What's Love Got to do with it?

What if we've missed the point? What if Love Wins is enough? And why Rob Bell may just be right.

Right On our doorstep

Think that slavery is a thing of the past? Think that the UK is too civilised to be part of trafficking? Think again

5 reasons why being married to Brit is great (or 5 reasons to marry an American)

5 things you will never know until you marry an American

Masturbation Month

Giving up masturbation for a month. Why we need to save the kittens.

XXXchurch! Whaaa?

Why I love porn (ministries).

21 Dec 2008

Pushing against a wall

It's hard for me to write sometimes. This may be reflected in how it has been exactly a month since I last posted something here. I really like to write but for some reason I have just found it tough recently. There may be many reasons.

I've just finished this term at college and was getting sick of writing essays. Or maybe it's because I just don't have anything to say right now. But there is another reason I think might be important in my not writing.

Sometimes when we are called to something we start to struggle with that thing.

For example I believe that I'm called to stay sexually pure but I find it tough to do so sometimes. Yeah sure there are loads of things we are all called to as Christians in general and being sexually pure is one of them. But with my past life of lust and porn I believe this is something I am specifically called to. Or maybe you are called to be a leader but struggle with your ego. Maybe you are called to give help to someone or some people but struggle with selfishness. There are many ways we can be called specifcally.

And its in these times that I believe that we find it hard to be that person. We have an urge to become exactly the opposite of who we are meant to be, even when we really desire to be that.

And I also love to write. I love reading and I love how words can make sentances that can have such a massive impact on us. I'm thinking Rob Bell and Don Miller here pacifically. I enjoy writing and without sounding like I have a massive head I think that I have some talent for it. That's not boasting. It could be a gift. But thats for another time.

What I am saying is when we feel like we are failing with something we feel we are called to we shouldn't just give up. Satan could be making you feel this way because he knows that (insert your own thing here) is what you are called to. He knows it and he will do anything to make you doubt that.

So I haven't felt like writing lately and I am starting to see that maybe I have been feeling like this because I have been called to write and if I fulfill this then I am doing my part in building God's kingdom. Maybe Satan wants me to waste my time with something else other that what I was made to.

So don't get down if you are seeing a wall with something you were created to do. Don't get down if how you're behaving right now is the opposite of the person you believe you are called to. Don't get frustrated if you are struggling with being that person.

Instead be inspired and more confident that this thing is what you are called to. Maybe your lack of desire to be that or you're fighting to be like that is down to someone wanting you not to be.

Let this fact be an encouragement, not a doubt in your mind.

21 Nov 2008

Letting Go

So I play for a football team called Ambassadors FC and tonight we played in the final of the shield in a competition we are in. It was a pretty good game, competitive, end to end stuff but unfortunately we lost.

Yeah it was really disappointing especially how we got back in the game really well. And it got worse because I think I was kind of responsible for their winning goal. That sucks. I felt crap about it. I felt like I had let the whole team down. I just wanted to get changed and go home.

But I realised that how I treated this game is a lot like how I treat life. You see I played pretty well otherwise. The whole team did. But I did my bit and worked hard. One short moment of lacking in concentration was the only major mistake I made the whole game. And yet that one moment ruined the game for me. I instantly forgot about all the good things I did and how I helped the team the rest of the match.

I treat life the same. I am not suggesting that I am so amazing and I never put a foot wrong in life, because I do. A lot.

But a lot of the time I sin. I can go through life doing pretty well with God and then do something stupid and I beat myself up for ages. I can't seem to get rid of the thought that I have let God down and the people I love and who love me. It taints everything else in my life. I just want to go home and forget about God and what I did.

And this brings me to the match. I made a mistake that cost us the game but afterwards nobody mentioned it. It wasn't brought up. I left imagining the rest of the team staying behind to have a go at me. But yet nobody had a go at me or blamed me. That's pretty special.

My favourite verse at the moment is Romans 8v1 (NLT)

"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus"

All the thoughts I had in my head about everyone blaming me were false. And the same is true of God. When I mess up and stray from the path he intends for me he doesn't blame me. He doesn't rub it in or remind me of it to make me feel bad. Becuase right now, in this moment, in every moment I'm not to blame. I can carry on knowing that there is nothing on me.

And that means I can get on with becoming more who God wants me to be without becoming so inward thinking that I simply come to a standstill. God wants us to remember that there is no more blame to dish out so why waste time dwelling on our mistakes. We can let them go. They are not ours any more. And that motivates. It motivates me to keep going. I hope it motivates you too.

