and coping mechanisms are set in place in a desperate attempt to survive. However, God has done amazing things in my life over many years. He has enabled me to face my true childhood and let down walls and to allow Him into what felt unbearable pain. He has taken so much time to forgive me and to validate emotions and pain in order for me to realise that I was worth something. In seeing I was of great worth to Him I could begin to forgive those who had injured me deeply. I have sobbed so much that at times I thought I would never stop, but the release has been incredible. Dark depression has lifted and a lightness in my being is such a gift.

What God has given me is divine objectivity, moving me from the subjective child place in relation to my parents. I was given adult maturity with its capacity to stand above the problems, to see them for what they really were. God gave me the ability and confidence to name them before Him and to utterly forgive and no longer be grievously entangled. Because of this, the way was opened to me to begin to accept myself. Am I not bone of my parent’s bone and flesh of their flesh? To reject a parent is in the end to reject oneself. When feelings, emotions and pain get shut away it unfortunately affects our health generally, our mental health and our ability to relate to others.

To give God permission to bring down the barriers takes everything you have and the excruciating pain of vulnerability is scary. To begin a journey hand in hand with the lover of our soul is a gift beyond words. I only have a story because of Jesus, without Him there is no story. We need to know we are loved in the very core of our beings. I know that when you are so broken you cannot comprehend love or being loved but there is a beautiful God who just adores you. He is so patient, so kind, so full of tenderness and forgives completely. He hears your cries and you matter to Him. He can break the dungeon door open, He smashes chains that bind us to addictions and He gives us strength when we have nothing left. Ephesians 3:20-21 ’Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen’.

This is a prayer that helped me to bring my parents to Him; Father I thank you for creating my parents in Your image. With all my heart, I forgive them for not becoming all You created them to be. I realise now that they needed the healing that I am still now receiving. Someway, somehow Lord as I accept and forgive my parents, may their life as it has been handed on to me become all You ever intended it to be. Lord I forgive them of all their offences against me. I accept them as they are, as unhealed and needy people. There but for Your grace, I would be. I thank You for all You have made them to be. I will continue to look for the real person/s You intended them to be and in Your name I will affirm it whenever I see it. I look to You now for the affirmation I always wanted so badly from them. Love them whenever You can Lord, through me. Amen


May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday, 15 July 2018

For many are invited, but few are chosen

‘…we really have no idea when God may call us home and how absolutely crucial it is that we are ready with the oil in our lamps.’

Source: PInterest
On Saturday 12th May I was in the spare room of my house having a clear out when I happened to glance at a spreadsheet on the wall. I noticed on the sheet that my daughter's MOT for her car was due on the 8th May. I was confident that she would have sorted getting her car through the MOT on time, but just in case I sent her a text message to check. Praise God I did because my daughter said that she had forgotten all about it.

As a matter of urgency, the car was booked in for the MOT on the Monday. After doing an initial inspection of the car the man from the garage tried to get in contact with my daughter, however because she was at work he was not successful, so he phoned me instead. His tone of voice suggested that he was angry and he told me that my daughter was lucky to be alive and that the car was extremely unsafe to drive, he went onto tell me that a spring that was crucial for the steering of the car was hanging on by a thread. The MOT report came back with ‘failed’ written on it and in large bold writing it stated; ‘Repair Immediately (Major Defect)’. When I spoke face to face with the Garage man he could not stress enough how unsafe and dangerous the car was. My husband and I cried out to God with thanks in our hearts, we thanked Him for His hand of favor over our daughter’s life and that this was not her time to leave earth and that her car was not involved in an accident that could have potentially hurt many other innocent lives as well as herself.

Source: Facebook
It made me think that we really have no idea when God may call us home and how absolutely crucial it is that we are ready with oil in our lamps. It also made me think of my family, friends and neighbours who have not claimed Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and all the many people I know who are Christian’s but are back-sliden. If they were to be taken from the earth today, maybe at this very moment, then they may have lost their opportunity to fill up their lamps with oil and with it their external salvation.

