Listening to “Outside the Building” by Ordinary People. A Podcast
Let me start with a question, do businesses care more about disability than the Church? Perhaps some do, but it’s much more likely that many adaptations are made due to obligations and carefully planned and costed strategy.
Should the church follow suit? Does it already? Some churches operate as a business, with a large staff and budget who can be fully aware of and actively pursue accessibility compliance, so what sets them apart from companies like Coca Cola, or Apple?
One of the things I’ve learnt, especially in the last few years, has been the importance of empathy. This Christ-like heart is the one great advantage that the Church has over the world.
When it comes to adapting to disability, businesses have regulations, but families have needs. We certainly weren’t prepared for a child with special needs; we had to adapt quickly and still are. We had to learn fast, change on the fly and learn not be disappointed when things inevitably didn’t go to plan. Sometimes we might learn from the example of others, other times it’s Petey himself who teaches us, like when he sat on stage for 45 minutes at his nursery school nativity and took part in every song.
Families have needs. What is the Church if not a family?
Just as we weren’t prepared, it’s ok that the Church isn’t either.
If you don’t have have congregants in wheelchairs then there’s no need to put an ugly wheelchair ramp out front?
If no one in your church suffers from epilepsy, are strobe lights and laser shows during worship fine?
These statements might be true for you and that’s ok! The important thing is that we are aware of others, sensitive of their needs and have empathy with them.
While it’s easy to think that we don’t have congregants with a specific need and therefore don’t need to make adaptations, chances are we don’t have those people because they’ve went elsewhere, or worse, nowhere.
More than anything the Church needs to reveal the Father’s heart to the community; it’s ok to not be prepared as long as we have love. We’ve already talked about how difficult it is for us and for other families of children with special needs, to do something new. Almost a year go we came here, to morning service backed up by nothing but Google and prayer and were welcomed and loved immediately. We didn’t judge the church because they didn’t meet every single of of Petey’s needs, because how could they prepare for a child they’d never met.
That’s not to say that we’d just visit anywhere. What brought us to our current church was prayer and Google. We had to make a shortlist of churches that had certain facilities and at least one was dropped from the list for having no useful information on their website.
I could talk for another hour about the importance of having a relevant church website but you’ll be glad to know that now is not that time! A church website only can take you so far, to the door. What made us stay, even in the face of David McBride’s hugs, even when people didn’t completely understand, was that we felt accepted and loved.
What good is the great commission without love? If we go in obligation and not love, then what good can we do?
The Church is stronger as a family. As family we can adapt to changing needs through love and as a family we can bring the kingdom to all around us.
This article was originally published as a podcast, for Grace Community Church.
At first glance people with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Depression or Anxiety may appear “normal”, leading to that all too common moment when we suddenly realise and quickly followed by us becoming awkward and uncomfortable; unsure of how to behave around them. The end result? Adults may ignore the person altogether while children may resort to insults or bullying. For the person with the disability just leaving home can become a massive challenge; an obstacle course of uncertainty and judgement that you have to navigate whilst carrying a ticking time-bomb.
A few years ago I used to dread going to church. Trying to handle that with a toddler with ASD was just too much. There was nothing motivating me beyond obligation and even that wasn’t enough when a simple trip to Tesco could be as tiring as a day out.
If I was to ask ask you to think about people in the Bible who have a disability we’d probably end up with the same list of obvious candidates, but there are others that don’t often get considered because perhaps their disability isn’t outwardly visible or immediately apparent.
One example was a man who was called of God to carry out a very important task. To the outside world he was well educated, rugged and probably had an epic beard. He had no statement of special needs, or parking permit but when given a mission for God he argued with Jehovah himself saying that he couldn’t do it. Not arguing against the seemingly impossible task at hand but that he just couldn’t say the words God wanted him to speak. That man was Moses
But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” You shall speak to him [Aaron] and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do.
We don’t normally think of Moses as having a disability and people may say “it was in his mind” mental illness is a real problem and for Moses it was so big that God had to send Aaron, Moses’ brother, to speak on his behalf.
Throughout history people who suffered a neurological or developmental disability were seen as unsafe, possible criminals and best to be avoided and t’s very easy for that sort of negative attitude or bigotry to spread. In Bible, time and time again we see shocking examples of bigotry in how society’s outcasts were treated. People continually took customs into law and then turned it up to 11.
People often wonder what Jesus looks like, I imagine most of the time it was like this: ♂️ After all he spent a great deal of his ministry course correcting daft customs that followed that letter of law but forsook empathy.
