Tuesday, 30 November 2010


Rocky leans.

He doesn't just sit beside you or put a paw on your knee; he leans-in, almost pushes the person he is sitting with.  It's an active lean if you like.

The relationship between a dog and his 'master' can at times be a wee bit like our relationship with God.  It's not a perfect analogy I admit (We don't get rewarded for peeing in the garden for example) but there are definitely similarities.

I can learn a lot about my relationship with God from the way my dog behaves with me.  I get a brief glimpse into what the role of a 'master' is.  Maybe having children is an even more realistic example but I don't have any of those so I'll just have to make do with a dog.

I don't lean-in enough.  I love spending time with God, I truly do.  I love the sound of my Master's voice.  I love to walk with Him and take instruction from Him.  And the times He chooses to give me any sort of treat even though I don't deserve it, I am genuinely thrilled.

I don't, however, lean-in enough.  I don't bound over to Him constantly and press myself against him to feel comfort or love.  Often I don't refuse to leave His side.  I stay close but not that close.  I need to lean-in more.

How do you respond to your master?  You don't have to fight for His attention but do you take advantage of that access to Him?  How different would we be if we didn't just try our best to obey the master but actually sought Him out and stuck beside Him,  if we pressed ourselves against Him for safety, comfort and to convey our love for Him?

Maybe you do this better than me, I hope so.

Some of you refuse to even hear the Masters voice; you listen instead to some other master who doesn't want what's best for you.  If you lean on anyone but God you will find that your weight, your troubles, even your life will not be supported. Whose side are you leaning on?


Here's a song about leaning. (It's not really to do with the point of the blog or anything, it's just a great song.)

Monday, 29 November 2010

Full disclosure

Yesterday Sunday 28th November the Internet 'leaks' site wikileaks started publishing US government files.  They tell a lot about foreign diplomatic activities, opinions and actions.  In some cases they are secret in a lot of cases they are embarrassing.

Politics is a murky world, we all know that.  It is full of backroom deals, intrigue, backstabbing and compromise.  It is getting one thing by sacrificing another, it is about priorities.

As with life.  Last night David McIlwaine was speaking at Rathcoole Presbyterian Church about this same issue.  Jesus said, 'You cannot serve two masters.'  You can't serve both God and money, God and lies, God and dirty deals.  You cannot advocate truth and cover-up. 'Beware your sins will find you out.'

Often our own lives go by the same principles of these high-level politicians. In public we are respectable, upright, just, fair, kind and astute, but beneath the veneer we are compromising, cutting deals with our conscience.  Justifying wrong actions if they are done with the 'right' motives. 
We tell a lie to save face, then another lie to cover the first one, then another then another.  How many of us are so used to compromising truth in order to preserve our reputation that we don't even know what truth really is any more.  But how do we fix this?

We need to remember where genuine truth is found, the source of pure righteousness.  We find this only in the face of our loving God.  A God who knows everything and who is not fooled by any cover-up.  We need to remind ourselves that He will judge us on the things seen and the things unseen. He knows all and He is all wise.

God has a way of restoring those who have gotten so deep into compromise that they don't know where to turn. 

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

John 8:31-36

Embrace the truth, the truth that God loves you, that He sent His son to die for you and that by following His teaching, His way and not your own, you will be free indeed.

Friday, 26 November 2010


Caroline Moore is a final year student of Divinity at Aberdeen University. She has a great desire for serving God where-ever she can and has a passion for Bangladesh and it's people having worked there for a time.  She is also the author of today's post - enjoy! 


I've been writing an essay on women and alcohol addictions recently and it's made me consider a few addictions in my own life...

-That morning cup of coffee, I can't, nay won't talk to anyone until the kettle clicks and the pouring into the cafetiere commences.

-Marks and Spencer's vanilla fudge... this addiction is definitely fuelled by my employees discount.

-TV shows, when I get hooked I can't just watch one episode, I hate the weekly intermission, I'd rather miss some weeks then indulge myself in several shows at once. 24 for example, Jack Bauer was never meant to be watched over the course of months, but in one endless marathon in the dark with friends and silence for the entirety of what is in fact only a day.

