Where is God in the midst of tragedy??

Leave a comment

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how strong we may feel our relationship with God is, suffer from a devastating shock when He appears to have suddenly withdrawn His providence from us and instead has thrust us (like Job) into what we consider to be horrific circumstances we feel He should be protecting us from.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

Leave a comment

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

Heading to heaven??? Part 1

Leave a comment

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

Hearing God’s Will for your life…….

1 Comment

hearing GodThis has to be the singular major topic for many Christians – how do you know if you’re hearing God speak to you & if you think you do what is He saying & what is His Will for you.   Well, I’m here to tell you it’s SIMPLE – truly!!!  But more of that later.

In my own life, it happened on a couple of occasions that I learnt how to listen to God speaking.  The first time was shortly after I’d returned from South Africa and realised I would be going back there again within the year.  At that point, there was absolutely NO earthly reason for me to think I’d be going back other than an inner “knowledge” and a certainty I couldn’t explain.  I’d no money left by then and no means of getting the nearly £1000 required to consider returning.  Various events happened over the next few months which confirmed that I was to return and I’d be saving hard but was still well short of what I needed.  During this time I’d been praying hard and seeking God as to the way forward, as time was running out – I’d a deadline of the end of April that year to buy my airline ticket and book things.  God didn’t provide me any hints of what I should do other than a continued quiet reassurance that everything would come together at the right time.

I can’t tell you that I was perfectly calm at this point – a lot of me was getting hugely concerned & nervous about what to do.   But as I’d little choice, I just worked on towards my return trip as best I could.  Three weeks before my cut-off date for buying the plane ticket, an uncle I rarely had contact with, but whom I’d notified of my previous trip to SA in his Christmas Card, contacted me, wanting me to visit him & update him further on all I’d done on the trip.   Part of me was thinking “I don’t have time” as I was frantically trying to figure out what to do if I had to cancel my trip, but I duly fitted in a short visit a few days later, as it was on my mind.  (That’s hint #1 on hearing God speak!)

My uncle & I had an hour long of a chat at the end of which he absolutely floored me – he told me he’d something for me, went off, & a few minutes later came back & handed me a cheque for £1000!!!!  I nearly fell through the floor as he explained to me that he’d enjoyed hearing of my fun on the previous trip & I absolutely HAD to return to fulfil my quest.  I think he was equally shocked when I told him I’d been hoping to do so but just hadn’t the finance to until then!  SO after a whole year of waiting God finally enabled me to do the one thing He’d previously “told” me I’d get to do.

What I learnt about hearing His Voice is firstly, you don’t hear an audible voice, nor words in yourhearing God ear or any such thing – trust me, if you do, or think you do, be extremely cautious, as Satan is more likely to be behind such events than God – we don’t live in Old Testament times when God did speak audibly to His people – you read the NT & you’ll discover that apart from Paul on the road to Damascus, not even the apostles heard an audible voice when God spoke to them!   Secondly, He will never tell you to do something that goes against scripture.

Thirdly, if you really want to hear God speak to you in any sense, the simple method is to READ HIS WORD!!  I know many say that scripture doesn’t answer questions like “Should I move home” or “Is this job right for me” etc, but actually scripture still does hold the key to being sure of His Will even in those situations.

For example – if you’re contending with the option of moving home & wanting to be sure of the right path forward, you would know that God won’t honour you putting yourself into debt in order to buy a home beyond your means, so that’s the financial aspect sorted out to begin with.  Once you choose a home, you’ll know the right one when the doors literally open & open easily for you to move forward on buying it.

“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” Pro 22:7 

Scripture will always provide a measure of God’s opinion on pretty much every facet of life, even in our incredibly complex generation, you just have to sometimes dig a bit deeper for it.  Thus, once again, the importance of reading your bible and more so, studying the true meaning of what you read, is abundantly evident.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,…..”2 Titus 3:16

On another note entirely, it reminds me of a well-known joke:

IMG_0206There was a very religious man named Jim, who lived near a river. One day, the river rose over the banks and flooded the town, and Jim was forced to climb onto his porch roof. While sitting there, a man in a boat came along and told Jim to get in the boat with him. Jim said, “No, that’s okay. God will take care of me.”

So, the man in the boat drove off.

