Sunday 1st September 2019

” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. “

John 3:16 NIV

It’s a beautiful day

I wasn’t feeling great after a restless night’s sleep. I’ve got a bit of a cold, and kept waking up coughing. However, I felt a little happier when I opened up the curtains and the sunshine was blazing in. So warm, and welcoming. For this blog today I thought I would go over what I jotted down at the service today.

We were reminded of How God’s loving kindness is everlasting, with reference to Psalm 118.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.
Let Israel say:
    “His love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say:
    “His love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord say:
    “His love endures forever.”
When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
    he brought me into a spacious place.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?
The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
    I look in triumph on my enemies.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in humans.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.
10 All the nations surrounded me,
    but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
11 They surrounded me on every side,
    but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
12 They swarmed around me like bees,
    but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
13 I was pushed back and about to fall,

    but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.
15 Shouts of joy and victory
    resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
16     The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
    the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”
17 I will not die but live,
    and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
18 The Lord has chastened me severely,
    but he has not given me over to death.
19 Open for me the gates of the righteous;
    I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord
    through which the righteous may enter.

21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
    you have become my salvation.
22 The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
23 the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvellous in our eyes.
24 The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad.
25 Lord, save us!
    Lord, grant us success!
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
    From the house of the Lord we bless you.
27 The Lord is God,
    and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
    up to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will praise you;
    you are my God, and I will exalt you.
29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever. “

Psalm 118 NIV

We have all been invited to be part of God’s kingdom. We are all invited, but some, even though invited still make excuses not to attend and come to Jesus.

Before the prayers, we were referred to Isaiah 54.

Though the mountains may be removed and the hills may be shaken, My loving devotion will not depart from you, and My covenant of peace will not be broken,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

Isaiah 54:10

I have a Lord that loves me, I can feel complete and secure. We, as a fellowship, come together to God in prayer. Prayer for anything and everything that happens to come up. Today we prayed for our schools, and people who have converted from other faiths to turn to Christ, and have been persecuted for it, individuals and families in the church needing prayer.

“We thank you Lord that you do not leave us, you are always there, with your amazing sense of presence. You stand firm for us. We pray for our children, who this week are going into first days, new years and new levels of education and first jobs, we pray to you Lord for your peace and guidance in this new season for so many, to know your heart as we move forward, with wholeness. In Jesus’ name. Amen”

To stand side by side, praying to our God to ask him for his help is so empowering. To provide that reassurance that as a fellowship, we can make so much difference to so many by doing this, is just amazing. Just being in the presence, in time of prayer often gives me goosebumps and an overwhelming feeling of peace and joy.

and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.

Colossians 2:10 NIV

After prayer our pastor began to look into Mark 10:46

Blind Bartimaeus Receives His Sight
46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.”50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Mark 10:46-52

He emphasised the point that in the story it was Jesus that had said to the blind man “What do you want me to do for you”.

He explained that the ministry of Jesus is loaded with questions, and the fact that Jesus asked a lot of questions, who, why, what etc. e.g. What say ye of Christ? Is He the Son of God? Is He Saviour? Is He the Messiah?

All of the answers are there, in the bible, in the gospels, if we look closely enough. Eternity has been put in our hearts, it’s in our human nature. The bible asks us questions that dig deep into who we really are, questions which pose us to face up to ourselves, or question others.

He went on to explain how sometimes we need to ask simple, clear and direct questions to make people think. He talked about how often his wife would just come out and ask people ‘do you know where you are going if you die tonight?’ It reminded me of the story of Frank Jenner, the George Street evangelist.

“If you were to die today, where would you spend eternity?”

Frank Jenner

The pastor then went on to speak in further depth about the story of the blind man. Think about this, Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, he must have known that he was on his way to his crucifixion, and being human, this must have affected his concentration and focus of what was happening on the way.

We often find ourselves doing the same, we get so preoccupied getting to the destination, that quite often we miss things along the way. The same applies to spending time with God in prayer and worship and reading the scriptures, life often gets in the way.

In Luke and Matthew, Jesus told the disciples not to take a staff or a stick with them, as there would be things that would happen along the way.

Sometimes it is important to stop and help others if they need you, even if it could change your plans last minute, as you may be the person that God has assigned to help them. The Levite and the priest didn’t stop, they were too busy to help – but we need to be more like the good Samaritan.

