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Never Lost

“Never Lost”, by Decyfer Down.

Boom!

Reminds us that God’s light can pierce even the blackest and most hopeless places in our lives, and reflects Psalm 139:11-13 (NLT)

“I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.”

‪#‎thankful‬

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Redemption – August Burns Red

We’ve been listening to ‘Redemption’ by August Burns Red (a screamer!)

“I am just a man with a heart and sinful hands…. Lord, show me the way, as I give myself to you…..Be my strength. Be my voice. Be my glory. Set me free.”

Reminded us of Solomon’s dream in 1 Kings, when he asked God, “Give me the wisdom I need” – Solomon knew he was not able to do things right in his own strength.

We pray for God’s wisdom in all we have to do.

Black Sabbath

About time we listened to a bit of Sabbath, right? And what an epic song choice this is – yep, it’s ‘Black Sabbath’

OK so straight into the bible on this one – Matthew’s gospel and the temptation of Jesus in the dessert.

“During that time the devil came and said to him…. “I will give it all to you, if you will kneel down and worship me.”

So, why did we pick this song? A few reasons, actually, so here goes:

First up, because we want to break down the stereotype (among Christians, mainly) that heavy metal generally, or Black Sabbath specifically, are satanic or evil. The reason they called themselves Black Sabbath was to catch an anti-flower-power wave in the 1960s. They realised that people had a growing fascination for ‘scary stuff’ (hey, not in just the 60s, right?) when they saw the queues lined up to see the 1963 film ‘Black Sabbath’ starring Boris Karloff. Initially, they set out to create the ‘musical equivalent’ of horror films, starting with the song ‘Black Sabbath’, which in turn inspired them to change the name of the band as well.

Secondly, because of the meaning behind the song. Geezer Butler, inspired by all this exploration of the ‘dark side’ decided to paint his flat matte black and cover the walls with inverted crosses and pictures of Satan. One night, he went to bed after reading a book about witchcraft and woke up in the night to see a black figure “with horns and everything” standing at the foot of his bed. According to Kerrang magazine, the figure was pointing at Geezer and telling him to pledge allegiance. The figure disappeared, but when Geezer went to find the book again, it had vanished. This apparently freaked him out and he repainted his room… orange! This has been cited as an explanation for why the band wear crosses – to protect them from ‘dark energies’ and, according to Geezer, “That’s when we started warning against satanism.” 

Satan is real. He is out there and actively trying anything and everything to get us – you and me – to bow down to him. His main purpose is to ruin our souls. Going back to Matthew’s gospel, Satan even fronted up to tempt Jesus, so he would have no hesitation in trying his hand at us. We should never forget that Satan is powerful and not to be taken lightly – not to be mocked – but he is not to be feared either. Over and above anything that Satan can try to do, Jesus has power and authority – Jesus dealt with him straight up: “stay away from me; I bow to no one except God.” And we can follow that example.

Some of us on OtR have had similar experiences to Geezer – seeing a black figure that was so frightening they thought they were going to die. In coming to faith, we know we’re in the middle of a spiritual battle; Satan will try to scare or tempt us away from following Jesus in whatever way he thinks is going to work – for Jesus, after 40 days without food it was something as simple as bread, and for you or me it would be something personal to us.

But – the bible has kick ass power – every time Jesus was tempted He called out something from scripture as a counter attack. The bible is sometimes referred to as ‘the sword of the spirit’ – meaning it’s a sharp and powerful spiritual weapon against Satan and his hoards. In the letter to the Hebrews, it says:

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

If this kind of stuff gives you the heebie-jeebies, or if you’ve ever had an experience like Geezer or one of us that has freaked you out, then don’t let anyone tell you it’s just your mind playing tricks on you – this stuff is real. But there is an answer; a way out. Satan has absolutely no power over us if we put our faith in Jesus Christ. He said, “I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy….Nothing will injure you.”

i'm not afraid

 

Just stop – when love hurts

We are firm believers that we are made for relationship – with each other and with God.

Good relationships can be awesome; loving, supportive and full of good laughs. But we all know not every relationship goes that way and as much as relationships can bring us happiness, they can also be the most painful things ever when they go wrong.

This week we looked at the concept of ‘sin’ in relationships. A lot of people don’t like the word ‘sin’ because it seems to be about rules – that’s because people often think of sin as things we shouldn’t do. But how does that connect to our relationships? Let’s go through this like we did in our session….

