Reading the bible one day at a time…

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Like many, I’ve often tried to read the Bible daily or read it more carefully or whatever. However, like many, I’ve usually failed for lack of focus or even to be honest, enthusiasm. Not being involved in any sort of regular outside bible study has been a problem to a degree too, so I’ve tended to use online sermons and the expositions of others more scholarly in scripture than I am, to teach me. BUT God has been very much reminding me that listening to others talk about Him is in no way as useful or spiritually edifying as listening TO Him speak to me more personally as He can really only do through His Word. So a good few years ago now, I went on a search for bible studies online, and while I found quite a few that were your typical type of studies with little quizzes at the end to score how great you are in not bothering to read the passages, but just your general knowledge of the topic perhaps – I also had the divine ‘fortune’ to come across what I think will prove to be one of the best sites I could have discovered this year.

The One Year Bible Blog its no different to any other blog except the author has skillfully put it together in a truly interesting manner. You have the options of listening and/or reading the relevant passages (2 from each Testament), and then reading what Mike has put as his own thoughts on them, before having the chance to put up your own if you’re interested – ultimately you don’t have to, but I’ve done so on a few occasions, as much to hone in on my own interpretations of what I’ve just heard or else to ask questions or perhaps to provoke some debate on some particular topic – today it was the concept of ‘soul sleep’ – another one which divides the camp in multiple directions sometimes. I used to think it was a sort of heresy and had held to the “Absent from the body, present with the Lord” concept, but listening to the story of Lazarus yet again today – what leapt out at me was the portion where Jesus stated:
John 11:11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. “ MKJV. SO, that sort of got me wondering somewhat whether perhaps the soul sleep brigade are maybe right, or else it may be that the concept is a valid one, but only prior to the Resurrection of Jesus!

But regardless – if anyone reading this has any interest in such a wonderful Bible reading in a year plan – head to http://www.oneyearbibleblog.com/.

And of course, please feel free to add your own views here too :))

Where is God in the midst of tragedy??

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Right there in the middle of it, and I can state that absolutely and categorically because He is grieving with those who grieve, and perhaps more so because He can see things from both a worldly AND a spiritual perspective, with the repercussions for a life wrongly lived so much more clear to Him than us.   All of us, no matter how strong we may feel our relationship with God is, suffer from a devastating shock when He appears to have suddenly withdrawn His providence from us and instead has thrust us (like Job) into what we consider to be horrific circumstances we feel He should be protecting us from.   Our initial response stems from our errant prideful attitude that just because we have committed our lives to Him that He somehow then owes US!   And that if we are being “good” we shouldn’t have to suffer in any shape or form.  And that sense of entitlement ironically is often escalated in those who rarely give God a second thought in their life.  Many in the privileged West think they’re doing a great job in how they live their lives – they treat others well, jump in where they see injustices (perceived or real) and give regularly to charity.  How’s that not “good” they ask?   Well, in humanistic terms and even in superficial spiritual terms yes, all those things are indeed good and in fact commanded by scripture for those who do know God and are true Christians.

But what many either don’t know or certainly don’t appreciate  is that while those traits are good in human terms God has categorically stated through His Word that nobody is good – not one of us, as we all regardless of our spiritual state continually sin against Him one way or another in thought especially if not in word or deed.   And this is what sin is at its root – a refusal (directly or indirectly) to give God His rightful place in our lives.  And this is why death entered the world – God told Adam not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden or he’d die but then Eve easily accepted the lie of Satan that they wouldn’t die but rather have their eyes opened to good & evil, and so when she didn’t drop dead the minute she ate the fruit, she persuaded Adam to do so too and that, as they say, was that!!  Not only did death enter the world physically but spiritually as well and mankind has paid the price ever since.

