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"Scotland and England"

Tuesday 14th December 2010

Over a long weekend in November a friend and I visited the Helping Hand Hostel in Auchinlech, Scotland, run by Iain and Mary Robertson. This is a home for drug addicts and alcoholics accommodating around eight people at any given time. Iain and Mary live on the ground floor of these premises, which used to be a pub! The ministry also operates a drop-in café and a charity shop. Their main objective is to share the gospel with these folk every day through Bible study and practical Christ-like love. This was a tremendous experience for us as we lived in the home for a few days and saw the sacrifice of Iain and Mary and the impact they are making on these needy souls. Do pray for them in this difficult ministry.

We then travelled on to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne to visit Jim and Janet McMaster who do street outreach in the City Centre. Jim operates a soup kitchen mainly for homeless people. He also provides them with some resources such as sleeping bags, toiletries etc. Again, Jim’s main objective is to reach these people with the gospel, showing them the love of Christ. This is a hard ministry. Over a period of three weeks, five of Jim’s regular contacts died. Jim sees his ministry as snatching souls from the mouth of hell. Do pray for Jim and Janet. To see something of Jim's work watch his YouTube video or follow @streetgospel on Twitter.

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"My Recent Visit To Australia"

Wednesday 3rd November 2010

Thank you to those of you who were praying for me during my recent trip to Coffs Harbour Bible Church, NSW, Australia. It was a wonderful experience that I will cherish for a long time. The meetings were a blessing, with a definite sense of the Presence of God in our midst and therefore the knowledge that the Lord was working in many hearts. At the Revival Meetings there were a number of believers who responded to the messages and at the Evangelistic Weekend there were some professions of faith also.

Probably the highlight of my time was the opportunity to get to know some lovely Christian brothers and sisters and to personally engage with them concerning certain struggles in their Christian experience. To see the Lord minister personally to individuals and families was a wonderful joy and privilege. We give great praise to God for His grace and goodness!

It is good to be home and to be with the family again. Thank you for praying for their blessing and protection.

Let me leave just a wee quote with you that has blessed me tremendously in recent days and is in keeping with the recent Galatians study on preachtheword.com:

"I refuse to fight over theories, but I am looking for the fellowship of the burning heart. I am looking for men and women who are lost in worship, those who love God until He is the sweetheart of the soul...I thank God that I escaped from doctrinal hair-splitters and theological niceties. I thank God I was fanatical enough to shut my eyes and jump, and God took care of what is left" - A.W. Tozer

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"Ministry Update"

Saturday 2nd October 2010

Our prayer, as always, is to catch souls for the Lord Jesus Christ. For this task we must always be listening for the Master's instruction and obeying His every command. We look forward to the days when the nets will be bursting with fish, but in the meantime we rejoice at the ones and twos coming to Jesus.

Cathedral Road Bus Mission, Armagh
The last week in August and the first week in September we conducted a mission in the Cathedral Road Recreation Centre in Armagh just opposite the Roman Catholic Cathedral. These meetings were organised by some Christians from various churches in Armagh who operate a Friday night 'Life Bus' outreach to young people who are 'out on the town'. The 'Life Bus' is an old Ulsterbus which has been fitted with kitchen facilities and comfortable seating in order to talk to young people about the Lord.

It was hoped that, because the Cathedral Road Centre was in the area where most of these young people live, they would gather in to hear the gospel. Unfortunately, the response from them was not as we would have liked, yet some people did attend who were unexpected. In total about five unbelievers were in the first week and about five the second – not a lot by many people's standards – and yet we praise the Lord that in week one a teenage girl professed faith, and in week two a man in his thirties sought the Lord! To God be the glory! Both these folk need much prayer.

The organisers of this event are excited about future opportunities in this previously untouched area of Armagh – please pray that they will know the Lord's leading in this.

Australia
Please pray for David as he visits Coffs Harbour Bible Church in New South Wales, Australia, for a special series of Revival and Evangelism meetings in October. These meetings have been arranged for a couple of years, and a great deal of organisation has gone into them on the part of the Church at Coffs Harbour. David will be away for approximately two and a half weeks so please do pray for Barbara, Lydia and Noah. David's itinerary is available, to help keep you informed so that you can pray as he preaches.