Bartemeus was a blind man, sat at the roadside, had no voice, and often referred to as the unclean one. He cried out to Jesus and was told to shut up, but he didn’t. He continued to cry out as Jesus passed by, and Jesus heard him, stopped and answered.

There is an old saying, seeing is believing, but in this case it was not seeing and still believing. Think about a blind person, due to their lack of sight, often their other senses are heightened, so he would probably rely more on his hearing and it is quite likely that he must have heard that Jesus was on his way, through the conversations of people that passed or stood near him.

So this was an event! When Jesus passed by, things fell into place, as you can see if you refer back to the verse Mark 10 above. As soon as he realised that Jesus was passing he referred to him as Son of David, and asked him to have mercy on him, the One who sits on the everlasting throne. It’s quite that he would have been hearing the word of God every day and the book of Romans declared Christ.

Sometimes the enemy (Satan) will use anything and everything to stop us declaring that Jesus is Lord! or stop us listening to the word. In this case the people were telling him to shut up as he called out, thankfully it didn’t stop him and Jesus replied as a result of his tenacity.

Back in those days cloaks were precious, and if you had two cloaks you were asked to give one away to someone that needed it. So in verse 50 of the scripture it says he threw it off to go to Jesus so that he could experience his love, that was a huge gesture of how important it was to that blind man to get to Jesus.

Some have also referred to this as the man throwing off his cloak to mean throwing away and leaving his old life to go to Jesus.

Jesus said to Bartemeus “What do you want me to do for you?” How amazing, and we need to remind ourselves that he says this to us too. He wants us to call out to him when we need help, he wants us to tell him what the problems are and what we want him to do to help!

We must always remember that God does not always answer our prayers, a good example was Paul, one of the greatest apostles for the Christian faith, who referred to the thorn in his side. Paul asked for help three times and God’s response to him was “My Grace is sufficient for you”.

Don’t think that your problems are too small, God wants us to go to him for anything and everything, from the smallest requests to global scale.

He finally finished up with the line, don’t be an ask not have not. Take everything to the Lord in prayer, whatever is troubling you. He loves you, and wants to hear from you.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. “

Matthew 16:24-25

God said Go! So I did!

I’ve been putting this off… until now

Distracting myself with other things, making excuses, avoiding the obvious, fearing the failure, scared to look stupid, wasn’t sure how to do it, thinking what if it’s not what he wants, but I did the research, set it up and here we are, the first official post! Welcome to my blog.

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see!

John Newton

It is by the grace of God that I am writing this today, and quite possibly the reason why you have been drawn into reading it. It is through Him I can do all things, and all praise goes to him regarding this work.

I am feeling strongly driven to share my experiences with you through this blog, so that his glory will shine through and you will learn how different life is when you re-establish your relationship with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the future posts, I will share with you my life experience, the good, the bad and the downright ugly. You may not like me very much when I share with such honesty, but I have been reminded that my life with Christ requires me to be humble, love the Lord with all my heart, and to help the most poor and needy. And I feel that by sharing my experience honestly may help others who have found themselves in similar situations and don’t know where to turn or what to do.

What do you mean God said Go!?

Yes, it may seem a bit strange or weird to make such a bold statement, but trust me, I’m learning to listen to God on a daily basis. When I see a pattern of advice or repetition of something that would bring praise to God, then I know that I need to act on it. I’m not boasting, as any other ‘born again’ Christians will confirm, sometimes it is impossible to miss when He’s trying to tell us something.

The signs to start writing began last year, when a very old friend told me “I think you should write a blog”. I agreed it would be a good idea, but life got in the way, and the motivation and drive to do it fizzled out, until a few weeks later.

“You are a really good communicator, you should write a blog, it would be great”, to which I replied “Yes, my old friend told me that a few weeks ago. I really must get around to setting one up”. Then life got in the way.

I had heard several things on the radio, in conversation, and on TV, about sharing your experience with others to help them, this began to feel a bit weird, to say the least. But yes, you’ve guessed it, life got in the way.

And last week, when I was on holiday, there I was, starting my day in the sunshine with a lovely cup of coffee, reading my UCB Word for Today, scripture for the day, praying and taking notes in the garden, and there it was, in black and white “Get some rest”. I laughed out loud, and showed my friend, who had very kindly agreed to allow us to stay with her for a break away from home.