As a result of the experience with my daughter I invited many family and friends to a church service. My prayer was that if they attended a service that the Holy Spirit would convict them. I was unsure about how many people would respond to the invite so my husband and I made enough food to feed an army. On the day of the service I was saddened when not a single person who I invited attended the service. I asked God why had no one responded to the invitation and He led me to the parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew 22:1-10 where the guests refused to come. Matthew 22:14 goes on to say; ‘For many are invited, but few are chosen’. I was particularly upset that my Son did not accept the invitation and when I asked God ‘why did he did not attend’ He Blessed me with 1 Timothy 6:15 ‘which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords’.

God is in control and His ways and timings are perfect in all things and I Praise God with all my heart that it was not the right time for my daughter to be in a fatal car accident and it was also not the right time for my son to be in service. I can hear my Abba father’s gentle voice saying to me; ‘stop trying to control things Tina and trust in me’.

God please help me to ‘Be still and know that you are God’ (Psalm 46:10)

Isaiah 60:22 ‘The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the LORD; in its time, I will do this swiftly’.

Be blessed.

Author: Christina O’Neill

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday, 8 July 2018

A Transformed Heart Can Change the World

Too many of us are camping at the Cross of Jesus Christ!  We have pitched our tent there and are happy to sit back on our Salvation, not willing to start our journey through the narrow gate, instead choosing the wide road (the easy road) to travel on

Source: PInterest
The change that God works in the heart of a believer through faith in Christ is truly amazing. Salvation is the beginning of our journey and the Kingdom is the destination!! Note however that God’s Word is unambiguous in the fact that unless a person is born again he will not see the kingdom, we must first be born again; John 3:3 ‘Jesus replied, Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again’.

Too many of us are camping at the Cross of Jesus Christ!  We have pitched our tent there and are happy to sit back on our Salvation, not willing to start our journey through the narrow gate, instead choosing the wide road (the easy road) to travel on. Many people are deceived into believing because they prayed the sinners’ prayer once followed by a baptism that they are going to heaven. This is one of the greatest heresies taught in the Western Church. People then look around at others who profess to know Christ and see people just as worldly as the world and by doing this they are comparing themselves by themselves. Nothing troubles or challenges their heart, they depend on words they hear in Christian music instead of studying the scriptures. Billy Graham once said that he truly believed that out of the many thousands of people who came forward at his meetings, only about five per cent of them would eventually make it into heaven. Salvation is by faith alone and demonstrating that faith by living for Jesus Christ and doing His will. Keeping ourselves from the standards of this world is the only way to secure our salvation; Matthew 7:13-14 ‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it’.

Source: PInterest
John Wesley (1703-1791) is one example of a transformed heart who became born again through faith in Jesus Christ. God Transformed his heart and through him was able to reach many thousands of people with the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. John Wesley started by preaching in the established churches but soon found that he was not welcome in these churches because he preached the Word of God without compromising bible truths!! This was something unheard of at that time as many Pastors preached sermons void of any spiritual meaning because they did not have the spirit of God in them. On one occasion John Wesley was preaching to pious and religious church goers and this is what he preached (these are John Wesley’s words not mine): ‘For all have fallen short of the glory of God; how often have we heard this comment from Paul and ignored its true meaning?  A woman dead drunk on gin, we may hold to be worthless, but I am of no more worth and neither are you! We have all fallen short of the glory of God, but at least a woman who is dead drunk on gin is not a hypocrite! Christ preached mercy for all and all were equal in God’s sight, God is no respecter of persons’. He was severely reprimanded for offending the congregation but replied; ‘Perhaps they were in need of offending’; 1 Corinthians 1:18 ‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God’.

John Wesley then left the pulpits behind and started preaching in the open air to poor and needy souls. He spent many years travelling the length and breadth of Great Britain on horseback preaching in fields and market places, in the same way His Lord and Saviour did. Thousands came to hear him preach, gin shops closed, magistrate’s courts and offices emptied as these people were desperate for the Gospel. These people were not wanted in churches so they started the Methodist movement where places were built for these poor people to meet and worship.