Preach The Word
We praise the Lord as we celebrated the 10th Anniversary of preachtheword.com on the 1st of September. The labour of love and the faithful service of Andrew Watkins, and indeed the whole Watkins family, are a constant source of encouragement to us. The Lord continues to amaze us by multiplying the Word through this internet ministry. Pray that the Lord will continue to sustain Andrew for this mighty calling that God has upon his life.

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"Are You Trying?"

Tuesday 21st September 2010

"This only would I learn of you, did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" - Galatians 3:2-3

Paul's message is very clear: the message of the Gospel that brings salvation is Christ - it's a gift, a free gift by grace. We receive it from God by the hand of faith, and there's nothing else involved. No works or no merits of our own! But Paul is at pains to get across that sanctification is exactly the same: it is by grace through faith, not of works of the law.

I challenge you: how are you living your Christian life? Are you trying to do what God has commanded? 'Trying' being the operative word - are you trying? Are you, perhaps, trying to do what others expect of you, or live up to the standard that they have ordained for you? Or are you living what is clearly New Testament Christianity, which is a personal faith-based relationship with God the Father, through abiding in His Son Jesus Christ by faith, and walking in loving obedience to the Word of God through the person and the power of the Holy Spirit? Whilst some may think this is splitting hairs, Paul didn't think so. This was such a serious issue that Paul actually accused these Judaisers in Galatia of preaching a different gospel, whether of salvation or sanctification. It was the difference between doing and being.

Paul said in Galatians 2:20: 'I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me'. That is how you live the Christian life! I thank God, through the recommendation of some Christians in my youth, I read a little book by Roy Hession called 'The Calvary Road'. There is one statement in that book that really sums up the whole issue of sanctification for me, and all that the New Testament teaches on it, and indeed what verse 20 of Galatians 2 is saying. Roy Hession says: 'The only life that pleases God is the life of His Son'. Think about that. The only life that pleases God is the life of His Son, and that is why our flesh - who we are in self - must die. Now it has died if we are saved, because we are crucified with Christ - it's a done deal, it has already happened. But yet we can still breathe life into the flesh, and try to live the Christian life through the flesh, try and do good deeds by the flesh. We are focusing on doing rather than being - allowing Christ to be in and through us. What Paul is saying in Galatians, and what the Holy Spirit says throughout the whole New Testament, is that the Christian life can never be achieved by law, it can only be lived through the Spirit. The crucified life is the starting point of all sanctification - and if it is not, your sanctification might well be of the flesh.

Find out more about the dangers of legalism in our current series: 'Life In The Spirit'...

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"The Value Of One Soul"

Thursday 1st July 2010

"...he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins" - James 5:20... "And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire..." - Jude 23

"A hundred thousand souls a day
Are passing one by one away
In Christless guilt and gloom;
Without one ray of hope or light,
With future dark as endless night,
They're passing to their doom"
- A. B. Simpson

Souls are passing into eternity in their thousands, so understandably we long for thousands to be saved. We cry, "Oh for the wind of the Spirit to breathe over us again that thousands in Ireland, and further afield might be swept into the Kingdom!" It is only natural to yearn for many to be saved when many are lost, but, consider: the value of just One Soul.

How can you put a value on One Soul? Our Lord said, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36-37). Who could ever measure One Soul's torment in an eternal Hell? Or, who could appraise the joyous ecstasy of One Soul's forever in Heaven?

We hear it said "One man with God is a majority". Equally, "One Soul with God is a priority." In the beginning when God wanted to populate the planet He didn't create a nation of men, but One Soul, Adam. When God did want a nation for Himself, He didn't co-opt an already existing race but rather called One Soul, Abram, out of whose loins that nation was born. Consider the other individuals God called and see the potential impact of One Soul: a Moses, a David, a Daniel, a Paul. One Soul is still the priority with God.

