Monday 23 March 2009

Testimony


STEPHEN MURPHY

My name is Stephen Murphy. I am the Pastor of Dundalk Baptist Church. Let me share with you how I have come to know God in a real, personal way, and the change that He has brought to my life.

The Murphys


Like most Irish people, I was born into a Roman Catholic home. My parents were very sincere Catholics and as far back as I can remember I was told about God. Some of my earliest memories are of being brought to church. Part of my upbringing was that I was taught that God knew when we did wrong and that I needed to get forgiveness. As I grew older—at around 7 years of age—we were prepared for the Catholic Sacrament of Confession; now called the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We went into a dark, wooden cabinet called a “confessional” and there we were to tell the priest our sins. He, we were assured, represented God and what we told him was as if we were speaking to God Himself. After that we received our “First Holy Communion”. In this Sacrament we were assured that Jesus Himself was eaten by us—although the actual wafer we ate tasted just like any other wafer of bread. We did not understand this but we were assured that we were not meant to. Faith, we were told, was believing what we could not understand.
Later on I was prepared for “Confirmation”, another Sacrament. This was where we were given the opportunity to personally affirm the vows made on our behalf at Baptism, which was administered to me as a baby of a few days old. It never crossed our minds to ask why we were not given opportunity to be baptised upon our own request!
So I continued as I suppose the average Catholic does; not questioning very often but just assuming that as this was (or so I was told) the Church that Jesus established then it must be right and therefore who was I to question?
Eventually though I began to question. As I studied History I saw the terrible story of murder, persecution, and war - as well as moral disaster that was the story of the church for most of its history. If this was Christianity then I did not want anything to do with it. I became in effect an agnostic. I never formally repudiated my Catholicism - I just let it go as far as having any impact on my thinking and actions. If there was a God—and I cannot say it bothered me much either way—then I would have to find Him, or He me, somewhere else.
In 1979 during the final year of my degree a number of crucial things happened. I studied the history of the Reformation for my final year. In so doing I was introduced to men who, on a much larger stage, asked the same questions that I knew had to be answered. Secondly, my fiancée (now my dear wife) Marie had begun to attend a Bible study. One of the teachers in her College was a Christian and opened her apartment for Bible study with the students after school. I attended and was impressed by the mixture of non-religious informality and a real seriousness in the approach to the Bible itself. She really believed it was God’s Word!
Following on from this we were both invited to a weekend away. At the weekend there were special speakers who spoke on selected topics of the Christian life using the Bible to do so. While this was interesting, what really got my attention was something else. Many of the young people at the weekend were Christians. They were in many ways just like me—or at least there was no single factor which differentiated them from me except one: they all claimed that they were “born again”. They claimed that they knew Jesus, that He was alive and that they had a relationship with God through Him. The disconcerting thing was that somehow there was something about them that almost made me believe it! They seemed to have a sense of peace and wholeness, which I knew that I lacked. And as I questioned them about it they continually brought me back to Jesus. Eventually they challenged me to check out all of this in my own Bible. That was a problem! Even though I was a final year student at a third level college I did not possess a Bible. Having bought one, I began to read.
I began my search in the Book of Acts in the New Testament. I knew from my History that this was the story of the early church. If these people were really Christians then what they believed would surely be there. Two things—at least—surprised me. Not only was the Christianity that I found in the New Testament like that which the young people talked about, it was not at all like what I had been brought up in! There was no hierarchy—no priesthood at all except that of Jesus Himself—the Book of Hebrews was very strong on this point. Also the Bible put the emphasis on a relationship with God through Jesus. He–and He alone—was described as the “Mediator” between God and His people. As well as these lessons that I was learning, I was struck by the authority of the Bible itself. By this I mean that as I read it—still an agnostic, albeit a more open one—I knew I was being spoken to by an authority greater than myself somehow through this book. Nothing had prepared me for this. I was faced with some serious decisions. I knew that what these people had was attractive—after all who does not want to be whole, fulfilled, have a real reason for life and a hope bigger than death? Also what they said and how they lived was what the Bible described real Christianity to be.
But was Christianity itself real? This was my final hurdle. I began to read again. This time I asked myself what question could I investigate—the answer to which would settle the reality of Christianity once and for all. It was—is—a big question! The New Testament ultimately stands or falls on a single issue: Is Jesus still dead or did He—as He promised and as the Church proclaims—rise victorious over death? If He did then all else He said and did can, and indeed must, be accepted on His say-so. If not then no matter what else He said or indeed how sincere the beliefs of His followers—then and now—it is not true.
The Resurrection? – How can you investigate that! Obviously neither I nor anyone else can time-travel and experience it. So how do we accept or reject historical claims? Ultimately it is on the credibility of the witnesses at the time and the integrity of the subsequent record. In other words were the apostles reliable witness at the time and does the New Testament accurately record what they experienced. As I systematically investigated all the theories that men have put forward to supposedly disprove the Resurrection of Jesus they all had one thing in common: they were all harder to believe—literally, more incredible—than the Resurrection itself. Take for example “the Disciples stole and hid His body theory” This is the oldest of the alternative theories—put forward by those (the Jewish leaders) who knew it not to be true! (See the end of Matthew’s gospel.)
Well of course the disciples in theory could have taken the body. Now this is, let’s face it, unlikely. They do not come across as those who would over-power the guard, which Pilate had instructed to be placed there. (Peter was afraid to face down a simple serving girl!) But allowing even this improbability, they would not only have to perpetrate this astounding act of bravery to commit a knowing fraud but also be prepared to die for that which they knew to be untrue! Most of the apostles died bearing unshakeable witness to the Resurrection of Jesus. Could it be that having met Him Who for their sakes defeated death, it conquered their fear of death? Surely a more likely scenario knowing the reality of human nature.
But what about the Bible–the Gospels, the Acts, and the letters? Can they be considered as good historical documents? The New Testament has literally thousands of early manuscripts still preserved. All the study of critics friendly and hostile has never dented the integrity of what it claims. In other words, those who have studied the New Testament and still don’t believe admit that it is not because they find the manuscripts contradictory but they simply reject the Message that the texts unanimously affirm! There is more evidence for the Resurrection than many of the facts we take without question from the rest of history!
I was convinced that miracle though it was, Jesus was and is alive! Now I was at the crossroads. I had seen the attractiveness of Christianity and of Jesus Himself. I knew that His claims were true. But if His claims were true, then His warnings and His invitations were true as well! He warned over and over that the kingdom of God was at hand and that we need to repent (Mark 1:15). He warned that not to believe in Him would mean to die in sin and that where He was I could never come. (John 8:21 & 24) He also promised that whoever came to Him he would never turn them away! (John 6:37) So on the 17th March 1980 upon His invitation, not able to change myself, I came to Him. He changed me. Firstly I noticed a sense of joy and peace. It was like finally coming home. Then day by day, week by week and year after year He continued—and continues to change me. Old habits die away. He replaces old attitudes with new ones. He is changing me to be more like Him. I know that there is an awesomely great distance still to go but I know something even better: The Bible promises that God who has begun a good work in me will bring to conclusion on the day that Jesus returns. Then I will both see Him finally and finally be like Him! It is all of grace. God tells us in His Word that His love for us is based upon Himself and what Jesus did at Calvary. I benefit from it even though I could never deserve to earn it! (Ephesians 2:8-10)
What about you? What God has done for me and for millions of others He can and will do for you. Would you like to know more about Him?