John Wesley along with his brother Charles and other God fearing men started Christian Charities giving food to the poor and visiting those in prison, they also built a number of Charity Schools. Matthew 28:19-20 ‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’. The words that follow are again John Wesley’s words not mine: ‘How may a sinner be justified before God the Lord and Judge of all? You must look to Jesus, there is the Lamb of God who takes away your sins, and you who feel as fit for hell are just as fit to advance to His Glory, the Glory of His free Grace. Come quickly, believe in the Lord Jesus and now, even now be reconciled to God. Now who shall open their hearts to the Lord today?’ Many walked forward and some even ran!  With his transformed heart he stepped into his calling and God’s Holy Spirit working through him to set Britain on fire with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Isaiah 52:7 ‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, Your God reigns!’

We all need to honour God with our lives by providing a way for others to know him, allowing the Lord to shine through us and people will see Jesus in us. God’s goodness never ends and whatever happened yesterday is washed away and transformed by God’s abounding love for us. When we have a transformed heart and live for Jesus Christ alone, our lives will never be the same again.

The video below is an inspiring rendition of an old revered hymn written in 1738 by Charles Wesley (brother of John). This great Celtic hymn and others like it are not sung or heard very often nowadays and could so easily be lost to the new generation forever.

Author: Eileen Greaves

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Sunday, 1 July 2018

Jesus, the New Covenant

We now live in a world where if you don’t like the rules you simply change them! We cheapen everything today and bend it to our own will.  But not so with God.

It struck me recently that we live in a world of constantly shifting values, which changes its mind in a moment of time and where nothing seems to stand firm for very long. If we buy something and when we get it home we don’t like it we just take it back and get a refund and we can cancel or amend online orders at a touch of a button. If a child does not like what a teacher has said to them they can get their parent to challenge the teacher openly and the teacher has then to defend themselves to the child. If we break the law, then often if we can afford a good enough lawyer then we can at best avoid the consequences or the lawyer can negotiate a watered-down consequence for us. If a government does not agree with an age-old law or ruling it can just over rule it with persuasive argument and a manipulated vote. This thinking can subtlety pervade every part of our lives too, if we don’t like something or agree with it then we can just change it to agree with what we think is right. This came home very strongly recently while I was reading the book of Esther in the Bible.

In the story of Esther, a beautiful young Jewess is taken from obscurity and becomes the King’s wife.  Brilliant; a real Cinderella story you might say, and like Cinderella Esther keeps her identity secret, no one knows she is a Jew except for her Uncle. However, after a while through various devious circumstances which we will not cover here (just read the book of Esther for yourself, it’s a really good story), the King is tricked into making a decree that on a certain day all of the Jews in the land are to be killed and he seals the decree with his signet ring thereby making it binding (Esther 3). When news starts to spread about the decree Esther`s Uncle Mordecai asks her to go and plead with the King on behalf of her people. Reluctantly she agrees to do this and through many twists and turns of the story the plot is revealed to the King and he sees that his decree to have all the Jews killed is a mistake and the result of one evil person`s desire to wipe out an ethnic group. Great you think, everyone will be ok now the King just has to withdraw his decree and all will be well. Well actually no this was not the case because in King Xerxes day once a King had made a decree and sealed it with his ring then it could never be revoked even by the King himself (Esther 8:8). However, the King issued a new another degree which stated that on the day assigned for the execution of the Jews all the Jews would be allowed to defend themselves and fight back. In that way, they would be saved from annihilation.

Now I must admit I was really struck by the finality of the Kings word and the apparent stupidity of not being allowed to ‘change the rules’, but that is because we now live in a world where if you don’t like the rules you simply change them! We cheapen everything today and bend it to our own will. But not so with God. This led me to think about the difference in the way God looks at things. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve sinned and were separated from God and God decreed that the way to deal with sin was to cover over it so the people would be able to live and come before God. God agreed that the people should sacrifice animals to seek forgiveness for what they had done wrong. The rest of old Testament, history shows us that the people did this on a regular basis because they were unable to stop sinning on their own. They knew that God had said that `without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness’ (Hebrews 9:22) and `Look the blood confirms the covenant the Lord has made with you` (Exodus 24:8). This was the agreement, the decree that the covenant and could not be changed. No matter how much the people tried to get around God’s decree or try to change or negotiate with Him, it stood just as strong as King Xerxes decree in the story of Esther.  This was just the same in the story of Esther for the Jews to be saved there had to be a new decree, and new agreement a new covenant, so we needed a new agreement a new covenant to free us completely from sin and from separation from God. Enter Jesus!

