A rambling blog by a Christian in Northern Ireland

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Review : Portrait Plus

15:52 Posted by Gary Boal No comments
This post is off my normal topic here . . .

Over on my photography blog(s) you can read my latest software review: Portrait Plus which basically edits skin, eyes, wrinkles etc to make a portrait look pretty good.

Check the review out at http://www.boalphotography.com

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Holiday Reads

13:39 Posted by Gary Boal , No comments
Before i went on holiday I asked for a few book recommendations, some came via person, some commented on facebook etc but here's what I ended up reading in between the car being crashed into, losing my credit cards and having the odd bit of fun in the pool - my family would probably also add 'being a grump' to that list:



[Click the images to follow the link to amazon - and i've been lazy and just pasted in the image descriptions from amazon, but in summary I recommend all these books - the fiction must be read with an internal 'bleeper for language' but the stories are great]. 





"Greear unpacks the doctrine of assurance, showing that salvation is a posture we take to the promise of God in Christ, a posture that begins at a certain point and is maintained for the rest of our lives. He also answers the tough questions about assurance: What exactly is faith? What is repentance? Why are there so many warnings that seem to imply we can lose our salvation?

Such issues are handled with respect to the theological rigors they require, but Greear never loses his pastoral sensitivity or a communication technique that makes this message teachable to a wide audience from teens to adults."






 
"Meet the Man Behind the Myths John Calvin's name evokes powerful images, most of them negative. In the minds of many, he is perceived as an ivory-tower theologian who was harsh and unreasonable, the driving force behind a dangerous theological system. In this volume, Burk Parsons and eighteen other leading Reformed pastors and scholars authoritatively reveal the truth about Calvin and his teaching that he was humble, caring, pious, Scripture-saturated, and, above all, passionate about upholding the glory of God."
It is AD 41. The city of Rome is a dangerous place. 
Optio Macro of the Second Legion, recently decorated for courage on the battlefield, can't wait to leave the teeming city behind. He's dismayed when he's compelled to stay in Rome to train Marcus Valerius Pavo, a young gladiatorial recruit. 
Though fearless Pavo has fought for his life before, he's a novice in the arena. But he's a driven man, with a goal dearer than survival - to avenge his father's death at the hands of a champion gladiator. Will he live to face his nemesis?


Rome, 61 BC

RECRUITED as a gladiator, young Marcus Cornelius Primus faces a new life of brutal training, governed by strict rules, as he learns the skills of an elite warrior.

But Marcus cannot simply forget his past. His father lies murdered by soldiers and his mother has been kidnapped and forced into slavery. Marcus is determined to find his father's old commander, Pompeius the Great, to seek justice for his family and set his mother free.

Yet, unbeknown to him, Marcus is hiding a life-threatening secret. And if the Romans discover it, there will be no escape . . .



In this new Chris Ryan adventure, the best soldiers in the world come together to fight Al-Qaeda.
It is the early days of the war in Afghanistan. SAS hero, Jock, has never fought alongside America's select Tier 1 Operators before now, but when their mission goes pear-shaped, he will find out just what they are made of...
Battling against overwhelming odds in unknown territory, and with the enemy well dug-in, even the most elite soldiers with the most advanced weaponry at their disposal are put to the ultimate test of skill and courage.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Following From Young To Old : Psalm 71:17

12:06 Posted by Gary Boal , No comments
Sometimes when we read Scripture something just lands on us to pray. Today i was in the Psalms and when I read the below verse I just had to pray that my kids can say this when they are older:


"O God, from my youth you have
   taught me,
and I still proclaim your
   wondrous deeds."
Psalm 71:17

Oh that these kids would follow Jesus from their earliest of years and proclaim His glory into their oldest of ages.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Notes On A Familiar Passage : Acts 17:24-25

08:21 Posted by Gary Boal , , , No comments
"The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man . . ."
[God made everything. Our temples (Churches) and all our religious actions (reading Scripture, praying, giving etc) do not manipulate Him one bit]


". . . nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything . . ."
[Our service should not be motivated with any thought that God needs us. Rather it should be a deep rooted love for God that moves us to serve. Also related is our worship - He does not need it, while He calls for it, demands it even, if we simply do it because we feel He needs it or that we can manipulate Him by it we worship wrongly.]