Saturday 21 March 2009

At home mum.

IT'S A BIG JOB... AND I WANT TO DO IT!
Day-in, day-out motherhood is not for the faint of heart. Our culture whispers lies about it, saying it's easy, insignificant, or that anyone can do it. But the difficulty of it lies in the facts about it-- very few do it for the long-haul, and even fewer do it well.

This is an extract from Jess's blog.

Check it out, it's good.

Friday 20 March 2009

Project

Sean and I are working on something very exciting. We are writing a book! He is way ahead in his English books so w have slowed down and decided to do some project work instead. It has been said that if you ever want to write a book, write about something you know. Well, for Sean, being home schooled is something he knows quite a bit about and has a lot to say about too!

We have been brain storming and putting up pages of ideas on the class room wall. He is doing most of it with me just encouraging and helping out now and again. Sometimes he looses interest in his projects but I think, if I can keep up the momentum, he might do a good job. I also think that the fact that he isn't working on his regular books helps him and stirs him on. However, he will be having two weeks holidays in two weeks (I promised him he could take his hols at the same time as his friends) so I hope he wont loose interest during this time.

Anyway, I will let you know how we are getting on with it.

You should pop over to Becky's blog, ADULT DEPRIVED and watch a short video of her kids running around... She wonder where they get their energy form!!!!

Day off

I had a day off on Wednesday. Niall took Sean and Dylan for the day. They did their school work and then headed to Roch Castle for a couple of hours. They had a picnic there and played for a long time with what looked like an escaped, tame ferret! The boys loved it!

I However, spent the morning with a neighbour. We eventually went to buy plants for our estate. Then I walkid around the town in the lovley sunshine, stopped for a tripple decker toasted sandwich (!) then I hit every second hand shop in the place... It's amazing what you can buy for €15.oo!

