What will you make war on this March?

With the unexpected sunshine at the tail end of February, we could almost be kidded into thinking spring was on its way. A flurry of snowflakes this morning has brought us soundly back to earth, but if we look back to ancient Roman times, March was the month in which the Romans felt spring had sprung and therefore took the opportunity to recommence war. Winter had put a stop to their military endeavours, but the onset of March saw them gearing up to do battle again.

Usually when we think of Lent, we think of ‘giving something up’ as a link to the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting. Giving something up seems more of a sacrifice than an act of war, but actually, battling cravings for something you’re denying yourself, or forcing yourself out of bed to exercise in the mornings when it’s the last thing you want to do, can be likened to doing battle with your own desires.

We are also 5 days into Lent, and for many of us (religious or not) we are using this as an opportunity to do battle with something in our own lives. Changing our body or health tends to be a common one, with many giving up sweet treats or junk food for the specified 40 days.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus, said,

‘I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.’ 1 Corinthians 9:27

He was a dedicated Christian who knew the effort and self-discipline it took to follow Jesus. Those of us who take on ambitious challenges for Lent know that anything worth doing involves a lot of effort…and Paul was very much of the same mindset. He describes this effort as like beating his body. This isn’t a comfortable idea for many of us, and yet in reality that’s exactly what we do at a gym, or when we’re forcing down food that’s good or us and denying ourselves the less healthy options we really want. Many of us spend long hours working to be able to achieve a higher position or excel in our field, sometimes depriving ourselves of sleep or rest in our efforts. We’re disciplining ourselves to be a slave to what we want to achieve in our lives.

And who’s to say that’s a problem? It can lead to us gaining a fulfilling career, a healthier body, more confidence and self-esteem. Those are often the targets people have in mind when setting themselves a challenge for Lent. Whilst these are good for this life, Paul had his view on a longer-lasting reward. He talks of a prize, and what he means is the prize of eternal life in a kingdom with God and Jesus. He knew that being a Christian wasn’t easy. He knew it meant sacrifice, hard work and perseverance…all the things required to successfully complete a challenge for Lent…only he wasn’t only sticking to this for just 40 days.

Devoting your life to Jesus isn’t an easy option, but unlike Lent, if you get things wrong, it isn’t all over and you don’t just give up. You pray, ask for forgiveness and try again. Jesus’ life was hard, and he knows we can often mess up and gets things wrong, but he understands that. He wants us to make the commitment through baptism to follow him, and to try hard like Paul did. Jesus knows we can’t ever do enough to earn this great reward, but he wants us to keep our eyes on the prize when the going gets tough, because that prize is far greater than any benefits we can get now from changing our physical body, and God is willing to give us that prize because of our association with Jesus.

So if you’re partaking in a Lent challenge this year, I hope you get what you want out of it. Maybe you could even start now with the challenge to read a little bit of the Bible every day. It doesn’t matter that we are 5 days into Lent now, because if you really want to get to know God and Jesus, then reading the Bible will become a part of your life that lasts beyond the end of this Lent period.

Finally, just know that in the eternal kingdom, weight and shape and looks won’t matter. We will be purely happy and however hard and long the battle, the effort we put in now will be worth it.

If you’re interested in knowing more how about God’s message, how about…

  • reading more of our blogs at morecambechristadelphiansblog.wordpress.com;
  • asking us for a free Bible if you haven’t got one;
  • receiving a free home learning course to help you explore and learn to read the Bible effectively;
  • receiving a free monthly Bible magazine called ‘Glad Tidings’;
  • meeting up to read the Bible together?

If you would like any or all of the above just contact us by either:

  • leaving us a phone message on 01524 745894 (Mon-Fri please);
  • emailing morecambechristadelphians@outlook.com;
  • writing free to:
    FREEPOST THE CHRISTADELPHIANS
    (quote BI198)
  • facebook @MorecambeChristadelphians



Why we believe in happily ever-afters…

I recently watched ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ for the first time, and was intrigued by the story-line and the author’s desire to give Bathsheba her happy ending (note, I have not read the book so if the film doesn’t correlate please forgive me!)

