Archive for the ‘What Next…’ Category

Having a Relationship with God

Posted: May 16, 2012 by Nathan in What Next...
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Getting the right perspective.

Many people at times fall into the trap of confusing knowing God and knowing about God. I know I’ve done it – thought I’d been getting to know God better and yet all I was doing was learning more about Him.  I even went off to Bible College with the aim of getting to know God better only to find out it was all about learning about Him and what others have said about him.  However the two things are very much interlinked. I know a little about Australia, I don’t know it at all as I’ve never been there.  However, if I were to go there I would increase my knowledge about it before I went in order to make the most of getting to know it whilst there.  What I mean is I would read up about Australia before I went to make sure I saw the best sites, visited a good range of places and saw all that I wanted to see. Likewise with God we know about Him before we know Him.  We read His word, talk to people who know Him, we are taught by our churches about Him before we get to know Him.

Getting to know about God is a lot easier than getting to know God. Getting to know about God is a case of learning, getting to know God is a case of relationship.

Knowing about God

It’s good to get to know a little about God before we attempt to get to know Him.  Why is this important? Forming a relationship with God is not the easiest thing you will do – after all relationships are difficult things. The more we know about God the easier we will find it to know Him.  If I were expecting an important business call from someone on the other side of the world I would want to know as much about this person as possible. I wouldn’t want to be thrown by them not speaking English or being an intern when I was expecting the boss.  The Bible shows us how God communicates. 1 Kings 19:11-13 tell us that God didn’t speak in the earthquake or the fire but in a gentle voice. If we do not know about God we may assume that he will speak to us in one way and miss the other ways in which he speaks.

Knowing God

As I said before, knowing God is about relationship. So how do you build relationship and is building a relationship with God any different from building one with those around us?

Keys to building relationship

1. Contact

Let’s face it it’s pretty difficult to form a relationship without contact.  It doesn’t have to be face-to-face, though that may help. The same is true with God we can’t start to form a relationship with Him unless we have contact with Him, spend time in His presence.

2. Communication

One of the main things that will help a relationship grow is good communication. With God that is done through talking to Him and listening to Him.  It’s what we call prayer and is a vital part of getting to know God.  It isn’t easy and takes some getting used to, but is worth persevering with.

3. Common ground

In most relationships that flourish there is an element of common ground.  You talk about things that interest each of you and discuss things that are important to you.  With God it is no different.  A lot of the common ground that you share is you.  God loves you and is very interested in you, what you think and how you are feeling.  God wants to know about you even more than you want to know about God.  God created you and knows all about you yet loves to hear you talk about yourself, what your worries are and what you like to do.

4. Commitment

With humans one of the ultimate signs that a relationship is going well is to commit to each other.  With a male/female relationship this commitment may take the form of getting married.  It’s a sign that both people make to show their commitment. God is wholly committed to you, so much so that He sent His Son to die for you so that you may be reconciled back to Him.  God longs for us to be committed to Him. He know our hearts and knows when we are committed to Him, but we might make an outward sign of commitment to Him by being baptised or confirmed or giving a public declaration of faith.

5. Continuity

If we had a friend who visited us every day for weeks on end and then one day just stopped coming round we’d think something was wrong. So it is with God.  He is constantly their for us but we tend to blow hot or cold.   We go through good stages where we seek him regularly but then life crowds in and we forget about him, our prayer life falters and our bible gathers dust. We need to try and be consistent in our relationship with God.

6. Compromise

In order for most serious relationships to work there needs to be some level of compromise.  Many of us like to get our own way but in relationship with others something has to give. I remember in the first few months of our relationship my wife and I had to work out what areas of our lives needed compromise. It wasn’t the easiest of things to do but we know that to work as a couple there were areas of our individual lives that we needed to change. This sounds very heavy but all I mean is that, for example, spending time with each other meant spending less time with our own friends.  We both wanted to spend time together and in order to do that we had to compromise in the times we saw others.  It wasn’t a big deal but for the relationship to work it had to be done.

With God the compromise is slightly different and can come across as slightly unfair but it is anything but that.   God is perfect, all His ways are good and just. He is all powerful and all knowing and all loving. He made the ultimate compromise in sending His son to die for all the wrong we have ever done and will ever do. Now it is our turn to respond. We have to remember that God always has our interests at heart.  Any changes in our lives that he wants us to make are for the good of ourselves.  God loves and accepts us just the way we are but for our own good He doesn’t want us to stay that way. If we want a good relationship with God there are changes in our lives that we will need to make. If you kept giving sound advice to a friend who constantly ignored it you would still love them but it wouldn’t do much to enhance your relationship.

Through all of the above we can begin to develop a relationship of love with God. It takes time and effort on our part.  It is an ever changing journey that will continue for the rest of your life.  It will, of course, have it’s ups and downs.  You will have days when you think you’ve cracked it and days when you feel like your right back at the very beginning.

So How does this Relationship Start?

