Archive | June, 2007

Carrying Empty Guitar Cases

29 Jun
I love adverts that make me laugh. Infact I think there should be a law passed declaring that an advert cannot be published in any form unless it is funny! The last advertisement which made me laugh out loud is a poster advertising Sprite in Lisburn. Sadly due to the internet’s ability to let you find anything except the one thing you want I can’t find a picture of it online. Anyway, the advert says “Girls love musicians, carry an empty guitar case around with you”. Despite neither me nor Ali needing an empty guitar case, I did laugh as I wondered how effective it would be!
The sad truth is that as you look carefully people really are carrying empty guitar cases. Every world religion apart from true Christianity is based on carrying empty. Doing outward good works but it doesn’t change the inward reality, we are born sinful and cannot do anything to change ourselves, we are rotten at the core. “There is no one righteous, not even one;” Romans 3:10 (NIV)

Maybe you’re a nice person and don’t do anything to hurt others but if you haven’t trusted in Christ for salvation you are trying to get to heaven by your own good works, you are carrying an empty guitar case. Undoubtedly if someone were to carry an empty guitar case around long enough they could convince themselves and others that they were a musician. Similarly you may be able to fool yourself and those around you as to where you will spend eternity. The truth is you won’t be able to fool God.
You may be thinking “I’m not trying to impress anyone, I don’t believe God exists”. Well the truth is you are doing something even more ridiculous than carrying an empty guitar case, you’ve put it over your own head denying that God exists, ignoring the stunning evidence all around you. “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water” 2Peter3:5 (NIV)

Finally as true believers we can also be guilty of carrying empty guitar cases. Wanting people to think that we are better than we really are, making a show of our faith or knowledge and allowing sinful pride to contaminate our service of Christ.

James McCullough

P.S. This will be my last post for a while as i’m away to sunny Cornwall!

World At Our Fingertips

22 Jun

We live in a world of instant communications, luxury that could have only been dreamed about 20 years ago. This luxury enables us to keep in touch with friends and family so easily but with this relatively new technology comes new problems, new responsibilities and new temptations. Here are five fatal flaws that can occur hurting friendships, destroying trust and leaving a great big mess!

1. Instant Misunderstanding
Unlike talking to someone face to face you can’t hear the tone of their voice. Remember words always look a lot more serious written down than when they are said. You also can’t see the person’s reaction so you don’t know there’s been a misunderstanding.

2. Instant Gossip
The temptation to gossip is increased by the ability we now have to “share” information instantly. There’s no longer any need to wait to see the person, write a letter or hear the other person’s voice on the end of the line each giving us time to realise that we’re about to gossip and disobey God’s command. We’re also liable to forget that gossip isn’t just the spreading of rumours and hearsay, even if it’s fact and you’re spreading it unneccessarily, its gossip.

3. Instant Anger
Another problem posed by instant communications is that we can reply in the heat of the moment. We need to take a deep breath and not vent our anger by a text or over msn. The world says “let it all out” but scriptures tell us to be self-controlled and that includes online!
“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander” Colossians 3:8 (ESV)

4. Instant Lies
Not only can we spread gossip or vent anger, the temptation to tell a “white lie” is made all the more appealing through the internet or text. The words don’t even have to leave our mouth,we just have to press a few buttons! We can be tempted to make things more interesting with our own little story or make ourselves seem more appealing by distorting the truth. It’s easy to think that no one will ever know but God sees everything including your computer screen and your “Sent” folder!

5. “Send to All” Instant communication isn’t just a problem because it’s instant but because it reaches so many people. You don’t have to spend time hurting your fingertips by typing out the message again and again. Just select “Send to all” or copy the text from another MSN conversation and the damage is multiplied!

In conclusion. I’m not saying take your phone outside and repeatedly hit it with a mallet before attacking your computer! Just be wise! A few good thoughts are would I say this to their face? Would I say this infront of my Christian friends? And do I need to say this?

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up”
1Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)

James McCullough

P.S. Rumour has it that the Andrew Morrison has set up his own website which you’ll now find a permanent link to at the side or you can click here. Enjoy!

A Fathers Day

18 Jun

Many of us on Sabbath Day considered how much our Dads mean to us throughout our lives. Maybe some of us sent him a card or perhaps a present. (Mines still in the post! :)) Some may have even done the dishes…… (Ladies!)

