Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Healing, Hope

Don’t trust your feelings. Ignite your faith.

I was recently reading 1 Kings 19, which tells the story of Elijah and the enormous personal battle he fought after winning a great victory against the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.

Elijah had called on the name of the Lord and saw fire fall from heaven. The disbelievers in the crowd fell on their faces and worshipped the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The one true God had been glorified, and the Godless prophets of Baal had all been killed. This extraordinary day of miracles shook the country, and without a doubt, Elijah was operating out of the anointing of his calling. He was serving God and was at his very best.

But then Elijah received news that Jezebel was after him. She was enraged by Elijah’s ‘rebellion’ and sent a messenger to say: ‘May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life, like that of one of them’ (1 Kings 19:2). Elijah had been full of faith, sure of his identity, and yet, those few words plunged him into fear and into an identity crisis.

At this point, a few things happened:

He became deeply emotional and fearful – his mind was affected.

He became physically tired and exhausted – his body was impacted.

He could not hear God’s voice – his spirit was drained.

A few days before, he would have sought God for the answer, but now he was depressed, despondent, and Scripture says he’d had enough and wanted God to take his life. He was being attacked by an unseen enemy which wanted to steal the victory, kill him, and ultimately destroy all of God’s work.

As I look around me, I see this so often in our churches. I believe that one of the biggest attacks of the enemy on the church today, is the attack of depression and despondency. The Word tells us that the enemy’s weapon is to steal, and there is no greater way to make an army ineffective than to steal their joy, their confidence, and their identity and replace it with fear and exhaustion. This often happens too, just after a big victory.

The story of Elijah shows that the enemy often works through our feelings. The enemy tries to mentally suck us dry and create a battle ‘between our ears’ of being overwhelmed. I believe if the enemy can win the battle ground in our mind, he knows he will successfully distract us from God’s plans and get us to focus on the problem and how we feel about it.

If you are in that place of feeling despondent, depressed, overwhelmed, or in fear (just like Elijah), you might be wondering if there is a way out. I have been there, and I know it can be a difficult journey, but there is a way out, and there are many great guidelines to be found in God’s Word.

Deal with the physical

Firstly, on a very practical level, God dealt with Elijah’s physical needs. I love that God is a God of practicalities! Immediately, God sent Elijah some food and water (delivered by an angel) and then allowed him to sleep. Once Elijah had been strengthened on a very physical level, God began to speak to Him. He did not give Elijah all the answers, but He asked him questions and allowed him to experience His presence. If you are feeling overwhelmed by situations in life, it is first good to check all the physical, practical causes such as lack of rest or proper nutrition.

However, it is also important to deal with the spiritual causes, and here is some advice based on things I have learned in my own life.

Instigate disciplines

Discipline is a part of discipleship. If you have the discipline of regular devotionals in your life (so that it becomes a daily habit), you will be able to continue reading God’s Word even when you are in a dry patch. If you create frameworks of discipline in your life before you experience despondency, you will find that you have a ready-made oasis just when you need it.

Phone a friend

Find a friend you trust and ask them to do the journey with you. For many years (until he passed away), I had a wonderful friend who knew me so well that he could detect even a change in my voice and understand if something wasn’t right. He was great at provoking me to speak out and to share what was going on. He and I were often able to travel the journey together and support each other in prayer when the other was going through a difficult time. Having good, strong friendships is very important.

Practice the presence

Jesus was led into the wilderness for 40 days and was tested in many different ways before His work could begin. Often, the enemy will try to attack our identity (just as he did with Jesus: ‘If you are the son of God…’ he said). Jesus knew His identity and He knew God’s Word and He was able to stand firm against the test. At the end of the test, He experienced God’s presence, and He left the wilderness refreshed, anointed, and ready for His assignment. Often in church, we work first and rest later, but I believe that God wants us to operate from a place of rest. When we work and live in God’s presence, we can act from a position of faith rather than what our feelings tell us.

Go back to God’s Word.  

I love Psalm 13. To me, it sums up a feeling of despondency and downheartedness so very well.