Any relationship has to have a firm foundation or BASE!

B Believe in God and what the Bible states about Him, that He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and that He came to earth in human form as Jesus.

Genesis chapter 1 verse 1

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

John 3: 16

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.

Romans 10:9

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

A  Accept what God has freely offered you – forgiveness of all your wrongdoings and eternal life through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not by yourselves, it is the gift of God – not through works, so no-one can boast.

S Switch to following God’s pathway for your life

Ephesians 5: 8-9

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of Light. (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth.)

E Entrust your life to Jesus Christ and His direction.

Colossians 2: 6-7

So, then, just as you received Jesus Christ as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted  and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness.

What Next? – Finding a good church.

Posted: February 1, 2012 by Nathan in What Next...
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One of the best ways to continue exploring the Christian faith is to find a good church to plug into. A good church will, in as many ways as possible, help you to find the answers that you continue to search for.  Each church is different but any church worth going to will bend over backwards to help you in a search for God.  Many churches put of courses such as ALPHA  http://uk-england.alpha.org/alpha/home or Christianity Explored http://www.christianityexplored.org/ which are specifically designed to help people who are exploring the various issues of faith. These courses are relaxed, informal settings where you can come with no faith, a shaky faith or even a strong faith and ask those questions that you have been wrestling with. Have a look on a church’s web-site and I’m sure you’ll find details of any such course they are running or if you live in the UK visit the websites above and search for courses running now.

 

So what is a good church?  Churches come in all shapes and sizes and vary enormously in terms of style, format, age range and feel.  What will suit one person will be a complete put off for another. So finding a good church is more than just finding a church with a good theology!  In many ways it can be a question of trial and error but we can rule a few things out first.  What would you be looking for in a church?  Churches in many respects fit the character of those that attend. Some people like to meet in small groups whilst others prefer larger gatherings.  Would you prefer to express thanks to God using modern songs or traditional hymns? Do you want to meet with just people your own age or a real mixture? There are enough churches out that to suit most people’s character.  The best way to find out what churches are like is to visit a web-site like http://www.findachurch.co.uk/home/home.php where you can see the churches in your area, visit their web-sites and even e-mail the vicar any questions you may have.

 

The beliefs of a good church. Below is a very short list that would form the basis of belief of all good churches.

  1. The Bible is the inspired Word of God.
  2. There is only one God.
  3. The doctrine of the Trinity that there is one God in three, eternal, and distinct persons.
  4. That Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary.
  5. The Deity of Christ, that Jesus Christ is both divine and human.
  6. That Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead.
  7. That salvation is by grace through faith alone.

 

If a church is based on the above beliefs then you can, at the very least, know that they start from a good foundation.  However, ask around – is the church a bit controversial or known for holding conflicting beliefs.

Other than that the main thing would be personal taste. Do you feel welcome? Do you connect with people there? Are there activities, courses etc. that are of interest to you?

 

I would encourage everyone to get linked into a good church and receive the support that a church can give.  Please do comment below if I can help in any way.

Having a relationship with God!

Posted: December 7, 2011 by Nathan in What Next...

Getting the right perspective.

Many people at times fall into the trap of confusing knowing God and knowing about God. I know I’ve done it – thought I’d been getting to know God better and yet all I was doing was learning more about Him.  I even went off to Bible College with the aim of getting to know God better only to find out it was all about learning about Him and what others have said about him.  However the two things are very much interlinked. I know a little about Australia, I don’t know it at all as I’ve never been there.  However, if I were to go there I would increase my knowledge about it before I went in order to make the most of getting to know it whilst there.  What I mean is I would read up about Australia before I went to make sure I saw the best sites, visited a good range of places and saw all that I wanted to see. Likewise with God we know about Him before we know Him.  We read His word, talk to people who know Him, we are taught by our churches about Him before we get to know Him.

Getting to know about God is a lot easier than getting to know God. Getting to know about God is a case of learning, getting to know God is a case of relationship.

Knowing about God

It’s good to get to know a little about God before we attempt to get to know Him.  Why is this important? Forming a relationship with God is not the easiest thing you will do – after all relationships are difficult things. The more we know about God the easier we will find it to know Him.  If I were expecting an important business call from someone on the other side of the world I would want to know as much about this person as possible. I wouldn’t want to be thrown by them not speaking English or being an intern when I was expecting the boss.  The Bible shows us how God communicates. 1 Kings 19:11-13 tell us that God didn’t speak in the earthquake or the fire but in a gentle voice. If we do not know about God we may assume that he will speak to us in one way and miss the other ways in which he speaks.

Knowing God

As I said before, knowing God is about relationship. So how do you build relationship and is building a relationship with God any different from building one with those around us?

Keys to building relationship

1. Contact

Let’s face it it’s pretty difficult to form a relationship without contact.  It doesn’t have to be face-to-face, though that may help. The same is true with God we can’t start to form a relationship with Him unless we have contact with Him, spend time in His presence.