It was interesting how throughout the film Bathsheba comes across three possible suitors, and toys with the idea of each one of them as her possible husband. I felt for her as she made the wrong choice, picked the impressive but slippery soldier and began to know her mistake as early as the evening of her wedding. Of course the romantic in me couldn’t bear to see her shackled to this unsuitable man, and so was secretly glad when his unfortunate drowning left her with the opportunity to choose a better man.

Of course then Bathsheba came close to picking the honourable, and perfectly nice older chap Mr Boldwood who, though she perhaps didn’t love him, would help her save her farm and allow her the female independence that was uncommon in those days. Whilst I could see she would be reasonably happy with this fella, I, along with most I suspect, knew deep down she was most suited to the first man, Gabriel, who had loved her and proposed, but who she had early on rejected. I was not disappointed when things worked out in the end and Bathsheba and Gabriel got together at last. I could bask in the contented feeling of a happy ever after.

But wasn’t that a bit short-sighted?

Bathsheba and Gabriel got a blissful ending, but what about the others? Mr Boldwood, twice had his hopes of marrying Bathsheba disappointed and then ended up in prison for killing the soldier-husband who turned up out of the blue not dead after all! Plus, the soldier (apart from dying) had an unhappy time because his real love was a girl who he mistakenly thought had jilted him at the altar, and then she ended up in poverty and also died. It’s easy to be satisfied with the ending if you were rooting for Bathsheba and Gabriel (I was) but there has to be some sadness for the unfortunate other characters.

I think it says something about the way we live our lives that we want happy endings… but in reality we don’t all end up with a happy life. I can’t imagine no one has a happy moment in their life, but we don’t all get the love we crave or the satisfaction we want….but we still hope. I didn’t stop watching the film even though I knew Bathsheba was wrong to marry the soldier, because inwardly I hoped it would work out okay, and was rewarded for my persistence by an ending that I did deem happy (for the main couple).

This hope carries us through life in so many situations . When things are really hard we often can keep going because we have hope things will get better. Where does this hope, and this idea of a happy ending, spring from? Fairytales of course, what about before then? Where did the authors get the notion? Could it be in fact an inbuilt human view that in the end everything will work out for good?

The problem is it doesn’t. Not in this life anyway. Sickness, violence, fear, poverty…the list of problems that curtail a person’s happiness goes on, and it comes down to the very beginning, when God made Adam and Eve and gave them a paradise-like existence, but they rebelled. They chose not to follow God absolutely, despite His gifts to them. So they sinned, and subsequently brought a curse that meant this world isn’t always an easy or pleasant place to be. But the Bible isn’t just informing us of how the world got to this state…it’s telling us of hope too. It’s telling us of a time when this will be reversed. Life will be without pain, and sadness and all the things that inhibit happiness.

The world is described in the Bible as like a woman in labour – ‘We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time’ Romans 8:22.

This time of trouble and pain in the world is like a woman in labour, reflecting the curse on the world and how it’s often full of fear and pain. But we are also told, ‘the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.’ Romans 8:21 just like for a mother, ‘when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.’ John 16:21.

This difficult time now will not last forever – it will end as labour pains do. And just as the end of labour brings the joy of a child, the end of this world will bring a new life on Earth. Jesus is coming to Earth soon, and will replace the current systems and way of life with a new kingdom that will be joyful and happy. It will have God at the heart of it, because every person who is part of it (raised from the dead or still alive) will be a person who believes in God and Jesus and has tried hard in their life to follow their ways.

Bathsheba had to find the right path, and so do we if we want a true, and everlasting, happy ending…

If you’re interested in knowing more how about God’s message, how about…

  • reading more of our blogs at morecambechristadelphiansblog.wordpress.com;
  • asking us for a free Bible if you haven’t got one;
  • receiving a free home learning course to help you explore and learn to read the Bible effectively;
  • receiving a free monthly Bible magazine called ‘Glad Tidings’;
  • meeting up to read the Bible together?