-Blogs. There are 4 blogs I regularly follow, and when I see that the blog author has delayed or failed in posting I then continue to twitch and refresh my page until I see a sparkling new post. Those four are, Phil's Deeper, Wider;
1000 Awesome Things- a countdown of 1000 awesome things (surprisingly enough), bringing a little bit of joy and relief into my day; Jon Acuff's Stuff Christians Like, this one I stumbled across in the midst of some procrastination, he sees everyday Christian situations and writes about them from a somewhat sarcastic comical stance and then there's Postsecret, a blog about secrets on the back of a postcard, so addictive I even went and bought the books.

But all these addictions are just passing phases; they will be there for a while then disappear and be replaced by newer ones. Recently I bought myself an ipod and downloaded The Bible app, and discovered that I could sign up to a bible reading plan, I chose the 90 day plan. The Bible in 90 days, a challenge it seems. Could I get addicted to the bible and read through it in 90 days?

No it turns out, I hold my hands up to failing, in terms of addictions maybe I'd be in rehab, but this is one addiction I don't want to get over, I want to be able to immerse myself in scripture and read it faithfully everyday. My other addictions creep in and whisper to me, "have you checked this blog yet, reading your bible can wait" or "you can't read your
bible until you've had coffee". Surely my addictions are harmless compared to others, they don't cause me pain or cost me friends or job or anything serious, but they are serious in that they stop me spending time with my Creator, reading His word and growing closer to him.

What 'addictions' stop you from reading the bible daily?

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Let it snow

There's nothing quite like the first morning of the season when you pull back the curtains to see a blanket of snow over the land. That's what it was like this morning is beautiful Rathcoole. 

There was a light hazy glow hovering over the fresh crisp morning.  All was calm and bright, the world seemed as delicate and intricate as the snowflakes covering it.  It's no surprise that mornings like this are what children dream of.  to put on hats and gloves, go outside and have fun flinging the soft snow at each other.  Oh the joy of seeing their rosy cheeks as they come back into the warmth smiling and laughing at the fun they've had.

We were keen to let little Rocky outside as is his routine.  We wanted to see him frolic in the wintry weather, maybe flick up little puffs of snow as he investigated this strange new world.  We wondered how he would react.

We opened the door.  He ran outside, barked at the snow, did a pee and ran inside again. Disappointing.

What we saw as fascinating and fun he though of as different, weird, and it frightened him.  Just like humans when he encountered something different from the norm he reacted against it.  Change is wrong, new is uncomfortable, unknown is suspicious.

So often in life we do not give new ideas or new ways of doing things a chance.  We resist change at every level.  Only when it is instigated by ourselves do we really embrace it. Only when it's in our favour do we say 'a change as good as a rest'.

But things change regardless.  People are born and people die.  Stuff happens, people move on, nothing stays the same for ever.  Our world is completely different than it was 150 years ago, we hark back to the good old days but does anyone really want to go back there?

There is only one unchangeable, one constant - God.  That does not mean that he is being left behind or becoming out of date but instead he is not dependant on culture or fashion to find relevance.  Where-ever there is creation, whether it is mountains or angels or suns or people, God is not just in tune with it but sets the tune.

God understands the hip-hop culture because He enabled the people who thought of it to think in the first place.  God was not surprised by wi-fi or mobile phones or deep-fried Mars Bars. He isn't shocked by Call of Duty or Saw VI.  He understands 'street' as much as he understands any language.  God never changes -He always knows and understands what is going on with you in your life.  In fact he gets it more than you do.

God is everywhere, intimately involved in everything, and that never changes.

“Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days;
   your years go on through all generations.
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
   and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you remain;
   they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
   and they will be discarded.
But you remain the same,
   and your years will never end.
Psalm 102:24-27

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8


Exciting news! Tomorrows post will be written by the fabulous Caroline Moore.  She is my first ever 'guest poster' and I'm ver much looking forward to what she has to say.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Something's broken

I blogged a while ago about whether gender is an issue of nature or nurture.  As it turns out this theory has already been practised in real life with horrifyingly tragic consequences.