Then I bought some fabric for a quilt I am making for Seán's birthday in June and then I went to Yana's hair salon where whe washed, dried, curled, and pined my hair (for free!) until I felt very beautiful!

Aftr she shut shop, we went to the Church building where we had our prayer meeting, followed by pizza, refreshemnts and a Christian movie! Aaaaa!!!
Take a quik look here for
5 Lovely Ideas for Adding Ambience & Cheer to Your Life

Another gift in the post from the USA!








Friends of ours who moved to the USA last year did a spot of Spring cleaning, found these DVD's and sent them over!

Many thanks guys :0)

Sunday 15 March 2009

Changing tmes.

In the 80's I was living in Dublin. I was in my late teens & early twenties, living with my boyfriend, working, independent, travelling around the countryside with him while he played in his rock band, (he also had a good job) going on two foreign holidays and a couple of trips to London each year and paying a mortgage. I remember the atmosphere of the times as one of being the independent woman. I bought 'New Woman' magazine every month and was encouraged to reach out, go for the promotion, be independent of men and if I must, have one baby, but of course, I must put it in a creche a.s.a.p and continue with my quest for equality with men. Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of England and the the term 'Yuppie' (that we all strove for) came into being. That's how I remember it anyway.

It took a long time for us 'new women' to realise that we were being fed a load of dung. Not only did we have to keep house, cook, shop, do laundry etc but we had to hold a job AND be a parent while looking fantastic along the way. Not to mention that we were expected to find the money for our holidays, nice clothes and evenings out...

I was lucky. I tried to do all the above but I didn't have a child. After being reared in poverty with 6 sisters and 3 brothers I was in no hurry to have a child and, after all, didn't all the experts tell us there was no hurry? Couldn't we have our 1.2 children way into our thirties and even wait until we were forty?

I see that times are a-changing.

There is a change creeping into our society. I see women reeling in exhaustion from the lie. They seem to see the lie that had been fed to their mothers and now to them and want to go back to basics. They want what God initially wanted for them. They want husbands and children, and what's wonderful and shocking, too, is the fact that they want to stay at home.

I think the wool has finally being removed, the veil is being drawn back, and they are beginning to see that not only is it not sustainable to be and do all these things without neglecting home and family, but that there is a peace to be had, there is a chance that they can actually enjoy their children and, perhaps, even a chance to prevent in their own children's lives, the neglect and lack of family life that they experienced while being brought up with women who had been fed the dung of the 80's.

Wednesday 11 March 2009

Something nice/Something not so nice

Yesterday while driving through the town we spotted this...

Although I am a huge supporter of our Guards/Police and have arranged outings to the Garda Station/Dublin with local boys, taken Sean to the annual friendly football match between the Guards and the Army etc., I am not in favour of this kind of advertising and I am very surprised it got the go ahead from the Guards.

If everybody who worked in high risk jobs protested in this kind of way our Country would be in a sad state indeed.

Sean was in the back of the car and he, being 10, snorted "That's disgusting."

What must younger children think when they see this?

I know being a Guard is a very hard job, especially when you consider they are not armed. I am so very sorry for these two particular Guards and the pain they have suffered. I would not like to see my son in this state.

Surely there must be another way for the Guards to get their point across? Perhaps something along the lines of giving, in writing, a percentage of our Guards being injured while on duty?


I sent this photo to our national radio station yesterday and they want to interview me over the phone about it today.

On a more pleasant note, what do you think about this? Isn't it lovely? I got it last week for about 3 euros and it is blooming away very nicely!

Monday 9 March 2009

Thomas Brooks (1608-1680)

This is a very well written piece, but I couldn't help but gasp and giggle nervously to myself at the boldness of brother Brooks! Read on and see for yourself.....


You have been long a-gathering rust

Oh! but my afflictions are greater than other
men's afflictions are! Oh! there is no affliction
like my affliction! How can I not murmur?

It may be your sins are greater than other men's
sins. If you have sinned against . . .
more light,
more love,
more mercies,
more promises,
than others—no wonder if your afflictions are
greater than others! If this be your case, you
have more cause to be mute than to murmur!

It may be that the Lord sees that it is very needful
that your afflictions should be greater than others.

It may be your heart is harder than other men's
hearts, and prouder and stouter than other men's
hearts, it may be your heart is more impure than
others, and more carnal than others, or else more
selfish and more worldly than others, or else more
deceitful and more hypocritical than others, or
else more cold and careless than others, or more
formal and lukewarm than others.