If you would like any or all of the above just contact us by either:

  • leaving us a phone message on 01524 745894 (Mon-Fri please);
  • emailing morecambechristadelphians@outlook.com;
  • writing free to:
    FREEPOST THE CHRISTADELPHIANS
    (quote BI198)
  • facebook @MorecambeChristadelphians

Why we actually love rules…

So, the first week of 2019 is done, and how many of us have stuck to our new year’s resolutions? It’s estimated that 80% of new year’s resolutions made will have failed by the second week in February * So what was the point of making one in the first place if we’re destined to fail?

new-chapter-quote

Of course, it could be because ‘that’s what you do at new year,’ but for many of us, there’s probably a deeper reason. Making a resolution is about aiming to improve something, usually in your own life. Common resolutions centre around losing weight, doing more exercise, getting a healthier perspective or work-life balance…the act of making the resolution highlights an error or dissatisfaction in our own lives that we want to correct. Furthermore, we often make our resolution quite specific to aid our self-improvement. For those who want to get fitter, they often join a gym in January, and decide how many times a week they’re going to use it. Or for those wanting to have a healthier diet or bank balance, they may decide to limit their take-away consumption to once a month. Creating a ‘rule’ engenders discipline, which is helpful in keeping someone motivated and progressing with their self-improvement.

We often think of rules in a negative light, as restrictions on what we want to do. However, they actually often serve the opposite purpose. Rules give us the knowledge for what we are allowed to do in a given circumstance and what others are not allowed to do. This then gives rise to rights and protection in our lives.

God provides rules in His word, the Bible. For some, these are seen in that negative, restrictive viewpoint, but in reality they highlight a way for us to improve our lives and find that long-lasting satisfaction. For God has a plan to solve the problems of his world. He will send His son Jesus to the Earth and a kingdom will be set up that will be a paradise. Not everyone will be allowed in though. God has rules for this. He wants the people who share in that paradise to be those who have wanted to please Him in this current life. To please God we need to follow Jesus, and be baptised. Jesus himself said,

‘Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.’ John 14:21

Jesus’ commands centre around love too. He tells us,

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’ Mark 12:30-31

So many of the rules in our legal system today are about treating other people correctly. If we all loved our neighbours as ourselves there would likely be a lot less crime and more general happiness in society. But, as Jesus says, it’s not just about following rules and ‘ticking boxes’. There has to be faith. A person must believe in God and want to please Him. Elsewhere in the Bible it says:

‘And without faith it is impossible to please God, for anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.’ Hebrews 11:6

A new year’s resolution, when broken, can lead to genuine feelings of inadequacy. Even if it doesn’t, if we always suspected we’d fail, the act of making the resolution hints at a deeper-seated desire to do something to make our lives better. Even if we achieve our resolution, we all know we make mistakes and get things wrong from time to time. Jesus knows that too. His role is as a mediator between us and God. If we’ve been baptised and promised to try and follow Jesus, when we get things wrong we can pray for forgiveness through Jesus. The feelings of inadequacy will come, but then so will the mercy of forgiveness.

Making a resolution to be healthier, happier or more productive isn’t wrong, but the results may not be that long-lasting and certainly not beyond this life. However, God made us because He wants a relationship with us, and resolving to learn about Him and His son, which may lead you to a life committed to them, will ultimately give you far more satisfaction and happiness.

So if you’ve broken your new year’s resolution, or even if you haven’t, why not consider a new resolution…one that will be for life, not just a year. Resolve to get to know God, and His son Jesus; it may just be the best resolution you ever made.

If you’re interested in knowing more how about God’s message, how about…

  • reading more of our blogs at morecambechristadelphiansblog.wordpress.com;
  • asking us for a free Bible if you haven’t got one;
  • receiving a free home learning course to help you explore and learn to read the Bible effectively;
  • receiving a free monthly Bible magazine called ‘Glad Tidings’;
  • meeting up to read the Bible together?