If I had written one of the Gospels without Divine Inspiration, I'm sure I would have concentrated on the great multitudes that thronged Jesus everywhere He went – the crowd. However, that is not the place where the Holy Spirit rests His emphasis in much of His record. Of course the crowds are all there, yet it is the individual Soul the Spirit highlights. Take John's Gospel; among others we meet an inquisitive Nathaniel, a religious Nicodemus, and an immoral Samaritan woman whom Jesus must go on a detour to meet. In fact, even when this Saviour was dying on the Cross for a whole world, He had time for a criminal Soul impaled beside Him! John shows us a Saviour of individual Souls. Indeed even when hundreds and even thousands are converted, God saves them as individual souls not as crowds.

In recent Gospel Missions (Mallusk and Killeen) we have witnessed God convicting and saving individuals. One night travelling home from one of these meetings having heard about a person being saved, I was reminded from James 5:20 of the value of One Soul saved: "...he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." I thought to myself: it's all worth it for One Soul!

An elderly missionary lady who had been in Africa for fifty years without furlough was interviewed upon returning home. Her interviewer asked, "Is it true that after fifty years of service you only know of One Soul who was saved?...How do you feel about that now?...Was it worth it?" The elderly saint's answer was profound, she said, "I would do a hundred years for another one". There was a lady who knew the value of One Soul.

"O teach me what it cost Thee
To make a sinner whole;
And teach me, Saviour, teach me
The value of a soul"
- Lucy Ann Bennett

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"The Brightness Of God's Glory"

Thursday 3rd June 2010

"Who being the Brightness of His glory" - Hebrews 1:3

Recently a dear godly Welsh brother in Christ gave me the following article. It proved to be such a wonderfully Christ-glorifying blessing that I wish to share it with all of you here:

Christ is the embodiment of immortal bliss. He is the corona of the everlasting flame, the effulgence of essential light, the burnish of celestial brilliance, the aurora borealis of spiritual magnificence, the radiance of supernal resplendence and the nimbus of heaven’s loveliest lustre. If the iridescent halo of the ineffable Shechinah that abode on the Mercy Seat of the tabernacle of old was so awe-inspiring, what are we to say of His eternal excellence, flashing rays of exquisite light from His transcendent countenance to the utmost bound of heaven's ceaseless domain?

The incomparable splendour of this heavenly majesty is inseparably linked with tranquil calm of irrevocable triumph which assures the loving-kindness of the Lord God Almighty forever and ever (Psalm 36:5-9). "The mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him...The LORD has prepared His throne in the heavens; and His Kingdom rules over all" (Psalm 103:17,19). "O LORD my God, You are very great; You are clothed with honour and majesty...who makes His angels spirits; His ministers a flaming fire" (Psalm 104:1,2,4).

Little wonder that Christ attracts the admiring admiration of the choicest Cherubim and the stateliest Seraphim, who in robes of whitest radiance worshipfully serve with unswerving fidelity and unceasing felicity. How grandly impressive is the blended beauty, mingled majesty and golden glory of Him who reigns in the dazzling perfectness of spotless purity. His personal presence rivets the attention of myriads of angels, millions of the redeemed and multitudinous hosts, all of whom adore and magnify the ever-blessed One who is the brightness of God's ineffable glory.

Christ had already demonstrated the brightness of God's glory in the beauties of creation, the bounties of revelation and in the blessings of the manifestation. He magnified exceedingly the brightness of uncreated light in the work of redemption, in the plan of salvation, in the goal of reconciliation and in the intrinsic merit of mediation at the right-hand of the majesty in the heavens. Likewise also the stateliness of His saving grace, the delightfulness of His delivering might and the spaciousness of His sanctifying truth combine in reflecting the brightness of God's glory. Our blessed Lord lends lustre to the loving-kindness of God, polish to the perfectness of God, charm to the comeliness of God, glow to the genuineness of God and fragrance to the faithfulness of God. All the luminosity of light and the brilliance of its brightest rays emanate from Him.

