A powerful message from Frank Viola…
March 2, 2014
February 28, 2014
I always look forward to the weekly message from LifeChurch.tv, usually given by senior pastor Craig Groeschel. I listen to the audio podcast, but video versions are also available. You can take part in services, including worship and message, online, and get prayer there too.
My reasons for recommending LifeChurch are simple – as simple as ABC…
a. They are accessible. The messages are down to earth, sprinkled with humour and full of honesty and insights you can easily relate to.
b. They are Biblical. The messages are deeply rooted in scripture, stripped of the hype I’ve seen in some other large churches, totally focussed on Christ.
c. They are a community. It is so easy to get connected to fellow Christians, and to get closer to God, through the resources LifeChurch provides.
If I had no other reason for recommending LifeChurch, then I could do so for YouVersion. I have tried several Bible apps, and this is the best by far. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, please do – or just use the web version.
They also provide many resources for other churches and small groups. They are a true blessing to the Body of Christ. God bless LifeChurch.tv!
January 30, 2014
The promises of man
Are castles made of sand
And the tide will wash them through
Before the day is done
But the promises of God
Are stronger than a rock
And they will endure
Beyond the earth and sun
Almighty God, despite Your instruction I still worry too much about what tomorrow may bring. But I want to thank You today. I want to thank You for not promising me tomorrow, but instead promising me eternity, with You, in paradise. I thank You in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.
25 August 2010
January 3, 2014
Sex outside marriage is like dessert without a main course. It can be delicious and sweet and oh so tempting, but the satisfaction it gives won’t last, because you’re missing all the essential nourishment that the main meal provides.
Overindulge in pudding and it will make you sick. Do so without thought for a balanced diet and it might even kill you.
And isn’t the dining experience so much more rewarding when the dishes are served in the correct order?
December 30, 2013
I don’t listen to BBC 5 Live very often. It’s a news and sport radio station in the UK, and I was only listening for traffic reports, so it was a pleasant surprise to hear this on the station last Friday night. It’s a short piece about ex-footballer Gavin Peacock, introduced by Dan Walker, and also featuring John Hartson and Jonathan Northcroft at the end.
I think all Christians will recognise parts of their own story in what Gavin says. He speaks very eloquently about the way Jesus changed his life. He ends with a reference to scripture, 1 Timothy 6:10,
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Equally interesting is John Hartson’s brief testimony. When I first heard him use phrases like “you don’t have to be a church-goer” and “the big man upstairs,” I felt slightly uncomfortable, thinking “no, he’s got it wrong.” But no he hasn’t, because going to church certainly isn’t what saves us. And if using non-churchy language about “the big man” helps get the good news across to people who would otherwise be turned off by Christian talk, so much the better.
December 27, 2013
When my shower gel most recently ran out, I decided not to buy another bottle.
No, I wasn’t embarking on a pungent new ‘back to basics’ personal hygiene routine. Instead I started using the many mini-bottles of shower gel that I’ve picked up from hotels over the years.
The purpose of this post isn’t to discuss the morality of taking home ‘consumables’ from hotel rooms – that question has been dealt with quite thoroughly already, right here. The simple fact is that I had a lot of spare toiletries that I was holding onto ostensibly for an ‘emergency’, but in reality they were just taking up storage space.
I’ve always had a weakness for hoarding. In my teens I subscribed to news magazines like Time, Newsweek and The Economist, and I held on to back issues. I thought that one day the articles in there would provide fantastic background material for my creative pursuits – writing songs, short stories or novels. This was before the Internet made research rather less challenging than it used to be.
Well a time came when I moved house and didn’t have room for all those magazines, so I reluctantly took them to the city’s waste disposal centre. I don’t think they even had recycling facilities back then, so hundreds of magazines probably ended up as landfill.
I’ve had similar clear-outs over the years – a lot of CDs, a few clothes, and many little gadgets, tools and so on that might have one day come in useful. That day never came.
Every time I’ve disposed of, or given away, something I’ve hoarded, there’s been a small pang of regret just beforehand, and quite a heavy sigh of relief immediately afterwards. Almost like I’ve been released from invisible chains.
I could tell you a similar story about money, but that’s an interesting one that deserves its own post, so for now I’ll keep a hold on it. (Or is it keeping a hold on me?)
This morning after I’d finished my shower I thought about Job’s words (in Job 1:21),
Naked came I out of my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I return thither:
the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord.
And it’s true that everything we hold on to physically can be taken away, by theft, by accident, or by natural disaster. And even if we hold on to it for the whole of our lives, as the saying goes “You can’t take it with you.”
As Paul wrote to Timothy (1 Timothy 6:6-10),
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
The other scripture that came to mind as I was contemplating the shower gel was Jesus’ famous instruction in the sermon on the mount (Matthew 6:19-21),
‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
It can be very difficult sometimes to let go of things, even when you’ve convinced yourself they have no real value. Whether it’s selfishness, or fear, or some other emotion or lie that has you bound, the pull can be powerfully persuasive, and the consequences terribly destructive.
I know I haven’t completely conquered my hoarding habit yet, but as in so many areas of weakness, I keep striving to improve. One day at a time. One step at a time. That’s the journey.
November 10, 2013
From time to time I want to share web sites, ministries or resources with you that I have found helpful in my journey. The first is an organisation I connect with on almost a daily basis – RBC Ministries.
Founded over 70 years ago as Radio Bible Class, I first encountered RBC Ministries as I was looking for good Christian podcasts to listen to. I found three that RBC produced, one of which I will come back to later in this post. The other two were Our Daily Bread and Strength For The Journey. Each of these was encouraging and full of Biblical wisdom, in bite-sized chunks that you can listen to nearly any time and place. Apart from the podcasts, these devotionals are also available to read on the web site, and Our Daily Bread can also be found on a mobile app and as a freely distributed paper publication.
You can find many other devotionals, blogs and resources on the RBC web site, and I encourage you to look around and find something that helps you – I’m sure you won’t have to look far.
As time went on and I found other podcasts and other things to fill my time I decided to drop Daily Bread and Strength. But I continue to this day to listen to what is in my opinion an absolute gem of a podcast - Discover the Word.
Discover the Word is a daily Bible study with three hosts – Haddon Robinson, Alice Matthews and Mart De Haan – who sit together and discuss the Bible, its meaning, and its impact and application in our lives. Even though they spend just 15 minutes a day on each program, they spend as many days, weeks, or sometimes months as necessary to really look at the subjects in depth. I find it so valuable to hear all the different perspectives, sometimes close to my own, and sometimes very different, but always presented with a solid grounding in God’s word. You can’t help but feel that these are people who understand the struggles we go through in our Christian journeys, and in life generally.
To give a completely honest review I have to point out two problems I sometimes have with the podcast. The first is the length – not that 15 minutes is too short, but that a significant part of that time is lost. First, the podcast is not 15 minutes long, but nearer 13. I suppose that’s because it is also broadcast on US radio, and presumably some time is needed in the schedule for adverts or trailers. Then there are the intro and outro from Brian Hettinga. Sometimes his contribution adds extra value to the discussion, but often he is just repeating standard messages, reminding us what happened last time, or telling us what’s coming up. We lose another couple of minutes there, and that can be frustrating.
My second issue is that there will often be repetition of some of the conversation points across multiple episodes. This can irritate me, but it’s probably intentional and a good thing, because I expect this particular repetition is intended to reinforce important principles and is probably quite an effective method for doing that.
So again I encourage you to give Discover the Word a listen, and see whether it feeds your spirit as it does mine. The style and structure of the conversations won’t be for everyone, but it’s definitely worth trying for a week or two to see how you settle into it.