One really interesting example of bigotry in the Bible comes from an unlikely source. Job, destitute, penniless, sick and alone and with some of the worst friends in history contemplates his lot.
But now they laugh at me, men who are younger than I, whose fathers I would have disdained to set with the dogs of my flock. What could I gain from the strength of their hands, men whose vigor is gone? Through want and hard hunger they gnaw the dry ground by night in waste and desolation; they pick saltwort and the leaves of bushes, and the roots of the broom tree for their food. They are driven out from human company; they shout after them as after a thief. In the gullies of the torrents they must dwell, in holes of the earth and of the rocks. Among the bushes they bray; under the nettles they huddle together. A senseless, a nameless brood, they have been whipped out of the land. And now I have become their song; I am a byword to them. They abhor me; they keep aloof from me; they do not hesitate to spit at the sight of me. Because God has loosed my cord and humbled me, they have cast off restraint in my presence. On my right hand the rabble rise; they push away my feet; they cast up against me their ways of destruction.
This is Job, a man described as “a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” in Job 1:8 outraged that the outcasts of society mock his situation. This same Job in Job 29:12-16 says:
I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know.
How can a man who has done all these good works, a man that God says is blameless, have such an attitude of elitism even now?
Job compares these people to criminals, which suggests that they aren’t. Job 30:2 describes them as “men whose vigor is gone”, being unable to work with your hands in an agrarian society would certainly be classed as disability and not being able to work would lead to homelessness and exclusion from community. Job’s discrimination may not be out of malice, but based on social norms. That doesn’t excuse it but it also doesn’t mean that God will rebuke him for it.
Instead God takes a different approach.
Starting at chapter 38, God begins to work on Job. Not just to lift up his spirits but to set right as heart. By the end of the book, Job’s family and livelihood have been restored, but curiously there is no mention of his health. We don’t know if Job was healed but by the end of the book that’s no longer important. Although it was never the point of his suffering, Job’s situation and corresponding time with God, teaches him empathy to the point where his ability no longer mattered.
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;
Job’s relationship with God changes and deepens, before he could only hear God, now he can see him too; he learns to have a heart like the Father.
We will likely all suffer disability in our lives at some point. For some it might be temporary, for others it’s a life-changing condition. We’re constantly looking for ways to prevent, treat and cure. Some people may be healed but ultimately the rest of us that are saved will have to wait until that last day to be gloriously transformed. Until then what can the Church do? In the same way that a pair of glasses or a hearing aid can help restore sight or hearing, how can the the Church assist in bringing people to Christ?
It’s really pretty simple - don’t get in the way.
That’s true if a person has a disability or not, nothing we do should putting up barriers that stop people reaching the gospel.
This article was originally published as a podcast, for Grace Community Church.
A peculiar people - 1 Peter 2:9 (KJV)
When you stop and think about it, the (big C) Church is a really odd place, full of peculiar people. Just take a look around you and tell me if I'm wrong?!
To the outside world, our customs, our order of service is completely alien. We live in a "post-Christian" world, where even here in Northern Ireland there are many people who have never stepped foot in a Christian church, even if only for a wedding, baptism, or funeral.
Many churches are now having to react and change tactics to reach a people that never had faithful parents or grandparents who sent them out to Sunday School or the Good News Club. They have no idea what we do or who we are.
If we get too comfortable with our own culture we can easily loose the empathy that we need to reach people who are different than us. Changing culture doesn't mean throwing out the gospel - just recognising that we can't reach everyone with the same tactics. The most common place we see that is on the mission fields around the world, but in some ways even that has become familiar. It's almost as though those big, grand acts of service have somehow become easier than small gestures of love. Is it really easier to tithe than showing empathy for people who don't look like, or act like us?
As a parent of a child with special needs appropriate I can confidently say, appropriate church behaviour went out the window a long time ago and Lila and I are both so thankful for the leadership team and congregation at Grace Community Church for making us feel so welcome; from the very first day!
You might be thinking:
> "Warmly Welcoming new people to church? That doesn't sound revolutionary!"
You'd be right, but for parent like us who have a child with special needs, or another learning difficulty or disability, that's not something we can take for granted!
We have family and friends that support us, but that doesn't mean they don't don't struggle to understand our needs and our patterns as a family. Sometimes a big gesture can have disastrous affects or friends get upset and confused when you have to cancel events because you haven't had a sold night's sleep in 3 weeks or you know that their house isn't prepared for a curious and energetic 4 year old who likes to disassemble everything.