How long Oh Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day, have sorrow in my heart? (Psalm 13)

This Psalm is wonderful because after David has poured out his heart to God, a switch happened. Something changed. By verse 5 and 6, he says ‘But I trust in your unfailing love. My heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise for He has been good to me.’ 

As he wrote and cried out to the Lord, his heart started to move toward praise. One minute, here we have a guy who feels forgotten and forsaken, and then as he cries out to the Lord, he moves into the realm of praise.

It is ok to feel forgotten, forsaken, despondent, depressed – none of these things are a sin. But it is important to not rely on these feelings and instead go back to the reality of God at work in your life. God has never failed you (or me!) in the past, and He will not fail you now. Ask Him today to help you move beyond your feelings and instead into an atmosphere of praise and faith.

It is in His presence that we can find true rest and also once again begin to find God’s purpose in our lives.

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Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional

The power of telling your story.

I believe that we each have a story to tell, and I think it is important that we are ready (at any time) to tell it, both in words and in the way we live our lives.

In Mark 5, the story is told of Jesus healing the daughter of Jairus. She had been very sick, and as the daughter of a religious leader, it is likely she would have been well-known in her community. But as Jesus arrived at her home, it was too late. She had already died.

All around and inside the house were mourners, people yelling and crying about the loss of this little girl. Jesus was confronted with the reality and finality of human death. He immediately told all the mourners to leave the house, and then he took the girl’s hand and restored her back to life. And then in a puzzling verse, Jesus told the family to ‘tell no one’. It was not just a suggestion, it was a command.

In other parts of Scripture, we are told about the power of testimony, so why would Jesus command the family to keep quiet? I read this story again recently, and I believe there is a simple answer. As Jairus was the leader of the synagogue, he and his family would have been well-known and respected in the community. When Jesus arrived at their home, the house was already full of mourners, so the locals already knew that she was dead. So when Jesus brought her back to life, there was no need to tell anyone. She was a living, breathing testimony. She was the story.

Saint Francis of Assisi once said: ‘Preach the Gospel, use words if necessary.’ Many have debated this saying, but personally, I believe it means that when we have been transformed by the power of God, our lives are a walking, living testimony. We can use words to tell our story (and it is important to do so), but the words need to be backed up with evidence of a life which is changed. We can all debate words and philosophies and theology, but no one can argue with a story and a life which has been transformed.

When Jesus healed a blind man in John 9:13-25, the Pharisees questioned the man to ask how this had happened. They wanted to debate theology with him, but he simply replied: ‘I was blind, but now I see.’ Who can argue with that?!

We all have a story to share. Some may have been healed and set free or restored. For others, it may be that they were aware of God’s presence in a difficult time, but I believe we should always be ready to demonstrate and tell our story.

Here are some practical ideas:

Tell the truth

This might seem obvious, but it is important to not tamper with or change the details of the story. It can be tempting to add (or take away) details, but in doing so, we can remove all the power. Tell your story and allow God to add power to your words.

Tell your story in chapters

Imagine your life story as a book – full of different chapters. You do not have to tell the full story, but you can share different chapters at appropriate times. Depending on who I am speaking to, I use different ‘chapters’ of my testimony. Sometimes I will share the story of how I, as a rebellious young man, came to England and met God powerfully. Or I might share about the time we had no money or petrol in the car, but we prayed and God provided in a miraculous way. Or, as I have shared here, I might tell the chapter when we lost our son Jamie. You do not have to tell the whole story. The individual chapters can be just as powerful.

Some stories don’t end well

In 1988, a few weeks before we lost our son Jamie, our friends’ daughter Sarah was taken very seriously ill with meningitis. I will tell her story in a future blog post, but God stepped in and healed Sarah in a miraculous way. A few weeks later, we lost our son, and it led to many questions about why God would heal one child and yet take another. Even though our family’s story did not end the way we wanted it to, it is still a story of God’s amazing provision and faithfulness. Even if your story did not conclude the way you wanted it to, you can still tell of how God sustained you in the difficult times.