If you would like any or all of the above just contact us by either:

  • leaving us a phone message on 01524 745894 (Mon-Fri please);
  • emailing morecambechristadelphians@outlook.com;
  • writing free to:
    FREEPOST THE CHRISTADELPHIANS
    (quote BI198)
  • facebook @MorecambeChristadelphians

*https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-29/why-80-percent-of-new-years-resolutions-fail

Merry Unbirthdays

Another year gone and one more on its way!

Just like birthdays, New Year comes round regular as clockwork, so “Happy New Year” or perhaps for someone somewhere even “Happy Birthday”.

These occasions are supposed to be fun days, so today we all hope that all ‘birthdays’ are happy occasions.

Many though, who are a bit longer in the tooth, see both these occasions, mostly, as just a date on the calendar not much different from another, which is a pity really because we often forget who it was that started all this in the first place! We should celebrate the fact that God set the heavens in order, created the seasons and times, even created life itself. Indeed this is a mindset that we should have EVERYDAY.

So perhaps God would agree with A A Milne that we should have “a very merry UNBIRTHDAY” all the time.

Life should be celebrated, along with the fact that God offers eternal life to followers of His Son, Jesus.

How does He do that, you may ask? Well by having another ‘New Birthday’ to think about…a day when you commit your whole life to God and are ‘re-born’ in baptism. All your past is washed away and you start again, under the guidance of God, your Father, following in the footsteps of Jesus.

So when you are celebrating the birth of another year, or perhaps even your own birthday, you should think about God during your celebrations. Maybe you could then continue with that thought throughout all the merry Unbirthdays that follow…

If you’re interested in knowing more how about God’s message, how about…

  • reading more of our blogs at morecambechristadelphiansblog.wordpress.com;
  • asking us for a free Bible if you haven’t got one;
  • receiving a free home learning course to help you explore and learn to read the Bible effectively;
  • receiving a free monthly Bible magazine called ‘Glad Tidings’;
  • meeting up to read the Bible together?

If you would like any or all of the above just contact us by either:

  • leaving us a phone message on 01524 745894 (Mon-Fri please);
  • emailing morecambechristadelphians@outlook.com;
  • writing free to:
    FREEPOST THE CHRISTADELPHIANS
    (quote BI198)
  • facebook @MorecambeChristadelphians
  • twitter @Bible4Morecambe

Have we gone Christmas-crazy?

heart green

‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ Matthew 6:21

dolles on tree.jpg

Do you put your heart into Christmas? Do you buy presents for all your loved ones, friends, work mates and even those ‘acquaintances’ who will get offended if they don’t get a gift?  Do you get a Christmas tree and decorate it nicely (hands up those who have a ‘colour scheme’!)  What about Christmas grub?…Turkey is a given, right?  And everyone loves a mince pie or slice of chocolate log.  Plus lots of us will even put ourselves though the trial of eating a sprout for tradition-sake.  That’s before we’ve even mentioned Christmas songs, work-dos, festive TV ads, Santa’s grottos, and the all-important Christmas jumper.  Are we in fact going a bit ‘Christmas-crazy’?

Of course it can be magical…decorations and fairy lights brighten up our homes and streets.  The jingle of a Christmas song on the radio can lift the spirits on a gloomy drive into work, and cards through the post can be a nice way of keeping in touch with those afar off.

buy more

But it’s stressful too!  The cost of all the presents, decs, food, drink and outfits can be astronomical.  The shopping centres filling up from mid-October with Christmas merchandise and feverish shoppers can be quite alarming, and after weeks of build up, the day can feel over too soon, leaving a rather melancholy feel in its wake.