Charles J. Rolls. "The Indescribable Christ" © Loizeaux Brothers, Inc. 1953

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"Necessary Knowledge"

Monday 5th April 2010

It is the truth of the Resurrection of our Lord that causes us to know that our labour for Him is not in vain. If our Lord had not risen from the dead, His labour of the Cross was in vain. If He had not risen again, we will not rise again; so our faith and our labour is in vain: "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain" - 1 Corinthians 15:14

But glory be to God: HE IS RISEN INDEED! "...thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" - 1 Corinthians 15:57.

Jesus lives, no longer thy portals are cheerless,
Jesus lives, the Mighty and Strong to save!

The truth of the Resurrection of Jesus changes everything, not least our service for Him. It might appear that our labour comes to naught, but there must be death before resurrection: "Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die" - 1 Corinthians 15:36. Here is a harvest principle that the Lord has reminded me of lately: Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" - John 12:24.

Our recent Gospel Mission in Coagh Baptist Church was a tremendous experience. The Presence of the Lord was so real and great numbers of unconverted friends and neighbours were in attendance, and yet we do not know of anyone who has been saved. What sustained me through this mission was the Risen Presence of Jesus with me assuring me that, though I might not know of anyone being saved, I could know that my labour was not in vain. This birthed in us the conviction that an eternal work was, and still is, being done from the sowing of the seed of the Word. The seed might have to die but a harvest is promised!

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it" - Isaiah 55:9-11

Archbishop Trench tells how, in 1690, a certain plant was brought over and planted in the gardens of Hampton Court Palace by Queen Mary. The last ten years of the Seventeenth Century passed and the plant gave no sign of flowering. The whole of the Eighteenth Century passed, and not a bud did the plant put forth. Eighty-eight years of the Nineteenth Century passed and still no sign of a flower. But in 1889 the plant burst into blossom!

Professor Thomas Henry Huxley, the famous English biologist, said that deeply buried in English soil are tropical seeds of almost limitless variety, brought there by migrant birds from distant regions. Seeds lie dormant, waiting for a tropical climate to bring forth their lovely blossoms. So much of God’s Word has been sown over many years and He will give the increase in His time and according to His purposes.

With this confidence in God, and His faithful promises in view, do remember to pray for the upcoming Gospel Tent Campaigns in Mallusk in May with Glengormley Baptist Church and in Armagh in June with Killeen Hall.

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"The UK Privatisation of Christianity"

Monday 22nd March 2010

In the 1950s Sir Winston Churchill did it to British Steel. In the 1980s Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Regan popularised it worldwide. Thatcher's successor John Major did it to British Rail and our current Government wants to do it to Royal Mail - what is it? Privatization: the process of transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency or public service from the public sector (Government) to the private sector (business).

It appears to me and many other observers that today's "powers that be" have applied the economic concept of privatization to religion (in particular Christianity - especially the 'biblical sort'). By this I mean, the aggressive attempt at the secularisation of society, through anti-Christian propaganda via politics and mass media. The objective of this increasingly zealous activity is the marginalisation of Christianity. This new and popular pseudo-tolerance is designed to quarantine our faith to the privacy of our own heads, hearts and homes and ban it from the public square.

Tolerance used to mean being willing to endure and bear with those whose views differed from your own. The new and false tolerance of our age dictates that more than merely 'putting-up' with those who have different opinions and lifestyles than your own, you must also agree with them. Furthermore you must recognise their lifestyle choices and habits to be as equally valid as your own and you must even be prepared to endorse and promote their views as equally acceptable as your own.

Emotional blackmail is a skilful weapon used by those with the secularist agenda. To take issue with a person's opinion or find their habits objectionable (or dare we say 'immoral') is to attack them personally and is therefore not only intolerant but insensitive. It appears that the modern unpardonable sin is to hurt another's feelings by a difference of opinion, most especially religious and moral opinion.

