Monday, 30 December 2013

Thankfulness, Goodness, Love - A Dose of Encouragement


HAPPY  BIRTHDAY  to our daughter  LINDA



This is the first time you have been away from us for your birthday in all these 26 years.

The first time the boys have not had to complain that you get a day completely devoted to you and they never do because they are at school or work on their birthday.

Not that they ever minded because it was always a complete family affair.

The go-karting

       The ice-skating

              The bowling

                     The cinema   .........

                             and of course always dinner in the place of your choice.


First time apart might as well be on the other side of the world

        - oh yes South Korea does sort of fit the bill.



In church last night Pastor spoke on Psalm 107 v 1  and I think it is very appropriate for you.




Of course it is appropriate for all of us.

Let's take some time today to focus on this thought from the verse.

         
We should be THANKFUL 


                             Why?  


    Because  God's Love endures forever so He can NEVER STOP being GOOD!






Isn't it great that no matter where we are we can know that God will never stop being good because He will never stop loving us?






Tuesday, 24 December 2013

What are you doing for Christmas? Advent 5



Today is the last day of Advent.






The last time to consider the four words we have looked at through this time of Advent.






Our last update on the Advent reading plan 

Day 24.        1 John 3:7 & 8

Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.  For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

Jesus came into the world to help us to stop sinning and to be our substitutionary sacrifice, taking away God's wrath if we do sin.


We received a lot of cards which wished us a Merry Christmas and some took words from a carol or mentioned the shepherds, wise men, angels, star etc.

Here I have picked out 4 of the cards we received which highlighted the four words of Advent


HOPE


PEACE


JOY


LOVE



May I wish you the true 
Hope, Peace, Joy and Love 
that Jesus brought on the first Christmas 
and still brings to us as we trust in Him.


Merry Christmas




I took some time last week to sit and listen to an old Christmas Music collection that my son had found on YouTube.

It was a compilation of Christmas songs by Max Bygraves which my kids used to listen to on the way to school with their cousins.  Their uncle played this same album in the car all through December every year and they all used to moan and groan about it but now it has turned into a fond Christmas memory.

On You tube it is in several parts to cover the whole album, the first part is here if you want to have a listen.






That is something that Christmas does in us, it stirs up memories.

Today I was thinking about how the memory of the first Christmas with Jesus coming to live on earth in God's plan of Salvation brought Mary to the anticipation of this Salvation.

Then how the memory of working alongside Jesus and knowing Him gave the disciples the faith to proclaim the Saviour and that He would return one day.

And because we know God's word came true about Jesus coming to be the Saviour of the world then we can trust that His word will come true about the return of Jesus too.

So the first Christmas leads us to the anticipation of the return of Jesus hence the celebration of Advent, where we are awaiting His Coming.






           Advent means arrival or appearance


Are you awaiting His arrival or appearance ?  

Have you trusted in Jesus and believe when He said He would come again?








Sunday, 22 December 2013

What are you doing for Christmas? Advent 4

  

This is the Fourth & last Sunday of Advent.



In church today we sang the Christmas Song  "Tis Christmas" with the children.



'Tis Christmas, 'Tis Christmas
The Christmas Bells ring
The Birthday of Jesus our Saviour and king
Tis Christmas, Tis Christmas
Our Bible recalls 
The Birthday of Jesus 

God's Love Gift to all. 


We had already looked at Hope, Joy, & Peace being three things that Advent makes us anticipate and the other one of the four is




 So what could be more fitting than singing about Jesus as God's Love Gift to us because that is exactly what Jesus is.


Tonight in Church we are having a Baptism Service where some young adults are getting baptised in response to the Gift of Love they have accepted from God through 
the Saving Grace of Jesus.



Here is another very short video for Advent





Do you know this Saving Grace of Jesus?

Have you accepted this Gift of Love from God?



Time for a little update on the Advent reading plan since Day 19

20.  We know that Jesus came to destroy the works of satan.
21.  We know that Jesus came to bear witness to the truth.
22.  We know that Jesus came so that we can believe in Him and have life in His name.
23.  We know that Jesus came to reconcile us to God.


Do you know why Jesus came to earth?


