Sunday, November 22, 2009

An Angry God, and Broken Michael W Smith CDs...

In case you haven't realised, I can be quite an angry person...

Its true...

Ask my mum...

I get angry far more often that I'd like...

I get angry at really stupid little things. An example? Last night I got angry because the covers on my bed weren't big enough...

Stupid little thing...

That's not to say that I don't get angry at big things either. The cowardice of a lot of Christians...that really ticks me off. Its equivalent to someone going up and punching a complete stranger square in the jaw for no apparent reason. It makes me very angry.

Hold on, you might say...Christians aren't meant to be angry.

Right?




Wrong.

Despite what modern culture and the media, and even some pastors say, Christians get angry. Its a fact. We're human. Its not because of our sin nature that we get angry. Its because we're made in the image of God.

Jesus gets angry. He gets angry quite a lot.

We've just read the passage where He's chucking over tables and throwing merchandise in the temple so many times that its lost its power.

It'd be like Jesus walking into a Christian book shop, and deciding to burn the entire self help section, all the while crushing Michael W Smith CD's.

Now wait a second there Phil. God isn't angry, God is love!

Very true. I won't deny that. The Bible clearly states that God is love. If I were to deny it, I'd be denying a big part of scripture.

But more often than not, God is attributed in scripture to being holy and righteous and just. And so He gets angry.

At what?

Sin...

and sinners...

But what about hating the sin and loving the sinner? What about that Phil?

That's never mentioned in the Bible. What is mentioned however is that, in places such as the Psalms, that God hates all that do evil, ie. sin.

Read that again...

God hates ALL that do evil.

Not just some, ALL. That includes you and me.

I'm not supposed to tell you this. Christians are meant to be nice, that's how much of the world perceives us.

Yes, we're meant to be kind...but we're meant to tell the truth...even if it offends people.

Really?

Yep...in case you haven't figured this out, we worship a guy who got murdered, who claimed that there is only one way to salvation, and it is through Him. The cross is an offence. And if we don't proclaim it as such, then we're lying to people.

I'll stop with the whole "Rob Bell" style of writing.

Seriously, if we don't proclaim what is written and what we believe without sugar-coating it, we're lying to the world. And ultimately we're offending God by not proclaiming His word. So if its to come down to offending God, or offending a person, the person's gonna get it every single time. Its ridiculous how Christians today are so cowardly! Why? Cause they're afraid of what the people they're talking to will say!

That shouldn't matter. God is the only one who should matter, what He thinks is the most important thing in our lives. Not the opinions of idiots. Cause lets face it. We're all idiots. Maybe not by choice, but we are by nature. After all, we turned down a happy relationship with God for an apple...

But there's no excuse for us not to proclaim that Jesus is the Savior of all man-kind, and if you don't believe in Him, then you my friend are going on a very long holiday...tempurature...INFINTLY HOT!

In case you don't realise, I'm describing hell, although not a lot of people seem to get my humor.

We're made in the image of God, and if God gets angry, then so should we! Its incongruent with who He made us to be. The verse from which this all stems from is Nehemiah 13 v 8;

"And I was very angry..."

The gist of the story is this. Nehemiah goes to Jerusalem, rebuilds the city, constructs a new temple, and gets people to start running it. He goes off back home, and then when he's an old guy, finds out that the city is being run by God haters, and that the people of the city are acting like douches and falling back into old habits. So he goes, kicks out the God haters, and hires new guys to make sure that its run smoothly.

And the whole back drop on this is the following...its OK to get angry. What depends is whether its righteous or unrighteous anger. Lorcan knows what I'm talking about here, I've had this convo with him before. Righteous anger is being angry for the right reasons and responding in the right way. Unrighteous anger is being angry for the wrong reason and/or responding in the wrong way.

If someone was to get raped for example, they're allowed to be angry. Who wouldn't be! Its a sign that we're agreeing with God!

And I know this post has been kinda jumpy, going back and forth between one idea and the other. But I'll close with this. The reason why Nehemiah came back to fix the problem in Jerusalem was that the guys in the city weren't going to fix it.

Its the same with Jesus. God saw the problem of sin, saw that we weren't going to fix it, and so sent Jesus. And here's the thing. Jesus died for our sins. But not only that, He propitiated the wrath and anger of God from us to Himself. Simply put, He took the beating that we should be getting from God.

Earlier on I said that God is angry with all of us. I jumped the gun there. There are people out there that God is angry with.

But...if you've accepted Jesus as Savior, you can sleep easy...

He got his metaphysical ass kicked for you.

Let Him be the Nexus of your life...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Life As Of This Minute...

So I haven't blogged in quite a while. Thought it might be an idea to change that.

"WELCOME BACK PHIL! WELCOME BACK TO THE BLOGOSPHERE!" I hear you calling, and it is very much appreciated, I can assure. Life has been pretty hectic for me the past little while, although the chances of you being someone I know is very great, and so you already know that little fact.

School is...well school...I have to be honest, I'm not very much enjoying the whole pressure dealio. I mean, seriously, there's like way too much pressure on LC goers, its ridiculous. Thankfully, I've had friends who have been able to calm me down, as well as knock some sense into me. Plus, my teachers are like so supportive. I'm the guy in class who carries way too much in his school back, so much so I wouldn't be surprised if I had to visit a chiropractor at some stage before the end of the year. But because of this, it can take me a little while to pack up my stuff. This gives each of my teachers the chance to ask me how I'm doing. Like seriously, my English teach is like one of the most supportive persons I know. She's always asking me how I'm doing, checking on me to make sure I don't stress out too much. She's even told me not to worry at all about the Christmas Exams coming up in two weeks. The may not seem significant, but its like such a big comfort to know that the teachers know what I'm capable of, that they say to take it easy for these exams, and just get ready for the mocks.

Apparently I'm also filming this is years Christmas Concert...which is kinda odd, seen as I have no idea what I'm going to be doing...seriously...I say seriously a lot don't I?

While from the above paragraph it may seem that my life isn't enjoyable, I would disagree. I am loving my life right now! I mean, I'm just thinking about school, but in like 7 months time, my exams will be finished and done with! Man, that really isn't a whole lot of time... I mean, the first 2 months flew right by. Its going to be awesome to be able to have lie ins, and not worry about comparing Wuthering Heights and Casablanca on Literary Genre...

But back to the loving of life, I'm really enjoying school to be honest. Its the stress I don't like, but that'll pass in time! I'm also loving all the down time I'm getting with my friends. You guys really are awesome, I don't know what I'd do without you guys. I mean, the Saturday before I was due to go back to school, I was invited out of the blue to go to a Tim Burton fest. I got drenched, didn't get a whole lot of sleep, but man did I just love hanging out the guys for an evening.

And of course, lets not forget about God. Ahh God...what HASN'T He done over the past little while? I've been able to rely more and more on Him when I need. That's not to say that I love Him just for what He's done over the past little while. To be honest, He's done something which have brought me to tears...but the thing about God that I'm really discovering, learning, and loving about is that He never changes.

Never.

Ever.

Never.

I may change, and my feelings toward certain people, certain situations, the world and Him may change too...

But He Doesn't.

Maybe I forget to pray one day.

He doesn't change.

Perhaps I say something I shouldn't, or do something I shouldn't do.

He stays the same.

And the other thing that I'm loving at the moment is God's foreknowledge. I am loving the doctrine of predestination! I know some of you may not be inclined towards that train of thought. I know, I've had conversations with you. This doctrine isn't something to be argued over, its something to be praised! The fact that God saves anyone is by itself a gracious miracle. The fact that He sent His Son to die for our sins is something else. That fact that He calls forward elect is remarkable!

"...even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved."

-Ephesians 1 v 4-6


God has been revealing wonders to me, and I am just so excited about the plan He has for my life. I've already got a meeting with my two pastors to talk about different Bible College, and will at some stage be looking for a group of guys to be going up to the Mandate in Belfast next year.

If I was to summarise this post into 3 words, they would be the following;

Jesus is AWESOME!!!

