Stephen Abram:

Some of you may recognise me from the occasional Sunday where I am back in Northern Ireland and attend Seymour Street. Not long after my mother and I started attending the church I moved to Edinburgh to undertake my masters, I am now living and working in London as a trainee solicitor with a large commercial law firm. Despite being brought up in a Christian home, I did not make a commitment to Christ until my time at Dundee University. Having lived the student life for sometime I began to feel empty with this existence. I began to re-attend church services and eventually let Christ into my life. Outside of the office I enjoy watching sports of any variety, reading and I find trips to the cinema an ever reliant form of escapism.

Upon initial reading these verses can appear to conjure an image which seems so very distant to us in modern society. However, the more I think about this passage the more I find it resonates with me. Philip is the example of the Christian who unwaveringly answers the call of God. The official to me is a typical City Boy that I often come across in London. Someone who is affluent, very intelligent, generally pleasant, and despite all their advantages in life, desperately seeking answers. This then presents the challenge, Philip didn’t hesitate in responding to the command of God. I hope the next time I find myself seeing this scenario in my life I too respond to the Spirit of the Lord and spread the Good News to someone who is seeking it.

 


 

Des Bain:

Hi, I’m Des. I am married to Valerie and we have two sons, Darren and Trevor.

Forty years ago my first appointment as a Methodist minister was to Cork and ever since I have lived and worked in the Republic of Ireland.

As the Church’s Home Mission Secretary, I now travel throughout the island trying to provide both encouragement and assistance, especially to smaller Churches and all who are keen to discover that “it is not  the Church of God that has a mission, but the God of mission who has a Church!”

PSALM 22; 24-31 

The last ten verses of Psalm 21 stand in stark contrast to the first twenty one which begin with the cry of dereliction that was uttered by Jesus on the cross.  His cry, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”  is echoed in the verses that follow. The writer describes an experience of physical and mental anguish suffered by one, not only scorned by the world, but wracked by pain and awaiting death. The mystery is that, whilst he believes that God delights in him yet, his God is not delivering him from the distress.

This is a spiritual roller-coaster which takes the desolate traveller through tides of emotion and confusion. On the one side is the loneliness and injustice of the suffering and fear whilst on the other side is the declaration that God has not changed.  It is as if he is saying, ‘I do not like what life is doing to me at present, even though that is the worst thing imaginable, but through a deliberate act of my will I declare that God is Lord. I believe that because of his great goodness to me in the past I can and will trust him for the future.’

An old hymn by John Newtown (of Amazing Grace fame) summarises the message of the psalm:

“His love in times past, Forbids me to think
He’ll leave me at last, In trouble to sink”

That is the very nature of faith. A friend, from Myanmar (Burma), has written, “Faith is a bird singing in the dark because she knows the dawn is coming”.

The closing verses show a transformation has taken place. Anger, fear and dismay are calmed. Purpose, comfort and strength arise. They come from remembering that vows have been made to the Lord in the presence of his people. God’s promises to his people are more firm and sure than those they have made and so our Lord will bring to completion the work he has begun in each one of us. The people of God are forever together. We are not alone.

 


 

Eric Dawson:

I am 56 years old, married for nearly 34 years to Jane. We have two children, Andrew and Katherine. Andrew is married to Alison and they have two terrific daughters, Sarah and Aoife. I worked for 35 years as an injury claims negotiator for an insurance company and took early retirement in 2009. Now I am doing something similar but on a self-employed basis. Many people have said to me that in my job I must have seen some dubious people but, maybe because of my faith, I have to say that I have always found that most people are good and decent. I was brought up in Waringstown and my family went to Queen Street Methodist Church in Lurgan. Although my faith was nurtured by good people such as Derek Ritchie and Henry Holloway I did not really become a committed Christian until I was 26 at a time when Jane was ill and in hospital. It was then that I turned back to God and he helped and healed us both.