Are you glad that Jesus came?







Friday morning was  
"Shopping in our town with our grown up son" time.
Cold, windy & wet day but it's a small town so not that far to walk between car park and shops.
He kept comparing it to the large city he lives in, parking much cheaper here and streets less crowded.
We also got our turkey and ham for Christmas.

Friday afternoon was  
"Shopping in the Christian Bookshop with our grown up son" time.
One and a half hours can pass quickly when we are somewhere like this.
The ICM Bookshop outside Lurgan is enormous.
They also have a good website with great prices and lots of free shipping to anywhere in the UK, so have a look at their site  https://www.icmbooksdirect.co.uk/

Friday evening was  
"Shopping in the Sprucefield Shopping Centre with our grown up son" time.
A few last minute presents, and a nice wander around in the festive but not-too-busy shops.


After a day like that we need to remember that shopping is not the main thing that's important at this time of the year






We need to make sure that Jesus Christ is still in our Christmas, just like the words of this song 



Unto you is born this day a Saviour
A baby boy was found there in a manger
The blessed truth of Christmas let us hear
Let's put Christ back into Christmas this year


Christmas is the birthday of our King
The greatest gift of all He came to bring
He's the Prince of Peace let's show Him that we care
Let's put Christ back into Christmas this year


On this day the wise men saw a star
They followed it with gifts and travelled far
And praised the baby Jesus lying there
Let's put Christ back into Christmas this year


Let within your heart His praises ring
And celebrate the day our Saviour came
May peace on earth at Christmas time appear
Let's put Christ back into Christmas this year
Let's put Christ back into Christmas this year



Are you making sure that Christ is still in your Christmas this year?


Walking along the promenade in Newcastle, Co. Down is not the thing I would normally plan to be doing just a few days before Christmas.


Two things happened within the last few days that meant us taking the half hour drive to Newcastle one day last week and I was looking forward to walking the promenade while there.  However it was just too cold and wet and blowy that we didn't have our walk.

Instead we just sat and admired the seaside view for a while and took a few pictures and short videos of the waves.




A great example of the nature that God has created.


One of the books I got in the ICM Bookshop yesterday was for the younger kids in our Sunday School.

It can be read to young children and then as they get a bit older they can read it for themselves.




This book has had great reviews by parents which is a very good recommendation for it and is unusually written by a Theologian, James Hamilton.  He wrote it primarily for his son but was then encouraged to get it published which he then did through Christian Focus.


On the journey back today we discussed the presents for Christmas.

It has been agreed that I have nearly everything sorted out fine now.
I just hope the recipients of these presents agree with us.


Were you able to take time today to appreciate God and His creation amid the hustle and bustle of Christmas presents?








Sunday, 15 December 2013

What are you doing for Christmas? Advent 3



This is the third Sunday of Advent



The other day there was a small explosion in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast, Northern Ireland.  A bomb had been left outside a restaurant very close to St. Anne's Cathedral and and warning phoned in to the police.  While the nearby residents and the diners in the restaurants were being evacuated part of the device blew up but not enough to do any real damage or injury.





The Cathedral and all the people nearby were safe and sound but by the comments of people who were there at that time is now anger and unrest about whether we really do have peace in Northern Ireland.

We are in the time of the year when 




 is one of the things we talk about, Peace on Earth, wishing you Peace at Christmas, Have the Peace of God in your hearts.  Today in church I spoke to the children about Peace because the story in Sunday School was about the Angel's Proclamation to the Shepherds.  


But so many people are going around every day without this peace in their hearts.  


I believe this is simply because they can't believe that Peace is an easy thing to have. They think that it would be a complicated matter to make this type of change in their lives.  


Thankfully God has made it easy for us because He is the one who brings about this Peace through His Son Jesus.  


Our easy part is just to stop resisting and accept that God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to be our Peace.  Of course if we keep edging Jesus out of the picture at Christmas then it is harder to even draw our thoughts to Him let alone trust that He will be the way to Peace this Christmas.  