The enemy will try to stop you.

I believe the enemy knows the power of testimony. The original Hebrew root of the word ‘testimony’ means to ‘do it again’.  In other words, when we share our testimony, we are literally encouraging others to believe that God CAN ‘do it again’. The enemy will try to quench the power of stories, and he will try to stop you from sharing yours, but when you tell your story, you are saying to the world ‘God is alive and He is at work in my life.’ There is huge power in that.

I believe that God wants to ‘do it again’. Do you have a story to share? Why don’t you start to tell it?

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At UCB, we love to hear your stories. If UCB has helped you in some way (either through something you have read, heard or watched), we would love to hear from you. You can fill in the form below and one of our team will contact you for more information.

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#EUReferendum, Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Hope

Trusting God in the middle of turbulence

This week’s blog is a guest post, written by a good friend, Alan Scotland, Chairman of UCB’s Board and Global Horizons. Among many other responsibilities, Alan is also a well-respected Pastor to Pastors. 

I remember being on a plane to the US some years ago when the pilot announced that we were about to enter a ‘corridor of turbulence’. I will never forget his words: ‘It is just a corridor of turbulence, it will pass. Don’t panic.’

The shaking of the plane lasted for about 25 minutes, although it felt much longer. At one point, I thought I should try to contact my wife to leave a message and say my goodbyes. But eventually, the turbulence passed, and the plane landed safely.

Turbulence in any area of our lives is deeply uncomfortable. We think it will never end; we may even think that we won’t make it. But for the believer, our confidence is not in systems or technology or even politics: our confidence must be in the Lord and in His faithfulness. It’s not trite to say this – it’s the truth.

However, when we are facing uncertainty in the world, how can we respond?

Be certain of your certainties.

The world is shaking at the moment. From North to South, nearly every area of the world is affected by turmoil of one kind or another. For believers, this is a pressure test, and we need to ask ourselves this: what is our faith placed in? Is it our finances? Our health? The Prime Minister? All of those things, as we are seeing, can be taken away, but God promises us that He will be faithful to every generation. This is a time for believers to be certain of what we believe in and to stand firm on those certainties.

Don’t join the symphony of soundbites

I am saddened by the turmoil around us, but I also feel grief at the many negative attitudes and soundbites which are getting coverage. As Christians, we need to bring stability with our words, and we have to be careful that we don’t join the symphony of negativity around us.

We need to declare truth and hope in the middle of despair and model what it is to be human (but humans who have divine guidance). We might not like what is happening, but there is no doubt in my mind that God is moving and challenging us as people and as the church. In a time of despair, believers need to be saying boldly ‘Yes the ship is at sea, but we have an anchor that is firm and secure.’

Learn to let go

My wife once took me on a big dipper. My response was to cling tightly to the bar and wait for it to be over. My wife said to me ‘Let go Alan, stop gripping so tightly.’ In times of difficulty, it is very easy to ‘cling to the bar’, to cling to what we see and know. Proverbs 3:5-6 says ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding.’ One of our absolute certainties needs to be our unshakeable trust in God. He will not fail us or let us down.

Have a vision for the future

We need a vision for the future. We need to be able to see what God is doing, and what God is wanting to do next. Why don’t you take a moment and ask yourself this: ‘What do I see?’ What is your dream for the future of this nation?

When I look to the future, I see a massive, unprecedented move of God. Not a move of God which is restricted to a continent or a nation, but a universal move of the Spirit, a move of God that is so big that no one will be able to put their name on it. It will be God at work, increasing His Kingdom in a way that we could not even imagine.

My theology in days like these is shaped by hope. Even in the middle of turbulence, I see God shaping and preparing us for a universal, multi-national move of His presence. With that knowledge, we have nothing to fear. We have hope, and those who trust and put their hope in the Lord will never be put to shame.

Trusting God In The Middle Of Turbulence

Christianity, Faith, Forgiveness, Hope

When you lose the most precious thing in the world.

In February 1988, our lives as a family were going well. We had three beautiful children, and I was moving up the ladder in my career with a retail chain.

