Friday, 30 December 2011

My Testimony - Part 7

So now I’m a fully-fledged, all signed up member of Jesus’s disciples, right?  I should start being good all the time, be happy all the time, and be healed of this silly sickness called depression?  Nah, it don’t quite work like that. 

I got a bit too sure of myself, thinking that this depression stuff was all in the past.  Also, remember the financial mess my ex had left me in?  Well, I still hadn’t dealt with that.  Basically, I started taking out these cash-advance payday loans, with seriously high interest rates, in order to put food on the table back when we were still together.  I kept telling myself that I was dealing with it, and reducing the payments each month, without actually sitting down and doing the Maths.  It’s not that I can’t add up – I’ve just finished a Uni maths module.  I was too scared to face it.

Add to this, a difficult, complicated family bereavement, and some work worries, and I faced another bout of depression.   I returned to the doctor and had my medication increased, and had another two weeks off work.   I basically told my work colleague what my situation was, and he and his wife turned up at my house that night with a food parcel from the church!  The following week, the church community pastor turned up with some cash to help me get through, and finally, once I’d told my business manager at work my situation, he arranged an interest free loan which has allowed me to pay off these immoral loans!  Yet another answered prayer from God!  But in order for me to receive these blessings, I had to surrender a sin that I was holding on to strongly – Pride.  I needed to be broken in order to see how much I needed God’s help, and the help of His people.  I am truly grateful and thankful every day for the kindness shown to me by some of the people around me, even though I don’t deserve it, just as none of us deserve the gift of eternal life offered to us through Jesus. 

My depression is still here, and I’m fighting it back every day.  I know God will strengthen me to fight it off once and for all when He sees fit.  It’s not always easy, and quite often, I act out like a complete muppet, but in time, God will teach me to be normal ;)

I still sin as well.  I still react angrily when I shouldn’t; I still panic and forget to turn my problems over to Christ.  I still say, do and think things I shouldn’t.  But I know that I have God’s forgiveness.  He’ll make me what He wants me to be in His time. 

Thanks for reading, 

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

My Testimony - Part 6

So between Easter and June, whilst battling depression, I kept returning to Hope Church.  I started to look forward to the services, and listened intently to each of the pastors messages, wanting to learn more about Jesus.

A video I watched turned things on their head for me.  Brian ‘Head’ Welch, formerly of the nu-metal band Korn, made a testimonial video for the website I Am Second.  I sought out Brian’s book Save Me FromMyself.  My main stumbling point in accepting Christ was my reluctance to believe that the scripture John 3:16 applied to me - “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”.  I felt as if I had done too many bad things for God to want me.  My depression was telling me (and still does at times) that God hated me, and he thought I was a waste of space.  Brian’s book spoke in very blunt honesty of the sins he committed, and yet God still loved him.  I followed this up with some email discussions with my work colleague who had originally invited me to church with his family.  On the 26th June 2011, I took a step of faith, repeated the sinners prayer, and accepted Jesus as my saviour.  This was the single biggest moment of my life.

Just under a month later I was baptised by my Pastor, in front of my church family and my little girl, and felt amazing.  I was honoured and privileged to be baptised alongside some amazing people, with awesome stories of God’s power in their life.  The day was fantastic from start to finish, and I’ll never forget it.  Every word of encouragement, prayer, tear, text message,or  facebook message offering support meant the world to me.  And the power of God’s love was overwhelming.  I stood at the front of the church, alongside the other baptised believers, whilst the congregation sang Deep Cries Out, and the family that had lead me to Jesus stood nearby praying over me.  All the while, tears of happiness streamed down my face.  This was indeed, the start of a new life for me.  A ‘rebirthing’.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Bibles for Africa

A short post - I'm between Christmas / New Year visits.

I saw this link on a friends Facebook wall, and was seriously moved by it.  The video shows the arrival by aeroplane of a small crate of Bibles to a tribe called the Kimyal, in Indonesia, and the tribes response to receiving God's word.

Immediately I felt ashamed of how little value I put on my own Bible(s).  I have a study Bible, a pocket Bible, a medium-sized Bible, as well as a Kindle version, PDF's and a Bible app on my phone, and the ability to access any translation I wish via sites such as Bible Gateway.  Yet I take them so much for granted.  I should feel extremely privileged to have the Word of God quite literally at my fingertips any time I want.

As a response, I prayed, then googled and found Bibles For Africa - a site run by Advent Hope Ministries which aims to provide Bibles in native translations for people across Africa.  I donated $10 and felt a bit better for a moment - realising that I'd covered the cost of a Bible that someone will cherish.