Let Him be the Nexus of your life.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ohh Music, Wherefore Art Thou Music...?

Surprise surprise, I love music.

Let me stress that again;

I LOVE MUSIC.

If you read my 100th blog, you'll have seen that I have a huge love and admiration for a number of artists. And through the course of 2009, there was a significant growth in my admiration. And upon seeing some of my friends writing posts based on new albums and what not, I thought it would only be right if I gave my two cents.

And so begins my mammoth task of sifting through the proverbial mountain of new music that has come across in the past 12 months or so. However, I do wish to point something out. I love Jesus. *Gasp!* Really? I hadn't noticed from the reference to Jeremiah at the top of your blog, writing consistently for about 6 months on the work of the cross...you're kidding me!?

Shocking as it may seem, it is in fact true. But without spinning off into a tangent, I must add the following addendum. Just because I love Jesus, doesn't mean that I have to love Christian music. There are a lot of wing nut Christians out there who have crazy theologies who write music. And while I'm not saying that I don't love them, I do, what I am saying is that people need to be discerning when it comes to music. It just so happens that I do love Christian music, because the band I listen to are quite sane in their doctrinal beliefs...And because I've sounded like a pastor guy talking about doctrinal beliefs, chances are you've lost interest. Ohh well...

So over the past 12 months, the music that I'll write about has been split into two categories. 1st being artists that I already know and love releasing new albums. The other section is where artists that I never knew about suddenly came into my field of vision. Hopefully I'll get both done so that you'll still be alive by the time you come to comment.

So new albums first off. Well there have been quite a lot of new albums. Muse's "The Resistance," U2's "New Line On The Horizon," Skillet's "Awake," and so on...but here I hope to write about the albums which to me stuck out this year. That's not to say the above albums aren't good, they just aren't as good as the others. Truth be told, I wanted to write this quite a bit back so that I could consider "Brand New Eyes," and while it is a cracking album, it doesn't have the spark that the other albums do.

So let's kick things off with a band who you may have vague recollection of, Mute Math and their new release "Armistice." The reason why you might recognise them is the fact that their single from their album, "Spotlight" featured in the "blockbuster film" twilight. Yes, I despise the series so much it doesn't deserve inverted commas of capitalisation. But I digress.

I'll openly admit that Mute Math is not everyone's cup of tea. Quite the opposite in fact. Consider it a ix of techno rock, with dashes of Paramore driving beats, and lyrics to match any John Mayer song (more on him later). Its an odd blend. What I think drew me to the album so much is the maturity of it. Listen to their first album, a masterpiece in its own right, and listen to "Armistice" and you'll see where I'm getting at. For a band that's as original as Mute Math, there is a lot of depth and passion behind the lyrics. Honestly I could recommend the whole album, but I'll give you verse to one of the songs, entitled "Lost Year;"

Hold on to the way we started,
How it all should've gone,
Somewhere love was disregarded

And it all came undone, undone.

'Cause nothing's a breeze,
We suffer, we bleed,
For two hearts to beat as one.
We learn as we go,
At least now we know,
Something we can't become, become.


Second band that has delivered some new piece of work to the fray is...no its not The Fray, but rather Thousand Foot Krutch, or TFK for short. I'm not gonna lie, I do occasionally love to head bang...by myself admittedly, but still...and what I've loved about TFK is the fact that they can be deep, while still making you want to start a mosh pit.

"Welcome To The Masquerade" is no different, and in my opinion is their finest work yet. From the driving beats of "Bring Me To Life," to the raw intensity of "E For Extinction," there's something for everyone. If you're not big into the whole wanting to make your ears bleed, then they satisfy your needs too with the deep and meaningful "Forward Motion." What stuck with me about this album is the cleanness of it. It feels so much more refined than a lot of what I've heard this year. Musically it doesn't put a foot wrong, all the elements are there to keep it solid throughout. As a sample, here's the opening lyrics to "Forward Motion;"

Let's keep it moving in a forward motion,
If we can hold on, we can cross this ocean
There's no sense in lettin' our emotions
Get in the way, until the door keeps closin'

If we sort this out, would we know how,
To live like we were different,
I know we've both had some doubts,
whether things would come around,
And look at us now

I'm not trying to tell you how to live your life...

And so we come to the final album in this section. And it wouldn't be right if I didn't put this on here. Decyfer Down aren't a well known band. I'd be very surprised if you've heard of them outside of me mentioning them to you. And yet they have some of the finest talent for producing top notch music, while still remaining true to their faith, and packing every last drop of their new album "Crash" with passion.

Again, this is on the rocker side of things. However, I would implore you to not let that put you off. "Crash" can be heavy in places, but not to the point of, say, Metalica heavy. What I mean by this is that the music they've composed, while being in a rock format, is packed with depth and emotion. Out of all the albums and artists that are on this post, these guys deserve an award for crafting some of the finest pieces of music I've heard in a long time, while still remaining true to the God they love. From the complexity of the title track "Crash," to the all out good time tune of "Ride With Me," to what is possibly my favorite CCM song of the year, the absolute emotion and power of "Fading." Listen to that one song, I beg of you. You will not regret it;

It starts with one time to fit in
Addiction slowly setting in
I drifted off into dismay

Eyes looking back at me
I can't even see your face
The pressure is closing in
It's taken me again

Wait, it's all that I can take
And every single day
A part of my soul is fading
But now by letting go somehow
Unshackled and unbound
I'm calling out your name
I'm fading
So save me
From what I've become...

Truly each of the above artists deserve a look at. However, these were not the only artists musically to catch my eye. Over the course of the past 12 months, I've discovered artists which I have never heard off before. Both of the artists that are going to be mentioned aren't new. They've been around for about 4-5 years roughly. So they aren't new to the scene. Its just taken me some time to get around to them.

These will be more brief than the above artists, but the first one that I discovered which has spoken volumes to me in the small amount of time that I have listened to her music is a gal called Brooke Fraser. If you're into Hillsong, you'll know that Brooke is the women who wrote "Hosanna," a favorite worhip song among our peers. If you didn't know, well...surprise!

What I love about Brooke is her depth and complexity. That's a phrase that seems to be cropping up a lot in this post, but it really is why I love her music. This is not forgetting the fact that she is a freaking awesome guitar singer. And let's not forget her voice! Aww! To me, when I listen to my favorite song of hers "CS Lewis Song," her passion is so vibrant I almost...you know what, I don't think I can come up with an analogy that would do justice to her;

If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy,
I can only conclude that I, I was not made for here.
If the flesh that I fight is at best only light and momentary,
The of course I'll feel nude when to where I'm destined I'm compared.

Speak to me in the light of the dawn,
Mercy comes with the morning.
I will sigh and with all creation groan,

As I wait for hope to come for me.

The final artist that I'll mention really should need no mention at all. I'd be surprised if you haven't heard of John Mayer. Mind you, I hadn't heard of him before this year, so I'm surprised at myself in that case.

Out of all the guitarists I've heard, Mayer far exceeds all of them. And not only does he have the most incredible male vocals I've heard in a long time, his songs, despite him saying are no way spiritual, have many spiritual layers, and contain such a depth and understanding, that I've often questioned if he really meant that statement. My favorite song at the moment has to be "Covered In Rain," with absolutly fantastic guitar work, and deep lyrics and vocals to back it up;

In these days with the world gettin colder
She spends more time sleeping over

Than I’d planned

Tonight we're gonna order in

Drinkin wine and watchin CNN
It’s dark, I know
But then again, it's the brightest thing I've got

When I'm covered in rain, rain
When I'm covered in rain, rain, rain, rain

And so there you have it. From old time favorites of mine releasing cracking new albums, to brand new artists in my eyes displaying huge amounts of talent. If I was to recommend anyone of the new albums, I'd recommend "Armitice," simply because its very different to everything else that is floating around out there. And as for the artist...well, seen as most of you have probably had some form of contact with John Mayer, give Brooke Fraser a go. Trust me, you won't regret it.

Let Him be the Nexus of your life...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

100th...