2. Communication

One of the main things that will help a relationship grow is good communication. With God that is done through talking to Him and listening to Him.  It’s what we call prayer and is a vital part of getting to know God.  It isn’t easy and takes some getting used to, but is worth persevering with.

3. Common ground

In most relationships that flourish there is an element of common ground.  You talk about things that interest each of you and discuss things that are important to you.  With God it is no different.  A lot of the common ground that you share is you.  God loves you and is very interested in you, what you think and how you are feeling.  God wants to know about you even more than you want to know about God.  God created you and knows all about you yet loves to hear you talk about yourself, what your worries are and what you like to do.

4. Commitment

With humans one of the ultimate signs that a relationship is going well is to commit to each other.  With a male/female relationship this commitment may take the form of getting married.  It’s a sign that both people make to show their commitment. God is wholly committed to you, so much so that He sent His Son to die for you so that you may be reconciled back to Him.  God longs for us to be committed to Him. He know our hearts and knows when we are committed to Him, but we might make an outward sign of commitment to Him by being baptised or confirmed or giving a public declaration of faith.

5. Continuity

If we had a friend who visited us every day for weeks on end and then one day just stopped coming round we’d think something was wrong. So it is with God.  He is constantly their for us but we tend to blow hot or cold.   We go through good stages where we seek him regularly but then life crowds in and we forget about him, our prayer life falters and our bible gathers dust. We need to try and be consistent in our relationship with God.

6. Compromise

In order for most serious relationships to work there needs to be some level of compromise.  Many of us like to get our own way but in relationship with others something has to give. I remember in the first few months of our relationship my wife and I had to work out what areas of our lives needed compromise. It wasn’t the easiest of things to do but we know that to work as a couple there were areas of our individual lives that we needed to change. This sounds very heavy but all I mean is that, for example, spending time with each other meant spending less time with our own friends.  We both wanted to spend time together and in order to do that we had to compromise in the times we saw others.  It wasn’t a big deal but for the relationship to work it had to be done.

With God the compromise is slightly different and can come across as slightly unfair but it is anything but that.   God is perfect, all His ways are good and just. He is all powerful and all knowing and all loving. He made the ultimate compromise in sending His son to die for all the wrong we have ever done and will ever do. Now it is our turn to respond. We have to remember that God always has our interests at heart.  Any changes in our lives that he wants us to make are for the good of ourselves.  God loves and accepts us just the way we are but for our own good He doesn’t want us to stay that way. If we want a good relationship with God there are changes in our lives that we will need to make. If you kept giving sound advice to a friend who constantly ignored it you would still love them but it wouldn’t do much to enhance your relationship.

Through all of the above we can begin to develop a relationship of love with God. It takes time and effort on our part.  It is an ever changing journey that will continue for the rest of your life.  It will, of course, have it’s ups and downs.  You will have days when you think you’ve cracked it and days when you feel like your right back at the very beginning.

So How does this Relationship Start?

Any relationship has to have a firm foundation or BASE!

B Believe in God and what the Bible states about Him, that He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and that He came to earth in human form as Jesus.

Genesis chapter 1 verse 1

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

John 3: 16

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.

Romans 10:9

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

A  Accept what God has freely offered you – forgiveness of all your wrongdoings and eternal life through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not by yourselves, it is the gift of God – not through works, so no-one can boast.

S Switch to following God’s pathway for your life

Ephesians 5: 8-9

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of Light. (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth.)

E Entrust your life to Jesus Christ and His direction.

Colossians 2: 6-7

So, then, just as you received Jesus Christ as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted  and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness.

From Belief to Faith

Posted: October 19, 2011 by Nathan in What Next...
Tags: ,

Romans 10:9

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

All of us are at completely different stages in our life of faith. At one end of the spectrum there are some of you who have faith that there is no God and at the other end some people who have total faith that there is one. I guess that most of us sit somewhere in between. I just wanted to address the issue that some of you may have that you have a belief that God exists but want to translate that belief into something more. I would call it moving from a position of belief to a position of faith, or trust.

The Chair

When it comes to belief and faith I like to use the analogy of a chair. It’s perhaps because I’m quite a big guy so it is more relevant to me that others, but I hope you’ll understand the gist if it.

When it comes to the question of belief in God billions of people around the world would say they believed in Him. Yet for only a much smaller percentage of the world’s population does that belief have any real meaning. Billions of people believe in God but far fewer have faith or trust in Him. Here is where the chair comes in. When it comes to a chair or a stool or anything you can sit on, when considering sitting on it we have to believe that it will take our weight. We don’t want to end up in a pile on the floor along with the remains of a chair that didn’t quite do the job. As a bigger than average chap I have to consider this more than most, especially when it comes to camping chairs or chairs that like less than robust. I can pick a chair up, examine it from every angle, pull it about, check the joints and even read the label for it’s weight limit. I can come to a stage where I can look at the chair and wholeheartedly believe that it will hold my weight. It is not, however, until I sit in the chair that I can be said to have moved from that belief in the strength of the chair to having faith that it will hold my weight. So it is with many people’s belief in God. They believe in His existence but have not yet moved to faith in Him. It is one thing to believe in God but another thing to put that belief into action by having faith in Him.