To start with we looked at Rick Warren’s really good explanation of what ‘sin’ really is – check out the first couple minutes of this video. He makes the point that the word ‘sin’ is actually an archery term meaning to miss the bullseye, or to fall short of a target. If God’s perfect plan for us is the standard, or the bullseye, then everything we do that falls short of that is ‘sin’ – what we do, how we think, what our priorities are – everything! And that ‘sin’ separates us from God, our creator.

When it comes to relationships, we are created to thrive when we experience love, belonging and acceptance – that’s God’s best for us (not so bad, huh?) So when relationships are antagonistic, hurtful, or abusive it follows that is not God’s best. Not only are we ‘sinning’ when we treat people like this, but we are being ‘sinned against’ when others treat us that way.

We all have been in relationships – with family, friends, partners – that have hurt us. Badly. We can carry deep wounds around with us for years; they shape our identities, our sensitivities and can block us from having healthy relationships in the future. We can even pass it on to others because it has shaped our outlook, habits and character traits.

We don’t have to live with the impact of others’ relational sin towards us  – we can break free with the power of Jesus. Jimmy Evans gives some great advice about this in this video (apologies for the cheesiness at the end, but it’s a good message up til that point!) – he says, we need to:

  1. Name it as ‘sin’ – call it what it is
  2. Take responsibility for your own ‘sin’, and repent  of it
  3. Forgive; “It’s the mother of all issue related to being free from your past.”
  4. Submit that area to Jesus
  5. Break it off of your life in the name of Jesus

And so our pick is “Just Stop” by Disturbed.

This awesome track shows how people’s attitudes and behaviours towards us can have a massively negative impact, but in the song there is also hope:

“Step back a moment, and look at the miracle starting in our life
Don’t stop the moment, and let the incredible happen…”

When we invite Jesus into our lives and our relationships, a miracle happens – He has the power not only to help us, but to transform us out of the damage and pain that’s been pushed in our direction from bad relationships. Sometimes we can be so wrapped up in the problem, we don’t see the promise.

If you’re struggling with the impact of damaging relationships – we are right with you in spirit. We are all praying that we will recognise these things in our own lives and bring them to Jesus – to name things as the ‘sin’ they are; to ask for forgiveness, and for His strength to help us forgive others so we can a life free from our hurtful pasts by His amazing love and power.

jesus breaks chains

#forgive

#whatissin

#RickWarren

Are you willing to give up everything?

Tough question, right?

This week’s song comes from Pillar – ‘Everything’.

It reminded us of the story from Matthew’s gospel (in chapter 19) where Jesus is approached by a rich young man who asks, “What good deed must I do to have eternal life?” He was one of the good guys; a good Jew, obeying all the laws and customs. But, still, he needed to double-check, so he asked Jesus if there was anything else he should be doing. Jesus told him,

“If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Oof! It says the man went away ‘sorrowful’ – for him, it was too big of an ask.

OK, so Jesus may not ask us all to sell our possessions and give them to the poor, but He does ask us all to ‘follow him,’ which can be the hardest part! He asks us to give up ourselves – and to live for Him. This message doesn’t sit well in a culture like ours where we are told over and over we can have whatever we want right now, and our destiny lies in our own hands. But, hey, that’s why following Jesus is so radical! Our true destiny lies with Him, with letting go of our own agendas, and taking up our part in His plan, not just for our life ‘right now’ but for an awesome future.

Check out how the chapter goes on:

I tell you the truth… it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?”

Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne…..everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.”

It may seem like an impossible task to follow Jesus, but as He says, “with God everything is possible.” So – what’s stopping you?

impossible

Hope when tears fall…

It’s great when things are going well and all feels good in your world but, without doubt, life chucks curveballs with monotonous regularity too. So is there hope in darker times when the black dog is howling?

The answer is of course yes – but not always in the way we might expect. When we hit the rough road, we can be tempted to assume that things will get better if only we could fix our circumstances. But if things don’t change, it just gives us more reason to feel down,  frustrated or hopeless.

Or we can take on board social pressure to just ‘cheer up’ or ‘fake it till you make it’; but we know inside that we’re not being true to the way we really feel.

The thing with Jesus was that he was a realist – he knew we’d be going through the wringer at times, but instead of saying, “If you believe in me I’ll take all your troubles away,” he said,

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  – Gospel of John 16:33

See, that last bit is the crucial bit – Jesus gives us the power, strength and hope we need to get us through the troubles of this life. He is with us, comforting us, carrying us and rallying for us before God.