But the story didn’t end there as God told Satan that his day would come for his part in man’s downfall – that One would come who would ultimately destroy him and so it was.  Over 2000 years ago, Jesus gave His sinless life as a sacrifice on the cross as a final means of payment to God for ALL of mankinds crimes against Him, past, present & future.  BUT that gift of a reprieve would only be offered to those willing to acknowledge their sinfulness to start with, then repent (tell God they were truly and deeply sorry for their rebellion) and to acknowledge and accept Jesus as their ONLY Redeemer.  It would take too long here to go into all the aspects of salvation if you’ve not encountered them before.  If you do want to read more – check out my other couple of posts on the topic  So you want to go to heaven? WHY????    and  Every nanosecond counts..   Or if you want even more check in the sidebar for the Categories section & click on the Salvation tag.  The point here is that God more than understands the pain of death – He has created us in His likeness which means He has many of the emotions we feel, and one of the primary is grief.  Many times in scripture He says about how sad we’ve made Him or our actions have grieved Him,   We tend to think of Him sometimes being so high & mighty that He never feels anything let alone feels for us in our suffering.  But even more evidence of this is present in Jesus own walk on this earth – we’re told He wept over Lazarus dying and Jesus is God in human flesh so He understands more than anything the pain we feel on losing a loved one.

Then finally God had to allow Jesus to be born into His own creation, live amongst them not as their Creator and King, but rather as a lowly carpenter and itinerant preacher, before allowing His creation to brutally torture Him and kill Him in one of the most unimaginable ways of its time and to hold back the legions of angels just itching to rescue Him, because this is the price He himself had to pay in order to have creation once again made whole.

I appreciate some of the finer points of redemption can sound strange if you have no interest in such or are searching more analytically than spiritiually, but the main point is to just appreciate that God isn’t what man makes Him out to be sometimes.  DIscover the true God in the pages of scripture and learn more about how He loved you enough to die for you!!

Heading to heaven?? Part 2

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Finally getting this up after losing it in the Drafts box for a year or two.  Oops!

Well, perhaps you might then be interested in re-reading the first post I made on this topic first as the two sort of dovetail together.

What I really wanted to focus on in this post is the chronic disease of assumption that has hit so many in the world today.  If you were to ask a large group of individuals with any vague notion of scripture, and the Christian God etc they would pretty much all say they “hope” to go to heaven without any concept of what it is other than what they’re reading in the secular press, the latest fictional book or some film that makes heaven look like a continuation of life here just for longer & more peaceful!!  Most have the idea that those who’ve gone before them are all up there and moreover watching everything they do and “rooting for them” down here.  And of course there’s also a slew of modern day “I went to heaven & came back” novels avidly read by all and many times foolishly accepted as the real truth.  Heaven forbid (pardon the Pun) that anyone should ever read the reality about our final destination in the Bible – that would be too boring!!

The point is – everyone thinks they’re going to heaven but Jesus says:

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  Matt 7:13-14

What He’s really saying is that when it comes to finding the way to heaven, it’s not going to be the easy one that just somehow “is” or “happens” or is a given in any sense, and that if you stop to think about it sensibly, if EVERYONE could ultimately go to heaven bar a tiny TINY minority (since many don’t even count murder a bad enough sin to prevent access) then what would be the point of life here.??  Or indeed what would be the point of death?  And especially what would have been the point of Jesus being the ONLY PERFECT MAN to walk this earth to die and be resurrected (proven fact) from the dead, saying that the purpose was to provide teaching on God’s Love for His people and how they could get to heaven to be with him.

Jesus also said definitively – “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life – nobody can get to the Father but by Me“!  John 14:6  There was no arrogance in that statement – just pure fact.  If you are by any chance interested in knowing more on that score -then check out some of my other posts:

Weak religions trying to appear strong, ,  Are you a New Age Christian? and Every nanosecond counts.