So...this is my 100th blog post...hmm...if I'm honest, I've been putting this off for quite some time, mainly because of the fact that I've gotten it into my head that the blog needs to be epic in nature...something special, something extravagant...

So instead, I've decided to just let my thoughts run rampant on the screen, like an elephant stampeding through downtown New York...see, if I was to have taken a few minutes to think of a better analogy, it wouldn't have been as awesome as that...

What is there to talk about...argh...stupid Leaving Cert...the thought of having to do another English essay has brought my mind to the annoyance that is the Summer Quiz...I honestly don't see what the big problem is...its more of an annoyance than anything of great importance...yes there's the whole college thing that seems to going about the place, but honestly...I ain't really that fussed...I'm not going to go study my ass off for the entire year and come out the end of it looking like something out of a Blair Witch Project film...there's no point...people seem to forget that people doing the Leaving still have a life. I mean, I've already taken a day out going to Higher Options and seeing "District 9" as a bigger highlight that going around talking to guys in pretty shirts who could pass for college students...I wouldn't have been surprised if the colleges had just wrangled them in off the street 30 mins before the thing started...

I have a day of paint balling planned for me and 7 other manly men...And another weekend for simply hanging out with some really close friends...I mean, we all need these sort of breaks, otherwise our brains turn to mush...I sound like I'm being really not arsed about the Leaving, but actually I am...just not to the point where's gonna control my decisions...I mean, its only one year...

Saying these sorts of things isn't advised when you're face to face with your guidance counsellor...not that I have done, but my brain is telling me to go for it when I have my appointment with her...fact is that the system which we are living in is flawed. The majority of what we learn all comes down to a single day in the year, and if that day happens to be the day you get mauled by a bear, then that's you pretty screwed...hey it could happen...

Personally I think that a continuous assessment would be in order...but that would then require you to work CONSTANTLY throughout the year, not letting up for a second...something I could not do...I get very stressed VERY easily...I've already had two nervous breakdowns since I started school...I'm almost guaranteeing you that I'll be in a mental institution before the LC is out...

Ahh, talking about the LC is depressing...having said that, I cannot wait to get to college. There's just something so appealing about having the responsibility to go to class, and having it be mandatory...I also love the prospect of community...I live out in the middle of frickin' nowhere, so it would be nice for some proper company once in a while other than my mumsie and daddy...

Speaking of which, man I love my mum and dad. Nothing special to look at, but man, they are pretty classy. Not only do I feel loved like a son, but I'm growing closer to them as individuals, as friends...I'm finding it way easier to talk to them...especially my dad...I've always gotten along with him, and by getting along I mean having mock wrestling/boxing/fight club matches whenever I see him...but I'm just generally getting to know him more...

I Love Lamp...

RAW Summer was pretty epic...man there was a good community there, I just loved that place...It just seemed so fantastic...like I could go up to anyone and talk to them, and knowing they weren't going to spray metaphysical mace in my eyes and hit me with their metaphysical hand bags and run away...as you can see, my mind is a strange place...

But I loved it...I won't say it was the best camp I've ever been to, because that would entail that it was better than any other camp I've been to...I'll admit that I am prone to ranting on about the last camp I've been to as the greatest thing since Eoin Commins...but a) nothing could be better than Eoin, and b) each camp I've been to has been the best camp for where I was at the time...RAW Summer was fantastic because it gave me that boost before going back to school...not to mention the fact that some crazy stuff got sorted out, stuff that will be mentioned later...

But now I'm thinking back to when I said that RAW Easter 09 would be my last ever camp...that ain't gonna be the case...I thought it might have been the last camp for me as a camper, but I knew, and I still know that I'm gonna go back with the intention of leading at camps...

Its odd cause I was watching a debate this morning on whether religious relics were special in anyway...I thought to myself "Yeah, they probably do have something special, but if relics are the only way of getting closer to God, then it ain't very efficient." Maybe efficient isn't the right word there, but you get the idea...

It was the same thinking I had when I was talking of RAW being my last camp as a camper. For me Ovoca camps have always been great, but I've come to realise that I kinda depend on them too much for that spiritual boost. I wanna be able to find God out in the ordinary world, not just at some place high in the Vale of Avoca...

Looking back on that now, its utter bull-honkey...I need people...I thrive on being around my friends...maybe that's why I'm so clingy...but I can't help it...Ovoca has embedded itself in my heart as a place where I can go and just be myself around people and not feel afraid...

And besides, I've been finding God pretty much everyday since school started back up...

Ahh, there's school again...for something that only plays a small portion in our lives, it certainly gets mentioned a lot...I guess you could say by righting this I'm kinda half procrastinating...I have maths study to be done and an English essay to be done...

Ahh screw it, bearing my soul for the whole blogosphere to see is far more fun!

I like girls...Just thought I'd throw that out there...Yes, shocking that Philip King is a heterosexual, and yet its true...granted, there was that week in Budapest with Bernard...but that's in the past...

I guess I wanted to say that because I'm pretty lonely...I've often wondered what its like to have someone in your life you can completely trust, and that they in turn completely trust you...Its fair to say I've had girl problems in the past...which is kinda odd seen as I've never actually had a girlfriend...

Looking at the last two paragraphs, it kinda sounds like I'm saying "I wanna girlfriend, just so I can say I have one." Please...if I ever come across like that, slap me in the face...that's the last thing I wanna have people think of me... I wanna have a girlfriend because I love that person, and that I would want nothing more than for them to be happy...I realised that if my own desires and wants become the centre of my focus....then...BAM! Everything goes poop side up...

At the same time, I'm quite happy to wait...people who know me are gonna be like "who are you and what have you done with Phil?" But honestly folks...its me...if I'm not meant to have a girlfriend yet, then I'm cool with that...hell, I'm more than cool with that, I'm ecstatic! I realise that God ain't finished with who I'm to become, and if He thinks I ain't ready, then He's gotta have something up His metaphysical sleeve...And besides, Jesus was single...and in 1 Corinthians, it basically says that those who have never been in a relationship a) can focus more on God, and b) are in a special fraternity that few are part of...boo-yah...

Yes folks, the new word I've learned this year is "metaphysical..."

Probably learned it from watching so much House...man I love that show...man I love TV...there's so much good stuff and there...and at the same time, 99.9999999999% of the time its utter crap...everything in today's world is based on self, the fact that we are the bomb, we are cool, we are better than Eoin Commins...

Its ridiculous! There is so much pride in today's world! I'm noticing it more and more everyday, just in the conversations that go on in school...Its horrible, its the frickin' sin that got Satan kicked outta hell...

I hate pride, often because I'm guilty of it a lot of the time. I think because of my experiences with being prideful, I can understand where Jesus was coming from when He said He came not to be served, but to serve...

How awesome would it be if there was no pride in our world? Pretty freaking awesome, that's how awesome...there would be no stigmatism to not help that homeless man on the street, no need to worry about how people would react if you gave all the money you won in the lottery to charity...I could live in a world like that fo'sho'...

Better yet...what if everyone in the world lived lives worthy of Jesus? Obviously, only Jesus is Jesus, but what if we lived the lives he truly called us to live? Man, I would not be able to contain myself!

I was walking towards Grafton Street one day, and I saw a homeless guy sitting in a doorway...I thought "Why not get him something to eat?" Before I go on, I was kinda half pushed to do so by Damien Parle, who offered us a challenge to feed a homeless person...I think we need that kinda push, the push that will inevitably drive us to desire Christ forever...

So anyway, as I handed him the sandwich I had just gotten, I came over all...happy! It was fantastic! I'm not trying to boast here, but it felt really good just to help another human being like that! I would've run back to the shop and bought another sandwich to give to someone else...unfortunately, economic recession dictated otherwise...

Ahh now there's something that we can't escape...Honestly, I don't see what the problem with this is...yes, the banks aren't lending any money...but so what? The only reason why people would need loans is because they wanted something they didn't actually need...in other words...they were just plain greedy...

Personally, I'm looking on the brighter side...Because of all this bad financial crisis, people are being smarter with their money...they aren't buying on impulse any more, rather they're shopping around. I just bought a copy of Killzone 2, one of the games of the year, for a €10! A €10! Its unheard of!