So what does having faith in God look like?

The list below is by no means exhaustive but should give a good idea of the main elements that make up a faith in God.

  1. Believing that not only does God exists but wants a relationship with you.
  2. Being willing to enter into that relationship.
  3. Believing that the Bible is a major way that God has communicated with us and continues to do so.
  4. Putting in to practise the beliefs found in the Bible as best you can.
  5. Believing that God created us and all things.
  6. Believing that we have become separated from God through our wrongdoings.
  7. Believing that God sent His only son to die for us to bring us back into a relationship with Him by paying the price for our wrongdoings.
  8. Believing that God has sent His Holy Spirit to be our guide, counsellor and help.
  9. Trying to put God first in everything that we do.
  10. Believing that God wants the best for you and knows what is best for you.

Making the transition from belief to faith is a big step and not something to be taken lightly, but also not something to get hung up about. Some people make a huge “leap of faith” and go from believing to trusting in one quick step. Others make lots of little steps and get to faith that way. There are no set rules of how to come to faith but at some point you need to make the decision for yourself and pray a prayer similar to the one found right at the bottom of the page. Some of you may find that you’re not there yet and might like to try praying the prayer below asking God to help you in your search for Him.

When it comes to moving from belief to faith the Bible is very clear, all you need to do is“…confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” God has made it simple – after all there is nothing He want more that for you to make that step. Come on, what are you waiting for?

If you do make a decision to move from belief to faith please do let us know. We’d love to pray for you!! Also if you have any questions you want to ask before making that step let us know and we’ll do our very best to help. Just click on the contact button above.

Prayers that you may find useful

A Prayer for Help

God

I really don’t know if you are there or not.

I don’t know if you can hear me or I’m just talking out into space.

But I do want to believe in you.

If you are there please help me to believe.

Please reveal yourself to me in some way.

Please strengthen my faith

and help me in my times of unbelief.

Amen

 

A prayer of Salvation

God,

I recognise that I have been on a journey towards you. I thank you that you are real and love me unconditionally.

You say in the Bible that if I confess my sins and ask forgiveness, You are faithful and will forgive my sins and remember them no more. You will not hold them against me and You will give me everlasting life.

Father, I confess that I have done many things wrong in my life. I have not followed Your ways and have hurt you and others along the way. I am truly sorry for the hurt I have cause to those around me and to you. I repent of my wrong doings and ask for Your forgiveness.

Father, I believe that Jesus Christ, Your only Son, came to Earth and was born, that He lived among us, and that He was crucified to pay for our wrongdoings and for my wrongdoings. I believe that You raised Him from the dead and gave Him power over all creation.

God, I accept Your Son, Jesus, as my Saviour and I commit to follow Him from this day forward. Send your Holy Spirit to guide me, protect me, lead me and counsel me. Help me grow in wisdom, knowledge and love for You and Your ways. Give me the strength and courage to change my ways and resist evil and wrongdoings in the future.

God, I thank You for sending Your only Son to die so that I can live.

Jesus, I thank You in that You died for me while I was still doing many wrong things and had not yet accepted You. I thank You for forgiving my wrongdoings and for bringing me to a saving knowledge of You.

God I know this is the beginning of a new journey with you, a new chapter of my life. I ask that you would teach me to pray. Guide me. Increase my faith in you, and make me sure in the knowledge that I can rely on You, no matter what may come. Lead me to a good Christians and the right church where I can learn Your word and your will for me and where I can grow in my knowledge of You.

I ask these things in Your name, and I thank You for making me a Christian.

Amen!

Faith is always a difficult thing to understand. Many people believe that faith in God is a blind faith i.e. believing against all the evidence. However, it is far from that. Blind faith is throwing yourself out of an aeroplane at 20 000ft and hoping to land safely. Faith is throwing yourself out of an aeroplane at 20 000ft with a parachute which you’ve packed yourself, checked and double checked and hoping to land safely.

I’ve talked about faith and belief using the analogy of the chair. You may test out the chair before you have faith enough to sit in it. The same is true with belief in God. You don’t just blindly decide one day that you’re going to move from a place of vague belief to a strong faith in God. As with the chair you test it, look at it from all angles and assess it in every way possible. Faith in God is not something you blindly walk into – if it is going to be a real, genuine, living faith you have to go into it with your eyes well and truly wide open.

