Thursday, 30 September 2010

Disappointed with God?

There are times when we feel God has let us down. Maybe we have prayed constantly for an ill friend to be healed and they have died any way or when we prayed for a family member to turn to God and they passed away not knowing Him or losing our job because we chose to act morally or the baby just didn't have the strength to make it or our potential goes unfulfilled because we have to care for a loved one instead...

The author Philip Yancey wrote a book in 1988 called 'Disappointment with God'. His publishers didn't like the title, it was too negative for them.  They preferred 'Overcoming Disappointment with God'.  Thankfully the author got his way. 

If you have felt disappointment with God you are not alone, many people are or have been in the same boat.  In light of this; is God still good? is God fair? Questions like that can't be answered in a single blog post but I am more than willing to talk things over with anyone. Just send an email to myquestionis@rathcoolepci.co.uk and we'll take it from there. In strict confidence of course.

The Bible says that 'in all things God works for the good of those who love him' (Romans 8:28). God also says  'my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways' (Isaiah 55:8).  We are not able to see things the way God sees them, life can seem very confused and rudderless from time to time but we've got to trust that God is working for our good, however unlikely or far away that may seem.

I don't mean to sound trite, I know that when you feel hurt by life simply quoting a bible verse probably won't help much.  I just want to reassure you that God is faithful and does love you and the time when you feel most abandoned is the time the trust you place in God and His love for you will be most keenly felt.

Here's the new release from Downhere - it seems appropriate, hope you like it.

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Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Puppy Love

Yesterday was an exciting day in the Houston household - Rocky arrived.   Rocky is a two year old (we think) dog we picked up from the pound.  He's lovely.


Awful legs, awful carpert, great dog!

It's hard to tell when getting a dog from a Council pound what it's personality is going to be, what character flaws it'll have, what baggage it carries around.  There are clues though and we considered carefully what things we would be looking for, some boxes that needed ticked.  He had to be young(ish), relatively calm and alert.  We had an idea of what size of dog we would like and, to our shame, looks played a part too.

Rocky it seemed, was perfect.  After just one night in our care he still appears to be perfect and the wife and I are delighted. It's lovely to be able to give the wee dog a home and take care of it.

We chose Rocky and we are glad.

Thankfully God works differently from us.  He doesn't not require any boxes to be ticked before he picks us.  The bible says we are all utterly unlovely and when we are in this unlovely state that is when God chose to love us.  Let's be honest if we were chosen the way dogs in a pound are, a beauty contest with no beauty involved, none of us would be chosen and we'd be heading for the nasty needle. This, my friends, is love, 'not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.' 1 John 3:16

God chose me and I am glad.

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Since it's Wednesday let's have some midweek music.  Now this guy is very cheesey, he's cheesestrings on a four-cheese pizza with mellted cheese on top and a side order of Dairylea.  He's not just cheesey, he's M&S cheesey.  But his enthusiasm is infectious, he loves the Lord and he makes me smile, enjoy!


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Tuesday, 28 September 2010

We Are Family

Adoption must be a very difficult situation to deal with. The emotional stress on all parties must be immense and it is perfectly understandable that the consequences are played out for years down the line.

With the rise of social networking more and more people, frustrated with the slow rate at which the official channels work, are searching out their 'natural' families themselves.The British Association of Adoption & Fostering yesterday warned of the dangers of using sites like facebook to find their birth parents (read the article here).  The problem is, they say, that this method which bypasses the support of the more conventional agencies like their own leaves people 'unprepared for emotional dilemmas such contact can expose'.

For the family who adopts it must be a difficult thing to watch your child,who you raised as your own, search for the ones who, for whatever reason, could not care for that child themselves.  Every circumstance is different of course but I imagine the potential for emotional hurt and the destruction of relationships is huge.  The reconciliation of families should be treated with immense care and caution and the proper support should be sought and given from beginning to end.

The Bible says we are by nature children of 'the world'.  An abusive, selfish parent which treats it's children with contempt.  The world teaches her children to be greedy, self-centered, and proud.  God, knowing our hopeless state reaches in and offers to adopt us into His family.  His parentage is built on selfless, sacrificial love.  He is the good Father and I for one am glad to be called His child.

Occasionally though we wonder about our 'natural parent'.  What would life have been like if we had remained with them? Sometimes some even return to that abusive relationship, seduced by the veneer of glamour and excitement which is really just hollow and pointless. 

As much as this must hurt the one who adopted us, who took us on by choice and loved us with everything he has, he will not turn his back on us.  He waits for us to return to his love and he shows us mercy and grace beyond measure.  This is perfect family, this is perfect love.

Monday, 27 September 2010

As I Live and Breathe

I grew up believing I was going to be a hero. A fireman, a doctor, a celebrity, the inventer of a cure for cancer, a footballer, Timmy Mallett...  But there came a time when I realised I wasn't going to save lives on a daily basis or score the winning goal at wembley or make a living hitting children on the head with a foam hammer.  But that's ok because those things wouldn't have brought any satisfaction any way.