I boy who through a medical mistake, lost his genitalia while only a few weeks old was raised as a girl.  This was encouraged by a Dr Money (I kid you not) who was researching this topic.  This child was perfect because he came with his own control group - an identical twin.  (Read the full article here.)

There were tragic and disturbing consequences to this whole affair.  What strikes me most about this awful situation is not the findings of the experiment but the lack of wisdom shown throughout the whole process.

When we look to ourselves for guidance, when the world chooses for itself what to do, the outcome is often awful. If the bible was known by these folks, if they followed it's guidance they surely would have avoided heartache for them and their two sons.

The world needs us to share the good news we have with them.  Christians are not better, wiser or more sensible than anyone else but we have access to a God who loves, cares and guides His people.  He is the hope for the hopeless.

Christians do not sit on your hands while the world reaches out for love and salvation.  The people around you need to hear the good news we have.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
Romans 11:33

For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
1 Corinthians 1:25


Here's Dave Crowder band with 'How He Loves'.  I think you'll like it.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Jars of Clay

This is the extraordinary testimony of Nick Vujicic.  Born with no arms and no legs and yet he can praise God with his words and his life.

How can he, in the face of such hardship, such a debilitating condition still find reason not just to live but to live singing the praises of the God who made him that way?

We each share a common purpose - to bring glory to God.  Nick's incredible physical state has become the means by which he can bring that glory.  Through the inhibitions that his physical disability impose on him he can allow God's perfection to shine through.

In the video above Nick says, 'There is no point being complete on the outside when you are broken on the inside.'

How many of us are in this condition?  Walking around with full use of our bodies but our heats ache.  We are physically healthy and yet mentally, emotionally and spiritually empty.

Even Christian people can feel this way.  We can struggle with doubts, private sin, feelings of inadequacy or harbouring confusing or harmful emotions like homosexual feelings or anger and hatred.

If you're feeling any of these things it's unlikely that I can say anything here that will bring a resolution to the issues you face.  However the first thing is to recognise that Jesus is the great healer, the great Redeemer, the great source of love.

Your situation, no matter how dark it feels, is not too much for Christ.  There is no darkness which can overcome His light.  Come to Him.  If you're not sure how do that then I am certainly here to help (email me) or there are many other Christian people who will not condemn but will help you to be restored through the love of Jesus.  I do not promise a quick fix to any problem you have, it may not be easy but it is achievable.  You can overcome through the power of God.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 
1 Corinthians 4:7

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness
2 Corinthians 12:9

Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Mark 2:17

(Many thanks to the wonderful Nikki Keating for sharing with me Nick Vujicic's Testimony.)

Monday, 22 November 2010

Run fatboy, run

Marriage is great for all kinds of reasons but it also has a downside.  This downside is an upside too but with a sting in the tail, it's kind of an upside downside.

Buns.  Not just buns but shortbread and banana loaf and the pies de resistance - white chocolate cheesecake.

Yes my wife is a fantastic cook and baker and I am a fantastic eater.  I love cake, bread, deserts anything that's bad for me really, not to mention KFC, Chinese food and our own national dish -fish and chips.

A few years ago I went to America with my then girlfriend's (now wife's) family.   It was great but I came back fat.  I had been warned before that I had the potential to put on weight but I didn't heed that warning.  I looked at myself in those holiday snaps and knew something had to be done.

So I started to run, I ran every week day for months.  Each day I ran a little longer until I was putting in around 5 miles a day.  I was joined by my now brother-in-law and we decided to run a half-marathon.  We trained hard and against all odds we completed that run on Easter Saturday 2007 in the city of Larne.  Job done.

I thought that might have been the start of something big.  I had lost the weight I wanted and I had got fit to boot.  What was next we wondered, a marathon, a triathlon, an Iron Man competition?  Such good intentions, such great expectations, such a letdown.  I've barely put my trainers on since.  And now, now I'm fat again.