Psalm 4
There can be very few people who have not used the words of Psalm 4 at some stage of their lives. I think particularly of verse 1, where David appears to be calling to God to ease his pain and distress, and of the last verse, verse 8, where David is now at peace and can sleep safe knowing that God has, and will, look after him.

The intervening verses, verses 2 to 7, suggest to me that verse 1 may have been spoken in exasperation rather than distress, like we would say something such as “Give me strength!!!!!”. David seems to be fed up with people loving life’s delusions, worshipping false gods and eating and drinking their fill. He asks how they can do such things when the real God is the only one who can make them really happy. David says that God has made him happier than anything that Man can produce and he asks people to trust God.
In the end David is reassured that, for all his exasperation, he will rest in God. And we too, for all our trials and fears in life, can rest in God.

 


 

Adrienne Stewart:

Hello. I’m Adrienne Stewart and am married to Wilson. We have two children, Jonnie (22) and Hannah (19). We have been members of Seymour Street since our marriage almost 30 years ago and have been very blessed by the fellowship and friendship of the Seymour Street family. I have two part-time jobs – I work three days a week as a childminder and also work 8 hours a week as Church Secretary. In Church I enjoy singing in the Choir and helping with the Toddler Group. I love reading, baking, and craft work such as cross-stitch.

Here are my thoughts on Isaiah 25: 6-9

These verses are full of hope and describe the blessings awaiting God’s people.

The previous chapter in Isaiah talks of God’s final destruction of the earth and of His judgement and then it moves into this chapter which is a song of praise and speaks of His salvation. The contrast could not be more different.

He describes the banquet awaiting God’s followers, a feast of the very best meats and wines. He also talks of how the Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces – what a wonderful thought, that we will no longer have any reasons to cry! This, to me, is a beautiful picture of heaven and what we have to look forward to.

It is not long since we celebrated Easter when we remembered God’s love for us shown in Jesus and what He went through: the agonies of a cruel death and then the wonder of resurrection. Through this God offers to us the opportunity to be part of the joys of heaven because Jesus took on Himself the punishment due to us. How wonderful is that!

And so we can say with Isaiah, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him, and He saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in Him; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” (verse 9)

 


 

Liza Wiseman:

I am married to Richard and we have 2 amazing little boys. I am a Practice Team Leader for Prospects, supporting adults with learning disability. I became a Christian in August 1999. Rik and I came into fellowship at Seyour Street in 2000 when we were ‘shopping around’ for a church after moving to Lisburn. We instantly knew we belonged at Seymour Street as we were made to feel so welcome and valued. God has blessed us in our church with friends and rich examples of His love. We love serving Him and belonging to such a lovely spiritual family! Our minister Brian is so down to earth yet has such a humility and wisdom that we always are encouraged when we think of him.

My first thoughts: Over the last few days I have been prompted again to make Jesus my Horizon (reading the Scripture Union devotions)…that is not try to just fit Him into my horizon, plans and activities. This scripture only serves to remind me that without Him I am nothing. As his child I need to be close to Him to live His ways. Reading His word always manages to strike me of the pure truthfulness in its words…When it says: all those who believe that they are children of God will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure; I find this to be so…when I am in His word and seeking Him my passion to be like Him is heightened and I am reminded of my purpose – to be salt and light to those who don’t know Him that they too will be won for His Kingdom. This verse also reminds me of the scripture that Faith comes by hearing the word of God…that those who belong to this world need to hear his word (and understand it for their lives) to know what it means to be children of God so that they will turn from their Godless lives.

