Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Faith

Don’t live in bitterness

I have been thinking this week about the subject of bitterness and how much it can impact lives (yes, even the lives of Christians).

In Exodus 15, the Israelites (led by Moses) had seen a tremendous victory and they were celebrating and thanking God for their deliverance. They were singing, ‘I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted…the Lord reigns for ever and ever’.

But just three days later, they were in the desert and their water supplies had run out. They came to the waters of Marah but they couldn’t drink from it, as the water was so bitter. The same people who had been praising God just a short time ago were now grumbling and complaining. Moses cried out to God and the Lord showed him a piece of wood, which he was able to throw into the water and verse 23 says, ‘the water became fit to drink’. Later, God led the people to Elim, which had ‘12 springs and 70 palm trees’ and they camped there near the water.

In our lives, many of us face difficulties, which could leave us feeling bitter. When faced with tragedy or hard times, we have a choice to walk through the situation (with God’s help) and get better, or we can stay in that situation and camp out in our bitterness. The story in Exodus paints a clear picture of how I believe God wants us to respond, when faced with life’s hardships.

Don’t camp at Marah

The word ‘Marah’ (the place of the bitter springs) actually means ‘bitter’ and it is interesting that in the Exodus story, although Moses led the people there, God did not command them to camp and stay there. It was just a passing through on their journey.

Later when they arrived at Elim (which means ‘roots’ and also means ‘a place of refreshing’) they were able to stop and set up camp. We all go through times of feeling bitter but I believe it is important to not camp in that place and instead view it as an experience, a place we have to walk through, with God’s help.

We already have the answer

When Moses cried out to God for an answer, the Lord provided him with a tree branch which would make the water drinkable. Trees take decades to grow and long before Moses and the people encountered this problem, God had already provided a way out, a growing tree which would be used to solve the problem.

We see this again later in the story of Zaccheus in Luke 19. Zaccheus was the chief tax collector and was not well-liked. Luke says he was a man of small stature and because of the great crowds (and his height) he was not able to get through the crowds to see Jesus. Zaccheus climbed a nearby sycamore tree in order to see Jesus and later, met with Jesus personally. We do not know how long it took, but it is likely that tree had been growing there for a long time. I like to imagine that maybe God even sent an angel to protect that tree, knowing that one day it would be used as an important tool in allowing a man to hear the life-changing words of Jesus. It reminds us though, whatever we are going through, God has already provided the answer.

Believe the promise

In our world today (maybe you are going through this yourself), many people have become stuck in a place of bitterness. Bitterness can be like a spiritual cancer and if we allow it to, it can overtake our thinking and lives.

If you are experiencing that today and wondering how you can break free, can I encourage you to go back to the promises of God. Whatever you are going through, I believe that God has already provided the answer (even if you cannot see it) and that if you walk diligently, God will eventually lead you to ‘Elim’, to a place of rest and security.

The tree in the stories of Moses and Zacheus are also a symbol of the cross. If you look to the cross and look to the promises of God, he will lead you through.

It may not be easy, but living a life free of bitterness, is living life to the full. And this is how I believe God wants us to live.

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

Forgiveness in the face of evil

Last week I wrote about learning to forgive myself (by God’s grace) after our son passed away in 1988.  Forgiveness can be a  very powerful tool in restoring relationships (and our lives).  This week, I am very pleased to hand the blog over to our family friend, Marcus Mosey, who, through a family tragedy has also learned about the incredible power of forgiveness.

Marcus writes;

On 21st December 1988, something happened that would change our family and my life forever.

I was 16. My 19 year-old sister, Helga, had been home for just a week before Christmas and was heading back that afternoon from our home in Birmingham to the USA. We had fought like cat and dog (her being the aggressive cat!). For the first time in years, that week I had experienced a loving, caring sister. On the departure day I didn’t want her to go back to her gap-year au pairing job in New Jersey. But I needed to do some Christmas shopping, so I headed into the city, and promised I would be home in time to say goodbye.

Later that afternoon, I returned home, having totally forgotten that my sister was due to leave for the airport at 2pm. She had gone.

Afternoon turned into evening, and I sat upstairs watching something on the old TV set. Suddenly the programme that I was watching was interrupted with a news flash. A plane had come down over a town in the Scottish Borders. I experienced a fleeting sympathetic grief that anyone with half a heart would have in such circumstances – a deep sadness for the unknown families of those affected. I remember thinking, “Some people are going to have a miserable Christmas and New Year….”