So it's time to sort this out.  I've got to cut down on the buns and increase the runs.  We are to be good stewards of our bodies.  They are a gift to us and we should take care of then.  For some that's easier than others but we've got to try.  I've got to try.  Today is the first day of the new regime.  I wonder will it last, I wonder if my knees can take it, I wonder if I can withstand the allure of Kentucky Fried Chicken and my wife's white chocolate cheesecake.   Time will tell.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
Genesis 1:26

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?
1 Corinthians 6:19

Friday, 19 November 2010


Today, inexplicably, the well has run dry.

I have nothing to share, no suedo-insights or pop psycology to deliver, no wisdom or learning to impart. I am empty.

So in light of this and with a hint of mild desparation I turn to you, my beloved readers, all three of you.  I am asking you to inspire, enlighten and generally provoke thought in one another and me.  It doesn't have to be smart or funny or deep and meaningful, just something - anything.

I look forward to contemplating your musings and replenishing my stores of inspiration over the coming weekend. 

Be blessed.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

You're only young once

 At the window of my house
   I looked down through the lattice.
I saw among the simple,
   I noticed among the young men,
   a youth who had no sense.
He was going down the street near her corner,
   walking along in the direction of her house
at twilight, as the day was fading,
   as the dark of night set in.

Proverbs 7:6-9

As much as we hate to admit it some of us are growing up, some are growing old and some are even maturing.  When we think back over what we have done so far in our lives we see lots of mistakes.  They occasionally led to adventures but mostly they led to struggle and regret.

So if you could somehow send a message to your 16 year old self giving them some wise advise, what would you write? Would you change anything, would your younger self even listen?

If you can sum up what you would say in a couple of sentences then please share it with us in a comment. If you need to take longer feel free to share anyway.

And if you are still young, if you still have not reached the age of regret then listen to us fools who have went before you and try not to laugh too much.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The King and I

William and Kate are getting hitched, super.

The BBC reliably informs us that 'Royal engagement delights world' which is quite a statement, I don't know how big a survey they carried out but I'm sure they're right.

I love a good wedding so I'm waiting impatiently for my invite.  After all Kate Middleton is a commoner and so am I, we are kindred spirits, birds of a feather.

I am genuinely pleased for them that they are getting married. Being married really is a blessing or at least that is what I have found. It's great to partner with someone, to take care of them, to love and be loved.  (Of course it's not the path for everyone.)

Unfortunately this media love-in won't last for ever.  The poor girl will be turned on, ridiculed and ostracised just like every other celebrity out there.Even the Royal family of whose country Kate Middleton is a citizen may turn on the girl, they may not, but they have form.   

She can withstand it but she'll have to be strong and her husband will need to be steadfast and upright. 

If only there was a monarch who was just, benevolent, merciful, honest and forgiving.  If only we had a King who would do anything for the citizens of His Kingdom.  A King who would not find it beneath Himself to go and meet, talk to, live with the common man.  If only there as a King who loved his subjects so very much that even for the lowest, the jobless, the broken, the scum, even for these would give up everything, would die, for their good.

Where can such a King, a King of kings be found?

Live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1:10-14


Paul Baloche singing 'Glorious'.   It's a song about Jesus Christ who 'stands above the rulers of the earth'.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Wet wet wet

I put a screw through a water pipe last night.  It got very wet.

We had a bad leek in the bathroom
It was a pretty stupid thing to do, the kind of thing you do in an instant and regret for a long time.  I'm sure I'll be able to laugh about it someday...

Thankfully my father-in-law is a plumber, it wasn't the main reason I married my wife but it was one of them.  He got the pipe fixed and the water is, once again, running through the taps instead of down the walls which is much better believe me.

Now the clean up begins.  To be honest it's not that bad, a bit of drying out, some duct tape and a lick of paint and it'll all be right as rain - so to speak.