When it tells us that when we live in Him we won’t sin I think of my own prayer recently about habitual sin: that He will enable me to take every thought captive that is not honouring to Him even when (especially when) I am very comfortable with the thought and don’t necessarily want to give it up!! He has prompted me to whisper a small prayer ‘Lord change me, help me not to think this but what you want me to’. I believe from past experience that when we ask for something that is His will He answers. Practicing this prayer at times has given me peace to know again that faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains!! So even though a thought enters my head I don’t immediately panic and try to mask it but attend to it and run to God with it. So back to the scripture – when I am living in Him, reading His word, praying, seeking His will for my life..He has the power to change me so that I do not sin (as much!!) but that I am changed another little bit.(From glory unto glory). Living as a Child of God to me means putting him up as Lord and master of my life and lining everything up against His word. This is my hope and what guides me and I am learning (slowly) to put my focus on this more and more…I want to make an impact for Him and His kingdom and I will only do this if He is first in my life and I follow Him above all other things…

Lastly the last verse says when people do what is right it is because they are righteous…I am uncomfortable with the word righteous..perhaps because I don’t see myself as righteous (only being honest!) but still I know the truth in it that we should seek to do the right thing all the time as this lines up with scripture and what it means to be a child of the Living God.

 


 


Alison Dawson:

Hi I’m Alison Dawson and I’m married to Andrew. We have 2 very lively and talkative children – Sarah aged 6 and Aoife aged 3. I work full time in the Civil Service as does my husband, and so our children are left in the capable hands of Nana and Granda aka Jane and Eric! I have been attending Seymour Street for about 4 years. Prior to that I attended Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Belfast, just off the Shankill Road where I was involved in Girls Brigade, Sunday School, Youth Fellowship and Youth Club. When I joined Seymour Street I was immediately made to feel welcome and have made many new friends. I’m not as involved in church life as I used to be but am hoping that in time I will find my place. When I am not working, or looking after the girls I enjoy baking – my latest masterpiece being a castle birthday cake!

John 20 v 1 – 18
I have been asked to comment on John 20 v 1 – 18. On reading these verses I see them as being divided into 2 sections – the disciples thoughts and reaction to the empty tomb and Marys reaction.

Firstly the disciples. Verses 8-10 says it all for me “they took one look at the evidence, and believed” and “the disciples then went back home”. They saw the exact same picture as Mary; they saw the empty tomb, the folded cloths. They didn’t ask questions, they didn’t look for answers, they saw, they believed and went home. How I wish I had a faith like that! If faced with what seems like the impossible would we also take one look and believe?

Hebrews 11 v 1 says “To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.” This is the challenge we all face, to believe and have faith even when something seems impossible.

Mary wasn’t so sure, she stayed and wept, she saw the same thing as the disciples, but she was still convinced that someone had taken the body. Even seeing two angels didn’t convince her! All she could see was the person who she loved, the person she had watched die was now gone. She wanted answers.

At first she didn’t pay much attention to the gardener but something changed when she heard him say her name. Mary. She had heard Jesus call her name so many times; in her mind she thought she would never hear that voice again. But she does; that loving, kind and gentle voice and then she realises it is him. She hears his voice, she sees him and she suddenly realises the impossible has happened!

Sometimes we can be so caught up in everything that we do, that we can miss that still, small, quiet voice. We live in a world where everything happens so quickly – faster internet, emails, instant messaging and we can get so caught up in these things that we can miss that quiet voice.

Sometimes we can be so busy looking for answers, we don’t realise that God already has the answer. Sometimes all we need to do is stop and listen. I know personally that this is very hard to do sometimes, (anyone who knows my daughter Sarah will vouch for that) but at the end of the day is it easier to be quiet and still or face your struggles alone?

Psalm 46 v 10 sums it up “Be still and know that I am God.”

 


 

Ashley Black:

I’m Ashley, I’m 24 and grown up with Seymour Street as part of my life. I have helped out with different youth groups in recent years and I’m involved with the young adults SAP group. Since graduating almost 2 years ago from the University of Ulster, I’ve been working as a Commercial Property Surveyor; and I’m also a very active leader in Lisburn Scouting!

John 12 v20-33

This passage opens with a question, asked by Greeks in a crowd; who ask the Disciples – Can we see Jesus? Jesus responds with to be honest what initially seems like a long winded and unrelated answer!