Is this all just spiritual paranoia? I wish it were! Nadia Eweida, a customer services employee with British Airways, was asked to conceal a silver cross necklace no bigger than a five-pence-coin, whilst staff of other faiths were allowed to display their religious symbols. When Miss Eweida refused to remove the necklace she was suspended from work in September 2003. A Christian nurse from Somerset, Caroline Petrie, was suspended on 17 December 2008 after she prayed for a patient. The patient prayed for was not concerned about her prayer, but mentioned it to another member of the nursing staff who subsequently reported Mrs Petrie, who was then accused of breaking nursing guidelines. Two schoolboys from Stoke-on-Trent were sent to detention by their school teacher in July 2008 for refusing to pray to Allah in their Religious Education class. During the R.E. lesson at the high school in Cheshire, the boys' teacher asked them to wear Muslim headgear and gave out prayer mats, telling the eleven/twelve year old pupils to kneel down and pray to the Muslim god. In the last number of weeks we have been bombarded by media coverage concerning the apparent shift in public opinion regarding Assisted Suicide. The Government's Equality Bill that places a requirement upon Public Bodies such as Police and Schools to promote homosexual and transsexual rights has been debated in the Houses of Parliament. Had the Bill not been defeated in the House of Lords in January, many feared it would have constrained churches to employ those who do not comply with their religious beliefs and moral convictions. Many further examples of the marginalisation of Christianity could be cited to show the growing pressure upon Christians from all quarters of society to privatize their faith. (For more examples of this see "Marginalising Christians: Instances Of Christians Being Sidelined In Modern Britain" [PDF]).

After the initial shellshock of the depths to which our society has fallen, what should our response be? May I suggest at least a two-pronged initiative?

Repentance
The church is not without guilt in this spiritual calamity. Perhaps if the Body of Christ had been more of a thermostat, affecting the temperature of the age, rather than a thermometer, reflecting the temperature of the age, the United Kingdom today might not be such a "cold house for Christians". Five out of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor addressed by Christ in the Book of Revelation were commanded to "repent". Repentance is both the initial and daily requirement of the believer and the corporate responsibility of the church. Repentance means to change our mind and attitude toward sin, the world, ourselves and God in Christ. The church and Christians need to repent of their capitulation with the world system and take their stand for Christ again.

Resolve
Yes, whatever the cost, we must resolve to take our stand for Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, even if it means loss of job, loss of popularity and attracts the wrath of modern Babylon.

"Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach" - Hebrews 13:12-13

Jesus said,

"If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you" - John 15:18

Resolve, however, does not just mean a resignation to a sense of defeated martyrdom. A thousand times NO! What is needed today is a resolution to use the spiritual resources God has given us through the cross of Christ and the resurrection.

"And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light" - Romans 13:11-12

Once more we must put on the Armour of Ephesians 6 and in the strength of Christ's victory "Fight the Good Fight."

Our Captain and Commander has promised us weapons for warfare...

"not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds... Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" - 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Are there any among those who profess Christ that will be a Soldier for Christ? Who will with these God given spiritual weapons be like Bunyan's 'Valiant-For-Truth' who with the Sword of the Spirit in his hand cried:

"I fought till my sword did cleave to my hand, and then they were joined together, as if a sword grew out of my arm. When the blood ran through my fingers, then I fought with most courage"?

He truly had resisted unto blood striving against sin (Hebrews 12:4), and so must we.

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"Haiti"

Wednesday 10th February 2010

On the evening of 12 January 2010, a series of earthquakes with magnitude 6.5 to 7.3 struck Haiti in a highly populated area, 10 miles from Port-au-Prince. While these recent events in Haiti are rapidly fading from our news headlines, many are still grappling with the reasons for such a catastrophe.

Prior to the earthquake, Haiti was considered the poorest country in the Western world and is frequently impacted by natural calamities, mostly hurricanes - the most recent being in 2008. However the recent earthquake has left Haitians and indeed the world incredulous at the utter devastation caused. As I write, the projections being made of fatalities are so vast that it is difficult to comprehend the staggering level of this humanitarian catastrophe.

The greatest question to have faced mankind through his painful history is loudly raised again - "Why?"

