A rambling blog by a Christian in Northern Ireland

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Feeling (C)OLD

22:03 Posted by Gary Boal No comments

I am feeling pretty old right now. You see I've never had a problem jumping into cold deep water before, and then i don't do it for a while and THEN my son wants to go and do it. So we go and bang the age thing hits.

The cold hit me as soon as my big toe hit the water - unfortunately it wasn't a test and the rest of my body was in mid-air, soon to follow as the icy freeze engulfed me.

Yeh I had fun and even had my decade shower under a small waterfall (wouldnt want to get too clean) but I slipped, meaning i've now a very sore hand, hip and shoulder AND even a few hours later after a v hot shower I can still feel the cold in my bones as though Frozen's Elsa had zapped me with her ice ... zappiness.






Sunday, 27 July 2014

Israel / Palestine - Taking Sides . . .

20:53 Posted by Gary Boal No comments
There's a lot going on in the world at the minute, not least of which is the conflict in Gaza. I'm not going to get into a debate, nor am i interested in taking sides in this but the one sided attitudes of the press and of many within the Church are bugging the life out of me.

The press have obviously picked Palestine as their champions and fail to see any wrong in that camp, while pointing out the many wrong doings (and there are many) of Israel.

The Church (some) have grabbed the Israel we read about in the Bible, equated it to the Israel we find today and overlooking the atrocities they're committing have raised them up as God's chosen ones, and hence, deserving of our blind support.


The Apostle Paul said it well when he wrote "that Abraham's physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham's children." Rom 9:8 NLT

Am I saying that I believe God is finished working with Israel, no, not at all. But I am saying that we shouldn't cheer in their corner, pray (as i heard a friend pray recently) that God would protect them from harm and help them and neglect to pray for the Palestinians. 

Not Children of God
Neither of these groups are people of God, if they are not children of promise; that is if they are outside of Christ. 
Israel as a nation have, and continue to reject Jesus Christ as being the Messiah they were promised so long ago. This means that, while they are children of Abraham, they are not Children of the promise. I know, i know, there are messianic (believing Jews) but in general as a people they reject Jesus.
Palestinians are generally muslim (but likewise there are some believers - meaning children of promise among them). 


Religious Struggle
We have no sides in this if we view it as a religious struggle, because each side claims exclusivity to truth. 
If we come to this as a religious struggle we come as a third side to make war on the other two; as we say they are both fundamentally wrong in their beliefs and need to repent for the Kingdom of God is coming, they need to reject their religions and follow Jesus. 



I do not know the mind of God, so i do not presume to speak as to the troubles there. But when i read my Bible, historically Israel have found blessing and peace when they obeyed God. And they have found trouble, even captivity and the loss of the land when they do not follow Him. Israel today do not worship God in Spirit and truth. The Church should keep that in mind as we look on at this situation.

Pray for both Israel and Palestine, that they would turn and follow the Prince of Peace. That the name of Jesus would be uplifted and that His Spirit would bring salvation to both the Jew and the Gentile.

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]