However his response in verses 23 to 26 are the most visually striking verses in this passage for me, and really jumped out for me– ‘Unless a seed dies, it remains a single seed; but if it dies, it produces many seeds and then much fruit’.

He may be preoccupied with thoughts of death but he seems to say that to see Jesus, is to see the importance of dying in order to live. Initially this sounded a little depressing to me, but Jesus isn’t saying that all happy and content people will lose their lives and depressed people will keep them! He is portraying that people who’s lives are centred on themselves will lose them as the Lord won’t honour them – It is in dying that we then begin living!

Even though he was in agony and preoccupied with his death. His initial answer in verse 23 jumps is striking – ‘the time has come for the son of man to be glorified’. His agony was ultimately his glory! This was his hour and the time to which all scripture points us to. His passion shows through, above any agony or pain that he is feeling.

The passage finishes with a reference to the revelation of who he really is in his full glory – the man on the cross, lifted up for all to worship. This passion in the last verses really portrays the purpose of the cross and why Jesus went through such agony so that each of us could be saved.

‘But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself. He said this to show the kind of death he was dying’ (Verses 32-33).

 


 


Ron McCrea:

Hi I’m Ron. My wife Anne and I have worshipped at Seymour Street for over 30 years. I am now retired but had the privilege of teaching and being Head of Biology at Wallace High School for 32 years. It is always nice to meet and talk with the many young people I have taught over the years. Life is still busy as we have both older and younger generations to help out. Our two grandsons, Micah and Joshua, certainly keep us busy and as a former teacher, I enjoy the challenge of passing on hopefully useful information to them.

I have been asked to make comments on 1st Corinthians 1 18-25

I believe this passage sets in context the power and wisdom of God through his son as opposed to the superficial power and knowledge of man. We live in a world where many leaders, political, social or economic, crave for more powers so that they can fashion other peoples’ lives to suit their wishes. Over the centuries human knowledge about many aspects of life has increased both to our benefit but also to our detriment.
God manifests his power in the death on the cross of his son Jesus Christ. This is a more powerful step than any wise step or effort that we as people can make. As verse 25 says ‘ the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men’
We should not glory in ourselves but in God.

 


 

Frances Haggerty:

I am married to David, we have a son and daughter and 3 adult grandchildren. I am a member of the Lisburn Congregational Church.

My connection with Seymour Street Methodist began approx. 7 years ago when I was invited along with my lifetime friend Marie Wright to join the Bowling Club.
what a blessing, a warm, fun loving group. Then the Icing on the cake the Bible Study, an enthusiast group Of ladies, lead by the Rev. Brian Anderson and our “Smiley Shirley.”

I am truly blessed by the warm welcome I have received by everyone and it is my desire that it will long continue.

PSALM 147 “A HALLELUJAH PSALM”

Verses 1 – 6

I feel this is a special song of praise to the Lord.

The chosen people have been wandering for years, they are weary and brokenhearted. In verse 2 the Lord is rebuilding Jerusalem and bringing the exiles back to Israel. The Lord takes compassion for his people, he gathers them together, and they will now enter the Promised Land. What Joy! They realise the great power of the Lord and his understanding of their plight. Yes, I know they would want to raise their voices in thanksgiving and praise for the grace of the Lord.
Verse 6 – I feel this verse speaks to me of faith in the Lord’s promises, there were those who disobeyed, they didn’t enter the Promised Land, we must obey his commands and keep faith with his word.

Verses 7 – 11

These verses show the great love of the Lord, he has provided his people with all their needs. You do not need to be a person of great strength or importance. Live by God’s Word and put your faith and trust in his everlasting love.

Verse 20

These were his chosen people, no other people knew the love of God, and they had been given his laws to live by. (Deut.4. 5-8) We should as Christians (by the way we live) display the love of God and speak to others that may come to know and love him.

GOD BLESS

 


 

Lauren Allen:

Hi, I’m Lauren, I’m 23 and am currently working as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities. I grew up in Seymour Street and am now back again after a 5 year stint at uni in Scotland. I help out with the Sunday School which is a lot of fun and go to the young adults SAP group.