So, if perhaps you’re one of those who’s been guilty of meandering through this life without really giving the next one any great deal of thought, know this – Jesus really IS the Son of God, He really did live and die for a particular people and purpose, and He really IS going to return any day soon and once He does (or if you die before that day comes) then it will be too late to suddenly determine that you were wrong for not accepting your need of Him as Saviour.  God says we are all sinners and not one of us is good in His eyes, because He is a righteous and perfect God and thus when we die He will judge us as our Creator and find us guilty unless we have someone in that heavenly courtroom able to mediate on our behalf and be our defence.  And that’s where Jesus comes in – because He’s not only perfect but also because He alone has lived a perfect human life and submitted to God’s Will perfectly to die as a sacrifice to pay that ultimate price on our behalf.  And I know that’s where many struggle – some think that God’s into human sacrifice – He’s not – but from the outset He stated that there had to be a price for sinning that was high enough to show the huge crime of it in His eyes and thus blood sacrifices were instituted.  It’s a much larger topic than I can cover here but

Christmas Greetings

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To all my loyal and many visitors and supporters – thank you SO much for your patience and endurance in continuing to encourage me to start writing again.  Unfortunately this isn’t an outcome of that encouragement as I’m not yet really up to writing anything of solid value, but instead come as I do now & again to share my few interests in crafts & music.  So while this is a ridiculously short message, it comes with a huge wish for you to all have a truly amazing Christmas season, and I hope the following will bless you in some measure.  Until next year when I might hopefully manage to put up some posts, Merry Christmas. 🙂

The cards are a small sample of my designs for this year – many totally new.

And then to provide some musical enjoyment – here’s a small selection of my favourite singer/songwriter Christmas music for you:

First up is an incredible orchestral piece by Smitty – even if you’re not into orchestral type music this is truly one to listen to & guaranteed to have you wanting more.

 

This one again features Smitty and is a more familar tune to most:

Then a slightly different tone from Smitty but another switched up rendition of Ring the Bells by BIg Daddy Weave.

And finally a real rousing song by Chris Tomlin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heading to heaven??? Part 1

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I can’t tell you how many people I hear say that they are a “Christian” yet when asked about any particular tenets of the faith or indeed of their own Christian walk, are left speechless and unable to answer because they are little more than what I term “cultural Christians” – those who believe they have a right to the title because of where they live,  I vividly remember a conversation I had with a Roman Catholic lady in a staunchly Republican are of West Belfast.  We were all attending a meeting with a shared interest in a medical condition we each suffered from, so at least had that in common.  Somehow the conversation turned to religion – a dangerous topic at any time in our Province but definitely a no-go one in the heart of IRA Belfast for a Protestant at any rate.  Yet I stood my ground.  It went something like this…. Me “I’m a Christian”, “Her “Sure, isn’t everyone?”  Me “How so”  Her “Well, if we’re not Christians, then what else are we?” Me “But Christianity isn’t a right, nor a hereditary faith” Her “Well, I’m not a Muslim, not a Hindu, not a Protestant, nor any other religion, so I’m a Christian.  I live in a “Christian” country so I’m a Christian!!”.  After another 10 minutes bouncing the topic around by the end of which she was starting to get just a shade more antsy than I wanted given I was there to talk about my role as chair of a medical charity, I had to just let her have her view and hope that what little I did manage to say about “true” Christianity might be used to turn her around at some later point.   But sadly in this little part of the world, religion has come to be more than a hot button topic given how many lives have been affected by the actions of those insisting on using it as a weapon complete with actual weapons to back their views up.  But before I finish this little portion, let me just be very clear on one thing – the “war” here has never been about religion.  Sure, it’s been used to whip up sentiments and attitudes etc but the Troubles were always primarily about power, control & eventually money – on both sides.  Left to themselves, here as elsewhere, Protestants & Catholics can live happily together and often forge lifelong friendships (one of my very best friends currently is an RC girl who connected with me through my charity work.  In the very early stages of our developing friendship we started discussing our differing views on faith, and discovered we had polar opposite views on many important topics from abortion and sexual attitudes etc, to who the Black Pope was etc, yet never once did it impact our friendship to any degree.  If anything I think it’s strengthened it – we don’t discuss faith matters as much these days purely because of circumstances but are very comfortable doing so nonetheless).

