Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Singing Christmas Carols

'Stop playing traditional Christmas carols in public. Santa songs are fine but not carols. They may cause offence. We want Happy Holidays but we don't want Christ to feature in them at all.' Ever heard people express sentiments like these? I have but I want to emphasize that I love some of the great old carols and delight to hear them in public. On Saturday in Rushmere shopping centre it was really lovely to hear an orchestra play some of the traditional Christmas carols and songs. One that particularly took my notice was 'The First Nowell.' Another night I had heard it being sung and those wonderful words "Born is the King of Israel" rang through the shopping centre.

I grew up with Christmas carol singing being part of Christmas. We learnt them in school and we sang them in church. I even went carol singing a few times too! Older people always did seem to appreciate the carols....whatever about our ability to sing lol. I remember an old family friend to whom we brought a Christmas present every year asking us to sing a verse of a carol as she received her gift. As I have matured a bit since then, 🤣 I have come to value Christmas carols even more and I do appreciate their beauty in a carol service.

May I suggest that you take time to listen to the words of carols and see just how filled with Biblical teaching about Christ that they really are. Here are just a few things sung about Christ:

Glory to the newborn King
Jesus our Immanuel
Begotten, not created
He is God and Lord of all
True God of True God
Word of the Father in flesh appearing
Offspring of a virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the Incarnate  Deity
Born that man no more may die
Born to give us second birth 
He rules the world with grace and truth 
He made heaven and earth of nought and with His blood mankind hath bought
God and sinners reconciled
Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today 
Redeeming love
Redeeming grace 
Set at God's right hand on high

Need I go on? Is it any wonder that they are being objected to? This month on Facebook I am taking some carols and giving Bible references to show where carols are so Biblical. Please follow along these short little studies each day. They are not in depth studies and certainly not exhaustive on the subject. It has been a challenge and a blessing to myself to think of Bible verses for them. If you are blessed by them, please like and feel free to share them.

Search the Word Facebook Christmas Carols album

I also encourage you to share your favourite Christmas carols on Facebook in the 2 weeks leading up to Christmas. Why not fill Facebook with these beautiful songs about our Saviour?

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Look out your window and pray

I don't know about you but I like to do things with the help of visual aids and believe it or not I use them in prayer too! Yes the Lord Jesus told us to go into our room and shut the door and pray (Matthew 6v6). In the morning I go to my room to be alone with God. And yes there's times of intense pleading with God when no visual aid can help but when I shut the door and close the window I worship the Lord for who He is!

It's often then that the visual aids kick in for me to help me pray. As I look at things they prompt my thoughts of things to pray about. I look at the bed and thank Him for a bed to sleep on and all His daily provisions for me. I look at the map of the world on the wall and pray for people and needs around the world, not forgetting the little country Israel in the centre of the world. But when I look out my window.... what a host of things I see to pray about!

Now the view from my bedroom window is so much better than that photo gives and I can see so much more. Here's just some examples of what I see to pray about:
I see the fields, the trees and the cattle on the hills and on a clear day I can see the mountains of Mourne. I praise the Lord for His creation.
When I look at the many houses in full view from my window I cannot help but be reminded that I am in a little mission field in Dungannon at this moment in time. So many different nationalities and how few know my Lord. I must pray for them.
A bus passes on the road below. I picture the bus going round the town on a Friday night to collect the kids for children's hour and pray for the children by name who get on at each stop on the route.
I can see Lough Neagh and think of the children near the lough shore that I taught earlier this year.
I watched the wind turbine in the distance turning slowly this morning to make energy. My mind went out to a family near the area where it stands, to pray for strength and energy and comfort for them in their bereavement.
Then, there's the things nearby. The trampoline and play house in the garden across the road prompt me to pray for the little girl who plays with them. The neighbour's car pulls up....pray for my neighbours. Perhaps someone who walks by. The bin...pray for the bin men. And so the list of visual aids for prayer goes on.

Now I do have to say that this is not the only way I pray nor are these things the only things I pray for but I think you get the idea of my visual aids for prayer.

Prayer is a battle but as I read my Bible I find precious promises and my faith is strengthened to gain the victory through Christ and His precious shed blood.