Psalm 107:1-3; 17-22

The first couple of verses make me question: How often do I thank God? Sometimes when praying we can rush through the adoration and thanksgiving part so that we can get onto our requests! We all have so many things to be thankful for each and every day yet we tend to focus on whats going wrong in our lives than what we are blessed with. Even if we do not think we have many things to be thankful for, we read that God is good and His faithful love endures forever…and that is definitely something worth thanking God for.

Verse 19 says that when God is called upon for His help He is quick to save, even those who are called “fools” and who have “rebelled”. We can be quick to judge those who have fallen away from God or who seem to have left the church for a while, often forgetting that we too sin constantly against God, but noone is out of Gods reach and His grace and mercy is for everyone who calls upon His name. May we grasp more fully the mercy and love that God has shown to us so that we can show that unto others instead of judgement.

Let them praise the Lord for His great love and for all the wonderful things he has done for them…sing joyfully about his glorious acts

…This reminds me that it’s not about us- it’s all about Him. We praise God because of the wonderful things He has done for us and for who He is. It doesn’t matter if we’re feeling thankful or if we feel in the mood to praise Him. Our feelings aren’t important; the truth is that He is always worthy to be praised.

 


 

Elsie and Glenn Rowan:

We have been married for 42 years with four children and three grandchildren. Since moving to Lisburn ,in 1976, we have attended Seymour Street Methodist Church. Elsie is a retired nursing sister (ex RVH). She is currently a class leader, which she finds most rewarding, she is also a member of the MWI. She very frequently cooks and entertains those who have lost loved ones and need friendship and love. Glenn is a retired general practitioner having worked in the South Belfast and Dunmurry areas. Easing into retirement was helped by being a part time tutor in Clinical Skills at Queen’s. He is a member of the ‘A Team’, Bowling Club and is on the Church Council. He was the Church representative on the Board of Governors of a local primary school for 20 years. He has been privileged in being a member of a MMS(I) team in Togo on two occasions – feeling very supported by the church when there. It was a very humbling but rewarding experience. Together, as you will see from our photo, we enjoy travelling to far off places and are blessed with relatively good health. Other interests include gardening, classical music, theatre, reading, crosswords and we are both members of Seymour Street Walking Club.

Our thoughts on Ephesians 2 v 1 – 10

This passage, to us, highlights God’s LOVE, MERCY and GRACE comparing favourably with John 3 v 16.

Eph. 2: 4 – 5 shows that despite our sinning and worldly behaviour God embraces us. ‘It’s a wonder God did not lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead immense in MERCY and with incredible LOVE he embraced us.’
(The Message).

Another reading says that ‘because of his great LOVE for us, God; who is rich in MERCY, made us alive with Christ – even when we were dead with transgressions – it is by GRACE you have been saved’.
In effect, although we deserve punishment as sinners, God has provided a way through Christ whereby we may be saved from spiritual death to newness of life. We did none of this ourselves but it was done by the GRACE of God. One of us remembers GRACE being spelt out as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
Cecil Frances Alexander penned the words:

“There is none other good enough to pay the price of sin;
He only could unlock the gates of heaven, and let us in.”

This is emphasised to us in Eph. 2v8-9:
“For it is by God’s GRACE that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it.”

Eph. 2:10 tells us that that there is a challenge and responsibility for each of us, that having received the gift of salvation we should in gratitude and service in our lives show good deeds. “He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” (The Message).

Glenn was prompted to apply to go to Togo when he listened to three different sermons inside a short period of time when the words “God has no hands but your hands”.

Prayer: Thank you God for the LOVE, MERCY and GRACE you have shown to us. Help is to live our lives showing gratitude and willingness to serve you. Amen.