A couple of years ago I chose this Christmas card (below) that has the message I wanted to send, a message that I feel strongly about and also I loved the look of the card, simple but eye-catching at the same time.  I loved the card so much that I kept one so that each year I can display it.  I have even written on it from Fred & Sandra, because I want to continue to send this message to myself as well.



So this card is sitting at the front left hand side of the TV this year and will remind us of that special message.

   There is no Christmas without Jesus and there is no Peace without Him too.


Here is a very quick Advent video on Peace.




Do you keep Jesus at the heart of Christmas?



We have a true high Priest in Jesus
We have a Saviour who is at the right hand of God
We have a mediator in Jesus
We have life because Jesus came 
We know that Jesus Christ is Lord
We know that God gave Jesus to bring freedom and Joy 
We know that Jesus wants to send us to others 
We know that Jesus has the power over Satan so that we can be free








Are you still enjoying this time of preparation in the run up to Christmas?

This week coming our oldest son Jonathan arrives from Leeds!

So you can all guess some of the things I was up to this past week but some of the others might surprise you.

  • A bedroom had to be dusted and hoovered.
  • An ensuite had to be cleaned.
  • A bed had to be made.
  • A check of "plain biscuits" (this son nibbles on plain biscuits regularly throughout the day).
  • A check of "Northern Ireland Tea" (this son always goes back home with a supply of Northern Ireland Punjana Tea which is hard to get in England).
  • A certain Agatha Christie Poirot novel had to be started (the two of us are looking forward to sitting down one day to watch "Curtain" which I recorded when it was on ITV a few weeks ago and we had decided to reread the book first).

I bet you didn't guess the last 3 things!

It will feel even more like Christmas once Jonathan arrives as no doubt there will be renditions of


                                                                                      which is His favourite Advent hymn.



I think there may also be

Lots of talk about blogs as he is also a blogger.
Lots of talk about church as he is a Pastor.
Lots of talk about books as he is an avid reader.
Lots of talk about food as he loves to eat.

Of course I can say all this because I know him so well.

Which makes me think about something Fred & I and a couple of friends were talking about last night. 

How can we express ourselves towards Jesus if we do not know Him well.  
Surely we will run out of words to describe Him, to praise Him and to worship Him.


Do you know Him well?





Sunday, 8 December 2013

What are you doing for Christmas? Advent 2




This is the 2nd Sunday of Advent




During Advent we think of various things about Jesus coming to earth as He did at His birth and as He will again in the future.






The thing I have already thought about in the previous post is the Hope we have because of Jesus but today I want to consider the





we have in Him.


The children in Sunday School are into their first story leading up to Christmas.  They are looking at "Reassured by an Angel" telling the story of the angel message to Mary, then the angel message to Joseph and the birth of Jesus.

So when I was doing the children's slot at the start of our service this morning I talked about Joy because the messages by the angel to Mary and Joseph resulted in great joy for them.

We sang two choruses about Joy.
One is an old one but it doesn't matter about whether things are old or new but whether they help to teach our children about the truths in the Bible.





The other is a Christmas one about Joy which is sung to the tune of "Jesus loves me this I know" 




Are you full of Joy as you think of Christmas?


Through the Advent reading plan I will be reading how

We have joy because we worship Jesus the King
We have joy because we know about Jesus
We have joy because we are led to Jesus
We have joy because Jesus has the victory over satan



I've included a very short video about Joy at Advent time for you.





Are you still enjoying the hope & joy of Advent or is it getting lost in the midst 
of all the practical things?


I am thankful for the Hope and the Joy that we are reminded of during this Advent time.


Are you making time to remember the Joy of this Christmas time in the midst
 of the busy days?








This past week I have been writing our Christmas cards for the UK and the rest of Europe.

This is not too big an amount of cards as a lot of our friends within Europe will be getting eCards from us.


Christmas Card 2013


Christmas Letter 2013



eCard 2013


I also wrote the cards for my little group of university mates because we were getting together this week for a meal and catch-up chat.  It's been a year since we met up like this but before that it was over 7 years since we all met together because Fred & I had been living in Belgium.

Isn't it lovely that we can have friends that even though we don't see them often we can still fall easily into conversation again.  it was great to catch up last year and will be good this year again.



