Thursday, May 23, 2013

A pastor’s struggle with same sex attraction

For the 26 May 2013 bulletin

A pastor’s struggle with same sex attraction

I recently came across this blog / article I found very helpful. It is by Sam Alberry, an associate pastor at St Mary's Church in Maidenhead, UK. The following is some excerpts from his article. You can read the full article at: )

Homosexuality is an issue I have grappled with my entire Christian life. It took a long time to admit to myself, longer to admit to others, and even longer to see something of God's good purposes through it all. There have been all sorts of ups and downs. But this battle is not devoid of blessings, as Paul discovered with his own unyielding thorn in the flesh. Struggling with sexuality has been an opportunity to experience more of God's grace, rather than less.
Only in recent months have I felt compelled to be more open on this issue. For many years I had no intention of being public about it. I am conscious that raising it here may lead to any number of responses---some welcome, some perhaps less so. But over the last couple of years I have felt increasingly concerned that, when it comes to our gay friends and family members, many of us Bible-believing Christians are losing confidence in the gospel. We are not always convinced it really is good news for gay people. We are not always sure we can really expect them to live by what the Bible says.

As my mind raced that lunchtime God gave me a verse to share with my friend. It demonstrates precisely why following Jesus is worth it, in this lifetime, and even when we have to give up things we could never imagine living without: Peter said to Jesus, "We have left everything to follow you!"

"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no-one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much as in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields---and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life." (Mark 10:28-30)
Following Jesus involves leaving things behind and giving things up. For gay people, it involves leaving behind a gay lifestyle

He continues by briefly explaining some biblical texts on the issue, and this was his conclusion.

As someone who experiences homosexual feelings this is not always an easy word to hear. It has sometimes been very painful to come to terms with what the Bible says. There have been times of acute temptation and longing---times when I have been "in love." And yet Scripture shows that these longings distort what God has created me for.
And, finally he ends with these words.

There is a huge amount to say on this issue, but the main point is this: the moment you think following Jesus will be a poor deal for someone, you call Jesus a liar. Discipleship is not always easy. Leaving anything cherished behind is profoundly hard. But Jesus is always worth it.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Great is thy faithfulness and Pentecost Sunday thoughts (pastor's noyes)

For the 19 May 2013 bulletin

The following piece was submitted by Magdalene, which I found so timely as last week I was discussing with a number of church members the stories behind some of the great hymns of the church. Enjoy!
Story behind the hymn:
is Thy Faithfulness
Thomas Obadiah Chisolm (1866-1960) had a difficult early adult life. His health was so fragile that there were periods of time when he was confined to bed, unable to work.
Between bouts of illness he would have to push himself to put in extra hours at various jobs in order to make ends meet.
After coming to Christ at age 27, Thomas found great comfort in the Scriptures, and in the fact that God was faithful to be his strength in time of illness and weakness, and to provide his needs.
Lamentations 3:22-23 was one of his favorite scriptures: “It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.”
While away from home on a missions trip, Thomas often wrote to one of his good friends, William Runyan, a relatively unknown musician. Several poems were exchanged in these letters.
Runyan found one of Williams' poems so moving that he decided to compose a musical score to accompany the lyrics. Great is Thy Faithfulness was published in 1923.
For several years ,the hymn got very little recognition, until it was discovered by a Moody Bible Institute professor who loved it so much and requested it sung so often at chapel services, that the song became the unofficial theme song of the college.
It was not until 1945 when George Beverly Shea began to sing Great is Thy Faithfulness at the Billy Graham evangelistic crusades, that the hymn was heard around the world.
Thomas Chisolm died in 1960 at age 94. During his lifetime, he wrote more than 1,200 poems and hymns including O To Be Like Thee and Living for Jesus.
A brief thought on Pentecost Sunday
Today is also Pentecost Sunday, where it is common (and a good thing) for many to reflect again on Acts 2. But I thought that it might help bring some freshness to also consider Genesis 11:1-9, which is the OT reading for Pentecost Sunday.
This passage reminds us that sin is a serious matter and humanity united in sin and disobedience can destroy all that is good in the world. It is a helpful context to understand Acts 2. In Acts 2, God reversed the confusion of the languages and signalled among other things a new unity through the Holy Spirit – a unity not for evil but  for good in the power of, and through obedience to the Holy Spirit .
It is in this age of the Holy Spirit that we now live – and it is good to reflect on how we can be united in Christ for the sake of living holy lives and doing our part to usher in the kingdom of God. 