 


 

Anne Patterson:

Hi. I’m Anne and I’m currently at home with a broken elbow! Usually I’m a sub teacher in Primary and Nursery but that is on hold till after Easter! I am Sunday School Superintendent here at Seymour Street, I sing in the choir and organise “REFRESH”- the kids activity and bible club at the end of the summer.

Here are my thoughts and reflections on Psalm 19.

Firstly, meditations on this Psalm alone could fill a book! It is full of praise, vivid description, advice, commands, and finally a plea to God for help in living it all out, day to day. Phew! All that in one psalm..and I haven’t even scratched the surface!

I love language- I love that it paints a picture, I love that it is only limited by our limited imagination! So, when I read v1-6 I was reminded again how the inspired and inspirational writers of the Bible are constantly using words to show us that this universe is one massive gift from God. Breathed by Him, created by Him, sustained by Him and ruled by Him! Try getting your head round that!
I love that the psalmist, in v2-3, personifies heaven and earth:

“their words aren’t heard, their voices aren’t recorded,
but their silence fills the earth”
(The Message)

Imagine silence filling anything? Is it possible?The answer, of course, is yes..because with God all things are possible. Then we have a reminder of God’s faithfulness (- his law is perfect) and purity (-more pure than gold).

Finally, as I read v14, I am reminded of Brian- as he prays before speaking to us each Sunday-“may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight” (NIV). A fitting end to this reflection of Psalm 19- and a lesson for us all every day.

 


 

The Stobarts:

My family (the Maginns) started attending Seymour Street about 12 years ago, and it is where Andrew and I got married in 2008. We met in Aberdeen, where Andrew was working towards a PhD in theology and I was studying medicine. We moved down to Durham three years ago after Andrew candidated for Methodist ministry. I worked as a junior doctor while Andrew completed (more!) theological studies in order for him to become a probationer minister. We now live in a village called Hurworth-on-Tees, and Andrew has responsibility for three small rural Methodist churches in the Darlington Circuit. I am working in Psychiatry, and we are awaiting the arrival of our first baby in July! We both share a love of music (both listening and playing), and a longing to see God’s kingdom of grace and peace grow in the communities around us. Keep in touch with us via: www.hurworthmethodist.org.uk

Psalm 111

Rebekah’s thoughts…
Last week in our Bible study group, we had a go at paraphrasing a few verses each of a psalm. First, we read it aloud directly from our Bibles, then we read aloud again, this time from our paraphrases. The words came alive, and the Psalm was transformed from a dry poem on a printed page written thousands of years ago into handwritten words which spoke into, and out of, our collective experiences of a loving, life-giving God.

I read Psalm 111, an overwhelming exclamation of praise and thanks, from The Message version of the Bible. For me, it beautifully and poetically sums up God’s story and ours, in a way that speaks to my heart, not just my head! It makes me yearn for God’s good order to be restored and inspires me to translate my overflowing thanks into action. Here are some of the verses which moved me:

“Splendour and beauty mark his craft… His generosity never gives out. His miracles are his memorial— This God of Grace, this God of Love… He manufactures truth and justice; All that he makes and does is honest and true… He paid the ransom for His people. He’s so personal and holy, worthy of our respect… His Hallelujah lasts forever!”

Amen!

Andrew’s thoughts…
This psalm reminds me that God’s side of our relationship with him is always far more certain than our side. The centre of the poem, both literally and conceptually, is surely verse 5b: ‘Our God always remembers his covenant.’

Verses 2-9 express what is sometimes called God’s creational and covenantal faithfulness. Creational faithfulness: God’s eye is never off his creation; despite the brokenness we sometimes encounter in life, our world is not devoid of glimpses of God’s glory and majesty. Covenantal faithfulness: God’s desire to heal the brokenness of our world is carried forward by a group of people, a community of faith, to whom God commits (or covenants) himself utterly…God will never give up on his people, because that is a sign to the rest of the world that he will never give up on them either!