So, how can I test this belief to see if it will hold my weight? There are many ways that a belief in God can be explored, tested, challenged and built upon. Here are just a handful of ideas…

Find a friend

Do you have a friend who is a faithful Christian? If so I’m sure they will help you explore the whole area of faith. They may not have all the answers but I’m sure they’d be willing to help you find them. Talk to them about their faith – how they made the move from not believing to believing or from a belief to a stronger faith. Ask them about things to do with faith that you don’t understand. Ask them what it means for them to be a Christian. Some Christians love to be asked about their faith, some however don’t like it as they are worried about giving the wrong answer or worried that they might not have an answer at all. If your friend is worried about answering your questions ask them if there is someone in their church who you can ask.

You may want to ask your friend to pray for you as you explore the whole area of faith. Get them to pray that god would help you understand and reveal Himself to you.


Read all about it!

Some people love to read and some hate it. If you like to read there are so many good books out there to help you think through the whole area of faith. Your local Christian Bookshop manager should be able to direct you to the right book or books for you. It is very difficult to recommend books generally as there are so many out there, some not internationally available and you all have differing preferences. However, I would consider suggesting most books by Nicky Gumbel, Lee Strobel and Ralph O. Muncaster. They are writers with well thought out arguments to help you build a foundation of faith.

What better place to start than with the Bible

The Bible may seem like a very daunting place to start, but it needed be. Whatever you don’t sit down and start reading the Bible from the beginning with the idea of reading it like a novel. You’ll find it as difficult as reading a dictionary!!! What I would suggest is starting with the book of Mark, it can be found near the back of the Bible and is the second book in the New Testament. It tells the story of the life of Jesus and is an excellent place to start. As you’re reading it you may want to make notes. Especially of things that you don’t understand. If you do have things you don’t understand you can ask a Christian friend or you are more than welcome to contact us here using the contact tab above. We are always happy to answer questions and receive people’s feedback.

A Short course in Christianity

Many churches offer short courses in exploring the Christian faith. These are relaxed times of learning where you can ask questions and explore with others in a similar position about the Christian faith. There are courses such as ALPHA, Christianity Explored and many others run by individual churches. Many churches have posters outside advertising these courses or you could give your local church a ring and even if they are not running one they would be able to find out your nearest venue.

Attend a church service

Any church would love to see you. If you have a Christian friend why not ask if you can go along with them one Sunday to a service – they’d be delighted to take you. You may find the service a bit strange, especially if you’ve never been to church before. Don’t worry they’re not going to get you to do anything you don’t want to do but a bit like going to a bookmakers or Royal Garden party you won;t know exactly what is going on or what to do – if in doubt just follow what everyone else is doing!! You should find the church very welcoming and friendly – after all they’re just a bunch of fairly normal people meeting together to give their thanks to God and draw encouragement from each other – in its most basic sense that is what church is all about.

Finally how about speaking to God?

Praying – basically having a conversation with God – can seem pretty weird to start with. However, let’s face it – if God does exist then it’s the most natural thing in the world to do – if god doesn’t exist all we’re going is talking to ourselves which is good therapy anyway!!! I jest a little but you get my point. If God created you, loves you and wants the best for you there is nothing He like better than to communicate with you, to hear your worries and concerns and to help out. The whole subject of prayer is a huge subject, especially when talking about faith and belief. Next week we’ll take a further look at the subject and delve a little deeper.

Life is but a breath of God

Posted: January 26, 2011 by Haelie in What Next...
Life surrounds me.

Death surrounds me.

The presence of God surrounds me.

Then the LORD God formed a man
from the dust of the ground
and
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,
and the man became a living being.

Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
“All people are like grass,
and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.”
You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
With whom, then, will you compare God?
To what image will you liken him?
“To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
(Excerpts from Isaiah 40)

Life is but a breath of God.


Be comforted today by the One

who is the very Breath of Life.

Well, my week progressed much better than it began last week.  (See the Part 1 post from last week for more on that)

My son’s health improved.

I drove safely to work in New Orleans.

I am now stopped for a break from driving for a few minutes while I am on my way back home from New Orleans.

I just finished a phone conversation with someone from work regarding the project we just launched this past week.  Seems to go along very well with this issue of planning not always panning out as hoped.

You see, I work with healthcare computer systems.

Myself and a couple of other co-workers recently developed and launched an innovative, cutting-edge computerized nursing documentation tool which intuitively guides nurses in more accurately assigning a stage (level) to a patient’s pressure ulcer.  They stage them in order to track their progression of healing or worsening as well as to know better how to treat the ulcer based on evidence proven to help in the healing process.

This new tool is so innovative and needed in this field that it has recently been presented in a national Wound Nurse Conference and has even more recently been awarded first place in our hospital’s annual nursing poster/project competition which was judged by an external panel of nursing school professors.

Now, with all of that said, there is no amount of planning and programming that can replace the human mind and its ability to make decisions.

Now that this tool is in use, we are finding some flaws in it, which we expected, but are also seeing errors based on poor judgment due to lack of knowledge.

My point?

We can guide and direct and suggest and even offer additional resources for accurate and informed decision-making, but ultimately the choice is up to the individual.