3 Nov 2008

Evolve or Die

OK. So first things first. I don't really want to moan on here but I want to get something off my chest. When you are at a concert and insist on clapping (don't get me started on that one) please ensure that you do so in time with the music. This is for the girl sat behind me on Friday night. Phew! Glad that is out in the open. Anyway..

On Friday I went to one of the most amazing concerts I have been to. I was at the Opera House in Belfast to see the Swell Season. If you don't know who that is, then why not?? If you haven't seen the movie Once then why not??

Don't read on. Check out Glen Hansard singing "Say it to me now" unplugged from the concert. Awesome!

But I want to talk about something he said as an introduction to one of the songs. I can't remember the name of it but he used a phrase that stuck with me. It was "evolve or die." How when we find our lives in trouble or we are stuck then we have a choice to make. We either move on and up or we die. We either start to make our life count or we continue down the road we have been heading.

For many of us we feel like we are at that place where we can't see any hope. We just see a dead end and we can't imagine getting out. It seems we have only one option, to die. But I think that Glen touched on something pretty amazing. That that is not the only option. That we don't have to carry on banging our head against a brick wall.

For me at one point in my life, lust was that wall for me. I couldn't see a way out especially with porn. Many times I chose to die, but I realised that through God I could change. I could evolve. I decided to not die any more and I evolved. I got accountable, I started letting God get involved and things changed.

What is even better is that it wasn't just down to me. I decided to evolve but on my own I wouldn't have been successful. But I can be because I have help. There are people who help me and their is a God who helps me.

Romans 6 v 22-23 (The Message)

But now that you've found you don't have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God's gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.

It won't be easy but sometimes we need to take a conscous step in the right direction and when we do, we will be surprised that it can be achieved. If anyone tells you that you are stuck and trapped it is a lie. If you tell yourself that, it is a lie. No matter how hopeless it seems, there is always hope, there is always a way out. We just need to want it.

If you are in that place right now, do yourself a favour and watch this video.

31 Oct 2008

One of the reasosn I like to write here is that allows me to put my thoughts into some sort of coherent (or maybe not) order. Either way I get to think through what I have been reading or thinking about.

This time it was something that I read by Jon Acuff. I have mentioned him before on here but you should go straight away right now and check out his website.

What I really want to talk about is not what he said exactly but how he is able to open the Bible up and really allow what it is saying to us. Sometimes I read the Bible and it all seems so familiar, it doesn't really isnpire me. I kind of feel apathetic sometimes. But thankfully there are people out there like Jon who are able to help us see the depth of what the Bible says.

This might sound heretic as if I am saying that the Bible isn't enough for me. But sometimes I think..well the Bible isn't enough for me. I don't have an amazing or complete understanding of what it means so sometimes I need other people to clear away some of the cobwebs my mind creates. And that is what happened after I read Jons last post about Matthew 11:28-30

This is something I have read so many times but when I read Jons post something made me really feel it again. It gave me a renewed sense of God and that is always a good thing. Check it out.



23 Oct 2008

explanations

I often find myself reading something that really resonates with me or stirs something within me that gets me excited about who I am. I like that. Recently for me it was the latest posting by Shellie R Warren on her blog on the xxxchurch site.

I like her take on all things to do with sexuality and what she said really got me thinking about being Holy and who we are in Christ. I won't go into great detail, but I want to share what I got from it.

She basically talked about being uncommon, about not being like everyone else, about treating yourself like God treats you, basically loving yourself. This is something I have a hard time doing sometimes.

You see to be common means to go with the grain or to try and be like everyone else even if you know that its not good for you. To be uncommon means the opposite. Not just to not care what people think of you but to not treat yourself less than you should

1 Peter 2:9-10 says
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”

I like this because when taken in the context of which Shellie is talking ie from someone who treated herself sexually well below the level that God had planned for her, it is a reminder that we are called to be uncommon in these issues.

xxxchurch is important to me for many reasons but they are helping to remind myself that I am uncommon. I don't have to be like other people who don't take their sexuality seriously. I have a higher standard when it comes to that and so does God.

And I believe that this starts with how we view ourselves and whether we love oursleves or not. If we do then we will find it easy to live to God's standard but if we don't we struggle and I believe this has been why I struggled so often with lust. When you love yourself, you don't feel bad and don't need other avenues such as sex to give us self esteem. It's all in who Jesus is and what he does.