When struggles or difficulties are hidden, even actions offered in love may not be appropriate and when it comes to the fulfilling the great commission of going into all the world and preaching the gospel we must do so in the light of the great commandments:
> Matthew 22:37-39
> And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
For the church to reach sinners, regardless of their socio-economic background, ethnicity or level of ability it must adapt its ministry, but it must never forget about love.
- How can we be inclusive as a church?
- How can we make the gospel accessible?
- How can we share with others without it being an afterthought?
As a father I ask myself these same questions and as a parent of a child with autism I say "how on earth can I do that?" Especially when, at times, it feels like my life is being held together by nothing but duct tape and prayer!
If I struggle with that balance, what hope is there for family and friends? What hope is there for the Church? The only way to adapt is to know needs of the people we're working with and have empathy for them.
Our son's behaviour, the way he lost the words he once knew and struggled to communicate with us, or maintain eye contact and the fact that he would rarely give hugs or kisses didn't mean that he had nothing to say. I remember very clearly how he used to climb up beside us on the sofa and while sitting there would tap gently on your arm 3 times. It took us a little while to realise what he was doing but then we realised, this was Petey saying "I love you."
Petey couldn't express how he felt in the same way as us, but he found his own way, he adapted and in turn so did we, but in order to do that we had to learn to "listen" to him.
This article was originally published as a podcast, for Grace Community Church.
18 months ago our youngest child was diagnosed with autism. Last night we shared our story and looked at how the Bible talks about disability, as well as a few practical tips for the Church.
Every Child Conference - 2nd June, Emmanuel Church Lurgan
A few thoughts on the new Apple TV
I love plans and meetings and email invites and cashflows and budgeting, but every once in a while I start to think too much.
I think about how my life is nothing more than a leaf on the wind and as I consider this spinning ball of rock we call home, hurtling around the sun at 70,000mph with nothing but invisible forces holding us together and I COMPLETELY FREAK OUT! Seriously, If I close my eyes I can almost feel the earth moving.
What I have to try and remember is that with or despite my plans the wind will blow and the world will spin and it's God who controls it all. God who created the very laws of Physics that hold reality together and whether I think I'm in control or not, He knows the destination, all I have to do is let go and let him take me there.
Watch how I soar.
Twice a year the streets of Belfast are filled with men in funny outfits, the cheer of families lining the parade route with loud music drowning out the shouts of protestors.
One of these events is the 12th July, “Orangefest”, the other Belfast Pride.
Ordinarily you’d never associate one with the other, but for someone like me who is involved in neither, they are strangely similar.
This is the point where you look for the “Report This User” button, go ahead it’s there somewhere. I wonder why you’d want to though. Why? Well just because I don’t want to be part of something doesn’t mean I hate you and just because I don’t agree with something doesn’t mean that I’m wrong.
Yea so Christianity hasn’t really helped itself over the last 2000 years and we’re probably just reaping what we’ve sown; the Orange Order is a pretty good example of this. That said I’m still allowed to have my own opinions, my own beliefs and choose whom and what I support. God help us all the day we loose that freedom.
For now, perhaps I should start my own parade, marching down Royal Avenue wearing a tinfoil hat. Who’s with me?
If there is one thing I won't tolerate in my class, it's sectarianism. Pupils who ordinarily show the utmost respect for teachers, can suddenly get riled up, treating you like a traitor, should you dare challenge them on what can only be described as a sin. It’s a touchy subject and the possibility of angry letters and phone calls from parents always seem a possibility, so it’s important to tread carefully and appropriately.
Many humanists would have us believe that religion (of any sort) has been the cause of war and misery throughout time, they aren’t wrong. Christians shouldn’t be “religious” at least not in the way the Pharisees, of Jesus’, time were. We need to interpret everything we do and believe through the lens of scripture, as means of self diagnosis to see if what we are doing is right. However the pattern throughout history is of people claiming who outwardly claim faith but inwardly harbour sin which they use to twist and warp scripture to suit their purpose.
Current day examples include “Protestant” paramilitaries, who don't know what the reformation was, or Christians who exclaim that immigrants should go back to their own countries and stop “stealing our homes and jobs.” Where’s their Christ-like nature; welcoming in strangers and those less fortunate?
The Bible must be taken as whole, not select random passages, not taken out of context, not adapted to fit our agenda or mindset. Just because a sin is traditional or cultural in its basis doesn’t make it OK; tradition and culture are not bigger or more relevant than scripture itself. Christians, not just in Northern Ireland, need to actually apply the Bible to their whole lives, not just choose parts of it as it suits.