We make the wrong decision in haste and we regret it at our leisure, isn't that the truth.  We give into temptation just the once and all of a sudden things have changed, there are consequences, there is fall-out, there is destruction.  It is better by far to resist than to give in and regret.  If we knew the consequences to what the bible calls sin we wouldn't commit any would we?  The thing is though, we do know.

There are consequences to sin in this life and consequences in the next.  We have all sinned we all face the consequences.  There is only one way to escape a guilty verdict on the day of judgement.  Jesus offers to take the punishment for you, if you let Him do that you will be declared innocent.  This is the only option you have, take it.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Boys to men

I was 'The Mandate' on Saturday.  It a men-only Christian conference, the speaker was Mark Driscoll with praise by Paul Balouche. 

Mark Driscoll

Mark Discoll is the Preaching and Theology Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle.  A church which started as a house group in the mid-nineties and now has around 10,000 members.  He has plently to say.  He's a bible man, he's blunt and forthright, some may say arrogant as well.  Driscoll is what might be descibed as 'not everyone's cup of tea'.

He challenged me though and for that I thank him.  He challenged me to be a better worshipper, husband, and warrior, to fulfill my duties, to man-up.

When does a man become a man? Driscoll bemaons the attitude of young men which tells them they are still boys, lads out for a good time.  No sense of reaponsibility, no need to work, save money, plan for the future.  No need to treat the women in their lives with respect and love.  Able to place their social life above their family, to refuse to be a good example to younger brothers and sisiters in the Lord, to sleep with their girlfriends, to get drunk.   Christian men acting like worldly boys.  Christian men acting like they have never met Jesus.

Last week I posted about a little boy dressed-up like a little girl.  Maybe the greater concern is that so many men are 'dressed-up' like little boys.
If you are reading this as a single woman demand from the boys around you that they grow-up.  Do not accept irresponsibility from them, do not accept them touching you inappropriately or treating you disrespectfully.  You are worthy of the best - demand the best.

It's to late for me to change how I behaved when I was a single man, I can only try to be a better married man.  Many still have the opportunity to become men while they are young; don't waste it.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

1 Corinthians 13:11

Friday, 12 November 2010

Lost and found

Tears of the Saints from HistoryMaker on Vimeo.

Gordon Stewart from Asialink came to Rathcoole Presbyterian Church last night.  He was there to speak about the wok of that organisation in Iraq, some of which he had experienced first hand.

He told us about a people group in the north of that country called the Yaridi.  These people had not previously heard the good news of Jesus Christ.

They have their own religion where they worship the Black Snake - Satan.  They believe that as the Ark built by Noah (Genesis 6-8) was stilll afloat it sprang a leak.  They then believe that the black snake coiled itself into the hole, plugged it and saved the human race from extinction.  This is not recorded in the bible, this did not happen.

Each day after worship the Yaridi people kiss a carving of the black snake as they leave the temple.  They also believe the black Snake will only answer their requests if they are able to get their arms the entire way roung a 'hugging stone' found within the temple.  They no nothing of Grace, Love, Mercy, Forgiveness and heaven.  They are in darkness.

Iraqi christian pastors who where forced to leave Bagdad under threat of their lives have recently started to tell the Yaridi people about Jesus.  They have aquired a small shop as their base and they have had their first convert.  The light is penetrating the darkness.

Think about the love and grace and frogiveness that you have heard of.  If you have responded to it already and have accepted Christ then praise God, pray for these people and support them whatever way you can.  If you have not yet accepted Him, if you have seen His light, squinted, turned away and stayed in the darkness, what are you waiting for?  Accept His love, live in the light and be set free.

Matthew 4:16

"The people living in darkness
   have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
   a light has dawned.”

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Man up

Boys wear blue, girls wear pink.
Boys like cars, girls like ponies.
Boys like Action Man, girls like Barbies.
Boys like building, girls like cooking.

Boys and girls are different, right?

One thing that seems to unite children of both genders is a love of Scooby-Doo. Who could blame them, it's great.  A little boy in America loves Scooby-Doo so much that he decided to go as one of the characters to a Halloween fancy-dress party. 