We need to remember that whenever we feel tempted or vulnerable to give in to sin. We have a standard to reach but which we already have met, simply because we have the Holy Spirit in us. I think that whenever we decide that we are worth more, that we are special as a basic characteristic of who we are in Christ, then we can be standard setters for people. We don't have to treat ourselves like we are worthless because we aren't. We are special, meant for a special purpose, unique, exceptionally valued. We are uncommon

16 Sep 2008

To Be Or Not To Be....

Recently I have decided I want to be more wise. I have even attempted to grow a beard. But unfortunately that does not make you wise because if it did I would at least be heading in the right direction. Instead I think wisdom comes from good choices, from experience and from learning from others who have made the same mistakes you have but are learning from them.

I think I made a fairly good start at being wise when I started to get accountable. I struggled with lust and porn and getting a couple of my friends to ask me how I was doing, to challenge me on my habits was a good choice.

A bad choice is sitting on your computer at midnight when you know that you get tempted the most at these times. A good choice is planning your day so that you won't have times when you are vulnerable. A bad choice is not being totally honest with your accountability partner. A good choice is texting your accountability partner when you start to feel urges to sin. I have done all these and more.

Another good choice I made was to start reading Proverbs and trying to learn from this book and digesting it and putting its practical help into place.

And it is full of practical help. In Proverbs 1 it talks about people who do not make good choices. People who "set an ambush for themselves" who "booby trap their own lives".

I have done this. I have made it easy for temptation by walking right by it. I love the imagery in Proverbs because I realise when I sit on my own with the computer I am being as foolish as someone who walks blindfolded by a cliff. It's just stupid. I would never do that. But yet I have in the past.

Thankfully I started to make more good choices than bad. Thankfully I put real things in place to make sure I didn't make the same mistakes over and over. I want to be like the bird in Proverbs who sees a trap and avoids it. And I am doing that.

The longer I go without looking at porn the more I have realised that making the right decisions is so important. One small decision can have huge implications. It's like an iceberg. We only see a small proportion of everything that porn can produce. If we choose to click on a link we know will lead us to porn, what was just one small decision can lead to spending hours searching for more extreme images and feelings of shame and disgust at ourselves. It can lead to the break up of relationships, increased isolation from our friends and more and more dangerous viewing.

In the moment we probably didn't forsee everything it would eventually lead to.

Thankfully on the other hand, one small good decision can lead to amazing things.

One simple decision to turn off the computer when we are alone can lead to more concrete habits being formed to avoid porn. It can lead to better self esteem. It can lead to having more fulfilling relationships that give us the most amazing joy. It can lead us to knowing God better and having integrity in our lives. It can lead to spending your time better. It can lead us to feeling more alive than we have ever done before.

Decisions can change our lives. For the good and the bad.

Porn doesn't have to control you. It doesn't need to ruin you. You can take steps to beat it.

It just means starting with the right choice.

18 Jul 2008

Stuff Retailers Like Part 1

I have had an idea for a book for a while and I first proposed this idea to a friend I used to work with. To be honest I don't think there is much of a market for a book called "101 annoying comments customers make to me while I work in the shop". But for me and my friend it provided a few minutes lightheartedness. So in homage to http://www.stufffchristianslike.blogspot.com here is my own version.

1. "I only came in for one thing"

This is probably one of my favourites. The person who apparantly only needed a loaf of bread but then presents you with a trolley full of stuff you didn't even knew you sold is a mystery to me. At what point on their journey from the bread to the checkout did they realise they needed half the shop. Even more puzziling is when they return the next day and repeat the whole facade. Make a list next time!

2. "Isn't the weather shocking"

I live in Ireland. It rains in Ireland. A lot! Even in the summer when its warm it rains. It sucks. But I have had 25 years to get used to this fact. I'm at peace with myself regarding this. But for some people the sight of rain continues to astonish them. Thats why when it is sunny for a few days for a week in July everyone goes crazy for it. They can't handle it. It's too much for most. And then it rains the rest of the year. It was sunny for a week!!! It rains every day of your life. In short..no its not shocking...its water falling from the Sky

3. "Is the ice cream machine working"

OK. So this in itself is not annoying. I just hate making ice cream...sorry...