What are your thoughts?
Recently in Church, our senior minister commented on how two of the hymns sang had been penned by people who had lived during the period of the 1859 Revival. A quick scan through the hymn book showed that a huge number of of our traditional hymns originate from that period.
If a work of revival results in such a volume of verse being produced, then perhaps it is not too far a leap to suggest that the so called “problem” with modern worship music is that having not originated during a period of revival the words and music are not inspired of the Holy Spirit in the same way. There may be a degree of truth there but I first I feel that it’s necessary to look back to various times of revival so that we can properly define the term, before making such judgements.
What is Revival?
The Bible show records multiple accounts of revival although not necessarily using that word; the repentance of Nineveh and the day of Pentecost being two that spring immediately to mind.
“And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God” Jonah 3:4-5
How bad were these nations but God still worked with them? Well Jonah was so afraid and hated the people of Nineveh so much, that he ran from God’s instruction and the Jews on the day of pentecost were the city that just crucified Jesus. Both times a wicked and rebellious generation were miraculously turned to the things God.
Wikipedia defines Revival as “a term that generally refers to a specific period of increased spiritual interest or renewal in the life of a church congregation or many churches, either regionally or globally.” Church history paints events such as the 1859 Revival, the American Awakenings or the Welsh Revival as joyous and blessed times when the Lord worked in power and people were saved. Indeed that is what happened, and then some. It would be naive of us to assume that a such a massive working of God happened during the periods mentioned and then outside of that time period life returned to normal. No, instead revival is a continual working of the Holy Spirit throughout the course a generation. Reports of the 1859 revival in Ireland show how society was turned upside down by the people coming to God; it was those lives who were touched by the revivals of the 19th Century that went on to pen these great inspired hymns.
At this point, I should mention that Wikipedia should almost never be used as a source when trying to make a serious point, but if you bear with me it does actually fit very well into my train of thought. On the page regarding revival it says
“Coincidentally, the very month that Jeremiah Lanphier began his prayer meeting in New York, four young Irishmen began a weekly prayer meeting in the village of Connor near Ballymena.”
Clearly the work of a historian rather than a believer, you may say, as the word “coincidentally” should in fact read “providentially.” But on a topic such as the 1859 Revival, in Ireland, primarily in the North , it’s very likely that the person adding it to Wikipedia would be a Christian and if so then therein lies our problem. We might be remembering back to the days of revival and praying that God would send another, but we the Christian church, don’t actually believe it will happen!
The Digital Revival
There’s finally been a great move in the last few years towards all kinds of digital media, online broadcasts and use of social networks. As times change, it’s important the the techniques we use to deliver the message of the gospel change with them. As the printing press revolutionised how Bibles and books are published and distributed so the internet has and is changing things yet again. We should always remember however that as the means of the delivery changes, the message should not; a pitfall that the contemporary church has fallen into; marketing Jesus as a brand to rival other lifestyle choices.
It goes without saying that care and accountability should always be exerted when using new technology, but on top of that we need to consider how it is actually used. A new church website is all well and good, especially if aims to draw in and inform sinners, but if it is designed to please members and existing christians who can stand back and say “wow, that’s a great website” then it really is missing the mark.
Their Foot Shall Slide
In his famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" Jonathan Edwards quotes Deut 32:35 "Their foot shall slide in due time." He talks about a people who despite God's previous blessing "remained void of counsel, having no understanding in them"
For all we know revival could be underway right now, somewhere else. It could even be happening as a result of the message being sent out digitally. Just because it is not happening where we are does not mean that it is not a revival. Has our foot slipped? Is God no longer working us because we no longer have a true understanding of the Gospel. What we need to pray against is that our longing for the past would get in the way of the gospel message for the future, lest God’s blessing would move on to somewhere else. In the past it has been seen that revival has arrived as almost a direct response to corruptness, indifference or false teaching in established churches and has resulted in new churches and denominations forming.
For example just because God worked in Northern Ireland in the 1950s, it does not mean that he will automatically bless the work a few generations later. Unless we stay true to the Bible and continue to reach out to the unsaved around us with Biblical love and humility; not just preaching sola fide, sola gratia, solo Christo but also Semper Reformanda.
Perhaps not 90%, but a large part of what we believe and practice is derived from social, cultural and denominational traditions, not the Bible. What we assume to be true takes the place of what God says is true, when instead we should be living our lives with the guiding light of scripture.