Little did he know that his desire to go as a Scooby-doo character was going to cause a huge ruckus resulting in his mother having to defend herself on the television.  The reason was that his favourite character was Daphne.

Was she right to let her son dress as a woman?  He was only five so what harm can it do?  Men these days are happy to wear pink shirts or ties or socks so surely it's not a huge leap to throw on a skirt of a morning.

It is undoubtedly strange to see a five year old boy dressed as a girl. The question is though - does it matter?


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Go in peace, but not in pieces

There is a lot of hate in the world.

Unfortunately sometimes those carrying out hate crimes claim to be Christians.  Such as these people from Westboro Baptist Church who, according to their own website "In 1991... began conducting peaceful demonstrations opposing the fag lifestyle of soul-damning, nation-destroying filth."

The bible says that the fruit of the spirit  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

At the top of that list is love.  We should love, we must love, we are commanded to love. Again in Luke 10:27 Jesus says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself."

So is there any room for hate? Of course! We should hate sin (that is anything that displeases God. We should hate the sin in our lives and the sin in other peoples lives.  We should hate the devil, he is the enemy of all people - even those who worship him.  He is their enemy because he only wants the worst for them.  These things are easy to hate but what about people, should any person hate another person?

Adolf Hitler, Joseph Fritzl, Dr Shipman, Fred and Rose West, Myra Hindley... Are we allowed to hate these people? 

At what point is it ok to hate someone.  Does it depend on what they have done? Can we hate people who are not sorry for the bad things that they carried out.  Can we hate them when they are dead?

These are difficult emotional issues.  However, love is not an emotion it is a choice.  We must choose to love even when we don't feel like it.  Jesus again said, 'Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.' He makes no reference to an emotional response.

With all that in mind is it possible to love everyone, is it even neccessary and, if it is, how on earth do we do it?


It's Wednesday which means some midweek music.  This song has a great message for us all I think.  It's by Casting Crowns who recently played Belfast. I couldn't go - boo!

(Thanks to Matt Bishop for the WBC link. Much obliged)

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Broken dreams and silent screams

It was a big day, a chance for redemption, an opportunity to put things right, the time to restore the natural order.

Crusaders had been recently humbled (humiliated) by Linfield in the Irish Premier League and then beaten by Glentoran in the County Antrim Shield. Belfast's big two had put 'the hatchet men' to the sword. But this was a new day, a day for revenge.

Crusaders are playing Glentoran at the Oval. It's second plays third. The team in second who are not the team they were and Crusaders who are great on their day but, well, it's not their day too often these days.

I was there with three grumpy men of varying ages. There was the pessimistic grump, the optimistic grump, the angry grump and me - the quiet grump. (I should at this point say that it is hard to tell whether these people are grumpy by nature or if it's the football that turns them that way.)

After six minutes our star player gives the ball away on the half-way line. The ball is knocked down the left flank to where our star player should be but isn't. The over-payed Glentoran player whips it into the penalty player where their hugely over-rated centre-forward has a free header. One nil.

Pessimistic grump turns to optimistic grump and says, 'this could be a big score'. 'It early days yet,' he replies. 'That's what worries me.'

Angry grump turns white then red then purple and unleashes a torrent of polite middle-class abuse at our star-player, the manager, the rest of the team and at one point, the ball boy. I remain quiet - It's going to be a long day.

To everyone's surprise, except optimistic grump, Crusaders actually start to improve. In fact by the end of the half they are starting to pass the ball - to each other! They have found a little fight, they are working as a team, they are playing well. It's still one nil but as the referee blows for half time we all can agree that the wee Crues have, overall, been the better side.

As the second half gets under way Optimistic Grump is pushing his agenda, 'You never know,' he says, 'You just never know'. 'Oh I know,' retorts Pessimistic Grump, 'it's going to be a big score.'

The wee Crues continue to play well, continue to press up the field. Nice movement, decent passing, more drive and vigour than the first half. But then the Glens break forward, we're exposed at the back, they get a corner. The ball is crossed in, the header away is weak, it falls to a Glentoran player and he shins it into the net. Two nil.