This steadfastness of God — this firm commitment to be God with and for us — is a perfect reason for our praise and thanks (verse 1), and a stimulus to our discipleship (verse 10). Our praising and praying and living and hoping may sometimes feel very fragile indeed; but the good news is that the God we praise and pray to, live with and hope for, is utterly trustworthy. As Jesus shows us, God’s life and love are far more certain that ours…his life and love even defeat death!

 


 

Michelle Pierce:

Hi, I’m Michelle and I’m 20 years old. I’m currently in 2nd year at Queens University, studying Nursing. I’ve been going to Seymour Street since I was born and have loved growing up through church where there’s a great sense of family. I’m one of the leaders of SNASS – the youth fellowship in Seymour Street – which is great fun!

Romans 4: 13-25.

‘It depends on faith’

Abraham had great faith in God. Even though he was a hundred years old and Sarah couldn’t have children, Abraham kept believing that God would do what He had promised – to make him the father of many nations. And He did! God gave Abraham and Sarah a son and through him Abraham was made the father of nations – of all those who believe in God. In fact, Abraham did not weaken in faith but actually grew stronger. This is a great reminder for us to always have faith in God, through every circumstance – even if we don’t know what the future holds, we should have faith because we know God has a plan.

Abraham gave God the glory. This reminds us to always give the glory to God and not accept it for ourselves – we are to be humble.

Abraham was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises. Because of this, God counted Abraham as righteous. We can have assurance too that God will count us as righteous if we fully believe in Him.

These verses also remind us that God’s promise is not based on obeying His laws, but on a right relationship with God, that comes by faith. The promise of forgiveness is based on grace – God showed His grace by sending Jesus to earth to die for our sins, and be raised to life again in order that we would be made right with God. This promise is a free gift from God and is available to everyone who believes in Him!

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6: 23.

 


 

Matthew Maginn:

Hi! I’m Matthew, and I’m in my final year of a degree in French and Spanish at St Andrews’ University. I have been at Seymour Street since I was about 10, and although I live over in Scotland for most of the year, I still feel so welcome at Seymour Street every time I’m home. They have been such a great support to me throughout my university years, especially when I spent a year living in South America, the Church was a constant source of love and encouragement.

Psalm 50 -

The psalm is essentially divided into two halves. In the first half God speaks to His followers, those who trust in Him, He then turns to the people who have ignored Him. The first half of the psalm affirms God’s greatness and power. He is described as coming wrapped in a storm, with fire going before him. He speaks of His power to those who have followed Him, promising His help to them when they are in trouble. In the second half He turns to those who have heard His message, but have turned away from it, choosing not to believe it in their hearts.

This psalm presents us with some huge challenges. Firstly, it affirms God’s power, which we can easily forget about in a world where we exercise so much control over our own lives – God created everything on earth, He has control over it all, not us. The psalm also challenges us as it reminds us of God’s ultimate judgement – are we guilty of hearing God’s message and then turning away from it because the message is simply too inconvenient to fit into our life? Often we play down God’s power in our lives, we prefer to think of Him as only a loving, Father God, and not one who will judge us for going against His will. Thankfully for us, God offers forgiveness to everyone; those who believe in Him and those who don’t. He offers us hope, He offers to save us:

“Repent, all of you who forget me, or I will tear you apart, and no one will help you. But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honours me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” -Psalm 50: 22-23

 


 

Marie McDonald:

Hi I’m Marie. I’m married to Alan, we have 3 big kids; Hollie (26), Curtis (24) and Amy-Lee (17). We moved from Bangor to Lisburn 24 years ago when we joined Seymour Street and immediately felt at home. I have been involved in YWA, Youth club and Sunday school.

I have been asked to comments on Mark 9 2 – 6

This is about the transfiguration of Jesus.

Jesus took 3 of his favourite disciples with him as witnesses to his transfiguration. Jesus’ clothes became dazzling white, a sign of purity and a sign of the presence of God. They were seeing Jesus in all his heavenly glory.

