There’s no place like home

Last night my church held a baptismal service where we baptised between 50 and 60 people. We had praise and worship going the whole time everyone was being baptised. They all wore t-shirts with their name on and the date they gave their life to Christ. It was all so simple and the sense of joy and freedom in the auditorium was indescribable.

There has been some chat on various social networking sites in recent days about the church and how it is God’s plan A for His people. I’ll be honest and say that there have been times in the past few years when I have really struggled with that idea, as when I thought about church all I could feel was pain and disillusionment (being a Pastor’s daughter meant I saw the best and worst of church).
But I think a little bit of my faith in church was restored last night. As I watched people go down into the water and be raised back up again the simplicity of the Gospel was brought to the forefront of my mind again. I have seen so much negativity in the church over the years that I had lost the fact it it was all about people making a decision to follow their Saviour and do life differently. It’s not about politics, position gaining, offense taking, blah blah blah…

We are just a bunch of people whose lives have been changed by an Almighty God and we are doing our best to live a life that is pleasing to Him. Despite what I or you may think the best way we can do that is by being part of the church. Last night as I looked around I was proud to be a part of the church. Not just my local church here in Ballymena but the worldwide body of Christ. I’m not ashamed to put my hand up and say I belong to the church.

Dorothy was right all those years ago when she said, “There’s no place like home.”

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Stand Up Straight

Stand up straight.

“Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity” (Luke 13:12). This is what Jesus said to the infirm woman. This meant she had to stand up straight. She had been bent over for so long. There comes a place where you are so bent over that the only direction you can see is behind you. Now she could see what was in front of her. What must that have been like?

When she first raised her head she must have been a bit dizzy, she maybe was tempted to lower herself again because maybe that was slightly more comfortable if not a little awkward. She maybe was overwhelmed by the view. Before it was narrow and confined, now it had no limits. Her whole walk would now be different. No more stumbling or fumbling. It was time to take confident strides into the future. It would change her relationships with the people around her? How would they react? She wasn’t someone to be pitied or laughed at anymore. She was a symbol of hope, healing and freedom. Now that’s quite a change.

In this story we are two people. We are firstly that woman. Bent over too
long, we are slowly raising ourselves up and gaining a different perspective. It takes some getting used to. Sometimes we get dizzy spells and want to put our heads down again. But after what He has done for me that’s not an option. Like her, our vision of life is now so much wider and a little scary, the future can seem that way to us.
But that’s ok.

But also in this story we are like Jesus. Confronted with people in our world, knowing that we have a call on our lives to say, “stand up!!” I’m not being big headed when I say this, the authority is ours.

So when you read this story I want you to see yourself as that woman. But also realise you have the same responsibility and authority as Jesus to say to the people around you, “stand up.”

So together, let’s stand up straight, put our shoulders back, our head up and walk on….