Our three children, Natalie, Jamie, and Richard

I have always been an early bird, and my morning routine before leaving for work was to check on our youngest son Jamie, who was 13 months old. On the morning of February 9, I left for work but for some reason that day, I did not check on him. I arrived at work and just after 9am, I received an urgent phone call from a neighbour who said, ‘something has happened to Jamie, you need to come home.’

The details were not clear at that point, so I jumped into the car and drove home like I have never driven before. As I was racing along, the word ‘death’ kept coming into my head, and I screamed out to the Lord, ‘No, Lord… no, this CANNOT be true.’

As I arrived at home, the front door was open, the paramedics were working on Jamie, and I could hear the desperate cries of my wife. I still did not know what was going on, but I learned that our son Richard, who was 10, had found his brother unresponsive in his bed. The paramedics took Jamie to hospital, blue lights and sirens blazing, and my wife and I followed behind in the car. When we arrived at Casualty, we were met by the doctor and were not allowed to see Jamie while they worked on him. Eventually a doctor came out and we could see by the look on his face that it was not good news. Our beautiful son had died at 13 months old from sudden infant death syndrome.

We were numb, confused, angry and had many questions. Jamie had been for a routine check-up just a few weeks earlier and was fine. Had we done something wrong? Could this have been stopped? It felt as though we were trapped in a nightmare and we struggled to understand.

The hospital staff eventually told us that Jamie’s body was in the Chapel of Rest and asked if we wanted to see him. My wife did not feel able to go, so I went to spend some time there on my own. As I stood there, my heart cried and ached, and I said, ‘God, I KNOW you can do this, I know you can bring him back.’ As I prayed, I suddenly felt a strange tap on my shoulder. I immediately looked around, but no one was there. This happened three times, and each time, there was no one behind me. But then very clearly, I felt God speak into my spirit. I cannot say for sure if it was an audible voice, but I know God spoke:

‘He will not come back to you, but you will go to him one day.’

I learned years later that these were words spoken by King David in 2 Samuel 12:23 after he lost his own infant son. Although I did not recognise at the time where the words came from, I knew God was saying there was nothing more we could do. He had taken Jamie home. In one sense, it released me from the burden of praying for God to restore Jamie to us, but that did not stop us from feeling the desperate agony of grief.

Jamie

In the days ahead, although our lives were shattered, we tried to keep things as normal as we could for our children, Richard and Natalie. Our church family gathered around us, and our pastor, John Mosey, was a wonderful friend, supporting us through the many practical arrangements we had to make. Little did we know that John would face his own terrible family tragedy toward the end of the year, but I will talk more about that in another blog post. The church’s support was incredible, but we still had so many questions. I felt God speak to me clearly one day: Stop asking me why. Ask me what I am going to do through it. 

Two weeks later, I had been due to speak at our church. Our pastor said I did not have to do it, but I was able to share a short word on Romans 8:31: ‘If God is for us, who can be against us.’ I asked our church family to pray for us, and I also encouraged them to be as normal as they could with us. We didn’t want people to stay away or think that we did not want to see their children or their babies. We knew this would be an important part of rebuilding our lives.

Throughout all that time, I can say that I felt God was lifting me. I had to grieve, but I also had the responsibility of caring for my wife and children too. My mother gave me a copy of the famous Footprints poem, and I knew that despite our shock and grief, God was carrying us through the darkest time of our lives.

Today as a family, we live and enjoy a good life. It is a different life which will always be scarred by losing Jamie, but we are not broken. We have been through many stages of grief, and up until recently, I was struggling with many private emotions. In a future blog post, I will share more on this and how I feel God has set me free from the burden of guilt which I carried for many years.

If you are facing your own tragedy today, then if you are a believer, you can know that God is with you and will carry you through it. As believers, we are not protected from pain, and we should not con ourselves and think we can go through this life without heartache. But God can hold us together powerfully through the most terrible times of our lives and give us strength to keep going.

After a terrible loss, your life may never be the same again, but with God, it can still be a good life. He is the reason for our hope, and we know that one day we will see Jamie again.