9 Jul 2008

Father Ted Part Deux

So time for part two of my all time favourite Father Ted moments. If you thought the last one was funny, well let's just say, well...this one is funnier....yeah....that's it. So enjoy and after you have finished wiping the tears of joy from your eyes head on over to www.stufffchristianslike.blogspot.com.
If you have been brought up in church with all its tradition and unspoken rules, then I reckon you will find this site highly ammusing. It continues to hit the mark....Enjoy!!




5 Jul 2008

Laughter the best medicine

I don't know if there are any Father Ted fans that read this.
If any of LeCto are reading this these next few posts are for you.
They say (whoever they are) that laughter is the best medicine and I don't know if it can really dig deep to issues we have or solve all our problems but I know I love a good laugh hahahah lol haha....ok... Maybe I will post some day on the different types of laughs.
But for now enjoy these golden nuggets of comedy. If you are having a crap day I hope this brings a little light to you
So today is day 1 of my all time 5 favourite moments from the show. There are so many that are amazing but these are the ones that just get me every time. So here goes. Prepare to laugh and laugh. You won't be able to help yourself.

2 Jul 2008

Perfection

Having been thinking about grace a lot I have been pondering perfection. I' ve always heard or understood from church that we are called to be like Jesus. That's a pretty big ask. Jesus was smart, never sinned, was good with words, had people hanging off his every word and action, loved everyone, didn't give up easily and a million other things I struggle with living up to.

I see this Jesus and I know that there is no way I could ever be like him. It would be great but I think it is a totally unrealistic goal. So quite often I give up and I decide maybe subconciously to just plod on. To struggle through life. To accept my flaws and hope that God still loves me and he is OK with me living at a sub par potential. I think at least I am saved, even if my life never amounts to much well at least I am going to Heaven, and sure this life won't last that long really.

Then I remember another Christian cliche. I remember that I am on a journey. It's cheesy but it's true. I remember that Jesus died for my whole salvation not just after I die. I remember that he did this knowing full well that I am a mess. Knowing that I like to give up. Knowing that I struggle with sin every day. But he still thought I was worth dying for. He still thought that it was worth giving up all his perfection in the hope that someday I would reach perfection or at least some level of maturity. He knew that I wouldn't get everything even after the millionth time. He knew that I would take one step forwards and two steps back. He knew I would have a hard time liking everyone, never mind loving them.

So why did he do this. Thinking about it I think he did it because he thinks my life is more important than his Glory. There must be something about my life that was worth giving up his Glory for. He swapped his perfection for my life. I find that hard to fathom. To him it was more important that I was alive than he was. Jesus is perfect and Holy and he gave all that up so I can know what that feels like.

And the thing is he knew I would so often reject that. I would try to do things my way, I would not take every opportunity to live like I should. I wouldn't realise that this gift would let me be fulfilled in relationships, in my job, in the things I enjoy doing. It's one thing giving up something for someone knowing you are going to get something back. But Jesus didn't know that. He knew I wouldn't give back. He knew it wasn't a fair deal for him.

But then again Grace isn't fair. I want this to spur me on to being who God knows I can be. It's the least I can do

30 Jun 2008

Getting Grace

I think for Christians we talk a lot about grace. I mean when we become a Christian it is so important, we are told how amazing it is how crucial it is, how we need to embrace it. It is totally wonderful, unfair, illogical and that is why I like it. Somehow though grace seems to take a back seat after. It's like it is our way in and that is that. But I believe grace is much bigger. I believe we need to accept it daily. I don't think we truly understand it. We give so much emphasis to it but then not enough.

I have been thinking about it a lot recently. I want it to be part of my life everyday. When I sin I need it because it takes away the guilt that I feel. That sounds like a cop out and a license to keep sinning. But I think that is wrong. I think the more that I understand grace the more I realise I don't want to sin. The more I realise I want it to help me grow and become more like the person I am meant to be. I have somehow got into this screwed up thinking that God wants me to hang onto the baggage that I have accumulated. I think I need it to just keep me in with God. I think that if I don't hold onto that crap then God will somehow think I am being abusive of Grace. But thats rubbish. He wants me to be free. Free from sin yeah, but free from my own skewed thinking.

That's why I love Grace. I love it because I mess up, I learn stuff then contradict myself, I let myself down. And grace is there to show me that when those things happen there is hope for me. Hope for everyone. No matter the who, what, where, when or why's of our lives. Because they don't matter to God.