Then I realised, $10, which is £6.59 in proper money, is less than the cost of the takeaway I had just eaten with my daughter.  I also realised that when I sit down to read God's Word later, I'd be doing so on a large comfortable sofa, with a cup of coffee in a warm, safe environment.  So really, my donation while helpful, is giving so little of myself.

I tried to even jokingly justify my actions by comparing them to my baby nieces actions on boxing day.  My 6-month old niece was sitting with me, and an Oxfam advert came on the TV.  She found it hilarious and laughed her head off.  Obviously at 6 months old, she wasn't knowingly laughing because there are starving children in the world.  She laughs whenever she's trying to interact with someone. (She has no idea that people on the TV can't see her) I actually realised what she was doing, one child to another, was trying to connect with another child.  Or to look at it another way, one of God's Children reaching out to another of God's Children.

Surely, as we are all God's Children, shouldn't we all be trying to reach out to each other, and what better way than to give another an everlasting gift - the Gospel.

For my part, I'll be trying to love and cherish the Bible(s) I have, and appreciate the liberty I have to read and own them, and be actively looking for opportunities to put God's Word in the hands and hearts of others.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Is God our fall-back friend?

Things have been going really well for me the last couple of weeks.  Home life is pretty settled, Karate training is going well (I graded yesterday and passed - Yay!!), work is nearly finished for Christmas and I've got some great plans for the Christmas break.

In fact, things have been so good that I've actually been neglecting my reading of the word.  I've finished reading the New Testament, and usually regularly pick out a Psalm or two at random to contemplate.  I've been meaning to start reading the Old Testament in the same way, and start an in-depth study of Phillipians, using Mark Driscoll's The Rebels Guide to Joy as a guide.  But has that happened?  No.  I've been 'too busy' enjoying life.

This has had me thinking...  who's had a friend that only calls when they want something?  A friend who will give us a ring when they've had a row with the other half, or they are a bit strapped for cash, or need a lift somewhere.  I know I've had friends like that, and I've probably been that friend at times as well.  It's irritating.

So why, when we are in the midst of suffering, cry out to God to come to our rescue, but we neglect to praise Him in our joy?  In our suffering it is right that we call out to God, like the Psalmist in Psalm 69:

 1 Save me, O God!
         For the waters have come up to my neck.
 2  I sink in deep mire,
         Where there is no standing; 
         I have come into deep waters, 
         Where the floods overflow me.
 3 I am weary with my crying;
         My throat is dry; 
         My eyes fail while I wait for my God. 
But it is also right that we continually give thanks to God for the blessings that he has bestowed upon our lives, such as the Psalmist did in Psalm 113
 1 Praise the LORD!
         Praise, O servants of the LORD, 
         Praise the name of the LORD!
 2 Blessed be the name of the LORD
         From this time forth and forevermore!
 3 From the rising of the sun to its going down
         The LORD’s name is to be praised. 
 4 The LORD is high above all nations,
         His glory above the heavens.
 5 Who is like the LORD our God,
         Who dwells on high,
 6 Who humbles Himself to behold
         The things that are in the heavens and in the earth? 
 7 He raises the poor out of the dust,
         And lifts the needy out of the ash heap,
 8 That He may seat him with princes—
         With the princes of His people.
 9 He grants the barren woman a home,
         Like a joyful mother of children. 
         Praise the LORD!
I really like the emphasise given to the phrase Praise the Lord here.  Praise the Lord!

So, from today, I'll be making a concerted effort to give praise and thanks to the Lord for the happiness He has granted me.  Many blessings I am currently experiencing are answers to prayers I asked in times of trouble, turmoil and despair, and all blessings in my life are from Him, and I should be thankful to him each and every moment.

M :) 

My Testimony - Part 5

So around this time, I worked with a Christian.  The nature of my job is that sometimes we are over-run with work, and other times we have the chance to sit and relax.  During one of these chill-out days, I’d actually popped into work to sort out some paperwork.  It was during my ‘holiday’.  So my colleagues and I ended up spending about three hours having a great conversation on theology. 

From this, I was sent a link to a great discussion with John Lennox about the logical truths of Christianity:!/v/1028.  This led to further discussions, and me purchasing a Ravi Zacharias / Norman Giesler book – Who Made God:, which I read cover to cover in a very short time, and was gripped.  I read through various articles on apologetics and another great book – The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel:

By this point, I was convinced on an intellectual level of the existence of God, and the resurrection of Jesus.  However, intellectual knowledge and faith are two very different things.

About this time, I was invited to go along to a family service at Hope Church:  I nervously attended, and actually enjoyed the service.  However, I certainly wasn’t a Christian.  I continued to attend, but why, I didn’t actually know.  I was drawn there each week.  Still, it took a while before I was ready to accept Jesus.