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Faith, Forgiveness, Healing, Hope, Miracles, Spiritual healing

When trouble comes, will you stay the course?

I am very pleased to hand the blog over to my friend Bruno Kondabéka this week. Bruno and his wife Joanne are great friends of our family and are also the pastors of Chichester Family Church.

Some years ago, their son (who was then 7 years old) was struck by a terrible illness, but God did something remarkable.

It’s an incredible story of God’s power at work. Bruno will share what happened next.

Bruno writes…

My wife Joanne and I have three boys, and as pastors of a church in Chichester, our lives are often busy. About two years ago, I was preaching a sermon series on the issue of suffering. I remember asking our church, ‘When trouble comes, will you stay the course?’ We didn’t know then that soon ‘trouble’ would visit our home and put our family to the test.

It began without any warning, when one day our youngest son Samuel started to feel unwell. He had a slight fever but didn’t seem too ill, so we gave him Calpol, and he stayed home from school for a few days to recover.

Five days later, Samuel started to get visibly worse: his temperature went up, and he was complaining that his head and neck were hurting, so we rang NHS Direct who advised we take him to the emergency doctor. On Sunday, the hospital checked him over, but they felt satisfied that it was probably a virus and in time it would pass. However, by the middle of the week, Samuel was still not any better, so we took him to our GP, and that’s when things became very worrying. Samuel was very agitated that day, which was not like his usual cooperative self, and he seemed to be in pain and was very confused. The GP rang the paediatric unit at the hospital, and the consultant suggested we take him straight there.

We were greeted at the hospital by the consultant and his team, and we started to realise that this was maybe very serious indeed. Again Samuel was very agitated and confused. He had become light sensitive, so he was sedated in order to calm him down so that he could be examined and given a CT scan.

After the scan, our son’s condition deteriorated rapidly. He was finding it hard to wake up, his heart beat was erratic, and he was not responsive to anything we said to him. The results of his CT scan were passed onto the specialists in Southampton Hospital, and because they were concerned with what they saw, they arranged for Samuel to be transferred by ambulance to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit in Southampton. To stabilise him, he was put in a drug induced coma, and he was quickly taken to Intensive Care.

Samuel

After further tests, we were told Samuel had Meningoencephalitis – a very rare and potentially deadly infection on the brain, caused by mycoplasma (a cross between a virus and bacteria) which causes the brain to swell. As parents, our hearts were broken, and the tears flowed as we watched what was happening to our little boy, but we did what we could to hold on to God and to trust Him to take us through this.

I remembered that just a short time previously, I had asked our church family if they were able to ‘stay the course’ when suffering came, and now we were facing that exact situation ourselves. We felt all the emotions you could expect – we wept and we worried, but we were also encouraged by remembering words spoken over Samuel’s life when he was dedicated as a baby by our friend, Pastor Brian Downward, from Bournemouth. The words at that time were that God had a purpose for his life, and it was a good purpose. He was to be a man of God.

I was also aware that our friends in Angers, France, were holding a week of mission at their church. I lived in France for some years, and the church there had helped to sponsor me in my theology studies in South Africa. I had a phone call from David L’Herroux, who told us that the church wanted to pray for Samuel. David felt it was important that the church prayed together during one of their services, and so that night at 8.30pm at the hospital in Southampton, we connected by phone with the church in France (as David paused in the middle of his preach). We laid hands on Samuel as David prayed, and then because we were in the ICU and couldn’t make too much noise, I went outside the ward and continued to pray (with my arm outstretched toward my son’s bed), while the church prayed that God would heal Samuel. That day had been particularly hard as we watched the nurses struggling to get Samuel to wake up out of the coma – they were not succeeding. So, we were encouraged by this prayer and support, and it gave us courage to believe for a miracle.

I walked back to the ward and we continued to sit beside Samuel’s bed, and literally just 30 minutes later, we had the biggest surprise of our lives when Samuel just opened his eyes. He had been unconscious for 3 days. The nurses rushed to see him and confirmed he was conscious – they removed his breathing tube, and from that moment, he started to make a full recovery.

