choice

FREE WILL

(July 25, 2021) Robert and Maureen McQuillan discourage blaming God and others…

Free will… there’s a catchphrase that often come up conversations with Christians over concern about the evil in our world and wars, bad judgments, murders, family distresses, terrorism, Holocaust type atrocities, drug taking, alcoholism, the quickness to sin, Christians including ministers falling from grace, the current covid-19 crisis… and other sad happenings.

Regarding bad choices, so often, when trying to offer explanations, hope and comfort, Christians usually say, ‘Well it all gets back to God allowing us to have free will… in our humanity we either choose to do or say the right thing or not.’

Now that’s true… but at times it comes across that we’re blaming an unthoughtful creator! The reality is that when God created humanbeings in his own image back in Eden, Adam and Eve could have made the right choice, and sin would not have become a dangerous reality and the world would not be in the mess it’s in!

Hold it…
Even as we mustn’t even consider accusing God, let’s not dump blame at Adam and Eve’s feet either!

Their big slip-up is in the past, decades ago… we’re in the present and need to readily accept our responsibilities to make the right choices today!

And… such responsibility of making right choices needs to be reinforced not only to the world in general but in the church.

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LORD, WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO?

(July 20, 2021) Carol Round challenges us to ask God’s will for our lives…

Most of us are familiar with the story of Saul, the persecutor of the early Christians, how he was struck down struck down on the road to Damascus.

Acts 9:3-6 NKJV records that ‘Suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord? …What do you want me to do?’

After being struck down on the road to Damascus, he was used by God and eventually became the apostle, Paul.
 
Paul discovered God’s gospel truth and God’s will for his life. He then spent the rest of his days spreading the message of the good news and planting churches throughout the Mediterranean world.  
 
The apostle determined God’s will for his life with one important question: ‘What do You want me to do, Lord?’

It’s the question every one of Christ’s followers should be asking.

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JESUS CAN MAKE ALL THINGS NEW… EACH NEW DAY

(January 11, 2021) Carol Round encourages us to reflect on a major choice for 2021…

Revelation 21:5 declares: ‘He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true”.’

The New Year is here! After the stresses of 2020, I doubt anyone wants to cling to the past. With the turning of the calendar to January 2021, sighs of relief were probably expressed by many.

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions?

While I used to, I don’t anymore. My list used to look something like this: lose weight, eat healthier, save more money, and so on. Those are also some of the more common resolutions made each January 1. (By the way, most people fail at keeping their New Year’s resolutions).

I quit making resolutions as I grew in my relationship with Jesus. Looking back, I cannot recall the last time I made a list of things to change in my life. However, I began to choose a focus word for the year. In the past, I’ve prayed and chosen words like trust, focus, and hope. My 2020 word was embrace – embrace more of God in my life. I would write the word at the top of each page in my daily prayer journal. Each time I do, I was reminded of my spiritual growth word for that year. (more…)

THE FATHER’S LOVE

(September 12, 2017) Tim Edwards brings a timely word from Jeremiah

Every day I see more and more reasons – and more and more need – for us to look to God for his love, guidance, strength and direction. And for us to call out to God for restoration. Why? Because we human beings…

  • Are messy.
  • Make mistakes.
  • Need him, our Father God!

And he is there, rock-solid and real, always inviting us: ‘Come home to me.’

Personal restoration
This means you and I stopping and thinking about where we find ourselves in relation to God as our heavenly Father.

I am completely convinced that we need God to restore and reshape us; we need to hold onto God and allow him to mould us and remake us. Life is hard enough with God – I don’t know how people live life without him! It is most definitely time now, today, to be hungry for God to live in and through us, changing us and changing the world around us in the process. (more…)

WORDS OF LIFE (#G4) KINGDOM – BASILEIA

(July 23, 2017) Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, continues his series on selected Greek words…

The first mention of ‘kingdom’ in the Bible is Genesis 10:10 where it states, in reference to Nimrod, ‘The first centres of his kingdom were Babylon.’ In biblical thinking Babylon often represented that power that was constantly opposed to God.

While many nations were ruled over by kings, for many years after the Israelites had settled in Canaan they had refused to appoint a king of their own because they accepted a theocratic system of leadership in which Yahweh was recognised as its king.

In this lay the secret of Israel’s uniqueness and its strength as a nation. From time to time other leaders were appointed on a temporary basis – we read about many of them in the book of Judges – however those leaders were never recognised as kings nor was their leadership hereditary. At other times a high priest or a prophet appears to have had a leadership role – such as Eli and Samuel – but God was still regarded as the ruler of his people. (more…)

WHICH JESUS DO YOU WANT?

(April 8, 2017) Chris Pick, Special to ASSIST News Service shares an Easter reflection…

Let’s go back in our hearts to that Black Friday nearly two thousand years ago. The Roman Governor Pontius Pilate presented before the crowd two men: One man named Barabbas and the other Jesus. Pilate declared: ‘It is your custom that I free one prisoner to you at Passover! Which do you choose?

‘Give us Barabbas!’ the angry mob cried.

Why did the crowd choose this man over the Messiah? What did they expect?

One was a sinner – one was sinless but chose to become sin
It is quite possible that Pilate presented before the crowd two men named Jesus. Some scholars believed Barabbas’ real name was ‘Jesus Barabbas.’ The Greek scholar and early Christian theologian Origen found many early manuscripts of Matthew 27:16-17 which referred to Barabbas as ‘Jesus Barabbas.’ And the name ‘Jesus’ was a common name in first-century Galilee.

So, if Barabbas’ first name was Jesus, then the question could be rephrased, ‘Which Jesus do you choose?’ It’s a question that can still be asked today as we are presented with so many different ‘Jesus’ figures globally. To some, he is a great teacher. To some, a prophet. To some, he is God’s son. To some, a mere man. And sadly to some, just a myth. (more…)

MARTYRS BY PROXY?

(March 8, 2017) Stuart Reynolds brings another timely challenge …

A pig and a hen were walking down the road when they saw a poster advertising the forthcoming Harvest Supper. It reported that bacon and eggs would be served. The hen said to the pig, ‘How nice it is that we can help the church.’

The pig replied to the hen, ‘It’s all very well for you – you’ll be making a contribution, but I’ll be making a sacrifice!’

It was Alexander MacLaren who wrote: ‘Martyrs by proxy, who have such strong convictions that they think it somebody else’s duty to run the risk for them, are by no means unknown.’

A location considered
We rightly pray much for the ‘Persecuted Church’ – often feeling small and inadequate alongside them because of what they are living out and proving in the midst of oppression and we’re not. (more…)

BURIAL OR CREMATION – WHICH IS RIGHT? (May 20, 2016)

Jim McClureDr Jim McClure, noted theologian, considers a touchy (to some) choice…

What a sombre topic!

I have just returned from a funeral and listened again to the familiar scriptural words that are frequently quoted at a Christian funeral.

During the service I thought of a question I was asked a few weeks ago about the rightness of burial over cremation. Eventually we will all be confronted by this choice concerning loved ones.

Arguments in favour of burial
There are many Christians who would adamantly assert that burial is unquestionably the correct way to dispose of a body. (more…)

LEADERSHIP

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO KNOW HOW TO WORK THE CROWD!
Dick Hardy

Dick Hardy, pastoral leadership consultant, writes:
It is important for pastors and church leaders to know how to work a crowd.

Oh my goodness! You now think I have slipped a cog. How in the world can anyone in ministry possibly think about ‘working the crowd’? That is so phoney. Further, it must be as far away from godliness as one can get. What’s up with that? (more…)