There is no doubt that often man has been guilty of contributing to his own fate. John Blanchard, in his booklet, 'Where is God When Things Go Wrong? [PDF]' raises probing questions of man when he says,

Although our planet provides enough food to feed all six billion of us, millions die of starvation every year because of our selfish pollution of the atmosphere, our exploitation or mismanagement of the earth's resources and the vicious policies of dictatorial regimes. Can we blame God for these? Is he responsible for diverting disaster funds into the pockets of tyrannical rulers or greedy politicians? Millions are dying of hunger in India while its national religion forbids the use of cows as food. Hinduism has millions of man-made gods; can the country's chronic food problems be blamed on the one it ignores? Suffering is often caused by human error or incompetence. Had the owners of the Titanic not reduced the recommended number of lifeboats to avoid the boat deck looking cluttered, many more, if not all, of the ship's passengers might have been saved. Was God responsible for that executive decision? The International Atomic Enquiry Agency blamed ‘defective safety culture' for the Chernobyl disaster. Can the blame for careless neglect of safety procedures be laid at God's door?

A great deal of human suffering is deliberately self-inflicted. Smokers who ignore health warnings and are crippled by lung cancer or heart disease, heavy drinkers who suffer from cirrhosis of the liver, drug addicts and those dying of AIDS after indiscriminate sex are obvious examples. So are gluttons who dig their graves with knives and forks, workaholics who drive themselves to physical or mental breakdowns, to say nothing of the countless people who suffer from serious illness as a direct result of suppressed hatred, anger, bitterness and envy. Is God to blame for their behaviour?

Whilst the guilt for these self inflicted injuries can fairly and squarely be laid at man's feet, surely Natural Disasters are in a different league? Has the Bible anything to say?

The Bible teaches us that ultimately all suffering is as a result of Adam and Eve's sin which launched their human descendants into this cycle of fallen existence that we all inhabit:

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Romans 5:12)

We live in a fallen world - the tragic consequence of original sin.

What this does not explain is why disaster visits one continent, country, or family and not another. Neither does this explain why some suffer to such extremes. Many of these questions are unanswerable. We would need to possess a mind like God's to comprehend these weighty issues. Do not Job's tragic experiences and his subsequent encounter with God teach us that the answers to these mysteries lie deep within God's Sovereignty? Our finite minds could never explain such mystery, nor should we try.

That said, consider this - even these Natural Disasters that we cannot explain, at the very least, are "wake-up calls" to a sleeping world. C.S. Lewis in his book 'The Problem of Pain' wrote,

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

Such cataclysmic events should alert us that evil and suffering are real, life is brief and fragile, and death is certain.

One day the Lord Jesus was questioned about certain calamities and His answer shows where our emphasis should be:

...those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish (Luke 13:4-5)

Jesus' emphasis is that we all must face our mortality and therefore the great question is: how we will meet our Maker - saved or lost?

One death is as tragic as thousands, but consider that around 151,338 die daily! Most of these have never heard of the Saviour.

As Christians we should help the poor of Haiti and wherever we find those in need, but our primary responsibility is to take and fund the taking of the gospel of Christ to the whole world.

For further thoughts on these issues, don't miss the sermon "Earthquake: Why The Horror In Haiti?"...

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"Into The Unknown?"

Thursday 7th January 2010

Generally, when it comes to the future, we obsess about what we don't know, rather than what we do.

The Christian has the Divinely gifted privilege of knowing a lot more about the future than we often appreciate. I believe in prophecy; but that's not what I am speaking of here. I am referring to God's Revealed Will for us personally.

Deuteronomy 29:29, "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law".

Most of God's will for us has been given directly to us in the Scriptures, yet, so often we are preoccupied and distracted by what we don't know.

Let me give you three certainties concerning God's will for you this New Year, if you are a born again child of God:

  1. It is God's will to presence Himself with you:
    Deuteronomy 31:8, "And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed".

  2. It is God's will to make you a stronger and more mature believer:
    Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ"

  3. It is God's will to make you Holy:
    1 Thessalonians 4:3, 5:23 "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification,...And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ".

These are only three examples from thousands of Scriptures that reveal what God wants for us. Get searching and start realising God's plan for your life.

May God help us, by faith, to claim these declarations of God's will for us, that we might enter into the blessings He has promised and prepared for us to enjoy!