Sunday, 1 December 2013

What are you doing for Christmas? Advent 1

       
       

     Today I am starting a short Series on 



     "What are you doing for Christmas?"


During Advent I am going to write about what I am doing for Christmas. 







I love the way Advent starts on a Sunday but this year it is also the start of December and for anyone who knows me really well they will understand that I like things to start at proper sort of starting times, and the first of the month is definitely a proper sort of starting time.






I keep getting emails from different retailers telling me about the

           
 "Big Christmas Event"  
or the  
"Festive treats in store"  
for me.


Well they just don't tell me anything about the real event we are leading up to during Advent.
They might mention Santa but they hardly ever mention Jesus and when do, they never mention that Jesus is the real life and soul of Christmas.  He's the Reason for Christmas.


I am also very hurt when I see Christmas cards which say "Season's Greetings" because they leave Christmas out so they are leaving Jesus out and anyway I could send a card saying that to someone at any time of the year because we are always in one of the four seasons of the year.

          
            It makes no sense to me at all.






So what am I doing for Christmas today?

I'm finishing off our Christmas Letter and writing Christmas cards for our friends who live all around the world, because I need to get them posted off tomorrow.

I'm also remembering that Advent is about preparing for the coming of Jesus as we celebrate on Christmas and that Advent is about preparing for the time when Jesus will return again.


How am I doing this?

I'm starting a new Bible Reading Plan with You Version called  Good News of Great Joy 

And I'm focusing on Jesus who is my Saviour and the Saviour of the world and not focusing on the Season that the world focuses on because the world has no




in that Season but I have Hope in Jesus who is the real
                                                      

Reason for the Season




In the first week of the reading plan I mentioned above I will be reading about how


  • We need to be prepared by preparing our hearts for what God is going to do

  • We have Hope because we are part of God's Plan
  • We have Hope because God has provided our Salvation in Jesus
  • We have Hope because God will provide for us to be in the right place with Him
  • We have hope because Jesus came to earth as one of us
  • We have hope because Jesus brings Peace
  • We have hope because Jesus is The Messiah


    I found this short video which also links in with the Hope I have been talking about




    I am so thankful we can have this Hope are you?






    Thursday, 28 November 2013

    Kids Songs - Where are they?

    Every so often I would go on google and see if I could find some powerpoints for christian kids songs only to be disappointed at the lack of materials available.

    Do churches, Sunday Schools, Kids Clubs not want to have illustrated kids songs for their children to sing?

    Do they only want to use lines and lines of text to project for the kids?

    Do they only want to use videos clips of kids songs?

    In our church we have a kids slot at the start of each Sunday morning Service and no matter whether we have a little illustrative talk or a little puzzle or a recap of what has been going on in Sunday School we practically always have a kids song for the whole congregation to join in.

    Sometimes the children will hold up illustrated cards of the song but mostly we project the songs on the screen in church and we (or is it just I) like them to be well illustrated to be attractive for the kids and everyone else to look at.

    We prefer not to show video clips as everyone seems to sing better when we have the accompanying music played by the worship leader.

     In any kids work that I have done (over many, many years) I have always tried to have good visual aids but now some are rather outdated and of course technology has taken over and so I'm looking for good powerpoints to use with our songs.

     But I just have bother finding them!

    So far I have found a few sites and have been thankful for them but without spending a lot of money it has been difficult.

           Hence the solution was

     I just got in and made them myself 

           and I'm thankful for pictures that I have been able to use without any problems with copyright for projecting in church or printing.

    This solution of course means that I can have visuals for older songs and for more modern ones so we can have a wide variety of songs for the kids and always have ones that will go with the theme of the story or point we are making.

    Here's an example of one of the songs I have made into a visual.




    Here are a list of the sites I had found.

    Some have free resources and some are not free but it really looks like there is not much to pick from out there even if you are willing to pay a lot.

    Click on the Site Logos below to see what they offer for Christian kids songs.

    The best I found was Hebron and they are free.











    Please if you know of any others leave a comment to let me know.

    What does your church do?  
    Do they buy?  use You Tube videos?  create their own slides?

    I'm seriously thinking of setting up a site for songs - what do you think?