But this got me thinking that it is quite sad that many of the population didn’t even consider their Heavenly Father for one second on that day. Many played Sport or did some work around the house, or maybe just enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t raining. But the all the local churches were not packed out……this should maybe give us a big spur on for this summer, for more of you older folks (being 15 is the worst!) you’ll be heading on GO Teams across the province and I hope this inspires you to bring our Father into peoples lives more.

For any of you who don’t know the grace, compassion, love, justice and glow of God, I would encourage you to get in touch with your local pastor or a Christian friend who you could talk with.

So hopefully we all will remember our Father on Earth and in Heaven more often in our lives, the Bible speaks a lot about how they are to be honoured and respected. I know all of us can fall suspect to that. So lets push on and grow in our walks while we do these simple tasks of remembering who is in charge for a change rather than thinking its us all the time.

Other news………. for the people visiting our sites from SE Asia and the U.S, Welcome and leave us a comment as we’d like to know who you are!
Thanks, Alastair

How To Be A Completely Ineffective Church Member (Part 1)

7 Jun

As you may well have realised DMFWS feels no shame in publishing articles that have already been published elsewhere. This time we are going a stage further, we are republishing a whole series! This series first appeared in the Messenger several years ago (before the orange and blue days!) and we felt it was worth you either reading again or reading for the first time if you missed it. They are written by Rev. David McCullough (James’ Dad!) the minister of Dromore RPC. Enjoy!
The Writers

Writer’s Spiritual Health Warning
The articles that appear in this series are a manifesto for utter ineffectiveness in your local congregation. For maximum impact of this ineffectiveness policy, these articles are best read with a lukewarm cup of coffee and some seriously heavy eyelids.
Of course should you yearn to serve King Jesus and be an effective church member to the glory of God, then you will need to have your brain well and truly in gear and by God’s grace seek to do the complete opposite of what you read.
Should you feel your toes jumped on by size ten hobnails, the best way for continued ineffectiveness is to complain to the writer and editors. Don’t at any cost ask yourself could this be me, or get down on your knees.

Listen Only

It is vital in your quest to be an ineffective church member that you specialise in gathering a host of Bible trivia, numbers of verses in the Bible (31,202) and the like. All these little juicy ditties that you glean you must store away in the deepest recesses of your mind so that you can keep the minister and elder busy with quick fire questions during the annual pastoral visit. This approach will make sure that they don’t get round to that awkward question, “How is God’s Word shaping your life these days?”
A collection of Bibles with unthumbed pages will be of great assistance in your journey towards utter ineffectiveness. The Bible you keep in your pew must have extremely small print so as to distract you during the reading.
Personal Bible reading is where you master the art of listening only. Only read your Bible at times of the day when your eyelids need propped open with matchsticks. This dosy interaction with the Scripture will help establish an impenetrable force shield for every encounter with the Word. By all means read the Bible every day. Big chunks are best and scan reading an essential. It is fundamental that you avoid asking any life-changing questions like, “What does this mean for me?”
Be on your guard at family worship for the Word can get a little prickly here and insist on taking root, especially when dad has pointed out how it applies to your family. At this stage it is paramount that you channel all thought power into how many Rice Crispies are left in the box.
Sabbath day will be your biggest test to see if you are going to graduate in the “listen only” course. If during the Scripture reading or sermon you feel any pangs in your heart, it is imperative that you quickly calm things down in your mind with a review of the spiritual things that you do, church Sabbath School, CY etc. and how you are definitely better than all the other young people. When the minister gets to the application bit and you begin to feel a certain sense of “he’s speaking to me” now is the time to start counting the cracks in the plaster or doing imaginary dot to dot with the bits of fluff on Mrs Brown’s big black bushy hat.
Pivotal in your downward spiral into the abyss of ineffectiveness is to give the minister marks out of ten for his sermon each week. Over lunch ask everyone how they thought the minister got on. Floating this question week by week will soon have a whole family on the path to increasing ineffectiveness. Avoid at all costs allowing anyone at the table to be super saintly and ask, “How did the Word challenge you today?”
Rather than taking notes on the sermon the way others seem to be doing, it is best that you engage in creative mind capturing doodling. This will give the impression that you are concentrating while at the same time stemming the flow of truth to the heart. Never go back over your notes no matter what your housebound gran asks you when she does her usual Sabbath evening inquisition about the sermon.
Remember only listen. You simply mustn’t let it in. You must wriggle and squiggle like mad to keep that life changing Word at bay. As soon as you start on the slippery slope of putting the Word into practice the ICMC (Ineffective Church Member Society) will have you thrown out if they can muster up the enthusiasm.
Bible Bit to keep clear of: James 1:22-25

David McCullough