As I finish, I do not know if you have a view like me from your window or if you would benefit from praying this way. But just remember: Don't forget to pray!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Treasures in Heaven

There has been much discussion this week after the BBC published the salaries of their big stars. Opinions vary and questions have been raised as the public consider how their TV licence money is spent. Is it right that the big stars of the BBC should be paid so highly? Should they have to take a pay cut? Is it fair that doctors, nurses, paramedics, teachers, police, soldiers, fire service workers are paid a fraction of those salaries? What will the BBC do to close the gender gap for the big pay? etc. etc. However the reality is that most people would neither complain about nor refuse the offer of such big salaries.

I am not a regular listener to Stephen Nolan's radio show but last night I actually took time to look up and listen to Jim Allister interview Stephen Nolan in relation to his big salary. To be honest I did not learn much from it, other than to come away thinking the BBC did not allow Stephen Nolan to answer many questions regarding a breakdown of all the income he gets from them. Also, I may be wrong but he did not present to me as being really contented with his life. And so, this all got me thinking: how that, apart from the fact that I wouldn't be able to do their jobs, I would not change places with any of them for all the money in the world! The Bible verses about laying up treasures in heaven came to my mind.

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6v19-21)

How can I lay up treasures in heaven? I simply invest time and effort for the extension of God's kingdom on earth and ultimately glorifying God, not self. I seek to live with eternity's value in view. There is deep peace and real contentment in doing so. I do want to hear the Lord say to me one day, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Another Bible passage that came to mind is 1Corinthians 3v11-15. I want my work to endure the fire of God's judgement like the gold, silver and precious stones, rather than be destroyed like wood, hay and stubble. God has called me to be His child and to live for Him. I will receive my reward one day. How so, so much better that will be than anything I can imagine. Why would I want to stoop to being a BBC employee with a big fat salary? God loves me and He is worth living for!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Joyful Memories 2016

'Joy to the world' is the vein of thought I was trying to present during December 2016 in my Search the Word Facebook page. There was so much joy surrounding the first coming of Jesus into this world when He was born as a Baby in Bethlehem....Mary, angels, shepherds, wise men, and many others rejoiced and praised God. One night in particular after meditating on the joy and praise to God, I went to bed and fell asleep just naming out so many things before the Lord for which I am thankful and praising Him for them. Some of these are just ordinary everyday things that I so often take for granted. I do encourage Christians to take time to rejoice and thank the Lord for all the good things we have, despite the fact that there are so many terrible and fearful things happening in the world.

As I look back over 2016 there is so much I can be joyful about and praise God for: big things, little things, physical and spiritual blessings, temporal and eternal things, family, friends, help in children's work, and so, so much more. They are far too numerous to even list here. So, I wish to highlight just three special joyful occasions for which I praise God.

Our Pearl wedding anniversary
The first was my pearl wedding anniversary in March. Adrian and I celebrated 30 years of married life. Yes, he really has put up with me for 30 years! But for me, it's been 30 years married to my best friend, the man I love. Over these years we've had times to laugh and times to cry. seen good times and bad times, experienced struggles and trials as well as blessings. We've moved house five times in our journey from Cork to Dungannon to Kerry to Dungannon....and the Lord knows where next. Adopting and raising Isaac and Jemima has been such a privilege for us and such a special part of our lives. We praise God for them and for all the love we have shared together as a family. To mark the occasion, Isaac and Jemima treated us to a lovely meal.

Adrian and I in Crete

The second was our holiday to Crete in May. It had been a long time since we had a holiday abroad but being married for 30 years was a good reason for Adrian and I to enjoy a week in Crete. We stayed in a lovely hotel, relaxed in the sunshine, enjoyed the food, visited the nearby towns each day, and soaked up the atmosphere of this beautiful island. I, even, had my first ride on a quad: Adrian driving as we traveled up to a mountain village on it!

Holiday in Crete

Thirdly, Jemima was 21 years old in June. Although, we did not get to meet and adopt Jemima until she was 10 months old, we are very proud she is our daughter. She has grown up to be a very pretty young woman. We love her and rejoice for all the joy that she and Isaac have brought us. To celebrate her 21st we had a lovely Chinese meal in Cookstown.

Jemima's 21st birthday
The Lord has been so good to us. In writing this I am not suggesting for one minute that we have never had a trial, problem, pain or heartache during 2016....but I am saying that I praise Him for all His goodness and rejoice for what He has done for us in 2016.
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4v4)
Wishing you blessing throughout 2017 as you obey His Word and rejoice in Him.