". . . since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything . . ."
[We need Him! Our very life depends upon His grace flowing to us in the form of our breath, our heartbeats, everything.]
(Acts 17:24-25 ESV)

Monday, 23 June 2014

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Monday, 16 June 2014

The Leap Second


Over the weekend I sat in a discussion group concerning the leap second. A bit like the leap year the leap second added in to the year in order to keep the atomic (digital) clock in line with the solar clock, measured by the earth's spin. Our planet has begun slowing down in it's spin and like anything that does this, it's getting slower. This means that there as it takes a little longer to do one full spin, it falls out of sync with our 24 hour clock.



Over the past number of years 25 seconds have been added in to the atomic clock, but this is said to have caused disruption computer systems worldwide, and leaves systems open to fraud etc.
USA have proposed that we ditch the leap second along with the solar clock, and just measure time by the atomic clock, which will eventually (slowly) place our measurement of time out of sync with nature.

It's like having a watch that says 12:00 while the clock on the wall reads 12:05, we have to decide which one is the real time. Is the clock right, or the watch? Which do we go by, or do we just think, hey it's lunch time I need food?

There are many areas of society from astrology to navigation etc where this proposal has caused a fair bit of debate, out go the sun dials and star navigation methods and in come looking at our mobile for the time and travelling by gps (something i'm pretty sure we all do anyway).

From my perspective it was interesting to see the Christian arguments that have been placed.
Well, only one really.
"It is arrogant to think we can change God's clock."
From my own Christian perspective, looking at this issue, i'm not sure that we will be doing anything that leads us away from scripture, or that causes us to sin if we were to take this direction. We'll still have day and night, morning and evening as nature dictates, and as God set in motion in Genesis 1&2. The sun will rise, set and the moon will be in the sky as we sleep. Time measurement (the clock) will simply fall out of sync slightly with the solar clock.

My own gut reaction is to want to keep things as they are, but I really don't (so far anyway) see any legitimate reasons why the leap second can't be dropped. Likewise I haven't seen convincing arguments that it should be dropped. So I guess the debate will continue . . .

Sunday, 8 June 2014

John Bunyan 28 November 1628 – 31 August 1688

15:18 Posted by Gary Boal No comments

I love the old dead guys that Christ used to build and shape reformed churches. Tyndale, Calvin, Luther, Latimer, Wesley, Baxter, and a never ending list that undoubtedly hold John Bunyan up near the top.

This morning in Church Gary Bolton referred to Bunyan and his classic "The Pilgrims Progress" and I thought I'd write a short blog sized bio of Bunyan. So here we go.

Early Life
John was born in Bedford on 28th Nov 1628 to Thomas & Margaret. While he was 'schooled' we don't really know to what extent, but he took the career path of becoming a 'tinker' which was a semi-skilled job and was often a job that brought a lot of travelling around. Basically a tinker mended pots. Tinkers back then were regarded much like gypsies and travellers and held in low esteem; even while most people would be queing up with broken and damaged pots.

From 1644-1647 during the civil war, John served in the Parliamentary army but afterwards returned to tinkering. In his autobiography Bunyan writes that this period of his life was full of sin, and John often considered that he had been so abandoned to sin that he was concerned he may have already committed the unpardonable sin.

Around the age of 20/21 John married (we don't know her name) and went on to have 4 children; Mary, Elizabeth, John & Thomas. Mary was born blind which added a burden to him and was a huge concern during his imprisonment.

Conversion

"Such treasure by the roadside!" Thats how William H. Harding describes what took place in Bedford as John Bunyan listened into the conversation of a group of women. Bunyan said of this:

"Their talk was about a new birth, the work of God in their hearts; also how they were convinced of their miserable state by nature. They talked how God had visited their souls with His love in the Lord Jesus, and what words and promises they had been refreshed, comforted, and supported against the temptations of the devil.
And methought they spake as if joy did make them speak; they spake with such pleasantness of Scripture language, and with such appearance of gracein all they said, that they were to me as if they had found a new world
And methought they spake as if joy did make them speak; they spake with such pleasantness of Scripture language, and with such appearance of grac ein all they said, that they were to me as if they had found a new world..."


While The Holy Spirit had been working in Bunyan prior to this, Bunyan's life took a new course under the influence of Pastor Gifford and furthered by Luther's Comments on Galatians. In 1655 a preacher was born.

Arrest
England in this era had different laws, and one such was a need for a licence to preach the Bible. John did not have one, and it would be 17 years before he was granted one. But he was popular and hundreds would come to hear his expounding of Scripture. Indeed when one of his contemporaries, John Owen, whas asked by King Charles why he, a great scholar, went to hear an uneducated tinker preach, Owen said, "I would willingly exchange my learning for the tinker's power of touching men's hearts."