Optimistic Grump looks deflated. Pessimistic Grump is resigned to his fate. Angry grump is apoplectic, he rages at everyone around him even the burger stall attendant feels his wrath.  He would rip up seats and throw them at the dugout if he could, but he's 70 and has a heart condition so he doesn't bother. I just sit and open my mouth in a silent scream.

Crusaders rally and score. It's a good goal but too little too late. Even optimistic grump is non-committal about the chances of a revival. That's wise for no sooner had the shore-road men rallied than Glentoran had got their third - another mistake, another soft goal.

Angry grump left. The three of us remained slumped in our seats. Optimistic and Pessimistic joined me in my silence for the remainder of the game. Hope had left the building.

We couldn't believe we got beat.  Sure the crues did not play perfectly, they made mistakes but nothing major.  They played well enough to win, they just didn't.

Sometimes life feels like that.  We feel like we have been beaten by situations where we are not to blame.  We do what's asked, we do things right and still defeat follows.  It's not fair.

Thankfully Life is not like football.  In life, for the child of God, defeat does not exist.  God is always winning and constantly moving us forward on our holiness training.  What can appear to be a serious defeat to us (the plan that collapses, the promising situation ruined by others, the getting nowhere after years of effort) is a part of our training.

Life is hard and at times painful but at the end of it, where-ever and when-ever that may be, if we are God's, we will look back on it and see that the times of discouragement, of pain and of confusion were the times when God was moulding us, teaching us and growing us.

19 But you, LORD, do not be far from me.
   You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
   my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
   save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
 22 I will declare your name to my people;
   in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
   All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
   Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
   the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
   but has listened to his cry for help.

Psalm 22: 19-24


Apologies for the lack of post yesterday, it was not my fault. my internet was down.  God-willing the technical problems are over now.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Remember, remember the...the...emm...

Growing up we were always told, 'don't forget the bowl you were baked in'.  People who 'forgot themselves' were always frowned upon.  You know the type. The accent changes or they use hand-sanitizer after they shake your hand or they start reading the Guardian.

Ironically, people who have forgotten themselves sometimes forget themselves and use their old accent or are caught eating a spam sandwich and the whole facade is exposed.

It's funny though how forgetting yourself and simply getting on in life can be confused but there you have it.

Sometimes forgetting seems like a very attractive option.  If  life has been tough in childhood or some tragedy has befallen us or just having a bad day we just want to forget from time to time.  We shouldn't forget.  Every experience we encounter helps us develop. By remembering and learning from these things we can build our character and hopefully not repeat the same mistakes.

We should also remember God.  Whatever bowl we were baked, God was the master-baker.  He was the one who decided which ingredients were important for our unique mix.  Often, especially when we are young (like me!) we forget that all that impacts us is designed to make us who we are (Ecclesiastes 12:1). It gets us fit for purpose and we should trust the one who designed us to get it right.

Think back, remember, all the struggles and victories you've had over the years. Think back, remember, all the times you thought you wouldn't make it.  Think back, remember and rejoice that God is in control.


Did someone mention hand-sanitizer?

Thursday, 4 November 2010

What's black and white and red all over?

While doing some extensive research for yesterday's post (surfing youtube) I came across another Christine O'Donnell clip.  In this one she is seeking to promote the idea that lying is always wrong.  Fair enough.

However Eddie Izzard is also on the show with her and he asserts that there are grades of lies, that some lies are more serious than others and that sometimes it is better to lie. He asks Miss O'Donnell what would she do if, during the second world war she had been harbouring Jews from the Nazis and Hitler came to the door and asked her where they were.  Would she lie then?

The Bible clearly teaches against lying (e.g. Exodus 20:16 and Leviticus 19:11) but is it always wrong? When is it ok to tell a lie if ever?  How can we always be truthful and yet avoid problems like in the senario above?

Your comments would be most welcome.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Black magic?

So in American mid-term elections the Republicans won back control of the House of Representatives but not the senate.  This is of great interest to some and of no interest to others so I'm no going to dwell on it too much.