Over the next hour, we found out out it was my sister’s plane, Pan Am 103, that had come down over the sleepy market town of Lockerbie. Our lives would never be the same.

In the coming days and weeks, many facts were established. Bodies strewn over the beautiful Scottish Borders countryside were recovered, along with parts of the plane and people’s luggage. Memorial services were attended by politicians and dignitaries, private funerals and wakes took place in the U.S., U.K. and other countries . For weeks, months, years, this event occupied front covers and columns of newspapers and featured heavily in the media. Even to this day. But for me, I had to deal with the grief of losing my sister and also the fact that I didn’t keep my promise – to get back from shopping before she left. I never said goodbye. I wished I had told her that I loved her; that I forgave her for the years of pain she put me through, but I didn’t. Somehow I had to forgive myself, and also the perpetrators of this deed. So I prayed. I asked God to help me to forgive.

God came.

He came. And all sense of hatred, revenge and unforgiveness towards the perpetrators (whoever they were) just dissipated within this amazing force shield. He had us. He had me.

 But I still struggled to forgive myself for not keeping my promise. Strangely, it was easier to receive God’s help to forgive others than it was to forgive myself! It was like I had this self- disappointment attached to me, on a leash. It would just be there, wherever I went, even though I didn’t want it. Then, one morning a few months later, I woke up and it was gone. I was no longer feeling that sense of shame and regret. It was just gone! I was free.

As a family, we have seen amazing things happen around the world as a result of the Lockerbie air disaster; so many great things that God has brought out of such a dark event. Many children’s lives in Asia have been transformed because of my sister’s death.

But for me, the greatest act of God is that I have not been overcome with unforgiveness and anger. Instead, I have been able to walk on from that evening before Christmas in 1988, free from bitterness, able to forgive. Most importantly, to forgive myself, because God already had.

Marcus Mosey, June 2016


 

 

Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Forgiveness, Healing, Hope, Miracles

Learning to forgive yourself 

I shared last week about the loss of our son Jamie and the way our lives as a family were changed forever. In the weeks and months after Jamie died, our pastor John Mosey was a wonderful friend. He helped us with the many practical arrangements and he led Jamie’s funeral service, providing a great deal of comfort and support in a terrible time.

On Dec 21, 1988, in the same year that Jamie died, a Pan Am plane exploded over Lockerbie, killing everyone on board. John’s 19 year old daughter Helga was one of the victims. I remember the day we received the news and I drove to John’s house. John and his family knew Helga had been on the plane, but John was on the phone in the hallway, trying to confirm some more details. ‘I am so glad you are here,’ he said. ‘You know what it feels like to lose a child’.  

The circumstances were very different. Jamie had died from an unknown illness and Helga had been killed in a suspected terrorist attack. But now, in the same year, both families were facing the indescribable grief of losing a child. 

News of the Lockerbie disaster was in every newspaper and John became known at the time, for saying he would forgive the people who had taken his daughter from them. Our family did not have anyone to forgive in the same way, but as the years went by and I continued to carry a great weight of grief, I wondered if I did need to forgive someone. 

In April 2016, RT Kendall came to visit UCB. I spoke about his visit in another blog post  but I did not share at the time, how much this visit impacted me. RT was filming a TV programme for UCB TV, but we asked if he would share something for UCB’s team leaders also.    

RT spoke for a little while about forgiveness and encouraged our team to forgive those who had hurt them. He then said he wanted to pray for those who needed to forgive themselves. This was a very important moment for me personally, as although many years had passed since we had lost Jamie, I had carried a silent burden of guilt, wondering if I could have done more? Could I have spent more time with him? Could I have done things differently?

RT’s time with us and his powerful prayer, was a moment of breakthrough in my life. Over the next few days, I began to realise that I felt totally free. By the power of God’s grace, I was finally released from a burden which I was never meant to carry. God had shown me that I needed to forgive myself. 

I believe that God wants all of us to be totally free, to not carry guilt and shame from the past, into our present lives. I thank God for sending Godly people into the ministry of UCB, who can show us more about God’s wonderful healing power. 

Jesus came to set the prisoners free. If we choose to accept it, we too can live in total freedom. 

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 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 – Only real and lasting transformation takes place in Jesus Christ.  (2 Corinthians 5:17) – “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) 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?