In spite of the thorough, extensive planning involved in this project, we cannot force people to make accurate decisions 100% of the time.

Life is very similar.

Our God has given us tools, evidence, support, direction, suggestions, and even examples from previous wrong choices made by individuals.

We, however, still often choose to go our own way, try out our own ideas, ignore the resources available to us, and just flat out refuse to trust the One who has a specific plan for us.

The difference here is that our God is not faulty in His planning and preparation and orchestration of the day-to-day events, big and small.  He is in no way weak or powerless in spite of the fact that we often choose to ignore His guidance.  Even that, He has a plan for.  He lets us choose our way, but He can and will intervene when necessary in order to work out His perfect will in our lives and for the sake of His glory.

Even if you’ve been ignoring and/or avoiding Him for a very long time, it is never too late.  His guidance is always there.  His Word is our Resource.  He will even send people along to help us understand things a bit better so that we can choose to make better decisions.  No matter how many bad decisions you or I have made, the next one can be the right one.

Don’t throw in the towel just because you’ve messed up in the past…even in the past few minutes.

Trust our Divine Planner, our Creator, our Father, our God.

Admit you don’t have it all figured out, and trust His guidance today!

From Belief to Faith

Posted: September 29, 2010 by Nathan in What Next...
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Romans 10:9

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

All of us are at completely different stages in our life of faith. At one end of the spectrum there are some of you who have faith that there is no God and at the other end some people who have total faith that there is one. I guess that most of us sit somewhere in between. I just wanted to address the issue that some of you may have that you have a belief that God exists but want to translate that belief into something more. I would call it moving from a position of belief to a position of faith, or trust.

The Chair

When it comes to belief and faith I like to use the analogy of a chair. It’s perhaps because I’m quite a big guy so it is more relevant to me that others, but I hope you’ll understand the gist if it.

When it comes to the question of belief in God billions of people around the world would say they believed in Him. Yet for only a much smaller percentage of the world’s population does that belief have any real meaning. Billions of people believe in God but far fewer have faith or trust in Him. Here is where the chair comes in. When it comes to a chair or a stool or anything you can sit on, when considering sitting on it we have to believe that it will take our weight. We don’t want to end up in a pile on the floor along with the remains of a chair that didn’t quite do the job. As a bigger than average chap I have to consider this more than most, especially when it comes to camping chairs or chairs that like less than robust. I can pick a chair up, examine it from every angle, pull it about, check the joints and even read the label for it’s weight limit. I can come to a stage where I can look at the chair and wholeheartedly believe that it will hold my weight. It is not, however, until I sit in the chair that I can be said to have moved from that belief in the strength of the chair to having faith that it will hold my weight. So it is with many people’s belief in God. They believe in His existence but have not yet moved to faith in Him. It is one thing to believe in God but another thing to put that belief into action by having faith in Him.

So what does having faith in God look like?

The list below is by no means exhaustive but should give a good idea of the main elements that make up a faith in God.

  1. Believing that not only does God exists but wants a relationship with you.
  2. Being willing to enter into that relationship.
  3. Believing that the Bible is a major way that God has communicated with us and continues to do so.
  4. Putting in to practise the beliefs found in the Bible as best you can.
  5. Believing that God created us and all things.
  6. Believing that we have become separated from God through our wrongdoings.
  7. Believing that God sent His only son to die for us to bring us back into a relationship with Him by paying the price for our wrongdoings.
  8. Believing that God has sent His Holy Spirit to be our guide, counsellor and help.
  9. Trying to put God first in everything that we do.
  10. Believing that God wants the best for you and knows what is best for you.

Making the transition from belief to faith is a big step and not something to be taken lightly, but also not something to get hung up about. Some people make a huge “leap of faith” and go from believing to trusting in one quick step. Others make lots of little steps and get to faith that way. There are no set rules of how to come to faith but at some point you need to make the decision for yourself and pray a prayer similar to the one found right at the bottom of the page. Some of you may find that you’re not there yet and might like to try praying the prayer below asking God to help you in your search for Him.

When it comes to moving from belief to faith the Bible is very clear, all you need to do is “…confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” God has made it simple – after all there is nothing He want more that for you to make that step. Come on, what are you waiting for?

If you do make a decision to move from belief to faith please do let us know. We’d love to pray for you!! Also if you have any questions you want to ask before making that step let us know and we’ll do our very best to help. Just click on the contact button above.

Prayers that you may find useful

A Prayer for Help

God

I really don’t know if you are there or not.

I don’t know if you can hear me or I’m just talking out into space.

But I do want to believe in you.

If you are there please help me to believe.

Please reveal yourself to me in some way.

Please strengthen my faith

and help me in my times of unbelief.

Amen


A prayer of Salvation

God,

I recognise that I have been on a journey towards you. I thank you that you are real and love me unconditionally.

You say in the Bible that if I confess my sins and ask forgiveness, You are faithful and will forgive my sins and remember them no more. You will not hold them against me and You will give me everlasting life.