The water rose higher, so Jim climbed onto his roof. At that time, another boat came along, and the person in that one told Jim to get in. Jim replied, “No, that’s okay. God will take care of me.”

The person in the boat then left.

The water rose even more, and Jim climbed onto his chimney. A helicopter came along and lowered a ladder for him. The woman in the helicopter told Jim to climb up the ladder and get in.
Jim said, “That’s okay.” The woman said, “Are you sure?” Jim replied, “Yeah, I’m sure God will take care of me.”

Finally, the water rose too high and Jim drowned. Jim got  to heaven and was face-to-face with God. Jim said to God, “You told me that you would take care of me! What happened?”God replied, “Well, I sent you two boats and a helicopter. What else did you want?” 🙂

And if you’ve any stories of how God has spoken to you using scripture to confirm His Will, I’d truly love to hear them!!

Is God schizophrenic….

Leave a comment

Following on from watching a TV programme “Tsunami- Where was God?” some time ago, I got to thinking about how the presenter had talked to those in other faiths (primarily Hinduism, Islam & Buddhism) using the generic term “God” in his conversations with them, asking questions about whether they felt angry with “God”.   The glaring obvious error he was making was in assuming that they worshipped the same God he himself supposedly did in being a somewhat lapsed Catholic.

This is a fundamental error too many make in the world today whether through ignorance or design.   Whether the world likes to know it or hear it, there is only ONE God – and His name is Jehovah.   And the reason I can stand on that statement is not through arrogance but rather revelation.   There is only one God who has not only created everything and told us about it in extensive terms (both physical e.g. creation & written i.e. the Bible), there is only one God who has revealed Himself to the world in human form i.e. Jesus, and there is only one God Who has provided a reason for and an answer to the age old problem of man’s sin/evil, through Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross, and there is only one God who has provided the surety of heaven for those who are willing to accept their sinfulness, repent, and submit to Him and His Will for their lives.

The gods of other religions are false and glaringly so much of the time.   The god of Islam is a god of war not peace and promotes fear, deception, and angst amongst most of his followers who have no peace of anything much nor any surety of what will happen to them when they die.   Their religion of “peace” is a facade, a veneer which got overlaid on the faith after 9/11 in a means to appease the West temporarily and to promote the idea that muslims weren’t seeking trouble.   However, the years since have shown that while there may indeed be many peaceful muslims their religion is certainly not one promoting peace with a plethora of verses that provoke followers to kill Jews & Christians wherever they may find them.   Deception and fear are twin cohorts in this faith that uses them when it suits to force people to submit.   And if they don’t – well the edge of the sword will maybe help them but if not, they can be swiftly despatched without concern.  Again, I say – this is NOT the God of the Bible Who is being followed in any sense of the word.   Indeed the glaring obvious difference is that the God of the Bible has a Son – Jesus – who is the Saviour of the World, and I contend that that fact stands whether both Jews & Muslims deny its truth.

“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.  By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’  Isa 45:22-23 

More

Fellowshipping in ecumenical fornication….

Leave a comment

It’s the most awesome thing to sit and watch biblical prophecies coming true in our generation in the most incredible ways.   Worldwide, the Church is in turmoil as one after the other falls to apostasy without even realising it.  I’m sure if you asked the worst offenders if they knew they were part of this aspect of prophecy, they’d fervently deny it, stating that they seek only to love everyone and not upset anyone yet therein lies the very root of the apostasy currently sweeping the world.

I watched a programme on ITV (UK) today which focused on the lives of vicar’s wives primarily in the Church of England and it made for interesting viewing.  This particular programme showed the vicar and his wife both not just spectators but active participants in their city’s yearly Sikh religious festival.   The wife spoke about how it was “wonderful” to be granted the opportunity to be so heavily involved and “accepted” by this (pagan!) faith.   She marveled at many of the aspects of the Sikh faith stating that they had a lot of things in common with that belief system and it was good to be able to learn about them.   The festival involved a lot of rites and rituals including wrapping the vicar up in a traditional turban and bringing them on board a float which hosted the “sacred book” which to the Sikh’s was a “person” – the wife spoke specifically about how this holy book would be cremated at the end of its life and she found that endearing!!   The couple openly participated in “prayers” initiated by the Sikhs to their god with the vicar turbanned yet still wearing his collar!

More