Now, if this is your case, certainly God sees
it very necessary, for . . .
the breaking of your hard heart, and
the humbling of your proud heart, and
the cleansing of your foul heart, and
the spiritualizing of your carnal heart, etc.,
that your afflictions should be greater than
others; and therefore do not murmur!

Where the disease is strong, the remedy must
be strong—else the cure will never be wrought!
God is a wise physician, and He would never
give strong medicine—if a weaker one could
effect the cure!

The more rusty the NAIL is, the oftener we put it
into the fire to purify it; and the more crooked it
is, the more blows and the harder blows we give
to straighten it.

You have been long a-gathering rust; and
therefore, if God deal thus with you, you have
no cause to complain.

"For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and
punishes every son whom He receives."

WELL FOLKS, WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THAT? CAN YOU SEE YOURSELF WALKING UP SO SOMEBODY AND SAYING THAT TO THEM,IN LOVE?!

I can't help but think that many of the Christians in days gone by were made of stronger stuff than us...

Having said that, where would Job stand in all this, he being a righteous man?

God help us and strengthen us.

Ruth

Thank You Jennifer!

A while back I joined Jennifer on a blog quest. The idea was that you would ask 3 people to put their names down on your post and then send them a home made gift with in the year.

Well, this morning I got a parcel in the post!












As you can see I got a beautiful gift of a home made bag or purse as it is called in the US. It really is very beautiful and all the more precious to me that it is home made.

Thank you so much Jennifer for going to all the trouble and expense. (Postage)

I have several thoughts swimming through my mind as to how to put it to good use!

It has stirred me up to make and send my own gifts that I have promised;-)

God bless you sister.

.

Saturday 7 March 2009

Mini Marathon


This morning I walked the Cooley Mini Marathon for St Bridget's Special School. I walked with Annie and Becky and enjoyed the time we had together. It drizzled a bit, then dried up so it wasn't as bad as it could have been..The views were great with mountains, Carlingford Lough and country roads... and we got our medals!







It has made me look forwards to the Dublin City Mini Marathon in June.

Thursday 5 March 2009

Sad times

Today I was at a funeral. Sean's friend's dad died and was buried today. He was only 28 and in the Irish Army so it was a big funeral...

The Army band played ahead of the coffin, which was placed on top of a big gun carriage and had the Irish flag draped over it. I took a couple of photos for Sean as I think he might find some comfort looking at them in the future. He is only 10 years old. It can be a good thing to look back and see how many people were at a funeral and see how well thought of the person was. I found from my own personal experience that when you are grieving you don't see much and it's nice later, to know so many people attended.


Wednesday 4 March 2009

Oxymoron Example List

Here are some fun oxymorons – in a loose sense of the word:
open secret -- larger half -- clearly confused
act naturally -- alone together -- Hell's Angels
found missing -- liquid gas -- civil engineer
deafening silence -- seriously funny -- living dead
Microsoft Works -- military intelligence -- jumbo shrimp
Advanced BASIC -- tragic comedy -- unbiased opinion
virtual reality -- definite maybe -- original copies
pretty ugly -- same difference -- plastic glasses
almost exactly -- constant variable -- even odds
minor crisis -- extinct life -- genuine imitation
exact estimate -- only choice -- freezer burn
free love -- working holiday -- rolling stop

Other Funny Oxymorons

Great Depression -- free trade -- peacekeeper missile
sweet tart -- crash landing -- now then
butt head -- sweet sorrow -- student teacher
silent scream -- taped live -- alone together
good grief -- tight slacks -- living dead
near miss -- light tanks -- old news
hot chilli -- criminal justice -- peace force

Catching up.

Hello again. I have enjoyed my much needed break away from blogger land. Here is a few pictures of what's been happening around here lately...

I went to Blackrock for a walk around with Sean and I met my sister Barbara and her son Dean!



A few nights later I had Dean's son 'Lee' staying overnight.



This is Niall relaxing after a big Sunday dinner in the conservatory of a friends home in Annagassan:-)We got to do quite a bit of tidying around in the back garden and so the place looks a lot better that it did! I even got to cut the grass!


I got a cheque for €300 to spend buying plants and shrubs etc on our estate so a neighbour and I went to a couple of garden centres to look around. We bought two half barrels and so Niall (with a little help from the kids!) screwed them on to a wall. We bought compost and planted ivy in them. Hopefully they will get established and we will see an improvement in years to come.



This glass cabinet was for sale for €50!This was part of the beautiful view on the way home from one of the garden centres.
This is one of Sean's friends. His name is Sean. Sadly, very sadly, he lost his father two days ago and everybody is devastated... I took this photo just last week. I am very fond of Sean and his mum and am so very sorry for the loss.