Mind you, part of all this is down to the crappy government we have at the moment...actually, its probably just down to ole Biffo, but I ain't one to judge. I honestly can't see what any other party would do if they were elected in. All they would be focusing on is trying to stay in power, and would therefore, render any promises they have made moot...

SPES MARIENS! WE HAVE FAILED THE EMPRA!

Ohh how I love video games...I've practically grown up with some of the biggest technological releases ever...Hell, my first proper games console was the the original PS...man how I loved that machine...There's just so much fun and creativity to be had...Its really the only place where you could create a story about handicap penguins with missiles for arms...as long as the gameplay is decent, then nobody really cares!

That being said, I do love me a game with a good story...MGS springs to mind...I really don't care what you say about it, cause honestly, if you don't like MGS, you ain't a true gamer...its true...you can't fully grasp the complexity that goes into one of these games, particularly the story! First game to ever make me cry was in fact...Final Fantasy 10...but the second game to make me cry was MGS3...

They really are like films...speaking of which, man do I love a good film...I've turned away from the Hollywood blockbuster in favor of something with a bit more finesse...a bit more style...something that isn't your conventional movie...kinda like District 9...

A thought that a friend gave me a few days ago just popped into my head...its to do with how people right...I had shown him the blog of friend, hoping he might like it...He inevitably said it was just a collection of neatly crafted thoughts arranged in a pretty mosaic...I wonder what he would think of this post? Personally, this is how I write...it ain't reserved for blog writing...and if you need proof of how good it is, my 100% in my English essay on Wuthering Heights last year should be proof enough...

Wow this is turning out to be long...I thought I was only gonna start writing for about an hour or so...its my third hour as of now...Me thinks I'll go and play some cricket with my Dad...

Ahh cricket..truly a game of kings...mainly because me and Dad play it...Have you got it yet?...People think that cricket is boring...sometimes they're right, but when you're actually playing it, its as dangerous as any other game out there...don't believe me? Ask the bruise I got about 2 inches away from my family jewels...

Yeah...this is pretty long...congrats if you've stuck through all this...I must admit, it can be pretty boring in my head...that is when I'm not thinking about God...when I am, its a party!

I'm looking outside my window...man I miss our forest...we didn't own a forest, although I almost got into a fist fight on Paddy's Day about it...that was crazy...and no, I wasn't drunk...

There was a forest the opposite side of the road from us...I used to spend hours in there coming up with stories about how I was a super hero and that all my friends were calling "SAVE US PHIL!" And I was like all dark and mysterious and I said "No Problem..." Now I'm confined to do that in my garden...

Speaking of which (again), I love my house. Its pretty awesome. It ain't the biggest house you've ever seen, but it suits us perfect...And its got a half acre of land to boot...which apparently people love...I just nature...all the weird little intricacies of our world...its mind boggling...

So yeah...I'm back...after taking a two week break from writing anything on this...I must really enjoy nature...

Music is also another passion of mine...Ohh good lord how I love music! I don't what it is exactly...I can just get lost in a song whenever the mood takes me...I love deep songs...songs that require some effort of thinking, but I also love passionate songs...Songs that you can't help but cry when you listen to them, songs that bring you to tears when you sing them with all you have...Probably the reason why I love worship songs so much...

But music is spectacular...I find huge comfort in listening to anyone of the artists on my mp3...which is quite long...Jeremy Camp, Bebo Norman, Hillsong, Planetshakers, Muse, Switchfoot, Skillet, Demon Hunter, Third Day, John Mayer, Red, Brooke Fraser, Decyfer Down, Thousand Foot Krutch, Mute Math, Manafest, Bethany Dillon, Big Daddy Weave, Jars Of Clay, U2, Paramore, JesusCulture, Joshua Radin, Natalie Grant, Nickelback, Newboys, Pillar, Project 86, Underoath...shall I go on...?

As some of you know, I recently turned 18...Hooray and what not! Honestly, its not all that different to being 17...I mean in feeling anyway...obviously I can drink legally, vote, have sex without consent (which I don't plan on doing), enlist in the army...and so on and so forth...

But all it is to me is another year closer to the day when I'll come face to face with God, be judged, and start to live my new life with Him...

I could go on...but instead I think I'll close with two final paragraphs...

A huge thank you must go to you, my friends. No words can describe the feeling that is knowing you...You have brought such joy into my heart over the time we've known each other...Lorcan, Damian, Mike, Bernard, Edel, Jane, Cat, Chris, Eilis, Ali, Leanne, Grainne, Kirsten, Courtney, Dave, Philli, Joshua, Nathan, Emma, Nicole, Christina, Gina, Leah, Stephen, Billy, Lisa, Andrew, Louise, Alice, Alison, Orlagh, Carla, Simon, Eric, Simon, Eve, Ste, Paul, Stan, Ciaran, Rachel, Debs, Jonny, Jonathan, Tommy, Matt, Katie, Keith, Graeme, Wolf, Eoin, Nicola, Sabrina, Brian, Susie, Sean, Jonjo, Brendie, Ethan, Adam, Scott, Alastair, Sally, Skate, Wes, Jenny, Des, Rob, Natasha, Jessy, Megan, Brendan, Ruben, Hannah, Jude, Pete, Luke, Gareth, Barry, James...May these years be only the beginning of our friendships, that we may continue to grow in one another, that God will forever be with you, and that you may always know the He loves you…And that I love you too...Thank You...

Finally to Author and Finisher of our faith, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Alpha and Omega. Beginning and End. The Lion and the Lamb. No words can describe the thankfulness that I have for your provision of strength, kindness, mercy, faith, hope, friendship, grace and love to me. It is you who I live for, now and for all my days, for there is none like you, my Jesus. Let your name be exalted on high, and may your glory touch the lives of others like it has touched mine. And may your voice, word and light be my guide for all my days. Thank you for what you did 2000 years ago, and continue to do everyday of our lives. May Christ be the centre of my life, and let all of us take up His challenge…Thank You…

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Revelation...

A Remarkable Revelation…

"No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known..."

-John 1 v 18

We as human beings desire to know…We desire to know everything there is to know about anything. We’re inquisitive beings. And when we discover something new, we celebrate, because we’re that much closer to knowing everything there is to…

People who aspire to know everything there is to know will be disappointed, because no matter how hard they try, the amount of knowledge that a single human can obtain in his/her life time is not even a fraction of the amount of knowledge there is in the universe…

And so, many people have instead turned to look for information on the one who created the universe, God. I’m not talking about Christians at this immediate moment, although as follows of Christ we too wish to seek to know God. Instead, I’m talking about those who are confused in life. We as humans, find it easier to understand why something happened if we know how it happened, but more to the point, the reason why it happened…

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whob]"> have been called according to his purpose..."

-Romans 8 v 28

People desire to know God. Problem is that we as humans can never fully understand God by our own intellect. Suppose, for example a man enters a room wearing nothing but his boxers. Now we’ll never be able to fully understand why he has chosen to do this unless he reveals to us. In the same sense, in order to understand God, He himself must reveal Himself to us.

This is known as revelation, in which God chooses to show Himself to us through His word, what He has done, or through prayer and petition.

I know people who have desired to know God, and yet refuse to talk about the cross. But in a remarkable way, it is through the cross that we learn so much about God. One of our primary sources of revelation is that of Jesus, and while I’m not trying to downplay His ministry, far from it, it is through His death on the cross that we learn so much about who God is.

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation..."

-Colossians 1 v 15

Here is a list of 8 truths that Jesus has revealed to us through His death on the cross. Note, some of what will be mentioned has been covered in greater depth in previous posts.

1. Jesus shows us that God is just.

"...and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus..."