Skagerak Arena June 2009

So why do so many people buy into Christmas in such a huge way? Well, John Lewis have put their finger on it this year with their Christmas TV ad…whether you’re an Elton fan or not,  you can’t help feeling a little teary at the sight of the small boy actor looking blown-away by his present.  That’s what so many of us strive to cultivate isn’t it?  We want a Christmas day that lights up the faces of our loved ones.  We want to treat them, and share moments of job with them.

ntivity

The thing is we can get so lost in the materialism of Christmas we forget what we’re striving for.  Think about the birth of Jesus…he got gifts didn’t he?  Gold, frankincense and myrrh.  They were special gifts, chosen for him for a purpose and they have a place in the account of Jesus’s birth.  But most of the account is about the family themselves: Mary’s visit from the angel, Joseph and Mary travelling to Bethlehem, Jesus born in a stable, angels telling the shepherds that the baby that has been born is the promised saviour…it’s all about a family.  The most special family.  Why do we think God sent a host of angels to the shepherds singing praise?  After all, one angel had already informed the shepherds of the birth.  Don’t you think God was overjoyed at His son’s birth and wanted to show it?  He felt that joy that we want to feel when we celebrate Christmas. And for so many of us, Christmas is about family, and trying to show them we love them in order to create that shared joy.

mary joseph jesus

When the shepherds had visited Jesus and went off to spread the news about him, we are told, ‘Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.’ Luke 2.19.  She treasured this time, she thought about it.  I’m sure she was not expecting a group of total strangers to come visit her child, but she treasured their reaction and acknowledgement of her son as special. Jesus was the son of God and the most special child ever born for this reason.  But he was also Mary’s son, and special to her in that he was her child.  Every parent will know that bond, and parent or not, we all know that affection towards another, and we want to treasure the moments we have with them.  Christmas can be a great opportunity to do that, but it’s too easy to treasure the wrong things. Let’s not get so caught up in society’s pressure to buy-buy-buy that we forget the most important gifts…each other, and should you choose to believe it, God’ son, Jesus.

Maybe this Christmas when you take your moment to treasure the people in your life, whoever your ‘family’ is, be it biological or not, also take a moment to ponder that baby laid in a manger.  For that baby wasn’t just Mary’s child…he is our saviour.  That little family in the stable, was the beginning of a larger family we can all belong to.

Don’t just light up your Christmas day by being with loved ones, light up your life by acknowledging the one who loved you so much He sent his son to be your saviour.

bible light

If you fancy a daily Bible reading app there’s a great one here:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/daily-bible-readings/id536687049?mt=8

If you’re interested in knowing more how about God’s message, how about…

  • reading more of our blogs at morecambechristadelphiansblog.wordpress.com;
  • asking us for a free Bible if you haven’t got one;
  • receiving a free home learning course to help you explore and learn to read the Bible effectively;
  • receiving a free monthly Bible magazine called ‘Glad Tidings’;
  • meeting up to read the Bible together?

If you would like any or all of the above just contact us by either:

  • leaving us a phone message on 01524 745894 (Mon-Fri please);
  • emailing morecambechristadelphians@outlook.com;
  • writing free to:
    FREEPOST THE CHRISTADELPHIANS
    (quote BI198)
  • facebook @MorecambeChristadelphians
  • twitter @Bible4Morecambe

The Lamb of God

mary had a little lam[Mary had a little Lamb,

That’s what the bible says;

It didn’t have a fleece at all,

But in a manger lays.

 

 

Yes, a child born of a virgin,nativity

The Son of God indeed;

and destined soon to save the world:

Jesus the promised seed

 

Jesus in mangerThe Lamb of God, John the Baptist said,

All sins to take away;

He followed God in all He did

Kept all ill thoughts at bay

 

 

He gave His life, a sacrificecross carrired

To reconcile God to all;

That’s you and me and everyone

Who on His name does call.

 

If you fancy a daily Bible reading app there’s a great one here:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/daily-bible-readings/id536687049?mt=8

 

If you’re interested in knowing more how about God’s message, how about…

  • reading more of our blogs at morecambechristadelphiansblog.wordpress.com;
  • asking us for a free Bible if you haven’t got one;
  • receiving a free home learning course to help you explore and learn to read the Bible effectively;
  • receiving a free monthly Bible magazine called ‘Glad Tidings’;
  • meeting up to read the Bible together?