Father, I confess that I have done many things wrong in my life. I have not followed Your ways and have hurt you and others along the way. I am truly sorry for the hurt I have cause to those around me and to you. I repent of my wrong doings and ask for Your forgiveness.

Father, I believe that Jesus Christ, Your only Son, came to Earth and was born, that He lived among us, and that He was crucified to pay for our wrongdoings and for my wrongdoings. I believe that You raised Him from the dead and gave Him power over all creation.

God, I accept Your Son, Jesus, as my Saviour and I commit to follow Him from this day forward. Send your Holy Spirit to guide me, protect me, lead me and counsel me. Help me grow in wisdom, knowledge and love for You and Your ways. Give me the strength and courage to change my ways and resist evil and wrongdoings in the future.

God, I thank You for sending Your only Son to die so that I can live.

Jesus, I thank You in that You died for me while I was still doing many wrong things and had not yet accepted You. I thank You for forgiving my wrongdoings and for bringing me to a saving knowledge of You.

God I know this is the beginning of a new journey with you, a new chapter of my life. I ask that you would teach me to pray. Guide me. Increase my faith in you, and make me sure in the knowledge that I can rely on You, no matter what may come. Lead me to a good Christians and the right church where I can learn Your word and your will for me and where I can grow in my knowledge of You.

I ask these things in Your name, and I thank You for making me a Christian.

Amen!

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Wake up.  Get ready for work or school.  Go there.  Do your thing.  Go home.  Eat supper.  Get ready for bed.  Go to bed.  Get up and do it all again the next day.

Then there’s the weekend.  A little different, but basically a repeat of last weekend.

Add into the mix struggles with money, school, job, family, friends, your own self…what’s the point of all of this?

Will it ever end?  Or at least seem meaningful?

As in “The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

What does man gain from all his labor
at which he toils under the sun?

Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.

The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.

The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.

All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.

All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.

There is no remembrance of men of old,
and even those who are yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow.”  (Ecclesiastes Chapter 1 – NIV)

Do you feel like that “teacher”?  I have.  I understand very well his ponderings.

Why do I live each day to only get up and do the same thing all over again?  Some barely make it through each one, others seem to “successfully” breeze through their days, but most of us regardless of our situation have found ourselves saying these same things.

Is there more to life than “this”?

Yes, there is.

Life is much more than each of those repetitive things we seemingly do without purpose at times.  We are not here to become successful and make profit.  We are not here to find our inner selves and attain the highest level of inner peace possible within us.  We are not here to get over our low self esteem and achieve a place of having self worth.  Meaningless, meaningless, that is all meaningless…like chasing after the wind.

No, we will never find fulfillment in who we are or what we can do.  Sometimes it may seem like it, but that too is fleeting.

We are on this earth because our Creator loves us and has a specific plan for each of our lives.  He wants to commune with us and share with us glimpses of Who He is and who He plans to make us.  He wants to have us all come home to spend our eternity with Him, though in the mean time, He deliberately has each of us on this planet at this very time for an appointed reason.  And, while we are here, He desires for us to live this present earthly life abundantly by accepting His free gift of eternal life, right here, right now.

We don’t wait until we are no longer on this earth to live abundantly and eternally – it starts here and now…the minute you confess that you believe in Him and what He has done to pay for our sin by sending His Son to die on the cross for us.  The minute you accept that free, but by no means easy, gift He gave us.

I don’t know what His intentions for you are on this earth, but I do know that you and I are here “for such a time as this.” (See the story of Esther for more on that.)

I don’t know specifically why you are here, but I know that He says:

“‘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)

And He says:

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.  ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'”  (Isaiah 55:8-9)

I know that our Creator and Father longs to commune with us so that we can overflow with His love and mercy onto those around us who so need love and mercy that they cannot and are not getting anywhere else.  He wants to use us, even the bad things that have been a part of our lives, to show others how precious and freeing and peaceful His redemption and forgiveness can be in our lives.

Our world is hungry and thirsty for things much deeper and more eternal than food and drink.  Just like all of the things that seem so meaningless in this life cannot satisfy, looking inside ourselves or to other people on this earth will leave us feeling void and pointless.

Only He, our God, through His Son gives us purpose and fulfillment in our lives.

He will lead you.  Confess your need for Him because of your sin and lack of faith in Him and accept His gift right now.

He will guide you from there.  He will show you “the point.”

That’s why you’re here.

Are you up to the challenge!?!

Posted: September 8, 2010 by Haelie in What Next...
Tags: , , , , ,

So, tell me…how’s that challenge going for you? (You know, the one I dared you with back on the What if I don’t know what I believe? -Part 2” post…go check it out if you are just now reading about it for the first time…but you others have no excuse…you know the challenge I’m talking about!)  No, seriously, I do want to know how you’re doing with it.  In case you’re wondering…I learned so much when I dove into the Book of John last year!  I do hope you will give it a chance, if you haven’t already.