-Romans 3 v 24-26

Because God is a just and holy God, He cannot be in the same place as sin, nor can He let it go unpunished. One of my biggest fears for my friends who have yet to come and accept Jesus is that because of the justice of God, they will one day face judgement, and be thrown into hell. Hell in today’s world is taboo, no one wants to talk about it because it’s not nice…But it’s the truth, for anyone who doesn’t accept Christ, they will live for eternity, but not in bliss and peace, but in constant pain and torture. Fortunately, through Jesus’ death on the cross, God has dealt with us justly, with Jesus becoming the propitiation for our sins…

2. Jesus shows us the love of God.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life..."

-John 3 v 16

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins..."

-1 John 4 v 9-10

When people think of love, it never usually goes beyond that of emotional lovey-dovey kind of love. Here, at the crux of human history, Jesus’ death on the cross, however, God shows His love, not that it is simply sentimental, but that it is efficacious. And God does not merely feel loving towards us, rather He puts His love into action, the greatest display of this being sending His Son to the cross to die for us, not out of obligation or duty, but out of love.

3. Jesus shows us the relational nature of God.

"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation..."

-Col 1 v 21-22

"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit..."

-1 Peter 3 v 18

This is the biggest difference between Christianity and any other world religion. All world religions depict God as a far of being, not bothered by what happens to us. Jesus and God the Father are living and loving, they seek to enter into a relationship with each one of us. They aren’t some distant off worldly beings, but rather beings desiring to be at the centre of our lives. And God shows this nature, shows this want for a relationship with us, by reconciling us to Him through Jesus’ death on the cross.

4. Jesus shows us the pleasures of God.

"Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand... "

-Isa 53 v 10

"...he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ..."

-Eph 1 v 5-9

The reason why God would do what He did on the cross still remains a mystery. I often think of us as broken watches, with which God had no obligation to keep. Rather He decided to take each of us and fix us, not because He had to, but simply because it gave Him joy to act out of His goodness.

5. Jesus shows us the wisdom and power of God.

"And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness..."

-1 Cor 1 v 18-25

People today think they’re incredibly wise in what they think, and yet they seem to neglect what the real problem in today’s world is, sin. People who think like this often enter into politics and psychology. People who, however, recognise that sin is indeed the problem, while wise, normally have very little power in which to raise the issue and combat it. God however is both of these, being wise enough to recognise sin as the problem, and having enough power to deal with it through Jesus’ death on the cross.

6. Jesus shows us the mercy of God.

"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit..."

-Titus 3 v 4-5

God came down into this miserable world to deal justly with our sin as a Father of compassion. Because of this, He is free to extend to us His mercy, part of which is helping us live the life that He has called us to live, the kind of life Jesus lived. Had He been merciful without dealing with our sin, God would have been endorsing sin and evil. Thankfully this is not the case, as He has graciously dealt with sin, and mercifully extended Himself to us.

7. Jesus shows us that God is a living God.

"And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you..."

-Romans 8 v 11

Because God is a living being, and death is the result of sin, only death can have a hold on those who are sinners. But because Jesus dealt with sin at the cross, we see the result of sin, in His death. However, in His resurrection, we see the power of the living God raising Him from death to life. And this too is extended to us, that if we trust in Jesus and let Him be the centre of our lives, then we will be raised from death to live in eternity with Him.

8. Jesus shows us the healing power of God.

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed..."

-Isa 53 v 5

One of the primary effects of sin on us is that it destroys our lives, not just physically and emotionally, but spiritually too. We have become unclean and broken in the sight of God. However, thanks to the expiating work of Jesus on the cross, He no longer sees us as broken people; rather, He laid His life down so that we could be healed from the effects of sin. This can only come through the cross.

Jesus accomplished so much because of what He has done on the cross.

Through His death, Jesus has conquered Satan, beaten him and destroyed any grasp that he held on us.

"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross..."

-Col 2 v 13-15

Through His death, Jesus has redeemed us, that we are no longer slaves to sins, and that we can free to live in His love.

"...while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good..."

-Titus 2 v 13-14

Through His death, Jesus became our new covenant sacrifice, covering our sin in His blood.

"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect..."

-1 Peter 1 v 18-19

Through His death, Jesus offered us righteousness, which is given freely from Him, and can only be truly found in the cross.

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God..."

-2 Cor 5 v 21

Through His death, Jesus becomes our justification, where God deals with us according to His just ways, and gives us new life through His Son.

"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished..."

-Rom 3 v 23-25

Through His death, Jesus becomes the propitiation for our sins, taking the wrath of God away from us, and instead taking it ill-deservingly upon Himself.

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins..."

-1 John 4 v 10

Through His death, Jesus becomes the expiation for our sins, cleansing us from everything we’ve ever done wrong, past, present and future.

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin..."

-1 John 1 v 7

Through His death, Jesus becomes our unlimited limited atonement, that through His death, we can be at one with Him.

"He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world..."

-1 John 2 v 2

Through His death, Jesus paid our ransom, so that the chains of sins were broken because of the spilling us His blood.

"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time..."

-1 Tim 2 v 5-6

Through His death, Jesus showed us how to live, by laying down His life for others, and following His Father’s will.

"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps..."

-1 Peter 2 v 21

Through His death, Jesus reconciles us to God, allowing us to enter into a relationship with our Heavenly Father.

"All bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander must be removed from you, along with all wickedness. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God..."

-Ephesians 4 v 31 - 5 v 2

Through His death, Jesus reveals the character and the majesty of God, so that we may believe in Him.

"No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known..."

-John 1 v 18

We cannot but help letting Him be the Nexus of our lives…

"But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed..."

-Isaiah 53 v 5

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Belief...

A Real Reconciliation...

"All bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander must be removed from you, along with all wickedness. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God..."

-Ephesians 4 v 31 - 5 v 2

A lot of the time in our walks in our faith, we sometimes forget the great distance we've come. And while we may have matured in our faith and grown to be strong warriors of Christ, I'm talking about the gap that was bridged right at the very beginning of our journey.

Growing up in today's world has often made me ask the question of where I've come from. People who know me, know that I'm not the most sociable of people...in fact, quite the opposite. Part of this is because it is who God created me to be, but part of who I am today is because of where I have come from.

Right the way through primary school, I was quite severely bullied. I know if you're a follower of mine that you've probably heard me say this before, but I want to take a slightly different look at it.

There was one guy in particular who drove me up the wall. He was a mean piece of work. And I firmly believe that the way that he treated me during my primary education means that I'm the guy at parties who's wondering which one of the other guests is going to shaft him...that last sentence seems oddly familiar, so maybe I'm not taking such a different look at this.

But the one thing I know that I haven't mentioned before is bitterness. Bitterness is a terrible thing. Whereas guilt is the feeling we have when we do something wrong to someone, bitterness is the feeling we have when someone wrongs us. I was so bitter towards that person that it hurt, so much so that I'm still actually thinking about what would've happened if he had left me alone...

I should point out that the feeling of wanting justice is not bad in any sense. If something has been done wrong to you, and you believe its not right, you are sharing in the exact same feeling as God. It does become bitterness, however, when it consumes you. I'm in no way trying to belittle anything that anyone has ever done to you, but don't let it consume your life.

If bitterness does consume your life, that's a sin. As much as it may sound deserving of the person, its a sin. Because if you become bitter towards a person, you fail to love them, and you begin to love the good that can come to you out of their punishment that you long for. And I'm as big a sinner in his regard than anyone else.

All sin drives a wedge between us and God. Because God is holy, He cannot stand where there is sin, nor can He let it go unpunished.

One of the primary effects of sin is to cause a distance between us and our Heavenly Father. And because of this gap, which was created at the fall of man, we could never be one with God, nor could we ever hope to bask in His presence for eternity...

But that is where Jesus comes in. By dying on the cross for us, He has created a bridge between us and the Father, which is the only way we can get to Him;

"Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me..."

-John 14 v 6

The bridging of the gap between us and God is called to the doctrine of reconciliation. By doing so, Jesus has become our mediator between ourselves and our Heavenly Father, allowing us not only the ability to interact with Him, but to join Him in His presence.

Part of reconciliation is forgiveness, one of the key aspects of the work of the cross. And one of the things that I have struggled with over the years is the fact that because God has forgiven me, so too am I called to forgive those who have wronged me.