What you are about to read does not come from the pen of a particular denomination, or preacher, but from a Christian, who like Martin Luther read from the Bible and wondered why the teaching within was not being applied correctly or consistently by those that promote it most.
The aim of this discourse is not to cause upset or strife within the Church, but to encourage discussion and to educate fellow Christian on why they believe what they do, so that their life may have a more firm grounding in the Gospel. Finally if anything you read contains theological errors, or incorrect interpretation then bring it to us that we may learn and correct our mistake so as not to be stumbling block to others.
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Psalm 100:5 - For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
Happy New Year!
A few weeks ago I started my own project and corresponding Facebook group for what soon became known as the Open Bible Project. The goal being to produce a version of the Scriptures for various e-book readers which, within the constraints of the device, has a useable user interface and readable layout.
Many, many versions already exist around the web, but either have hideously formatted text or are far too unwieldy to fit into typical usage patterns for the Bible. Of course others have been working on this problem, Osnova has produced several Bibles and developed a jump to verse technique using the search function of the device. Type ge.1.10 and find and the reader will jump to the Genesis chapter 1 verse 10.
I've used a similar technique, by hiding a code for chapter using white coloured text (doesn't show on the device but is still searchable) you can enter Gen.1, Matt.1 etc and the reader leaps to the correct chapter. As far as the reading experience goes, each verse flow into one another, with verse numbers showing in a smaller font.
Very soon I'll have an Open Bible Project website up and running, hosting the scriptures and various reference books online. Each user of the website will be able to annotate, highlight and link text across books of the Bible and the reference library. This customised version of the Bible will be available (freely) as a download for use on your reader, bringing those highlights, notes and links with it.
As mentioned by Alan, Lisburn and Hillsborough Free Presbyterian Churches held a joint Creation Weekend, with speaker Paul Taylor from Answers in Genesis UK. I got my hands on the recordings thinking some people might have been interested but put off by the venue (as were a couple of attendees who left during the hymns and prayer but returned to hear Paul). This is his talk from Saturday night in Lisburn, entitled "200 Lost Years" it talks about the life of Charles Darwin and his legacy.
Apologies for the poor quality, it wasn't me doing the video...
Yesterday at 1700 GMT people from around the world came together to watch Barack Hussein Obama II become the 44th President of the United States of America. A few years ago, no one would believe such a diverse mix of people and countries would be so captivated by the inauguration of an American President, but after the hype and build-up of the past few months, it was thought that perhaps his speech would not deliver, those people were wrong.
President Obama knew not only the eyes of America, but the eyes of the world were upon him and his inaugural address, in this smaller interconnected world, reached out to everyone. Suddenly, it seemed that the whole of twitter, Facebook and everything in between were suddenly doing the same thing. As Obama set new challenges for the American people, a lot of us jumped for joy when he mentioned returning "science to its rightful place." I'm sure some of you reading this don't understand the implications, President Obama is a committed Christian, as am I, hopefully this will forever dispel the myths held on both sides of the debate that Christianity and Science cannot and do not go together. Science is not the work of the devil, but at the same time neither do we live in the "dark ages" or so desire to. I like my mobile phone, laptop, internet access, nuclear power, NASA, the Human Genome project and even the LHC. I read scientific journals and have a very rational and analytical mind.
Some seem to think that intelligence and reason go against believing in a "higher power." My intelligence and reason, as with President Obama, are not contrary too, but instead confirm my faith. Faith which does not come from clouded judgement, or impaired mental faculties, but a the very root of it, comes from the empirical evidence that there is a God. Others may complain that what I say is wrong, that faith comes from believing only, but I was a follower of science long before I was a Christian, it was the undeniable proof and complete lack of evidence of the contrary that not only led me to God, but continues with me today.
Those stupid atheist slogans on buses annoy me no end, this is how it would look if I had my way. I have respect for this guy there are very few people who would stand up for their faith, like that, anymore. Notice the word "faith" it's important, this isn't as simple, as I've seen trivialised on blogs that suggest "would a vegetarian refuse to drive a bus advertising bacon?" In my mind, as a Christian, the two cannot be equated and it is not only deeply offense, but also shows, sadly, just how out of touch and little understanding secular society has.
Our prayer meeting on Monday night had a visit from night Pastor Groza, of Bethany Baptist Church, Romania, and a group of operatic singers, the Pro Gospel Quartet, I think they are in Northern Ireland for a while touring around various churches and venues, if you get a chance to hear them you should, they are incredible, I have never heard such powerful songs, sung with such passion, they really were giving it everything! No linkage for you unfortunately, I can't seem to find any mention of them online, but they could give professional singers a run for their money. My hat also goes off to their pianist/organist who was equally as incredible and managed to
blow up short the church organ, that's what I call power!