Well, there are only a few options of answers for “How’s the challenge going?”

  • “I’ve started, but I haven’t gotten all the way through yet.”
    • Well, I must say, very good! Seriously, I know you may be beating yourself up over it a little (or a lot), but I promise, sometimes you just have to do things at your own pace.  And, believe it or not, that is exactly the pace at which you should be doing it.
    • The main thing is…just don’t quit!  Don’t give up! Keep reading and considering all that is there and you will be so glad you did!
      • Are you hung up on something?
      • Do you have questions that have surfaced?
        • Ask. We may not know the answer, but we can sure try to help you find out.
          • By the way, for any of you at whatever stage in this, one thing I have learned very well lately is to not wait until you (or I) have all of the answers and get it all figured out (we never will…no one can).
          • Take Him as you know Him right now, the way He has revealed Himself to you up to this point in your life, especially through the book of John as you are working your way through this challenge.  He will progressively answer more of your questions and show you more of Himself in your life as you are honest about what you do know (little or much) and act on the knowledge you do have.
  • “I’ve already finished.”
    • Awesome!!! Now, did you really consider it as you were reading it?
      • If so, what kind of thoughts did you have?
      • What different things did you learn (or are you still learning, rather)?
        • Please share.
      • Do you remember the part about Him feeding the extremely large crowd of people?  Did you catch a couple of the lessons in that?
        • Like for instance, sometimes in order to realize that God is at work we have to realize how humanly impossible the situation is.
        • Also, when we are dealing with something that is so impossible, are you one who takes whatever you have (strength, hope, energy, belief, money, etc. – even as little as it may be) and brings it to Him knowing He can take it and multiply it like He did the food that day and do something you could have never dreamed possible!?!
        • Here’s an awesome quote for you from the study of John which I went through last year (called BSF International, in case you want to know more about it).  It’s related to a lesson to be learned from the boy who gave his small lunch to be used that day, not knowing if he would even get to eat any of his own lunch, but just thinking that he might could be of some help…
          • “You must risk in faith before you know by experience.” (Will you take that risk!?!)
  • “I haven’t started at all…” (followed by one of the following:)
    • “…but I do plan to, just haven’t done it yet.”
      • Again, I’m very glad you plan to (of course, it doesn’t matter whether I’m glad or not…you don’t have to please me…you don’t owe anything to me…this is all for YOU…for YOUR benefit, not mine.).
      • Do start as soon as you get a chance, and I will say the same to you as I did above in the first response at the beginning of this post.  Go back up there and read that again.
    • “…and I don’t plan to at all.” (To which I will then ask “Why Not?” and your response may be very close to one of the following:)
      • “I already know what it says, because I’ve read all or most of John as well as the rest of the Bible so many times over the years…not to mention all of the sermons I’ve heard on it (or even preached on it). So, really, what’s the point?  I already know all there is to know.”
        • Really?  You do? I do understand what you are saying, as I have thought and told myself the very same thing several times, for many years of time as a matter of fact.
        • Is it really that you think that there is no way you could see/read/learn anything new by reading John again…or could there be more to it?
        • Let’s think about this.  Time to really get honest.  I dare you!
          • Could it be that you have been rationalizing your life and way of thinking for so long that you don’t even realize that – even though you say you are happy with your life and the way you are living it and are furthermore not doing anything wrong?
          • Could it be that you are actually refusing to “come to the light lest your deeds be exposed” and you have to face and admit the fact that you have been wrong after all?  (quoting from BSF and John 3:18-21, not to mention my own experience)
            • I know it’s terribly difficult and even humiliating to consider that you might have to hear “I told you so.”,  even if it is your own self saying it!
              • (And, honestly, you are probably the only one who will say that to you…so many people in your life will be so overjoyed and refreshed to see the change in you and the obvious joy in your life that they won’t even think twice to welcome you home with loving, forgiving, caring arms.)
            • No one can judge you, because no one on this earth is above sinking to the lowest depths imaginable…and each of us truly knows that about ourselves.
      • “I don’t believe in God, so there is no point in reading the Bible.  It’s no more real than the mythological writings.”
        • Do you believe everything else that you read? Fiction?  Mythology?  Folklore?
        • If you read other things KNOWING they are not true nor real, then what will it hurt to read this one book of the Bible, John?  Besides, it’s nowhere near the length/size of many highly read literary works (the likes of which you may enjoy reading as well).
        • Why not just take this intellectual challenge and read it once through?
        • I’m not asking you to believe it.  As a matter of fact, you can even leave out the prayer part of the challenge if that’s just way too “out there” for you.  No big deal.  Give it a shot.
        • Again, as I said when I first issued the challenge…I dare you!  I’ll even up the ante now…I DOUBLE DOG dare you!

We will be looking forward to hearing from you in response to how your “What If…” Journey / Challenge is going.  Share your thoughts…honest…good, bad, or indifferent.