If you would like any or all of the above just contact us by either:

  • leaving us a phone message on 01524 745894 (Mon-Fri please);
  • emailing morecambechristadelphians@outlook.com;
  • writing free to:
    FREEPOST THE CHRISTADELPHIANS
    (quote BI198)
  • facebook @MorecambeChristadelphians
  • twitter @Bible4Morecambe

Stop dropping litter! #personalresponsibility

Remember Alfred Wainwright? If you walk in the Lakes you will. His drawings, maps and pathways are legendary, as he recorded his explorations for those that follow in his footsteps today.

buttermereThis is Buttermere, a small secluded lake, towered over by tall crags and ridges including Wainwright’s favourite place, Haystacks, harnessing the water to the south. He loved the place so much that he arranged for his ashes to be cast onto its slopes. To the north is the village of Buttermere itself, from where the circular walk around the lake is a mmon starting point for many.

 

The area is now owned by the National Trust following their purchase at auction decades ago, a deed to ensure that generations of families could enjoy the beauty of creation. What a noble gesture, what a fine aim and objective, one to be encouraged and treasured.

Or is it?

This was the scene the day after Bank Holiday at the end of August. I’m sure when the litter at buttermereNational Trust ask us to “give generously” they had other things in mind beside the detritus of life. So where have we gone wrong?

Perhaps as a “nation” we have “trusted” too often in entitlement rather than responsibility.

Why is it that we expect others to provide, accommodate and bend to our requirements, or our often selfish desires and needs? What happened to our personal responsibility, our sense of right and wrong, our absolute understanding that no man is an island. What we do, what we say and how we act affects others and ultimately ourselves as well. If someone else doesn’t clear this mess, then the next time we visit Buttermere we will be faced with a mountain and that doesn’t include the natural peaks that surround the lake.

But in a sense, these selfish actions don’t just apply in the natural world, they speak volumes about our spiritual life as well.

It’s not just Wainwright that cherishes the beauty of creation, the creator Himself has His eye on the whole world, particularly on you and I, the centre of His purpose.

He wants us to take control, take responsibility for our actions and consider what we do and why we do it. He wants us to think of others. He wants us to be more like Him, more like His son Jesus, who gave His very life so that others may benefit.

He’s the the only one who can clear up this whole mess, whether it is violence or war, poverty or hunger, greed or exploitation, selfishness or lack of moral control. This is the detritus that truly overflows into our lives.

He wants us to stop being so selfish, so self obsessed, taking to ourselves the pleasures of life like empty vessels with no substance, value or purpose, but to eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we shall die!

God has laid before us drawings, maps and pathways for us to follow, contained in the bible. Indeed, there we are taught to follow in the footsteps of His son Jesus, whose guidance directs us to the Kingdom of God.

There is, however, one requirement. Personal responsibility.

We have to acknowledge our wrongdoing, our errors, our lack of spiritual direction in a life bereft of God. “Repent and be baptised” is the teaching of God.

Let up us stop dropping debris, leaving mountains of problems for others to overcome. Let us take responsibility for our own actions and clear up the mess that follows us round 24/7.

Let us understand that what we have been doing is wrong and seek help from God. Let’s learn a new way of life, with new laws, motives and ideals. Let’s commit our lives to God, through Jesus and be an example to others as a son or daughter of God.

sunset

If you fancy a daily Bible reading app there’s a great one here:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/daily-bible-readings/id536687049?mt=8

 

If you’re interested in knowing more how about God’s message, how about…

  • reading more of our blogs at morecambechristadelphiansblog.wordpress.com;
  • asking us for a free Bible if you haven’t got one;
  • receiving a free home learning course to help you explore and learn to read the Bible effectively;
  • receiving a free monthly Bible magazine called ‘Glad Tidings’;
  • meeting up to read the Bible together?

If you would like any or all of the above just contact us by either:

  • leaving us a phone message on 01524 745894 (Mon-Fri please);
  • emailing morecambechristadelphians@outlook.com;
  • writing free to:
    FREEPOST THE CHRISTADELPHIANS
    (quote BI198)
  • facebook @MorecambeChristadelphians
  • twitter @Bible4Morecambe