There was one candidate for Senate who is quite interesting though.  Her name is Christine O'Donnell and she is a Republican.  American politics being the way it is any one standing for election is going to have some serious mucking raking done on them.  Then when the muck is raked it is turned into mud and slung at the person very hard.

In a TV show in the mid to late nineties Christine O'donnell admitted 'dabbling' in witchcraft.  This is really dangerous, there is evil power in witchcraft and devil worship and this woman is now very against it. She got more coverage in the build up to this election than any other candidate with the exception of Barack Obama.

Given the all the evidence and after considered judgement of the facts Christine O'Donnell was declared a witch in the media.  It got so bad that she has felt the need to produce an election broadcast 'clearing up' the situation.

Lot's of stuff bothers me about this. Firstly that witchcraft is seen as a viable source of entertainment and secondly that it treated so lightly by some people.  Thirdly, that the media, not just in America, can be so biased one way or the other at election time, fourthly people listen to the media and accept it as fact. Fifthly that religion is used as a means to get elected.  Jesus did not die to win votes.

I don't really know who's right or wrong in all this it just baffles me.

Christine O'Donnell was standing fo rthe Delaware Senate and was beaten by a landside.


And now for your viewing pleasure here's the very talented Beth Rowley singing a song about heaven.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010


Sharks kill people sometimes, sometimes the people get away.  In this clip the diver who was attacked by a great white gets away or rather she was rescued.  The guy that rescued her was quite modest about it. He didn't want to make any comment to reporters, I'm not sure I'd have been so humble.

As it says in the clip the girl in question, Elysee Frankcom, posted on her facebook page, "If I get attacked or die, at least I die happy and doing the thing I love."

She was prepared to die for the experience of swimming in the ocean with big old dangerous beasts of the deep. Prepared to die.

There was a man called Stephen who's story is recorded in the Bible (Acts 6 and 7). He was the first person to be put to death because he was a follower of Jesus, he was prepared to die because following Jesus and dying was better than staying alive and denying Him. Prepared to die.

People all over the world are being told that they have a choice to make; either they deny their faith in Jesus or they die.  Many, many people realise that a life without Jesus is no life at all. They do not deny Him, they are prepared to die.

Jesus said, "Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?" (Matthew 26:25-26)

Somethings are more important than life on earth.  Jesus never said being His follower was an easy choice, we must be willing to take up our cross daily.  We must be willing to do whatever He asks of us, even to the point of death.  We should be prepared to die if it is to His glory.

Lord help me to live this way.

Monday, 1 November 2010

5 more minutes

Sleep deprivation is dangerous.

Lack of sleep can cause all sorts of problems; frayed tempers, bad decisions, car accidents.  In fact getting your rest is so important that secret moving-about-in-the-shadows types use sleep deprivation as a means to break the bad guys in interrogation situations.

I like to sleep, really like it. If I could sleep all day and all night I would but if I did I'd probably get a headache.  Any way my point is that you need your rest.

This is true spiritually as well.  God designed a system for us whereby we get enough physical and spiritual rest to keep us sane and healthy.  The Bible calls it Sabbath rest.  God gave us one day out of every week where we should not do any normal work.  One day when we focus on Him.  This of course doesn't mean that we pay no attention to God the rest of the time, it's just that our Sabbath is a focused, quality day with the Lord.

Britain still, just about, treats Sunday (the day most Christians use as their Sabbath) differently to other days. It tends to be less busy that other days for most people but that's starting to change.  There's more to Sabbath rest than just a lie in or leisurely walks in the afternoon.  The Sabbath was a gift from God, permission to spend time with Him, to rest in Him.  It is a terrible waste not to take advantage of it.

Many Christians too reject the gift of the Sabbath  by not taking the time to be in the company of God for more than a couple of hours.  We allow distractions to take over, it's a shame.  Of course if we get too legalistic over it that can cause problems as well but lets set aside rest time, God and me time.

Proper spiritual rest will aide decision making, calm tempers and produce growth. It is good, it is important, it is a gift - let's not waste it.