There is no way to break out of the cycle that comes through bitterness with our own strength. We can't, not of our own accord, because as long as we haven't experienced forgiveness, how then are we to know how to forgive? The only way the cycle can be broken is through accepting Jesus as our centre. With the forgiveness of Jesus though, we have all that it takes to forgive;

"Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts. They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more. But that is not how you learned about the Messiah, assuming you heard Him and were taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus: you took off your former way of life, the old man that is corrupted by deceitful desires; you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; you put on the new man, the one created according to God's [likeness] in righteousness and purity of the truth..."

-Ephesians 4 v 17-24

Furthermore, through reconciling us to God, we have been born again. We have obtained new life through Jesus. When we are born again, we think, feel, act and live differently to the way we lived before obtaining the new life in Christ. And part of this life is called to forgive those who have wronged us. It is only through Jesus' death on the cross that we can truly love our neighbour;

"Since you put away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin. Don't let the sun go down on your anger, and don't give the Devil an opportunity. The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for the building up of someone in need, in order to give grace to those who hear. And don't grieve God's Holy Spirit, who sealed you for the day of redemption. All bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander must be removed from you, along with all wickedness. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ..."

-Ephesians 4 v 25-32

In the end, after I accepted Jesus into my life, I didn't feel any bitterness towards that person. I haven't forgotten what he did, but instead, I thank God for putting me through that ordeal, because, even though I may not be exactly who I want to be, through Jesus' death on the cross, I'm who God wants me to be, His child...and that's a whole lot better than being the life of a party...

Let Him be the Nexus of your life...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Shine Jesus Shine...

In light of the latest post, I couldn't help posting a golden oldie!

Glow...

An Engaging Example...

"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps..."

-1 Peter 2 v 21


A lot of the time in my day to day life, it's easy to think back to times when events occurred that I had never dreamt would have occurred. In my life, most of these events seem to be of the negative nature. Last Monday for example was the one year anniversary of my Uncle Mike's death to cancer. And never once before it happened did I think that it would. But looking at the world today, I can't help but be shocked at the amount of suffering in the world.

Suffering is a terrible thing...Or at least that's what a lot of people say. I see so much suffering, not just globally, but in the lives of my closet friends and family. And it breaks my heart to see each of them go through whatever has befallen them. But its as times like this where I look with awe at the universe, and know that there must be something greater than all this...

You're probably expecting me to go into a talk about why God allows suffering, and, while I do love discussing the topic, that is for a different time. What I do want to talk about is something that has really been on my heart for quite sometime.

At some stage of my life, a question was posed to a group of people, of which I was included. And what shocked me was the answer to come after it;

"Why did Jesus come to Earth simply to die?"

See the logic behind this question is that in fact, Jesus came for another reason. If He had come simply to die, then why did He simply not die when He was simply an infant? People are going to give the answer that He had so much more to teach...the very answer that I was shocked by.

Christ came, not only to die for our sins, but as an example as to how we can live the lives God intended us to live. And I think a lot of the time we forget that fact, that Jesus came to teach, to serve, and to show us how we should live.

But oddly enough, through reading of Scripture, Jesus' purpose can actually be structured as the following; His purpose was to glorify God.

Whenever I think about glory, my head always starts to hurt. I mean, it’s so hard to pin down a rock solid definition of what glory is. Its origin is in the word "glow" as in to radiate or to shine. Jesus is repeatedly connected to this;

"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word..."

-Hebrews 1 v 3

"For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness, “made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ..."

-2 Corinthians 4 v 6


As such, Jesus' complete purpose was to show the glory of God in all things. This not only included His ministry and the way He connected with people, but also in His pain and His suffering. When we think of the Cross, we don't normally think of it as a place where God's glory was shown, but in fact, it is one of the clearest places that it is seen.

Many people I know today, including myself, often focus on the Cross as a place where sin was defeated and where the connection between man and God was restored. This is not something that is wrong, but we also miss that through dying on the Cross, Jesus showed us how to live a life full of God's glory, the life that God wants us to live.

Jesus dying on the Cross was as much an example of the life we should live as was His ministry. For there at the Cross, we see part of God's glory shining through the darkness. Through His suffering, we see that the joy that he tasted was pure. And this is because there was a purpose to His suffering, namely to show the glory of God.

"After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you...""

-John 17 v 1


At the Cross, we see the humility of Jesus. Jesus, the God-Man...I know a lot of the time I have forgotten this fact that, while Jesus was fully God, He became flesh, and entered into the world, removing Himself of His divine privileges, being able to identify with us and become our example, and suffered for the world, showing humility that we too are called to live by. Hypostasis is the term used to describe the divinity of Christ, in that He had two persons, the divine, and the human.

I know also that Jesus went through all that we have to go through and more. Granted, Jesus wasn't tempted by internet porn and hard drugs, but He went through His life sharing in our pain and sorrow, the only difference being that He was sinless. The times may have changed, but the sins and the sinners remain.

The life that we are called to live by can only be achieved through being filled with the Holy Spirit. It is through Jesus that we can see the example left for us; the life Jesus lived was the perfect representation of a spirit-filled and spirit-led life.

It must be said however that His death on the Cross mustn’t be overlooked. If Jesus died only as an example of humility and of the life God has called us to live, it would've been pointless. Yes, we'd be able to see the kind of life to live, but we never would have received anything to accomplish this. Therefore, Jesus' death on the Cross must be seen as the gateway into which we can live the spirit-filled and spirit-led life, the life devoted to shining the glory of God for the world to see. It is from the life that Jesus lived, the good and the bad, His joy and His suffering, and His work on the Cross, that we can look at His life and death as an engaging example.

Let Him be the Nexus of your Life...

"Christians are like nails...The harder you hit them, the deeper they go..."

"But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. “They hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed..."

-1 Peter 2 v 20-24

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Son Of God...

A Radical Ransom...

"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men..."

-1 Timothy 2 v 5-6

I suppose anyone who has known Christ for any length of time knows that He was a ransom for us. So much do I know this that this is the second blog with the word "ransom" in the title. And yet something is stirring within me that I can't quite put me finger on...

I mean what is a ransom? I know Hollywood has dressed it up to be a set of demands needed by a group of bad guys in order to release hostages or to stop some sort of catastrophe from happening to a city/country... But just as Hollywood has deformed the true meaning of many things in life, the definition of ransom is one of these things it has deformed.

In a sense, they've stayed true to its meaning. A "ransom" by definition is a means of deliverance or rescue from punishment... And while Hollywood has dressed it up to a point where it comes no where near to what is expected of a real life ransom, the basis is still there...

So that begs the question; why do I still feel as if something is still bothering me? And I think its not what a ransom is, but rather the actual ransom paid for freedom...

I read a story in a book the other day that made me well up with anger. A man in his sixties, who was in financial difficulties, as well as physical sickness, shared with his pastor what had happened in his life. He had started having sex in his early teens to the point where he lost count of the number of women he slept with. Much of his time was filled by drinking excessively, so much that he struggles to remember large gaps of his life. He remembers being married several times to a number of young women who he abused physically, emotionally and sexually. He raised daughters, and at a young age, began to engage with them in a sexual way, and would constantly beat his sons to "toughen them up..."

Anyone who isn't appalled by the way this man acted, even from my brief description, has something wrong in their heads. As I read this story, I felt in my heart a rage to the point where I was nearly ready to throw the book out of my window. If I had been in the place of his pastor, there is no way I could sit there and not saying anything against him...

And then I realised something...despite everything that I wanted to believe...Christ paid the price for that man...and He paid the ransom not just for him, but for everyone...

Think about that...I mean really think...every single little sin that you've ever committed, Christ died for, to pay the ransom for you...It was because of our sins that He suffered...

"But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed..."

-Isaiah 53 v 5

Some of you reading this are going to be saying "I know all of this." And you probably do, but have you ever really stopped and thought about it? I don't mean a quick glance at it, I mean to really look down inside yourself and think hard about the suffering Christ endured to pay the price for your sin.