Have a Happy and Holy New Year in the "good, acceptable and perfect will of God"!

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"Immanuel: God With Us!"

Tuesday 1st December 2009

Yes, we all know what Immanuel means, and, if we have forgotten, this month we are sure to be reminded. However, how many of us are experiencing Immanuel: 'God with us'?

Not only did God come to be with us in the Incarnation of the Son, but, God has come to indwell us by the impartation of the Spirit. Now, post-Pentecost, God can be with us because He can be in us. But how much of this are we experiencing in our lives and in our churches? Paul desired that the Ephesians would be "filled with all the fullness of God" and of course he later speaks about the Fullness of the Holy Spirit. How does our experience measure up to such teaching?

Many Christians are not experiencing a sense of God with them because they have never allowed God to fill them.

When a man or woman is filled by God's Spirit, others will be heard to remark: "Truly God is with him/her". When churches are empowered by the Spirit, even unbelievers will be heard to exclaim, falling on their faces "God is truly among you" (1 Corinthians 14:25).

There is a distinct absence of a sense of the presence of God in our individual lives and in our churches. The good news is that with repentance and faith we can rediscover it again to the glory of God and our benefit.

The Revival Conferences in Dublin and Wales were both an exercise in assessing how great the need is to rediscover the presence of God with us. Also these Conferences were an exercise in discovering how deep the desire is to experience God's presence again. Both conferences were a blessing and there is a great hunger for God's presence among some people. The Conference in Loughor, Wales, however, proved to be an exceptional blessing as, in a measure, we encountered the presence of God, and felt His holy dealings in our lives. In many respects I think some of us 'turned a corner' in Wales as God truly was affirming, confirming and reaffirming many burdens in the hearts of those who long for genuine Revival. May whatever God did in our lives in Wales not be lost, but remain, and increase, bearing fruit to the glory of God and the good of mankind in future days.

We rejoice in droplets of blessing in all aspects of ministry and we always are encouraged and overjoyed when hearing of souls saved. A married couple who we requested prayer for at Ballyclare have been saved and a young woman in Lurgan trusted Christ. God is at work and yet we know He can and He wants to do more. May we experience it soon – for how the Church and our lands need Jesus.

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"A Sigh of Relief"

Monday 2nd November 2009

"We finish our years like a sigh" - Psalm 90:9b

As you approach the end of this year and maybe you think of all your plans still outstanding, or you consider the things that didn't turn out according to plan, perhaps you 'sigh'. I think for many the year often ends with a sigh, even if only one of exhaustion! For others the sigh is more tragic and despairing. The famous playwright Samuel Beckett conveyed this attitude to life in his play 'Breath'. The play lasts 30 seconds and there are no actors or conversation. The whole script is the sigh of human life from a baby's cry to a man's last breath before he dies. Such despair is everywhere today.

Isn't it wonderful to know that though we, as God's children, might know the sighs of life and death, they are all couched (as this verse is in this Psalm) in the Sovereign Providence of our Great God!: "LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God" - Psalm 90:1-3.

Faith views all our 'sighs' in the context of the character of our Good, Kind and All-Provident God.

As a family, in all matters, we continue to rejoice in, and testify to, the faithfulness of our All-Provident Father.

Lydia and Noah are settling well into their schools in Portadown and are starting to make friends. We are gradually getting our new house into 'ship-shape'.

We enjoyed a great Evangelistic Mission in Ballyclare in September and praise the Lord for His moving in the lives of both unbelievers and believers. Do continue to pray for a number of unbelievers who were counselled and are seriously considering trusting the Lord. At Ballyclare I was very encouraged and excited about the hunger that the believers had to experience reality in their Christian lives, to be more effective in their outreach and to go deeper in their relationship with the Lord. I pray they will find the "waters to swim in"!

As you can see from the itinerary, the remainder of the year is very busy with all kinds of events. I am especially looking forward to the Revival Conferences (see previous blog post) – how the British Isles needs revival and wouldn't it be wonderful if it started in the Republic of Ireland!

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