Romans 5:6 (NLT) tells us; `When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners’. Jesus came into the world to be the new decree the new covenant and His death alone would be the sacrifice to save us from the power of sin and separation from God and not just a cover up solution. Praise His Name. This alone is wonderful but fast forward for a minute to the Garden of Gethsemane and picture the scene; Your beloved son is down on His knees pleading with you to save Him from the awful humiliation, death and the weight of the whole world's sin that is just about to land on His shoulders. You love your son, He is part of yourself and after all you are God so all you have to do to save Him from what you know He is about to face is for you to say; ‘Ok, no problem I’ll just change the rules, I can do that I`m God. I can let Jesus off the hook and just decide to forgive anyone who asks me for forgiveness, and then Jesus will be ok and everything will be fine’. Who would have blamed God for doing that? There is only one problem though, God had made a decree that only the shedding of blood could bring about forgiveness. The blood of animal sacrifice had frankly only been a temporary solution and was not working, as it was only a covering up for sin. A more substantial, a more perfect, a more permanent sacrifice was needed if people were ever going to be freed from sin completely and obtain complete freedom. Jesus had to die, anything less would have allowed Satan to say to God ‘you broke your word, your decrees are worthless, you changed the rules I will never free them, there is no binding agreement, no visible sacrifice no New Covenant. The people will be as bound and hopeless as they have ever been’. Jesus had to die, God had to allow it and Jesus had to accept it. The weight of the words; ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will’ (Matthew 26:39) only become evident when you realise how God never allowed himself to `bend` the rules. We should be so grateful every day that He is a truly worthy King and that Jesus was a truly worthy sacrifice, anything less would leave us too vulnerable to the devil and sin.

I`m going to keep these thoughts in my mind the next time I take communion and hear the words; `This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me’. Be blessed.

Author: Jan Pearson

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Sunday, 24 June 2018

‘If Only’

Some of our ‘if onlys’ are immediately apparent with immediate impact, others grind away for years before the fruit of actions, thoughts, feelings and attitudes becomes apparent.

Source: Zazzle
Twenty-five years ago, my dad had to jump from a roof because a ladder gave way. Five years ago, following a lot of pain he had to have his ankle surgically rebuilt because of that injury. I guess he could have said if only that hadn't happened it wouldn't have been necessary to go through all of this hassle and discomfort’. On a few occasions, I was angrier and more frustrated with my children than I should have been and to my shame these occasions are remembered well. I may well say If only I had used more self-control then these times would not be amongst their more significant memories now’. I have a friend who when he was young tossed a garden fork over his shoulder and the thing embedded itself deeply in the back of his leg. I guess he may have looked back over the next few weeks of painful recovery and said, if only I had been a little more careful’. When I was a boy I bought some matches with my cousin and we started a small fire in a hedgerow. In no time on a hot summers day it spread to the surrounding scrub and there was quite a blaze. This puts me in mind of the scripture in James 3:5 ‘Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark’. 'If only we hadn’t done that we wouldn’t have put a lot of people to worry and trouble'.

If only’, what powerful words. ‘If only I hadn't done this, said that, or thought the other’, ‘if only my attitude had been different’. Some of our ‘if onlys’ are immediately apparent with immediate impact, others grind away for years before the fruit of actions, thoughts, feelings and attitudes becomes apparent. Either way the effect on us and others can be bigger than we could ever imagine - maybe even catastrophic. Sometimes this is what others have done to us and sometimes it can be what we have done to others, or more than we would like to admit, done to ourselves. The realisation can leave a sick feeling in our stomachs and our minds going over ‘if only…’.