At Easter, I got to see for the first time a human's reconstruction of that suffering. Up until that evening at Ovoca, I had never seen "The Passion Of The Christ." What I saw brought me to pieces. It may only be a human's representation of the last days of our Lord, but if that's what a human representation looks like, to think of what the actual event looked like brakes my heart.

From the moment Christ began to suffer, all within me cried for it to stop. I couldn't bear the thought that He was doing this for me, for the whole world. Tears quickly came to my eyes as I realised that this actually happened. To think that I was the one who caused His pain and death, and not just me, but every single one who has ever lived...its unbearable...

Christ died for that man I talked about earlier on, as remarkable as that sounds. And I often look to God and ask Him why he did it. The answer I get is extraordinary...

""Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing...""

-Luke 23 v 34

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..."

-Romans 8 v 1

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life..."

-John 3 v 16

Jesus died, and paid the price for our sin because He loves us. That's another thing that I marvel at all the time, the surpassing love God has for us, so much, that He humbled Himself, and became human, experiencing all that we go through and so much more, and in the end, redeems us through the Cross. Furthermore, Jesus through the Cross, has wiped the slate clean of anything that we have done to those who follow Him.

To think about all of this makes me awe in wonder of our king. Though we were held ransom to sin and death, Jesus died to pay the price, so that we can walk in freedom.

The question is, which way will you choose to walk? Will you stray from the glorious path God has set out for you, the one that He died for, and wander back to sin? Or, will you run the hard race, climb the rugged path, be willing and become broken, bruised and pierced, and claim the true freedom that only comes through Jesus? Will you...

Let Him be the Nexus of your life?...

"...For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many..."

Mark 10 v 45




P.S. Those of you viewing this on Facebook, welcome, I didn't really get a chance to say anything last time. I'll be putting my blogs up on Facebook as well as Blogger, just so people get a better chance to view and see them.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

You Deserve...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

An Awesome Atonement...

"He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world..."

-1 John 2 v 2

Sometimes we take things for granted. As always, the first sentence in one of my blogs is that of an ambiguous nature. But to me this statement has found a new depth within the past few weeks. I am certain that I have taken the love my parents have for me for granted. I know that I take the education that so many people around the world wish to have for granted. I know that I have taken for granted the basic food that I eat every day. And now the new revelation that I take for granted my nearest and dearest friends has been added to that list.

I am writing this in a broken state. Things have happened in the past few weeks that have turned my world upside down. To some people, they may see these issues as very minor. To me, they are of great importance.

The other thing that I have taken for granted is the work of Jesus. You may not think it, but I have. By growing up in a Christian home, there's a part of me who feels as if the work of Jesus is just an everyday occurrence. OK, that may have been a poor choice of words, but you get the idea. I've taken for granted just how much Jesus can actually do in my life. Saying that brings to me a lot of shame, to think that I've neglected His awesome power in such a way that it has broken me.

Out of all things that I have been struggling with is trust. Trust is a big thing. I think we can take it for granted too. Especially when it comes to Jesus. If I've learnt anything the past few weeks is that faith in Jesus can yield amazing things. I'm not taking about the limp-wristed kind of faith that you see so much of these days. I'm talking about pure, true, full and complete faith. Handing everything over to Jesus is probably one of the most, if not the most beneficial things we can do today. Its also one of the scariest things that we can do.

I don't think people realise just what complete faith in Jesus is, and I also don't think that people realise how scary it is. To let Jesus be in control of every aspect of your life...just think about that...granted, you aren't exactly going to consult with Him when you need to use the bathroom...God did give us brains to tell us those sort of things.

I'm talking about the issues outside of our own control. Finance, college, career paths, family life, church responsibility, relationships, friendships... to put all of these, and probably a lot more than that which is listed into His hands. We as humans want to be in control of everything, and so to surrender up all of our control in our lives is something that I don't think anyone fully understands.

I sound as if I have put my full faith in Christ, and while I'm a lot further on in putting my faith in Him, I haven't put my whole faith in Him. The prospect of someone in control of my life, of the plans for my future still boggles my mind to the point where I'm afraid to take that final step. Granted on occasion I have put my full faith in Him, but only until something has worked itself out, or until something goes in a completely different way to how I imagined it.

The odd thing is that, despite that fear, I think every one in the world wants to put their full faith in Christ. I know I desperately want to not worry about anything anymore because I know Jesus will look after it. I don't think that comes out of the fact that it is what God has asked of us, I think, for me personally, it comes out of love for Him, and a desire to leave everything in His hands.

And like I said earlier on, faith in Christ can bring great things. Through our love, faith and devotion to Him, God blesses us each in an unique way. I was going to focus more on the next few paragraphs, but rather I think I'll take the time to say something that has really been on my heart.

The question that was posed in the chapter of the book "Death by Love" that I am reading at the moment is the following; Who did Jesus die for? On a quick glance, my answer was that of probably a common answer, that He died for everyone. But upon reading through the chapter, I found that actually what I believed turned out to be something different. This chapter was extremely complex in its thinking, so I'll try and explain it as best I can.

There are 5 main views on who Jesus died for. The first two are ones that I shan’t deal with, but to let you know what they are, their names are "Universalism" and "Pelagianism" which are both considered heretic for what they believe. Then there are the next two views. The first is called "Unlimited Atonement," which believes that Jesus died for all sinners, that His work is applied to those who believe in Him, and that those who choose Him will go to heaven, while those who don’t follow sin into hell. The second of these views is "Limited Atonement," which states that Jesus died for the elect, that the atonement was for the elect only, and that God doesn’t need to save anyone from hell, but chooses to save some.

And any of the last two views are fine. But the view that I think makes the most sense to me is that of "Unlimited Limited Atonement." Sounds like a contradiction, but in fact, all throughout my life, I think it is what I have believed in. This view states that Jesus died to provide payment for all but only in a saving way for the elect, that while God desires the salvation of all, he applies the payment to the elect, and that God doesn’t need to save anyone from hell, but chooses to save the elect.

There are bound to be those of you who believe in either "Unlimited" or "Limited" Atonement. That is completely fine. Both are back up consistently through Scripture, but here I’m giving just a slightly different view. Here’s how Mark Driscoll has summed it up; Objectively, Jesus’ death was sufficient to save anyone, and subjectively, His death was only efficient enough to save those who believe in Him and repent of their sin. While it does sound like I am saying that through that statement, there’s no point for evangelisation. On the contrary, we have no idea who God has chosen as His elect, so this gives a great opportunity to reach out to our peers and friends, and see if they too are the elect.

And that’s what I had planned to talk about. But instead, I want to talk about you guys…and by that, I mean my friends. The next few paragraphs are probably going to be the most cheesy pieces of writing my brain has ever conceived, and yet, these words need to be said.
My life so far has been full of sorrow. For my entire primary school teaching, I was severely bullied. Every single day for 8 years, all that I had to look forward to in school was a barrage of torture. I’m not trying to say that my life has been the hardest, but for the next few paragraphs, I need you to understand why I’m not so sociable. People are probably reading this and thinking "Phil, not sociable?" But its true. I can be very awkward most of the time. And if you say other wise, then I know you’re lying, because I have noticed this ever since I was a wee lad.

I’m not a sociable person. I don’t go out to parties, or stay up late with friends every evening. I’m lucky to get up to see my friends once a month. And even at that stage, I always have this feeling that I’m kinda like a third wheel…its because of how I’ve grown up, and its more than likely just my nature. When I moved to Drogheda Grammar, I was so excited to hear in out CU about Ovoca. But even there, at my very first camp ever, I was so afraid that I went home a day early. I was so desperate for people. The odd thing is that, despite not being a sociable person, I thrive on interaction with people. I’m desperate to be around my friends as much as possible.

It was the summer of 2006, and it was then that I finally started to pray the prayer that I wanted to pray for so long; I prayed that God would give me a friend, not just an acquaintance, but a true friend, someone who I could share anything with, someone I could trust completely. I talked earlier on about how putting our faith in Jesus can yield tremendous blessings, and this too would be the case that year.