It is interesting that there were 3 earthly witnesses – Peter, James and John and 3 heavenly witnesses – Elijah, Moses and the voice of God. The Old Testament Law required three witnesses to attest to any fact. In this case they were attesting to the fact that Jesus was who he claimed to be.

To transfigure or transform can also mean to change the outside to match the inside, the outward appearance of Jesus was changed to show the glory of Gods on the inside.

No wonder the disciples were afraid and Peter did not know what to say. There are times when it is perhaps better to remain silent and wait for God to give us understanding.

Lord draw us near to You and let us see Your glory.

 


 

Donald Ker:

Hi, I’m Donald Ker. I’m married to Sandra for nearly 40 years. We have four children, all of whom are now married, and to date we have three grandchildren.

I’ve been a Methodist minister since the mid 1970s. The Methodist Church in Ireland has given me the chance to serve in a number of interesting settings, most recently as Secretary of Conference, where I’m responsible for seeing that, as far as possible, the Church runs smoothly and we’re able to be the people God wants us to be.

Sandra and I came to Seymour Street as members of the congregation in 2007 when I took up the ‘Secretary’ appointment. We have been very grateful for the welcome we have received and we’re encouraged by the Christian life and love which we’ve discovered.

1 Corinthians 9: 24-27

Our son, Tim, lives near the new Olympic village in London, so on a recent visit we went for a little look. It’s amazing already, but it will be even better when athletes come together from all over the world to take part in the Games later this year. I hope that all who come will feel welcomed and well cared for, but they will also be focused. Not for them the distractions of the vast shopping centre that has also been built beside the village, or the other delights of London. They will continue to train, to control their diet, to get their sleep, so they can perform at their very best when their moment comes. They will enjoy the whole experience most if they first concentrate on what they are coming to do.

Paul writes to the Christians in Corinth, who were rather prone to distractions, and encourages them to focus, and stay spiritually fit. He uses the picture of athletic games, not so much to suggest that the Christian life is about winners and losers, but rather to insist that it’s more than a part-time hobby. It demands the discipline and total commitment of an athlete in training. But because of Jesus it’s worth it.

A line of a hymn comes into my mind as I’m thinking about these verses, where Timothy Dudley Smith prays:

“Lord, for our land in this our generation,

Spirits oppressed by pleasure, wealth and care:”

These lines always make me think. I know that care and anxiety can oppress my spirit, but can pleasure and wealth oppress me also? Aren’t they good? Paul’s words come home at this point. If I’m living just to get pleasure and wealth, instead of sharing them thankfully and generously, I’ll be like a disappointed marathon runner who collapses after the first mile because I got my priorities wrongs. I lounged around putting on weight when I should have been training.

And then, just as I’m coming to the end of the passage, there’s a warning directed fair and square at people like me, who work in Christian leadership. Quite simply, I have to practice what I preach. Jesus’ question to me won’t be “Did you preach good sermons, and devise great strategies, and manage good meetings?” It will be “Do you love me?”

 


 

Claire Maze:

Hi, i’m Claire and i’m 20 years old. I’m currently in second year at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow studying maths. I’ve been going to Seymour street since I was born and I was part of the team that went to Uganda in the summer.

I’ve been asked to look at Mark 1 v40-45.

The first thing that stood out to me was verse 41, I think this verse paints a beautiful picture of Jesus. It says that Jesus was ‘moved with pity’ or ‘moved with compassion’ for the leper. Because of his leprosy this man would have been someone who was on the outside of society maybe deemed unlovable by most people, but as usual Jesus challenges everyone else’s perceptions and shows His unrivalled love for for this man by saying that He wants to heal him and then by actually touching him.

The other thing that stands out is verse 45, the leper was so excited about what Jesus had done for him that he couldn’t help but to tell everyone even though Jesus had warned him not to. Jesus has forgiven and redeemed us which is so much more exciting than what he did for the leper, but so often I think we shy away from telling people and sharing this great news because we’re unsure of what their reaction will be. We need to remember that we have something worth shouting about, something that people need to hear.

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