Belfast itself has more churches and chapels per square mile than probably even the Bible Belt in the US and is only now beginning to see an odd one being taken over for demolition.  Yet during the “Troubles” it was still interesting to see how the Protestant paramilitaries (more than the IRA) insisted their part in the war was for “God and Ulster” somehow totally missing the 6th Commandment as if God would somehow be pleased with them for continually breaking it.  But while the IRA never openly put God anywhere in their statements much, they were many times equally tied in to religion in some sense usually through priests who had no problem burying “volunteers” having a firing “squad” sendoff or Chapels providing safe haven for others etc.  But aside from all of that, most of those involved on both sides saw themselves as “Christian” “good Catholics”, or at the very least likely to make it to heaven.  Even murderers often think they have a right to heaven!!

If you’re not a Christian in any sense of the word let alone a “true” one, think on this.   If everyone could just die & go to heaven, what would be the point of living here?  After all, if there is a heaven to start with, then obviously there is a God Who created it and logically also the universe, earth & everything therein, and He could have obviously just not bothered creating us to live on a decaying planet in decaying bodies etc.  He could have just kept us in heaven to start with and save all this hassle.  But He desired more from us than initially mankind (aka Adam & Eve who by the way were real people!!  I’ll write up something on why you can believe that soon) wanted to provide Him – love and a reciprocal relationship.  Should have been easy don’t you think, but sadly there was a fly in the ointment aka Satan, who told the first lie to Eve, who determined she then knew better than her Creator and His “rules”, and the rest is history.

So ponder on all those things and if you find you then maybe are intrigued enough to return for Part 2 I’ll outline a bit better on the dangers of assumption of your eternal future and guide you on how best to ensure you DO end up in the most desired final destination.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” Philippians 3:20-21

Changing times….

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Well after a lengthy break from writing, I figured it might be time to dip my toe back in the literary waters & see if I could ramble enough to be worthy of posting.  I’ve been around and for once, holding my own healthwise, but have added in another new hobby in the form of jewellery making, so that’s really been taking up way more of my spare time than ideal.  BUT it’s hugely relaxing and enjoyable, and another means of pushing my pain down out of thought which is always good.

But I’ve been gaining a sense of late that times moving very fast these days and not just time, but many biblical prophecies too.   There are really no major prophecies yet to be fulfilled before Jesus could return, but there are quite a few “minor” ones.  One of those that many are keeping a very close eye on is that of Damascus being reduced to nothing “Behold. Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap” Isaiah 17:1  To my knowledge that has never yet happeend in history thus far.  It’s been hammered many times through various wars but has always been there.   This scripture, however, talks of it being no more afterwards – hard to contemplate, yet you only have to watch the current war in Syria to realise how close the city has come to utter destruction to realise that the prophecy is closer now than ever to fulfillment.  The following verses speak of utter desolation in the land of Syria and beyond.  Certainly in the current climate of the Middle East that wouldn’t be too hard to see happen at some point.

Other verses have long made me ponder about certain events – in the Revelation, John speaks of a day when there will be 2 Witnesses sent by God to proclaim His judgements on Israel & beyond.  However, they will be killed but their bodies left on the street for the whole world to view:

When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our[c] Lord was crucified. Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow[d] their dead bodies to be put into graves. 10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.”  Rev 11:7-11

I used to wonder how would everyone in the world see this as not that long ago television would have been the primary means but not everyone has a TV – even today that is still the case, BUT, now in 2018, more people on the planet either own or have access to a smartphone and a good connection to go with it.  Heck, even ISIS terrorists in deepest darkest Afghanistan have the best and most sophisticated phones & software!!