I walked into my very first GAP camp with very few friends. I walked out with another 10. It seemed as if God had answered my prayer, and yet that was only the tip of the iceberg.

The friends I had made in GAP 06, while they were amazing, and some of which have become really good friends, the majority of them were the acquaintances that were not what I was looking for. It was the next year, GAP 07, where the friends that I had always longed for, finally came. I was pondering whether or not I should include names, but I think I shall. Don’t fret if your name is not on the list, I love you guys just as much, and I would be delighted to one day have a list with you on it.

This is to you, Lorcan, Damo, Mike, Bernard, Phili, Leanne, Ali, Edel, Nicole, Jane and Cat. You are the friends that I have always dreamed off, and I thank God everyday for Him giving me your friendship. Words cannot describe the joy I feel whenever I think of you, and the immense honour it is that you would even consider me your friend. Like I said, I thank Jesus everyday for you, and the new way that I have come to praise Him is to be the best friend that I can to each one of you, even if it means choosing you over my own life. I write this broken, and yet joyous for the friendship I have in each of you. I pray with all my heart that these years will be only the beginning, and that we may share the rest of our lives together, friends till the end…

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Thicker Than Blood...

Faith is something we can all relate to. Everyone has faith, you may not realise it, you may not put it into action, but we all have it. I know in my own life that I have realised that I do have faith, and that on occasion I have put it into action. But its odd that no one ever seems to talk about faith...

OK sure, big preacher guys get up and talk about it all the time. But no one ever seems to talk talk about faith. I mean, I've been a Christian for about 5 years now, and not once have I ever sat down and talked about faith to anyone...

I've just gotten back from Summer Madness...no, not the one in Belfast, the one in Wexford. Actually, its been called several things; Cat's, SM, The Madness, and my personal favorite, mainly because I came up with it, The Big One. However, unlike an Ovoca camp or any other big event like TeenStreet, this wasn't organised by a bunch of people I didn't know. The Big One was organised by a group, including myself and 4 other friends.

I'm struggling to find a word to describe the time we had down in Wexford... Awesome, fantastic, brilliant, super...you get the picture.

As with any of my other event posts, I'm going to give a run down of what happened during the week. But the run down of what happened isn't going to be the main focus of this post. I'll explain later.

So I arrived at Connolly in time for my train on Monday, and travelled down to Wexford with Mike and Lorcan. Man that train journey was...interesting...We arrived, got picked up by Cat, and made our way to her house. I'll say this now, Cat's house is huge. Granted it may not be as big as Ovoca Manor, but we were never stuck for space. We arrived, and were greeted by Jane and Fanny, Cat's French exchange student. We got the room in which we would hold the talks, and sleep in as well ready while the girls went to the shops. They returned shortly, and we settled down to a lovely roast prepared by Cat's mum. Afterwards, the rest of the evening was filled with watching the hilarious "Black Books," mini pool and general arsing about, as it was dubbed. It was then time to head off to bed.

Morning came, and everyone had a shower before having breakfast. We once again chilled out (we did this quite a lot, so I shan't mention any other occasions of this) while we waited for the rest of the "campers" to arrive. Once that happened, we ate dinner and then headed into our first talk, led by Mike, in which he layed out what we were going to try and accomplish; learn about faith, not just as individual, but also to share our faith with those around us. Evening activity was watching "Van Helsing" a very good movie, before heading off to bed once again.

Morning came, as did breakfast, and we once again headed into a meeting, this time lead by Lorcan on the disciples and their imperfect faith. Lunch came, and afterwards we continued to watch "Black Books" and take part in "sock puppet theatre," before having dinner and heading into our evening session, composed of a brilliant discussion led by Lorcan on different verses about faith, and we could take away from them, as well as a short talk. The main activity for the evening was a blind maze in which people were blind folded and were then directed to reach a goal by the other people. This turned out to be a great laugh. After that it was time for bed.

Thursday came, and it was the usual morning routine. The morning saw my first talk, on what Jesus Himself said about faith. After lunch, the MAP Team arrived (Missionary Apprenticeship Programme) and we then headed out into the town to begin a magazine dropped to help out the local church. We returned home and were treated to a fantastic meal prepared by the team. After dinner, it was time for my second talk, with a larger crowd than I had anticipated...just slightly...truth be told, I was quite frightened by the prospect...then a member of the team came up to give their testimony to us, and after that, we took part in some amazing worship. After that, we played some games out in the garage before heading off to bed...but not before making a cake for Fanny's birthday the following day!

Friday came and the usual morning routine ensued. Mike closed the camp just as he had started it. After a quick bite to eat, it was time to say good bye to the MAP team and some of our own friends. Dinner came, and after which, those who remained watched "Howl's Moving Castle," and took part in some heated discussions, and with that, we headed off to bed.

It was our final day, and after having breakfast and painting the Pulpit, we went our separate ways, with each of us taking away something special from the time together.

Normally I may have ended the blog there and then, but to me there was so much more to this camp. I myself really saw God moving, not just through my life, but through the lives of all who were there.

The time together was about faith, and after struggling with something that had been plaguing my mind for so long, I finally grasped what I needed to do; put my faith in God to take care of it. Thinking back on it now, the mornings that I got up early and prayed in the shower or else where were so special. I could really feel God's hand resting upon me as the week went by.

I also learned I'm a jealous and selfish guy. I know all people are like that at some stage, but it had never occurred to me that I was one of those people. It was such a relief to give this up to God and ask Him for healing in this area of my life...

I won't talk about the talks, because if I do, then I'll just end up writing them out again. I'll e-mail my notes to anyone who wishes to take a look. But here, I'll just talk about three things from the talks that astounded me.

The first thing is found in John 14 v 12;

"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father..."

Those of you who were there at the camp know that I referred to this verse a lot when I was speaking. To me, when I first read this verse, it was like a atomic bomb went off in my head. If we have faith in Jesus, we'll be able to do great things than He did! That's incredible! It shows just how powerful faith can be if we put it in the person who gave it all. And the only way we can do that is by giving up our lives, our whole being to Him, and letting Him have His way.

The second thing that I found amazing was during the discussion that Lorcan led. When we came to Mathew 12 v 48-50, I could not help but be so encouraged by the thoughts of my friends;

"He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."

Its a verse that I've normally looked over, but in the context of faith, it is truly awe-inspiring. Here in this passage, Jesus says that when it comes to a relationship with Him, that blood does not matter. Rather, it is faith that proves to be the strongest bond. This is where "Thicker Than Blood" comes from.

Finally, one cannot talk about Jesus without at least referring to the Cross. In the context of faith, Jesus dying on the Cross gives us the greatest example of faith, that he had so much faith in His Father's Will that he gave His life to show us the perfect kind of faith. He gave it all up, as we should also;

"Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."

Luke 23 v 46

It goes without saying that there must be a huge thank you to all involved. Firstly, thank you to all who came, 'cause if you didn't, then this wouldn't have happened.

Major thanks must go to the Hooper family, for even giving us the opportunity to use their home for this camp. Your hospitality has been such a blessing.

Thanks must go to the chef for the camp Jane. Thanks to her cooking, none of us caught salmonella :D Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into preparing the meals.

Muchos gracias goes to Lorcan and Mike for preparing stellar talks. It is so clear that I couldn't have done this on my own, and even more clear that God used both of you mightily.

A big thank you goes to the MAP team for all the encouragement and enthusiasm when it came to the magazine drop, the games, and the general chilling out. I pray that God would continue to use you for His glory.

Finally to Author and Finisher of our faith, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Alpha and Omega. Beginning and End. The Lion and the Lamb. No words can describe the thankfulness that I have for your provision of strength, kindness, mercy, faith, hope, friendship, grace and love to me. It is you who I live for, now and for all my days, for there is none like you, my Jesus. Let your name be exalted on high, and may your glory touch the lives of others like it has touched mine. And may your voice, word and light be my guide for all my days. Thank you for what you did 2000 years ago, and continue to do everyday of our lives. May Christ be the centre of my life, and let all of us take up His challenge…Thank You…