When he was 30 His wife died, a year later he remarried and in yet another year he was arrested. Elizabeth, his 2nd wife miscarried under the stress of his arrest but over the next 12 years cared for her step children alone.
Bunyan was constantly plagued by guilt and worry and often considered signing an agreement that he would never preach again so that he could go home and provide for his family. He wrote:


The parting with my Wife and poor children hath often been to me in this place as the pulling of the Flesh from my bones; and that not only because I am somewhat too fond of these great Mercies, but also because I should have often brought to my mind the many hardships, miseries and wants that my poor Family was like to meet with should I be taken from them, especially my poor blind child, who lay nearer my heart than all I had besides; O the thoughts of the hardship I thought my Blind one might go under, would break my heart to pieces.

But he chose a clear conscience and to follow the call of God upon his life rather than freedom with a soiled conscience.

Freedom
He was finally released in 1672 and was given a licence to preach as the pastor of the church in Bedford. This is where he faithfully ministered for another 16 years, until his death.
In 1675-1676 he was imprisoned again, and it was at this time he penned The Pilgrim's Progress, a book that has had a huge influence on Christians since then. After his release he was never imprisoned again, even though his church was continually raided and members of his congregation were arrested again and again.


Death
In 1688 at age 60 John fell sick and died.

His last sermon had been preached on 19th August 1688 just 12 days before his death. And his last words from the pulpit were "Live like the children of God, that you may look your Father in the face with comfort another day."

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Win Tickets For The Belfast Game Of Throne Exhibition

15:52 Posted by Gary Boal , No comments
It's a consistent search term that shows up as to entry onto my blog, so while it's away from my normal theme if you follow this link to facebook you can see how to win tickets to the Game of Thrones exhibition in Belfast. Plus you'll get to see an amazing Game Of Thrones cake.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=261759590694253&set=a.206208056249407.1073741837.193580207512192&type=1&theater&notif_t=photo_comment

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Monday, 19 May 2014

Set Aside Time For Bible Study

08:00 Posted by Gary Boal , No comments
"Don't trust to chance. Give the Bible the first place. Let all other books and all magazines and papers have secondary place. One of the greatest enemies to profitable study is hurry. One of the greatest secrets of profitable study is undisturbed concentration of thought."
R.A. Torrey

Friday, 16 May 2014

Four Practical Suggestions For When We Pray

08:00 Posted by Gary Boal , No comments
R.A. Torrey gives the following pointers:

1. Set apart time from everything else.
2. Prepare for prayer - Examine our hearts & the most urgent cases.
3. Summon all your spirit & energy to pray it through.
4. Look to the Holy Spirit to guide every step of the way.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Spirit speaks through the Word.

14:31 Posted by Gary Boal No comments
"If we wish the Spirit to do His work in our hearts we must study the Word.
If we wish Him to do His work in the heart of others, we must give them the Word."

R. A. Torrey [Preaching and Teaching the Word of God]

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Keep Going

09:47 Posted by Gary Boal No comments
Over the past couple of days in Revival Movement one of the folders has been giving a lot of problems. I've been neglecting my own machine to try and help get it sorted but it seems that no matter what direction we take, it makes no difference and the machine continues to destroy the books running through it.

Isn't life like that at times, you get a kick, then another one and when you're lying on the floor thinking things can only get better another kick lands in the teeth. Try as we may, we just don't seem to get anywhere in a situation or we feel that we fail time and time again. It may be in regards to some sin or the weight that so easily trips us up; our attempts to overcome or lay it aside never seem to work.

Today a friend wore a t-shirt to work with the declaration that it was especially for me, to help encourage me to keep working at this particular machine. Quite relevant.

Keep going, don't tap out . . .

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Help - I Shout At My Kids . . . A quick thought

15:46 Posted by Gary Boal , , No comments

Yep, I can not deny it, I raise my voice to my children at times . . . OK a fair bit.
Usually I set in my mind that i'm not going to, but after infinitely telling them to not do something, or to do something (whichever the case may be) the only way that their ears seem to connect the words from my mouth to them; is when I raise the decibel and give a holler at them.
I don't want to be grumpy day or party pooper dad, but sometimes it's the only way to get heard.

I was just the same, the number of times my parents had to shout to grab my attention was probably abnormal. And you know what i'm the same today in regards to my Heavenly Father.
He speaks to me through His Word, i nod in agreement, shout amen and then go do the very sin spoken against or else I fail to do that which He asked of me.

I'd love my kids to listen without me having to raise my voice, but maybe I should take my own advice and listen to God . . . before He has to raise His voice into my life.