Back to Blagging

I haven't written here in ages. I just stopped. I couldnt' be bothered. And that's OK. But now I feel like I want to start writing again. When I started I said I didn't care if anyone ever read this and hey presto no one did except for a couple of people. Thank you :) You know who you are

But I think I really did care. And so I stopped. But that is stupid so I have decided I need to write just for me. To organise the many random thoughts I have (which there are a lot believe me), and to understand myself better. Sorry if that sounds like some sort of psychological rubbish thats probably because it is. But from now I am writing again. If no one reads this my ego will probably not like it. I kind of want to be a writer and I guess if I do I should want to write for myself in the first place. So here goes...if you find this then you are more than welcome to join me on the ride....

1 Feb 2008

Don't give up

Recently I have been going through some stuff thats been troubling me. I've been having thoughts about Christianity, my purpose or calling, if I can even be bothered with any of it, whatever any of it is anyway. I've felt like God doesn't care and frankly I'm not sure I was even bothered about that. I've laid in bed not wanting to get up the following morning, wishing I could stay in bed for a long time. I know that some people who have these feelings are diagnosed with depression and maybe thats what I felt. It sure felt like it could be.

No doubt a lot of the feelings I have had have arisen from struggles I have with sexual sin. I have failed a few times with particular struggles I have been having. Just when I thought I was over one particular aspect of sexual sin, another has risen its ugly head and definately that has contributed to the loss of hope I have been feeling.

When you think like that it is hard to get out of, but thankfully I'm starting to think more positively. I have been reading Matthew Paul Turners new book about calling (which I will review soon, once I have finished it) which has given me hope. I have been helped massively by reading stories on xxxchurch.com and heartsupport.com similar to mine which have given me hope. Being honest with my friend about my failures and difficulties with wanting to do things of a sexual nature that deplete my soul, has given me hope. I have started to discover things about my placement (which I want to go into soon as well), which I thought was pointless which has given me hope. And most of all I just read an article by John Piper which has given me...yep thats right....hope.

It's funny how things work out, how if we just hang in there and are ready to fight for ourselves, to have some respect for ourselves and be determined not to beat ourselves up because we think that some how that is being humble, things look brighter. It''s funny how if we just hold on to some sort of belief that God does actually care (even when the only thing we want to do is drop him) we can actually become more like how we were meant to be.

There are people who care, people whos stories you will find freakily similar to yours, and a God who will love us no matter what are thoughts about him are like. Hope is there and freedom is an amazing thing to really feel. I don't think many people really know that peace. I want it and I right now I am willing to fight for my life again. For today at least!!

19 Jan 2008

there is hope

The great thing about getting to do a placement as I am at the moment with East Belfast Mission is I get to learn from people who aren't happy with how the world is and sees a better 'version' of society and culture and the world we live in. EBM is striving to do that and its great to see and be a small part of.

Today I got the opportunity to sit in on a seminar on theology and practioners and the role in reconcilliation. This was great as I got to learn from some great theologians and practioners in Northern Ireland. The people I got to spend time with today were smart people so quite what I was doing there I don't know but it was a fascinating insight into faith and how our understanding should impact our lives espacially in regards to our society. If I am honest and I would rather not because it won't do my ego any good, I thought a lot of it was over my head. However getting home reading my notes I had made, I realised maybe it wasn't too bad. Perhaps the language was confusing at times but the themes being explored were things I had in one way or the other reflected on. There were ideas of how the church should improve and also things that the church should stop doing and it all made sense to me in a practical way.

That doesn't always mean it works out well unfortunately but with what I witnessed today and with what I heard there are people of a Christian faith in this country with some great ideas. That was both inspiring and comforting especially with certain controversies that the church is dealing with and unfortunately letting overlook some great theological and practical work being done.

7 Jan 2008

home sweet home...not

So I've just returned home after a week in New York. I had a great week, met some great new people, ate too many pancakes, got lost a couple times on the subway but all in all a fantastic week.... until I got home.

Don't get me wrong its good to be home but not when you spend the first 24 hours throwing up including an unfortunate incident on a bus...
Anyway, back home, new year, don't feel any different like I think you are supposed to magically at New Year (I don't go for the whole New Year thing!) but I want to be different this year.
I want to change, be less fake, not be afraid to show my emotions instead of always saying I'm fine if I'm not, not care so much what people think of me, take a few more chances, appreciate friends more plus a thousand other ways I want to change.

I guess what I am saying is I don't want to take a moment once a year to make decisions that I know I won't follow up on. I want to be changing every day more into the person I think I'm meant to be.

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