I hope you've got your glasses nice and full, there's a whole stack of toasts coming! We'd like to thank you all for coming today, it wouldn't have been half the day it was without our friends and family around us, so thank you.
We'd also like to thank our bridal party for their help today, for the bridesmaids, Tanya and Lousie, our ushers Brian and Richard, my groomsman Ashley, Kyle for his reading, to Jessica for singing and of course Mark, my best man. Just remember bro, go easy on me in your speech. The advantage of getting married first is that I can repay the favour when its your turn! I'd like you to raise your glasses and toast the wedding party.
A big thank you goes to both my mum and dad and my new mother and father in law, who have so warmly welcomed me into their family. The love and support from both our parents and the Godly homes that we have grown up in, have made a huge impact on both our lives and is part of the reason that we both know the Lord today. Lets raise our glasses to our parents
Of course then we have the most important person of the day, Lila, who, Im sure you'll all agree looks absolutely stunning.
As I'm sure you all know Lila and I are both saved, and Church has been and is an important part of our lives, infact Lila and I first met in church, all those years ago, but of course being a typical teenage boy, I had very interest in girls and am sorry to say didn't really notice her. But as you know Lila likes to get her way and eventually, after a few years, I noticed her, which goes to show, persistence pays off. We started going out on the 6th of September 2003, after bravely asked her out via text message. I was a bit more brave when it came to proposing however, I did that in person! However any rumours that some people might spread. about how the shock put Lewis in hospital are completely untrue. I want to thank Lila for agreeing to marry me, I'm still not sure what I did right to make her say yes, but she did and now today I feel like I'm the happiest man in the world. So please everybody raise your glasses in a toast to Lila
Finally I'd like to thank our Lord and Saviour for all the help and strength he has given us over the years and would hope, now that we are married that we can now walk together, united in Him.
An interesting article, the author states that
"trust has faded in modern society because of the collapse in marriage and the family, the breakdown of working-class communities, and more fluid job structures"
I couldn't agree more, the sheer selfishness of people never ceases to amaze me, driving and shopping in Tesco on a Saturday afternoon are too good examples, but society as a whole is so wrapped up in itself that it is actually blind to its own condition.
It's a sleepy Sunday afternoon for me, after BarCamp Belfast yesterday and the media team in Church this morning. Time I think to relax, catch up on some reading and enjoy my new sample roasts.
I've been really enjoying coffee from South America lately, especially from Guatemala and El Salvador. Guatemala Finca San Francisco Tecuamburro is a personal favourite and I've been trying several styles of roast to bring out the natural sweetness in these beans and after the cup (or three) I've just had, I think I'm nearly there
Northern Ireland is a land which in the past has been blessed of God, but living here ourselves we may not fully realise the extent of the blessing. It only takes one look to the British mainland or south to the Irish Republic to see how previously God fearing lands are in the grip of “evangelical” atheism, militant Islam, and worse, complete indifference and apathy. Apathy so bad that many adults have never been to church even as a child. When speaking to people in Northern Ireland is is generally assumed that they have had some sort of church upbringing; Protestant and Catholic alike will have heard Bible stories and know who Jesus was. But without any “Christian” orientation in a life, a person will see the message you bring, of God's salvation as a strange alien concept.
Religion, especially Christianity is a taboo subject; atheists blame as the source of all the World's problems, a view taken up by many throughout the land. And to this background our message seems as bizarre and ridiculous as that brought by many cults like Scientology, whose beliefs we find laughable.A different approach must be taken to not just witness, but to educate as to what we witness about. Yes, we can live our life as a living testimony of what God has done for us, but if someone asked us why we lived in that way, telling them we are saved because Jesus died to save us from their sins, would seem as religious technobabble. It is a challenging problem, to understand this mind set, and find a way best suitable to witnessing to those with it, which will take much prayer and patience.
We must also pray that the plague of apathy does not take root here in Northern Ireland, for the seeds have already been sown, parents no longer send their children out to Church or Sunday School and the association of Biblical Christianity with the Catholic Church due to the Ecumenical movement, has tarnished our reputation.We must witness to the young now while there still remains a generation that are willing to hear, for once the foundation of youth has been removed the church will crumble. God forbif we would let that happen.
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16:15,16