The following days word and reading were related to working out what God wants me to do, and I took notes to record my findings of what I thought I should and could be doing for God’s purpose. I continued my study during my time away.

Later I was talking to my friend, and the conversation came up about how I didn’t feel as if I was doing what God intended me to do with my life. I told her about a few ideas I had, and I was clearly told to just pick one, and run with it. So here we are. My first official blog.

Upon reflection I can clearly see that this is just one example of God was working through people to get this work started. I have so much to share with you, and I look forward to doing that over the following posts. Some may say this is simply coincidence, but I have said that so many times over the last 19 years, and nowadays I don’t doubt it being anything but from God.

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Who am I?

I am not worthy

I’m no one special, I often swear out loud when I know I shouldn’t. I’ve had a pretty shady past compared to the ‘average person’, I work hard, I’ve got a couple of kids, I’ve had a fairly good education, I am an ex-addict to lots of things from obsessive TV to excessive gym and a kaleidoscope of recreational drugs. I’m prone to bouts of depression and self-hatred, I’ve been violent and experienced violence, survived two suicide attempts and I battle cravings for junk food on a regular basis.

I have always written a lot, but not online, so I thought I would start to share my findings in the public domain to encourage and help others. If I can change one person’s life – the time doing this will not have been wasted, even if it’s just to make them smile or laugh for a few minutes.

I thank God every day for everything he does for me, and can clearly see just how much better life is with Jesus at my side, and the blessings of some wonderful family and friends.

I have been saved by God’s grace

One day, back in 2000, I had a life changing experience as my sister read to me from the bible. It was like a ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ moment, a blindingly obvious statement that changed the way I saw faith, God and Jesus.

My sister was always very good at putting things in the bible in a way that could easily be understood, she made me laugh when I was deeply depressed, and on that day I went from wanting nothing to do with faith to not being able to get enough of it!

She explained to me that the way to heaven was through Jesus Christ. It is written in the scripture in the New Testament in John 14:6

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.

And it didn’t matter what you had done in the past, your sins have already been paid for by his crucifixion and resurrection, he loves you and wants you to turn from your ways and live in his way, as God intended.

She explained that Jesus was special, he lived a faultless, caring and loving life here on earth and for that got killed in his 30s! Jesus was God in human form so that when we speak to him he understands what it’s like to be human, I thought there must be something in that. My curiosity increased the more I read.

All I had to do was to say a simple prayer, turning away from my old life and ways, inviting him into my life, into my heart, and hand over all my sin to him in prayer in his name. Then take up my cross and follow him. So I did.

After praying the prayer, I could not believe just how much I could understand when reading the bible. It all made complete sense! The grass was greener and I felt a huge feeling of peace and joy.

I could not believe how much of a difference it has made in my life having the ability to pray in Jesus’ name, having a personal relationship, and the influence and things that would happen as a result. All because of God’s wonderful grace.

I want to share this with you

During a sermon last week I heard “By sharing our testimony we strengthen our faith” which has driven me to start this.

I have decided to take the step to blog publicly, taking examples from my personal journal because I feel as if what I have experienced so far in this life could also help others who are going through similar circumstances. I stand in absolute awe some days at the things that happen and I want you to know about them too.

Don’t get me wrong, life is still hard, being born again does not instantly change things to be faultless, stress-free and perfect, and you’ll see that as you begin to read the blogs.

Unfortunately there are so many misunderstandings and presumptions of what being a Christian is, and more importantly what it is not, so I want to give you my point of view to break down the barriers that prevent communication, and stop the misconceptions about what people think going to church is.

I’m not really sure what the content of this blog will be until I start writing, but here are the sort of things this blog will contain:

  • Real life stories of what has happened in my past life.
  • My personal relationship with God.
  • What it’s like to walk with Jesus.
  • Real life stories relating to living life as a born again Christian.
  • Things that have happened since using prayer and worship regularly. God’s blessings and examples of proof that prayer works!
  • How I have applied what I have learned from scripture in my life.
  • What I have been learning about this week.
  • Other people’s testimonies I have heard.
  • I would love to connect with believers and unbelievers via my blog.
  • I would also love to connect to people who would like to hear more about my faith, and how to start their own journey with Christ.

I look forward to sharing my blog with you.