Samuel2

The next day, he was moved from the ICU, and 14 days later, he was discharged from the hospital. The neurosurgeon who had worked with Samuel took us to one side and said that although she was amazed at his recovery, we should also expect the worst, as there could be long term damage.

But just over two weeks later, Samuel was back at school part-time, and the following week, he went back to school full time. He will soon be celebrating his tenth birthday and has suffered no ill effects whatsoever.

Samuel3

We thank God every day for the amazing miracle he gave us for our son.

Family

David concludes…

Bruno’s story is a wonderful reminder to us that God is very much at work in the world around us. At UCB, I encourage the team to keep being expectant and believing for the impossible. We live in a world which is bound by fear, but I believe God wants to set us free in every area of our lives.  I trust Bruno’s story has encouraged you to believe for more. We serve a mighty God!

 

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Christianity, Evangelism, Healing, Hope, Miracles, Spiritual healing

God is still in the miracle-working business

A few weeks ago, our wonderful friend  RT Kendall came to speak at UCB’s Foundation event. It was such a privilege to spend time with RT and his wife Louise – they are being used powerfully to help others understand God’s Word. RT has a great knowledge of the Bible, but he also lives what he preaches and isn’t afraid to be honest about the tough times they have experienced in full time ministry. It was such a blessing to have them here to speak to some key leaders from around the UK. The talks will be on UCB TV soon and will also be available on UCB Player.

DavidandRT

A few days after hosting RT and Louise, I went home to France to spend time with my brother Daniel again at their church’s evangelistic mission, which took place in three locations.

I am always amazed at the level of expectancy in the churches, not just from all the churches’ members but also from people (often non- Christians) who have been invited. To me, expectancy – coming and fully expecting that God will do something – is a fertile ground for God to move in and transform lives.

We have once again been overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness, grace and mercy. Over 50 people stood to receive Christ, and many more came forward to request prayer. They were facing many terrible situations: physical, emotional, domestic, addictions, and more, but all came ready and expectant to receive a breakthrough. We have been doing these missions for two years now, and every time we receive testimonies of transformed lives and incredible healing. We also encourage people to seek and bring medical evidence of what has happened, wherever possible.

 Angers

There are so many stories I could share of people  who have received Jesus or have been set free from cancer or alcoholism, but it was particularly great to talk to Dominque. Six months ago after prayer, Dominque recovered full sight in both eyes.

She has just been given her driving licence back and is now able to drive to church. She is also being trained for a new job and is looking forward to going to work! Dominque

I had the incredible privilege of baptising her last Saturday during a special evangelistic event.

I am again reminded of Hebrews 13 where the writer reminds us that God will never leave us nor forsake us and that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. More than 2000 years have passed since Jesus was physically here, but He hasn’t changed. He is still in the business of changing lives, healing broken bodies, and bringing freedom to souls.

If you are trusting God today for your own miracle, can I encourage you to approach Him with expectancy, knowing that God loved you so much that He gave His one and only Son so that if you believe in Him, you can have eternal life. Just as a child approaches their Dad with an expectation that they will be given what they have asked for, we can approach our Heavenly Father in the same way.

Keep believing!

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Evangelism, Hope, Miracles

God is still working around the world

I was in Florida a few weeks ago to attend the Hope Celebration with our long-time friends and ministry partners OneHope. OneHope is a wonderful organisation which is reaching millions of children and youth around the world with the Good News of Jesus. They produce a lot of resources, including Book of Hope and the Bible App for Kids, which has been downloaded over 10 million times.

The Hope Celebration was a time for leaders to gather, pray, fellowship and hear what God is doing through the ministry. One of the speakers was Pastor Andrew, who works in the Sahel region of Northern Africa. The team there is working in a very difficult context where the practice of Voodoo is very common and the terrorist group Boko Haram also has a lot of power. Boko Haram is the group which kidnapped over 270 young girls in 2014 and is regularly involved in horrific violence across the region. Despite these many challenges, God is working powerfully, and the Good News is still being shared in many creative ways.