The other verse that used to make me think “How could that ever be?” is where Jesus asks “………Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”   Luke 18:8.  Again, I used to think “Of course He will, how could He not??”  But now I know differently.  It’s estimated now that Islam is rapidly rising to overtake Christianity in many countries of the world, and even in so-called “Christian” countries, the volume of churches that are actually closing is on the rise as never before.   Christians now face persecution of various degress in countries where it would previously have been deemed unthinkable, and even where the faith is fairly strong, there’s a rapid decline towards secular humanism in the surrounding culture.   Where once, many children would have heard about Jesus from childhood, through school, and regularly at Sunday School, nowadays many children couldn’t tell you Who He is regardless of why He is important.  Many adults are no better off, as many of the current generation come from broken families, which led many to handle the resultant hurt through alcohol and drugs, and who have lost faith in everything and everybody let alone God.  Some, through the work of the AA and other organisations, do manage to gain faith but not all.  Many prefer to become atheists or at best agnostics as it makes for an easier life.   And even of those who if asked would say they are “Christians”, most are such in culture terms only, again having little or no true faith.  So it’s much easier to understand how, if that’s the situation at this point in life, & we know much worse lies ahead for the world to endure before Jesus’ return, that there may indeed be few with any true faith left on the earth.  Hard to believe it’s actually come to that point within a century or less – from a generation where life revolved around family and church, to one where neither features at all.

If I manage to squeeze another afternoon into my schedule to continue to write some more, I’ll certainly do so – I’ve a bit more I’d like to write yet to explore on this continuing topic.  But don’t worry if nothing appears for a while – as you can see, I’ll be around so feel free to get in touch, comment or point me to others who I might enjoy connecting with too. :).  Thanks for reading.

Tats, marks & all things unholy…..

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In this current generation of “anything goes” and the more outrageous it is the better, it’s not really suprising that multitudes of youth in particular but also some who should truly know better (60+!) are signing up in droves to have ink bored into their skin in all manner of designs, artisitic & otherwise.   Few bother to think ahead to the repercussions of some of these impulsive decisions and choices – many discover that having the name of an ex-partner emblazoned on their arm can cause huge problems when they meet a new partner.  I doubt the best of us would desire to contend with that.  But women in particular will soon notice that the design that looked wonderful on 20-year-old skin starts to look not just weird but sometimes plain ugly on 60-year-old skin, depending on where it was put.

But the more important aspect of this explosion of interest in tattoos and, in particular. providing the masses with the idea that having 1000 needlepricks can be enjoyable (as I marvel at how even those with supposed needle phobias can submit themselves to endure getting one). is the way in which society is being well & truly “set up” for what surely lies ahead.

This article caught my eye as a reminder to what the future holds: Biometric ID   It outlines the way in which we are all continually being bombarded with the idea that our finances and personal data etc are always in danger when they are provided in forms that make it easy for others to steal them, & ourselves to lose them.  With the arrival of smart phones people en masse suddently started happily providing more information about themselves than ever to providers who request it – name, age, DOB, gender, religion, location, likes, connections, etc, etc.   Each new generation from here on will become more and more heavily wedded to the digital age.  Most of society already is so trapped within it, there’s a huge rise in the volume of accidents reported because people were walking with their heads down looking at their phones rather than where they were going.  And many of us have either experienced or know of couples who text each other while only yards (if not inches) apart in a room.

The scriptural implications of this slide towards total integration with the digital world are huge.  There was a time only 20-30 years ago when some portions of The Revelation would have been quite hard to comprehend but which now, with the arrival of the digital age, are becoming more and more clear.  One in particular is the Mark of the Beast.   First, we need to gain some understanding on who or what the Beast is.  Jesus outlines it all in  Rev 13: 1-9 (not provided here for space) and on through to verse 18.

In the scriptures, God reveals Antichrist as the Beast, who derives his power from Satan, the Dragon. Together, they will use the False Prophet, the Second Beast, to help them accomplish their evil works on planet earth.  Remember, these are all people, most likely world leaders and most likely one or both are alive & working towards their purpose in the world today.

The Bible also tells us that in the end of days, the Antichrist will rule over the entire human race with an ecumenical and apostate global religion, in addition to ruling the planet through a global government, and economy.  This is where the infamous Mark of the Beast or 666 comes in – whatever the relevance of the number itself, the point will be that nobody and especially Christians will be able to obtain money let alone have any kind of normal life.

I could write another half dozen pages on the topic but suffice to say these are interesting  times and no doubt God has more up ahead to reveal in His Perfect Plan and time – so as the title of the blog says – KEEP LOOKING UPWARDS!! 🙂

 

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