We spent the weekend celebrating the 30th birthday of a very good friend of mine. She was given a card which said "Inside every 30 year old is an 18 year old wondering where it all went wrong"  Now this is ironic because she is still young, vibrant and beautiful with life in the palm of her hand but there are those who believe youth and life end at the same time. The truth is that for as long as we have breath God has a purpose for us. Whether 1 or 120 we are still of use to him.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Life is more exciting with a purpose.  Not easier but definately more exciting.  We have direction and drive.  Unfortunately there are many people in the world who haven't found their purpose yet.  They see themselves getting older, maybe picking up a few wrinkles and a few scars along the way and wonder where it all went wrong.

God promises us that He has a purpose for us all. Under his guidance we no longer have to put up with drudgery, we can live a life that matters to God and to other people. He doesn't promise hero worship or celebrity status but something much much better, a life that means something not just now but for eternity.

Our primary purpose is to worship God, putting Him first in all things; everything else will flow from that and life will change. Promise.

"You are worthy, our Lord and God,
   to receive glory and honor and power,
   for you created all things,
      and by your will they were created
      and have their being."

Friday, 24 September 2010

Hated

Yesterday evening (Thursday 23rd 2010) Dougie Mark came to Rathcoole Presbyterian Church to tell about the work of Open Doors.  They support persecuted Christians worldwide in a variety of ways and do an excellent job. 

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As he told some of the stories of the persecution of Christians it became clear that these people are hated.  Hated by their Governments, police, the army, school teachers and in some cases even their families.  They are not hated because they are from the west or because of military campaigns or land disputes or anything like that. They are hated because they follow Christ; but they won't turn away, they won't deny their faith. 

Jesus said, 'If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.'  John 15:18

They know that Christ suffered first. He knows what it is like to be persecuted and His love will carry them on . They believe this love is worth going through all the horrors they are facing and as much as they are hated by the world they are loved a thousand times more by Jesus.  What a challenge to me this is, how pathetic my fears of standing up for Christ in this country and what a testament to the immense love of Jesus.




Thursday, 23 September 2010

Say that again?

"Are you listening to me?" Of course not, Match of the Day 2 is on, my team are playing and I don't know how the match finished yet.  My eyes are fixed on the screen, John Motson is the only voice I hear, I am at one with the crowd, they sway, I sway, they cheer, I cheer, they groan, I groan.  Immersed as I am in the enfolding drama I still can hear something in the background, a voice, someone's talking (why are they talking?).  Eventually highlights of another dismal defeat for my beloved Everton come to an end.  

I turn to my wife and say "Of course I'm listening dear".  
"So you'll do it then?",
"em...what was it you said again?"

Let's be honest there are all times when we just don't listen, men AND women are guilty of that.  It's the same when God wants to communicate with us, we just don't listen.  I often struggle to hear God but it's not His fault. I'm too busy or I'm allowing myself to get distracted because I don't like what he has to say.  If we don't communicate with our partners our relationships suffer, it's the same for a relationship with God.

So how do we tune in?  In what ways does God communicate with us?  He uses words.  Words on the pages of the Bible, words from the mouths of other Christian people, words from pulpits....   He also uses your own conscience, that nagging feeling in your head that tells you things aren't right and he uses circumstances too.  God talks but do we want to hear?

I wonder if He has been speaking to you lately, how have you responded?  Have you found convenient distractions to avoid hearing or have you taken the time to listen and find out what He's been saying to you?

Start with the Bible,  God has revealed Himself to you through it. It's big and long so it'd be a good idea to ask for help in looking at it but there is one central theme, one big message that you should not miss.

'For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not die but have eternal life'

 Don't ignore God, what He has to say is worth listening to.




Tuesday, 21 September 2010

What on earth am I here for?

"I can't do this anymore, it just isn't me. I'm built for something else, some other purpose, something of use." That's the conclusion I came to earlier this year.  I was working as an undertaker in Belfast and it just wasn't me.  Don't get me wrong, it's a good job, people need someone to do what they do but it wasn't what I was made for.  So I had a choice, keep at it and fit life in at the evenings and weekends or do the thing I was supposed to do.  I asked my manufacturer, my maker, and He made it clear - do what you were built for.

I want to tell people about God, how great He is, how He give's me purpose.  I want to reassure folks that life is hard at times but we are safe in God's hands.  I want to talk about Him all the time.  So this blog is a part of it, a chance for me to talk about God and Jesus and life and love and anything else I can think of.  I'd love it if you joined in the conversation; email me a question about God, comment on blog posts, agree with me, disagree with me or simply just follow along. 

Life is too long to not talk about the big questions, and far too short to put off doing what we were made for.