why God made mums (Pastor's noyes)

For the 12 May 2013 bulletin

Happy mother's day! I got this in the mail earlier this week and thought it would be nice to have something light on mothers this Sunday ...
Why God made Mums
Brilliant answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:
Why did God make mothers?
1. She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
How did God make mothers?
1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring
What ingredients are mothers made of?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.
Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?
1. We're related
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.
What kind of little girl was your mom?
1. My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.
What did Mom need to know about Dad before she married him?
1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
Why did your mom marry your dad?
1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my mom eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My grandma says that mom didn't have her thinking cap on.
Who's the boss at your house?
1. Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof ball.
2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than Dad.
What's the difference between moms & dads?
1. Moms works at work and works at home & dads just go to work at work.
2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3. Dads are taller & stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend's.
4. Moms have magic; they make you feel better without medicine.
What would it take to make your mom perfect?
1. On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2. Diet. You know her hair. I'd diet, maybe blue.
If you could change one thing about your Mom, what would it be?
1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.
2. I'd make my Mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me.
3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Time (a poem / prayer by Michael Quoist)

For the 5 May 2013 bulletin

Time (a poem / prayer by Michael Quoist)

All men complain that they haven't enough time.
They look at their lives from too human a point of view.
There is always time to do what God wants us to do,
but we must put ourselves completely into each moment that he offers us now.
I went out, Lord. Men were coming and going, walking and running.

Everything was rushing; cars, trucks, the street, the whole town.
Men were rushing not to waste time.
To catch up with time, to gain time.
Good bye, Sir, excuse me, I haven't time.
I'll come back, I can't wait, I haven't time.
I must end this letter - I haven't time.
I'd love to help you, but I haven't time.
I can't accept, having no time.
I can't think, I can't read, I'm swamped, I haven't time.
I'd like to pray, but I haven't time.

You understand, Lord, they simply haven't the time.
The child is playing, he hasn't time right now..later on...
The schoolboy has his homework to do, he hasn't time..later on...
The student had his courses, and so much work...later on...
The young man is at his sports, he hasn't time...later on...
The young married man has his new house; he has to fix it up, he hasn't time...later on..
The grandparents have their grandchildren, they haven't time... later on...
They are dying, they have no...
Too late!...They have no more time!

And so all men run after time, Lord.
They pass through life running - hurried, jostled, overburdened, frantic,
and they never get there. They haven't time.
In spite of all their efforts they're still short of time.
Of a great deal of time.

Lord, you must have made a mistake in your calculations.
There is a big mistake somewhere. The hours are too short, the days are too short.
Our lives are too short.

You who are beyond time, Lord, you smile to see us fighting it.
And you know what you are doing.
You make no mistakes in your distribution of time to men.
You give each one time to do what you want him to do.
But we must not lose time
waste time,
kill time,
For time is a gift that you give us,
But a perishable gift,
A gift that does not keep.

Lord, I have time,
I have plenty of time,
All the time that you give me,
The years of my life, the days of my years, the hours of my days.
They are all mine.
Mine to fill, quietly, calmly,
But to fill completely, up to the brim.
To offer them to you, that of their insipid water You may make a rich
wine as you made once in Galilee.

I am not asking you tonight, Lord, for time to do this and then that,
but your grace to do conscientiously, in the time that you give,
what you want me to do.