Pastor Andrew shared a story about a day he came face to face with some terrorists deep in a forest while he was travelling. Ahead of him, he could see a group of heavily armed men advancing toward his car, and so he started to pray. Eventually the group surrounded him and demanded that he drive them to the nearest town. As some of the men got in the car with him, Pastor Andrew said he felt the presence of God come and (very boldly) he decided to give each man a Book of Hope. There was silence, but Pastor Andrew could see that each man was reading the book. After about 10 minutes, he asked the men if they understood what they were reading, and they said they did. He then asked if they would like to give their lives to Jesus! The men agreed and they stopped the car right then and each prayed to receive Jesus as their Saviour.

When the group arrived at the nearest town, Pastor Andrew was able to show them a nearby church – and today (over a year later), those men are baptised and part of a church.

Stories like these fill me with such hope as I hear how God is moving around the world in extraordinary ways.

As I wrote recently, it can be easy to look at the world’s headlines and think that God is silent. But I am reminded of the words of Jesus in John 16 where He says:

‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’

Praise God that no matter what our newspapers say, we still believe and know that through His death, Jesus has indeed overcome the world.

Please do pray for the vital work of OneHope in reaching children around the world.

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Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Easter, Forgiveness

What Easter means to me

I was blessed to grow up in a Christian family. My father was a minister, and Easter was always a very important time for us. A lot of the local churches (in my home town in France) would get together to hold special meetings. We had speakers and worship, and it was an exciting time for the churches to work together on evangelism. I have great memories of those days!

Today, Easter is just as special for my family and I. It is a reason to celebrate the gift of life that Jesus has given us through His death.

The team at UCB know that I like to use acronyms, and a few years ago, I shared the below with friends and supporters of UCB.

E.A.S.T.E.R.

ETERNAL – (John 3:16) Through the gift of His son, Jesus, God the Father offers the gift of ETERNAL LIFE to all those who believe in Him.

ACCEPTED – (Ephesians 1:6) We are ACCEPTED in Jesus Christ.

SAVED – (Ephesians 2:8) Anyone can be SAVED if they believe because of God’s Grace and God’s unmerited favour.

TRANSFORMATION – (2 Corinthians 5:17) Only real and lasting TRANSFORMATION takes place in Jesus Christ. ‘If we are in Christ … we are a new creation …. old things have passed away, behold all things have become new.’

ENDURES – (Psalm 100:5) God’s love ENDURES forever.

RISEN – (Luke 24:34) Jesus has RISEN, meaning He is alive today and we have access to a living and true God.

Here is a link to one of my favourite worship songs: ‘Forever’ by Kari Jobe. It is a tremendous and powerful song that describes the fullness of the Easter message.

Let’s never forget that ‘Forever He is glorified, forever He is lifted high, forever He is risen, He is alive, He is alive!’ It reminds us that we are worshipping a true and living God.

I learned as a young man that the Gospel has the power to transform every life, even the most broken, and at UCB, we often receive letters and emails from people who have experienced it for themselves.

Sid O’ Neil discovered God’s love after a terrible accident which left him with serious injuries. He experienced the power of the resurrection, which changed his life. Thank God for His sacrifice and for restoring countless lives.

Can I encourage you this week to take time to consider what the resurrection means to you? Why not tell your story to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity

Trusting God in the middle of the storm

In March 2014, our son and daughter-in law were expecting their third child, when our daughter-in-law Debbie was taken very ill. To this day, the doctors cannot confirm for sure what happened, but an infection caused her body and organs to shut down. Very sadly, at eight months pregnant, Debbie lost their baby and was soon in a fight for her life as she slipped into a coma. It was a desperate time for our family, and I felt personally that we were in a very intense spiritual battle and that we had to fight. The team at UCB and so many dear friends gathered around us and prayed for Debbie’s full restoration. We did not know in human terms what would happen, but we held on to God’s promises. I felt God was saying to us repeatedly, ‘I am with you… I will not leave you… this storm will pass’. His Word was a rock we were depending on; our anchor in an uncertain time.