The time will come when there will be no more sorrow. The bible says, in the book of Revelation, that:

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

We loved this song – Teardrop Bullets – by the awesome and relatively unknown Sleepers Guilt, a melodic death metal band from Luxembourg. They capture the explosive pain of what it can be like to be consumed by sadness, with lyrics like, “the hurt in my eyes consumes every thought.”

As Christians, we may not have lives free of sadness, but we do have hope. And we wait for the day when the pain of all our tears will be wiped from our eyes. Meanwhile, God knows about our pain; he sees it and feels it with us. In the Psalms (58:8) it says that God makes a note of all our troubles and captures every tear we cry. How awesome is that? Not one tear shed, or heart shattered goes unnoticed. You are seen and you are loved.

tears eyes

 

 

 

 

Golgotha: “It’s the center of my universe. Without that we have nothing.” W.A.S.P. Frontman Blackie Lawless talks faith, God and the bible.

Have you ever noticed how there are some awesome rock and metal heroes who are born again Christians? What’s that all about?

If that surprises you in  a genre often associated with all that’s death and doom, we reckon you should take a step back and really ask ‘why?’

Following the release of their album ‘Golgotha’, Blackie Lawless, W.A.S.P. frontman, gave a heartfelt and honest interview about his faith in Ultimate Classic Rock.

Like many people on a quest to ‘find the truth’ he originally set out to disprove the bible, but the more he read it, the more he was blown away by it! In the end he realised he wasn’t just reading any old book; it was: “…the living word of a living God.”

“I cannot say it strongly enough. It is beyond impossible that it could’ve been written by men. I’m a writer and even the writers that I know that I admire – I look at how we write, I know what our limitations are and like I said it’s so far beyond our comprehension.”

Check out the rest of his inspiring interview here.

blackie lawless

 

Golgotha – when faith fails

How can someone see God and then not following through with their faith? Good question.

How can they not acknowledge it more; not choose to follow him?

If someone acknowledges and hears that Jesus died for them, why then reject the best answer? It seems so obvious and simple – that God loves us.

Our son pick for this is ‘Golgotha’ by W.A.S.P. The song realises this simple truth – that Jesus’ death on the cross was a powerful act of love. Anyone can receive God’s love no matter what they’ve been through if they simply believe this truth.

“Jesus, I need you now. Show me I’m lost somehow, oh and show me there’s a way…… Show me there’s a reason. Keep believing you’re the one. My knees are buried at your cross.”

We were inspired this week by a story about a woman who took a bold step of loving courage to calm a guy on the train who was “terrorizing the other passengers with his aggressive actions and curses.” She just held his hand. That simple but powerful action helped heal him for that moment. It is also pure simplicity that God is love. He loves us, and that He sent Jesus to show us the way to connect back to God – the way of forgiveness and love.

So if it’s that simple, why don’t people follow?  The problem of suffering is a big objection for many people; that the “goodness of God is not consistent with the existence of suffering or evil in the world”, which  J. Warner Wallace tackles here. For others, there may be an unwillingness to be morally accountable – barriers and objections are put up because they don’t want it to be true.

Love is a sacrifice and a risk; it calls us out of comfort zones. That’s what Jesus did. As the song says ‘Heaven’s come down’ – Jesus gave up heaven to come to save us.

the-cross-and-the-blood

Gimme an anthem – awake and alive!

When battles are raging all around you and within you, what you need is an anthem – and this is it! Courtesy of Skillet.

Often the battles we face in life are based on things we can recognise or see, such as illness, relationships, stress or money worries. But the greatest battle ever – whether we chose to acknowledge it or not – is the one being fought for our soul. The bible teaches that there is a supernatural battle going on – we might not be able to ‘see’ it in the same way as these other things, be we can definitely feel its effects!

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places”. (Ephesians 6:12)

Who is the enemy in this battle? It’s Satan – the enemy of our souls:

“Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

But with Jesus, we have the power to overcome, because He came to destroy to works of the devil. Jesus’ death and resurrection has sealed Satan’s fate. And He invites us all to overcome the enemy with Him through His power.

The song ‘Awake and alive’ is about this battle – we are at war with the world if we have given our lives to Jesus, but with Him we have the power to live and to stand our ground against the enemy.

“I’m at war with the world cause I ain’t never gonna sell my soul. I’ve already made up my mind – no matter what I can’t be bought or sold. When my faith is getting weak, and I feel like giving in, You breathe into me again.”

hey satan you lose

 

 

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