The Lord of course knows all about ‘if onlys’, some of which are impossible to avoid; Matthew 26:39 ‘Father if it be possible let this cup pass from me - nevertheless not my will but Yours be done’. The prayer of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. ‘If only this didn't have to be this way’. Jesus was in effect praying. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Hell the rich man is saying if only I had lived my life differently and not ended up here, if only Moses could go and warn my brothers’ (Luke 16:19-31). The children of Israel who ended up forty years in the wilderness for their lack of faith; ‘if only we had believed Yahweh when He told us to take the land’ (Numbers 13 and 14 and 14:33)! Paul speaking to the crew and passengers of the ship before it was shipwrecked in Acts 27:21men, if only you had listened to what the Lord told me and I told you, you would not have suffered this danger and loss’. The scenarios are numerous and serve as warnings and examples to encourage and challenge us to obey and exercise our faith in walking with the Lord. Although some ‘if onlys’ are necessary, inevitable, and sometimes for our learning and growth, others are not – we bring them upon ourselves. Even here though, the bible has guidance to help us know what to do. Before we go there let me explain why I was drawn to choose ‘if only’ topic for a blog.

Source: Facebook
In one of our early morning prayer meetings thoughts about our ‘if onlys’ came persistently to me and so I shared about it. The Lord seemed to highlight two types of ‘if only’ at the time. The first was the ten virgins type of ‘if only’. ‘If only’ we had been ready with oil in our lamps and had oil to spare (Matthew 25:1-13). God has been speaking to us for more than two years about being ready for what He will do ‘shortly’. He has been saying through different people and scriptures that He will move by His Spirit but that the move will be accompanied by difficulties for Christians which will cause many to lose their faith and fall away. In Jesus' parable ‘being ready’ meant having oil and oil to spare. In other words, building up our spiritual resources to have enough and some to spare when it counts. The warning from the Lord was to say, ’do not be in a situation where you are saying 'if only' on this occasion, this one will count and this time it will really matter’. Individuals, communities and nations will be shaken and men's hearts will fail them for fear but those with oil and to spare will put their trust in the Lord.

The second ‘if only’ was not to get caught out by not putting right what we know to do, or being found in a place of disobedience when the Lord starts to move. Hasten to put right what is wrong and be obedient in the matters where we have been resisting the Lord's will. We do not know when the Lord will hold us to account and the scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:31 ‘But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment’. The Lord warns us; ‘Don't be saying ‘if only’ on the day of the Lord's visitation’ - we may miss out or we may be tried by fire and found wanting; 1 Corinthians 3:13 ‘their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work’.

As I have said before, the Bible has some guidance to help us with the regret associated with ‘if onlys’. Here are some examples: Avoid them in the first place - how often did Adam and Eve have occasion to ponder 'if only' about partaking of the forbidden thing? (Genesis 3). Was their heartfelt cry ‘if only we hadn't done what we were told not to do’. Let’s not knowingly flirt with disaster by putting ourselves in temptation’s way. Proverbs 6:27 challenges us; ‘Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned’. Yet so many of us have experienced the consequences of flirting with things from which God had delivered us or our tendency to repeat known weaknesses – ‘if only I hadn't I wouldn't be feeling like this again’.  Remember Esau in Hebrews 12:16-17, who for one bowl of soup gave away his birth-right … and later found no place of repentance although he sought it fervently with tears’.

If onlys’ often have two parts; one towards God and one towards ourselves or others. We often need to put both right. We need to forgive ourselves or others for offences; ‘forgive those who have trespassed against us’ and restore where and what is necessary.  We remember Zacchaeus in Luke 19:8 ‘……..if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount’. Forgiveness and restoration for ourselves and others comes in many forms from financial settlement to emotional healing and sometimes it can be costly and painful. In Psalm 51:10 David said, ‘Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me’. David’s Godward response was prayer and repentance, the same response given by Jonah ‘out of the depths I cried unto the Lord... I will pay what I have vowed...’ (Jonah 2:2 and 9). In that prayer, meeting the Lord challenged me about something that has niggled me for years. This was something that I contributed to at the time which I thought was a Godly act. Later I realised that it was an arrogant act filled with pride that brought some practical disadvantage to another person. I often regretted this deeply and thought that I should do something about it but never acted. What I thought in the meeting was ‘when I come before the Lord face to face is this un-dealt issue the thing that I really want on my mind’? Let’s hasten to put right what we know the Lord has an issue with and let us listen to what He has to say more carefully so that our ‘if onlys’ are less.

Author: Chris Pearson

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