Debbie

The breakthrough came about seven days later. We visited Debbie one evening when she was still in a coma, attached to machines. The following day we went to see her and she was sitting up in a chair and eating a meal. Praise God for His faithfulness and His goodness! We know that our miracle-working God was with us during this terrible trial and that even in the middle of a fierce storm, He would not leave us. Today, Debbie is fit and healthy.


About 6 weeks after Debbie was very ill, I went to France to join my brother, Daniel, for a crusade at his church. As a family, we had been through loss and heartache but had still seen God’s faithfulness in the middle of the storm. Those next few weeks in France were very powerful – we saw God work in a mighty way through many people being healed, restored and saved. God was bringing testimonies out of the many tests we had faced.

Experiences like these remind me of this verse: ‘The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree’ (Psalm 92:12 (NIV). Palm trees are designed to withstand severe tropical storms. When the storm comes, they bend with the wind and rain. It looks as though they are breaking, but they are actually just bending. When the storm passes, the area where the Palm tree has almost been torn in two is actually stronger than it was before the storm. During this difficult time, I felt God saying, ‘You are like a palm tree in the storms of life, but when it passes, you are going to come right back up stronger and will flourish more than ever before.’

As believers, the Prince of Peace lives within us. We can look at the storm and feel as though we will break. We can easily forget that He who is in us is greater than the circumstances that we face. If you are facing your own storm or tragedy at the moment, I want to encourage you to trust in His Word. He promises to never leave or forsake us and is our Rock even in the middle of the fiercest storms.

Have a blessed week.

David

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Uncategorized

God’s plans are so much bigger than ours

Hello

I often meet with the UCB staff team and in our meetings, will share what is on my heart that week. The team has been encouraging me for a while to write down some of these thoughts, so here is my first blog post. I want to use the blog to update you on things at UCB and also share some of the things that have impacted me during the week. We may even persuade some of our visitors to write ‘guest blogs’ from time to time as well.

This week, I have been thinking about a wonderful lady who we hosted at UCB some weeks ago: Margaret McGuckin. Margaret was put into an institution as a child due to severe family problems, and while there, she endured terrible abuse and trauma. When she left the institution (as an older teenager), she didn’t understand what it meant to be loved and believed she was damaged forever. But God had a different plan for Margaret’s life, and after several years of being in trouble with the authorities, God met Margaret in a remarkable way and touched her life incredibly. She discovered that having a personal relationship with Jesus was the key to being truly loved – her life began to change from that point.

Margaret (and her friend Kathleen) came to visit us a few weeks ago so that we could share her story on UCB TV and radio. I had lunch with Margaret and Kathleen, and although I was saddened to hear of the trauma she had suffered in the past, I was excited to see how she was using what had happened in order to powerfully help others. Part of Margaret’s healing was reading the Bible every day, along with the Word for Today.  She said that the Word for Today is very much like an appetiser for God’s Word, and she now tells everyone to read it as a way of encouraging them to get into the Scriptures. It was exciting to hear of her passion for God’s Word and the big impact that she is having on so many other people through her testimony and campaigning.

Margaret’s story is a Holy-Spirit reminder to pick up and read our Bibles. We are so blessed as a nation to have access to God’s Word in a way that many others don’t. But even so, many of us have lost the discipline. I call the Bible ‘The Divine Manual’ – if you want direction or instructions, you always go to the manual. And yet when we need instruction in our lives, we often first go to friends or to the Internet. Our good friend R.T Kendall recently wrote a wonderful blog post about the importance of going first to God’s Word: How much do you read your Bible?

Can I encourage you this week – if you are facing difficult times or need God’s direction (or re-direction) in your life, go first to God’s Word. He has given us the Scriptures as a divine source of wisdom and instruction for every situation we face.  Margaret McGuckin found healing and new purpose in God’s Word, and I know personally through my own life that wisdom for many of life’s problems can be found in His Word.

As you seek Him this week, I pray that you will be blessed!

David